Gwynriel short sweet morning scene
He came close to her side, peeking over her shoulder at the book in her hands. Absent-mindedly, she stirred her tea, one foot propped in the space behind the right knee, leaning against the counter. Azriel’s breath brushed against a loose strand of hair that had escaped the messy bun, tickling her ear. She smiled, closing the book one-handed and snuggled into his arms. His low chuckle sent shivers down Gwyn’s spine and made her feel at home. His body heat felt searing seeping through the thin fabric of her top. His arms came around her waist, warm and steady, giving Gwyn her much needed dose of serotonin to start the day.
Sun rays filtered through the cracks between the window blinds enveloping the kitchen in a soft yellow light, small dust particles drifting through the air. There was a certain calmness in the early hours of the morning when the two of them felt the most at home. The multicoloured birds outside their window were chirping and zooming from tree to tree, their song transporting the lovers into a secluded paradise all their own.
Gwyn set the book down, stretching her arms up to wrap them around Azriel’s neck. She pulled his head down, his nose gently nuzzling the sensitive skin below her ear. She grinned, eyelids drooping shut. Being taller than her by a head, his knees were bent to make it easier to pepper kisses up and down Gwyn’s neck, nipping and sucking at the skin, making sure to leave marks. Her little gasps amused Azriel. His hands shifted to grip her hips, destabilising her so she fully rested against his chest. Gwyn rubbed her cheek against his stubbled one smiling and sending thanks to the Mother and the Cauldron for making Azriel her mate.
The Origin of the Mother - Part 1
Based on 🌟 The Origin of the Mother - Theory
More on 🤍 Nessian Reincarnation Masterlist.
In ancient times, fifteen thousand of years before the Courts were formed and the High Lords ruled. This world was surrounded by monstrous Gods, The Daglan.
Among these Gods there was a Queen, so powerful that she was called Queen of Queens. With silver flames that burned cold as ice, she was the most powerful among the Death Gods.
Her intelligence and magic were so immense, that she was the only one able to create objects of unimaginable power. And from the endless pain, darkness and loneliness of her heart the Cauldron was born.
“In the beginning, and in the end, there was darkness and nothing more.”
A mighty black cauldron held by glowing, slender female hands in a starry, endless night. Those hands tipped it over, golden sparkling liquid pouring out over the lip.
Through her lighted hands, life gushed from that well of magic, and life was born. Humans and Fairies arose in this world, but magic always comes with a price...
She wasn't the only being who wanted to enjoy the light that replaced the eternal darkness. The Daglan saw themselves as the lords of this world, they enslave the life she created and drank of the magic as if it was wine.
She wasn't innocent, the Queen was aware of her sins, especially when she kept silent during the Wild Hunt. Not knowing how to control her siblings, they were close to put a end in the world she's dreamed of.
She knew that alone she wouldn't be able to end this millennium of suffering. But she found among the Fairies two sources of hope, rebel friends. Fionn and Enalius who were completely different, but fought as equals for the freedom of their people.
It wasn't easy to win their trust and she would never blame them. She knew who she was, the horrors that she brought to this world. There would never be enough guilt that would fill her heart or magic that would regain the lifes that were lost.
She had no option, but betray her siblings, her own kind. She had to make up for all the bad she had caused in the life she had so lovingly created.
With the objects that born from the Cauldron's magic, which would be known as "Dead Trove" she joined the battle with the golden legion legions of the Fae.
With the help of the High Priestess Oleanna, who had dipped into the Cauldron, she taught Fionn how to create his own weapon, the great sword Gwydion. Fionn's sword was dark as night, beautiful but holy opposite of her twin Narben.
Even before the Cauldron gave life to this world, she already wielded her sword, which despite shining like a star in the liquid dark sky, was possessed of an unlimited darkness. It was the world she lived through ages of solitude, for far long she can remember Narben was her only confidant....
She also offered the make a weapon to Enalius, but he refused, saying he would fight with in his own strength, she couldn't do nothing but admire his determination.
Enalius was the most powerful among the Illyrians, but not even his strong leadership would be able to convince the few who were freed from centuries of slavery to fight on her side. But thanks to him she was introduced to another group of warriors.
Not far from the Illyrian Mountains, it was a mysterious island where hundreds of females who had fled The Daglan, lived in harmony with winged creatures, which she later discovered that they called it Pegasus.
It was fascinating, the island and everything that lived there were in perfect sync, as if the animals were the center of their magic. Not all fairies were warriors, many of them had families and children, who wanted nothing more than the slightest bit of peace. That knowledge weighed heavily on her heart.
The Valkyries were incredible. Females who banded together to fight and protect whoever needed their help. There weren't many men on the island and although the Illyrians didn't recognize them as true warriors, Enalius seemed to have great admiration for them.
The feeling seemed to be reciprocated, as they didn't hesitate to receive her. And to think that it would be Fairies capable of such generosity, without questioning or judging, they received her as an equal. The Queen was so grateful, in her entire existence, it was the first time she ever felt how it was to have family.
In her training with the Valkyries, she knew that Enalius watched her, but she couldn't return his affection, not after all the pain she brought to this world, she didn't deserve happiness...
But even when she hated herself, she loved him. It was like golden threads between their souls, as if they formed a harp it strummed, shimmered and sang. It was music between their souls...
Hope you enjoyed it, I'm open to questions and suggestions. As always I would like to thank my angel @champanheandluxxury who always helps me with my posts 💙❤️
💛 The Origin of the Mother Part 2
Comments and reblogs are welcome and GIF’s, are the best way to show me love. 😍
✍🏻 My Full Masterlist
E&L fans--an update
Given that my updates are monthly at the moment, I wanted my readers to know that I'll be posting the next chapter on Sunday 29th August (this week!). After that, I'm hoping to post every other week again. So, for the next two months, the posting schedule is as follows:
Chapter 40: 29 August, Sunday
Chapter 41: 12 September, Sunday
Chapter 42: 3 October, Sunday
Chapter 43: 17 October, Sunday
Chapter 44: 31 October, Sunday
Teasers will be posted in the week in-between updates , apart from today, as I'll be posting a lil snippet for you all this evening.
I hope that helps :) I know a lot of you have been asking me about my posting schedule, so here's me trying to be organised!
The Stars That Answer
Here’s a little Gwynriel scene I couldn’t get out of my head! Set just after Nesta and Cassian’s mating ceremony.
Gwyn stepped out onto into the moonlit garden hoping to get some fresh air. It wasn’t exactly crowded in the river mansion and there hadn’t been many guests at the ceremony, but Gwyn still found her heart pounding a beat too fast in the bustle. She just needed some space to gather herself and aimed for the large patio doors off the foyer.
“Oh,” Gwyn said, surprised. Azriel sat at the small iron table, his wings resting behind him. He turned shocked as if she had somehow snuck up on him.
Azriel smiled slightly, “Did I steal your spot?”
“I just needed some fresh air.”
Azriel nodded and he stood, “I’ll leave you to it.”
“No,” she blurted, “please, you were here first. There are two seats.”
He paused before nodding his head slightly and reclaiming his seat. Gwyn rounded the small table and perched at the edge of the chair.
He didn’t speak as he looked out at the river and she saw his curious shadows dancing around his shoulders. Gwyn took a deep breath and tilted her head back, bathing her face in moonlight. She couldn’t help but think of the last time they had met like this, just the two of them and the stars. It was Winter Solstice, long before the Blood Rite.
The Blood Rite. Sometimes she couldn’t believe that she had done it, fought and climbed and survived.
“Are you staying here?” Azriel asked gently.
Gwyn opened her eyes, “Feyre offered me a room but I’m not sure if I can…” She trailed off uncertainly.
“I took them up on the offer,” Azriel said dryly, “I won’t get much sleep at the House of Wind.”
Gwyn laughed. Nesta and Cassian left their own mating reception almost as soon as the ribbon was tied.
They lapsed into silence. Gwyn was used to the silence with her sisters at the library. But this one was different, comfortable. Her mind slowed as she breathed deep, practicing her Mind Stilling. They were silent for so long Gwyn was confused as to who was breaking it until she recognised her own voice. “Tonight was a test I think.”
Azriel didn’t say anything but she knew all of his attention was on her as she spoke.
She swallowed, “I-I’m not sure what I’m doing. When I first came here to Velaris, the library was where I needed to be. Safe and surrounded by my sisters. But after the Blood Rite, I’m not so sure. I hadn’t left the library for so long and then the first time I did; I climbed a violent, dangerous mountain all the way to the top.”
She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye as she looked up at the stars.
“I wanted to test myself today to see if I could leave the library without my life being in peril. I didn’t consider the battle with Mor for the last slice of cake though.”
Az chuckled. “So what’s the result of your test?”
Gwyn shrugged, “Who knows, I’m just as confused as ever.”
“You don’t have to decide right away,” he said softly, “you can take it a day at a time until you’re ready.”
Gwyn nodded, pushing out her breath. “What are you doing out here moping anyway?”
“I’m not moping I’m hiding.”
Gwyn raised her eyebrows at him, “From the party?”
The corner of his mouth twitched up even as he sighed. “It’s complicated.”
“More complicated than contemplating my whole future after being one of the first female’s ever to win the most brutal warrior challenge?”
He huffed a laugh as he looked her in the eye and rubbed a hand across his jaw. “Well it’s going to sound insignificant compared to that.”
“True,” she grinned, “but I can still hear it.”
He shot her an amused glance before taking a deep breath. “Both of my brothers are mated and settled. Cassian and Nesta happy after all the pining and dancing around each other...” He trailed off.
“You’re jealous.” Gwyn stated, without any mirth or mocking.
Azriel shifted in his seat, his elbow coming to rest on the table, confirming her suspicions.
“Is there” she started, “do you have anyone who-“
“I thought I did, for the longest time and now I,” he broke off with a shudder. He swallowed as he said softly, “I just don’t know why it’s so hard for me.”
Gwyn’s heart bled at the look on his face, the hopelessness and sadness she saw in his deep eyes. Before she even realised she was moving she reached across the table and grasped his scarred hand, gently squeezing. Azriel’s head whipped to their joined hands in shock. He made to pull away but she squeezed tighter, keeping him in place.
She opened her mouth to say something, but the words left her. Generic sentiments like ‘there will be someone for you’ or ‘they’re all foolish for not seeing how wonderful you are’ all seemed so inconsequential compared to the waves of sadness she felt coming from him, from his shadows. All she could do was stare into those deep eyes, and let her thumb lightly brush his cold fingers. His shadows etched closer and closer. She swore his eyes fluttered with every swipe of her skin on his.
Finally when the silence became too taut she started “I-“
“Azriel?” A gentle voice said from behind them. Azriel whipped his head around and pulled his hand free from Gwyn’s embrace, his shadows retreating behind his shoulder.
“Feyre is looking for you.” Elain told him, smiling tightly at Gwyn.
Azriel nodded and turned to Gwyn. “Find me if you want to return to the library, I will be happy to take you.” He bowed his head slightly as he turned and followed Elain into the house, his powerful wings flexing behind him.
Gwyn took a deep breath and looked to the stars, the feel of his hand in hers like a phantom touch.
Last words - Part 1
Fandom: A Court of Thorns and Roses/ Nessian | Part 2
TW: Angst. WAY TOO MUCH ANGST + cussing.
Summary: Every relationship has ups and downs right? But in this case Cassian's one mistake ruins his life.
a/n: heyyyy im back again at 2 am with a new fic idea woohoo !!
Cassian was a big fucking idiot. Yes, that's what he was he decided.
As soon as the words slipped out of his mouth he instantly regretted them. He doesn't even remember now what they were actually fighting about but only one scene kept replaying in his mind again and again:
"All I'm asking is you have to communicate about your feelings with your partner for Christ's sake! You can't keep bottling your feelings inside you and secondly a relationship works when both the partners put efforts! And I don't think you understand that Nesta!"
Nesta gave him the coldest glare and said, "I'm so sorry Cassian that I am not doing what you want me to do. You knew which type of person I am when you started dating me and then proposed me! I don't know how to communicate without the fear of being judged but I am trying!"
He scoffed, "You always say that 'you are trying' but am I seeing a progress? I think the fuck not! And why is that? Cuz my fiance here has trust issues which I'm trying to resolve since past 3 fucking years but I'm tired now!"
Nesta couldn't believe what he was saying. She normally wasn't a person to show emotions at all, but Cassian was the only person who could break her walls and see the person she truly was. He told her that no one's perfect and that he loved her just the way she was. Little did she know what he would say next will be more than enough to break her heart.
"I'm exhausted with all this! You always keep your feelings from me and expect me to not do the same. How's that fair Nesta? I'm trying to keep you happy but you never share your goddamn opinion! At this point the lack of communication has made it extremely difficult to love you anymore! I feel unfortunate now to have you as my to-be-wife!"
As soon as he said those words, his eyes widen realizing just then what he said. And the look he received from Nesta was utterly heartbreaking.
"Oh God, Nes-" She didn't give him a chance to speak and walked towards him, removed the ring from her left finger with extra force and threw it towards his chest.
"Rot in hell, Cassian." With that she stormed towards the door of there apartment while picking up her car keys from the counter.
She could hear his apologies behind her but what was said, was said.
With one last cold look towards Cassian from Nesta, the doors to the lift closed upon.
To say Nesta was furious would be an understatement. She was truly and completely heart-broken.
Tears gathered around her eyes but she blinked furiously to keep them away. She was gripping the steering wheel so hard that her knuckles turned white. She wanted to scream, cry, do anything that could take off her frustration but she kept driving.
She didn't know where she was going. She just wanted to escape that apartment. His last words kept on repeating in her mind again and again which just added it to her heartbreak.
Difficult to love you! Unfortunate!
She was so absorbed in the memory, that she didn't see the truck coming from the other way. Only when the truck's headlights flashed did she come back to reality but it was too late.
The damage had already been done. The enormous truck came at its highest speed and crashed into her car with full force causing her car to roll onto the road several times. Only when it finally stopped did people around come noticing her car standing upside down with Nesta Archeron still inside.
A/N: tell me if you liked it !! send me prompts and tell if you want to be part of tag list.
tag list: @talkfantasytome
Fixing ACOSF part 12
Masterlist | A03
Summary: There is only one more thing Nesta needs to come to terms with before her new life can begin.
A/N: I hope reading this helped you cope with the book as much as writing it helped me. The story wasn't what I expected (we were led to think it would take place in the Illyrian Mountains to star with lol), but with some editing it could have been a lot more enjoyable. In my mind this is canon, and I think it sticks to what happened in the book enough that I can keep pretending it is as I read the next books that are coming out. Thank you to all of you who read it <3
Tagging: @gwynriel @gwynberdara @zoyaslai @clolikescloquetas @amelievrstr @saltydreamcollector @lordlorcan @esrahiba @queenestarcheron @jemstan300 @nessiantrashh @azrielsgirl @mireillemystique @pataytayo @968sunflower968 @caram267 @jainadurron @darkshadowqueensrule @finae-bookshelf @niytavia @brainlessfruit @dontgetsalmonella @messyhairday-me @sunsummoner @chosenfamily-valkyriequeens @wannawriteyouabook @psychoticminx @misswonderflower @drielecarla @silvernesta @k0ombayamylord @quinlars @arinbelle @itsforeverinnocent-blog @moodymelanist @sv0430 @my-fan-side @loveamarij
The House of Wind, Velaris, this court… they finally felt like her home. The thought kindled a kernel of light in her chest that had not extinguished, even in the months after the Rite.
That kernel was still flickering as Nesta faced that day’s task. The task that was so long overdue.
Feyre left the ornate black carriage at the base of the grassy hill, carrying Nyx as the three of them scaled its soft slope. The city spread before them, glowing in the summer sunshine, but Nesta’s eyes remained on the lone stone atop the hill.
Her heart thundered, and she kept a step back as Feyre knelt before the grave marker, showing Nyx to the stone. “Your grandson, Father,” she whispered, voice thick. And then Feyre bowed her head, speaking too low for Nesta or Elain, standing at Nesta’s side, to hear.
After a few minutes, Feyre rose, letting her tears run, as holding the babe kept her hands occupied. Elain went forward, whispered a few things to their father’s grave, and then both sisters looked to Nesta, smiling tentatively. Feyre had asked this morning if Nesta wanted to come to show their father the baby.
And there had been no answer in Nesta’s heart except one.
So she nodded to her sisters to go on ahead, and they obeyed, easing back down the grassy hill as Nesta lingered by the gravestone. She searched for the words, for any explanation or apology, but nothing came.
The sun was a warm hand on her shoulder, like the one that had prevented the last of her power from vanishing, as if telling her that the apology, the begging for forgiveness … it was not needed. Her father had died for her, with love in his heart. Thus loving his memory —honoring it, would be enough. To love him back without any shadow of resentment. To choose to let go the anger that consumed her for years.
Nesta's gray eyes scanned the stone that marked where his father rested under the earth. No apology would make sense. No forgiveness was needed from any side now.
So instead, Nesta made an oath.
"From this moment and on, Father, I swear I'll be the daughter I could have been, had our lives been any different. I'll be the older sister to Feyre and Elain that I always wanted to be, and never dared. I will be the female that I was meant to become from the moment I emerged from the Cauldron —when my mortal body died. For the rest of my life, I will be brave."
Nesta had to take a long breath to continue. Her mouth dried out as her eyes became watery.
"If it wasn't so sad that you are gone, it would almost be funny, don't you think? Isn't it ironic, how for so long I thought you would only leave mistakes behind you when you died and became dust, yet nothing has made me stronger than the lessons I learned from your absence? I think it is. I think it's funny now to think how I was every single thing I despised about you, and only after realizing it, now that you are gone, I could start to love myself. To see the flaws clearly and fix them one by one."
Nesta let one of her hands rest on the stone, warm because of the sun hitting it from above.
"It was hard to make peace with your absence, Father. I didn't know what to do with all those feelings. I didn't know how to forgive you and love you with you being gone. But I forgive you, and I love you. And I want you to know that you left a good legacy that I will gladly take and learn from. I will learn from your mistakes and make the best out of them."
A swift shadow passed overhead, followed by a whisper of wings, and Nesta didn’t need to look to know who sailed high above, making sure all was safe. That she was safe.
Busybody. But she blew Cassian a soft kiss, too. Her mate. Her love. Her friend. The light within her chest brightened to a radiant sun.
"I will love my kids so loudly that there won't be room in their hearts to ever doubt my devotion to them. I will love my mate. And I will love myself. I will love myself so ardently that there won't be room in my heart to ever forget that being alive and happy is what I deserve. Because I've fought for it too hard to give in. For myself, and for you —for all of us who have been cowards at some point but stood up when we were truly needed, I will fight every day of the rest of my life."
Some days might indeed be difficult, but she’d do it. Fight for it. For happiness.
Her father had died for her, with love in his heart, and Nesta held love in her own as she pulled the small carved rose from her pocket and set it upon the gravestone. A permanent marker of the beauty and good he’d tried to bring into the world.
Nesta brought her fingers to her lips, pressed a kiss to them, then laid her hand upon the gravestone. “Thank you,” she said, blinking back the stinging in her eyes. “Thank you.”
She found Feyre and Elain waiting halfway down the hill, Nyx now dozing peacefully in Elain’s arms. Her sisters beamed, beckoning her to join. And Nesta smiled back, her steps light as she hurried down the hill to meet them.
I can just imagine Azriel just being awake in the middle of the night when everyone's asleep sitting alone beside his window looking at the stars and his shadows alert him that Nyx is fussing and about to wake up so he "shadow-travels" (or whatever he does) next to Nyx's crib and picks him up and takes him to the balcony and starts singing to him under the stars until he falls asleep. Ugh my heart 💙
Fears All the Way Down - Chapter Two
ao3 - masterpost
here's chapter two! i had fun writing it, hope y'all enjoy!
Nesta might not enjoy it, but she knows how to give credit where credit is due, and there's no denying it: her sisters and their friends have thought this plan out thoroughly.
After they've calmed down enough, her sisters move on promptly to the next phase. Elain is off with those shadow wraiths of hers to pack up Nesta's meager belongings and Feyre is explaining to her what the upcoming week will look like.
"The important thing to remember whenever you feel overwhelmed is that the worst is already behind you and you've made it this far and you can continue on," Feyre says, clearly reciting something from memory. "And that we're always going to be there to help you."
She moves on to explain the detoxification process they're going to put her through. She dresses up the words in a healer's jargon and tries her best to be sensitive, but Nesta doesn't like to lie to herself and understands the crux of it: she's fucked up her body too much and can't even be trusted to just stop drinking so she has to be weaned off while under a few sets of eyes.
"So, who's going to be in the House with me?" Nesta asks when she's done.
"We know you don't need a keeper," Feyre says carefully. "If you'd prefer to be alone, you can be. We'll visit you every day, if you'd like. And the library's healer will be checking up on you, of course, as I said. But...do you need anyone in the House? Do you want anyone with you?"
"No," Nesta says, not entirely believing they're going to leave her to her own devices.
Feyre shrugs. "Then take the week to acclimate. We'll come by only as often as you want."
"Me and Elain," Feyre says firmly.
Perhaps there had been an argument about that. To her surprise, Nesta feels her throat burn at the thought of her sister standing up for her. No, she does not want any of the others coming to see her like this...she never wants to see them at all, actually.
"The staff has all been cleared out, too," Feyre continues. "The magic of the House should be enough...but of course, if anything's missing--anything at all. Just say so. Shops can't deliver up, but we'll bring anything you need the next day."
Nesta only nods.
"Well...we'll go up now, then, if that's all right with you. We'll have your things delivered later today. Elain will visit as soon as she can."
Elain does not want to visit, Nesta realizes. Not while Nesta's sick and seizing over the next few days.
"She doesn't have to come," Nesta says. "Neither do you," she adds.
"We'll...see how you feel."
Cassian and Rhysand are waiting for them in the dining room. She's not sure whom she wants to see less.
But Cassian's good enough that he isn't looking to humiliate her further and her sister's got her husband on a tight enough leash that mercifully, neither of them says anything. Feyre gives her an encouraging smile as she gently pushes her closer to Cassian and holds onto her shoulder.
The winnowing is instant, too quick to process, especially considering what comes after.
The drop is terrifying, even though it's only for a fraction of a second. Just as Nesta clenches her jaw to stop her instinctual scream, Cassian grabs her in his arms and holds her tightly against himself. The descent slows, and there's an undeniable calming effect of being pressed into something--someone--so warm and strong, but the fear doesn't leave her until she is out of the open air and standing with solid ground beneath her feet.
"All right," Feyre says, slipping out of Rhysand's embrace with approximately none of the urgency with which Nesta ripped herself away from Cassian. "Let me help you get settled."
What on earth that could possibly mean Nesta does not know, as she doesn't carry anything with her and it's not yet eleven in the morning. But it's becoming clear to her that there's another reason for Feyre's shifty eyes.
"Is the same room all right, then?" Feyre asks as they reach it. Two floors below the entrance, once with a door connecting her to Elain, but that's sealed off now. The only difference, as far as she can tell.
"It's fine," she says, peering out the window. She could not help but be taken by the view the first time she had stayed here, and now was no different. The sprawling city in the valley of these red mountains, the Sidra snaking through it, and the glittering sea beyond. It's beautiful. Nesta likes beautiful things.
"You didn't get to decorate it much last time, but if there's anything you'd like..." Feyre trails off.
Nesta doesn't answer. She doesn't feel like pretending to care about decor to help her stall.
Feyre understands, sighing and fiddling with her fingers. "All right, there's some more I have to tell you."
"Go on," Nesta says, not turning from the window.
"Well," she says. "As you know...your apartment...the whole building--subdivision, really--it's...it's..."
"Old," Nesta supplies. Which is not the word her sister was thinking of, she knows.
"Yes, old. Well. The council has decided that they want to...fix it up, so...they're...rebuilding it."
Nesta blinks. "Rebuilding it?"
"It's already built."
"You're tearing it down," Nesta says flatly.
"No!" Feyre says, and Nesta can see her eyes widen in the faint reflection. "I mean...yes, it's being torn down, but they're building it right back up! And much nicer! Hot water and...it'll be right there waiting for you when you...we're keeping it for you. For if you want to stay there again. But you know..." Feyre allows herself a bit of hope in her voice. "You might not want to. Maybe you'd like a different house...if you want..."
What exactly the problem is with her staying in a newly refurbished apartment, Nesta doesn't know. But no matter. It's not as though she's attached to the old one, and if they're going to pay for her to stay there when she's done with this little experiment...fine. Hot water on demand would be nice, at any rate.
"All right," Nesta says.
Feyre waits a beat before saying, "There's more."
Nesta turns to face her.
Swallowing, Feyre says, "Now, I meant what I said about you not needing to be kept."
Here it is, then.
"But there are...two issues with that. Well...maybe three."
She crosses her arms. This should be good.
"Well, as I explained, the first week or so is going to be difficult. And since you don't want to stay in the library and the healer can't always be here and you might...need someone..."
"You're going to be staying the week?" Nesta says sharply, face heating. That--that's too much. She can't take that. The whole week--so Feyre will be able to hear her retching all night long--some of it won't even be because of the alcohol; Nesta often finds herself rushing to the toilet, she hasn't been able to keep a full meal down in over a year.
"No," Feyre says, red as she imagines she is now. "I'll visit if you want. But...no. I thought...no."
"But you do need...someone...for the first week. To make sure...to call the healer, really, if something happens in the middle of the night. And..." Feyre pauses to take a deep breath. "You remember Briallyn." She's blunt, and doesn't phrase it like a question, so Nesta's too surprised to flinch. "Well," she says, taking her widened eyes as a yes, "she's...she remembers you. And she's..."
"She wants to kill me," Nesta says flatly.
"Yes," Feyre responds. "But you don't need to be scared. We're not going to let her get to you."
"You're still not telling me everything."
"No," Feyre says, sighing. "I'm sorry. It's...not easy for me to say. I'm easing into it. All right. She's...we have reason to believe she's formed an alliance within the Night Court."
At this Nesta blinks. "What, you mean..."
"Not any of us," Feyre says, startled. "Of course not! Of course--don't think that!"
She only gives a small shrug. The idea of Morrigan hating her enough to work with that wretched crone is not entirely unbelievable to her, but she doesn't say so to her sister. She can try to try, at least, with what all the pair of them are doing.
The left side of Nesta's lips tugs upwards slightly. Not even a half-smile, just a tic, but Nesta's actually pleased with herself. Not insulting her sister's friend aloud directly to spare Feyre's feelings isn't much, but for her, when she hasn't cared about anyone's feelings in so long...
Feyre isn't privy to all that has gone on in Nesta's mind and she is still trepidative. She takes another deep breath--always with the dramatics, this one, isn't she?--and says, "We have reason to believe Briallyn has formed an alliance with some rebel groups within Illyria. We think she's promised them a path to independence if they get you to her."
