when acosf comes out can y’all just admit that how you feel about Nesta maybe isn’t the Objective Truth but maybe based in large part on your specific emotional reaction to her character? Like Nesta is such a provocative divisive figure and that’s great and it’s intentional but let us not analyze her under the guise of objectivity then.
Like I cannot deal with the Nesta is a saint or Nesta is an irredeemable abuser arguments. Both are wrong!!! The only thing Nesta definitely is is a phenomenally written character who creates conflict merely by existing on the page!!! Get hype about that instead okay
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Rhys: Hey Feyre who's the prettiest male you've ever seen?
Feyre: You, of course Rhys
Cassian: Nes what about you who's the prettiest male you've ever seen
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Gwyn threw Azriel a withering stare as she strode past him. "See you tomorrow, Shadowsinger," she tossed over a shoulder.
Az stared after her, brows high with amusement. When he turned back, Nesta grinned. "You have no idea what you just started," she said. Az angled his head, hazel eyes narrowing as Gwyn reached the archway.
"Remember how Gwyn was with the ribbon?" Nesta winked and clapped the shadow singer on the shoulder. "You're the new ribbon, Az."
A Court of Silver Flames
If this scene didn't make you ship Gwyn and Azriel just a tiny bit then I can't associate myself with you, sorry. “You're the new ribbon Az” got me completely. They don't even have to end up being mates, I just want them to be together.
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You know what I DON’T want in the next book?
No more training sessions, for the love of gods and all that is holy!
I don’t want Azriel to wax lyrical about lactic acid.
I don’t want him telling Elain not to put sugar on her oatmeal.
I don’t want paragraphs of peoples, male, females, priestesses, or anyone else doing crunches, push-ups, pull-ups and working with dumbbells.
I don’t want Fae Crossfit sessions.
And I sure as heck don’t need nobody cutting no damn ribbons any more.
I’ve been ribbon traumatized. (It’s an Elriel specific syndrome)
That’s all. This has been a post.
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I sometimes forget Feyre is the youngest sister in the bunch bc of the way Nesta directs her unresolved trauma and anger towards Feyre. Whenever it happens it seems as if Feyre abused her all this time as an older sibling who has all the power in the household.
Nesta’s abuse towards Feyre is so severe and so close minded that I have to continuously remind myself Feyre is the baby of the family, and yet the one that had to mature the earliest.
She always targets Feyre for reasons that are beyond me, but I think what struck the most was when Nesta would have rather Feyre die than Elain and said that right to her face…and yet Feyre still forgives.
Sjm pls just give me one scene that reads Nesta to filfth plsss - she needs to be read stat cause I can’t carry on to another book knowing she’s gonna get away w/ continually abusing her youngest sister
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something about a woman stealing powers that she has no right to... taking more power than she was due as vengeance... choosing the power as opposed to being born to it... it really is such an attractive concept.
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It’s 2021, we’re in a pandemic for almost a year now, it’s okay to enjoy a smut filled fantasy novel without overthinking it. That’s what nesta does.
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Not gonna lie, never heard this expression before quite so much as I’ve been hearing it in this fandom!
Heard everything else--enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, roommates to lovers, neighbours to lovers, co-workers to lovers...
But ‘romantically coded’ is a new one. So let’s explore, shall we?
You know what’s ‘romantically coded’ - will they or won’t they? who’ll make the move first? do you think he’ll tell her? Doesn’t she realise that he loves her?
The reader KNOWS that something is going on. It might not be overt, but it’s not a secret. As a writer, you will write interactions that are easily interpreted by the reader. There might be some unanswered questions, it might be a slow burn, but the reader is keyed in to what’s happening.
Here is a romantically coded scene:
“Azriel emerged from the sitting room, a glass of wine in hand and wings tucked back to reveal his fine, yet simple black jacket and pants. I felt, more than saw, my sister go still as he approached. Her throat bobbed.”
Elain say to Azriel, “Hello.” Az said nothing. No, he just moved toward her. Mor tensed beside me. But Azriel only took Elain’s heavy dish of potatoes from her hands, his voice soft as night as he said, “Sit. I’ll take care of it.” Elain’s hands remained in midair, as if the ghost of the dish remained between them.
So is this, even when it’s not between the two protagonists:
Azriel stiffened. “I know. I helped rescue Elain, after all.”
