“She has purple hair…” I state.
I am looking up
“Yeah, strange isn’t it. Rumor has it she put Dust it in her shampoo and throughout the years It turned that color. Might be bullshit. Who knows. It was stunning regardless. I remember everyone began dying their hair purple trying to steal her likeness. Hers was truly stunning though. Sort of like yours,” he laughs, “You could fit right in that photo if you were a fairy.”
Good hair dye,” I state, “Everyone in the outskirts has it. Maybe the trend started from her.”
It’s a lie. My hair grew out the scalp purple. Just like hers. Just like my mother’s.
He laughs, seemingly not interested enough in hair to find this suspicious.
“I don’t get the mania that humans had with her. They were obsessed. It’s ironic really. She hated people. She was known for her beauty but also her cruelty. King Morgan and Queen Mal of the Winter Court were also known as the keepers of the Dust,” Paris tells me, “The Winter Court always managed knowledge of how to control Dust. Because of their connection to the fairy tradition of magic, they distrusted humans and their technology. They felt as though Dynamis and Cerulean were wrong for trying to rule over humans and live with them. Even the Autumn court kept human servants. Winter Court never had any. They preferred humans to be completely destroyed.”
“That led to the civil war?” I ask.
“Yes. Of course,” he states, “Allied with King Dorian, the Winter Court went to war. Bloodshed followed ended only by Dorian betraying King Morgan after he refused to marry Dorian to his daughter Mara.”
“I thought Dorian betrayed the Winter Court because he was losing the war.”
“Who told you that lie?”
It was a lie?
“So the Winter Court was winning the war?”
“Yes. They had more dust. They knew how to control it better. If Dorian had stayed loyal to the Winter Court…they would have won the war.”
“Why did King Morgan refuse the marriage knowing he needed Dorian?”
“Mara wasn’t in love with Dorian. She begged her father not to allow the marriage and he obliged. Funny how the heart works huh?” he asks, “It wants what it wants. These political marriages are just that. Political. If Morgan had married Dorian to Mara the war would have been won.”
“Why would she do something so stupid?” I ask.
When he says that he looks over at me. It’s as though he has this distinct understanding of it.
“Love could have waited. You were at war.”
“You don’t tell the heart to wait. You never tell it to wait. Sometimes waiting can come off as passion. Sometimes passion can become a flame. Flames burn. And love denied can be as powerful as any weapon.”
With that he grabs me. He kisses me. I feel the Summer heat. I feel Summer passion. It’s so aggressive. So aggressive that he slams me into the wall. His tongue goes down my throat. If someone were watching us they’d think he was attacking me. But I wanted it. I wanted it so fucking bad when I felt Paris pressed up against me in the way he was. Perhaps it was the Summer way to be so passionate and aggressive in their affection. I wanted him feeling me. I wanted every part of him all over me.
And that’s when I realize it.
Mara was never raped.
What I remembered as a child—-or what I thought I remembered wasn’t the truth. The Summer King Dynamis was in love with the Winter Princess Mara. And that’s how Dino came about. A love child.
Half Summer and Half Winter. Had that ever happened in history. What would people think?
Dynamis loved my sister…
And Mist killed him. Mist killed the man who loved my sister so much that he betrayed his own people to spare my life and the life of my sister.
All of a sudden I’m so confused.
“Are you OK?” he asks me looking into my eyes and seeing this look of immediate panic.
I don’t want him to think it’s the kiss. Maybe that’s why I give him another quick pec. His breath tastes good on my lips but I can’t enjoy it. Not now.
“I need to tell you something,” I explain, “It can’t wait.”
“What is it…”
I am about to tell him all about what Dorian had planned. I was going to tell him about the stockpile of Dust. I was going to tell him about the threat of war. Mist and Aunt Willow had done nothing but lie to me all my life. I needed to stop referring to her as my Aunt. She wasn’t my Aunt. They were nothing more than agents of the man who betrayed my parents.
Just then though an alarm sounds. I realize that us kissing has caused a disturbance. He was a little too aggressive. There was a little too much slamming on the walls perhaps.
Either way, we were caught!
“Fuck…come on!” he yells.
Before I know it, we’re running. We’re running as fast as we can. We make it up the stairs. All the while he’s holding my hand unapologetically keeping me close to him. I realize however when we get up the stairs all that running is pointless.
