I’ll be posting a new deleted scene or excerpt from The Lunar Chronicles every Friday through January 27, spanning the releases of The Lunar Chronicles Coloring Book on December 6 and Wires and Nerve, vol. 1 on January 31.
SPOILERS WARNING: Even though this scene was ultimately deleted (or heavily altered), it still contains information and references to things that did make it into the book. I strongly encourage readers to enjoy the published books before proceeding!
Lunar Chronicles Deleted Scene #8
Technically you get two scenes today, since they’re short and they sort-of go together. You’re welcome!
From: Winter, 1st draft (or possibly the 2nd…)
Featuring: Scarlet, Thorne, Wolf
Helpful set-up: In the early drafts of Winter, there were a LOT of people getting captured and taken to the Lunar prison. In fact, one of the major revisions I had to do to the plot was trying to make it less repetitive with all those arrests!
So in this scene, Wolf has already been arrested (I don’t remember how/when), and now Thorne and Scarlet have been captured as well…
* * *
There was no sadness or worry or even fear as Scarlet stood between two Lunar guards in a dimly lit elevator descending down into the palace’s sublevels. There was only anger. Seething, boiling, simmering anger that had her face burning and every muscle ruthlessly taut.
Thorne, standing not two steps in front of her so that she could only see the side of his face, was holding in his emotions much better than she was. His expression was bordering on bored—complacent. He looked as though he expected to be taken on an afternoon stroll before being given milk and cookies and tucked into bed. Scarlet sucked in her irritation through her nose, almost envious at Thorne’s ability to appear so relaxed. It was certainly a gift.
The elevator doors opened. The thaumaturge walked out first into a cave lit only by a string of bare bulbs on the ceiling.
One of the guards jostled Thorne and he strode out of the lift with his shoulders back. Scarlet followed without hesitation, hoping it would keep them from touching her.
They followed the thaumaturge around a bend in the cavern, where another guard stood before a heavy iron door. He was already unbolting it at the thaumaturge’s urging.
“There are two open cells down on the right,” he muttered, disinterestedly, his eyes fixed on Thorne and then Scarlet as if ensuring these two new prisoners wouldn’t be causing him any trouble. Scarlet scowled right back before being shoved past him.
The prison was little more than a dank, dirty cave with rough black walls and unevenly spaced iron doors with tiny barred windows. There was an immediate fork after the heavy iron door and the thaumaturge led them to the right. In the distance down the hallway, Scarlet heard the clank of a door being opened and could see a second thaumaturge and two guards standing outside a far cell.
As she watched, a prisoner stepped out of the cell, his head hanging.
“The man will be here.” The thaumaturge gestured at a closed cell door without pausing. Thorne’s guards paused to open the door, blocking a coded pad with their backs. “And the girl, here,” said the thaumaturge, gesturing at the next cell door on the opposite side of the corridor.
But Scarlet ignored her—ignored Thorne and his guards and the jail cell that was about to become her home. Her gaze was transfixed on the prisoner who had just emerged down the hall, as a bundle of cleanly folded clothes was shoved into his arms.
“Wolf,” she whispered.
Thorne tensed, glancing back at her before following her gaze. His head lifted only momentarily as he spotted Wolf, just as he was pushed into his jail cell. He stumbled with the unexpected shove.
“Hey, gentle!” he cried, but his words were lost in the sudden clanging of the door.
At the sound of the door or the sound of Thorne’s voice, Wolf lifted his head for the first time. His eyes, even brighter when surrounded by dirt smudges and streaks of sweat, widened when they fell on her.
Scarlet’s heart ached and all the fury and strength left her in that one glimpse. She felt herself being nudged toward her own cell, but she barely sensed her feet on the floor or the guards’ hands on her back and shoulders. At the same time, Wolf was told to walk and he was coming toward her, and as he got closer she could see the budding misery and self-hatred in his eyes that she hadn’t seen since the last time she’d been trapped in a jail cell. When he’d chosen to help her escape. When he’d chosen her.
Her guard finished punching in the code and opened the door to her cell.
Wolf’s piercing gaze never left her. His knuckles were white as his fingers dug into the pile of clean clothes he’d been handed. He wasn’t a dozen steps away when Scarlet felt herself being shoved into her cell.
“No!” she screamed, her arm jutting out and blockading her way through the door. “Wolf!”
He dropped the clothes and sprang toward her all at once, his arms locking firmly around her waist. He pulled her toward him and crushed her lips in a kiss so violent she knew in an instant he believed it would be their last.
