"I told you not to trust him."
It was that moment. That: I told you so moment. Mist has found me in the courts. It's been a week since I've discovered Paris as a traitor. I'm doing laundry when he finds me and for some reason, it just slips out what I heard Paris and the other Summer Fairies discussing not too long ago.
"There has to be a reason," I think, "There has to be an explanation."
"He is a Seelie. You are an Unseelie," Mist tells me, "What other reason does there need to be?"
"Paris isn't like that."
"He's JUST like that," Mist assures me, "What are you doing, Midnight? Washing his underwear for him? Is that what really is happening right now?"
I look down. It is what was happening. It was a mix of multiple Summer Fairies underwears honestly. We couldn't even use tech because it was outlawed so here I was handwashing it.
"Stop calling me that," I tell Mist, "My name is Raine."
"Is it? Do you know who you are? Do you have any idea?"
I can't have Mist making a scene. Not now of all times. Titania has arrived in court. I see the list of her servants coming out before her. Somehow Titania and Solaris had managed to maneuver Paris into binding himself to kill me. It was so easy for him to do it. It was as though I meant nothing to him. All I could think of was that if Mist was right then this was a real issue.
Titania isn't alone. Paris is with her.
Seeing him at this moment hurt. Everything he'd said to me was a lie. It was clear as day and I had allowed myself to be completely played by him. All I could think about now is what was happening. What were they talking about? I move closer.
"I do believe you made the right choice," Titania states, "Ayina will be a beautiful bride."
Bride. I immediately abandon my clothes and make my way towards Paris. I grab the nearest decanter, hold it above my head and make my way to the two Summer Fairies.
"Wine?" I ask.
"No. Privacy would be nice," he states.
The way that he says it is strange. He touches the side of his neck and turns away from me as though withdrawing or blocking.
"I'll take some wine," Titania retorts before I decide to walk away, "We should be toasting. A celebration to the marriage of my daughter Ayina and King Dino."
I take a step back.
No. This couldn't be happening.
My eyes lock with Paris. Perhaps in the next moments, he's going to say something else. Perhaps in the next moments, he was going to call it a lie but I didn't think it was. I felt completely betrayed. He was trying to kill me. He was going to marry off my nephew at such a young age to the daughter of a fucking serpent.
It's at that moment that I realize I could never forgive him.
I walk away...no. Better yet I run away. I find myself at the nearest basin, an area the Seelie fairies would come to sunbathe during the warm days. And I start crying. It's hot today. So hot. And I'm feeling hot inside. I'm so hot that I need to cool down and as though the world could hear me, a shadow comes over me. I look up and see him standing there.
"Still devoted to him?" Mist asks me.
I didn't need to answer his question with words. The look I give him says it all. Paris would pay for what he did here. He and all the Summer fairies would pay.
"Tell your master yes."
"In regards to what?"
"Tell Dorian I'll marry him."
It's the night of the Winter solstice. Willow tells me it's the time of the year where it is the shortest day and the longest night. She says it has to be tonight. She tells me that I should spend time alone. I avoid Paris for the most part which is easy but avoiding Dino is an entirely different thing. Even now I am in the dark courts outside of the Summer tower looking up at his room.
"It's time," Mist whispers to me.
He is wearing all black. The dark colors of the Autumn Court seem to hold all the sway. We are swept away at that point by carriage until we leave the Courts altogether and arrive at the edge of a hill. Beyond the hill, the waters clash as a heavy tide seems to be taking over. I look over at Mist. His eyes have been on me since we left the courts.
"You look nice."
I have my father's pendant with me. The dust filled pendant is the only thing that feels familiar. The white suit I wear has a close fit which seems to add to the grace and elegance of it. Even the dim lights of the carriage bring out the vestments that are stiff with embroidery, strewn with pearls, encrusted with gemstones and white lace.
The white is a severe white. A pale white that was quite different from what I'd seen with the Summer fairies. The jacket perfectly wraps around my body. Silver trinkets outline a handsome sleek vest with 3 buttons and a deep v-line, which causes the vest to remain hidden when the suit's jacket is buttoned up.
"I look frightening."
Like the sort of fairies, kids had nightmares about in the outskirts.