There were men there.
More men than I can count.
The next day I am stuck in a room unable to defend myself because I am a servant. I am summoned to a room. A room with Summer Faeries. I know I’m in trouble. I can feel it. I can feel the tension. One person who seems oblivious is my nephew.
“Look my wings are coming in!” Dino tells me running up careless of the eyes who are looking at us.
It hurts because my nephew wants to show me something that makes him proud but I can’t show that I care too much. I can’t react in the way I want to even when he spins and shows me his tiny insect-sized summer wings peeking out from small slits that have been cut into his clothing.
“Go show your Uncle Raine,” I whisper to Dino.
I can see Dino being somewhat disappointed I am not showing him any attention like I normally would. His face sours a little bit but he does go to Raine who is standing on the opposite side of the room.
I feel like shit. This wasn’t maintainable. I almost want to cry when I see how disappointed my nephew was. He doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand politics and intrigue. He just wants love and I can’t keep pushing him away.
Even his slight interest in me causes issues. I hear Titania whisper something to Solaris. Something like, “See what I mean. See how weird they act…”
The fucking snake was in the ear of Solaris and until my nephew came of age, Solaris was in charge. She was suspicious of me and giving Solaris reason to be suspicious of me as well.
I’m not allowed to talk back to Solaris who is pacing back and forth. Luckily Dino is sent to go play. Annoyingly with Titania’s daughter.
I am sat in the middle of the room.
The IAs are all there gathered around like judge and jury looking at Paris. I expect Paris needs to open his mouth and defend both of us at this point but he doesn’t. He just sits idly by and takes the Summer Court digging into him as though he had murdered someone in broad daylight by sneaking into a museum.
“How could you be so careless?” Solaris is going off on Paris, “And to take a HUMAN with you! It is against every law that we have that a human is allowed to enter the Fairy Archives.”
I want the confident Paris. I want the Paris who can command a room with a single stare. Instead, however, he looks over at me and I see something else. Concern. I can tell it a mile away. Is he nervous about the punishment?
“I apologize, sir,” he sputters slightly.
“The penalty of a human seeing our sacred material is death,” one of the IAs spurts out, “This is fairy law.”
I believe her name is Sania. One of the many Summer fairies who I’ve seen chasing after Paris looking for attention he wasn’t giving them. It could be that she was jealous he hadn’t taken her on a romantic trip late at night, right?
It’s then I realize why Solaris is pacing back and forth so angrily and why Paris seems beyond humble at this moment. They were going to kill me! They were going to fucking kill me. I wasn’t going to sit around and just let them do this.
“You’re REALLY going to kill me?” I ask, shocked to the point of laughter, “For looking at a few relics—-”
I can’t even finish my thought because someone kicks my chair. They kick it loud, not hiding it. I look over and notice that it’s Indigo. He’s walked into the room and just as he does I see that he’s greeted by unfriendly stares.
“This is a private meeting,” Solaris states giving Indigo a look so deadly you would think he would have dropped dead right on the spot.
I’m surprised the 15 human Summer guards outside let Indigo in the meeting room in the first place.
Indigo seems sure of himself when he sighs, “Actually the archives are for all four courts of the Fairies. I bring word from Queen Cerulean that she is willing to excuse the human seeing the artifacts.”
For a moment I think this will be enough to get Solaris off of me. I can see Solaris lighten up slightly and I am wondering if somehow Indigo manages to get me out of this.
That’s when I see Titania stand up. She’s been quiet this whole time. Solaris was the loud one. He made it seem like he was in control and to a point he might have been with Dino being so young. But it’s Titania that worries me. And when she gets up I know that she isn’t going to let this slide. Not on her watch.
“Queen Cerulean has been sick all morning with the baby,” Titania states, “She refuses to see anyone. I highly doubt she told you this.”
Indigo’s face gets really red. The kind of red that causes the IAs to start giggling amongst themselves realizing that Titania has just caught him in a lie. He looks overwhelmed at this moment. Like a little boy who wandered into the wrong room. I feel bad for him. He was just trying to defend me. The problem with Indigo is that he wasn’t much of a good liar. Maybe in another time and place that was a good trait…but not here. Not in the Seasonal Courts.
“How’d you know she was sick?” Indigo asks, with his voice almost washed away by the presence of Titania.
