Acotar 5 villain, pulling out a knife: Oh I have ways of making you talk.
Villain: *cuts into a cake*
Gwyn: Can I... have some cake, please?
Villain: Cake is for talkers.
*a while later*
Gwyn, over a mouthful of cake, gesturing wildly: And then he was like "since there’s no chance in hell any of you will finish the course, we didn’t bother to get a prize". And I was like "bitch, we're gonna prove you wrong", and then we proved his ass wrong, you know?
All those little moments between Gwyn and Azriel during training, or even the fact that the two of them have private training sessions, assume a total new meaning the moment you realize Gwyn is not in Azriel’s group, she’s in Cassian’s.
That means that ￼￼when Azriel turns around because she hears Gwyn squealing, smile at her when he first join them, or when he drifts closer to her when she explains the ribbon and then keep paying attention even as he turns back around, is because he’s purposely paying attention to her. It’s not his task to do so, because that one would be focusing on his trainees, and Gwyn is not one of them.
Gwyn asking Azriel to go dagger handling together and alone has much more importance when you realize she could have easily asked Nesta and Cassian to teach her, who’s yk, the one whose actual task is to teach her. But she chose Azriel.
Summary: Nesta Archeron has been thirsting for revenge against Tomas Mandray since a fatal encounter in November 1940. When he suddenly reappears decades later, she finally has the perfect opportunity to make him pay for what he's done. Her only problem? She and her friends aren't powerful enough to take Tomas and his lackeys down on their own...
Cassian Valladares is the deadliest vampire hunter Windhaven has seen in a generation. When Nesta approaches him with a plan to kill her ex-fiancé, he's initially hesitant -- he wants nothing to do with leeches, especially one who almost got him killed. But as the bodies start piling up, Cassian and his brothers are forced to reconsider...
Will Nesta and Cassian be able to put aside their differences long enough to work together? Or will they find themselves consumed by something else entirely?
Warnings: Major Character Death, Violence, Eventual Smut
“Gwynriel wouldn’t be a thing without the bonus chapter” and why is it b*llshit
Or, in other words, a list of ALL the gwynriel moments in ACOSF, minus the bonus chapter.
Gwyn had been distracted today—one eye on the other side of the ring. Cassian could only assume she was watching his brother, who had given Gwyn a small smile of greeting upon arrival. Gwyn hadn’t returned it. Cassian cursed himself for a fool. He should have asked her if she’d be comfortable with Azriel here. Perhaps he should have asked all the priestesses about including another male, but especially Gwyn—whom Azriel had found that day in Sangravah.
She’d said nothing about it during the lesson. Only glanced every now and then toward Az, who remained dutifully focused on his charges. Cassian couldn’t read the expression on her face.
Gwyn let out a high-pitched noise that was nothing but pure excitement. Azriel, on the other side of the ring with the rest of the priestesses, half-turned at the sound, brows high.
“Done,” Gwyn declared, the white ribbon fluttering in the wind where it hung from the beam. Behind them, a few of the priestesses working with Azriel had turned to see what the ribbon business was about. The shadowsinger crossed his arms, angling his head, but remained in his half of the ring.
But Cassian made a contemplative noise, gesturing to the other half of the ring. “Az told me you also started preliminary work with the steel blades while we were gone.” He nodded to Gwyn and Emerie, the former glancing toward Azriel, who watched in silence. “So show me what you learned. Cut the ribbon in two.”
“We slice the ribbon in two,” Emerie asked Gwyn warily, “and our training is complete?”
Gwyn again glanced to Azriel, who drifted closer. She said, “I’m not entirely sure.”
“You’re oldest,” Gwyn said, nudging Emerie toward the ribbon. Emerie groused, but stepped up to the dangling ribbon, grudgingly taking the sword Cassian extended. Azriel murmured over a shoulder to the priestesses under his charge as they watched. They instantly began moving again. But Azriel’s attention remained on the ribbon.
(Important to notice what a very different reaction he had when Gwyn was the one cutting the ribbon. (See chapter 60 below.))
Nesta was leafing through a tome of military history in the library—that had one paragraph on Valkyrie ambush strategies—when Gwyn appeared. “Tell me you found their secret to cutting the ribbon.”
“You and that ribbon,” Nesta muttered, shutting the tome. Of all of them, Gwyn had become the most relentless about succeeding.
I find it very telling that Nesta is the one acknowledging Gwyn’s little obsession with the ribbon, considering what she then tells Azriel on chapter 60. 👀
Azriel had winnowed her and Cassian here after training, but hadn’t lingered. Apparently, Gwyn wanted him to go over dagger handling, so he’d left them with a promise to return in an hour.
Having private training sessions already. I see I see.
They fell silent again as Gwyn shifted her feet, angling the blade. The wind waggled the ribbon again, as if taunting her.
Cassian glanced over at Az, but his attention was fixed on the young priestess, admiration and quiet encouragement shining from his face.
Azriel went wholly still, as if he, too, had felt the shift. As if he, too, were aware that far larger forces peered into that training ring as Gwyn moved.
Azriel clapped his hands, and all the females straightened. “You’ll work in groups of three.”
Gwyn asked Az, her teal eyes bright, “What do we get if we finish the course?”
