#acotar fic
arrantsnowdrop · 19 hours ago
Starlight - Azriel x Reader (fluff)
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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??”
Tags: @milllionthingsihaventdone
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.”
A pause.
“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…
“Y/N, I-”
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.
“Very cool.”
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.
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propagandaprincess · a day ago
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Happy Monday friends, jebus this chapter took forever lol you will soon see why. This chapter we dive into the unspoken backstory of Gwyn and Catrin’s mother and what happened to her. 
Tagging these lovelies: 
@meher-sumedha @trashforazriel @vikingmagic33 @buttoncup @hlizr50 @sydney-fae25
Here is your sneak preview: 
Gwyn POV: 
“Merry Ostara, sister.” Their voice chimed.Gwyn recognized them as the nymph who had invited her here in the first place. 
“Ostara?” She asked quizzically. Their returning smile she assumed was supposed to be comforting, but the view of their sharp teeth had the opposite effect. 
“Yes, a time of rebirth, of growth and balance. We celebrate the coming of spring on this night as well as the celebration in a week's time.” They ended their melodic explanation with a wink. “Except tonight is just for us waterfolk.” 
Their attention turned to Lucien. “I see you brought your mother’s stud.” 
Lucien choked back his startlement the best he could. “I suppose that's one way to put it.”  
“He accompanied me to make sure I found safe passage through the forest.” Gwyn quickly explained. She hoped she had not offended them by bringing him along. 
“I understand.” They answered her, but their eyes stayed on Lucien. “Are you searching for answers too?” 
“Yes.” Lucien said carefully. “Although, I would understand if you do not wish to tell me. I haven’t been a very good father.” His last sentence was barely above a whisper. Gwyn wanted to hug him as she saw the regret and pain on his face as he hung his head. 
“We hold no anger toward you, son of fire and light. Your lack of involvement in their lives was by design.” 
Lucien and Gwyn’s attention snapped back to them. But Gwyn was the first to speak. “What do you mean?” 
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noirshadow · a day ago
In the Spirit 🍷🥃🍺
The Inner Circle had a great holiday season this year. Christmas was a rousing full week affair with dinners and drinks every night. It culminated in an epic New Year’s Eve bash at The House of Wind that led them to where they were now. Hungover and half-dead.
“Guys. Maybe we should take a break from drinking this month. You know - like Dry January?” Feyre suggested.
A/N: This is a little fluffy random piece I wrote where the Inner Court confronts their biggest enemy to date - Dry January. This is dedicated to ACOTAR queen @duskandstarlight for encouraging me on my first ACOTAR piece and for being my sounding board. ♥️ I hope you enjoy!
“Ugh. I am so hungover, I swear I am never drinking again.” lamented Mor.
She was laying on the sofa at the House of Wind, her legs propped up and one arm covering her eyes. Although she claimed to feel awful, she still looked ridiculously gorgeous - blond tresses flowing over the arm of the sofa and an au naturel look.
Cassian was slumped at her feet - the Illyrian propping up his head with his elbow resting on Mor’s knees.
Rhysand and Feyre, the High Lord and Lady of the Night Court, were not looking the part. They were laying in L-shapes on the floor in front of the fireplace, keeping Nyx corralled and struggling to keep him entertained in that small space. Feyre soothed him, praying he would just sleep…and praying that her stomach contents would stay down. Her head was throbbing and she just wanted to go back to sleep - even though they had barely woken up an hour ago.
Why did they drink so much last night?? They were parents now - they should try to act the part. These thoughts, she absentminded floated down the bond to her mate, who normally would always have a snappy retort, but currently was looking too green for any words at this point. He merely looked at her, face grimacing. She rested a hand on his thigh, to help settle him, hold him steady.
Even Azriel, ever stoic spymaster who never sat - only slinking in corners between shadows - was leaning against the wall in his usual corner by the door. He glanced up, one eye half open in a squint, as Elain and Nesta emerged from the kitchen, hovering at the arched entrance to the living room.
Focusing in on her sisters, Feyre suddenly remembered how the three of them had danced in a circle into the night until they collapsed - each with their own bottle of champagne. No wonder she felt like death.
“Come on - you guys. Get up. Breakfast is ready.” Elain’s voice rang out in the stark silence. Amidst feeling awful, Feyre still couldn’t help but admire how her beloved sister had really come into her own with the group. Found a place - a family. It was not long ago that Elain was a shell of herself and Feyre was still thankful everyday.
“Thank the Cauldron.” Rhys hummed. He popped up off the floor reaching down a hand to help Feyre up, before picking up Nyx. Feyre leaned against her strong husband, steadying herself from getting up too quickly.
Nesta walked over and reached an arm to her mate and peeled him off the couch. “Come on, you overgrown bat. Let’s get some food in you.”
Rhys plopped a happy Nyx into the playpen in the corner of the dining area. Feyre silently thanked the Cauldron that her son was such a good baby, able to entertain himself for hours with a few soft toys. She hoped this good behavior would keep up through the day so that she may be able to sneak in a nap after breakfast.
As they sat down to a heaving table of brunch goodies, Feyre looked around at her family pouring coffee and loading up their plates. She couldn’t help but feel a sense of contentment despite the raging headache. Now that the dangers were gone, they truly could live and enjoy each other’s company. And that they did.
The Inner Circle had a great holiday season this year. Christmas was a rousing full week affair with dinners and drinks every night. It culminated in an epic New Year’s Eve bash at The House of Wind that led them to where they were now. Hungover and half-dead.
“I am living for this food. Thank you so much for cooking, Elain.” crooned Mor gratefully as she spooned some more shiny buttery eggs onto her plate from the heaping pile.
“Hey. I helped too. I was helping to…supervise.” retorted Nesta.
“Sure, sweetheart. If you were in charge, I’m surprised the kitchen is still standing in one piece.” smirked her mate.
Nesta turned and punched him in the arm. “I will take away your toast if you don’t behave.”
Cassian paled in mock embarrassment, flashing his doe-y hazel eyes. Feyre smiled at them. Her other sister has also had a recent transformation and the new, completely open joy she felt was now written all over her face.
They all ate in silence awhile, savoring the filling and restorative food on their wrecked bodies. Occasionally, there was a tinker of china as plates were refilled or mugs of coffee topped up. Feyre normally couldn’t eat much on a hangover but she had a bit of toast and simply slow-sipped a giant mug of milky coffee. She could feel the salty buttery carbs and the creamy hot liquid start to work as her pounding headache reduced to a dull thudding.
As the meal wound down, they all leaned back with a collective sigh of relief, the food and drink rejuvinating them to semi-normalcy. Feyre sat back, turning directly toward the large window. She closed her eyes to bask in the bright sun as if the rays could heal her. She felt Rhys’s hand land on her thigh, where it frequently rested. Between his touch and the warmth, she had a sense of calm and her symptoms seems to be muted - like the volume of a radio slowly dialed down. A random though flit through her mind and suddenly snapped her eyes open, turning to her friends.
“Guys. Maybe we should take a break from drinking this month. You know - like Dry January?” Feyre suggested. She didn’t know why she suggested it, but it just came to her. She felt the bond tighten - growing taut as her mate contemplated this.
She looked around at everyone else, seeing who might speak first. Rhys broke the silence. “Feyre darling. Why on earth would we do that. That’s some silly human thing.”
Darling, you’re going to have a revolt on your hands.
Ignoring the bond, she continued pressing her case out loud. “Why not? We are always drinking and Cauldron knows we all overindulged this particular holiday season. It’s not like I’m saying to stop drinking forever - it’s just one tiny month. Just 30 days.”
“I may regret this later, but this could be a good idea. Guys, is it normal for your eyes to pulse? Has the sun always been this bright?” Mor lamented, hand raised to block the light shining into her face.
“Hmm..I could be up for it…if we made it a bit interesting?” Cassian had a wicked glint in his eye.
Nesta rolled her eyes. “Oh no. You immature bat. I know what you’re thinking.”
The others looked over at him quizzically. Waiting for the next bit. Of course Cas would turn it into a contest, thought Feyre.
“Well…what if we did a little competition? Last man standing at the end of the month gets a prize.”
Amren snorted. “Of course, you want to make it a game.”
“Well, why not. If we can’t drink, we can at least make it fun. Or are you scared you won’t make it?” Cassian taunted.
“Child, please. I’ve been drinking since before you dogs were alive.” Amren scoffed.
“How about the winner gets the Townhouse for a month?” Az suggested, a glint in his eye already suggesting the cogs were turning on how to get an edge.
“That doesn’t do me very much good if I win.” The owner of the house retorted wrily.
“You won’t win…but if you do, between us, we will watch Nyx anytime you want for a month.” Az replied, completely serious now but for the twinkle in his eye.
“That’s awfully confident for a man who I recall went through half of my slow-aged bourbon last night. We’ll see. I guess it’s settled then.” Rhys concluded. He was looking at Feyre, face with a sly grin, bond slack in surprise as the group took this ill-fated idea rather well.
Feyre hoped that this wasn’t a mistake. The suggestion was meant to be a healthy option - a little break to recover - but she sometimes forgot just how competitive the Inner Circle could be. The group sat there in a comfortable silence, no doubt weighing the weight of this wager. It was going to probably be harder than it looked despite their current feeling.
Nyx began to fuss and Feyre got up to go to him. As he cried, she blanched at the thought that there would be no bourbon hot toddys for her and her mate when the little one kept them up in the evenings.
“AMREN! What are you doing?!” Mor screamed, startling Feyre and everyone, really.
In the contemplative quiet, the diminutive figure had sauntered over to the credenza and was pouring herself a large whiskey.
“What?” she shrugged innocently.
“We literally just agreed to do Dry January…and you’re drinking after 2 minutes?” Nesta growled exasperatedly.
“Oh that. I’m fifteen thousand years old, girl. I don’t have time for these trivial things. I do what I want. You all can suffer through it.” Amren said airly, taking a sip.
“Ahh…hair of the dog and all that. Well, good luck, kids. I am really going to enjoy watching you suffer this month.” Amren smacked her lips, grinning evilly as she drained her glass as the rest of the Circle looked on in pure shock.
Cassian and Mor hadn’t seen each other in a couple weeks now. This was the longest they had ever gone besides during the Hybern War. But they had both thought it best for trying to win this thing - or even just to last a bit longer than expectation at this silly game.
“It’ll be fine. I’ll see you at the end of the month. We can celebrate and open that expensive wine Rhys has been saving.” Mor promised with a little wink.
Azriel smirked in the background as Cassian replied. “Shut up, Az. This will be hard for you too, you know. And fine, you’re completely right. Though, Nesta will be pissed having to deal with me without you there for support.”
“She’ll understand. We can’t have Rhys lording it over us when we lose. Actually, how do we break him?” Mor gave a conniving grin.
“Hm..that will take a bit of thought…but maybe we should focus on getting through it ourselves first.” Building up resolve, Cas pursed his lips into a tight line.
After Mor and Az winnowed away that day, he hadn’t seen or heard from his best friends since.  Originally, Cassian had wanted to start deliberating on how to beat the Night Court Lord but as the days went on, it was quickly becoming apparently that he would have trouble trying to deal with keeping his own record intact.
Thankfully, there was plenty to do to distract himself. Or try to at least. When he wasn’t training the new Illyrian recruits or the Valkyries, he was keeping busy with his mate. In more ways than one.
“Nes, sweetheart. Stay with me. You don’t need to see your friends today, do you? Am I not fun enough for you?” Cassian purred, stroking his hand down Nesta’s bare spine, eliciting an involuntary shiver from her.
“Stop it, Cas. You know I said I would go meet Gwyn and Emerie. Clotho needs some help with sorting through some new research. Plus, I haven’t seen the girls since the training session last week and you know we can hardly chat during that.” Nesta flung back the sheets, pulling herself out of bed to get dressed.
Cassian studied the exquisite frame of his mate. Even after countless times of this same view, seeing her still woke a tameless sleeping monster within him. His feelings for her were insatiable. Not just the raw animalistic side of the mating bond. But a love that was such a hot and raging fire, it couldn’t be quenched.
However this month, the lust side was definitely taking over. It was almost like the early days of when the bond had first snapped into place - a feeling so carnal, so ferocious, it was incontrollable. It was probably attributed to the lack of other social activity, and it must have affected Nesta as well, but they had certainly spent an increased amount of time in bed to make up for the lack of alternative entertainment that alcohol provided.
He wasn’t complaining and the time with his mate definitely more than made up for it. When he was with her, it was all fine, but after several weeks, any time he was alone with his thoughts; his thoughts immediately drifted and he found himself thinking more frequently about the smoky amber nectar burning pleasantly down his throat.
Showered and dressed, Nesta came back over to the naked Illyrian still lying, half-propped up in the bed, staring at the ceiling.
“You are going to leave the bed today, aren’t you?” Nesta inquired, slight grin tugging at the corner of her mouth, threatening to break into one of her rare but breathtaking smiles.
“Why don’t you stay here with me, sweetheart? I can make it worth your while.” He said, grabbing her wrist and pulling her back down onto the bed and into a deep kiss.
Nesta pulled away. “Stop it. You’ll mess up my hair. Go check in on the new recruits. Hang out with Az. Find something to do.” She leaned down to the mock hurt face of her mate and gave a quick peck on the lips before exiting the room.
Checking on the recruits was a terrible idea. He didn’t know if it was the icy weather making them lazy, but this latest cohort was sluggish at best. After barking a few orders at them to no avail, he was in a fouler mood than ever. He checked the bond that had been silent since Nesta left. It was still quiet. Whenever she was in the Library, it always was. Her friends and all those books completely captivating her attention.
He had gone home to shower after the training session. Still partially wet, he was sprawled in the chair at Nesta’s vanity in his towel stewing in indecision. He was grumpy and he was bored.
Fuck it. I’m doing it.
Cassian flew down to town. Muscle memory kicking in, his wings led him straight to Rita’s. He stared up at the faded wooden sign and exhaled a long breath of defeat. He was never going to win this and it was a surprise he even lasted as long as he did. With willpower broken, he stepped through the heavy velvet curtain that lined the entrance.
“HAHAHAHA” Cassian’s whole body shook with laughter. He should have known.
There at the bar was a familiar golden head he knew all too well. She turned at the noise and burst out laughing also.
“Well, well, well. Morrigan.”
“Shit. You caught me. I really didn’t expect to see you here. We are the worst, aren’t we. I only just got here too - we seemed to have had the same idea.” Mor stifled her laugh, calling the bartender over and gesturing for two drinks.
“Were you trying to sneak a drink in?” Cassian inquired playfully. He looked at his best friend with fond amusement - they really were tarred from the same brush.
“Please. You knew I was never going to make it. Surprised I even lasted this long.” She picked up one of the shots that was set in front of them clinking the top of the other before downing it.
“Cheers to that.” The Illyrian swallowed the other shot in one smooth gulp. The first taste was like a tonic. Although stiff and strong, after all that time, it tasted sweet, his whole body craving it, cradling it like a valuable treasure as it slid down his throat.
“Oh yes, that hit the spot. My beautiful amber friend. How I missed you.” Mor purred. “Two more please, barkeep.”
Cassian looked over in surprise as his friend, studying her bright brown eyes.
“What? If we are going to forfeit, then let’s do it properly.” Mor simpered.
“Then we would need to add two beers to that.” Cassian smirked gesturing for the bartender.
The first couple weeks after their pact, the Inner Circle stayed relatively far away from each other, knowing it would be easier to keep up. Rhys could feel the silence amongst the friends as he reached out to their minds, feeling into the quiet. He was fine with the break, he knew that his friends would self-sabotage if he just gave them enough time.
Despite the physical silence, he would still periodically check on his friends seeing if they broke yet.  He figured out immediately when Mor and Cas took their first January drink. He chuckled when the scene lit up in his mind - the two of them three sheets to the wind stumbling out of RIta’s. He knew they would be first of the friends. He hadn’t sensed Az much but could feel him spending most of his time in the shadows or flying around Illyria. The High Lord assumed he was avoiding the temptation of being near his friends in Velaris.
He totally understood and was thankful of his current isolation at the River House, as well. After his own struggle with the temptation after a week, he quickly realized how most of this competition was just going to be personal. It wasn’t really going to be about competing with the others.
To be fair, because Feyre and him had a teething newborn, their days passed quickly anyway and they usually passed out every night in exhaustion. Luckily or unluckily, this house was situated away from disturbing neighbors in downtown Velaris, but also with no immediate nearby help for the new parents.
Elain was still living with them and was usually great with helping to care for her nephew but on this particular evening, she had strolled out for a walk with Lucien and it wasn’t clear when she’d be back. It was nice to have her out and have the evening alone but unfortunately, their son had a different idea.
“Why won’t he sleep!? He was so good before. Please, little Nyxy - hush sweet baby - please sleep for mama. ” Feyre wailed, rocking her son in her arms.
“Darling, I don’t think he can understand you. This is just what all babies do sometimes. Let me take him a bit. Maybe fly him around - lull him to sleep. ” Rhys comforted. He sent a caressing stroke down the bond, hoping to ease his mate’s anxiety. Immediately when he sent it, he felt her whole body relax a bit.
“It’s only the 14th and I can’t last like this. Why don’t we just break and have a little wine when you come back?” Feyre put her hands on Rhys’ chest, sending a devious squeeze down the bond knowing that he would not be able to resist her touch. The kind that sent him reeling, and saying yes to anything she wanted.
“You know that I would give you anything but do you really want to do this? You’re just tired right now. Remember, it was your idea, my darling.” Rhys soothed.
“I know, I know. It’s not just Nyx but it does help wind down the day. This is your fault anyway, you know. I never drank this much before I came to Prythian.” she muttered indignantly as her initial moaning turned into irritation.
“Oh? So now it’s my fault? We are Fae. Alcohol keeps us grounded.” he replied, violet eyes dancing.
“Darling, think about it more while I fly Nyx around. Ok?” He gave his mate a little peck on the forehead as he took Nyx and was off.
Flying around actually helped compose his mind too. The air was brisk - it nipped at his face and wings but it was comforting. The raw touch grounded him to the present. It was laughable now, looking back at their confidence. He recognized now, that it really was a personal competition and each Inner Court member was too busy fighting their own battle to even try to sabotage another.
A little squeeze came down the bond. Seeing Feyre like this broke his heart - even if it was something so innocuous. It was just alcohol - and it was only one month - but he didn’t like when his mate suffered at all. I guess he’d see how she was when he got back. Perhaps the little break from Nyx’s crying was enough to get her back on track.
Within a few quick turns above Velaris, lights twinkling below, baby Nyx was quickly fast asleep, wrapped up tight against Rhys’ chest. His heartbeat helping lull the baby in its rhythmic beat. Holding his son more tightly, Rhys turned around and immediately headed back for home.
As he was landing, he felt the bond tugging gently. Cautiously.
Don’t be mad.
Rhys speculated. He had only been gone half an hour max. He crept into the house delicately, not knowing what he might find. It was all dark in the front rooms. He went directly up to their room where he settled Nyx into his crib. He stirred slightly and Rhys held his breath but thankfully Nyx stayed asleep.
Padding downstairs, he reached down the bond and felt the Feyre in the study. And she was not alone.
Oh darling, you didn’t.
Feyre and Elain were settled near the fire. Elain, golden hair flowing, cheeks still aglow from the night air was flung on the shaggy rug in front of the glowing heat. Front legs sprawled, leaning against a winged chair, wine glass sitting between her legs and completely precariously on the sheepskin. His beautiful wife, on the other hand, had her legs flung over the arm of the other chair and was leaning back on the other arm…holding a glass of wine. Her cheeks flushed for an entirely different reason. Mor - he was surprised to see her here - was leaned against his wife’s chair, her head tilted back against Feyre’s hip.
“Rhysie!” Mor cheered, raising an arm that was wrapped around a half-full wine goblet.
“Rhys, love. Come in. Is Nyx asleep? Please don’t be mad. I was so tired and when Elain came in…well, I’ll let her explain. But she thought I…we…we could have a drink together. I couldn’t say no.” Feyre said reaching out her hand to her husband.
Rhys raised an eyebrow as he approached his mate, taking her hand. “This was your idea, Feyre. What happened?” Turning to Mor with acting displeasure, “Was this your doing? You broke and needed to drag down the rest of us?”
Mor cheersed her glass toward Rhys before taking a long swig of her glass. “Pah, no. I ran into Elain earlier and winnowed her back to the house. And since they were drinking anyway, I thought I’d take the opportunity to open that vintage you’ve been hiding from us.”
Before his cousin could continue, Elain rose, sitting up on her knees, eyes full of tears, as if begging Rhys for forgiveness. “Please don’t be mad at Feyre, Rhys. I asked her to. On my walk with Lucien, I got thirsty and he handed me his flagon. I thought…I thought it would be water and…I took a sip. He didn’t know we had the contest.”
The blush in her cheeks spread through her pretty visage, coating her dusting of freckles in pink as she looked at Rhys, imploring him. Waiting for a response.
“I would have thought the Archerons had more self-control than that. Well, that’s fine. Less competition for me.” He gloated.
“Oh have a drink with us, love. Please. You won’t be able to last if I’m drinking now.” Feyre begged wickedly.
I’ll make it worth your while tonight.
Oh really? Tell me more.
I’ll pull out that new red negligee I’ve been saving.
“Stop it, you two. It’s so annoying when you speak like that.” Mor snapped them out of it. “Fine. Don’t drink with us, Rhys. Let’s see how long you last.”
Come on, Rhysie love. You know that you won’t be able to last now that I’ve broken.
She sent a seductive stroke down the bond and Rhysand’s whole body involuntarily shivered, disseminating his mate’s irresistible energy throughout his body. Like a tremor that unsettled any potential for rational thinking. He could never say no to his mate - not for anything. Her doe eyes, as she looked at him, coupled with the catharsis down the bond was too much for him to handle. Not while he was barely able to stay sober himself anyway.
“Fuck. Fine. Hand me a glass of that vintage.”
Nesta woke up abruptly, sun streaming in from the large window and stray rays landing on her face. It took her awhile to acclimatize and fully get her eyes open, lashes still clamped together from her deep slumber.
She turned and looked over at her mate, still sleeping soundly, one arm haphazardly thrown over her waist. Since he broke at Rita’s a week ago, he had slept better and he was much less grumpy.
Nesta had a little over a week to go. She thought she had a good chance. Potentially only Az and Elain were still in the running. and she wasn’t going to be the one to break now. She loved a good competition and what she loved more was winning one.
Plus, since her post War of Hybern bender, she was perfectly fine not drinking. She still enjoyed it at social occasions and Cauldron knew that Cas and his friends drank like fishes, but on her own, she didn’t crave it anymore. Didn’t need it to numb the emotions and block out her hurt and anger. She looked over again at Cassian and her pulse quickened. She was so happy now and wanted to feel everything.
But, she still didn’t like being told what she couldn’t do. The rule unfortunately made it more enticing. What she couldn’t have.
She got out of bed grumbling quietly, easing herself out of the sheets as to not disturb the other occupant. She was glad the sun was out - hoping it was pick up her mood. It was a nice day and Nesta had planned to meet with Emerie and Gwyn to look at some designs for new vests for the Valkyries. They needed something lighter and breathable for when summer approached.
Although it was sunny, it was still beyond frigid especially on the breezy cliff side where the House of Wind stood. She drew her cloak tighter around her as she left the house. Az came to give her a ride on his way down to the camp.
“Morning. Unlike your mate, you’re still standing, I see.” Az gave a playful grin.
“I have a little more self-control than others.” Nesta retorted.
“I would have definitely expected Cas to break. Are you ready?”
The shadowsinger swooped her up and took the familiar aerial path down to Windhaven. Even after so many times, Nesta’s stomach always gave a little turn on the first big dip down the mountain.
Az landed them at the top of the street. “Well, see you in a week or so if you make it.”
With a little wink, he melted into the shadow. She arrived at Emerie’s little store right on time. As she entered, Nesta heard the now-familiar friendly chime of the bell above the door.
“Hello? Emerie. It’s me. Are you back there?” Nesta called out. The shop was deserted and nobody was manning the counter. Where could her friend be? The store should be open by now and besides, they were meant to meet at 11 and she was right on time.
She hurried behind the counter and through the little curtain separating the back office, her worry growing a little. Emerie was sitting in the worn armchair that she kept back there for coffee breaks. Her nose so completely buried in a book that she didn’t even look up even when Nesta stood in the doorway.
The alarm that had been building evaporated as quickly as it came. “Ahem. HELLO.”
A startled Emerie looked up, braid flipping back as her head snapped up. “Oh Cauldron! You scared the shit out of me.”
“Didn’t you hear me calling? The bell on the door also chimed.”
“Sorry! No. But Nes - you need to read this book. It’s the latest Sellyn Drake book. I literally can’t put it down.”
“WHAT? I didn’t even know it was out yet. How did you get this?”
“One of the wool vendors - his daughter works for the publishing company and got me this advance…and this.” The cheery clothier lifted up an identical book from behind the desk.
Em grinned broadly. “You don’t think I wouldn’t have gotten you one, right? You’ll stay up all night, I swear.”
Nesta couldn’t help but grin, her friend’s excitement completely infectious. They had first bonded over books and Emerie had introduced her to Drake’s writing. They were really good and the smut was immensely gratifying, even with her mate in her bed satisfying her daily needs.