Indigo was no Titania. Hell, he wasn’t even a Paris. The kind happy, come-along -to-get- along Spring fairy personality is coming out strong right now. He seems to be backing down from the confrontation before it even starts.
“I have my ways,” she states just as terrifying as any other thing she says. Then she moves closer and she hisses, “What I want to know is what’s so special about this boy that you would lie? What’s so special about this boy that Paris would take him to see the prohibited Archives?”
I’m irritated with how masterful Titania is. In a second she brings the attention solely on me. At this point, Paris could have been invisible. At this point, everyone in the Summer Court is looking at me with a bit of curiosity.
“Who is he?” one of the IAs asks.
“Where’d he even come from?” another IA states.
I look at Titania and I see a smile spread across her cheeks. She couldn’t have plotted this better if she had everyone attached to strings. The Summer Fairies were all of a sudden highly suspicious of me. My heart is racing. Solaris has managed to make his way towards me. He’s pacing around me. One step at a time. Slowly. Around and around. He’s trying to figure me out.
Solaris shakes his head, “It’s easier to just kill him and be done with it. Take him away.”
Paris is struggling, “Dino will be upset if you do this. We need to get this approved by the king first.”
“To kill a mere servant?” Titania asks, “That’s what he is, isn’t he? He’s just a servant. Why would the king care?”
She asks Paris this and he doesn’t have an answer. Revealing my relationship with the King won’t make me any less of a threat to these people. They wanted me dead and there was nothing that he could say to get me out from this. I can see the look of defeat in his eyes.
That’s when I realize I have to make a run for it!
I try my legs thrusting towards the door. I make it past one man slamming his head on the wall. But just at that moment when the door is in sight, I’m surrounded by guards. My heart is racing. I’m struggling to get free but I don’t get anywhere.
I’m surprised when Titania stops them.
“Wait!” she states.
“What’s this?” Solaris asks.
“Here,” she states, “Kill the boy here. I don’t trust anyone here. God knows who he really is. There could a rescue attempt. Let’s make sure he’s dead.”
Solaris nods. My heart is racing. I don’t think it really hits me through until I’m leaning over. It doesn’t hit me until someone walks in with an ax and positions themselves over me with all the IAs looking on at witnesses. My heart is beating out of my chest. Sweat is rolling in ungodly places all over my body. All I keep thinking about is what is going to happen to Dino when I’m gone. What would he think about it?
“I ordered him to do it,” Paris states.
We turn to Paris who is standing up with clear panic in his eyes.
“You ordered him to go to the Archives with you?”
“Yes,” Paris states, “I needed an extra set of eyes. I was looking for a way to find more Dust.”
“Dust would be helpful,” Solaris states at that moment, “With Dorian back in the Court. Rumor has it he has a caravan headed this way. We believe he’s taking his old residence right here in the Seasonal Courts.”
He is speculating but I watch how Solaris looks over at Titania. Clearly, he was looking at her as though trying to get her input. Perhaps they knew what I had found out; Titania was the most dangerous Summer Fairy by far.
“All the Dust is gone…” Titania states, “I believe you are just trying to hide your true intentions with this boy by distracting us. There is NO more dust. Sprinkles here and there but nothing of note and power. Every fairy knows that.”
Paris doesn’t get tongue-tied this time, “Am I the one hiding my intentions or are you?”
That’s when I see just how desperate Paris is. He looks at Titania—who by now is nothing more than a snake in a skirt with glittery wings—and challenges her TO HER FACE.
“Dynamis saved the Winter Prince and Winter Princess. Titania burned two innocent people in their place to cover the fact that he failed to retain them during her party.”
Titania’s eyes whittle down. Her party had brought her into prominence over the other IAs and now her party was bringing her into suspicion. I wonder how long Paris had been holding onto this secret. Right now, at this moment he was giving it away to save me. Right now, at this moment Titania was the one who had a target on her back.
“Is this true?” Solaris asks.
Titania gets quiet.
“Remove the Spring fairy and the human. We must have a deeper discussion.”
Indigo and I are separated. My heart is beating. I swear to god at this point tears are coming down my face. I had never imagined I would have been that close to death. All of a sudden that tough face that I put on just faded away. I had known Titania was dangerous but I hadn’t known I would so easily become her main target.
If it weren’t for Paris, I’d be dead now.
