#a court of thorns and roses fanfic
azriel x reader (acotar)
warnings: periods, angst (?), fluff
word count: 1253
summary/request: may i request an azriel x reader where she’s on her period but she’s fae so it’s obviously much harder to cope with? azriel doesn’t know she’s on it and she accidentally snaps at him and he leaves, hurt and wondering what he did, and the reader feels guilty? But they make up at the end? thank you! From anon
a/n: hi, thank you so much for requesting, i loved this one so much! i hope you enjoy it too <333
Azriel sat at the dinner table with the other members of the Inner Circle, picking at his food, clearly troubled. He was so lost in his own thoughts that he missed the concerned glances thrown his way by his family, confused at his uncharacteristic distraction and at your lack of presence at the meal.
Meanwhile, the Illyrian was racking his brain for any potential things he could have done or said that would have led to your outburst earlier that morning.
He had awoken before you, as he did most mornings, and had left you to rest with a delicate kiss on your head whilst he went and prepared some breakfast for you. You were already awake when he returned and at the sight of him and the tray filled with food balanced in his scarred hands, you had burst into tears and ran to the bathroom, locking yourself inside. He had panicked, gently setting the tray on the bed, before making his way to the locked door, attempting to speak softly to you through it. Most of your response was incoherent through your sniffles and sobs, but he had understood you asking him for some space. He had obliged immediately, not wanting his presence to make you even more distressed, and had gone outside to train alone.
He had stayed there for the majority of the day, not trusting himself to be back at the house and not disturb you. Since returning when Feyre called him down for dinner, he had not seen you once and was even more troubled by your absence from the meal. His mind was whirring, instantly fearing the worst case scenarios.
What if he had said something to upset you? What if he had unknowingly hurt you during your activities the night prior? What if you had awoken and finally realised what he had feared you would since the minute the two of you discovered you were mates: that he was worthless, just a bastard born Illyrian, with horrid scars from his past and who murdered and tortured people for a living? That he was someone so utterly undeserving of your love?
“Az?” He was broken from his thought spiral by Feyre’s concerned voice calling for him, tilting his head up to look at her in surprise. “Are you alright?”
“Yes, of course. Apologies, I’ve got a lot on my mind.” he responded, giving her a barely there, sheepish smile in the hopes of reassuring her.
“Is Y/N feeling better? Poor girl, of course she isn’t. She must be feeling horrible.” Mor chimed in, pouting sympathetically.
Azriel’s attention snapped to the blonde, eyebrows furrowing as he sat up straighter.
“What do you mean?” he asked, glancing between Mor and Feyre as they shared a look. “Why would she be feeling horrible? Is she alright?”
“She’s on her period, Az. Cauldron, brother, even I knew that.” Cassian chuckled, shaking his head at Azriel’s obliviousness as he took another sip of his drink.
Realisation dawned on Azriel, your emotional outburst making complete sense to him now. He cursed himself for not recognising the signs sooner and for having left you alone all day with nothing but your pain and uncomfort. He stood abruptly from his chair, thanking Feyre briefly for the dinner, before rushing to the stairs and making his way to your shared room.
Upon opening the door, his heart broke at the sight of you curled up in a ball, head buried into the pillows as your hand pressed hopelessly against your stomach. Shame settled in on him for being so oblivious and not being there for you in your time of need.
Your eyes reluctantly flutter open at the sound of the door opening and shutting, widening when they land on him. You slowly unfurl yourself, groaning slightly as you move to sit up, not taking your eyes off of your mate for a second.
“I know you said you wanted space…” Azriel starts, avoiding your gaze as he glances nervously around the room. “So, if you’d like me to leave, then please just-“
“No..” you whisper, cutting him off, the slight pleading in your voice gaining his attention. “I’m so sorry, Azriel. I never should have said that to you or reacted the way I did. You did nothing but be your usual, considerate self but you know how I get.” you continue, voice wavering as you begin to tear up, guilt overcoming you at the vulnerability evident on the shadowsinger’s face. “Oh, Az, I’m so sorry.”
He reacts before he even realises what he is doing, heart aching at the sadness and fear radiating from you down the bond, feeling only the urge to comfort you. He quickly settles himself on the bed beside you before gently grasping you by the waist and pulling you into his lap. You instantly wrap your arms tightly around his shoulders, burying your face into his neck as one of his hands comes up to hold your quivering head in place, the other running soothingly up and down your back.
“It’s okay, my love. I’m here now, I’m here. You have nothing to apologise for.” he promises, pressing multiple kisses to the crown of your head. “I should’ve known what this week was, it’s my fault.”
You shake your head, pulling back slightly to look him in the eye.
“No, don’t say that. I snapped at you and I shouldn’t have. It’s my fault, not yours.” you murmur, Azriel’s eyebrows furrowing in concern as he moves his hands up to cup your face.
“Let’s just agree that it’s nobody’s fault, alright? Nobody but that period of yours.” he smiles fondly at you, eyes brightening when he notes your visible relaxation at his light tone.
“I hate being a woman.” you pout, earning a chuckle from your mate, resulting in a small smile of your own which quickly drops as a wave of pain hits you.
Azriel frowns as your face contorts into an expression of pure discomfort, a small pulse of pain echoing down the bond. He coos softly at you, moving one large hand down to rest over your back, an area he knows to be the cause of some of your worst cramps. You sigh softly as the warmth from his palm seeps into your skin, relieving the ache momentarily as you slump against him.
He smiles, pride sparking within him at his ability to ease your suffering with the maimed hands which he believed would only ever be the cause of people’s suffering. He tilts his head ever so slightly, pressing a delicate kiss to each of your cheeks, followed by one on your nose and then, finally, one on your lips.
You sigh contently against him, his smile widening before he nudges your head back against his shoulder, reaching down to the foot of the bed for the blanket resting there. He brings it up over the two of you, adjusting himself into a more comfortable position.
He now lay back against the headrest, with you settled comfortably in his lap, legs curled up on either side of him. He rubs soothing circles into the small of your back, his free hand coming up to run through your hair.
“Sleep now, darling. I’ll be here when you awake.” he says, resting his head on top of your own as you relax further into his embrace.
“You promise?” you mumble against his skin, eyelids already heavy as his hands lull you to sleep.
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Hello, dear Bruna! I found your account recently, and I'm totally in love with it 🥰 Anyway, could I suggest the 35 prompt on that list with Nessian?
a/n: thank you so much, lovely nonnie! So happy to have you here 💛 And apologies for taking a while! Here’s what I came up - hope you like it!
35. “You heard me. Take. It. Off.”
(tags under the cut!)
read more headcanons about Nesta and Cassian here.
tog + acotar gen 2
~the world and all recognizable characters belong to sarah j maas~
her leathers weighed more than her
or maybe that was exhaustion speaking
still, Nesta Archeron wasn’t a quitter
and the Commander had already looked at her the wrong way
in his eyes
and she didn’t want that
she didn’t want that at all
she wanted her muscles straining
and her body crying
and her mind empty of him and of everything that had happened in the last few months
“Again,” she said, raising her sword
but Cassian straightened
the sunset fell in his eyes
golden rays kissing his skin
she blinked away the sight of him, and called back the rage, the frustration, the sadness-
that worked perfectly
“Again,” she rasped
but Cassian didn’t raise his sword
he just watched her, brows furrowed, emotion written all over his gaze
emotion she did not want
the tip of his blade touched the dusty ground
Nesta wiped the dust of her cheek with her sleeve
“Pick up the sword,” Nesta all but snarled
“Rage has no place here,” Cassian said, and it felt like he was scolding a child. “Get rid of it.”
but rage is what drove her
it was what woke her up in the morning and made her get out of bed
these training sessions was all she had
Nesta gritted her teeth and attacked
he barely had to move to deflect her sword
if this was an ordinary fight, if he truly wanted to win and teach her a lesson, Cassian could have easily taken the sword away from her and pushed her into the ground
but he didn’t
his sword met hers, and he moved through the stances easily, gracefully, but the fact that he wasn’t puttng as much rage into it as her only made her see red
Nesta breathed hard, spitting the hair from her mouth that had come undone from her braid. “Again,” she said, and didn’t make him wait this time - she just pounced
her vision blurred
but Nesta blinked the dizzyiness and the exhaustion away
because this - this was what kept her here
the fighting was what made her feel alive
and she needed it
she couldn’t stop
this time, Cassian didn’t deflect her moves
took her sword away from her
just like that
one simple punch to her wrist and her blade went flying
Nesta was shook to her core
wondering how he’d managed to take that sword away from her so easily
but no matter
before he could react, Nesta lowered to the ground, leg swinging
but Cassian was expecting it, of course he was
he jumped right over, without missing a beat. “Nes-”
he hadn’t even finished her name and she was already up, one hand blocking his sword arm, the other swinging
but Cassian held up an arm, an blocked her attack, just as easily
too slow, she was too slow
growling, she held up a knee, but Cassian saw that one coming too
he swatted her leg away with his knee, then grabbed her hand and squeezed
the pain was a warning
when she tried to pull away, he only squeezed tighter
her bones ached
but she’d give him nothing
“Nesta,” he dropped his sword, and blocked another swinging arm in the process. “Nes.”
she wasn’t seeing him straight
wasn’t seeing anything straight
“You’re tired.” His voice was faint. “Stop. Stop it now.”
Nesta didn’t know when she stopped moving
or when her body sagged against his
but before she knew it, one of his arms was around her waist
“I told you,” he snarled in her ear, and Nesta had the distinct but faint sensation of being lifted off the ground. “I told you to stop, damn you.”
she couldn’t feel her body anymore
her mind was far away
a small voice told her that she’d fainted
but Nesta couldn’t tell
she only came back to herself when she was placed on a soft surface
in his own house
where she’d been living for the past month
while he trained her
Nesta made a move to sit but a tug at her shoulder made her stop and open her eyes - or try to
“Stay there, please.” Despite everything, his voice was soft - not in the way that she’d heard it before, but-
Nesta swallowed hard. “I don’t need to be coddled.”
“What you need is drink and food in you.”
“Nesta,” he practically yelled at her. “Don’t you ever do that to me again. Or to yourself.”
she was stunned into silence, staring at a wooden ceiling
after a moment, she heard cups and dishes and cupboards. “I didn’t cut you,” she said, desoriented. “You almost crushed my hand.”
“No, you didn’t cut me,” Cassian spat from somewhere in his house. “Even if you had, that’s not my point.”
so he was scared for her
and he was angrier because she hadn’t seen it like that at first
that she hadn’t considered that obvious
Nesta sat on the couch, the leathers straining against her skin, almost cutting off her breathing. “I want to go again. I’m not good enough still-”
“You don’t order me to do anything.”
“When you’re in that state,” he said, coming into view, “being reckless out of your mind, fainting on me, yes, I will order you. Watch me.”
he was almost too huge for this house
Nesta hadn’t known why he’d chosen it
it was an old, small thing, that smelled vaguely of mold and yet-
it had its charm, she supposed
it almost felt like a home
but what did she know?
she hadn’t had a home in... what? years?
the dizziness came to her again, and against her better wishes, Nesta leaned back onto the couch, eyes closed
she heard him move some other things, faint noises she didn’t care to capture
it became harder and harder to breathe
Cassian came back, his scent strong
she almost, unconsciously, drifted closer to him, just to-
“Water,” he said, and handed her a glass
her trembling hand caught it, but Cassian didn’t let go
“I’m not a child,” she said, trying to yank the cup out of his hands
“You’re shaking so bad you’re getting water all over my stuff,” Cassian snarled. “Let me help.”
Nesta breathed in deep, but allowed him to lead the cup to her lips. “Slowly,” he said, and Nesta had a thousand more remarks for him, but she couldn’t think
she smelled bread
“Take if off,” he said
as her vision finally came back to her, Nesta focused her eyes on his worried ones
“The leathers,” Cassian said. “They’re squeezing at you. You’ll faint again.”
“Get off my back.”
“You heard me,” he said, voice like thunder. “Take. It. Off.”
he’d never used such a tone with her
perhaps when training her
or perhaps playfully, when he wanted to get on her nerves
but he was serious now
and, all things considered, leaving the leathers on just to spite him wasn’t a smart decision since-
she could not breathe
grinding her teeth, she unlaced her leathers and threw them on his floor, leaving her in a light blouse and the thin trousers she’d worn underneath to keep out the cold of the mountains
Cassian placed a plate of bread, cheese, fruit, and various dried meats on her lap, grabbed her leathers, and went upstairs
Nesta watched him go, confusion in the small twist of her brow
had she actually scared him?
served him right
she ate slowly, on her own
listening as he poured water into the tub upstairs
he had no reason to be angry at her
she wanted to push herself
this was on her
so what if she’d lost strength? what was it to him?
she couldn’t make herself feel ashamed, though
most feelings had abandoned her at this point
the rage and...
and whatever it was she felt around him
she didn’t want to consider it any further
or else she’d spiral
when she finished eating, Cassian still hadn’t come down
had he fallen asleep in the tub?
wouldn’t be the first time
she thought maybe she heard his heartbeat through the walls, but she pushed the thought away, and blocked it out completely
Don’t you ever to that to me again
she must have looked like death, if he’d been that prickly about it
in truth, Nesta fell as if she might never move again
there were aches that felt permanent inside her
she sniffed, wiping the dust off her nose
she looked at the empty plate
the prick should eat, too
it had been hours
and she had kept him outside for longer than usual
it had been a while since anybody showed concern
not even Elain had opened her mouth when Feyre had ordered her away from her precious city and circle
and perhaps that’s what had hurt her the most
Nesta and Feyre had rarely seen eye to eye, but-
Elain had always stayed under Nesta’s wing
and now, she’d left Nesta in the rain
they all had
all but him
he could have very well left her outside to wake in the mud
Nesta scoffed to herself
did she think of herself that little?
perhaps she did
perhaps that was part of the problem
Cassian wasn’t perfect
but neither was she
he was a prick, but he was helping her
even if fury still tore at her
How could you let her do this? she wanted to scream at him, How could you obey?
Nesta was tired of feeling like an inconvenience
a problem to be solved
a bubble that took too much space
but, despite everything, he never treated her as such
part of Nesta wanted to believe that Cassian was only doing what had been ordered of him
keeping her in check
he didn’t need to show her moments of kindness
even out of pity
and yet, he did
two hours later, and he still hadn’t come down
Nesta set her jaw, and put some food on a plate
and walked upstairs
she was right
he had fallen asleep on the water again
Nesta stood in small, cramped hallway, staring at the door left askew
she bit her cheek, and knocked slightly. “I brought you food. You should get out of there.”
she still felt uneasy on her feet
but when he didn’t answer, Nesta frowned
and losing all common shame, she pushed the door opened
he was snoring softly
the water had gone cold
he hadn’t awoken - even with her voice, or footsteps
Nesta allowed herself to watch him, momentarily
a sadness so great and vast tugged at her
it almost made her break down
his wings dragged on the floor, too big to fit in the tub
Nesta closed her eyes, and sighed
she placed the place down onto the side of the sink, and slowly walked to him
keeping her eyes away from his body
should she shake him awake?
hesitating, she placed a hand on his wet shoulder
and he stirred
she pulled back her hand, which seemed to be scalding
and her cheeks were, too
Cassian opened his eyes and she retreated a couple of steps
he seemed desoriented
she’d worn him out, it seemed
“I brought you food,” she said, nonchalant. “You should probably eat.” A pause. “I don’t know if all-powerful-deadly Illyrians are prone to colds, but you should probably leave that water, too.”
Cassian stared at her as if she’d grown two heads
“You... brought me food?”
Nesta flushed scarlet and turned on her heels. “It’s nothing.”
that’s all she managed to say
before he could see her face, she left for her room, hearing water splash
she landed face first on her pillow, her door closed and locked, her face still aflame
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For You Choosing Me.
Fae dreams were not like human ones.
Where in one you remembered, or thought you did, in the other you relived. Every emotion, every scene, every memory; all laid before you as if happening once again, until you couldn’t what was real and what was passed.
It was one of the first things Feyre had been forced to face when giving her fae body. Why her nightmares had left her in such state. Of course, even if she had remained human, the nightmares themselves were enough to leave anyone with an empty stomach and bathed in sweat. It was the detail that truly caught her;
The warmth of their blood between her fingers, beneath her fingernails; the chandelier’s light bouncing from their eyes as they widen in hate and horror, the daggers hilt-deep in their hearts; the nearly inaudible sobs at the back of the room, sounding as if breathed in her ear.
It was too much, would had been too much for anyone, but the worst had been after. The loneliness. At the middle of the night, with only the moon as company, her fingers would ache to be held, the need to hold something warm and comforting, something that would tell she was not alone and would never again be, not like that, not like that ever again.
In those nights, it truly felt she was alone in the vast sea that was her sorrow and despair.
And truth to be told, even after all this time, Feyre often wondered if she would ever get used to it. She no longer drowned, not like before. It became like sailing a ship, where it would wobble and you had to learn how to keep your balance from the restless ground. Sometimes, she could keep a strong grip. Others, she would tumble face-first in the water.
But surely, she healed.
Maybe not completely, maybe not ever whole, but no longer was her soul a gaping, bleeding hole that spilled everything she was until she was hollow. Feyre fought her nightmares as fiercely as she fought any monster, for who she was and wanted to be.
And she knew she wasn't alone when it came to fighting those demons.
That night, Feyre had found herself unable to sleep. She wasn’t sure why. The day had been a relatedly good one, while there had been a lot of work with the rebuilding, helping the families and the homeless, she’d been able to spent time with the children and helping Ressina with the art classes. The special of that day had been a kid who hadn’t known how the pottery machine worked, within seconds bits of clay flew and hit everywhere. The children had laughed, she and Ressina with them, as Feyre dried the child’s tears away and told them there was no need to apologize as she had basically commit the same mistake when it was first bought (the giant hole on one of her paints was proof enough).
It had been another perfect day as High Lady and artist teacher of the Night Court.
It should had, as many times before, earned her a good-night’s sleep.
But the hours keep ticking by and sleep yet didn’t come. Feyre sighted and rose to a sitting position, wondering if Cerridwen or Nuala would hate her if she awoke them for a sleeping tonic when she stopped short. A wisp of shadow curled around her wrist before fleeting off like smoke. Even though she knew exactly what that wisp meant, her heart jumped to her throat when she turned behind her.
Where her mate had been, sleeping on the bed, was only darkness. It cloaked him like a second skin, either trying to sink in or pouring out, she couldn’t tell. Either way, Feyre grabbed Rhysand and shook him, as hard as she dared without breaking his shoulder.
Rhysand, she said. Past experiences had shown that speaking through the bond were more effective than aloud but tonight it didn’t seem to make a difference. The darkness only thickened. Rhys wake up.
Nothing. When she tried seeing his thoughts, she bounced off his wall, as imposing and breakable as ever.
Rhysand. The name just echoed around. Rhysand, please wake up.
Back in her body, she saw the darkness was thickening, swirling around that it began to wrap itself around her waist.
It was enough. Feyre pulled herself from his mind climbed on top of him, the position she was and how ridiculous it looked be damned.
She put her hands on either side of his face and screamed, both through the bond and aloud, “WAKE UP, RHYSAND!”
His eyes snapped open. They held a wild gleam in them as he looked around, as if he was still dreaming, before they met hers and stayed there.
“Feyre,” he rasped. He sounded as he being screaming though no sound had come out of that darkness. “Feyre?”
Feyre took a deep breath. “You are okay. You were having a nightmare. You’re alright.”
He narrowed his eyes. He sat on the bed, breathing hard as he took her, on top of him no less, before turning his attention to the room, not missing a single corner or shadow. “Where are we? What day is it?”
“We are on our home, Velaris,” she said while moving to sit besides him, Now that the panic settled, worried began growing. By his next words, she wondered if it was even her own.
“I-it’s so dark in here. W-why is it so dark?”
“Rhys?” Rhysand was never scared of the dark.
He started fumbling with the drawers of his nightstand, looking for a match, he muttered, just needed a little bit of light. There was a kind of desperation in his voice that amplified worried her. He sounded so scared.
He kept muttering the same phrase again and again; just a light just a light just a light.
“Rhysand!” Cauldron damn her, she threw herself at him again and caught him by his shoulders, spinning him to her. “You are okay! Breathe, you are awake, you’re with me. I’m here. I am here.”
He started at the sound of his name. Blinked a few times, his eyes clearing. It really looked like was waking up from a dream. Feyre sank back on the bed, brushed the hair out of her face, this time really trying to give him some space.
Silence fell, broken only by Rhys labored breathing. For a moment, Feyre only study him, the already-darkened eyes, the sweat shining on his forehead and the rest of his body. It had been so long since either of them had a nightmare at this level.
“What did you see, Rhysand?” she asked. “What happened?”
He was silent, long that Feyre believed that he wouldn’t answer. She wanted to know what happened, hated the idea of leaving him on his own that see.
She was about to ask again, determined not to leave him like that, when Rhysand said, “So... so many things.” His voice was hushed, so that Feyre scooted as closed as she dared without invading too much of his personal space. He covered his face with his hands before speaking.
“It was as if someone had taken all the worst memories and made them one. I was Under The Mountain again: there was Amarantha, holding the heads of my mother and sister, Tamlin’s father standing beside her while carrying their wings; the High Lords watching as I try to near them, only for them to morphing into your broken body, lying there as the bodies of bears do on mortal homes. Then there was Hybern and the pain of when he broke the bargain, laughing while he believed it was the mating bond. When you left with Tamlin, and the bodies, so many bodies of all the people who were brought to their dooms.” He was breathing hard again, quick and shallow. Feyre tried to put her hand on his shoulder but he shied away before she got close.
“It was me. I brought them all to their deaths, basically killed them myself the moment they agreed to join me. Their families have every right to hate me, to spit and curse me.”
He lowered his hands, and though there were no tears, they were bloodshot all the same.
“Sometimes I can’t help but wonder why you stay. Why you haven’t packed your things and left long ago, when you saw what I was inside, this dark, broken thing. After all, like I once said, I’m just a dark prince. I still can't help wondering if you will still leave, when we least except it.”
There it was. It wasn’t just the nightmare itself that cause this but the things it brought with it. It broken Feyre’s heart a little to hear the words, even though she had known some of them. Known and thought she had helped him with the doubt, reassured him with her love. Sometimes fear rooted itself too deep to be simply taken out on a day.
But was never an excuse to stop fighting. If anything, it was all the more reason to meet it head on and vanquish it.
With a single hand, she drew his face to hers, making Rhysand met her eyes again. There was so much pain, sadness, so many emotions her mate tried so hard to keep at bay so no one would see, only to be hit like this.
He would never believe he was enough, still believed he had to do everything on his own and let no one in, no one help with the burden, no matter how unbearable it became.
Feyre kissed him lightly on the lips, a reassurance that this was real and he was indeed awake and said without breaking eye contact, “You are so many things, so many things, and you can’t see it. You refuse to see it. But I do. Every last bit.
"I know who you are beneath that mask you insist to wear, Rhys. You may try to hide time and again behind so many but I’ve seen what’s inside. I have seen your heart, all the things you are capable and I love you. No power on this earth, no matter the amount time or power, will ever change that. And if you keep insisting that your soul is just a dark, broken thing and then I'll say mine is no better, no less broken than yours. You’re not alone Rhysand, not anymore and not ever again. I will, all of us will, make sure of it.”
Rhysand just stared at her, his eyes slightly unfocused as he was hearing a thousand things. Then he bowed his head, as if defeat, and pulled her closer. Feyre let herself be pulled, nestling her head beneath his, tracing lazy circles with her fingers on his chest. They stayed liked for a time, at peace with the silence. Then Rhysand took a deep breath and murmured in her hair, “You, Feyre, are more than stars could ever hope to create. You are something from beyond this world, and I will never cease to be grateful for you choosing me.”
For @vanillalipstick66, who is a sweetheart and deserves all the love in the world.
This is my first Feysand fic and I really hope I got it right! I've dying to write about them since I finished ACOMAF (hence why it looks so similar to the nightmare scene) but life really has all kinds of ways to get in the middle. But now it is here and I think it’s good and I hope you all enjoy it!
Tagging: @shyvioletcat @illyrian-bookworm @booklover41802 @dianabarryy
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Until the Shadows are Silent
Summary: For eight years the shields around Velaris have kept the Inner Circle trapped. Azriel is drowning under the wrath, rage, and pain of being caged in the city, so he turns to an old lover, one who is very good at bending fae over and not stopping until their minds and bodies are ravaged-- Cassian.
*Contains BDSM and rough themes, DM if you are concerned about a specific trigger warning*
For my fanfiction library visit @rhysand-vs-fenrys-vs-writing.
Until the Shadows are Silent
“Cassian, do you need help?”
“Always,” Cassian was red-faced as exhausted as he stumbled up the stairs from Velaris, weighed down by a small tower of wrapped bundles. He smiled at Azriel’s voice- and smiled brighter as the pressure lifted and Azriel took the entire load of parcels.
Cassian groaned dramatically and fell to his knees and slumped face-first onto the stairs.
Azriel stared at him a moment, “They’re covered in dirt. You shouldn’t be laying here.”
“Oh, are you a clean-freak now? That’s new,” Cassian turned his head to the side to speak, facing Azriel’s boots.
“Next time you should just-”
“Just what? Fly up? Does that not defeat the purpose of this entire endeavor? You think people won’t notice?”
Azriel turned away and started walking up the steps towards the House of Wind. Only the ends of his earlobes- a warming pink- revealed his feelings.
“Az, wait for me!” Cassian scrambled to his feet and hurriedly slapped dust and debris from his clothes. “Come on, I was just playing with you.” He caught up to Azriel and took an armful of the parcels back.
It was nearly eight years since Rhysand raised the shields around Velaris, trapping the entire Inner Circle inside. The House of Wind was technically within reach, but the three normal members had chosen to live in the townhouse rather than isolate themselves from one another and the rest of the city. Amren claimed she was fine with her little apartment and in no way needed company.
She still found her way to the townhouse most days.
Unfortunately Cassian and Azriel had grown closer in those eight years, joined by the loss of Rhysand and their own frustration with the entire bullshit shield. It nearly drove them insane. Cassian started drinking more often than he should, Azriel practically bathed in the blood of the city’s scum-lords, and then…
… and then something changed. Mor was off at a meeting with the Governors of the city’s Palaces, Azriel and Cassian were feeling lost and raw and the next thing either of them knew Azriel had blasted dinner off the table and Cassian was laying where their pasta used to be.
Cassian had Azriel’s shirt off, Azriel was desperately fumbling with the ties on his trousers, and then Mor walked in the front door. Flush, embarrassed, and panicked, Azriel started punching Cassian in the face while the other wrapped his hands around Azriel’s throat and began trying to strangle him. Mor seemed to buy that the destruction (and half-shed clothes) were a result of some Illyrian brawl, but the two were too nervous to try anything more than a bit of heavy petting after that. Not unless they were somewhere they knew was private.
The House of Wind had been abandoned for eight years, its staff only returning once every few months to clean the dust away. The last cleaning had been three weeks ago, and the stairs were dusted in a thick layer of spring pollen. No others had trod the steps, and Cassian and Azriel were the only winged fae who had any business in the mountaintop retreat. It would be safe.
They weren’t afraid of Mor seeing their closeness- not exactly. The fact of the matter was that even Cassian and Azriel weren’t sure what their sudden burst of passion was. They’d fooled around as young fae- as any Illyrian male did if they admitted it or not. Cassian could probably advise any of Azriel or Rhysand’s lovers on how best to bed either male.
It just wasn’t so simple.
It wasn’t love, it was lust. It was fun without complications. It was something they could have to themselves without setting the tongues of Velaris wagging or getting Mor involved in trying to fan whatever flames she might think she saw. Azriel and Cassian had no desire for one another where romance was concerned. Just lust.
So they kept apart as much as they could and then began planning for this day- the day they wandered up to the House looking for all of Velaris below like two normal fae making a simple delivery. Fake packs on either male’s backs hid their wings, and they’d foregone their normal combat boots for worker’s shoes.
No one would know. No one would come looking.
“The Governor of the Palace of Thread and Jewels sent word that they would like to see you again,” Azriel said at last.
Cassian made a face, “What does that old witch want?”
Azriel didn’t respond, which was a reply in its own right.
The Governor wanted to fight again over unimportant things. It wasn’t Cassian’s fault that the mines below Velaris weren’t turning up as many jewels for her people to craft. He’d already told her a thousand times- she could send a surveyor down to locate new veins, but only after the mine manager finished shoring up the other new tunnel they’d blasted just a few weeks prior.
Velaris had been supplied with a steady flow of raw materials from the mines in the Hewn City (ferried to Velaris via an enchanted chest even Kier thought emptied into Rhys’ personal vault), but with that particular supply line currently severed she needed to adjust. Apparently the crafters were having trouble now that they understood just how much of Velaris’ raw materials came from other parts of the Court.
As they ascended towards the House of Wind, Cassian and Azriel exchanged only mild pleasantries. They didn’t discuss any further what they were going up there to do, nor did they talk about what was in the wrapped parcels.
Even though they were in disguise it still felt like they were on display as they climbed the staircase. They could see all of Velaris, so that must mean all of Velaris could see them. There was always the possibility that Mor would winnow to the staircase to see why workers were heading up after the month’s cleaning was already complete, and they had no prepared excuses for their attire or the parcels in hand (Unknown to the Illyrians, Mor was currently buried between a beautiful caramel-skinned female’s legs and didn’t intend to surface for air for at least a few days).
Though the stairs were long and winding, they made quick work of the climb. Soon enough Cassian could see the golden gates of the House ahead. A placard just inside the gate informed anyone bored enough to make the climb that the House of Wind was sealed for the moment and any inquiries should be directed to the house of the Steward. Her address in Velaris was listed at the bottom.
Cassian turned and whacked the metal of the gate with a span of exposed skin on his wrist. The touch was all that was needed for the enchantments securing the palace to crawl back. With a neat click, the gate unlocked and the pair were free to enter the front garden. Across a span of green, the front door opened.
In spite of the cleaning, the House looked more like a tomb than anything. White sheets covered the furniture, an unnatural silence hung in the air, and the curtains were tightly drawn against even the mid-morning sunlight. Cassian softened his footsteps. In the gloom they seemed deafening.
“It’s just a building,” Azriel’s tone was firm, but he still lowered his voice against the echo. He stepped up beside Cassian as the door closed behind them. Cassian felt the enchantments take hold once more, locking them in. Azriel studied his face a moment, “His home was the townhouse.”
“And this was ours… I miss it.”
There was a long silence before Azriel spoke, “You could move back up here.”
Cassian made a face, “I don’t want to leave you or Mor, and I don’t want to feel like I’m so far away from Velaris.” Not that Velaris particularly needed them. The city was self-sufficient before the shield locked into place. In spite of the grumblings from the Palaces they had enough materials for their crafting, even if the variety and supply was a bit tighter.
Still, he was afraid of who he might become if he let himself live apart. Or who his friends might become without him there to help ground them. Azriel wouldn’t make a move on Mor- he and Cassian had figured out long ago she had a more romantic interest in female company. Cassian was worried more for their mental wellbeing.
He tore his gaze from the white sheets. Even in the near-total darkness of the House he walked hurriedly towards the back hall. He knew the way to his and Azriel’s rooms by heart. Even after they’d cooled their relationship back to that of normal friends he visited the Spymaster often to keep him from wallowing too long in shadows.
The eastern side of the House- overlooking Velaris- held Cassian’s suite. Azriel’s were a few levels below and set closer to the western edge of the mountain itself. He still had windows and a large balcony with a killer view, but the chambers attached to a network of tunnels dug into the mountain that connected him to other Courts.
They’d already checked, and escape was not possible that way. When the shield rose a great metal door carved with script in the most ancient of fae tongues rose to seal off the passage into the tunnels. It took Azriel and Amren working together- over the course of six months- to translate what was written on the face:
‘Stay put means stay put, dumbasses.’
Something else Azriel found out that day- the door was immune to his most powerful blasts.
Cassian heard a loud ‘thunk’ as he reached the main entrance to Azriel’s network of chambers. He jumped as the door opened from within and Azriel walked back down the hall to the bedroom. Another ‘thunk’. Cassian realized he was kicking the metal door each time he passed it.
‘Of course,’ he thought as he walked into the chambers of the Spymaster. Azriel could winnow like the rest of them, but in darkness- the kind of darkness that filled the House at the moment- he could simply step through any shadow and come out another. No thunderclap of power to give him away (or warn Cassian he was no longer behind him).
“Do I get to see what you bought?” Cassian tried to shake off the ghosts of the past and rouse his more cheerful tone. This was nothing more than a place to find some privacy. That was all he could see it as.
Not what it once was, what it had become.
Rhys would probably be happy if he knew the House was being used for nothing more than Illyrian-on-Illyrian action. He’d enjoyed watching from time to time.
Azriel’s main chamber was set as little more than a meeting room. A heavily fortified door marked access to the beginning of a mile and a half of trap-laced tunnel before opening back up into Azriel’s study, records room, and prison. His bedroom and bathroom were through gold-leaf coated doors on either side of the official parlor. Cassian suspected he had other rooms that even Rhys didn’t know about- not just the tunnels to other Courts, but possibly even entire chambers hidden within the House and mountain below.
The bedroom door was open, and Azriel had already deposited his parcels neatly on a side table. No white sheets covered the furniture in his bedroom. Azriel must have stepped through the shadows just as Cassian set out for the room the long way around to have time to freshen the place up. His bed was massive- easily wide enough for Az to sleep with his wings wholly unfurled.
Rhysand used to refer to it as ‘the orgy bed’- Cassian thought Azriel would die of embarrassment. Even if that description had been apt in their younger days.
Considering the Shadowsinger’s personality it was probably the only thing he ever bought that could be considered excessive. All the rest of the furniture in his room was of the same aesthetic as the posh shit dotting the rest of the house. He’d never swapped it for things to his own taste like Cassian had.
Apart from Azriel’s bed (blanketed in a thick green comforter) and the package-laden table, there was only a single chair in the entire room- set between a window and a faelight. His armor and weapons, Cassian recalled, had their own separate place in his closet. The room was a near-empty cavern. Just the way Azriel liked it.
Cassian’s room looked considerably more like a war zone.
Azriel waited as Cassian dumped his own armful of parcels on the table. He’d nearly died of embarrassment placing the order with Anwynn. It was Cassian who offered to pick them up on his way to the House.
“Az?” When he didn’t answer the question, Cassian turned. Azriel was a master of shutting down to any form of scrutiny, but Cassian knew how to read him all the same.
When they went after each other in the dining room it was almost a primal instinct. They’d had a bit too much to drink and all of the pain and rage at what Rhys had done was just simmering beneath the surface, waiting for release. Before deciding on this they’d toed the line until the tension between them was almost palpable.
Now that they were standing here, stone-cold sober and with absolute certainty they wouldn’t be interrupted, it was almost… awkward.
Cassian studied Azriel’s face for a long time before he spoke, “I’m going to make sure no one has tried to tidy up my room. If you’re still here when I get back… if not, no hard feelings. We’re both grown-ass males, I won’t hold it against you.”
It would be a twenty-minute round trip through the winding halls of the House. Cassian knew the route like the back of his hand.
What he couldn’t foresee was if Azriel would still be there when he returned.
‘Footsteps approach. The Commander.’
Azriel shivered at the whispers that tickled the darkness of his mind. Twenty minutes as promised. He’d spent five of them standing stock-still by the table, exactly where he was when Cassian left. He decided to leave. Then stay. Then leave. Then stay. Then leave. Then- then his hands apparently had enough of his bullshit and began to undo the ties on the packages from Anwynn.