"These are the colors of the Winter fairies," Mist explains to me, "Pale white and silver as opposed to the cream white and gold of the Summer fairies. These are your colors."
I could be imagining it but perhaps Mist isn't happy about this either. The way he stares at me doesn't demonstrate happiness but nothing about anything here demonstrates happiness. It's the middle of the night. It's pitch black save a torch floating out in the middle of nowhere.
"I look stupid."
I don't look stupid. Not at all but I imagine saying it would make Mist believe I'm still the kid he grew up with. I don't know why that's important to me. Mist knows who I am. He knows what I am. Perhaps I was attempting to fool myself more than him. Perhaps I wasn't ready to become Midnight. Perhaps I wanted to remain Raine for a little while longer.
"We shouldn't keep your...husband waiting," Mist etches on through the darkness grabbing my hand to help me through the steep steps of the mountainside.
He keeps looking at me as we walk up the mountain and I manage to catch him a few times despite the fact that my head is heavy with this regalia made of crystals. My cheeks have been powdered red. My purple hair is the only lively thing about me. Everything a stale white with shimmers of silver like fresh snow. The instructions Aunt Willow gave me the day earlier to prepare for today were quite specific and when she meets me at the carriage it's as though she has come to inspect for Dorian.
"You look upset," she states.
"I just assumed when I did get married it would be...different."
"That's not the sort of world we live in," she explains to me, "That's not the type of position you have been put in. You are who you are, Midnight. It could be much worse. I assure you. It could be much worse than Dorian."
She leads me out into the darkness and it's so dark and silent I think I'd be engulfed by it. In the distance, there is the torch and as we get closer it lights up brighter and brighter. It isn't until I get to the light that I see him. Dorian. He's standing there.
"You here on your own account?"
Dorian looks up at me from his dark grey shirt and his black shawl. Plain, dark and engulfing like I had imagined all things regarding the Autumn Court were. His sunken, milky white eyes stared at me through the darkness with an immediate intensity. Could he see I was nervous?
"I don't believe you."
"Would it matter either way?" I ask him, "Weren't you ready to force me to marry you some time ago? Well, I'm here now. Let's get on with it. It's wasn't important to you before that I consent."
I look away from Dorian but that doesn't help the concentration of his glare. It's as though he had the power of absorption. Any bit of confidence I had was being stripped away by his gripping intensity.
"It matters to me now."
Strange thing to say.
I don't know why I ask. I don't know why I care. Perhaps I'm biding the time of awkward silence where the man officiating this wedding looks for the right verse while the few Autumn fairies loyal to Dorian silently stare into the darkness. Mist and Willow haven't made this moment any better staring awkwardly at me as though I'd embarrass them in any moment with their precious Master Dorian.
"A lot of people believe I'm cold. Emotionless," Dorian explains, "Perhaps it's true. I am destined to marry a member of the Winter Court and unite our Courts."
"You forced my sister Mara in the same way you attempted to force me to marry you."
"I thought I found the love of my life. She didn't," he states.
"Is it so simple for you?'
He nods silently. It was this simple for him. The man marrying us says the words. I zone out. I don't know why tears are coming to my eyes at that moment as I'm standing there holding Dorian's hands. Dorian seems to be present. He seems to be in the moment and I seem to be so far away. It isn't until we are meant to kiss that I am awakened by surprisingly warm lips pressed up against my lips. My eyes jet open and I realize that it's Dorian.
After the kiss he just looks at me, stabbing through the silence like a pick stabbing at the ice.
When I can't take anymore I just whisper silently in the darkness, "Say something."
He's so odd.
He shakes his head, "I apologize. I'm quite excited at this moment. It is a rare emotion for me. Deep inside though I grew up wanting a love like your parents."
"Growing up I remember your father broke your mother's heart. I'm not sure what she did but I remember to make amends your father sent a beautiful bouquet of white flowers. In it, she counted 11 flowers and a note attached saying "My love for you will last until the last flower in this bouquet dies..."
"She thought that as well. I remember your mother paid me to take care of those flowers. I wanted to make sure they didn't die for her. Every day I soaked the flowers with water. One day after another, the flowers became less beautiful until they died. All but one flower. This was the day that I realized that your father had put an artificial flower in the bouquet that would last forever. A diamond rose."
That's when he pulls something out.
"Your mother's rose," he states.