But Indigo. Indigo tried to help too. Maybe that’s why when we get into my room I try to hug him. I try to reach out and hug him. I don’t get far.
“Don’t…” he states.
“Indigo, I was just happy that I survived.”
“I know Paris made that up for you. What the fuck were you and my husband doing together in the middle of the night?” Indigo asks.
The look he gives me is almost someone I don’t recognize. I knew he wanted us to be somewhat distant but I didn’t think Indigo would ever look at me the way he was looking at me now. It was this look of pure disgust. There was no other way to describe it.
“Indigo I almost died. Don’t you care?”
“What I care about is the fact that I have the entire Spring Court depending on me keeping this alliance together with marriage but my husband is more interested in you then keeping this country at peace…”
He is so angry. Looking at him I can tell this wedding has changed him.
“I know you’re under a lot of pressure from Cerulean to make this wedding work but I’m not actively pursuing Paris. I do like talking to him. We are connecting, but it isn’t something I can help. I don’t know how I can stop him.”
“You don’t know?” he asks, “There’s a lot of things you don’t know. Queen Cerulean has raised an army of 150 Thousand men. They are standing in the south. She’s paranoid that whoever killed Dynamis is going to go after her and her unborn son. The slightest sign that this marriage isn’t working and guess what happens?”
My heart races.
“War?” I ask.
He nods, “War. You’ve seen the war. Haven’t you? Thousands of innocent humans are not going to be slaughtered because one stupid privileged fairy doesn’t suck it up and maintain a political marriage. Do you think they care about love? FUCK LOVE. They want to live.”
Hearing him say the words he’s saying hits me hard. It’s the way he delivers it. The way that his voice gets all shaky. The way that he stresses innocent when he says, humans, as though he’s seen some terrifying things that I couldn’t imagine. I knew Spring fairies were the most inclined to be nice to humans. I had seen the difference of how I was treated when I served the Spring fairies as opposed to serving Solaris. They treated us well. They cared. For a moment I realize Indigo may be one of the only fairies who was truly caring about how these games played out. He’s shaking with each word. Each word with passion.
“I can talk to him,” I state, “I can tell him that we will be more discreet. I can’t promise you anything but I’ll do what I can.”
I’ve been so worried about me. I’ve been acting more like a selfish fairy than anything.
“You know what you can do? Do you know what you really can do? YOU CAN STAY AWAY FROM MY FUCKING HUSBAND!”
Indigo slams his fist hard on the table. He slams shatters it. Seeing fairy strength is somewhat remarkable honestly. Seeing how he is able to destroy that table without even trying is quite remarkable.
“Whoa—-what the hell is happening in here?”
It’s Paris who has managed to arrive right before Indigos blow up.
“We had a conversation,” Indigo states, “An understanding. Raine is going to stay away from you and whatever is ‘starting’ between you two ends now.”
“Is that what you said?” Paris asks me.
I stay quiet. I’m still shaken up by how hard Indigo hit the table. I’m still shaken up about how passionate he was. He’d never screamed at me before. I understand his motivations. Or at least I think I do. It’s just the way he is coming at me right now is beyond aggressive.
Paris turns to Indigo after taking note of my silence.
“If you threaten him again, there’s going to be problems.”
“Here’s a threat for you,” Indigo states, “If the two of you don’t stop fucking around, it just might leak that Dino has an Uncle in the court.”
Hearing him say that he would reveal my relationship with Dino is shocking, to say the least.
“You wouldn’t do that to me,” I state.
“I wouldn’t want to,” Indigo states, “But this is bigger than me. It’s bigger than all of us. You two need to start acting like it.”
Indigo leaves. Paris looks pissed off when he does. I’m not sure Paris is used to having someone talk to him like that. Not too long ago they were rivals and it seemed like not even a marriage to one another could have fixed that tension between the two.
“I’m not going to let him dictate my life,” he tells me.
“Is that what the Winter Princess said when she turned down Dorian and lost the war for her entire family?” I ask.
“I’m not the Winter Princess and neither are you.”
Definitely not the princess, at least.
“I care about you. I’ve been an asshole to you but that was because I didn’t know how to react to you. Since the day I’ve met you, I’ve been intrigued. You make me want to be smarter so I can impress you. You make me want to be more handsome so you can stare at me. You make me want to be better. You have no idea how I feel about you.”
“I think I do.”
