#aelin x rowan
I think the best thing about the bonds and relationships in Throne of Glass is that the friendship remains. Even after the many romances and breakups within the group, the respect and love for each other never completely goes away. Whether it’s Aelin with Dorian and Chaol, or Rowan with her exes too. Even Manon only has grief in her heart for Dorian losing Sorscha. No matter what, everyone remains mature, allied and friends, knowing they will have each other’s backs irrespective of their personal feelings at the moment. There is not a hint of unnecessary jealousy and irrational feelings, no betrayals due to spite. I think that’s one of the most beautiful things ever. This group truly sets the standards and shows how well things can be handled.
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Sarah J. Maas’ Love Interest Development Steps:
1. Make them tall + tan/darker skin tone.
2. Add tattoos. Some may remind them of trauma.
3. Make them standoffish but soft for those close them.
4. Lots of warrior/military experience is a must.
5. Has to be at LEAST 150 years older than their wifey.
6. Add wings.
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*Also sometime at Skulls Bay*
Rowan: What makes you think I’m flirting with you?
Aelin: Why are you naked on my bed.
Rowan: Don’t change the subject.
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Still waiting for a mate with a trajic backstory who would build me a theater and a library as a mating gifts.
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So I just found out about that deleted scene from Heir of Fire and I am utterly devastated at that cake scene. I'm glad they were able to share such a fluffy mundane moment before the chaos that followed.
I can't believe a simple scene like that is capable of ruining me. The power that Rowaelin has over me knows no bounds 😭
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EMPIRE OF STORMS
Warning: SPOILERS & a really, really long post full of asjdakdjalskjdk
Empire of Storms needed a separate post BECAUSE THIS FREAKING BOOK IS JUST oh gosh I can't even begin to describe it
MY GIRL, AELIN, THE BADDEST FIRE BREATHING BITCH QUEEN ALIVEEEE. I love her so much and I was in tears after that ending like GIRLLLLLLLL I CANNOT (but at the same time yaas we love the angst). She's been through so much and only, in the end, did people finally realize they've been treating her like shit when all she's been doing is selflessly thinking about ways to help them and not herself. Yes, I'm looking at you, Aedion.
My heart hurts for Aelin. She's brilliant, wickedly cunning, and above all, selfless. Can you imagine learning about your fate has been decided centuries before you and you've been played by everyone your whole life? But she rose above it and continued to fight. I just adore her brilliant mind and penchant for dramatic grand reveals. Sure, she has her flaws, but man if that happened to me, I would've been worse and left them all to ruin. 😆 I love how she's not some fragile damsel in distress chosen one, but she's a fighter with a smart mouth full of snarky comebacks and has an attitude. The way she carries herself is so authentic and just so brave. I mean give her a break. After everything she's been through, of course, she'll toughen up. Again, she’s not perfect and did bad things too, but wow the males around her like to push her around and blame her every time shit goes down. When in reality, she thinks ahead and does it alone so as not to disappoint the world that has put so much burden and pressure on her. She owed them all nothing. But no, people forget that she did not choose this life and the choices she had to made were the best at the time, despite how reckless they are. @ Chaol, Dorian, and Aedion
SHE MADE PLANS FOR EVERYONE, BUT HERSELF. IF THAT DOESN'T MAKE YOU WEEP, THEN IDK ANYMORE.
Honestly, that was the best way to end a book. SO EPIC & DEVASTATING!!! Why is this not picked up by Netflix yet? This is LOTR x The Witcher combined (I wanna put GOT too, but I never watched it 😅)
First and foremost, the 2 most crucial parts of this book that would have ruined me after finding out, but unfortunately did not because my snooping around the internet led to my ultimate downfall which is accidentally reading spoilers about the mate thing and the iron mask.
Rowan, oh my sweet darling Rowan. I just love Aelin and Rowan's dynamics. They're so perfect for each other because not only are they each other's equals, but they keep each other in check. I don't understand the people who hate Rowan's evolution when his sweet and devoted side has always been there and just hidden beneath his darkness. And the way both of them brought each other out of the dark tunnel of grief and entered the path towards the light together? BEST COUPLE AWARD ME THINKS
If Rowan wasn't a warrior, then he could very damn well be a poet because he makes me melt every time he opens his mouth.
"If someone saw how thoroughly I plan to worship you." I MEAN?!
“I kept thinking about how you might never know that I missed you with only an ocean between us. But if it was death separating us … I would find you. I don’t care how many rules it would break. Even if I had to get all three keys myself and open a gate, I would find you again. Always.” This is from Heir of Fire, but if someone said that to me, I'd faint. ROWAN WHITETHORN, ILY TO WHATEVER END.
And after that ending, you mean to tell me I have to read 800 pages of Chaol really?! I read some pretty good reviews of Tower of Dawn, but I'm not in the mood for it now lol so I took it upon myself to skim over Kingdom of Ash because I am weak for Rowaelin and yes I accidentally read another spoiler, but no biggie pshhh
Also, I have to say Manon x Aelin is a pairing I never knew I needed. Just love how they banter and you know do QUEEN THINGS. But I'm not a fan of Manon x Dorian because it feels too forced and I think Dorian's character just lost its touch for me. I still do love Dorian, but like Chaol, I can’t believe the sense of entitlement of these Adarlanian men who like to fling insults at Aelin right where it hurts most when things don’t go their way or when they feel their male pride gets threatened by a female more powerful than them as if it wasn’t their fault that Aelin’s family got murdered and kingdom destroyed, and she was forced to live as Celaena by their own kingdom. 😤🙄 I swear that moment where Dorian had his head in his pants and was trying to force Aelin to let Manon walk freely in the ship had me seething. I mean Aelin is not a saint, but at least she doesn’t go below the belt and stoop so low to the people she considers her friends, unlike Dorian and Chaol.
I wasn't expecting to love Elide x Lorcan, but here we are! Also, Lysandra and Aedion are so cute together. Loved how the cadre became part of their group albeit unintentionally. <3
Omg this was way too long so brb I'll read The Assassin's Blade first before Tower of Dawn. My pace will be a lot slower now (as I'll take my time so the wait would be worth it lol) hahaha I practically devoured 2 books in just 5 days I think 😂
I haven't even finished this series, but the one thing I discovered is that mates! au is my weakness and mates to enemies to lovers au is the superior trope of all.
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Pls I just finished kingdom of ash and I’m on my periods so I’m sobbing every paragraph
I need to get a fkn grip ffs
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all of aelin’s funny moments in kingdom of ash only happen because she is faking being happy and whole. she was so broken and damaged after maeve that she had to pretend to be okay to convince everyone else.
kingdom of ash, pg. 425
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I Dig You Part 9
Aelin Galathynius x Rowan Whitethorn AU
In the aftermath of Aelin and Rowan's date, they find working together can be distracting. Especially when some of the students catch them in a compromising position.
Part 8 | Fic Masterlist
Warnings: NSFW, Language, Human Remains (Non Graphic)
“And then I—Rowan, are you even listening?” Fenrys thrust his shovel into the dirt at his feet and wiped the sweat off his brow. “Whitethorn.” He tried again, but something else had caught the supervisor’s attention. Fenrys followed Rowan’s gaze and rolled his eyes. Not something else, but someone else.
Aelin had somehow—Fenrys easily guessed how—roped Rowan into setting up a large tent outside near the dig pit. Rowan then managed to convince Fenrys and some of the older students to help put it up while Aelin carefully brought out most of the skeletal remains.
He suspected Rowan placed the tent where he did, knowing the spot gave him an unobstructed view of Aelin as she expertly taught some students how to interpret bones.
And from what Fenrys could tell, Aelin didn’t mind having a clear line of sight of Rowan working in the pit, either.
How either of them thought they were being discreet was beyond him.
Fenrys exchanged a smirk with Luca who stopped his digging nearby, and they both watched as Evangeline, who was standing next to Aelin in the tent, nudged the bioarchaeologist’s shoulder and quietly said something into her ear. Immediately Aelin’s head swung around and she met and held Rowan’s stare.
Evangeline took the moment of distraction to look smugly at Luca and Fenrys.
Chuckling, Fenrys stepped towards Rowan and clasped a firm hand on his shoulder, effectively breaking him out of his trance.
“What’re you looking at?” Fenrys pretended not to know what— who— had really ensnared Rowan’s attention.
Clearing his throat, Rowan glanced around the tent before spotting a student handling a few tarsal bones. “Uh, it looked like they were going to drop some of those, I was watching to make sure they didn’t.”
Fenrys refrained from pointing out that because Rowan was in the pit, there was nothing he could have done if the student had dropped the bones anyway. Quickly turning his snort into a cough, Fenrys replied unconvincingly, “Whatever you say, boss man. It absolutely had nothing to do with the delightful, attractive, bone-lady up there.”
Rowan whipped his face towards Fenrys’ smirking one. Rowan wasn’t about to tell Fenrys that he was right. And he definitely wasn’t going to say that he could personally attest that Aelin knew how to handle all kinds of bones. Nothing stopped him from thinking it, though.
Aelin had felt the weight of Rowan’s stare all morning. His attention was on her as she prepared her space in the tent, walked through the basics with a few students who wanted to learn, and even as she sat to go over some paperwork. A couple times, she caught him staring, but there were a few moments when she managed to watch him unnoticed.
Rowan was back in the pit today, helping to make more progress on excavation. He looked so right— like that was exactly where he was meant to be. It was fun to watch him teach the students and take charge of the space. And it confirmed to Aelin that she really, really, liked the rugged, archaeologist look on him over the put-together version.
Of course, she more than appreciated any version of Rowan, but there was something special about the way he rolled up the sleeves on his work shirt and she could see the muscles in his arms flex as he worked the shovel into the ground. Or how after finishing a section he would shake his sweat-damp hair from his face and flex his hands to loosen the muscles holding the shovel. Gods, his hands. Aelin had learned just how strong and dexterous his hands were—
“Evangeline.” Aelin cleared her throat, turning her attention towards the girl. “I’m sorry, did you ask me a question?”