“Ok ok. Should we reschedule then? We have plenty of time to look at the leathers.” She leaned against the little desk opposite.
“Oh shit. I got so caught up in this, I totally forgot. I’ve been reading all day and hadn’t picked up the materials yet. I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t worry,” said Nesta, giving her friend a quick pat on the shoulder. “We still have time anyway.”
“Sorry. But seriously, go home and read this. It will change your life.” Emerie said with a smirk, thrusting the dark red-bound volume into her hands.
“Well, Cas is in Illyria tonight so this will be perfect to keep me entertained. Thank you so much for this, Em.”
“From what I have read so far, this most certainly will.” said her friend toothily.
After getting home and changing into her favorite comfortable clothes, Nesta traipsed around looking for a place to read. She landed in the private library, where The House, knowing her mistress well, had already built a roaring fire in this smaller study. When she was alone, The House knew she preferred the more intimate room than the great expanse of the main living room.
The House had set a steaming mug of tea on the little table next to her favorite chair, fully prepared for the reading ritual that Nesta followed. A cozy throw was folded neatly on the coffee table opposite as The House also knew that she liked to put her feet up.
“Thank you so much, this is perfect.” Nesta called out gratefully. She loved that even when she was alone here, she was never truly alone. The House would take care of her and watch over her. She settled in and turned to the first page.
Emerie was right. This was, by far, Sellyn Drake’s best book and she had read them all. Nesta was completely immersed, flying through it. Normally, The House would refresh her tea at least 4 or 5 times in an evening of reading but this time she barely drunk from it. She could not look away from the book long enough to take a sip. It was the filthiest thing she had ever read and that was saying something considering her past novels of choice. The climactic smut scene had nearly brought her to pieces and she was nearing the thrilling conclusion.
Knock knock knock!
Ugh. Who could it be? Cassian wouldn’t be home for hours and she wasn’t expecting any guests. Her eyes were still on the page as she shuffled down the hall and to the front door, barely looking up just to not crash into the walls.
“OK.” she said out loud, nodding, to The House as she got to the top of the stairs that faced the entryway.  Her cue to let The House open the door for her.
Emerie rushed in. “Oh Nesta! You’re here.” Looking up to find her friend, she ran upstairs, not waiting for an invite.
At this, Nesta looked up. “Em - are you ok? How did you get here - what’s wrong?” While she saw her friend often, it was always Nesta who usually made it down to the small shop to visit.
“Yes, yes, all good. I finished the book. Oh - where are you? You’re almost done! Wow- you’re fast.” she said breathlessly.
Nesta couldn’t stifle the cackle that came out of her. She covered her mouth with her free hand but it was belated. “That’s what you rushed in here for?”
“Yes, I just finished and I couldn’t wait. I had to discuss with you. I…I called Az and he flew me up here.” The winged girl said sheepishly.
“Oh Emerie.” She laughed again. “I am nearly done but I’m not. So you are just going to have to wait for me.” Nesta said loftily walking back toward the study. Emerie nodded vigorously, following after her, still clutching her book. She sat down in the chair opposite Nesta and hung over the arm, eagerly waiting for her to finish.
Thirty minutes later, she was done. She had to admit, it was almost enough for her to have ran back to Emerie too. The end was beyond thrilling. It was tense and exciting but also emotional and romantic - a perfect combination. Her heart pounded rapidly, the way it always did as she got invested in a particularly good book.
“Well??” Emerie questioned. Her friend was generous enough to have given Nesta a few moments in her thoughts to process before she pounced.
“I mean. That was incredible. I am still processing the ending. The whole thing was great and the love story was just so beautiful and hot at the same time.”
“I know, right. I can’t stop thinking about it…” As the two girls discussed, they got more and more animated.
“Wow. Just wow. Let’s have a drink, Nes. I need to calm down.”
Emerie’s eyes gestured toward the bar cart in the corner. Brown and red liquids twinkling in the fading light as if daring her.
“Oh, Emerie. I can’t. I can’t drink until this month is over.” Nesta explained. It would have been nice though. The girls frequently discussed the latest juicy detail from their books over glasses of wine.
“Well I am going to help myself, if that’s alright. I’m still shaking.” The Illyrian stood, shaking out her scarred wings and walked up to the array of drinks.
A drink would definitely calm her frayed nerves from the end of that book. It was also part of the routine she had with her friend when they read and she craved that familiar comfort.
Emerie poured a big goblet full and took a swig from the crystal. She batted her eyelashes at Nesta as if to tempt her, no, guilt her into drinking with her.
“Remember when he pulls down her strap and moves his mouth to her collarbone?” her friend recalled, giving the most innocent look.
Nesta rolled her eyes but could feel her willpower crumbling. Emerie turned back, setting her glass on the side and pouring another glass. “And remember when his hand moved up her dress, caressing her thigh and then lifting her up onto the hay loft?” She probed further, turning, arm outstretched with the glass proffered with the biggest grin on her face.
Hey, everyone come to our house for dinner today. 6pm sharp.
Azriel felt the message from Rhysand. The last day before this dreaded month was over. He arrived just after 6 - the shadows curling back into him as he stepped fully back into the corporeal. He wondered why they wouldn’t just have the dinner tomorrow when this would finally be over and things would be back to normal. He guessed the High Lord would want to do some midnight toast or something to celebrate.
It would be nice to see everyone - the group hadn’t gone this long without seeing each other during peace time. Plus, it would be nice to rub it into his brothers that he won.
As he walked in, he was surprised that everyone was already situated in the living room. Nyx was cooing into Nesta’s arms as she and Cas sat on the ground leaned against the sofa. Mor and Feyre were on the opposite end, on the L-shaped part that jutted out. Elain was seated in the window seat a bit removed from it all. Rhys was leaned against the doorway laughing at something someone said.
“Az! Come in.” Feyre exclaimed. Everyone looked up at him in greeting.
“Let me get you drink.” Rhys jumped up heading toward the bar at the far end of the room.
“Finally. Back to normal. What a long ass month. Drinking alone is pretty awful, you know.” Amren chided from her perch on one end of the sofa.
“Wait. It’s only the 31st, you know. We have one more day. Aren’t we waiting till midnight?” Az questioned looking around the room. All of a sudden now, he noticed the wine glasses next to everyone.
Cassian stood slowly. “Wait a second. I thought everyone broke already - Nesta was last a few days ago…”
“No…I haven’t drank anything yet.” Truth be told, it had been easier than he expected / The shadowsinger had managed any temptation by darting off to Illyria or slipping in with his shadows.
“Get out. I thought you broke after Mor and Cas?” Rhys asked, incredulity spreading on his face.
“Hang on, no. Cas said he broke with you and Feyre when Nyx was fussing?” Nesta countered.
They all looked at him.
“Nope. Neither of those.” Azriel shrugged.
“Well, fuck, Az.” Cas cursed.
“So I won then?” Az’s face broke into a smug grin.
In some way, he wasn’t surprised, knowing his friends. But he would have thought at least someone else had the resolve to make it. Although he was happy to win, he didn’t feel quite as satisfied as his smile reflected. His eyes flashed to to the bar.
“Well, I still have a day. And…” he sauntered over to the bar, pouring a tumblr of whiskey. Even with all eyes watching, he took the time to plop in a giant ice cube as well.
He continued, “we are brothers through and through, right? So if you guys broke, I guess I will too. It’s all more fun together, isn’t it?” He raised his glass before taking a giant swig as the others looked on, mouths agape. The brown liquid burning hot cold down his throat. After so long, his body reacted, a tingling sensation immediately rising up and warming his chest.
He walked back to the sofa area, big smile on his face. “So when do I get the keys to the Townhouse?”
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thataintnolady · 2 days ago
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These little interludes are just a part of the narrative now, soz. Chapter 3 due imminently. Who's keen for a messy af Vanserra family dinner?
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duskandstarlight · a month ago
"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.
“Introduce me.”
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.
“No. Why?”
“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
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arizona2004 · 2 months ago
Heyy! Can you do azriel x fem reader fluff that Azriel really likes to kiss her. They like to be connect with each other in every situation like even if it’s a hand touch on waist / arm. I just saw a gif that the boys kisses front of her shoulder ,back of her neck, side of her breasts like close to her back and inside of her thigh etc. I know it’s oddly spesific but I just can’t stop imagine how beautiful it would be in headcanon stuff. So can you please write something that includes these or these kind of intimacy💖 I’m okay with +18 stuff as long as you’re okay with it but I would love to be heartmelted by sweetness and love in the piece💖💖 Thank you even if you will do it or not 💖🥺 Love you!
okie dokie, I hope you like it. And sorry it took a little while
Pinky Promise
Azriel x fem!reader
"Warnings": I wouldn’t call this smut… there is some content, though, that may not be for younger viewers, per se, mostly it’s just kissing… and fluff...
word count: 960
As we walk down the street to the river house, Azriel’s hand brushes mine for a split second before his pinky hooks itself through mine. The first time Az did this, it caught me off guard; I knew he had an extreme hatred of his own hands, and he mentioned that he didn’t like hand-holding, so I never pushed it, but deep down: I wished he would hold my hand. And every day after that first time he would grab my pinky with his own, and with that little touch, he stole my heart.
Falling in love with him was the easiest thing I have ever done. The day I met him and every day since have been the best of my life. His kind words are music to my ears, and his gentle touches are all my soul needs to sing a response. He makes me want to smile forever and forget what sadness even feels like.
He isn’t one for big displays of public affection. He didn’t like bear hugs or kissing where other people might see, but he loved touching me in small gentle ways. And he loved kissing me when no one was looking. When we stood around the dining room table discussing plans for the upcoming war, Azriel stood behind me: an unmoving, unyielding force-just what I needed. He draped his arms gently on my hips and placed a light kiss on the back of my neck, reminding me of his presence even as I feared for his life in Rhys’ hands.
When I walked back to our house alone, my body missed the delicate touch of his pinky in my own more than anything else. My heart aches for his warmth against me. Tears nearly well up in my eyes, but I push them back down. I’m being sensitive for no reason at all; he isn’t even leaving yet. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still hate his job, even while I love him.
When I arrive home, alone, I collapse into our bed without him and stare at his pillow. Anxiety rushes through my body. What if he doesn’t come back to me? I know how powerful and capable he is, but this is one of Rhysands riskier plans.
It’s an hour later when I lay, still awake, on my back. I’m staring at the ceiling, making things worse by imagining all the horrible things that could happen, so I don’t even notice Azriel’s arrival until he’s kneeling on the bed near my feet.
I look down at him without moving and know he sees the worry in my eyes by the expression he returns. A second later, though, he’s placing a kiss on my ankle and making his way up my legs, pulling the blankets away from my body with him. I close my eyes and let my head rest on the pillow while Az makes his way up my body. He places a soft kiss on the inside of my thigh, sending shivers up my spine, and the next kiss lands on my hip bone as he lefts himself over me.
His nose brushes my naval as he pushes my shirt up. Another kiss lands above my belly button, making me giggle and squirm. I can feel Az’s smile widen against my stomach as he crawls further up and moves to the right. The next kiss, accompanied by a gentle bite, lands on the side of my left breast. I giggle again and lift my arms to rest above my head. His hands follow them, pinning my wrists to the bed as he re-centers himself to hover just above my face.
The next kiss is placed on my right shoulder, and the following one is a nip at my collarbone. I lean my head back, arching my neck up for him, and now he’s the one laughing, “eager, are we?”
I grumble something but am cut off by my moan as Azriel gently bites the side of my neck. He spends many minutes marking my neck and decorating it with bruises before his lips find my own. And as he kisses me: soft and slow, his hands leave my wrists and travel down my arms. When he reaches my shoulders, his right-hand moves toward my neck and the left continues its path down to grip my thigh, pulling my leg up to wrap around his waist as he presses closer to me.
His right hand is gently wrapping around my throat and pressing against the fresh bruises. And when a grin spreads across my face at the pleasurable burn, Azriel leans down to kiss me again but slowly pulls away while he does so.
A moment later, his hand is no longer wrapped around my throat; he isn’t holding my leg to him or grinding against me. He’s lying at my right and pulling me to face him. My face is in an expression of confusion, so he leans in to press a kiss to my nose.
“I love you,” he murmurs against my lips, “that just isn’t how I want to spend tonight. I’m tired; it’s been a long day. And all I want is to fall asleep with you in my arms.”
Pushing closer, I press my face into the side of his neck and wrap my arms around him, “ I love you, too,” I mumble, holding him as tight as I can, “promise me you’ll be careful on the mission.”
“Pinky promise,” he whispers back, a smile spreading across his face as he lifts his hand between our bodies. So I pull one of my hands back too and link my pinky with his, and we fall asleep like that: pinkies linked and hearts in one another's hands.
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bloodycassian · 3 months ago
Looking for something - Az x reader (slight NSFW - mention of lust. 
Prompt - I would like to request a Azriel story. The reader is a healer and she saves azriel's life. Then, when he get better, he comes back to thank the reader and they find that they are mates
The empty potion bottle cracked against the other empties in the bin. You hurriedly grabbed another, hoping that you’d have enough to last the night. Several soldiers had been ambushed on their scouting mission under cover of night. And almost all of them had come back badly injured, the only reason they had even made it back was because of the high lord’s spymaster winnowing. 
But you hadn’t seen him since he had dropped off the first few soldiers. Your hands worked diligently on the male under you, setting his leg back into place. He groaned softly, but the potion seemed to be working, dulling his pain. The clatter of tables moving and people gasping hardly registered behind you. 
“Help him.” A gruff male voice barked. When you turned, you gasped with the rest of the healers. 
The shadowsinger’s notoriously blue siphons were gray, dull and lifeless. His hair clung to his neck with blood and sweat, his tanned skin was a shade too pale to be normal. Lord Cassian’s face was gaunt, stricken with worry as you stood there stunned. “Fix him - now.” He ordered, resting the limp male body on an empty table. You grabbed one of the few potions left.
 “It’s alright Az, just drink it.” Cassian said softly, brushing the hair from the injured male’s face. Azriel. The name sent a thrill through you.He was always known as the spy, the shadow. The Angel of Death. Watching his eyes squeeze in pain at the adjustment to drink the potion made your blood run cold though. Seeing the pain there was a different kind of pain for you.
“What happened?” You asked, helping Cassian to pull Azriel’s body into a more workable position on his side. 
Your hands were alight with healing magic, and stronger than ever. Strange. You didn’t mention it to the lord of bloodshed though, how the light seemed to grow brighter on Azriel. How he just felt different while you healed him. “He’s dying. His siphons were drained getting all of the soldiers out of there.” Cassian explained. Shit. Illyrian’s siphons were never meant to be spent beyond repair. If they used the entirety of their magic they could stop in time, but if they asked more of the mother…. It was destined to go badly. And she would claim what rightfully belonged to her. 
You tried not to swear. Tried not to shiver in the presence of death hovering so close. Far above you could feel the power of the High lord  arriving for his fallen friend. 
You swore the ground shook as he landed. His leathers were cut, and he smelled of blood, just as his brothers had. He gave you a nod, and you tried not to flinch as those curling claws grasped your mind gently. “What do you need?” he seemed to ask it habitually. As if he didn’t know he wasn’t speaking aloud. With him in your mind, you could glimpse at his as well. And you saw what lingered there, constantly. The guilt, the despair… but also the pride, and the love he shared for his family and community. His love for the brothers before him. The terror that lit every one of his nerves on fire watching one of them die in front of him.
“Magic. I can’t repair siphons, I can only repair his body.” You didn’t realise you were shouting it in your mind, until you felt his recoil.
“How much magic?” He said aloud, summoning a glowing potion from the air. You were sure it was worth more than your annual pay, but you had no time to appreciate the delicate bottle before a surge ripped through Azriel’s beaten body. 
“I have no idea.” you replied, letting them both hear the fear in your voice. You pressed a glowing hand to the center of his chest. And could have collapsed to the muddy ground at the struggle that presided in him. 
He groaned, and you could feel his heart galloping, straining for the last bits of life it could clind on to. Cassian took your hand, and without a word placed a cold object in it. Rhys stared at him, completely astonished. You opened your palm to see his bright red siphon glowing proudly in your grasp. “Cassian.” Rhys breathed, nearly unhearable. 
“Are you sure?” You gave him a long look that told him there was no taking this back. There would be no regaining the portion of his power. 
He gave a short nod, never taking his eyes off his brother. Before Rhys could offer a different solution and risk time, risk death clutching Azriel’s beating heart away… You placed the siphon in the center of the spymaster’s chest. And began chanting. 
The healing process had been slow, and very very painful. But eventually he had been able to fly again. After months of training in the house of wind to just pick up a sword, he was ready to be out of the cool manor. The wind in his hair was a welcome distraction from the aching in his chest where you had imbued him with Cassian’s siphon. 
It wasn’t red anymore, to Cas' dismay. He would have loved making proposal jokes about it to the others. Alas, it was a muddled blue instead. Sometimes it would turn purple, if the light hit it right or if his power seemed to surge and wait to strike. His shadows would roam his body everywhere but there. They didn’t like it at first, but stopped grumbling about it after a week. 
He could have howled at the freedom of flying. He could have done loops and flown across the sea. If he had the stamina. He found staying aloft too long to be strenuous on his chest, and landed when he hit Velaris’ streets. He stopped at the best apothecary and was led to the back, where the darkest yet most potent spells and potions were held. 
He offered the gold marks without flinching, and made his way to where Rhys said you were known to work. 
The knock at the ragged old door was light, but commanding. You rolled up the last of the dirty sheets and tossed them into the laundry bin. You heard the assistant nurse greet whoever it was with a chipper “Good afternoon.” Before you heard her hurried footsteps heading towards you. 
Haven’s eyes were wide, and worry lit every feature of her lovely face. The face of a caring, kind being. Yet she seemed so afraid. You wondered if the injury at the front was truly that bad, or if another trade merchant had just tried to shake her down for any money again. 
“It’s him! You go out there, I’m leaving!”
“Who?” You whispered back, following her as she gathered her things. You’d never seen her in such a rush before. 
“The one you healed a few months ago! The High Lord’s friend!”
Your stomach dropped. Why in the hell would he be visiting? What if he hadn’t wanted the siphon Cassian had insisted upon? What if he had lingering pain? You couldn’t stand it. The anxiety of not knowing dug a crater of worry into your stomach. 
“What did he say?”
“He asked for you. Get out there, I’ll see you tomorrow.” She slipped out the door with the grace of someone running for their life. You swore under your breath after she left, the quiet of the shop settling without her scuttling feet. 
Walking to the front desk, you put on your brave face. You gathered a small bundle of clean rags to put out, a welcome distraction for your hands to focus on rather than clawing at your palms. 
“What can I help you with today?” You said in your most casual tone you could manage. 
And there he was. Decked out in pitch black leathers that didn’t show that siphon, and his shadows lazily snaking around him. A chill ran down your spine, feeling the coolness of them in the room. His hazel eyes seemed to be hiding something, or holding back. 
“I think I owe you that question.” He said, his voice charming and sultry. His teeth gleamed against his dark skin, if it were in any other situation it would have seemed predatory. A wolf taunting it’s prey. 
“You owe me nothing.” you waved a rag at him and placed it inside one of the desk drawers. 
“I owe you my life.” He scoffed, taking a step closer. “The least I could do is thank you.” 
“You’re welcome.” You smiled, trying not to look up at that gorgeous face. Trying not to twist yourself around those shadows and play with them like fog. You crouched and began placing more towels into the empty drawer on the bottom shelf. You folded them carefully, hoping he would go away if he deemed you unworthy of his time. Your hands shook as you folded the last of the rags.
He placed something hard on the desk and you couldn’t help the reaction to look up. To see him towering above you, just on the other side of the desk. His massive wings nearly touched the floor. His scarred hands placed the small box on the wooden surface with delicate awareness. 
“Again, you owe me nothing.” You couldn’t help to smile though. The dark plant he had chosen to gift you was one with healing properties, as well as it smelling lovely. The box was a dark velvet, that seemed to eat light entirely. The brass hinges on the end made it look ancient. 
“Just open it.” He said, and you could almost hear the eyeroll behind the words. 
You glanced at him finally, and noted how his cheeks seemed darker. How his shadows wrapped around him tighter. Oddly enough, you found yourself wanting to pull away too. To pull away from the polite conversation that felt exhausting. You saved hundreds of merchants and soldiers every battle. He’d been one of the few to ever thank you. Why -especially with his ranking- would he bother? He’d surely been healed before. You wondered if he did this kind of thing for every healer. A token of appreciation. 
The box nearly shook out of your hands when you eyed the bottle inside. The deep blue liquid that shone and glittered with every movement inside its crystalline bottle. The lid was made of an ornate glass that could be tied and hung from something. 
“This is…”
“I owed you that much. I get carried away in battle and don’t watch myself sometimes.” 
“I cant-” 
“You can… perhaps you can gift it back to me when you find out what to do with it.”
You sputtered 
“What exactly am I to do with a liquified siphon?!” You squeaked, placing it back in the box with the same careful steadiness you showed your patients. 
“Maybe we can brainstorm together. Tomorrow at lunch?” The shadows swirled happily, fluttering a few of the papers on the desk. “Sorry.” He muttered, his cheeks going that dark red again.
“Youre insane.” You couldn’t tear your eyes from the glittering liquid before you. How he’d even managed to find such a thing was beyond you. 
“Is that a yes?” 
You couldn’t help but laugh.
He nervously picked at the napkin laid before him. Thinking of if he’d picked an appropriate outfit for the occasion. If he seemed too casual for the small outside seating area. His wings tightened when footsteps approached. 
“Thanks for coming.” He said, trying to get his shadows to calm. He was nearly speechless at the sight of your hair, and the outfit. He’d never seen you outside the nurse’s uniform. The cloth hugging your body sent a hot rush through him. Something primal seemed to let loose inside him. He clenched his hands at his sides, nails biting deep into his palms. The way he wanted to ravish you at that very moment. The roiling urge to let his shadows whisk you away together so he could see what you would do with him alone. He pushed the thoughts away. 
“I didn’t bring it. If you were wondering.” You said, pulling up the chair opposite of him. 
He had nearly forgotten about the siphon with you in front of him. “Of course not. We’re here to discuss it.”
“We could reforge it. I dont know what else we could do with it.”
“Some Illyrian stories say the mother herself forged every source of Siphon magic.”
He stirred the tea, adding a bit of honey to it. “Some also say they’re the tears of a magic Wyvern.” He said with a smirk. 
“So we find a Wyvern-”
“Absolutely not.” He laughed. “But like those stories, we could use it to create some very powerful… objects.” 
“Like….?” You led, letting him explain it for you. What he was seeking may be impossible, but you had a good feeling that he was trying to get at something. You bit into the warm breakfast roll and let him continue.
He gave you a tentative look before saying anything further, and when he did he leaned in close. Close enough that you could feel those shadows snaking around you. “Like something powerful enough to resurrect the dead.”
You tried to hold back the surprised look, but from his wicked smile you could tell it still showed.
“The consequences of that..” you breathed. No one had ever attempted such a thing without the Cauldron present. And now… without the cauldron even at your disposal.. It sounded unfathoabmlely stupid to even attempt such a thing. He saw the fear in your eyes and waved a hand, shooing it away as if he hadn’t just proposed an outrageous theory.
“Could be awful, yes. It’s just an idea… one that may save us from another war.” He leaned back in his seat, his wings folding around the chair. You stared at him, shock still lingering. “I trust you won’t mention this to anyone.” He smiled. Yet you underwood the treat behind those words. You would stay silent about it. Or there would be consequences from the Angel of Death himself. 
“Why give this to me? I’m sure theres a thousand other mages all over that could help-”
“Because I like you. Because I owe you a life, and I’ve given you the prospect of possibly saving more than just one.”
You tried to hide the blush that crept into you cheeks. His stare was unflinching and dark as he surveyed your face. The corner of his mouth tugged up in amusement. The thoughts he had that were once all business completely evaporated at the sight of that red hue on your face. His longing savored that look, wondered what else he could do to make you blush. He wondered how red your face would get if he-
“I can just throw it into the Sidra though, why trust me?”
He took a second to recollect himself, to pull himself from the thoughts of lust and desire. “You wouldn’t do that. All mages and healers alike have the baseline of being genuinely good to the core.” 
You shoved your plate aside and crossed your arms over your chest. If he was so damned charming how could you say no? Especially when he was giving you that look that you swore were heavy bedroom eyes. And if proceeding with his insane idea meant you’d get to spend more time with him… then why not? 
“I’ll consider it.” You obliged, collecting your bag and readying to leave. You knew if you stayed and started talking theories you’d never get up. 
He stood as well and gave a short bow. “That’s all I ask.” 
A week later he knocked at the door again. After hours when he knew that the other healer had left, leaving you alone to close up shop for the night. He landed with less grace than usual, leaving him stumbling forward a few feet and nearly into the door. He steadied himself before you opened the thick wood door, preparing to see the rejection that awaited him.
But your smile was bright, despite the blood spattered on the white apron you wore. His immediate thought was ‘protect protect protect’ and his shadows skittered through the room, trying to find the threat so he could eliminate it. His heart raced, and before he could say anything you laughed.
