“Tam!” Lucien cried over the chaos.
A sword hurtled through the air, a shooting star of steel.
Tamlin caught it in a massive paw. Amarantha’s scream was cut short as he drove the sword through her head and into the stone beneath.
And then closed his powerful jaws around her throat—and ripped it out.
It wasn’t until I was again staring down at my own broken body that I realized whose eyes I’d been seeing through. But Rhysand didn’t come any closer to my corpse, not as rushing paws—then a flash of light, then footsteps—filled the air. The beast was already gone.
Amarantha’s blood had vanished from his face, his tunic, as Tamlin slammed to his knees.
He scooped up my limp, broken body, cradling me to his chest. He hadn’t removed his mask, but I saw the tears that fell onto my filthy tunic, and I heard the shuddering sobs that broke from him as he rocked me, stroking my hair.
“No,” someone breathed—Lucien, his sword dangling from his hand. Indeed, there were many High Fae and faeries who watched with damp eyes as Tamlin held me.
I wanted to get to Tamlin. I wanted to touch him, to beg for his forgiveness for what I’d done, for the other bodies on the floor, but I was so far away.
Someone appeared beside Lucien—a tall, handsome brown-haired man with a face similar to his own. Lucien didn’t look at his father, though he stiffened as the High Lord of the Autumn Court approached Tamlin and extended a clenched hand to him.
Tamlin glanced up only when the High Lord opened his fingers and tipped over his hand. A glittering spark fell upon me. It flared and vanished as it touched my chest.
Two more figures approached—both handsome and young. Through my host’s eyes, I knew them instantly. The brown-skinned one on the left wore a tunic of blue and green, and atop his white-blond head was a garland of roses—the High Lord of the Summer Court. His pale-skinned companion, clad in colors of white and gray, possessed a crown of shimmering ice. The High Lord of the Winter Court.
Chins raised, shoulders back, they, too, dropped those glittering kernels upon me, and Tamlin bowed his head in gratitude.
Another High Lord approached, also bestowing upon me a drop of light. He glowed brightest of them all, and from his gold-and-ruby raiment, I knew him to be High Lord of the Dawn Court. Then the High Lord of the Day Court, clad in white and gold, his dark skin gleaming with an inner light, presented his similar gift, and smiled sadly at Tamlin before he walked away.
Rhysand stepped forward, bringing my shred of soul with him, and I found Tamlin staring at me—at us. “For what she gave,” Rhysand said, extending a hand, “we’ll bestow what our predecessors have granted to few before.” He paused. “This makes us even,” he added, and I felt the twinkle of his humor as he opened his hand and let the seed of light fall on me.
Tamlin tenderly brushed aside my matted hair. His hand glowed bright as the rising sun, and in the center of his palm, that strange, shining bud formed.
“I love you,” he whispered, and kissed me as he laid his hand on my heart.
Everything was black, and warm—and thick. Inky, but bordered with gold. I was swimming, kicking for the surface, where Tamlin was waiting, where life was waiting. Up and up, frantic for air. The golden light grew, and the darkness became like sparkling wine, easier to swim through, the bubbles fizzing around me, and—
I gasped, air flooding my throat.
I was lying on the cold floor. No pain—no blood, no broken bones. I blinked. A chandelier dangled above me—I’d never noticed how intricate the crystals were, how the hushed gasp of the crowd echoed off them. A crowd—meaning I was still in that throne room, meaning I … I truly wasn’t dead. Meaning I had … I had killed those … I had … The room spun.
I groaned as I braced my hands against the floor, readying myself to stand, but—the sight of my skin stopped me cold. It gleamed with a strange light, and my fingers seemed longer where I’d laid them flat on the marble. I pushed to my feet. I felt—felt strong, and fast and sleek. And—
And I’d become High Fae.
I went rigid as I sensed Tamlin standing behind me, smelled that rain and spring meadow scent of him, richer than I’d ever noticed. I couldn’t turn around to look at him—I couldn’t … couldn’t move. A High Fae—immortal. What had they done?
I could hear Tamlin holding his breath—hear as he loosed it. Hear the breathing, the whispering and weeping and quiet celebrating of everyone in that hall, still watching us—watching me—some chanting praise for the glorious power of their High Lords.
“It was the only way we could save you,” Tamlin said softly. But then I looked to the wall, and my hand rose to my throat. I forgot about the stunned crowd entirely.
There, beneath Clare’s decayed body, was Amarantha, her mouth gaping as the sword protruded from her brow. Her throat gone—and blood now soaked the front of her gown.
Amarantha was dead. They were free. I was free. Tamlin was—
Amarantha was dead. And I had killed those two High Fae; I had—
I shook my head slowly. “Are you—” My voice sounded too loud in my ears as I pushed back against that wall of black that threatened to swallow me. Amarantha was dead.
“See for yourself,” he said. I kept my eyes on the ground as I turned. There, on the red marble, lay a golden mask, staring at me with its hollow eyeholes.
“Feyre,” Tamlin said, and he cupped my chin between his fingers, gently lifting my face. I saw that familiar chin first, then the mouth, and then—
He was exactly how I dreamed he would be.
He smiled at me, his entire face alight with that quiet joy I had come to love so dearly, and he brushed my hair aside. I savored the feel of his fingers on my skin and raised my own to touch his face, to trace the contours of those high cheekbones and that lovely, straight nose—the clear, broad brow, the slightly arching eyebrows that framed his green eyes.
What I had done to get to this moment, to be standing here … I shoved against the thought again. In a minute, in an hour, in a day, I would think about that, force myself to face it.
I put a hand on Tamlin’s heart, and a steady beat echoed into my bones.
I sat on the edge of a bed, and while I’d thought being an immortal meant a higher pain threshold and faster healing, I winced a good deal as Tamlin inspected my few remaining wounds, then healed them. We’d scarcely had a moment alone together in the hours that followed Amarantha’s death—that followed what I had done to those two faeries.