With a small smirk, Evangeline quietly said, so as not to be overheard by the other students, “No, but you’ve got a little…” she gestured to the side of her mouth.
Aelin rolled her eyes but smiled. “Very funny.”
The young girl smiled back and whispered conspiratorially, “I just thought you’d want to stop staring before someone else—someone not as discreet—noticed.”
Aelin huffed a laugh. “In that case,” she gave her student an exaggerated look of gratitude, “Thank you so very much, Evangeline.”
As Evangeline snorted with a smile and turned back to the bones, Aelin thought back to how she had spent this past week with Rowan: enjoying each other's company and inadvertently getting caught.
The feel of fingers running through her hair woke Aelin up. It took her a second to remember what happened the night before. If the tanned, muscled body next to her didn’t jog her memory, then the fact that they were both naked with only a thin sheet resting atop them certainly did.
She hummed contentedly as the fingers continued their strokes in her hair. Aelin could still feel the trace of them on her body. Nuzzling further into Rowan’s chest she placed a quick kiss on his skin.
This was nice. Just being with him was nice. Of course, being with him, blew ‘nice’ out of the water, but she was perfectly happy to just be in his company right now. He seemed to agree because his arm wrapped itself around her waist, gently pulling her tighter to him.
After a few more minutes of silence, Aelin propped her chin on Rowan’s chest and looked up to find him already staring at her.
“Good morning.” His deep, sleep-roughened, voice threatened to restart the heat that had coursed through her. His smile was soft, but she could see a hint of male satisfaction in his eyes as he savored the view of her naked body sprawled over his.
Not at all bashful, she smirked. “A very good morning.”
He chuckled and the sound made her grin. Leaning down, Rowan grabbed her chin between his fingers and lifted her face so he could slant his mouth over hers. The kiss was slow and exploring, and they broke apart after a few seconds.
“What time is it?” Aelin tried to see where her phone had fallen but was stopped from getting up by Rowan’s grip around her, keeping her flush to his chest.
“It doesn’t matter what time it is,” Rowan said, and continued when she raised a brow at him, “it's the weekend.” Rowan used his grip to roll them over so he was pressing Aelin into the mattress. He started trailing a line of kisses down her throat, pausing after each one to say, “We. Have. Nowhere. Else. To. Be.”
Aelin didn’t think she’d ever tire of feeling Rowan’s mouth on her skin. It made her thoughts fuzzy and her blood run with fire.
“Good.” She drew in a breath as he sucked a particularly sensitive spot on her collarbone. She let him finish making that mark on her before hooking her leg around his hip and twisting them back, so she was on top of him again.
This time her smirk was feline as she slowly slid down his body. Ass in the air, knees tucked under her, she slowly gripped his hardening shaft and made a few quick movements with her hand. Keeping eye contact with Rowan who’s breathing became ragged as she moved her hand more vigorously, she leaned her face down to place a soft kiss on the tip of his desperate cock.
His answering hiss made her smirk wider.
“My turn.” She said, before taking him fully in her mouth.
Aelin and Rowan took full advantage of their free weekend, becoming extremely well acquainted with the bed…and the couch, the kitchen counter, the floor, and the shower. By the time Rowan left, he probably could’ve mapped out every surface in Aelin’s apartment with his eyes closed.
Promising to get coffee together the next morning, Aelin grabbed him before he could walk fully out the door, and brought him down for a firm, greedy kiss.
If he insisted on sleeping in his own bed tonight—an idea that she begrudgingly agreed was smart seeing as they had to work the next day, although she wouldn’t let him know that—then she’d make sure he’d know what he was missing.
She and Rowan agreed to keep their relationship—
Was it a relationship? They hadn’t talked about labels, but whatever they were doing felt like more than a fling. Did she want to officially be with Rowan? Yes. Did she think he wanted to be with her? Also, yes. Had they been enjoying each other’s company, spending their free time together, and having mind-blowing sex? Yes, yes, and gods yes.
Had either of them asked the other to be exclusive? No.
She and Rowan had tried to keep their thing hidden from the other archaeologists. She didn’t think either of them were worried anymore over the fact that they worked together. Not in the sense that being coworkers meant they couldn’t date. But it was more about knowing that if the people around found out, there would be endless teasing and a drastic lack of privacy.
And it was kind of fun sneaking around.
Just as she could feel him deepening the kiss, she pulled away and smiled up at his hungry expression.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” She kept smiling as he groaned and ran a hand through his hair. He knew exactly what she was doing.
“Tomorrow.” And before she could comprehend it, he ducked down, giving her one last swift kiss before quickly walking away, as if he had to get away from her as quickly as possible or else he wouldn’t ever leave.
That had been almost a week ago. Their dinner date had been a week ago. Aelin tried to focus on the questions the students were asking her about the remains, but her focus was divided with memories of the past week.
One afternoon, Rowan joined Aelin in her workspace and the two of them worked side-by-side on their respective paperwork. Aelin had never been happier to have her own private building.
Another night, Aelin had gone over to Rowan’s apartment and he cooked her dinner. And then they had dessert, and after that they had dessert. That night she stayed over and hurried back to her own apartment early the next morning so she wouldn’t have to wear her clothes from the day before.
And then there was last night.
Aelin insisted that Rowan show her more of the town. As a self-proclaimed local, he should know all the best shops to visit and things to see—and places where they could sneak off and have a few moments to themselves uninterrupted.
That first bit, the best shops and sights, proved true; the bit about not getting interrupted, not so much.
After finishing the day’s work, they went straight to Rowan’s apartment and showered. Aelin definitely didn't argue when Rowan suggested she join him. Then, Rowan had taken Aelin to a small neighborhood market and insisted she try the pan-fried trout from one of the food stalls. It was surprisingly delicious, and she even stole a bite of Rowan’s once she’d finished hers.
They kept walking and then she recognized the street they turned down.
“The bookshop!” Aelin squealed excitedly, beaming up at Rowan. She had wanted to visit all week, but she had been otherwise occupied.
Rowan couldn't stop the smile spreading across his face as he watched Aelin practically jump with glee. She grabbed his hand and pulled him into the store.
The owner greeted Rowan by name and quickly learned that Aelin would be contributing to much of the shop’s sales for the upcoming weeks. Rowan followed as Aelin walked back and forth through the small store, eventually leaving her to browse on her own.
Ten minutes passed. Twenty. When Rowan hadn’t seen Aelin in thirty minutes he went looking.
Wandering through the maze of shelves he spotted her leaning against a floor-to-ceiling shelf piled high with old leather-bound books. Her head was bent at an odd angle, so engrossed with a book that she didn't seem to notice. She cradled the book in her crossed arms and hummed to herself.
Rowan was content to watch her. Until she flipped the page and bit her lip. Stalking towards her, he took the book from her hands, making sure to mark the page before putting it on a nearby chair. Her brief protest was cut short when he used his body to press her back into the shelf and moved one hand to hold the back of her head and draw it to his. Aelin immediately pressed forward into him as far as she could and kissed him enthusiastically.
Hands roaming, bodies flush, lips and tongue moving in synch. Every time they came together it was like being lit ablaze; Aelin’s whole body was on fire and Rowan kept feeding it, kept igniting it.
They were too consumed with each other to notice the bell on the door ring as someone entered the store. Too focused on the person they were holding to hear young voices and footsteps coming their way.
Aelin twined her arms around Rowan’s neck, and Rowan’s were banded around her waist, each trying to pull the other impossibly closer. He reached a hand to grip Aelin’s thigh, hitching her leg up around his hip.
“So that’s what I’m saying, it was just—Dr. Whitethorn?” They heard a young female voice cut off abruptly as she caught sight of the two doctors. They broke apart, exchanging a quick startled glance before turning to the voice. “Dr. Galathynius?”
Standing at the end of the aisle were an amused Evangeline and a speechless Luca.
Taking a break from digging, Rowan climbed out of the pit and strode into Aelin’s tent. He just caught the end of her explanation on how to determine what side of the body a humerus came from.
The students finished their notes and Aelin went to put the bone she was holding back down.
“How’s the lesson?” Rowan's deep voice inquired.
Aelin jumped, not having heard Rowan approach from behind her. He came up to the table she was working at and leaned against it with his hip.
She glared, annoyed at being startled.
“I could’ve dropped that, you know?” She pointed at the bone she had just placed on the table.
“That would have been very unfortunate.” He said with mock seriousness, crossing his arms over his chest.
Nodding in confirmation, Aelin told him, “Yes, it would’ve been. And it would’ve been all your fault, and I would have to write in my official report that Senior Archaeologist, Dr. Rowan Whitethorn was responsible for the damage sustained to it.” Now she matched his smirk.
He rolled his eyes and chuckled. “Right. Totally my fault. Not at all your fault for being the one to actually drop it.”
“Precisely” Aelin grinned. “I’m glad we’re on the same page.”
“Ugh” Fenrys groaned, having followed Rowan up from the pit. “Stop this weird flirting.” He gestured vaguely at the pair but otherwise looked amused, if not a little disgusted. “You're making the students, and me, very uncomfortable”
Aelin glanced around at the oblivious students writing notes, not at all paying attention to their supervisors. She raised a brow skeptically at Fenrys.
“Okay fine, just me.”
Rowan shook his head at his friend but stepped back from where he had gotten surprisingly close to Aelin.
She rested her hands on her hips and scoffed. “That wasn't flirting Fenrys, I don't know what you’re talking about.”
It was Fenrys’ turn to scoff. “Right, because I didn't also see you checking out Rowan when you thought he wasn't looking.”
Her cheeks flushed and she dared a glance at Rowan, only to find him looking very satisfied.
The silver-haired man turned to her as a large smile spread across his face. “Is that so?”
“Oh don’t look so amused,” Fenrys cut Rowan off, “don't pretend like you weren't gawking at Aelin every time she turned her back. You two really have no idea how not subtle you are.”
Rowan’s grin dropped as he became flustered, not sure how to respond.