Whatever Nesta was expecting, it wasn't this. The Illyrians...she knows, of course, that they don't like her, don't trust her. But Rhysand--Cassian and Azriel--doesn't that mean anything?
"I didn't know they want independence," Nesta says, when she realizes Feyre is peering at her intently, expectantly.
"They want to be allowed to mutilate their females and take revenge on each other as they please," Feyre says. "They can't do that while we're in charge."
"I thought they...liked serving in the Night Court's army." Her cheeks flush the slightest bit--perhaps it's naïve, but leading the Illyrians for this court is the pride of Cassian's life. She had assumed they were the same way. That they didn't like answering to someone born at his low station, sure, but she hadn't known they resented being here.
"It's not everyone," she says. "There were some who sided with Amarantha, some who...listen, you don't need to worry about it. All you need to focus on is yourself right now."
"And," Nesta presses.
Feyre takes yet another deep breath. "Cassian's going to be staying here for a few days. Just a few days!" she hurries. "Just until you're through the worst of it! And just make sure the House is secure while you are here by yourself."
"Why couldn't the House be checked--"
"We didn't want to alert anyone of your presence," she explains. "It's a pretty fantastical theory, that Illyrians are colluding with citizens from Velaris to overthrow Rhys and me, but...stranger things have happened. And since Hybern managed to find you here before..."
She can appreciate that, at least.
"Just a few days."
"A week at most."
"You keep changing the rules."
Feyre raises her arms. "I know. But that's the last of it, I swear."
Nesta's expression does not falter. "I don't appreciate being manipulated."
"I'm not manipulating! I just...didn't want to overwhelm you all at once. I'm...easing you into things."
Nesta considers this for a beat. "Stop doing it right now."
"I will," she says immediately.
At this, Nesta softens, though perhaps imperceptibly.
"All right," Feyre says after Nesta does not bite back. "I'll...leave you to get settled. The healer's left you some tonics there--" she punctuates her words with an arm extended towards the table by Nesta's bedside--"for you to take before bed...and you know where the dining room is...I promise Cassian will stay out of your way. He just might check up on you before you go to sleep, and..."
"Lift me up out of my own sick in the middle of the night?"
Feyre flinches. "Help you. Just until the healer can come up."
Nesta turns back to the window. "So I suppose I'll see you in a week, then?"
"As soon as you'd like."
There's that. That's...something.
"Your things will be delivered tomorrow. If you need anything--"
"I know." Feyre wrings her hands, her ring and bracelets clinking softly together. "And...while you're here...Rhys and the others won't just drop by unannounced. We won't--well--if a few weeks--I mean--"
"I've got it," she says.
"Right. Well. Good."
What to say to her sister? They've hardly ever embraced. The time they had started to grow closer is long gone now, both those bodies ashes of the past.
"I just want to say," Feyre starts softly, "that...I'm really proud of you for doing this. I know...trust that I know it isn't easy. But I promise you it will be worthwhile. You'll see."
By the time Nesta summons the nerve to turn around and ask about those innocents, how she had gotten through it, her sister is already gone.
Because Nesta had explored the House when she had been brought here by Rhysand so long ago, she does not feel the need to do so now. She knows where the library is, knows where her room and the dining room are, and those are all she intends to frequent.
She spends the rest of the morning in the library, but she is too restless to keep her focus on a book. After finding herself staring blankly at a wall for the fifth time, eyes refusing to fixate on the words in her lap, she shuts the book and tightly and places it on a table. She doesn't know what she expected. It's been months since she's managed to read. No romance novels for her. No romance, either--not that that had ever happened. But once, she would have thought that the amount of sex she's been having would be linked to...something.
Her life has become an endless stream of not this, not now. Anything to get her out of her own head. Bitter alcohol--the kind she actually likes, gin or white wine, never seems to wipe her mind clean--and sex with strangers. And it works perfectly, because those things befit a lady of her station. That's how the loveless, useless, dregs of society spend their days: drinking, fucking, gambling away someone else's money--
"Nothing to read?"
"Sorry," Cassian says, walking up to her and sitting in the big armchair opposite. "Thought you heard me."
It takes her a moment to find her voice. "Did I give any indication of the sort?"
He grins. "Just assumed you were ignoring me."
Would that I could, she thinks darkly. But who could ignore him? Too big, too loud, too...just too much. Too much person for one body.
"Been a while," he says casually.
She doesn't answer, reaching through the drink-stained memories to find the last time she had seen him, besides this morning. Must've been...summer solstice. They had barely spoken, like all their other interactions since the war. She can count them on one hand.
And she does. Far more frequently then she admits to herself.
"Just thought you'd like to know I've finished securing the House."
Nesta nods once, absently. Perhaps this was a mistake. After all, they had thought the House was secure last time, hadn't they? What if they're attacked again? These priestesses...because of her. If they know that Briallyn is going to try and snatch her, that she's formed an alliance with Illyrians who can fly into the veranda, is this really worth the risk?
"Don't," Cassian says, voice low. She tenses as he leans closer to her. "You have a right to be here as much as any of them. Maybe you should have been here all along."
She catches the guilt in his tone, in his eyes, and blinks. That's...not what she had been expecting. And not what she's prepared to deal with.
She stands. "I was informed that you'd stay out of my way."
Just like that, any tenderness snaps out of his posture. He's standing before her, too, wings slightly flared.
"Do forgive me, Lady Nesta," he says with a mocking bow. "I'll let you get back to your riveting activity of staring at the wall in a room by yourself."
She has to say something before he leaves; can't let him end this with her on the losing hand. But she's quick on her feet, even if she never knows where she stands with him.
"I wouldn't want to interrupt your perching on the window opposite," she answers, voice icy. A blind shot in the dark, as she hadn't heard him at all. But it appears as though it lands, as his eyes grow even darker and he reins in a snarl as he stalks out.
Nesta loosens a breath as he leaves.
Riling up Nesta like that is never smart, but it's particularly stupid today. Not the least of which being Feyre had specifically ordered him not to.
Cassian tries to force himself to focus on the knives he's throwing, but he's too worked up to even admire the shiny new blades Rhys had purchased especially for this new training center on the top of the House.
"So you have a place to blow off steam," he had explained to him. Away from Feyre, of course, who no longer tolerated any implication that spending time with Nesta could be...difficult.
"It's only a week," he had said. He trains every day, but the refurbished personal arena is unnecessary for that, considering he's supposed to be keeping the House secure for the duration of his stay.
Rhys had only shrugged casually. Cassian knew what he had thought. That it might be more. That he would want to stay...that she would want him to stay.
He catches his and Feyre's snagging glances and innocent suggestions, but he dutifully ignores them each time. Nothing he feels on the subject matters, after all, because Nesta doesn't want anything to do with him.
He knows he shouldn't have approached her. Especially not considering he's supposed to make sure she eats something for dinner and she's not going to want to talk to him twice in a day.
But he just--he can't stay away. Not when she's so close and so...lost. Alone. Sitting in the library, unable to disappear into one of those romances she likes so much--unable to enjoy herself! It's too much to ask of him. To just watch her like that and not say anything. Just go about his day, ignoring the fact that...she needs him.
He does his best to ignore the sneering voice in his mind as the thought crosses his mind. She does need him. Or, rather, she needs someone and he can be that person. He can be exactly what she needs.
If she'd just let him.
And he had intended to be kind and patient. He had started that way, hadn't he? Trying to soothe her obvious fears and insecurities.
She hadn't wanted that. He should have known she didn't want that. Of course it's too much for her, too smothering, so she had shut him out. He knows that. He knows why she does that. But...it still hurt. Every time she rejects him, it hurts.
Not about you, he reminds himself. Feyre hadn't said the words outright, but she had made herself clear. Not that Cassian would ever...he wants the best for her, too. Of course he does. He's not going to do anything to jeopardize her recovery.
Starting right now.
It should be easy, he tells himself. He's gone months without seeing her in the past. Not to mention more than five hundred years before she was born. He can do this. Just...she's in the library and she's safe and she'll eat lunch if she wants to and if not, fine. She doesn't have to. She's been getting so little food these days they don't want to throw her back into it, anyway. Soup at dinner will be enough.
But feeling her presence...knowing she's there, a few storeys below him...in the state she's in, no less....
He manages. What other choice does he have? So he fills his time on the top of the House, doing rounds every so often--not looking in the windows of the House trying to find her--until dinner time, where he paces the dining room like an idiot.
Until she comes in.
She hasn't changed clothes since earlier, and she looks, if possible, worse. Logically he knows that she can't have lost weight since this morning, and the less alcohol in her system must be better, but...her cheeks are definitely hollower. Eyes more sickly. Brilliant, daring, cunning, beautiful gray eyes...lifeless.
Don't screw this up, he tells himself sternly. She needs to eat dinner tonight because she needs to take a tonic along with it. If he upsets her, she won't eat.
But he can't--he can't play this game like she can. Not when she's this far gone. So he says something. Doesn't know what, just knows he has to fill the silence.
"Do you like soup?"
Wonderful. Perhaps the stupidest thing he could ask her.
She ignores him as she sits at the head of the table, making his blood boil. Would she just look at him?
But his anger melts as he watches her gear up to eat. All the strength she has left focused on forcing her arm to extend, her fingers clutching her spoon so tightly her knuckles are a white that scares him. She swallows tightly before she puts the spoon in her mouth, that elegant neck of hers tensing and her delicate, too-protruding collarbone rising with it.
She steels herself one final time as she moves the spoon into her mouth and winces as it goes down.
"Not particularly," she says softly.
It takes him a few moments to realize she's answered him.
He clears his throat. "Well--we could get you something else?" Surely none of the food the House has put out for him will settle right with her, but...toast, maybe? Even if it doesn't have the nutrients she so desperately needs...perhaps she'll take a vegetable spread. Or blended fruit.
"It's no matter."
You matter. The words are right on his tongue, and he has to shove a forkful of steak into his mouth to keep him from letting them out. That might be too much for her. He can't scare her off again.
"Strong flavors...don't sit well with me." She stifles a flinch as she takes another spoonful and downs half a glass of ice water.
That's something, at least. Rehydrating herself properly is important.
"We can dilute it." She'd have to have more of it, of course, but perhaps it'd be worth it.
"It's no matter," she says again.
Bullshit. Absolute bullshit, and he's certainly not going to let it continue. But...fine. Let her have this soup tonight. But he'll find something she likes to eat and can stomach soon enough.
They are silent for another few minutes. Cassian pretends not to stare at her and she pretends not to notice. He's well into his second helping before she gets close to finishing her bowl.
"Here," he says, when she only has a few spoonfuls left, and hands her the vial the healer had given him.
"What is this?"
He hesitates. "Mock liquor." To mimic the effects of alcohol without actually putting any in her system. To let her sleep easier.
"Oh. Feyre said. She left some for me next to my bed."
"No, that's an anti-toxin." To push her body in the right direction of purging itself without hurting too much. Lowers the risk of seizing.
He wants to punch himself at the blank look on her face. She has to go through this because they let it get this far. He let it get this far.
But at the very least, she is not going through it alone. Not if it kills him.
Nesta swallows the mock liquor quickly and then finishes off her second glass of water. Picking up her napkin and neatly setting it aside, she rises, and says, "I'm going to bed."
"Good night," he says, though they both know she won't have one and he'll be seeing her in a few hours.
How miserable it is to watch her leave. She's going to have a painful night, and she's probably also scared about Briallyn or the Illyrians attacking her, and she feels alone. He just knows she feels alone.
She's sick and it's his fault. He'd promised her and he'd failed her.
But no more. He's making it up to her. He'll do what he can tonight and this week and for all the rest of it...he's going to keep her safe. Going to weed out every single rebel if he has to go door to door in every camp in Illyria. Nesta has faced her last external battle. He's going to make sure of that.
When she opens the door to her bedroom, there are flames flickering in the fireplace. Flickering, burning...crackling, snapping.
She's not sure how long she stands there at the threshold, before she finds her voice, broken and small, and says, "Could you turn that off, please?"
She doesn't know who she's talking to, how the magic of the House works, but something must be listening, because it dies down. Nesta crosses the room to the windows and cracks one open, enough to stick her head out and breathe in the cold air, ridding the scent of death from her nostrils. She stays there until she's shivering.
"Don't light fires again," she says, voice not as weak as before. "Please," she tacks on.
Nesta's never put so much thought into preparing for bed before, but she knows she has to think about it tonight. The tonics and withdrawal will work hand in hand to make sure she'll wake up ill or seizing or any number of miserable things, and then Cassian will rush in and stay with her until some healer she doesn't know does. She can't decide which is worse.
That's not true. Cassian is worse.
So she picks out a more modest nightgown than she normally would. It's autumn, anyway, and with no extra warmth from a fire, and so high up...not so bad. She might've preferred a pant set, but she's certainly not going to wear those tonight. The shin-length dress and heavy socks will have to do.
Now there is the matter of her hair. Once, she had worn it loose or sometimes braided to sleep, but since Hybern's soldiers had ripped her out of her home by her unbound locks...no. She wears it up.
But they'll know. They'll know she put her hair up to go to bed, and they'll wonder why. And she can't stomach them wondering why.
There's a silk hair tie in the boudoir. Let Cassian think, at least, that there's some vain reason for tying her hair in a bun for bed. Let him not bring it up in mocking, or to her sisters. Let the healer be too professional to say anything.
She hates this. She's already subject to more scrutiny than she'd ever, ever wanted. As Feyre's sister, as a freak of nature. And now it'll be even worse.
What have they told people, she wonders, as she swallows the tonic Feyre's left for her (mostly tasteless, if a bit bitter). That she's been sent to the seaside for her health? That she's doing something for the Night Court in some other land? Or worst of all, the truth?
She wishes, not for the first time, that she could just get a grip on herself. Just get over everything as swiftly as Elain has, or even made her own happiness like Feyre. Goodness knows she was never really going to have it there, below the Wall. She was never made for that. And now she's been Made, and no one knows what for.
The thoughts are too miserable to wallow in for long, and luckily, she doesn't have to. One of the tonics sends her to a deep, claiming sleep, soon after climbing into bed.
Or so she thinks, until a few hours later, when she is up and sweating and gasping and doesn't even make it all the way to the bathroom before collapsing on the floor, and a bucket appears in front of her, and all the soup and tea and water from yesterday is being violently, violently, violently, squeezed out of her. Like it's someone else's doing, like she can't even control her own body.
She doesn't hear Cassian come in, just feels him lift her slightly.
"It's all right," he says, calm. He doesn't whisper, which feels almost obscene in the darkness. "You're all right. The healer's on her way, Nesta."
She doesn't answer. She wants to disappear. He's stroking her back...can he feel how thin she is? Of course he can. But can he feel how weak, how pathetic? She's not stopped shaking. She tries to tense to stop it, can he tell?
But then she throws herself forward as she's sick all over again, and it's not even worth it, she just wants to be left alone to die in peace, nothing is worth this, nothing, nothing, nothing.
"Stay with me," he says, one hand on her waist and another rubbing along the length of her arm. "Here she is, Nesta."
"Good night, Lady Nesta," says a soft, female voice. "My name is Daphne. I'm the healer for all the girls at the library. I'm a priestess, too."
She's one of the girls then, she means. Or she was. What had it been to send her to this place? Had she been a healer before?
But again, Nesta says nothing.
"I'm just going to do some quick checking," Daphne says, in her soft voice. "Just to make sure you're all right." She settles her fingertips on different points on Nesta's body, almost too fast to register with all her shaking. Temples, pulse points, abdomen. "All right," she says. "How do you feel?"
After a few seconds, it becomes clear Nesta has to answer. "Fine," she manages, voice barely a rasp.
"Brave girl," Daphne coos, not unkindly. Nesta wants to die all over again. "Do you feel very cold?"
Nesta thinks for a moment, trying to reach out to her whole body. It's an effort not to curl up into a dark spot in her mind and just let it all happen.
"Not very," she says. A little cool, maybe.
"Do you feel very hot?"
"Good," she says. "It looks as though you're reacting very well to the tonic. I think the symptoms we're seeing now will be the ones we see over the next few days."
Which is a polite way of saying that Nesta's going to keep vomiting and sweating and shaking, but at least it won't be any worse.
"Drink this. It'll help you settle to sleep again."
"Do you think she'll wake up again?" Cassian asks, his arms still around her.
"No, I think she'll sleep till morning. The tonics are good like that. Help to regulate the system and reactions. Do you need help with anything else, Lady Nesta?"
"I can help her," Cassian says, when it becomes clear she isn't going to reply.
"Just make sure she drinks another glass of water before falling asleep."
"I will. Good night. Thank you."
"Of course, General. Good night."
Cassian sits there, stroking her back, for another few minutes, before she summons the strength to shift slightly out of his hold. He doesn't hesitate, moving seamlessly to help her stand. He walks her to the bathroom so she can wash her mouth.
"You have to drink this," he says, handing her a glass of water.
He opens his mouth again, but she cuts him off.
"I don't want to hear it."
She can hear his frown in his voice. "You don't know what I was going to say."
Raising her eyes, she catches his gaze in the mirror. "You want to assure me that I'm not pathetic."
He blinks. "I wasn't going to...do you want me to do that?"
Nesta sets down her toothbrush. "I just said I didn't." She can feel the tonic already starting to work as her head clears. She experimentally eases her weight off the counter. Yes, she can stand on her own now. She takes the glass from him and starts to drink slowly.
"I wasn't aware that I needed to assure you of that. Is...do you think that?"
She only sips her water.
His eyes widen. "Do you think I think that?"
Nesta says to no one, "Could I have more water, please?"
Cassian's eyebrows quirk slightly as he watches the House's magic respond, but then he says, taking her chin, "Nesta. Look at me."
Well, when he's given her no choice.
"I have never in my life thought you were pathetic."
How, she wonders as they stand there like that. How could he possibly be telling the truth? For he is strong and sturdy and commanding and she had to hang onto the bathroom counter for support as she washed the sick out of her mouth after beginning a withdrawal process from alcohol.
And yet, somehow, she knows he isn't lying.
"You can get back to bed yourself, then," he says, dropping his hand. "You know where I am if you need me. Good night."
He doesn't wait for her to reply, just turns and leaves, shutting the door quietly behind him.
His warmth lingers in the room far after he's gone, as does his touch on her face. She loses count of how many times she traces over it before she falls asleep again.
My Fav ACOSF Fics!
I’ve been asking for Fix-it type/revenge fics for ACOSF so I just wanted to share a few great fics w/ Y’all!
The first: Embers and Light by @duskandstarlight
Literally amazing! It’s kinda an acosf fix-it but it diverges from canon a bit and literally tops canon! We get sister bonding, Nesta’s powers, romance, all of it! And a lot of IC realising how they failed Nesta. It’s unfinished, but almost done. Also, the OCs are AMAZING (especially Roksana)!
a03 link: https://archiveofourown.org/works/25388035/chapters/61563586
Second: Renegade Nights fic by @unhealthyfanobsession
This must be laced w/ cracccckkkkkk it’s so good omfg. It’s what would’ve happened if Cassian took Nesta to the day court instead of the mountains! Nesta being powerful af, romance, sister. bonding, the IC realising they made mistakes and making up, Helion being bad af! Oh, and my fav element, The Illyrians finally getting justice away from the night court and getting their own ruler!!! What more could you need?
Third: A Favor by @ncssian, it’s an AU, so not an exact “fix-it” but it fixes a lot of the elements i think ACOSF lacked. Really cute, has Gwynriel drama, Nessian, sister bonding with Feyre, the IC being surprised at their guilt, and family drama, and a new years eve scene I’m OBSESSED WITH!
Let Me In - October 2nd
Nesta Archeron x Cassian
Prompt sent by @noorismee (I’m sorry Tumblr kinda sucks and deleted the ask, I hope it’s just a one-time thing cause I could go insane)
“I didn’t get soaked wet through walking to your house for you to say no to pizza. I have beer too. I know you’re sad, so let me in.”
A/N: This was so cute to write and I really really miss my friends right now, cause I’ve just started uni and I don’t understand how many things works so I haven’t seen them in a very long time and writing about them is always kinda emotional. I hope y’all enjoy!
p.s. yesterday I made a mistake, cause I put the acotar general tag list instead of the tog one, so, sorry for the ones who found themselves there eheh
Word count: 2,587
Nesta wanted to cry. She wanted to cry so bad.
She had tried to take this exam four times in the last year. Twice in the winter session and twice in the summer one. Everyone had reassured her that the fifth time would be the good one, that this time she would be able to pass it with full marks.
"I'm sure you'll be the best in the class." Elain had told her only the day before.
So when she had arrived home, today, and had opened the email with the rankings and saw that she had failed again, she had screamed in frustration.
She grunted and dropped her head on the table, banging her forehead hard enough on the wood to make a loud thump. She rubbed her hands over her eyes, yawning and jerking when a flash of lightning lit the room as if it were daytime. She put her hands over her ears, waiting for the thunder and staring at the raindrops racing on the window glass, and when the noise stopped, she started reading one of the billions of theorems she had been studying for months.
She turned the pages until she found the chapter on the Fourier series and started to rewrite everything she needed to assimilate every little connotation of the theory so that she could apply it in practice.
She had been flipping through the book for hours, writing things and doing calculations that she knew by heart now. How was it possible that she knew everything so perfectly when she was at home and when she found herself in front of the test sheet, she forgot the logic behind it?
She picked up the phone to see the time and saw that it was ten forty-nine. She would not go to sleep until she had solved all the problems in the book.
A message appeared on the screen just as she was about to turn it off and she raised an eyebrow seeing who the sender was.
She had immediately informed him when she knew that she had failed the exam again, but then she hadn't waited for an answer and had put her phone aside.
Scrolling through the dozens of notifications - most of them from her best friend - she saw messages from her classmates asking her if she had passed.
When she got to the bottom of the list, she grimaced.
‘Did you eat?’
And a few minutes later, ‘Nesta?’
‘If you don't answer me within an hour and a half, I'm coming to your place.’
And then, exactly ninety minutes later, he had sent another message saying: ‘You asked for it. I'll be at your's in twenty minutes, half an hour max.’ followed by a strangely threatening text, ‘I'm pissed.’
Nesta grinned, muttering to herself, "Joke's on you, I won't open the door." and returned without too much thought to her math book.
Five minutes passed before she heard someone aggressively knocking on the door. She sighed, lifting her eyes from the numbers and pondering whether it was better to let him in or let him die outside in the cold and frost. She was about to get up, tell him that he should leave, when Cassian knocked harder on the door. She frowned.
"Arche! Open the fucking door, I'm freezing out here!" shouted the boy. Nesta laughed, looking at him through the peephole and leaning her hip against the wall.
She spoke loudly enough so that Cassian could hear her through the door, "And don't you think you should have asked my permission before coming here and busting my balls?"
She heard him snort and could imagine him closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose, "Nesta, please," he seemed exasperated, "open this door and let me feed you."
Nesta raised an eyebrow, chuckling, "Feed me? What am I? A dog?"
"No, you idiot." he laughed on the other side, then, in a more serious tone he asked, "Have you eaten something?"
Nesta hesitated, "Sure."
"I can hear the bullshit from here." a little pause, "Come on, open up."
She opened the door slightly, watching him step forward and Nesta closed the door ajar, shaking her head, "Cassian I have to study." if she had let him in she wouldn't have been able to do anything.
His hair was damp and his usually dark-grey jacket was now black.
"Cassian," he repeated in a mocking tone and making a disgusted face, "what? Are you mad?"
She shook her head puffing, tapping her foot on the ground repeatedly. He followed the movement with his eyes. Looking back at her face, he said, "Even if you were, you wouldn't have the right to. I'm not the one who ignored his best friend all day." he put one hand on the door and pushed it, holding the pizza with the other.
When Nesta struggled to keep it closed again, Cassian laughed. They both knew very well that if he wanted to force his way into her apartment, he would have no problem doing so.
He took one look at her and made what she called whipped-dog-eyes, "I didn't get soaked wet through walking to your house for you to say no to pizza. I have beer too. I know you're sad, so let me in." She noticed only in that moment the bag hanging from his fingers. She leaned forward to help him hold it. She hated plastic bags so much, they always stretched out to cut off her hands when she had to carry them around.
Then she metabolized his words and opened her eyes wide, "Did you come on foot?"
She opened the door, stepped aside and let him in. Cassian trotted into the apartment, shaking his jacket off and passing the pizza to her, who moved so as not to get wet, "Are you crazy? It's four degrees outside and it's pouring."
He looked so pleased to finally be inside the house that he didn't seem to hear her.
Nesta placed the food and beer on the kitchen table, careful not to wet the books. She hurried to put everything aside and when Cassian came in and saw what she was doing she tightened her jaw. Nesta noticed.
"What?" she asked abruptly, "Everyone has their problems. You are a fool for leaving the house at ten o'clock without an umbrella and walking for half an hour in the middle of a storm and I am trying to make sure I have a future by studying, and if I have to do it in the evening, that's not going to stop me".
Cassian shrugged, "Az stole my umbrella and my mom needed the car."
A twinge of pain tightened her heart.
She shook her head, "Wait here, I'll go get you a dry sweatshirt, I should have one of yours."
He nodded and Nesta saw him as he started cutting the pizza, taking what necessary and setting the table. When he came back he was shirtless and was rattling his hair, squeezing it into the sink.
She froze on the kitchen door, admiring how the muscles on his back tensed with every slightest movement. It was not the first time she saw him without clothes, there had been many occasions, but it was rare for him to undress in front of her in such intimate surroundings. She cleared her voice, drawing Cassian's attention.
He turned towards her, smiling at her and Nesta thought she was going to die. It wasn't the usual cocky smile he usually gave everyone, it was sweet and sincere. She handed him the sweatshirt without saying anything and sat down.
The first bite of pizza - although it was gummy and cold - was an explosion of happiness in her stomach. She closed his eyes, moaning and took another bite out of the slice. Cassian sniggered, watching her as she finished her first slice.
"Geez, it's so good," said Nesta, with her mouth full of food. Cassian had an amused expression on his face. He nodded his head to the cartoon, "Have some more."
Nesta didn't hesitate and threw herself on the pizza, filling her plate. They ate in silence, enjoying each other's company. She thanked him only when she had cleaned the plate with the last crumb. He had belittled the whole thing by waving his hand mid-air, just saying that she didn't need to thank him, that it was his job to make sure she survived through this exam session.
When Cassian leaned forward on the table to grab a bottle of beer, Nesta stood up, grabbed the bottle opener and handed it to him. He was about to open the second one, when Nesta stopped him, "I'm not going to drink Cass, as soon as you leave I'll go back to studying and you know what alcohol does to me."
Cassian laughed and opened it anyway, pushing it towards her, "Come on Arche," she did not move and looked him in the eyes more serious than ever, "if you put it like that," he took back the beer and the smile died on his lips. He moved his gaze toward the window, "But I'm not leaving".