Az hadn’t so much as hesitated before going into the heart of Hybern’s war-camp.
Additionally, even romantically ‘coded’ scenes are observed by other characters in the book. That’s a way for the author to ‘confirm’ the reader’s suspicions, without being overt.
Examples: Feyre observing repeatedly the interactions between Elain and Azriel. From the very first time, when she is tending to Rhys’s wounds after he’s been shot by arrows, and her sisters aren’t even Made yet, she says that ‘Elain would cling to Azriel’.
When she sees them together, in the garden, the first thing she questions is the Cauldron and why they aren’t mates. (Remember who else questions the Cauldron? And why they aren’t mates? Yes, Azriel. Using almost the same wording as Feyre. But I digress).
Who else notices it? Nesta. Cassian (though is unable to put 2X2 together). Potentially Mor. Certainly Amren.
Finally, allow me to write a romantically coded scene:
Gwyn’s teal eyes flashed with alarm. “No! I mean, I don’t mind sharing the ring. I just...I know you like to be alone.” Her mouth quirked to the side, crinkling the freckles on her nose. “Is that why you came up here?”
Sort of. “I forgot something,” he reminded her.
“At two in the morning?”
He paused. The shadows danced and swirled between the two of them. Her teal eyes shone as she watched him, waiting.
He sighed. “Well, I meant to give it to you tomorrow...” his throat bobbed. If she didn’t know him better, she’d think that he was nervous. “But since we are here now,” he reached into the shadows and removed a long, narrow box. “Happy Solstice,” he said simply and handed her the box.
Her teal eyes flew open in awe and surprise. “For me?” she murmured, her sword forgotten.
“You’ve been practicing so much lately. And even when I am not here to assist, I thought that you could use it,” he explained, his midnight voice soft.
Inside the box, lay a simple, but finely made dagger. The hilt was carved ivory. The blade, sharp and honed to perfection, the steel gleaming in the moonlight.
“I, I,” she chocked, not knowing what to say. “I don’t have anything for you...I didn’t think,”
A smile touched the corners of his mouth. “It’s alright. I just wanted you to have something.”
“Happy Solstice,” she murmured, admiring the blade. “Thank you. It’s perfect.”
...Nesta’s gaze fell on the dagger. “New weapon, I see?”
Gwyn only nodded.
Not like her to be so quiet about a new dagger. Nesta waited for an explanation. At last, Gwyn bit her lip and then confessed, “It’s a gift’.
Nesta didn’t ask who it was from, but Gwyn’s quick glance to Azriel’s side of the ring was answer enough.
THIS would be a ‘romantically’ coded scene. It implies that he thought of her enough to get her a gift. It’s also something that she would enjoy and need, because he knows her well enough. He hints at their private lessons. He is a little nervous, but she is delighted.
Technically nothing happens. He just gives her a dagger. It’s not a romantic gift. But as a reader, you are able to read the signs, the body language and expressions. You are reading the ‘unsaid’. Lastly, another character is an observer and offers a silent confirmation to the reader’s thoughts.
Giving someone a personal gift intended for another woman through a third party is NOT romantic, not matter how much anyone tries to spin it.
When 98% of casual readers fail to see anything romantic between two characters and don’t understand the basis for a ship, then chances are, there isn’t anything romantic to indicate interest.
That’s all, folks! Take it as you like.
PS not everything needs to be romantic. We can just enjoy characters for what they are, without trying to fit them together, against their will.
Not every relationships must result in marriage and babies. Sometimes, friendship is more than enough.
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The Inner Circle as parents... yeah don’t touch me
These are my personal headcanons + ships so if you don’t agree that’s fine 👩💻🤓
Rhys and Feyre
weirdly enough I think they’d stop at two kids???