"You kept it...all this time?" I ask.
He offers me his hand. What's more surprising than how sincere he feels at this moment is the fact that I accept it. I walk with him remembering the words that Willow stated. Things could be worse. Perhaps she had a point.
When we finally get to his room I can see the shadows behind the door. I knew what this was. This was the bedding ceremony. They would come to check the sheets not too long from now. Knowing that I look over at him. He's standing there with no reason to rush. That's the thing about Dorian. He was never in a rush.
"Are we supposed to..." I start off.
He gives me a half nod, "It is required."
He was such a unique soul. I look at the rose he gave me, "You said that you were with my mother when they had marital issues. Why? Where were your parents?"
"My mother died the day after the Takeover war. She was on human tech to keep her alive."
"Isn't that illegal?" I ask.
He nods, reluctantly, "My dad had dust. It was a lot. It just wasn't enough. I remember seeing him on the side of his bed. I promised I would wait for her forever. I kept my word because my father being convinced by the Winter King decided to take her off life support. The heart monitor chimed it's final tune. Come the end there was no applause."
"Now you understand why I never agreed with the Unseelie hatred of humans," he explains, "Now you see why I had to turn on your parents even though I loved them. My father lost his mind the day after. He woke up, rolled over, and reached for her. She wasn't there, and never would be again. Two weeks later he killed himself and I was crowned King."
The sadness of it all folds over me.
"I'm sorry," I state out of nowhere.
"I don't want you to be sorry for me," Dorian explains, "I want you to realize I'm not a monster. I want you to realize that when I betrayed your father I did it because he was wrong about humans. And you and I...maybe we can bring about a new era for the Unseelie Court. A new day...together..."
This time I kiss him. I don't know how I manage to sweep towards him as quickly as I did but I did know that it happened so fast. My tongue down his throat. His dark hands pressing up against me holding me in a way that felt so immediate and so secure. An immediate passion between us two is felt with his wing flickering in the darkness.
I look at him as he steps back and undresses. Dorian was completely shaven. For some reason I just desperately wanted to reach out and touch it but felt like that would be the corny thing to do with a guy like Dorian. He wanted to want me and I wanted to feel wanted so I allow him to do his strange stare in the darkness.
I licked my lips as I looked at it and finally, Dorian put his finger under my chin and lifted my eyes to his, "Would you like to suck my dick?"
He asked knowing I was dying at this point to try it out. I nodded eyes still wide. He stood over me with his stiff dick. I was in awe, it was beautiful. I licked my lips and opened my mouth slightly all the while watching Dorian's eyes studying me as he's done so many times before.
"Slow...my Midnight. I want you to enjoy this..."
Hearing him call me "HIS" sent me into a tizzy. I moved down and started sucking his dick. I bobbed my head, going further down his shaft with each bob. I placed my open hand on his waist and reached around his back as I tried to fit his whole dick in my mouth.
He didn't moan. That was below someone of Dorian's stature. Instead after a few minutes, he stopped, grabbed a bottle of what I could see was some sort of lube. Dorian takes my hands and squirts the lube in my hands and then placed my hands back on his dick.
"Should I?" I ask him.
I take this as a sign to get into the position. I instinctively bend over and lifted one leg. He positioned himself behind me and immediately I felt the head of his dick in my asshole, and my skin tingling me.
He leaned forward and whispered in my ear, "Normally I'll finger you to get you warmed up, but I think tonight you just need it hard and fast. Tonight you need to know I'm your husband. Tomorrow you need to have trouble walking."
And with that, I brace myself knowing that Dorian planned on keeping his promise...
That night he makes love to me several times. The morning comes for three days after that we do nothing more than have sex over and over again. It's a strange thing really. Dorian didn't have to say much. In fact, he never did. It was like he spoke with his body and each day we learned more about each other.
I wake up in the middle of the night to Dorian staring at me. It's such a Dorian-thing to do at this point. I have to admit the creepiness has somehow flushed me completely through to the point that I get butterflies in my stomach from it. I'm getting dressed and he's just staring at me, watching my ass move with his icy blue eyes.
"I can't stay here forever----" I realize.
It's a cute sentiment. He doesn't even realize he's doing it. I turn back towards him and see how he's looking at me. Damn, he's sexy. The way that folds his thick eyebrows down in a challenging way but still managing to maintain mystery even though I've explored every inch of his body by now.