Fifteen minutes was hardly enough time for what his hands intended, and it really wasn’t enough time for his body to get on board with the idea.
Thankfully Azriel was no stranger- or enemy- to pain.
Shortly after receiving the warning, Azriel heard the neat click of Cassian’s shoes across stone and the soft rasp of talons dragging along the ground. Cassian had removed his disguise, then. Another shiver ran through Azriel at the sound of the talon. It was something uniquely Cassian- something he only did when he was preparing to take someone to bed.
No- that didn’t quite describe what Cassian was like.
Put someone to bed.
There was always an out, he always discussed limits and respected the boundaries of his partners as if they were the law of the land… but his style was rough, hard, and he never stopped until he was satisfied and his partner was practically drawing on their life force for strength.
That was what Azriel needed. Someone to reduce him to the absolute least he could be. Someone to take away the mantle and the pain and the rage that burned beneath the surface. Females could be found who would do a decent enough job, but he didn’t want ‘decent enough’. He needed perfection. He needed someone who knew exactly how to shatter a male who broke fae for a living.
Azriel listened in silence as Cassian’s footsteps drew nearer. He didn’t bother pushing back the shadows that whispered in his ears- it was his friend’s job to silence those now.
There was no groan of wood as the door opened, merely a whisper as the well oiled hinges gave way. The footsteps went to the curtained windows. Azriel felt sun-warmth on his pale skin and the kiss of a cool breeze as the fabric was pulled aside one by one, putting him on display for Cassian.
Azriel couldn’t help but shiver once more, imagining what the Commander saw as he turned to face the bed.
The first parcel Azriel had unwrapped contained a hinged silver hoop almost large enough to fit around both of his thumbs simultaneously. It was the object he’d been most embarrassed to order- the hoop fit almost painfully tight around the base of his shaft and top of his testicles. If Anwynn’s little information card was to be believed, it would make it almost impossible for him to release, no matter how badly his body wanted to. At the same time it would make him harder and more sensitive to touch than he normally was.
Second came two tiny silver clamps that were tightened onto the pink buds of his chest and connected by chains of varying lengths- depending on what Cassian would like to have Azriel do. For this display, Az had used the smallest chain, which ahd three small loops in the center for a series of weights that were set in a sandalwood box somewhere to the left of Ariel’s head.
The third package contained something to help Cassian break Azriel faster. A long black cord ending in twin buckles that could be connected to one of two things: either a large, soft ball to seal off Azriel’s mouth, or (the current connection) a flat plate that covered his lips and was set at the center with a cutout. A rigid strip of leather and metal forced Azriel’s teeth apart and kept his mouth pinned wide open for Cassian’s enjoyment, but a short, flat metal bar extending inward on the bottom pinned his tongue and made it impossible for Azriel to even attempt speech.
He didn’t want Cassian to be gentle. He didn’t want options. He didn’t want a say in anything. If he had a say, he had to think, and that defeated the entire purpose. No choices. No possibility of objections.
If the third purchase was something to make Azriel more comfortable, the fourth was the exact opposite: a rod of increasingly large pear-shaped knots connected by a solid yet flexible shaft.
Azriel had muffled his screams with the ball-shaped muzzle as he pressed the narrow head of each pear against his entrance and forced them in one by one. Done right it would be extremely pleasurable as it stretched him and rubbed against the sensitive notch deep inside, but Azriel spent so long thinking he didn’t have the time for ‘right’. He’d forced it in as quickly as he could without doing serious damage.
Cassian’s erection was truly massive- even if Azriel’s was a bit larger. Still, no matter how familiar Az was once upon a time with his length, he knew the last two knots were far bigger. Even now, imagining how Cassian must be looking down at him, Azriel half wondered if it was worth the pain.
Every other bit of preparation he’d forced himself through gasping at the brutal invader inside of him.
Only two pieces remained after Azriel forced the metal knots into his body (three, if he counted changing the muzzle from the ball one to the one with the rounded opening). The first was the black blindfold Azriel now wore. It was sculpted to his eyes, slightly raised at the center, and didn’t allow even a single speck of light through. He honestly couldn’t tell if his eyes were open or closed even then.
He needed Cassian to ravage him until he was finally freed of his own thoughts. To do that, he needed to be in the dark, where he could feel his shadows bleeding away as his mind crumbled.
The final (and heaviest) parcel contained a firm message to Cassian in case everything else was too subtle. A long cuff of black cloth wrapped around each of Azriel’s legs just above the knee and connected with metal chains to matching bands just above his elbows. The device forced his legs apart and his ass up for Cassian’s use (which only added to the agony of the metal knots).
A thick collar around Azriel’s throat had a metal hook on either side that was connected to two black cloth cuffs meant for Az’s wrists. Once it was on properly it would make it impossible for him to touch himself or even really close his legs. He’d managed to cuff one wrist in place, but for now Azriel only held the other cuff in his hand.
All of the extra accessories that came with the toys were neatly laid out on Azriel’s table in full view.
It was such a lewd display that a piece of Azriel’s mind worried Cassian might just turn around and walk away. Az had never done anything so brazen in his life, he honestly had no idea how Cassian might react.
Doubt crept into Azriel’s heart as the silence stretched around him. He shifted slightly- drawing a fresh wave of pain from the knot forced into his rear. No motion on the bed or sound of footsteps told him Cassian had approached, and even the breeze from the windows seemed to die away.
His stomach twisted and he shifted again, trying to close his legs slightly and maybe preserve some of his decency. The silence grew louder. His fingertips began to shake where he held onto the loose cuff. He couldn’t speak, couldn’t ask Cassian anything. Even his shadows were silent.
He’d been wrong to surprise Cassian like this.
‘We should have gone through them together, instead of making him walk in on something like this.’
Azriel’s fingers grew slack and he let go of the cuff hesitantly.
His hand was caught in a vice. Azriel actually gasped as a strong hand forced his arm back up through the cuff and it was fastened in place. The rough movement pulled Azriel’s leg further up and he cried against the pain in his hips.
The hand released him suddenly. Cassian’s only response to Azriel’s discomfort was a sharp intake of breath.That kind of cry tended to make Cassian hard and woke the predator that he so expertly hid from the world.
Something brushed against the blindfold- Cassian’s fingertips. He felt the dampness at the edges where tears were caught in the fabric. Azriel never cried- especially not in bed. Bound as he was- without eyes to see or a mouth to read- Cassian would still know the tears must be-
Azriel’s body jerked and he shouted as Cassian’s finger traced the aching rim of his rear right where the skin was stretched to the maximum around cool metal. A loop at the end of the chain served as a handle of sorts, and after tracing the edge Cassian brushed it just hard enough to shift the thing inside his friend.
Even if he could not see Azriel’s face, Ccassian could tell how much pain such a gentle act inflicted on him. He tried to roll away from Cassian’s touch and made several frankly embarrassing whines through the muzzle.
“Idiot,” Cassian whispered beside his ear.
Azriel felt him move away this time, no longer hiding his movements. The sound of fabric against fabric could be heard, then a rustling as Cassian removed his clothing one piece at a time. The prick even took care to fold each piece neatly, ignoring his aching friend on the bed.
Azriel heard something scrape against wood. Cassian had picked up something from his table. Desperate to distract himself from the burning in his hips, Azriel tried to imagine what it was. His answer came with Cassian’s return- as the other man knelt beside him- mindful of his outstretched wings- he set something cold and round on Azriel’s stomach.
“Why didn’t you use this?”
The phial of lubricant that was meant to be used with the toy.
He didn’t use it because he remembered his first time with Cassian. Az had forced himself down on his friend’s member- an action that drew blood. Cassian immediately shoved him off and showed him how to apply the thick liquid and under the patient ministrations of his hand Azriel was undone. He didn’t mind the pain entirely- not compared to the memory of how generous Cassian was with the pleasure that came from spreading the lubricant.
Cassian pulled the stopper from the phial and drew it across Azriel’s skin. He brushed the base delicately around his tied balls, to the thin stretch of skin between them and the swollen, red entrance. Just as Azriel prepared to whimper again the phial disappeared.
Something cold, thick, and wet dropped down onto Azriel’s hole. He jumped at first, then sighed appreciatively as the cold helped dull the pain.
It also did not last.
By the time Cassian set aside the phial, the cold sensation was warming. Long fingers pressed against the metal knot, then rubbed the lubricant into the stretched flesh. Azriel closed his eyes tight (not that it mattered) and shuddered as Cassian began to pull and push at the metal knot.
The span inside Azriel was larger than what was pinned at his hole- which was already painful enough. He was surprised nothing tore on the way in. Cassian paused a few times to retrieve the phial and add more of the liquid. Dutiful as ever, he massaged the skin while he worked to convince it to stretch more easily.
It was the only warning Cassian gave before firmly taking hold of the handle and pulling. Azriel’s back arched and he shouted out as Cassian pulled the largest knot from inside him, drawing the others towards his entrance as well. The pressure was too much- and when his body finally released the largest knot the next one down was firmly against the small notch inside that drove his body crazy.
Pain crashed into pleasure, turning into a creature Azriel couldn’t hope to fight. He felt himself draw up- but the metal band pinching him closed prevented more than a few drops of white release from escaping.
It was agony- the very best kind. Azriel’s entire body began to shudder as it tried to climax. He felt himself opening and closing- gaping for an erection to tighten around and only finding the irregular shapes still inside him.
Cassian waited patiently until the spasm passed. Azriel drew a long, shuddering breath. He couldn’t help but moan and whimper with every exhale.
More of the liquid was poured into Azriel’s opening. Then the real torture began.
Cassian pulled the line of metal knots out of Azriel’s ass one by one, adding liquid as needed. When he finally reached the smallest he began to push them back in slowly. Azriel cried out as each one struck against the notch inside him- then whimpered in fear as he felt the largest of the knots pressing against him once more.
Cassian forced it in without mercy. Azriel braced for a wall of pain-
He felt full, almost uncomfortably so, but the agony from before was gone. Cassian drew the largest knot back just far enough that Azriel was stretched to the maximum, then slowly twisted it, grinding against the ridge. A loud cry escaped Azriel’s muzzle and he felt his cock throb painfully as it tried to climax yet again and was denied.
The liquid Cassian used to ease the toy’s entry was warm now, and Azriel felt a strange tingling from his insides. It took several moments for Azriel to register the new sensation. His member was twitching, pulsing with a desperate need to release. The ring was doing its job. He was larger than he’d ever been, and much harder. Azriel groaned loudly at a soft tickle across the head- Cassian’s breath. He was teasing Azriel with his closeness.
Trapped in darkness, unable to beg for what he needed and without the ability to climax, Azriel was in some wonderful hell. His insides were quickly melting under the heat of the lubrication, and the knots shifting in his ass now felt better than he ever imagined.
If Cassian spoke, his voice was drowned out by the high pitched moans and whimpers that escaped around Azriel’s opened mouth. The tears that drenched the blindfold were no longer ones of pain, but of desperation and need. Azriel tried to raise his hips and help Cassian move the metal balls, but-
They stopped moving for a moment. Azriel’s whole body was on fire and he shouted in frustration. Something hard and heavy set down between his wings and ears. Without a word of warning, he felt pressure on the muzzle, then something began to push in.
Azriel’s heart pounded, even though this was one of the things he fantasized about the most. Cassian was lowering his burning erection into his friend’s throat. Azriel tipped his head back and forced himself to breathe slowly through his nose as his mouth was filled.
He couldn’t stroke the shaft as Cass eased in, close his lips around the gloriously thick length, or tease the head of Cassian’s cock with his tongue. All Azriel could do was let himself be used as nothing more than a hole for his friend’s pleasure.
If it were possible, he thought he grew harder.
Cassian knew Azriel needed to be taken roughly. He gave the blind, bound man only one gentle thrust before he began to pump his hips and fuck his throat in earnest. Azriel felt something wet and warm wrap around his own cock as he tried to time his breathing to Cassian’s movement.
Cassian’s teeth gently scraped against his most sensitive skin and Azriel let loose a strangled cry. The sensation on his tormented length was the dangerous edge of comfortable- territory further from pleasure than Azriel usually dared venture. With the angle of the assault on his throat and the way his mouth was pinned open the sound that came out was more sultry than intended.
Not an objection, but an invitation for another scrape of sharp teeth along his curving length.
A rare groan escaped Cassian as his hips pumped into Azriel. It reverberated around the bound man’s cock and drove bolts of pleasure straight through him. Whatever was left of Azriel’s mind braced for the agony of pleasure without release.
His body tightened as he struggled to inhale. Cassian’s cock was too big for his poor throat and Azriel couldn’t breathe fast enough through his nose. As his mind filled with a desperate fog- one that pushed aside the shadows- Cassian abruptly changed the teasing on his cock, opting to seal his mouth around it and nearly swallow the head. At the same time he reached down and began sliding the metal knots in and out of Azriel in earnest.
Something blasted through Azriel’s mind, shattering it completely as his hips bucked up to meet Cassian’s mouth and release was ripped from him. Every eruption of heat into Cassian’s mouth brought a violent, almost painful pleasure. Azriel’s eyes rolled up into his head. His entire body seized and it was the leather guard of the muzzle itself that kept him from biting down on Cassian’s most sensitive part.
Azriel began to shudder and thrash as something more powerful than he’d ever felt before ravaged his body. His legs tried to kick, his body constricted violently around objects moving inside him, and that now burning hot lubricant made him feel like one raw, delicious nerve. Azriel screamed out around Cassian’s cock and a moment later he was drowning in thick, salty musk as Cassian released into him.
Fire and lightning danced beneath his skin. He wasn’t sure when he took the deep shaking breath or how he managed to swallow all of the release Cassian pumped down his throat. Bright lights flashed in Azriel’s blinded vision. His body was still trembling. He didn’t try to think too much- Azriel wasn’t even sure he could.
The sound he made was half-mad and weak. The kind of sound Azriel would have associated with someone who had become nothing more than molten pleasure.
His body was rolled over so that Azriel was pinned on his stomach, but he didn’t have it in him to care. Cold air kissed his cheeks as Cassian undid the clasp on the muzzle. A light touch pulled it away. Azriel gagged as the line of curved metal slid back along his tongue and released him at last. His jaw ached, but he didn’t try to close his mouth. His mind couldn’t process something so complex.
Something pooled around his cheek- drool or Cassian’s semen, he couldn’t tell. The blindfold stayed in place.
A sudden intense pleasure at his hips reminded Azriel that the metal knots were still inside him, but not for long. They shifted and moved, grinding against his most sensitive parts. The throbbing slowly returned as Cassian fucked him with the metal one last time- his erection rising from the dead.
Azriel wished it stayed down. He couldn’t hope to move, could hardly manage more than the softest of moans as- with a sudden wrenching motion- Cassian pulled the device from him at last. As metal slid over the liquid inside him Azriel shuddered. Were he free he might have tried to release again.
His toes curled and he whimpered.
Without the knots he felt cold, empty. His ass gaped where it had been stretched to the maximum. Azriel could feel it twitching- opening and closing. Begging for something else to fill it.
He didn’t want it- he just wanted to be left alone.
No, wait. That was the opposite of what he wanted. He wanted to be filled, used, and fucked until he couldn’t breathe anymore.
Azriel was both desperate for and dreading what he knew would come soon. Cassian’s length buried inside him, their bodies fitting together as if they were made for one another. His mind could not express what it wished. His body could not decide which it needed more. To be filled or left alone?
That was precisely why Azriel bought the muzzle with the ball, and Cassian knew it.
He left Azriel on the floor a moment and returned to brush it gently against Azriel’s lips, “Ready?”
His voice was soft. Azriel offered the smallest of nods. With great care, Cassian lifted his head and fit the new muzzle on. Azriel tried to swallow around the rough ache in his ravaged throat, but the memory of Cassian taking his mouth without mercy made him shiver in anticipation.
The spread of Azriel’s legs thanks to the binds connecting them to his upper arms meant his ass was raised and on full display for Cassian. His friend knelt behind him and didn’t hesitate even for a moment to bury his entire length in a single sharp thrust.
Metal knots or no, Azriel was unprepared for the sheer size and heat of Cassian moving inside him. He shouted against the gag, then moaned loudly as the other grabbed the base of his wings and used them as a handle to set a torturous rhythm. Pull out slowly, slam in hard and fast, stir his hips to shift the member inside Azriel, and pull out slowly once more.
Cassian’s hand slid down from the ridge of Azriel’s left wing. For a moment the delirious male thought he intended to take hold of his friend’s cock and stroke it in time with the thrusts. He’d forgotten about the other little toy.
Abruptly there was a vicious sting in the red rises of his chest. Cassian had a tight hold of the chain. Now every time he slammed into Azriel the force sent the chain swinging and delivered sharp twists to Azriel’s nipples. He was almost overwhelmingly sensitive on a normal day. Between the still-tingling sensation from the lubrication and the pulsing of his vice-caught cock, he had no hope at all.
Azriel was limp as Cassian crashed against him. Heat erupted deep inside as Cassian released without warning. He pumped his hips, driving it further and further into his friend. Azriel groaned happily at both the sensation and the fact that Cassian was not going soft. It was decades- maybe even a century- since he’d last felt Cassian’s cum erupting inside his ass.
His cock was nearly purple and dripped with desperate need. It twitched pathetically as Cassian’s grip bruised Azriel’s wing and the air filled with the heady musk of sex. Even Cassian was breathing harder. To the delight of whatever was left of Azriel’s mind, Cassian refused to stop moving with the climax.
There was a pause in the relentless pace and Azriel was flipped onto his back once more. His wings curved up- but talons pinned them down- Cassian’s own wings.
“I want you to see this,” Cassian’s voice was low. He undid the blindfold.
Azriel’s eyes were indeed rolled up into his head. He was shivering and flush, his face shiny with the drool or release that had dripped from his lips. Still inside him, Cassian bent down and left featherlight kisses along Azriel’s jaw and neck. As he sucked at the column of Azriel’s throat, the other managed to regain enough of his faculties to look down.
Cassian noticed in an instant and he sat back up. A darkness filled his eyes that both frightened and thrilled Azriel.
Something was on the bed beside the two men- something Azriel hadn’t placed before this all began. It was a black parcel he had never seen before.
The question in his eyes was clear enough.
“I ordered this one myself,” Cassian said. He undid the tie on the wrapped parcel. Inside was a simple wooden box that Cassian opened and held up for Azriel to see.
An almost impossibly long cock made of polished metal, ridged in false veins and about half as thick as Cassian’s member.
Azriel’s eyes went wide as Cassian grabbed the phial of lubrication once more and coated the metal in that liquid that was already driving him (and probably Cassian buried inside Azriel) insane. His cock twitched and white cream dripped from the head. He was terrified of the sheer size and yet already Azriel was fantasizing about how it would feel to have something so long- a few inches longer than Cassian himself- buried inside his body.
But when Cassian lowered the cock to his hole, he made no move to pull out.
Azriel finally understood what Cassian wanted to try.
He closed his eyes and braced himself as Cassian pushed the metal against the side of his own cock, using his length as a helpful guide as he forced the second shaft into his friend. Azriel screamed against the gag- though in pleasure or pain even he couldn’t tell. He slammed his head into the blanket a few times- as much of a thrash as Az could manage- before Cassian paused to grab a pillow and pushed it beneath him.
While he was bent over Azriel, Cassian raised an eyebrow in question. An offer to remove the metal cock and stop its advance.
By that time Azriel just needed release, however he could get it. He pushed his hips down as best he could, screaming into the gag as another half inch slid inside and forced him open. It was now well past the point the largest metal knot had been and the fit was much tighter.
Cassian put his palm on the base of the metal cock and bit his lip as he shoved it in. The motion was fluid and unyielding, and Cassian did not stop until it was fully seated.
Azriel’s eyes bulged and he nearly stopped breathing at the depth and pressure of the second cock. His toes were curled, his member near bursting, and he stared wide-eyed at the ceiling. What fractured pieces of Azriel that had managed to pull together after the last release were long gone. He couldn’t feel anything beyond the two large rods so forcefully shoved into his poor little hole.
He stirred with a gasping cry as Cassian tipped him onto his side and straddled his leg, setting himself even deeper. Cassian released the leg near his chest from its binding and held it tight against his own chest to use for leverage. His free hand went to the chain between Azriel’s nipples, which he grabbed as if it were a convenient handle.
Cassian began to thrust.
The pressure inside Azriel was incredible. The two cocks sat on either side of the nub deep inside and when Cassian moved it was as if it were being sawed against both at once. A kind of pleasure Azriel didn’t even know existed burned through his body and made him lose a primal, near animalistic scream into the gag. A scream so loud that, were it not for the object muffling him, it could very well have been heard all the way in Velaris below.
Azriel was by no means quiet during normal sex, but this was a new sensation entirely.
Something moist and soft traveled the length of Azriel’s foot. He managed to turn his head only far enough to see Cassian’s tongue complete its journey. Deprived of lips to seize, Cassian was concentrating on the sensitive skin of Azriel’s foot.
Cassian never stopped fucking him around the metal cock, not even as he took three toes into his mouth and began to bob his head just as he’d done when he swallowed Az’s erection. He set the motion of his head counter to that of his thrusts and the sharp yanks on the chain that connected Azriel’s nipples.
Purple and swollen, Azriel needed release so badly it overrode all of the pain his lover was inflicting upon him. He needed to touch his cock, to stroke it and send it over the edge in spite of the impediment he’d put in place. Azriel’s hands were still trapped fast, and so all he could do was claw at his own shoulders as Cassian gasped, threw his head back, and once again heat and pressure exploded inside Azriel’s body. He was being filled with rope after rope of hot cum- something that usually sent him hurtling over the edge.
But there was no relief. His body didn’t have the strength to defy the metal binding.
Cassian released his foot and leg. His ears were red and he was panting, but weariness lined his eyes. He was at last spent.
Cassian pulled his wilting length from within Azriel with a vulgar ‘pop’. He eyed the white cream that dripped out along the silver cock. Even without the object of Azriel’s desire still inside him he was shaking, nearly vibrating as his member visibly twitched and pulsed.
It took some time to undo the restraints around Azriel’s wrists. His arms collapsed to his sides, utterly useless. Cassian removed the cuffs from his arms and legs, then the gag.
His hand reached for the metal tight around Azriel’s cock. That was when Azriel found his voice at last, “Don’t… metal-” he couldn’t form the words. Not after everything his mouth and throat had been through.
The meaning came through well enough as he forced a shaking hand between his legs to touch the protruding hilt of the false cock that still filled him. The one Cassian intended to fuck him with and grant a final release.
But Azriel wanted it out without achieving his own gratification. Cassian obeyed, sliding the object slowly from inside Azriel. His friend gave little response to indicate he even noticed it was gone.
Cassian’s hand returned to the metal clasp around Azriel’s balls and the other nodded. Azriel had moved his heavy fingers up his chest to the chain between his clamped nipples, where he gripped the small weight that still hung in place.
When Cassian flipped the small catch that released the metal, Azriel yanked down hard on the metal, ripping it from him and sending a vicious and violent bolt of pain through his body. He cried out as his cock was finally freed and tried to release- but the pain from his swollen red nipples slammed into the cresting wave and shattered it.
The need for release was tangible. His cock was dripping onto the toned muscle of his abdomen. Azriel wanted to climax so badly that he nearly started crying at the agony of holding it all back.
Azriel did not dare move a single muscle as he fought his war. Cassian just stared at him, confused and unsure what his role should be. When the throbbing had eased somewhat, Azriel pulled Cassian down to lay beside him. The two men embraced and Cassian at last was able to draw him into a deep, hot kiss.
His bites to Azriel’s lips were gentler than they normally would be, the kiss not as aggressive and claiming. He gently rubbed Azriel’s sore nipples, kneaded the flesh of his rear, and finally offered a warm palm to rest against the bruised and aching base of Azriel’s cock.
“Tell me what you want,” he broke the kiss to whisper to Azriel after what felt like an eternity. The other member was still hot and curved, pinned at the very edge of release. He’d only had one true climax in their liaison whereas Cassian managed three. And the lone orgasm was made more difficult (and intense) by the agony Azriel endured with that clamp.
Azriel couldn’t speak. He rolled his hips, wincing at the soreness that was rapidly setting in. It would have to be quick.
As he so often did, Cassian understood without needing to be told. He rolled on top of Azriel and covered his friend’s mouth with his own. There was no biting this time as they kissed. Cassian’s wings pulled in close, curtaining them as he stroked Azriel’s tongue with his own and firmly grasped Azriel’s aching cock.
He wanted to climax one final time not bound and trussed- but in Cassian’s gentle embrace. For his part, Cassian’s pace was slow and measured. When Azriel’s breath grew strained he released his mouth to nibble at an earlobe. Cassian rolled his hips, rubbing his own member along Azriel’s until- with a seizing gasp- Azriel erupted across Cassian’s stomach and chest. Though quiet, the force of his release was almost hard enough to reach Cassian’s chin.
Azriel pushed Cassian up to sit in his lap. He brushed the strands of Cassian’s hair back and licked his own release away with gentle devotion. Cassian ran his fingertips along Azriel’s back as he worked, stroking and lightly scratching at the base of his wings to help ease his tired muscles.
In sitting up Azriel felt a deeper soreness than he’d ever known settle into his hips and rear. The tingling warmth was gone, but he was still happily full of Cassian’s three releases (the two in his ass being the most satisfying). “I hope you brought some food up, I don’t think I can walk on those stairs.”
Cassian chuckled- a sound desperately rare and precious, “When you’re ready for round two I’m going to fuck you so hard you’ll need me to fly you back down.”
“Promise?” Azriel smiled as he tipped forward and rested his head against Cassian’s bare chest.
Cassian wrapped his arms around his friend, holding him tight, safe, and close, “Promise.”
He kissed the top of Azriel’s head and tipped them both back so that Azriel could drift off to sleep atop him.
“Don’t make me wait another century for this,” Azriel rasped. His wings and body alike were limp, it wouldn’t be long before he was unconscious.
“I’ll fuck you every week until you tell me to stop.”
“Twice a week.”
“Deal, now shut up before I decide the break is over.”
“Start whenever you want, I’m taking a nap,” Azriel forced his legs to part.
Cassian snorted by his ear as Azriel felt two large fingers push into him and begin to thrust, “You think I can’t make you cum even when you don’t want to?”
His hole was sore and aching, but if Azriel was capable of speech he wasn’t as far gone as he wanted to be, “Do your worst.”
“Is your safeword still ‘peaches’?” Cassian’s voice was a low growl as the pressure from his fingers increased- he’d eased in a third.
Despite himself, Azriel felt something stirring. “Yes, and don’t you dare stop until I use it.”
“I’m going to put my whole fist up your ass until you stop giving me commands,” Cassian hissed.
“Make me beg you to stop,” Azriel shivered and felt himself starting to stiffen.
“Don’t worry, you will.”
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The Trouble with Pixies, an Elriel Christmas Short
A short, fluffy Christmas fic about Azriel, Elain, and their children.
Inspired by the Tumblr prompt: “I let the kids decorate the tree; then, when they go to bed, I completely start over. Because let’s be honest, they make a crap tree.”
Also on AO3.
Azriel wasn’t surprised to find Elain on the couch, indulging in a glass of her favorite wine; she often treated herself so after a long day of minding after their unruly brood of children. Despite coming from two of the most mellow members of the Inner Circle, Azriel found their children to troublemakers, more and more so each day.
Being a parent was exhausting work. The longer he survived as one, the more he believed Rhys’s mother deserved sainthood. How she managed to raise three Illyrian misfits, primed and ready for chaos, Azriel didn’t know. And by herself too. He felt that some days, he barely scraped by; Elain spent plenty of days fending all by herself without him. She definitely deserved the wine.
However, Azriel was surprised to find that unruly brood of children still awake, despite the evening hour. The work on the schedule had been long-suffering, and Azriel was home later than he usually liked to be. He was confident that the children would be fed and off to bed by the time he got there, having missed dinner himself.
Yet, there they were, running amuck in the living room, decorating for the Winter Solstice. Elain watched after them peacefully, sipping at her wine
“Daddy!!!” Lark cries out when she sees her father. She darts for the front door, pumping her wings to launch herself at Azriel like a shooting star.
“Oof!” The air whooshes from his lungs as his daughter collides with him. “Hello, sweetheart.”
“Mommy is letting us decorate the tree!” She exclaims, dangling from his shoulders by pure force of will. Azriel wraps his arms around her with a laugh and carries her back towards the tree.
“Lark is going a horrible job,” Ash tells him, expression surly.
Their son examines the Christmas tree like a warrior breaking down a battle map, all strategy and earnestness. After a moment's consideration, Elain and Azriel’s son places the silver bell that he holds onto a sturdy branch midway up the tree. (“No, no, Azriel,” Elain would say, “That one is all you.”) Ash tilts his head thoughtfully, plucks a red ornament from its current place, and adjusts it to his liking.
Elain is right. That one is all Azriel, right down to the inky black hair.
“Ash,” Elain warns, eyes full with affection. “That’s not nice to say.”
“The truth isn’t always pleasant,” the nine-year-old says ominously. Azriel’s been thinking lately that his son has been spending too much time with Amren, getting along to well with her brusque attitude; perhaps, they should start separating them at family events.
“Sometimes, you have to take other people’s feelings into consideration before you speak,” Azriel chides, eyeing the starry-eyed daughter in his hands with protectiveness. Ash didn’t mean it, but it still hurt his sister’s feelings. Lark values her older brother’s opinion more than anything in her small, young life. Azriel presses a kiss to her temple, and Lark’s brown eyes—so like her mother’s light up, happiness returned.
“You said never to lie,” his son looks upset at having been chastised by his father; the boy takes great pride in pleasing his father. When Ash notices his sister’s frown, guilt flashes in his hazel eyes, greener today than brown. “Sorry, Larkspur.” His apology rings sincere. “Come help me finish?”
Lark wiggles free of her father’s arms, coasts on sure wings to her brother’s side. “I forgive you,” she says, wrapping her arms around his neck. Ash looks utterly put out by the affection, his own wings drooping to the ground in defeat, and Elain giggles, amused by her children- and maybe just a little tipsy.
Another watery giggle erupts in the room, echoing the laugh of her mother, and catching Azriel's attention. He turns to spy Clementine, curled up on a blanket, and drooling all over a wooden star. The object is meant to be decorative, something for a side table or the fireplace mantle, but it would seem that the youngest member of the household has laid claim to the item, teething rights invoked.
“Hello there,” Azriel smiles, sweeping the child into his arms and cradling her close. It seems like only yesterday Elain was telling him she was pregnant again, surprising him with a new onesie—the one Clem now wears. There’s no way the child could be teething already.
Clementine smiles when she recognizes her father, chatting in gurgles and giggles. She tugs at one of his ears, fascinated with them currently, and Azriel can’t help the smile that breaks out on his face. He gives her a little toss into the air, and she shrieks with delight, making Larkspur, and even Ash, giggle too.
When he looks up, he sees Elain sending him one of her soft, unamused expressions, reminding him of how she doesn’t like him to throw her children. Azriel flashes her a cheeky grin.
“How was your day?” Azriel asks, taking a seat by Elain, who snuggles into him quickly. He adjusts his positioning so that Elain fits into the crook of one arm, while Clem sits atop his knee, one hand on her for support. The toddler gurgles with delight, pleased with her new vantage point, and when Azriel bounces his knee, his daughter breaks into a beautiful giggling spree, one-toothed smile and all.
Ash is staring down the tree again, clutching a golden ornament like some sort of weapon. Their son picks a spot for the orb, places it there gingerly, and goes in search of another. Meanwhile, Lark takes his place, using her wings to reach the top of the tree; with either hand, she slams a blue ball and silver bell into place without caution. He looks to Elain, finds her sipping at her wine, and pretending not to notice the chaos.
“Oh, just fine.” His wife says at last. Azriel raises a brow at her smooth words, and he looks back to Lark, covering herself in a golden garland she’s found. She decides to wear it like a scarf. Ash rolls his eyes, but their middle child just smiles, begins to strut around the room, putting on her own fashion show. Their wild child, that one.
Elain smacks his thigh when she notices his look. “Let them have fun.”
“But it looks—“ Azriel chokes on his words when he meets the eye of his son; Ash looks prepared to challenge him to war if his father insults all their hard work. “Great, it looks great.”
Elain giggles and Clementine mirrors her. The babe doesn’t know what is funny, but she likes it when her mom laughs, wants to laugh along too. Azriel tickles the little girl beneath her small, still growing wings, and she squeals in surprise.
The family spends the evening decorating the tree. Ash continues to lay siege to the middle section of the tree, the place that he can reach the easiest, while Larkspur conquers the rest, jamming ornaments wherever she feels like. Eventually, Clementine wiggles her way off Azriel’s lap, crawling over to join the fun, but when she starts yanking the adornments off the tree, Elain steals her away to the nursery, coaxes her to sleep.
Lark eventually loses interest in the game, as she is often wont to do, and she dozes off amongst her bed of garland. Ash persists with decorating until every ornament is to his liking, and then he slinks away into the shadows, but not without hugging his father and saying goodnight.
In the end, the tree is... something. It looks more like Feyre’s and Cassian’s drunken handiwork than something Elain would keep in the house.
“You hate it,” Azriel teases later that night. He’s just come back downstairs, having tucked a snoring Lark into her real bed. In the living room, he's found Elain returned to the couch, staring down the tree with a familiar focus. Perhaps, Ash didn’t get all of that seriousness from him alone.
“No, I— I love it.” Elain sighs, rubbing at her temples. “They’re my children, and I love them—and their absolute wreck of a tree.”
Azriel smiles knowingly, runs his hand up and down his wife’s back in soothing strokes.
“Do you want to fix it?” He asks softly after Elain fails to look away from the monstrosity. She moans, pressing her face into her hands; Azriel waits for his wife to finish her internal battle.
“YES,” Elain pleads, finally looking at him. Azriel laughs, standing up from the couch and taking her hands in his own to help her up.
Without further conversation, they get to work moving things around. Azriel straightens Lark’s garland work, and Elain sets about creating some sense of order to the ornaments. Even Ash’s decorating is a little askew, but neither parent would ever dare to challenge him so.
The couple works for a time in the quiet, comfortable kind of synchronization that comes from years of living and working side by side. Azriel finds himself watching Elain as she works, humming softly to herself and occasionally muttering aloud, working through where to put things. More than once, he is caught staring, but it always earns him a quick peck on the cheek; so, it’s worth it in the end.
Elain is all guilt once they’re finished; she runs her hands through her hair, staring at the fixed tree. “I’m a terrible mother. Ash asked to help me, and Larkspur was so excited. How could I say no? I never imagined—“
“Have you seen Larkspur’s fashion sense?” Azriel nods towards the garland, and Elain laughs, even as she smacks him lightly on the arm.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do with her.” Elain places her hands on her hips, eyes the tree with a tired satisfaction. “That should do it, I think. Do you think they’ll notice?”
“Ash? Definitely.” Azriel tells her, pulling her into the circle of his arms. “Those other two slackers? I’m willing to bet no.”
Elain leans into him, placing her hands over where his rest on her waist. She sighs deeply. “Thank you for your help.”
“Anytime,” Azriel kisses the top of her head. “Besides, if you didn’t do it yourself, it would’ve kept me up all night. I would’ve had to come down here anyway,” Azriel confesses with a wry smile. “This way, I can honestly say it was all your idea.”
Elain gasps, pinching at his wing. Azriel hisses at the sting, but his smile doesn’t fade.