for some reason I can’t imagine them having like a huuuuge family
maybe 3 kids max
their second child is definitely a girl
and rhys becomes even more insufferable with his overprotective mother hen behaviour because guys... rhys had a sister once and—- imma need to stop 🥺
nyx as an older brother though??? that’s just pure gold
I can totally see him teasing his sister and being a prankster like his uncle cassian but deep down he’s feysand’s son... so he’s territorial af
if someone even looks at his sister the wrong way, they’d better run
imagine having the most powerful high lord and his son as your bodyguards... yeah, nobody stands a chance
feyre is just like “whatever, she’d rip their heads off before you two even get to say hello”
rhys and feyre are so proud of their little family
their daughter can definitely kick her brother’s ass by 20
and nyx wouldn’t have it any other way
Cassian + Nesta
cassian has girl dad energy
and I won’t accept any criticism on that
so their first born is obviously a girl and cassian is... well, he’s a goddamn mess
he’s never held anyone so tiny in his arms ever
“love, she’s not that tiny. you’re just... huge”
cassian falls in love with their daughter the second he learns nesta is pregnant
he rests his hand on her swollen stomach at every chance he gets
and when the baby starts kicking he loses it, so mesmerised by it
and if you think rhys’s overprotectiveness is over the line... well
cassian is so, so much worse
nesta wants to kill him everyday for it but deep down it turns her on ngl
pregnant sex. a lot of it.
I can totally picture them having three kids in total... all girls
cassian jokes that he has an army of valkyries at home
but just imagine how powerful their daughters would be. their dad is the most skilled general in history and their mom is death herself.
no one messes with them, that’s for sure
his girls couldn’t be more deadly yet all of them are pure rays of sunshine for him
Azriel + Gwyn
az is the last one of the three brothers to become a dad, but he doesn’t mind
babysitting his nieces and nephews is tiring enough
so when gwyn breaks the news to him... he cries
azriel bawls his eyes out for days
he couldn’t be happier
but, as expected, he becomes an insufferable overprotective prick just like his brothers
gwyn goes to nesta and feyre “how did you manage to not kill your mates during pregnancy? cause it’s been two days since I told him and I’m already plotting”
all jokes aside, it makes her heart tingle that someone cares that much for her
az talks to the baby a lot while they’re in the womb
a lot of belly kisses too
he can’t physically wait to be a dad
in the end they have three boys, and just when they thought that was all... gwyn gets pregnant again
and it’s a girl
az cries harder than he’s ever done because he’s having a little girl... a little mini gwyn
his heart can’t take it
all her older brothers are super protective of their daughter, even though she’s a valkyrie herself and could take anyone down with a single kick
Elain + Lucien
I can see them taking the longest to become parents because of the whole “I have to figure out the mating bond thing” stuff
but they do eventually sort things out and Elain gives them a chance
and boy... she should’ve done it sooner
lucien treats her like a true princess
and when she gets pregnant, she’s a bit shocked at first, but overall really happy
lucien is over the moon
they first have a little girl with fiery red hair and soft features like elain
she loves running around in the garden and having her dad chase after her
lucien would pick her up easily and blow raspberries on her little neck every time, making her scream with laughter
elain feels so full of love watching her mate and their daughter play together
lucien never knew he’d have this big of a soft spot for children, but he absolutely adores being a dad
give their children the love he never received
and they can’t stop
I feel like they’d have a lot of kids
like, definitely around 7
I just think both of them are totally thrilled to become parents and they just can’t help themselves
elain definitely teaches all of them how to cook and bake and lucien is big on the training side
I can imagine them living a very peaceful and fulfilling life in a house full of (kinda chaotic) children
Amren + Varian
I can totally picture them seeing all their family’s kids and being like... no thanks
I don’t think they’d want to become parents, at least not for a long time
they’re more than happy to be the cool(est) aunt and uncle and spoiling all their nieces and nephews
also teaching them everything their parents don’t want them to know
amren is definitely set to piss off cassian and nesta the most
but just because she loves them and “your girls need to know everything” “amren I’ll fucking end you” “try me bitch”
and they don’t even like children that much so... why bother
if they do end up having a family of their own though, I think it would be very down the line and they’d stop at one kid
nonetheless they’re so damn happy they don’t have to change diapers, clean vomit stains and chase flying Illyrian babies around
yeah... they made the right choice
Mor + Emerie
coolest aunts energy
although amren disagrees because she’s the coolest aunt, duh
they definitely want to adopt a baby together, but they’re waiting for the right time
in the meantime they’re more than happy to babysit their family’s little devils
but when the time comes, they adopt the littlest Illyrian boy they’ve ever seen
he’s so small and cute and smart and ugh, they’ve wanted their own little family for so long
they’d totally adopt more babies over the years
I think they’d stop at around baby 3 or 4, two boys and two girls
can you imagine how powerful those babies would be?? how deadly??
mor is so here for it
emerie is definitely the worrying 24/7 mom, but mor’s steady presence calms her nerves every time
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I know I’m gonna be with you, so I take my time...
