The Lady of the Autumn Court: what the fuck is happening in Autumn (part 2)
As I said in my Eris Vanserra post, it seems that the Lady of the Autumn Court is a bigger piece to the Eris and Lucien puzzles.
We don't know what the fuck has been happening in the Forest House but we do the following:
The Lady of the Autumn Court is/was extremely powerful
Lucien (and to some extent Eris) are mama's boys (even though Lucien has been exiled for centuries)
The Lady met Helion before she was married to Beron
At least one of the seven brothers - Lucien - is Helion's child, but Helion saved the Lady after she had already had some kids (so Eris probably isn't his, even though they both have amber eyes)
The Lady chose to stay with Beron
Beron is aware of the affair between Helion and the Lady
Beron is physically abusive towards the Lady and had tortured Eris
Helion does not know Lucien is his heir, but Eris seems to know Lucien isn't Beron's son
Things that aren't mentioned below the cut, but are interesting:
Eris is the ringleader of the brothers, the commander of Beron's forces, and is Beron's most trusted son (the other three don't even have names)
In ACOWAR, Eris says has never denied Beron anything - except to save Lucien - but is angling for the throne and betraying him in ACOFAS and ACOSF (this reminds me of Lorcan betraying Maeve for her own good in TOG)
Beron wanted to kill Lucien for wanting to leave Autumn and marry Jesminda (this doesn't seem like a good reason if he isn't in line for the throne - or isn't part of their bloodline, but I guess Beron doesn't need a reason to be cruel)
Helion alludes to having trouble at home in ACOSF
The remaining unnamed brothers are all angling for the throne (this reminds me of the Khaganate in TOG and the Cruel Prince)
I got a little carried away with the color coding, but here's every major scene involving and discussing the Lady of the Autumn Court (and some breadcrumbs because I'm convinced SJM is purposeful in her writing)
Rhysand uses the Lady of the Autumn Court taunt Lucien in ACOTAR:
Rhysand’s venom-coated smile grew. “You draw blood from me, Lucien, and you’ll learn how quickly Amarantha’s whore can make the entire Autumn Court bleed. Especially its darling Lady.” The color leached from Lucien’s face, but he held his ground. It was Tamlin who answered. “Put your sword down, Lucien.” Rhysand ran an eye over me. “I knew you liked to stoop low with your lovers, Lucien, but I never thought you’d actually dabble with mortal trash.” My face burned. Lucien was trembling—with rage or fear or sorrow, I couldn’t tell. “The Lady of the Autumn Court will be grieved indeed when she hears of her youngest son. If I were you, I’d keep your new pet well away from your father.”
The Lady of the Autumn Court also helps Feyre with one of her tasks:
A door clicked open somewhere down the hall, and I shot to my feet. An auburn head peered at me. I sagged with relief. Lucien— Not Lucien. The face that turned toward me was female—and unmasked. She looked perhaps a bit older than Amarantha, but her porcelain skin was exquisitely colored, graced with the faintest blush of rose along her cheeks. Had the red hair not been indication enough, when her russet eyes met mine, I knew who she was. I bowed my head to the Lady of the Autumn Court, and she inclined her chin slightly. I supposed that was honor enough. “For giving her your name in place of my son’s life,” she said, her voice as sweet as sun-warmed apples. She must have been in the crowd that day. She pointed at the bucket with a long, slender hand. “My debt is paid.” She disappeared through the door she’d opened, and I could have sworn I smelled roasting chestnuts and crackling fires in her wake.
Rhys (while wearing the mask of hte High Lord) uses her to taunt Lucien again in ACOMAF:
“Little Lucien,” Rhys purred. “Didn’t the Lady of the Autumn Court ever tell you that when a woman says no, she means it?”
“Prick,” Lucien snarled, storming past his sentinels, but not daring to touch his weapons. “You filthy, whoring prick.”
Lucien explaining how he was treated since Beron may suspect he's Helion's heir and as we know from Tamlin: future high lords have physical markers:
His jaw tightened. “As the youngest of seven sons, I wasn’t particularly needed or wanted. Perhaps it was a good thing. I was able to study for longer than my father allowed my brothers before shoving them out the door to rule over some territory within our lands, and I could train for as long as I liked, since no one believed I’d be dumb enough to kill my way up the long list of heirs. And when I grew bored with studying and fighting … I learned what I could of the land from its people. Learned about the people, too.”