“Wicked thing!” She chides him. “You tricked me!”
Azriel laughs happily, amused by the sweet pout on Elain’s lips. He cups her face and catches that bottom lip with his own before she can protest. She tries anyway, her voice a muffled sound, but Elain gives up quickly, leaning into the kiss instead and wrapping a hand into his hair.
“Happy Solstice,” he whispers to her when they part. Elain beams.
“Happy Solstice, Azriel.” She tells him.
Ash is filled with suspicion the next day when he discovers the magically corrected tree. He eyes it critically before looking to his father for an explanation; the Spymaster tells his son that the pixies must have come to fix it. They do that sometimes. Ash accepts the statement from his father and makes his way towards the breakfast table, but the boy mutters something about looking up pixie proofing methods at school that day.
Larkspur, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to notice, fully believing the masterpiece to be entirely of their own making. She beams with pride, babbles about how she wants to tell all of her friends.
When Elain carries Clementine downstairs that morning, the youngster likes the shiny bells; she gurgles happily. She manages to steal one, shaking it sporadically throughout breakfast to her older brother’s dismay.
When the new year comes, they take down the tree. Ash attacks the task with the same intensity as he did the original assembly, but Lark cries the whole time, big fat crocodile tears. She doesn’t want the holidays to end, doesn’t want to put away all the sparkly décor and colors. Her little sister, Clementine, sniffles the whole time, too, clearly upset by her sister’s distress.
Elain soothes the hurt with cocoa and cookies, and Azriel curls up with his girls by the fire. Ash breaks out a large textbook to show his father; the title reads: The Trouble with Pixies. His parents share a fond look over his shoulder, and Elain agrees with her son that it has to be done. Her own little piece of revenge for her husband's tomfoolery.
Azriel loves every minute of it either way.
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed!
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A Court of Wrath and Moonlight: Chapter 1
Hey guys! So I’m about halfway through my fic and after a lot of fussing over the first few chapters, I’ve finally decided to post it because I can’t wait to share this with you guys! I’m still waiting for an invite to Ao3 (I’ve never used the site to post before so that’s all new territory to me) so hopefully it’ll be up there soon for those that prefer reading it there!
This is set seventy five years after ACOWAR and will centre around Feyre and Rhys’s son (an OC of mine) and Tamlin’s daughter (another OC of mine). Some pronunciation guidelines:
-Keke (kee-kee) (yes, like the drake song)
-Isra (Ee-z-raa) (here’s a link to the proper pronunciation, the arabic one)
-When Keorah says Mama and Papa, they are pronounced with a central-american accent, not southern united states
Without further ado, here is A Court of Wrath and Moonlight!
Calloused, slender and careful, those hands drifted across the page, filling in whatever spaces they deemed fitting with fine brushes of charcoal.
The surroundings were blurred around the edges, only a pale-stained wooden table littered with thick, creamy stationary, some new and waiting to be used, others crumpled up at failed attempts. A set of the finest charcoals gold could buy sat carefully poised near the unknown artist’s right hand, always within reach in case they felt the need to switch. Though it was a little messy, just by the care and precision those hands handled their tools, I could tell that they worshipped this art.
One moment, there was only shading and vague figures and shapes, coming together to reveal awful, black hands that seemed to be reaching into the artist’s very soul, an evil, ancient and malicious crook to the fingers that only aimed to taunt and terrorize. Darkness surrounded them, thick opaque darkness that made me want to scream out to the artist, to wrap my hands around his, protect him from this pain that gripped his mind. But one sweep of his hand over the page and the lines were completely rearranged to portray a naked female body dead beneath the surface of bath water, dark juice lining her lips pale lips.
My eyes snapped open. I gulped down choked breaths, unable to shake the image of that drawing from my mind, and cursed the Cauldron for ever creating nightmares.
Before I even knew where my feet were taking me, I was ripping back the sheets and stalking to my wardrobe to pull on my fighting leathers, strap my knives into belt, then winnow to the forest as far from the manor as I could possibly be.
The wind tore at my hair as I ran through the forest, my leather-clad fae thighs pushing off the ground far faster and more powerfully than most fae I knew. It seemed as though hours passed as I dashed by tree after bush after meadow. The leaves from the tall trees rustled in the night breeze and the moonlight guiding my path was fractured by the canopies that overhung above. As those canopies became thicker, I shifted my eyes into an animal's, my view instantly becoming accustomed to the dark of the night. I barely had time to register the strong, steady beat of my heart pounding throughout my body as I cleared the forest and was left with a grassy strip of land that separated myself from the jutting cliff that overlooked torrid sea thrashing a hundred feet below.
I accelerated as the jut was only feet away, then pushed off as hard as I could from the rock ledge and dove down, down, down into the dark chaos.
Just as my fingertips touched the water’s surface, I folded myself between the pockets of the world, the smell of sea brine and roses tangling together until I was slouched and panting underneath a willow tree, my favorite spot in my court.
Its branches swayed softly in the wind, and I closed my eyes, picturing those moments with my mother that'd happened ages ago, feeling as though they were yesterday.
"C'mon, my rose petal," she chirped, beckoning to sit with her under the shady refuge of the willow offered from the beating sun. It was a warm spring day, and the smell of the blooming roses filled every puff of breath I took as my infant legs waddled over to my mother's side. Slumped against the tree, I nestled myself into the crook of her shoulder, then gazed down at the book in front of us.
“Alright, Keke,” she murmured encouragingly, “just as we practiced.”
I nodded my head hesitantly. Her finger pointed to a sentence halfway down the page, and shockingly I began, “The…y-young boy stared up at the dark sk—” I paused for a moment, then, remembering the feel and sound of the word in my mind, I completed, “sky.”
“Very good!” She exclaimed, a beaming smile donning her face, then her finger jumped to the next line.
It was interrupted though by the booming sound of my father’s voice. “Lyra! Keorah!”
By the growling undertones that laced those two words, I shot my mother a panicked look, and she only planted a kiss to my temple before we tore off into the meadow, towards the sound of his voice, exactly the opposite of where I wanted to go.
Those moments alone with her—those were the only ones that’d kept me sane these past fifty years. And now, they’d be gone forever.
Because my mother died last week. And tomorrow was the funeral.
* * *
Minutes later I found myself in my washroom, stripping down the worn, foul smelling leathers and quietly climbing into the tub to wash away the remaining sweat from tonight’s workout. I’d lather properly tomorrow morning before they stuffed me into yet another dress.
Sitting against the white porcelain of the bathtub, the warm water soothing the endorphins running through my veins, I wondered once again what my mother thought and felt those last few moments of her life. Before she’d taken those berries and tore herself away from me. Before she’d fallen unconscious, then drowned to her death. I wondered if she thought of me. The life we’d built together. The life we’d survived so far together. I wondered if she felt any guilt or remorse as the sour juice of those deathly things touched her tongue.
She’d left nothing behind. No note, no explanation, no last words. I knew because I’d been the one to find her dead, cold body—
I shut the thought out and abruptly stood up, water splashing at my knees. There was nothing I could do about it now. Just play the perfect mourning daughter tomorrow as the rest of Prythian came to pay their respects.
Towelling myself off, I watched as the cold rustling breeze whipped at the black banner hanging from my window, resisting the urge to snarl. Though she left no note, though she offered no explanation, I knew why she’d left us. Though I despised her for leaving me, I still had a small part of me that understood.
Especially when I peered over my shoulder into the mirror that reflected the image of five claw marks slashing down my bare back from right shoulder down to left hip.
* * *
I didn’t mind the primping. My head-lady, Vesna, was excellent at what she did: she could make braids out of tangles with a brush and her nimble fingers, beauty out of dullness with fine powders and expensive stains. All the while cheering me up as I scowled at my reflection each morning. Her jokes and bawdy-tune singing always managed to crack a grin from me. But today, as every other day this past week, she worked in silence with two others, carefully arranging my blonde hair under the black chapeau that bit into my scalp
Vesna applied a thicker layer of bright cream beneath my eyes to conceal the bags, the product of my late outing last night. Though she would normally go a little extravagant due to the presence of all seven courts today, she kept my face plain for the simple fact that she believed that maybe today would be the day I finally wept for my mother. So far, I hadn’t yet. I didn’t feel the rising urge to do so. Ever since I felt the absence of her heartbeat, something within me had broken so immensely that I believed my mother had stolen my emotions along with her life. Everybody was waiting for me to break down. I could tell by the way the servants silenced as I walked by. By the way guards stood a little more alert when I entered a room. Even my father was cautious this week during our brief exchanges. Though those were few and far between. He was out half the time wreaking havoc on the acres of land behind the manor, trying to keep the destruction out of the house. I knew with absolute certainty the white walls and marble floors would be in ruins if he’d unleashed himself upon them.
Not me. No, while papa angered and raged at the world, I tamed the imploding of my life to the confines of my mind and body. And I would continue to do so, if only to try to grasp and preserve any bits of sanity I had left.
“I think that is all, Keke,” Vesna murmured softly as she adjusted the black mesh material that fell over half my face and covered the chapeau in tufts.
I only gave a brisk nod, then pushed off my chair, taking one last look at the flowing skirt of my dress that hugged my waist and torso, the billowing, long sleeves that always managed to get snagged on everything.
A brusque knock at the door had me releasing a long sigh. It was time.
* * *
“Keorah, was that you I heard last night stomping about your room?”
Papa’s voice filled the cracks and crevices of the manor as he escorted me from my room in the west wing down to the throne room. My stomach dropped to the floor. I thought I’d been careful, but his sensitive fae ears must’ve picked up on it.
“Yes Papa,” I answered, keeping my eyes trained on the ground.
“And what could you possibly be doing at all hours of the night?”
“I went for a run, Papa,” I answered truthfully. “I needed to exercise. I couldn’t sleep.”
He let out an angered huff. “How can you expect to be High Lady when you can’t follow a simple rule?”
Those words, High Lady, always sent a shiver down my spine. There has never been a High Lady of Spring Court. There were only two High Ladies currently in power: Vivianne, High Lady of Winter Court, and Feyre, the first High Lady ever in Prythian, of the Night Court.
Keorah, High Lady of the Spring Court. My father had been roiling when Mama gave birth only to see she’d had a daughter. And though they tried countless times again, Mama never had another child, let alone a son.
And now she never would. And Papa was stuck with me as heir.
“When I’m High Lady, Papa,” I countered quietly, “they’ll be my rules.”
He snarled. “You will keep the laws of this court as I have done, and every predecessor before me—”
“Can we not, Papa? Please. Not today.” I hated that word. Please. I hated whimpering it every time those claws unsheathed themselves.
“You keep quiet,” Papa ordered. It seemed as though he’d allow me some peace, if only for today.
Despite the alarming amount of people in attendance today, there was barely any noise sounding throughout the manor, only the echo of our quiet footsteps across the empty halls. Guards were far and few in between within the manor. They’d been concentrated outside to keep any ill-meaning people out, rightfully so. Today was not a day for trouble amongst the people.
“You say what we practiced, you thank guests for coming, and you say how wonderful Mama was.” Right before the grand oak doors of the throne room, be stopped, then gripped my shoulders, and a slice of panic tore through me as I felt those claws creep out, only an inch, from his knuckles. They sat threateningly on my shoulders, ready to pierce the skin and ruin the dress, and it all but livened the storm brewing within Papa’s eyes.
“Do not,” he breathed, “speak a word of what she did. If I hear those words leave your mouth, you will find yourself without a heartbeat.”
Though the words careened within me and tore at the very heartstrings keeping me from completely falling apart, I only gave a curt nod, then, “Yes, Papa.”
Resuming our initial position, our elbows hooked around each other, the doors opened merely from one thought of Papa’s mind.
As one, the people stood from the pews that lined both walls of the throne room. As one, they bowed their heads.
I did not meet their eyes as Papa and I sat at the front and Nevanthi, the High Priestess, began the ceremony.
* * *
“Tamlin, our sincere condolences,” Vivianne, High Lady of Winter murmured, clasping hands with Papa. Tears lined her eyes, and I let out a wheeze of a breath, remembering how well she and Mama used to get along. One year, when we went to Winter to celebrate solstice festivities, they’d invited me to play an old game of cards with them. They’d been heavily intoxicated by the time I’d joined them, and I’ll never forget the howls of laughter that’d radiated from the both of them at the stupidities they said.
Kallias, High Lord of Winter, echoed similar words, and Vivianne’s tears spilled over as she turned to me.
“You look so much like her,” she breathed, then collapsed into sobs, arms hooking around me so tightly I thought she’d bruise me.
“Lyra was the best female I’ve ever known, best mother I’ve ever known,” she cried, cupping my cheeks with her palms. “You don’t understand how sorry I am for your loss.”
“I miss her every heartbeat,” I whispered, laying my hands atop hers to retract them from my face, and close them within my own. I brought our hands and held them to my heart. “You were her dearest friend, Vivianne. She loved you so much.”
“Cauldron bless her,” Nevanthi added quietly from my right. I bit back a scowl.
It seemed Vivianne did as well. Though our court respected High Priestesses despite the havoc Ianthe had wreaked upon our court, it seemed that my father hadn’t learned his lesson, and let yet again a problematic Priestess slither in. Nevanthi was deemed as an important leader within our ranks, yet other courts seemed to…frown upon her.
The High Lord and High Lady of Winter gave me one last quick embrace before the endless tide continued on, and my voice became scratchy from the never-ending exchange of words between myself and people Mama barely knew. High Fae and lesser faeries alike filed up the steps and embraced us over and over again before heading outdoors to the final part of the ceremony where my mother’s ashes would be scattered amongst the budding rosebushes, injecting her essence to transfer her life force to theirs.
A familiar flash of red hair bobbed up the steps until Lucien was before us. My breath rushed out of me and I almost sagged in relief at the familiar sight of his ruggedly handsome face and metal eye. He wrapped Tamlin in a one-armed embrace, promising to talk later, before turning to me and practically tackling me in a hug.
There was silver lining his eyes as he pulled away just enough to scan my face, then pull me once more against him. I buried my face into his chest, clutching his dark tunic with all my might.
“I’m so sorry, Keo,” he murmured into my ear, then pressed a kiss to my forehead. “I would’ve been here so much sooner, there was just some business I needed to take care of in the Day court—”
“It’s okay, Luci,” I assured him, resting my hands on his upper arms, “you’re here now. It’s all I need.”
“Just fulfilling my blessed-fatherly duties,” he smiled weakly, and I tried to mirror it, but failed miserably. I knew he needed to move along so we could finally have this ordeal over with. He stepped away, and with a purse of his lips at Nevanthi, faded back into the crowd.
Instead of more mourners, Bron and Hart, captains of the guard marched up the stairs with urgency and began whispering sinisterly with Papa.
“They weren’t invited,” Papa hissed. My eyes darted down to see claws inching their way out of his knuckles, as I’d suspected. Concern made my eyebrows furrow. Who wasn’t invited?
“…made it through the wards…just the two of them…waiting at the entrance.”
A growl from my father. Then, begrudgingly, “Let them in.”
Nods from both of them and they were off.
Half an hour later, after nodding along to tearful words from Fae of the nearby village with high enough status to attend, only two people remained at the bottom of the steps. When my gaze settled upon them, the breath was ripped from my lungs.
There, at the bottom of the dais, were the High Lord and High Lady of the Night Court.
Feyre Cauldron-blessed was dazzling despite her plain dark gown. Her hair hung in soft curls and framed the high cheekbones and plucked eyebrows of her face. Her long thin nose was perfectly symmetrical, and those bright blue eyes pierced through my own as we locked gazes.
Then my sight shifted to Rhysand, and something within me halted.
I’d never met the High Lord and High Lady of the Night Court, nor had I met either of their children. I’d only ever heard stories and descriptions, myths and legends surrounding their many triumphs through the safe-guarding of Prythian through the second war with Hybern, and the recent news that their son had been captured in the night by lingering enemies across the sea, but was safely returned home.
Yet as I gazed at Lord Rhysand’s jet black combed back hair and electric violet eyes, I felt as though I’d seen that face before, somewhere far off and distant. There was this feeling in my stomach that drew me toward those violet eyes. I ignored it as best as I could as Papa began to speak.
“Rhysand,” my father said tightly. “Feyre.”
“Tamlin,” Lord Rhysand replied, a grim expression on his face, “our sincerest condolences.”
Everyone knew the stories behind my father and Feyre. Vesna told me they whispered them around Mama and Papa’s wedding, saying how history would repeat itself, that those tendencies don’t go away. They were right. They didn’t go away. He just got better at hiding them.
Though the High Lady of Night, Feyre Cursebreaker, Feyre Cauldron-Blessed, did not show a hint of the history between Papa and her as she and her mate climbed those four steps and stood before us. Lady Feyre was clad in a simple black gown that hugged her curves, Lord Rhysand a complementing tunic. Ethereal swirls of darkness seemed to dance around them sombrely, only a hint of what their magic offered. I held back the urge to run my hands through those tendrils, to snatch the starlight that encompassed the both of them.
“We’re very sorry for your loss,” Feyre offered quietly, but with vehemence, “I couldn’t imagine the pain.”
Papa only nodded, only the tiniest hint of disgust lining the features of his face. I knew the topography of those features, how they danced and contorted together.
“No politics, no masks, no history,” Rhysand added softly. “I wouldn’t wish this sorrow on anybody.”
Tamlin only let out a huff, mumbled what seemed like words of thanks, then stalked off through the oak doors we’d entered in, leaving only myself and the Night Court family on the dais. For a moment, we stood in silence. Feyre’s gaze wandered over the throne room as if remembering her time spent here all those years ago. Rhysand only watched her intently. He curled a hand around her waist in a supportive manner, and she turned to him, some unreadable expression dawning their faces. Their eyes finally tore away from each other, as though they’d been speaking in some silent language, before their gazes turned to me.
Feyre’s eyes softened as she took me in. People often seemed to do that: with my soft blonde hair and doll-like face, to them, I was seen as the pretty little flower of Spring, Tamlin and Lyra’s pride and joy. I let people indulge in that mask. I didn’t let them see the fierceness that burned beneath, the scars that lined my body though I hadn’t been alive for any war. I let them see the primped, dolled-up blonde stuffed into dresses and bonnets, learning to play housewife.
I gave a deep bow of my head. It was no secret that the Night Court was the most powerful court in Prythian. The denizens of Prythian owed a great debt to the Night Court and its Inner Circle for all the efforts they contributed to stopping Hybern from invading seventy-five years ago. Showing respect to the pair that stood before me was inked into my very blood.
“Please, there’s no need.” Feyre smiled softly. Rhysand remained neutral, scanning me head to toe, assessing.
There was a beat of silence before Feyre finally offered, “We never knew your mother very well.”
I blinked. Of course, they didn’t. Papa wasn’t very keen on visiting the Night Court. Neither was he keen on having the Night Court visit us.
“It can only be expected with the…strenuous relations.”
Rhysand nodded solemnly at my words. “Nonetheless, my dear, we know you’ve probably heard condolences and sorry’s a thousand times this week, which is why I will only say that I too know what it is like to lose somebody so important to me. You are not alone. Though it may feel this way, you are not alone.”
There was something in the way he said it, something about the words he offered me that had sobs rising up my throat. I only put a hand to my heart and replied, “Your words are much appreciated, High Lord.”
There was more silence, and the hall was quickly emptying. The oak doors opened once again, and Papa, red-faced and claws out stormed back onto the dais. He was breathing heavily, and I did not want to see the state of his study after this whole ordeal was over. Feyre only blinked as she stared at the claws, claws she’d probably grown to fear just as much as I did.
“Excuse my absence,” Papa said dryly as those mighty claws retracted once more. “It is time for the Rebirth.” He waved a hand to the entrance of the throne room.
The High Lord and High Lady of the Night Court nodded once more before stepping down the dais and heading for the doors. I was about to follow suit until thick, calloused fingers wrapped around my upper arm and pulled me roughly back, causing me to nearly trip in my shoes.
“What did they say to you?” Growled my father, eyes full of rage and wrath.
I swallowed, used to the anger, used to the temper that consumed him. “They only offered their condolences, Papa.”
“I swear it,” I interrupted him, tired of the constant back and forth, just wanting to get this day over with.
My impatience only earned a squeeze of his fingers, tightening so hard that I winced and tore my arm away from him.
In silence, we walked to the front doors. I hated that silence. Because I knew, I knew that if my mother were here, it wouldn’t be silent. She would’ve protected me. Calmed Papa down.
But she was just a pile of ash now. A pile of ash and roses.
* * *
Dinner was taken to my room. I peeled myself out of the black dress with Vesna’s help. Her eyes skipped over the purple bruise lining my left upper arm due to the simple fact she couldn’t see it. I kept the glamour on my skin thick and solid at all times, even going to the extent to teach myself to have it on while I slept.
The servants knew full well the wrath that boiled within my father’s veins, and when that wrath surfaced, they were quick to turn a blind eye. Obviously, they didn’t know the actions that rage drove him to, nor the pain he inflicted on Mama and I. Even if they did, they couldn’t defy their High Lord, no matter the brutality he may wreak upon the manor. But the less they knew, the better. They needed to feed their families, to keep a steady lifestyle for themselves, despite what it may mean for me, or others around him.
Once I was in my beige cotton trousers and soft white knit sweater, I settled into the wooden rocking chair beside the window overlooking the front gardens with my mutton stew for another night of loneliness and shifting my food around my plate.
Then there was a soft knock at my door, and Vesna opened it to an auburn-haired head poking through to reveal Lucien’s smiling face.
For the first time in a while, a full smile danced on my features, and I set my tray down on a nearby table and ran to him, giving him a proper greeting as per our tradition. He scooped me into his arms and swung me around, just as he did when I was about as tall as his hips, then set me down, clearing away the hair that fell into my face.
“Tell me everything,” he murmured. “I can’t believe she’s really gone.”
I looked down at my shoes, my hands curling to fists, before breathing a long sigh through my nose. “Me neither. It seems unreal.”
He joined me where I was in my rocking chair, pulling over a plush velvet chaise and slumping back. I picked up my bowl of mutton stew once more, more for the heat if offered my hands than the food itself.
“It was just like any other ride, you know? We were out in the woods near the border when they attacked. One minute we were both laughing, galloping along.” I swallowed. “The next she was ripped out of her saddle. Before I could even blink they’d bit her head clean off her body. Then, before I could draw a breath, my power misted the seven of them.”
“Naga,” he swore. “Bastards.”
It was the story Nevanthi had concocted to cover-up the ‘sin’ behind my mother’s true cause of death. She said the people would respond negatively if they knew she’d taken her own life, because the Cauldron heavily cursed those who committed ‘such atrocities against its gift of life’. Though I knew it was because it would reveal the true state of this court and the person ruling over it.
“Bastards,” I echoed.
“You truly misted them?” Lucien murmured in wonder.
I couldn’t blame him. Misting was a very, very rare and deadly gift that few and far in between possessed, but I nodded my head anyway. It hadn’t been a complete lie. With a snap of my hands I conjured an orange, plucking it from the kitchen and tugging through those pockets within the fabric of the world, then once it sat in my hand, only one thought and it turned into a citrusy mist where the full, ripe fruit used to be.
His eyes widened in wonder. “When did you learn? How did you—”
“Mama, it seemed, kept the power a secret from Tamlin,” I said quietly, “and taught me discretely. Your silence is appreciated.”
A frown, then a clench of his knuckles, and finally a sigh. “He hasn’t changed, has he?”
I’d never told Lucien of the abuse. I’d never shown him the scars or bruises, which I kept constantly glamoured, I’d never hinted at the notion he would lay a hand on me. The show my mother and I kept up was exhausting and took a toll on ourselves emotionally, but she convinced me it would keep us safe.
And look where that got us.
“No,” I admitted, then grinned. “But look at how wonderful I turned out.”
Lucien snorted. “Yes, a snot-nosed brat with enough power to tear life away with the blink of an eye.”
“Now, now Lucien, those are hurtful words you’re directing towards your beloved—and might I add only—blessed-daughter!”
“Believe me, Keo, I was forced into it. It didn’t seem so bad when you were a diaper-soiling baby, but once you grew that mouth of yours—Cauldron, did I regret it.”
I only rolled my eyes in response, giving him a vulgar gesture. When I was Blessed by the Mother as a child, my head dipped into the soft rose-petaled waters that filled Nevanthi’s sacred basin to represent the Cauldron, Mama and Papa had chosen Lucien and his mate as well as High Lady Feyre’s older sister Elain to be my blessed-parents. If anything were to happen to my parents before I turned of age, the pair would take care of me until I reached maturity and could rule my court. Yet now that I was of age, or nearly in a few weeks, the role seemed useless. But I cherished it if only for the fact that it created a special bond between Lucien and I.
Elain and he had tried to figure out their messy relationship. Mama, Papa and Lucien never gave me the full details, only that she was there for my Blessing, then gone a year later once they mutually decided it wouldn’t work out between them. Well, mutual is a strong word. Nobody ever broached the subject with Lucien. Especially once the news reached us that Elain had married a member of the Night Court’s Inner Circle. Lucien left the Spring Court soon after for the Day Court, where his true father was, and took up his life he never had there, claiming he couldn’t stand to be around so many flowers after being with her. I was barely five years old. But he’d visited regularly, teased me, raised me, trained me. Sometimes I wished that he’d been my father instead of Tamlin.
“How are you holding together?” Lucien wondered after a few moments passed, the humour leeched from the conversation with those five words.
I shrugged my shoulders. “As fine as I could wish for.”
He gave me a pointed look. “You know I don’t believe that for a second.”
“I know. But maybe if I say it enough I’ll believe it.”
“How long are you staying?”
He sighed. “Not long, unfortunately. A few days at most. Internal affairs issues concerning trade deals with Dawn popped up and we’ve been trying to charm their pants off to keep them in our good graces.”
“Why do I feel as though Helion takes the saying ‘charm their pants off’ literally?”
Lucien shuddered. “Because he does. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that my father is an orgy-powered walking library.”
“Don’t forget the powerful thighs,” I smirked.
He poked his own. “Doesn’t seem like I inherited those.”
I flashed him a grin and finally reached over to set down my plate. Lucien looked down at my outstretched hands and frowned.
“So it’s still happening then? The engagement?”
Ah, yes. The engagement.
I’d worn the ring for so long now that my mind filtered it out every time I looked at my hands. If only it could filter out the misogyny surrounding my husband-to-be’s words and actions.
Carrick was a High Fae of wealth and haute social class in the nearby village. Papa had decided that when I was to turn eighteen, the age of maturity, I’d be betrothed to him and have him as consort once I was High Lady. Though the idea was mighty appealing to Carrick’s family in terms of power, and for Papa in terms of the wealth they’d be giving to the kingdom in thanks for the union, the real catch was the fact that Carrick was the most powerful High Fae in the village. Offspring from our shared genes would likely be of incredible strength, power and capability.
Carrick had extreme strength, shapeshifting abilities, air and wind manipulation as well as winnowing and other minor powers.
Combined with my extreme strength, shapeshifting abilities, wind manipulation, misting powers, winnowing, fire manipulation, spell-cleaving and healing powers…
The results would be incredible.
I’d earned few of my powers from Papa. Lyra, a denizen originally from the Dawn Court, had a mixed bloodline of powerful males and females from all over the courts. Her lineage seemed to dilute the more it expanded, yet for some reason she’d been gifted many of it: fire manipulation, spell-cleaving, air and wind manipulation, healing abilities, misting powers… a blend of autumn, day, dawn and night carefully crafted and siphoned into one female, who then handed it down to me.
People murmured how I was stronger than any of my predecessors. As a young girl I never believed them, yet as Mama and I practiced in the thicket near the willow tree, I finally began to believe them.
Carrick though, as a male, was definitely not the choice I would’ve made for myself. He was handsome, sure—ruggedly so, with short sandy coloured hair and hazel eyes. His body and shape were as expected: pure toned muscle hardened by decades of rigorous training and constant toning. Yet his personality fell flat due to the fact that he held no respect for me. Or any female, for that matter. Marrying him would be signing myself away like a piece of property, something Papa had no qualms over doing. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t have a say in it, that’d been decided when I was still a young girl, not even past my first bleeding.
“Yes,” I finally answered the loaded question, “it was supposed to be the week of my eighteenth birthday, a few weeks from now. I’m only hoping that maybe I could feign needing more time to mourn.”
“Surely you wouldn’t have to feign it, Keorah,” Lucien’s brows furrowed together, and the words had an accusatory lilt to them. “What happened was tragic. It’s normal if the grief is overwhelming. Nobody will blame you for taking the time you need to mourn your mother.”
And I wished I could tell him the truth, I wish he could scream with me at the injustice of it all. So I settled for a half-truth instead. “It just hasn’t set in yet, I think. Mother’s arse, Lucien, I haven’t even cried. Does that make me a monster? Does that make me abnormal?”
“Two things. No, three things.” Lucien pushed himself to the edge of his seat and gripped my biceps. I hid my wince at the uncomfortable pressure on my left arm. “Firstly, not crying doesn’t make you a monster. We all grieve differently, and what you saw was extremely traumatic. You’re probably still in a state of shock. Seeing your mother die like that?” He scoffed. “That would likely dredge away anybody’s sanity for a little while. Secondly, no, it doesn’t make you abnormal, and even if it did, you are abnormal anyways. You are abnormal in the best way possible. If you were normal, you’d be boring as hell, and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself knowing my blessed-daughter is so mundane. And thirdly,” he chuckled, “if I ever hear you say Mother’s arse again, I’ll throw you into the rose bushes, thorns and all.”
I shook my head at the incredulousness of his words yet still smiled. “Why can’t you visit more often?”
Hope you liked it! I’ll be posting the next chapter tomorrow :)
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Apple Pies and Rolling Pins
This is my first time writing a smutty fanfic!
I did this for my smol Sinnamon @verifiefangirl because she is right when she says that there are not enough Elriel fanfics and she deserves to read more about her babies.
I wanted to thank her and @court-0f-dreamers for encouraging me to try writing, both of them are the most supportive people I know and you should definitely check their blogs out, because they WRITE FANFICTION!!
And a special THANK YOU to @court-0f-dreamers for editing my writing, even though I didn’t ask her to. She just did it and I only asked her to read it before I post it, because I wanted it to be perfect for my Sinnamon. I will NEVER forget this. Both of them are such kind, good and pure human beings that I’m honored to call us the Spicy Trio <3 May god bless your soups (yeah i’m looking at you sinns)
Word count: ~5000
Warnings: My dream was to put a P. without Plot into the warnings, but there is a bit plot so I guess it will only be called like this in my dreams.. It’s SMUT so if you’re not comfortable with reading this kind of fanfics then this is not for you my friend, if you love SMUT: make yourself comfortable and enjoy!
Feedback is welcome!!
Today is the day Azriel and Elain bake together. After mentioning a couple of times that he wanted to have the recipe for her apple pie, Elain suggested that he could have it, if he helped her bake one the next time she craved some.
What he didn’t know was, that this is not the only thing she yearns for.
Both of them had spent so much time together in the last couple of weeks and months that the line, this thin line, between friendship and relationship started to blur more and more.
Every time both of them were together the air around them was thick with tension, almost touchable, if they dared.
But none of them made a move, none of them had the courage to take a step and break those barriers to finally cross that line.
Elain always felt comfortable with Azriel, and that’s the reason she decided to wear her black leggings with a plain and simple oversized T-shirt - stolen from her best friend a while ago.
Azriel didn’t mention it once, when he saw her in his tee, so she took that as a “You may keep it”.
Hearing a knock on her door, Elain went to open it.
The first thing she notices, like always, are his beautiful eyes.
They lure her deep into his soul make her lose herself.
Azriel mesmerises her every single day, every single hour, minute and second she spends with him. Today is no different.
She wants to stay patient, but she can’t anymore. She is sick of waiting.
Elain wants him to take a step and make her his, just as she wants him to be hers.
Yet he always seems to keep a distance between them. She knows he wants her to be happy, that he thinks she deserves better than him.
But he doesn’t understand that they both deserve each other.
So today she wants to try something, she wants to see how long it will take for him to break.
The second thing her eyes fall on are the flowers in his hands - his beautiful hands. She can recall every moment they touched her.
Every memory of him, laying them on her shoulders when she needed to focus, around her waist when he held her while she cried, on top of her hands when she needed somebody to hold onto.
Azriel always brings flowers with him when he comes to her house. This time he brought pink-coloured tulips.
She takes them from his hands and hugs him.
He is wearing low hanging grey sweatpants with a simple black tee-shirt, which hugs his body at the right places and shows exactly how toned he is.
She can feel his muscles shifting while their arms are wrapped around each other and it takes all of her willpower to keep her hands from running up and down his muscled torso.
So she focuses on his scent.
Taking a deep breath through her nose she inhales the odour she’s familiar with. He smells like the darkest nights, fresh and soothing.
Without him something is always missing, but smelling him makes her feel calm and complete.
Every moment he spends in the house, she dares calling it ‘home’.
“Are you sure you have all the ingredients we need?” asks the male now standing in the kitchen with her.
“I told you that we have everything we need at home and that you only need to bring yourself. And now that you’re here we can start.”
Elain had already prepared the dough for the pie. She wanted it to rest before he came.
His eyes are on her the whole time, while she takes the dough out of the fridge and puts it on the kitchen counter.
She starts putting some flour underneath it before putting the crust on it and flattening it carefully with her hand.
Opening the drawer she takes the rolling pin out.
But today it isn’t only for rolling out the dough, it is also her secret weapon.
Before she can start using it, lucky her, the drawer is stuck and doesn’t close.
“Do you need help?”
She looks at him from underneath her lashes and answers coyly, “Yes, please…”
He tries to get it in, to push it back, but it is harder than he thought. He tries a couple of times and with one last rough thrust it slips back in smoothly.
Elain, watching him and trying to keep her breathing even, murmurs a “Thanks,” before turning back to the task ahead.
Using the pin she starts rolling out the dough, which of course gets stuck on it, so she has to take the rolling pin into her hand and starts removing the sticking crust pieces, moving her hand up and down slowly along its length.
She senses Azriel watching her. Good she thinks, Let him look
Sighing she rubs the places, where the pie crust sticks a little bit firmly, more vigorously.
Daring one glance at Az makes her catch him watching her movements with wide eyes.
Smiling to herself, she stops the motion with one last twist of her wrist, clears her throat and starts sprinkling some flour onto the dough, only to roll it out again.
She holds the pin with both her hands letting herself rock back and forth with it, her movements torturously slow, while also focusing on arching her back.
Coughing slightly, Azriel takes a deep breath.
“What would you like me to do?” His voice is low and hoarse.
It only makes the desire in her lower abdomen grow bigger.
“Could you please give me a glass of water? I’m really thirsty, but my hands are covered in flour and I don’t want the kitchen to get too messy.”
Nodding once, Az opens the cupboard and his tshirt rides up above his hips. Elain tries with everything not to stare at the V-muscles of his pelvis, which now is in the centre of her view.
She also tries not to stare at his muscles, how they move and strain against his shirt, while he tries to grab a glass from the top.
She tries and fails.
It is pure torture.
Looking at him is killing her with desire and she wants him to satisfy her thirst.
Filling the glass, he holds it out to her mouth for her to drink. She is aware of him trying to avoid looking at her lips while she tries to swallow every drop.
But he’s unsuccessful.
His to and fro going eyes stop at her lips and don’t move.
He seems to be lost and doesn’t even notice her trying to pull away, because she can’t get down more.
Even though she backtracks, the glass is kept being pushed against her lips. Finally she decides to pull back in one go, only for him to spill the remaining water on her.
