My Gift to You
I received an anonymous request to write something about Nesta and Rhys’ relationship post ACOSF and them having a conversation. The requestor said that their relationship didn’t feel genuine enough and that they had a lot of work to do before they consider themselves brother/ sister.
I mean.... same anon. Same. The relationship was definitely not one of happy families in my eyes and personally Rhys buying Nesta gifts just felt like the cheapest way to close the lid on their ‘relationship.’
I don’t know if this is what anon wanted but I just can’t write a future where those two truly bond and get along. So this is Nesta and Rhys as I feel would be most appropriate.
‘Brother,’ she’d called Rhys. It was not a word which drifted from her lips as easily as it did from Feyre’s when she used the term to refer to Cassian, or for Cassian himself when he spoke of his kin.
There had been no time for thinking, not with the screaming and shrieking and the copper tang of blood filling her nose. Rhys was losing his mind and the healer, Madja, was next to useless, pleading with Feyre to fight death - an act as impactful as a raindrop at the bottom of the ocean.
If fighting death were easy, everyone would win.
Nesta knew if you needed to beg for a life, you needed to beg to what could heed you.
The memory of what transpired for Nesta, when she stepped from one form into another, had faded over time like some strange fever dream.
There had been a presence swimming next to her, a shark with a sharp fin and razor teeth, twisting and arching, waiting to tear from her what she had torn out first. But something else was with her, someone else, with a golden light to illuminate Nesta’s way.
Something given and something gained. Those were the thoughts floating in her mind once she’d been present again.
Nesta sought out the opening of Feyre’s eyes, desperately listened for a new-born’s wail and thankfully, she received both.
Afterwards, in the calm, long after she’d embraced Rhys, Nesta wondered what she had meant by that word - brother.
Even as she cradled Nyx’s delicate head in the nook of her arm, stroking the tufts of downy black hair, she didn’t think of him as someone she shared with Rhys. No, despite the hair and sleepy violet eyes, he was someone Nesta shared with Feyre.
Sister. That was a stronger word.
The first infant Nesta ever held was Feyre. She remembered a scrunched up red face peeking behind a blanket as her new baby sister was placed in her arms while a toddler Elain sobbed in the background, upset at not being baby anymore.
I already have one of these.
That was her first thought, her first memory of Feyre.
“Look”, someone had said as Feyre opened her eyes, “they’re the same as yours, Nesta. The very same.”
For a long time, that’s all they had in common. The gift of the same eyes.
Perhaps Nesta had called Rhys brother because in that moment he was. He was her mirror counterpart, not a piece of her heart or soul the way Feyre, Elain and Cassian were but something prominent nonetheless. A shard of glass slicing into each other’s bones that they just couldn’t pull out.
Thank you, he’d said and she wanted to tell him not to say those words. She didn’t do anything requiring praise, she did what she did for the love of her sister and her sister’s child.
Do not thank me for my very nature.
They drifted into an uneasy peace. A gulf remained between Nesta and Elain which Nesta had no energy to remedy, but a bridge had been built between Nesta and Feyre and the connection was one Nesta strengthened as much as possible.
Nesta walked with Feyre around her gardens, joined at dinners and was polite and nodded and minded her manners and, when she had enough, she would return to the House of Wind and let Cassian love her.
As time passed, so did Nesta’s thoughts of Rhys as a brother.
Once again, he became her sister’s mate, her mate’s friend, her nephew’s father. Once again, he became High Lord. Ruler. Overseer.
Months after Nyx’s birth, Rhys and Feyre attended Winter to visit Viviane who had recently birthed her first child - a girl and rumours had followed of secret meetings between the High Lords. Rhys had purchased numerous furs; thick, luxurious pelts in sable, fawn and silver and sent them Nesta’s way.
“I don’t want these things he gives me,” she told Cassian soon after, standing in a room filled with Rhys’ tokens.
“The furs aren’t too bad,” Cassian replied. “They make the floor more comfortable,” he said, his mouth hot on her neck.
She allowed him to distract her but at night while Cassian slept, she walked around the House, grazing objects with her fingertips and glared at the ones which seemed to shimmer too bright, too long. The House itself rippled with unease.
“They’re all junk,” Nesta said to the darkened hallways. “Jewels and silks and throw cushions.”
Feyre and Rhys had told her once, not long ago, how embarrassed they were at the quantity of their money she’d spent on her path towards destruction. Her pulse jumped underneath her skin at the memory.