Aelin and Fenrys both laughed at Rowan’s expression, although she was a bit caught off guard herself.
“Alright then.” Fenrys started walking away. “I’ve done my daily requirement of meddling today.” He jogged away before Rowan could grab him.
Rowan turned to face Aelin, trying to gauge her reaction. She stood next to him looking bemused. Then she spoke.
“With the amount of worrying I did about whether or not to make a move,” she leaned against the table, giving him her full attention, “I thought I would be more worried about having people find out about us.” Any concern he had faded away as she slowly smiled. “But I'm not.”
“You’re not?” He chanced a step closer to her.
“No.” Aelin leaned back on her hands, smiling.
She looked pointedly at Evangeline who suddenly became very interested in the bone before her, and at Luca who was standing next to Fenrys trying to make his glances at Aelin and Rowan not obvious—and failing.
“Besides, it's not like it's a secret anymore.”
Rowan and Aelin stood frozen, still tangled together, as they stared in shock at the two students facing them at the other end of the aisle.
A moment passed. Then two, no one knowing what to say.
Rowan finally realized he was still pressed against Aelin and hastily sprung backward, clearing his throat and running a hand through his disheveled hair.
Aelin quickly pulled her shirt down which had risen up several inches thanks to Rowan’s wandering hands.
Aelin recovered first. “Evangeline, Luca,” she addressed the still wide-eyed kids. “Funny running into you here.” She tried her best to not look like she had just been ready to drag Rowan into a secluded corner.
Evangeline’s smile turned sly, “Well, actually it was Dr. Whitethorn who recommended this shop.” She elbowed Luca who looked like he was still trying to figure out what the hell they had just walked in on.
“Urm, yeah.” The boy stammered, “Is that why he brought you here?”
Luca finally managed to push down his shock and replace it with excitement as he realized he had made a good bet regarding the two doctors. Now he smiled innocently, “To find a book?”
Aelin and Rowan hurried out of the store, walking until they found a small alcove in the wall which lent a bit of privacy. They both leaned their backs against the wall, trying to figure out what just happened.
Rowan groaned. “Did that…?
“And they saw…?”
“And did we tell them…?
Aelin started laughing—cackling, more like. Rowan could only stare at the beautiful, unexpected woman standing next to him. And he started laughing, too.
“Oh wow!” Aelin moved to stand in front of Rowan, stepping between his legs and putting her hands on his shoulders. He immediately held her waist. “That wasn't how I expected this night to go.”
“What?” Rowan matched her grin. “You didn't want to be caught making out by two of our students?”
She lightly swatted his shoulder, but her expression became serious.
“I really like you, Rowan.” Their eyes met and she could see the same desire and intensity that she knew were in hers. But also something else, something softer.
“I think we’ve established that,” He joked and leaned down to place a quick kiss under her ear. Bringing his head back up, he let his smile drop. “But, I hope you know that I really like you, too.”
She smiled softly, feeling warm and happy.
She liked being with him, near him; she liked laughing with him and teasing him, she liked being held by him and wrapping herself around him. She liked kissing him, tasting him, the feel of him being inside her.
She liked his smile, his laugh, his voice. She liked his tattoos. She liked how he towered over her. She liked his passion for his work.
But most of all, she liked how happy she felt when she was with him.
“I’m in, Rowan.” She held his gaze, trying to convey how sincere she was being, “I want this, with you.”
Aelin didn't think he would say no, but she was nervous nonetheless. He cut off any spiraling thoughts by carefully but firmly holding her face between his hands and pressing his lips to hers. He kissed her softly, sweetly, with all the confirmation she needed.
He pulled back but kept his forehead resting on hers.
Rowan almost couldn't comprehend how this brilliant, spit-fire, stunning woman had whirled into his life and made herself such a vital piece so quickly. The last week had been bliss. Every moment spent with her became his new favorite memory. The way she laughed so joyously. The way she looked so at ease in his apartment wearing only his shirt as they made coffee in the morning. The way she would tease him relentlessly, but always made him feel appreciated.
He couldn't concentrate during the day, knowing she was nearby, because he wanted to see her face—hear her voice. It terrified him in the best possible way how she was now at the center of his every thought.
He held her gaze, “All in, Aelin Galathynius. I’m all in.”
Rowan looked to where Aelin was watching Evangeline, Luca, and Fenrys, now huddled close together talking excitedly.
He chuckled. “Who do you think won the bet?”
Aelin laughed and grabbed the front of his shirt.
“I don't care.”
Then she pulled him down and kissed him.
She kissed him fervently—standing in her bone tent, surrounded by students and colleagues, not caring what anyone thought.
Fenrys’ wolf whistle broke them apart.
“Yeah, get some Whitethorn!”
Aelin laughed as Rowan swung his head around, his smile taking some authority away from his disapproving voice. “That’s my girlfriend you’re talking about Moonbeam, shut it.”
Beaming, Aelin pressed her face into Rowan’s chest.
“Woo!” Luca shouted excitedly, “I won!”
@allthebooksunderthemoon | @astra-ad-mare | @becarefuloflove | @bisexual-genderfluid-fan | @charlizeed | @cookiemonsterwholovesbooks | @danibutterr | @doubt-less | @emily-gsh | @enormousbooklover | @foughtconquered | @fromthelibraryofemilyj | @hakunamatatazz | @i-have-but-one-brain-cell | @in-love-with-caramel-macchiato | @jorjy-jo | @mayhemories | @midsizewitch | @morganofthewildfire | @rowaelinismyotp | @rowansfirebringer | @sayosdreams | @sheharahu | @stardelia | @story-scribbler | @superspiritfestival | @surielandiareendgame | @swankii-art-teacher | @westofmoon
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Todas las mañanas al despertar, repetía para sí: «No tengo miedo». Durante un año, esas mismas palabras habían marcado la diferencia entre romperse y doblarse; habían impedido que se hiciera pedazos.
-Trono de Cristal, Sarah J. Maas.
Weirdly, now that I’m reading Kingdom Of Ash I don’t know why but I imagine Rowan as MGK cuz the way rowan is described is a lot like mgk as he also has silverish hair, cold face features and stuff. Idk it’s just me tho
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we all loved Tamlin at some point.
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Two Flickering Souls
A little au brought about my random thought of what would’ve happened if this scene had taken a different turn... obviously it wouldn’t and couldn’t for very good reasons, but what if?
I mean, we all love some good hate sex right? 😂
CW: NSFW, not suitable for readers under eighteen
Some dialogue and situations credited to Sarah J Mass’ Heir of Fire
- 4K words
Celaena wasn’t sure what the fuck she was still doing here. Day after day of endlessly sitting around, trying endlessly to shift, while the bastard across from her endlessly stared at her with seemingly endless frowns and insults. Not that she cared, she sent twice as many insults back, her barbed words as vicious as she could make them.
But the damp and the chill from sitting up on the mountain made it better to go back into the kitchen, to the almost blazing heat of the furnace and the suffocating weight of everyone else’s words. Everyone else’s pity.
Celaena preferred it when Luca just babbled the whole meal away, when Emrys turned his knowing smiles on him instead of her. She preferred being left in silence, to fall into that deep dark hole inside of her and wonder how she ended up in the same place as these people when she deserved much much less. She deserved nothing. Not when she could see their souls while sitting in the kitchen now: theirs bright, clear flames, while hers was rotting black embers, too worthless to be anything but empty.
It just made it worse at dinner time, when everyone in the fortress gathered around to hear Emrys’ stories. The fellowship of everyone there just made her isolation worse, that loneliness and pain creeping back in. And yet she still kept going. And so did Rowan, for reasons she’d yet to uncover. Not that she really cared.
“Elentiya!” Luca hissed, gesturing to the door with wide eyes, and she glanced up from the dishes she was methodically cleaning, her main job once breakfast was finished. Her expression was flat, any motivation from when she’d sailed across the vast sea to Wendlyn gone under the weight of all the deaths on her conscience. But when she laid eyes on Rowan, standing in the doorway with an impressively icy frown on his face, she felt a little spark of anger. Scratch that, of hatred.
Gods, he was such a waste of her time and effort, this was a waste of time and effort. She should just leave now, find a way to kill the king that didn’t require training with this bastard. Especially after discovering what he considered “training”.
Celaena didn’t think that the hell she’d gone through and seen in that barrow wight field should count as proper magic training. Or any sort of lessons at all. Arobynn certainly wouldn’t have done something like that.
No. He probably would have, but she wouldn’t think about that right now. She’d focus on the semblance of anger she was feeling, narrow in on that one emotion to keep from falling all the way into that pit of nothingness.
So she rolled her eyes at the silver haired fae as she threw down her towel, heading toward the exit. She didn’t bother saying bye to the males she was leaving in the kitchen, just as she didn’t bother saying anything to Rowan as she made to push past him, planning on getting ahead of him in the hallway.
Shifting was still proving to be out of her reach, no matter how much she did try, unbeknownst to the male who seemed determined to think of her as a lazy brat, but she was channeling that frustration into indignancy, usually directed at that same male. She wasn’t helping her situation with him, but she again, didn’t really care.
As she reached the door he was standing in, Celaena couldn’t help but try to shove him a little bit, claiming it as an accident when both parties knew it was anything but. Even if he didn’t move an inch, the strength corded through his arms and chest making him like an unmovable mountain. The same mountain she’d pressed against while trying to stay away from her wretched “aunt”, the one forcing her to do all of this for the answers she desperately needed.
He muttered something under his breath as he slotted into place behind her, and she purposefully swayed her hips just a bit to piss him off, showing him that attitude he liked to insult her about. If only he knew what she’d actually been through…
But no. She wouldn’t trust him with that when he would just throw it back in her face. Saying it was what she deserved. She did deserve it, but she didn’t need to hear that from him.
But occasionally she wondered how much of her facade he could see behind, how much of her bleeding broken self he could sense. So far, it seemed like none of it. Celaena didn’t know whether that made her happy or not. She didn’t know if she remembered what happiness felt like enough to tell.
