“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.”
The cell was nothing like what I’d grown used to at the palace with Roman. It made the room he’d holed me up in seem like a sanctuary in comparison.
The wall my head rested upon at the back of the cell was made of concrete that had been smeared with dirt and blood and grime, the contents almost layering it with a thick coat. There was no bed, no cushioned surface, no clean running water or a toilet to use. I had a bucket, pushed into the top corner of the cell still reeking with the contents left by the last occupant.
Either side of me all I could see was pitch black. Not an inch of light creeped in through the cracks in the walls. The thick bars separating me from whoever else was trapped down here were only just visible once my eyes had adjusted fully to the darkness.
I knew there were others in here, I caught glimpses of figures in the rushed moments of being brought in here. I saw the way their heads all turned at once at sight of the light coming in from the hall above but I hadn’t heard a word beyond hushed whispers and coughs from then.
I was cold, tired and probably the most uncomfortable I’d been in a really long time but I was also alone and part of me was so thankful for that that all the other things didn’t matter. I’d rather be here than have to face Oliver again in a room, than have to navigate what he expected of me as his wife if that kiss was anything to go off. Being in a cell meant not having to share his bed or talk about Roman or have him constantly staring at the mark on my neck reminding me just what he thought.
And it meant no Arthur. I’d take being beaten over talking to him again.
I leant my head forward, resting it on my arms that cradled my knees before loosing a deep sigh. My eyelids drooped heavily and I thought for a moment about Roman, wondering where he was right now, what he was doing, if he could sense me somehow.
My bracelet, the one that showed me the direction he was in with a compass was gone, taken with the rest of what I had on me in the palace. But I remembered what he’d reiterated so many times before, that no matter how far I run, how far I go to get away from him, he’d always be able to find me. I realise I never got to test it out, not properly and now its just a matter of waiting to see if those threats were simply a bluff.
I couldn’t figure out if I wanted it to be or not. Part of me just wanted to stay in this cell forever and let whatever is bound to happen, happen. But thinking they’d leave me in here to waste away is foolish, one way or another I am tied to what is happening and I can’t avoid that.
Be it through Oliver’s eventual need to try and coax me back into his version of normalcy, assimilate me to life here with the rebels or Roman’s success in getting me back I’ll be dragged into everything once more. It’s only a matter of time. People up there need me for their own personal reasons and that means that no matter how many outbursts I give, someone will come eventually.
I close my eyes, breathing deeply before curling down onto my side, cushioning my head with my arms. I push away all thoughts about the war, about Oliver and Roman and the future that is crashing down like Armageddon above me and let sleep drive out all of my worries.
The sound of someone screaming rips me from my sleep and I push up from the floor immediately, my muscles aching with the movement. Instantly I notice the light leaking in from the open door and I stand up, something I notice none of the other figures doing.
I follow the sound of screams, my head moving to the cells further away from the door, finding a figure being torn out by three large guards. The prisoner isn’t just yelling for them to stop as they pull him out, his screams are blood curdling, they wrack the bones in my body and bounce from the walls of the prison. No matter how much he begs through his screams they continue to drag his body down towards where I stand at the edge of my cell.
“Hey!” I yell as they near me. “Let him go, stop that what are you doing?” I ask, pure horror masking my face as I catch a slight glimpse at the man they pull, scars jagged and thick running across the side of his face.
I bring a hand to my mouth and take a subconscious step back as they approach but once my eyes settle on the men, dressed like those guarding the exits of the cafeteria, my strength comes back with full force. “Leave him alone!” I yell, capturing their attention fully.
“Sit down, bitch,” the one of them leading the three snaps, disgust lacing his tone but a threat there loud and clear.
“Let him go,” I retort, taking another step closer to the cell bars.
The man laughs and moves closer to me. “Boys I think we are going to have to change up who we bring to doc today, is that what you want?” He asks me and I stand my ground.
“Go ahead,” I sneer and I can see the anger on his face even in the shadows.
“No,” the limp man still being held by the other two manages. “No,” he says again, just the word a struggle to say.
“What was that?” The man in front of me asks, turning around to the prisoner. “You want to be a hero? Is she your mate, is that why the little bitch is suicidal?” He taunts before pulling out his weapon and hitting him across the face with intense force.
“I think,” he says, turning back to me, “we will just have to bring you both.” He pulls out a set of keys and slides it into the lock but I don’t make a move to stand back. Let them take me where they’d take the other man.
He starts to open the gate but the door at the top of the stairs opens fully and it pulls his attention away. “What are you doing,” I recognise Olivers voice instantly and the slight worry that had began to grow inside me diminishes somewhat.
“Taking these prisoners to doc,” the guard responds formally and Oliver moves down into the cell with items in his hands.
“And was it in your orders to bring both of them?” He asks in an authoritative voice, clearly not happy.