Az’s shadows danced around him. “Since there’s no chance in hell any of you will finish the course, we didn’t bother to get a prize.”
Boos sounded. Gwyn lifted her chin in challenge. “We look forward to proving you wrong.”
This scene singlehandedly ended the “lightsinger” theory, too bad antis pretend it doesn’t exist. His shadows normally dance around Gwyn, whether she sings or not.
Gwyn threw Azriel a withering stare as she strode past him. “See you tomorrow, Shadowsinger,” she tossed over a shoulder.
Az stared after her, brows high with amusement. When he turned back, Nesta grinned. “You have no idea what you just started,” she said. Az angled his head, hazel eyes narrowing as Gwyn reached the archway.
“Remember how Gwyn was with the ribbon?” Nesta winked and clapped the shadowsinger on the shoulder. “You’re the new ribbon, Az.”
The three of them made it to the third stage only once in the next two weeks. Roslin, Ananke, and Deirdre were close on their heels, propelling Gwyn to push her group harder. She wanted to be the first. Wanted Nesta and Emerie and her to be the ones who wiped the smirks from Azriel’s and Cassian’s faces. Especially Azriel’s.
“Especially Azriel” you say? Interesting.
And when Gwyn reached the finish line, bloody and panting and grinning so wildly her teal eyes glowed like a sunlit sea, she only extended her battered hand to Azriel. “Well?”
“You already have your prize,” Azriel said simply. “You just passed the Blood Rite Qualifier. Congratulations.”
To notice how she immediately went to Azriel 👀
“There are plenty of other unspeakable things that could be happening to her,” Cassian said, voice thickening. “To Emerie and Gwyn.”
The shadows deepened around Azriel, his Siphons gleaming like cobalt fire. “You—we—trained them well, Cassian. Trust in that. It’s all we can do.”
One of my favorite Elriel scenes, which technically isnt even an Elriel scene, is the initial meeting between the sisters and the brothers. I don’t know whether SJM meant to do this, or whether she is subconsciously following what she set up in that scene, but I’ve been thinking about it and it’s a microcosm of all relationships and events to come.
Let’s take a look:
Specifically, we have Cassian and Nesta, who are very much at each other’s throats, verbally sparring from the get-go, being very open and obvious in both, their disdain and their attraction to each other.
Moving forward, essentially, that’s the basis of their relationship--verbal sparring, which eventually led to physical sparring, and which united both of them. Their love was never a secret, even during their separation, it was always obvious that they harbor strong feelings for each other and will eventually get together. Which they did.
Feyre and Rhys are all but confirmed as a couple during that visit--they feel comfortable enough to share a bedroom, and it only grows from there.
The relationship, or rather, mutual dislike between Rhys and Nesta is also set up.
Now, Elain and Azriel, are, true to form, a lot more quiet--quiet about their attraction, quiet with their words, though the words that they exchange are surprising, because Elain is able to crack the shall of Azriel’s guarded character with but a few words. He is described as appearing self-conscious and begins to sprout poetry--both actions that sort of go against his usual behavior, but all done in response to Elain, the desire to perhaps impress her, or at the very least, make her comfortable.
Now, on to Elain. My favorite part of the entire scene is by far her clutching a fork, ready to defend herself and Nesta against Cassian, of all people. Elain, who everyone assumes is weak and helpless is the one who is wielding a ‘weapon’. As always, it seems that no one understands Elain--Feyre compares her to a dog (just like Nesta did later) in the same episode--but it’s the girl in a pink dress who likes flowers, who is willing to lunge to protect her sister. And what happens later?--it’s the girl who was too shy to wear pants that went and did defend her sister, actually STABBING someone. That little fork back during the first dinner was her Truth Teller. Doesn’t matter what weapon she has, to protect her family, she’d use whatever she has--fork, bare feet or legendary daggers.
It seems that going forward, we’ll be seeing much more of that--her willingness to find the Dead Trove objects without much hesitation is testament to that. She is actually a lot braver than what people assume about her.
And just like they were quiet and shy during the first dinner, Elain and Azriel’s attraction and affection has been quiet too, hidden from view, hidden from everyone. It’s been about looking out the windows and exchanging glances and touching fingers and giving each other thoughtful gifts.
"By the end of the book, you'll know who the next one will be about..."
I saw the painting in my mind: the lovely fawn, blooming spring vibrant behind her.
Standing before Death, shadows and terrors lurking over his shoulder. Light and dark, the
space between their bodies a blend of the two.
Azriel = Death, shadows and darkness
She plucked another figurine from the mantel: a rose carved from a dark
sort of wood. She held it in her palm, its solid weight surprising, and traced
a finger over one of the petals. “He made this one for Elain. Since it was
winter and she missed the flowers.
Her gaze shifted to the carved
wooden rose she’d placed upon the mantel, half-hidden in the shadows.
...she pulled the small, carved rose from her pocket and set it
upon the gravestone. A permanent marker of the beauty and good he’d tried to
bring into the world.
Elain = blooming spring
Her sister’s delicate scent of jasmine and honey lingered in the red-
stoned hall like a promise of spring, a sparkling river that she followed to the
open doors of the chamber.