Back in Rifthold, everything had been so much simpler. Back when all she was doing was winning the tournament, or figuring out how to avoid killing for the king, or even just learning wyrdmarks with Nehemia… Nehemia. Despite the nothingness in her heart, she couldn’t forget that fresh death, that fresh grave, and the fresh heartbreak that had pushed her to the brink and then over the edge.
She’d tried to avoid thinking about Chaol, about the love she’d found and then lost, and how much she wished things were different. But he’d betrayed her, he’d chosen the king. Yet, she still longed for his touch.
Maybe she should just find someone else to erase that touch, or at the very least, cover it up for a little while. Maybe moving on in the physical sense would help the ache in her heart, the numb ache in her soul.
The thick, damp air struck her face as she made her way outside of the fortress, causing her lingering black eye to tingle, the last dredges of it still on her skin from where she’d refused to use the salve. But she ignored it as she trudged along, letting Rowan get ahead of her so she could follow him mindlessly, cursing at him from behind his back the more and more they climbed.
He was sadistic, cruel, a bully that never made it past the emotional maturity of a child. Even if he didn’t even show any emotion at all, apart from raging at her.
And, not wanting to put up with another whole day of failing to shift, and wanting to see just how much she could push him, Celaena spoke.
“I have a request,” she said, waiting for him to turn his dull eyes to hers. “I want to see you shift.” Rowan narrowed those same eyes, looking inclined to spit at her.
“You don’t have the privilege of giving orders.” His words were flat, his tone final. But she pressed more, slowing their pace down to nothing.
“Show me how you do it.” Maybe, just maybe, it would help. Ever since that evening in the kitchen, she’d known his animal form, the same damned bird that had watched her for days on that damned rooftop, but maybe seeing the process would help her harness that same power inside of herself.
It still made her wary to access that side of herself, flashes of Chaol’s disgusted face when she shifted, of uncontrollable fire springing from her fingers into the delicate pages of books, echoes of her own voice murmuring monster, worthless, better off dead, in her head. But she needed to get past that. She needed a distraction.
Which is why she hyper focused on Rowan as he shifted, a soft flash of light and a ripple of color filling the air before a white tailed hawk appeared, swooping for the nearest tree branch and clicking his beak.
Celaena glanced around, not seeing his clothes, his weapons, or any disruption at all. If she hadn’t seen it, she wouldn’t have even known he’d shifted. How?
Rowan let out a battle cry, swooping off the tree and aiming his talons for her eyes. She darted behind a tree, glaring at him as he shifted back, closer than before, that same flash of light overtaking her vision.
“Your turn,” he growled sternly, and she couldn’t help the tremble that shook her. It was incredible seeing the shift, but she wouldn’t let him now she thought that.
“Where do your clothes go?” She asked instead, moving slowly from behind the bark. Rowan clenched his fists.
“Between, somewhere. I don’t particularly care.” He bared his teeth after he answered, but she didn’t give in, didn’t stop and attempt to shift like he wanted her to. Although she supposed he didn’t want her to attempt. He wanted her to succeed. After a moment though, of holding Rowan’s gaze, she took a deep breath, calming her body. Celaena imagined phantom fingers reaching down, pulling her Fae form out, imagining that same flash of color and light, pushing, pushing… but no luck.
“Sometimes I wonder whether this is a punishment for you,” she said through her teeth, refusing to show her struggle. “But what could you have done to piss off her Immortal Majesty?” He growled again.
“Don’t use that tone when you talk about her.” Her brows shot up in a taunt.
“Oh, I can use whatever tone I want. And you can taunt and snarl at me and make me chop wood all day, but short of ripping out my tongue, you can’t-”
Faster than she thought possible, his hand shot out and he grabbed her tongue between his fingers. Celaena bit down on that hand, as hard as she could, but he didn’t let go, instead purring “Say that again”. She gagged, choking a bit as he kept pressing down. She tried to slam her knee up between his legs, going for his daggers, but then he slammed his body against hers, pushing her against the tree.
He was a wall of hard muscles, centuries of lethal training, and she could do nothing to free herself, nothing to escape him. Rowan finally let go of her tongue and she breathed deeply, coughing as she cursed at him foully, spitting at him.
And that’s when he bit her. His canines pierced the spot between her neck and shoulder, and she cried out, the bite so strong and claiming she was too stunned to move. He pressed her further against the tree, and despite herself… it felt good.
Her first instinct was anger, ready to push him away and snarl at him, but that other nagging thing inside her told her that this could be her distraction, could be her momentary break from everything weighing on her soul. He was unfortunately attractive, and if anything, this could be used to throw him off his feet, to prove that she stood a chance against him in some regard. It brought her a bit of satisfaction, thinking of getting a leg up on him, even if it was through unconventional means.
But before she could do anything, he pulled back, ripping through her skin slightly, and without even realizing it, that action pulled her fae form out with a searing flash of light.
Celaena panted, even though her lungs were telling her she didn’t need as much air, she wasn’t winded. She could feel her skin stitching itself together over the wound on her neck. She felt stronger, freer, amazing. But then… there it was, the crackle of wildfire rising up inside of her, in her veins, her fingertips, threatening to spill out of her and burn and burn and burn. But Celaena stumbled back, closing her eyes and using all her energy to shove that fire back inside, burying it as much as she could.
“Let it out,” Rowan insisted, “don’t bury it.” He spat her blood out onto the ground, a light in his eyes that contrasted the harsh action. But Celaena just kept focusing, digging a hole deep inside her to shove that fire down. She didn’t need it right now. She didn’t need it ever. “What are you doing?” He hissed, yanking on her arm. “You worthless -”
Without thinking, she kissed him.
His mouth was warm and soft against hers, surprising her, and she closed her eyes, leaning into it a second before she was being pushed away, back into the tree behind her.
“You brat,” he hissed again, “What are you trying to do?” Celaena just panted, not responding and just staring into those narrowed green eyes.
“What do you think I’m doing, you bastard?” She spit the words back, dropping her head back against the rough bark of the tree. A rush went through her as he prowled closer, bracing a hand against the tree next to her head. With her new fae senses, everything was sharper, and his pine and snow scent washed over her, angering her and enthralling her all at once. Out of her control, she felt herself shift back into her human form, if only to keep from being overwhelmed.
“Stop trying to distract me,” he murmured, and she smirked.
“But I do it so well,” she replied, practically purring the words like he did earlier.
“What makes you think I would ever want to kiss you?” He tilted his head. “You’re a spineless, worthless -”
“Yeah, yeah I get it,” she interrupted, her heart racing. “I’ve heard it all before. And I’d rather hear other things from your mouth right now.” She let her eyes flutter half closed. She knew she didn’t look her best right now, her hair ratty, her body malnourished from the lack of food and the drinking, but her base characteristics were still there. She could use it to her advantage, to try and forget who else’s body had been on hers.
“Oh really?” He leaned in closer, glaring at her. But Celaena could still see the spark of heat in that gaze, the frustration turning to something a little different. “Don’t you despise me?” The words were a taunt. “You’ve called me plenty of names too.”
“I can despise you and still want to fuck you,” she tilted her head, “it’s not mutually exclusive.” She lifted her leg, tucking it behind his knee to pull him closer.
“I’d really rather you just listen to what I tell you and stop complaining about it,” he said darkly, “we’re both stuck here until you learn some discipline and control that damn magic of yours.”
“Well,” she smiled drily, “like you said, we’re stuck here. Might as well do something because I am not shifting again.” He huffed, leaning in even closer, his breath ghosting over the same place he’d bitten just moments ago.
“Gods, you’re so useless,” he purred over the skin, and she closed her eyes, breaths turning short.
“Just fuck me already,” she said, slightly breathlessly, and Rowan growled, sliding his canines gently but intently over the delicate skin of her neck.
“I shouldn’t do this,” he murmured, “I shouldn’t want to do this.”
“Just shut up,” she huffed, reaching with her hands to pull his face back to hers, devouring him in another kiss. He crowded her against the tree, pressing her body into his, slanting his head and taking the control from her. Celaena didn’t let him, tugging on his silvery hair, shoving her tongue in his mouth and battling for dominance. She was determined to make him beg for more, to make him lose that insufferable superiority of his.
It was just like their fistfights, except this time, she wouldn’t lose.
Rowan just nipped at her bottom lip, tugging it with his teeth, the sharpness of his canines providing a delicious edge against the soft skin. She sighed into him, tugging at his hair again, and he grasped the thigh of the leg wrapped around him, lifting it up to his hip and pushing in closer, making her eyes roll back into her head as she could feel the hard line of him against her. Despite his reservations, it was clear he was into this as much as she.
“I still hate you, by the way,” he groaned into her, and she chuckled darkly, pulling back.
“And I hate you.” She gave him one second before leaning in to press hot kisses to his jawline, sucking at it just enough to leave a mark in the morning. There. Let everyone else in the fortress wonder about that. Although she supposed they wouldn’t, it would be clear after this to everyone what had happened.
She licked a stripe up his jaw, but before she could do anything else, Rowan was ripping her hands out of his hair and pressing them up against the tree, holding them with one hand above her head as the other returned to her leg. His head dipped back to her neck as he left marks of his own, licking and sucking and nibbling, but never biting all the way like she wanted him to. Like he had already.
She was self aware enough to know she craved that feeling again.
But the lack of control soon annoyed her, and she fought to break her arms away, pulling at the hem of his tunic as soon as he let her go. Rowan used his now free hand to drag through her loose braid, gripping her hair at the base of her head and pulling it back, so she was looking straight up at his face as he dove back into a furious kiss, tongue pushing in immediately and sweeping through her mouth.
Celaena was lost in the sensation, her hands ghosting over the defined muscles of his stomach, but then… an icy breeze she knew came from him escaped up under her own tunic and undershirt, brushing over stomach, and making her shiver from the cold and from lust before ghosting across the band she wore around her breasts, grazing her peaks and dragging out her first moan.