“No, sir. This one decided she’d like to join. We figured perhaps they were mated, doc has made explicit orders to bring any mates directly to him.”
“Well I can assure you that she is not his mate. No one is allowed to touch her but me, is that understood?” Oliver asks, his anger fully present. The guards must nod because Oliver keeps moving down. “Spread the word that she isn’t to be touched, if there are any concerns regarding her I want them reported directly to me. Leave,” he says and the guards start to move forward, still dragging the man with them.
“Stop!” I yell and Oliver turns his attention to me. “Don’t let them take him, he’s hurt-where are they going? You can’t let them take him please,” I beg, looking at Oliver with frantic worry.
“Maeve,” Oliver starts but they keep dragging him.
“Let him go, Oliver how can you just stand there do something,” I yell at him and something I say must strike a nerve because he turns to the guards who near the exit.
“Stop,” he orders and I watch as he walks over to them, whispering something into a guards ear.
They all nod and to my relief start pulling him back towards him cell. I watch their movements, trying my best not to whimper at the sight of the wolf barely an inch within his life until they make it to his cell, throwing him in without care before locking him in.
They walk back past, stopping briefly to mummer something I don’t catch to Oliver before leaving, the door staying ajar slightly as they leave.
“They were taking him away to hurt him weren’t they?” I ask, horror in my words as I finally take a step back from the cell so that I am not any closer to Oliver than I need to be. “That’s what you are doing to all the wolves down here isn’t it?” I ask, trying not to cry as the accusations fall from my lips.
“I didn’t realise my father would bring you here of all places,” Is the only response he can manage and it answers everything I need to know. “I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen again, don’t worry,” he says in an effort to be comforting but I just maintain my look of disgust.
“Don’t worry? What are you doing to these people, Ollie? How can you just stand by and do nothing? Allow it?” I ask, my questions firing out at him rapidly.
“Maeve when you get out of here I will explain it all to you as best I can but this isn’t the place. You shouldn’t have threatened my father, Mae. What were you thinking?” He asks, exhaustion apparent.
“I was thinking about this. About the entirely unjustified torture of innocents. I regret nothing, Ollie, nothing aside from the fact that I didn’t drive the nearest weapon into his cold dead heart,” I spit, all the rage I kept bottled up exploding out at once.
“Don’t ever say anything like that again Mae do you hear me?” Oliver says, a panicked strength in his reprimand.
“Or what? I’ll find out that I’ve been right all along about him? I’ll discover how he really is worse than all those he fights against?” I question and Oliver lets out a frustrated sigh.
“Or you really will regret it. Mae I’m trying to get us out of here too, okay? I promised you happiness and when this is all over you and I can go somewhere far away from it all, but that won’t work if you are constantly in open rebellion,” he says, trying to reason but the sound of that mans screams who is now deathly silent, the images of the wolves uncovering places similar to this in the other base won’t stop occupying the only space for logic in my mind.
“I am in open rebellion. You might think it’s okay to sit aside and do nothing but I won’t,” I respond and he runs a hand down the length of his face just as an alarm ticks on his watch.
“I don’t have time to go through it all with you now Mae but I came here to tell you that there is an easy way to get out of here so you can go back to healing. That’s all I want, and believe it or not that’s all my father wants, too. He just can’t have you act so publicly against him like that. All you need to do is apologise and agree to follow the planned itinerary that has been made for you, that’s it,” he says, so hopeful that I’ll see how gracious his father has been in giving me an easy way out.
“You can tell your father to go fuck himself,” I respond and he clearly didn’t expect it.
“Maybe after some time to think you’ll come around. I need to go now but I’ll try to come and check on you as often as I can and when you are ready to accept his terms all you need to do is say, Mae. Forget your pride for once and just think about what’s truly best,” he says and I give him a hard stare.
“Don’t hurry back,” I reply vehemently and he pulls out a set of keys, opening a latch which makes me move back from him.
“I’m just going to leave these here,” he says, placing items down onto the floor before closing the latch and taking a step back. “I love you, Mae.”
I don’t respond, I don’t think he expects me too because he turns and leaves, the only noise filling the cells is the sound of his boots against the floor until the door thuds and encases me in complete silence once more.
A dim light comes on at the top of the stairs, not enough to see anyone else but enough to navigate my way a little more clearly around the cell.
My lips start to shake but I don’t cry, I hold back the tears that threaten to spill and march over to the contents he’d left behind, finding what feels to be a blanket, a pillow and a tray containing different foods-too many for just one meal.
I leave everything where it rests on the floor and return to the back of the cell, sliding down the concrete wall until I hit the floor with a soft thud. I thought for a moment, as brief as it was, that perhaps me being brought down here would wake Oliver up to the fact that nobody here, least of all his father, has my best interests at heart.