In a matter of seconds she is now also dripping wet on her chest. Her shirt is clinging to her breasts and stomach, showing every curve of her upper body.
“I’m so s-“
“Shh, it’s okay, Az! It’s only water, it will dry!” she says playing coy.
Cleaning the floor he attentively stands up and looks into her eyes.
He tries not to look down, to keep focus on her face.
But again he fails.
His own are wide, his pupils dilated. He wants to devour her. Gods how much he wants to take her then and there. But he doesn’t move.
She knows he is holding himself back, but she also sees the wall breaking, it won’t take long. She feels it.
He studies her with black eyes, their colour gone, and his mouth slightly agape. They move up and down her body.
Slowly, he brings his gaze up again for their eyes to meet.
“I can’t wait to eat that cake, when we are finished,” he whispers, his voice low, dangerous.
“Pie,” she manages to say quietly, understanding his innuendo.
Tension starts to build rapidly, the air grows thicker and it is hard to breathe - the dough forgotten.
One moment she thinks he will break, the other he pulls himself together and turns away. He gulps audibly, and tries to focus on something else, but she can see that something has changed.
It is a start.
While he tries to act natural, and cool down, she beholds the bulge in his pants. It is impressive, nothing he can hide, even if he wanted.
Satisfied that she is the one causing his member to strain against the fabric of his underwear and sweats, she turns away.
“Do you know how to handle the apples?”
A croaked “Yeah,” escapes his lips, while he moves to get them out of the fruit basket.
He wants to cut them, but he can’t move, can’t concentrate.
Azriel is lost, the only thing he can think of are her pink lips and the shirt clinging to her body like a second skin.
The big apples in his hands don’t help either; they make him think of her breasts, he imagines if they would fit into his palms like those big round fruits he’s holding.
For a moment, what he needs to peel is forgotten.
Her voice “Stop fooling around and cut some, Az,” yanks him from his thoughts and brings him back to reality. He doesn’t think he can hold himself back any longer.
She is torturing him. Watching, smelling, hearing Elain Archeron is pure torture. And it is messing him up.
Taking a deep breath, he moves to prepare the apples.
For a couple of minutes both of them manage to concentrate on the pie and get it ready for the preheated oven.
Opening it, Elain puts the apple pie in. She is deep in thought, because now that they are almost finished, she doesn’t know what to think and what will happen next.
Suddenly she yelps and cradles her hand to her chest. She was not being careful and had rubbed her forefinger slightly on the hot wire.
“You should blow on it, to ease the burning, I heard it helps,” says a low voice.
Dangerous. This male is dangerous.
And she loves it.
She watches him with wide eyes as he takes her hand in his, examines the small hurt, but what he does next makes Elains breath hitch.
Holding her gaze he slowly pulls her finger to his mouth, licks once over the red wound and sucks her finger into his mouth.
His wet and hot tongue swirls around it and with a ‘pop’ he pulls it out and releases her hand.
“Mhmmm… Sweet, Elain.”
Rough, his voice sounds like stones grinding against each other and it makes her clench her thighs together. This male will be the death of her.
She releases a breath she didn’t know she was holding, both of them watching each other with the same ferocity.
Slowly she reaches up and takes his head into her hands and starts stroking it. His hair is so soft, she wants to bury her hands into the gentle strands of his mane and savour the feeling of them against her palms forever.
Without noticing, they had moved closer, their chests almost brushing. Shivering she looks into his eyes, searching for something to stop her, for anything telling her, that this is too much for him, but she doesn’t find a sign to halt. Tenderly, smoothing his hair from his forehead, she makes her way down to cup his cheeks.
She is anxious, afraid of scaring him away, afraid of him pulling back, and losing him.
But she doesn’t stop. Not this time. Carefully, giving him time to pull back, she leans forward.
“Step by step,” she tells herself to stay calm and kisses the left corner of his mouth.
Slightly pulling back, she again searches his eyes for any kind of hint that he doesn’t want this.
But what she doesn’t expect to find is a fire, an inferno, burning in his gaze, threatening to break out, to burn them both, and to swallow them into its darkest depths.
Kissing the right corner of his mouth, she lingers there slightly longer. She is addicted to the sensation of his skin under her lips.
The warmth of his skin makes her lips tingle and her heart clench.
She loves him.
Every part of him.
His voice, his scent.
For her he smells like the darkest nights in winter.
He is the shadow you can find when the sun is shining.
The darkness to her light.
When she is happy, when she is sad.
She is a part of him; he is a part of her.
She loves him. Even his flaws.
Her love grows the more time passes, the more her love grows… how can that be, how can one love that much, how is that even possible?
She feels him exhale shakily, his breath hot against her cheek.
Tilting her head up she stares into his eyes. A mirror to her own. The same thoughts swirling in his mind, the same love, the same fire, the same intensity, but one thing was always different.
While she was ready for a while now, he had a barrier, a wall, holding him back. But now while staring at him, she sees the last brick falling.
“Azriel,” exhaling his name slowly she doesn’t look away.
The falling brick crumbles to dust and he is on her, devouring her with his lips.
It’s nothing sweet and innocent. The kiss is all sizzling and hot.
He is clinging to her like she is the sun after years of darkness, his light, hope and salvation.
His hands are roaming over her body, memorizing and exploring, the curve of her hips, her thighs, and her back, pulling her closer to himself as if he’s trying to make their bodies merge to one.
One of her hands is in his hair, the other on his neck, pulling him impossibly closer, pressing his face against hers.
Bringing one of his hands to her neck, Azriel tilts her head slightly and asks for entry with his tongue. He licks the seam of her lips once and that’s all it takes for Elain to open up and welcome him in for a dance between two lovers, two souls, who were apart for too long.
The first brush against her tongue makes him groan deeply into her mouth. He is engulfed in the scent and taste of her.
She smells like apples and sweet violet, tastes like honey and spring.
Sucking on her bottom lip he slightly pulls away, leaving a trail of small kisses and bites down her jaw, until he finds his purpose, the sweet spot where her shoulder meets her neck.
He kisses and sucks on it until he makes Elain moan and writhe in his arms.
Licking a path up to her ear, he lustfully whispers, “I can’t wait to find out how your lips taste,” before taking her earlobe between his teeth and lightly nibbling it.
“But you already a-“ Silencing her with another feverish clash of teeth and tongues, he palms her sex clumsily through the fabric of her leggings, groaning loudly at the wetness he’s finding there.
Azriel is rewarded with another noise from deep within her throat he didn’t know she could make, but he swears to himself that he will make those sounds leave her mouth again and again and again for the rest of his life.
He pulls back breathlessly, a glint in his eyes, “I didn’t mean those lips,” and is on her again.
She forgot her name; she can’t remember anything.
There is only he and she.
Azriel and Elain.
Two bodies, one soul.
Two bodies, one heart.
Their tongues glide over each other in a battle for domination with no winner or loser.
Promising with every stroke what is yet to come.
The promise of the release awaiting them at the end of this journey.
The journey, both are keen to finish.
Like climbing a mountain, moving until you’re on the top, eager to feel the liberation.
“Bedroom?” He says voice low and muffled while his lips are pressed against hers.
He lets his hands drift to her legs, positions them under her thighs and hoists her up in one swift motion, making her wrap her legs automatically around his torso like it’s the most natural thing to do.
Her body knows how to respond, how to react.
She trusts him.
Crossing her ankles she starts grinding into the hard length of him, feeling what she inspected with the eye only minutes ago. He is straining proudly behind the fabric between his legs, the sensation of him even more solid and longer than she thought. A moan leaves his lips, making her shiver with anticipation.
She needs him. Now.
Requiring the friction she continues grinding against him while he carries her. She’s pulling back from his lips only to continue her journey of kisses and bites down from his neck to his shoulder, making him heave another groan, like the rumbling of thunder from deep within his chest.
It’s hard for Azriel to focus he’s holding her up by her legs and bum, trying to concentrate, clawing with both hands and his fingers, holding on like it’s a cord that keeps him conscious, while she is making him fall senseless.
Finally making it to the bedroom, Azriel lays Elain gently on the bed. He wants to take his time with her and make her come at least two times before he get’s his own release.
He looks at her lying underneath his body, small and tender, but also strong, cheeks flushed in a beautiful shade of pink, like the colour of the tulips now standing on the table.
He has never seen someone as beautiful and as breath-taking as Elain.
He kisses her slowly savouring the moment, feeling the softness of her lips against his own, and the comforting warmth of her mouth when he explores it with his tongue.
The way her hands move up and down his body, seeming to make an exploration on their own, the way her tongue glides over his, flicks the roof of his mouth every time before she either sucks or bites on his bottom lip. He wants to memorise all of her, her habits, until his body can recall every detail.
He loves the softness of her body underneath the hardness of his. How her legs wrap around him, the movement of her hips, and moans, how her ankles cross to keep him in place, as if she were afraid that he would leave.
But he will never leave.
Because he loves her.
Everything about her and the more he inspects her body the more he falls in love with her.
The longer he looks into her eyes the more he gets lost in them.
Those sweet sounds she makes, her laughs, the way her nose crinkles when she tries to look annoyed while holding back a giggle.
He loves her.
He thought he didn’t deserve her and a small part of him still does, but he can’t stay away.
She is his light.
When he sees her, something pulls him towards her. He just can’t stay away. He tried, but she makes him happy and he will try every day of his life to make her the happiest person alive. Starting with today.
Pulling away and staring into her eyes, he knows that she can see the question in them.
She nods and he pulls her leggings down, leaving her in the t-shirt.
Another question, another nod.
He gently grabs the hem of her shirt, his shirt, which looks so much better on her, and slowly, lifts it up, throwing it into some corner. He couldn’t care less.
She is almost bare before him wearing simple cotton underwear.
To him she looks mesmerizing. He barely holds himself together.
She is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, perfect in every way, and she cares about him too.
He wants to cry, he feels like bursting from happiness.
Instead he pulls his own shirt over his head and takes of his sweats, standing before her in nothing but his boxers.
He kneels between her legs, which are wide open, welcoming him in.
Kissing his way up her stomach and chest, he gives her a slow kiss, pouring all those emotions in it, hoping she’ll understand. And she does, he knows that she knows.
He settles in the crook of her legs, trying to keep a little bit of his weight off her upper body, but she wants none of that and instead pulls him closer.
They take their time, enjoy the feeling of skin on skin and breathe each other in.
Azriel pulls away to look into her eyes. They show all the love she has for him and before a single tear can escape her eye, he wipes it away with his thumb.
“Beautiful,” he breathes, kissing the corner of her mouth.
Bringing her hands up she cups his face, looking deep into his eyes, while caressing his cheekbones with her thumbs.
He closes his eyes, leans in slightly, and enjoys the feeling that flows through his veins because of her touch.
Safety and utter bliss.
She pulls his face slowly down to hers, tilts her chin up and kisses him on his forehead with heart breaking gentleness.
“I trust you,” she manages to say after swallowing audibly.
Leaning in, brushing her lips with his, he murmurs softly, “I trust you too, my love.”
And that’s all it takes for the kiss to get rougher and more passionate. Both open up in an instant, deepening the kiss.
He moans into it when she’s moving against him again and this time he’s pushing back into her too.
Their hips meet at the same time causing both of them to pant heavily and lose themselves in the sensation of it.
He knows she’s going to find her release if they continue their grinding with their underwear still on and it’s thrilling him to know, that she can come undone from this feeling alone, without him entering her.
He palms her breast with one hand while the other is caressing her cheeks and hair.
Moving his hand to her back, he unclasps her bra and pulls it over her shoulders baring her peaked nipples to him. He immediately begins licking and sucking at her breasts, eliciting moans and soft whimpers from her.
Biting on one nipple slowly he swirls his tongue over the small hurt, mixing pain with pleasure.
She arches into him as if trying to push them deeper into his mouth; he obliges and tries to pleasure her as much as possible by sucking and kissing harder.
She’s breathing heavily and it takes all of his willpower and concentration to not finish with her.
While his lips continue their ministrations so do his hips continue their hard thrusting. His free hand moves down to the apex of her thighs looking for the right spot to make her find her release.
When his thumb finds the small knot, he starts circling it rapidly.
The touch seems to take her by surprise and with one loud cry sounding like his name she finds her release.
He keeps rubbing and thrusting until she comes down from her high and then slowly kisses her on her lips once more.
She’s breathing heavily, one arm thrown over her eyes to calm herself. Removing it she blinks a couple of times focusing on his eyes and a huge grin starts forming on her face. He stares right back at her with the same smile and the same happiness, and both of them begin to laugh softly.
She leans up connecting once more, smiling into it.
Elain starts dragging one finger slowly down his abdomen, only to stop at the hem of his boxer shorts. Flattening her hand she rubs her palm slowly against his still hard member.
Without meaning to, he jerks into her hand and she continues her movement, rubbing up and down harder over the fabric, while he rocks slightly against it.
Feeling confident enough, Elain pushes his underwear down and grips his cock. Azriel closes his eyes for a moment, as the sensation of her touch almost makes him cum then and there, but when he opens his eyes again, he catches her licking her lips and watching his huge length with a hungry look.
She begins pumping him with her hand once, twice and he pushes into her hand involuntarily.
“Fuck,” groaning he keeps moving while she moves her hand up and down gripping him tightly and twisting her wrist experimentally, like she did with the rolling pin.
She does it once, but the motion and the feeling of her delicate fingers around his hard dick is almost enough to make him combust.
Suddenly Elain stops and says, “Azriel, please, please… I need you now,”
Not wanting to wait anymore, she tries again. “Please, I need you inside me… Az,” his name a whisper, a plea.
He can’t hold himself back any longer.
“I need you to fuck me,”
His sweet innocent Elain begging is enough for him to quickly rip away all the fabric standing between them.
Settling in the space between her legs makes him realize, that he can take his time with her another day, but for now they have waited long enough.
He smiles softly at her only to be rewarded with a huge grin making her even more beautiful and knocking the breath out of him once more.
He positions himself at her entrance, but begins teasing her with the head of his cock. He rubs it up and down her slit, spreading the moisture, which gathered there from her first orgasm.
He feels her wriggling underneath, trying to push him exactly where she wants and needs him.
She starts rocking her hips in a more fluid motion against the tip of his length, impatient and ready.
He can already feel how wet she is and wants nothing more than to fuck her senseless.
“Elain, look at me, my love,” he wants to look into her eyes when he first enters her. Their eyes meet and he slowly slips himself into her waiting vagina. Gasping her eyes flutter shut but she quickly opens them up again and he sees the love and bliss shining in her eyes.
When he’s completely seated inside of her, the tightness of her hugging him and keeping him close, he stops, letting her adjust to his proud manhood. They fit perfectly.
Two people made for each other like parts of a puzzle, complete together.
She was the piece missing, his whole life there was this hole in his chest but now it’s closed, he feels happy and alive.
He peppers her face with small kisses on her forehead, temple, cheekbones, nose, the corners of her mouth and then her lips.
Those kisses are to slow things down a fraction, just to soothe the aching tension.
Elain throws her arms around his shoulder and digs the heels of her feet into his rear, indicating that she’s ready and wants him to move.
A laugh escapes him, his impatient flower, his love, his friend, his family.
Azriel pulls out almost entirely and thrusts back in, causing her to arch her back. Taking a nipple between his teeth Az keeps biting and licking while pulling out again and thrusting back in with more force.
He feels her walls already tightening around him.
Soothing her waist with his one hand, the other goes down to her lower back, only to urge her body closer against his. Her legs tighten their hold on his back, while Azriel continues driving into her.
He pushes into her, slowly but deep, with firm and steady strokes.
Her hips start to meet his with each thick thrust, making him tighten his hold on her hips and then hoisting one of her legs over his shoulder, deepening his penetration.
As she’s moaning even louder from the pleasure the new angle causes, he starts kissing her ankle and leg, watching her ball her hands into fists into her sheets, anchoring herself to reality.
Leaning forward, her leg still on his shoulder, he captures her lips in a hot feverish kiss, making her whimper and sob, swallowing the noises escaping her, while hitting just the right spot with his cock and grinding into the pearl between her legs.
His thrusts become more erratic and both tremble uncontrollably while their bodies begin to build up the release.
Panting and breathing their names, clinging to each other, like they might disappear if they let go.
Her legs are shaking; she is close so he starts kissing along her neck, down to her chest and up to her mouth.
She takes his head into her hands, holds him close and looks into his eyes. He knows what she wants from that glance alone.
What she wants is to look into his eyes when she shatters, and he feels her walls starting to clench around him, so he leans his forehead on hers, brings one of his hands down to her clit and pushes even harder into her.
“Elain,” he whispers her name like a prayer, “I love you,” chanting those three words over and over onto her lips while holding her gaze. Her eyes sparkle with emotion and with one loud cry; she reaches the end of the journey, the peak of the mountain and shatters in his arms.
Her walls are clamping down on his throbbing cock, making him groan and twitch inside of her with every thrust, one deeper as the other.
He’s cumming inside of her; spilling himself into her body rope after rope spurting and bursting, while her pussy keeps squeezing and milking every drop out of his cock.
Azriel slows his movements, collapsing on top of her. Both their breaths ragged and she keeps combing his hair with her fingers, while he buries his head into the crook of her neck, breathing her in.
Slowly he pulls away, bringing his face close to hers.
She looks into his eyes, while soothing his hair out of his face and pecks his lips once, twice. And a third time, before pulling back and whispering a “I love you,” onto them.
Another kiss, “I love you, Az,” this time lingering slightly longer, “I love you so so much,” and pulls his head on her shoulder again, hugging him close.
He is still inside of her, doesn’t want to move and would stay there forever if he could.
It’s their moment, two bodies, finally connected; shadow and light, living because of the other.
Both of them are whispering sweet nothings and soothing words of love to each other, caressing one another with their hands and fingers.
Everything else is forgotten.
Nothing could ruin this time they share savouring in each other’s arms.
Except for Elain’s sharp inhaling breaking the silence and the smell of burning pie coming from the kitchen.
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Announcement: My first ever (very long) multi-chapter fic
So I know I have a tendency to sort of disappear for months at a time. And if you were following me a few months back you might know that I have been promising a Vivillias fic for... a while now (longer than I care to admit really).
First of all: It is not entirely my fault. Once I started trying to piece everything together there were some plotholes, and once those were cleared up there had to be more story, and everything just sort of... escalated. Then once I started writing things got hectic at school and I guess we’re here now.
But since it was my birthday yesterday and I haven’t been active enough for anyone to know that... I guess I’ll just call this a birthday gift to myself?
So here goes nothing: happy birthday to me!
COMING SOON (As soon as I get to a proper internet connection bc this is no way to live):
My Frozen Heart, a Vivillias prequel following the centuries-long love story between Viviane and Kallias, later High Lord and Lady of the Winter Court.
Summary: Kallias and Viviane are 13 when they first meet in a secluded clearing outside the Winter Palace. What starts out as a tentative offering of friendship grows into undying devotion as Kallias tries to navigate the dangers of court and Viviane tries to get her stubborn father to see her value as a soldier. Kallias soon finds that the person he cares for most, the female who he has loved since he was only a child, is his ultimate weakness - and Viviane’s faith in their friendship is tested as Kallias pushes her away, again and again.
Power schemes and plotting royals stand in their way as the court grows more and more perilous - and on the horizon, a shadow is gathering its might to ravage all of Prythian and leave no good or living thing untouched.
Just as Kallias has gone out of his way to protect Viviane all his life, so Viviane must protect the people of Winter when the time comes.
Everything will be tagged as My Frozen Heart, MFH, as well as other appropriate tags.
If you want me to tag you in any updates let me know, I’ll do my best.
ALSO: if someone is interested in beta reading this monstrosity you can message me (I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING HERE)
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Everyone thinks my version of Cardan looks like Cassian, so why not do him too? Thought I’d take a stab at straight-up digital colour over a pencil drawing, and it came out looking kind of like a page from a comic book. Based on a scene from Embers & Light by @duskandstarlight -- check it out if you’re up for some Nessian! 😊
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cassian with a quiet mate hcs
cassian x reader (acotar)
warnings: none i don't think (?), fluffy
word count: 1273 words
summary/request: ‘Can I request cassian x reader where his new mate is as quiet as azriel and she gets along with him but cassian doesn’t know how to talk with her and feels nervous and jealous cz az can talk to her freely while he struggles?’ from anon
a/n: hi, thank you so much for requesting! I don’t know how i feel about this and how accurate it is to the request, but it’s been in my ask box (and drafts) for a while and i wanted to get it written for you, lovely anon :) i hope you enjoy <33
You had always been quiet ever since Cassian had met you.
You exchanged pleasantries whenever you saw one another but you never really had conversations beyond that.
It’s not like Cassian hadn’t wanted to talk to you. Believe me, he had. However, every time he tried to strike up a conversation, he came up blank on what to actually talk to you about.
On top of that, he knew you were shy and kept to yourself so he never wanted to overstep and make you feel uncomfortable if you didn’t want to talk to him.
But all of that changed when the mating bond snapped into place.
It snapped into place for Cassian first and he was ecstatic. He’d always admired you from afar and he secretly hoped the two of you would be mates.
From that day on, he tried everything he could think of to start and hold a conversation with you, but he always seemed to struggle.
Whether it be thinking of a topic you might like to discuss whilst knowing next to nothing about you or the little voice in the back of his mind that told him to give up because someone as sweet and innocent as you would never want to be mated to somebody like him, he could never seem to get it right.
And the thing that bothered him the most was the fact that his brother never seemed to have the same problem.
From the moment the two of you had met, you and Azriel had clicked.
Whether it was the fact that you both kept to yourself and were the quietest ones of the group or the fact that Azriel was just easier to open up to, Cassian didn’t know. But he knew that it made him jealous to no end.
Azriel knew about the mating bond between you, of course. He had probably known long before either of you had even suspected, and he would never do anything that would intentionally hurt his brother or you.
But he couldn’t deny that you were one of his closest friends. He would even go as far as to consider you as a sister.
You understood him better than most and were content to just sit together in silence, each doing your respective things but appreciating the company. Of course, you would have conversations together too, Azriel for once finding it easy to open up to someone and ask for advice on problems he was having, knowing he would never face judgement with you.
But newly mated Cassian didn’t know this.
All he saw was another male getting progressively closer to his mate and drawing the wide, beautiful smile from your lips that Cassian was willing to go to his knees and beg for a chance to see aimed at him.
He knew deep down that the relationship between the two of you was purely platonic, as Azriel had pointed out to him many times, but he couldn’t help the sadness he felt at seeing you so at ease with someone when you were never even close to being that way with him.
He spent weeks contemplating his options and what he should do before finally breaking, cornering Azriel one day after training.
He confessed about the mating bond to his brother, begging for his advice on how to gain a relationship with you. He wasn’t even particularly hoping for a romantic bond, he just wanted to get to know you and to let you know that you had a companion in him.
Azriel’s heart ached at the pain and longing he saw on his brother’s face, telling him to stop overthinking it and if he just acted like himself, you would open up to him in no time.
So that’s exactly what he did.
The next time he saw you, he beat everyone else to the seat beside you, Azriel throwing him a knowing glance and a rare smile for good luck.
He pushed down his nerves, cracking a joke to break the ice, praying you wouldn’t be repulsed by the mere sight of him.
But to his delight, your smile widened as you realised who was sitting beside you, blushing slightly before letting out a gentle laugh at his joke.
He practically lit up at the sound, relaxing instantly at the lack of discomfort on your face and the pure acceptance in your eyes.
The conversation progressed steadily from there, Cassian discovering he actually had more in common with you than he previously thought.
The two of you talked all night long, your friends noting the longing looks you threw towards each other when the other wasn’t paying attention, silently hoping the two of you would just give into your feelings by the end of the evening.
But, when it didn’t seem to be going any further, Mor had had enough and finally snapped.
“By the Cauldron, you are already mates! Why don’t you just confess your undying love to each other already?”
Cassian paled instantly at the blonde’s words, specifically at the revelation of you being mates and instantly turned to you to deny it when he caught the look on your face.
You were blushing profusely and looked mortified at all the attention on you both, yes, but the shock and confusion that should be evident after finding out your mate was the male beside you was not visible. Almost as if…
It was barely a whisper, confusion and disbelief clouding his words but you caught it all the same, eyes widening as you looked between him and your friends helplessly.
Azriel noted the action, quickly ushering your friends out of the room to give you some privacy.
You silently thanked the shadowsinger before turning back to the Illyrian general beside you, to your mate.
He was staring at you expectantly, eyes softening as he noticed you begin to fidget, hands shaking slightly as you wrung them together in your lap.
“I’m sorry. I wanted to tell you that I knew the minute I felt the bond form, but I didn’t know how. I’ve never been good at talking to people and we had never really talked much and I guess I just figured you would never want to be with someone like me anyway, with us being such complete opposites and-”
Cassian cuts off your nervous rambling (despite it being the most he’s ever heard you talk at once) by reaching forward and cupping your face in his large hands, smiling softly at you as he shakes his head.
“I’ve been feeling the exact same way for weeks. I guess we’re both bad at this communication thing, huh?”
You let out a breath of relief at that, laughing at both of your utter obliviousness, before bravely surging forward to capture his lips with your own, the action saying more than your words ever could.
Cassian melted, yes melted, into the kiss, only breaking it long enough for you both to promise that you would get better at the communication and would spend a little time fully getting to know one another before completely choosing to accept the bond.
Little did you both know, your friends were eavesdropping from behind the closed door, each with a wide smile on their face from happiness for their two oblivious friends.
Azriel was the happiest though, his face betraying nothing but a slight smile. However, on the inside, he was bursting with joy for his closest friends, glad he was finally able to stop pretending like he didn’t know about the bond.
“I guess it’s true what they say: opposites do attract.”
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in celebration of four thousand followers, i’ll be taking fanfic requests all night!
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Simply Love (18+ Morridwen)
Summary: In a thinly veiled attempt to seduce Cerridwen, Mor takes her lover of three years to Day Court for a date before spending an evening at home. A simple, sweet fic for a simple and sweet love.
For my fanfiction library, visit @rhysand-vs-fenrys-vs-writing.
Cerridwen stirred as the first rays of dawn crept through the curtains of her room.
Her room… four years on and it still felt strange to think of it that way.
The bedroom was a gift from Rhysand to honor her and Nuala’s sacrifices Under the Mountain (along with a hefty bonus they could never hope to spend). Upon returning, he had asked them what he could ever give them in thanks for keeping him from succumbing in those nearly fifty years of hell.
“We want nothing, High Lord. Just for the world to find peace once more.” Nuala had answered.
“And I would like to spend a night in my own bed,” Cerridwen had offered a slight smile. Under the Mountain the wraiths were Rhysand’s precious secret- meaning they had no place of their own. Instead, they slept on a nest of blankets beneath Rhysand’s massive four-poster bed while he was… away.
Rhysand had smiled and in a wave of his hand each twin found a shining ribbon tied to their wrist which extended back into the House of Wind, “Go on. You earned it a hundredfold.”
The trail led to a door in the family- not servant’s- wing of the House. Behind it was a large, empty room that would become their foyer. On opposite sides of the room were twin sets of doors that led to spacious bedrooms, each with a private bath and wardrobe.
Their old chambers were fine enough for two maids- just a small room that held a single set of drawers between two narrow beds. It was clean, warm, and free of pests. These rooms were bright, rich, and blessed with a stunning view of Velaris below.
Initially it was hard to even consider sleeping in a room so far from her twin, but now Cerridwen was glad for it, especially as she opened her eyes. It was three years since they’d begun their secret affair (and two months since Cerridwen held Mor’s hand as she came out to the Inner Circle), yet the wraith’s heart still raced at the sight of the golden-haired beauty beside her.
“You smell like Rita’s,” Cerridwen murmured as she kissed the back of the female’s head.
“Because I was there all night,” Mor murmured into her pillow.
On a hunch, Cerridwen pulled back the plush pink comforter and glanced at Mor’s body. A tight green dress was twisted sideways, and the fabric around the zipper was puckered and torn. Cerridwen rolled her eyes and undid a small clasp above the zipper, then pulled it down.
Mor made a rather undignified sound as her skin-tight clothing slackened at long last and cool air kissed her skin. “I’m free,” she murmured as her breasts found a way out of the dress. Angry red marks covered her body from where seams had dug into her skin.
“You are thin enough,” Cerridwen said as she kissed the seam-marks. “You don’t have to buy dresses two sizes small.”
“They make my tits look great though,” Mor grumbled. She helped Cerridwen remove the dress entirely before flinging it to the far side of the room. In short order her undergarments followed. “Ohh, that feels better.” Mor rolled onto her back and stretched.
“Why do I love you?” Cerridwen kissed her lips before climbing out of bed to start her day.
“Bad taste and low standards.”
Mor squeaked in indignation and pulled the pillow from beneath her own head to throw at her lover.
It missed Cerridwen by about half a room, “Are you still drunk?”
“Yeah, probably,” eyes still closed, Mor stuck her tongue out.
“And how much did you eat while you were out drinking all night?” Cerridwen opened her closet door and stared at her monochromatic wardrobe.
“Less than I should have, mother. Cassian and I were celebrating, so mostly just cake.”
Cerridwen hesitated as she reached for a dress and frowned, “What were you celebrating?” She knew all of the important dates, and neither Rhys nor Feyre had mentioned anything the day before.
“The five hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the V-A-L,” Mor raised her hand as if to toast.
The V-A-L, ‘Very Adequate Lay’, was Mor and Cassian’s little nickname for their one night together an eternity ago. No matter what horrors came in its wake, the two celebrated it every 5 years or so. Mor had once explained to Cerridwen that every year was too much and every ten too little. Over the centuries they’d tried a few combinations and settled on five. Cerridwen simply forgot this year was that anniversary.
“Hey-” Mor fought her way out of the sheets while Cerridwen pulled her work-dress from the closet. She came up behind the wraith and wrapped her arms around her torso, “You know, dancing with Cassian made me a bit forgetful. Maybe it was better than ‘adequate’ after all. Who knows? Maybe I’ll sleep with him again just to be sure.”
Cerridwen snorted and reached up to hang her dress on the top of the door before turning around to face her tormentor, “Do you need me to give you a benchmark to score him against? For the sake of a fair comparison, of course.”
Mor pretended to think about it, “Well, my old science tutor did make a big fuss about properly testing theories. I suppose in this case that would be acceptable.”
“Mm-hmm,” Cerridwen cupped Mor’s cheek and smiled at how the golden female leaned into her touch. It was so slight she wasn’t sure Mor even knew that she was doing it.
Drunk-Mor always thought she was so subtle in her attempts to bed Cerridwen. When the wraith leaned in close she tipped back her head and parted her lips, ready for a deep, passionate kiss. What she got instead was a whisper against her ear, “Why would I kiss someone with morning breath that bad?”
Once again Mor expressed her outrage in squeak-form as Cerridwen lightly stepped around her and pulled the work-dress off its hook. Nothing stopped her from dropping her sleeping gown, but the moment Cerridwen attempted to don her work clothes she felt Mor’s power wrap around her wrists and try in vain to prevent her from pulling it on. Her lover merely chuckled and unleashed her own dark power.
The magic of the living was something bright and shining, whereas the power of the dead came from something more primal. Mor’s bonds slid across Cerridwen like oil over water.
“Tell Feyre you’re sick,” Mor stomped over to the bed to pout. “There’s a flu going through Velaris right now.”
“So Nuala should have to work a double-shift?”
Rhysand and Feyre had poured more housekeeping wards into their estate than any other home in Prythian. Even with their usual cooking and mending, there wasn’t enough work to justify having both wraiths work in any given day. They’d taken to alternating their schedules- one reporting to Rhys and Feyre’s home, the other to Azriel for what Nuala called ‘The fun work’.
As a courtesy, Cerridwen pretended she didn’t know her sister was carrying on an affair with the spymaster.
“Rhys and Feyre will enjoy eating out for the day.” Mor’s eyes sparkled and Cerridwen rolled her eyes early in anticipation of what would inevitably follow, “And I know I would have just as much fun eating you out for a whole day.”
“You’re a romantic drunk, aren’t you?” Cerridwen made a face as she pulled her linen dress on and sat down at the vanity.
“You bet your perky little tits I am,” Mor threw herself on the bed to pout as Cerridwen braided her hair and finished getting ready.
Outside the sky was pitch-black without even a hint of sunrise in the east. Summer was well and truly upon them, complete with hot days and warm nights. A wide glass tube hung from just outside the temperature shield on Cerridwen’s window. Bubbles of differently colored chemicals floated inside, telling the wraith precisely what the temperature was at any given moment. If the pre-dawn reading was any indication, it was going to be a warm day.
“Do you want me to tuck you in?” Cerridwen called over to Mor. She didn’t hear a response and turned. Curled up in the blankets of her lover’s bed, Mor’s eyes were still open, but for how long? Cerridwen laughed, “You’re too tired even for a quickie.”
She crossed the room to roll Mor onto her side. The golden one pouted, “I’m fine, just put yourself on my mouth. It’s only my eyes that are tired.”
“So you can fall asleep eating breakfast?” Cerridwen said. She pulled the far side of the comforter over the bed to wrap Mor’s naked body in blankets. She looked up at Cerridwen, but made no move to push the blankets aside, “I’ll see you tonight, love.”
“Goodnight,” Mor muttered as Cerridwen kissed her forehead. Despite her earlier words, she hesitated to leave Mor’s side. Cerridwen brushed a few strands of golden hair from her cheek. She leaned in again and Mor opened her mouth for a gentle, soft kiss. She smiled, then gave Cerridwen a light shove, “You’re the one who doesn’t want to be late.”
“I’m starting to rethink that.”
“Get out, I need my beauty rest,” Mor rolled away to sleep on her other side, though she still reached back to squeeze Cerridwen’s breast through the fabric of her work dress. “That’ll hold me for a bit.”
Cerridwen laughed and reached around to do the same to Mor, “You’re right, just the fix I was looking for.”
“No fair,” Mor whined as Cerridwen stood, “you got to touch skin.”
“You can touch as much as you want later.” Cerridwen put out the faelights in the room and cast one last look at the beauty in her bed before vanishing. It was time to begin her work.
Cerridwen hummed to herself as she hung Rhysand and Feyre’s freshly cleaned clothes in the drying room. A brazier heated the space, and as the clothing dried she would add scoops of water to a pan above the coals. Steam helped ease any wrinkles, and the chemicals she mixed into the water (provided by Azriel) would alert her to any toxic substances.
Once upon a time the twins handled washing and cooking as part of their regular chores, but after their training by Azriel they took on more of an oversight role in the High Lord’s household. Nuala had a knack for sniffing out spies among the staff, and Cerridwen could sense poison in even the smallest of quantities.
Rhysand and Feyre didn’t need to know how many attempts had been made on their lives already, or how many times Cerridwen’s steam concoction had revealed body-activated acids soaked into their ‘clean’ clothing.
Azriel handled the interrogations of their suppliers and cleaning staff whenever something was discovered. The guilty party was never seen again.
She finished her work and scooped water over the coals before hurrying out of the hot room. In ten minutes she would return for her inspection, and the laundress would either go on her merry way or pay a little visit to Azriel.
Cerridwen spent her time on an inspection of the estate. The floor cleaners were working on the bedrooms around mid-day, and she double-checked that the beds were neatly made and towels had been replaced. The laundry Cerridwen had hung below was their last batch, and soon enough the maids would begin dusting.
It was a large house to supervise, but Cerridwen enjoyed the challenge. She and Nuala used to grow bored in Velaris- mostly because no one in the outside world knew of the city to bother sneaking spies into. Now that the borders were open it held all the intrigue and excitement she could want.