She moaned, "What the fuck, Cass." she put her hand in her hair, raising one leg and putting her foot on the chair, leaning her chin against her knee.
"I'm not leaving and I don't want to hear your lame excuses about why I can't stay" he looked at her and the worry in his features made Nesta stand at attention.
His tone became more gentle, "What happened today?"
She wiggled her head for the millionth time, frowning, "What do you mean? Nothing happened," and before he could answer her, she added, "except that I failed the mathematical analysis exam for the fifth time."
"Nes..." he passed his hand through his hair, unwinding it and dropping little water left and right. His eyes never left her face, looking for any sign that would give away her apparent calm.
"Cass." she repeated with the same tone. How could he be so good at reading through the lines? Lines that she hadn't even written, considering how good she had been at ignoring him all day long. She figured, that was also a clear sign that something was wrong.
Not even Tomas, her boyfriend, could understand that something was wrong and she had explicitly texted him "I don't feel very well, I'd rather be alone for today" to which he replied with a simple "Ok, talk to you tomorrow".
Maybe he didn't even care what was bothering his girlfriend so much. Surely he would have been angry, though, when he found out that Cassian had spent the night on her couch.
Cassian sighed, also putting down his beer, "You know, you need to talk about anything, I'm always here."
Nesta felt a lump forming in her throat, so she nodded weakly, not trusting her voice.
He looked into her eyes for a few more seconds and when she could no longer hold his gaze, she turned to her books, staring at the sheets of paper that came out of the pages.
"So," said Cassian, changing the subject for her sake, "what don't you understand about mathematical analysis?
She turned to him in surprise, "These aren't things you would understand."
She wasn't trying to insult him or make him feel less intelligent than she were, but the subjects that were studied in the third year of a math degree course required a broad knowledge of previous subjects. Subjects that Cassian would never have even approached while studying foreign languages and literatures.
"Oh, I know, I don't have a sufficiently developed brain for those things, but you need to be distracted and since you want to study so much, maybe you could repeat it to me." he smiled at her, getting up and standing in front of her, pointing to the living room with a nod of his chin, "Couch?
Nesta stared at him, wondering how it was possible that Cassian was her friend. She nodded, following him into the living room and sitting in front of him, her legs bent under her.
The second she opened the book, the black letters on the white pages seemed to cross over. They seemed to dance, not allowing her to read. She would have been able to explain it without reading, but fatigue was taking over. She closed the book, staring at the cover.
"Everything okay?" he asked with a hint of concern in his tone.
Nesta closed her eyes, carrying a hand over her eyes. Her breath started to tremble. She did not want to cry.
She felt Cassian move on the couch and then he hugged her, "Sweetheart?" he stroked her hair, while Nesta took the book out from among them and dropped it on the floor. She clutched to his chest and took a deep breath. The warmth of him seemed to relax her little or nothing and Nesta only wanted to stop feeling this icy cold that seemed to have been poured into her bones.
"I miss my mom," she whispered.
She heard Cassian swallowing, "I figured," he said in an equally silent tone, holding her tighter, "It's normal Arche, her anniversary is approaching."
Right. The anniversary of Amanda Archeron's death would be in a couple of weeks.
Nesta was convinced that Tomas couldn't even remember the month of her mother's death.
"She was so good. She graduated on time. She did everything perfectly. And I'm here and I can't pass this stupid exam," she said against his chest. Her mother went to the same university, she attended classes in the same halls. She had graduated with the highest grades.
Cassian moved slightly, placing his hand on one of her cheeks, caressing her just under the eye. He had a determined look in his eyes and when he spoke, Nesta knew she wouldn't be able to talk back.
"You managed to get this far for a reason. You are not stupid and the test you are trying to take is not easy. Your mother was a genius, it's true, and I understand that you think you are expected to do the same, but no one is going to use such a thing against you," he reassured her. "We are all on your side. The only one who doesn't believe in you, it seems, is also the only one who should." he smiled sweetly at her.
Nesta moved, fleeing that touch so familiar, so comforting.
"I'm sorry." she murmured.
Cassian was still hugging her, "For what?"
"For making you worry, I should have called you and told you right away. You wouldn't have had to come all the way here." she looked him in the face and found an amused expression there.
"I would have come anyway, Nes. Only sooner."
She smiled at him and hugged him again.
They watched an action movie until two in the morning, hugging on her couch. They didn't go to class the next day, staying locked in the house, eating all the junk they had managed to buy on their little trip to the mini market down the street.
Cassian had also managed to convince her not to touch the books for the day and it had taken a while for her to accept.
She just needed her person.
Looking to her right, she stretched her feet over his lap and he smiled at her.
She was kinda screwed.
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I dont know if Im allowed to send a part three prompt but Im going to anyway and Im just gonna hope for the best but Gwynriel and Nessians brand new babies meeting for the first time and all the parents just "🥺" the whole time
My ask box is open to requests, so pretty much anything is "allowed". LOL And I love this! Although, brand new babies really can't do much, so I made this more a piece of the story than the focus. 👀 It's very heavily Nessian, cause I've just been feeling very Nessian recently. But, it's also fluff on fluff on fluff, so that's something. 😂
It's been the most amazing two months after Nesta and Cassian welcomed their daughter to the world. And now she's finally able to meet Gwyn and Az's son for the first time. But Cassian remembers what day it is and has some other plans as well.
Word Count: 2,750 | Prequel | Part 1 | Part 2
Seriously, that's all this thing is. There's, like, maybe one sentence that could be considered angsty. Literally.
a/n: If you missed my earlier reblog, I decided that "Build a Life With Me" is the prequel to this, so it's all the same AU. It allowed me to be fluffier and sappier. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
My Candy - Part 3
A screaming cry barreled through the house, shrill and heartbreaking.
It had Nesta up instantaneously. She shuffled toward the stairs without even thinking, pausing at the bottom of them as she spotted Cassian walking down, the wailing bundle in his arms.
"I think someone's hungry," he declared, wearing the same goofy grin that hasn't left his face since their daughter was born.
Nesta huffed a small laugh, taking a step back and holding her arms out. "She must be if she's crying while in your arms."
It came as no surprise to Nesta that Eirena was already a total daddy's girl, never happier than when she was being held by him. Not that Nesta could blame her for that…she clearly took after her mother in that regard.
Their daughter squirmed slightly as she was handed off into Nesta's arms, as if she was curious her problem would be solved with just this movement. But her screams continued within a second as Nesta made her way over to the couch.
Cassian chuckled, standing behind where she sat and resting his hands on her shoulders. "Just another thing she gets from you, sweetheart."
"I am extremely patient!" she argued. She began to unbutton the top of her shirt with one hand as she cradled Eirena in the other arm.
"Yes, dear." He began to rub her shoulders as she finally got her shirt loose enough to bring their daughter's head up to her breast. Luckily, one thing that was never much of a challenge was breast feeding. She was a hungry little thing.
She felt Cassian's weight shift, his hands stilling as his breath caressed her neck. "You know, I could always help you with your buttons," he whispered, pressing a kiss just below her ear, right in that spot that sent her heart racing.
"With our daughter literally in my arms?" she countered, turning her head to find his right next to hers, his eyes boring into her own.
He nodded, his smile growing playful.
"Cass, I think we're going to scar our children enough in their lives. Let's at least give her a few months before we start."
"Children?" His eyebrows rose as his entire face perked up. "As in plural?"
"If you're lucky."
One of Cassian's hands lifted to hold the back of Nesta's head as he lunged forward, pressing a kiss to her lips in a way that had her smiling with him. They couldn't hold the kiss long with their grins, but it didn't spoil the moment. Not as Cassian rested his forehead against hers and breathed in deeply. "You can't say stuff like that to me in front of our daughter if your goal is to avoid scarring her."
Nesta laughed softly, tilting her head to give him a quick peck. "She might be a bit too young to be worrying about that."
"All these rules you set. So complicated." He brushed his nose against her neck and then nipped softly at her ear.
"I'd get used to it. It'll only get worse with another girl in the house."
He beamed at her before his gaze drifted to the dark-haired head still at her mother's breast, his smile only growing. "I think I'll be okay."
Nesta felt a heat build behind her eyes as she placed her forehead to his temple. It was moments like these that made it hard to believe her life was real. With her baby girl in her arms, and Cassian beside her, it was a literal dream come true. She never thought, all those years ago, when he laid out his ideas for their life together on their first date, that she'd actually be lucky enough to get it. But now, here she was, it was perfect.
Well, nearly perfect.
A quick glance at the hand holding her daughter's head reminded her there was still one thing she wanted. One promise unfulfilled that she was ready for.
Small, gurgling noises sounded, Eirena licking her lips with her too-big tongue, full and content, and likely in need of a nice belch.
"Hand me a burp cloth?" Nesta requested, wiping herself off with a tissue before doing herself up again.
Cassian grabbed a cloth from the pile beneath the bassinet they kept downstairs, but he didn't hand it to her. "Can I burp her, please?"
"No." She held out her free hand, waiting.
"But I haven't been able to burp her successfully once!"
"I know. It's my thing, and it's my only thing. Please let me have this." She pushed her lips out into a small pout that had Cassian handing the cloth over to her.
She flashed him a grateful smile and then threw it over her shoulder, standing up and pushing her daughter further up so she could see over Nesta's shoulder. She turned her back to her boyfriend, knowing how much her daughter liked to look at her father whenever she could.
And so began the routine. Nesta bouncing and patting, and Cassian cheering Eirena on with soft phrases like "you can do it" and "burp for daddy".
It was only a minute or so before Nesta felt her daughter's stomach expand as a throaty sound erupted from her lips. She really did have ridiculously loud burps for such a tiny body.
"Wooo! That's my girls!" Cassian exclaimed, as proud as if he'd just watched his daughter make the winning shot in a championship hockey match.
Nesta shook her head, a small laugh huffing out of her as she pulled another, smaller burp from their daughter.
"There, she should be all good for her playdate."
Adjusting so she was now cradling her daughter, she turned to Cassian. "Yes, with Az, Gwyn, and their son. Remember?"
"Right!" He snapped his fingers with the word, nodding emphatically. "Still can't believe the babies haven't met yet."
"We had to wait," Nesta reminded him. "Make sure they both got their whooping cough vaccines."
"Still seems weird."
"It'd be weirder if Gwyn and Az hadn't met her."
Cassian let out a breathy chuckle as he walked over to Nesta, placing his hand on their daughter's head and stroking her softly with his thumb. "That's true."
As if on command, they heard a knock at the door, followed by the sound of it opening and a ringing, "Hello!"
"In here!" Nesta called, still bouncing to keep their daughter placated.
"Hi!!" Gwyn all but burst into the room, a massive smile on her face. A far more subdued Az a few steps behind, carrying a car seat.
She gave them each a quick hug before flitting back to Az's side as he set the seat down and picked up his son.
"Oh, I'm so excited!" Gwyn was literally jumping up and down.
"Darling, you do know that they won't actually be able to do much, right?" Az asked through a laugh.
She flicked him a flat glare. "Yes, I'm aware. But they can't say they shared a crib if they never actually shared a crib."
Nesta's daughter began to squirm, her face scrunching in a way that said she was getting sleepy. "Speaking of…it is nap time."
"Introductions first!" Gwyn demanded.
Nesta and Az both rolled their eyes as they walked toward each other, babies in their arms.
Once close enough, Nesta tilted her arms enough to give her daughter a view of the three-week-older boy. "This is Caron," she said, as if her daughter would actually remember his name from this encounter.
"And this is Eirena," Az added, doing the same with this son.
The two babies looked at each other, blinking.
It was extremely anticlimactic, as Nesta knew it would be, but she was happy to be bringing them together. To get to really spend time with Gwyn and Az - or, at least, spend a full naptime with them.
She handed Eirena to Cassian, knowing he'd be able to rock her to sleep faster, and then made her way back to Gwyn as the two men tried to lull their children to sleep.
With her arms free, Nesta gave her friend a proper hug before sitting down on the couch with her. "So, how are you?"
"We're great," Gwyn beamed. "Amazing, actually. I mean, I'm tired constantly, getting very little sleep, but I couldn't be happier."
Nesta couldn't help but smile back at her. "I know the feeling."
A sudden shout burst through the room that had Nesta's head snapping up. "Cassian?"
He was already walking back to Nesta, a frustrated glint in his eyes. "I don't know what you did, but she seems to be switching sides," he groused as Nesta stood up.
She had to bite down on her lip to not smile too widely. "I didn't do anything."
"You did! And I'll figure out what and get her back, but for now…"
Nesta nodded and took her daughter back into her arms, smiling softly at her. Big, blue eyes stared back up at Nesta as she rocked Eirena, the baby's blinks growing longer with every minute.
She loved it when her daughter fell asleep in her arms. Nesta knew they weren't supposed to do that, knew they were supposed to try and keep their child on as close to a sleep schedule as they could, which meant dressing her for bed and putting her in her bassinet at a certain time each night and letting her fall asleep on her own. But Nesta hated doing that. Hated missing out on the opportunity to rock her to sleep herself, or watch Cassian do it.
One big yawn, and it was only another minute until Eirena was sleeping soundly.
She placed her daughter in the bassinet, moving her a bit to the side to give room for Caron, who Az rested next to Eirena quickly.
"We'll have to make sure someone always has an eye on them," Nesta whispered. "I don't think we're supposed to have babies so young sleeping so close."
Az nodded, his eyes as glued to their children as hers were. They both had tufts of onyx hair covering their heads, Caron's a bit longer, and plump baby cheeks that were slightly rosy. However, Caron was paler than Eirena, looking more a dark olive than the light brown skin Eirena had inherited almost entirely from Cassian. She really was only a shade or two lighter than her father, whereas Caron had clearly become more a mix of his parents.
They watched them sleep, their little chests rising and falling evenly. It truly was precious, to see them together, even if nothing was actually happening.
But they were sleeping. Next to each other. And that seemed to count for something in Nesta's heart.
She heard hushed whispers behind her, Cassian and Gwyn conspiring about something. She was about to turn and let Az keep an eye on them when she saw Eirena's head move slightly.
It wasn't much. Just a slight shift. And then another. And another. Just as Caron did the same. Until finally their heads were angled toward each other, the strands of their hair tangling together. It had Nesta inhaling sharply, tears beginning to pool in her eyes.
She couldn't look away. Not even as a deep voice asked, "What are you two staring at?"
"Come see for yourself," she offered, holding out a hand for Cassian to take as he walked up to the bassinet.
He peeked inside and let out a gentle laugh, letting go of Nesta's hand to wrap his arm around her waist and pull her close as he pressed a kiss to her hair.
She heard a soft gasp from the other side of the cradle and looked up to see Gwyn was standing beside Az, her teal gaze focused on their babies. Nesta couldn't help but smile to herself as she let her eyes fall back to the sleeping infants.
Nesta was far too preoccupied to see the look Cassian and Gwyn exchanged, or to notice exactly what Cassian did when he let go of her and stepped away.
It was at least a minute before she finally tore her eyes away. "Cassian? Where'd-"
She cut herself off as she turned around to see that Cassian hadn't gone far, but was just a couple feet away, in front of her on one knee, holding up an open ring box. Inside was a platinum band with a princess cut grey diamond, a sparkling ruby on each side of it.
Nesta felt herself freeze, her eyes wide, her heart pounding as she looked between the ring and Cassian. His own eyes were bright and hopeful, his face soft save for that one crease on his forehead that told her he was nervous.
He swallowed and then began to speak. "Nesta, since the day we met I've known that I want to spend the rest of my life with you. It took me a while to convince you to even give me a chance, but once you did I knew I could never go back. You infuriate the hell out of me, and I love every second of it. You challenge and question me, and I am a better man for it. You literally thrill me. You brighten my mood just by walking into the room, and there is nothing I love more than making you laugh or smile."
The pooling tears were now flowing from Nesta's eyes, but she couldn't stop herself.
"Eight years ago, exactly, I told you that we were going to build a life together, and you said you thought you wanted that." Nesta felt her bottom lip fall from her top. "Well, we've started doing just that, and it's better than I ever could have imagined. I made a few assumptions that day, but more importantly I made a few promises, and I've fulfilled them all…save one. The very first one I made. I still don't care if it takes another fifty years or if you want to run off and do it tonight. I just want you to know that I'm here for good, with you and the family we create.
"So, Nesta Archeron, will you help me fulfill this final promise? Will you marry me?"
She took in a quivering breath, her body trembling from excitement or love or shock or a combination of the three and a thousand other feelings she couldn't name as all the thoughts eddied from her mind. Everything disappeared, except him. Except the man who'd stood by her for far longer than she ever thought someone would. The man who loved and cherished her, who held her close and made her feel safe whenever she was in his arms. The man who fathered her daughter, who adored and spoiled Eirena as much as he did her mother.
Her eyes remained on his as she fought to find the words, to find her voice. He never faltered. He didn't twitch or squirm. He stayed where he was, kneeling, the ring held out for her as if he was offering her his heart. Only he couldn't, because she already owned that, just as he owned hers.
Finally, her lips curved upward as she nodded, gasping out a wet, "Yes!" as she flung herself at him.
The force of the impact knocked him backwards onto the ground, but it didn't stop his arm from snaking around her. And it didn't stop Nesta from pressing her lips to his as they fell.
Cassian chuckled into her, silver beginning to line his own eyes as she pulled away just enough to look at him. To hold out her left hand over him.
She felt his arms move, his hands fiddling with the ring box over her body, and then the ring was free and he was sliding it onto her finger as he stared into her eyes, the flecks of gold sparkling brightly in the brown and green collage.
It fit perfectly, sliding right into place, but Nesta refused to look away from his gaze as he wrapped his hand around hers and held it to his chest.
"I love you, Cass," she whispered, brushing her free fingers through his hair softly.
His smile grew impossibly wider as he lifted his head to give her a kiss. "I love you, too, Nes."
She kissed him again, savoring the softness of his lips before she dragged her own from his and brought them to his ear. "And to answer your earlier question, yes. Children, as in plural."
a/n: Please don't come at me about the ring if you disagree. I did not spend a tonnnn of time thinking about it, so it is not a hill I'll die on or even attempt to hold. It's just the concept that came to mind while writing this. If I write another proposal fic, it may be a different ring. IDK. XD
Their daughter's name is derived from the name "Eirene", who is the ancient Greek Goddess of Peace/the personification of peace. So, the name means "peace". IDK if I'll keep it. My next gen fic has a different name for their daughter, but it's a very different situation. I just needed something for this cause I didn't want to use that name, and I like this concept. 😄
For Gwynriel, Caron is a Welsh name that means 'love'. It's unisex according to the website I used, so if you've only heard it as a girl's name...well, now you've heard both.
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If you'd like to be added to my Nessian taglist, or another one, let me know!
If you ain't Nesta you ain't anything
“Gwyn threw Azriel a withering stare as she strode past him.
— See you tomorrow, Shadowsinger.”
Comission from ellyness5
Please do NOT repost.
"Nesta, if you didn't want to go on a date with me you should've said! Instead you played with me and came up with a shit excuse-"
*door opens and puffy eyed Nesta appears*
"Shit, your goldfish really did die?"
Notes: A big thanks to all of you who sent in prompts over the past few weeks! This is the first one I've answered and it's my first time writing Nessian modern AU, so be kind! Saying that, this was so much fun to write and I'd be lying if I said I didn't love writing this. I've had major writer's block for Embers & Light recently, and this has helped to get me out of my writing funk.
Please let me know if you enjoy it--can't wait to hear what you think! And big thanks to @noirshadow for being my very patient and thorough beta...
Oh... and for anyone who doesn't know what a Goujon is, it's a fancy fish finger/fish stick.
A Golden Opportunity
For months Cassian had been waiting for the chance to take Nesta Archeron on a date. No, strike that, Cassian wouldn’t lie to himself. He’d been waiting for years, Mother damn it.
From the moment Cassian had first laid eyes on Nesta he’d known that there would be no-one else. Cassian couldn’t explain it, but he’d just known with a rattling clarity that startled him awake. There would be no more raucous lifestyle where he bedded anything that moved. There would be no half-assed dates that were clearly going nowhere or late-night hook-ups.
There was only one goal: to get Nesta to agree to go on a date with him and pray to the Forces that Be that she’d fall in love with him, too.
It was at Feyre’s birthday party that their paths had first crossed. The youngest Archeron sister had just started dating Rhys, and Rhys had dragged Cassian and Azriel along to the event, keen for his brothers to meet the one person that made him light up.
Cassian had been a begrudging attendee. It had nothing to do with Feyre, who Cassian instantly adored, but due to a raging hangover, which had been a byproduct of Mor persuading him to go dancing after too many beers. The last thing Cassian had wanted to do was roll off the couch, shit, shave and put on some clothes that didn’t identify as yesterday’s boxers.
But he’d done it for Rhys as a brotherly gesture. And given that was where Cassian had noticed Nesta, there had been no hard feelings.
It was her voice that Cassian had heard initially—fierce and white-hot with rage. It had broken through a dip in the music, pulling Cassian’s attention from the bodies gyrating in the living room and back to the kitchen.
Across the room, past the island that was being used as a makeshift beer pong table, was a female with storm-blue eyes and the sinister expression of a queen who knew her worth. She was glaring up at a hulking brute of a male, her chin tilted up stubbornly, her spine steel. Behind her—shielded by Nesta’s body and someone that Cassian later learnt was Emerie—was a startled-looking red-haired girl with teal blue eyes.
Cassian had shifted upright from where he’d been leaning against the kitchen counter, ready to plough right over there and snarl at the guy to back off. But he needn’t have bothered. The guy had recoiled from whatever verbal whiplash Nesta had dished up and retreated with his metaphorical tail between his legs.
The impressed flare in Cassian’s eyes caught Rhys’s attention.
His brother stopped talking to Feyre to raise a dark eyebrow at him. “You look as if you’ve just spotted your next meal.”
Cassian gestured with his lukewarm beer towards Nesta. Unfathomable rage warred in her eyes as she watched the male slink off into the living room. “Who’s that?”
Turning, Feyre followed Cassian’s line of gaze.
When she noticed who Cassian meant, her lips parted in surprise. “That’s my sister, Nesta. She came with her friends, Gwyn and Emerie.”
As soon as Feyre mentioned they were related, Cassian could see it. They had the same honey brown hair and light dusting of freckles across the nose. But whilst Feyre was willowy and graceful, Nesta was full of lethal curves and, from what Cassian had seen, a no-shit attitude that had fired up every nerve ending and channelled all of his blood to one specific area.
She was the forbidden fruit that guys wanted to take a bite out of but were too scared to approach. But not Cassian. If anything, the fire he’d seen warring her in her eyes had kindled something similar in his own.
His brothers had always joked that Cassian was rough-hewn—carved from the elements, wild and untameable. He’d never wanted someone who’d break him in and cage him in.
Nesta Archeron was, without a doubt, the most bewitching female Cassian had ever seen and he needed to know her.
Somehow, he knew that together they’d be an unfathomable force—wild and wonderful. Beautiful and brutal.
Feyre had blinked. “You want to introduce yourself to Nesta?”
Without a beat of hesitation, Cassian dipped his chin. The surprise in Feyre’s voice had heated Cassian’s blood and made his determination steely. “You’re damn right I do. She just cut down a guy twice her height.”
Feyre cocked her head at him and Cassian got the distinct impression that she could hear every thought tumbling through his head.
“She has a boyfriend,” Feyre replied after a stretched out pause. But Cassian caught the way her nose wrinkled in disgust.
That was enough to tell Cassian that whoever this guy was, Feyre didn’t think much of him.
“Introduce me,” Cassian insisted, even as disappointment had lain like lead across his gut. It had been a long time since he’d met who he deemed to be a worthy opponent.
Feyre had eyed Cassian for a moment too long.
Cassian held up his hands to press his innocence.
“No funny business, I promise,” he vowed. “Just let me say hello.”
To say Cassian hadn’t been enamoured with the following verbal spar would have been a lie. Because he was utterly and irrevocably head-over-heels.
So, he played the long game—aloof Cassian with the wolfish grin and the casual flirting that brought out that indignant, blazing side of Nesta. All the while, Cassian’s heart would beat at triple speed, his pulse hammering hard enough against the skin of his throat that he lived in terror that Nesta would clock it.
And Cassian waited. Waited until Nesta finally saw fit to fling her ass-of-a-boyfriend to the curb. Watched as Nesta flung up an impenetrable guard around herself, rejecting every suitor that came her way—including him.
Cassian knew Tomas had wounded Nesta so deeply that it would be miracle if she dared to trust herself with anyone ever again.
But if she did… Cassian was determined that it would be him.
The first time Cassian had finally bit the bullet and asked her out, Nesta’s flat out no would have sent an ordinary guy reeling. But Cassian wasn’t an ordinary guy and Nesta’s knife-edged tongue failed to wound him.
“You’re missing out, Nes,” he’d told her with a flash of his teeth. “I’m a wild ride.”
The dangerous gleam in Nesta’s eyes had screamed at Cassian to leave the country and go into hiding. But he hadn’t. He’d just winked at her before he’d left the room. When he returned and handed her the steaming mug of tea she’d been desperate for ever since she’d arrived at Feyre and Rhys’s, Nesta had stared at Cassian for so long, he’d thought he’d cracked her.
But he hadn’t.
So, the propositions continued. Alone in the kitchen at the family’s weekly Sunday brunch. During a slow dance at Feyre and Rhys’ wedding. Bumping into one another at the grocery store. At the launch of her first novel. At an event for her second novel. At Thanksgiving.
And so it continued—until three years later, when Cassian happened to bump into Nesta at a bookshop tucked back from one of the main shopping streets in Velaris.
Nesta had startled. Actually, that was a kind description: she’d jumped out of her skin. Then, her guard had slammed up so fast that Cassian had practically heard the shriek of metal as she threw up her iron-clad wall.
“Did you follow me here?” she accused sharply, and Cassian’s heart squeezed painfully.
Cassian had long suspected that Tomas had not taken his and Nesta’s break up well, but he’d not known quite how badly until Nesta had asked him to walk her home after Elain’s birthday.
Even now, Cassian could remember the silhouette of the prick as he’d sunk out of the shadows and into the pooled light of a lamppost outside of Nesta’s apartment. The sound of Nesta’s sharp inhale, her thin breath, the way she’d grappled blindly for Cassian’s hand without once taking her eyes off of Tomas.
After that, Cassian had catalogued the way in which Nesta would jump at the smallest of things. Her sisters didn’t know, but Emerie had taken it upon herself to tell Cassian that Nesta had eventually summoned the courage to file a restraining order.
Cassian hoped Nesta had felt freer afterwards, but seeing her so thrown by his presence brought a lump to his throat.
Even so, Cassian caught his emotions before they bled into his expression. “It might come as a surprise to you, Archeron, but I actually read.”
The tension spooled out of Nesta’s shoulders at Cassian’s playful drawl. When she spied the book in Cassian’s hand, guilt glimmered behind her eyes.