“It’s just training. Not actual blood.” You explained, licking one of the red coated fingers. He sniffed lightly, still worried. There was no familiar smell of warm blood coming from the room. And you were smiliing, so surely there was no threat. Still, his heart sped. 
“And why are you eating it?” He cringed away, using the concern as an excuse to let his gaze admire your body. He didn’t linger on the finger you licked, knowing there was no way in hell that he would be able to control himself if he watched that.
You waved him inside, and shut the door behind him. The soft faelight overhead twinkiled in the breeze, mixing the sweet smell of sweets and food coloring around. “Because I’m a Vampyr, cursed to never see the sun again and immortal as Fae.” You joked, dipping a finger into the icing at the training station. There had been three potential healers to show up to the class. A surprising turnout. 
Only one of which may have had the potential to actually be able to handle battlefield healing. The other two panicked and had either made a fatal error or had frozen in place at the simulated stress. “It’s just frosting, Azriel.” You rolled your eyes at his returning glare at your joke. “Dont believe me?”
“No, I just dont like Vampyr.” He tugged down the collar of his tunic to reveal a faded scar of two definitive bite marks on his collarbone. “For a good reason.” 
“Touchy subject. Noted.” You held your finger out to him, offering some of the sweets. “Try it, maybe you’ll feel better.”
He didn’t budge. You smiled wickedly, and it made his stomach flutter. Despite his adrenaline and the expected disappointment with his spies on the continent this morning, you had managed to lighten his mood.
His shadows danced around you, following your every move as you came closer. “I dont bite, promise.” You winked and he could have fallen to his knees at that very moment. They nearly shook to do so. Like a command whispered by the Mother herself, he wanted to. But he stayed in place, weakly. He knew he could jeopardize the entire working relationship with you if he dared do any of the things his body ached for him to do. 
He watched you come closer and closer, silently begging you to stay where you were. He wasn’t strong enough to stand so close, to bear the weight of desire and admiration and whatever the hell he was feeling when he saw that soft smile you tried to hide when you thought something was amusing.
He caught your wrist just as you were about to wipe the frosting on the back of his hand. Without thinking, without considering the implications of it… He brought your finger to his mouth and lapped at it, long and slow. Letting his teeth dig in slightly at your knuckle. 
When he opened his eyes, the world was new. 
You stared at him, mouth agape. And he’d never seen color so vibrant before. The brightness to your eyes, the flush of your cheeks, the delicate way your hair played around your ears. His breath left him, and he fell a step backwards. Straight into a cabinet of books and trinkets. He used it as support as he staggered, his world falling from what he’d once known into something new and utterly terrifying. Yet somehow far more delightful and warm than what it’d once been. His shadows nearly took all light from the room. They swirled and avoided your two bodies all together.
You couldn’t move. You couldnt think, couldn’t even let your hand fall from where it’d been inside his mouth. Your stomach fluttered and heart raced as fast as his shadows seemed to be spinning. Something snapped, achingly inside you. And a new portion formed in your mind, a link down some kind of bridge that was full of warm darkness and shadows. Speckled with golden light that glowed against the inky blackness. 
“Azriel.” You breathed. You didn’t know if it was a thought or if it had been aloud, but he fell to his knees before you. His hands trembled when he reached for you, weakly. You still couldn't move. Shock and astonishment still locked you in place. His eyes never left yours, despite the silent tears that rolled down his cheeks. 
Deep down that new bond, there was a crack and an echo. Then, finally his soft words came. “Mine.”
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julemmaes · 2 months ago
The NugNug Man - 1
summary: single mom Nesta has to cancel on Cassian cause her daughter is sick
A/N: my support group is sad as fuck lately and this is a gift for all of them, cause they get me through the shit show that is my life and I don't thank them enough and some of them are upset because fics aren't fluff enough and I tried. So yep, this is for you girls, you know who you are
This will have more parts, don't know when I'll update, as usual. Enjoy!:)
Word count: 3,665
December 17th, 2021, 6:39pm
When Nesta had agreed to go on a date with him a fortnight ago, she never thought she would find herself in the situation she was in now. Her hands trembled slightly as she clutched the phone between her fingers and scrolled through her contacts list to find his number.
It appeared on the screen a few seconds later and Nesta blinked down at it, as if just that mere motion would start the call and she wouldn’t have to move a muscle. She had no idea why she was so upset about having to cancel their date – probably the fact that she could hear Charon’s whimpers and soft cry coming from the living room was messing with her head. That had to be it.
Nesta Archeron didn’t get sad over postponing dates. Especially not when it came to someone she had just met.
You haven’t just met him though, her brain reprimanded her.
She huffed to herself, looking up at the ceiling and then took a deep breath, pressing the button with the small phone icon. She didn't even have time to think about how she was going to start the conversation that he had already picked up.
"Hey, Nesta." came his voice, cheerful and loud. A smile fought its way across her lips, "Everything's okay?"
"Yes." she replied immediately. Then she shook her head, covering her eyes with one hand and pinching the bridge of her nose. "I mean, no. It's not all good. I have to cancel our plans."
She heard him halt on the other end of the phone and hold his breath, "I see." he murmured with a disappointed tone.
"No, it's not what you think," she hastened to say, starting to pace the room.
He let go a nervous chuckle that held little to no amusement, "And exactly what would I be thinking, Nesta?"
She stopped and stood by the lit fireplace, watching the flames dancing and the wood crackling every so often. The way he pronounced her name, as if it were melted sugar dripping from his lips, made her toes curl in her woollen socks. He shouldn’t have been allowed to have a voice so attractive.
She took a shuddering breath, "That I've changed my mind and don't want to go out with you anymore, but it'not like that."
They were silent for a while, as if he was waiting for her to continue talking on her own. When she didn't, he cleared his throat, "So, what's the real reason?"
Nesta closed her eyes again, tilting her head back. God, she hadn't realised how much she didn't want to fuck this up until that very moment. Until she heard the hope oozing out of his words, as if he too had been desperately waiting for that night so he could finally see her outside of the formal setting they were forced to see each other every day.
Nesta and Cassian had met during Italian Lab classes almost three months earlier. The first time she had entered the classroom, she had been shocked at how small the group of students taking that course actually was. In all the years she had studied at Velaris University, she had never found herself in such a narrow room with only fifteen other students and the professor lecturing. She'd noticed him immediately, the second she'd set foot in the class, and she was sure he'd noticed her immediately too, but while she'd given up on befriending anyone in that class unless it was strictly necessary, it had taken him a good three lectures before he'd approached her.
And she had let him get close. She hadn't had a problem with that part. She knew it would be impossible to finish her studies on time if she didn't let someone help her, and he had seemed extremely forthcoming when she had observed him interacting with other students. He'd handed out notes to everyone who asked for them and hadn't batted an eye, as if helping others had been his thing.
It had not been difficult to agree to study with him and others from their class when they had asked her to join them and he had flashed that dazzling smile in her direction.
What she had found difficult, however, had been dodging Cassian's every attempt to get her to accept his invitation to dinner out during each study group session. Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday morning, she had walked into that classroom and had known that she would have to fight her every instinct to say yes to his advances.
Nesta had never wanted to accept an invitation to a date so much in her life as on that day in November, when he had turned up in class with her coffee order and her favourite puff pastry in hand. He had simply dropped everything on her desk, without a word, as if he too had by now made peace with the fact that she would never give him a chance. Obviously she had been wrong and the question had been right there, when she had opened the paper bag, written on a green post-it note with a little heart next to her name.
Nesta, I don't know how to ask you anymore, go out with me and make me the happiest man in the world.
She had smiled and ignored the note, enjoying the resigned sigh that had left his mouth when he had seen her disregard it completely.
She'd wanted to tell him that day, why she was hesitant to agree, but she hadn't been able to. And she hadn't been able to either when he'd driven her home three days later after finding her walking in the incessant, freezing fall rain. They hadn't talked much during the car ride and Nesta had been on the verge of picking up her backpack and screaming into it at some point. She'd renamed it the most harrowing trip of her life.
Watching Cassian flex his arm muscles and his fingers hug the steering wheel and the gearstick every time he made a turn had given her enough matieral to step up her alone-time in the evenings, but it had also tested her willpower. She had congratulated herself when she got out of the car without having jumped him.
"Nesta?" his voice brought her back to the present, startling her, "You still there?"
"Yeah, sorry," she said in an increasingly weak voice. She sat down at the table, placing the phone on the countertop and taking her head in her hands. "I lied to you."
A beat of silence and then, "What do you mean?"
Nesta felt her eyes start to sting, because she knew the second she said the words on the tip of her tongue, the bubble of magic they had been trapped in would burst and he would run away. Like everyone else before him. And she really didn't want him to.
She took a deep breath. And then another. And another just to make sure she wouldn't pass out if she spoke.
"I wish I had told you under different circumstances and not over the phone. And especially not so soon." she began. Then she opened her eyes wide, thinking about what she had just said and hurrying to pick up the phone and bring it close to her mouth, as if that gesture would bring him closer to her. "Not because I wanted to trap you and then drop the bomb once you got too involved to leave me. Or because I'm a pathological liar or I don't know. Now you're going to think I'm telling you all these things to make you feel sorry for me and so you'll feel compelled to stay and take me out anyway, but, Cassian, if you don't want to, I understand. I totally understand if you don't want anything to do with me anymore-"
"Nesta." he stopped her in a serious voice. She froze suddenly and swallowed, realizing how she had just blurted it out without stopping for a second. "Why don't you tell me what the problem is, so we can try to solve it before making any hasty conclusions?" he asked, in a much calmer and soothing tone than she had ever heard him, as if he knew what she needed at that moment. "I'm sure whatever it is won't make my interest in you wane, and I'm certainly not going to let you go so easily now that I've managed to get you to agree to go out with me. Or at least I think so."
The way he just whispered that last part made Nesta smile weakly, "Yeah, I still want to go out with you."
"Perfect," he sighed. "So, what's your secret, Nesta Archeron?"
Before she could chicken out and hang up the telephone out of pure fear of being rejected again, she blurted out.
"I have a daughter."
Normally, this was the part where the concerned boy turned and walked away, but the only response she received from Cassian was a simple, "Oh."
Nesta blinked, "Oh?"
"Yes, oh." he repeated, chuckling. "I don't care if you have a daughter, Nes. And I don't mean that in a negative way. I mean it as a my interest for you is not undermined by this information and I always want to take you out for dinner. So, do I still come by at the time we agreed on earlier or do you want more time to get ready?"
She shook her head, dumbstruck by his reaction.
"I don't understand," she murmured. She stood up from her chair, eyeing the small figure on the couch who kept writhing in her sleep. The anguish she felt that always accompanied her daughter's fever tugged at her heart and Nesta brought a hand to her chest. If only she could have taken her own pain and let the child be okay.
"There's not much to understand, sweetheart. And I thought you were one of the smart ones, but since you sound a tad shaken, let me explain further." he continued, shifting around wherever he was at that moment. Nesta sensed he couldn't keep still. "The fact that you have a daughter is not something you should be ashamed of. In fact, what you are doing is quite impressive. You're raising another person and you're in your first year of college to get a degree-"
Nesta knew it was irrelevant right then, but she couldn't stop her words when she said, "It's not my first year of university."
Cassian appeared stunned into silence. When he spoke, he stumbled over his words, "Sorry, I just assumed you were a first year. I didn't realise..." he let the sentence fall incomplete.
"Just in my first year of Foreign Languages but I have a degree in Aerospace Engineering," Nesta clarified.
More silence and then a curse.
"Holy shit. Are you telling me this is your second degree?" he asked in a squeaky tone of voice, almost as if he couldn't believe her words.
Nesta felt her cheeks redden and nodded, chewing on her bottom lip, before realising he couldn't see her. "Yes. Second degree."
Cassian let out a surprised laugh. "Jesus, woman, how old are you?"
"I'm 25."
A low whistle sounded through the phone's speakers. "Now I have to take you out to dinner."
Those words reminded her of why she had called him in the first place. She was about to tell him they couldn't go out that night, but he continued undeterred.
"Nes, I'm in awe. You've just become one of the most interesting people I've met in my entire life, I need to take you out." he kept repeating those lines so lightly that Nesta was beginning to actually believe them.
"It doesn't bother you in the slightest, really?"
Stop sabotaging yourself, her inner voice scolded her.
"I'm not asking you to marry me, Nesta," he said, "I'm asking you for a dinner out, just you and me. I don't expect anything from this date except spending time with you. Talking. Getting to know each other. Enjoying a hot dinner and sharing dessert. Nothing more. If you ever agree to more dates with me and it starts to get more serious, even then you won't have to introduce me into your daughter's life. But if the time ever comes, I won't be scared to death of the idea of a little girl. Actually, I like children. I love them. They think just like me, they understand me right away," he joked, trying to lighten the tense mood. They both chuckled, then he took a more serious tone. "But really, a child will not be the reason I abandon this ship. Not now nor later, in case we ever decide to leave this port. You hear me?"
Nesta didn't answer because she was too busy holding back tears and wasn't sure what would come out of her mouth if she tried to talk.
"The only thing I can say to let you know that this news caught me off guard for a moment and I'm not an unsympathetic madman is that I didn't expect it at all. I mean." another startled laugh and Nesta could almost see him shaking his head and running a hand through his hair, "You're always on time and so composed and take all your classes. Which, I would remind you, even non-parent-students struggle to do. And you're so incredibly sexy, Nesta."
A sudden gasp sounded on the other end of the phone.
"What is it?" asked Nesta worriedly, straightening her back.
Cassian let go of a ragged groan, "I just realized you're a milf."
The laughter that came out of her surprised her so much that she found herself laughing even harder and when she had calmed down and Cassian spoke again, it was as if she could see the smile on his lips. "So, what time shall I come pick you up?"
"Ah, damn. Yes, uhm," muttered Nesta, walking over to the couch and sitting down next to Charon, being careful not to land on her little legs. "We can't go out tonight because Char's sick and I couldn't find anyone to keep her for me on such short notice," she sighed, brushing her hair away from the little girl's face, who had calmed down and seemed to be sleeping more soundly. "I'm really sorry, I really wanted to go out with you tonight."
That confession caught her off guard, but she was glad Cassian didn't tease her about it.
"Oh man, I'm so sorry. Is there anything I can do for you? Is there anything she needs? I can stop by the pharmacy and drop everything off."
Nesta felt her stomach flip.
How could he be so fucking perfect?
It took her a few seconds before she recovered from his offering.
"No, don't worry about it. I picked it all up on my way home from work. But thank you so much for volunteering."
"No problem."
They stayed on the phone for a while more and only when Charon started to stretch did Nesta hang up, telling him they would rescule via text. She turned just in time to see big blue eyes fixinng on her and she smiled sweetly at the little girl who had saved her life only four years before. She stretched her arms out towards her and Charon let herself be taken up easily, completely dazed from the three-hour nap she had taken. Nesta positioned in her lap and kissed the crown of her head, "Hello, my baby."
Charon didn’t reply as she always did whenever she woke up, but Nesta didn’t really care about that. She was a grumpy bastard in the mornings, so she couldn’t really blame her daughter for taking after her.
"You wanna watch a movie?" she asked, in hope to distract her baby from the bothersome fever. She still was too hot to the touch and her face was as red as ever. She simply nodded and Nesta turned on the tv, putting Charon's favourite cartoon channel.
It wasn’t long – probably less than half an hour – before their doorbell rang. Nesta held back a laugh when her daughter jumped in her arms and positioned her in her cocoon of blankets and pillows before getting up.
She looked through the peephole in the door and furrowed her brow at the delivery boy standing in the cold who was dancing on the spot, probably to warm up. Nesta opened the door wide, eyeing the boy who couldn't have been older than twenty. "I didn't order anything, I think you have the wrong address."
He looked as if the world had fallen in on him, "Are you sure?" he asked checking the order on his phone. When she caught a whiff of the smell coming from the paper bag he was holding in his hands her mouth watered and she thought about lying to him and saying that no, she wasn't sure and that yes, she had forgotten she had ordered from McDonald's.
But Nesta nodded, arching an eyebrow and crossing her arms over her chest, "If you want I can help you find the house, who is it addressed to?"
The boy looked relieved and thanked her before extending the phone with the order towards her.
Her eyes scrolled over the list of food and drink in the bag and again the thought of making him think it was hers raced through her. There were also chicken nuggets for Charon. It looked exactly like the order the two of them made every time they went to a fast food restaurant.
"It's at the bottom, left," the boy said when Nesta took too long to find it on her own.
Nesta Archeron, 35 Stephen Street, Velaris VR.
She backed away, handing the phone back to the delivery boy. "I think they've made a mistake. I'm Nesta Archeron, but I didn't place the order."
"Um," he said, "it says in the notes that it was a surprise and the food has already been paid for. I have to run to deliver more stuff, so please take the food and enjoy the gift. It's from a certain Cassian. Do you know a Cassian?" he asked.
Nesta's jaw dropped.
He did not, she thought.
She nodded and the boy all but shoved the bag at her and ran back to his car, without even looking back once.
Nesta stared out at the dark empty street in front of her house and then went back inside, closing the door slowly, taking with her what had just become their dinner.
As soon as she entered the living room, Charon turned to her and opened her mouth wide, letting out an excited shriek that Nesta was sure they had heard all the way down the street. She jumped to her feet on the sofa, knocking over several cushions.
"Chicken nuggets!"
Nesta laughed and nodded, letting the tension in her shoulders melt away.
She dropped the bag on the coffee table and her little girl launched herself off the couch, assaulting the food as if she hadn't had a fever to knock her out like a horse under sedation at the time. From the way she tore the paper and pulled out her little box of chicken nuggets someone might have thought Nesta wasn't feeding her.
She made sure Charon was settled in her tiny armchair, which they kept next to Nesta's only bigger twin, and then picked up the phone, opening the thread with Cassian.
So far, they'd exchanged few messages and all of them had been about university, so when she started typing, she felt like a child on Christmas morning. Or a teenager dealing with her first kiss.
From: you
To: Cassian Navarro
You really didn’t have to
From Cassian Navarro
To: you
I don’t know what you’re talking about;)
From: you
To: Cassian Navarro
Whatever. Thank you so much. Char’s enjoying her nuggets in peace. It seems like they did their magic and she’s cured now
From Cassian Navarro
To: you
I’m glad she’s happy and cured then. And, Char? That’s her full name?
She replied with a smile on her face as she took out her burger from the bag and started eating. They kept on texting for the entire night, even as Nesta put Char to bed, he patiently waited for her to be done with it, telling her it was okay and to take her time. He had all night, he’d said.
"Mommy," the little girl whispered as Nesta tucked her into bed.
"Yeah?" she said, caressing the baby’s face and smiling down at her.
Char closed her eyes and yawned, reaching out her hand until it touched Nesta’s. Her little fingers tightened on her own and she breathed through her nose at the rush of love she felt for her little creature.
"Can you say thank you to the nugnug man?" she had her eyes open now and was looking at her with such intensity that she couldn’t help the laugh that escaped her. And… nugnug man? She liked that. She liked that a lot. "Maybe if we’re nice to him, he’s gonna send more."
Nesta only nodded approvingly, brushing her thumb over her eyebrows, in a way she knew would have her asleep in mere seconds. "I’ll tell him you appreciated the gesture and that’s you’re hoping for more nuggets."
Charon was so out of it that she didn’t even reply and started lightly snoring as soon as Nesta turned off the lights and walked up to her bedroom. She passed by the living room and eyed the mess before deciding against it. She would clean up in the morning.
For now, the only thing Nesta wanted to do was to put on her pyjamas, get under the covers and let the sweet words Char's NugNug Man was sending her lull her to sleep.
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talkfantasytome · a month ago
Have you written about Azriel discovering that he is Gwyn's mate? If so, where can I find it? And if not, can you write? Please 🥺
I hadn't written that...I don't tend to write in canon a lot...but guess I'm doing so now. 👀😂
You will now get to witness a few of my headcanons that don't come out much, particularly: the bond looks different for everyone and Azriel's shadows don't actually speak to him...I know a lot of people write it that way, but personally, I believe that the "language of the shadows" is something far more intrinsic and deeper. It's feelings, unspoken guidance.
Also, let's not forget that they both have a lot of healing to do...especially Az. 😬
Word Count: ~1,500 | Warnings: Az still has issues...
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Azriel couldn't deny he was more excited to get back to the House of Wind than usual.
It's not that he didn't like the House, but he often felt the same indifference to arriving there as he did numerous other spots around Velaris when he was just idly traveling there. Or, in this case, traveling home.
However, he'd been away for almost a week, and he was shocked at how difficult he'd found it. This was his job. And he excelled at it. Being away for a week or two to gather information was nothing. He'd once spent over two months hiding and observing a possible enemy and hadn't been even half as anxious to get home as he was now.
Not that he didn't know why.
No, that was rather obvious, considering the face that haunted his dreams each night. The teal eyes that sparkled, stars in the night sky of his dream world. The sound of a laugh that calmed him. The smile that hid in his heart when awake, only to come out in full force as soon as he closed his eyes.
Gods, he missed it all so much. Their private training sessions. The game nights at the House she'd join them for. Something Azriel was exceedingly pleased by, considering how difficult it was to actually get through a game with just Cassian and Nesta. Their secret conversations within the library when he was there doing research. He couldn't wait to get back to all of it, and he'd be lying if he said he wasn't hoping for more. To maybe get the chance to take her out to dinner, if she was willing. Or, maybe, have a private dinner with her at the House, if that would make her more comfortable. Or a picnic outside of Velaris, out of the House, but not surrounded by so many others. He'd likely prefer that too, if he were being honest.
It was new for him. This feeling…the desire to be around someone constantly, to be so desperate to see them when they weren't around. Azriel didn't know what to make of it. His feelings for Mor and Elain had been so different, but he just couldn't believe that meant his thoughts around Gwyn were wrong. If anything, they made him start to realize how horrid his feelings had been for the other two.
He'd never once dreamed about Elain's smile, her eyes. Never once heard Mor's laugh in the depths of his mind and felt so restless. And he certainly never fantasized about teaching them a new card game he'd learned, or planned out possible ways he could take them out on a date.
He was just about to land on the balcony when his shadows pulled him up to the training ring, instead. It was like a whisper on the wind that inserted itself into his mind, no words or images, just a feeling that directed him.
So Az flew up to the balcony where the training ring was held and landed silently on the surface, only to find a flurry of copper hair flowing in the wind as she worked through the exercises he'd taught her.
A deep breath in, and Azriel was moving closer, watching her every movement.
She was flawless. Each step perfectly timed, every swing of her sword mortiferous. Her hair was loose, her leathers tight against her body in a way that had Az's mind scrambling as he tried to keep a hold on himself.
He wasn't sure if he should call out to her or not, knowing she'd realize he was here sooner or later. If not given away by himself, his shadows would surely do it. But, before he had the chance to decide, she did a move that had her twirling around and halting, their eyes locking as a smile instantaneously spread on her face.
And suddenly his entire world came to an end as something wholly new blossomed before his eyes. As threads of deepest cobalt and sparkling teal joined together, twirling as they created one thick bond between them, slamming itself into place in a way that had Azriel truly gasping.
Glowing brightly before him, he could have sworn the sun's rays focused in on it, on them, even as his shadows danced around it.
The force of the snap had him losing his footing and falling to his knees as he stared up at Gwyn. His heart was thundering wildly, his mind depleting of every thought but her and that one word that rang through him, reverberating off of every bone.
Gwyn's smile softened as she walked toward him. And then, suddenly, he felt something akin to a gentle tug on one of his ribs. His hand snapped to the spot as he watched Gwyn's eyes widen in amusement.
"Took you long enough, Shadowsinger."
"What?" he rasped, watching as she knelt before him.
Gwyn huffed a small laugh as she sat back on her heels, and Az mimicked the motion. "I was starting to think you might never realize…"
"You…you knew?" Her smile brightened and completely stole Az's breath as she nodded. "For how long?"
"A few months, though I suspected before," she explained, her eyes dropping to look down at the ground. "At first, I didn't tell you because I thought you knew and didn't want…" Her voice trailed off for a moment, and Az placed a finger beneath her cheek to softly lift her face, removing it the second their eyes met again. A flash of something mischievous flew across her gaze. "But, after a little while, I realized you had no idea. And then I just got curious, wondering how long it would take you. You were really slow."
A wet laugh burst from his lips as he watched her, as he followed those freckles, her face scrunching slightly while she spoke.
"I-I'm not…not ready for…"
"Gwyn," Az sighed, interrupting her stuttered sentence, "I just want to spend time with you. We don't have to do anything you're not comfortable with, even if that means not spending too much time with me alone."
"However," he continued, "if you are willing to, perhaps we could try having dinner together? We don't have to go out into the city, or even leave the House. But if you want to, maybe we could take a picnic to a pretty lake I know? I'm sure the House would gladly pack a basket if it knew it was for you."
Gwyn chuckled softly at the comment. "Expect a lot of chocolate."
She let out a sigh, slowly taking his hands in hers, her thumbs caressing the top of them, sending shivers down his spine. "I'd like that." Her voice was tentative as her eyes lifted, meeting his gaze again, a light shining in them Az wasn't sure he'd seen before.
Az couldn't help but smile widely at her, at the response. "We'll start with that, then. All I want is to spend time with you, Gwyn. However much you're willing to give me."
"Then you should make sure it's a great picnic."