A trip back by the steam room confirmed that no one was trying to kill Rhysand and Feyre that day, and Cerridwen arrived in the kitchen in perfect time to begin preparing lunch.
The wraith had yet to see Night’s High Lady. Feyre had an early-morning meeting with the heads of Velaris’ educational institutions about improving their curriculum in the arts. The fact that the meeting was running so long did not bode well for her proposed initiative.
When Cerridwen heard a clap of thunder behind her, she put a kettle on to boil and asked, “Extra strong?”
“Extra extra strong,” Feyre groaned as she slumped into a stool beside the kitchen island. “I understand Rhys’ desire to mist the whole Court more every day.”
Cerridwen smiled but said nothing as she pulled out a tray filled with dozens of small, neatly labeled jars and began to craft a tea to suit Feyre’s needs. If the High Lady needed to rant, she was always free to do so. If she didn’t want to relive the meeting, she wouldn’t have to. By now Feyre knew well that the twins were always there if she wished for a friend. Cerridwen was not ignoring her, she was giving her space.
“The designated ‘safe zone’ is the north tower of the House of Wind,” Feyre said as the half-wraith handed her a mesh bag of the dry tea leaves for approval. Her fantasy of destroying the Court included a place where the favored might gather to survive. Reminding Cerridwen of its location was a sign of fondness.
“Lunch will be mansaf,” Cerridwen said as she pulled a skillet from its hook near the wall. The lamb dish was one of Illyria’s signature dishes, meaning a favorite of Rhys and Feyre’s.
“Cauldron bless every single hair on your head,” Feyre sighed appreciatively. “Rhys and I are visiting the mortal lands after lunch, checking in on how the rebuilding is going. We’ll have dinner with Lucien, Vassa, and Jurian, so if you want to leave early you are welcome to an afternoon off.”
“Cauldron bless every single hair on your head,” Cerridwen smiled.
Feyre was still learning the inner workings of her Court. She had no idea that her presence- or absence- had little to no impact on the twins’ daily chores.
The High Lady enjoyed her tea as Cerridwen quickly melted butter and fetched a tray of cubed lamb from the chilling box. She browned the meat before pouring water into the pan, covering it with a lid, and leaving it to simmer.
“Shall I set out clothes for your trip?” Cerridwen asked. She had an hour to do chores while the food cooked.
“I can figure it out,” Feyre smiled. She picked up her mug and headed out of the room with a wave, “I’ll be at my desk if you need me.”
Cerridwen enjoyed spending time with the High Lady. Feyre was a breath of fresh air in Velaris, a welcome disruption to over three hundred years of routine. Still, with her gone and the food simmering, there was spare time to do her favorite work.
Beside the door was a locked cabinet, warded against curious or malicious eyes by Azriel and Rhysand themselves. Cerridwen stroked the door with a finger and listened for the soft ‘click’ that meant access had been granted.
Before opening the door she said simply, “Hy-Brasil.”
When she did pull the cabinet open, a tall stack of papers was waiting for her. It was nearly a foot tall, most of that loose-leaf pages sitting atop three black ledgers and two leather-bound notebooks.
Cerridwen ferried everything to the countertop where Feyre had been seated and began sorting through the pages.
The official job description for the wife of a High Lord was to manage and maintain his properties. While Rhysand was a bachelor, that task fell on Nuala and Cerridwen for the most part- with occasional input and assistance from Rhys. Honestly, it was Cerridwen’s favorite part of her job- stressful as it could be at times.
One ledger contained the official accounts for the High Lord’s palace in Hy-Brasil- a fairly obscure port city near the border with Day. Another- marked with a red silk ribbon through the spine- was a secret clone of the palace steward’s personal books. The man had served as steward for nearly four hundred years and had no idea that when he wrote in his ledger the text would appear somewhere else.
The third ledger was for Cerridwen and Azriel’s use- where she monitored discrepancies between the official and private records.
The notebooks contained her own personal monitor of what goods came and went from the small castle. As for the mountain of loose papers- weekly reports from those maids she and Nuala had deemed worthy spies. The highest of the high servants and others as low as the boy who carted away the refuse from the kitchens.
Cerridwen kept an eye on the clock as she worked through the three ledgers, marking that a few coppers tended to disappear between the formal accounts and private. On its own it could be chalked up to a simple counting error, but over four hundred years those discrepancies were beginning to paint a picture of a small fortune.
If the missing money went to the steward, Azriel would have chopped off the male’s thumbs and branded him a thief long ago. No, to find the purpose of the stolen coin one had to look at the volume of scrubbing materials requested by the laundresses and the fact that the slops-boy rarely took more than bone and vegetable stems from the kitchens.
Food was being stretched as far as it could go, and the maids were scouring more clothes than those of a steward’s household.
He was using the palace- which Rhys had visited only once- as a childcare center for the families of sailors deployed from the port. The smallest younglings were free to play in safety, older ones could learn a skill, and the steward was reported to have arranged education for the children of the most destitute. When Rhysand visited the children had to be kept hidden- such a use for a palace was forbidden without the High Lord’s consent- but Rhysand had been briefed on the issue centuries before.
As the Dread Lord of Nightmares he could hardly show his benevolent side, but Rhys authorized a gradual increase in funds to Hy-Brasil to make it easier for the steward to keep up his charitable work. Nuala and Cerridwen kept an eye on the ledgers and used their spies to ensure his goals remained just, but he was a secret favorite of the entire Inner Circle.
Hidden in the latest monthly reports, Cerridwen noted a two-percent increase in the sugar inventory and a one percent increase in flour and egg orders. Putting the changes together, she smiled and made a note in her black book that they were likely teaching the children baking skills.
It would be easy for a crate of spices to ‘accidentally’ be left on the docks and marked as abandoned cargo. Cerridwen made her recommendation in the book for Azriel to consider. The Inner Circle often contributed to the steward’s work, not that he knew.
Hy-Brasil’s documents were easy to work through every month, so by the time Cerridwen returned them to the cabinet, it was time to dice up onion for her dish and begin making the sauce and rice.
After lunch she would do the books for Mag-Mell. Their steward was up to something decidedly more nefarious than forming a daycare or school, and he was notoriously paranoid about his ledger. His personal one would have no discrepancies, but the trick was finding the lies all the same. Azriel had him pegged as more likely to betray Rhysand and Feyre than any other steward- even Kier.
Cerridwen spent half an hour toasting almonds and mixing a spiced sauce to drizzle over the lamb while she mentally prepared to tackle the Mag-Mell books. As much as she loved monitoring the High Palaces and their stewards, and as addicting as this unique brand of logic puzzle could be, at the end of the day it still left her frayed.
She laid out the rice on a large platter and scraped back from the middle to form a well of sorts, into which she laid the lamb and drizzled it with her spiced sauce. Atop everything went the toasted almonds and another drizzle of butter.
It was a heavy lunch, but Rhysand and Feyre wouldn’t exactly be able to eat the mortal food. At least, not to the point where it filled them. Cerridwen planned on leaving a simple shirazi salad of cucumber and tomato in the chilling box for the two to snack on when they returned.
Cerridwen carried the food into the dining room before going to the servant’s hall. On a long bank of silver chains she found the ones marked “Master Bedroom”, “High Lord’s Office”, and “High Lady’s Office” and rang all three. Only a fool actually went looking for the High Lord or Lady when both were in the estate at the same time.
Sometimes Cerridwen thought their mating frenzy would never end.
In all fairness, she and Mor could barely keep their hands off one another and they weren’t even mates- or at least the bond hadn’t snapped into place yet. Cerridwen’s heart ached in such a glorious way when Mor smiled at her, she couldn’t imagine loving her any more or wanting her with any added ferocity. A mating bond might cause them to combust.
The thought nagged at Cerridwen’s mind all afternoon. Even as she poured over the reports from Mag-Mell and tried to find some hint at the steward’s plans, she was distracted by imaginings of how her relationship with Mor could possibly grow more intense.
That led to ten minutes of the half-wraith staring at her work while picturing the way Mor’s taut stomach fluttered as she came or the feeling of that soft curtain of hair against her chest.
The taste of Mor’s thighs.
The scent of her mound.
Eventually Cerridwen was forced to admit defeat. The Mag-Mell books required full and complete focus, and she couldn’t guarantee even an hour at a time. Mor respected Cerridwen’s desire to keep their relationship separate from work, but Cerridwen’s own desire was making it difficult to do the same.
If Mor only knew how she would infect Cerridwen’s mind when she decided to curl up in the half-wraith’s bed that morning…
Cerridwen sighed as she returned the books and notes to the cabinet. She quickly prepared the salad for Rhysand and Feyre’s midnight snack, dismissed the staff for the evening, and folded all laundry. Nuala would do another inspection in her pre-dawn rounds before placing the clothes in their respective drawers.
“Well, you look peppy today,” a female voice teased as Cerridwen stepped out through the servant’s entrance.
“I was distracted all afternoon and didn’t get my work finished,” Cerridwen pouted.
Leaning against the gate to the back garden was a female with piercing blue eyes and raven-black hair. High cheekbones and full ruby lips marked her as a staggering beauty by any definition- though Cerridwen preferred her un-glamoured form. The moonlight paleness of her skin couldn’t compare with golden-bronze.
“What could possibly distract the great Spymistress of Night?” Mor said as she kicked off from the gate and came to offer her love a kiss.
“Well,” Cerridwen pretended to consider it as she wound her arms around Mor’s hips and pulled her in close, “I woke this morning with a wanton tease in my bed.”
“That sounds like a perfect way to wake up,” Mor leaned in to the embrace to rest her head against Cerridwen’s shoulder.
“Not if you care about productivity.”
Mor smiled in the arms of the wraith, “Would taking you out for dinner be a good way to apologize for that?”
Cerridwen considered her offer. Though she was half-fae, her daily food requirements matched those of a wraith- meaning she ate about one meal a week. She’d only eaten three days before. Eating again could earn an upset stomach that wouldn’t go away for days.
“It’s not my meal time yet,” Cerridwen said at last. “But we can go somewhere if you’re hungry.”
Mor smiled, “I ate already, I knew you’d say no.”
“Well then, what would you like to do? You’re all dressed up,” she stepped back and waved a hand at the glamour.
Mor had come out to the Inner Circle at long last, and was accepted so wholly and completely by everyone that even Cerridwen shed a few tears. Still, she felt more comfortable walking with Cerridwen in her glamour and the wraith had no desire to push her out of her comfort zone before she was ready.
“Want to be wanton?” Mor said.
“You think I’m really easy, don’t you?” Cerridwen made a face, “Romance me first,” she pouted.
Mor hooked an arm through hers and led her out towards the crowded streets, “I think I know something you’ll like.”
Darkness erupted around them as Mor winnowed Cerridwen across Night. Cerridwen felt the crackle of magic against her skin and suppressed her distaste the same way Mor hid her feelings about the wraith’s version of winnowing. It would leave Cerridwen feeling uncomfortably alive for a few hours, just as Mor felt half-dead after brushing against the veil to travel as spirits did.
“Cauldron boil me- your face!” Mor burst out laughing as the world solidified.
“It feels like my face was boiled, yes,” her eyes were shut tight and her mouth was twisted into a grimace. Cerridwen forced herself to open an eye.
They were somewhere in Day, judging by the pale tunics males wore, and either underground or inside a building. Vaulted ceilings disappeared into the black, but from long chains hung a sea of glass lanterns in every color of the rainbow.
Fae moved slowly through the halls of the building, staring up at the ornate lanterns. They came in every shape Cerridwen could imagine- some lanterns were long columns, some delicate spheres, with every possible variation. There were those that were made up of a solid sheet of metal with the designs cut out, some crafted from what looked like thousands of pieces of glass, and others designed not to put out light, but simply to be viewed as works of art.
Mor grinned wildly at the look on Cerridwen’s face, “Do you like it?” All she got in response was a happy sound as her lover stared at the twinkling lights above, dumbfounded. The half-wraith was utterly mesmerized. “They’re called spirit-lanterns. The glass or metal is infused with some of the ashes of departed loved ones. Lanterns are hung inside the home in a place of high honor- usually a special room.”
“Then who do these lanterns belong to?” Cerridwen couldn’t look away, but she found her voice at last. They called to her very soul. Hundreds upon hundreds of lanterns of every size, shape, age, and design. Hundreds of souls whispering to anyone who could hear- but none in pain. All happy, caring, and bright.
Mor smiled up at the lights, “This place used to be a temple to a goddess of healing. Her priests and priestesses were the first to make Spirit-Lanterns, so that their souls might consecrate the hall and bring blessings to all who enter. Eventually the goddess’ presence faded from Day. The High Lord ordered her temple be turned into a hall of peace, somewhere fae could walk or meditate to clear their minds.”
Indeed, though there were thousands slowly making their way through the space it was surprisingly quiet. Whispers and murmurs from the living met her ears, but if anything the dead were louder.
The lanterns were beautiful beyond compare, and Mor smiled as she pulled Cerridwen on through the temple. Together they marveled at the intricate designs and basked in the gentle warmth emitted from the souls bound to them. Some of the stronger spirits reached for Cerridwen in friendship and in their whispers she heard bawdy jokes, soft blessings, and the happy sighs of lovers looking down upon the couple.
Cerridwen blushed at radiance of a brilliant blue lantern and brought Mor’s hand to her lips to kiss. When she looked into her companion’s eyes she drew upon a bit of her wraith side and looked through the glamour. She didn’t want to see the black-haired and blue-eyed beauty. She wanted her Golden Nightmare.
They had been together long enough that Cerridwen didn’t expect Mor to release the glamour, not even in Day. She wasn’t ready yet. Cerridwen smiled and released Mor’s hand to cup her cheek. As long as they had one another, she could wait as long as it took for Mor to be truly comfortable in her own skin. The ones they loved the most knew both Mor’s secret and the relationship between her and Cerridwen. That was all that mattered.
“I love you,” Cerridwen said before pressing her lips against Mor’s.
“I love you, too.” Mor closed her eyes for the kiss, but when they opened there was a spark of mischief there, “Have I romanced you enough yet?”
“I’m not that easy,” Cerridwen snorted and pulled Mor back into the slow flow of the crowd.
She pouted, “But I am.”
“It’s easy to love you, but other than that you’re incredibly difficult.”
Mor’s musical laughter cut through every other sound in the room. She slapped a hand over her mouth and winced in apology to the few fae who shot looks in their direction. Feeling brazen in her disguise, she cuddled into Cerridwen’s side and pulled the half-wraith’s arm across her shoulders.
“Hold me, I’m difficult.”
“Do you see anyone selling one of those child leashes?” Cerridwen glanced around and Mor punched her lightly in the ribs.
Cerridwen moved her hand from Mor’s shoulder to her hip and held her comfortably against her side. Mor returned the gesture and together they walked through the temple of lanterns. After a few more rounds of banter they fell silent, basking in the ever-changing glow above them.
‘A blessing on the happy couple,’ a Spirit-Lantern above them whispered. Cerridwen dutifully paused beneath the gold-and-teal glass, drawing Mor into its light.
She felt something warm settle over them- a calm peace that slowly pushed away any lingering strain from the day. Whether or not Mor could feel the spirit’s blessing was unknown, but the golden one smiled brightly and turned to hold her lover.
The warmth seeped deep into Cerridwen’s bones until it broke against something cold and unyielding. ‘That’s enough,’ she whispered to the spirit above with words Mor could not hear.
‘Do you know what lies inside, child?’
‘I do,’ Cerridwen smiled as she lightly traced Mor’s spine. ‘It will stir in its own time.’
The spirit made no protest, and slowly Cerridwen pulled Mor away from the lantern’s glow. The golden one stirred as if from a dream and blinked several times before releasing Cerridwen so that they could walk side by side again.
“Where to next?” Mor asked. They rounded a corner and entered the main room of the temple once again- this time from the opposite side. A hall leading out of the building to Day echoed with distant music and laughter.
“Dance with me?”
Cerridwen and Mor turned down the wide hall and followed a steady flow of people around a bend and out onto a red cobblestone avenue lined with cafes. Musicians were stationed sporadically up and down the thoroughfare to lend their melodies to the atmosphere. Wisteria and ivy crawled up the sides of the buildings and filled the street with a heady, earthy aroma. The golden sunset bathed everyone and everything in its warm glow.
Mor tugged Cerridwen’s hand and pulled her over towards a male strumming his lute and singing a cheerful tune in an ancient tongue. He smiled at the two lovers as Cerridwen spun Mor around once and pulled her close to dance with the other couples already gathered.
No one could have ever guessed the raven haired beauty who danced and laughed among them was the third most powerful female in the Night Court- or that the half-wrath who smiled in her arms was one of Prythian’s best spies.
Cerridwen kept a web of power in her eyes to see Mor through the glamour and let herself forget about intel reports, poisoned laundry, and the rigors of maintaining Feyre and Rhysand’s households. In her own special way, Mor made Cerridwen turn her back on any and every shadow in her heart. Her golden radiance blinded the half-wraith and the pure light Mor brought into her life flooded through her.
Once again it was Cerridwen who initiated the kiss. She claimed Mor’s lips and moved her hand to the back of the golden one’s head. Mor opened her mouth for her lover and felt the inviting stroke of a tongue against her own.
The music faded away. All Cerridwen could hear- all either of them could hear- was the occasional soft moan of their partner.
“Now.” Cerridwen gasped as she dropped any pretense of dancing. Both of her hands found their way into Mor’s hair, holding her tight.
This time it was Cerridwen who unleashed her power and brought them back to her chambers in the House of Wind. The world melted away as they skirted the veil between life and death. She felt Mor shudder in her arms as the warm sunlight of Day vanished. By the time the mist cleared Mor’s skin was clammy and goosebumps covered her arms.
Cerridwen released Mor’s lips to feather kisses along her jaw. It gave the golden one a chance to catch her breath and find herself again after the wraith’s special version of winnowing. Still, the feeling of Cerridwen pressed against her, the way her mouth brushed against her jaw- the flush was not gone from Mor’s skin for long. She groaned when Cerridwen suddenly nipped at her earlobe before moving on to her neck.
Mor opened her eyes only long enough to check their exact position. The bed was only a few inches behind her, so she held Cerridwen tight and spun them both. Cerridwen paused to laugh as her knee hit the bed, sending them both down onto the mattress. Mor’s body pressed against hers, and a curtain of black hair fell around the pair.
“Take it off,” Cerridwen whispered.
She licked the column of Mor’s throat while the glamoured ring was removed and thrown aside. The curtain of black hair turned into a golden wave. Cerridwen lowered her magic and smiled brightly. Her power let her see through the glamour in Day, but that form of Sight was different. It muted Mor’s radiance.
Mor’s head dipped back down to reclaim Cerridwen’s mouth. Her nails lightly scraped along the wraith’s upper arms in silent command. The arms around her neck and shoulders slackened, allowing Mor to push them down against the blankets.
With Cerridwen pinned, it was Mor’s turn to press light kisses along her neck and throat. Cerridwen’s breath hitched as she traveled lower- to the top of her dress. The work-dress had a conservative neckline that hid any cleavage.
“Take it off,” Mor threw Cerridwen’s words back at her. She released her wholly and stood, panting.
Cerridwen removed the dress quickly and deposited it with as much care as Mor had for her glamoured ring. Mor didn’t move to touch her, and so Cerridwen removed her underclothes as well.
As a species, wraith were curious things. A wrath was created by particularly gruesome or violent deaths. Their spirits festered with resentment until they were twisted into something dark and cruel. But even then, they could only be considered ghosts. To make that final transition from spirit to wrath, the wretched being had to commit enough sins that even the veil would never part to admit them.
For such a being to attach itself to a human long enough to reproduce was a rare enough feat, but the children of wraith embodied their dark parentage more than anything else.
Half-dead, yet her ebony skin was flush and warm.
Half-damned, with raw love shining in the dark eyes that met Mor’s.
Half-monster, and yet more beautiful than any other female in all of Prythian.
Logic said the wraith were something to be hunted and destroyed. A terrifying beast that feasted on innocence and light. For a half-wraith to be so loving, gentle, and kind was something Mor could never understand.
Every fae instinct in her body should have been telling her to run away and never return.
But at the sight of her lying on the bed, it bid Mor to kneel.
Cold stone kissed her knees as Mor slid to the ground. Cerridwen’s legs were draped over the edge of the bed. Mor’s lips brushed the skin of Cerridwen’s thigh. She nipped at the skin, drawing a soft chuckle from the wraith. Her lover reached out and brushed back Mor’s hair to better see her face. The golden one smiled up at her and leaned in closer. She kissed up higher and higher, lightly tracing her nails against Cerridwen’s calves as she zeroed in on the heaven between her legs.
Her first lick was broad, unfocused. Only a hint of Cerridwen’s arousal met her tongue- just the moisture building between her lower lips. Mor’s head tipped forward. She rested her nose just above the split of her entrance and breathed deeply in.
When they first made love, Mor would have compared Cerridwen’s scent to that of a graveyard mist- earthy and tinged with the dry musk of death. Mercifully, Morrigan had made careful study of her lover’s taste and scent alike and now knew it as something similar to morning dew and the sweetness of lilies. Through it all wound something born of ancient woods and moonlit nights.
Slowly- too slowly- Mor opened her mouth and parted Cerridwen’s lower lips with her tongue. She kissed her with gentle reverence, groaning in approval at the flavor of her arousal and the softness of Cerridwen’s lips against her face.
Cerridwen’s hips moved ever so slightly against Mor as she met the thrust of her tongue. Mor scooped up her legs and rested one over each of her shoulders before reaching up for her lover’s hands. Cerridwen took hers readily, needing as much contact with Mor as she could get.
The position meant that Mor couldn’t tend to her needs by touch, so she made up for it with tongue.
“Morrigan!” Cerridwen’s cry was a broken plea.
The wraith was wet, and as Mor probed the source of that hypnotic flavor she unleashed all of her pent up hunger. Her nose pressed against Cerridwen’s knot, rocking in time with the movements of her mouth. Her tongue probed and swirled along the edges of her lover’s entrance.
If she had use of her hands, Mor would have wrapped her arms around Cerridwen’s thighs and pinned her tight against her mouth. As it was, she tightened her grip on her lover and pulled her down, stretching Cerridwen’s arms and making it harder for her to pull away- not that Cerridwen was resisting. Her hips rose higher and higher to take Mor’s tongue as deep as possible.
Mor felt her body tighten and began to alternate between swirling her tongue inside her love and moving up to suck the nub of nerves at the apex of her sex. Cerridwen’s eyes closed tight and she began to shake as she fought back against the glorious sensation between her legs. She lost her own grip on Mor’s hands and clawed at the sheets.
Her back arched and Cerridwen’s gasps became loud moans. Mor clenched her thighs, her body aching with need at the sound of her lover’s pleasure. She wanted to release Cerridwen’s hands so that she could stroke deeper than tongue alone could ever hope to reach, and so that she could find some relief for herself. Cerridwen’s grip was iron though, and she was too close to the edge to release Mor’s hands.
So Morrigan simply closed her eyes and focused on bringing her wraith every bit of pleasure she was capable of.
Cerridwen cried out as her core began to spasm and clench. She came hard and fast on Mor’s tongue. The wraith’s legs wrapped around Mor’s head, pinning her in place as she massaged Cerridwen’s knot with her tongue and claimed as much of Cerridwen’s moisture for herself as she could.
Once her orgasm had passed, Cerridwen released Mor’s hands and quickly took the golden one’s head in her hands. She pulled Mor up from the floor and claimed her mouth hard and fast. Cerridwen didn’t mind the taste of her own release on Mor’s tongue. She’d long since gotten used to it.
“Thank you,” Cerridwen’s own rapid breathing forced their kiss to end sooner than she would have liked. She rested her forehead against Mor’s and nuzzled her a moment, then froze, “Stop that.”
Mor’s hand had slid down between them, where her fingers were wetting themselves between Cerridwen’s legs in anticipation.
The golden one pouted, but Cerridwen wasn’t swayed by those burning amber eyes. She pulled Mor up to stand, “Be still.”
Mor froze obediently as Cerridwen circled her on shaking legs. A hand stroked Mor’s throat and swept her hair aside until all of it was draped over a single shoulder. With her back exposed, Cerridwen undid the laces of her dress.
The top slackened and both females let it fall to the floor. Mor wasn’t one for underclothes normally, but she did have thin black lace panties on. Cerridwen bit Mor’s shoulder as she stopped behind her, “You didn’t need to get all dressed up for me.”
Mor didn’t reply as Cerridwen’s hands slid around her torso. The wraith pressed against Mor’s back. Her left hand skimmed Mor’s breasts, tracing ever higher. The left wandered down towards the edge of sinful black lace.
Cerridwen slid her middle finger between Mor’s lower lips, imitating what she’d done to Cerridwen only moments before. The golden one was beyond dripping with need. She was soaked, and even the featherlight touches Cerridwen gave her nearly overwhelmed her control.
A startled gasp was the only sound Mor made when Cerridwen pounced. Two fingers suddenly forced their way into Mor’s core while Cerridwen bit down on her earlobe and wrapped her other hand tight around her lover’s throat.
The first time Mor asked Cerridwen to do such a thing the half-wraith had been anxious and afraid. Now she was well versed in what her love enjoyed. Just enough pressure to force her to go slow and work for each breath, but not enough to cut off oxygen entirely.
Mor’s legs went weak as she sagged against her partner. Cerridwen’s right thumb stroked her knot as she continued to pump her fingers in and out of Mor’s needy entrance. The strength of a wraith was nothing to be laughed at, and Cerridwen held her up easily by throat and hand in tandem.
For Mor it was heaven itself. She wanted- more than anything- to give into the pleasure and let it ravage her, but the hand on her throat kept her in check. She had to resist her own needs. Had to keep her breathing slow and waste precious energy on forcing air through Cerridwen’s hand. Her head swam, but Mor didn’t care. Cerridwen would never let anything bad happen to her, and as a wraith she was uniquely qualified to judge the safety of their little game.
The fingers between her legs were like fire. They stroked and teased- challenging her control. Every time Mor thought she could ignore Cerridwen’s ministrations the angle would shift and bring a new wave of raw pleasure to force her heartrate up.
Cerridwen listened to the slick sounds her fingers made as she thrust in and out of Mor’s entrance and smiled. Mor was too wet after devouring her lover’s needy core. She couldn’t hold out as long as Cerridwen had.
The half-wraith twisted her grip on Mor. She managed to spin her and force her back to the bedroom wall without her fingers ever leaving Mor’s body. The golden one’s legs were too weak to hold her, so she hit the wall a bit hard as the hand around her throat tightened further. The fingers inside were able to reach deeper, until they brushed against a spongy ridge of skin that almost wiped Mor out entirely.
She managed to moan through her gasps for oxygen as Cerridwen concentrated on that ridge. Mor’s breathing became rapid and shallow as her entire body stiffened. Her head was swimming, but when she tore away the black lace panties and reached up to grab the hand around her throat it was not to pull Cerridwen back, but push her harder.
Thankfully the part that Cerridwen liked least of this game was also fairly quick.
Mor’s mouth parted as she tried to gasp for air. Cerridwen felt her walls begin to shudder and clamp down on her fingers and stroked harder, faster. Mor’s eyes rolled up into her head as her arms and legs shook with the force of her orgasm. She came violently on Cerridwen’s hand and with a spray of arousal few enough females were capable of.
Her entire body lurched as she let out one more silent scream, then everything suddenly went loose.
Cerridwen released Mor’s throat immediately and in a flash had her on the bed. She coughed and choked down precious oxygen as her hips pulsed with phantom bolts of pleasure. The world began to settle around her as air made its way into her lungs. She was dizzy and half-conscious yet deliriously happy.
It took a long time for Mor to come back from such a rough orgasm, so Cerridwen leaned over Mor and took the peak of a breast in her mouth. She sucked at the thin skin and massaged a hard nipple with her tongue. Cerridwen’s grabbed Mor’s free breast and squeezed hard.
Mor barely noticed the attention being lavished on her chest. Her throat burned with every swallow and as the bolts of pleasure faded away she felt… raw. Mor managed to reach up and stroke the back of Cerridwen’s head, but it was going to take her some time to recharge.
The most Mor could give her lover was a knee slightly raised off the bed. Cerridwen paused her worship of the golden female’s breasts to eye the offering. She maneuvered to straddle her and returned to her feast.
Mor shifted her leg slowly, gently. She reached down with a hand and parted Cerridwen’s folds. The half-wraith settled against her more fully, her knot rubbing against the offered leg. A soft moan escaped her lips.
Cerridwen never allowed herself more than a soft touch from Mor’s knee. She woke her body, but kept the fire burning low. No move was made towards Mor’s mouth for the kiss she was craving. Her love needed a chance to catch her breath, find herself, and heal her throat before bruising set in.
After almost ten minutes of playing, Cerridwen finally caught a whiff of citrus in the air. She smiled and released Mor’s breast, “Welcome back.”
Mor forced a laugh and winced only slightly. She was always lost in a fog after being choked, and the healing magic Cerridwen scented was a sign that her mind was clear again. Mor tugged at Cerridwen’s head, pulling her up for a deep, hard kiss.
Cerridwen settled against Mor’s thigh- offering her own in the process. Mor moved beneath her with a bit more purpose and dexterity than her knee had. Cerridwen was hot against her leg, ready for more. The golden one needed to play catch-up.
The rhythm set by lip and tongue was not particularly fast. Their hunger had been spent on the first round of their game, now it was time for a more sensual passion. Every stroke was met with another. They parted for a breath and came back together as soon as possible.
A different kind of dizziness settled over Mor. This one was gentle, soft- not the kind that came from lack of oxygen. It wrapped both of them in its embrace and held tight.
At some point, they stopped moving against one another.
Eventually each noticed a single hand had wandered down to the other’s sex. Cerridwen smiled against Mor’s lips as she slid her fingers into her lover. At the same time she rolled her hips to accommodate the digits entering her core.
Simple. Intimate. This was what Cerridwen craved the moment she woke with Mor in her bed. Not fucking Mor (though she didn’t regret beginning that way), but making love. Giving Mor pleasure for no reason other than to hear her softly moaning.
“Marry me,” Cerridwen whispered between kisses.
She froze solid in an instant.
Mor’s eyes opened as Cerridwen stilled. The half-wraith stopped breathing, stopped moving. Her dark skin turned slate-gray as she paled.
She hadn’t meant to propose.
Not like this, at least.
One second Cerridwen was thinking about how deep her feelings for Mor ran, how perfect her lover was, and the moment her guard was down her thoughts tumbled from her lips.
Mor let Cerridwen pull away and hurriedly sit up. “I’m sorry-” the wraith said quickly. “I didn’t mean- it wasn’t-”
They were fine the way they were. Cerridwen had no problems with their arrangement. She and Mor had never spoken of marriage before, she had no idea what Mor’s feelings were on the matter. She’d humiliated herself, put Mor on the spot, and ruined a perfectly good night.
Mor’s face was a mask as she tried to read Cerridwen’s. She took the hand from inside Cerridwen’s body and wiped it on the blankets. Mor never looked away from Cerridwen’s fearful, tear-rimmed eyes as she brought the hand to rest between her own breasts. There was a puff of black smoke when Mor moved the hand away again and grasped Cerridwen’s thigh.
Where she’d touched, a blue velvet box sat.
“Open it,” Mor said softly.
Cerridwen didn’t want to move.
Didn’t want to think.
Mor nodded, comforting her.
A shaking hand reached for the box, and Cerridwen tipped the lid open.
Inside was a white-gold ring. Two veins of diamond- one black, one white- intertwined on either side of a large emerald-cut black stone.
Tears slipped down Cerridwen’s cheeks. She hurried to rise over Mor and reach for the bedside table. In the top drawer was her blue-velvet box. She set it beside Mor’s and opened the lid fast enough that Mor half expected it to be hot.
The same ring in gleaming yellow gold.
“I bought mine three weeks after we started seeing each other,” a smug, satisfied grin spread across Mor’s face. She tucked her arms behind her head and raised an eyebrow.
“I-I bought mine after we celebrated six months,” Cerridwen was still terrified. Her heart wanted to burst with happiness, but her head reminded it that no proposals had been accepted yet.
Mor’s grin grew, and for a moment she looked disturbingly like her cousin, “So then, I loved you first.”
“I’ll love you longer,” Cerridwen whispered. Her treacherous mouth getting ahead of her again.
“So then, is that a yes?”
“You didn’t ask me anything,” her heart was racing faster than a wraith’s heart had any right to.
Cerridwen waited for her to say something else, but she just looked… expectant. As if Cerridwen was supposed to speak, “That- that wasn’t a question.”
Mor nodded, “You’re right. It wasn’t.”
“It was an answer.”
Cerridwen’s world stopped spinning.
Or maybe it was spinning too quickly.
Or maybe she’d fallen off it entirely.
“Alright then, since you asked so nicely, I will marry you.” Mor quickly raised a finger, “But I have one condition.”
Cerridwen still wasn’t entirely sure she believed her ears, “Anything.”
“I’ll only agree to marry you if you agree to marry me,” Mor prodded the box with the white-gold ring. “What do you say?”
The world started spinning again. Cerridwen launched herself at Mor, taking her lover- her fiancée's- head between her hands and holding her tight as she kissed her.
Mor squealed as the boxes tumbled off her chest. She laughed against Cerridwen’s lips and pushed her back, breaking contact, “So that’s a yes?”
“Yes,” tears slipped down Cerridwen’s cheek.
Mor found the box with Cerridwen’s ring beside her right cheek. She pulled it out and took the wraith’s hand to slide it onto her finger. Cerridwen quickly picked up the twin box from under Mor’s armpit. It fit perfectly, the size guaranteed thanks to a piece of costume jewelry Cerridwen had found on her floor after a liaison so long ago.
“I love you,” Cerridwen dipped back down to kiss Mor, this time without the reckless desperation.
“I love you too,” Mor brushed aside her wraith’s hair and smiled warmly up at her.
A hint of blush lit Cerridwen’s cheeks and she coughed, “I really didn’t plan on proposing to you like this…”
“While we had sex, or after you choked me out?” Mor said.
Cerridwen winced, “Can we leave that part out of the story if anyone asks?”
Mor considered it before nodding, “Absolutely not. That’s what we lead with.”
“I take back my proposal.”
“Fine,” Mor shrugged. “It doesn’t change anything.”
“You accepted my proposal first, it was the one that engaged us.”
Mor shook her head, “No, I accepted on the provision that you first accept mine. Mine is the binding one. You just piggy-backed.”
“I proposed first!”
“And then accepted mine instead,” Mor shrugged again. “I don’t make the rules, I just call it how it is.” Cerridwen was about to protest when the golden one raised a hand, “How about a compromise?”
The wraith’s eyes narrowed as she read Mor, searching for the trap, “What?”
“I get to tell Rhys and Feyre. Not about the choking- just that we’re engaged.”
Cerridwen settled back to sit on Mor’s legs as she considered it, “Nothing about the sex at all.”
“On my honor as a fae, nothing about the sex,” Mor put a hand over her heart.
Fae promises were a dangerous thing, but Cerridwen couldn’t find fault with the simple little deal. She nodded, “Agreed.”
The fault should have been more obvious than it was, but the second Mor closed her eyes Cerridwen saw the error of her ways.
“NO! NOT RIGHT NOW-”
Silver and ruby fireworks exploded over Velaris. Cerridwen covered her face with her hand- her ring hand.
“Don’t worry,” Mor smiled innocently. “Nuala is with them down in the mortal lands. They won’t tell her, so you can still do that one.”