There had been no love for her life back then, no begging and pleading to a higher power. No, it had been their love for their finances, their concern for their reputation, their lack of control over Nesta which spiralled into entrapment.
Die, she’d heard. Just do so cheaply and in the dark.
Although the word ‘brother’ faded from her mind, Nesta let her animosity go with it. She had the sweetness of her nephew to immerse herself in and she marvelled at the smile on his gummy mouth and the way he wriggled across the floor on his belly towards her, perfect black wings tucked against his body.
One day he would use them to soar the skies and his freedom, his life, was the best gift Nesta had ever received.
His life was the best gift Nesta would ever give.
Nyx was shy of a year old when the whispers started. One day they didn’t exist and the next – they did. They held a metallic quality as though they being spoken through the clang of steel on steel.
One night, while Cassian rested on the furs, naked and sated, she trailed her fingertips up his knee, up his thigh to where his flesh lay, warm and re-hardening.
“Tell me,” she said, circling a finger around the tip, “what did Rhys speak to Kallias about all those months ago?”
Cassian exhaled a long breath. “Rhys wants Kallias to accept him as ruler.”
“Of the Night Court?”
“No, he – ah, don’t stop – of Prythian.”
“And what was their arrangement? How could Rhys obtain Kallias’ agreement?”
Cassian’s gasps filled her ears. “Through Nyx,” he forced out, “a promise he would marry Kallias’ daughter.”
After that she listened more to what the clanging whispers told her across the breeze, to what the House told her, to what she heard outside closed doors in Rhys’ home on visits to her sister.
Nesta was as serene as the Mother herself when she drifted to Rhys’ study and lingered by the locked door where he and Amren held counsel.
“They are the same as before, inert and useless.”
“Get her to the blacksmith, boy.”
“Her ability is gone.”
“Possibly, but test her to be sure. If she forges a hundred thousand swords then at least one might be Made.”
“She won’t do it.”
“Ban her from seeing the child until she does. She’ll forge then.”
Nesta closed her eyes, clenching her fists until her nails dug into her palms and blood trickled through her knuckles.
For a moment Nesta became a blade, sharp and dangerous, mounted on a wall and viewing Rhys and Amren from a height. The shadows danced from the lit hearth onto Rhys making his face sunken and hollow. For the first time, Rhys looked every inch the ancient creature he was.
Amren walked to the blade that was Ataraxia, that was Nesta, her silver eyes reflected in the shining metal, a palm splayed outwards with the reverence a worshipper showed their god.
“Turns out she wasn’t a pathetic waste of life after all.”
From then on Nesta would listen to what the blades told her.
Rhys took them from their mounts and held them, caressed them as he should his sleeping mate, his violet eyes passing from hilt to blade tip as his pupils grew fat with want.
They spoke to him but they didn’t listen and Rhys struggled with the push and pull every time he lifted a blade from the wall.
He practiced with them in the safety of his study but the blades were too heavy and made him clumsy, leaving the usually graceful High Lord stumbling over his feet. A ripple spread through the metal almost as though the sword were laughing.
We are no advantage to him, the whispers told her and Nesta knew they were infused with the anger she held towards Rhys when she Made them. Now, they said, now he believes himself your brother and he would like a new gift.
Instead that was what she asked him for, next time she was at his home.
“Hello, sister,” and his smile was akin to a wolf’s as it waited in the field for lambs.
He agreed vigorously to her request before she even named her price. Maybe Rhys thought he could eventually turn the bee itself into honey.
“I’ve given some thought,” she said, “and I’d like something back. Eris has the dagger but you have two swords remaining in your possession. Keep the small one but Ataraxia, I would like her to be mine. I will never ask anything else from you.”
The smile on his face froze into place as though he’d gone into the depths of Winter and been lost.
Though the blade wasn’t his, he didn’t want it to be hers.
“I don’t think so,” his voice soft. “What if someone tries to take advantage of you and steals the sword away?”
“I’d destroy it first.” However much the thought pained her, Ataraxia’s destruction had been considered - a gift to the other High Lords, one they would never know they’d received.
Rhys shook his head, his eyes dark. “No,” he said, “I need them.” Despite their resistance they were the only Made weapons in his hold.
He said nothing.
Nesta’s lip curled into a sneer. “To be High King, Rhys?”
He glowered at her.
“You know you’re starting a war among incredibly powerful High Lords?”
“I’m the most powerful.”
“There are more of them, they will combine their powers.”
“I have allies.”
“You have enemies.”
“I have friends.”
Nesta sighed and looked to the two swords, the metal glinting as though caught by firelight although the fire was unlit. Her name was murmured, the rasp of metal on metal.