He outed Titania for me. That said enough. My heart races wondering how I didn’t realize that this person was such a good person this whole time. Then I remember. Aunt Willow conspired to make me hate him. Now that reason for hating Paris was gone and I can see him for exactly who he is.
He was a good guy.
Paris shakes his head, “Listen, I’ll come to see you again. I don’t care what Indigo says. I need to see you. Things are going to be crazy, however…”
“With the revelation that the Winter Princess Mara and Prince Midnight are alive…the entire country is looking for them.”
That was the name. That was the name I remembered. Why was it that I couldn’t remember so much? Why was it only trickling down back into my memory?
“Is it that serious?”
“Yes—-Solaris put Titania in charge of fixing her mistake. Anyone who is even suspected of being the Winter King is being brought to court. She is going to torture people until she gets to the truth. They call them the Trials of Titania.”
The trials of Titania go on for weeks and they are just as bad as I imagine. I had no idea the lengths and cruelty that Titania will go to to correct this so-called mistake that she’s made.
It’s been three weeks and the mood of the Summer Court is tense with her trials.
Until this night.
This night is different. I know it’s different. I can feel it in the air. I rock back and forth struggling not to fall asleep but it’s pointless.
Solaris has been working all the staff like slaves with all the guests coming to the Summer Court to get interviewed by Titania. I use the term ‘guests’ loosely. It wasn’t uncommon for us to be up 40 hours scrubbing blood out of the granite stone after one of Titania’s so-called interviews.
I was exhausted.
I was going to be knocked out whether I liked it or not.
And it happens in the middle of the night. A thump. I wake up, my heart seeming more alarmed before my brain can catch up. It’s beating so fast. I know I’m not alone. The small servants quarters echo the slightest noise. The noise that other people wouldn’t have heard but I did. My training as a thief had made me sensitive to noises.
That’s when I see it. A shadow in the middle of the room. Lurking…moving…closer…closer…closer…
“If I were an assassin, you’d be dead now,” the voice states.
I recognize the voice immediately. It’s Mist. He looks at me and gives me a familiar smile. I want to be happy to see him but I’m so confused about why he’s here in the first place. I’m still shocked at the fact that he was alive.
“You scared me half to death.”
“I would have killed you ALL the way to death if I were one of your enemies,” he grunts rolling his eyes, taking a deep breath and sitting on the edge of the bed before adding in a patronizing manner, “I taught you better than that.”
I don’t return his banter like back in the old days. I don’t even look at him. I just quickly hiss, “And who are my enemies? Seems hard to know friends from enemies nowadays.”
“Damn. That’s my welcome?”
“He wants to see you.”
Hearing Mist saying this in the way he does freak me out a little bit. I had always known Mist to be so independent. I had always thought him and Willow have rebelled against the world. They were one of those humans that would never bow to fairy rule whether we lost the Fairy Takeover war or not. I was wrong.
“You mean Dorian?” I ask.
He nods. There is a reluctance to his nod. I knew Mist. The way he hangs his head tells me he takes no pride at this moment. It confused me even further when he nods, mutters a quick, “Yes.” Then turns away towards the shadows as though not wanting me to realize how sad he really was.
Mist was nothing but a servant.
“What are you now? An errand boy?” I ask, “The Seelies won the civil war. Dorian isn’t even in power. He has like 6 fairies with him for god sakes.”
“You wouldn’t get it.”
“Explain it to me.”
Mist doesn’t look at me. He just gets up and starts making his way to the door, “Just come with me. Please. The Master won’t like if I return to him empty handed…”
As we sneak out of the palace I look over at Mist. A part of me doesn’t want to make him feel bad but the other part of me is hurt. I’m so fucking hurt. This was my best friend. This was my partner. This was the person I loved the most in life outside of my nephew and I felt like he was a stranger.
“You knew what I was…” I state, “You knew who I was.”
Mist sighs, “So you really did go to the Fairy Archives. The Master stated that you might have discovered your true identity if you went.”
He knew. He might not answer my question directly but he knew.
I stay quiet for a while longer. It’s so awkward as we make our way down to the other side of the great Seasonal Courts. I’d never been to this side before. It feels different. I wonder if I imagine it but the temperature drops a little bit. The flowers that outlined the Summer Courts were gone. Nothing but dark willows and eerie vines that spread across the walls like darkly twisted fingers.
