فصل 81

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CHAPTER

81

Rhysand

Even from the kitchen, I could hear all of them. The lapping of what was surely the oldest bottle of liquor I owned, then the clink of those equally ancient crystal glasses against each other.

Then the laughter. The deep rumble—that was Azriel. Laughing at whatever Mor had said that prompted her into a fit of it as well, the sound cackling and merry.

And then another laugh—silvery and bright. More beautiful than any music played at one of Velaris’s countless halls and theaters.

I stood at the kitchen window, staring at the garden in full summer splendor, not quite seeing the blooms Elain Archeron had tended these weeks. Just staring—and listening to that beautiful laugh. My mate’s laugh.

I rubbed a hand over my chest at that sound—the joy in it.

Their conversation flitted past, falling back into old rhythms and yet … Close. We had all come so close to not seeing it again. This place. Each other. And I knew that the laughter … it was in part because of that, too. In defiance and gratitude.

“You coming to drink, or are you just going to stare at the flowers all day?” Cassian’s voice cut through the melody of sounds.

I turned, finding him and Azriel in the kitchen doorway, each with a drink in hand. A second lay in Azriel’s other scarred hand—he floated it over to me on a blue-tinged breeze.

I clasped the cool, heavy crystal tumbler. “Sneaking up on your High Lord is ill-advised,” I told them, drinking deeply. The liquor burned its way down my throat, warming my stomach.

“It’s good to keep you on edge in your old age,” Cassian said, drinking himself. He leaned against the doorway. “Why are you hiding in here?”

Azriel shot him a look, but I snorted, taking another sip. “You really did open the fancy bottles.”

They waited. But Feyre’s laugh sounded again, followed by Elain’s and Mor’s. And when I dragged my gaze back to my brothers, I saw the understanding on their faces.

“It’s real,” Azriel said softly.

Neither laughed or commented on the burning in my eyes. I took another drink to wash away the tightness in my throat, and approached them. “Let’s not do this again for another five hundred years,” I said a bit hoarsely, and clinked my glass against theirs.

Azriel cracked a smile as Cassian lifted a brow. “And what are we going to do until then?”

Beyond brokering peace, beyond those queens who were sure to be a problem, beyond healing our fractured world …

Mor called for us, demanding we bring them a spread of food. An impressive one, she added. With extra bread.

I smiled. Smiled wider as Feyre’s laugh sounded again—as I felt it down the bond, sparkling brighter than the entirety of Starfall.

“Until then,” I said to my brothers, slinging my arms around their shoulders and leading them back to the sitting room. I looked ahead, toward that laugh, that light—and that vision of the future Feyre had shown me, more beautiful than anything I could have ever wished for—anything I had wished for, on those long-ago, solitary nights with only the stars for company. A dream still unanswered—but not forever. “Until then, we enjoy every heartbeat of it.”

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