After a moment, Kieran drank. Suddenly he pushed the vial away, coughing. “How dare you—” he began, and then his eyes rolled back and he sank down to the pillows. Mark caught him before his wounded back could touch the bed, and helped Nene carefully roll him onto his side.
“Don’t feel bad,” Mark said, noticing Nene’s set jaw. “He always falls asleep yelling that.”
“He needed to rest,” was all Nene said. She swept from the room.
Mark watched her go, his face troubled. “She is not what I imagined, when I dreamed that I might have family in Faerie,” he said. “For so many years I looked and asked, and there was no sign of them. I had given up.”
“She went out of her way to find you and save you,” said Cristina. “She clearly cares for you.”
“She doesn’t know me,” said Mark. “Faeries feel very strongly about blood. She could not leave me to fall into the hands of the Unseelie King. What happens to one member of a family reflects upon the others of that bloodline.”
She touched your hair, Cristina wanted to say. She had seen it only very quickly: As Nene had reached to bandage Kieran’s back, her fingers had brushed the fine edges of Mark’s pale hair. He hadn’t noticed, and Cristina wondered now, if she told him, if he would even believe her.
Cristina sat down on the foot of the bed. Kieran had curled up, his dark hair tangled beneath his restless head. Mark was leaning back against the headboard. His bare feet were on the bed, only a few inches from Cristina; his arm lay outstretched, his fingers nearly touching hers.
But his gaze was on Kieran. “He doesn’t remember,” he said.
“Kieran? What doesn’t he remember?”
Mark pulled his knees up to his chest. In his torn and bloody shirt and trousers, he looked more like the ragged figure he’d been when the Wild Hunt had let him go. “The Unseelie Court beat him and tortured him,” he said. “I expected it. It’s what they do to their prisoners. After I untied him, as soon as I got him out of the clearing, I realized they’d done him some kind of damage that meant he didn’t remember killing Iarlath. He doesn’t remember anything since that night he saw us talking in the kitchen.”
“He doesn’t remember the whipping, what happened with Jules and Emma—?”
“He doesn’t remember it happening, or that I left him over it,” Mark said grimly. “He said he knew I would come for him. As if we were still—what we were.”
“What were you?” Cristina realized she’d never asked. “Did you exchange promises? Did you have a word for it, like novio?”
“Boyfriend?” Mark echoed. “No, nothing like that. But it was something and then it was nothing. Because I was angry.” He looked at Cristina wretchedly. “But how can I be angry at someone who doesn’t even remember what he did?”
“Your feelings are your feelings. Kieran did do those things. He did them even if he does not remember them.” Cristina frowned. “Do I sound harsh? I don’t mean to. But I sat with Emma, after. I helped bandage her whip cuts.”
“Now you’ve helped bandage Kieran.” Mark took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, Cristina. This must seem— I can’t even imagine what you’re thinking. Having to sit here with me, with him—”
“You mean because of—” Cristina blushed. Because of the way we kissed at the revel? She searched inside her heart, looking for jealousy, for bitterness, for anger at Mark. There was nothing. Not even the fury she’d felt at Diego at the appearance of Zara.
How far away that seemed now. How distant and how unimportant. Zara was welcome to Diego; she could have him.
“I’m not angry,” she said. “And you shouldn’t be worrying about what I’m feeling, anyway. We should be concentrating on the fact that Kieran is safe, that we can return.”
“I can’t stop worrying about what you’re feeling,” Mark said. “I can’t stop thinking about you at all.”
Cristina felt her heart thump.
“It would be a mistake to think of the Seelie Court as safe ground where we can rest. There is an old saying that the only difference between Seelie and Unseelie is that the Unseelie do evil in the open, and the Seelie hide it.” Mark glanced down. Kieran was breathing softly, evenly. “And I don’t know what we will do with Kieran,” he said. “Send him back to the Hunt? Call for Gwyn? Kieran will not understand why I would want to be parted from him now.”
“Do you? Want to be parted from him now?”
Mark said nothing.
“I understand,” she said. “I do. You have always needed Kieran so badly, you never had the chance to think about what you wanted with him before.”
Mark made a short noise under his breath. He took her hand and held it, still looking at Kieran. His grip was tight, but she didn’t pull away.
Julian sat on Fergus’s massive bed. He could see nothing of Emma behind the high hedge that blocked the rock pool, but he could hear her splashing, a sound that echoed off the shining walls.
The sound made his nerves crank tighter. When she was done with the pool, she’d come out, and she’d get in bed with him. He’d shared beds with Emma a hundred times. Maybe a thousand. But it had meant nothing when they were children, and later, when they weren’t, he had told himself it still meant nothing, even when he was waking up in the middle of the night to watch the way strands of her hair tickled her cheek while she slept. Even when she started to leave early in the morning to run on the beach, and he’d curl up in the warmth she left against the sheets and inhale the rose-water scent of her skin.
Breathe. He dug his hands into the velvet pillow he’d pulled onto his lap. Think about something else.
It wasn’t as if he didn’t have plenty of other things to think about. Here they were in the Seelie Court, not quite prisoners and not quite guests. Faerie was just as hard to escape as it was to enter, and yet they had no plan for how to leave.
But he was exhausted; this was the first time he’d been alone in a bedroom with Emma since she’d ended things, and for this rare instant, his heart was doing the thinking, not his brain.
“Jules?” she called. He remembered the brief days when she had called him Julian, the way the sound of the word in her mouth had made his heart shatter with pleasure. “Nene left me a dress, and it’s . . .” She sighed. “Well, I guess you’d better see.”
She came out from behind the hedge that hid the pool, her hair down, wearing the dress. Faerie clothes were usually either very ornate or very simple. This dress was simple. Thin straps crisscrossed her shoulders; it was made of a silky white material that clung to her wet body like a second skin, outlining the curves of her waist and hips.
Julian felt his mouth go dry. Why had Nene left her a dress? Why couldn’t Emma be coming to bed in filthy gear? Why did the universe hate him?
“It’s white,” she said, frowning.
For death and mourning, the color’s white. White was funerals for Shadowhunters: There was white gear for state funerals, and white silk was placed over the eyes of dead Shadowhunters when their bodies were burned.
“White doesn’t mean anything to faeries,” he said. “To them, it’s the color of flowers and natural things.”
“I know, it’s just . . .” She sighed and began to pad barefoot up the stairs to the dais where the bed was centered. She stopped to examine the enormous mattress, shaking her head in wonderment. “Okay maybe I didn’t immediately warm to Fergus when we met,” she said. Her face was glowing from the heat of the water, her cheeks pink. “But he would run an awesome bed-and-breakfast, you have to admit. He’d probably slip a mint tenderly under your pillow every night.”
The gown fell away slightly as she climbed onto the bed, and Julian realized to his horror that it was slit up the side almost to her hip. Her long legs flashed against the material as she settled herself onto the bedspread.
The universe didn’t just hate him, it was trying to kill him.
“Give me some more pillows,” Emma demanded, and snatched several of them from beside Julian before he could move. He kept firm hold of the one on his lap and looked at Emma levelly.
“No stealing the covers,” he said.