"I'll do just that," he laughed, finally finding the strength to stand, his hands remaining in hers as he helped her up.
Gwyn let out a deep breath. "I should get going. I've got quite a bit of work to do this afternoon."
Az nodded in understanding, bending down to pick up the sword she'd been using. "I'll put this away. May do some exercises myself."
"Okay. Tonight, then?"
"Tonight," he agreed.
His eyes followed her as she left, and it wasn't until she was out of his sight that Az finally fully realized what happened.
With the shock fading away, Az was left dealing with an internal war. A desperate desire to follow Gwyn against the pounding thoughts reminding him who he was. Reminding him how perfect and lovely and amazing Gwyn is, and how he would darken her life.
They settled within him as he shed his jacket and began his own exercises.
He didn't deserve Gwyn. Could never deserve someone so wonderful, so bright. She was a true light, and all he would be is a shadow in her life. Not a gift from the Cauldron, but a curse. And he knew that, one day, Gwyn would realize that. She may have seen him at his most feral, may not be scared of him as others were, but that didn't mean she could love him, could ever truly want him.
Like he had been, she was just overwhelmed with the snapping of the mating bond, too surprised to think straight and see this truth. It intrigued her, made her want to know more. Until she learned the pieces that would have her pulling away forever.
And as he swung the sword, as he moved with the wind, Az realized he had a choice ahead of him.
Did he let her go now, to ensure he never darken her path? Or did he take the selfish route, and spend as much time with her as possible until she finally saw the truth?
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olivereadsbooks · 3 months ago
The Bond - azriel
azriel x gn reader
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genre: angst to fluff
warnings: blood, cursing, kidnapping
The reader is a healer & Rhysand's sister during the human versus fae war 500 years before acotar takes place
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The silence on the battlefield was mind-numbing, broken only by the sounds of birds sweeping across the field of corpses.
Carefully I picked my across the ground, my boots squelching with each footstep on the damp dirt. Not unlike the vultures circling above the mounds of bodies, I too sifted through the deceased. The Fae corpses I left with markers for the gravediggers to retrieve, and for those who still clung to life I did my best to safe. With soothing magic, I eased the path of those near the end of this life.
The humans I passed over – their wide eyes pleading and fingers grasping at the heels of my boots. It was a cruel practice, and their faces would haunt me late at night, but I knew greeting death here would be far better than whatever life they might find in the Fae encampment as a prisoner, prey, or someone's disposable toy.
Besides, we were at war.
My gaze drifted back to the ocean of tents stretching as far I could see just as a unit of Illyrians took to the skies. Soul aching, I turned back to my work, my body carrying on automatically even as my mind drifted towards the clouds.
Azriel and Cassian searched me out once the fighting was over, relief washing over their features as our gazes met across the medical tent, the trio did this after every battle and although it warmed my heart, I did not know how to tell them the ridiculousness of it. They were the ones fighting on the frontlines, I was just a healer in a tent miles from the clash. It should be the other way around.
I peered around their shoulders waiting for Rhysand to appear from the crowd. Only once I caught a clear glimpse of their faces, my heart sunk.
The two grim-faced Illyrians made their way across the tent as quickly and unobtrusively as their large frames allowed. Scrubbing my hands clean in a nearby tub, I left my patient in the hands of an assistant and rushed to meet them halfway.
Sweeping my gaze across their mud-splattered, blood-covered armor I immediately began triaging the wounds I found just as I had done for each soldier that entered the tent. It was purely on instinct after the large number of consecutive hours spent deep in my work under the same canvas ceiling. But other than a few shallow cuts and scrapes they seemed fine, and any blood on them smelled human.
Azriel reached me first, his hand drifting towards me before he pulled it back to his side, his face turning away quickly. It stung and I wanted nothing more than to reach out and make sure he was okay, but no – now was not the time to brood over past mistakes choices or hurt feelings.
I pinned my gaze on Cassian. "Where's Rhysand?"
Our last conversation was hours ago. Cassian and Az departed with quick farewells to prepare search parties and I was alone again - left behind as usual. They ignored my pleas using the excuse that it was too dangerous and my expertise was needed here.
And I let them, because I knew what none of us were saying: if Rhysand was really dead, then I was the last of my family line.
However as soon as they left the other healers quickly pushed me from the tent once it became clear I was in no place of mind to focus in the high-stress environment. It bothered me less than being left behind because it was true. But it was impossible to focus when my heart thoughts were miles away.
Wandering in the direction I had not yet searched, I found myself in a copse of trees kneeling in the mud at the side of a deceased Illyrian. Heart in my throat, I gently rolled the body onto its side.
His dark eyes, blank and clouded, are the last thing I would remember.
The first thing I noticed was the cold. It was bone chilling, blood-freezing – the sort of cold I remembered from my childhood visits to the Illyrian mountains. The type of bitter chill Rhysand, Azriel, and Cassian had grown up in.
Cassian used to laugh at me while I shivered beneath the protection of Azriel's coat and Rhys's magic. He would offer me his body warmth to warm me up with a few flirtatious winks until my brother would hit him.
I shivered as the memories faded, the iron chains around my wrists and ankles clashing in an awful grating noise as I folded my body in on itself to keep in as much body heat as possible.
A short distance from me a group of human soldiers clustered around a fire turned to look in my direction. Seeing me conscious, one of them rose to their feet and ducked inside a tent, returning quickly with a tall man. With his decorated uniform and the cleanliness of his hands I knew he was the man in charge.
He strode with purpose around the firepit, coming to a stop in front of my face. Somehow he managed to look down on me and still keep the narcissistic tilt of his chin. "You're one of those..." He paused and from the look on his face I wondered if he would be sick right there on his shiny boots. "...Fae healers, yes?"
Questioning what sort of plan he was brewing I stared at him, the miserable cold and the lingering shock making it hard to form coherent, connecting thoughts.
He frowned, forcing me to roll onto my back with a hard nudge from his boot. "You live or die at my word, animal. Remember this before you answer dishonestly."
I licked my lips, begging my voice not to break as I responded honestly – yes. My powers had always been inclined towards medicine much to the chagrin of my warrior father.
The leader tilted his head in my direction and the two soldiers hauled me to my feet by my armpits. They half dragged, half walked me across the camp to a thick group of trees where a lone figure knelt strung up between trees, head bowed, Illyrian wings tucked tightly.
My captors let go of me, dropping me unceremoniously into the dirt before my High Lord, my brother, the only blood I had left.
Every inch of exposed skin was covered in his own blood – the smell was overwhelming – and a steady stream of droplets fell to the earth and splattered on the damp leaves below. Smeared with mud and blood, the stark lines of the tattoos inked above his knees seemed to mock us both.
Wild and red-hot anger rumbled through me, heating my skin, and warm tears blurred my vision. I wanted to rip them all apart for what they had done and stain the leaves a brighter, fresh shade of red.
Reining in the wave of emotions I hid them deep in my heart – somewhere the mortals would never find. They were fond of saying we were heartless creatures.
Control yourself. Think. Find a way out. At the least, give Azriel and Cassian time to find you. For Rhysand.
Do it for your family.
The leader's footfalls felt like eternity as he approached Rhysand.
Would he see any resemblance between us? Or did he already know?
Rhysand's eyes fluttered open, and a sigh of relief slipped from my mouth before I could stop it. He was alive.
He blinked as our eyes met, alarm flaring through the familiar violet. Snarling at the man in front of him, the chains rattled as his arms strained against their iron fetters.
"Keep this Fae alive," The man commanded me, gripping Rhysand's chin tightly to stop his movement, "and he will keep you alive in turn by answering our questions." Releasing his grip, another soldier took his place in front of my brother.
Rhys had always been the protective older brother – even forcing Azriel and Cassian to promise never to court me. His exact words were, "Unless you're mates, I never want to see either of your dirty paws touching Y/N."
My stomach rolled as the torturer began sorting through his tools.
Rhys, it is my turn to protect you.
I'll find us a way out of here and then we'll find our family.
We will end this ridiculous war and go home.
I wanted us all to be together again one last time. I dreamed about our home and Velaris every night and daydreamed so often it was bleeding my days and real memories together.
I wanted to hear Cassian's laughter. With the war it had been too long since I saw real light fill his eyes.
I wanted to watch Rhysand change the Night Court and then the world.
I wanted to be by Morrigan's side as she grew and healed in the real Night Court - the Court of Dreams.
I just wanted Azriel to take my hand.
The only time I had with Rhysand was usually after a particularly vicious session. As awful as it was I looked forward to tending to his wounds, because then at least I knew he was not bleeding out alone in the frozen forest.
That was the only time I had with him. Unless I needed to relieve myself, I was left in a tent, forced to listen to everything they inflicted on him. Alone with my thoughts I thought up a hundred plans, scenarios, strategies, but the chains never came off, there was never an attack by our forces, and the guards would beat me unconscious if I spoke a single word.
I tried many times.
The two of us flirted with a dangerous line, death hovering around every sun rise. Rhysand literally, his life force waning with each new day under the cruel hands of the soldiers. For me, I could see the decision to rid the camp of its two fae prisoners lingering in the leader's eyes each time Rhys's answers became less and less satisfying. We were running out of time.
I wanted to see Azriel one more time.
I wish he had taken my hand just once.
Forget the bond, we should have run away and saw the world like we talked about a hundred times.
Where are you, Azriel?
I thought I was still dreaming as my eyes watched the back of the tent open and Azriel slipped soundlessly inside. Struck mute, silent tears streamed down my face. His small smile was so tender, so soft, I thought I would break as his hand gently cupped my face. There were so many things I wanted to say.
He raised my hand to his mouth, pressing a kiss to the palm that left my heart barely beating. I do not think my voice would work if I tried to speak.
"Rhysand." He murmured, his shadows swirling to protect us from eavesdropping ears.
Wordlessly, I pointed towards the spot they kept Rhysand bound. He nodded, slowly releasing my hand. Before he could pull away, I gripped his hand with both of mine. Please don't go.
"I'm coming back to you," He promised, leaving a soul-rending kiss on my forehead. His thumb stroked my cheekbone, smudging the salty tears and grime on my skin. "And then not even you will be able to keep me from your side."
He pulled his hand from my grip and I watched him and his shadows fade into the darkness. He glanced back once, and in his hazel irises I saw reflected the same empty pain I felt.
I laid down, alone once more, overanalyzing every sound I heard until suddenly the camp roared to life with sounds of battle and soon Azriel was standing in the entrance, a pair of keys jingling in one hand.
He started with the manacles on my wrists, his touch careful against the raw skin as he moved on to the chains around my feet. I stood, taking his offered hand and following him from the tent into the night air.
Around us the humans were quickly failing under the night of the Far and Azriel’s grip on me was secure, but my thoughts raced as we passed tent after tent, and eventually I stopped moving altogether.
"Azriel," I called his name quietly, our joined hands tugging him to a stop. He turned to face me, his brow furrowed in question. I knew we were in the middle of a rescue mission, a war, and I was filthy, and this was quite possibly the worst time to talk about anything, but I could not let us go back to whatever we were before.
Whatever limbo from hell that was.
I stepped closer, giving him time to pull away before placing my mouth on his. I wound my fingers in his hair; his hands settling on my waist before drifting to my back as he pulled me even closer.
The mating bond snapped into place quietly, like it was pretending to have been there all along. It was unlike anything I could imagine and yet somehow everything I ever dreamed of. The soul I felt connected to mine I already knew as well as my own. It was vast and shadowed and warm and familiar – home. It was Azriel.
"Ugh, finally."
I heard someone groan and disentangled myself from Azriel long enough to see Rhysand standing. Leaning on Cassian's shoulder, his tired violet eyes flickering in the light of the rising sun, but standing.
He was okay. We were okay. They had come for us.
I smiled at Cassian, his smile infectious.
Azriel growled in warning as Cassian took a step in my direction, his grip on me tightening.
Cassian's mouth twisted into a smirk and Rhysand groaned, his nose wrinkling, "I cannot wait for this phase to be over and I'm not sure whether to be extremely happy or completely disgusted by that."
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thanks for reading!
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iliveiloveiwrite · 22 days ago
There for You || Azriel
a/n: slowly getting back into the swing of things.
warnings: tiredness, established relationship, mating bonds.
word count: 691
masterlist | send some blurb requests?
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Night had fallen in Velaris. Aptly named for the stars that shine so bright above the homes and businesses that made their home in the city, the city of starlight had never looked so beautiful. Each star burned with a force unmatched; their light blazing across the sky. 
Azriel sits beneath the starry sky; body and mind dog-tired as he raises his face to stare at the beauty above him. A fleeting smile crosses his face as he remembers the first after learning to fly. On the nights when he could not sleep, when the yearning for his mother became too much, he would sit on the cold, hard ground of the Illyrian training camp and simply stare at the sky, wondering what it would be like to hold a star in his hands. 
The memory fades as weariness continues to set in. He hadn’t had long to rest coming back from the continent. His time there was split between meetings with Mor and gathering intel from his shadows on the ground. As he landed back in the Night Court, his time was then taken up by liaising with Rhysand, Feyre, and Cassian. By that point, he had forgotten the tiredness fogging his brain and continued to do the best he could for the court he called home. 
It wasn't until he had taken a seat in the garden of the town house and stared at the night sky that Azriel truly realised his exhaustion. 
Light footsteps announce your arrival. Azriel’s shadows dancing around him as they take in your arrival. Azriel sits a little straighter in his chair; doing his best to mask his exhaustion from you, to not worry you. 
“Aren’t you tired?” You ask as greeting, aware of the spymaster’s role in the Night Court. “You got back from the continent hours ago and you still haven't rested.”
“Don’t worry about me,” Azriel replies, brushing you off with wholly intending on doing so.
“I’m going to worry, Az,” You stress. “You look as if you haven't slept in the last century.”
Azriel sighs; the sound coming from somewhere deep within his chest. He knew full well how he looked; he was aware of the shadows under his eyes, and the ache in his bones, but he couldn't fully rest yet, not until he had his answers. 
Azriel casts a glance in your direction, noting the worry written on your face. “It’s nothing,” He reassures in a soft voice. “I can handle it.”
A broken noise sounds from the back of your throat. You reach out for him before thinking better of it. “I know you can handle it, I’ve seen you handle worse. What I’m trying to say, Az, is that you don't have to handle it alone. We’re in this together. Let me be there for you.”
Your words strike a chord in Azriel. He meets your gaze across the iron table, seeing the unmasked worry and concern alight in your eyes. The mating bond deep within him warms as he reminds himself of how lucky he is to have found a mate like you - someone who knows when to step in, to make him stop before he runs himself into the ground. He’s loved you for a long time; he’ll love you for an eternity more, but his love for you grows as he takes your hand and squeezes tightly.
“I’m tired,” He confesses quietly. The words now spoken out loud, he feels lighter in himself. Whatever burden had been resting heavily on his shoulders has been halved, given to you for a short while as Azriel takes the time to rest and recharge.
“I know you are,” You answer. Standing, you pull Azriel up with you. He wraps his arms around you, embracing you for the first time since coming back from continent. The taught muscles in his body relax as he feels you pressed against him; the mating bond working wonders for his stress levels. 
You press a kiss to his shoulder; happy to have him home after his absence. You tap his hip twice, nodding towards the door. “Let’s go to bed.”
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ladynestaarcheron · a month ago
Eat or Bed - Part One
ao3 master post
so earlier this week i had an idea and here it is! in acowar, after nesta scries for hybern, in the summer court, cassian lowkey-propositions nesta. she turns him down. here she does not.
enjoy! and lmk what you think please!
“Eat or bed?” Cassian had asked Nesta, and I honestly couldn’t tell if he’d meant it as some invitation. I debated telling him he was in no shape.
Nesta only said, “Bed.” And there was certainly no invitation in the exhausted reply.
(A Court of Wings and Ruin)
War wages around him, and even so, he can feel her. Feel her as she stands on the hilltop, perhaps miles away, watching him. It does not unnerve him, as perhaps it should. It gives him strength to do what he knows he has to; what Rhys snarls at him that he can't.
He sees her face very clearly as he falls.
She considers his question carefully but quickly. He had ripped his hand away from hers in favor of Morrigan. Every day he had flown to her on broken wings, up at the House. His crumpled form twitching towards her. The effort he had put into standing up, walking towards her, to touch her while she scried, to give her a tangible link to a real, live, safety. The touch she still feels, a light pressure on her lower back. How he asks her now, in front of her sister, his brothers, Amren.
"Bed," she replies, making her decision.
He turns with her, his hand never leaving her person. Perhaps they walk slower than they normally would, but he is weakened by his injury and she by the magic so neither of them notice.
Cassian steps closer to her as they leave the tent. It's definitive, she thinks, as she pictures what they look like. His arm is--his arm is wrapped around her. This is what it looks like when a man and woman--male and female--walk together. They brush against each other with every step. No, brush is too light a word. He is touching her, she is touching him. On purpose.
She walks to her tent, and he doesn't break stride. He knows where she's leading them. He knows where her tent is even though he has not been there.
The flaps are heavy and she's not sure it's best for him to push them aside, so she opens them and lets him enter the tent first. There's a small sitting area she has never used, and either side is covered by a black curtain, lighter than the entrance flap but opaque enough for privacy, behind which there is a bed.
It hits her: they are both standing in the tent a curtain away from a bed. She and he, Nesta and Cassian. He's looking at her. She can feel his gaze as strongly as she did his touch.
"I'm on the right," she says, walking towards her side of the tent.
He follows, matching her step for step. When she moves the curtain aside, and enters, he does too. They are both standing there, they can both see the bed. Her night things are on a small stool on the left, the magically heated basin and towels she uses to wash herself on the right. He can see both. Is that what he's thinking of now? How she comes in here, undresses herself, then washes? And then slips on the nightgown?
Her heart beats in her throat. She can feel every part of herself, every tug of blood through her veins...and she can feel him, too. Watching her. Taking another step. Reaching his hand out.
His fingers go to her chin, tilting her head upwards. She can't move. She can't.
"Do you want me to leave?" he asks softly.
It's the strangest thing, she thinks distantly. Normally his eyes are so...firey. In anger, in derision, in something else. But now they are calm, quiet.
"Or do you want me to help you wash up?" he continues.
She almost blinks in surprise. For he is not...he is not even suggestive. It's a simple question, inconsequential and inoffensive. It's as though he's asking her if she'd prefer cream or sugar. She might say both or neither and it wouldn't matter to him either way, he's only asking.
It's to calm her, she knows. It works for a fraction of a second, and she latches on to that, wringing out the slightest bit of courage before she can lose it. "Well, I am covered in mud," she says brusquely. Without pausing to draw breath, she unclasps the button at her neck and loosens the laces, shrugging the dress off of her. It lands in a pool of powder blue at her feet.
He doesn't drop his eyes from hers, doesn't say anything as her nerve fades slightly, leaving a full-body blush in its place.
"Before the mud sets," he says, in the same soft voice, gesturing her towards the basin. He pulls the stool over from the other side of the room, tossing her nightgown on the bed so he can sit upon it. He's so tall that she's barely a few inches above him like this, but he still does not move his eyes from her face.
It all rises in her again: she should sit in it, but she can't, because it makes her feel like she's dying. And she'll have to undo the bustier--he's just staring at her in a bedroom and she's in only a bustier--
"Do you want me to leave?" he asks her again. Same tone, same cadence. Conversational, casual.
But he can't hide from her, the same she can't hide from him. For better and for worse...she knows what he wants. She knows he wants to stay.
"No," she says, bold and clear. Her hands go to her bustier, unhooking the small clasps that keep it tight on her chest. It does not fall, the straps on her shoulders still tied, so she crosses her arms to slip it off.
He breaks. It's not obvious, his eyes do not stray and he says nothing, but his fingers curl slowly, clenching tightly.
The Summer air is warm even at night, but gooseflesh rises on her skin anyway. She doesn't let herself swallow before hooking a finger at the lacy hem around her waist and pulling it downwards. It falls rather limply on her dress, black stark on blue.
There's a twitch in his face--he is stopping himself. From speaking or moving or biting his lip, she is not certain, but a thrill shoots through her anyway. She is completely undressed, right in front of him. And it's...it's like it should be terrifying but his calm paired with the cracks in it make the fear disappear.
She takes a step back, allowing herself a deep breath as she stands in the basin. Slowly, slowly, she perches on the side of it. The water hits her nearly up to her knees--but it is warm, it is not alive, it will not kill her, this isn't hell--
Cassian dips his eyes. Just for a moment, just briefly, but he does, and it knocks all thoughts of the Cauldron clean out of her brain. Because even though it's only a second, this time, his poise cracks even further. His mouth opens and a slight hiss comes out.
Before she can decipher what the sound means, he speaks, as though trying to wipe away evidence of his mistake. "Start," he says, jerking his head toward the small rags and bottles on the side of the basin.
Her hand moves of its own accord, spilling the body wash onto a washcloth before beginning to scrub the mud off her legs. As she rises higher, she can't help but blush--how is she supposed to properly wash herself with him watching? How do people do this? It had seemed unfathomably erotic, when she had first read such a scene in one of the romance novels she had found at the House, but those people were older and confident and more experienced. And he knows, he knows that she has never done this before, he knows that she has no idea what she's doing, knows that she wants him--she undressed in front of him what was she thinking--
Cassian's voice, gruff and low, breaks her inner panic. "I can do your hair," he says.
His hands clench as he says it, and Nesta's heart leaps once more. He wants her. He wants her. He knows she's never--never done anything like this before, knows almost everything about her, she sometimes thinks, and he wants her. He wants to touch her so badly he has to keep his hands tucked against himself before she gives him permission.
And then her heart leaps again--that's what he's doing. It's all about waiting for her permission. He had asked her, after the scrying, he had not just followed. He offered to leave twice. And he keeps his gaze away from her breasts and legs--tries, only he can't sometimes, she can't help but think, half smug and half panicked--until she...
Until she tells him so, like now.
"Shampoo," she says, handing the bottle to him. She stretches her arm out higher than she has to, raising her breasts with the movement.
Is that stupid? Is it obvious how young she is? No, his jaw locks--that has to be good.
He scrapes the stool along the floor, moving closer to her. Setting the bottle in his lap, he moves his hands to her hair. Slow, tentative.
He exhales sharply when his fingers curl into her braid. It's a mess, she realizes suddenly, it must be. But he doesn't care, eye fixed only on her hair as he begins to feel along for pins.
His hands twitch as he lets her hair down, brushing against her neck. She drops her washcloth in the water, making a small splash. Cassian doesn't notice, twining a lock around his finger.
She doesn't pick up the washcloth until he unwinds it. He notices that, meeting her eyes and slowly, for the first time, grinning.
He's thought about this. She knows it as she looks right into her eyes, sees the...glee. He's thought about putting his hands in her hair like this. How had he imagined it? Not in the middle of a war camp, she wagers. But--this occurs to her with a thudding pulse--she might very well have been nude.
He's careful with the shampoo and water, keeping it out of her eyes. He takes his time, alternating between playing with her hair and massaging her scalp as he pleases. She keeps forgetting she's supposed to be washing the rest of herself, not nearly as suave and concentrated as he is.
She shifts on the ledge as she brings her washcloth up to her abdomen. She tries to discretely pour some water between her legs--ugh, even inside her head she can only say between her legs and not...anything else--and thankfully, his eyes don't dart down--she thinks she'd die--but his nostrils flare. It takes her a moment to realize why and when she does her body jerks slightly.
It's her arousal. He can smell it. And when it hits her, the scent does too. Hers..and his.
Perhaps she's an idiot, woefully inexperienced or naïve or whatever it is, but Nesta had not realized, in baring herself fully before him, there are places she could be staring at, too. Or not staring at.
Her throat constricts. He doesn't notice, or he might just think it's her regular rise and fall of anxiety that she's been feeling, and continues with her hair.
Nesta's not a military mastermind, but she knows strategy too. Particularly when it comes to Cassian.
So she shifts again, leaning into his touch as she inhales deeply, making her breasts rise. His hands stroke her--her hair, her neck--, and she knows he is suitably distracted when she takes her shot and looks down.
Yes. The scent is his arousal. There is no doubt now.
She's such an idiot for doubting--no, not doubting, but just not fully comprehending--what had she expected when she invited a male into her bed?
All the forgotten gods. That's what she has done. She's invited a male--Cassian--into her bed. That's--for sex. And she's naked--she's running her hands up and down her body before him! That is what she is doing right now!
When her hands rise higher, to her breasts, he pauses. It's too long a pause for her to believe it's unrelated. He's...she can't tell if he's watching. She doesn't move her head.
Nesta has not given much thought to her breasts, or really any naked part of her body, before. Before him, that is. She had always known she was beautiful, and she liked it as a girl, but when her mother died, so did any excitement about life. She never cared if men leered at her or snuck secret glances or blushed under her gaze. None of it mattered. Maybe there was a bit of a thrill that came with Tomas'...but that was stupid, she was a stupid girl, then. The first time Nesta had really, truly cared about what she looked like, liked being beautiful and wanted to be beautiful...was with Cassian. In her bedroom. Not this tent, but her bedroom in her house, when he put his mouth on her neck, when she had clutched him close to her.