“They’re your friends now but you’re demanding they give up their people, their lands and heritage to you and for what? Why would they do that willingly?”
She turned away from him and stood before the mounted blades. Her reflection was as clear as though they were mirrors, as was Rhys’ behind her, a dark mist forming over his skin.
“This is a war your son will likely reach adulthood in,” she continued, “do you want that for him?”
“I’m doing this for him,” Rhys spat, “you’re no mother, you wouldn’t understand. This is his legacy. My gift to him.”
A calm transcended over Nesta, as though she were wading through the clear waters of a pool, a loving hand on her back reminding her of their presence.
“Your gift to him should be allowing him to live his life. To allow him to care for the people of the Night Court, to give him the chance to fall in love and choose a partner of his own calling.”
“You don’t understand,” Rhys said again, “you had power for mere months and you think you’re the authority of giving it up. It’s a choice you wouldn’t have made if you understood what powerlessness meant.”
Once, when she wore another body, she could count the ribs underneath her skin by tracing them with her fingertips.
Once, in that same body, a man had pressed himself against her, his tongue forced into her mouth.
Once, Fae had ripped away her bedsheet and dragged her from her bed while Elain’s screams echoed in the dark hallway. She had drowned in the depths of the Cauldron, she’d watched her father’s blood spray across the grass, and she’d been dragged from her bed once more to be drugged and bound with her new body useless.
“If you say so.”
Nesta repeated Amren’s actions and traced her finger against the blade, Ataraxia shivered as though Nesta were running a finger down the spine of a lover. The sword moved, almost imperceptibly, but Nesta saw and wondered if Rhys did.
She’d bargained for the lives of his mate and son and yet Rhys wasn’t satisfied. Nesta was his mirror and so he gave her gifts believing she would want them as much as he did, because he continually sought out tokens to keep. He believed she would never be satisfied because he never was.
Nesta left, leaving him with the blades. They would be no benefit for him anyway and it wouldn’t be long before Ataraxia came back to her. Nesta understood now that Ataraxia had been her gift to herself.
All gone now, the Inner Circle assumed. After saving Feyre’s life, Nesta’s gift from the Cauldron is exhausted.
Lies, she thought as she walked the paths of Velaris to head home. All lies. The Cauldron had never gifted Nesta with anything. Everything she held had been stolen, ripped from something that never intended her to have it.
The sky was black, the fae lights of the taverns and restaurants glowing amber against the pitch and the happy chatter of the city revellers emerged from behind doors. All these fae living their lives as best they could, trusting in the protection of their High Lord.
They weren’t the same, her and Rhys, they were mirrored on the surface only.
Yes, they both stole power from those who never intended to gift it but she would die for those she loved while Rhys would kill for them.
The cold air was sharp and drew Nesta’s thoughts from the corners of her mind like a knife drew blood when sliced against skin. She drew her cloak around her shoulders and wrapped her arms around her middle.
There had been screaming and blood and Nesta’s pleas. There had been the dark slithering laughter of something taking something back. But there had also been the warmth of a hand, ethereal and eternal on her back and a golden magic which poured into Nesta until it overflowed.
The Mother had welcomed Nesta and received her gift with open arms, re-gifting to her in return.
Death transmuted into life. Quieter but no less powerful. No less valuable in the future to come.
This is yours, Nesta was told, and will remain so until the end. This is my gift to you.
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A Court of Silver Flames Thoughts etc. (pt. 2.2)
I just wanted to point out the last disturbing moments from end of the first six chapters, which I’ve had the unpleasant experience of reading.
tw: gaslighting, abuse, s*assualt
(1) Feyre and Rhys use Nesta’s intervention as…Foreplay?
“Is Feyre going to kick your ass for what you said earlier?”
“I already told the servants to clear out for the rest of the day as soon as you take Nesta up to the House.
[a few beats later] The clock chimed ten thirty, and Cassian rose. “Enjoy your not-fighting.”
Uhh, for one, Rhysand just expects that Feyre will forgive him. Like he doesn’t believe that he’s done anything wrong, and he doesn’t actually expect Feyre to anything about his actions. That’s not holding your partner accountable that’s just Rhysand doing things because he knows Feyre won’t actually care if he does them. I don’t even think I’m surprised at this point.