Gwynriel // ...Ready For It? // aesthetic board
(reputation x acotar ships no. 2/6)
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Isn’t it weird how Gwyn’s singing, in a way, led Nesta to the Harp? Out of all the items of the Dread Trove, the Harp—casually, the only object associated with music (a literal instrument), who also happens to be the one tied to Merrill’s researches about other realms, other worlds—is the one that Nesta saw in the vision caused by Gwyn’s voice.
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Why is Elain’s book the next book?
Because SJM wants to write it. That’s it. That’s the reason.
She wants to write the Archeron Sister Trilogy. With each sister telling her own story and living through her own story.
She is not writing a Gwyneth Berdara story, before she writes an Elain Archeron story.
She is not skipping Feyre’s sister for the sake of a secondary character in Nesta’s story. It will not happen.
I am going to venture a guess that Nesta has never been SJM’s favourite character to write, to delve into. Hence, the results were....scattered. She got what she wanted to give Nesta--a sense of purpose, alternative family, Cassian, a healing arc. Nevertheless, I don’t see SJM needed to write another Nesta-centric story, because of course Gwyn is associated with Nesta, and at this point, I feel that they will both remain present, but on the periphery.
Elain, is different though. It’s the same Elain that SJM claimed would be her best friend. Elain, it seems, is someone SJM actually likes and WANTS to write.
The same Elain whose story has been in development for years. At least 3-4 years by now, and will be 5, by the time the book rolls around. SJM is not giving up 5 years of planning, drafting, writing, just to switch it, for no reason what so ever.
Elain, who is the only one who still retains her Cauldron powers. Elain, who is a Seer. Elain, who can locate the 4th Trove. Elain, who is connected with numerous Courts--Night Court, potentially Hewn City, Spring Court, Day Court, and even the Human Lands. Elain, who is a mate to a High Lord’s son (technically, TWO High Lords), and who is the object of love and affection to one of the central characters in all the books. That character, just like Elain, is loved by the writer herself. And despite what anyone says, the bottom line is, those two characters are getting each other. Because SJM wants them to be with one another.
Both of those characters have been intertwined throughout the narrative in various ways, and furthermore, both are still very unknown, to this day. It’s obviously done on purpose. The revelations would occur side by side. As we learn more about Azriel, or Elain, we’ll understand how they are amalgamated within the tale, and how their powers and their backstories, as well as their journeys, connect further. Because they do. Again, arguments aside, both Azriel and Elain are two sides of the same coin--light and dark, death and life, both veiled in shadows right now.
Btw, as a side note, SJM never brings up male-to-female oral sex without that couple being endgame. Sorry, that’s just how it is. Feysand, Nessian, Elriel--they all follow the same sexual pattern. If he doesn’t want to eat you out, he is just not into you. SJM always places great emphasis on female pleasure and males being wild and hungry for that specific act. If a male is not wild and hungry for that specific act, then it’s a problem.
Now, people LOVE to bring up Chaol. Well, look, Chaol got his own book!
Sure. But Chaol was there from the very first TOG book, even before Rowan or anyone else. Hence, Chaol, in some ways is akin to Lucien, or even Tamlin. Hence, following this pattern, Lucien will get a book first, before we move on to secondary characters. What’s more, Chaol had a specific task assigned to him, as well as his injury to cure. Chaol already had a built-in story.
Elain, of course, has a built-in story, as well as Azriel. We already know that Koschei has an unhealthy amount of interest in our beloved shadowsinger. Elain is brimming with undiscovered, unrealized powers. We already know that Rhys is primed and ready to use Elain and her power for whatever he needs. We know that she is willing and ready to delve into them, and use them for however he needs her to.
Rhysand is not sending Gwyneth on a mission. Not when she can’t even leave the Library. Not when she doesn’t report to him in any manner. Azriel is not taking Gwyneth on a mission either. These books are still Rhysand’s books--the last book will still be Night Court-centric, dealing with his last brother and his last sister-in-law, and the last (for the moment) bad guy, Koschei, and the last (for the moment) war potential.
Now, what to do if you love Gwyn Berdara?
I suspect that she will play a role in future books. Because, SJM knows that this world is a money-maker for her, and I think that she enjoys writing it. She also sees Gwyn’s popularity. I would vouch that she is setting up a new generation of characters for future books.