But Nesta didn’t apologise. She only nodded to the book in Cassian’s hands. “That’s a good one.”
A lopsided smile tugged at one side of Cassian’s mouth at Nesta’s sudden ease. Cassian supposed a bookshop was in her natural habitat. “Yeh?”
“Yes,” Nesta nodded, before a hand darted past his arm to pull another book off the shelf. A rush of vanilla and jasmine washed over Cassian as Nesta placed the book atop of the one he held in his hands. “This one’s better.”
Cassian’s smile widened into something full and true. “Oh?”
“Trust me,” Nesta had told him with a raised eyebrow that dared him to question her judgement.
So, Cassian vowed instead, “I’ll let you know what I think.”
Crossing her arms over her chest, Nesta dipped her chin. “Do.”
There was a beat of silence where Cassian drank in Nesta’s appearance. Tiredness was smudged beneath her eyes and wisps of hair had come free from the plait that wound around the back of her head. The rest of her honey brown hair hung loose down her back. It was a style Cassian had seen on Nesta a rare few times but it was one of his favourites.
It took effort to speak through the constriction in Cassian’s throat, but he feigned casual as he leant against one of the tall oak bookcases. “How’ve you been?”
Cassian hadn’t seen Nesta for a few months. Whenever he dared to ask Feyre why Nesta hadn’t shown up at Sunday brunch, Feyre had only supplied that Nesta was caught in writing deadlines and was chained to her laptop.
Nesta shrugged. “Tired.” Then after a pause she elaborated, “The second draft of my book is due next week.”
Cassian nodded. “Feyre said. How’s it going?”
Brief surprise darted across Nesta’s expression and the sight made it feel as if an iron band had clamped around Cassian’s chest.
Nesta rarely expected anyone to ask after her.
Nesta loosed a slow breath. “Surprisingly well. But I’m having such a good run, I’m scared to stop.” She wrinkled her nose and arrows formed at the base of her nose. “I’m only here because Gwyn and Emerie threatened to steal my laptop if I didn’t meet them for coffee. They said I need to get out more. ”
And because Cassian couldn’t help but seize upon the moment, he took a daring tongue-in-cheek leap. “I couldn’t agree more. See me next week? Wednesday?”
There was a huff of breath that sounded an awful lot like a snort, but Nesta’s voice was free of disdain. “I should have seen that coming.”
“You should have,” Cassian agreed. Then, he cocked his head, trying to get a read on her. “Is that a yes?”
There was a pause in which Cassian waited with baited breath. Usually the rejections came swift and brutal, but today, the question lingered in the air between them.
Nesta’s eyes dragged from his to the bookshelf—to the coloured spines stacked neatly in rows. But Cassian could tell she wasn’t actually seeing them. Rather, she was stuck in her own head—probably contemplating why she couldn’t agree to go on a date with him.
Eventually, Nesta said, “My deadline is Thursday.”
Cassian’s hands shook as hope speared through him. She hadn’t sent him packing. He’d never got this far before.
Somehow Cassian managed to steady his voice. He allowed a slow, cheeky grin to spread across his face. For his eyes to glint in triumph. “Friday evening it is then, witch. We can celebrate.”
The familiar way in which Nesta rolled her eyes made Cassian’s chest tighten even further, but the nerves buzzing inside of him took precedence. Because this was when Nesta shot him down. He’d gotten further than he ever had before, and that was progress.
Baby steps, he reminded himself, as those nerves clamoured and roared.
Yet… Cassian’s heart hammered with anticipation—with desperate hope.
Suspense stretched out between them, taut and brittle, ready to snap into disappointment.
And just when Cassian couldn’t handle the wait any longer, Nesta clipped, “Pick me up at seven. Don’t be late.”
That was how they’d left things—with Cassian equal parts gobsmacked and overjoyed—as he’d watched Nesta slip out of the bookshop and into the bracing wintry cold to meet her friends.
All week Cassian had planned the perfect low-key date that wouldn’t have Nesta running for the hills. All week he’d contemplated what to wear and what to say when he picked her up.
Cassian was so consumed with it all that both Rhys and Azriel had asked him what was wrong.
But nothing was wrong—everything was finally gloriously right—until Nesta cancelled on him five minutes after he’d left to pick her up.
And Cassian hadn’t received an apologetic call but a fucking text.
i cant make tonight. my goldfish died.
That had been all Cassian had received—all he’d been worthy of. No apology. No proposed date to rearrange. Just a lame excuse about a fucking goldfish and a missing apostrophe that Cassian thought was piss-poor given Nesta wrote books for a living.
Cassian saw red. He didn’t turn back home, he just kept walking.
By some miracle, someone was leaving Nesta’s building as he drew up outside so he could slip inside without ringing the buzzer. And then Cassian was climbing the stairs two at a time, too impatient to wait for the elevator, until he was outside Nesta’s apartment, his chest heaving, her rejection a poisonous thorn in his side.
The impact of Cassian’s fist on the door was bone-splintering but he barely noticed.
For a moment, the pound of his knock echoed around the empty corridor was the only sound. Then, Cassian heard the sharp clip of heels against the hardwood floor. The clack of the chain being pulled back. The turn of a lock.
When the door opened, the Nesta Cassian saw was not what he was expecting. He’d expected a similar version of the Nesta he’d first caught sight of at that party; brimming with a fierce sort of rage that took form in the sort of deathly calm that had people running in the opposite direction.
Instead, Nesta looked dishevelled and frayed, as if she was about to unspool. But in that split second, Cassian didn’t register any of that. He only drank her in—the heeled black sandals, the tight leather leggings that hugged to her like a second skin, the red satin cami top and her hair…
Nesta’s hair was down.
Cassian would have passed out then and there if his gaze hadn’t snagged on the broken fish tank and the collapsed side table. Water was pooled across the hardwood floor and there was a flash of orange against the ingrain of the wood that Cassian was certain was a very dead fish.
Unable to filter the thoughts tumbling out of his mouth, Cassian swore. “Shit, your fish really did die.”
Nesta’s brow dipped into a frown. But rather than shut the door in his face, she opened the door so he could see the full scope mess behind her.
Indignation swept across her irises, like a cloud passing over the sun on a crisp breeze. “If I didn’t want to go on a date with you, I’d have told you no last week. I’ve done it before.”
Cassian opened his mouth. Shut it again. Because all of that was true. And Nesta had never been the sort of person to beat around the bush.
An apology bubbled up his throat, but then his attention was pulled back to the water swimming on the floor. There was so much of it. How big had the tank been? Twenty litres? More?
“Let me in,” he ordered.
Defiance coiled Nesta’s expression into something tight. “No.”
Because Cassian couldn’t help himself, he reached out to touch her arm. It was ice cold and covered in goosebumps. “Let me help you clear up, sweetheart.”
“I—” Nesta started, as if she was about to protest. But then, as if realising that she could use the help, she opened the door wide. Stepped back. “I’m worried the water is going to leak into the flat below. I thought you were the neighbour coming to yell at me.”
“Got it,” Cassian told her, hanging up his leather jacket on the hook behind the door.
Rolling up the sleeves of his shirt black shirt, Cassian cast a look at the ridiculous stretch of water before him. It had traversed the small hallway and had started to seep into the living room carpet. The sodden towels Nesta had hastily bunched up as a barrier had clearly only been able to hold the water for so long.
“Have you got anything else to soak up the water?”
“Bed sheets?” Nesta conceded with a sigh as if she’d hoped it wouldn’t get to that point. “I’ll go get them.”
Together, they mopped up the water, ringing it into a bucket which Cassian plucked up and tipped down the kitchen sink whenever it got too full. Thankfully, the fish tank had broken neatly so there weren’t shards of glass everywhere, but Cassian lifted it to the side and dismantled the broken table.
When they’d finished, Nesta slid her back down the wall until she was seated on the now-dry floor. Cassian tracked the way she dragged her fingers through the lengths of her tousled hair, holding it back from her face.
She let out a noise of indignation when she noticed the dead goldfish was still on the floor.
Quickly, Cassian bent over to pick it up before he joined her. He cradled the fish in his open palms. It felt slippery and lifeless.
“What’s this fella’s name?”
Cassian’s jaw briefly dropped in surprise and then he barked a delighted laugh. “Nesta Archeron, you are wicked.”
A sly, predatory smile crept across Nesta’s mouth and Cassian could have sworn he’d never seen anything quite so alluring. A fist curled over in his lower gut, everything tightening in a way that was pleasant and forbidden.
“Gwyn said I was evil.”
Cassian grinned through the desire coiling inside of him. “Evil, yes. Hilarious, absolutely. I take it you don’t actually want to eat this little guy, though?”
Nesta screwed up her nose. “Of course not. I think Goujon is destined for a matchbox burial.”
Jerking his chin to the kitchenette, Cassian asked, “The other goldfish are ok?”
Nesta nodded and rested her elbows on her leather-clad knees. “They’ll be fine until tomorrow. I’ll need to get a new tank. That spare one is too small.”
Silence fell, the hush similar to a fresh layer of snow as it blanketed a landscape. In the quiet, Cassian took a moment to study Nesta. To track the elegant line of her jaw, the delicate but stubborn point of her chin. The outline of her nose, which turned up ever so slightly at the end—a perfect, elegant ski slope.
In the spotlight of the hallway, Nesta’s eyes had lightened to a stunning glacial blue.
“You look beautiful, by the way.”
Nesta blinked—actually blinked—as if nobody had told her that before. It made Cassian wonder how quickly he could hunt down Tomas and punch him in the face.
A soft snort sounded. “I’m covered in water.”
Cassian’s answer came swift and steady—his voice firm. “Doesn’t make you any less beautiful.”
In fact, Cassian thought it made Nesta even more alluring. He couldn’t say why. Perhaps it was that she looked less guarded with her hair down—as if by taking the pins out of her hair she’d unveiled her mask and let him see all of her.
Slowly, Nesta tilted her head back until it was resting against the wall. Suddenly, she looked very tired and Cassian wondered how many hours of sleep she’d sacrificed to meet her book deadline.
“I’m sorry about the text.”
And Cassian believed her. From the moment she’d answered her door looking like prey rather than an apex predator, his anger had swept away into concern. He’d forgotten the cancelled date and the hastily sent text. Hadn’t cared, really—his focus solely on wiping the panic from her expression.
Getting to his feet, Cassian held out a hand to Nesta. He waited for her to refuse his help, but she didn’t.
Her slim fingers were cool as they slid over the callouses on his palm.
Their eyes snared one another at the contact. It felt like a lock clicking into place—this sensation of something wholly right.
Cassian fought the urge to swallow. To glance at her lips as she looked up at him. They were painted a deep ruby that made his body groan with longing.
Briefly, Cassian wondered what it would feel like to cage Nesta’s body with his. To press his body so it was covering hers, his warmth seeping into her cold skin until she was flush with it. Would she gasp into his mouth if he slanted his mouth on hers? Would she moan when he touched her?
Banishing the salacious thoughts from his mind, Cassian tried to ignore the sudden crackling energy that zipped between them.
Cassian knew Nesta felt it too, because her eyes widened slightly.
“You’re fine, sweetheart. You should get in the shower and put on some dry clothes.”
There was a beat of hesitation. Cassian tracked the way Nesta’s lips parted, closed and then opened again. “I—You’re leaving?”
The eyes which had ensnared his so completely dragged away to scan his body.
Miraculously, Cassian had managed to stay dry, but Nesta hadn’t fared so well. And her apartment was cold—out of choice or because Nesta had been heading out to meet him, Cassian wasn’t sure.
The scar-slashed eyebrow Cassian raised at her was one he adopted in the sparring ring when his clients tried to test him. “If I could see your lips I’d bet they’d be blue. Go shower—I’ll wait.”
A sudden fierceness rippled over Nesta’s face. If the gesture had an accompanying sound, it would have been the rasp of a blade as it was drawn from its sheath. “This isn’t an invitation— ”
Cassian interrupted before she could finish her sentence. “I know, Nesta.”
Those blue eyes narrowed. “So, you didn’t consider joining me in the shower?”
“The thought never crossed my mind.”
“Liar,” Nesta accused.
Cassian simply shrugged, because he hadn’t. He might have let his mind conjure the thought of her in the shower alone, but he certainly wasn’t in it.
Nesta was not a one-night thing. She was not some hook-up to tick off his too-long list. She was his forever.
He’d always intended to take things slow, which was a damn good thing given how skittish Nesta could be.
“Go,” Cassian ordered. “I’ll rustle up some ingredients for dinner.”
For a moment, Nesta hesitated. Cassian could see the wildness of her thoughts, but he reached out and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. Her hand reached up, her fingers curling around his wrist. Her fingers were icy, yet her touch sent sparks of warmth through him.
“Let me feed you, Nesta. Don’t pretend you’re not hungry.”
There must have been something in Cassian’s steady expression—in his lopsided smile—that calmed Nesta, because the tension seeped out of her a little.
The desire to press a kiss to Nesta’s knuckles was overwhelming, but he didn’t. Instead, Cassian let his hand fall away. Nesta’s hand loosened its grip but she didn’t let go entirely. Her palms slid over the backs of his hands, her fingers grazing over his skin, before she seemed to realise what she had done—that she hadn’t let go.
Nerve endings screaming at the loss, Cassian watched Nesta step neatly back—invoking a distance between them that felt like miles.
But Cassian caught the way her breath hitched.
Beneath the shadow of Nesta’s jaw, her pulse fluttered and a faint flush surfaced on her cheeks.
But she didn’t look away.
“Ok,” Nesta relented eventually with a curt nod that belied her anxieties.
Cassian didn’t know that one simple word could bring such joy.
By the time Nesta had showered and changed into clean clothes, Cassian had nearly finished cooking dinner.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you with your hair down before,” Cassian commented conversationally as Nesta hovered.
She was wearing some soft looking leggings and an oversized jumper, the fabric of which she fisted at the sleeves, as if the sight of Cassian cooking in her kitchen had launched her out of her comfort zone. Her face was free of make up, her hair dry and fluffy as it waved down her back.
She looked informal in a way Cassian had never witnessed before, and his chest constricted at the understanding that she’d allowed him to see her like this. She could have just as easily thrown on some jeans and braided her hair. But she hadn’t. She’d chosen to appear this way to him.
Tucking away that piece of knowledge, Cassian glanced sideways at Nesta as he drained some pasta into the colander he’d set at the foot of the sink.
When his remark fell into silence, he cast a look over his shoulder at her.
The moment their eyes locked, Nesta lifted her chin in challenge. “I only wear my hair down around the house. It gets in the way otherwise.”
Setting down the saucepan, Cassian poured hot water from the kettle over the pasta, rinsing off the starch.
“Probably for the best,” he remarked off-handedly.
Arrows formed at the base of Nesta’s nose as she frowned. “What do you mean?”
“The suitors would be flocking in droves, sweetheart,” Cassian told her. He left the pasta to drain and turned to her, leaning back against the sink. He cocked his head. “Now, shall we toast Goujon’s untimely death and your passing deadline with wine or tea?”
A sigh escaped Nesta, and with it, the unease that had been tightening her posture—as if his question brought her pleasure. “Tea then wine.”
The sound had Cassian’s gut twisting and flipping, but he let a chuckle slip out of him. “Thought so. Breakfast with oat, right? One sugar.”
He grabbed the tea he’d made just before she’d joined him and pressed it into her hands.
Steam danced upwards and over Nesta’s startled expression. “Thank you.”
And because Cassian knew that Nesta would run for the hills if he insisted they ate a formal dinner at the table, he nodded in the direction of the living room. “Want to eat on the couch? I’m just about to plate up.”
Together, they set themselves up on the couch, balancing bowls on their lap, their mugs and glasses of wine on the wooden coffee table.
To Cassian’s surprise, Nesta didn’t curl up as far away from him as possible. Instead, she sat close enough that the warmth of her ghosted against him, shivering up his arm—tiny threads of awareness that pulled deliciously at him.
Nesta didn’t look up much—focussing mainly on her food—but she parried and struck with him, falling into the familiar beat of their verbal sparring. And as they ate it transformed into something gentler—less manicured—paving the way for a conversation that was softer and more engaged.
When Cassian had first met Nesta, he’d always envisaged that he'd have to work for her attention—for her to be interested in him, but it turned out he was wrong. Underneath Nesta’s iron-clad guard was a catalogue of information that she tucked away about everyone she’d ever met. She remembered things about people, even if she was only open with that information with those she was close to.
“How’s work?” Nesta asked, demonstrating Cassian’s observation as she placed down her empty bowl and picked up her wine glass. “Are you still managing to teach?”
The small start-up gym that Cassian had set up a few years ago had expanded to three locations across the city, with plans to set up two more in Sangravah in the next year. But Cassian had always loved the teaching side more than the running of the business itself.
“Good,” Cassian confirmed, as he, too, replaced the bowl in his hand for his glass of white. “I still teach a set of self-defence classes over the week. I got kicked in the balls by a six-year old girl yesterday, so the incentive to keep my classes going is really strong at the moment.”
For the first time, Nesta’s head snapped up. Dark amusement sparked to life behind her eyes. They were a mirror to his, albeit less mischievous and more devilish. “I wish I’d been there to see it.”
Cassian laughed. “I was wheezing and bent double for a good few minutes. Az had to explain to her why she shouldn’t do that in practice, but she sure as hell could do it in a real fight.”
A smile tugged at Nesta’s mouth. “Sounds like good advice.”
“We’ve just started running adult classes if you ever want to hone that vicious streak of yours into something more physical. You should bring Gwyn and Emerie—the three of you could wreak havoc.”
A huffed laugh slipped out of Nesta, a noise escaping from the back of her throat. Cassian’s heart near stopped beating. He’d never made her laugh before. He’d earned shadowed smiles here and there, but a laugh… Her mouth had even spread into a smile, her lips curling at the edges like a falling, autumn leaf.
“Gwyn’s very competitive,” Nesta explained at Cassian’s silence, and Cassian quickly rearranged his expression before Nesta turned to look at him and saw him blinking at her like a lovestruck fool.
Nesta’s eyes were still smiling, the light in them blindingly stunning and Cassian wanted to kiss her so badly his body ached.
“And you’re not?” Cassian managed to ask, his voice streaked with a rasp.
“I thought we’d established that I’m vicious.”
“With your words, yes,” Cassian agreed, leaning back into the sofa cushions with a grin and tilting his body towards hers. He wanted to say that she should learn to protect herself—that she could stop anyone like Tomas hurting her again if she’d just let him show her.
But he didn’t push it.
Instead, he asked, “What about Emerie?”
Nesta looked thoughtful for a moment. And then she said, “She’s not one to be underestimated.”
Cassian nodded. When he reached out to collect the empty dishes, Nesta’s hand darted out to stop him. Her fingers were a startling touch against his skin.
But Nesta didn’t pull away immediately, as if she anticipated him protesting and wanted to nip it in the bud. “Let me.”
The gentle clink of dishes and running water filtered through from the kitchen to the living room. When Nesta re-emerged in the doorway, she held up a Millionaire cheesecake and two forks. “Do you care about eating from the tin?”
Cassian balanced an ankle across his knee. “Nah.”
“Good,” Nesta replied with a nod. “Less washing up.”
Every nerve ending sparked back to life when Nesta sat back down beside him. But this time, it was because her arm brushed against his torso, her shoulder no longer a spectral presence but something real as it came to rest against him.
The comforting scent of jasmine and vanilla wound around Cassian’s body, like floating ribbons curling their satin bodies around his limbs in a caress. Drawing in a long, savouring breath, he cast a look down. His eyes immediately snared on the bare curve of her neck.
In his mind’s eye, Cassian imagined closing the distance between them—nuzzling her neck with his nose until she tipped her head back. When he traced a path with his lips to the underside of her jaw, Cassian hoped she’d moan—that he would taste it on his tongue as it vibrated up her throat.
“I’d sell my soul for this tart,” Nesta told Cassian seriously, a while after they’d tucked in.
She stabbed a fork at the dessert balanced across their knees to punctuate her point, but she needn’t have bothered. Cassian believed her. He’d never seen Nesta eat with such obvious abandon.
There was a smudge of chocolate on her lip and Cassian desperately wanted to kiss it off. Or at the least, brush the pad of his thumb over her skin to see if her eyes would widen and her breath hitch.
Instead, he watched as her tongue darted out to catch it. Cassian tried to clamp down on the desire that shot hot and sharp down his veins, barrelling to his groin. He’d had to do the same every time she’d let out a soft, contented sigh with each bite.
Shifting subtly in his seat, Cassian used the opportunity to spread his arm over the back of the couch. Nesta didn’t appear to notice as she speared some more tart onto her fork. Then another bit.
Smiling with amusement, Cassian nudged the last bit towards her. “In that case, you can have the last bite.”
Nesta bit down on her lip. “I shouldn’t.”
“You’re celebrating,” Cassian reminded her, setting down his fork to punctuate his point. “It’s not every day you defeat a book deadline.”
“I thought we were commiserating over the death of Goujon.”
“We’re doing both,” Cassian corrected. “It’s an evening of oxymorons.”
Nesta snorted—but the sound was more playful rather than derisive. “I didn’t know you knew what ‘oxymoron’ meant.”
“Very good, sweetheart,” Cassian drawled. “I’ll have you know, I’m full of surprises.”
Cassian braced himself for the next jab, but Nesta only hummed, as if she was agreeing with him.
And in that moment—in the absence of Nesta’s reply—the air seemed to shift and mould itself into something more serious.
When she spoke, her voice was quiet and hushed—as if she was parting with a secret just for him. “I really was going to go on a date with you.”
The rogue smile slid from Cassian’s face. “I know.”
Nesta twisted her neck to look up at him and, in that action, their faces suddenly seemed too close. Neither of them leant away. The rope that Cassian thought had always been strung between them—the connection that Cassian had felt the moment he first saw her—snapped taut. Tension ran down the braided rope, a vibration of anticipation that Cassian felt deep in his chest.
For a moment, Nesta’s gaze darted to his mouth, to the angular line of his jaw, before they found his hazel eyes again. Cassian wondered if Nesta knew how much he ached for her.
Nesta’s gaze was steady and in the depths of her pupils, Cassian could have sworn he saw relief. “You do?”
“I do,” Cassian nodded.
Again, Nesta looked at his mouth. A fresh flicker of desire coursed through him but he didn’t dare move. Didn’t dare breathe, because for a moment, Cassian was convinced that she wanted him to kiss her.
There was a sharp draw of breath as if Nesta realised it too. Quickly, she looked away and her expression grew hard and unyielding—a shadow inching over a path of sunlight.
“I don’t usually date.”
Gently, Cassian dared to reach out and touch her arm, bringing her back from whatever thoughts had clambered for her attention. “I know, sweetheart. I’m persistent.”
A faint smile tugged at Nesta’s mouth and Cassian wished it would blossom into something full so much his heart hurt.
Nesta worried her bottom lip between her teeth. “You didn’t give up.”
“Why give up on something that could be great?” Cassian asked softly with a shrug. He coaxed the empty foil tin from her clad-iron grip.
“I should let you get to bed,” Cassian said and he hoped he hadn’t imagined the flicker of disappointment in Nesta’s irises as he began to clear up.
“Thanks for… helping,” Nesta said, gesturing to the now dry hallway and the dismantled table as she followed him into the hallway.
She hugged her arms around her body as he slipped on his coat and stepped out the door of her apartment.
“Anytime, sweetheart,” he said.
Before he could talk himself out of it, Cassian leant down to brush a kiss against her cheek.
Surprised, Nesta’s hand came up to curve around his neck. But then her grip tightened as he started to pull away. For a second, they stared at one another: Nesta’s breath caressing his cheek, her irises impossibly blue.
There was an invitation in Nesta’s eyes that made Cassian’s heart begin to canter against his chest, his blood throb, his pulse hammer against his throat.
The fingers on Nesta’s other hand curled around his left arm, anchoring him in position. Cassian’s body screamed at him to capture her mouth and devour her, but he’d waited too long for the opportunity. Wasn’t going to waste it on a territorial urge to claim her.
Nesta’s gaze slid to his lips again and that was confirmation enough.
Despite the thundering in his ears, Cassian made himself go slowly.
Slowly, he slid a palm over Nesta’s cheek, until he was sweeping her hair back from her face. Nesta didn’t bolt from him. Instead, she shivered and her chin tilted upwards into his touch, her lips parting as his nose nudged hers…
Nesta tasted like chocolate and caramel and something distinctly her which had Cassian’s blood blazing. The kiss was gentle and lingering. It didn’t demand or claim, but even so, it was the best damn kiss Cassian had ever had. And he could have sworn there was something tying them together in some way, because his body groaned as he made himself pull away. It felt too soon, but he didn’t trust that swelling urge that begged Cassian to deepen the kiss. To gather her body until it was flush against his.
When Cassian opened his eyes, Nesta looked startled, her eyes puddles of moonlight—bright and aching.
Somehow Cassian managed to rasp a murmured goodnight before he turned to leave.
But Nesta caught at Cassian’s sleeve.
Patiently, he waited.
When Nesta spoke, her voice was thick and husky. “Do you have plans tomorrow?”
Cassian had long promised Mor that they’d go drinking, but he didn’t bat an eyelid. Because he’d long known Nesta was his forever. He was just waiting for her to realise he was hers.
“Do you want to go on a date with me?”
Tags (let me know if you want to be added/removed): @arinbelle @superspiritfestival @sayosdreams @perseusannabeth @mylittlebigplanet @bookstantrash @rainbowcheetah512 @awesomelena555 @wannawriteyouabook @starksravings @lovelynesta @melphss @laylaameer01 @a-trifling-matter @fanboy7794 @champanheandluxxury @swankii-art-teacher @lavendergoomsltd @princessofmerchants-reads @jeakat @imwritingthesewords @nestable @silvernesta @inyourmindeye @amelie775 @wishfulimaginings @trash-for-nessian @my-fan-side @valkyriesupremacy @vidalinav @inardour @thesunremembersyourface @teagoddess99 @ellies-iced-coffee @misswonderflower @nessiantrashh @kawaiteacup @nestaa-stan
Last Words - Part 2
Fandom: ACOTAR/ Nessian | Part 1
TW: Angst......major character death.
a/n: im sorry but i had to.....
"Is this Cassian?" The woman on the other end of the call asked him.
He was pacing around the living room trying to call Nesta and apologize for his asshole behavior, to amend things when the ringing of his phone started at midnight.
At first he frowned at the unknown number but once he picked up, dread replaced the worried look.
"Yes this is. Who am I talking to?"
"I'm Mor calling from NYC City center Hospital. Do you by any chance know Nesta Archeron?"
The pit of dread converted into hollowness inside Cassian as the nurse explained what happened to his Nesta.
"You have to come at the hospital to sign the consent for the operation as soon as possible. I'm sorry to say but her condition is way more critical at the moment and your presence is required right now."
He didn't need to be told twice. He hung up and left at the speed of lightening.
