Parallels between Feysand, Nessian and Elriel
Feysand: Rhys was jealous of Feyre with Tamlin
Nessian: Cassian was jealous of Rhys' bond with Feyre
Elriel: Azriel is now jealous of both Rhys and Cassian for their relationships
Feysand: Rhys couldn't think of a future with Feyre because she was with Tamlin
Nessian: Cassian said he rarely allowed himself to even think about Nesta
Elriel: Azriel hasn't allowed himself to think of a future with Elain
Feysand: Rhys avoided Feyre for 3 months
Nessian: Cassian avoided Nesta for nearly a year
Elriel: Azriel has avoided Elain for months
Feysand: Rhys saved Feyre from her wedding with Tamlin
Nessian: Cassian saved Nesta
Elriel: Azriel saved Elain from Hybern
Feysand: I dared a glance at Rhys, and there was something like devastation on his beautiful face.
Elriel: and Azriel... It was pity on his beautiful face. Pity and sorrow as he watched my sister.
Nessian: They were speaking, Azriel with some urgency, but Cassian didn’t hear him, heard nothing but the roaring in his head before he said to no one in particular, “I’m going after them.”
Elriel: From the shadows near the entrance to the tent, Azriel said, as if in answer to some unspoken debate, “I’m getting her back.”
Nessian: “Are you […] happy?”
Shadows darkened his hazel eyes. “I’m getting there.” A halfhearted answer. ~Cassian in ACOFAS
Elriel: Shadows darkened his eyes, full of enough pain that she couldn’t stop herself from touching his shoulder. ~Azriel in ACOSF
Nessian: Stupid, stupid, stupid—He didn’t care. Didn’t give a shit as she rose up on her toes, her mouth nearing his—
Elriel: It was so wrong. He didn't care. He needed to know what her skin tasted like [...]
Rhys's voice thundered through him, halting him mere inches from Elain's sweet mouth.
Nessian: "Why do you bother, Cassian?"
But Cassian said quietly as we headed for the dining room, "Because I can't stay away." ~Feyre asking Cassian about Nesta
Elriel: "Why did you come if it torments you so much?"
He explained, "They pull people together. And bring them joy. They are a time to pause and reflect and gather, and those are never bad things." ~Nesta asking Azriel about Elain
Nessian: Cassian surveyed her. Gazed into her eyes and breathed, "Beautiful."
Elriel: I couldn't tell if she was looking at his blue Siphon or at his scarred skin beneath as she breathed, "Beautiful."
Nessian: "You looked like a queen, and it was painfully obvious that you should be with a princeling like Eris and not a low-born nothing like me! Because I couldn't stand the sight of it, right down to my gods-damned bones!"
Elriel: Because her mate had been in the family room and Azriel had needed to stay by the door the whole time because he couldn't stand the sight of it, the scent of their mating bond, and needed to have the option of leaving if it became too much.
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I am quite intrigued by all of this!
Also, Azriel perched as a gargoyle on your balcony is probably an interesting sight.
A Midnight Wish Part 2: A Kiss of Dawn
Elain was exhausted by the time she finally dragged herself to her bedchamber. She had neglected her slippers long ago, crossing over the threshold silently on padded feet.
Taking a deep breath, she pressed her back against the closed door and closed her eyes. Despite the nature of the festivity--and the celebration of Nesta and Cassian--too many thoughts were still running wild in her mind. She tried not to think of how she had failed Nuala and Cerridwen, because that led her to thinking of someone else.
So she tried to think of nothing at all.
She wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed, fully clothed, her face still glowing with rouge and her hair still styled. But she would regret it in the morning--especially if she ruined such a beautiful gown.
Sighing, Elain walked to her vanity, plunked down, and got to work.
She had just finished removing the pins from her hair when she felt the night-kissed shadow ruffle the hem of her gown. She went very still, staring at the swirling darkness at her feet. It moved, and she turned and watched as it slithered away like a snake, across her floor and to the balcony.
Follow me, it seemed to say.
She hesitated only a moment before rising and padding quietly across her bedchamber. She pushed back her lilac curtains and stepped onto the balcony. There, crouched precariously on the railing like a gargoyle, was Azriel.
For a moment they just stared at each other, Elain still in her evening gown, her golden-brown waves blowing gently in the wind. Azriel still wore his finery, too, though he had retired from the party long before she had.
She wanted to ask him what he was doing here, but instead she blurted, "How are you doing that?"
He seemed surprised at her question. She could not blame him. "Doing what?"
"Balancing like--like that."
"It's not that difficult."
It most certainly was. "Perhaps you just make it seem easy."
"Perhaps," Az agreed, and though it was almost too dark to see, a slight smile tugged at his mouth.
Elain crossed her arms, shielding herself from the chill of the night. "You left the party quite early," she said, and immediately regretted it. She shouldn't have noticed.