“I’d say that sounds more High-Lord-like than the life of an idle, unwanted son.”
A long, steely look. “Did you think it was mere hatred that prompted my brothers to do their best to break and kill me?”
This may not relate to the Lady of the Autumn Court's relationship with Helion, but I'm gathering all the crumbs (why does Eris hesitate before calling his brothers brothers?)
“You hunted me down like an animal,” I cut in. “I think we’ll choose to believe the worst.”
Eris’s pale face flushed. “I was given an order. And sent to do it with two of my … brothers.”
Eris has no love for Beron (he literally asks Rhys to kill him), but he does seem to protect the Lady during the High Lord's Meeting:
“If you want proof that we are not scheming with Hybern,” Rhysand said blandly to them all, “consider the fact that it would be far less time-consuming to slice into your minds and make you do my bidding.”
Only Beron was stupid enough to scoff. Eris was just angling his body in his chair—blocking the path to his mother.
Helion and Lady of Autumn lock eyes:
The violence simmering off my friends was enough to boil the pool at our toes as the High Lord of Autumn filed through the archway, his sons in rank behind him, his wife—Lucien’s mother—at his side. Her russet eyes scanned the room, as if looking for that missing son.
They settled instead on Helion, who gave her a mocking incline of his dark head. She quickly averted her gaze.
The High Lords discuss the past war:
(also reminder: Eris has Amber Eyes like Helion)
Helion shrugged, the sun catching in the embroidered gold thread of his tunic. “Indeed, though it seems Tamlin is already ahead of me. The Spring Court must be evacuated.” His amber eyes darted between Tarquin and Beron. “Surely your northern neighbors will welcome them.”
Beron’s lip curled. “We do not have the resources for such a thing.”
“Right,” Viviane said, “because everyone’s too busy polishing every jewel in that trove of yours.”
Beron threw her a glare that had Kallias tensing. “Wives were invited as a courtesy, not as consultants.”
Viviane’s sapphire eyes flared as if struck by lightning. “If this war goes poorly, we’ll be bleeding out right alongside you, so I think we damn well get a say in things.”
“Hybern will do far worse things than kill you,” Beron counted coolly. “A young, pretty thing like you especially.”
Kallias’s snarl rippled the water in the reflection pool, echoed by Mor’s own growl.
Beron smiled a bit. “Only three of us were present for the last war.” A nod to Rhys and Helion, whose face darkened. “One does not easily forget what Hybern and the Loyalists did to captured females in their war-camps. What they reserved for High Fae females who either fought for the humans or had families who did.” He put a heavy hand on his wife’s too-thin arm. “Her two sisters bought her time to run when Hybern’s forces ambushed their lands. The two ladies did not walk out of that war-camp again.” Helion was watching Beron closely, his stare simmering with reproach.
The Lady of the Autumn Court kept her focus on the reflection pool. Any trace of color drained from her face. Dagdan and Brannagh flashed through my mind—along with the corpses of those humans. What they’d done to them before and after they’d died
After Nesta makes her speech:
She looked to Beron and his family as she finished. Only the Lady and Eris seemed to be considering—impressed, even, by the strange, simmering woman before them.
After Azriel attacks Eris:
Beron struck—only for his fire to bounce off a hard barrier of my own. I lifted my gaze to the High Lord of Autumn. “That’s twice now we’ve handed you your asses. I’d think you’d be sick of the humiliation.”
Eris, wisely, averted his eyes. And said, “Apologies, Morrigan.”
His father actually gawked at the words. But something like approval shone on the Lady of Autumn’s face as her eldest son settled himself once more.
Thesan rubbed his temples. “This does not bode well.”
But Helion smirked at his retinue, crossing an ankle over a knee and flashing those powerful, sleek thighs. “Looks like you owe me ten gold marks.”
Feyre loses her shit:
Beron shielded barely fast enough to block me, but the wake singed Eris’s arm—right through the cloth. And the pale, lovely arm of Lucien’s mother.
The Lady of Autumn was clutching her arm, angry red splattered along the moon-white skin. No glimmer of pain on that face, though. I said to her as I reclaimed my seat, “I’m sorry.”
Her eyes lifted toward mine, round as saucers.
Beron spat, “Don’t talk to her, you human filth.”