He's beautiful. Too beautiful, she's always thought. A wild sort of beauty. She's seen him without his shirt, felt his legs against hers. Wondered about the dark swirls of his tattoos, what it would feel like to follow them along with her fingers...or, as she'd imagined a handful of times in the dark, with her tongue. They disappear at his waist, at the hem of his pants, but how much lower do they go? Where would her hands go?
But she pretends she is unfazed. Like she does not notice the deepening scent while she rubs around, under, and on her breasts, or the tightening of his finger on her hair.
She also pretends like the amount of time she is spending on them is normal. Like over five minutes of every bath is dedicated only to washing her breasts. She's not as good at preening as he is, though, and thinks this sight is considerably less exciting than the show he puts on when he trains in front of her.
But he doesn't seem to mind, when they can no longer pretend, or when neither of them wants to wait any longer, they rise in perfect sync.
This time, when they stare at each other...Cassian looks down.
He doesn't snap his eyes back up. He doesn't pretend not to. He takes his time, gaze snagging on things she expects--breasts, thighs' apex--which makes her blush, but also things she had not realized he would linger on--clavicle, naval, hands, and the entire rest of her--which also makes her blush.
There isn't any other pretense. This is it. This is when it happens. He's going to touch her. He's going to kiss her. She's going to let him, not kick him away or snarl or anything but kiss him back. His hands will...what'll he do with his hands? Will they go to her hair, or has he had enough of that? Her waist, her legs, her rear, her breasts, inside her? Yes, she answers herself, blood heating even more as Cassian continues raking his gaze all over her. Yes, he'll definitely put his fingers inside her. She breathes shakily as she thinks of it--she's had a few clumsy attempts with herself in the dark--not in months, of course, not in this body--and she can imagine what it'll feel like. Except his hands are twice the size of hers at least...it'll break her, surely, for him to touch her like that. And then there's...the rest of him. And--oh--she'll touch him, too. What will that look like, what will that be like? She understands only the mechanics, she's too inexperienced to accurately guess. When she does think of the two of them...it's inspired mostly by those romance novels in the House of Wind. Cassian just does whatever the hero does, and she reacts how the heroine does, their names blurring with the characters' in her mind. She always has the female lead's poise and expertise in her fantasies, nothing she has right now.
Maybe he'll tell her what to do.
She shivers. Can't stop it. Some of the books--some of the books have that, when he tells her what to do. The first was shocking enough she couldn't bear to read it while the sun was up, and some of them make her uncomfortable, but sometimes...sometimes she can hear Cassian's voice very clearly, using the author's words in her ear, breath hot against her neck.
He takes a step closer to her.
This is it. Don't be an idiot, she tells herself sternly. Just--be normal. Better than normal. Sexy, alluring, desirable. He wants this, obviously, he sat and washed her hair while she bathed herself. He asked her to come to bed. So all she has to do is go along with it and not embarrass herself. It'll feel good, she knows. His lips against her neck alone had spurned essentially all of her fantasies. The rest of him can only be better.
He takes another step. Another.
He's going to touch her now, she knows. And in a few...hours? She isn't sure. But soon, by the time she wakes up tomorrow morning, she won't be a virgin anymore. Elain is not, and Feyre isn't, so how hard can it really--no, no, don't think about Elain or Feyre right now, don't do that.
He's going to take his last step. He's going to pull her close, into him, and he's going to kiss her. He's never given her a real kiss before; just the slight brush when the queens condemned the humans to die. Don't think about that right now! But it'll be wild, and all-consuming, and she'll be entirely swept away; she'll forget her nerves completely.
And it's going to happen in the next step.
Nesta closes her eyes, tilting her head up in anticipation.
She throws them open when something comes over her head.
Her nightgown.
"Do you wear your hair braided to bed?" Cassian asks her. It's not nonchalant like before, it's more intimate. But it's not...sultry.
She only looks at him. Is she--does she--no, she had not imagined him inviting her to bed and undressing in front of him and, and, and him getting hard while he touched her. That happened.
The side of his lip tugs upward in a half smile. He moves closer to her--they are flush now. She thought they'd be here already.
Then he reaches his hand out, to her knee. Trails it upwards, settling on her thigh. Maybe he wants to take it off himself, she thinks wildly. Perhaps...males like that sort of think. The act of taking clothes off. But it seems rather counterproductive, and she can't think too much about it because Cassian's hand is on her bare thigh.
"I want us to take our time with each other," he says, squeezing her thigh. "I want to take my time with you and I want you to feel comfortable. I don't want to be...hindered," he says, grimacing at his injury, "and I don't want you to be too nervous about being overheard by your sister or someone else to be present."
Oh, she hadn't even realized there was a chance Elain could walk in. Good thing he noticed it and wouldn't have done anything...loud.
"This isn't over, sweetheart," he continues meaningfully, pressing his fingers into her again. He drops bends down exhaling sharply as he hurts himself, but he doesn't let it deter him as he takes her head in his left hand and kisses her.
It is not a soft brush, nor does he coax his way into her lips with his tongue. It's firm and intentional. It's a promise. This isn't over.
She's silent as he draws back, but finds that her hands have found their way to his chest. She doesn't pull them away.
"Bed?" he asks her, nodding to it.
"Bed," she says, tugging on his shirt as she goes.
It's almost gentlemanly, she thinks that night, the way his hands never stray from her thighs and his kisses here and there are only in her hair or on her cheek or shoulder. It's not, of course, it's incredibly improper, but she imagines by the standards of the other soldiers in the tents surrounding them, he is positively refined.
It gives her courage to stretch her fingers out and graze his thighs now and again, and a few times to his cheek and drag them all the way down to his chest. She doesn't go further like she had imagined, does not seek to trace the path of his tattoos, but she will one day. Perhaps later rather than sooner, but perhaps not.
And there's no fear in that thought. Only excitement at the possibilities.
Despite the horrors of the day, the Cauldron in her mind, Nesta feels the ghost of a smile on her lips as she falls asleep, Cassian's touch the last thing she is aware of before she goes under.
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propagandaprincess · 19 days ago
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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***
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a-court-of-messy-break-ups · 4 months ago
Eris Vanserra x Reader Headcanons
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Warning: Some NSFW, mentions of kinks etc.
༺Oddly dislikes rain when his partner isn't around ༺ "What's the point of Rain when you're not here to enjoy it with me? It's the perfect time to have sex." ༺ This man can cook omfg, will host dinner dates for their partner and will go all out only for it to end with you on the table and the utensils somewhere around the floor ༺ He is very much the ravishing type, he'll spoil you and show you off ༺ Doesn't care if you're dancing with someone else he knows you only love him and he's proud of it, but if it's a random stranger and he can tell they have feelings for you he'll be really protective ༺ He carries you to bed but drops you once he reaches it ༺ He likes to tease you, whether it be sexual or jokingly ༺ Degrades you a lot in bed, but once you finish he'll praise the fuck outta you ༺ Doesn't mind the idea of kids but isn't rushing it either, he does have a breeding kink though ༺ His love language is touch, little things such as kisses and pokes. During meetings, he would bring you and he'd rather play with your fingers than pay attention. ༺ Even when you guys aren't having a conversation with each other he still talks, a lot, he doesn't care he'll just talk. ༺ HE PINCHES YOUR CHEEKS ༺ During one of the High Lord meetings you'd be very attentive and tend to put all your attention on the speaker which he finds adorable if you disagree with something your lips will form a thin line or even a scowl and when that happens he'd pinch your cheeks ༺ When you cry he'll get all soft and pull you closer towards him then he'll start kissing your tears and whisper things to make you feel better ༺ If you two fight, which honestly does happen often with him he'd ignore you for hours ༺ When it's time to go to bed he usually expects a kiss from you, but since you two fought you'd probably ignore him which will honestly make the guy feel slightly insecure. ༺ If you guys argued about something you did wrong he'd scoot closer to you in bed but ultimately won't touch you until you apologize, if it's him he'd try to cuddle with you while saying sorry ༺ You guys train together and he doesn't hold back when that happens, he wants you to go all out and be the best you can so he encourages you to hit him harder. ༺ Aftercare is essential and it's the best ༺ His father isn't a sensitive topic to him anymore but he does wonder what it would be like if he had loved them the way a normal parent would ༺ He feels extremely guilty over Jesminda ༺ He doesn't talk about his past but when he does he cries Repost because I saw a shit ton of errors and for some reason, the edit button wouldn't work
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its-chickenwing-450 · a month ago
Game Night Azriel x Reader.(Inner Circle AU)
Request: No
Pairing: Azriel x Gn!Reader
Summary: The inner circle is having game night and the reader has to play against Az.
Warnings: Allusions to sex, mentions of alcohol, cursing, slight mention of self harm (in a non serious manner), mentions of scissors and scraping, reader is very high energy.(lmk if I should add more!)
Rhysand cut me a wicked look. "Come on, don't be a scaredy cat!"
I glared at him incredulously. "Scaredy cat?! Have you met him?!"
I could have sworn I heard someone snicker, probably Mor, or Cassian, perhaps even Feyre, cruelty wasn't scarce among my friends.
"What's the worse that could happen?"
"Death. Quick and cruel death."
A howl escaped Cassian's fat mouth and I glared at him too.
"My shadowsinger is not going to kill you in a game of rock paper scissors." A short pause,"Cards maybe..."
I took one look at Az who was definitely amused, and made up my mind.
"I'll throw myself down the steps of the house of wind instead."
"Interesting as that would be, we'd prefer to have you around for a while longer. Right Az?" A smile in his friend's direction.
"How unfortunate." I deadpanned.
A feline smile, "You're stalling."
"Yes, Rhy-sand. Of course I'm fucking stalling. I don't want to play against him. He'd probably find a way to stab me with the imaginary scissors."
"I thought you wanted to have a game night." His voice, deep and cold had a wicked undertone and I felt, more than saw Az's smile. 'Bastard.'
I swiveled, immediately to face him."Was beating your High Lord and his pet in a snowball fight not enough?-" "HEY!" I gnored Cassian and turned to face my mate."Must I also fall victim?"
I held his stare, and the brightness, the life that danced in those hazel eyes made me sigh. "Fine." I mumbled. Az threw me a cruel smile and I let out a groan. Prick. A pinch on my ass with his shadows was the reply.
All I could do was glare, but I was stalling, and everyone knew it.
"We would like to see this happen today you know. " Mor drawled.
"Okay, but why? We've all already lost to him at uno, and I barely won in monopoly. He and Nesta dominated Feyre and Rhys in cards, and pictionary. I'm not sure that I can take anymore of this. I should have stopped playing after uno with Cassian . Or better yet— I should have gone with Amren and Varian."
Laughter surrounded me, and I rolled my eyes.
"I'm not sure that Amren and Varian would find your presence welcoming right now." Nesta drawled, a glare from me and a wicked grin from her.
"Elain should play with him."
At this, her eyes widened. "Oh no, I'm fine with watching you all lose. My tea and I have no interest in joining."
"Cruel, the lot of you."
"Come on, he's your mate, it's not like he'll beat you as badly."
I cut my high lady a wicked look. "You and I both know that's not true."
She laughed at me.
"I'm waiting darling."
I pinched the bridge of my nose. " The Mother did not put me in this world just to be bullied by you all."
"Says who?!" Cackled Mor.
Cassian handed me a small glass with brown liqour in it and I glared at it.
"It won't bite you little one." I glared at him.
"No, but it is nasty. How can you stomach so much of it" I asked the war general.
His mate answered,"Cause Cassian's a brute."
Rhys snorted in response, and Feyre, Mor and I laughed, while he flipped
I smiled, and turned back to Az.
'What do I get if I win?' Az snorted. 'Doesn't matter. When I win though, I get to tear those pants off of you...' His shadows rolled around me, and I sent a tendril of my own power to flick him on the forehead. 'Pervert.' A privately wicked smile in response.
"Ugh. Feyre and Rhys are awful enough, much less Cass and Nesta." The latter couple snickered and Mor threw them a dirty look. "I'm serious, I can barely go in the House of wind anymore. You're scents are everywhere."
It was my turn to laugh, but Mor cut in again.
"Mother save me from the wrath of these horny couples." Elain raised her glass to that, and I found myself laughing again.
'You have a beautiful smile.. I can't wait to scrape it off your face with the imaginary scissors.'
The asshole just shrugged and got into position, and I did the same.
Rhys starts couting us off,"Rock, paper, scissors, lizard spock!"
I look at Az's hands, and scream. "YES!"
My hands launch into the air and a bright smile spreads over my face.
Azriel only mumbles defeatedly,"I thought you were going to play spock."
"So they won?" Elain asked Nesta, who snorted "Yep."
"Good enough for me." complained Cassian, who was still not over his defeat in uno.
I rolled my eyes and looked back at my mate, who was now pointing their middle fingers at me and dancing.
I should have fucking known they would chose the very last minute to change their mind, my shadows heard them chanting Spock the entire time— oh.
I glared at them and they smiled at me. "Cheater."
Their response was to stick out their tongue at me, and continue waving their middle fingers, causing the opal mating ring I gave them to glint in the light.
"Am I the only lost one?"Mor asked, looking around.
"Feyre responded,"They taught us how to play some weird human version of rock paper scissors last week when you were in Vallahan. Apparently," She cut me a look." They and Az have been playing since before that, and they never win."
"Except today!" Another proud exclamation from my very loud mate.
"Cheater." I complained again, I loved seeing them happy but not when it was because I lost in the most predictable way possible.
"I did not cheat, Azriel. YOU tried to cheat, and I intercepted it."
I glared at them. "I see no difference."
"And I, Shadowsinger," my shadows purred in response, curling themselves into my body shyly, -a fat fucking tell-," think that I should brainstorm a punishment", and to me they laughed, 'Pants indeed'
"Oh!" they exclaimed with a start, as if remembering something,"I just remembered, Mor, we should be heading out to Rita's now."
"Oh yes! You're right. Let's get going. Any of you guys coming?"
Everyone mumbled their agreement.
"Anyone seen my shoes?"
"Dining room I think?" Elain offered.
"Thank you!"
I watched as they went to go get them.
"Your mate is a chaotic little thing." Cassian tittered from Nesta's lap.
I snorted. They had no idea.
I watched as they walked back in, still barefoot. They grabbed my hand, and began leading me out.
"We'll be right back!" they said over their shoulder.
We walked into the kitchen and they began crawling under the table, where they kicked their shoes. When they emerged, I asked them"Not that I don't love our alone time," a bright smile that made my heart squeeze," but why did you need me to keep you company while you get your shoes?"
Putting them on, they said " It's not the shoes I need help with." "Oh?"
"Mhm." They wrapped their arms around me, and gazed into my eyes.
Fuck, they're beautiful. My hands found their place on their hips when I asked, "What do you need help with?"
"Something fun." Another smile, and I knew not to trust them.
They kissed me, and with a wave of their hand I knew I was right.
I re-entered the living room where my family was sitting, a big smile on my face.
"Where's Az?" Cassian asked.
"On his way."
He stared at me, a suspicious look in his eyes.
I grinned at him with a wink.
A few minutes passed, and still no sign of Az.
"Please don't tell me you got rid of my brother," Rhys sighed.
"He's the only one with manners, I can't afford to lose him." Feyre agreed.
I winked at her, "He's been through worse."
A mischevious glint entered her eyes, but whatever she was about to say died in her throat as her mouth fell open.
Standing at the door was Ariel, wearing leather pants. Pink, leather pants. He made no eyecontact as he crossed the threshold and walked to the front door. Walking past Mor who dropped her wine glass promptly after seeing what was written on them. Cassian looked tempted to jeer him, before he too saw the word 'juicy' in big, white, bubble,letters across his ass. But it was Elain, Elain however, who started howling first, a bright peal of laughter tearing out of her. Immediately, her hand went to cover her mouth, realizing what she did, but one look at Az again and she lost it. Red nosed, and teary eyed, our Lady of Divine Propriety promptly fell apart. Cassian and Nesta, Mor and Feyre shared a look of pure shock, before joining in.
Rhys watched them, mouth wobbling. I walked over to him, my High Lord and friend.
"Thank you for introducing us." I looked at Az, who seemed to shrink into himself, and was blushing profuselfy.
"My pleasure." A tender smile, and then loud laughter when I walked over to my mate and slapped hiss ass. Cassian, Elain, Nesta, Mor and Feyre began dying anew. Rolling on the floor, Cassian screamed ,and after seeing Az's blush grow darker, Mor fell and joined him.
I had never seen anything as perfect, standing here with my mate, watching our family absolutely lose their shit. One look at Az, and I knew he'd get me back. 'I hope you're happy.' He grumbled down our bond.
I snickered and looked at our family again, took his scarred hand and kissed it. Out loud, I said, "Beyond measure."
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arizona2004 · 5 months ago
Why have one when there’s three?
Bat boys x reader
Azriel x Rhys x Cassian x Reader
(mostly them fucking her, but little bit gay)
Word count: 3142
I should not be doing this. I should not be doing this, you keep thinking to yourself. Cassian seems so nice, though. He’s funny and sweet and absolutely beautiful. And you do want this. You hardly know him, though. You’ve had sex before, but only with one other male, and you’d known him for years. You’d only just met Cassian this evening, and now he was walking you to his house.
While he holds your hand and directs the two of you back to his house, you think about what he’ll look like naked and imagine him being inside of you. Then you wonder what it would be like to have two males inside you, or three. No. You shut yourself down. You read a book once where the girl was taken by multiple males, and you’ve been curious, but you certainly aren’t ready for that. Right?
Ahead, you can see a little bit of light, but before you get too close, Cassian veers slightly to the left, away from the lights, before stopping near a small stone house. Turning toward you, he smiles and whispers to you, “a few things before we go inside: you have to be quiet until we get upstairs, if you see any other males just ignore them, they’re idiots, and we might be sharing a bed. But it’s a big bed, so don’t worry.”
You’re confused, but before you can ask for him to elaborate, Cassian pulls you by the hand toward the house and motions for you to be quiet. He walks to what appears to be the back door of a house and quietly swings the door open. On the other side of the house is light and some small commotion. Your curious mind peaks, but before you can investigate, Cassian pulls you inside and quietly shuts the door. 
You’re about to say something, but he puts a finger to your lips, motioning for you to be quiet, then quick as a bat, he leans in and puts his lips where his finger was a moment ago. Your hands go up to his shoulders, wrapping around his neck. He pulls you closer by the hips and opens his mouth slightly, letting his tongue run across the seam of your lips. You open your mouth to let him inside, and his tongue sets you on fire. He definitely knows what he’s doing, and it shocks you enough to let a surprised moan escape. 
At the sudden sound from you, one of Cassian's hands on your hips moves to slap your ass, and you let out a surprised squeal. Cassian just chuckles and says, “I told you to stay quiet,” and you realize he’d only said that and kissed you to trick you, but when you try to speak, he painfully slaps your ass again and points to the stairs leading up. 
You walk up with him behind you, and when you make it to a short hall, he leads you to a bedroom on the left. The door is still closed, but you think you hear the sounds of another female in pleasure on the other side. When Cassian opens the door, you find that you were right. And he wasn’t joking about sharing a bed. A large bed sits in the middle of the room, and on the far left is a sleeping male, while on the right is a winged male relentlessly fucking into a blonde female.
“You’re on my side of the bed, Az,” Cassian says to the male, who only grumbles and lifts the female in his arms and moves more toward the center of the bed. Turning to you again with a grin on his face, Cassian says, “strip,” and walks back toward the bed. He sits down, back to the headboard, and waits for you to do as instructed. 
You hadn’t expected to have an audience, but you suppose none of the others are paying attention, so you start pulling your dress over your shoulders and let it fall to the ground before you. Cassian licks his lips at the sight of you, and his eyes grow darker. Your chest is bare, and you're only wearing panties now. When you go to pull them down, Cassian tells you to turn around. Doing as he said, you stare at the corner of the room before bending over to pull your panties down your legs.
When you’ve finally revealed yourself to him, he groans an approving sound and tells you to turn back around. When you do, you find him completely naked in the same position he had been in before and now stroking his cock. Motioning with a single finger for you to come to him, he continues stroking himself with his other hand.
You walk toward him, preparing to sit on his cock, but he tuts at you, “ah aha ah, y/n. I want your mouth first, sweetheart.” You grumble but kneel on the bed, preparing to suck Cassian’s cock. A low chuckle sounds from behind you at your grumbling, and you turn to find Cassian’s friend ‘Az’ watching you while still pounding into his female. You blush at the attention and turn back to Cassian. He grabs you by your hair and pushes you toward his cock. You stick out your tongue, licking up from base to tip before wrapping your lips around his glorious wet tip. You suck it gently without pushing more into your mouth. Cassian doesn’t like that and forces you further down his cock.
“Can I, Cas?” you hear from behind you, and after Cassian nods, you feel a sharp sting on your ass. Azriel spanked you. And you liked it if the moan that slipped from your mouth was any indication. They both chuckled, and Az said, “I guess it’s not much of a punishment then,” slapping your ass again.
A minute later, after thoroughly taking Cassian's cock down your throat, he pulled you up from his cock and lowered himself further down the bed. “Ride me,” he ordered. You positioned yourself over his cock and moaned when it touched you. Lining him up directly with your hole, you sunk down on his length. He was far bigger than the male you had done this with before, and the feeling of him stretching you apart was excruciating and yet wonderful, too.
You lifted yourself up and back, down onto his thick cock, but the feeling was already becoming too much. You fell forward and caught yourself on Cassian's chest. With your hands gripping his shoulders, you leaned your head onto his chest and moaned loudly, pushing back onto his cock. Cassian moved the hair from your face and wiped the tears that had spilled from your eyes. “Is it too much?” he asked. You shook your head furiously and continued pushing back. Behind you, Azriel’s female was moaning louder, and he was grunting quietly, too. The bed shook more, throwing you off pace, as he thrust into her harder. 
Cassian grips your hips and pushes forward, laying you down on your back. You can see Azriel at an upside-down angle now and watch as he finishes with the female. Cassian is slowly pushing inside roughly with his head on your shoulder. You grip his shoulders and look at Azriel. You meet his hazel eyes and stare at one another. The female below him has her eyes closed tightly as she cums, and when Azriel is finally ready, he pulls out and cums into the air with a long, low moan. Cassian, sitting up now, laughs as some of Azriel’s cum lands on your face. He smiles, scooping the cum up with a finger and puts it to your mouth. You suck Azriel’s salty cum from Cassian's finger, closing your eyes. “Does he taste good, y/n?” Cassian asks, still thrusting into your pussy. “I bet he tastes delicious,” And Cassian takes his finger again and collects more of Azriel’s cum from the other female’s stomach. You open your mouth expectantly, but Cassian puts the finger in his own mouth and moans while he sucks Azriel’s cum from it. “I was right,” he says, looking at you, then up to Azriel, “delicious.”
You don’t see Azriel's face, but whatever look he gave Cassian made him thrust faster and blew his eyes darker. Cassian pushed your thighs up to your chest and held them there while he settled into the new angle and pushed harder. You cum and moan loud enough to make the male on the other side of the bed wake and faintly hear Azriel laugh, but you can’t focus on anything as Cassian continues thrusting into you. 
You register little from the rest of the time. At some point, you are on your hands and knees while Cassian destroys you from behind, and the other male-Rhysand was his name-jerked himself off while watching. Azriel leaves to return his female to her home after cleaning her up, and by the time he has returned, you’ve cum more times than you were able to count and are lying nearly unconscious on Cassian's chest.
It’s hours later when you wake up between Cassian and Azriel. You’ve been entirely cleaned up and there’s no mess between your legs, but it doesn’t matter because looking at Azriel’s sleeping form is making you wet. His chest is exposed to you and his abs are perfect. You want to lick up his chest, kiss his lips, and feel him inside you while you suck Cassian's glorious cock again. 
You sit up in bed suddenly and decide you need to cool off, so you walk to the bathroom. The lights are already on, and when you look up, you find yourself staring at a nearly naked Rhysand with a towel around his waist. And he stares down at you, too. Utterly naked before him. He smirks, “hello.”
“Hi,” you croak out. That makes him grin wider.
He leans forward, “you smell...absolutely wonderful,” he whispers, breathing you in. That’s when you remember how wet you are, and he can, of course, smell it on you. He pushes you lightly against the closed door and you look up into his violet eyes, “want me to take care of it for you?” 
“..but Cassian…” you choke out.
“-wouldn’t mind,” Rhys says, “we’ve shared females before. As long as you want me to, there’s no problem,” he’s kissing down your neck now, and you’re breathing heavily. Upon letting out one breathy moan, he asks, “Was that a yes?”
You nod quickly, and Rhys falls to his knees before you. He lifts one leg onto his shoulder before licking up your pussy. You’re moaning loudly above him and trying to cover your mouth to stay quiet. When Rhys has made you cum twice and looks up to see you with your fist in your mouth, moaning as your eyes roll back, he stands and says, “if you wanted something to put in your mouth, you should have said that earlier. I have the perfect thing,” And he pushes you to your knees, dropping the towel around his waist.
His cock springs free and juts out toward you. Rhys wastes no time. He grabs your head and sticks his cock in, roughly pushing down your throat. It burns to take all of him, but he doesn’t care. He watches the tears spill from your eyes as he thrust deeper and deeper into your throat.
When he’s twitching in your mouth, nearly about to cum, he pulls out and lifts you to your feet. Turning you to face the mirrored counter, he lifts your right leg, exposing your pussy in the mirror. “Watch while I fuck you, y/n,” he growled, pushing into you. 