Even the stones were darker here. Everything gloomy. Everything so opposite of the Summer and Spring Court. This was where the Unseelie—-what was left of them—-called home. This was the Unseelie Courts.
“You betrayed me for this?”
“You don’t get it,” Mist states feeling the tension and finally seeing fit to address it, “I have no choice but to serve.”
“I know you did something to me. There is a reason I don’t remember.”
The source of fairy magic. Dust. It had to be what made me forget. Its effects were wearing off.
“You don’t get it,” he states, “We did what we were told. This isn’t the Summer Court. I wasn’t hired. The Servants of the Autumn Court are bound to our masters.”
“Binding is a fairy tradition,” Mist states, “My entire bloodline is bound to serve the Autumn King. It’s magic. My grandfather was tricked to eating a pie baked with enchanted dust. Since then we were bound and we cannot betray the Autumn King.”
Fuck. Mist can barely look at me when he says these things. He looks away. I wonder if for a moment I see a few tears in his eyes. It looks painful for him that he has to go through this.
“And if you refuse?” I ask, “If you refuse to serve Dorian?”
“My body ceases to exist. I go to the Shadow Court.”
”Imagine the worst place on Earth. Multiply it by a thousand. That would be the Shadow Realm. It’s a realm for the traitors. Fairy and human alike. A hell on earth where one doesn’t die. They just suffer. Anyone who betrays their binding immediately vanishes from this world…and is sent there…”
“That can’t be real.”
Mist shakes his head, “It’s real. I’ve seen it. It happened to my father…”
It was a dark and stormy night. It seemed as though the world knew how I felt after hearing Mist’s story. A fog was flowing through the castle walls. The light inside the Autumn Court was barely visible. The sun was beaming through the dark clouds, bats were flying around in the rain. Mist takes me across a moat. The moat was slick with moss and algae, painting it an eerie green.
“We’re here,” Mist states.
There are a handful of humans sitting around quietly. No gossip and drinks flowing like in the Seelie courts. No signs of immense wealth. Unlike the Summer Court, they weren’t busy. They stood almost in a circle around each other looking just as uncomfortable here as I was. The stone walls seemed to hold a supernatural stillness. The servants weren’t as many as the Summer Court and definitely not as many as the populous Spring Court. This place seemed abandoned and only the curious members seemed to make their presence known.
“Welcome,” Dorian says.
His voice was like deep satin, strumming my ears. His dark wings and pale complexion make him seem almost like a painting as he moves towards me. Not any painting. The most sensuous painting in the world.
“He knows,” Mist immediately tells his master.
I hate that he does it. He doesn’t even waste time proving to me where his allegiance lied. Dorian doesn’t seem surprised. He probably suspects what it is that I know. I know that I’m the son of the Winter King.
“Good,” Dorian states, “This makes this easier. Walk with me.”
He offers me his hand. I look at it for a minute and decide not to take it. There was something enticing about Dorian. Maybe it’s the fact that he wore these see-through clothes that showed the nudity underneath. He oozed sex. Every step he took closer to me made my asshole drip. Literally. By the time he gets in arm’s length I can almost feel myself getting wet for him, wondering whether the long, beautifully shaped shadows of a dick I see underneath his clothing would feel like if they were thrusting inside of me as he whispered his mysterious words.
“I’d rather not.”
“Do I make you nervous?” he asks.
Yes. Fuck yes.
“No,” I lie, badly but at least I manage to get it out.
He seems to know because he gets close to me. His darkness pressed all around me making me feel as though there is no one else in these dark halls but him and I.
“You’re upset with me.” He states without seeming to care too immensely either way.
He could care about nothing it seems. Life, death, love or hate meant nothing to him. He seemed so fucking… indifferent.
“You betrayed my father. You bound Willow and Mist to you. Why wouldn’t I be upset with you?”
He looks over at Mist when I say what I say. I can see Mist sink into the shadows almost like a dog who knows his owner is upset with him. I’ve never seen Mist so visibly afraid. He respected this man. The fear that was outlined on his face said it all. Dorian was a frightening man.
“I wasn’t responsible for binding Willow and Mist. My father was. I cannot undo the spell. Simply put—they belong to me until the day they die and their children will belong to my children. And so on. As far as your father. It’s far more complicated.”