The Valkyrie will have to be realized and they have great potential. But, let’s face it, they are not ready. By the time the next book rolls around, Nesta is not charging forth, leading an army. Neither is Gwyn. But, they will.
Also, since potentially, Gwyn MAY BE related to either Tamlin and/or Lucien, she will probably solidify her role in Lucien’s book.
Nyx is too young to be of consequence right now, so SJM can’t build any stories around him. Therefore, for future books, she needs a new new crop of characters, which are new, but not too new. Maybe more priestesses? Balthazar? Other characters that will certainly be introduced. They will have further stories to tell, but not before Elain is the main character. Just like Chaol, or Lucien, within the next two book, Gwyn will a built-in story as well.
This is not a pro- or against- anyone post. It’s about narrative logic.
This very long post is in response to the same question that I get frequently--why is Elain’s book next? Why isn’t Gwyn’s book next? And other versions of the same inquiry. So this is the answer, as I interpret everything we know so far.
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I dont think Nesta got enough recognition for what she went through in the Blood Rite. Yes, Feyre was dying and therefore Rhys would too, and that 100% needed to be dealt with first.
BUT, although everyone was grateful for what she did to save Rhys, Feyre and Nyx, I feel that it was almost overlooked that she’d got through that Blood Rite and managed to kill Briallyn too. She fought with everything she had left and I feel it was completely overlooked by Rhys and Feyre being saved.
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wishing feyre archeron a very happy first mother’s day, u deserve it bestie
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😂I'm so positively obsessed with Elriel! I read Az's bonus chapter to my friend to gauge his reaction from a male perspective and then I was discussing how many people were disturbed with it... Despite the fact that they knowingly bought smut and that Az's scene with Elain was rather innocent😂😂
He had thee best response!😂
"What?! It's like investing in Hentai and then being mad it's Manga!? "
Saying I cackled like a hag is the understatement of the century! 😂
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I'm thinking about the Azriel chapter and I'm not gonna lie it's disappointing, this is a character I adore and thought better of and it's not what I imaged him to be. I can't condone his behaviour, but it's also only a tiny snippet of his thoughts and not the whole of who he is. And I have to trust that we're getting this small specific perspective of him for a reason? And I think some of the words Sarah uses are interesting. Like it's interesting how Azriel thinks about how the cauldron chose three sisters, two of them for his brothers but not one for him. And that's where the issue arises with Elain because the entitlement and the idea that he deserves Elain purely because of that is gross. But the idea he has stems from something much deeper. Which is that he wants what they have, he wants the mate, the connection. Rhys and Cassian get to be with their loves. Feyre and Nesta choose them. But the person Az loves (Mor) doesn't choose him and I think he knows will never choose him so he channels that energy towards Elain in an unhealthy way. And I think this behaviour points to Azriels jealousy, yes but moreso his insecurities and fear.
Fear of being left behind, of being left out, of no one ever loving him.
He has deep seated insecuritues that affect his self worth and what he thinks he deserves. The whole chapter really emphasises his own self loathing, especially in the way he thinks of his own scars/his hands as being dirty.
And his thoughts towards Lucien in particular are another interesting choice because they scream insecurity. I think Az see's how decent Lucien is, how good a male he is, as well as the mating bond, something he wishes he had to match his brothers, and he's threatened by it. He puts on this brave face like he's not scared of anything but when you remember that Az spent his formative years being abused, being told he was nothing and no one, and the one thing he had was his power. His thoughts towards Lucien kinda make sense, in that him lording his power over Lucien is the one thing he can grab hold of and say this is something I'm good at, because he doesn't think he has anything else of worth.
But instead of dealing with all these feelings, he focuses on the instant gratification of his desires for Elain as an avoidance technique of sorts, to avoid actually dealing with and processeing his emotions, his jealousy, his fear, his feelings for Mor, how he views his own self worth, his feelings of inadequacy, his childhood abuse, and how they all influence his ideas of love, relationships, intimacy ect. Things which deep down he longs for but doesn't think he deserves? So as much as I don't like his thoughts in this chapter, it's hopefully a starting point to propell his growth forward and finally deal with his feelings and break free of his toxic thinking and unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Like I think that the way he thinks about Elain is inappropriate and I'm not trying to justify it at all because I can't, I'm just trying to consider Sarah's reasonings for his behaviour?? and that he's thinking about Elain at all, and his happy thoughts towards Gwen at the end of the chapter could indicate him starting to accept that Mor is out of the picture and be a first step forward idk.