If the fact that I am sat in a cold hard cell having to beg for a man not to be tortured isn’t enough for him to see though the lies that they are feeding him then I don’t know what will. My only hope of anything here is him. He’s my ticket out of here but so long as he keeps following along with the deluded idea that he’s helping me he’s not of much use.
I heave out a sigh, clenching my eyes shut. I know that sleep won’t come to me again for sometime. If Oliver bringing me a meal indicates anything I’d guess its breakfast but I also suppose that time doesn’t really matter much anymore. Not if I am going to be kept in a cell.
“I take it they know who you are, Luna.” I snap my head to my right, following the sound that breaks the silence into the cell next to mine.
Hearing someone call me that takes me by surprise, the only person I’d expect to use the honorific here is Arthur and only in a condescending manner. But the voice that called out from the darkness only spoke with sincere respect.
“Who’s there?” I ask, moving to stand up from my position on the floor.
“I wouldn’t bother moving,” he says and so I stop myself. “It won’t make much of a difference anyway. And to answer your question, Luna-I’m not really anyone important. Not here at least.”
I furrow my brows and try to discern where he might be, finding only a faint silhouette. “What makes you say that?” I respond almost instantly and the man lets out a loose chuckle.
“The same reason none of us down here are. We’re wolves,” he replies lowly. “You on the other hand… you’d be important no matter what,” he says sincerely, almost like the fact I’m next to him in a cage hurts to admit.
I look to the floor in front of me before looking back in the direction of the man, confused once more. “How do you know who I am?” I ask, dumbfounded and there is silence for a moment.
“I take it you aren’t a wolf, then,” he says, like he is connecting the dots and it takes me aback. It was surely plastered across every news source for months on end, likely still is, that I am a human. I’d guess the fact a Luna Superior isn’t a wolf would be something everyone knew.
“How long have you been here?” I ask, the only question that will provide me with the answer I seek.
“Two years,” he replies sullenly and it knocks the breath out of me. Two years down in a cell like this with no light, never seeing those you love and kept in endless torture… “I know who you are because you are my leader, the human aspect is surprising but doesn’t stop my wolf from recognising your authority. Is that why you’re here?” He asks and it confuses me even further.
“Im not sure I get what you mean,” I reply.
“Because you’re human, is that why you’re here?” He asks again but his added detail only further adds to my confusion.
“Why would that make a difference?”
“I suppose it doesn’t, I’m simply curious is all. Whoever that officer was, he clearly knew you which leads me to believe perhaps you were led here under false pretences,” he says, his voice not changing in tone at all. Everything about him sounds bleak, monotonous, as if the years here have worn him down into something incapable of more.
“And what’s that supposed to mean?” I ask, growing slightly agitated at the implication of it, the idea it’d be my fault.
“I’d guess a human mate would take any opportunity to escape, even a Luna Superior. Even if it meant ending up in a place like this.” His tone doesn’t come across accusatory even though his words pack a certain punch. He is merely stating his thoughts as they come, consequences be damned.
“You seem to know a lot about humans for someone who isn’t one,” I quip, not even bothering to prove him wrong.
“I had a human mate-have a human mate,” he says sullenly. “Wherever she is right now I don’t doubt she is probably ecstatic at my disappearance. Some wolves are deluded enough to think their human mates change, will adapt and eventually love them in the same way but you are smarter creatures than that. If a hunter went to her with the opportunity to escape me she’d take it in a heartbeat.”
His admission stuns me. “Well lucky her,” I mummer back sarcastically. “Not all of us human mates can just escape the bond, or the responsibilities of it and just to be clear, I didn’t come here on my own volition.” I’m being snappy with a stranger who has probably been through hell but I don’t care, it is becoming increasingly difficult to care when every second minute another assumption is being hurdled my way.
For a change, he struggles momentarily for a response. “You were taken? From the main palace?” He asks, a hint of disbelief in his tone.
“Yes, by someone… someone that I knew before,” I state, maintaining my ambiguity on purpose.
“How is that possible, the palace is a fortress. To get in and out, take someone without aid from them… they must be stronger than we all feared,” he says morosely.
“You’re from the palace?” I ask.
“Not originally but for the most part of my life, yes. I worked there in special intelligence, my job entered around defence and security but I was also among the top warriors of the pack. It is what got me here and what’s kept me alive. It’s also perhaps what my mate hated the most about me-it’s difficult to escape someone trained to detect every possible loophole a place like the palace might have.”
“So it was your job to stop people escaping?” I ask.
“I wouldn’t be too hopeful, Luna. I’ve been here for a very long time and I can assure you, there is no escaping once you’ve been taken to a cell. The only place we go from here is somewhere I pray to the goddess you never discover.”
“The place that wolf was being taken,” I state.
“Yes, and if it weren’t for your foolish intervention he probably wouldn’t have come back. That one has been taken too many times to survive another trip.”