While driving, the nurse's words kept coming back in his mind.
Apparently, Nesta drove the car at more than the speed limit. She didn't see the truck coming even though its headlights were also on and he knew why she didn't see.
It was because of you.
His inner voice proclaimed which made his eyes glossy and his lips began to tremble.
He couldn't help but remember the times when life was so damn much easier, where they both lived carefree and happily.
It was Rhys and Feyre's wedding.
They both were at the altar reciting there wedding vows when Cassian suddenly whispered in Nesta's ear, "That's going to be us someday sweetheart."
She gave him a glare but a ghost of smile was showing on her face which made him grin bigger.
"Already planning the future, are we?"
"Oh, you don't know. I have even decided the names of our babies, Nesta." He said it in such a casual way as if they were discussing weather which made her gasp loudly.
"Okay, calm your horses Cassian. We've been together for only a year."
He started laughing at her startled face which made her blush and she turned around walking away from him. But he caught her elbow and whirled her back, pressing his lips to hers.
He remembered the day accurately. Who knew Cassian and his brother, both would fall for the Archeron sisters which brought back one more memory.
They both were at a double date with Amren and Varian when Cassian unexpectedly placed his hand on Nesta's bare thigh under the table.
She started choking on her wine which caused the other couple to give concerning glances towards her. Oh, he definitely was going to torture her.
Throughout the night he held physical contact with her in some way. Holding hands, touching thigh, kissing her on cheek but never giving her what she wanted.
Only when they returned to there apartment did she take her revenge. That night was one of the most unforgettable ones.
When he heard honking of the other cars did Cassian realize that he had reached the hospital.
He signed the form, took the risk, prayed to God to let his Nesta survive it. Now all he could do was wait.
After an eternity, the doors to the emergency room opened and the doctor came rushing out.
Cassian was already standing when the doctor reached him.
"I'm sorry. The clotting in her blood has increased too much. Even though we did do a surgery but 99% she can't survive unless a miracle happens."
He could feel the wetness on his cheeks when the doctor said at last, "You have 10 minutes approximately for a good-bye. I'm so sorry."
Cassian dashed in her room and found her lying helpless on the white bed. Tubes and wires connected her body, her skin was so pale it almost looked white. And the heart monitor.......Gods it was slowing minute by minute.
Cassian knelt on his knees by her side clutching her hand and said, "This can't be happening Nesta. No this is impossible! W-we have our full lives ahead of us you can't just leave me out of the blue to live alone! Look if it's about what I said earlier, I am so damn fucking sorry. I hate myself for what I said. Of course you're not difficult to love! And I feel myself to be the luckiest man alive to have you as my wife! But that's only possible if you go through this. Please, sweetheart I beg you! Don't leave me, please."
He was crying in earnest now when he saw her eyes flutter open only an inch.
She whispered those three words with every ounce of power left in her body.
Barely audible, but they were there and most importantly he heard them when the heart rate went straight line.
His scream was heard throughout the hospital.
I legit cried while writing this. Anyways, do tell me how you feel about it! Loads of love, bye-bye !!
tag list: @rowaelinismyotp
Walk me through it [Nessian fic]
Fixing ACOSF part 5
Masterlist | AO3
Summary: Cassian accompanies Nesta to the cottage in the Mortal Lands where she and her sisters used to live, so she can get closure.
Tagging: @gwynriel @rhaenystargaryn @clolikescloquetas @amelievrstr @t8astr8ng @wanderlustlastsforever @saltydreamcollector @lordlorcan @esrahiba @queenestarcheron @ko0mbayamylord @jemstan300 @nessiantrashh @mothergwyn @poisonus-bloom @loveadora @frosted-crackers @mireillemystique @pataytayo @968sunflower968 @caram267 @jainadurron @darkshadowqueensrule @amphiptree @finae-bookshelf @niytavia @brainlessfruit @dontgetsalmonella @messyhairday-me @sunsummoner @chosenfamily-valkyriequeens @wannawriteyouabook @psychoticminx @misswonderflower
N/A: Sorry I erased the comment about Feyre painting the cabin in Illyria but I didn’t get what that had to do with anything lol.
Nesta’s heart thundered as she laid a hand against the cold wooden door. Claw marks still gouged it.
“Tamlin’s handiwork, I take it?” Cassian asked behind her.
Nesta shrugged, unable to find the words. She and Elain had rehung the door after Tamlin had broken it. Their father, his leg wrecked beyond repair and unable to bear weight, had watched them, offering unhelpful advice.
Her fingers curled into a fist and she shouldered the door open. Its rusted hinges objected, creaking, and a dusty, half-rotten scent swarmed her nose. Her cheeks heated. For Cassian to be here, to see this—
“Just a brute, remember?” He stepped to her side. “I’ve lived in far worse. At least you had walls and a roof.”
Nesta hadn’t realized how much she needed to hear those words, and her shoulders loosened as she stepped into the cottage proper. In the chill dimness, broken only by rays of sunlight, she frowned at the ceiling. “This house used to have a roof.” The damage had let in all manner of creatures and weather—the former had made themselves comfortable, judging by the nests and various scattered droppings.
Nesta’s mouth turned dry. This horrible, awful, dark place.
She couldn’t stop her shaking.
Cassian laid a hand on her shoulder. “Walk me through it.”
She couldn’t. Couldn’t find the words.
He pointed to a long worktable. One leg had collapsed, and the whole thing lay at a slant. “You ate here?”
She nodded. They’d eaten here, some meals in silence, some with her and Elain trying to fill the quiet with their idle chatter, some with her and Feyre at each other’s throats. Like those last meals they’d had with her in this house.
Nesta’s stare drifted to the paint flaking off the walls. The intricate little designs. Cassian followed her stare. “Did Feyre paint that?”
Nesta swallowed, and managed to get out, “She painted every chance she got. Any extra coin she managed to save went toward paints.”
Except for that one time she saved enough to get flower seeds for Elain.
Her two sisters had somehow found a way of keeping themselves entertained. Feyre spend every minute she could out of the house. She had to go hunting for food, but even in the summer and the spring, when they had plenty, she made excuses to be away from them. Isaac Hale had been there to help her get distracted, but Nesta knew Feyre didn’t find time for him just for the sex. Feyre had wanted to be far from them, sitting in the meadows, practicing knots or whatever she did when she went away.
She only stayed in the cabin when she had paint. She had found happiness in that —and so had Elain in her little garden.
As much happiness as they could, in a place like this.
But Nesta never did. She had never wanted to.
She had barely wanted to survive.
As if he had felt the air around her shift, Cassian took a step closer, his chest close enough to her back that Nesta could feel the heat he irradiated in the bare skin of her nape. He was there for her, to be a pillar she could lean against if she needed to —to support her.
A calloused hand brushed against hers, the touch so soft and careful, Nesta almost didn’t feel it. He gave her hand a tug, but Nesta didn’t take it. Not yet. Only when she really needed his touch to bear what they were doing in this place, she would take his hand. She would try to do this on her own first.
Cassian aimed for the bedroom. Nesta followed him, and gods, it was so cramped and dark and smelly. The bed was still covered with its stained linens. The three of them had slept here for years.
Cassian ran a hand over the painted dresser, marveling. “Feyre really did paint stars for herself before she knew Rhys was her mate. Before she knew he existed.” His fingers traced the twining vines of flowers on the second drawer. “Elain’s drawer.” They drifted lower, curling over a lick of flame. “And yours.”
Nesta managed a grunt of confirmation, her chest tight to the point of pain. There in the corner sat a pair of worn, half-rotted shoes. Her shoes. One of them was bursting at the toe’s seam. She’d worn those shoes —in public. Could still remember mud and stones creeping in.
She had asked for new ones, and that had leaded them into an argument too. Feyre didn’t understand the shame Nesta felt when she walked around wearing that in her feet —as far as she knew, Feyre didn’t even remember what their life used to be like before that village; she had known nothing else. But Nesta had, and even while they starved, she still refused to let go of the life she had once enjoyed. The silks, the pearls, the luxuries she had been surrounded by when growing up. She hadn't been raised but rather crafted by her mother and tutors to belong in palaces and great halls. No, she had been forged to thrive among dozens of other rich heiresses who shared her same goal. She had become that. And then, her world crumpled down to become this.
There were wholes in the lower parts of the rotten wood panels big enough for a small rodent to get inside the house that hadn't been there while her family inhabited the space. Nesta felt sick in her stomach, just as she had when she came inside the cabin for the first time and realized it was likely to be the place where she died. No castle and no prince awaited in her future.
She had never found a way to explain to Feyre what it was like for her. Nesta was quick with words, fast coming up with the perfect answer to make everyone wary of her, make them stay away. But when it came to opening up and risking showing vulnerability, she realized, she had never learned how to do it.
She could only hide. She could only hurt.
And Feyre never made it easy either. It was so hard for Nesta to talk to her —to anyone, but specially to her little sister. Whenever they clashed against each other, she felt judged by someone who didn't even know her. Every time, Nesta let pride win and burn bridges between them, instead of trying to explain herself to a person who wouldn't even wait and listen before she decided Nesta was too much of a brat to deserve the benefit of the doubt. Feyre never considered that there might have been a reason for her to feel and act the way she did, even if it was not the right path. Because Feyre couldn't come up with any, and fooled by her own pride, thinking herself smarter because she was able to function and Nesta was not, she concluded that there wasn't a reason in the world for Nesta to just let time consume her instead of stepping in.
She hated that, and resented Feyre for years. Because they were the same. Two side of the same coin battling to stay on top once it fell to the ground. For years, Nesta felt like the only way to win, was to make sure Feyre lost.
Every day, it grew bigger —her resentment towards her. For being able to overcome difficulties she could not. Towards their father, who saw his daughters fight one another and starve and didn't get up from his chair once to try... anything. And resentment towards herself. She got carried away by it, every emotion she felt mixing together and forming a ball of anger in her guts that burned so violently that Nesta could no longer tell what was going on.
She saw red all the time, and burned with it. Burned anyone that dared come close.
Lost in her memories of how fighting had been more abundant than food, Nesta almost forgot Cassian was there too. Her eyes had gotten caught up on the torn shoes. They were such a perfect example of how her life used to be —how they had so little, that every single thing could become the reason for a night's worth of arguing... Nesta told him the story.
"Deep down I knew that saving the money was more important, that those boots could last a few more weeks. That would give Feyre time to get more money. But I pushed the logic down and picked the fight regardless" She had hated that those shoes had been a working pair to their new family standards when not so long ago only the finest leather slippers touched her feet.
Nesta looked around the room, to the bed she and her sisters had shared. “That bed in there … I was born in that bed. My mother died in that bed.”
Her mother’s death. She remembered that as well. Too vividly still.
"My father refused to send men into fae territory looking for a cure for her". And just like him, Nesta had refused to help when they lived in the cottage. Had refused to do what she thought was a servant’s work, thinking that death was better than the shame of loosing her status. "I hated him for that."
She had been so mad at him for not even trying, that she thought she ought to do the same thing. If their father didn’t do anything, she would do even less. To her, Feyre had been only collateral damage. She was willing to sacrifice her little sister’s safety for her own. That’s what she had seen others do with her before. It had been so wrong —but Nesta hadn’t realized it until it was too late for all of them.
She hated her younger self, now that there was nothing for her to do. Now that her sisters no longer needed her to step in.
She hated that she had been so wrong, so blind.
She hated that she failed at being smarter than the adults in her life.
She hated how much time and effort she had put into hating her father and not caring about Feyre only for them to be the ones saving her in the end. How was she supposed to find peace, when she had spend years being consumed by the anger his passivity ignited in her, only for him to finally be there to help when she needed him the most? How did everyone expect her to be able to deal with that when she had failed miserably at simpler tasks?
Nesta wanted to forgive her father. To forgive him and be hugged by him. Nesta wanted to finally have by her side the father she had so desperately needed her entire life.
But when he came to her and proved that his love was true and knew no limits —that he only needed a second chance, he was killed before her eyes. How could she forgive him now, when he had died before she got a chance to let him know that she understood. That she had done the same thing to others, and she understood. She knew. And she was willing to give him the second chance he wanted to do everything again, but this time right.
Her heart thundered, and she walked out of the room, back into the main space. She didn’t mean to, but she looked toward the dark fireplace. Toward the mantel.
Her father’s wood figurines lay atop it, thickly coated with dust and cobwebs. Some had been knocked over, presumably by whatever creatures now lived here.
That familiar roaring filled her ears, and Nesta’s steps thudded too loudly on the dusty floorboards as she approached the fireplace. A carving of a rearing bear —no bigger than her fist —sat in the center. Nesta’s fingers shook as she picked it up and blew off the dust.
“He had some skill,” Cassian said quietly.
“Not enough,” Nesta said, setting the bear back onto the stone mantel. She was going to vomit.
No. She could master this. Master herself. And face what lay before her. Only then she would be able to face what she had left behind —her past.
She inhaled through her nose. Exhaled through her mouth. Counted the breaths.
Cassian stood beside her through all of it. Not speaking, not touching. Just there, should she need him. Her friend —whom she’d asked to come here with her not because he was sharing her bed, but because she wanted him here. His steadiness and kindness and understanding.
She plucked another figurine from the mantel: a rose carved from a dark sort of wood. She held it in her palm, its solid weight surprising, and traced a finger over one of the petals. “He made this one for Elain. Since it was winter and she missed the flowers.”
“Did he ever make any for you?”
“He knew better than to do that.” She inhaled a shuddering breath, held it, released it. Let her mind calm. “I think he would have, if I’d given him the smallest bit of encouragement, but … I never did. I was too angry.”
She finally voiced it —Why she had behaved like that for so many years. Cassian probably knew already, but she had needed to let it out. She had been angry. She had felt abandoned. She didn’t know what to do to keep floating against the current like her sisters did with her hobbies and new-found friends in the village.
Nesta only felt anger at everyone and everything.
“You’d had your life overturned. You were allowed to be angry.”
“That’s not what you told me the first time we met.” She pivoted to find him arching a brow. She could go back and picture that day. He was a giant in her hall, tall even among the rest of the fae Feyre had brought with her. A dormant part of her human conscience, an instinct, reminded her how dangerous his kind was. But she had never felt intimidated. Not by him. Not really.
Just a worthy opponent.
“You told me I was a piece of shit for letting my younger sister go into the woods to hunt while I did nothing.”
“I didn’t say it like that.”
“Yes, you did.”
Cassian’s gaze pierced through her. She squared her shoulders, turning to the small, broken cot in the shadows beyond the fireplace, thinking he wouldn’t reply.
“Can I still take that back?” Cassian was halted where she left him. The space was not big enough for them to be far from each other, but it certainly felt like it. A chill breeze came through a chink in the wall behind her, fluttering the bottom of her cloak and finding there the bare skin of her ankles.
Would you forgive me? He was asking. Or maybe not. Maybe he simply wanted her to pretend his words had never left his lips. Can we pretend it didn’t happen? She only had to turn around and face his burning gaze to know, but she didn’t.
Yes, Nesta wanted to tell him. Please, go back and never open my eyes to make me see what I did to my sister. Don’t let the truth of my actions ever get to me.
Nesta had always been aware of everything surrounding her, always known who she could trust, who was a tool for her to use, what buttons to push to get what she wanted from others.
She had always known, she had always seen.
Now, standing in the space where she spent some of the worst years of her life, a period of time full of hunger, cold, screaming and resentment that still hunted her, Nesta would beg on her knees for a chance to be oblivious for the first time in her life —To not see. To not feel.
“Why would you want to?” She asked instead.
Cassian didn’t come closer. Nesta wasn’t sure if she wanted to know. Standing here, in this ramshackle space where she still had to control her breath so she didn’t break down and become a crying mess, Nesta didn’t know if she was actually ready to discuss that.
To come back to face her ghosts was hard enough.
Nesta found a spot in the half rotted wood wall in front of her and locked her eyes there, not blinking, holding the tears that wanted to form in her eyes. She wasn’t ready to remember what had happened shortly after Cassian came into her house asking for her help. Her life was already almost too much for her to handle before Tamlin took Feyre, and that’s what they were trying to get closure for today. Not what had happened next, when the Inner Circle of the Night Court entered her life.
The thought threatened to make her breath erratic again, but Nesta remembered the exercices Gwyn had found for them and kept it under control. She mastered it and reminded herself why were here. Nesta forced herself to breath. Her lungs didn’t cooperate. Her mouth dry. She inhaled slowly and then exhaled the cold air. Once. Twice.
“Because I feel like that first meeting shaped everything else after, and I don't like what it did with it."
"It did nothing." It hadn't been that first encounter what had led her into the mess she was, nor had it anything to do with her choices back when they lived in this cabin that felt smaller and smaller with each of Cassian's words. She didn't want him to make excuses for her, she should have done more, and that was a fact she had already accepted.
"No, I did. I said that to you, and then the rest followed me."
"What does that have to do with this?" she vaguely waved her hands at the surrounding space. The room that had once been her house.
"Everything." he answered "Feyre wanted a peaceful meeting, you know? She wanted to do the talking, and for us to behave, and I couldn't hold my tongue. I fucked up, and only lately I've realized the damage my words actually caused.”
In the quietude of the room, his voice was a thunder. Nesta turned to face him and finally met his eyes, that were screaming for a chance to explain. But explain what? She already knew what she had to make up for, and didn't see what Cassian or the people who accompanied Feyre back to the Mortal Lands had to do with her past.
“I only thought of you as an extension of your sister.” She was curious to know when that had changed for him. She remembered the exact second the illyrian Commander had stopped being just her sister’s friend to her, earning a place of his own in her heart “I heard Feyre’s story, felt her suffering, and forgot you were a person too. You were entitled to your fears and to make mistakes as we all are, and I had no right to call you out there, when I knew close to nothing about you, and who you were. I didn't see that you had been a kid too, and your family's wellbeing wasn't just your responsibility, just as it wasn't Feyre's. I had no right to get involved in that unresolved issue between you, and I feel like when I did... I kind of gave everyone permission to do the same, and feel entitled to an opinion that weights as much as Feyre's and yours do in the matter. If I could go back…”
“You can’t” Nesta cut in. She wouldn’t let him, because if she wasn’t allowed to, then none of them would. It wasn’t fair.
Cassian still didn’t move, his presence painfully obvious. Cassian didn’t miss the shaking of her hands, but said nothing about it. She tried to put some of her usual icy rage in her eyes, but couldn’t. She tried to hide the excruciating pressure in her chest, the ache in her heart, but couldn’t either.
“I know you blame yourself for not being a caretaker and provider for your sisters, Nes” he started again when she didn’t go on “I know you already blamed yourself before we met, and I know I... we only made it worse, pushing you down thinking we were being good friends to Feyre. We actually hurt both of you in the end. I can’t speak for my friends, but I can speak for myself and tell you how sorry I am for not seeing that sooner. For not seeing you. And for making this" he looked rround towards the cot, the dinning table and the room they had just been into "worse than it already was.” The floor creaked under his weight when he took a step towards her, next to the cob. “You were barely older than she was, it wouldn’t have made a difference if it had been you in the woods. The three of you were too young to take that role”.
Then whose was it? His father? That's what she had thought for most of her life, but now... what about his leg? The pain he endured just by walking outside? She was the oldest, she should have done more, and she knew that. She didn't want them —Feyre— to just forgive her and pretend it had never happened. Because if she had done something more back then, then their live would be different now, for better or worse. She didn't want people to pitty her, and to tell her that she was an innocent and blameless soul.
"Why can't you just let me take accountability?"
"To take accountability is good, and I'm glad you are ready to do so, because you have to, in order to move on." He took her face in his hands taking one last step closer, their bodies almost touching “But I think we've let you think everything that happened to your sisters could have been avoided if you had been the one carrying the bow, and that's simply not true.” His thumb brushed over her cheek “What no one told you, Nesta, is that surviving is not only about getting food and water, or even a roof. I would know about that.” He chuckled softly, trying to lighten up the atmosphere around them in the dimness of the room ” Feyre is a great huntress, she didn’t need you carrying the bow and shooting the arrows.” Nesta would have died on her first winter hunting, both of them knew that. “You were needed as an older sister, and that doesn't equal being a provider for your family. She needed your support and care when she came back from a long day looking for food. A family.”
Enough tears to make a new sea had been shed by both her and Feyre in her art studio not so long ago. Feyre had asked for that exaclty: an older sister who had her back. And Nesta had promised she would try.
Nesta didn’t really know how to use or control her powers, and Feyre had surrounded herself with fae strong enough to never need Nesta to save her again.
But Cassian was right. That was not what Nesta could offer her little sister anyway, and that was not what Feyre needed from her either. That was not what she had ever wanted from her father, either. In the end, it all came to the four of them failing at being a family.
Feyre needed had needed that as much as Nesta did.
She was ready to be that from now on.
When she didn’t answer, Cassian stayed quiet, allowing her once again to get lost in her thoughts as long as she needed to, but wary at the same time, in case she drifted back to the dark ideas that so frequently starred in her nightmares.
Nesta freed herself from his grip and went back to the cot, running a hand over its cracking wood frame. Splinters snagged at her fingertips.
Her father’s body crawled up on the chair, the small fire burning until late at night so he wouldn’t freeze under the shabby blanket he used to keep himself warm… Nesta could picture it clearly when she looked at the cot again. “He’d drag it in front of the fire every night and curl up there, huddling under the blankets. I always thought he looked so … so weak. Like a cowering animal. It enraged me.”
That was the issue, the whole point of coming to the cabin. Her soul needed to face this chapter of her life like her lungs needed the air she breathed to keep her body alive. Nesta had to find a way to cope with the matted of feelings, nightmares and emotions —with the contradictions that formed in her heart.
It was always about him in the end. Her father. Their relationship.
She wanted to forgive him. She was sure of that. But there was still so much anger, such immense feeling of abandonment inside her that hadn’t been cured in time. He had been there for her in the end, and somehow that was even worse, because now she couldn’t even despise him for his cowardice. He died for her before he could face the consequences of his decisions, as she was trying to do now. He died, leaving his daughter with even more guilt inside. Because now she finally knew he did love her enough to get up from his chair and try anything, but was gone before she got a chance to do anything with that.
Her father had finally done what she needed from him, and she couldn’t even thank him. Tell him that she forgave him and ask him to forgive her back for all the times she picked on him. Tell him that she loved him, that she was grateful and his effort had been worth it.
“It …” Her throat worked. “I thought him sleeping here was a fitting punishment while we got the bed. It never occurred to me that he wanted us to have the bed, to keep warm and be as comfortable as we could. That we’d only been able to take a few items of furniture from our former home and he’d chosen that bed as one of them. For our comfort. So we didn’t have to sleep on cots, or on the floor.” She rubbed at her chest. “I wouldn’t even let him sleep in the bed when the debtors shattered his leg. I was so lost in my grief and rage and… and sorrow, that I wanted him to feel a fraction of what I did.” Her stomach churned.
He squeezed her shoulder, but said nothing. Nesta didn’t talk for a moment, and Cassian put an arm around her to press her body against his, hugging her without a word. The warmth from his chest felt almost too good. She needed it, and also the calmness of his heartbeat.
“He had to have known that,” she said hoarsely. “He had to have known how awful I was, and yet … he never yelled. That enraged me, too. And then he named a ship after me. Sailed it into battle. I just … I don’t understand why.”
“You were his daughter.”
“And that’s an explanation?” She rose her chin to look at him and scanned his face, the sadness etched there. Sadness —for her. For the ache in her chest and the stinging in her eyes.
“Love is complicated. But he loved you.”
“I can’t for the life of me understand why.” she answered.
Nesta didn’t even have to think the words, they came out of her mouth before she even realized what she had said.
Cassian had told her that once last year —that he couldn’t understand why her sisters loved her. That simple sentence, said by him so casually in the middle of the street, followed her home and helped her already overwhelming self-loathing bring her even lower. Nesta had often wanted to know if he went over his words as frequently as she did after that night and the following months. She wondered if the confession he had made hunted him too.
Nesta had come to the conclusion that it didn’t torment him one bit the moment he came to her apartment to pick her up and take her to Feyre’s new mansion by the river. She was convinced at that moment that he actually couldn’t come up with a single reason why Feyre and Elain still wasted their time on her.
Yet he was here, so she wasn't alone whilst facing her past. He was by her side now, not giving up on her no matter how badly she screwed up.
Cassian opened his mouth to say something, but whatever he was about to say, she didn't want to hear it now. It didn’t matter how he felt back then, she only cared about the present. And he was by her side. He was being a friend, apologizing for things he regretted that Nesta herself hadn't even consider, but somehow made sense.
She forgave him. Because she knew what it was like to crack under pressure and be hurtful towards people you care about when you don’t know how to help them and become desperate.
And Cassian somehow could read through her too, as he closed his mouth, his lips pressed tight.
Both of them let the unspoken words float between them, saying nothing, only looking at each other. Nesta was not perfect and he wasn’t either —there was no need to be perfect. Not right now. There were so many things they had yet to find the courage to discuss, that Nesta didn’t care. Looking into his hazel eyes, Nesta found the reassurance she needed that they would talk about it, with time, and that was enough.
They would talk about every unsaid thing between them.
They had all the time in the world.
The forgoten room reappeared around them at some point, as if they had been somewhere else when they got lost into each other’s eyes.
She studied the calluses already building across her fingers and palms. She made herself meet Cassian’s gaze again. “I didn’t just fail Feyre by letting her go into the woods. There were plenty of other times. I feel guilty.” Nesta said the words aloud for the first time. It was a clear feeling, as much as she hated it. She had finally found the one comprehensible spot in the mess that was her heart. Using that, she could pull the thread until she untangled the whole thing. It would take time, but it was a first step. Maybe there was hope for her after all.
Guilt. She felt guilt. She would work on that.
“Have you ever told her this?”
Nesta snorted. “No. I don’t know how.” That was still a problem.
He studied her, and she resisted the urge to squirm under the scrutiny. “You’ll learn how. When you’re ready.”
“How very wise of you.”
Cassian sketched a bow.
Despite this house, the history all around her, Nesta smiled. She pocketed the carved rose. “I’ve seen enough.”
He arched a brow. “Really?”
She clenched the wooden rose in her pocket. “I think I just needed to see this place. One last time. To know we got out. That there’s nothing left here except dust and bad memories.”
He slid an arm around her waist as they walked for the door, again surveying all the little paintings Feyre had squeezed into the cottage. “Az won’t be back for a little while. Let’s go flying.”
“What about the humans?” They’d run screaming in terror.
Cassian gave her a wicked smile, opening that half-broken door for her. Leading her into the sunlight and clean air. “It’ll add a little spice to their days.”