His cock was not quite as thick as Cassians but was slightly longer. Your walls clamped around him as he held you to his chest, and you were forced to watch his many inches thrust into your pussy. Your right hand snaked around his neck and held tightly as he relentlessly continued his pace. He pulled it away a moment later, though. Pushing you down, you were bent over the counter and no longer watching yourself. Rhys grabbed your hips and pulled you against him again. Realigning himself with your entrance, he thrust. You quaked around him and came again while he continued pounding deep and hard. You were aching and moaning so loudly you were sure to wake Cassian. That’s what you thought happened when the door opened minutes later, and Rhys was still destroying you, but it wasn’t Cassian. It’s Azriel. Completely naked, Azriel.
You make eye contact with him, still bent over the counter. You don’t think Rhys notices his presence, he doesn’t falter his pace, just pulls your wrist behind your back, holding them to you as he continues. Azriel smirks and watches, gaze occasionally coming back to meet your eyes. He’s hard, you notice, and his cock might even be bigger than Rhys’s, you think. As if hearing this, Rhys growls and thrust harder while Azriel laughs behind him. Moments later, you’ve cum again, and Rhys’ cum is filling you. When he finally pulls out and steps back, you fall to the floor, unable to hold yourself up on your shaking legs.
Azriel walks up to you and lifts you to his waist. He walks out of the bathroom and back to the bedroom. Laying you down on the middle of the bed, he spreads your legs and crawls up to you while Rhys settles on his side. Pressing his lips to yours, Azriel groans deeply, “so perfect,” he murmurs against your lips. You don’t even notice he’s lined himself up with your entrance as he kisses everywhere from your mouth to your breasts. But then he’s slowly pushing into you, and you’re throwing your head back in ecstasy and gripping his shoulders. 
Rhys chuckles to your right before scooting closer to draw your tongue into his mouth. Azriel sits up straighter and pulls your legs up to rest on his shoulder while he continues his slow pace. You’re a moaning mess beneath the males, but your moans are muffled by Rhys’ mouth on yours. When he does pull back from you, he climbs from the bed and makes his way behind Azriel. You turn your head to the left to see Cassian sleeping peacefully. Pulling your gaze back to the males in front of you, Azriel has his head thrown back as Rhys kisses down his neck. He’s still sliding slowly but hard enough to push his cock in all the way.
Rhys laughs, noting your concern, “you really needn’t worry about him waking. Unless it’s because you don’t think you can take more than three cocks?”
You shake your head quickly, “maybe I want three,” you say shakily.
That makes both of the males smirk, “On that note, let’s wake Cassian,” Azriel grunts, quickening his pace. 
His change makes you moan so loud you’re nearly screaming. His cock is driving into you hard and fast, it’s painful, but that only makes it feel better. Cassian stirs next to you, and when he’s finally sitting up and rubbing his eyes, Azriel pulls out. Rhys pulls you back into his arms, and Azriel lays down where you had just been. You keep your legs spread, finding it painful to close them, and let Rhys hold you. 
When Azriel is settled, and Cassian is standing, as if following some instruction given, though you’re almost positive no one has spoken, Rhys places you back on Azriel’s hips and pulls your hands up to rest on his chest. Azriel adjusts his position below you while Rhys walks to kneel by Azriel’s head and Cassian walks behind you. 
You can’t see Cassian, but you feel the bed drop behind you, then his hands grip your waist. To your front, Rhys has knelt over Azriel’s face, and Azriel darts out his tongue puckering Rhys’ ass. His head is thrown back while Azriel continues sucking and licking, and his cock hits your face. You open your mouth and flick out your own tongue to lick Rhys’ cock. He moans louder now.
Behind you, Cassian grabs Azriel’s cock and strokes it a few times before lining it up with you. You sink down on Azriel’s cock, and Cassian lines himself up with your other entrance. He rubs himself a few times on your ass, and you feel his cock coated with some cold liquid. His fingers are coated too, you note, as he pokes two at your ass. He pushes a single finger in, stretching you and coating your ass in the lube. The stretch hurts but also feels miraculous. A second finger joins the first, and you’re groaning and choking on Rhys’s cock as they curl inside you. Suddenly Azriel thrust into you hard. Looking down at him, you note anger and desperation in his eyes, and you realize you had stopped moving on his cock. 
Slowly riding Azriel and letting Rhys thrust into your mouth, you are at ease. Then Cassian takes out his fingers and slips the head of his cock into your ass. The sensation is like nothing you’ve ever felt. He pushes into you slowly, and when he’s finally in, they all seem to decide they should pick up the pace. Rhys, holding you by the hair, thrust into you quickly and sloppily. Azriel, disregarding the slow pace you'd set, thrust brutally up into your pussy. And behind you, Cassian leans forward, grips your shoulders, and starts thrusting quickly into your lubed asshole. 
A minute later, Rhys is abandoning his spot, pulling from your mouth and walking behind Cassian. You’re too focused on catching your breath to notice how Cassian leans further forward to make room as Rhys lines himself up with your dripping pussy and starts to push in with Azriel's cock. 
They all push in in tandem, and it’s moments before you are cuming again. At this point, you’ve lost count of the number of orgasms you’ve had. You register Rhys and Azriel moaning as they brush one another's cocks inside of you and Cassian's groaning as he continues pushing in. Then you see stars as a huge orgasm washes over you, and all you can feel is the three males filling you with their cum simultaneously. The four of you are all moaning loudly as you orgasm together. In the end, you all collapse in a pile and fall asleep, resting peacefully until morning. 
When you wake, you are clean, as are the sheets. Rhys and Azriel are gone, but Cassian comes over, carrying your clothes, “You should get dressed. I’m gonna have to sneak you out soon,” a wicked grin paints his face, and he walks to the door, “I’ll get you some breakfast.”
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bloodycassian · 4 months ago
Reader x Cassian - Hellish Prompt: Reader is an assassin/spy that was caught and azriel has spent months torturing her for information and can’t get anything out of her and cassian eventually goes to see who this assassin/spy is and the mating bond snaps and cassian beats the $hitt out of az bc of the mating bond instincts and rhys has to intervene and break up the fight (i was thinking this could switch between azriel’s POV at the start and then switch to cassian's POV)
AN- this was SO fun to make. Please more requests like this!! I love the idea of unexpected mates!
TW -blood/ blades.  
Drip, drip, drip. Copper smell filled the small room. Blood leaked down the drain in the floor. You wheezed a laugh bitterly and spat on the ground at his feet. Azriel's rage simmered calmly under his dark shadows. They coiled, ready to strike. Wanting to strike. The sound of your feeble laughs was practically the only sound Azriel had gotten from you for the first week of torture.  The second week was worse, even for him. Truth teller revealed nothing when he gouged into your skin from the bottom up. Truthfully, he was impressed beyond measure. But that didnt mean that he could stop the job at hand. He had to know, and wished he didnt have to do this kind of thing to get the information from you. "Listen..." He sighed, cleaning his blade. He was always nervous whenever he had a back turned to an enemy, no matter how well they were restrained. But he trusted his shadows enough to tell him if something was wrong.  "If you just.. Cooperate and tell me where the Queens are, we can let you go. No trouble, just releasing you back to Rask." He tried to keep his tone neutral, but he was nearing an exhaustion point. Torture every day for two weeks had its toll not only on the victim, but the dealer as well. His shadows seemed to be growing restless too, waiting for a chance to strike.  He watched your reaction from the corner of his eye. Noted the way your head hanging loosely seemed to gain a bit more strength before you spoke. "Losing your touch, Spymaster?" You revealed a row of bloody teeth to him, and grunted when the chains at your wrists stung the magic that weakly attempted to help you.  Azriel could have sighed. He could have laughed and bled you dry. Have a healer come and patch you up enough to keep you alive. The idea was tempting, but he didn't like having anyone besides his brothers see him in this mode of darkness. He could have brought Rhys down to attempt to break into your mind again. After the first attempt and Rhys' reaction to being blocked, he wasn't eager for that again. So he sighed, and brought out the potions laced with Faebane.  + He was convinced you weren't a normal Fae. After months of his best torture methods he was a wreck. "She just-" He tried to hide his frustration, but his brothers knew him best. Cassian smirked by the fire, warming his wings. Rhys seemed a bit more concerned, his eyebrows furrowing in confusion. Azriel had never been one to spend a long time on torture. Rhys saw the frustration flowing from him after every session with the stubborn Fae in the dungeon cell.  "I dont know what to do anymore. She's the only one to have never broken." He ran a hand though his hair. His shadows seemed weak, exhausted like him.  Rhys considered for a moment, looking between his two brothers. Cassian seemed to be enjoying Azriel's frustration. Maybe a bit too much. Rhys sipped his wine then, with a look of innocence, "Maybe we will have Cassian end it. Perhaps seeing the Lord of Death in front of her will knock something loose."  Cassian's stare whipped to him, a silent plea on his face. "We should leave it to our expert Rhys-" Azriel laughed, cold and bitter. "The expert hasn't got a damn thing out of her. We either kill her or send her back to Rask with all the information she's collected about us. With nothing in return." Shame lined his features. The sense of failure to his high lord was a heavy weight to bear. "Cas...I expect you down there tomorrow afternoon. It will be her last chance." Rhys' no nonsense tone shut down Cassian's retort. His jaw locked with distaste. He hated the cramped cells below the house of wind. Hated the way going underground made his wings feel like they needed to stretch. The worst was when that stale air was laced with the rotting smell of dead mice or old blood. It made his skin crawl just thinking about it.  "Come on Cas, dont you want to see the only one that's outlasted me?" Az asked with a mock grin. He couldn't give the same smile back. Turmoil spilled inside him at the thought of going so far below the mountain.  + Cassian took a long time to go to bed that night. His restlessness about the next day made him wake up over and over, never having more than an hour of peace before being waken up.  Azriel held up a mug of tea to him the next morning. "You look like shit." He handed his brother the mug with a small smile. Cassian glared at him, but took it anyway. He went to the balcony, his heavy wings needing to feel the fresh air. It was like taking a bath after being covered in grime. He sighed in relief, letting the late morning sun graze his body. The cold wind from Illyria was beginning to come in for the winter, and the familiar smell ignited something in him. He felt a draw, but shoved it to the back of his mind. He knew what he had to be this day. "Why the hell do we have to keep them so far down again?" Cassian complained. Around and around and around. Down deeper and deeper into the pit of the mountain that the house above was carved out of. Cassian felt like his lungs were collapsing the further they went. He tried not to let his nerves show, but he knew Az's shadows would pick up on it anyway.  "Remember when you broke your arm chasing down that Attor?" Azriel could have laughed at that memory, but the story surrounding it made the experience soured. More shame on top of the guilt already there.  Cassian hummed in approval, welcoming the distraction the memory brought. He tried not to focus on how each turn of the staircase got darker and darker. How the air seemed to compress around him. He locked his eyes on the scar on one of Az's wings. "And we spent a week fixing the top story of that apothecary?" He asked, keeping his voice steady.  "Yes. Dont you remember how the Attor got out?" Cassian shook his head, and Azriel huffed a laugh. "I left the door open for just a second to get a new knife and..." He shook his head, part in anger and regret, part in shame. "It had escaped before I turned around. I dont know how it happened, to this day."  Cassian stared at the back of the shadowmaster's head. The dark ripples around him seemed to spike. "It happens Az, you can't be perfect."  "It's not perfection, its basic thought. After that we moved all enemies to the lower dungeons. No matter the threat. Rhys even put wards on the arches." He ran a hand over the walls, his fingers catching a few of the grooves that linked each spelled archway to the other.  Cassian left the conversation at that. At least his brother wasn't brooding as much as before. The dim lights began to come into view, and his heart began hammering. Adrenaline singing through his veins. His polished siphons glowed, reflecting red off the dark stone ceiling. He had polished all his black armor the night before, when he couldn't sleep. Something poked, prodded at him all night. Keeping him awake. He figured he may as well make use out of it.  "She's not going to talk to you unless you show..weakness first." Azriel said in a low voice. Cassian nodded, reaching the end of the stairwell with him.  Cassian couldn't see the dark figure in the cell, but he felt the presence nonetheless. The dark draw that you demanded. He wondered how Azriel had dealt with that pull this whole time. The tantalizing draw to you. He shook his head, pushed the hair out of his face and nodded to Azriel.  He opened the door, then began his ritual. At the start of every session he would toss a bucket of water over your body, then a bucket of salt. It made the wounds that handn't healed fully scream in pain. You jolted at the suddenness of it this time. "Good morning, shadowsinger." You ground out, voice rough with strain. Cassian watched in awe at his brother.  Cassian was never one for torture. There was a reason Azriel was appointed to this position. Watching the calm cruelness of him was jarring, but Cassian kept his face straight. He stood behind you, watching the flimsy attempts to pull at the shackles holding your arms up. Lacerations dotted each arm, some light pink scars. Some were still scabbing over. A chill ran down his spine.  "You have a guest today, would you like to see him?" Azriel's voice was cool, calm. Like he was speaking orders to a group of soldiers. He began slicing new lines into your arms, moving up to your neck. He had left your ears in tact, as a last resort if you refused to speak to Cassian. The pull Cassian felt was overwhelming. He walked a bit too quickly around you, plastered on a wicked smile for show, then crouched down. The smile faded when he finally saw your face. Your dripping hair was a horror on its own. Plastered to the skeletal cheekbones, and pale eyes. Those eyes were brighter than anything he'd ever seen. A field of flowers down the slope of Illyrian mountains. His world shifted, drawing the breath from him. "Mine." His mind seemed to roar with that alone, but in a thousand different variations. "Lover, friend, partner, mine mine mine. Mate. My mate." His lips quivered with the realization. With the way his heart soared, and the way he moved without realizing it. He choked a gasp, and fell forward on his knees before you. He saw the same astonishment in your reaction. Azriel dropped his sword, confusion and concern alert on his features. "Cas wh-" Before he could finish, before his shadows could detect that Cassian had even moved, his brother was on top of him. Cassian's knuckles stung with every punch. A new kind of rage flared inside him. It made his muscles yearn for violence. Made his teeth crave the flesh of those that so much as looked at you wrong. There was no mercy for Azriel, it was as if he was an enemy on the battlefield. Cassian held nothing back. You hung limply from the chains that bound you. Crunch after crunch sounded from Azriel. He eventually managed to push Cassian off of him. Then they locked together in battle again. Clashes of armor against armor were deafening. The snarls they ripped at each other were loud enough to make you cringe. Your heart squeezed at the sounds of Cassian's breath. At the scent of blood spilling. You pulled feebly at the chains, your mind roaring to protect him.  Your mate. You tried to watch the battle, but the weakness in your body refused to let you turn more than a few inches. They were panting, Cassian fighting with a ferocity Azriel had never seen. His eyes flared with rage, like he was possessed. "Cas-" Azriel grunted, shoving his brother backwards. His back hit yours, pushing you down and digging those stone cuffs into your wrists. You hissed in pain. Cassian roared and lunged at his brother again, and again.  The darkness that boomed outside the cell was jarring. The stone ceiling shuddered, small rocks and dirt falling from it. Cassian did not stop. He didn't hesitate, coming at Azriel with punch after punch. His fist crushed the wall behind where Az's head had been. 
"Enough." The high lord's cool command was enough to make you still your weak attempts at looking at the two. Cassian's chest heaved as he tried lifting his arm to punch Az again. Pure fury in his heart was enough to make him disobey Rhysand's order.
  Then Rhys' talons gripped him. Freezing his mind, stilling him. Rhys' face shifted to surprise at what he glimpsed at there. "Oh.." He breathed. Azriel panted, backing away from his brother, out of the cell. He locked the cell and wiped the blood from himself, his wings hanging limply behind him. "What- the hell." He panted, nursing his arm. Cassian's eyes locked to your small frame. How your muscles quivered, how your arms shook with the effort of holding yourself up. He felt Rhys' claws recede slowly from his mind, releasing each part of him one by one. He rushed to you.  He picked up Azriel's sword and with a clean, masterful swipe, broke the enchanted stone that bound you. The weak sigh that came from you was heartbreaking. His eyes pricked with tears, and he caught you before you could fall to the floor into the puddle of dried blood. He didnt notice, or care that it was there. He sat there with you, cradled you and shook with you. 
"Cassian... She's.. Cassian's mate." Rhys said slowly, astonished. He didn't take his eyes from his brother in the cell. Azriel froze in place. For a moment, the dungeon was completely still. Totally silent, as if the world waited for what was to come next.
Azriel turned on a heel and left, trudging up the stairs. Rhys dared not touch his mind. "Cassian...." He spoke, trying to get his brother's attention. He did not glance at Rhys, just curled around your body more. Protecting, nesting almost. Rhys knew the feeling too well from the weeks after he and Feyre's bond snapped into place.  "We will check in tomorrow. Be safe, brother." Rhys spoke to Cassian's mind. It was nothing but an ocean of rushing thoughts. Cassian could have bared his teeth, could have tried to fight his brother through the bars of the cell. Hell, he could have probably broken through those bars with the primal strength flowing through him with the rush from the bond. 
But he didn't. He stayed, his warm body pressed against yours. Those siphons glowing against your skin like a fire. He stroked your hair soothingly, his tears like rainfall on your body, through your bloodstained clothes. He didn't remember falling asleep there, but it was the most restful, peaceful night he'd ever had in his existence. 
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julemmaes · 2 months ago
Stand By You
Nesta Archeron x Cassian
A/N: surprise
Word count: 4,506
Nesta had been running from room to room all day without stopping for half a second.
Her ankles felt sore and swollen inside her boots and she prayed that she would be able to slip them off when she got home, but she didn't see that happening any time soon.
Her boss had pressured her to finish a job that was not hers to do, but that some of her colleagues downstairs were supposed to wrap up in the last month. They had put it off until the last minute, warning their superiors that they would not be able to do it that afternoon alone, even though they knew perfectly well that the deadline was the next day. Nesta would file a complaint about what had happened.
It wasn't the first time she'd found herself working late hours because of Amarantha and Ianthe, and despite the extra work at the end of the day never really weighing on her at a normal time, six months into her pregnancy, Nesta was well beyond the limit of tolerance for the two women now.
All this had led to Helion walking into her office late in the afternoon with an apologetic but desperate face. Nesta had been on her way home, already had her jacket slung over her shoulders and her bag in her hand, and without saying a word, she had undressed again and extended a hand towards the man, accepting the manuscript. To sit back down in that cumbersome chair that did little to make her comfortable had been torture.
Helion had thanked her, promising her a raise by the end of the year and letting her know that he would bring her dinner - on him of course. Nesta had simply grunted and opened the stack of papers, praying it was something that made sense and not another one of those stupid novels that promoted toxic relationships and men without a shred of respect for their partners.
Just as her eyes were running over the first line, the phone rang. Nesta noticed it was her husband and ignored the call, turning it so the screen was facing down. She didn't need any distractions and she needed to finish the final check before tomorrow. If she answered and explained the situation to Cassian, he would surely be annoyed that she was working so damn much and would be able to convince her to go home.
And as much as Nesta loved the man who was calling her back at that very moment, she needed a break. She ignored the call again, running a hand over her face and starting to read, hoping to shift her thoughts to something else that didn't remind her of Cassian, but no such luck.
The love interest in the book she was proofreading was everything she loved in her husband. And when he failed in some departments, all Nesta could think about was how Cassian would react instead, which would make the character even more perfect.
She snorted, shaking her head. She rolled her shoulders, trying to take away the tension there. Some of it due to the fact that she couldn't sit up anymore, some of it due to the negative thoughts that didn't seem to let go of her that night.
Cassian had spent the last three weeks on her. He had meticulously planned her days, making sure she had a ten minute break once an hour, to go to the bathroom or drink and eat. He put naps in her schedule, one in the middle of the morning and one in the afternoon, so she wouldn't get too tired. And he insisted on driving her to work every morning and picking her up every evening, even though his office was on the opposite side of town from hers and from their home.
At first, Nesta hadn't minded so much, she'd even laughed when on the first day, an alarm clock to remind her to take a break had gone off on her phone. And she'd still laughed and texted Cassian telling him he was an idiot when the second one had rung, exactly sixty minutes later. She'd spent that whole day turning off alarms and disabling them.
When Cassian had found out five days later that she wasn't following the new rules imposed by his very strict regime, he had been angry. Nesta had thought he was joking and had let it go, laughing it off and kissing him before going to the shower.
The first indicator that Cassian had actually been annoyed by her actions had been the fact that he hadn't joined her in the shower. Nesta had dropped the subject, but it had unnerved her.
Dinner had gone by in silence, but she was convinced it was because he was working on his computer. It was only when they got into bed and Nesta asked him to hold her that Cassian had snapped, accusing her of actually thinking he was stupid because he "cared about her and just wanted her to be okay." The fight had gone on for hours and Cassian hadn't slept in their bed that night.
The next day he'd apologised and Nesta had only managed to sulk for a few hours before she'd calmed down completely.
Although Cassian had managed to accept the fact that Nesta wouldn't take a break every hour following his alarms, she could still see how much it was wearing on him in the ways he treated her. Not letting her go down the stairs alone. Wanting to drive her around wherever she needed to go. Forbidding her food and drink that not even her ob had banned. Accompanying her from room to room, even if it was just to get a glass of water.
She appreciated the fact that he was so dedicated to her pregnancy and knew that he was doing it for her sake as much as for the baby's, but Nesta felt as if she were suffocating.
She was embarrassed to admit that she had begun to avoid him over the last few weeks, making excuses to come home late and asking her friends to occupy her weekends rather than risk to broach the subject again. She felt tremendously guilty for acting this way, but she still hadn't been able to find the right words to explain how she felt, and she knew that anything she said at that point would only end up hurting Cassian. And Nesta didn't want that either.
When the phone vibrated a third time within ten minutes, Nesta rejected the call and sent a quick message. "I'm not eating at home," she said in a whisper as she typed. She clicked send before adding, "You don't need to come. I'll find a ride."
She didn't wait for an answer and put the phone on silent as she went back to her work, only interrupting hours later when Helion walked in with her dinner.
"Do you want company?" he asked, setting the bag with her food down in front of her.
Nesta inhaled through her nose, smelling the scent of grilled chicken. Her mouth watered. She shook her head, placing a pen in the manuscript and leaving it to the side as she pulled out the small green container. "No, I'd rather not get distracted and finish quickly. I know if you just sit there," she motioned towards the chair in front of her desk, "you'll never get up again and I'll end up leaving after midnight."
Helion chuckled, adding in his deep voice. "At your orders, ma'am. Leave the work in my office as soon as you finish, I have to go upstairs for a meeting, but Clare should be there."
Nesta nodded with her mouth already full and without even saying goodbye she reopened the manual and resumed reading.
It was just after ten o'clock when a knock sounded on her office door, rattling the glass. Nesta's head snapped up, her eyes just a little weary to focus immediately, but once they did, her lips parted in surprise.
He was standing outside the glass walls and looked shocked as he watched her intently. Nesta motioned for him to come in, removing her pencil from behind her ear and standing up with some difficulty. She noticed the way he jerked forward to help her, before stopping and clasping his hands to his sides.
Nesta felt her stomach twist in on itself and the baby kick, as she normally did at that time of day. The only difference was that now, she wasn't in bed and her husband wasn't whispering sweet nothings to her as she tried to fall asleep. She brought a hand to her swollen belly.
"Cass, hi," she murmured, staying behind the desk, watching him worriedly. He was looking everywhere in the room but at her and couldn't stand still. Nesta's gaze fell on the slight, almost imperceptible twitch in his leg. "Baby, what are you doing here? Did something happen?"
Cassian closed his eyes, shaking his head. "I just needed to see if-" he paused, running a hand through his loose hair. Nesta's hands itched with the urge to touch him, but whatever was going on suggested it wasn't the right time. He sighed, looking into her eyes, and the veiled layer of water she found there made her breath catch.
He stiffened and raised both hands in front of him, blocking her. "I'm sorry. I know you told me not to come and that you'd come back on your own. I just wanted to know if you were at work and," he swallowed loudly, "you are at work, so I'm going to go back outside now and wait for you downstairs. In the car. Or not." he added hastily, sounding increasingly panicked. "I can go home and-"
He swore under his breath and covered his face with both hands.
Nesta's eyes were wide and she stared at him in astonishment.
The image of Cassian, normally proud and imposing, a presence that took the whole room with its personality, now hunched over itself. His shoulders arched inward and he looked so small, so helpless as he stood before her, as if she were about to send him to the gallows.
Nesta walked up to him and took a deep breath before placing her hands on his and pulling them away from his face. Cassian's eyes were glazed over and his breath was trembling, as if he was holding back from crying.
Nesta's heart broke.
"What happened?" she asked, searching his gaze with her eyes, but Cassian's attention was focused elsewhere. He was looking at their hands, now intertwined between their bodies. His thumb snapped out to brush her belly and Nesta felt their baby kicking.
A soft smile broke on both their faces, but the happiness was short-lived. He released his grip on her and brought his right hand to his face, rubbing his eyes and sniffling. He shook his head.
Nesta placed a hand on his cheek. now more worried than she'd ever been, and whispered, "Look at me."