This Azriel chapter really only makes any sense if Sarah is going to expand upon Az's story in more detail and give Azriel his own journey in one of the next books. Like this only makes sense as a starting off point for his character to grow. Otherwise the chapter is pointless and leaves Az at a low point which didn't make him look great. But I know he's more then what this snippet gave us.
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the elriel/gwynriel beef is so funny to me because it’s like one side is going to be so wrong when the next book comes out and the fandom will be in complete chaos and I for one cannot wait to watch the mess unfold
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Not me realizing that when Gwyn said "See you later, shadowsinger" it was in direct reference to Azriel's "I AM a shadowsinger" from the Solciste night/bonus chapter. And she is using this in a sassy, mocking way to tell him off after he challenged her. She doesn't give a single fuck, she's completely undeterred by him and I am deeply in love with her. 😂
Like "sure you're a shadowsinger and I'm about to prove your shadowsinging ass wrong." Queen energy 👑
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Elriel/Gwynriel/Elucien Theory Time :)
Ok so in regards to the Az POV chapter, I have some thoughts. This is super long and detailed and also tearing down ships, so uh, beware.
⚠️ACOSF spoilers (duh)⚠️
So I was re-reading the thing and as I was reading the conversation between Az and Rhys, it kind of hit me. I used to be an Elriel shipper until ACOSF, and I was really all for it.
But I don't think they're in love.
See, earlier in the chapter, Az is thinking about how jealous he is of the other couples. We know he isn't very lucky in love, and seeing Elain and her mate and their mating bond upsets him. I think he fancies Elain because she's beautiful and sweet, but I don't think he's in love with her. I think she's another thing he can't have, and he feels frustrated and it only makes him want her more. Because he thinks, why shouldn't he have her? Why is the Mother so cruel as to deny him love? And he thinks, "well all my other brothers have Archeron mates, why don't I? It must be a mistake!"
I think what Azriel's biggest issue is though, is that he wants love so bad, he's willing to risk it all for the first girl he feels attraction too. It also feels relevant that the primary thing we see in his POV is his physical attraction to her, his sexual attraction. We don't see much of how he thinks she's so sweet or so clever or so gentle, but instead how nice her tits are and how badly he wants to kiss and fuck her. I think he doesn't particularly want Elain, and while he likes her, I think what he really wants is love. True love, just like his brothers and friends. He thinks the Mother must be wrong because they both got Archeron sisters while he didn't, and his attraction to Elain makes him wish they were Mates so he could finally have that true love that's entirely his own.
But she's not. And he can't. I think what Azriel wants most isn't Elain. He wants her sexually, and he admires her and has a crush on her, but the thing he focuses on and gives him the most emotion is that she has a Mate and he doesn't, and that everyone does but him. I think he wants someone like Elain and wants to feel happy, but I think he doesn't exactly want Elain. When he thinks of her, he doesn't seem to be truly in love as we've seen other SJM couples are. And sure, it's early, but it's also been like— 2 years. I don't think they're in love sadly, I think Azriel just wants to move on from Mor and finally find love. He has a type, and when he found someone who loosely fit into the mold of his ideal partner, he jumped at it because he's desperate to have someone love him. All his life, he's struggled with self-love and love from others, and I think that it's deeply affected his relationship with love itself.
Physical attraction and desire and interest isn't love. And the idea of her being mated already only makes him mad— that of course the first girl he likes for the first time in 500 years, of course the girl that could help him move on from Mor, is mated. I think that only makes him feel more passionate towards her; and Rhys notes how he seems to think he has a claim to her, when he doesn't. It makes Az angry, not because Rhysand thinks he's being possessive and reckless, but because it's true. He genuinely can't have her.
As for Elain, I think she's far too hesitant to be with him. She reminds me of Daisy in The Great Gatsby, and how she claims to love Jay but she won't leave Tom, or jilt him. Now this is a different situation, because Daisy was selfish and didn't want to give up her comforts and stability and fame. Elain, on the other hand, doesn't seem ready to have a serious relationship with Az. I think she is still severely affected by Graysen's rejection, and is still clearly not over him. I don't think she's ready to accept Az fully and be with him, and I also don't think she's ready to reject her mating bond with Lucien.