Soft nessian smut
About a month ago @letstakethedawn asked me to write some soft nessian smut, where Nesta feels insecure about her postpartum body and Cassian reassures her. Soo... here it is 🤲🏻
Thank you @starksravings for all your help ❤
word count: 4660
warnings: smut and a bit of angst
Please help me find a name for the baby🤏🏼
Part 1- Nesta
Nesta had always been a beautiful woman, yet two months after she and Cassian had welcomed their baby girl, she struggled to accept the changes motherhood had brought to her body. Staring at herself in the bathroom mirror, still slightly fogged from her hot shower, she took in the shape of her body, from her large breasts and loose skin around her stomach, to her wide hips and muscular thighs. Using her hand to wipe the steam from the mirror, she eyed her stretch marks. They wouldn’t go away, no matter the oils and creams Feyre swore by. As water droplets ran down her cheeks, she took a closer look at her face and noticed the dark circles that had taken residence under her eyes, giving her a permanently exhausted look.
Cassian hadn’t touched her once since the baby was born, confirming her worst fear: he wasn’t attracted to her anymore. He was caring and attentive, always making sure she stayed hydrated and slept enough, but he seemed completely disinterested in anything even remotely sexual. Every day, Nesta had to watch him walk around the house bare-chested, muscles on full display as he cradled the tiny baby in his huge arms, and while the sight was so sweet that it made tears well in her eyes, it also made her crave the weight of his body pinning her to the bed, his hot breath on her neck as he thrust inside her.
Nesta had always thought her temper would be the thing driving Cassian away, but she hadn’t considered the fact that one day he could stop desiring her body too.
Hastily putting on a bathrobe, she took a deep breath, trying to calm her racing thoughts. It was only when calloused hands cradled her face, thumbs gently wiping away her tears, that she realized she’d been crying.
“Sweetheart, what’s wrong?” her husband asked, worry clouding his features. Even with a milk-stained shirt and something that was probably dried baby spit in his hair, he looked as handsome as ever.
Nesta couldn’t bear looking at him, knowing if she voiced her fears, he would deny everything. He would say she loved her, that he liked her body the way it was, maybe even kiss her and take her to bed. Nesta didn’t want his pity, so she wrapped her bathrobe tighter around her body and looked away. “It’s nothing, just my hormones acting up.”
But Cassian wouldn’t let go. “Nes, I can feel it’s more than just hormones. I feel it here, in my chest,” he said, taking her hand and placing it right above his heart.
The action only made Nesta’s temper flare, and she yanked her hand away. “I said forget it. Why do you always have to be such an overbearing bat?” But she made the mistake of tightening the belt of her robe, and his eyes tracked the movement.
“Why are you hiding from me?” He asked softly, reaching for her. “Nes.”
She briefly considered shouldering past him and go somewhere else, but in the end, when Cassian hugged her, she let her body melt into his embrace. She fisted his shirt in her hands and breathed in his scent, vital and intoxicating. He held her until her breathing calmed, a hand cradling the back of her neck and the other drawing circles on her back. Nesta noticed the moment his heartbeat quickened. The tip of Cassian’s nose brushed her temple as he brought his mouth close to her ear. “May I?” He asked, reaching for the belt of her robe.
Nesta nodded, holding still when the fabric of her robe parted to reveal her naked body underneath. Goosebumps erupted all over her skin ant the same time panic rose in her throat, and she shut her eyes, not wanting to see Cassian’s reaction. She steadied her breathing and told herself that whatever happened, she could handle it. She was Nesta Archeron, Kingslayer, Cauldron-made, and Mother-blessed, and above all, she was a Valkyrie. She could handle anything, even being rejected by her own husband. Then why did the sudden silence weigh so much? Why did the thought of Cassian hating her body made her jaw clench with the effort of reining in her panic? Extra pounds and loose skin didn’t make her less of a woman, then why did she feel so-
“Beautiful.” The word, breathed against the skin of her thigh, interrupted Nesta’s train of thoughts. Opening her eyes, she found Cassian kneeling on the floor, looking up at her in something that could only be described as awe.
“You really have no idea how gorgeous you are, do you?” He asked, brushing his knuckles up and down her calves. Not having been touched like that in months, Nesta shivered, steadying herself on the edge of the sink. Please, don’t lie to me.
Cassian’s hands stilled. “I would never lie to you, Nesta.”
“Cassian I- I know my body is not what it used to be, and-“
“So what? Sweetheart, trust me when I say there isn’t a single part of you that I don’t like.”
“You haven’t touched me in months.“
“Because I was giving you time! The healer said it could take up to six weeks for your body to heal, maybe even more. How could I be so selfish- to demand sex from you, when you are still recovering?”
Nesta desperately searched Cassian’s eyes, looking for a sign he was lying. He was still kneeling in front of her, hands wrapped loosely around her ankles. Reaching for the golden tether that bound them together, Nesta tugged at it once, and Cassian sighed, letting go of one of her ankles and taking her hand instead, kissing first her wrist, then her knuckles. His walls were down, as they always were around her. But Nesta didn’t need to look beyond them to find what she was looking for: her answers were written all over Cassian’s face, in his pleading eyes and the way they darkened when he glanced at her exposed skin.
What Nesta saw both reassured and emboldened her. “I’m healed now,” she said. “If you want me, have at me.”
Part 2 : Cassian
Cassian had always been head over heels for Nesta, but over the past few months, he had fallen even more in love with her. Every time he looked at her, he thought about how amazing she was, how beautiful she looked cradling her daughter to her chest, murmuring soft words against her skin while she rocked her to sleep. Even when she was tired, with dark circles under her eyes and limp hair, Cassian couldn’t take his eyes off her. There was something other-wordly about her, a magnetic energy that called to him. The stretch marks, the loose skin, all the things Nesta worried about, none of it mattered to him. They were proof of the new life she had brought into this world, a beautiful baby girl with raven hair and eyes as smart as her mother’s. How could he have let Nesta think he didn’t want her anymore? How could he have been so careless and let her worry for so long? Every day, he was torn between kneeling at her feet as he was doing now, and taking her face in his hands and kiss her senseless, showing her exactly the effect she had on him. And yet, he had been too distracted and self-centered to realize that was exactly what she needed. In Cassian’s eyes, Nesta was a goddess, and it was time he made up for lost time and proved it to her.
He started by lowering himself to the floor again, keeping his eyes trained on Nesta’s. Her heartbeat picked up, and she braced herself on the edge of the sink, goosebumps already erupting on her skin. Despite her bold words, Cassian knew she was still unsure about this, still scared he was only pretending. Once he was kneeling, he began kissing her legs, starting from her knees and slowly making his way up her thighs. “You. Are stunning,” he said, trying to convey everything he felt for her in those three words.
Nesta’s breathing quickened, a lovely blush spreading across her chest. When he skimmed his nose against her inner thighs, she bit her lip and parted her legs slightly. Cassian bit back a moan when he smelled how wet she was, the intoxicating scent almost making him forget he needed to take this slow. Almost. Brushing his knuckles up and down Nesta’s calves, he dropped his forehead on her lower stomach and breathed in the scent of her arousal. One of her hands cupped the back of his head, keeping him there. I missed you.
Slowly, Cassian skimmed his hands upwards, briefly grabbing a handful of her ass, then sliding them down again, while his lips and tongue began tracing patterns on her stomach, right above her stretch marks. I missed you, too.
“You’re beautiful,” he rasped, hands massaging the muscles of her thighs, thumbs drifting dangerously close to where he knew Nesta wanted them the most. “So damn beautiful.”
Her breathing itched, and Cassian looked up at her again. Her eyes were closed, the blue hidden behind quivering eyelids.
“Look at me, sweetheart,” Cassian said, tone gentle but firm. He took the hand that was braced against the edge of the sink and kissed its knuckles, waiting. When Nesta opened her eyes, he gave her a soft smile. “You’re beautiful, Nes,” he said. “And if I have to repeat it a hundred times a day for you to believe me, I will. You’re beautiful, and I want you.”
Tilting her head to the side, Nesta cupped his face and swallowed thickly, eyes full of emotions. Cassian waited, nuzzling her palm until she gave him a shy smile and a nod. It was all it took for him to know she was ready, so he slowly lifted his wings and slipped them under her parted robe, wrapping them loosely around her lower body and placing another barrier between her skin and the cold surface of the sink. Nesta moaned softly when his wings touched her skin, and she braced her hands against the sensitive membrane. Cassian hissed through his teeth, the feeling of Nesta’s palms on that sacred part of his body even more heavenly than he remembered. There was no one else he would allow to touch his wings. Only his mate. Slowly, he lowered his head, his lips brushing the softest of kisses between Nesta’s legs for the first time in months.
She moaned, a hand immediately tangling in his hair, urging him on, and it was almost enough to make him come right then. Cauldron, he had missed her taste so much. He didn’t waste any time in finding her clit, circling it and flicking it with his tongue, keeping his strokes gentle until Nesta tightened her hold on his hair and leaned back against his wings, head thrown back and teeth worrying her lower lip. Replacing his tongue with his thumb, Cassian began kissing her stomach, lips travelling upwards until they reached the underside of her right breast. His other hand brushed the side of her left one, careful not to touch her still too sensitive nipples, even if his mouth watered as he looked at the hard, puckered buds. There would be time to lavish Nesta’s breasts with attention in the months to come, when she was ready. Fingers teasing her opening, Cassian gathered the wetness there and spread it around. Nesta lifted her head, breathing heavily. “Please.”
That word was his undoing. He groaned and lifted one of Nesta’s legs, bracing her foot on his shoulder, then brought his mouth between her legs again, first dragging his tongue across her folds, then slipping it inside her, nose brushing her clit.
“Cassian,” Nesta moaned, hips rocking against his mouth.
He grabbed a handful of her ass, lips and tongue working her drenched core until her legs began shaking and her moans increased in volume. He could only hope the noise didn’t wake the baby, but he loved those sounds too much to say something. “That’s it, sweetheart. Come for me,” he rasped against Nesta’s centre. Feeling she was close, he slipped a finger inside her while sucking on her clit, and she sucked in a sharp breath.
“I’m almost there,” she panted, nails digging into his scalp, making him ache to feel those sweet digits on his cock.
“Let go, sweetheart, I got you.”
Nesta cried out Cassian’s name when her climax tore through her. Cassian watched her face, taking in the way she threw her head back, her still damp hair cascading behind her and chest rising and falling rapidly. He had missed seeing her like this, feeling her pleasure travel down the bond as if it was his own. “You okay?” He asked when her climax subsided and she opened her eyes again, slumping against his wings. He held back a moan, and gently kissed the inside of her knee before placing her leg back on the floor.
“Yeah. Thank you,” she answered, still a little breathless.
Cassian laughed. “Don’t thank me. You know I love hearing all those sounds you make when you come.”
An adorable blush spread across Nesta’s cheeks, quickly replaced by a playful look. She lightly dragged her palms across his wings. “How can I return the favor?”
Cassian hissed and stood quickly, taking her hands in his and playfully nibbling at the tip of her fingers. “Witch.” She laughed, the sound quickly turning into a moan when he closed the distance between their bodies, wrapping his arms around her waist and pressing his erection against her stomach. Cassian’s heart soared, his very soul coming alive. Nesta had many different laughs, and Cassian had been lucky enough to hear all of them. There was the carefree laughter of when she was with her friends, the hearty, wholesome laughter of when she played with her daughter, the unrestrained laughter she burst into after he said something funny. And then there was this one, the breathy laughter that made him want to kiss her senseless. He gave in and kissed her, softly at first, then more urgently when she opened for him and slipped her tongue into his mouth. It had been too long since they had kissed like this, and he tilted his head to the side so he could better claim her mouth. He made quick work of taking off her robe, lips never leaving hers until she leaned back slightly. “How long till she wakes up?” Nesta asked.
“Our baby bat should be asleep for a couple more hours,” he murmured, trailing kisses down Nesta’s neck.
“Take me to bed then.”
With Nesta’s mouth latched onto his neck and her legs wrapped around his waist, Cassian could barely think straight. While he walked over to the bed, Nesta began moving her hips, grinding against his clothed hardness and causing him to hiss through his teeth. It had been far too long since she had touched him there, and he was embarrassingly close to come in his pants. After gently lowering her to the bed, he stood, taking in her in. His eyes traveled every inch of her, from her calves to her golden brown hair, sprawled across the pillow. The loveliest blush spread across her face and neck, and Cassian knew she was fighting the instinct to cover herself up. To level the playing field, he slowly undressed, hearing Nesta’s sigh of relief when he removed first his shirt, then his pants and underwear.
It was different from what Nesta was experiencing now, but there was a time Cassian had been ashamed of his body too, terrified Nesta would be repulsed by the scars that crisscrossed his skin and the membrane of his wings. Instead, his mate loved all his imperfections, and over the past two centuries she had kissed every one of his scars, caressed the jagged skin with the tips of her fingers, traced it with her lips and tongue. She had made him love all parts of him, and he wanted to do the same to her.
“Come here,” Nesta said, a hand reaching for him.
Unable to resist any longer, Cassian settled in the cradle of her hips, bracing his weight on his forearms on each side of her head. His wings spread wide behind him and curved forward, casting shadows over their naked bodies. “I love you,” he said, kissing Nesta’s forehead and letting his lips linger there. He felt more than seeing her smile, and he skimmed his nose down the column of her neck, breathing her in. Nesta sighed happily, hooking a leg around his hips and plunging her hands into his hair.
Cassian moaned, trailing kisses down her neck, along her collarbones. He licked the hollow of her throat, pressed his lips on the skin between her breasts until Nesta began writhing under him, her nails leaving little crescent moons on his shoulders.
Groaning, he brought both her wrists above her head, holding them with one hand. Nesta arched her back, trying to press herself closer to him, and he chuckled, a finger following the path his lips had trailed moments before. He dragged that digit between her legs, and moaned when he felt the wetness there. “Do you want me to make love to you, sweetheart?” he rasped, looking at her sex, her stomach, her perfect tits. He hoped she could feel his thoughts through the bond, how much he desired her. And even if she couldn’t, the physical evidence was pressing right against her stomach, hard and throbbing.
“Please, I need you”, she whimpered, so Cassian released her wrists and rolled onto his back, chuckling when she whined at the sudden loss of contact between their bodies and immediately reached for him, for his leaking erection. He gently grabbed her wrist, stopping her before she could touch him. “Get on top of me.” He wanted nothing more than to cover her body with his and fuck her properly, but he figured being on top would allow her more control and be less painful.
“Are you sure you want me like this?” she asked shyly, looking down at her body.
Cassian used a finger to tip up her chin. “Sweetheart, I want you in every way imaginable, but for now, I want to watch my wife ride me. If that’s okay with her.” Taking her hand, he brought it to his mouth and kissed her ring finger, adorned by her engagement ring and wedding band.
They shared a soft smile, Nesta shaking her head and pretending to be annoyed at Cassian’s gesture. He knew she secretly loved it when he was all romantic and gentleman-y. Reaching for the nightstand, he took a bottle of lube from the top drawer. “Just in case.”
“You read a book on postpartum sex, didn’t you?” Nesta asked, fingers combing through his hair.
Not mentioning he had had Gwyn bring him every book about childbirth she could find in the library, Cassian only shrugged. “Maybe.”
Rolling her eyes, Nesta straddled him, a leg on each side of his hips, then grabbed the bottle and spread some lube on Cassian’s length, using the opportunity to tease him, then around her entrance. Once she was ready, she slowly positioned herself above him, biting back a moan when he grabbed his erection and lined it up with her entrance. After a moment of hesitation, she slowly lowered herself on him, inch by inch, and all Cassian could do not to come right then was bite the inside of his cheek and breathe through his nose, thanking all the gods for Nesta Archeron.
“You okay?” he ground out once she was fully seated. He rubbed his palms up and down her thighs, waiting for her to adjust.
“Yeah, just give me a second.” Her eyes were screwed shut, chest rising and falling rapidly.
“Hey, look at me.” He said, pushing her hair away from her face. “If you want to stop, just say the word.”
There was a time when Nesta would look at him with anger, or worse, avoided his gaze altogether, and the difference between that hard, tormented stare and the look she gave him now, so soft and vulnerable, full of love and unwavering trust, was everything to him.
She leaned down to kiss him. “I don’t want to stop,” she whispered against his lips, and began shifting her hips experimentally. Their sharp intakes of breath broke the kiss, but Nesta didn’t stop moving, keeping up the slow rolling of her hips. The pace she set was the sweetest of tortures, her walls gripping him like a vise.
He fought the urge to grab her hips and thrust upwards, letting her find her rhythm. “You feel so good,” he murmured, and she moaned softly, a hand sneaking between their bodies to rub her clit. He ran his hands down her back, down her thighs, then back up again.
After a few moments, Nesta braced a hand on his chest and pushed herself up, quickening her pace. She threw her head back, the tips of her golden brown strands teasing his thighs as her walls contracted around his length. “Cassian,” she moaned, and he couldn’t stop his hips from jumping off the bed, chasing the pleasure that was building inside the both of them.
“Sorry,” he ground out when Nesta inhaled sharply, but instead of reprimanding him, she simply lifted her head again and looked at him. “Do that again,” she said, and Cassian, helpless when it came to obeying his mate, did as he was told, grabbing her hips and thrusting upwards again and again, grunting when her walls contracted around his length.
A light sheen of sweat covered Nesta’s skin, her chest rising and falling rapidly, full breasts bouncing with every thrust. In Cassian’s mind, there was no doubt she was a goddess reincarnated. “You’re the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen,” he rasped, completely enraptured by her. He let his gaze drop to where their bodies were joined, cursing at the sight of his hardness sliding in and out of her.
Needing to feel her chest pressed against his, he sat up and wrapped one arm around her, bracing his other hand behind him on the mattress, still meeting the rolling of her hips with upward thrusts. Their kiss was open-mouthed and messy, both of them panting as Nesta’s hand kept working between her legs. “Are you going to come for me, sweetheart?” he breathed against her lips, and she moaned so loudly he had to swallow the sound with his mouth, scared the noise would wake their daughter.
Cassian didn’t need to hear the words to know Nesta was close, so he lightly dragged his teeth down the column of her neck and she shattered, biting his shoulder to muffle her cries. He followed her immediately, hips stuttering as he emptied himself inside her, holding her to him as tightly as he could. Stroking her hair, he wrapped his wings around her body and whispered sweet nothings in her ear until both their pleasures subsided, leaving them breathless and sated.
He felt Nesta’s tongue on the spot where she’d bit him, soothing the small hurt, and he shivered. Sometimes he wished his body didn’t heal so quickly, so he could keep the mark of his mate’s teeth and the small crescent moons left by her nails. At least her scent was always with him, intertwined with his even after weeks spent apart.
He breathed her in, nuzzling her neck until he felt something wet on his chest. “Are you crying?” he asked worriedly, leaning back to study her face, but her eyes were dry, her expression blissful.
Nesta’s brows furrowed briefly before she looked down at her chest and scrambled away from him, hissing when his softening length slipped out of her. “Fuck, I’m leaking,” she cursed, standing on shaky legs and heading for the bathroom.
Cassian followed her, and found her leaning against the sink, a towel pressed to her breasts. “There’s nothing sexier than a woman leaking breast milk on you during sex, is there?” She joked, but he could tell she was embarrassed.
“Actually,” he said as he came to stand behind her, turning so they faced the mirror. “I think that’s really hot.” He placed his hands on top of hers and kissed her temple. “You’re a really hot mum, Nesta. And the fact that you gave birth to my child makes you even hotter in my eyes.”
Rolling her eyes, Nesta bit back a smile. “You and your breeding kink.”
“Guilty,” he laughed, winking at her in the mirror. She opened her mouth to reply, but was cut off by a loud cry and dropped her head against his chest, sighing. “It’s time.”
Part 3: Nesta
“Mommy, we’re starving!” Came a high-pitched voice from across the hall, and Nesta smiled. She had cleaned herself up, gotten dressed, and was currently seated on the nursing chair, ready to feed her two-month-old daughter. Her husband seemed unable to speak to the baby in a normal tone of voice, something that made her roll her eyes in fake annoyance every time.
A pair of grey sweats low on his hips, Cassian stepped inside the nursery, holding the small baby to his bare chest. She was drooling all over his shoulder, her mouth clearly trying to latch onto something, and her little wings flapping slightly. She wasn’t able to spread them fully yet, but sometimes they moved on their own, usually when she was hungry.
“Mommy, where are the boobies?” Cassian said when he noticed Nesta was wearing a shirt, eyes widening in feigned outrage. “How dare you put them away when we’re so hungry!”
“Oh my god, give her to me,” Nesta laughed, unbuttoning her shirt. Cassian handed her the baby and sat cross-legged at her feet, propping his chin on her knee as he watched his daughter latch onto her mom’s nipple.
Even though Nesta had been breastfeeding for two months now, she never tired of it. Sure, she could go without the pain, but the warmth of her daughter’s hand on her breast, her short curls tickling her arm, the complete and utter trust in her blue eyes made up for it. And every day her baby bat seemed to change, eyebrows getting thicker and nose scrunching exactly like Cassian’s when he was annoyed. She might have inherited her eyes and lips, but the rest of her was all her dad.
Nesta took in the man sitting at her feet, a dumbstruck look on his face as he watched the scene in front of him, and was once again hit by how lucky she was. If years ago someone had told her she would end up happily married to a fae, she would have thought them crazy. And yet there she was, madly in love with a man who made her feel cherished every day. Their marriage wasn’t perfect, and as today’s events had shown, even after two centuries they still had to work on communication, but there was no doubt in her heart Cassian would do anything to protect their little family. Sometimes her insecurities messed with her head, but Cassian was there every time, loving and supporting her through every hardship, every challenge, reaching out his hand even when she was cranky and closed off. Her winged warrior, with his slightly crooked nose and the scar on his left eyebrow, straight from the pages of her novels.
Cassian’s eyes met hers, the dumbstruck look he had before molding into something slightly different, but not less heart-warming. “You really do look like a goddess,” he said.
“Even now?” Nesta asked, thinking about her uncombed hair and loose skin on display.
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Fears All the Way Down - Chapter Three
ao3 - masterpost
happy friday! here's chapter three, a little long, and dramatiqué so enjoy:)
canon fixes this week: 1) gwyn mentions the priestess who counsels them. nesta was never offered counseling. bullshit. 2) gwyn says they never talk about each other because they've all been through a lot. mm. okay. i went to a girls' school. you don't just not talk about anyone because they've been through a lot. it doesn't have to be cruel gossip, but you definitely still talk. and if someone is a bitch to you, then yeah, it's gossip.
When Nesta had first been brought into Prythian, right here into the House of Wind, she had often thought to herself that her life could not possibly get any worse. She was a faerie now, a monster, and Elain was wasting away before her eyes, and Feyre was off to no-one-would-tell-her-where doing no-one-would-tell-her-what. And every other day, Cassian would come by and interrupt her fear and anxiety to irritate her beyond belief.
And then the war happened, and the impossible happened. Her life did get worse.
And now she is here again, and it is...different. Sometimes worse. Sometimes better. Sometimes neither. But it's different this time.
This time, she doesn't have to be worried about her sisters. They're the ones who are worried about her. She isn't scared of her own reflection anymore--not comfortable in this immortal skin, but used to it nonetheless. And most striking...Cassian doesn't seek her out.
He doesn't sit with her for breakfast, though the healer, Daphne does come up every morning to check up on her (unnecessary. She is miserable and in pain, but stable). She hears him during the day, making rounds around the House, or doing something up on the roof, but she doesn't see him while the sun is out. He meets her once for dinner, to watch her take her mock liquor, and then once again when she hurls out her insides in the middle of the night.
And then the week is over, and he is gone.
Feyre is there to greet her for breakfast.
"I hear you slept the night!" she says, enthusiastic.
Nesta doesn't answer.
"You've detoxed," Feyre says. "I...I'm really proud of you. I know that was a long five days. Elain's proud of you, too. She sends her love."
Nesta nods slightly. She sits down at her usual spot at the head of the table, the chair dragging itself out to meet her.
Feyre notices. "Kind of creepy, isn't it? The magic all on its own?"
"I don't mind it," Nesta says.
On the contrary. The first morning she had awoken here, she had desperately wanted to bathe. But she stumbled into the bathroom and her body had seized up as she imagined herself sinking in the tub. Sinking...drowning...getting pulled under and never getting out. Perhaps it was being back here, but she had asked the House for some buckets, and reverted to her old practice of washing herself.
She had fully intended to accept her fate, coming to terms with the fact that while she was in the House, forcing herself to sit in the tub would be far too difficult, and she'd have to suffer through being covered in her own sick for a week, but on the second morning, the House had gifted her with an out.
The tub, ridiculously wide and deep--to accommodate wings, she realizes now--was still there, but hanging from the ceiling, almost like a chandelier, was a faucet. The House had turned on the water for her; she hadn't known what it was. The water came out like rain, with dozens of tiny streams instead of one the size of a fist, like in the bath. And she could...stand under it.
Nesta still isn't quite sure how much the House can hear, or if it cares. But she takes extra care to say please and thank you now, for things she wouldn't have bothered before.
"Well, at any rate," Feyre says, pulling her back to the present. "You'll be starting at the library today. Are you ready?"
"Do you want me to walk you down?"
No. Maybe. No. "Do...are girls normally escorted in?" she asks carefully.
"No," Feyre admits. "Normally...they're just brought here right after...but it's allowed. I mean, whatever's more comfortable for you."
She doesn't know what to say, so she deflects. "Did Elain not want to escort me?"
"She just didn't want to come by until you specifically asked for her."
"Why did you come, then?" She's blunt, but she only realizes how it sounds until after it comes out. She isn't trying to be cruel, though.
Feyre doesn't bristle. "I wanted to see you. And update you on the Illyrian situation."
"They're doing a good job of keeping their meetings secret," Feyre admits. "But don't worry. We're better."
"I'm not worried," Nesta says, and she honestly means it. She remembers the war well. Remembers Cassian's skill, precision, deadliness...no one compares. If he's defending her, there's no cause for concern. Except him, of course. "What is it?"
"They know you're at the House." Their spies in Velaris had probably noticed Cassian flying about, had marked Elain moving her things out of her apartment in the city...Nesta isn't scared of any Illyrians tracking her down while she's here, but the idea of some wretch skulking after her sisters in the dark....
Feyre continues, "And we do know they want to make a move. But they can't, Nesta. I promise you're safe here."
Nesta keeps her voice impassive, almost bored, when she says, "He's gone, though?"
Feyre knows whom she means. "Cassian? Well, we're still keeping the House secure...you might hear him or Rhys or Az checking the wards a few times a day, but that's it. No one in the House any longer. Just as you'd prefer it."
Nesta blinks. She hadn't realized this threat was real enough to warrant the three of them visiting the House multiple times a day. Perhaps...perhaps there is reason to worry. Or fear.
Because she certainly will be afraid...if it happens like last time. Strange faerie males breaking down her door, ripping her out of bed. By her hair, by her arms. Grabbing at her, pinching her. Elain screaming from her room down the hall.
"So, you'll go down yourself, then?" Feyre asks, dragging her back to the present.
