A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2)(8)

by Sarah J. Maas

Understatement. I hated the monstrosity of tulle she’d selected. Tamlin had, too—though he’d laughed himself hoarse when I showed him in the privacy of my room. But he’d promised me that though the dress was absurd, the priestess knew what she was doing. I’d wanted to push back about it, hating that though he agreed with me, he had sided with her, but … it took more energy than it was worth.

Ianthe went on, “But it makes the right statement. I’ve spent time amongst enough courts to know how they operate. Trust me in this.”

“I do trust you,” I said, and waved a hand toward the papers before us. “You know how to do these things. I don’t.”

Silver tinkled at Ianthe’s wrists, so like the bracelets the Children of the Blessed wore on the other side of the wall. I sometimes wondered if those foolish humans had stolen the idea from the High Priestesses of Prythian—if it had been a priestess like Ianthe who had spread such nonsense among humans.

“It’s an important moment for me as well,” Ianthe said carefully, adjusting the circlet atop her hood. Teal eyes met mine. “You and I are so alike—young, untested amongst these … wolves. I am grateful to you, and to Tamlin, to allow me to preside over the ceremony, to be invited to work with this court, be a part of this court. The other High Priestesses do not particularly care for me, nor I for them, but … ” She shook her head, the hood swaying with her. “Together,” she murmured, “the three of us make a formidable unit. Four, if you count Lucien.” She snorted. “Not that he particularly wants anything to do with me.”

A leading statement.

She often found ways to bring him up, to corner him at events, to touch his elbow or shoulder. He ignored it all. Last week, I’d finally asked him if she’d set her sights on him, and Lucien had merely given me a look, snarling softly, before stalking off. I took that as a yes.

But a match with Lucien would be nearly as beneficial as one with Tamlin: the right hand of a High Lord and another High Lord’s son … Any offspring would be powerful, coveted.

“You know it’s … hard for him, where females are involved,” I said neutrally.

“He has been with many females since the death of his lover.”

“Perhaps it’s different with you—perhaps it’d mean something he’s not ready for.” I shrugged, searching for the right words. “Perhaps he stays away because of it.”

She considered, and I prayed she bought my half lie. Ianthe was ambitious, clever, beautiful, and bold—but I did not think Lucien forgave her, or would ever forgive her, for fleeing during Amarantha’s reign. Sometimes I honestly wondered if my friend might rip her throat out for it.

Ianthe nodded at last. “Are you at least excited for the wedding?”

I fiddled with my emerald ring. “It’ll be the happiest day of my life.”

The day Tamlin had asked me to marry him, I’d certainly felt that way. I’d wept with joy as I told him yes, yes, a thousand times yes, and made love to him in the field of wildflowers where he’d brought me for the occasion.

Ianthe nodded. “The union is Cauldron-blessed. Your survival of the horrors Under the Mountain only proves it.”

I caught her glance then—toward my left hand, the tattoos.

It was an effort not to tuck my hand beneath the table.

The tattoo on her brow was of midnight-blue ink—but somehow still fit, still accented the feminine dresses, the bright silver jewelry. Unlike the elegant brutality of mine.

“We could get you gloves,” she offered casually.

And that would send another message—perhaps to the person I so desperately hoped had forgotten I existed.