I don't know 100% what's going on with Elain, but what I do know is that clearly she is intrigued by Lucien in some capacity. Ok Elriel shippers, don't come for me, but there are several scenes in which Elain seems to want to talk to Lucien, or whatever the heck. But also seems disinterested, like when she dismisses his Solstice gifts and doesn't speak to him.
However, I don't think she's resentful towards him exactly, or at least that isn't the main reason she's like this. While we know he was helping Tamlin lowkey, Feyre and the IC all understood he was on their side, and was their friend. So it seems kind of odd to still bear a grudge against him, but who knows.
But funnily enough, she has yet to reject their mating bond. If she's so disinterested, or hates him so much, why hasn't she turned him down? Mother, she's barely spoken to him at all. I think the obvious reason behind her disdain or distancing from Lucien is her connection to Graysen and her human life. Of all the sisters, Elain has not yet adapted to or accepted that she is Fae— or if she has, she's sure as hell not happy about it. Even Nesta in ACOSF mentioned how she actually likes her ears now, and we know Feyre has totally accepted being Fae. But with Elain, she had the most human connected life of them all, and to have it taken away from her is shitty.
For Elain, her happiness seems to come from a love of gardening, of family, of people. She has very little human things to hold onto, and adding a Mating bond to the mix right as she's made Fae is like she's had all her humanity stripped. She doesn't hate Lucien, she hates the bond. She dislikes that it's chained her to someone and taken away her choices, which we know is a big deal for the sisters after being imprisoned, kidnapped, and Made. I think Elriel is an infatuation, because even though she doesn't love Az, he's helping her rebound from Graysen (and giving her control and power over her love life). He's a choice she (can't really) make, but a choice nonetheless. With Lucien, she feels she has no choice with him, and no control over her obvious attraction I say obvious because mates have a primal attraction of some level to each other , and is probably afraid that accepting the Mating bond will remove any last connections she has to who she used to be, and the human she feels she really is.
But she also hasn't rejected it, because I think she realizes that Lucien is a genuine and kind and hot guy, and that rejecting him would be a stupid idea. He's been very patient and very kind and accepting, and has always given her the freedom of choice when it comes to the bond. I think Lucien is the kind of guy that would be very easy to fall in love with, and I think Elain sees that and knows it.
Also, I think with ACOSF, it feels relevant that Cassian pointed out specifically how Elain looked beautiful in black at the ball, but it looked horribly wrong on her. With SJM the devil is always in the details, and I think it was a clearly accentuated bit of symbolism. Although Elain looks beautiful, the black dress wasn't for her. And although Elriel is very sweet, it won't work out. She won't thrive in the Night Court, or with Azriel. Az doesn't challenge her or meet her as an equal (like all other SJM ships), and they don't push each other to be better or to accept themselves or whatever etc etc.
And I really used to like Elriel, but I think that surprisingly, Elain will be the one who says "stop, I can't do this" to Az. I think she knows she isn't ready, and I think she knows they aren't meant to be. Even if a Mating bond was put in place between her and Lucien, I still think their relationship wouldn't work because they're both too insecure, too closed off, too non-communicative, and too stagnant together to be a healthy or good match. I think with Elain they would struggle to understand each other even if they were fond of each other and can relate on some level, but at its rawest form I think they won't truly be able to be themselves with each other.
With Elain, Azriel's shadows— a key part of him— disappear. While I initially thought, awww that's so cute, she's a light in his life, I soon realized I was wrong. Az's shadows are not just a part of him, they're an extension of him, of his will and subconscious and emotions. So Elain chasing them away, while chasing away the shadows and darkness seems cute, isn't a good thing. Most of the time with shadows, we think "ew bad!" Because they have an inherent connotation of negativity or sorrow or depression or darkness etc etc. And while this is partially true, Azriel's shadows and darkness are a part of him. His sadness and struggles are a part of him. And his shadows aren't just representative of that, they're also a representation of how he overcame his abuse and turned that fire (pun unintended) and anger and trauma into something beautiful and powerful and a weapon. I think they can serve as an armor and a shield, and while that's not good, I also don't think they should fully disappear.