Helion tells the story of the Affair:
Helion tapped a finger against the carved arm of his couch. “He played games in the War and it cost him—dearly. His people still remember those choices—those losses. His own damn wife remembers.”
Helion had looked at the Lady of Autumn repeatedly during the meeting. I asked, carefully and casually, “What do you mean?”
Helion’s jaw clenched. “The Lady of the Autumn Court was sent to stay with her sisters, her younger children packed off to other relatives. To spread out the bloodline.” He dragged a hand through his sable hair. “Hybern attacked their estate. Her sisters bought her time to run. Not because she was married to Beron, but because they loved each other. Fiercely. She tried to stay, but they convinced her to go. So she did—she ran and ran, but Hybern’s beasts were still faster. Stronger. They cornered her at a ravine, where she became trapped atop a ledge, the beasts snapping at her feet
Helion didn’t so much as shift in his chair. “She was still young—though she’d been married to that delightful male for nearly two decades. Married too young, the marriage arranged when she was twenty.”
But it was Mor who said coolly, “I heard a rumor once, Helion, that she waited before agreeing to that marriage. For a certain someone who had met her by chance at an equinox ball the year before.”
I tried not to blink, not to let any of my rising interest surface.
The fire banked to embers and Helion threw a half smile in Mor’s direction. “Interesting. I heard her family wanted internal ties to power, and that they didn’t give her a choice before they sold her to Beron.”
“How long did the affair last?” I asked. That withdrawn female … I couldn’t imagine it.
Helion snorted. “Is that a polite question for a High Lady to be asking?”
But the way he spoke, that smile … I only waited, using silence to push him instead.
Helion shrugged. “On and off for decades. Until Beron found out. They say the lady was all brightness and smiles before that. And after Beron was through with her … You saw what she is.”
“What did he do to her?”
“The same things he does now.” Helion waved a hand. “Belittle her, leave bruises where no one but him will see them.”
I clenched my teeth. “If you were her lover, why didn’t you stop it?” The wrong thing to say. Utterly wrong, by the dark fury that rippled across Helion’s face.
“Beron is a High Lord, and she is his wife, mother of his brood. She chose to stay. Chose. And with the protocols and rules, Lady, you will find that most situations like the one you were in do not end well for those who interfere.
I didn’t back down, didn’t apologize. “You barely even looked at her today.”
“We have more important matters at hand.”
“Beron never called you out for it?”
“To publicly do so would be to admit that his possession made a fool of him. So we continue our little dance, these centuries later.” I somehow doubted that beneath that roguish charm and irreverence, Helion felt it was a dance at all.
But if it had ended centuries ago, and she’d never seen him again, had let Beron treat her so abominably …
The Lucien Paternity Revelation:
While we spoke, I said down the bond, Helion is Lucien’s father. Rhys was silent. Then— Holy burning hell. His shock was a shooting star between us.
I let my gaze dart through the room, half paying attention to Helion’s musing on the wall and how to repair it, then dared study the High Lord for a heartbeat. Look at him. The nose is the same, the smile. The voice. Even Lucien’s skin is darker than his brothers’. A golden brown compared to their pale coloring.
It would explain why his father and brothers detest him so much—why they have tormented him his entire life.
My heart squeezed at that. And why Eris didn’t want him dead. He wasn’t a threat to Eris’s power—his throne. I swallowed. Helion has no idea, does he?
It would seem not.
The Lady of Autumn’s favorite son—not only from Lucien’s goodness. But because he was the child she’d dreamed of having … with the male she undoubtedly loved.
Beron must have discovered the affair when she was pregnant with Lucien.
He likely suspected, but there was no way to prove it—not if she was sharing his bed, too. Rhys’s disgust was a tang in my mouth. I have no doubt Beron debated killing her for the betrayal, and even afterward. When Lucien could be passable as his own of spring—just enough to make him doubt who had sired his last son.
I wrapped my head around it. Lucien not Beron’s son, but Helion’s. His power is flame, though. They’ve mused Beron’s title could go to him.
His mother’s family is strong—that was why Beron wanted a bride from their line. The gift could be hers.
You never suspected?
Not once. I’m mortified I didn’t even consider it.
What does this mean, though?
Nothing—ultimately nothing. Other than the fact that Lucien might be Helion’s sole heir