“I wouldn’t call it foolish if it saved his life,” I retort and he laughs, a laugh void of any humour.
“There isn’t a single wolf locked up here that would agree with you putting your life in jeopardy for them. You are our Luna, everything we are tells us to keep you safe. We’d rather be tortured a hundred times over than have you go under the knife,” he says sincerely.
“They won’t hurt me,” I respond, so sure of myself.
“Then why are you down here?” He asks and I shrug, even though he wouldn’t be able to see the action.
“Because I can’t stand being up there. They want me to betray the pack, betray everyone and lie about my feelings towards them. I guess I’m too stubborn,” I reply.
“Well then you’ve effectively cut your chances at escape down significantly,” he says and I turn to him once more.
“I may as well have been in a cell up there. They’d have me under full surveillance and I haven’t got a chance at getting past the exit points either. They have a plan for me and I’d take it they want my cooperation but it’s only a matter of time until they execute it by force.”
“Getting out may be difficult but nothing is impossible. Down here, in a locked silver cell laced with wolfsbane, sure. But up there is a different ball game,” he says and it spikes my interest. I might be in a cell, but I am in a cell next to a special intelligence warrior and god knows what other wolves have been captured down here-the skills that they might have.
“So what do you suggest I do?” I ask, feeling that small spark of hope light up again.
“I suggest, Luna, that you play the game.”
“Maeve.” My eyelids flutter open despite the fact I’d been wide awake on the cell floor, my head resting on the pillow with the blanket tucked neatly over me. The tray of food that was left to me lay empty near the front, all of it divided and shared amongst the wolves imprisoned with me.
“Maeve,” Oliver repeated a little louder and I stirred, sitting up and rubbing my eyes before glancing in his direction, veiling my glare under the haze of my tiredness. “I’ve brought you your dinner early. There are some things I need to do tonight.”
I don’t say anything, simply letting my eyes linger a moment longer than usual on his face before drifting them towards his food. He doesn’t miss it, each day, looking at him a little more, engaging in conversation and exploding at him less and less… he notices it and seems pleased. Just like he should do.
“Like what?” I ask, bringing my knees to my chest, hugging them.
“Meetings, mostly,” he answers and the vagueness doesn’t shock me in the slightest, everything he says holds scepticism.
“Oh,” I mumble, and though I’m trying to seem disheartened, part of me is. Part of me still craves being able to just talk to him, like we used to as husband and wife. I never second guessed confiding in him before, I would spill my deepest darkest secrets to him like he’d turned on a tap that let them flow free.
He, however, clearly didn’t feel the same way.
“You know this can all just stop, Mae,” he says smoothly, pain evident in his words. “It hurts to see you like this. I don’t want you to be in here-if it were up to me you wouldn’t be. You’ve been through hell, I get it, I do-but they don’t, and no matter how hard I try convincing my father otherwise he won’t budge.” He heaves a sigh and as always, I take a few moments to soak his words up, contemplate them.
“If any of what he told you were true, if any of them cared about me then they wouldn’t need convincing,” I reply and he closes his eyes for a moment, unable to muster an immediate response. Because he knows that I am right, somewhere deep down under all the lies and trickery that has been placed on him by the rebels-he sees them for who they truly are.
“You shouldn’t be in here, Mae and when you get out of here we won’t be with the rebels forever either. Just apologise, get through whatever is planned for however long is necessary and then we can finally move on with our lives. This isn’t forever,” he says and I want to scream at him.
I want to just let loose and tell him that my forever should be decided by me and that blindly following the rebels clearly hasn’t ended up too well for him. I want to just rip the blindfold from his eyes that they have placed and force him to open up his perspective. I want to stay down here and not go anywhere near the people that run this place.
But most of all, I want my husband back, the one that I fell in love with, the one that was caring and understanding and wouldn’t dictate my every choice. But wanting that hurts me more than the dull pain Roman’s absence gives my body, it clutches at my heart and makes my very soul burn. Because although he is there, stood in the flesh mere metres away-he is gone and I don’t know if anything will ever be able to bring him back.
“If I come,” I start, trying to conceal my emotions, “can you promise me that these people won’t be harmed, that no wolves here will be harmed.”
He looks at me, his green eyes clouded with doubt but illuminated at the window of hope my words offer. “Maeve…” he starts, low and sympathetic.
“Please,” I proclaim, moving closer to him. “I’ll apologise and do everything that your father asks-I won’t defy him or be outwardly rude again. I promise you Oliver I will do it all if you give me that one thing.”
Again, he stands silent for a moment, his lips pursed tightly in thought.
The anticipation eats at me, wringing my stomach and making every hair on my body stand on edge.
I stare deeper into his emerald eyes and I almost see the small switch in them, like I know his response before he says it.
I don’t really know what to write here so ily and have a fantastic day!