She would’ve been embarrassed by the sound if not for the groan Rowan let out right after, spurred on by her own sigh. Soon, that breeze dipped down to mess with the sensitive skin under her navel, and she panted, especially as he quickly filled the loss under her shirt with his hand, diving up and grabbing her breast roughly, massaging it and rubbing over her peak with his thumb, the feeling heady through the thin white material.
Celaena struggled to function, but she managed to start lifting his shirt, pulling the tunic over his head with his assistance. She dug her hands into his shoulders as he tugged on her bottom lip. But when he started pulling her own tunic off, and she felt the rough bark of the tree on her scarred back, she panicked slightly, freezing.
“The shirt stays on,” she managed to mutter, taking her hands off his body and quickly tugging her tunic off herself, but leaving the thin undershirt on to cover her whole back. He didn’t need to see that. Rowan looked ready to argue, that infuriating arrogance ready to make an appearance, but she didn’t give him time to comment before she dropped her leg down and used her body weight and the element of surprise to push him onto the grass, following quickly to straddle him and gain the upper hand just like she wanted.
She braced her hands against his broad, tan chest, feeling the hard muscle as she began rocking against him, his hard length grinding against where she needed it the most. Her eyes fluttered shut, and heat spiked her core as his hands gripped her hips quickly, guiding her movements until she was going faster and faster, making groans and sighs escape them both.
Gods, she hated him, but gods she’d never felt like this. It had never been like this with Chaol, but she pushed the thought of him away, which wasn’t hard to do, especially when Rowan shifted enough to manage to flip them. She dropped a hand down and deftly slid it into his pants, gripping his hard length and pumping it once, making him curse and thrust into her hand. She tried hard to avoid moaning at how much she felt.
She needed him inside her, now.
But he had other plans. Bracing one arm next to her head, he used the other to quickly unbutton her own pants, pulling them down and off her legs before sliding beneath her underwear, pulling those off too. Celaena clenched her eyes shut, digging her hands into his shoulders as he dragged a finger slowly through her folds.
“Gods you’re so wet,” he murmured against the skin of her neck, that icy wind returning to her breasts and making her whimper. “You say you hate me but look at you.”
“Shut the fuck up,” she managed to say, her voice strained and her breaths short. Rowan just chuckled darkly and slipped a finger into her, drawing out her second moan of the day, the sound turning into a sigh as he crooked it just right, adding another in there to increase the friction. “Rowan,” she breathed, despite herself, and it seemed to spur him on, his fingers increasing their speed as he rubbed his thumb roughly over her sensitive nub.
Giving up on gaining any control, Celaena just clutched at him as her climax crested, spilling her into a sea of pleasure. She moaned and sighed and shuddered as she clenched around him, his fingers still moving as he worked her through it.
“Gods,” she murmured, breathing heavily as she came down. But when she was calm enough, and when he removed his fingers, she took the opportunity to roll them back over, hands immediately reaching for his pants, pulling them off with his undershirts and grabbing his cock. She wrapped her hands around it, squeezing and pumping in just the right way to make him grunt, a groan escaping him as she ran a fingertip lightly over the slit on the head of it.
But her core was already reheating, and she was struck with the need to feel him inside of her, so she straddled him, scooting forward until she was hovering over his length. They both exhaled unsteadily as she slid onto him, a sigh escaping her as she paused, her eyes closed as she adjusted to the stretch.
Gods, gods. She didn’t even have words to describe the feeling. He hit every single sensitive spot inside of her, and she couldn’t stop the sounds escaping her as she began moving, circling her hips and sliding up and down, and neither could Rowan, growls and groans of his own coming from his parted lips as he thrusted up into her, gripping her hips tightly.
She was almost there, almost there… but then he was flipping them again, getting back on top and thrusting roughly into her. He still kept his hands on her hips, tight enough to where she was sure little finger shaped bruises would be there tomorrow, but she didn’t care. She hadn’t cared about bruises in a long time.
Celaena dug her nails into his shoulders and dragged them down his back, sadistically hoping she was leaving some sort of mark in him, just as he was leaving one on her. And Rowan’s teeth once again trailed down her neck, sliding gently along the flesh before traveling up to her ear, nipping at the earlobe before licking up the side and landing at the rounded tip, where he stopped.
“Shift,” he murmured firmly into that same ear, and she tried cursing at him, but her mouth fell open as a particularly hard thrust hit her, and she found herself trying instead of ignoring his command. “Shift,” he repeated, snapping his hips into hers, and she focused deep inside herself, desperately reaching for the same feeling as last time, pushing against the barriers of her human form. He rubbed at her sensitive nub again, and she gasped as that flash of light and color overtook them, signaling her shift.
Her senses sharpened again, and she moaned deeply as every nerve lighted up, the feeling of him inside her intensified and the fire crackling in her veins returned. Rowan returned to licking up the side of her ear, apparently satisfied with the pointed tip now there instead. He swirled around it with his tongue before gently biting it with his teeth, pulling at it slowly and making her heart beat faster, nearing that cliff again.
But it was the true tipping point when he returned to her neck, and she hyper focused on the feeling as he snapped his hips and then bit down, the same feeling from earlier overtaking her.
“Rowan,” she cried out as she climaxed, pleasure racing through her. He thrusted into her a few more times before groaning and spilling inside of her, the sudden warmth stretching out her orgasm that much longer. But overwhelmed as she was, she couldn’t bury the wildfire this time, and it spilled out of her too, rushing across the grass and into the trees, encasing them in the red and gold flames.
It would’ve been beautiful if it didn’t fill her with deep deep dread and fear, and she froze, staring at it wide eyed, desperately trying to reel it back in. Rowan cursed and pulled out of her quickly, looking at it with what looked like slight regret in his eyes, and then the air was gone. She couldn’t breathe. He was suffocating the fire around them but suffocating her too.
She grasped at her throat, clambering for a single breath, before it all rushed back, and she gasped, breathing heavily as she collapsed against the now cool grass, not even caring about her half nakedness. Rowan, on the other hand, was quickly putting his pants back on, sliding his tunic on before picking up and throwing her pants at her.
Celaena slowly pulled herself together, fixing her clothing and her hair and standing on her weak and shaky legs, before looking up at him warily, meeting his equally wary gaze from where he now stood perfectly still a few yards away.
It was clear that neither of them knew how to broach what had just happened, what their training had turned into, even if she had provoked it. But she knew one thing.
Despite her intentions, they had just made everything much much worse.
@lexflame @in-love-with-caramel-macchiato @camilamartinezdunne @rolltide7 @sleeping-and-books @tottenhamboys20 @firestarsandseneschals @yesdreamblog @jlinez @superspiritfestival @courtofjurdan n @booknerdproblems @1islessthan3books @ireallyshouldsleeprn @imaginedhaven @fangirlprincess09 @lauraisfae @claralady @sassys-world @booksbqueen @aelinashryvergalathynius18 @more-espresso-less-depresso-xx @http-itsrebecca @perseusannabeth @throneofmak @emilyoftheshadows s @poisonous00 @thegoddessofyou @highqueenofelfhame @chieflemming @thesurielships @annejulianneh111 @tomtenadia @aflickeringsoul l @woollycat22 @empire-of-wildfire @jesstargaryenqueen @gracie-rosee @wanderingjpg @cicada-bones @shyvioletcat @thewayshedreamed @rowaelinismyotp @miserablesmusings @grandma-noob-lord d @myworldofbooks @danibutterr @wordsafterhours @vanzetanze @dangerouscherryblossompenguin @sailorsassley @rainbowcheetah512 @live-the-fangirl-life
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Aelin Galathyniuis: I sometimes feel like I don’t fit in anywhere.
Rowan Whitethorn: What do you mean?
Rowan: You fit right in my arms
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*aelin, rowan, and gavriel sitting together and eating after they first meet*
aelin: so you like cats?
aelin: what? dude shows up looking like cat, you don’t wanna know more?
gavriel: *sits silently hoping they’ll stop talking so he can eat in peace*
gavriel: *sigh of defeat* I am the lion and a protector of Doranelle, not some little “cat”
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Rowan Whitethorn: How’s the prettiest person in the world doing?
Aelin Galathynius, not looking up: I’m not sure. How are you?
Rowan: (voice cracks) I’m fine
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Only You ~ Rowaelin
A Rowaelin fanfic, set if Aelin’s parents had lived and she had met Rowan under normal circumstances, if Erawan and Maeve weren’t threats. Hope you enjoy!
*Two updates in one day?? Who am I?
@jesstargaryenqueen @sailorsassley @sjmships @tomtenadia @endlessdaydream @aflickeringsoul @tillyrubes10 @fredweasleyhasadhd @rowaelin-cressworth @cookiemonsterwholovesbooks @rowaelinismyotp @rosegoldannie @maryberry @viajandosinalas @becarefuloflove @allthebooksunderthemoon @sheharahu @swankii-art-teacher @superspiritfestival
Chapter Sixteen ~ Relenting
Chapter Fifteen ~ Chapter Seventeen
Aelin returned to her rooms, surprised to find her mother lounging in a chair, sipping on a steaming cup of tea.
“The guards informed me that you and Rowan left for the city earlier. If you had wanted to have some time for the two of you, we could have moved some things around.”
Aelin joined her mother on the couch, taking her own cup and pouring the steaming liquid into it. She took a long sip, savouring the warmth, before placing it back on the end table and turning to her mother.
“We have plenty of time together. There was just something we had to do.”
“Would this have something to do with Lysandra?”
Aelin didn’t look at her mother. Instead taking another sip of her tea.
“Is there something your father and I should know?”
She didn’t look at her mother as she spoke. “There may be a baby on the way.”
Aelin’s mother coughed as she placed the tea on the table. Her posture moving towards Aelin. She cleared her throat. “I hadn’t realised you and Rowan had…”
Aelin’s eyes widened. “No! No.” She shook her head. “I’m not… you thought I was pregnant?”
“It is usual after mating to… consummate the bond. Much like you would after getting married.”