Her hands dug into his back, but he was already releasing her, yanking away so fast it left her spinning. “Scarlet—I love—”
In the next instant he raised one hand and shoved her so hard against her sternum that she fell backward, her shoulder scraping harsh against the stone wall as she stumbled back into the cell. She planted her feet, barely able to stay standing, but the wind left her at the force of the blow and she pressed her hand to her chest, struggling to breathe.
She blinked up at Wolf, at the horror and pain etched into every angle of his face, but it was his thaumaturge who spoke.
“There is to be no fraternizing with the other prisoners,” she said, as coolly as if she were commenting on the weather. “Pick up your uniform, and hope that you have not dirtied it, or you will be justly punished. Her Majesty is very peculiar about the appearance of her personal guards for the ceremony.”
Though Wolf’s eyes lingered on Scarlet, she could see them being ripped away from her involuntarily as he turned and stooped to gather up the fallen clothes, just as the heavy door to her cell slammed shut.
From: Winter, same draft
Featuring: Scarlet, Thorne, Cress
Helpful set-up: This took place a little later in the story, and Cress is now attempting to rescue Scarlet and Thorne. (This scene was later replaced with the scene in which Cress is trying to get into the palace’s broadcasting room, with Kai’s help.)
Also, instead of trying to send out the video of Levana, they were all focused on trying to get the plague antidote in order to save Winter.
* * *
The cave forked almost immediately and down each side Cress could see rows of heavy doors with small iron grates set high in each one. Her heart leaped when she noticed tiny coded pads also beside each door—the locks were coded. A flicker of hope stirred inside her.
Gulping, she stepped into the middle of the fork. “Thorne?” she whispered down the hall to the right. Then, “Scarlet? Wolf?”
Her tiny ringing voice carried away from here, echoing shrilly off the wall. She didn’t realize how frightened she was until she heard the quavering buried beneath her tone. “Captain?” She took three steps down the hall when she thought she heard Scarlet’s voice carrying back to her.
“Cress? Was that Cress?”
Hope crashing into her, she rushed ahead, whispering their names until she saw two hands wrap around a set of bars in one of the doors. “Cress?”
She nearly stumbled from relief. “Captain! Are you all right?”
His blue eyes met hers, shocked, through the bars. “How did you get down here?”
“Kai helped me.”
“Cress! Did you see Wolf?”
She spun around. Scarlet was in the cell down the way, her own hands gripping the bars.
“He was taken . . . they took him up to the palace for some reason. I don’t know why . . . an execution or . . .”
Cress shook her head. “The wedding ceremony is about to start. The queen can’t be doing executions right now.”
“Cress, can you get us out of here?”
She turned back, meeting Thorne’s intense blue eyes, before looking down at the coded panel. With a gulp, she sank down to her knees. “I think so, if I can get this panel off . . .” She tried to dig her nails into the gap between the code panel and the wall and cursed. “It’s soldered on.”
She glanced over at the panel by Scarlet’s door, but it was the same.
“All right,” she muttered, a bead of sweat slipping down her neck despite the chilly air. She turned back to the panel on Thorne’s door. “Maybe I can figure out the code. Let me think. Do you remember how many digits?”
“Cress, no,” said Thorne. “If you get it wrong it will almost certainly set off alarms.”
Gulping, she ran her shaking finger gently over the raised numbers, before squeezing her eyes shut. She rubbed her fingers over her wrists, almost able to feel long strands of thick hair tied around them like shackles. Her breathing started to quicken, her eyes blurring despite her attempts to focus.
“Just have to get the panel off,” she muttered, opening her eyes and again feeling around all the edges. “If Cinder were here . . . Cinder would figure out a way . . .”
“Cress. Look at me.”
She glanced up, only able to see Thorne’s long fingers wrapped around the bars. Standing, she arched on her tiptoes, grasping the bars to hold herself almost at his eye level.
His gaze was strong, but sad. “You need to get out of here.”
She shook her head, harshly. “No, I can do this.” She started to kneel again, but his stern voice stopped her.
“Cress, listen. You can’t be any good to us if they lock you up too.”
“But I just need a minute—”
“We don’t have a minute. Look.” One hand disappeared from the grate and Thorne’s eyes diverted. An almost-proud twinkle was in them when he met her gaze again and held up a small vial.
Cress gaped, her jaw dropping.
“I switched it out as soon as I found that tray, just in case. Put it somewhere safe.”
She took the vial gently as he passed it through the bars, her hands beginning to shake with their new precious cargo. “Captain . . .”
“Like maybe down the front of your dress?”