"My nephew," is the only response I can come up with, "Dino. The Summer King."
He pauses sighs and shakes his head, "You are going to back to serving them."
"For now it's the safest."
"You are King Midnight. MY king. You don't serve the Summers."
"The Autumn Court is welcome but the Winter Court isn't. If they find out who I am, I'll be a target..." I remind him.
He doesn't argue with me because he knows I'm telling the truth.
"Fine," he states, "But things will change. I need to send a signal to the Autumn Court. I need to let them know that it is time to come home."
"What kind of signal?"
"I need a bit of your dust."
I look at my locket. It's been sitting on the nightstand in the room for quite some time. I walk over and grab it. I open it up and see the stuff. The stuff that brings so much fucking trouble. Fairy magic right here in my palm. The pure kind.
"You have enough dust, right?" I ask, "I saw it that day..."
"Not pure dust. You and your sister had the only PURE dust left. She's gone. Your dust is the much more powerful."
"What kind of sign are you going to send?" I ask.
"The kind of sign that works..."
"Cerulean has been building an army on the outskirts at the Blooming Forest. I need to make sure the Autumn Court is here. I need to make sure we have a presence at court."
"Not for war right?" I ask.
Dorian gets silent.
I walk over to him. I don't know if it will work. Truthfully as intimate as I was with him and as much as he revealed in our time together, I still felt like I didn't know him. Maybe that's why it feels like such a chance to hold his hand in a moment like this. I'm surprised when he reacts.
"Fine," he states, "No war."
I open his hand and give him the fairy dust, "I'll sneak off to see you in court when I can."
I get up and start walking away when I hear him call me back.
"I love you..."
I'd go back to court not quite understanding what he means by he loves me. Morning has come and the other servants are preparing breakfast for Dino in the court.
As I approach Dino I expect him to run up and see me but he doesn't. He looks up, sees me and then turns away almost as though it doesn't have the same effect on him. That's when I see Titania smile at Dino and his smile back. I'm not imagining it. Sure enough, Ayina was there with her mother. Titania is watching over the two kids playing.
And I fucking hate it.
I take a step forward when I feel a hand grab me. The hand pulls me back.
"You keep distancing yourself from him, what did you expect would happen?" the voice asks.
My heart races at that moment. Seeing Paris right here right now surprises me. He manages to pull me away from the public view and takes me to a corner, past a rose bush where we can have some privacy.
"He is MY nephew," I remind him.
I hadn't been around. Paris couldn't understand. He didn't know what was going on with me. I had come to Court for Dino but I had figured out that I was the Winter King. All of a sudden I had things I had to deal with. All of a sudden Dino wasn't my top priority any longer. It hurt but it was a sad truth that I was trying to come to term with.
"He is now Titania's son-in-law," Paris states.
"How could you let this happen?"
"I didn't have a choice. I had to agree to it. You don't get how much pressure it is when you are at Court," Paris explains, "Cerulean has left the Courts. She is building an army in the Blooming Forest. Everyone is getting antsy feeling as though she may attack us for her husband's death."
Mist killed the Spring King.
"So you are using my nephew as a distraction to the fact that Cerulean is building an army?"
"You wouldn't understand political marriages. I had to agree. The Summer king looks stronger with a wife especially if that wife is the daughter of Titania. Like her or not she has a vicious reputation. I came to explain this to you before it happened and you haven't been around. You haven't been around for days..."
I look away. There's no way to tell Paris where I've been without revealing who I was. It wouldn't make sense to him otherwise.
"I had to deal with some pressing issues."
"What is more pressing than your nephew's wedding?"
My own, for starters.
"I told you I had to deal with some fucking issues, didn't I?"
I'm raising my voice. I refuse for this piece of shit to keep telling me that I'm being a bad uncle. He had no idea what the fuck was going on in my life.
"Whoa...what's the problem?" Paris states, "Babe...it's me. Calm down and talk regularly."
It would have been smart to play it off. It would have been smart to pretend like this wasn't bothering me. It was though. I was so angry at that moment that I couldn't pretend. So I push him. I push Paris as hard as I can and I start walking away, knowing damn well I wouldn't get far before he comes up to me and grabs me.