“Thank you for your discretion,” Cerridwen jumped as another volley of fireworks erupted over the city. “I just signed up for a lifetime of this…”
“An eternity of it,” Mor took both of Cerridwen’s hands in hers, lacing their fingers together. She tugged, and Cerridwen let herself be pulled down into a kiss, “Regretting it already?”
Cerridwen pretended to consider the question long enough that Mor let out a squeak of indignation.
The wraith laughed at last, a bright, beautiful sound, “Never.”
Mor kissed Cerridwen again, smiling brightly. She spun her legs, prompting her wraith to switch places with her in the bed so that it was Mor who sat upright, straddling Cerridwen’s hips.
An expectant light shone in her eyes and Cerridwen barked a laugh, “Are you serious?”
“Celebration sex. You can’t refuse- we only accidentally get engaged once.”
“Can I ask a question?”
“How many major life decisions do you make because you’re horny?”
Mor grinned, “Most of them.”
“Well as long as you’re aware,” she sat up in bed and wrapped her arms around her love. A pulse shot through them both at the next explosion of red outside- one that had nothing to do with the sound.
In the deepest, darkest corner of Cerridwen’s soul, a light sparked.
At the core of Mor’s very being, its twin ignited.
“About damn time,” Mor whispered.
She and Cerridwen let the mating bond wrap them both in a web of light, love, and life. They held one another tight and spent the rest of the night laughing, bickering, teasing, and making love until the first kiss of dawn touched the far horizon.
It wasn’t the first time they fell asleep in one another’s arms, but somehow it felt… different. New.
Cerridwen smiled as she drifted towards unconsciousness with her mate- and one day soon her wife- wrapped tightly in her arms.
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Wrongly Accused - Azriel x Reader (smut)
Fanart by LadyCamafeo on DeviantArt
Request: “angst to smut and then fluff” - Reader is a healer working for the Inner Circle, convinced that Azriel doesn’t like her.
Warnings: smut!!!! don’t read if you aren’t 18! also angst
Word Count: 6,000 (sorry)
A/N: Here’s another Azriel one! Sorry it took me about a week to write, I’m not amazing at writing smut and didn’t want it to be horrendous. I have a few more Azriel fics to write that people have requested, as well as one about Cassian! Feel free to request other stuff, but know it might take me a little longer to write it. I hope you enjoy! :)
Your father worked as an apothecary in Velaris, running a small shop to sell medicines and offer treatment when needed. You’d helped him ever since you were little - stocking supplies and bandaging small injuries. Over time, you developed a genuine interest in medicine and the chemistry behind it, working with your father as he developed new treatments for the common illnesses and ailments in the City of Starlight.
One night while your father was out on a house call, the High Lord of the Night Court himself had winnowed into your house after a mission had gone awry. He’d been seeking your father’s medical attention, of course, but he wouldn’t be home for hours, leaving you to tend to Rhysand’s wounds as he collapsed on your kitchen floor. While cleaning out a large cut on his arm you’d realized he’d been poisoned somehow, his skin far too pale for the minimal amount of blood he’d lost, his veins a startling shade of green. Despite your panic you’d been able to find a suitable antidote to the poison, calming down only when his complexion returned to normal. You wrapped his wounds, dragged him onto your couch, and called it a night.
In the morning, he’d been shocked that you’d been able to heal him, explaining he’d been struck by a poisoned arrow in a remote part of the Night Court. Apparently the poison was quite obscure, and Rhysand had praised you for what he deemed was “superior medical knowledge.”
You’d chalked it all up to a lucky guess, and after a once-over from your father you sent the High Lord on his merry way. A week later, he returned and offered you a job as a healer in the House of Wind.
You’d been hesitant to accept - you didn’t want to leave your father to run the shop alone - but at the end of the day, Rhys paid you more, allowing you to buy more supplies and medicines for your father to use. Plus, the library in the House of Wind was humongous, and you’d be able to learn more about medicine and healing there.
In the end, you’d taken the job, getting a better paycheck and the best friends in the whole world at the same time.
The Inner Circle was more than a family, and they’d welcomed you into their lives as if they’d known you for centuries. Rhys and Amren dedicated themselves to furthering your education, with Rhys frequently leaving new books outside your door and Amren inviting you over to her apartment to study. Cassian had convinced you to let him teach you self-defense, and Mor brought you with her to Rita’s almost every weekend.
There was, however, one member of the Inner Circle who hardly acknowledged your presence. After years of living in the House of Wind, you were confident Azriel hated you.
What other explanation could there possibly have been for the way he treated you? He hardly talked to you unless it was necessary, giving you answers and replies that hardly qualified as sentences. And you didn’t miss the looks he gave you during dinners and meetings that, in your opinion, were borderlining on glares.
What really sucked was how badly you wanted to be his friend. On the rare occasions you saw him smile or even laugh, you wanted nothing more to make him as happy as the other members of the Inner Circle did. But deep down you knew that would never happen; he simply wanted nothing to do with you, and that hurt.
But you ignored it, ignored his side-eyes and curt answers and obvious dislike of you. You understood it, you were a stranger who started living in his house and joined his centuries-old friend group. So you pushed all your own feelings aside and pretended that being in the same room as him didn’t spike your anxiety.
The most you’d ever done was ask Mor about it on your way to Rita’s one night. She’d dismissed you with a laugh and a wave of her hand: He’s just quiet, she said. But why did it feel so much more personal than that?
You didn’t want to cause any more trouble than you clearly already had, so you stayed out of his way, only asking him for anything when absolutely necessary.
But as months and then years went by, the anxiety he gave you only worsened. You’d stopped going to their weekly dinners, electing to stay up in your room or visit your father, and only attended meetings when your presence was necessary. Amren had asked you once if everything was okay, but you’d plastered a happy smile on your face and assured her you were just busy. You knew she didn’t believe you, but she didn’t pry.
What really sucked was that you’d stopped going to the library to avoid Azriel. It was one of your favorite places in the House of Wind, though apparently also one of his, considering he was almost always there when you were. Rhys brought you enough books for it not to matter much, but it wasn’t the same as reading in the library’s cozy chairs. You would move them near the windows, admiring the view of Velaris whenever you put your book down. Your room did not match the library’s aesthetic at all, but you were not willing to subject yourself to Azriel’s unfriendliness.
You still trained with Cassian once or twice a week, still visited Amren occasionally, still went out with Morrigan most weekends. But other than those few hours with your friends, other than the weekly trips down to your father, you kept to yourself.
You mostly stayed on your floor, studying on your balcony or in the sitting room a few doors down. Some nights, after everyone had gone to sleep, you’d creep down to the kitchen and read while you made yourself a midnight snack.
That was how you’d chosen to spend tonight, your books and notes laid out across the table while you stood in front of the stove, waiting patiently for the kettle to boil. You’d decided to make yourself tea, picking out a nice herbal variety so that you wouldn’t have any trouble sleeping when you decided to go to bed. You were humming to yourself softly, studying the designs on the mug you’d chosen, when you heard a small rustling behind you.
You glanced over your shoulder, eyes widening at the sight of Azriel sitting at the table, head propped up on his hand as he read a page of your notes.
He glanced up at you, your eyes meeting briefly, and you turned back to the stove. Perhaps you were having visions? You turned around again…
Alas, he was still there. Not a vision, you decided.
You bit your lip, looking between him and the kettle as your pulse quickened.
“Would you, uh, like some?” you asked, gesturing to the now boiling kettle and hoping he wouldn’t pick up on the slight shake in your voice.
He gave you a slight nod.
“There’s, um, black tea,” you offered, grabbing another mug from the cabinet above you. “But that’s caffeinated so you might stay up for a while if you drink that. I’m having herbal tea which doesn’t do that as much...there’s also green tea.” Your voice trailed off as you picked up the kettle, giving Azriel a cautious glance.
He shrugged. “I don’t know much about tea.”
“Okay!” you said rather shrilly, Azriel jumping a little in his seat. You pretended not to notice, focusing instead on pouring water into the two mugs on the counter. Your brows furrowed in concentration, yelping a bit as a bit of the boiling water spilled onto the counter.
You heard Azriel move in the chair behind you but held your other hand out to stop him.
“It’s good, I’m good,” you rambled nervously, setting the kettle down. You grabbed another tea bag and dropped it into his cup.
“You have to wait a bit before you drink it,” you explained, picking the two mugs up and turning towards the table. “It has to steep, and cool down.”
You set the two mugs on the table, pushing one over to him. He wrapped his hands around it slowly, as if afraid it might break.
You stared at your tea silently, hesitant to say anything else. This was the first time you’d been alone with Azriel in...weeks? Months?
Surprisingly, he was the one who broke the silence.
“Your notes are very detailed,” he said awkwardly, gesturing to the piece of paper he’d been reading before.
“Oh, thank you,” you replied, cheeks heating up a bit. “I spend a lot of time on them, maybe a bit too much.”
“The drawings are very realistic, I like them.” He brought the mug up to his lips and took a small sip. You gave him a small smile and glanced down at your hands.
“I haven’t seen you in the library in a while,” he continued.
You shrugged as if you had no idea. “I guess I’ve been busy.”
“Busy?” Azriel asked incredulously. “Doing what, may I ask?”
You frowned at him. “I’ll have you know I do quite a lot around here. Rhys is having me modernize a bunch of old medical texts. That’s a lot of work.”
“Enough to justify you staying out of the library for two months?” he asked.
“Quit stalking me,” you muttered quietly, grip tightening around your mug.
“My job is to watch people, Y/N,” he said easily.
“To watch people who could be threats,” you clarified, sending him a pointed glare. “Which I am not.”
He just stared back at you, and you felt a stab of betrayal at his silence.
“You think I’m a threat?” you asked, hurt evident in your voice.
“I never said that,” he replied quickly, but you were already standing up from the table.
“You also didn’t say I wasn’t.” You began piling your books and notes together, him standing up as if to stop you.
“You’ve been distant for months,” he stated, grabbing your wrist. “Missing meetings, avoiding people.”
“And?” you hissed, pulling your hand out of his grip.
“I’ve noticed in my line of work that people tend to withdraw from others when they’re plotting something,” he said bluntly. You gasped, taking a step backwards from him as if he’d slapped you across the face.
“You think I’m plotting something?” you seethed, no longer trying to keep your voice down.
“What other reason would you have to elude all of us?” he asked.
“To avoid you, Azriel!” you shouted, stepping forward and slamming your hand on the table.
His eyes widened in surprise, mouth opening as you grabbed your stack of books.
“Do not think,” you interrupted, “that I haven’t realized how you’ve regarded me these past few years.” Your voice was steady despite how angry you were.
“What are you talking about?”
“Oh come on,” you seethed. “You glare at me like I’m some lowlife at every meeting, every dinner, every time I see you in the library.”
“I don’t glare at you,” he said incredulously, giving you a confused look as you shook your head.
“You do glare,” you maintained. “And you don’t reply to me half the time, you’re the only person in this whole house who's never gone out of their way to talk to me. But then again, you think I’m some scheming infiltrator, so that all makes sense now.”
“I don’t think that!” he yelled.
“You just accused me of plotting something!” you reminded him angrily. “I literally avoid you because I don’t want to make you hate me more than you already do and you think I’m planning some act of betrayal!”
He just stared at you, mouth opening and closing wordlessly.
“Do you not care that I have spent every day of my time here terrified of upsetting you?” you shouted. But he remained silent.
And your whole facade crumbled.
“Do you not care?” you asked again, quietly, eyes widening as hurt replaced your anger. You let out a shaky breath, tears forming in your eyes, and turned towards the doorway.
“Y/N-” Azriel started, but you were already walking out of the room. He called after you again, and again. You did not turn around.
You were halfway up the stairs when you bumped into Rhys, tears spilling down your face as you let out a choked sob.
His eyes widened in shock. “Oh my gods, Y/N, what happened?”
You stepped back as he reached out to you, shaking your head at the confusion on his face.
“I can’t do this anymore, Rhys,” you rambled, voice shaking. “I can’t, not when he ignores me for years and then accuses me of fucking treason.”
“What? Who?” Rhys asked frantically, brows rising as Azriel appeared at the bottom of the stairs. You let out another sob, and then shook your head.
“I quit,” you managed between sobs. “I quit.”
And then you were racing up the stairs to your room, slamming the door behind you and collapsing on the bed. You heard several different knocks, but you answered none. Instead, you gathered up all your things and shoved them into the bag you kept under your bed. You left the books Rhys had given you in a stack near the door, left the dress Mor had let you wear one weekend laid out on the bed.
Before the sun rose, you snuck out of your room, out of the house, and walked down the ten thousand stairs leading back to Velaris.
You’d been away for a whole week, working long hours at your father’s shop and spending the remainder of the day asleep. It was easier to push aside your feelings that way, easier to throw yourself into work than think about how badly Azriel had hurt your feelings.
It was early one morning while you were bandaging a young child that Azriel had walked into the shop, glancing at you as he made his way over to the waiting area.
Your eyes widened in shock and then narrowed into a pointed glare, half of you wanting to curse him out and make him leave. But the other half of you knew that would terrify the child in front of you, so you took a deep breath and plastered a fake smile on your face.
“That man looks scary,” they whispered to you, eyes wide with fear as they took in Azriel’s wings and the shadows that wrapped around him. Azriel turned towards you slightly, no doubt listening to your conversation.
“It’s wrong to judge others by their looks alone,” you murmured, tucking the ends of the bandage into place.
You glanced towards the front door as your father walked in, obviously struggling as he carried in a stack of supply crates.
“Good morning Y/N!”
Wordlessly, Azriel walked over to help him. You hadn’t told your father why you’d come back from the House of Wind, so his eyes lit up at the sight of the tall Illyrian.
“Ah, hello spymaster!” he greeted cheerily. “How can we help you today?”
“I came to talk to Y/N, actually,” Azriel replied carefully, sending a cautious look in your direction. “Where would you like me to put these?”
You scowled as your father directed Azriel into the backroom, pushing yourself up from where you’d been kneeling on the floor and patting your patient on the shoulder.
“You’re all set!” you smiled, helping the child out of the chair they’d been sitting in.
“Thank you!” they exclaimed, giving you a bright smile and prancing off towards the door.
“Be careful!” you called after them, walking over to the supply cabinet and returning the bandage roll to its drawer.
You stiffened as Azriel walked out of the storage room, watching out of the corner of your eye as he made his way over to you.
He stopped a few feet away, looking at you almost nervously.
“Yes?” you asked, turning your head to glare at him.
“I’ve come to apologize.” His voice was soft.
You laughed humorlessly. “Did Rhys force you to come?” You scoffed as Azriel nodded, rolling your eyes and turning to face the bookshelf by the window.
“I did want to apologize of my own accord,” Azriel replied quickly. You could hear his unease. “Rhys just...urged me to do so sooner rather than later.”
“Ah, does the mighty High Lord miss my presence? Did he think I’d be moved by your apology and want to come back?” you said sarcastically. Azriel looked down at the floor in front of him.
“Everyone, not just Rhys, misses you.” His voice was quiet. “And Cassian is convinced he’s going to get wounded during a mission and die because you won’t be there to fix him up. He keeps complaining about it, actually.”
You chuckled at that, the corners of Azriel’s mouth turning up slightly.
“I don’t want to beg you to return, but I will if I must,” Azriel continued. “Amren demanded I bring you back.”
You remained silent, weighing the options in your head.
“You can tell Amren I’ll be back tonight,” you said finally.
“I can bring you there now, if you want,” he offered. You shook your head.
“I’ll be there tonight,” you restated bluntly, grabbing a few pieces of parchment off the bookshelf and walking towards the backroom. You cast a dismissive glance back at him. “Goodbye, Azriel.”
Hours later, after you’d repacked your belongings and helped your father with his weekly shopping, you began the long trek up to the House of Wind.
If ten thousand steps going downhill was a challenge, ten thousand steps in the other direction was practically impossible. But you were too stubborn to accept help from Azriel, and too prideful to ask Rhys or Cassian either.
It was the middle of the night when you finally finished the climb and made your way into the large living room. Rhys was sitting on a large couch - obviously having stayed up waiting for you - and sent you a rather mean glare as you walked over towards him.
“I’ve been sitting here for hours,” he frowned.
“Hello to you too, gracious High Lord,” you feigned a bow, plopping yourself down in an armchair across from him. You groaned in exhaustion, reaching down to rub your sore leg muscles.
“You do realize Azriel could’ve flown you up, right?” Rhys asked bluntly, clearly unamused by your stunt.
“I don’t need his help,” you retorted, “nor do I want it.”
“I take it you haven’t accepted his apology?”
You shook your head. “It’s gonna take a hell of a lot more than some forced apology for me to forgive him.” Rhys sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.
“He really is sorry.”
“Oh, I’m sure he is,” you retorted. “He all but accused me of treason, he’d better be fucking sorry.”
“Even before this whole accusation thing, he’s never been nice to me,” you interrupted, throwing your hands in the air. “That alone is hard to forgive, let alone suggesting I was plotting against you all.”
“Perhaps it’s time to turn over a new leaf,” Rhys suggested. You gave him an incredulous look.
“Oh, should I bake him cookies?” you suggested sarcastically. “Here you go Azriel, after years of treating me like crap, I’ve come bearing gifts in the name of friendship!”
Rhys groaned, throwing his head back against the couch in defeat.
“All I’ve ever wanted was to be his friend,” you huffed. “Do you know how jealous I am of all of you? You make him smile and laugh like it’s no big deal, meanwhile the only reactions I can get out of him are mean looks and psychological analyses.”
Rhysand gave you a curious look. “Jealous?” he asked. You shrugged.
“I want to be able to make him happy, too,” you admitted defeatedly. “That’s why I started avoiding him. I figured I just made him upset.”
“That’s not true!” Rhys insisted, but you shook your head.
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” you said, standing up and grabbing your bags from off the floor. Rhys just gave you a scandalized look as you made your way towards the stairs.
“You can’t just go to bed after saying something like that!” he called after you. “All of that was completely untrue, we have to unpack that!”
“Goodnight, oh mighty bat man!” you called back as you climbed up the staircase.
Rhys cast a sad glance at the far corner of the living room. You’d failed to notice the winged male standing in the shadows, a broken look on his face.
You’d started reading in the library again.
Something about the whole last week and a half had given you a much needed reality check. You lived in this damn house, for crying out loud! You could read a book in the library if you wanted to.
And who were you to care about bothering Azriel? You scoffed just thinking about it - there was no use trying to tiptoe around him anymore.
It was raining outside. You were sitting at a table, reading a book about muscle healing techniques, when two scarred hands slammed down on the wooden surface in front of you.
You glanced up, furrowing your eyebrows at the rather angry look on Azriel’s face.
“Can’t you see I’m busy?” you asked rhetorically, redirecting your gaze to the book in your hands.
You shouted in protest when he pulled the book away from you. “Give that back!” you yelled, lunging across the table.
He took a step back, out of your reach. “Not until you explain...this.” He gestured towards you briefly.
“What the hell do you mean?” you asked incredulously, eye wide in confusion. “Give me my book back!”
“Why were you avoiding me?” he asked. You groaned.
“I didn’t want to bother you! Can you just give me my book back?” He shook his head, lips pursed together in thought.
“See, that’s where you’ve got me confused,” he said, hazel eyes fixed on you intently. “When did I ever give you that idea?”
“That I bother you?” you asked, raising an eyebrow as he nodded. “Oh, I don’t know Azriel, maybe all the times you’ve glared at me during meetings or given me half-assed answers when I asked for something?”
He glared at you, jaw clenching. You rolled your eyes and stuck out your hand.
“I answered your question, I want my book back.”
He shook his head. “I don’t glare at you. I’ve never glared at you.”
“You certainly don’t give me happy looks!” you retorted. “I’ve lived here for years and you’ve never once smiled at me or something I’ve said. I know I’m funny, everyone else likes my jokes!”
“Does that bother you?” he asked lowly.
“Of course it does!” you replied, eyes darting between his face and your book.
“Why?” he asked, hazel eyes boring into yours. You opened your mouth, then paused. You bit your lip, face heating up as you realized you didn’t have an answer. “Why?” he repeated.
“I don’t know!” you stammered. “Azriel I just want my book back, I walked all the way up here yesterday and my legs are very sore, and I’m trying to figure out how to make them stop feeling like jelly…”
Azriel kept his gaze fixed on you as he moved around the table, looking far too predatory for your liking. You took a step back nervously as he approached you, then another, grimacing as your back hit one of the large marble columns holding up the ceiling.
“Why does it bother you?” he asked again, voice softer but even more intense.
“Would you back up a bit?” you hissed, heart pounding as he kept drawing nearer.
“Answer my question,” he growled, stopping right in front of you. He reached out and gripped the marble on both sides of you, effectively trapping you against the column.
You gulped, looking up at him and taking in his strong jawline, his darkened eyes.
“I don’t know!” you cried again. You pushed your hands against his toned chest, frowning when he did not budge. “Move!”
He chuckled lowly, and your eyes went wide.
You stammered for a second, giving him a confused look. “Did I make you laugh?”
“I wouldn’t consider that a whole laugh,” he said with a small smirk. “Maybe a half.” Your jaw dropped.
“What is happening?” you spluttered, frantically looking between his face and his hands and his damn smirk.
Gods, you could get used to a view like this.
“You don’t bother me,” he said finally, gazing down at you with glazed over eyes. “I don’t know where you got that idea.” You leaned your head back against the column, bewildered. “And I do laugh at your jokes.”
“I...I thought you didn’t pay any attention to me,” you clamored, mind spinning when he shook his head.
“On the contrary, Y/N, I pay too much attention to you,” he answered with a gorgeous grin. “Half the time I can’t keep myself from staring at you. Perhaps you’ve been mistaking those looks as glares.”
“That can’t be,” you whispered, brows knit together. “I thought…” You trailed off, speaking proving to be too difficult as you lost yourself in his eyes.
And then he was leaning down, your heart practically leaping out of your chest at the realization that hit you. He was leaning down...leaning…
“Azriel,” you whispered.
And then his lips were on yours, and all you wanted was him.
You pushed yourself up into him, mouths meeting in a heated battle as he moved his hands to cradle your face. You moaned, head reeling as he slipped his tongue into your mouth, as he trailed a hand down to your hip.
You threw your arms around his neck and jumped, wrapping your legs around him as he slammed you back into the marble column. You moaned again, tilting your head up as he began exploring your neck with his mouth.
His name was like a chant on your lips, a cry leaving your mouth as he bit down on the skin between your neck and your shoulder. He growled, bringing a hand up to fondle one of your breasts.
“Azriel... Azriel please,” you begged, arching into his hand.
“What do you want?” he murmured, eyes dark as he watched you writhe against him.
You moaned loudly, the obscene noise echoing throughout the library.
“Touch me,” you managed, your core clenching as he groaned.
He whisked you away from the column, turning around and laying you on top of the table you’d been reading at minutes ago. You pulled him down on top of you, lips colliding in a sloppy mix of tongue and teeth. You didn’t care.
You trailed your hands down the broad expanse of his back, fingers brushing against the base of his wings. He shuddered against you, shadows tickling your skin sensually.
“Take this off,” you murmured, tugging at his shirt.
He was happy to oblige, pushing himself off you and pulling his shirt over his head. You groaned, trailing your hand down your body at the sight of him.
You grabbed at the laces that held the front of your dress together, undoing the knot as Azriel helped you shimmy out of it. He let out a wanton moan at the sight of your bare breasts, surging forward to capture one in his mouth and cupping the other in his hand.
You threw your head back, moaning as he made his way down from your breast to your stomach.
He looked up at you, hands gripping the fabric now bunched around your hips. You bit your lip and nodded, heat pooling in your stomach as Azriel slid the rest of the dress off of you. His eyes darkened at your body, displayed for him on top of the table.
“Let me just admire you for a moment,” he murmured, hand tracing a line from your navel to your thigh.
You gasped, arching your back as his fingers ghosted over the apex of your thighs. You were dripping.
“What do you want, darling?” Azriel drawled, grinning as you moaned loudly. “Use your words for me.”
“Please,” you panted as he dragged his hands down your sides, grinding desperately against nothing, relishing in the heat of his hands and the cold of his shadows.
“What do you want?” he whispered again, and you spread your legs.
“I want you here.”
He let out a strangled groan, dropped to his knees, and pressed his mouth against your aching core.
“Azriel!” you cried breathlessly, hips lurching as pleasure jolted up your spine. He snarled, throwing your legs over his shoulders. You moaned loudly, writhing in pleasure as he sucked your clit.
“Keep these still,” he growled, draping an arm over your hips and lowering his head again.
Your breath hitched as the coil in your center began to tighten, shaking legs clenched around the sides of Azriel’s face.
You glanced down, taking in the sight of Azriel going down on you as if his life depended on it - his nose rubbings against your clit, little pieces of his hair clinging to his forehead.
Azriel’s gaze snapped up to yours as a breathless moan left your lips, eyes blown out with lust. He thrust his tongue into you and you gasped, back arching off the table.
It was Azriel’s languid moan against your heat that spurred on your orgasm, your cries ricocheting throughout the library as waves of pleasure crashed over you. Azriel kept working you as you came, forcing you to push his head away when it finally became too much.
“Tapping out?” he asked cockily as he pushed himself back onto his feet. You glared, ignoring the way your heart swelled at the signs of your pleasure glistening on his face.
“Was that all you had to offer, shadowsinger?” you teased, sucking in a breath as Azriel’s face darkened.
Azriel made a move for the string of his pants, glancing up at you as if he half-expected you to stop him.
“Keep going,” you urged, smiling as you propped yourself up on your elbows to watch. He gave you a small smile, undoing the knot and ridding himself of his pants and underwear.
Your eyes widened as his size; apparently, the saying about an Illyrian male’s wings was true. He was more than endowed, and your mouth practically watered at the sight of him. You trailed your eyes back up his toned body, melting at the nervous look on his face.
“I want you inside me,” you said with a smile, reaching your hands out for him.
A look of relief washed over his features as he moved forward, grabbing your outstretched hands as he bent down over you for a kiss.
You flung your arms around his shoulders, tongue moving against his as your mouths collided. He groaned, trailing his calloused hands down to your thighs.
He spread them apart and wrapped them around his waist in one fell swoop, pulling back to ask for your permission one last time.
“Are you sure?” he asked softly.
“Gods, Az, just fuck me,” you replied, throwing your head back against the table as he thrust into you.
He groaned, pushing into your heat until he had bottomed out. You gasped, trembling as you basked in the searing pleasure of him inside you.
“Is...do you feel good?” he huffed, clearly making a large effort to not start pounding into you.
“Move,” you panted, eyes closed as you rotated your hips frantically. “Please move.”
“My pleasure,” Azriel moaned, pulling back slightly and snapping his hips forward.
You were a moaning mess as he started a slow but steady pace, moving your hands to grip his biceps as he thrust into you again and again.
“Faster,” you breathed, moaning as Azriel pressed his forehead against your and quickened the pace. You admired the sounds coming from him, the shaky breaths and occasional groans.
You cried as he hit that one spot deep inside you. His hips stilled for a moment.
“There?” he asked, giving another experimental thrust. This time your back arched, toes curling as he grinned.
He began speeding up again, stroking the flame inside you as he hit that same spot with every thrust.
You were reduced to wordless cries, jolting every time he sheathed himself within you. Your eyes snapped open as Azriel let out a true moan, pulling yourself up crash your lips against his.
He grabbed onto one of your legs again, hitching it above his shoulder as he continued fucking into you. You cried into his mouth, body tensing up with anticipation as he brought his thumb to your clit roughly.
“Are you going to cum?” he asked breathlessly, hips snapping into yours at an almost inhuman speed.
As if in response your core tightened, back arching off the table as you came with a sob. Your hips writhed against his as you rode out your second orgasm of the night, entire body trembling as you clutched onto him for some kind of stability.
You felt his grip on your hip tighten, felt something within him snap as he pulled out of you, letting out an animalistic roar as he came. You gasped, hot ribbons shooting onto your stomach and breasts.
You felt dizzy as you opened your eyes, immediately blushing at the way Azriel was studying your body from above you. You glanced down, biting your lip at the sight of his cum painting your skin.
“That’s hot,” you grinned, chest heaving as you tried to catch your breath. Azriel let out a strained chuckle, grinning as he pushed himself up and collapsed next to you.
“You’re hot,” he replied bluntly, closing his eyes as he combed his hair back.
You fell into a contented silence, save for the two of you panting as if you’d just worked out. Though, you supposed fucking could be considered a workout in some regards.
“I suppose you don’t hate me as much as I thought you did?” you asked finally, turning your head to gaze at him.
He shook his head with a smile, stretching his arms above his head on the wooden tabletop. “I never hated you.”
“Well, that would’ve been nice to know,” you laughed. “Gods, we could’ve been having ridiculously hot sex for years!”
Azriel laughed, really laughed, deep voice sounding throughout the room as you smiled brightly. His laugh had always been beautiful, but it sounded so much more special now that you were the one who caused it.
“I suppose the whole house knows we’ve reconciled,” he hummed thoughtfully.
You nodded, lips pursed. “We were indeed quite loud.”
He turned to face you, smiling as your eyes trailed down his body.
“I do own a small cabin in the woods north of Velaris,” he said slowly, a jovial smirk on his face. “I’m sure it wouldn’t matter how loud we were there. Hypothetically speaking, of course.”
You grinned. “I think we should ask Rhys to send us on a retreat to further explore our new friendship. For purely professional purposes.”
“Yes, I’m sure that would have a significant effect on workplace morale,” Azriel replied, biting back a smile as he reached out a hand to stroke your face. You hummed, leaning into the touch.
“You know, I haven’t taken one vacation the whole time I’ve worked here,” you said, watching Azriel’s face contort with realization.
“I don’t think I have either,” he stated alarmedly, a suggestive look quickly overtaking his face. “I think now would be a great time to invoke all the vacation time we’ve earned.”
You grinned, rolling on top of Azriel and kissing him again.
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Never Again: Part I
This is the beginning to a fic that someone requested a LONG time ago. I believe it was @mymilkshakeavenue . I apologize for the long wait, and that this is only the first part! I will be updating it again soon because I’m so excited for this fic and I will also make due on my promise that there will be an AU version of this fic as well.
Well, I’ve got some big things planned for this fic. And believe me when I tell you that you will get exactly what you’ve asked for.
Enjoy, loves xx
P.S. Let me know what you think, and if you want me to update this fic or another one of my fics today!
“Just a bit higher, Cassian. If you would.”
The Illyrian warrior groaned, eyes soaring to the heavens. “By the Cauldron, Feyre,” he moaned, “I think if I have to hold this damned sword any longer my arm’ll fall off.”
I tisked, raising an arched brow. “If only Rhys could hear how his beloved General Commander is bitching about having to hold a sword for a few minutes.” My eyes darted back and forth between Cassian and the canvas in front of me, setting down my brush in favor of a smaller one. One that would be able to more accurately portray the fine lines of the man before me.
Or perhaps ‘whimpering baby’ was a better fit.
“Besides,” I sighed, “If my memory serves me correctly, it was you who insisted I paint you in the first place.”
“Indeed I did,” Cassian conceded, “And if my memory serves me correctly, you’re the one who insists on only painting Rhys. Like he’s the only one who lives in this gods-damned house with any looks about him and the rest of us ought to just run about with bags over our heads. It’s simply not fair!”
The truth was that I had painted them. All of them. I had rows upon rows of paintings and drawings and sketches that I had been progressively working on. Admittedly, none were as flamboyant and grandiose as the portrait Cassian was insisting at the moment. No, they were all little moments that had stuck out to me, ones I had tucked into my memory and went to work on as soon as I had a moment to myself.
However Cassian, being the jealous little thing he is, demanded I stop painting Rhys, or the sky, or landscapes, and ‘paint something that was truly the epitome of the Cauldron’s craftsmanship’, as he had so humbly put it.
“You know what’s funny, Cas? I can’t seem to recall having heard anyone else’s complaints about not being painted. You’re the only one who goes around making ridiculous demands such as these.”
He grinned, causing a dimple on his left cheek to pop out. “Oh come now, Feyre,” he purred, “You can try all you’d like, but you’re not fooling me. I know you’ve enjoyed focusing on my half-naked form for the past three hours.”
I couldn’t help but to burst out laughing. “Oh yes,” I nodded in mock seriousness, “I’ve enjoyed it so much, actually, that it’s making me rethink the vows I made to Rhysand. Perhaps I had been a bit too hasty in pledging my love for him and binding my life to his.”
“Well, if that’s really a concern, Feyre darling, then perhaps we can discuss it in a more private setting.” I looked behind me to find Rhysand leaning against the doorframe. Dressed in a simple dark shirt that was pushed up to his elbows, his lips set in an easygoing smile, hair tousled—from flight, most likely—the perfect picture of a completely content High Lord.
“Although, if you are so curious as to find out what a night with Cassian is like, who am I to stop you? I must admit, though, that I believe you’ll find him to be lacking in areas I consider myself to be quite proficient.”
“As tempting as the offer is, I’m afraid I’ll have to pass, Feyre,” Cassian laughed.
I set down my brush, cleaning my hands with a rag and said, “Oh? What a pity, as I was quite looking forward to it. But maybe you’re right, Cas. I don’t reckon Nesta would approve.”
“Despite what everyone may think in this house, my balls belong to me, all right? I’m a grown man who makes his own decisions.”
I only nodded. “Of course you are.”
Cassian held up a hand, stopping Rhys’ words short. “Ah. No need. I was just about to make my grand exit.” He hopped off the raised dais, winking as he strode past me. “We’ll continue this later, I suppose.”
With that he leaped into the air, leaving Rhys and I alone.
“How much of that were you here for?”
Rhys smiled. “Enough to know that my General Commander may be getting a bit out of shape if holding a sword up for three hours was taxing for him.”
“Well,” I said, setting down my rag and walking over to him, “I was just about to go grab something to eat. Having to deal with Cassian for three and a half hours left me famished.”
His eyes flashed, brilliantly violet as I stood before him. “What a coincidence. So am I.”
“How unfortunate for you that I am not on the menu.” He grinned, bending down to press his lips to mine in a way which told me exactly what his mouth would do should I change my mind.
His mouth tore away from mine only for his tongue to lick a bold stripe from the curve of my neck to the shell of my ear where he purred, “Pity,” before stepping back and offering me his hand.
It took me a moment to orientate my thoughts, as my body was now vehemently screaming to take his hand and go back with him to our room. Or better yet, have him undress me and make do on all the promises that mouth had made to me just a few moments earlier.
But even if I had made up my mind in either direction, Rhys and I were interrupted by the sound of wings.
We both looked up, finding a large figure skyrocketing towards us.
“Something’s wrong,” I said. Rhys needn’t voice his approval, for I could sense the worry and apprehension on him.
Moments later, Azriel landed on the open balcony, eyes holding a serious weight. “Mor and Cassian are already at the House of Wind, Amren should be on her way.” Rhysand just nodded, and the two of us shared a look before wings sprouted from our backs and the three of us launched into the sky.
My heart was thundering in my chest as I considered what could possibly be such a threat that even Azriel seemed concerned.
All had been progressively improving following the death of the King of Hybern. The Cauldron had been stashed away, the Courts were slowly but surely recovering from the Second Great War, and the Human and Faerie Realms were getting along...somewhat.
Directly following the King’s death, Rhysand and I had called a meeting between all of the rulers of Prythian, not wanting to hold off on discussions that were too important to not be had. It went on for days, with enough arguing between the High Lords to last any immortal a lifetime, but progress was made.
