What could I become if I stopped worrying about death, about pain, about anything? If I stopped trying to belong? Instead of being afraid, I could become something to fear.
I am going to keep on defying you. I am going to shame you with my defiance. You remind me that I am a mere mortal and you are a prince of Faerie. Well, let me remind you that means you have much to lose and I have nothing. You may win in the end, you may ensorcell me and hurt me and humiliate me, but I will make sure you lose everything I can take from you on the way down. I promise you this is the least of what I can do.
Or when they do happen, something bad happens next. Because otherwise the story would be boring, and no one would read it.
Because you’re like a story that hasn’t happened yet. Because I want to see what you will do. I want to be part of the unfolding of the tale.
But kissing Locke never felt the way that kissing Cardan does, like taking a dare to run over knives, like an adrenaline strike of lightning, like the moment when you've swum too far out in the sea and there is no going back, only cold black water closing over your head.
That’s what comes of hungering for something; you forget to check if it’s rotten before you gobble it down.
There you are," Cardan says as I take my place beside him. "How has the night been going for you? Mine has been full of dull conversation about how my head is going to find itself on a spike.
Before, I never knew how far I would go. Now I believe I have the answer. I will go as far as there is to go. I will go way too far.
But I will not stand in front of your happiness. I will not even stand in front of misery that you choose for yourself.
The odd thing about ambition is this: You can acquire it like a fever, but it is not so easy to shed.
Cardan looks at me as though he's never seen me before. He looks at me as though no one has ever spoken to him like this. Maybe no one has.
You really do want me,' I say, close enough to feel the warmth of his breath as it hitches. 'And you hate it.
No matter how careful I am, eventually I’ll make another misstep. I am weak. I am fragile. I am mortal.
He looks like a faerie lover stepped out of a ballad, the kind where no good comes to the girl who runs away with him.
What they don’t realize is this: Yes, they frighten me, but I have always been scared, since the day I got here. I was raised by the man who murdered my parents, reared in a land of monsters. I live with that fear, let it settle into my bones, and ignore it. If I didn’t pretend not to be scared, I would hide under my owl-down coverlets in Madoc’s estate forever. I would lie there and scream until there was nothing left of me. I refuse to do that. I will not do that.
I stand in front of my window and imagine myself a fearless knight, imagine myself a witch who hid her heart in her finger and then chopped her finger off.
Cardan grins at me as though we've been great friends all our lives. I forgot how charming he can be--and how dangerous that is.
I like for things to happen, for stories to unfold. And if I can’t find a good enough story, I make one.
Nicasia's wrong about me. I don't desire to do as well in the tournament as one of the fey. I want to win. I do not yearn to be their equal. In my heart, I yearn to best them.
It turns out that having kissed someone, the possibility of kissing hangs over everything, no matter how terrible an idea it was the first time.
He stares at me as though I am a stranger, but I have never felt less like one. For the first time, we are both unmasked.
I can feel the moment he gives in and gives up, pulling me to him despite the threat of the knife. He kisses me hard, with a kind of devouring desperation, fingers digging into my hair. Our mouths slide together, teeth over lips over tongues. Desire hits me like a kick to the stomach. It's like fighting, except what we're fighting for is to crawl inside each other's skin.
I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.
She's looking around the forest, as though if she can prove it isn't magic, then nothing else is, either. Which is stupid. All forests are magic.
Faeries make up for their inability to lie with a panoply of deceptions and cruelties. Twisted words, pranks, omissions, riddles, scandals, not to mention their revenges upon one another for ancient, half-remembered slights. Storms are less fickle than they are, seas less capricious.
Cardan’s gaze catches mine, and I can’t help the evil smile that pulls up the corners of my mouth. His eyes are bright as coals, his hatred a living thing, shimmering in the air between us like the air above black rocks on a blazing summer day.
Faerie might be beautiful, but its beauty is like a golden stag’s carcass, crawling with maggots beneath his hide, ready to burst.
I'm not a monster, I'd told her, back when I said I would never hurt Oak. But maybe being a monster was my calling.
Vivi is right; it cost me something to be the way I am. But I do not know what. And I don't know if I can get it back. I don't even know if I want it.
Every day that I don’t beg Cardan for forgiveness over a feud he started is a day I win. He can humiliate me, but every time he does and I don’t back down, he makes himself less powerful. After all, he’s throwing everything he’s got at someone as weak as I am and it’s not working. He’s going to take himself down.
I thought I was playing the game of pissing off people who hated me already and eating the consequences.
I consider all the things I have done to become a worthy adversary of him, but maybe I haven’t been fighting Cardan at all. Maybe I’ve been fighting my own shadow.
You remind me that I am a mere mortal and you are a prince of Faerie. Well, let me remind you that means you have much to lose and I have nothing.
I hate you because your father loves you even though you're a human brat born to his unfaithful wife, while mine never cared for me, though I am a prince of Faerie. I hate you because Locke used you and your sister to make Nicasia cry after he stole her from me. Besides which, after the tournament, Balekin never failed to throw you in my face as the mortal who could best me.
When there is a lot of power concentrated in one place, there are plenty of scraps to fight over. If the Court isn’t busy drinking poison, then it’s drinking bile.
I try not to be too conscious of his long fingers tracing over the paper, of the sick thrill I get when he looks at me.
Crowns of flowers on our heads, shooting bows and arrows at the sky. Eating candied violets and falling asleep with our heads pillowed on logs. We were children. Children can laugh all day and still cry themselves to sleep at night.
What could I become if I stopped worrying about death, about pain, about anything? If I stopped trying to belong?.
It occurs to me that if I kill him, I can finally stop thinking about him. If I kill him, I won't have to feel like this anymore.
Go ahead. Insult me." His eyebrows go up. "I don't take commands from mortals," he says with his customary cruel smile.
I think of Madoc, dozing away upstairs, all his dreams of murder. I think of Oriana and Oak being forced apart for years. I think of Cardan and how he will hate me. I think of what it means to make myself the villain of the piece. "For the next full minute, I command you not to move," I whisper back.