Cassian did so. As if her voice had a hold on him. As if he couldn’t control his body in front of an order uttered by those lips.
The emotions she saw on his face only increased her concern.
They looked at each other in silence for several seconds and just as she was about to ask him to talk to her, he leaned forward, moving closer to her. Nesta closed her eyes, convinced he was going to kiss her, but she only felt his breath against her lips and then the slight pressure of his forehead against hers.
"Why did you take it off?" he asked in a weak, horrified voice. "Why aren't you wearing it?"
Nesta frowned, opening her eyes and glancing up at him. Cassian merely grazed her ring finger as she caught up to him, remembering of how she’d slipped her wedding band off that morning. Cassian took a shaking breath, starting talking before she could say anyway. “I know I’ve been hard to be around lately and that I’ve been putting too much pressure on you for everything and I’m sorry about that. I am so incredibly sorry, Nesta. I just got scared after last month and I thought that maybe if I had more control over-” he grimaced as if those last words were ash in his mouth, “-over what you did I could be more helpful next time. Not go into a full on panic attack when you feel the slightest of changes.”
Nesta’s thumb brushed his cheek as she pressed her forehead against his more firmly, “Cass, it wasn’t the slightest of changes and you had every reason to be scared shitless.” she tried to soothe him, reassure him that his reaction had been completely justified. “I did call you thinking we were losing her, it is no small thing.”
As Nesta had entered her fifth month of pregnancy, she had been having contractions of no small intensity, which had sent her into a total panic and had led her to call Cassian to tell him that she was going into labour. When they'd spoken on the phone, Nesta had been crying and Cassian had rightly believed his wife's pain and concern, rushing home and taking her immediately to the hospital, where they'd been told it was nothing more than Braxton Hicks.
Nesta had grasped the concept at once, relaxing completely and almost forgetting about the incident, but with Cassian, the fear that it could happen at any moment made him realise that he didn't feel ready and hadn't done enough up to that point.
She felt Cassian shudder under her touch and let her hand slid from his face to place it on his chest.
“Still, it wasn’t right of me to push you to do all those things like that and I’m sorry, Nes, I’m so sorry.” he kept on saying. “I didn’t mean to do that, I just… and the last few weeks have been hell and I miss you and it might be my head but I feel like you’re never home and I miss you so fucking much.” Nesta felt her chest tighten. “And with me being a dick I started thinking you-” he stopped and shook his head. “It’s stupid. I’m sorry I even thought about it. Forget it, okay?”
Cassian started to pull away, but she squeezed his hand and pulled him back towards her. Nesta tilted her chin up and brushed their lips together.
“I bet it’s not stupid if it made you rush over here.”
He looked her in the eyes and ran his hand over his face once again. When he started talking, Nesta couldn’t believe her own ears.
“We’re fighting. And I hate that. We’ve been like this for days now and I can’t take it anymore and I’ve been so stressed in the past months because of work and I haven’t been able to think properly after the Braxton Hicks thing and then my mind just turned on me and I feel like I’m going crazy. And I can’t talk to you cause I don’t wanna make you feel bad for not wanting me to tell you what to do, cause I know you’re right.
I know you’re right when you say I’m too much and motherhening and all that shit, but I can’t help myself and again, I feel like you’re avoiding me and then tonight you started ignoring my texts and calls and I said to myself stop worrying you overbearing fucker, let her be but then while I ate on my own, my mind went to the worst case scenarios it could think of and I started wondering-” Cassian rubbed at his eyes, sighing, “I started wondering if you were thinking of leaving. If maybe you’d reached the breaking point and I’d pushed you too far and that was it and that it was too late. And I went into our bathroom to get ready for the night and I saw it there on your sink.”
Nesta felt her knees almost give out under her weight when he shoved his hand in his pocket and took out her ring. Not for the reasons he might think of, but for the look of betrayal and utter fearof what it all could mean on his face. Cassian looked at her as if she’d just stomped on his heart and then thrown it away. And she couldn’t find the words.
He bit his lips till they weren’t visible anymore, as if he were trying not to speak.
“We’ve been married for years and this is the first time ever you took this off. Never once, Nes. You told me so many times you never wanted to take it off and then, now, while we’re having the worst fight we’ve ever had, you do. And you don’t even tell me and I might be overthinking this, but I thought the only reason you would take it off for good was because you needed people to think you weren’t married to someone like me. Because you had to hide it from someone else. Another man.” he halted and Nesta felt hollow inside, her ears ringing now. He couldn’t have been implying… “I need to know if you’re planning on leaving cause-” his voice broke and her heart broke a little more with it, “-I’m not sure I can take it.”
Nesta blinked a couple of times as she watched him in awe.
This man-
“I would never cheat on you. And when I married you I took an oath, through pain and through difficulties, I’d stand by you.” She said, making sure he listened carefully. “I’ve been avoiding you, yes.” They both flinched as she bared the truth. “But surely not cause I’ve been seeing someone else. It’s cause I feel like I can’t breathe, when you tell me what to do. But now it’s not the moment, we’re both tired and you’re obviously exhausted.
“This doesn’t mean I don’t love you, Cassian,” she whispered, feeling like he needed to hear it. He was looking at her as if she hung the moon and knowing full well he’d have to work a lot to recover from this accusation.
He closed his eyes and let go of a breath.
And then, she finally gace him the explanation he needed.
“My hands are swollen.” she said. Cassian frowned. “My hands are swollen and I woke up with a purple finger and I used soap to take it off cause I couldn’t feel my finger anymore, but… that’s it, Cassian.”
He stared at her with wonder and Nesta waited for him to realise. She raised her hand, waving it between the two of them, touching her ring finger to show him the mark left by the band.
Cassian was silent for a while and then a dry laugh that sounded more like a sob than anything else left his throat. An instant later, Nesta found herself wrapped in two strong arms.
She slowly slid her hands around his waist and started drawing circles on his back, enjoying the feel of his breath on her neck as his held her tight and hid his face between her head and shoulder.
She knew she should have been angrier at him for even thinking she could cheat on him, but now wasn’t the time to unpack that. They would discuss this another day, once he would be calmer, not blinded by emotions.
They stayed there, engulfed in each other’s love, waiting for the other to pull back, but neither had any intention to. Cassian squeezed her in his arms, whispering apologies on end. Nesta only held him tighter, kissing him on the temple.
Only when Helion appeared outside her office did Nesta move, gesturing to her boss that it wasn’t the time to come in and say hello. The man only nodded once and mouthed to call him if they needed him for something before leaving again.
Nesta detached herself from him and noticed his red and puffy eyes. She placed both hands on his face, brushing away the tears on his cheeks and Cassian turned a lopsided smile her way, leaning over and leaving a kiss on her full lips.
“Why don’t you go lie on the couch while I finish up here?” she offered, caressing his face and moving a strand of hair from his eyes.
Cassian took one of her hands, massaging her palm with a thumb. “Only if you come sit with me.”
Nesta glanced at him and saw the insecurity etched there, the fear she’d might be pissed at him.
And she was. Oh, she was, so much. But neither of them were in the right state of mind to have this conversation right now, so she simply nodded. “Alright.”
She gathered the necessary to work on her manuscript and dragged her feet on the floor to the couch in her office, were Cassian was patiently waiting for her. He helped her sit down and then actually lay with his head on her legs, facing his daughter. His hand went up right away, placing itself on her belly.
And as it happened every time that Cassian talked to their baby, Nesta couldn’t stop her smile from spreading over he face.
“Hi, sweetheart.” he whispered, his face so close to her body that she could feel his lips grazing her belly. “It’s dad here.” Cassian looked up at her and she felt the urge to take him by the collar of his shirt and pull him up to kiss him. “I’m sorry for the commotion, mom and I had to discuss some things cause I’m going a little bit crazy over here.”
Without even meaning to, Nesta's hand went to Cassian's hair and he closed his eyes at the first stroke.
"I'm being a bit of an arsehole," he grunted when Nesta tugged at his hair slightly, reminding him not to use bad words when talking to their little girl. "And mum has every right to be mad, but I don't want to bore you with these things, so how about I tell you a bedtime story?"
When the baby kicked so hard that she pushed Nesta's belly against Cassian's nose, he shifted slightly, looking her straight in the eyes, which glistened with emotion. They both chuckled, their minds completely clouded by the love they felt for that little being that was growing inside her, that had them both wrapped around her fingers without even being born.
Cassian pulled himself up just enough to kiss her and thank her.
He did that a lot, saying thank you, and Nesta hadn't understood what he meant at first, but when she'd asked him, months before, he'd responded with, "For giving me the best thing in the world."
Needless to say, Nesta had cried in the midst of her hormonal crisis and was still trying to hold back the tears as he settled back on her lap and began to tell.
"Okay, once upon a time..."
He didn't even last five minutes, that exhaustion had put him to sleep. One hand around Nesta's hips and the other on her abdomen. She pretended to read the text, whilst actually admiring the hard planes of Cassian's face, for another twenty minutes before Helion came into her office, telling her he would finish it and to go home.
It hadn't taken much convincing and when Cassian had woken up he'd been happy to know that they could finally leave, telling her boss that they all worked too much in that office.
He'd let her drive, and for the entire car ride, he'd kept a hand on her thigh, looking out the window absentmindedly.
Nesta had thought all the way through what they would have to discuss the next day, but she didn't care. Now she knew what the problem was and they would be able to work it out. Together.
That night, when they'd both crawled under the covers and Cassian had hugged her, covering her belly with one large hand, Nesta hadn't felt the note of bitterness and discontent that now seemed to permeate her every day and instead focused on her husband's light, slow breathing, tickling her ear until she fell asleep.
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talkfantasytome · a month ago
Congrats on 500, lovely!
What about “quick! Kiss me!” for some Nessian fluff? ♥️
Ahhh, thank you so much! 💕 I went through the ringer with this prompt, let me tell you. Once I figured out the overall concept/idea, I had a thought on how to use this that I absolutely loved. Then, as I kept thinking about how I'd incorporate it, I couldn't picture in my head executing it well. Drove me nuts and had me reconsidering and thinking of other ways to use it, but I didn't love any of them as much. So, I decided to just give it a try, and I have to admit, it came out far better in writing than I had imagined in my head! May not be perfect, but I'm happy. 😄 Anyways, ramblings of a mad woman over...fic time!
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Nesta and Cassian start to try and one-up each other on who can be more nice, but it ends up doing far more than that.
Warnings: None | Word Count: 7,827 | Read on AO3
a/n: When you get to the part where there's an embedded link to the sweater, if you click on it, just imagine it's two separate sweaters. 😂
The mentioned quote is from The Wolf Wilder, by Katherine Rundell.
Also, for those who would care to know, this fic has a Christmas theme to it even more than a winter one or a general holiday one.
Other prompts included answered/shown in:
Passive-Aggressive Niceness Competition | You Remembered? | Naughty List | Early Present
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Nesta's eyes remained closed as she felt herself fade into consciousness, whatever dream she'd been having whisking out of her mind with each breath.
She sighed loudly as she lifted her arms above her head for a big stretch. Her back arched off the bed with the movement and a squeak escaped her lips as she held it.
Finally a bit more awake, she let her eyes flutter open, her room already bright from the morning sun.
Nesta stretched again as she stood from her bed, shivering slightly at the cold air and rushing to slide on her plush robe over her nightgown. As she tied it up, she finally looked out the window to see a thick, extremely unexpected layer of snow on the ground.
"Crap," she breathed before she rushed to another window to get a look out at the front of her house. She groaned loudly at the sight, the shimmering layer of white that should take her breath away. Instead, it filled her with dread, realizing she'd now be spending a chunk of her Saturday shoveling the driveway.
Dragging her feet, she made her way back to her room and started on her morning routine. She was in no rush to get outside. As much as she loved a chilly, snowy day, curling up by the fire with a nice hot chocolate and a good book, she wasn't a fan of the responsibilities that came with owning her own house when it snowed.
Once she was bundled up in a thick, grey sweater and jeans with fresh breath, a clean and moisturized face, and her golden brown hair twisted into one long braid, Nesta went into her kitchen. She threw a frozen breakfast burrito into her toaster oven and then started on her tea, filling up the kettle and setting it on her stove.
She was just going through her collection of tea bags when she heard a scraping outside that had her head snapping toward her door.
Her face scrunching in confusion, Nesta approached her door cautiously, peeking out the window next to it to see where the noise came from. She let out a small sigh of relief at the familiar figure before the questions started flooding her mind.
Nesta opened the door, crossing her arms to shield herself from the cold as she stepped onto her covered porch, thankful most of it had remained dry. She looked out over her driveway to the tall, muscular figure in the middle of it, shovel in hand. He wore jeans and a sweatshirt beneath that same leather jacket he was always in. His shoulder-length, black hair was left down, held into place by the Velaris Rangers knit hat he was wearing, equipped with a snowflake pattern against the deep, purple fabric and a sparkling, fluffy, silver pompom on top.
"What the hell are you doing?!" she called out to him, the chilly air nipping at her nose.
Cassian paused, turning his head to look up at her, a cheery smile on his face. "What does it look like I'm doing?" he asked, his voice slightly louder than normal so she could hear him.
She heard his laugh float across the air, felt it caress her cheeks in a way that would have made her blush if she weren't already so rosy from the cold. "Is that what you call it when someone does you a favor?"
Rolling her eyes, she groaned, "Cassian."
"I'm shoveling your driveway, Nesta," he explained, somehow sounding both amused and exasperated. "I was already out, doing my own, figured I'd help and do yours, too."
She couldn't stop the look of surprise that spread across her face. Cassian wasn't a bad neighbor. A bit annoying, but only because he always tried to talk to her whenever he saw her and would check in on her regularly and complimented her all the time and flashed her a smile that seemed to cause a hitch in her breathing without her permission. But no, he wasn't a bad neighbor. When he had friends over they were never excessively loud. If he was throwing an actual party it always ended at a reasonable hour. He never parked in other people's driveways, nor did he let anyone coming to work on his house block them. And he'd let her know if he saw something weird or suspicious on her property.
Begrudgingly, Nesta might even admit Cassian was a good neighbor.
This, however, is not something a good neighbor does. Maybe they might shovel a bit where their two driveways meet, but Nesta's house was behind Cassian's, so her driveway was ridiculously long. Much larger than his. Good neighbors keep themselves from becoming nuisances; they offer small acts of kindness, little favors that will be paid back over time. They don't take it upon themselves to do one of the worst chores imaginable at great inconvenience to themselves, especially without being asked to help.
"You really don't have to do that. It's my driveway."
Cassian chuckled softly. "I know, but I can't get to the gym. Thought I'd find some other way to put all this muscle to use." He flexed one of his arms and it had Nesta shaking her head slightly, even as a small laugh escaped her lips. She could've sworn Cassian's face lit up at the sound. "Besides, I know you hate doing it."
Something warm began to spread within Nesta, as if she'd just taken a sip of her tea. But she didn't have time to think about it, not as she remembered the kettle still on the stove and rushed inside to take it off the fire.
It got her thinking, and before she knew it Nesta was pouring the water into two travel mugs and placing tea bags within them as she slid on her boots and a jacket.
Bracing herself, she stepped back outside, hands now full, and shut the door behind her before carefully walking toward Cassian. His brows were furrowed as if he were contemplating something of the utmost importance in his mind as he shoveled, but still he heard her walking toward him.
"Thank you," she said by way of a second greeting, holding out one of the mugs for him.
His lips spread into a wide smile as he accepted the tea, though his eyes never left her wind-kissed face. It sent Nesta's heart thundering and made her eager to dart her eyes away. To look anywhere but his gaze.
"Thank you," he breathed before taking a sip. "What tea is this?"
"It's a mint chocolate herbal mixture I found at some market once. One of my favorite winter blends."
He nodded, taking another sip. "It's nice. Sweet, but still fairly subtle."
"I figured you may not want the black caramel blend." Nesta gave him an amused smile as she sipped her own tea, allowing it to warm her just as his words had earlier.
"You might be right," he chuckled. "But I'd drink this one again, though nothing trumps standard black tea for me."
"You would be that guy."
"Oh, I'm a lot of things, Nes." He winked at her and it had something fluttering deep within Nesta in a way that was entirely unacceptable.
Sure, Cassian looked like a god. But he was obnoxious and nosey and saw way too much of what Nesta liked to hide. It was dangerous. He was dangerous, and Nesta really wasn't one to flirt with danger.
"Pretty sure I've told you not to call me that," she reminded him, keeping her voice flat and even.
"What, I don't get any privileges for shoveling your driveway?"
Nesta quirked an eyebrow just as the corner of her lip on the same side twitched upward. "Is that what you're doing? Hoping to earn special privileges?"
He laughed freely at that, throwing his head back slightly with the force of it. "Not at all, though I wouldn't be opposed. I'm just being nice and neighborly."
"This goes beyond being 'nice and neighborly', Cassian."
"It does not. You just have a hard time understanding the full extent of the concept of being 'nice'." He flicked her nose with a gloved finger and it had Nesta scrunching her face.
She swatted his hand away. "I'm nice!" He gave her a face that could only be read as, Seriously?, and it had Nesta rolling her eyes. "Well, I can be. With people who deserve it."
"Oh, you wound me." Cassian was fighting a laugh as he dramatically placed a hand over his heart.
"Enjoy the tea." She narrowed her gaze at him and then pivoted on one foot, storming back into the house to finally eat her breakfast.
Cassian clearly didn't know what he was talking about. Nesta could be nice. So what if she had a bit of a sharp tongue? That didn't mean she didn't know how to be nice. Clearly, she just had to prove it.
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"You're joking!"
Cassian sighed, holding the phone to his ear with his shoulder as he scrubbed his dinner plate. "No."
"You're telling me you skipped out on joining Az and me for lunch to shovel that bitch monster's driveway?"
"She's not a bitch, Rhys," he groaned, now setting the dish on the drying rack, finally able to put his hand to his phone. "She just doesn't like to be fake. There's a difference."
"Cass, she once called me a pompous, preening idiot who only studied Psychology to learn how people will react to what I'm wearing and how I look." Rhys's voice was low and entirely unamused.
Cassian couldn't help but laugh at the reminder. "I mean…was she entirely wrong?"
"Oh, shut up!"
He was still laughing slightly as he began to walk around his living room, a bit too energetic from the day. Too wound up from what may have been the best interaction with Nesta he'd ever had. He wanted more, and almost went to talk to her when he was done. But he was pretty sure he'd heard shouted cursing coming from inside, so he opted against it. Plus, his only excuse would have been to return the travel mug, and he really didn't want to do that.
Cassian knew he should, but how could he when it reminded him so much of her? Just a simple travel mug with the quote: 'The set of her chin suggested she might have slain a dragon before breakfast. The look in her eyes suggested she might, in fact, have eaten it.' It was as if she'd given him a piece of herself, and even if it was meant to be temporary, Cassian was going to hold on to it forever. To cherish it, in case it was the only piece she ever offered him.
Rhys's voice pulled him from his reverie. "Yeah?"
"I said: If you like her so much, why don't you just ask her out?"
"Oh…" Cassian expelled a loud breath. "Because I don't think she'd say yes."
"Then why not move on?"
"Because I'm not sure she would want to say no," he sighed, scratching his head with his free hand.
Rhys paused for a moment. "I can't tell if that's poetic or just fucking cryptic."
Laughing again, Cassian barely heard a knock at the glass doors behind him that led to his backyard. He looked up to see Nesta standing there, looking adorable all bundled up in a big, puffy vest over a fleece sweater.
"Hey, I gotta go. We'll have lunch soon. Not on a day where we were gifted a full foot of snow, yeah?"
"Wait, Cass-"
He didn't hear the rest as he hung up the phone, flashing Nesta a smile. Cassian sauntered over to the door and slid it open, stepping aside to let Nesta into his house. A respite from the cold.
"To what do I owe this pleasure?" he asked after he shut the door, spinning to face Nesta.
Nesta held up a plate in her mitten-covered hands he hadn't noticed she was carrying. "I made you cookies."
Her lips twitched into a small smile as she huffed out a laugh. "I. Made. You. Cookies. A thank you, for my driveway." She shoved the plate at him far harder than most would when making such a nice gesture, but Cassian managed to catch it quickly before she completely dug it into his stomach.
"Thank you. And what exactly brought this on?" He felt his lips spread into a half-smile as he watched her, his eyes trailing the wisps of golden brown hair that had fallen out of the messy bun she was wearing. They framed her face beautifully, dancing against her beige skin and rosy cheeks.
"I told you. I'm thanking you for shoveling my driveway."
Cassian raised an eyebrow, giving her an incredulous look. "I thought that's what the tea was for?"
"You did my whole driveway," she countered, as if it explained everything.
"I did." Cassian's smile turned into a full on grin, taunting and playful. "You know, Nes, if this is an attempt to prove you can be nice, I don-"
"Oh, just shut up and accept the cookies." Cassian couldn't help but chuckle at her words and the sharp tone, in polar opposition to what she was trying to do. But, that was the Nesta he knew, and he loved it.
"Thank you for the cookies."
She gave him one stern nod and then a small smile broke out on her face. "They're gingersnap."
"Really?" he asked excitedly, looking down at the plate. "Those are my favorites!"
"I know."
Cassian's eyes snapped up to hers, his face softening as he stared into that sparkling, blue-grey gaze. He'd told her that, once. It must have been at least three years ago, just a few months after she'd first moved in. He invited her to the holiday party he was throwing - he, Rhys, and Az rotated who threw it each year - and was at the point of attempting to use the food to convince her to come. He'd promised there would be mountains of gingersnaps for that reason, though she didn't sound at all interested until he moved on to a guarantee that Az's girlfriend would be bringing peppermint bark. He's pretty sure that was the only reason she showed up - go figure she and Gwyn ended up becoming fast friends while Cassian still could barely get her to say hi to him.
And yet…there he stood, a plate of gingersnaps in his hand.
"You remembered?"
Nesta's smile widened slightly, brightening her entire face. Cassian could swear her eyes were actually twinkling as she looked at him. "I suppose I did."
He couldn't take his eyes off her. Couldn't stop gaping, not even as her smile shifted into a smirk and she said, "Far more personal than shoveling someone's driveway."
The words seemed to hit Cassian in the gut as a choked laugh escaped his lips. He was torn between amusement and despair. Was that really the only reason she'd done this? Chosen those cookies? It still meant she remembered his favorites. But…he was thinking she'd picked gingersnaps solely for his enjoyment. And now he couldn't tell if it was for that, or if it was solely to tease him and make a point.
Which is probably exactly what she wanted.
"I did remember that you hate that chore," he argued roughly, his voice a rasp.
"Oh, please Cassian. Who doesn't hate that one?"
He felt his eyes darken as she scoffed, and then he was trailing his gaze down her body, taking in every curve. Her outfit didn't exactly show them off the way some of her other clothes could. But, the cream of her sweater looked heavenly against her skin, and the pink that remained in her cheeks was tantalizing him in a way a soft flush really shouldn't. Plus, no amount of layers and down clothing could cover that generous bosom that Cassian had fantasized about far too many times.
She looked like a true snow bunny, and Cassian couldn't help but imagine what it might be like to get her to join him up at his small ski lodge. Alone, snuggling on the couch by a large fire. Teaching her to snowboard, maybe. Then finding other ways after dinner to completely tire her out.
He kicked those thoughts from his mind, not wanting to get too lost in them while Nesta was right in front of him.
Cassian placed the plate of cookies on the end table beside his couch and took a step toward Nesta. "So, you're saying that my favor wasn't as nice as yours?"
"I'm not saying anything." She shrugged, her voice light and amused. "Just that I made you your favorite cookies."
"How about I take you upstairs, then? To prove just how nice I can be, too."
He heard Nesta's breathing hitch, watched her throat as she swallowed heavily. Something in her demeanor changed entirely, her body stiffening, her smile falling. He even thought he could hear her heart start to beat faster, though he may have been confusing it with his own, which was definitely racing.
Nesta schooled her features soon enough, only just too slow to keep Cassian from noticing the shift.
"I doubt it would compare," she shot back, her voice a bit breathier than she likely meant it to be. It had Cassian inhaling sharply, summoning thoughts of hockey and blood and other things that would help him maintain control over a certain appendage.
"Only one way to find out."
That had Nesta huffing out a small laugh. "Goodnight, Cassian. Enjoy the cookies."
He followed her toward the door, holding it open as she started across his snow-covered lawn. "I definitely will!"
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A week passed, and every day Nesta found herself doing yet another unrequested favor for Cassian because he just wouldn't stop. And she couldn't let him win.
Earlier that day, Cassian showed up on her porch with a full case of her favorite Sauvignon Blanc. Likely in payback to Nesta leaving an entire rack of his favorite beer at his back door the day before.
So now she was standing at his island counter, helping him wrap presents so that he'd have some under his tree as part of her offer to help him decorate for the party he was hosting that night. Apparently 'Christmas trees just look better with some presents under them.' And Cassian was so trusting, he'd never consider putting out fake presents when having a large number of guests over.
She wasn't paying much attention to the task. Cassian was doing the wrapping. Nesta was more like an assistant. His 'little helper', as he kept saying - he even tried to put her in an elf hat to match the Santa hat he was wearing, but Nesta firmly shot that down.