Aelin cringed. She had always been close to her mother, but when it came to talking about relationships, it has always been a topic neither had wanted to approach. She had had the standard talk when she had come of age, and when she had been courting other men her mother had insisted on going on a tonic just in case.
“I am not pregnant, mamma. Rowan and I haven’t… taken that step yet.”
Evalin looked surprised at the confession, but quickly schooled her face back to normal. “It’s good to know that Rowan is respecting your boundaries. And I must say I am slightly relieved that you’re not pregnant. You’re so young, you have plenty of time.”
Aelin hummed in agreement and took another sip of the tea. Her mother paused a moment, her eyes widening in realisation. “Lysandra is expecting?”
Aelin nodded. “Aedion is the father.”
Evalin stood from the sofa, a hand going to her forehead. Aelin did nothing as her mother stared into the fire and processed.
“Where are they now? Is Lysandra okay?”
“Lysandra is going to stay with Sam for a while in the city. She doesn’t want everyone to know yet. So until she is ready to tell people I have been tasked in figuring out what to do.”
Evalin paced in front of the fire. “Aedion has not proposed marriage? It seems like the sensible thing to do.”
“You know Lysandra. She is worried what people will think and with my marrying for alliances out of the picture, the lords believe it should fall to Aedion.”
Her mother waved a hand. “Nonsense. I’ll have Orlon speak with them regarding Aedion. Terrasen will find other ways to build relationships. What is more important is everyone’s happiness.”
Aelin huffed out a laugh at her mothers ranting.
“Whatever they decide, I should prepare new accommodation for Lysandra. Perhaps we’ll move her closer to you. There is an empty suite that would be perfect, I can organise some new furniture to be brought in.”
Aelin let her mother finish before speaking. “Before you start getting too excited, let’s just give Lysandra some time to process. In the meantime we can speak to Orlon.”
“Of course.” Her mother smiled to herself. “Oh this is exciting. I honestly thought Elide and Lorcan would be the first to have a child.”
Aelin rolled her eyes slightly. If her mother was like this with Lysandra… then what would she be like when she eventually announced her and Rowan were expecting. The thought sent a pang through her. The image of Rowan holding a baby was jarring, one she had not envisioned until now. And it maybe it was the mating bond, or just the love she held for Rowan, but she warmed at the idea of a family with him.
Evalin smiled at her. “I know that look.”
Aelin pretended to look confused.
“One day, Aelin. But enjoy the time you have with him now, get to know each other a little more. You have plenty of time.” Her mother stroked Aelin’s hair in a soothing manner. “I’m proud of you, Fireheart.”
The women stood, Aelin snuffing out the candles that were flickering on the desk and nightstand, calming the flames in the fireplace, lowering them until they were embers. A good way for her to siphon off bits of her magic when she had gone too long without using it.
Aelin followed her mother out of the room, shivering at the loss of warmth. They meandered through the palace until they reached Orlon’s office. Her father was already seated in a chair, the two of them murmuring about something, their eyes scanning over papers that were laid on the solid oak desk.
When Aelin and her mother entered the men looked up from their documents. Her father smiled brightly at her, Orlon giving her a nod and his own small smile.
“My two favourite ladies.”
Evalin laughed and walked over to kiss her husband. Aelin liked seeing them this way, she had seen enough unhappy marriages in her life to know how lucky she was that her parents had chosen to be together and not matched by someone else— and that Aelin herself had managed to escape that fate.
“To what do we owe the pleasure? I had thought you would be attending to Lysandra.” Orlon gave her a knowing look. He was under no illusion to the fact she had lied to him this morning.
Aelin gave him a sheepish grin. “That’s actually why we’re here. I need to discuss something with you all.”
Evalin took a seat next to her father, whilst Aelin made herself comfortable.
“Will whatever you have to tell me need damage control?” Orlon gave her a pained look. One she had seen many times over her short life.
She grimaced. “Potentially.”
Orlon rubbed his forehead. “Aelin…”
“Lysandra has discovered she is going to have a child. Aedion is the father.”
Orlon looked to her parents, her father in his own state of shock. “Did you both know about this?”
Her father shook his head. Her mother smiled sheepishly at Orlon. “I was informed just now.”
Orlon stood from his chair, resting his hands on the desk. He didn’t speak for a moment, assessing Aelin, thinking over what she had just told him.
When Orlon still hadn’t said anything, Aelin continued, “Lysandra does not want to cause a fuss, and has gone to stay with Sam in the city for the time being. But I came to you because I know since my mating I have made things slightly more difficult in regards to alliances.”
“No one is angry at you Aelin.”
She smiled. “I know. My point was that Aedion is now being considered for fulfilling what I couldn’t… but I am asking you to consider giving your blessing and convincing the other lords that Aedion should be allowed to marry whomever he chooses.” She paused a moment, her mother nodding in agreement, as her father and Orlon listened intently. “Lysandra would marry Aedion if he asked, but she’s afraid of the repercussions and also knows that many of the lords would not agree to it.”
Orlon considered her words for a moment. The room in silence, save for the quiet footsteps of people walking outside the office.
“The lords are not to know she is with-child?”
Aelin shook her head. “She would prefer if it was kept a secret for now.”
“That does make it slightly harder. But with your mating ceremony and wedding… and my upcoming announcement, I’m sure I can convince them, or at least get them to overlook it. With so many other things happening, they will be distracted.”
Aelin did not react to his mention of an announcement. No more had been said about Orlon’s stepping down since she had been been in the healing wing and Aelin hadn’t been rushing to bring it up herself.
“I’ll deal with this Aelin. You should focus on the planning, I was meant to inform you yesterday that the mating ceremony is being brought forward, it’ll be in one week.” Orlon came around the front of his desk, stopping in front of her. “We will follow the old ways, you and Rowan will have a week after mating to yourselves— we have prepared one of the cottages just outside the city for the two of you. But when you return, I’m afraid things will start to move quickly. Your wedding will be two weeks after Yulemas ball.”
She nodded. “I understand.”
“I’ll leave it to you to inform Rowan.”
She removed herself from the sofa she had been sat on and bowed to Orlon. She turned to leave, pausing when Orlon spoke once again.
“I’ll sort everything out for Lysandra.”
Aelin smiled gratefully. She bowed once more to Orlon and did the same to her parents, who had been unusually quiet. She was sure there would be words about this from her father at some point.
She closed the door behind her and sauntered down the hallway, people curtsied to her as she walked past. The snow had started to ease since earlier and she found herself grateful for the reprieve in the harsh Terrasen weather. With Lysandra gone and Aelin having already told Orlon she would be unavailable today, she wandered the halls for a while longer. She strolled toward the kitchen where the smell of fresh bread and pastries wafted. As a child she had always been told off for sneaking into the kitchens and convincing the cooks to give her extra sweets. And as she’d grown older she did not frequent there so much, but occasionally she would pass by, the cooks always giving her something anyway. Today they handed her a plate with the warm bread and honey drizzled over it.
She perched on a stool in the corner of the kitchens, out of the way, but still able to watch as the cooks flittered around, their hands kneading and chopping. The smells were heavenly. Garlic and onions soon filled her nostrils, then the delicious scent of roast chicken. Her mouth was practically watering. But still she sat, offering to help here and there, when she saw the flames dying, she easily reignited them, the cooks thanking her.
She sat for a while longer, nibbling on the last of her bread and honey, before finally going to the sink to wash her plate and exiting the kitchens. She wasn’t sure where she headed next, but she caught the scent of pine and snow and felt the pull of the bond. Aelin arrived outside Rowan’s rooms. She had never actually set foot inside, at least not while they had been Rowan’s quarters.
She knocked on the door, and warmed as she heard Rowan’s voice.
He was sat by the desk, scribbling something down on parchment, barely looking up when she entered. The room was warm and Aelin noted the shirt thrown over the chair and the piles of books stacked by his bedside.
She stopped behind him, her hands going to his shoulders— touching him was second nature now, whenever she neared him it was impossible not to let her hand slip into his or for her arm to brush against his own. Every touch was electric and she could feel the bond pulsing between them. Sometimes she didn’t know if it was the bond, or just the simmering sexual tension that was between them.
The furthest they had gone was still only kissing, Rowan still refused to take her before they had mated officially, and it was driving her insane. She had tried many different tricks to try and get him to cave, including wearing a scandalous nightgown that she had planned on reserving for her wedding night… but she had seen Rowan sprawled on her bed, wearing little to nothing himself, and she had to try. All it had done was frustrate them both more, and Rowan had excused himself and came back ten minutes later with wet hair and a sheepish look on his face.
She pushed the thoughts aside and pulled her focus back to the male in front of her.
“Where did you go in Orynth?” She rubbed his shoulders, sliding her hands down the front of his shirt and leaning her head on his shoulder.
Rowan stopped writing and turned around, pulling Aelin onto his lap so she straddled him.
“You’ll find out soon enough.” He cleared his throat. “I’ve arranged for us to have dinner alone this evening. I hope you don’t mind.”
Aelin hummed in response as she kissed his neck, slowly moving to place kisses over his chin, his cheeks, his forehead. Rowan’s eyes fluttered closed as he leaned into them. Aelin placed her mouth over his, the kiss meant to be sweet and soft, but Rowan gathered her closer and deepened it. Their noses brushing as they fell into the kiss, her hands in his hair, his fingers gripping her waist.
Her breathing was heavy as Rowan swiftly picked her up and strode over to the bed, placing her down gently on the end. His body came over hers, she blinked up at him, a smile playing on the corner of her mouth. She saw the desire in his eyes and scented exactly what he wanted.
“Just give in.”
He shook his head as he studied her. She remained lying beneath him, Rowan bracing his hands to the side of her head. Aelin leaned up to kiss his mouth once. Then again.
Rowan sighed, letting her take control. She pulled at his shirt as she moved up the bed, Rowan crawling along with her, their chests touching, their lips still together. Her heart was hammering in her chest, the feel of him against her setting her on fire.