Nesta blinks again, shoving that horrible night out of her mind. "Yes," she says, and because she doesn't want to give herself another moment to slide into that place again, rises to do just that.
Feyre had escorted her down to these doors once before, and they had descended the levels to find Hybern. This time, she is alone, and there are two priestesses waiting for her when she enters.
One clearly defers to the other, and she stands behind her. Her hood is set atop her head, and her brown face is pretty aside from some light scarring on either cheek. She smiles and says, "Welcome, Nesta."
Nesta cannot tell if the higher priestess smiles or not, for her hood covers her face. But truth be told, even if she were entirely naked, Nesta would only look at her hands, for they are wrecked beyond comprehension. Fingers at wrong angles and parts missing and--
"Hello," Nesta blurts out, because it's the only thing she can think to say and she doesn't want to stare. She hates when people stare at her. Her cheeks flame; she's not cut out for this. She can't be around these females.
The high priestess lifts her head slightly, enough for Nesta to see that she is, indeed, smiling. A parchment and fountain pen--and quite a good-quality one, she notes--appear out of thin air, making her jump slightly, and in a neat script write out:
Welcome, Nesta. I am Clotho, high priestess of the library. This is Thalia, one of our senior priestesses. She'll be showing you the library today. I hope you find it to your liking. I'll see you later today.
"Oh," Nesta says, not quite knowing what to reply. "Thank you," she adds, figuring that's as good as anything.
Clotho raises her head once more to offer her another smile and then sweeps away, parchment and pen disappearing after her.
"Shall we begin our tour, then, Nesta?" Thalia asks. She waits for Nesta to nod before beginning her descent down the spiralling levels of the library.
Thalia explains about the different sections of the library, and points out different offices for the other senior priestesses and what their specialties are. They meet some females here and there, and she introduces them, but luckily no one sticks around for a chat. Already Nesta can feel her pulse quickening, sick at the idea of having to be with all these people all the time. She is immensely grateful for her sisters for keeping her alone in the House during the nights, at least.
When they reach the fifth level, Nesta stops in her tracks. Thalia looks at her, patient and unhurried.
"Is it--back?" Nesta asks, unable to keep the fear out of her voice.
Thalia smiles. "Bryaxis has never harmed any of us and is no cause for alarm," she says gently. "But no, it is not returned."
No cause for alarm? Cassian was scared of that thing.
But if it's not here...fine.
"Where's your office?" Nesta says, grasping for a subject so she doesn't have to see the look on Cassian's face when he found her running out of the library in her mind's eye.
"Level six," she replies. "Come, let's go there now."
Thalia's office is clearly very separate from the library, as it has the least amount of books of any room here. Which is still substantially more than what Nesta guesses the average room in Velaris has, with one wall made up of fully stacked floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, and some on the desk in the corner and one on the coffee table in the small sitting area.
"Come sit, please, Nesta," Thalia says, choosing a couch for herself. "Well,"she says, when Nesta is settled in an armchair, "what are your first impressions of the library?"
"I've been here before."
Thalia smiles. "So you have. But you're a bit better informed on our particular brand this time around, aren't you?"
"Well, allow me to explain further. I am the priestess who counsels the females who choose to join us."
"Counseling?" she repeats, her heart speeding up. So she's supposed to just tell this female everything about herself? Is that what her sisters expect her to do?
"I know that's a loaded word, but I promise it isn't as scary as it sounds."
How can she be so cavalier about this? All smiles and twinkling eyes.
"We can have sessions as often or as rarely as you'd please. If you'd like, you never have to come to another meeting with me again after this, or any of the classes or sessions my colleagues direct. Except, of course, for our weekly check-in."
"What's the weekly check-in?" Nesta asks, because the priestess won't say anything otherwise.
"We do one mandatory group session a week where we all check-in with each other. Everyone attends. No one has to speak, but we all attend."
All right. Fine. She can do that. Sitting in a room one a week, silent. Listening to other miserable girls talk about their problems.
Could be worse, she tries to tell herself.
"So what exactly...does life at the library entail?"
"Our institution exists for the purpose of preserving and furthering knowledge on every topic we can get our hands on," Thalia says, "but we also serve to help females heal from various traumas. Because everyone is different, there's no one correct way to go about this journey. But a very broad number of sessions and exercises are available to you, and you are welcome and encouraged to try any of them. In addition to these, you will also be invited to work in the library. First you can start with menial tasks, and when you've got your bearings you can be given a more specific assignment.
"But the real question, Nesta," the priestess continues, and Nesta startles when she breaks her generic explanation to address her by name, "is what you want life at the library to entail."
She clenches her fists at her side, trying to draw the blood away from her cheeks. "What?"
"What would you say your goals are?"
Her throat tightens. Goals? Nesta hasn't had a goal in...probably since she stopped taking magic lessons with Amren. And for her life, well....
"Why don't we start with what urged you to make the decision to come here?"
Blinking twice, Nesta says, "My sisters."
"Did you come to appease them, or another reason, or a mix of both?"
Perhaps it's something in the female's tone, that genuine curiosity, that puts Nesta the slightest bit at ease.
"For them, mostly. But...a little bit for me." It sounds stupid when she says it, but Thalia does scoff or roll her eyes--of course not. And that's enough for her to continue, unprompted, "I want to live again."
Without missing a beat, Thalia leans over and picks up the book from the table and takes out a pen from the pocket of her robe. "Why don't we figure out how you can do that, then?"
Perhaps it was because of the topic of conversation--Nesta hates talking about herself--but she didn't remember sober conversations being so...difficult.
Thalia had coaxed Nesta into telling her the things she most wanted to happen. She had congratulated her on her sobriety--almost a full week, Nesta's mind bit with mock enthusiasm--and encouraged her to take her success there as indication that she is capable of working towards everything else she desires.
But so far Nesta is only sober because she lives in a house completely inaccessible to the outside world--unless she wants to hike down ten thousand steps, or ask Rhysand to carry her down--and there is no alcohol inside of it. She can't possibly manage any of her other goals in the real world.
"Why not?" Thalia had asked. "And who says this isn't the real world?"
That was fair. So Nesta shrugged, and after a painstaking few hours, they had a list of things Nesta wanted to do for now, comprised of a sentence Nesta worded and then Thalia's additions.
Not drift off inside her own head for undetermined amounts of time -> determine triggers.
Not always feel like she needs alcohol -> find productive coping mechanisms.
Be able to talk to Elain and Feyre normally -> determine what is stopping her since all three of them want the same thing.
Start reading again.
The fourth one Thalia had been very pleased to hear, and she had left as Nesta said it.
"I'd be happy to give you some recommendations, if you'd like," she'd said.
"There are romances in the House," she said. She had spotted some on the shelves in her room that hadn't been there last time. And who knew when the next time she was going to have sex was? Who knew if she'd ever have sex again? So she'd better find a good novel.
She didn't tell the priestess that, of course.
So after a morning of that, and a quiet lunch of one slice of toast by herself in the House--not much, but more than she'd expected to have. The detoxing must've given her the slightest bit of appetite again--Nesta descends down to the library again to begin her new job of shelving books.
The work isn't so bad. Dusty, and tedious, but it's good enough at distracting her from herself, because she doesn't know the library well enough for it to be mindless. After a few hours of this, a strong bell rings out--the call to prayer. The priestess all make their way to the same place, leaving Nesta alone in the library for half an hour, then they are back. No one asks her why she didn't join. No one asks her anything at all the whole day, until a second, softer bell rings out, and the priestesses begin to leave for dinner, and she back up to the House, and Clotho waits for her at the door.
Hello, Nesta, she charms her pen to write for her. How was your first day?
"All right," she says. It was. It was...fine. Not terrible.
Thalia tells me she's very impressed with your progress.
Nesta blinks. She hasn't done anything.
Clotho huffs a small sound of amusement, swaying her hood slightly. It can generally take a long while for someone to share with Thalia as much as you did.
I noticed you seemed interested in the Wats books.
At this, Nesta blushed slightly. Children's books, tall tales. "I hadn't realized I was being watched."
Clotho only waits.
"Yes," she says eventually. "I...like stories."
One of our senior priestesses is giving a series of lectures on the history of children's literature. There's one tomorrow. Perhaps you'd like to join.
The pink tinge in Nesta's cheeks hasn't fully faded. "Maybe."
Was there something else you wanted to say, Nesta?
Is it that obvious? Nesta's always thought she's good at keeping her thoughts off her face, but Clotho and Thalia seem to see right through her.
"I still don't understand how this is supposed to work," she admits.
Clotho lifts her head to show her another smile. I'm afraid "this" will require some patience. We want to find the right path for you. In the meantime, however, you are welcome to join sessions or lectures, and I will figure out an assignment for you within the coming weeks.
You have nothing to worry about, Nesta, Clotho adds. You're going to do so well. You're stronger than you think you are.
She has to say that to everyone, Nesta supposes, but she nods anyway, and turns to go up into the House.
Dinner is as quiet as lunch was, and Nesta manages to stomach another slice of toast and even some raw celery. Anything hot or rich, Nesta finds, is too much for her to bear, and she can't keep down. Even buttering her toast is too much for her. The House doesn't seem to grow impatient with her as she uncertainly, almost shyly, asks it for new foods. Just to see if she can smell them without growing nauseated. Small steps. Perhaps one day she'll be able to eat normally again.
Or perhaps not. Perhaps she'll be this wretched, vile, pathetic thing--
I have never in my life thought you were pathetic.
It's not an uncommon occurrence, for Cassian's deep voice to echo in her mind, but it's been some time since they've felt so...comforting.
Your sisters love you. I can't for the life of me understand why, but they do. Yes, that had spun around in her mind for months. And most nights, sometimes even with another male's arms around her...I have no regrets in my life, but this. That we did not have time. That I did not have time with you, Nesta. I will find you in the next world - the next life. And we will have that time. I promise.
He hadn't meant it. Or...he had in the moment and then without the looming threat, he had changed his mind. Or she had done something...
But this is real.
I have never in my life thought you were pathetic.
It feels real. It feels honest and true and tonight, it is enough to drive out other thoughts, enough to spur her into choosing a book to start, enough to make her forget that she wanted the fifth thing on that list to be Not be so awful and disgusting and useless and pathetic because if he think she's not, then she's not.
It's enough to make her think she's doing the right thing, and enough to make her do it again tomorrow.
The next day, no one seeks Nesta out for a session. Some of the senior librarians say hello to her, but she is mostly left to her own devices and continues shelving books on her own. She does so all morning, and she expects to do so all afternoon, but around two, a priestess approaches her and asks her if she wants to join her lecture circuit on the history of children's literature. There's no real reason not to go, so Nesta agrees.
The room is smaller than the ones Father had once described to her were at higher institutes on the continent. It's the right size for the dozen or so priestesses already sitting in a semi-circle, facing a black board where a charmed piece of chalk already begins to write.
Nesta sits in an empty seat on the edge of the semi-circle, next to a copper-haired priestess, with her hood hanging at her shoulders. Actually, Nesta muses to herself as she studies the girl out of the corner of her eye, she might not even be a priestess at all. She isn't wearing that necklace they all have on their foreheads. It's nice to think that there's someone else here who doesn't worship that thing.
The lecture is interesting, if a bit confusing at times. Nesta is largely unfamiliar with children's stories over the Wall--there had been no magical quests or enchanted objects in her childhood. The witches and sorcerers and faeries had always been the villains.
But it's nice. To learn something new, to hear it from someone who is clearly passionate about it.
When the lecture is over, the priestess--Calliope--talks to her while the other girls file out.
"To your liking?" she asks, blunt.
"Yes," Nesta answers.
"Thalia said you might like some recommendations. What are you interested in?"
"Anything good. Romances."
"Are you well-versed in fae classics?"
"No," Nesta says. She's fairly well versed in human classics, though.
"I'll get you started. I'll have a pile ready for you by the end of the day."
"I...thank you," she says.
The priestess nods once and turns on her heel to leave.
Nesta blinks. She didn't realize priestesses could be...not so like Thalia or Clotho and maybe more...like her. Back when she was like herself, at least. She shakes herself a little and walks out of the room, too.
"What did Calliope say to you?" asks a clear, pretty voice from behind.
Nesta turns. The ginger possibly-not-priestess.
"What did Calliope say to you?" she repeats, taking a step closer.
Tensing slightly, Nesta says, "She asked me if I liked her lecture."
Hands now fisted at her sides, Nesta says, "I beg your pardon?"
"Well, did you like it?"
"I did," Nesta says shortly.
"Do you think you'll be assigned to her?"
"You haven't been assigned yet. I mean, you're new, so that's not unusual, but since you don't live with us and you're only coming now we wondered if you were going to be assigned earlier."
Nesta raises an eyebrow. "We?"
The girl offers her a sheepish grin. "It's not every day we get someone new. We...the other girls and I...we were just a little curious."
"Well, do you think you want to be assigned to her? I'm Gwyenth Berdara, by the way, I'm another student here."
"I know. You're the High Lady's sister and you slew the King of Hybern."
Nesta freezes slightly, for a moment. Then she says, "I didn't. I stabbed him."
"Oh," Gwyneth says, teal eyes widening. "Well...they call you kingslayer. Not kingstabber. It's a better nickname," she adds, when Nesta doesn't say anything. "As far as nicknames go. Mine's Gwyn, by the way. Or what everyone calls me. Not as suave as kingslayer, but what can you do?"
Gwyneth Berdara...talks more than Morrigan.
"Sorry," Gwyn says, laughing a little. "We're not supposed to overwhelm you. I just...wanted to talk to you."
"Were you told not to overwhelm me?" Were those Feyre's orders, she wonders.
"Just anyone new. But...some girls don't talk for weeks, and you've already come to a lecture on your second day. And you talked to Thalia for a long time yesterday."
"I hadn't realized I was being studied."
Gwyn laughs. "This library's smaller than you think. So, you liked the lecture? Do you think you'll come to the next one?"
"Probably." What else is there to do?
"I like Calliope's circuits. She's always doing something interesting, if you like books. Do you like books?"
"Well. Then you'll probably like her circuits."
They are both silent for a few moments, before Nesta realizes it is probably her turn to initiate conversation. "How long have you been here?"
"Two years, about." She is quiet for a beat, before she adds, "Lord Azriel and Lady Morrigan brought me here."
Nesta blanches. She's never heard them referred to with their titles before.
"Do you like staying at the House of Wind?"
"I...it's all right. Yes," she decides. "I like it." Why not? It gave her a standing bath. It keeps the fireplaces empty and uses some other form of magic, she thinks, to heat her room.
"Oh," Gwyn says, and Nesta thinks she deflates a bit. "I thought you might prefer to stay in our dorms."
"I'm not very religious." That's polite. Nesta actively hates their god. Or whatever the cauldron is supposed to be. Demon, more like.
"Oh," Gwyn says, blinking in surprise. "Oh. Well. That's all right. If you...ever change your mind. And you want to stay in our dormitories, I could help you find a room."
"Thank you," Nesta says.
Again, they are both quiet. Perhaps neither of them has had a friendly conversation in a while.
With a jolt, Nesta realizes--this has been a friendly conversation.
Nesta tries to grasp at something to say, something friendly. Has she been friendly? Or has she been cold this entire time? No, if the girl has been talking to her all the while, she must have been friendly. It's not as though Nesta's never been friendly in her life. She's had friends before. Clare and Joyly and Heather. She knows how. Even if none of them had thought her a good enough friend to bother trying to talk to her after she had distanced herself, after Tomas, after Feyre--
"I have to be getting back to my priestess. We're researching dimensions and other worlds. But I'll see you, Nesta." With a small wave, Gwyn bounds away.
"See you," she calls after her.
That...that's good, isn't it? Probably something Elain and Feyre would be pleased to hear. Maybe she should tell them. Invite them up for dinner.
Or is it too pathetic? One cordial conversation isn't anything to write home about. But maybe they'd like to know she's doing better; pathetic as her version of better is.
I have never in my life thought you were pathetic.
Maybe...maybe she should.
She'll just write them a letter, she decides. No, that's too formal. But sending them up is too dramatic...but if they want to come see her--
Nesta pinches herself. Hard. Enough till she's only focussing on the pain, so these incessant, stupid thoughts are driven out of her head.
Just go back to shelving books, she tells herself. Just put away the books and don't think about anything else.
Her mind does stray, though, and she wonders if any of the minuscule steps she takes in the right direction are worth the spiralling she has to go through after.
Despite her echoing anxieties, her physical weakness, and sheer exhaustion of being herself, Nesta does manage to get through the weekend--Feyre does not visit, but she and Elain both send up letters, decorated with little paintings and pressed flowers--and to the weekly check-in on Sunday. She doesn't know what to expect, but Gwyneth Berdara is there in the large hall, where they all sit in a circle, and waves her over.
"Good morning," she says.
"Good morning," Nesta answers.
"First weekly check-in."
"You don't have to say anything, if you don't want to. I didn't for months. Ten months, actually."
She certainly does talk a lot now, though.
"I didn't realize there were so many females here," Nesta says, looking around. Dozens of girls...probably more than fifty, plus the twelve higher priestesses. Gwyn is the only one who doesn't wear the necklace on her forehead.
"A lot don't wander so much. Some don't come out of their rooms except for this."
"Oh," Nesta says. So it's...good, then. That she can still go places. Talk to people. Maybe she really isn't as hopeless as she thinks.
Not that these females are hopeless. That's not what she thinks. Oh, that's a horrible thing to think, especially after what they've been through--
"That's Merrill," Gwyn says, pointing at a senior priestess. "I'm assigned to her."
Carefully, Nesta says, "Maybe I'll be assigned to her, too."
"Ooh, you better hope not. Merrill's the worst." Gwyn shudders.
"What?" Nesta asks. "Aren't they all supposed to be nice?"
Gwyn scoffs. "Says who? Are you nice?"
"I...guess not," Nesta says. "But I'm not a senior priestess."
"All right, that wasn't nice," Gwyn admits. "Sorry. You're right. She should probably be nicer. She should definitely be nicer...and you're all right."
"I'm not nice." She has never been nice.
Gwyn shrugs. "Well, I like you anyway."
Nesta's heart stutters. "Er--why don't you ask Clotho to reassign you?" she asks, pulse pounding in her ears.
Gwyn crosses her arms. "I can stick it out."
Is that what she looks like, Nesta wonders, to other people?
She should tell her something. This Gwyn. Tell her to switch priestesses. Or...tell Merrill to be nicer. Or tell Clotho to tell Merrill to be nicer. Or maybe she can do it for her.
"Good morning, everyone," Thalia starts, and Nesta's eyes snap to her. "Let's begin, shall we?"
The weekly check-in is mercifully not as terrible as Nesta imagined. There's no announcement of her presence, though she can feel plenty of people stealing glances ("It's not every day we get a Lady of the court in here," Gwyn whispers to her. "Especially not the kingslayer."). Thalia announces changes in the schedule for the week, and one of the other senior priestesses gives a short lecture on her specialty, and then Thalia asks who'd like to begin the circle.
The circle, Nesta learns, is the worst of it. Everyone goes around in a circle and introduces themselves by name and says whatever they want. True to Thalia's word, though, no one has to talk, and no one says anything horrible. It's mostly banal, like I worked really hard on a paper last week or I sent my mother a letter and she still hasn't replied and I'm feeling anxious or I don't have anything to say today, but I hope everyone has a good week.
And then it is her turn, and who-knows-how-many pairs of eyes are locked on her and she just...can't. She can't. What are they thinking? Gwyn says they call her kingslayer, so they must know what happened.. Are they thinking about how she couldn't save her father? How she killed one thousand Illyrian soldiers? How about how she drowned herself in alcohol, how the mark of its loss is still clearly etched in the bruises under her eyes, the dullness of her hair, the sallowness of her skin. How ugly she is, how she never deserved anything better than that slew of nameless males who didn't care about her, how she just fails at everything she tries--
"My name is Gwyn. I had a good week."
The next girl speaks, and the eyes are--finally--off Nesta.
Gwyn touches her shoulder. "Don't worry about it," she says in a hushed voice. "At least you didn't cry."
Nesta manages a small smile. It might look more like a grimace, but Gwyn gives her a grin.
"It's really not half as embarrassing as you think," she whispers. "Everyone here is way more concerned with what others think of them...until you realize no one's thinking about that."
Maybe she's just saying that.
But...maybe she can just believe it. Just for now.
The weekly check-in ends, and the week passes by.
Nesta doesn't get assigned to a priestess, but she still--she thinks--makes progress. She may be making a friend, as Gwyn seeks her out a few more times. Sometimes just to say hello, sometimes to ask her if she wants to join her for a lecture or a session. She generally goes. She likes the jewellery making, finding that working with her hands keeps her focused enough that she can't think about herself. All the lectures, actually, Nesta finds interesting, as there's just so much she doesn't know about this world.
On Tuesday, she writes a letter to her sisters, telling them she's doing all right, and perhaps they can come visit over the weekend.
On Wednesday, she feels hungry and restless--hungry and restless. So she has two slices of bread with soup and she doesn't even feel sick, and she goes for a walk afterwards, on the track circling the outside of the House.
On Thursday, she brushes her hair in the morning, and almost none of it is ripped out with the brush. She makes Gwyn laugh with something she says about a lecture they disagreed on. Thalia tells her she thinks she has some ideas for coping mechanisms she wants her to try. She goes for another walk in the evening, even jogging a bit as the House hurries her along with flashing faelights.
"What is it?" she says, as she enters the door, gasping slightly. Goodness, she's never been so out of shape in her life. That was barely a run.
But the House isn't done yet, flashing more lights, leading her into her bedroom.
"Oh...do you...are we playing a game?"
The House swings her door--impatiently?--to get her inside, and when she is, it swings shut behind her and disappears into a wall.
"Hey!" Nesta says. "What are you--"
A tea cart appears in front of her. Nesta can smell the lemon and honey from the kettle as it rolls towards her. One of the armchairs pulls out.
"Are we having a tea party?" Nesta asks.
As if in answer, a book appears on the coffee table.
"Do you want me to read to you?" Nesta asks.
The curtains pull shut and her faelights flicker on.
"I'll take that as a yes," she says, and sits down to entertain the House. She gives a small huff of a laugh. "You had to finish my walk early, did you?"
There's no way around it: Cassian has never been more pathetic in his life than he is with this female.
Whether it's circling her estate, thinking of insults to throw at her, or circling her apartment, imagining himself tossing out the male with her that night and confessing everything to her, or circling the House to sneak a peek of her through one of the Windows...all right, so it's mostly all the same move. Gods, when had he become so predictable?
The worst part of it is, he doesn't even try and convince himself to stop anymore. Not when Elain shrieks one morning and says Nesta's invited her and Feyre up for lunch on Saturday. Not when he sees her go out for a walk Wednesday evening--a walk, with a bit more meat on her bones, and a shine to her hair and--he might be too far to tell, but it looks like--life in her eyes.
Not joy. Not...excitement. Not even contentment. But life. And that's...so much more than what had been last week.
He wonders if it might've consoled her to know that he was just as miserable as she was. More so, even. Because he felt all the pain she did and he also felt his own pain of seeing her that way. Of knowing that fierce, cunning, determined, wildly brave, unnaturally beautiful female was...struggling. So, so hard.
Sleeping a level above her each night, and thinking only of her...and knowing she's not thinking of him. Of course not. It was stupid and selfish and stupid again, but...it's true.
And her getting better is not for him he tells himself, as he watches her go on a walk for a second evening in a row.
(Not that he's watching her. He's checking the wards. It's not as though he knew she'd be out. He didn't. It just happened.)
Not for you, he says to himself. Feyre had been clear. This is for checking the wards; to make sure she's safe. And the extra weight on her is not for him to better imagine holding onto something as he presses her against himself; it's so she's healthy. So she doesn't wither and waste away. She is not imagining a stroll through the Night Court botanical gardens with him right now; she's just getting fresh air.
Time to go. Wards are checked, alarms are set, so it's time to go.
He doesn't let himself steal another glance--not for you--as he turns to fly away.
He should go to the ends of the city. Shake this off him, put his head on straight. This is pathetic. This is just sad. Maybe he should go out with Mor. He did this for her, didn't she? For five hundred odd years. She can do this for him. Maybe he can even meet someone, just for a night, just a distraction--
But Nesta is all he sees when he closes his eyes. The beautiful woman she once was, the sickly female she is now, and guilt and revulsion rock him to his core at the very thought of someone else...
Pathetic, since she doesn't want him, and probably never will. No, not probably, just never.
Three clear bells ring out in the distance, and self-pity and misery snap out of Cassian as blinding fear takes their place.
He is on his way, flying faster than he ever has in his life, before he even registers it. And for the first time, he wishes he were like Rhys or Az and could winnow--prays one of them is already there, or both of them, to fight off whoever it is, to keep her safe--oh gods--oh, she's so scared, she's terrified, she's afraid for her life--and the priestesses--
Rhys and Az are already there, inside the House, and there are half a dozen. Illyrians. Illyrians.
So they were right. He hadn't wanted to believe it. Doesn't want to believe it. That they would ever...that they would dare...
Cassian can't think, just has to move, get them out, kill--
"No," Rhys snarls at him.
Dimly, Cassian knows why. They're plotting a rebellion. To take over their court, and to give Nesta over to their enemy. Direct attacks against the royal bloodline. They need to be interrogated. They can't be killed.
But they can't live. They're going to hurt Nesta; they can't be allowed to live.
INCAPACITATE, Rhys barks to his mind.
Fine. He will. But he doesn't have to make it clean.
He does it quick, though. Nesta's scared. She's probably hiding somewhere, scared for her life. He needs to do it quickly for her.
They're fair warriors, but no match for the three of them. It's not close to being a fair fight. It's only a few minutes before he and Az have knocked out the six of them--Az letting him do the brunt of it--and Rhys drags back another two who had gone off to find Nesta.
"Easy," Rhys snaps at him.
"Calm down or go," Az adds. "Nesta's in her room. She's safe."
"You'll scare her."
"I won't," Cassian says, growling.
Rhys unceremoniously drops the two Illyrians on the floor next to the six others. "Well, you've already destroyed her living room," he says drily, "and you're covered in blood."
"Not mine." Not enough.
"Calm down," Rhys says, and this time it's an order.
Cassian takes a deep breath. "She's in her room?"
"I can bring Feyre up--"
"Bring her, but I want to see her. She needs to see me." The words come out of their own accord, but neither of his brothers corrects him.
"We'll both go," Rhys says. "Az...take care of this."
Az nods once, and they go down the stairs.
Nesta's scent grows stronger as they descend. Not much fear that he can detect, though. None of the bitterness of adrenaline. Just that sweet, gutting floral, mixed with traces from books she's always buried in. And, he realizes pleasantly, no alcohol.
When they get to her floor, Nesta's bedroom door is missing. In place is a wall. Before he can hurl himself at it to break it down, it morphs back into a door, and Rhys is there, knocking, again before Cassian can move.
