A Court of Mist and Fury Page 125

“The … frenzy,” he said carefully, as if fearful the wrong word might send us both hurtling for each other before we could get sustenance into our bodies. “When a couple accepts the mating bond, it’s … overwhelming. Again, harkening back to the beasts we once were. Probably something about ensuring the female was impregnated.” My heart paused at that. “Some couples don’t leave the house for a week. Males get so volatile that it can be dangerous for them to be in public, anyway. I’ve seen males of reason and education shatter a room because another male looked too long in their mate’s direction, too soon after they’d been mated.”

I hissed out a breath. Another shattered room flashed in my memory.

Rhys said softly, knowing what haunted me, “I’d like to believe I have more restraint than the average male, but … Be patient with me, Feyre, if I’m a little on edge.”

That he’d admit that much … “You don’t want to leave this house.”

“I want to stay in that bedroom and fuck you until we’re both hoarse.”

That fast, I was ready for him, aching for him, but—but we had to go. Queens. Cauldron. Jurian. War. “About—pregnancy,” I said.

And might as well have thrown a bucket of ice over both of us.

“We didn’t—I’m not taking a tonic. I haven’t been, I mean.”

He set down his bread. “Do you want to start taking it again?”

If I did, if I started today, it’d negate what we’d done last night, but … “If I am a High Lord’s mate, I’m expected to bear you offspring, aren’t I? So perhaps I shouldn’t.”

“You are not expected to bear me anything,” he snarled. “Children are rare, yes. So rare, and so precious. But I don’t want you to have them unless you want to—unless we both want to. And right now, with this war coming, with Hybern … I’ll admit that I’m terrified at the thought of my mate being pregnant with so many enemies around us. I’m terrified of what I might do if you’re pregnant and threatened. Or harmed.”

Something tight in my chest eased, even as a chill went down my back as I considered that power, that rage I’d seen at the Night Court, unleashed upon the earth. “Then I’ll start taking it today, once we get back.”

I rose from the table on shaky knees and headed for the bedroom. I had to bathe—I was covered in him, my mouth tasted of him, despite breakfast. Rhys said softly from behind me, “I would be happy beyond reason, though, if you one day did honor me with children. To share that with you.”

I turned back to him. “I want to live first,” I said. “With you. I want to see things and have adventures. I want to learn what it is to be immortal, to be your mate, to be part of your family. I want to be … ready for them. And I selfishly want to have you all to myself for a while.”

His smile was gentle, sweet. “You take all the time you need. And if I get you all to myself for the rest of eternity, then I won’t mind that at all.”

I made it to the edge of the bath before Rhys caught me, carried me into the water, and made love to me, slow and deep, amid the billowing steam.

CHAPTER

56

Rhys winnowed us to the Illyrian camp. We wouldn’t be staying long enough to be at risk—and with ten thousand Illyrian warriors surrounding us on the various peaks, Rhys doubted anyone would be stupid enough to attack.

We’d just appeared in the mud outside the little house when Cassian drawled from behind us, “Well, it’s about time.”

The savage, wild snarl that ripped out of Rhys was like nothing I’d heard, and I gripped his arm as he whirled on Cassian.

Cassian looked at him and laughed.

But the Illyrian warriors in the camp began shooting into the sky, hauling women and children with them.

“Hard ride?” Cassian tied back his dark hair with a worn strap of leather.

Preternatural quiet now leaked from Rhys where the snarl had erupted a moment before. And rather than see him turn the camp to rubble I said, “When he bashes your teeth in, Cassian, don’t come crying to me.”

Cassian crossed his arms. “Mating bond chafing a bit, Rhys?”

Rhys said nothing.

Cassian snickered. “Feyre doesn’t look too tired. Maybe she could give me a ride—”

Rhys exploded.

Wings and muscles and snapping teeth, and they were rolling through the mud, fists flying, and—

And Cassian had known exactly what he was saying and doing, I realized as he kicked Rhys off him, as Rhys didn’t touch that power that could have flattened these mountains.

He’d seen the edge in Rhys’s eyes and known he had to dull it before we could go any further.

Rhys had known, too. Which was why we’d winnowed here first—and not Velaris.

They were a sight to behold, two Illyrian males fighting in the mud and stones, panting and spitting blood. None of the other Illyrians dared land.

Nor would they, I realized, until Rhys had worked off his temper—or left the camp entirely. If the average male needed a week to adjust … What was required of Rhysand? A month? Two? A year?

Cassian laughed as Rhys slammed a fist into his face, blood spraying. Cassian slung one right back at him, and I cringed as Rhys’s head knocked to the side. I’d seen Rhys fight before, controlled and elegant, and I’d seen him mad, but never so … feral.

“They’ll be at it for a while,” Mor said, leaning against the threshold of the house. She held open the door. “Welcome to the family, Feyre.”

And I thought those might have been the most beautiful words I’d ever heard.

Rhys and Cassian spent an hour pummeling each other into exhaustion, and when they trudged back into the house, bloody and filthy, one look at my mate was all it took for me to crave the smell and feel of him.

Cassian and Mor instantly found somewhere else to be, and Rhys didn’t bother taking my clothes all the way off before he bent me over the kitchen table and made me moan his name loud enough for the Illyrians still circling high above to hear.

But when we finished, the tightness in his shoulders and the tension coiled in his eyes had vanished … And a knock on the door from Cassian had Rhys handing me a damp washcloth to clean myself. A moment later, the four of us had winnowed to the music and light of Velaris.

To home.

The sun had barely set as Rhys and I walked hand in hand into the dining room of the House of Wind, and found Mor, Azriel, Amren, and Cassian already seated. Waiting for us.

As one, they stood.

As one, they looked at me.

And as one, they bowed.

It was Amren who said, “We will serve and protect.”

They each placed a hand over their heart.

Waiting—for my reply.

Rhys hadn’t warned me, and I wondered if the words were supposed to come from my heart, spoken without agenda or guile. So I voiced them.

“Thank you,” I said, willing my voice to be steady. “But I’d rather you were my friends before the serving and protecting.”

Mor said with a wink, “We are. But we will serve and protect.”

My face warmed, and I smiled at them. My—family.

“Now that we’ve settled that,” Rhys drawled from behind me, “can we please eat? I’m famished.” Amren opened her mouth with a wry smile, but he added, “Do not say what you were going to say, Amren.” Rhys gave Cassian a sharp look. Both of them were still bruised—but healing fast. “Unless you want to have it out on the roof.”

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