Two, how the hell do you undercut the intervention scene with this? Like everyone is immediately just okay with what they’ve done. I just do not understand why they don’t let Nesta just leave the court? They are very close allies with Hellion — someone who actually doesn’t dislike or insult Nesta — why not let her stay there? Why? Because politically Nesta does not have to be there, she’s not a member of the court. Could she not just train with someone in the Day Court? You know — the people who even more equipped in spells and magic? She’s not training with Amren, and the next best thing would be someone in Helion’s Court, because they totally specialize in wards, magic, and all that sort of stuff. The problem the only motivation anyone has for helping Nesta is for Feyre’s sake. And if you want, you can read the other portions where I compare Feyre’s actions to Tamlin, but here again is yet another parallel. It’s quite mad, because SJM disgusts me with her use of abuse. Tamlin is an abuser, so Feyre using the exact same tactics, reasonings are also abusive. So very ugly for her to do this to Feyre’s charcter.
And I don’t understand why Cassian, or Rhysand believes that Nesta would harm Feyre physically? She has literally left her alone for a year, Feyre has been the one who has continually initiated contact, Nesta has never used her powers, or reverted to physical assault, why is everyone treating her like a wild dog. And this whole story starts with Feyre and the IC bringing Nesta to the estate. Nesta hasn’t had contact with them before this. Unless…SJM acknowledges to some degree that the intervention is wrong. That any logical person would see the IC’s behavior as an attack. Even then, Nesta has never physically hurt anyone before this, so this attitude is just stupid. You know who has physically harmed someone when they got angry? Both Rhys and Feyre. Both have attacked people and harmed others in the process. Nesta is mean, but she isn’t irrational.
“In the months leading to and during the war, Nesta had managed. Had stepped into this world, with these people, and started to see it—a future.”
So, SJM acknowledges that Nesta pulled her weight in WAR, but then she still insists on punishing Nesta? That’s literally what this book is, Nesta being punished. You don’t have to ‘Stan’ someone to see this as bad.
[Mor]“We’d be better off throwing Nesta into the Court of Nightmares. She’d thrive there.”
Ah, so Nesta deserves to be abused in the CoN? Because she’s mean? I hate Rhysand, I really do, but I wouldn’t dare say that he deserved to be abused because he’s a bad person. The same with Feyre, Amren, or even Tamlin. But it’s disgusting for SJM to imply that Nesta deserves to be in the same place Mor survived. That’s ugly, and honestly showcases what SJM thinks of women who aren’t nice or some symbol of virtue.
Cassian clenched his jaw, both at the insult and the truth.
Cassian could honestly just vanish. Worst love interest ever. I officially unship Nessian.
“Those pants were going to kill him. Brutally, thoroughly kill him.”
At some point, we have to have the conversation about Cassian being the one to train Nesta, and the implication of them having s*x while Nesta is still in the mental space she is in. When Feyre and Tamlin were both just having s*x and not talking (about feelings, nightmares) this was rightfully deemed toxic (and toxic for them both) When Cassian and Nesta do it, it’s okay? Cassian should not have been her trainer. But, that’s a discussion for another time.
“Dark fire simmered in Morrigan’s eyes. “I knew plenty of people like you once.” Her hand drifted to her abdomen. “You never deserve the benefit of the doubt that good people like him give you.”
Nesta was well aware of that. And knew what manner of people Morrigan referred to—those who dwelled in the Court of Nightmares in the Hewn City. Feyre had never told her the full story, but Nesta knew the bare details: the monsters who had tormented and brutalized Morrigan until she was thrown to the wolves.”
(1) Mor, Nesta has done more than enough for this stupid ass court (2) Okay, so SJM basically implies that Nesta should be “tormented and brutalized”? Nesta, a 25 year old girl, should be abused because of a span of five years? Like people actively judge Nesta from five years of her life. Should we judge Feyre for eternity then? For violating Tarquin’s mind? For assaulting the Lady of the Autumn Court? For getting an innocent man whipped? For destroying the Spring Court? For implementing her sisters in the war? How about Rhysand? Should we judge him for actively murdering and enslaving people on Amarantha’s behalf? For drugging Feyre? S*xually assaulting Feyre? Mentally and Physically assaulting Feyre? For assaulting Keir?
Should Feyre’s bad actions define her? People sure ass hell don’t hold Rhysand’s bad actions against him.
Do Feyre or Rhysand deserved to be abused because they’ve done bad things/are crappy people? HELL NO.
So why the hell does Nesta deserve to be judged and abused for her mistakes? That’s absolutely a disgusting message to push. And it’s crazy because you can tell SJM believes this, hence the abusive, gaslighting journey she has Nesta take.
This is very ugly SJM, you should’ve kept this in the drafts.
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