"I had business to attend," he replied.
"He keeps you busy, doesn't he?"
She said it lightly, jokingly, but for some reason Azriel stiffened slightly. And when he spoke, he did not sound amused. "Yes, he does."
Silence fell, though it was not uncomfortable. It never had been with him. Still, Elain felt a slight blush creep up on her cheeks as she considered the situation: it was very late, and there was a male perched outside her balcony. Not just any male, either.
She was about to ask him what he wanted, when she saw his head turn slightly, as though listening to something. A shadow, no doubt, though she could scarcely see one. But she did notice the way he went very well.
"What is it?" she asked, taking a step forward.
"Nothing." He turned back to her, his hazel eyes guarded. But not enough. Something was worrying him.
"Doesn't look like nothing."
"You like your secrets, don't you?" she asked, her tone a bit sharper than she intended.
"No, I don't. But that comes with the territory." Azriel smiled slightly, but it didn't reach his eyes. "Though Feyre tells me you have me beat in secret keeping."
"Did she?" Elain couldn't help it--she beamed at the compliment, no matter how poorly earned it was.
Still, Az nodded. "Nuala and Cerridwen are training you well."
Elain stared at him. It felt like someone had thrown cold water over her.
"How--how did you know?" She managed to ask. The twins wouldn't have told him, she was certain.
Az angled his head almost curiously. "I am Rhys's Spymaster. It is my job to know."
"Are you upset with them?" Before he could answer, she plowed on, "Don't be. I insisted. We are friends, you know. And I practically forced them to train me. Don't--"
"The only thing that upsets me," he interrupted quietly, "is that you felt you couldn't come to me."
Elain blinked, staring at him. "You haven't exactly been around," she said carefully.
Azriel's jaw clenched, the only sign of emotion on his otherwise perfectly guarded face. It was the sort of look one made before they retreated into the night, a heavy silence falling in between.
And because she did not want him to go, to put that distance between them that he so recently favored, she said, "If you must know, I failed miserably tonight."
He looked like he wanted to say something else, but settled on, "How so?"
"I was...out matched, it would seem." An understatement, but she did not want to elaborate.
To her surprise, Azriel chuckled, his shoulders loosening a bit. "I doubt that. You just need practice, and time."
Time. She had endless time now, didn't she?
She didn't want to talk about any of that anymore. So she just cocked her head and surveyed him, still perched on that railing. Wasn't he cold?
"Do you want a cup of tea or something?" she asked. "A scone? Something hot?"
Azriel straightened as though she had offended him. "No," he practically blurted.
"Oh." Elain blinked in surprise. Something inside her crumpled just a bit. "Right. Well, it's late, I shouldn't have--"
"It was very kind," he said quickly, though for some reason, he sounded pained. "But I don't think that would be a good idea."
Of course not. How could she be so foolish?
"It's fine," she said stiffly.
"You keep saying that."
"Because I mean it."
Az stared at her. "You can lie to them," he said quietly, "but not to me."
And just like that, Elain was no longer on the balcony, but standing before Nesta and her friends. A familiar necklace stared back at her, glinting and taunting her in the faelight.
It was as though Azriel could read her mind, for he said, "I--I'm sorry."
"You said that already."
"Can't I say it twice?"
Elain just waited.
Azriel ran a hand through his hair, once again looking oddly out of sorts. "When I found your necklace, I intended to return it to the shop, but for some reason I ended up at the library, and I thought..." He shook his head. "I don't know what I thought. You didn't want it, and--"
"I did want it," Elain interrupted.
His brows furrowed as he studied her. "You did?"
She nodded. "I wanted it very much. Too much, probably."
She knew--and hoped he did not--that she was no longer talking about the necklace. But something shifted in his gaze, as though he did know. He always seemed to know what she was thinking.
Hesitantly, Elain took a step forward. And another. Moving closer until she stood before him. He watched her carefully, still balanced precariously on the railing. Even perched, he still stood above her.
His hazel eyes were glowing, an intensity in them that made Elain look down. Made her admit, "I left the necklace behind because I did not want you to regret more than one thing that night."
The silence that followed was cold and biting, seeming to last forever. Elain sucked in a breath, prepared to fumble through some sort of explanation, when--
"I do regret it," Az said softly.
Elain looked up, hurt flashing on her face before she could hide it. But Azriel reached out, cupping her face in his scarred hands. Her mouth parted slightly in surprise.
"I regret making you think it was a mistake. And I regret not doing this," he said, and leaned down and kissed her.
Elain's surprise only lasted a half second before she returned his kiss, sighing into his mouth, her own moving in perfect sync with his. Her hands clung to the front of his jacket, pulling him off the railing and closer to her. A lesser male would have stumbled in the process, but Azriel was graceful and smooth, and no sooner had he landed on the balcony did he spin them so that Elain's back was pressed against the railing.