Instead, she was trying to figure out when exactly she'd gotten to know Cassian so well. She hadn't realized she was taking note of everything she learned about him. And yet, Nesta wasn't sure she'd ever forgotten anything either. It seemed like she could remember every conversation they'd had, every little fact about him that he shared.
His favorite color? Red - preferably in the ruby, blood, or garnet shades, but anything that wasn't too light and pink or too brown would do. His favorite movie? He liked to claim it was 'Remember the Titans', but it was 'The Lion King' that he watched at least once every three months. Go-to takeout? Chipotle - not because he thought it was real or authentic Mexican, but he thinks it's spiced well and he likes the portion sizes and how easy it is to get double meat.
She knew he played hockey throughout college and had the chance to go into the professional league but chose instead to work as an architect. However, that didn't keep him from staying in shape, and he still followed the Rangers religiously. He was, apparently, a complete cliché in high school and totaled his first car within a month of getting it. But since then he'd become an exceedingly careful driver of both his truck and his motorcycle. She even knew that he spent his Tuesday and Thursday nights volunteering at a youth center, teaching the kids various forms of self-defense. Boys and girls.
Nesta could count on one hand the people she knew as well or better than Cassian, and it had her spiraling a bit. Was it because he was an open book? Did he just share too much about himself too often? Or was she paying more attention than she realized? And why would she do that? Unless she…wanted to know. And if she wanted to know, then…
She tried not to think about that. Cassian was her obnoxious yet amusing neighbor. The one who could make her laugh, but could also do with learning how to keep to himself a bit more.
"Scissors?" Cassian requested, holding his hand out as Nesta stood there, staring at no spot in particular on the chair on the opposite side of the counter. She handed him the scissors and barely heard the sound of him slicing the paper. Her eyes were glazed over, her mind racing. "Tape?"
Absent-mindedly, Nesta started tearing pieces of tape, holding them out for him. He used them quickly and then started on the ribbon.
"Finger?" She put her finger on the present and moved it a bit until she felt the cross section of the ribbon. "On the count of three. One…two…three!" Nesta yanked her finger out just as the ribbon came down.
"Great! Now, quick, kiss me!"
Nesta turned almost robotically, took his face between her hands, and pulled him down as she lifted herself onto her toes, pressing her lips to his.
It wasn't until she'd pulled away and was again looking at the chair that she realized what she'd done.
With widened eyes, Nesta pivoted on him, her focus now entirely on Cassian and what was happening in that moment. "What the hell?!" she asked, gaping at him as he shook with laughter.
"I just wanted to see what would happen," he explained, a wide smile on his face. "You were so…far away. I thought it might snap you back."
Nesta swallowed, nodding slightly as her eyes shrunk back to normal and her face fell into a more subdued look as she sighed, "Oh." She didn't know why a wave of disappointment was crashing through her. Why a pit seemed to sink into the depths of her stomach. But she kept her face flat, showing nothing more than indifference. "Odd experiment."
Cassian looked at her with furrowed brows, his head tilted slightly as his hazel eyes seemed to bore into her. "I figured it was a bit of a win-win." A smile slowly grew on his face. "Either I snap you back to reality or I get you to kiss me." He winked, another laugh bursting from his lips. "Seeing as I managed to do both, I must be a genius."
"Or just lucky."
"Oh, very lucky, Nes." He took a step closer, less than six inches separating their faces. "But, you weren't totally there for it. Perhaps we should try again?"
Nesta felt her eyebrows raise, her lips twitching up at the corners. "Excuse me?"
"Well, I mean…you weren't exactly present. It's like our friend Gale would say: 'It's like kissing someone who's drunk. It doesn't count.'" Cassian was grinning now, the gold in his eyes sparkling with amusement.
"Our friend Gale? As in Hawthorne?"
"You're the one who told me the books were better than the movies," he said. "What was I going to do? Not read them?"
She rolled her eyes, shaking her head slightly. "The books are always better than the movies."
"Yes. Because now I can discuss those with you too. And, since you're back, shall we do as Gale would suggest and try again?"
"You do realize that's not at all the point he's making? Right?"
He shrugged and laughed again. "That didn't answer my question, sweetheart."
"What would you rather I say?" she asked. Nesta could feel her mood lightening with each jab. Could feel her body warming slightly, her heart beating again at its normal pace. "Oh, please Cassian, let me kiss you. I'm devastated that I couldn't truly appreciate our first!" She let her head fall backwards a bit as she brought the back of her hand to her forehead, a dramatic gesture to accompany the swooning tone she used.
Cassian took in a deep breath and then stepped closer, moving them a bit so she was pinned against the counter, his hands resting on either side of her, caging her in. "I wouldn't be opposed," he whispered, his voice rough in a way Nesta hadn't heard before. It sent her heart racing, her mind beginning to wander toward thoughts she found herself needing to suppress more and more often in the past week.
"Well, t-too bad." She hadn't meant to stutter the words out, for her tone to be breathy. She attempted to cover it up by huffing out a laugh and lightly shoving him away with an amused smile.
Cassian played along, but she didn't miss the knowing look he gave her before chuckling with her and exaggeratedly stumbling back.
"That was the last present," he declared. "This place really does look great. Thank you for the help, Nes."
She looked around the open-plan area, the foyer and living room only separated by the large fireplace and chimney in the center of the room. There were pine garlands strung up on the railing to the stairs, a massive tree over in the corner, a few tables bedecked in matching, holiday-themed tablecloths with nutcracker and other Christmas-like centerpieces, and tons of red and green. It was, honestly, just on the right side of being tacky, entirely thanks to her. Were it not for Nesta, Cassian likely would have hung those cartoon cut-outs and put out multiple singing and dancing Santa and Mrs. Claus pairs.
"No problem. You know me. Always happy to help." She grinned over at Cassian as he let out a true, loud laugh. He threw his head back with the movement, as he liked to do, and Nesta couldn't help but eye his now-exposed neck, wonder what it would be like to trail her tongue up its column.
She shook her thoughts away before Cassian looked back at her and said, "I'm not complaining." He offered her a softer smile that warmed Nesta's chest. "Are you coming tonight?"
"Of course. As if I'd miss a party with Gwyn's peppermint bark."
"You know it's a Christmas sweater party, right?" he asked, following her as she made her way toward the back door where she'd left her boots and a wrapped box.
Nesta pulled on her boots as she replied with an, "I do." She then picked up the box and faced him again. "And, speaking of, this is for you. BUT!" She yanked the box away just as it brushed Cassian's fingers. "You can't open this and put it on until just before the party. I mean the-first-guests-are-arriving-now just before, okay?"
"That is the weirdest rule about a present I've ever heard." Yet despite his words, Cassian was giving her a half-smile, watching her and the present intently.
"I promise."
Nodding, she placed the box in his outstretched hands. "Good. I will see you later, then."
"Is there a reason for this present I should be aware of?" he wondered as she slid the door open and stepped onto the snow-covered deck.
Nesta turned and looked up at him, happy to have an excuse to take in his face again. She loved the way it lit up when he was challenged and intrigued, how his gaze gleamed with joy and excitement. It was almost as arousing as when his eyes darkened and his rough lines grew even more intense.
"I already told you. I'm nice." She sent him a wink before pivoting and walking back to her own house to get ready for the party.
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The present was mocking him.
Everywhere Cassian turned, there it was, just waiting. Staring at him. Begging him to be opened.
It probably didn't help that Cassian carried it around with him for the rest of the day. He never even left his house, but if he left a room, the gift came with him. It was as if he feared it might get lost if it was ever out of reach.
It was as taunting as that kiss had been.
Gods, that kiss!
Even with Nesta's lack of mental presence it was still one of the best damn things Cassian had ever experienced. Her lips warm and soft, her fingers delicate yet electric, sending a spark through him at every point of contact. The moment she'd pulled away Cassian had wanted to grab her by the hair and bring her lips back to his, claim her mouth before he claimed every other part of her body.
He could only imagine what it might be like if Nesta wasn't operating on auto-pilot. How it would feel to have her truly kissing him. And he couldn't help but hope he might get that chance.
It was stupid, he knew, to let himself hope. This was Nesta Archeron, ice queen, impossible to fully read, and the woman he was certain would one day be his demise. Without even trying she had him by the balls, and somehow Cassian lived for it.
And yet, in the past week something had changed between them. There had always been a spark, a bit of a flirtation. Times Cassian thought he was getting close only to be pushed away - if he was lucky. But it was different this time. She didn't seem to be pushing or punching or kicking. She wasn't just retaliating or reciprocating, but some days Nesta was initiating, and Cassian barely knew what to do.
Tonight, however, he really couldn't be thinking about that. He had a party to host. One he couldn't screw up. His brothers would never forgive him.
So he cooked and prepared, the gift never out of his sight even as he tried to distract himself.
It didn't really work. And with each passing hour he grew more anxious, the desperation building until he heard a car pull into his driveway. Running to a window, Cassian looked out to see Rhys's car crawling into a park and let out a massive sigh of relief.
He went back into the kitchen and ripped the paper off the box, practically tearing it open to find a neatly folded Christmas sweater inside.
Pulling it out, a laugh escaped Cassian's lips as he looked over the red knit sweater. It was lined with green at each opening and had a few white and green, knit, horizontal patterns on it, such as snowflakes, Christmas trees, and even a big bow in the center at the top. However, the main show was the large words that said 'ON THE NAUGHTY LIST'. 'Naughty' was even emphasized with bolder lettering knitted into a large green stripe instead of the red of the rest of the sweater.
He could hear his brothers and their girlfriends walking up the steps, so he threw the sweater on, a massive grin on his face, and chucked the box and wrapping paper into his recycling bin quickly. He was just rounding the counter as his first guests - and co-hosts - walked into the house.
He greeted them excitedly, leading them into the living room area where he expected most to end up.
"Cassian, the place looks great!" Feyre exclaimed as he took their coats and put them in his office.
"You can thank your sister for that," he said, coming back in and helping Gwyn get a platter for her peppermint bark before he started to load the tables with the various plates he'd prepared.
Feyre and Rhys both snapped their gazes toward Cassian as Feyre asked, "Really?!"
Cassian nodded, unable to keep his smile in check. "Yeah. She was here for a few hours around midday, helping out with decorations and everything."
"That's so great! Does that mean she's coming tonight?"
"According to her. Though we may have Gwyn to thank for that one." Cassian threw a wink at the copper-haired girl. "You know how Nesta is about your peppermint bark."
"Why do you think I made so much this year?" She motioned to the platter that was practically overflowing, pulling a laugh from Cassian, Az, and Feyre.
Rhys, on the other hand, just sighed a, "Yay…"
"Oh, hush," Feyre scolded, nudging him in the stomach.
"I told you we could bring her gifts tonight."
"And I told you that I am seeing my sister on Christmas whether you like it or not." Feyre glared up at Rhys in a way that had him shrinking slightly and nodding.
Deciding he'd rather not end up in the middle of whatever may or may not be about to go down, he moved closer to Az and Gwyn to join them. They were wearing matching 'Mr. Claus' and 'Mrs. Claus' sweaters that were adorable as fuck and had Cassian's smile only growing. But he wasn't the only one focused on the sweaters.
Gwyn was staring at his, her eyes wide and full of something that seemed like shock.
Before Cassian could ask, Az was slapping him on the shoulder. "Great sweater. I appreciate the realism you're bringing to the traditional Christmas sweater party."
"Ha ha," Cassian grumbled.
"That is what I was going for," a familiar voice explained from behind Cassian.
He turned around and froze in place, completely struck dumb by the sight.
There, just before him, stood Nesta, looking like an angel. She let her hair partially down for the party, half of it braided into a crown around her head as the rest fell in loose curls. And the way the light hit it - she honestly looked like she had strands of pure gold in her honey brown hair. She was smiling gently up at him, but in those storm cloud eyes he could see a spark of mischief he was certain his own gaze was answering.
However, what really hit him in the gut was her sweater. The perfect opposite to Cassian's in every way. Where his was mostly red, hers was green. His green accents? Hers were in red. And instead of 'NAUGHTY', her sweater stated she was on the 'NICE' list. A matching set, and it sent his heart racing straight toward her.
Cassian could barely remember where he was, or who else was around him, his focus entirely on Nesta.
"Nesta! You look great!" Gwyn cheered, giving her friend a hello hug.
"Thank you! And same to you. Love the sweaters." She flicked her eyes between Gwyn and Az. "Very fitting. But, I wish you'd worn wigs."
Gwyn's eyes darted to Az, a scowl spreading on her face. "I wanted to."
"And I'm not sorry I said no," Az said with a shrug.
That sent Gwyn reeling, and the two of them broke away to taunt and tease each other, leaving Cassian with Nesta. However, before he had the chance to say anything, Feyre was there, practically jumping on her sister with a squeal.
Nesta laughed, the sound nuzzling Cassian's neck as he watched the two girls embrace.
"I'm so happy you came," Feyre sighed as she squeezed her sister tightly. "And…" Feyre paused, looking Nesta over before her gaze, so similar to Nesta's, flicked to Cassian and then back to Nesta. "You're matching Cassian."
"Technically, he's matching me."
"Technically, Nes here planned the whole thing and told me nothing." Cassian threw his arm around Nesta lightly, a thrill speeding through him when she didn't pull away.
Instead, she tilted her head to look up at him and gave Cassian a smirk. "I just thought it was a message everyone needed to see."
Cassian knew it was meant to be a challenge. Knew he was supposed to shoot something back at her. But in that moment he couldn't. He couldn't move or breathe or even think. All he could do was stand there and stare into those eyes, dancing with delight; take in that gorgeous face, merry and bright and tender. He almost fell to his knees at the way his heart swelled, at how his stomach flipped when her lips relaxed into a small smile that he knew was just for him.
She held his gaze and Cassian didn't dare look away. Not until a commotion at the front door snapped them both back to reality.
Sighing, Cassian went to greet his guests as Nesta gravitated back toward Gwyn. By the time he was back in the living room, the two girls were already situated by the fire, plates full of chocolate and other sweets, gossiping as if they hadn't seen each other in years.
He resigned himself to playing the host, knowing only an idiot would interrupt Gwyn and Nesta when they got like that.
Before Cassian knew it, almost two hours had passed. He'd barely seen Nesta in that time, stopping and chatting with all those who showed up. He knew Emerie would have found Nesta and Gwyn almost as soon as she got to the party, but now she was in the kitchen with Mor, her blonde girlfriend sitting on the counter, caged between Emerie's arms. He decided to look away quickly despite knowing neither of them cared who saw what they were about to do.
He looked out over the living room, thanking the Mother for his height. He could see his brothers currently betting on the outcome of an arm-wrestling match between Helion and Tarquin - apparently they were at that point in the evening, and it told Cassian he needed to check the cooler outside to see if the beer needed refilling.
Cassian was about to give up and go see what Jurian and Lucien were chatting about when he finally spotted her against the wall beside the back door. Her eyes were darting all over the room, her lips having fallen back into that indifferent grimace he knew so well.
He felt his face scrunch as he wondered what might have brought that on, but it didn't take long to figure it out. Not as he laid eyes on the man who stood before her, attempting to engage her in conversation. His arms were flat by his sides, but he was standing in a way that seemed to block Nesta from the rest of the party. Cassian knew Nesta could handle herself, and that she'd likely tear him a new one for stepping in, but he couldn't help himself. Not as he saw the slight hint of panic in her eyes.
"Nesta!" he called out loudly, ignoring the looks he got from the other guests as he pushed his way through them toward her. He took up the spot just beside her, his eyes not leaving hers for even a second. "There you are. I've been looking for you."
"Is everything okay?"
"Oh, of course!" Cassian gave her a wide smile, waving his hand as if he were swiping the air away. "I just think we need to let everyone see our sweaters in all their glory - together."
She huffed out a laugh, shaking her head softly and looking toward the ground. It provided Cassian the opportunity to look at the man in front of them. He'd be lying if he said he wasn't pleased by the shocked, almost fearful look in his eyes as he took in their matching outfits.
"Tomas," Cassian ground out, looking the shrinking man over.
The mousey brown haired man gave Cassian an awkward nod. "Cassian. Good to see you. Great party."
"Thank you." He didn't bother trying to hide the tension in his voice. "I don't recall inviting you, though."
"Eris said it was an open house."
"It's not."
"Noted." Tomas looked between Cassian and Nesta again and took a step back. "I'll just be going then."
Cassian waited until Tomas was out of eyesight before he turned to Nesta. "Sorry about that. Hope you don't mind me stepping in." He rubbed the back of his neck, suddenly feeling a bit sheepish, even without Nesta glaring at him.
Instead, to his surprise, she offered him a small smile. "It's okay. I'm just glad to be rid of him. I know I should be telling you off, but honestly, he gave me the creeps and I didn't feel like I could get away without making a scene. Which I didn't want to do."
"Just doing my part as the king of being nice." He threw her a cocky half-smile, his entire body relaxing as she rolled her eyes.
"I'd remind you that I'm the nice one," she countered, pointing at her sweater for emphasis.
Cassian leaned one hand against the wall, sure to keep his body perpendicular to it so Nesta always had an out. "Well, after that, perhaps we should trade sweaters, because I think I'm in the lead now. Besides…" he leaned in so that his lips were at her ear and whispered, "I wouldn't mind seeing you be naughty."
A hmmm escaped Nesta's lips in a low, sultry tone that had Cassian throbbing beneath his belt. "How do you know that's not what I was hoping for when I gave you that sweater?"
That was enough to break his restraint. Cassian's free hand was suddenly gripping Nesta's waist as he pushed her against the wall. She gasped loudly, the corners of her lips curving upward as he held himself flush against her.
"Like this?" he growled.
He inhaled sharply as she trailed her hands up his chest and around his shoulders, settling them at the nape of his neck. "It's a start."
Cassian felt his eyes darken, letting out a hiss as he lunged forward and captured her mouth with his.
To his great surprise and delight, Nesta didn't pull away. Instead, she seemed to tug him closer to her as she brushed her tongue against his lips in a silent request. One he was all too keen to answer.
He kissed her ardently, his grip tightening at her waist as his other hand left the wall, his fingers gripping her hair at the back of her head. She moaned at the feeling and Cassian pressed himself harder against her, leaving no air between them.
There were no words, nothing Cassian could compare this kiss to. It was wholly new. It was the first read through of a book that would become an all-time favorite. The first glimpse of the ocean in person. Finally reaching the peak of a mountain or the overlook of a new hike.
It took his breath away, to hold Nesta so close, to feel her lips moving against his, to feel her body heat-
He started, jumping back as Nesta pulled away, a frown falling on her face as she looked around toward where the shout had come from.
Cassian groaned, knowing exactly whose voice that had been. "Go away, Rhys."
"But, we need you! Tarquin is, surprisingly, undefeated and I've lost too much money. I need you to whip his…arm…" Cassian didn't miss the slight slur to Rhys's words, not that he bothered even looking at his brother.
"I'm a little busy," he spat, turning his face just enough to show Rhys he was addressing him. "In fact, I think it's time we call it a night."
Rhys stilled beside him. "What?"
"Yep. Party's over!" Cassian all but shouted the last two words, finally turning to look around at the living room. "Sorry friends, I love having you, but if we go on too much longer I'll end up annoying the neighbors."
The party had already cleared out somewhat, but the remaining guests grumbled slightly as they collected their things. Save for Az and Gwyn, who were both wagging their eyebrows at Cassian and Nesta.
Cassian turned back to Nesta, a hand resting at her waist again. "Except you…you stay," he declared in a low voice.
She smirked up at him, meeting his gaze, her own dark with desire.
"Well, what are we supposed to do now?" Rhys practically whined even as Feyre appeared at his side to tug him away.
Cassian didn't take his eyes off Nesta as he responded, "First, Feyre drives. Beyond that, I don't really care. Go sleep with your girlfriend, that's what I plan to do."
There were no more protests as Feyre captured Rhys's attention and led him out of the house, the last to leave.
Nesta tilted her head. "Girlfriend? I don't recall agreeing to that."
"I know," he grunted, pressing his body against hers again. "Let's call it a Christmas wish."
She sighed out an "ahh" as she lifted her head, the corner of her lips curved upward. "I suppose you have been fairly nice this year." She trailed her hands up his arms as she spoke, resting them right back where they'd been at his neck.
"Some might even say very," he purred, leaning down and pressing his lips to her neck.
She let out a sound between a gasp and a yelp at the feeling, which then turned into a soft laugh. "I guess Santa Nesta can keep it under consideration."
"Oh?" He dragged his teeth up the column of her neck. "Does that mean I have to wait until Christmas to see if Santa Nesta will grant my wish?" He nipped at her ear.
"I'm afraid so," Nesta breathed, her voice raspy in a way that had Cassian's pants tightening. "Though, you might be able to expedite the decision."
Cassian kissed down her jaw and then took her bottom lip between his teeth, tugging lightly on it. "And how might I do that?"
"Well, you see, Santa Nesta isn't as discriminating against the naughty." Cassian's eyes met Nesta's again, a flame dancing in them that sparked something deep within Cassian. "In fact, come nighttime, she often prefers it, and will likely grant many wishes to those who can be naughty enough to please her."
"Good thing I'm on the naughty list." Cassian kissed Nesta deeply, his hands brushing down her body until they reached her thighs. "I guess it's time to show you why."
He tightened his grip and lifted her easily. Nesta squealed at the movement, even as she wrapped her legs around his waist.
Cassian paused, staring up into Nesta's eyes, drowning himself in that blue-grey sea, admiring the way she seemed to shine beneath his gaze. Leaning in, he kissed her again, and then carried her up into his room and toward a new future he couldn't wait to begin.
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olivereadsbooks · 5 months ago
In Your Arms - azriel
azriel x gn reader
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genre: angst to fluff
warnings: blood, swearing
anon: azriel x mate reader where they have an argument before reader goes on a mission and gets hurt and bat boi is upset and worried for reader :) <3
I hope this is along the lines of what you were thinking anon :) thank you for the request
I left the reason behind the argument up to the reader. It can be as serious or lighthearted as you want.
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Azriel and I had gone weeks without talking before – weeks, months, whatever the mission required.
But we had never done it willingly.
The argument seemed hopelessly pointless now, and if I had any strength left, I might have laughed.
The shadows drifting around his shoulders looked heavier than normal, their restless movement irritating me for no reason other than existing.
"I want you to leave." My voice was low, rough, from all of the yelling.
He stared at me for a moment, eyes shadowed beneath a lowered brow, the muscles in his jaw tensing, before he uncrossed his arms and strode from our bedroom.
I do not know what hurt more: watching him leave without putting up a fight or trying to sleep that night in a bed that smelled like him.
A tear slid down my face. It slipped from my cheek, tumbling, falling, into the pool of blood at my feet.
It all felt so trivial alone.
Ah, I know that voice.
"Y/n, hey—" Warm hands brushed against the inside of my wrists, the skin of my neck. "—open your eyes for me."
Azriel's magic wrapped around me, gentle and quiet as the midnight breeze, and I blinked my eyes open. When had they closed?
It was definitely night now: the sky was dark, the mountains even darker, and above their jagged edges the stars flickered dimly. The tree I had collapsed against for shade hours earlier now waved gently in the breeze, its dark limbs hiding fragments of the night sky from me.
Azriel kneeled before me, worry and pain clearly written across his face. Relief relaxed his shoulders as our gazes met, and I forced my mouth into a smile. "What a disappointing end that would have been, huh? Dying before you even got to me."
Not once did I doubt whether or not he would come for me despite the fight and the silence between us since then, but it was still a relief to realize he found me.
He frowned at my words but otherwise did not respond, his focus concentrated completely on evaluating my wounds. They ached – everything ached – but after drifting in and out of consciousness for hours, the pain felt as if it was echoing in a different dimension to a different body.
I watched his face as he treated me, the perfect planes limned with light from the moon, and wondered what had gone through his mind when I ended the silence between us by screaming down the mate bond for help.
"Well, it would have been better than dying in your arms I suppose."
Immediately I regretted saying it.
Azriel did not physically recoil, but the agonizing pain that ricocheted all the way down the bond ripped out a piece of my soul. It was the first thing I had felt from him in so long and it hurt.
"I didn't mean it that way," I murmured, hating how his hands shook against my skin as they prodded and wrapped and tied. "I meant—"
"Shut up."
I stuttered to a stop at his voice.
"You are so goddamn stubborn and annoying. Only breaking the silent treatment when you're bleeding out in a fucking forest?" He snapped, the anger in his voice a stark contrast to his gentle touch as he helped me to my feet. "Now I'm going to have to scrape your blood off of my boots—" A scarred hand dragged through his hair. "—and going on this mission alone? How dumb are you?"
I was quiet as he adjusted his group around me. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean that I don't want to die in your arms." He began to shake his head and I rushed to explain. "Not in that way. Not because I hate you, but because it's heartbreaking and depressing as shit and I would never want you to go through that."
He shot me a look, but I noticed the harsh lines begin to soften.
I smiled, reaching up with one hand to cup his jaw. "Ironic, isn't it?"
"I would want to hold you," He muttered against my skin, shoulders unwinding as the anger in the air rapidly dissipated. He turned his head to press a kiss against my palm. "But stop talking about dying," He warned, "You're not going to die in my arms tonight."
Magic hung heavy in the air, swirling around us as he prepared to winnow us home.
"I would die in your arms for you."
"Shut up, that doesn't even make sense."
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