There would no longer be only High Lords. High Ladies would also be named, and although the specifics of what being a High Lady entailed was left up to each individual Court, we had eventually agreed on basics that all of the Courts would abide by when naming a High Lady.
Additionally was the matter of the High Fae versus the Lesser or Low-Born Faeries. That was a matter which took half a decade before all Fae were given equal opportunities and rights, and a half a century more before discriminatory acts were not nearly as widespread as they once were.
The Courts seemed to be getting along well enough, so much so that Rhysand and I found ourselves being invited over for dinner or a day out on the boat or some other fun activity by one of the other ruler’s of Prythian quite often.
So as Rhys, Azriel, and I rushed to the House of Wind, I came to the conclusion that perhaps the threat was not a domestic one.
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Have you ever thought about how, when you read a book, you imagine the characters as something completely different than someone else imagining them. The way they laugh, their sharp agony when something terrible happens, the way their eyes glisten when they cry in silent misery. It belongs only to you, because this version of them, this candid portrait of theirs, this is just yours to see.
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Not requested but I wanted to do a one shot about azriel taking care of his mate during her cycle. I just feel like he would be THE best and THE most caring and understanding person to walk on the earth. Hope you enjoy :)
Warnings: none just fluff.
A/n: I didn’t proof read so there will be some mistakes, I’m sorry.
It hurted so bad.
You could not focus anywhere but the piercing pain on your lower stomach.
Yes, both, Feyre and mor had warned you, they told you about how painful your cycle would be. At first you thought it was just an exaggeration, but when Mor said that there were days where she couldn’t even stand up or even sleep from the pain you couldn’t help the terror that washed through you.
You knew it was just your hormones but you couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed when azriel hadn’t came home, your cycle had started a couple of hours ago, Azriel had already left and you didn’t feel like distracting him from work. You also knew that Azriel’s guilt would eat him alive if he came home and saw you in this state. He always knew when your cycle was on its way, when you asked him he said something about his shadows noticing the change in your body temperature.
When you realize that Azriel had about two more hours of work before coming home your brushed a uncomfortable pained feeling through the bond hoping that he would realize.
You were curled up on the couch, unable to stand up and walk to yours and your mates shared bedroom when you heard the front door open and close. At first you were confused, it was too early for azriel to be home and the only person who had keys for your apartment was Feyre - the only person you trusted to respect your privacy- but you doubted Feyre would come.
“Love, I’m back” a too soft voice said and you glanced towards the door, only to see your mates hulking figure walking towards where you were currently laid. “Why didn’t you tell me earlier? How do you feel?”
“Hey. you were busy” you murmured softly, the sound barely audible.
“Oh love” he sighted and sat on the edge of the couch, his hand sliding on your lower stomach, staying there. “I brought you pastries”
“Really?” You widened your eyes excitedly. He chuckled “yeah, really”. He helped you sit properly on the couch and opened the bag, revealing a strawberry pastry (your favourite).
“I’m gonna go and run you bath, okey?” You nodded and he kissed your temple stroking your head lightly.
Once you ate, Azriel was back, he picked you up and carried you to the bathroom. Once you both bathed together he helped you dress up and laid you on the bed “I’ll be back soon okey?” He said.
He left the room only to come back five minutes later with tea and a book, the book you were currently reading. “Drink” he urged as you picked the mug and took a sip. “It will help with the pain, I travelled to the day court a couple of months ago and a healer there told me that this would helped, it’s specifically for your cycle, it will help ease the pain” you smiled softly “thank you”
While you drunk the tea, he read you the book. You couldn’t help but smile at how caring he was being- not that it was the first time- but it never failed to make you smile.
Once you finished, Azriel decide that it would be better if you slept. He closed the book and gathered you in his arms “thank you Azriel, for everything” you murmured as you buried your head deeper on his chest. “I love you” he said before kissing the top of your head.
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So, I have this headcanon that Cassian would be the best dad in the entire history of dads. Wrote this little scene about Nesta and Cass and their first night with their first baby ❤️
Nesta hovered in the doorway of the newly constructed nursery in the House of Wind, heart full to bursting at the scene before her.
Her mate, the great general of the Night Court’s armies, one of the most powerful Illyrians in history - and he looked utterly terrified by the tiny bundle in his arms, a bundle wrapped snugly in a soft pink blanket.
A musical name for a beautiful, perfect girl.
The baby had been born only a few hours before, and while Nesta knew her mother hen of a mate was certainly going to give her stern scolding for being up and out of the bed he’d so lovingly tucked her into, she could not resist taking in the moment between father and daughter.
Sensing her presence, Cassian turned to meet Nesta’s gaze.
“I don’t know how to do this,” he said.
Nesta would have laughed at the look of near-comical discomfort on his face if she hadn’t been so overwhelmed by the excruciating tenderness of it all.
“You’re doing fine,” she said softly, crossing the room to where he stood by the bassinet, cradling the fussy newborn. “Perfect, in fact.”
And indeed, Cassian had been perfect from the moment Nesta had found out she was expecting some nine months past. He’d sat with her through every stomach-turning morning, indulged her most absurd of cravings, and never let her forget what a beautiful, fearsome warrior she was, even when she’d felt ungainly and awkward as her belly grew too large for her to even see her feet.
“Nes,” he said, something like panic rising in his voice. “We’re parents.”
“I know,” she said, running a soothing hand across the back of his broad shoulders.
“Like, really parents, we have a child.”
“What are we going to do?”
She did laugh then. “I imagine we’re going to raise her. And likely become old and worn long before our time if she turns out to be anything like us.”
“Gods,” he muttered. “I don’t think we truly thought through what we’ve unleashed upon the world.”
Nesta leaned against her mate’s shoulder and reached a hand up to run a smoothing caress across the downy black hair at the crown of Lira’s head. From above the infant’s tiny shoulder, the delicate peak of an Illyrian wing tucked in behind her.
“I love her so much, Nes,” Cassian said, his voice thick with unshed tears. “Already, I do.”
Nesta thought then of her own flawed - though loving - father, of the complicated relationship they’d always had. She looked at Cassian and Lira and could do nothing to stop the flood emotions, the tears that spilled down her cheeks.
“I do too,” she whispered. “And we are both so lucky to have you.”
They stood with Lira for a few more long minutes as the baby settled and finally fell back to sleep. Cassian set her back in the bassinet with aching gentleness, his large warrior’s hands so at odds with the tenderness of it.
When she was settled, Cassian reached down and pulled Nesta into his arms, walking them both from the room and shutting the chamber door softly behind them.
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cassian fluff alphabet
cassian x reader (acotar)
warnings: fluff, a few suggestive comments (?)
word count: 2860 words
a/n: okay so this one is for @cassians-mate. I loved this idea and it inspired me a lot so thank you so much for requesting!! I struggled with a few of the letters but i hope this is good all the same and that you enjoy <33
A: Activities - What do they like to do with their s/o? How do they spend their free time with them?
Cassian loves training with you. He likes being able to teach you about something he is truly passionate about and has been doing his whole life, with the added bonus of knowing that you’ll know how to defend yourself in case he’s not around to do so. Plus, he adores the look of concentration on your face when you really get into it and how proud of yourself you become when you execute a move perfectly. It has quickly become a part of your daily routine, with the two of you either training early in the morning to start off your days or late at night to unwind.
B: Beauty - What do they admire about their s/o? What do they think is beautiful about them?
Cassian adores your smile. To him, it’s the most precious thing in the world and he will go to great lengths to see it. Although, physical attributes aside, the one thing Cassian most admires about you is the way you unknowingly make him feel better about himself. Some days, he truly believes all of the negative comments made about him being nothing more than a low-born bastard nobody, but one reassuring word and a smile from you makes all of that fade away.
C: Comfort - How would they help their s/o when they feel down/have a panic attack etc.?
If you were having a rough day and needed to let out some aggression/anger, Cassian would be more than happy to spend hours and hours in the training ring with you, letting you fight out your feelings. However, if you were having a rough day and instead of anger you were feeling sad/down, Cassian would cuddle up with you in your shared room, one arm and a wing wrapped tight around you whilst he softly read you a passage from your favourite book, his calming voice lulling you to sleep.
D: Dreams - How do they picture their future with their s/o?
From the moment he met you, Cassian knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with you. It doesn’t matter to him how you spend it, he just wants to be with you. That being said, the thought of starting a family with you fills him with so much joy. The idea of a little mini version of the two of you, of teaching his child to fly, of experiencing fatherhood with you by his side excites him more than he would ever let on, even if he sometimes thinks he doesn’t deserve it.
E: Equal - Are they the dominant one in the relationship, or rather passive?
To anyone who asks, Cassian would swear that he’s the dominant one in the relationship. However, this could not be further from the truth. You have him wholly wrapped around your finger, completely whipped for you, and he would stop at nothing to make you happy. However, there are certain times in the relationship in which Cassian would take on the dominant role (😉).
F: Fight - Would they be easy to forgive their s/o? How are they fighting?
Most of your fights with Cassian would be over little, unimportant things and they wouldn’t last very long. The two of you would just forget what you were ever fighting about in the first place and everything would go back to normal.
Although, on the rare occasion the two of you are fighting about something serious, it would be hell for Cassian. He’s very stubborn and the two of you would both say things you don’t truly mean in the heat of the moment. The fights would last for days, neither of you wanting to be the first to apologise but Cassian would eventually break. He hates it when you’re mad at him and once the initial heat of the moment is over, he would be willing to do anything to make you forgive him.
G: Gratitude - How grateful are they in general? Are they aware of what their s/o is doing for them?
Cassian will never be able to put into words how grateful he is for you. As previously mentioned, one of the things Cassian loves the most about you is how you bring out the best in him and make him see the best in himself when he needs it the most, and he will never stop being so utterly thankful to you for that.
H: Honesty - Do they have secrets they hide from their s/o? Or do they share everything?
There are absolutely no secrets between the two of you. You trust each other wholeheartedly and he is one of the few people you would tell absolutely everything and anything to, and vice versa.
I: Inspiration - Did their s/o change them somehow, or the other way around? Like trying out new things or helping them overcome personal problems?
You inspire Cassian to be the best version of himself. You not only changed the way that he views himself, but also the way that he views the world around him. On top of that, you have helped him overcome and deal with many problems, one of them being the overwhelming guilt that he still deals with to this day. You helped him to recognise that whilst it is perfectly understandable to feel guilt over things such as what happened to his mother, what he did in retaliation to this, what happened to Rhys under the mountain etcetera., he doesn’t have to let this guilt control him and he doesn’t have to bear that burden alone any longer.
J: Jealousy - Do they get jealous easily? How do they deal with it?
Cassian is a very jealous individual and it doesn’t take much to make him feel this way. Usually, he just suffers in silence as he doesn’t want you to think he’s being possessive and overbearing and he knows that you can handle yourself. However, if someone is getting a little too close and he can see you slowly becoming more and more uncomfortable as the conversation progresses, he won’t hesitate to make his way over to you, wrapping an arm around your waist and pressing a kiss to your head, wings flaring protectively as he lets the person realise who he is and that the two of you are very much together.
K: Kiss - Are they a good kisser? What was the first kiss like?
Cassian has had centuries of practice when it comes to kissing so, yes, it’s safe to say he’s an excellent kisser. He’s very passionate and knows exactly what he is doing. However, for the first kiss the two of you shared, it was a little uncertain and sloppy, both of your nerves taking over, but the two of you look back on it and laugh now.
L: Love Confession - How would they confess to their s/o?
Cassian confessed his feelings for you in the midst of a heated argument. You had been sent off on a dangerous mission with Mor, and Cassian hadn’t been made aware until you were already long gone. He was worried sick for days until you finally returned and the minute you were left alone, he exploded, letting you know exactly how furious he was with you for leaving without telling him. You were just as angry, yelling at him about how you were very much capable of looking after yourself and making your own decisions, not recognising the extent of his worry until he broke down, admitting his feelings and telling you how he wouldn’t be able to cope without you. You understood instantly, softening at the vulnerable look on his face before telling him you of course felt the same way.
M: Marriage - Do they want to get married? How do they propose? What would the marriage be like?
Cassian is honestly not fussed. Sure, the idea of being able to call you his wife excites him to no end, but marriage isn’t really that important to him. If you wanted to be married, then he would 100% be on board, but if you didn’t, he would be fine with that too. Marriage is more of a mortal custom anyway, and Cassian knows that the two of you don’t need an official label for your love to be real.
N: Nicknames - What do they call their s/o?
Cassian is a big lover of nicknames and he hardly ever calls you by your name. The nickname he gives you depends on the situation. For example, on an everyday basis, he’ll either call you a variation of your first name or he’ll call you ‘sweetheart’, and if he’s feeling especially sweet, he’ll call you ‘my love’ or ‘darling’. If he’s trying to rile you up, he’ll call you by a nickname that he knows annoys you, and if he’s mad at you, he’ll call you by your full name.
O: On Cloud Nine - What are they like when they are in love? Is it obvious for others? How do they express their feelings?
It is very obvious to everyone around him that Cassian is smitten. He’ll perk up instantly at the sound of your name in a conversation, his eyes will light up whenever you walk into a room, he always has to be touching you whenever you’re close by etc. Sometimes, Rhys and Azriel will make a comment about how great you look that day just to get a rise out of the territorial Illyrian.
P: PDA - Are they upfront about their relationship? Do they brag with their s/o in front of others? Or are they rather shy to kiss etc. when others are watching?
Cassian is very upfront about your relationship and he is most definitely not shy when it comes to showing you off in front of others. He’ll make sure to throw in a proud comment about you in every conversation with his friends/family, he’ll make it clear to any new person he meets that he and you are together, he’ll brag to all the other males he sees that he has the most perfect mate in the entirety of Prythian, and he is definitely no stranger to stealing a kiss from you every chance he can get, especially at the most inappropriate moments.
Q: Quirk - Some random ability they have that’s beneficial in a relationship.
They aren’t exactly an ability but his wings are definitely an added bonus to your relationship. You want to go on a spontaneous night time fly? Him and his wings are more than happy to oblige. You wake up early in the morning and the sun is blinding you? No problem, one word to Cass and his wings are up and over you in a flash. You get a little cold whilst hanging with the Inner Circle? Say no more. One shiver from you and Cassian is cocooning you in the warmth of his wings. (Plus, the wings are a useful asset in the bedroom, if you get what I’m saying😉)
R: Romance - How romantic are they? What would they do to make their s/o happy? Cliché or rather creative?
Cassian is very romantic. He would stop at nothing to make you happy and so, he makes sure to perform at least one cliche, romantic act a day (but let’s be honest, we all know he’s romantic 24/7). On top of that, at least once a month, he will organise a rather creative, extravagant date night for the two of you. Each date is completely different from the last and you always struggle to understand how he can come up with so many ideas (in reality, Azriel is also a secret romantic and the majority of the date ideas are stolen from him, though Cassian will never admit that to you).
S: Support - Are they helping their s/o achieve their goals? Do they believe in them?
Cassian is your number one supporter. Any decision you make, he is there to support you no matter what. He is wholly dedicated to helping you achieve anything you wish to, no matter how hard or impossible it may seem.
T: Thrill - Do they need to try out new things to spice up your relationship? Or do they prefer a certain routine?
Your relationship with Cassian is far from boring. Cassian is not one to stick to a routine when it comes to your relationship and he is all for keeping things spontaneous. As mentioned previously, dates with Cassian are always something new and exciting, and one day in your relationship is never the same as the next. And you wouldn’t have it any other way.
U: Understanding - How good do they know their partner? Are they empathetic?
Cassian probably knows you better than you know yourself. He recognises a change in your mood instantly and can always figure out what caused it. As well as this, he also knows exactly what to do to make you feel better. He never judges you and always makes it clear to you that you can tell him anything and everything. He is very understanding and it’s one of the things you love the most about him.
V: Value - How important is the relationship to them? What is it worth in comparison to other things in their life?
There is nothing more important to Cassian than you and your relationship. Before meeting you, he swore nothing would come before his loyalty to Rhysand and the Night Court and to anyone who asked, this would still be the case. But, deep down, he knows that if anything were to happen to you, he would drop everything to make sure you were safe and whole, consequences be damned.
W: Wild Card - A random fluff headcanon.
One of your favourite things to do as a couple is read together, or more specifically, Cassian reads to you. If you are having a rough day, are in need of cheering up or if the two of you have a little free time on your hands, Cassian will wrap you up in his arms and bring you to his chest, chin resting on top of your head as he picks up whichever book you are currently reading and reads aloud to you. He is usually lost in terms of the plot of the book, but it doesn’t matter to him as he feels you relax deeper into his hold, nuzzling against his chest and forgetting about whatever it is that was bothering you. There is nothing more precious to him than the sight of you clinging to him and intently listening to his every word, and it was in one of these moments that he first really realised the extent of his love for you.
X: XOXO - Are they very affectionate? Do they love to kiss and cuddle?
Cassian is very affectionate. He doesn’t shy away from kissing or hugging you no matter who is watching, and he always has to have some sort of physical contact with you at all times, whether it be his hand in yours, a hand on the small of your back, a wing casually draped around you etcetera. He just likes to be assured that you are safe and nearby. He always pulls you into his lap when with the Inner Circle, much to their dismay, and spends the night with you wrapped in his arms, too busy pressing gentle kisses to the exposed skin of your neck to notice when someone is trying to gain his attention. He’s even worse in private and you’re lucky to get anything done when he insists on holding you at all times. You scold him for it, but you secretly can’t get enough.
Y: Yearning - How will they cope when they’re missing their partner?
The two of you are away from one another more often than you would like but it’s all a part of your jobs. You miss him terribly of course, but you definitely handle the distance a lot better than he does. He becomes a lot more closed off when you aren’t around, not as much so around his family, but if he is away on a mission or in the Illyrian Mountains, he’s very short and cold with everyone and will be counting down the days until he sees you again. If you’re on a mission and he is left behind in Velaris, he’ll spend more time with the Inner Circle, usually talking their ears off about you or pestering Rhys for updates on you and when you’ll be returning. The minute you are reunited, he’ll sweep you into his arms, kissing you passionately before flying you home for a proper reunion.
Z: Zeal - Are they willing to go to great lengths for the relationship? If so, what kind of?
There are no lengths Cassian wouldn’t go to for you and your relationship. He will stop at nothing to make you happy and satisfied. Anything you wish, he is happy to grant you with.
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a hymn to war | a tog + acotar story | prologue part 4
summary: set in the future after acofas & koa | Prythian and Erilea have been opened to each other ever since a portal connecting the two worlds was found. Queen Aelin Galathynius has signed a secret peace treaty with the High Lady and High Lord of the Night Court, thus fortifying their friendship, and the union of their families. But when the other High Lords of Prythian discover the Night Court’s secret friends, they are intent on seeing them as foes, and Eris Vanserra is ready to take the opportunity to further destroy what little is left of Prythian’s unity.
In a world remade by peace, you can hear the faraway drums of war that can - and shall - destroy it once again.
tw: verbal, emotional and physical abuse; sexual themes; violence & gore
masterlist | ask box | gen 2 page | tog + acotar gen 2 family tree
<—– PROLOGUE PART 3
CHAPTER ONE —–> (coming soon!)
~the worlds, books, and any recognizable characters belong to sarah j maas~
A century or so ago
Northern Fields, Autumn Court, Prythian
Her wedding day is uneventful, full of boorish people and, to make matters worse, it pours down the entire time.
Annika detests the rain as much she detests her new husband.
Emilian Ardor has the wry smile of a hunter with an easy prey’s blood soaking his clothes. He drinks the day away, flaunting his wealth, flirting with the musicians, and stuffing his mouth with enough sweets to feed an entire village.
Despite this, Annika supposes that she can find a few reprieves in the middle of this rather lamentable situation. For one, when she declared she did not wish for her family to come, Emilian’s reply was a simple shrug, so she was spared having to look at her father’s face and trying to hide the desire to spill his blood on the white petals covering the ground. And though she has spent the last hour being dragged around by her husband’s arm to greet his… friends, he has not spoken more than four words to her since their vows, nor has he attempted to touch her more than it is considered necessary. Besides, the ceremony begins and ends before she can bask in her revolt, and her husband’s wine has been satisfactory enough to keep her company since then.
They dine alone in his ostentatious table, candlelight between them. Annika has traded her gown for a simple tunic and dark trousers to match. She had no intention of impressing his friends before with that appalling excuse of a dress, and she certainly has no intention of impressing Emilian now with the clothes she feels most comfortable in.
They watch each other from time to time, but Emilian gives her nothing but small smiles and a cheery lift of his glass, and she’s glad. For only a moment.
In the next, she remembers what is supposed to come next, and her stomach turns.
Emilian is not bad to look at. If she hadn’t been thrown at him like a piece of meat to feed a mountain lion then perhaps she would have taken notice of him, but imagining being that close to him somehow makes her want to gag. He is not unpleasant to her either, but she doesn't want him.
And Annika very much hopes he doesn’t want her tonight, or she is going to have a problem on her hands. She’s too tired to slit his throat.
He walks her to her chambers after dinner, as he has done each night she has spent here. Annika wonders why he does it, if every night he makes no move to get her into bed, and she is prepared for him to suggest just that tonight when he simply-
He gives her a curt nod and a brief word of goodnight, and then he turns.
Annika is so shocked that she blurts, “You’re not going to come in?”
And she almost dreads him misinterpreting her words, when Emilian twirls on his heels, hands behind his back, and smiles. “Do you want to ask me to come in, my dear?”
He smiles wider, as if there is some secret joke between them. “Then, no.”
Annika pauses, one hand on her door.
Emilian watches her, smile fading, and a look of mild curiosity takes its place. “Did you believe I would force myself on you, especially when you have made no move to touch me these last few days?”
Annika blinks, trying to form a coherent response, but Emilian simply says, “I can read your eyes just fine, Annika. You do not want me, and I do not blame you.” He lets out a little laugh, just a small breath escaping his lips. “I’m alright with that.”
He turns, walking away, but Annika stares after him, her lips parting on their own.
He halts, then slowly turns to her at the end of the hall.
“Why did you agree to this?” Annika narrows her eyes at him. “You must have known when we met that I wouldn’t let you anywhere near me, so why? What kind of male takes a wife that won’t touch him?”
Emilian inclines his head, considering her words. “Is this not beneficial for both of us?”
He smiles. “I have a wife, and you have walked out of that hell your father calls a house.” He mimics her shrug.
She walks to him, arms crossed. “So you married me out of pity?”
“I could neve pity you,” Emilian says. “And I do have another reason.” He looks at a nearby candle, flickering to its early death, and picks it up. With a knowing smile, he places the candle in front of her — a silent request. Annika glowers at him before a tiny little flame comes to life on the tip of her finger, which she leads to the wick. “Your father wanted to be rid of you, and I wanted to be rid of your father.” Emilian puts the candle back into place, watching it with subtle admiration before turning his gaze back to her. “As long as he thinks I’ve put a leash on you, he will not come knocking on my door.”
“The question is,” she says, “why don’t you? Wouldn’t your life be so much easier if you succeeded in leashing me? Isn’t that what you males do to your wives?”
Emilian gives her that same brash smile that makes him look boyish and even more drunk. He touches a finger to the bottom of her chin — a gentle, barely-there touch. “Because I would be leashing a living flame.”
Annika furrows her brow.
“It is not a question of how,” Emilian continues, “but of why. Why would I want to?”
His eyes lower to her lips for only a split-second, and then he is pulling away again. “If you want me, you know where my bed is.”
“I have no doubt that you have your fair share of cats purring on your lap,” Annika points out, raising a brow. “I have demands.”
He leans against the wall, hands in his pockets. “I’m listening.”
“Keep them quiet,” Annika says. “I will not be made a fool in front of anyone that finds out.”
Emilian nods. “Anything else, wife?”
“Don’t call me wife.”
He smiles, and for the first time in a long, long while, Annika has the strange, uncomfortable urge to smile back. “As you wish,” Emilian says.
“He said you’d train me,” Annika says. “Is that true?”
Emilian snorts loudly. “I don’t think I have much else to teach you. Your reputation precedes you, my Lady. Perhaps if you were willing, I could learn from you. You’re free to do as you will. Train as you want, with whom you want.”
Annika says nothing, but a ray of hope begins to shine through. She dares to welcome it.
Emilian bows. “Goodnight, Annika.”
She watches her husband go, thinking that she just might spare his life after all.
Corienne is in her chamber when Annika walks in, smoothing the perfectly made bed.
Annika rarely sees the female, mostly because she’s insisted that no one is to come into her room except to clean it. She also dresses herself, and does her own hair, as she’s always done, and while Corienne gave her the strangest look when Annika said so, the maid did not argue.
“It’s late,” Annika points out, sitting at her vanity table and removing her jewelry. “Shouldn’t you already be in your own chambers?”
Corienne folds a blanket by the end of the bed, and Annika is suddenly transfixed by the way the female’s long braid moves over her back. Through the mirror, she can see every wayward curl fallen from that braid, a day’s work in every undone bit. She finds herself picturing how all that hair would look undone, falling down her back in a thick curtain of black, soft, and shining, full of waves.
Corienne looks over her shoulder and Annika turns her eyes away, pulling her own braids apart one by one. “What chamber, my Lady?”
Annika frowns. “Do you not live here?”
“No, of course not,” Corienne says, and lets out a soft breath of a laugh as she turns fully to Annika. “None of us do.”
“Who is us?” Annika asks. “The maids?”
Corienne stares at her as if she doesn’t understand her question. With half her braids undone, Annika looks over her shoulder, raising a questioning brow.
The maid says, “Us lesser faeries.” Annika’s eyes must look empty, for the maid frowns harder. “Have you never met someone like me before?”
“What does that mean?” Annika says. “Someone like you?”
Corienne pauses, hip leaning against the bedpost. “My Lady, do you not know who lesser fae are?”
“The term is lost on me,” Annika says. She faces the mirror, frowning at her own reflection. It is not often she is caught in ignorance, but Annika acknowledges that her father has failed in that department too. She has never left her Court. All her tutors answered to her father first, so Annika was only taught what he wanted, and she knows Eris Vanserra must have left out things that her brothers never missed out on.
Corienne looks at her through the mirror of her vanity. “I am not high born. Not part of the nobility — as you are.”
Annika frowns harder, still pulling on her braids as her maid continues, “Lesser fae have been cleaning your households for… centuries. Have you really never encountered someone who looks like me? Not even in your own household?” She smiles a little, pointing at her horns. “Some of us have wings.”
“I never thought you were different.” Again, Annika finds herself flushing at how much she does not know. Then again, the blame does not fall solemnly on her father. Annika has never taken the time to notice who works in Vanserra Manor. She never learned the names of the people who cooked the food she ate or cleaned after her. She never noticed them. And those people, falling into the hands of her father... “Are you mistreated?”
The question seems to surprise Corienne, or rather, it seems to surprise her that Annika is the one asking such a thing, but the maid shrugs, crossing her arms over her chest. “Here? No. The master is kind, if rather aloof at times. But we do not have a place in his household. And throughout Prythian, most of us are mistreated and at times, even killed.”
Annika’s amber eyes meet Corienne’s sky-clear ones. “It happens less and less,” Corienne says to her. “But it still happens.”
Annika places down her brush. “I was ignorant,” she says. “I didn’t know.”
Corienne nods. “Now you do.”
Annika does not mean to have the maid linger, but something makes her ask, “Where do you live, then?”
“There’s a nearby village, and I live on the outskirts, facing the river.”
Annika’s bones freeze over. “The closest village is miles and miles away.”
Corienne nods once again. “It is, my Lady.”
Outside, the wind rattles the trees, and a branch smacks the window of her chamber with such force that Annika jumps on her seat. She doesn’t notice Corienne’s attentive gaze until she turns back to the mirror.
“Would it make your life easier for you to live here?” Annika says.
Corienne parts her lips, then says, “Yes, but—”
“Then you will live here.”
Corienne works her jaw. “Your husband will not like it.”
Annika smiles. “I’m now the Lady of this house.” She twists the first two buttons of her tunic and her collar comes undone. “If my husband doesn’t like it, he can eat shit.”
The maid shows no surprise at Annika’s foul mouth, but a strange glint that Annika doesn’t know how to read shines in her eyes.
“It’s your choice,” Annika says.
But Corienne is staring at her exposed neck.
At the bruises that mark her skin just over her collarbone, little white lines drawn over tan skin, partly hidden by strands of fire. For a split second, their eyes cross, but then Annika is closing her buttons back again, and looking away.
Corienne breathes in. “Thank you for your kindness, my Lady.”
Quite sharply, Annika responds, “If you call that kindness then I suppose you haven’t been treated very well at all.”
Corienne’s eyes lower to Annika’s neck. “I suppose that makes two of us, then.”
Annika does not have time to respond, for Corienne lowers her head in a short, curt nod, and leaves the room.
The flames around the room waver.
Illyrian Mountains, Night Court, Prythian
The forest becomes a twisted place, crooked and vile, the trees curving around his body, branches enveloping his neck, the sky dark and closing in on him, shadows trailing past his feet. This is a place of nightmares.
This is where loneliness lives. This is where lost dreams come to die. This is sudden death, loss of a loved one, missed chances, and broken hearts. This is a place of fear.
“Look at me…”
Thorns prickle his legs, a thousand needles piercing his bones, his heart. It becomes harder and harder to breathe. There is no escape.
This is the end.
“Look at me…”
But there is a voice calling his name in the back of his mind, somewhere far, where Aidan cannot reach. That is the voice of someone he loves, trying to pull him out of this nightmare.
This place of terror.
The voice becomes louder, and the creature draws closer. “Look at me,” it insists, the voice of the void, with depth of death itself. “Look at me.”
Aidan opens his eyes, but he does not look at the creature. Beyond the trees, past the bushes and thorns and monsters and nightmares, there is a light shining. A voice humming. A string being plucked. A caress on his cheek, a hand splayed on his chest. A smile.
“Look at me…”
And still, Aidan does not look. The light is bright, and it calls him. He wants out of here—of this place of loneliness and ache and cold and terror.
The smell of lavender on a pillow.
Browns and greens mixing together in perfect harmony-
“Look at me.”
A sudden, startling realization dawns upon him then. He’s not lost. And he’s not in the hands of death. He knows, becomes he knows himself, still. He feels the blood dripping down his lip, he smells his brother nearby, and smells something horrid, something like-
Whatever part of him is still conscious knows. He remembers, calling back memories that show him the pages of a book, a conversation with his mother, a dark, childish nightmare—
And that’s when he knows. When he realizes.
It cannot touch you if you don’t look.
The bogge is attempting to take him. But hasn’t been able to yet.
Aidan looks to the light.
And then he comes back to himself.
He feels himself falling down, down, down, into nothingness. But there is no fall. And then his eyes focus.
The creature approaches him slowly, a snake in the grass, translucent body and beady eyes. And Aidan can feel his legs again. And the forest is no longer twisting around his bones and squeezing the life out of him. And the light has returned. And he is alive, and the nightmare is gone.
And his brother is screaming at him to move.
A deep growl forms in his chest, and it falls from his mouth the minute the creature writhes, its body there, and not there, an illusion, a nightmare broken by day.
Seren is battling to pull himself upright, but before he can strike, Aidan is upon the creature.
Bit by bit, Aidan tears it apart.
Pushing past the loneliness, the fear. Its sluggish limbs are torn off first. A shriek is heard through the forest, and a thousand wings take the skies, startled from the branches. Aidan’s teeth rip its neck apart.
Black blood falls from his mouth, and Aidan watches as the bogge’s beady eyes go blank. It falls over, limp and heavy as a tree trunk, joining the other one Seren killed before Aidan arrived.
All of it—
All of it happened in the space of seconds.
Everything Aidan saw—all that the bogge showed him… all of his fears—
That was only a few seconds. Seren is still righting himself.
Aidan falls back, head pounding.
Seren holds him up by his arms. “Hey,” he says, as Aidan trembles violently. He pulls his brother into his arms, holding him as if Aidan might disintegrate. He’s not sure he won’t. “Hey there, little brother,” Seren murmurs. “You’re back.”
Aidan closes his eyes. “I saw…”
“I know,” Seren says against his shoulder. “I saw it too.”
Aidan pulls back slowly, then spits out more black blood, heaving. Seren places a steady hand on his shoulder, waiting for the tremors to ease, and when they do,, Aidan rises again, and says, “Seren, I saw—”
A dress fluttering.
A hand reaching for his.
Seren pats his cheek slightly. “That was the bogge, Aidan—”
“No, I-I saw a female—” Aidan frowns. “It’s her.”
“Who are you talking about?”
But how do you tell your brother you have been having dreams about a female you have never met without sounding absolutely mad? And how do you tell your brother that said female might have just saved his life?
“Nothing,” Aidan whispers. “It’s nothing.”
Seren blinks at him, then turns his gaze back to the dead creatures behind his brother’s back, sighing. “Fuckers.”
Aidan looks down at his brother’s leg. “You can say that again.”
Seren follows his gaze. “The thing came out of nowhere. I wasn’t fast enough.” He wipes his eyes with a dirty sleeve, then gestures toward the Mountain with his chin. “You should go, Aidan. I need to tend to this, or else I will not make the climb.”
Aidan stays right where he is.
But Aidan squats down, ripping a good part of his trousers to bind his brother’s leg. Seren protests and hisses like a child the entire time, but Aidan doesn’t have the heart to argue with him when his brother’s leg is ripped open, the skin flapping and bloody. With Aidan’s arm hurting more with each hour that passes, and now with Seren’s leg… they will need to be fast. They need to get to the Mountain before the day is over.
“How is it?”
Seren looks down at his leg. “I will slow you down.”
“Together,” Aidan says, placing a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “We promised we would do it together.”
Seren sniffs slightly, and begins to shake his head, but Aidan squeezes his shoulder, urging Seren to meet his eyes. When his brother does, Aidan says again, “Together, Seren.”
So Seren leans against his brother for support.
And together, they make for the Mountain.
Astrid’s back hits the rocks as she sits on a crevasse, hidden from view, halfway up the Mountain. She is so close, and if she had more strength in her she would have already made it to the top with the sun at her back and the orange skies smiling down at her. But she had to fight her way here, monsters and males alike, and up this high the air is thick and dry, and exhaustion creeps at her so rapidly that Astrid has to wait the dizziness to pass. It certainly does not help that the wings are a great weight on her back, and it had poured down the rest of the afternoon, so everything was much more slippery.
She takes a look through the crevasse—only rocks and sky. If she were to fall from this high, she would not survive the fall. Not without her wings to stabilize her.
She takes a few more precious moments to breathe.
Naza, AIdan and Seren must already be at the top. Astrid needs to move if she does not want to risk someone finding her here. This is more than reaching the top now—this is survival.
Astrid pokes her head out of the crevasse, and frowns at the darkening skies.
The rain is coming again.
In the distance, she smells thunder.
The thunder sounds like war drums.
Naza is shivering in the rain, feet and hands steady on the Mountain. The bottom is steep, adorned with sharp edges and cutting corners, and even though she’s cut herself more times than she can count, Naza pays it no mind. The rain washes away the blood before she can focus on the pain.
Her leathers are drenched. They weigh her down. And still, she persists.
She sees the top.
She’s coming for it.
Vanserra Manor, Autumn Court, Prythian
It’s not the first time Eris has asked him to spy on his brother.
Fraser has half a mind to tell his father to do it himself, if he’s so curious. He’s no hound. He certainly has better things to do than follow Jerek’s tracks through the Woods. But Fraser also knows that defiance can get him easily killed, and frankly, he does not find the idea of having his neck snapped over his younger brother’s recklessness particularly thrilling, so, in the end, he plays the part.