“Your father was not the best man. Autumn doesn’t trust humans but we saw the use for them through binding. Winter wants humanity dead. Have you ever thought of the implications of genocide, Prince Midnight?”
Him saying something like that to me about a dead man was bold. It was very bold, but truthfully I can’t say that the thought never crossed my mind. I’d heard the Unseelie hated humans. The war was due to the fact that they didn’t want humans to exist. I couldn’t imagine not having a problem with that and no matter how uncomfortable Dorian made me…the truth was the truth.
My father may have actually been a very bad person.
“What do you want from me?”
“Straight to the point then?” he asks.
“Straight to the point.”
He walks over to me, “When I betrayed your father, many fairies of the Autumn Court fled and abandoned me. You see, the Autumn Court was always subservient to the Winter Court. They felt betrayed as well.”
“It makes sense. You’re a traitor.”
“I did what I could to save my Court. We would have lost the war.”
“That’s not what I hear. I hear you did it because you didn’t get a marriage.”
“You heard a lie. Who told you that? Paris—-the Summer fairy you’ve been sneaking around with?”
“You’re spying on me!”
I’m getting pissed off. Dorian doesn’t raise his voice back. I don’t think it’s possible for a man like him to raise his voice even if he wanted to.
“I have been protecting you. I sent my best slave Willow to find you and your sister after you escaped Titania’s party. I had her protect you. I had her raise you. All my life I’ve been waiting for this moment. I’ve been waiting for you.”
That’s when he does it.
He gets on his knees.
“What are you doing? Get up.”
“Don’t make the same mistake your sister made,” Dorian explains, “A war is coming. You are the Winter King.”
“Marry me and I make you the most powerful person in the world.”
He was proposing!
“I don’t want power.”
“You want safety. You want to keep your nephew safe. He may be shamed with Summer blood but he is also a Winter Fairy. Do you want to keep Mist safe as well? I can do those things. I HAVE done those things. If the Summers find out who you are…what do you suppose they’ll do to you?”
“I can imagine…”
I get quiet. I swallow my spit. He had a point. Willow and Mist had always taken care of me and Dino. It was clear they only did what he allowed them to do.
“If you marry me…the Autumn Court will know that I have made things right with the Winter Court. They’ll come out of hiding. These empty halls will be returned to their former glory.”
He looks around. Sure enough, these halls were empty. A ghost image of what I imagine they were at a time long past. I look at Dorian and I wonder what I’m looking at. He’s impossible to read.
But then I see it.
He needed me. His own people had turned against him and they wouldn’t come back without me marrying him. How strange that the Autumn Court wouldn’t come back unless the Winter King was present.
“No,” I state.
He looks at me at that moment as though I’m some child that he needs to explain things to. As though I hadn’t been living in this world long enough to understand. He seems as though he doesn’t want to dirty his own existence with explaining to me as he gets up and huffs a sign of annoyance. At least it’s some sort of emotion besides his normal indifference.
“No?” he asks, “I don’t think you get it. A war is coming, whether we want it to or not. I’m trying to give the Unseelie a fighting chance. You ARE Unseelie whether you like it or not. The last full Winter fairy.”
“This seems to be YOUR problem. I’m not fighting anyone as far as I know,” I respond quickly.
“You’re stubborn,” he sneers, “You have the beauty of your mother and the will of your father. Fine. I’ll offer you an incentive.”
“Mist…” Dorian calls out.
Mist walks over from the darkness. There were so many shadows in this court I hadn’t even known he was still there. He almost scares me. He stops right in front of us and doesn’t even look Dorian in the eye. It’s still freaking me out how he’s acting. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to him being so damn docile.
He looks at Dorian’s feet and lets out a submissive, “Yes master.”
“I’m going to ask Raine to marry me one more time. If he refuses again—–I want you to kill yourself. Do you understand?”
I feel this urge to get close to Mist but I don’t get close. Mist puts a knife to his throat. I watch as tears are falling down his face. He would rather die than go to the Shadow Court. I can see that fear in his eyes. It’s real. It’s all real. My heart is racing. I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t believe this is fucking happening right now.
Dorian turns to me. He hasn’t raised his voice. He hasn’t changed the reflection in his tone. He’s as cool and calm as the first day I met him. The dark shadow that I’ve noticed before floats over his eyes and he says calmly before getting back down on one knee.
“Raine—–or should I say King Midnight of the Winter Court—-will you marry me?”