She kissed his face, yanking at the bottom of his shirt to pull it off. “Please, Rowan.”
He didn’t stop her as she finally got the shirt free, pulling it over his head.
She ran her hands over his chest, his skin warm against her fingertips. His muscles flexed as he held himself above her, Aelin let her hands wander to his arms, to his back. She couldn’t stop touching him, the feel of his soft skin was enough to send her wild.
Rowan’s own heart was beating just as fast. He watched her as she touched him, exploring him. She stopped a moment, looking back at him. She gave him a wicked smile before pulling her own blouse off. Throwing it to the floor beside her.
Rowan did not move as he took in her naked torso.
She slid her hand along her stomach and up as she moved it to her breast, rolling her nipple between her fingers.
She had never seen Rowan move so fast. One second she was free and teasing him, the next he had her hands pinned above her, his mouth moving to where she had just been playing. He took her nipple in his mouth, sucking and flicking with his tongue. Aelin groaned in pleasure, her body writhing beneath him, needing more skin, less clothes.
He moved his mouth to her other breast, repeating what he had just done, and she felt every nerve in her body come alive, goosebumps erupting on her skin.
Rowan kissed and nibbled his way down her stomach, he took one of his hands away, holding her wrists with one, the other coming down to unbutton her pants. She wanted, no needed Rowan between her legs, she wanted his mouth to lick and suck and send her to oblivion. She wanted him deep inside her, she needed to feel him move inside her, to have their bodies together as one.
Rowan almost growled as he set her free, leaving her completely naked on the bed. The way Rowan looked at her… she had never felt more exposed or more beautiful in her entire life.
She let her legs fall open wider, allowing him to see all of her. She could see the bulge in his pants growing, straining against the fabric. Rowan did not move, so Aelin brought her hand down, letting her fingers move in circles against her core. She could see the struggle on Rowan’s face as he battled with himself— he had wanted to wait— but she knew that she was making it impossible for him to stay strong.
She stroked herself, smiling at Rowan, taunting him with her own touches.
It took half a second before Rowan was pulling off his own pants, crawling up the bed and crashing his mouth against her own. The kiss was rough and tantalising and she loved every moment of it. His length brushed against her leg and she grinned, her hands wandering until she wrapped around him and started to move. He let out a groan and let his own hands find her centre. Aelin sighed as his fingers replaced where she had been moments before, moving in just the right way that sent sparks through her.
Rowan kissed her as he slipped a finger inside, she moaned, which seemed to be enough encouragement. He added another one, filling her more, pumping his fingers in and out. Her own hand was still wrapped around Rowan and she increased her speed, loving the way he felt in her palm. Rowan let out his own moans of pleasure as they both touched each other frantically, finally giving into it all.
Aelin arched her back, letting her breasts slide against Rowan’s stomach, his fingers still pleasuring her, she shifted slightly to kiss him again, then she pulled away, directing Rowan to lay on his back.
She crawled over him, straddling him, going back to his length, slowly teasing her hand up and down. She enjoyed watching him squirm beneath her, his breathing heavy as she played with him. She gave a couple more strokes before she bent down and wrapped her mouth around him, going to the base and slowly back up. At the feel of her mouth Rowan let out a groan, his hands clasping her head to steady her.
Aelin licked his length, savouring his taste as she sucked the tip, letting her tongue slide over it. Rowan bucked beneath her, she took it as encouragement and took him entirely in her mouth, her hand at his base following her mouth up and down as she picked up her pace. She found her rhythm and kept going until Rowan was writhing beneath her, his hands tangled in her hair.
Aelin lifted her head slightly to look at him, and she felt satisfaction as she took him in— eyes closed and his chest rising and falling quickly.
“I didn’t tell you to stop.” He practically growled.
She grinned and went back to him, taking his length in her mouth once again, sucking and licking and touching. Rowan held her breast in his hand, squeezing and flicking his thumb over her nipple until she was crawling up his body and taking his mouth to her own. The kiss was manic, a fight of lips, teeth and tongue as they tried to get enough of the other.
Aelin was reaching behind her, finding his length. She didn’t break eye contact with Rowan as she positioned herself above him, both of them anticipating the joining— the mating bond practically singing at the promise of what was to come.
Aelin began to sink down, his tip teasing her entrance.
Three knocks at the door, then a voice calling out. “Your highness?”
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A Little Braver chapter 9
So, this chapter... it usually kills me.
in order to write about a firefighter’s funeral i had to do some research and well, it was painful. The first part of the chapter is pure angst.
Eventually the fluff comes.
The angst from here get cranked up a little.
Rowaelin is getting there but there are still a few obstacles ahead.
(see more notes at the end)
That same afternoon, after a call Aelin gave the order to divert to west station. She had to pay her respects and she knew the squad wanted to do the same.
They parked their engine on the street and Aelin was the first off. As she walked to the station she saw Marcus come her way. He was now officially the acting captain until officially appointed.
She ran to him and crashed in his arms and the tears returned in full force.
Marcus pulled back and motioned the whole squad to join them inside. The rest of team west was at the table trying to eat a meal but Aelin could tell no one was really enjoying it.
“Hi guys,” she said quietly, her voice feeling alien in the silence of the station “we just thought to pop in and pay our respects.” She looked up “captain was not just a colleague. He was a dear friend to all of us.” She took a deep breath “Cap and I did the academy together, as you all know. We served together in this station while we were both annoying candidates.” A sob escaped from her mouth “we…”another sob “he always joked that between the two of us I was probably the one most likely to go first because I always had a reckless streak in me.” She tried to crack a smile but failed badly “he was a wonderful man, brave and kind. His loss is a great tragedy for the TFD but we need to keep honouring his memory by doing our job at the best of our abilities.” She always sucked at motivational speeches and in that moment it was a struggle to motivate people when she had nothing to give.
“The funeral will be in three days. The Family liaison officer is already talking to the family.”explained Marcus “I will send all the details.”
“We will be there.” said Aelin and everyone nodded.
Not long after, Aelin’s squad was back in the truck to return to quarters. She sat in silence in her seat, gaze lost outside while a fresh set of tears was streaming down her face.
“Are you okay?” She felt Nox hand touch her shoulder gently.
She gave him a tight smile “Yeah.”
Nox parked the engine beside the other one on the floor. Everyone got off and removed the turnout gear.
“Ress, Luca, Brullo,” you are on engine duty. Ansel restock and equipment check. Ren, Nox gear duty.” Then she turned to Aedion “I want you to start to work on a training session for explosives.”
She walked away to her office but Lysandra followed her.
“Hey,” the woman said.
Aelin sat in her chair with her eyes closed.
“Aelin, how are you doing?”
Lys was really worried about her friend. She knew Aelin would try and pass for brave and erect a wall to emotions. She had done with Sam’s death, and when the wall eventually broke down, Aelin had been such a mess that she had to take two weeks off. But her full recovery took much longer and she was not sure if Aelin was fully healed yet.
“I will be fine.” She said dismissively.
“No, you won’t. Aelin this was bad and you have to let it out. You bottled it up after Sam and it almost destroyed you.”
“You wanna know how I feel?” She stood and walked to the woman “a dear friend of mine died while doing his job. He died because a crazy bastard put a bomb in a house for some vendetta. And it’s so fucking unfair. He was doing his job. I am mad, at the world and at whatever sick divinity there might be up there.” She paced letting her rage out “and it hurts… so much that I can’t breath.”
Lysandra reached Aelin and hugged her and the woman replied by squeezing back “come and stay with us tonight.”
“No, Aedion doesn’t want me around your place.”
“Your cousin can go and stay with one of the boys for all I care. I am calling Ansel and Elide as well and the four of us will have a nice girl’s night.
“I’d love that very much.
“Good, let me tell Aedion that he is out of the house tonight.”
The day of the funeral had arrived and Aelin was sitting quietly in her office staring at the screen in front of her. Her formal uniform on with the white shirt of an officer, white gloves and her hat perched on a pile of folders. Dorian had called her half an hour before and told her that the police had finally caught the bastard. The guy was called Cairn, apparently a crazy bastard who had started killing off some ex business partners. He was getting ready for another attack but someone had tipped him off to the police and was discovered on the scene, setting his trap for his next target. He was looking at three life sentences.
Aelin wanted to rejoice at the news. But even if they caught the perp, Thomas was still gone. She closed the news and stood, getting ready to go. A gentle knock at the door startled her “Come in.”
“Dorian, stop pestering me I am—” but she stopped when she recognised the figure at the door. His uniform was not the one of a fire chief but one with the green hues of the Terrasen airforce.
“Rowan…” she managed, as her heart raced in her chest. In a couple of quick steps she was in his arms, her face against his hard chest and his scent of pine and snow giving her the little bit of comfort she craved.
He held her tight and she cried. She let out all of the pain and the frustration that had accumulated in the past few days. She cried until she was spent. His lips firmly on the top of her head.
She pulled back “what are you doing here?”
“I flew in an hour ago. I need to be back tomorrow morning but I told them that I needed to be here after I explained what happened and I got the time off no problem. Someone will take my class for the day.”
“You are here.” She said as if she could not believe his presence in front of her.
“I am,” his voice soft while he gently caressed her face.
“We need to go.” She said to him, taking a deep breath.
They walked out of the hallway and reached the engine where the others were waiting.
“I can take the car.”
Aelin shook her head and gave him her hand “ride with us.”
Rowan nodded and Aelin took her place at the front beside Nox.
Lysandra and Elide would follow with the ambulance, leaving one engine behind for second team in case of a call.
He sat silently at the back and kept an eye on Aelin, her head hung heavily against the window.
“First time in a fire engine?” Asked Ress, trying to lighten the mood for a moment.
“Yep.” He said quietly, then he reached out his hand and softly stroked Aelin’s cheek ignoring that everyone would see. He honestly could not care less in that moment.
The ride did not last long. When they arrived, Rowan noticed all the engines were lined up in front of the cemetery, their aerials up high and the Terrasen flag flying from them. Nox did the same with their engine.