He spends entire afternoons finding and losing his brother’s scent through the woods. Now, if Fraser had re ally put his mind to it, he would have gone beyond the river, which his brother had, without a doubt, used to mask his scent everyday.
It doesn’t take much guessing as to why Jerek’s been half-assing his duties and why he’s spent every afternoon in the last year or so buried deep in the woods.
His brother is a fool.
Jerek has always been a volcano of emotion, lava burning over the surface, just waiting for that explosion to hit and wreck it all. He’s not learned to keep things in, like the rest of them, like Fraser has, so there is no doubt that Eris has noticed the glint in his brother’s eyes, too. Jerek never knows when to play pretend. And that will get him killed in the end.
Fraser stands in his father’s office, his face and voice devoid of emotion.
“What did you see?” Asks Eris.
And Fraser tells him the truth. “He’s been sitting by the river every afternoon. I have caught no other scents. He hunts the naga and then wastes his hours there.”
Fraser shrugs. “Hunting. Fishing. Sleeping, mostly.”
Fraser holds his father’s burning gaze. “Yes, Sir.”
Eris taps his bottom lip, gaze drifting to the window. “Come back next week to report to me. Let us see if you have different answers.”
Fraser bows his head, and with a grimace, he turns his back on his father the moment he is dismissed.
Three days later, Fraser catches his brother by the collar and pushes him against the tree in the gardens of their home.
And for all his strength, Jerek lets his brother pin him to the tree. Distracted, Fraser thinks with a sneer.
“Are you out of your fucking mind?” Fraser hisses close to his brother’s face.
Jerek’s eyes glint dangerously. “Hands off me. Now.”
Fraser only holds him tighter. “He’s following you around, you gods damned fool. Whatever happiness you think you have now, it’s going to end soon.”
Jerek manages to slip from his brother’s death grip by hitting him in the forearm. Fraser steps back as Jerek shows him his teeth. “Are you threatening me, Fraser?”
“I am giving you a warning, which is more than you deserve,” Fraser spits out. “If you think masking her scent on you before coming home is enough, think otherwise, brother. And I advise you to think it through—it’s not only your neck that’s on the line. Mother’s and Alia’s, too.”
Jerek watches his brother walk away, and though the urge to rip his head off his shoulders rises in him, Jerek only clenches his hands at his sides and remains dangerously still. His gaze travels to a nearby window as he feels the back of his neck prickling.
His mother watches the scene with a hand at her throat and brows furrowed together.
Jerek works his jaw. Looking away with a snarl, he makes for the Manor, leaving the woods and everything they mean to him behind, only for the night.
His father summons him when dawn breaks through the skies.
Jerek holds every ounce of tension in his jaw, every ounce of blazing rage and hidden fear in his chest, and though his eyes show nothing, the moment he enters his father’s office, every bit of him grows cold at the letter opened on his father’s desk, a familiar dark signature at the bottom.
Eris Vanserra says, “You are engaged to be married.”
Jerek holds himself very still.
Though his heart stumbles in his chest and shock is a dizzying cold wave that almost rocks him forward, he shows his father nothing. He knows to be careful. Not only is his father onto him, but now he’s got Fraser following him too. If any of them discover her, if Fraser decides to look for her...
Jerek doesn’t even allow himself to think of her name, much less her face.
Instead, he forms a rigid smile, and breathes a laugh. “Is that what you do now? Dispatch the children you no longer have a need for by marrying them off?”
He’s always hated his father.
But the day his father sent Annika away was the day another fissure was created in that mountain of hate, and though he’s never been close to his sister, because their father never willed it so, Jerek still despises his father for marrying her off in such a way.
Eris’ eyes sparkle as he smiles. He’s amused. “Better than killing you, is it not?”
Jerek returns the smile. “One might say that, yes.”
“Do you take issue with it?” Eris asks, folding the letter carefully.
“That presupposes that I have a choice, which I know I do not,” Jerek says. “So no, I do not take issue with it.”
“Good, you’re learning,” Eris says, not a spark of emotion in him now. Jerek wonders how his father manages to turn it off so suddenly, and realizes it must be a natural talent.
“Who is she?” Jerek asks. “Or is it a surprise?”
“You’re cheerful with your little jests today.” Eris raises his eyes to Jerek, but his son only folds his hands behind his back, grey clouds hiding poisoned rain. “She’s Draven’s daughter. The merchant. Ask the messenger for a portrait if you insist, but the deal is already made.”
Jerek pauses. “The girl is not of age yet.”
“She will be.”
Jerek works his jaw. “In two years.”
His father inclines his head, sighing. “So?”
“So I will marry her when she is of age.”
Eris lets out a laugh that is more of a snarl than anything else. “You will marry her when I say so.” He rises, and smacks the letter in his son’s chest. “Your signature, son.”
Jerek gets a hold of himself quickly enough. “Draven deals in boats. What do you need boats for?”
Eris smiles. “For war, of course.”
Autumn Woods, Autumn Court, Prythian
“Marriage?” Alva whispers to him.
He cannot bear to witness the hurt in her eyes, nor the way her fingers seem to cling harder to his shirt, twisting the fabric. He touches the back of her head, pulling her close. The breeze flows past, the cold from the north making her shiver, and Jerek wishes, he so desperately wishes, that he was strong enough to keep it away and warm her for the rest of their days, however long that may be, and he wishes, he so desperately wishes, for his father’s blood in his hands and his head rolling at his feet.
“He will not take you from me,” Jerek whispers back, closing his eyes against her loose hair. “I will allow no such thing.”
At his tone, Alva looks up. There are tears brimming her eyes, and yet—
She blinks them away, hands at his chest. “Jerek,” she says, “you cannot turn away from it. He will kill you.”
They sit together beneath their tree, overlooking the lake in the distance, the leaves swaying with the wind, almost bared trees with their branches aiming for the sky. By nightfall, the wind will break them all.
He takes her face in his hands, staring at the eyes he loves. “We’ll run away.”
Alva watches him carefully.
“To Spring,” Jerek continues, stroking his thumb along her cheekbone. “The moment we cross the border, Eris won’t be able to strike, not in Tamlin’s territory. Not with Tamlin now allied with Night. We’ll take a boat to Vallahan—”
“I’ll be out of his sight then,” he says, desperation clinging to his tone like sweat clinging to skin, “I can’t ruin his plans from another continent, and you’ll be out of danger, too.”
Alva rests her head against his chest, one hand twisting the buttons of his shirt. “What about my father?”
“He’ll come with us.”
“Jerek,” she says softly, looking up at him. “I cannot ask him to leave his home. This,” she gestures toward the cabin, buried beneath a thicket of trees, “this was his mate’s home. This is where they lived for years before I was born. My mother is in every part of that cabin—the knitted rubs, the chipped paint… I cannot ask him to leave the home he built with his mate.” She lowers her eyes, hiding a tear fallen on his shirt. “Ever since my mother passed, my father has not been the same. He grows weaker everyday. And I feel as if he might join her any day now. I will not ask him to run. And I cannot leave him.”
Jerek is silent, so still.
Alva takes his face in her hands when he drops his. “And you cannot leave your family in the hands of your father.”
Jerek closes his eyes, shaking his head.
“You know I’m right,” Alva murmurs, leaning in to press her cheek against his. “You are not that male, Jerek. You are not your father.”
What more is there to say?
Jerek wraps his arms around his love, and holds her as tight as he can, for as long as he can.
“It will be alright,” Alva whispers to him. “I promise, everything will be alright.”
He’s as bare as those trees, vulnerable to the cold.
And the cold is unforgiving.
Illyrian Mountains, Night Court, Prythian
Her bones are frozen.
Naza cannot feel her hands.
When she thinks the rain might stop, when she sees the smallest glimpse of the sun in the distance, she is foolish enough to hope. But not an hour goes by, night falls, and the rain pours down again, and it does not take long for Naza to forget what warmth feels like.
Ramiel seems to spread for miles and miles, and this high, hidden by clouds and mist and rain, she cannot see a thing but the glimmer of something over ahead.
Naza has never prayed to the Mother before. But she prays now. She prays for herself, for the cub she’s left behind, for Aidan, and Astrid and Seren. And somehow, through chattering teeth and aching limbs, she keeps climbing, and climbing, and climbing, until her mind is foggy with exhaustion, until she can no longer feel her legs. She heaves herself up to the flat-top elevation and lies there on her back, letting the rain pour down over her closed eyes.
She does not wait until sleep catches up to her. In a split-second, she is moving again. Up and around that slope, blinking and shaking away the rain, fighting to stay conscious—and alive.
The flat point ends, and Naza begins to climb again. She knows she’s hit a strike of luck. This must be the earliest someone has gotten to the Mountain, and so she is alone. But Naza does not expect that luck to last.
After all, the Mother is not that kind.
The wind sharpens, and the rain with it. It feels like needles digging into her cheek as her braid comes undone.
Naza digs her boots into the crevices of the mountain, taking advantage of every fissure, and while she’s a talented fighter, this is the skill she lacks the most. No matter how many years she’s spent practicing… Ramiel is a dangerous thing.
And when her foot slips, Naza is reminded of that.
Fear kettles into her bones. Fear like she’s never felt before. She wants her wings back. She needs them. Just thinking about how high she is makes her stomach turn—
But if she undos the binds in her wings, she will be disqualified.
Naza did not come this far to die. Or worse—to be dishonoured.
She is the future commander of Rhysand’s armies, not a loser.
Not when she’s so, so close.
But the wind rattles and slaps and tears. And when Naza least expects it, her foot slips again.
And this time, she can’t hold on.
“Just a mile up,” Aidan says to his brother over the rain, clinging to the slippery rocks. “Just one more mile, Seren.”
Seren shakes so violently that his wings, even in a tight bind, seem to flutter. He’s only two or three steps below Seren, and while they’ve been working together to shield each other from the harsh rains by climbing one after the other, switching positions every now and then, their strength is failing.
Aidan can see Seren’s movements faltering.
“Seren,” Aidan says, shaking the rain from his eyes. “Are you with me?”
Seren breathes hard. “I’m… with you.”
“Let’s go, brother,” Aidan tells him, and steadies himself before pulling one hand away from the rocks and extending it down to him. “Come on.”
Seren holds on to his hand, and Aidan helps him one more step. Just one more step.
“Together,” Seren says, raising his head.
Aidan pulls all his broken pieces back together, and says back, “Together.”
Vanserra Manor, Autumn Court, Prythian
Eris Vanserra watches his youngest son walk out the gravel path with his eyes downcast. He wonders, briefly, as his eyes follow the young male taking the path toward the deepest woods, whether he has been too soft on Jerek.
Jerek has too much of his mother in him. A weakness that you can smell from miles away. A gentleness that serves for nothing in this world. In truth, Eris focused his attention on his oldest sons when, perhaps, he should have been watching out for the snake in the grass. Because where there is softness, there is also viciousness. And Eris can use that viciousness.
He just has to bring it out of his son.
The guard straightens when Eris turns his head toward him. “You.”
“Follow him,” Eris gestures to the window with his chin. “Make sure you are not found.”
The guard nods, and is gone in the blink of an eye.
Eris breathes out a sigh.
If Baron were alive, Jerek would already be dead. And Eris has spared him, even when his son has been sneaking around behind his back.
He is, after all, a merciful father. Especially when compared to his own.
And his children should know it well by now.
His daughter arrives that same afternoon.
Annika is greeted only by her mother at the parlour, with cold hands reaching out for her and eyes brimming with tears.
“Oh, my darling,” her mother whispers. “You look beautiful—”
Annika pushes back before her mother can embrace her, sneering in disgust, and instead, her attention is immediately diverted to her twin’s absence.
“Alia,” Annika snarls, “where is she?”
Paloma shrinks at her daughter’s tone, one hand stopping mid-air, as if she’d been preparing to stroke Annika’s cheek. The Lady of Autumn’s hands fall at her sides and she murmurs, “Your sister rarely leaves her bedroom. She misses you—”
Her mother hasn’t even finished speaking before Annika turns on her heels, marching out into the hallway and up the stairs, toward her sister’s chamber. She cares not for the pitiful sob her mother lets out. She has no need for her tears.
Her blood runs cold.
She’s dreamed of him screaming as she twists his neck. She’s dreamed of that voice fading as she rips his throat out.
Annika turns with precise calm. “Father.”
Eris smiles, hands behind his back. “You look well.”
“I am well,” Annika says. “What are you hiding there, a sword?”
Eris laughs without humour, then shows her his hands. “We both know I would need no weapons to end you.”
Fucker. Fucker. “Of course not,” Annika says. “But if you didn’t summon to end me, as you put it, then why am I here?” She raises her brows. “Now, now. Have you missed me in such a short time?”
Eris inclines his head. “You’re here because I want to speak to you. To all of you.”
Annika holds his gaze until her father says, “My office in an hour.”
He says nothing more as he turns to leave.
Annika’s heart stumbles, and she almost wishes she could collapse on the floor and empty her stomach right there. She’d been close, too close, to death once before, but the hardest thing she’s had to do was keep herself from attempting to assassinate her father with her bare hands just now.
She pivots and knocks on the door of her old room.
When there is no answer, Annika forces the door open.
Her sister is lying in bed, asleep.
Annika almost steps back and walks out—
Until she finds herself rounding her sister’s bed, and staring at her sleeping face. What she sees makes her blood boil.
Alia is thinner than she’s ever seen her. The colour of her skin is gone, and she’s now as pale as a winter’s sky, clinging to the pillow with bony fingers and fluttering lashes as the nightmares chase her.
She’s always been the stronger sister, and Alia the weak one. Not because Annika chose to be strong, or her father forced her to, but because one of them had to be. Ever since they were children and their brothers were too rough with them, it was always Annika who had to show her teeth and snarl at them to stop. Everytime Crius and Octavian passed by, it was always Annika putting herself in front of Alia—if she hadn’t shown her powers so early, if her brothers hadn’t felt that quiet, deadly threat coming from her, who knows if they wouldn’t have found a way to be rid of them.
But Alia is different. Always was.
Alia is the one who would shrink at loud voices and hide away under her bed until nightfall. The one who lowered her eyes, and clung to their mother’s dresses until Eris walked away. She’s always been the one that needed holding.
Annika does not wake her.
Instead, she marches down the halls, fire burning at the tips of her hair.
It’s unlucky that she finds her sorry excuse of a mother along the way.
“You can’t even make sure she eats?” Annika demands, fire roiling just underneath her skin.
The Lady of Autumn lowers her head. “You have no idea what we have had to endure while you have been gone, Annika.”
Annika shakes her head. “You are her mother. You are supposed to protect her.”
Her mother stays silent.
“You’ve nothing to say to that?” Annika snarls, back straightening. “You’re just as terrible as he is.”
As Annika is about to turn away, her mother wraps a hand around her wrist. “Annika, please—”
But something cracks inside her.
It is like setting a forest on fire and having it all turned to ashes in just a heartbeat.
Annika yanks her arm away with such force that her mother stumbles back into the wall. She does not show the Lady of Autumn the tremors that that touch alone causes, for she represses each one. She does not show the fear crippling her from the inside out. Nor the flashbacks it brings.
She holds her wrist against her chest and simply says, “If anyone puts their hands on me while I am here I will kill all of you and leave you to the wolves.”
Paloma widens her eyes, shocked at her daughter’s reaction. Horrified—even after all this time.
Annika blinks the burning sting in her eyes away. “And if I come back and see my sister in that state again, you will be the first one I rip apart.”
She turns away from her mother, and does not look back.
Autumn Woods, Autumn Court, Prythian
It is mid-afternoon when Alva feels it.
Like a sixth sense.
Like a breeze suddenly changing courses.
Something is not right.
She freezes, even as Jerek’s lips touch the soft place just under her ear. His hips roll deliciously hard against hers, tearing a soft sigh out of her mouth which he welcomes into his with a kiss that might just be capable of burning her alive.
“Jerek,” she tries.
But in this hidden alcove in the deep woods, where only birdsong and faint winds are heard, it’s too easy to get lost in each other, in the way Jerek’s hands trace the shape of her body over her dress, in his soft murmurs, in the way his muscles move underneath her hands.
“Wait,” she breathes when his hand lowers further. “Wait.”
He stops, lips against her jaw. Opens his eyes. “Alva.”
“Listen,” she whispers.
Jerek’s eyes rise to the entrance of that alcove, following the perimeter of the trees, taking in every movement of the leaves, every unsettling of the pines. Jerek unwraps his arms from around Alva, and with a gentle gesture, he silently asks her to stay put.
It is only when he moves past the entrance that the unfamiliar scent hits him.
And perhaps it is the adrenaline of being this close to her and feeling the imminent threat without seeing it, but Jerek’s mind turns a switch and before he can think it through he’s prowling the woods, teeth bared.
A male is close.
A low snarl falls from his mouth.
No one comes here. No one has come to this part of the woods for centuries. And now—
His muscles strain when his eyes finally land on him.
A guard who has scented Alva on him—and who now looks over at him with parted lips, wide eyes, sword lowered.
“My Lord,” the guard says.
Jerek knows what he has to do.
And he is not dreading it so much.
Not as much as he should.
The guard must see the raging fire in his eyes, for he picks up his sword back again, backing away. He cannot outrun Jerek. And he knows it, too.
“My Lord,” the guard says again, voice uneven. “Please.”
He halts, and every instinct in him recoils at her voice, like a wounded snake pulling back. “Get back inside.”
“No,” Alva says, eyeing the guard, who has no means of escape. Eyeing her lover, who is keen on murdering him for what he’s witnessed. “You can’t kill him. That is not you.”
Jerek’s fists light up in flames. Alva takes a step back. “Maybe,” he snarls, “you want to believe a lie.”
His eyes turn to the guard.
The male kneels. “Please.”
Jerek allows his fire to spread up his arms—
A flash appears in his vision, a blur of a creature flying past. From one second to the next, the male is looking at him, and then his head is rolling on the floor.
Fraser stands behind the guard as the male’s body falls forward. Blood spills on the leaves.
Alva leads her hands to her mouth and steps back, muffling a silent scream.
Jerek snarls at his brother. “Come to take the crown at last, brother?”
Fraser wipes his bloody hands on his knees and with an annoyed glance, he sets fire to both the male’s body and his severed head. “You’re risking your life—your family’s life—for a half-breed?”
Alva is certain Jerek’s answering growl can be heard throughout the woods. Her back hits the rocks—there is nowhere else to turn to. She watches both brothers circle each other slowly, sizing each other up. Fraser moves to a defensive stance, staring unblinkingly at his younger brother.
“Do not look at her.”
“You really are a fool, Jerek.”
“Do you think he will accept you if you take her to him?” Jerek sneered. “Kill the guard, take the glory, is that your plan?”
Fraser halts his movements and raises his chin. “That is what I should do, you senseless, egoistic prick.”
Jerek eyes flash. “I’ll fight you.”
“And lose,” Fraser says. “I will put you down before you can get your teeth near me.” He points with his chin to Alva. “Besides, you’re all possessive anger, and I have a clear head. If you move, I’ll kill you.”
“Jerek,” Alva murmurs from behind him, a broken whisper. “Jerek, please.”
Jerek does not spare her a look, but his flames dim.
“Let her go,” Jerek says to his brother. “She’s afraid.”
“Annika’s home,” Fraser says instead. “Do you know what that means? Papa dearest wants a chat. He knows what you’re up to, Jerek.”
“And you’ve finally decided to be a brother to me and give me the heads-up?” Jerek spits. “Surely, you’ve known what’s to come for a while now, since you have had his ear for years. Don’t play the fool, Fraser. It doesn’t suit you.” He turns to Alva. “Go. Go now.”
Alva hesitates, staring between them.
“Go,” Jerek growls. “Take the river. Mask your scent. Go.”
A tear spills from her cheek as she watches him, and for that second when their eyes meet, Jerek sees it again—how it all could have been. And all that is now soon to be lost. The only thing that ever gave him a glimpse of what happiness should feel like, slipping from his fingers like ashes. He burned too bright.
Alva lets out a soft sob, and Jerek almost runs to her—
But then she’s disappearing through the trees, and soon she’ll be crossing the river, and he’ll lose her scent in the harsh wind.
He cannot process the pain, somehow. It hits him, but it leaves him numb, instead of putting him to his knees as it should. Fraser eyes him, and Jerek awaits the moment his brother attacks, or tries to chase her—
Instead, Fraser only says, “Why’d you do this, Jerek?”
“I love her.”
Fraser clenches his jaw, and stays very still as his brother repeats in a broken whisper, a quiet thunder of words, “I love her.”
Time seems to stop as they watch each other, the forest stilling.
And then something pierces his shoulder.
Jerek falls back onto the grass, choking—
A hard thump echoes throughout the eerie forest, and Jerek looks over to see his brother fallen face-first next to that burning body, a line of blood running from his leg. Jerek does not have to look at his own arm to smell the ash.
The wind blew the other way, so of course neither of them had caught that scent.
Out of the densest part of the forest, where monsters sleep and nightmares rage, comes a beast of a horse, fur like the darkest of midnights, hooves covered in graceful waves of mist. Jerek turns his eyes to its rider.
Annika watches them both.
A quiver full of arrows with poisoned tips at her back. A bow being drawn.
“Brothers,” Annika smiles. “Long time no see.”
Illyrian Mountains, Night Court, Prythian
Turns out that falling out of a mountain really does humble you.
It’s having the skies caught in your eyes as the distance between you and the stars increases so rapidly, feeling like at any moment you can stop listening to the whistling wind against your ears, take your final gasp of air and plummet to your death.
The stars smile down at her as Naza plummets to her death.
In those final moments, she thinks of her mother.
Naza has Nesta’s eyes. Her strength. Her character. Naza thinks of her mother’s smile as she tucked her daughter into her side one frightful night.
She thinks of Cassian.
Her father, her friend. She has so much of him, too. He believed in her. He believed she would triumph.
But she’s falling to her death.
She’s going to let them down.
Naza tries to grasp onto every slippery edge she can, until she hits a sharp corner and rolls down the mountain, rain and dirt clinging to her. And when she thinks it’s over, when she believes she will take that final plunge and final breath and final everything—
She is suspended in mid-air.
Staring at a flat surface of rock.
Naza takes a staggering breath, and then she smacks hard onto the ground, but with barely any impact. Small rocks and particles fall over her as rain continues to pour, and Naza allows herself that one second to lie there wondering—
What the fuck just happened.
She’d stopped falling. Right before she fell to her death, she stopped falling—
The hairs on her arms rise, and not from the cold. Naza looks up, and almost goes rolling down the mountain again at what she sees.
A wall of stacked rocks stands to her right, looking strangely out of place and yet…
There are subtle holes between the rocks, and where darkness should be is an eerie green glow, like shining a line under swamp water. Wind blows her unbound hair to her face, as Naza sits there, staring at this wall. She swears she can hear whispers, and the dread that falls upon her is enough for her to push herself back up, and stumble away, up the curved path.
She does not consider what she saw.
She does not think of it.
She’s alive, and that is all that matters.
For now, that is all that matters.
“I will do it,” she repeats, like a sad lullaby at this point, speaking so softly over the rain. “I will do it.”
Astrid Archeron was not born a quitter.
She can see the glint of the monolith sparkling through the rain. A light at the end of a dark tunnel.
The rain wipes her tears away.
She’s killed for this.
She’s bled for this.
Astrid heaves herself up once more. Just one more last bit of strength. The top of Ramiel is flat and at its center—
Astrid is crawling. Reaching out a hand.
The tips of her fingers touch the monolith.
The skies come alight with lightning, and Astrid laughs as she cries.
She finds a better path this time around.
Naza blinks away her exhaustion and her pain, and she marches forth. Up, and up, and up.
She does not look down. Not once.
Thunder booms in the distance, and a bolt of lightning crashes into the world, lighting the way.
Hours and hours go by. Thunder gets louder.
It drives her.
She sets her teeth, and keeps climbing.
For her mother, for everything that was taken from her.
For her father, for everything that was taken from him.
For her carranam, her best friend, her cousin, who lifted her chin to the skies when exhaustion began to creep in.
For Astrid, and Nora, who keep her sane.
For Aidan, who tests her sanity.
For her family.
And for herself, she climbs.
As she pulls one leg over the flat top of Ramiel Mountain, the rain pours harder. But she’s made it. She’s here.
One hand hovers above the monolith. Her nails are caked with blood as she lays her palm firmly on the monolith. It sends a glowing, blinding light into the skies.
Naza collapses beside a shadow.
A shadow howling with laughter and tears.
Astrid looks over at her.
Extends a hand.
And Naza takes it with the last bit of strength she has left.
“I’m with you.”
“We’re almost there, brother. One last effort.”
He’s been saying that for the last three hours, and still, the night is at its darkest, and Seren has yet to see the top. He no longer believes his brother.
“I promise,” Aidan says, a new edge to his voice. “Seren, look up. Look up.”
And there, hidden by shadows and mist, the soft glimmer of the monolith.
For a moment, he thinks it’s a vision.
He’s fallen off the mountain and died, for sure.
Aidan lets out a laugh of triumph, and then a great howl that seems to echo through the entire world.
Two shadows peek down at them both.
“Naza,” Aidan breathes. “Az.”
And sure enough—that is his carranam and his cousin smiling down at them both, bloody and battered, but alive.
Aidan struggles with the last bit, but Seren is there, as he’s always been. He pulls himself up, and takes hold of his brother’s hand.
Seren pulls his brother up, into his arms, and Aidan crashes into him, wrapping his brother in a tight hug—bad arm and all. Naza and Astrid join them, and Seren, half-conscious, feels them squeezing at him.
Astrid is still crying—or laughing. Seren can never tell with her.
They stay there in the rain, holding on to each other for Mother knows how long, until Naza blurts out, “Took you fuckers long enough.”
Naza and Astrid part, and Seren catches sight of the monolith’s glimmer, cutting through the darkness.
Aidan and Seren eye each other.
They place their palms on the monolith at the same time.
Out of fifty three, twelve did not make it out.
Their injuries are tended to, and though his brother can barely walk still, he stands tall and proud, eyes gleaming in his new armour.
Aidan rolls his eyes. Always prone to heroisms, his brother.
Naza and Astrid stand by them, black armour to match their own, looking like two knights of death. Naza wears a gruesome smirk on her face as she stares Devlon down. The victorious ones no longer sneer at the females, and instead, Aidan sees a new-found respect in most of their gazes.
Respect can be often confused with fear.
Aidan can almost hear Devlon’s thoughts. Bunch of half-breeds.
Still, there is nothing more satisfying than proving all of them wrong. He almost died for it, sure.
But his point still stands.
His father comes forth, and Aidan braces himself as his mother joins him, eyes gleaming in the sun, as she stares at both of her children.
“We never would have forced either of you to go through it,” Feyre murmurs. “We spoke about it, your father and I. For years.”
“Dreading the moment you both decided you’d want to compete,” Rhysand completes with a smile. “But I did not wish to take a choice that was given to me away from you.” He sighs, then holds out an ancient, heavy-looking box for them to open. “We were proud of you before, incredibly so. You two are our greatest gifts.”
Feyre smiles at them both. “Open it.”
Seren and Aidan share a look, before Aidan cracks the box open.
Inside, two siphons shine.
Aidan breathes in shakily.
He thinks his brother might not be breathing at all.
“Seren,” Rhysand murmurs, “my son.” He picks up a forest green siphon the size of his palm, and extends it to Seren.
Seren envelops both of his parents in a bear hug, wings and all, and their mother laughs, leaving a kiss on her son’s cheek.
“Thank you,” Seren murmurs, closing his fingers over the siphon.
A blue siphon is left in the box, the same colour as summer skies. Aidan marvels at it, at its depth, and how the colour shifts.
“Son,” Rhys says softly.
But Aidan hesitates.
“It is yours,” his father continues, giving him an assuring nod. “You have earned it, Aidan.”
Feyre inclines her head, touching her son’s shoulder.
He returns her smile before reaching over.
The power coursing through him the moment his fingers touch the siphon is enough to make his blood sing. It stings him, sending shivers down his spine, and lightning bolts up his arms.
“Thank you,” Aidan says, looking up at them both.
When he looks over, Cassian is holding onto his daughter, wrapping her in a tight embrace. Naza has a gleaming stone in her hand, matching his in every way but in colour: Naza’s is a rich gold, the colour of the sun.
Astrid buries her face in her father’s armour, her too clinging to a reddish brown siphon.
“I told you we’d make it,” Aidan finds himself murmuring to his brother.
Seren smiles, patting his back with enough force to almost send Aidan to the ground. “Watch it.”
“So,” Seren says after a moment’s pause, smirking up at Naza. “What are you going to do with that ugly little beast you got from the woods?”
Cassian looks very faint, all of a sudden. “Those little shits grow to be the size of three Illyrians,” he mutters to both Feyre and Rhys.
Naza raises a brow at her cousin. “I’m going to keep it, of course. And raise it.”
From a few feet away, Nesta’s head snaps to her daughter, and Cassian winces. “Nesta is going to have a stroke,” he continues.
Seren crosses his arms over his chest, back to his arrogant, easy self. “And how are you going to raise a beast like that?”
Naza crosses eyes with Feyre before she stares her carranam down. “Didn’t Feyre raise you?”
Aidan and Astrid share a knowing look, and step back in time for Seren to pounce. But of course Naza sees it coming. She pushes past him, deflects, and trips him into the ground. But Seren grabs her leg with such a quick movement that Naza ends up stumbling backwards, wings contorting this way and that to keep herself balanced.
Astrid mutters to Aidan, “Can you believe a day ago we were hugging?”
Aidan looks over at them again to see Seren attempting to fly off, with Naza ruining his plans and yanking him back down by his good leg.
The youngest Archeron snorts a laugh. “No, Az,” he says. “I really can’t believe it.”
Vanserra Manor, Autumn Court, Prythian
He’s slapped awake.
The first instinct is to claw her eyes out. The second is to bite her neck off.
But Jerek is rendered useless. He cannot feel his limbs, only the sting of the ash arrow’s poison running in his veins.
Annika’s voice fades back to him as he slowly peels his eyes open.
He is in the dining room of his home.
Slumped in a chair.
Fraser is sitting next to him, but his brother’s face is planted on the table, his eyes still closed.
He smells his father.
Jerek focuses his eyes on Eris Vanserra. He sees two hands lying flat on the table, and as his eyes lift, he sees that his father is glaring at him.
“Welcome back,” Eris snarls.
Jerek coughs blood on the table. “Fuck you.”
Annika turns to look down at him, a few paces away. Memories come back to him as if slowed down, and he sees his sister atop that nightmarish horse, holding the bow that fired the arrow that is now at his shoulder, unabling him from tearing her apart.
“Good job, daughter,” Eris mutters, in a rather annoyed fashion. “You accomplished what a senseless guard was not able to.”
“Perhaps you should have trusted me before, then.”
“Mind your words, Annika,” Eris warns, eyeing her from the corner of his eye.
“You fucking traitor,” Jerek half-snarls half-groans, spitting blood from his mouth as his burry eyes meet his sister’s.
Annika only smiles. “Wait until you hear the rest of the story.”
But the door bursts open then.
The Lady of Autumn stands there, a shriek tearing from her mouth. “JEREK-”
Before she can move one step further, Eris raises his hands, and a four walls of fire rise before Paloma. It’s a cage of flames.
“I told you, dearest,” Eris says, turning her way, almost nonchalant. “I warned you I’d lock you out if you intervened.”
Paloma falls to her knees in a hysteria of tears and choked laments.
Annika rolls her eyes. “This family is so dramatic.”
“Fraser,” Jerek blurts out, hitting his brother’s leg under the table. “Fraser.”
“Oh, please, he’s fine,” Annika groans in impatience.
“You spineless bitch,” Jerek flings her way.
Annika shows him her teeth. “Why is it that you males love that word so much? Do you not know any other words to insult us with?”
They both turn their gazes to Eris, who stands at the end of the table. “Tell me,” he says to Annika.
“A half-breed,” Annika says, ignoring Jerek’s protests and growls. “That is who Jerek has been meeting with. I caught her scent when I found them both.”
Eris meets his eyes.
The sheer disgust Jerek sees in them… “A half-breed.”
“Annika,” Jerek rasps out, throat raw. “You’re my sister. You’re my blood.”
Annika rolls her shoulders. “That one,” she points to Fraser, “killed your guard. He wanted to be the one to catch the half-breed. He wanted you to find him worthy. He’s been fighting for your good opinion for years.”
“No,” Jerek says. “No-”
“And what did you do to the half-breed?”
Annika raises her chin. “I killed her.”
Jerek’s entire world stops spinning.
His heart stops beating.
The entire universe, he believes, collapses.
He is not breathing.
Eris narrows his eyes, but that is when Annika takes out a bloody arrow from her quiver. “Here is my proof, father,” Annika says, showing him the arrow. A drop of blood falls to the floor, and Jerek’s empty gaze follows it. “The same scent that’s all over him.”
It is the same scent.
Alva’s spilled blood.
His life, his warmth.
The only thing tying him to this world, gone.
Jerek stumbles out of his chair, teeth and claws reaching for his sister.
He will make her pay for it. He will make them both pay-
She did not deserve this.
She did not deserve what he did to her.
Before he can reach her, his sister gras him by the collar and shakes him so hard that blood spills out his mouth and stars shine in his vision. He’s slow, and halfway to the grave again, but he doesn’t care. He’ll lose his last breath trying to spill her blood.
Annika shakes him again, and the blood digs deeper into his flesh.
Jerek’s body sags.
A broken sob escapes him.
Annika breathes hard, teeth set and eyes blazing. She snarls at him, “Do not be a fool.”
She flings him down onto the chair again.
Jerek does not have the strength to move.
He is an empty shell.
“If you kill him,” Annika says, addressing Eris, most likely reading the threat in his eyes, “he will be of no use to you. And this is what you wanted, isn’t it? Ruthlessness? Viciousness? Well, you have it.” She gestures to him, as if presenting a golden quill to an interested buyer. “You’re welcome. A word of humble advice, father?” She approaches him, and says, “If you truly intend to marry my brother off to the merchant’s daughter, then you best be prepared for your territory to succumb to the ashes. He’s vengeful enough to ruin everything, and you know it. Keep him close to you. He’s nothing left to lose. I’ve broken the last of his spirit. Use the shell as you will, but most importantly: punish him in a way that’s useful for you.”
Eris turns his eyes to her.
Annika smiles. “Keep my brother right where you want him. Right where the other is,” she gestures towards Fraser, who still sleeps. “Keeping them both out of trouble.”
“Another spy,” Eris mutters.
Annika shrugs. “There are six more Courts. You seem to have your hands full.” She sighs, and drops the quiver on the table without much ceremony. “My job here is done. I’ll go back to my husband now.”
Eris glares after her as Annika side-steps her mother’s prison of flames. He glares after her long after she’s gone.
Jerek’s eyes are fixed on that bloody arrow, tainted with his lover’s blood. He can barely focus his gaze on his father when he approaches.
“You brought this upon yourself,” Eris says. “She is dead because of you.”
Jerek can only nod.
“Your sister is right,” he continues. “You’re of more use to me alive.”
“Kill me,” Jerek says, not recognizing his own voice. “If you don’t, I will find a way.”
“You’re not meant to be a tragedy, son.” Eris almost laughs. “I said this to you once, and I meant it. I still do. You’re blessed with more power than you deserve. Now…” Eris twirls the bloody arrow in his fingers, smiling in pure delight, “...what shall we do with it?”
a/n: will you guys believe me if i apologize for it being so long or are you over it? askdhasd
Tagging all these lovely people:
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