More on that: with Azriel's shadows, we know they're a part of him, right? So I think an important part of self is self-regulation. Rather than be consumed entirely by shadow, or totally exposed to the light, I think he just needs his shadows to be calm and present, but not controlling or hiding. I think the whole "Elain bringing him out of the shadows" bit sounds cute at first, but then you have to think of it like this. In order to be with Elain, he would have to change. He couldn't be a spy or a shadowsinger or a torturer, and he couldn't be dark and introverted. With her, he has to push that aside. Those are key parts of him, key parts that would have a big impact on their relationship. Elain can't be with someone with so much blood on their hands or a history of violence or darkness. We know that, because we know that sort of thing upsets her and she doesn't like it.
Azriel can't just be himself with her, he has to become someone else. And while he's attracted enough to not care, after awhile, that grows exhausting. Being in love and not being your true self, all of it, is exhausting. And while some might argue "why can't he be his true self?!" well my slime, I think we both know that even if we wanted him to, Elain would be silently resigned about it. I don't think— no, I know— Elain can't be with someone like Azriel. Even if they have feelings, even if they have lust or affection, it isn't love. They aren't in love, and they won't work out no matter how much we want it to.
Onto Elain: with Elain, this all ties back to what Cassian said in Hewn City. She looks beautiful in black, but it's wholly wrong for her. The Night Court is wrong for her, and darkness is wrong for her. While some yin-yang relationship tropes can work very well, I don't think this will. She doesn't like the darkness or accept it, and she doesn't want to be a part of it. I think the Night Court is good and happy for her when she makes her own little garden world, and only then, really. It's like living in the middle of the desert and only thinking of the beach: it's not the right place for her.
I think the Spring Court needs her, and I think she needs it. Here's more on that.
So we've seen the set up and execution of the fall of the Spring Court. We know that it's in shambles and is weak and needs a new/better leader than Tampon. I feel like SJM is setting things up for a new book focused in the Spring Court, because in a lot of ways, it's becoming the centerpiece for action in Prythian (aside from the Night Court). I genuinely believe that as Tamlin's second, Lucien will take over the Spring Court as High Lord. He doesn't fit in with Autumn, didn't fit in with Night, and wasn't really a part of Spring. But with Spring, it was where he was happy, where he felt safe, and the home he chose. Chosen homes and chosen families are a big deal for SJM, and I think that Lucien will return to the Spring Court to try and help it, because Mother knows it needs it. I think Elain belongs there, not only because she needs to be in an environment suited to her, but because she needs to heal.
We've seen a theme of helping others heal in order to heal ourselves, and I think a good book idea (and what I think an Elain book would be about), is healing the Spring Court and helping it. Elain is a gardener. She wants to see things grow and blossom, wants to get her hands dirty and dig in! But she can't do that in the NC. I think she needs something new and fresh and blossoming that she can help and tend to, and I think the person that can be at her side for that is Lucien. I think with Azriel, she can't see growth and life and flowers. He's a different kind of person, far too different, and the two wouldn't mesh well. Elain isn't like Persephone and Azriel isn't like Hades; although she's flowers and he's death and they're attracted to each other, they don't fully accept those roles and cross into each other's. Elain could never be a killer or someone who wears black or thrives in a darker place, and Azriel couldn't be someone who is in the full heat of the light and wear bright colors and be cheerful and flowery. In a dream world, yes, but I think in this one, no. SJM loves to create realistic relationships and realistic relationship conflict, and I think we'll see this here. Even though they want it to work, and in theory it should, it won't. I think they know it too. Azriel's shadows vanish when she's around, and Elain struggles to feel comfortable in the darkness and Night Court, and fit in with the others in the black dress that is wholly un-Elain.
I also think that this relationship doesn't bring development to the table. The forbidden love concept is adorable and a trope I love, but this love isn't one that will push them to grow. Azriel can feel loved and happy, but can he feel fully accepted? Can he stop being ashamed of his shadows, of his violence? Of who he is? Can Elain break out of her shelf and be more assertive, and truly grow and change? Can she be herself and be happy? The answer is a sad no. Their relationship is sweet and cute, but it won't truly work. I genuinely believe Lucien is a better match for Elain, and while the Cauldron isn't always right (like Rhysand's parents), it usually is. If he isn't, then I'm all for independent Elain.
Now onto the moment you've all been waiting for: who should Az be with?
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Since the old dresser was destroyed…
I hope Feyre will paint a new dresser, but one that’s for her child(ren). Or even paint something new like Nyx’s crib and the cribs of any other children she decides to have in the future.
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