"Nesta?" he calls out. "It's safe."
Cassian can hear her shuffling around before she comes to open the door.
He fights to keep upright and still as her eyes meet his, widening more than he's ever seen.
"What happened to you?" she asks, voice stronger and clearer than he's heard in a long time. Beautiful, lyrical, even if she does sound appalled. "Did you come from a battlefield?"
"How did you get the door to change into a wall?" Rhys asks her. "That was clever. Was that your magic?"
Nesta blinks at him. "No...the House was playing a game."
"You play games with the House?" Cassian says softly.
She turns to him again.
Yes, look at me, look at me, look at me, Nesta Nesta Nesta--
"I...we're friendly." She tinges pink.
"You're friends with the House?" Rhys says, blankly.
She reddens still--yes.
"Why are you covered in blood?" she says again.
"You...don't know what happened?" Rhys asks carefully.
Nesta rolls her eyes--oh, gods, how he's missed seeing her irritated. Oh, maybe she'll turn red again. "Obviously not."
"The important thing to remember is that you're safe," Rhys says, his voice patient and gentle.
Nesta shoots him a sharp look, fully aware he's never taken that tone with her.
"What is it? What's happened?"
Oh, brilliant--now she's scared.
Cassian takes a step closer. "The House was breached," he says to her, and her face pales. "But that's what the alarms are for. They worked. And we all got here, and we've got them. Now we're going to figure out who else is working with them. We're going to keep you safe."
Nesta looks up. "I was safe. I am, I mean. The House...I didn't even hear anything. It just told me to come into my room and gave me some tea and asked me to read to it."
"It asked you to read to it?"
"I thought it was a game." Nesta moves past them, walking upstairs. She gasps slightly when she reaches the main floor and sees the state of the living room.
Cassian ignored the pointed look Rhys gives him. "I can clean it up." Thank the Mother Az has already gotten the eight of them out.
But the House already appears to be doing so itself. It even moves some furniture around, away from a wall that's been badly damaged.
Nesta sucks in a breath as she walks towards it and crouches down on the floor. "Oh...did they hurt you?" she says, quietly to...to the House. "I'm sorry. I...thank you for keeping me safe. I'll...I can fix this for you. I'll get you something to fix it." She puts her palm on the cracks and craters, as if stroking the hurt.
You will not, Cassian tells himself sternly, be jealous of a house.
"Your sisters will want to see you," Rhys says. "Maybe you should spend the night at our home."
"No," Nesta says, not turning from the wall. "I'm staying here. Oh!" She leaps up, whipping around, face white again. "Is--are--the library, was it--"
"The library is fine," Rhys says smoothly. "The priestess are all fine. They wouldn't have even heard any of this."
Nesta breathes a sigh of relief. "All right," she says. "That's...that's good. All right."
"Are you sure you don't want to come down, Nesta?" Rhys asks, voice kind again.
"Yes," she says. "But Elain and Feyre can come up if they want to," she adds. "I'm all right, though. Really. I know I'm safe here." She touches the wall again.
Nevermind that it's he who's covered in blood, who fought them off for her. It's the walls she's grateful to, the walls she reads to and plays games with--
Shut up, idiot, shut up.
"We'll go bring them up, then. Unless...would you like one of us to stay with you?"
"I'm really fine."
"All right. Well...we'll be back in a few minutes."
Nesta nods and turns around to put her hands on the wall again, to talk to the House.
Rhys, the bastard, takes notes and gives him a grin as they step off the veranda and fly down to the riverfront manor together.
"I was jealous a lot before Feyre told me she loved me, but never--"
"Shut up," he snarls, and Rhys has the audacity to laugh.
He doesn't mind so much. Nesta's safe and...she's doing better and eating and going on walks and she has a friend.
Even if it is just a house.
Starlight - Azriel x Reader (fluff)
Fanart by jessdraw.s on Instagram
Request: “(Y/N) is the youngest Archeron sister and Azriel knows that she’s his mate when he first meets her in the human lands (but obviously she doesn’t feel it bc she’s only human at that point) and then maybe continue to when she’s kidnapped/turned into fae in Hybern/she realizes he’s her mate as well??”
Warnings: depictions of violence and pain, swearing
Word Count: 4.6k
A/N: One of my favorite Azriel requests ever. Very fun to write! As a small life update, I am safe and enjoying Spain very much. Love you all and hope you enjoy reading :)
Feyre had been gone for nearly a year when she returned to the estate from beyond The Wall. Of course, you hadn’t been home when she arrived, and had learned from Nesta later that afternoon.
You were the youngest Archeron sister - a year younger than Feyre - and had focused all your energy on school after your father regained his fortune. Not knowing how to read or write or do basic math had been your largest shame during your years in the cottage. There was no way for you to help other than helping skin the animals Feyre brought back, and even then you lacked the skills necessary to help her sell them at the market. You were determined not to let your family fall into such a situation again, and saw your education as the only way to guarantee that. You’d caught up rather quickly, and hoped that one day you’d be able to go to school in Neva and become a clerk or a banker.
That was where you’d been when Feyre had arrived. You could tell something had happened when you returned - there was a heavy tension in the air. Nesta was sitting on your bed waiting for you, her face set in stone, her shoulders stiff. You gave her a quizzical look as you closed the door behind you.
“You alright?” you asked, dropping your bag on the ground.
“Feyre’s here.” She spoke as if it were some common fact.
Your eyes widened as you turned around again, reaching for the doorknob “Why didn’t you say so-”
“Y/N don’t!” Nesta commanded, standing up from the bed and ignoring the bewildered expression on your face. “Do not open that door-”
“Why the fuck not?” you half-shouted, scoffing when Nesta stiffened at your words. “We haven’t seen her in months, you don’t get to keep me from seeing her.”
“She’s a faerie now.”
“What?” you asked slowly.
“Feyre has been…changed, into a Fae. And she’s brought three of them with her.” There was an underlying pain in Nesta’s voice. “I thought you should know before you saw her.”
You could practically hear your heart pounding. “Are you sure?” you asked finally. “Are you positive?” Nesta nodded.
You gulped, brows furrowing. “Well, she’s still our sister,” you started, “and I’d like to say hi.”
“I swear, Y/N, if you walk out of this room-”
You rolled your eyes at Nesta, pushed the door open and stalked into the hallway.
“Please shut up, Nesta!” you called over your shoulder, heading in the direction of the guest room.
You knocked once, twice on the door, rocking back and forth on your feet as you waited. “Feyre?” you called. “Nesta said you were here…”
Your voice trailed off as the door opened slowly and Feyre’s head popped out from behind it. Your eyes widened, taking in the pointed ears, the tattoo on her hand, the nervous look on her face…
You pulled her into a tight embrace, your sister’s words dying on her lips. She let out a relieved sigh and wrapped her arms around you. “I missed you,” you whispered. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
“I was afraid you wouldn’t be,” Feyre murmured. “Nesta sure isn’t.”
“Sucks to be her,” you replied, grinning when Feyre giggled. You pulled back, inspecting her carefully. “You look healthy,” you noted. “And the ears look fabulous.”
“You really think so?” Feyre asked with a small grin. You nodded eagerly.
Your gaze trailed to the room behind Feyre, eyes widening at the sight of three very tall, very intimidating men with…
“Are those wings?” you asked incredulously, staring at the two donning bat-like wings and dark armor. Feyre chuckled nervously as the one with longer hair gave you a charming grin.
“They are indeed,” he said, spreading his wings out behind him to show you better. The red jewels on his armor gleamed.
“Feyre, who is this?” asked the third man. This one didn’t have wings, but instead a pair of intense purple eyes.
“My younger sister, Y/N.”
You waved hesitantly. “I’m assuming you’re all faeries, too?” They nodded. You cast a glance at the other winged man leaning against the bed frame. His hair was shorter, and the jewels on his armor were blue instead of red. He was also shrouded in a dark, twisting haze.
“I didn’t know you had a younger sister,” the one with longer hair said. He looked a little offended.
“Well, I didn’t know you existed either,” you shrugged. “Rather unfortunate.”
Feyre rolled her eyes as the man chuckled. “Feyre, I like her.”
“Y/N, this is Cassian,” your sister said. The man gave you a quick wave. “And that’s Rhysand…” (another wave from the man with purple eyes) “...and Azriel.” Azriel gave you a faint smile before looking back down at the carpet.
“Well, hello,” you said shyly. “Welcome to our home.”
Rhysand chuckled. “That’s the first nice thing we’ve heard since coming here.”
“My sisters are a little less…fond of faeries,” you explained apologetically. “I’m sorry if Nesta was a lot to deal with.”
“No need for apologies,” Rhysand said dismissively.
You turned to your sister. “Will the four of you be joining us for dinner?”
“Yes, as long as Nesta doesn’t throw us out before then,” Feyre joked. You grinned.
“That’s bound to be entertaining.”
At dinner you sat next to Azriel, cautiously eating your soup as you watched the drama between your older sisters with wide eyes. Every once in a while Cassian would interject with something funny and you would laugh, only for Nesta to silence you with a pointed glare. You thought the tension between him and your eldest sister was quite comical.
“So, you don’t have a problem with us?”
You looked over at Azriel and shook your head. “No, not really. I was afraid of you all when I was growing up, but once Feyre came back the first time I figured you couldn’t be all bad. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have been so desperate to leave again.” You bit your lip, remembering the day she’d left again for Prythian. Azriel seemed to notice the change in your mood.
“Did you miss her?” he asked. You nodded.
“I love her, more than anything,” you said. “But it hurt. It felt like she was choosing another life over us…” You shook your head. “But there was nothing left for her here. And I’m happy she found you all.”
Azriel nodded, chewing a forkful of potatoes thoughtfully. “We’re happy to have her.”
Your attention was drawn once more to Nesta, whose face had turned a furious shade of red at Cassian’s incessant remarks.
“But she hates us?” Azriel asked again.
“Oh, yes,” you said with a nod. “Completely.”
“Noted.” A beat. “And your other sister?”
“Elain doesn’t hate,” you explained, glancing at your other sister sitting quietly next to Nesta. “But she definitely isn’t a huge fan. And her fiancé, well, he’s like Nesta but ten times worse.”
“I’ll avoid him then,” Azriel said, pushing his empty plate forward and turning slightly to look at you. “And you…Feyre doesn’t talk about any of you much, but she hasn’t mentioned you at all.”
You shrugged. “She’s always been protective of me. I think she’s just doing what she wishes Nesta had done for her.”
Azriel nodded, understanding. “She’s been through some tough situations, I understand why she’d make an effort to keep you out of it.”
You spared Feyre a glance. “She’s the strongest of all of us.”
“Well, definitely of her, Nesta, and Elain,” Azriel remarked. “But I know nothing of you, so I can’t judge entirely.”
You grinned shyly. “There’s not really much to know.”
He raised an eyebrow skeptically. “I’m sure that’s not true. What do you like to do?”
“I like to read, I guess,” you said with a shrug.
“You can read?” Azriel asked, a confused look on his face. “But Feyre…”
“I didn’t learn until after she left,” you explained. “I used the money to get a tutor, and then I started going to school when I caught up to the people my age.”
He looked surprised. “That’s a lot to accomplish in a year.”
“Well, it’s kind of a necessary skill, you know? When we were starving in the woods, all I could think was that if I knew how to write or do math I could get a job and help Feyre provide for us all, but I couldn’t.” You scratched the back of your neck, a little embarrassed. “All I do now is study. I never want to be in a position like that again.”
“I understand,” Azriel said, giving you a small smile. “I know what it’s like to be forced into a compromising situation. And now you have the ability to keep yourself out of it, and so you’re working as hard as you can for that.”
You blinked, a little shocked by how well he understood you, and nodded. “Yes, exactly,” you whispered.
“What do you like to study?” he asked, leaning back in his chair and taking a drink of his water.
You cleared your throat, rubbing your hands together nervously. “I like math a lot. I want to go study it more in one of the big cities, where they have whole institutions for it and stuff.”
“What do you want to do with that?” Azriel asked, genuinely interested.
“Well, I’ll probably become a banker or something, but I think I’d really love to study astronomy.”
Azriel bit back a grin. “I think you’d enjoy watching the sky at night in the city where I live.”
“Really?” you asked.
He nodded. “If Nesta ever lets you come visit, I’d love to show you.”
“I think I’d really like that,” you replied with a hopeful grin.
There was something about the Mortal Queens that left you completely unnerved. The way they seemed more than willing to sacrifice the Mortal Lands in Prythian, the way they seemed rooted in their decision before Rhysand and Morrigan had even begun speaking. It was like their visit was performative - like they wanted you all to think they cared, but really they only valued their own power and wellbeing. They could care less how you all fared in a fight with Hybern.
And these realizations left you shaking. You were terrified, scared for your family and your home, scared for the faerie folk north of The Wall that you’d just begun caring for. Your hands had begun to tremble in the middle of the meeting, and you hadn’t been able to stop it. You’d clasped them behind your back, gripped the chair in front of you, all to no avail.
Azriel had noticed. He’d been standing behind you, and moved up to your side when he noticed how anxious you were getting. He gave you a look that asked Are you alright?, to which you gave a dismissive shake of your head. But the Spymaster saw right through you, and took one of your hands in his and squeezed it reassuringly.
This had worked, for a little while. You allowed yourself to become distracted by the hand that held yours, which you were now seeing ungloved for the first time. You were taken aback by the scars, and wondered what awful things he’d had to endure to get them, but thought they made him seem more strong and beautiful than before.
Unfortunately, even with Azriel holding your hand, by the end of the meeting you were shaking again. The minute the Mortal Queens vanished into thin air you rushed out of the living room, hurrying off to your room as tears welled in your eyes and slamming the door behind you before anyone could hear you cry.
You collapsed against the wall, sobbing and shaking in defeat. Feyre would be the first lost to Hybern if they attacked, but in the end all of you would be killed in this war that seemed so sure to happen.
There was a soft knock on the door.
“Y/N, please can I come in?”
“It’s unlocked,” you tried to say, voice wavering more than you wished it would. You wished you could be like Feyre, you wished you could be strong.
Azriel was in your room in an instant, crouching in front of you and clasping your shoulders. “Y/N, look at me.”
You brought your eyes up to his and inhaled sharply, transfixed by the emotion on his face.
“You are going to be fine,” he said, his voice deep and smooth and comforting.
“You and Nesta and Elain are going to be fine. And Feyre is going to be fine. Cassian and Rhysand and I would face Hybern ourselves and die before letting anything happen to the four of you.”
You let out a strangled, desperate noise, and Azriel’s face broke.
“But I don’t want anything to happen to you, either,” you sobbed.
“Y/N.” His voice was no more than a whisper.
And then Azriel was holding you to him, your face pressed into his shoulder and his into your hair as you clung to him wildly.
“I don’t want to lose you,” you whispered, relishing in the warmth of him and the feel of his hands caressing your back. You feared you’d never see him again, that you’d never feel him again. And more than anything, you feared you’d never get the chance to figure out what these feelings meant.
“You won’t,” he said, “I promise you won’t.” And you almost wanted to believe him.
When you regained consciousness, Elain was being dragged towards a cauldron in the middle of the room. And there was screaming, so much screaming…
There were your sisters, and Feyre and Rhys and the members of the Night Court, and the blonde woman who had showed up at your house and-
Nesta was screaming, clawing and thrashing and shouting for Elain. You went to stand up, only to be held down by a man with yellow hair and green eyes.
“Ah, the youngest is awake.” A cold, sinister voice. And then Feyre shouting, and someone else shouting, and oh god there was Azriel’s body, limp on the floor.
You shrieked, struggling as you tried to free yourself.
“Tamlin, make sure the girl is watching. She’ll be next, after all.”
The man wrestled you into an upright position, his hand on your jaw forcing your head forward. You watched as Elain was dunked in the Cauldron, tears streaming down your face, and gasped when she emerged completely different.
And then you realized, they were turning you into High Fae.
You screamed as Tamlin pushed you forward, digging your heels into the ground to try and push back.
“You’re so tedious.” The cold voice again. You scanned the room, eyes settling on a crowned man with the darkest eyes you’d ever seen. “The struggle isn’t worth it, you might as well go with some dignity.”
Feyre screamed, and you grimaced, pushing back again. It was no use.
You began to sob as Tamlin dragged you closer to the cauldron, begging for him to stop. You could’ve sworn you saw Azriel twitch where he lay on the ground.
And then Tamlin was hoisting you up, ignoring your screams as he pitched you into the Cauldron. You closed your eyes, hoping whatever would happen would be done quickly.
Cold. The first thing you noticed, and then searing pain. You cried out, pushing yourself up from the bottom of the Cauldron only for someone’s hand to push you back down.
The cold liquid turned blazing hot around you, energy coursing through your body as you changed, limbs stretching and heart pounding and skin searing.
And then someone was pulling you up, hoisting you out of the water.
You felt dizzy, and everything was blurry. You could make out Nesta’s face, fire in her eyes and she screamed, but you couldn’t hear her. And there was Feyre, face dreadfully pale. And Azriel, who was trying to push himself up off the floor, face twisting with pain as his eyes met yours. The first thing you heard was his strangled cry as he tried to reach out for you.
Tamlin let go of you, and you stood on your own for a moment, swaying, before collapsing onto the floor. Nesta roared.
“Well, that took longer than expected,” the cruel man laughed. “The Cauldron took more time with you than your sister, huh?”
You couldn’t even bring yourself to scream, blinking in confusion as you looked down at your own hands, suddenly so unfamiliar. You felt so defeated, sitting there on the ground as Nesta was dragged kicking and screaming to her fate.
Silence. Nesta was in the Cauldron. You slumped forward in defeat, head reeling as the Inner Circle struggled to reach you and your sisters. The last thing you saw before losing consciousness again was Azriel’s panic-stricken face.
You woke up in an unfamiliar room, in perhaps the comfiest bed you’d ever been in. You moved to sit up, grimacing at the pounding in your head, and inhaled sharply as memories flooded you. You looked down at your hands, noticing the slight differences in the way they looked and in the way you were seeing them, and realized it hadn’t been a dream.
You blinked again, trying to adjust to the heightened details your senses were picking up, the textures of furniture and sounds of birds chirping outside your window. It was all very overwhelming.
As if on cue, the door opened and in stepped Azriel, looking a bit worse for wear. His eyes, underlined by dark circles, widened upon seeing you sitting upright, and he rushed over to the bed.
“Y/N,” he breathed, sitting down next to you carefully and cradling your face in his hands. You let yourself fall into him, allowed yourself to relax in his touch as he wrapped his arms around you.
“Hi,” you squeaked, nuzzling into his chest. He pulled back, brown eyes darting up and down as he inspected you.
“When did you wake up?” he asked softly.
“Just now,” you replied, twisting your head to stretch your neck. “How…how long was I asleep?”
“A couple of days,” he answered, a grimace on his face. You nodded, not quite knowing what to say.
“Where’s Feyre?” you asked finally.
“In the Spring Court,” Azriel answered, shoulders slumping slightly. “With Tamlin.”
You scoffed. “The asshole who dragged me into the Cauldron.”
“That’s the one,” he said with a half-hearted chuckle. You scowled.
“What’s she doing there?” you asked. “I thought she was, you know, with Rhys.”
“She is,” Azriel said, looking up at you. “Feyre is not only Rhysand’s mate, but the High Lady of the Night Court. She’s alive and well, and spying on Tamlin for us.”
Your eyes widened, nodding slowly. “That’s certainly a promotion,” you stated, trying to process what Azriel had just told you. “Good for her.”
Azriel laughed, an exhausted and relieved laugh, and pulled you in for another hug.
“Gods, Y/N,” he breathed into your hair. “I didn’t think I’d ever get to hold you again.”
You nodded, not trusting yourself to speak as you snaked your arms around his torso.
“What happened to me?” you asked, voice no more than a whisper.
“Ianthe…the priestess who works with Tamlin, she kidnapped you from your home.” Azriel’s voice was thick with emotion, and you bit your lip as he pulled you closer to him. “And then she brought you to Hybern, where we were ambushed trying to remove the Cauldron’s power.”
“That’s why you were unconscious?”
Azriel nodded and gulped. You realized he was crying. “And then they turned the three of you into High Fae, and Feyre distracted them so we could get you all out.”
You pulled back, heart breaking at the misty look in his eyes. “Where are we now?” you asked, glancing around the room.
“You’re in the House of Wind, in Velaris,” he answered, a small smile on his face. “The City of Starlight.”
Your eyes lit up. “The Night Court?” you asked, trying to contain your budding excitement. Azriel nodded. “Holy shit.”
He chuckled, shifting backwards slightly and looking down at where your hands rested on the comforter. He swallowed, then reached out and gently took them in his own. “I’m so sorry,” he said, his voice smaller than you’d ever heard it before. Your brows furrowed in confusion.
“What do you mean?” you said softly.
“I promised to protect you.” His voice was a whisper now. “I promised you I wouldn’t let any harm come to your family and I failed, I-”
“Absolutely not,” you interrupted. His eyes snapped up to meet yours, and you shook your head. “You did not fail. You were literally unconscious when Tamlin put me in the cauldron. They had to knock you out to get to us, and that still didn’t keep you away. Don’t you dare say you failed.”
“And we’re all here now, and we’re all alive.” You paused, frowned. “We are all alive, right? Nesta and Elain…”
“They’re fine,” he said quickly, hands squeezing yours. “Nesta…well she’s not doing well emotionally, but they’ve both been up for a few days.”
You nodded once, leaning forward and pressing your forehead against his. “Please don’t blame yourself. I don’t think I could stand it.”
“I’m still sorry,” he whispered.
“Don’t be,” you begged. “You got me out of there, while you were injured yourself. You’ve done more to keep me safe than anyone.”
He gave you a small smile. “Don’t forget Feyre,” he said. You grinned.
“I’ll consider you tied with Feyre.”
You pulled back slightly, glancing around at the room and taking in the lavish furniture, the rich purple color of the walls. “Rhys really has a lot of money, huh?” you said, looking back at Azriel. Azriel shook his head, smiling.
“He has more money than he knows what to do with,” he replied, eyes full of adoration as he gazed at you.
“Do you think I could…borrow some of it?” you suggested. “It’s not that I don’t love the decor, but if I’m going to be staying here for a while I think I’d like to buy a painting or something.”
“I’m sure that can be arranged,” he chuckled. “Maybe we could go into the city, and look at some art shops?”
“I’d enjoy that,” you said, nodding eagerly. “You could show me around, you know?”
Azriel grinned, ducking his head and looking down at his hands. “Do you remember when we met, and I told you I’d take you stargazing if you were ever here?”
You nodded. A beat.
“Would you like to do that, tonight?” he asked tentatively. “Just you and me?”
“Yes,” you replied quickly, a smile blossoming on your face. “Yes, please.” Something about the hopeful look Azriel was giving you, the way his eyes shone at you with adoration, left your heart stuttering in your chest.
“So, it isn’t always nighttime in…the Night Court?” you asked hesitantly. You were on top of the House of Wind with Azriel, the two of you lying down on a blanket he’d brought up with him. Azriel chuckled and shook his head.
“Rats,” you said. “Got that one wrong, I guess.”
“We do, however, have the most beautiful nights in all of Prythian,” Azriel pointed out. You grinned.
“Yea, Az, it’s gorgeous.”
Never in your whole life had the stars seemed so close. You reveled under them, picking out constellations as Azriel told you about Velaris. Every once in a while you glanced over at him and were rendered absolutely speechless, admiring the sharp angles of his face and the curve of his nose. He looked beautiful in the starlight.
“Can I tell you something?” he asked softly.
You nodded. “Anything.”
He bit his lip. “You have to promise not to get mad.” He paused, reconsidering. “I’m nervous that you will.”
Your brows furrowed and you shifted next to him, resting on your side so you could look at his face. “What is it?”
You watched him swallow, close his eyes as if whatever he was thinking about physically pained him. “You understand how the whole…mate thing works, right?”
“Kind of,” you replied slowly. “Like Feyre and Rhys?”
Azriel nodded. “Exactly like Feyre and Rhys.”
“Well what’s that got to do with-” You stopped, eyes widening in sudden realization. “Azriel,” you whispered, voice deadly quiet. “Are we…?”
You trailed off as he nodded, an uncomfortable look on his face.
He sighed. “I understand if you need time, or if you don’t want anything with me. I just want you to know I’m here for you-”
You climbed on top of him, effectively cutting him off as you buried your face in his neck and hugged him tightly. He inhaled sharply, clasped his arms around your midsection tightly, as if he never wanted to let go.
“Azriel it’s okay,” you said softly, “You’re fantastic, I could never be mad at you, especially for something like this.”
He let out a shaky breath, pulling you closer to him still. “Thank you.”
You closed your eyes, breathing him in, recalling all the times you’d felt an indescribable pull towards Azriel, all the times he’d been the only person who could calm you down or understand you.
“How did you know?” you mumbled against him.
“I think I’ve always known,” he said quietly, one hand rubbing your back. “There’s always been something so special about you, something that made me want to keep you safe. And then the minute you changed in the Cauldron…”
Azriel took a deep breath, and you remembered the desperate look on his face when Tamlin had pulled you out of the Cauldron, remembered the way he’d been so injured but still tried to reach you.
“Something just snapped,” he whispered. “And I think I had been unconscious, but suddenly you were coming out of the Cauldron and all I could think about was you and how scared you looked.”
“Azriel,” you murmured, pushing yourself up to look in his eyes. You felt your resolve crumble at the tears running down his face, and reached up gently to brush them away.
“How-” you started, brows furrowing as you searched for the right words. “How does one…agree to a situation like this. What am I supposed to do?”
Azriel’s voice was slow and unsteady as he answered. “If you were to accept the mating bond, the female typically makes something for the male to eat.”
“You sound like you’re reading from a textbook,” you teased, giggling when Azriel rolled his eyes. “So, what do you like to eat?”
Azriel’s eyes widened in surprise. “Y/N-”
“I know you had potatoes when you came over that one time-”
“Y/N, you don’t have to accept it,” he said hurriedly. “I don’t want you to feel pressured into anything, and I’m perfectly happy to wait.”
“I think I’m going to make us cookies,” you hummed, resting your nose against his. Azriel gasped softly, his eyes fluttering shut. “Would you eat them with me?”
“Yes,” Azriel strained. “Gods, yes.” He brought his hands up to hold your face, and your eyes shut as he kissed you reverently. And you stayed there for hours, holding each other under the starlight, whispering soft I love you’s between kisses, before heading down to the kitchens hand in hand.
Happy late Christmas, readers.
Please enjoy this commision I had made as a new cover art for my story Call Me Home, A Gwynriel Story. You can read it here on: ao3, wattpad, and ffn
The story is still unfolding and I post regularly on Mondays and Fridays.
Art by the lovely, the wonderful, the incredible @cosmikla on instagram. They are a wonder.
***Please do not crop or repost only reblog***