She blinked up at him, too nervous to be embarrassed, then down at her skin-tight dress that had no pockets. Biting her lower lip, she slipped the vial into her bosom as steaming tears began to fill her eyes again. “I can’t,” she whispered. “I can’t leave you here.”
“Yes, you can.” Thorne’s eyes were soft, beautiful through the shadows the bars cast on his face.
Wrapping her hands around the grate, Cress pressed her forehead against the cool metal, wishing she could dissolve into the door.
“You are going to go back to the hospital,” said Thorne, his voice calm as a crater lake. “You are going to make sure Winter gets this antidote, and you are going to save the universe.”
“That’s an order, Cress.”
She peered up at him, her vision blurry. “Captain . . .”
Thorne smiled, and the look didn’t seem forced or smug, merely encouraging. Stretching his fingers through the bars, he clipped a strand of her hair between them and brought it to his lips.
“You can do this, Cress. Besides, you’re the only person who ever takes me seriously when I give orders. Don’t let me down now.”
A distant clang would have gone ignored in Cress’s mind if Scarlet’s voice hadn’t intruded on her thoughts. “Someone’s coming. Cress—”
Thorne’s lips twitched, the first sign of worry, as he released the lock of her hair. “Good luck.”
Cress took in an unsteady breath and felt three heavy words weighing on her tongue, but they wouldn’t come out and somehow the idea that they could be the last word she ever said to him kept her silent. Then there were footsteps.
“Hurry,” Thorne said. “And whatever you do, don’t let them catch you.”
She dropped back from the grate and checked that the vial was secured between her breasts before, with a moment that clawed at her insides, she managed to tear her gaze away from Thorne and walk away.
She sniffed loudly, once, and wiped her dripping nose and eyes on her wrinkled cloak just as the prison guard came into view at the end of the hallway. He smirked when he saw her.
“I’ve obtained the information I needed,” she said, surprised to find her voice remarkably solid. “Thank you for your patience.”
Still grinning, he moved so that his body blocked the corridor leading to the exit. Cress froze.
“Perfect timing,” he said, his eyes swooping over her again. “I’ve just been relieved of duty.”
Her heart raced, the vial cold and heavy against her skin.
Cocking his head, the guard took a couple steps toward her—Cress mirrored each one with a nervous step back. “My emperor—”
“Is awfully busy right now.” He leered. “And as far as I know, he’s the only one who knows you’re down here.”
“Never seen a real shell before,” he continued. “Is it true that I can’t make you want me just by putting the thought in your head? Can’t make you hot and yearning with a few targeted emotions?” His eyes sparked. “Sounds like a fun challenge.”
“Stay away from me,” she hissed.
A chill crawled over her skin as his smile only grew.
“That’s not going to happen, little girl. Don’t you think you owe me for letting you come in here and get your emperor’s confidential information? Don’t think I was influenced by his pretty words as much as I was by your pretty face.”
Cress placed her hand against the wall to steady herself, afraid that her dizzying thoughts might lead to a fainting spell as the man crept closer.
He paused, his eyes swooping down her body once more, before in a blink—he lunged.
Cress slammed her eyes shut and yanked the gun out of her waist band. Pointed forward. Fired. The kickback slammed her against the wall, the gunshot ricocheting like fireworks in the tiny corridor. She heard the man cry out in pain and surprise.
She opened her eyes. Saw him staring at her with shock. And ran.
He was too stunned to stop her as she darted past him, pumping her arms and feeling the rush of adrenaline and the sweat tracing down her neck and forehead and the air blowing the hair from her brow as she ran.
She was already out of breath, more from fear than the sprint, as she raced up and pounded on the steel door.
The thought crashed into her that no one might be there. She might be locked in here with that man.
But the thought was short-lived as she heard the bolt being thrown back and the door opened. A surprised guard stared down at her. “What—I didn’t know anyone was in—”
Cress raised the gun, aiming the barrel between his eyes. His words fell silent.
“Put your hands up and step away from this door,” she ordered, feeling the fire of desperation boiling inside her.
The guard, to her disbelief, did as he was told, raising his hands by his ears and backing up into the dark, tiled chamber. Cress stayed close to the wall, her arm extended. She could tell the exact moment when the guard’s surprise wore off and his brain reminded him that he was a trained soldier. His fingers twitched, his eyes calculating the best way to disarm her.
Cress dropped the barrel and shot him in the shoulder. He roared.
She turned and bolted for the elevator and found it waiting at the dock.
“Stop!” His harsh voice rang out as she pounded on the button then re-aimed the gun, daring him to come closer as the doors shut her away.