His wings flared out slightly, shielding them from the wind. One of his hands slid behind her neck, burying in her hair, while the other found her lower back, pressing her closer. Elain let out a soft moan that Az devoured with his mouth. Heat flooded her cheeks, her core. She was on fire. She was burning and burning and--
A clock tolled in the distance.
Dawn. It was almost dawn.
As though the sound woke them from their reverie, Azriel pulled back slightly. His breathing was slightly ragged, matching Elain's. He leaned forward and pressed his forehead to hers. She closed her eyes, listening to the sound of his hammering heart.
"I will speak to her," Az said finally. "Clear up the confusion and return your necklace to you."
It took Elain a moment to realize who he meant. She opened her eyes and frowned. Took a step back. "No, no. I could never do that."
"What is done is done." Regret flashed in his eyes. She wanted to tell him it wasn't the gift itself that meant so much--it was the thought, the careful consideration in which he took in finding something so perfect. But all she said was, "I might ask for something else in exchange, though."
Though Az's eyes narrowed slightly, he said nothing, waiting.
Elain knew it was selfish, but she said, "Come to family dinners. When you can. Everyone misses seeing you."
I miss seeing you.
Az stiffened and peered down at her. His thumb gently brushed her cheek, the gesture shockingly tender from someone who tortured enemies for information.
"They know where to find me," he murmured.
"Perhaps they're waiting for an invitation."
He raised a brow. "Is that so?"
Elain nodded. "It is only polite. Even among friends and family."
"Friends and family." Amusement glittered in his eyes and even Elain fought back a smile. While she was still trying to work out what Azriel was to her, simply a friend or family did not seem accurate. "I will remember that."
They stared at one another, tension and longing thick between them. They left the rest unsaid. How the mating bond complicated matters, even if Elain had not accepted it. Even if it meant nothing to her at all. There would be a time for that conversation, but that time was not now.
"I should go," Az murmured. "Rhys is expecting me."
Elain didn't want him to leave, but she had no power to make him stay. So she just nodded.
He turned, and hesitated. Hesitated long enough that Elain asked, "What is it?"
"There is something else," Az said, almost reluctantly.
Elain felt the color drain from her face. "What about him?"
Azriel turned back to face her. He looked resigned, unhappy, but determined. "There is another object to be found, I am certain--a fourth item in the Dread Trove."
She stopped breathing. Forced herself to say, "And?"
"And I think we're the only ones who can find it."
Elain stared at him. She hadn't told anyone--not even her friends--what she had seen.
"Who is we?" she managed to ask.
"You and I."
You and I.
The words fell into deep, unending silence. And the way Azriel was looking at her--did he know she had seen something? Was he just waiting for her to confirm his suspicions?
"This sounds quite serious," she said finally.
"It is." Shadows swirled around Azriel's shoulders, reflecting the darkening of his eyes.
"Then you must tell Feyre and Rhys as well."
And I must tell them what I have seen, she thought.
Some unknown emotion flittered across Az's face, one Elain could not decipher. "I intend to, but--"
"Perfect. Then you will do so tomorrow."
"At dinner. I will even prepare some of Nesta's favorites, for she will certainly have much to say on the matter."
Az's confusion morphed into a knowing, amused look. "I know what you are doing."
"I have no idea what you mean," Elain said seriously, but her eyes shone with mischief. "This is a serious matter that must be discussed with the High Lord and Lady. Don't you agree?"
"I do," he said reluctantly.
Her grin widened, but quickly faded as she considered, truly, what he was saying. What it meant. What it confirmed, even for herself.
"Do you think they will protest?" Elain asked. "Insist I stay out of it?" She remembered the last time she tried to get involved, and how that had ended. But this time was different. It had to be different.
Azriel considered her words. "Possibly. And they are not entirely wrong." When Elain looked at him in exasperation, he added, "There is an innate darkness to the Trove, Elain. A darkness that might alter you forever."
She raised her chin. "I do not fear the dark."
Az smiled slightly, like he believed her. And Elain could not help but return his smile, because she knew he did. He was the only person who ever looked at her like she was capable of something great.
She wanted to cross the distance between them and kiss him again. She wanted him to gently push her into her bedchamber and lay her atop the silk sheets.
Elain swore Az could read her mind, for he chuckled and inclined his head toward her chamber. "Go," he said, though it was far from commanding.
And because it was nearly first light, Elain backed away, biting her lip and smiling. "Tomorrow, then."
"Tomorrow," he promised.
Note: In this scenario, I do imagine when Gwyn found out the truth, she would return the necklace. But I couldn't imagine Elain demanding it from her. Such an uncomfortable situation, so it was interesting to write. Can't wait to see how SJM handles it!
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