"Tell me what the issue is."
Paris isn't taking no for an answer. He grabs me and presses me up against the wall. He holds me there securely and I'm quite sure I'm not getting out of this. When he looks at me I swear I see some real concern in his eyes. He's so fucking good. The regal prince charming in gold was something that had worked for so long. I had surrendered to it for so long.
"Aren't you of Royal blood? Somehow you do everything that Solaris and Titania tell you to. You're like their puppet."
"Listen you don't need to concern yourself about what is going on in the Summer's Court. It's none of your business," he tries to deflect.
"My nephew is a Summer Fairy..."
"But YOU aren't..." Paris digs in not giving up this argument, "You need to know that I'm doing whatever I can to make sure Dino is safe. Because he's my nephew and because I love you..."
"Is the idea so repelling to you?"
It's been twice in a day that I've heard it and it still seems not to fit. How could a man who wanted to kill me even think that he loved me? Was this part of his plan? To get me close and kill me?
"I heard you bind yourself...I heard you bind yourself to kill the Winter King..." I state.
"What does me killing Indigo have to do with anything?"
My mouth drops.
"I didn't want to tell you because I knew you two were close, but yes. Titania has reason to believe that Indigo is the Winter King."
Paris had never bound himself to try to kill me. He bound himself to kill the Winter King thing that it was Indigo. All of a sudden it becomes clear that Paris never tried to betray me at all. Me marrying Dorian...was in reaction to that.
All of a sudden I'm dropping to my knees. I'm in shock. Paris looks down at me and he seems so confused.
"Why would Titania think Indigo was the Winter King?"
He shrugs, "She has her reasons. She's Titania, after all. She's rarely ever wrong. Is this why you're mad at me? You overheard me bind myself to kill Indigo and you are upset about it. Do you still have feelings for him."
"I---I don't know..."
"You don't know if you have feelings for him?"
"I don't know how I should feel," is my only response.
Happy that Paris didn't betray me.
Upset that he's plotting on killing Indigo.
Happy that Paris actually admitted to loving me.
Upset that he's allowing Solaris and Titania to make all the decisions for him.
I don't know what to think at this point. I was relieved that Paris hadn't bound himself to kill me but I'm a little nervous that he hadn't been specific when he did bind himself. Could it be possible that he made an unbreakable promise to kill me without even realizing that it was me he was promising to kill?
"We believe Indigo is really the Winter Prince. Something is empowering King Dorian and that could only mean that the Winter Court could possibly be returning. I know Indigo is your friend but..."
"I can't deal with this now..."
My day couldn't get any worse. It just couldn't get any worse. Just as I'm thinking that I look in the distance and I notice something.
Not just any explosion. This was something, unlike anything I've ever seen before. The fact that we could see it from here meant something. It meant something huge but I'm just not sure what at this point.
It couldn't be good.
All of a sudden the entire court is pouring out of court seeing what we were seeing. He looks at me and I can tell that he's surprised. It isn't until I see Indigo that I realize just how bad this is. Indigo has this look on his face that just seems beyond shocked. I push Paris. I literally push Paris towards Indigo. And that's when they embrace and Indigo begins to cry into Paris's chest.
"That's the Blooming Forest...Cerulean was there..." Indigo is crying.
Shit, Indigo was right. Cerulean was building an army at that forest. The pregnant Queen was in the exact same area as that explosion when it happened. If she was anywhere close there was no way that she could have survived. Looking at Indigo it is clear that is the only reason that he would be crying in the way that he is.
Paris tries to comfort him, "I don't know how that could have happened. Is it tech?"
Tech was outlawed.
"It's not tech," I state out loud.
"What could be that powerful?" Indigo asks me, seeming confused when I speak up the way that I do.
I'm just a servant to these people. I shouldn't be talking at all but I can't help myself.
I'm not sure why everyone looks at me. All of a sudden I remember something. I remember something that sends shivers up my spine.
Dorian had to send a sign. He had to send a sign to let the Autumn Court know it was time to come home. Could this possibly be that sign?
Could I have given him the weapon that he used to create such an explosion?
"What was that? What the hell was that?"
I'm the one that answers, "It's Dust."
To read the next chapter in advance go to www.crushedcrown.com