“I’d given my word, and held to that word for so long that I was nothing and no one without it.”

In Chapter 7, Feyre thinks about the deathbed promise she made to her mother as she confronts Tamlin about what he intends to do with her in Prythian. The promise Feyre made to her mother was to keep the family together and safe, and even in the face of an uncertain and dangerous future, her primary concern is her duty to her family. Feyre bears this burden alone, with no support from her sisters or father, never telling her father of the promise. Up until this point, Feyre’s daily life has been consumed by keeping her word as she puts herself in dangerous situations to provide for her ungrateful family. Her dedication to her vow has become so much a part of her identity that she is unsure who she is without it. Though her commitment to duty has been a burden for many years, she is unable to let it go even when her safety and future are precarious.

“You can’t write, but you learned how to hunt, to survive. How?” 

I paused with my foot on the threshold. “That’s what happens when you’re responsible for lives other than your own, isn’t it? You do what you have to do.”

Feyre’s explanation for the motivation behind acquiring her huntress skills in Chapter 12 reveals that her duty towards her family is never far from her mind. Tamlin’s question seems at first to answer itself because hunting is clearly a matter of survival. Feyre’s response confirms that carrying the weight of her family’s survival on her shoulders made the stakes for providing even higher. Tamlin’s question also includes an insulting assumption that her inability to read has anything to do with her intelligence rather than her lack of access to education. Feyre is illiterate not because she lacks intelligence but because of her circumstances. The scene challenges Tamlin’s unfair prejudices about humans as willfully ignorant and heartless creatures. The scene also represents a turning point for both Feyre and Tamlin as they begin to soften toward one another and let their guards down. Learning about the weight Feyre carries with her allows him to identify with her as he grapples with a similar burden.

“I should say it—I should say those words, but they got stuck in my throat, because … because of what he had to face, because he might not find me again despite his promise … I would not become a burden to him. I would not become another weight pressing upon his shoulders.”

Feyre makes the decision not to tell Tamlin that she loves him back in Chapter 28 because she does not want to make Tamlin feel beholden to her over protecting his people. Because the duty of caring for others is something Feyre and Tamlin both have in common, Feyre knows better than anyone how seriously Tamlin takes his duty to protect his lands and his people. Feyre fears Tamlin’s love for her will compromise his duty as High Lord of the Spring Court and does not want to complicate his decision by revealing her feelings right as she is about to depart Prythian. There is also a fear of vulnerability and pain motivating Feyre’s silence. Telling Tamlin that she loves him would open Feyre up to heartbreak as she may lose her lover either way. Ironically, Feyre’s decision not to tell Tamlin that she loves him ultimately prevents Tamlin from breaking free of Amarantha’s curse, which would make him a more effective leader. By attempting to respect his duty to his people, Feyre unwittingly allows the conflict to continue.