In the distance, he spotted as well a few police cars. Some detectives were standing there as well, to give their last salute to a colleague and a friend.
As a form of respect he removed his visor cap and placed it under his arm.
“Come,” Aelin took his hand and together they walked to where the funeral would be celebrated.
He recognised the cemetery. That was the area dedicate to forces like police and firefighters, but he knew that on the other side of the road there was the one for the military. He had buried enough friends there.
In silence he followed the squad, never letting Aelin’s hand go. He squeezed it a few times in support. Lysandra and Elide joined them a moment later, the two EMTs in their uniforms as well. The were part of the fire corps after all. They took their seats and he felt like he did not belong there. But he felt Aelin squeeze his hand as if she had read his mind.
Aelin turned and he did too and they noticed the casket with the Terrasen flag on, leading the procession and the whole team from west was carrying their captain in his last journey. Everyone stood.
“They are his squad,” whispered Aelin. His chest ached at her broken tone.
The procession filed past them and Rowan stood to attention. He was the only one, maybe he had broken protocol but for him it was a form of respect. Once west squad deposited the casket on the ground he stood down from attention and took Aelin’s hand again.
“Thank you,” she said softly.
Dorian took the stage “The men and women in the fire fighting community faces challenges on a daily basis. They risk their lives for two reasons: to serve and protect.”
Rowan placed his hand on Aelin’s lower back in comfort.
“It’s their job. It’s what they decided to do. But that duty sometimes, comes with a terrible cost. Fire fighting might evolve, improve, but it’s steeped in traditions. One of these traditions is the sound of a bell. This goes back to a time when the sound of the bell marked the beginning of a shift. During the day each alarm was sounded with a bell. The bell was sounded again, once the emergency was over.” His voice broke for a moment “When one of our brothers or sisters dies in the line of duty, the bell is sound. Three times, three rings each will symbolise the end of their duty and their return to quarters.”
After Dorian’s speech few people from Thomas’ team said a few words, then Rowan saw Aelin move and join Dorian on the podium “Captain Hamilton was a dear friend of mine. We did the academy together, served in the same house for a while and eventually both made captain.” She took a deep breath reining in the tears. “He loved his job. He would keep sweeties in his truck to hand out in case he had distressed kids on the scene. His death will leave a terrible hole in the TFD and in his team.” She stopped and walked back to her seat. Rowan pulled her to him and Aelin was crying heavily, her body shaken by the silent sobs.
“And so with this bell,” resumed Dorian after Aelin’s speech “we mark Captain Hamilton’s end of shift. His watch is now over and he can now stand down proud that he protected and served this community until his final call.”
The bell sounded once with three rings.
Dorian stood to attention and everyone followed, Rowan included.
The bell sounded a second time.
And then a third time
The silence of the cemetery broken only by the sound of the bell honouring the captain’s duty.
Once the bell stopped, everyone stood down from attention.
With an arm Rowan enveloped Aelin even tighter “that was one of the most heart-rending thing I have ever seen.” He didn’t even know the man but the bell had almost broken him. In the airforce they would perform the flyby with the missing man formation and in his career he had performed enough of those but it had never been this emotional, perhaps because every time he had been in the cockpit, away from the pain.
The rest of the squad joined them but he did not let go of Aelin.
“What did you think, Captain?” Asked Aedion, not afraid of his puffy eyes.
“The bell almost broke me.”
“It does that to you.” The man ruffled Aelin’s hair and left.
Once alone Aelin looked up at him “thank you for being here.” He kissed her temple.
She brushed her face dry with her gloved hand and then, still hand in hand they walked to Thomas’ squad.
“So he is with you.” Marcus tried to force a smile “I was wondering why there was an airforce pilot at a firefighter’s funeral.”
“I came with Aelin. I wanted to be with her but also pay my respects even if I did not know captain Hamilton.” Rowan affirmed “in the few months I have know Aelin and her squad I have come to appreciate even more the work that you all do. I hope my presence did not cause offence.”
“Not at all captain. Someone paying his respects is never an insult.”
Rowan bowed his head.
“How are you doing?” He asked gently to Aelin.
She gave him a tight smile but did not answer.
In that moment someone approached Marcus to talk and he excused himself.
Aelin walked to the casket and touched Thomas’ helmet.
Rowan noticed her hand shake and was wondering how it was possible that she was still standing.
Dorian arrived a moment later and Rowan had a feeling the man had seen better days.
Then he turned to Aelin and the way he hugged her let him feel as if there was something there. There was too much tenderness to be the hug from a chief to one of his captains.
Dorian’s arm went around her shoulder and pulled her closer and Aelin let him.
Rowan felt a pang of jealousy and buried it quickly. It was not the place and the time.
Then Dorian pulled back “you will look after her, captain?”
“I will.” And he saw Aelin give a small smile to the chief.
He walked around with her while she forced herself to make small talk with other firefighters.
Then they reached two women, one of them had hair as white as snow.
“Captain.” They said in unison.
“How are you two doing?”
“It sucks. Thomas was a great captain. I am glad they caught the bastard.” Aelin agreed with Manon and shared the same rage as the woman.
“I will still be very happy to have you in my house, once things… settle down a bit.”
“It will be an honour to serve under you,” said Asterin.
Aelin patted the white-haired woman on the shoulder “go, stay with your squad.”
Eventually she started walking back to her squad and Rowan followed, always holding her hand. He was hoping no one in the team would make any comments, it was not the day and he just wanted to give her all the support he could, even if it was just holding her hand.
“Did you finish the runs?” Asked Ress when he saw her appearing.
“Yes.” She breathed in “I think we can go home. Second team is subbing for us. We can take the rest of the day off.”
Not long after they arrived back at the station and Rowan pulled aside, letting them catch up with the other team.
Aelin disappeared and when she came back she had normal clothes back on “guys, I will see you tomorrow.” Then she turned to the big man “Peter, thank for taking this one for us.”
“I wish we didn’t have to, cap.”
“Yeah, me too.” He felt her hand twine around his
Aelin walked out and let Rowan walk her to his car. She had no strength left to do anything.
In silence he drove her home. Once in front of her door, she held onto him “I don’t want to be alone today.” The tone she used broke his heart.
He kissed her head “ok.”
They walked into the house and he got nervous. He placed his visor cap on the sofa and stood there.
Aelin disappeared in her room and came back five minutes later in her pyjama. She threw him a bundle “get changed, captain.”
He looked at the bundle and discovered a t-shirt and a pair of shorts.
“They are Aedion’s. He used to stay here sometimes, before he got Lysandra. They should fit you.”
Rowan went to the bathroom to get changed. When he came out he noticed Aelin on the sofa. He went to place his uniform neatly on a chair and then joined her. She curled up in his lap and his instincts told him to wrap his arms around her figure and hold her close.
“Thank you for today. Your… presence helped.”
He heard her voice crack and he kissed her head “I know it’s a stupid question, but how do you feel?”
She went still in his arms and he knew he had asked the wrong thing.
“I relieved every single moment of Sam’s funeral. It all came back to me and I felt like I could not breathe.” He caressed her head “but you were there with me and somehow your presence stopped me from breaking down completely.”
“It’s nice to feel useful sometimes.” He was trying to say something funny to cheer her up “you at least are being nice and grateful. I am used to Lorcan shouting at me and never get a thank you.”
“Speaking of your CO.” Aelin looked at him and he was glad to see a small spark in her eyes “he and Elide went out. According to Elide they had a great time, after coffee they had a walk in the park and they are going out again. She says he is quite nice.”
Rowan looked at her with a strange stare “the man who uses fuck you as a term of endearment? That Lorcan?”
Aelin shrugged “Elide thinks so.”
“Lorcan didn’t say anything to you?”
Rowan shook his head “but I am ready to pester him.” She gave him a smile and he felt as if a small victory was achieved even if the smile did not reach her eyes.
Her stomach growled and he chuckled and stood “I’ll cook a bit.”
“I don’t have much food in the house,” she had turned to him and leaned on the back of the sofa.
“I’ll go to the convenience store. I’ll go and buy something.”
“We can order in.”
He leaned forward and kissed her temple “let me take care of you.” She almost purred.
He quickly got changed and he came back with his trousers and the shirt.
“You could have kept the t-shirt and the shorts on.”
“I am not going out in a t-shirts that reads Terrasen army - Captain Ashryver. I have standards.”
“I’ll be back soon.”
He left and Aelin put the tv on. It was mostly for background noise, she could not concentrate on anything.
Rowan’s phone pinged with a text and the screen lit up and she noticed the image. She picked it up and discovered it was a photo of her, of the night of the embankment fire. He had a picture of her. On that day he had been a well of surprises. He had showed up and stayed with her all the way. He had offered comfort and asked nothing back. The contact with him kept her sane. And now he had just gone out to get food to cook for her. She could not believe he was the same man she had met that day a while ago when they fire at the airbase. He was again the man who took her out on a date.
She had to tell him about going to Sam’s grave. And about Thomas too.
Rowan came back half an hour later. He dumped all the stuff on the kitchen island then went to get changed again.
“What are you cooking?” She stood and joined him in the kitchen once changed.
He pushed her away playfully “shoo… go back to the sofa.”
“You are so rude.”
She turned to the kitchen and leaned against the back of the sofa and studied him. Even when he was doing something as domestic as cooking she could see the military strictness in him. A few times he bumped his head against the cabinets and she almost giggled out loud.
She walked to him and hugged him from behind burying her face in his back. He did not protest, he just grabbed her hands and squeezed.
It was such a domestic scene that her heart almost sank.
“I have to tell you something…”
“While you were away on your mission both stations were invited to a party by the mayor. It was your typical high class party with fancy wine and bad food. That night I was still mad at you and I was feeling down and…” she took a deep breath “Thomas and I hooked up.”
She noticed his finger tighten around the handle of the pan.
“It was a rebound for both. We have always been good friends but never had a romantic interest in each other. I think we both wanted to feel again for one night. He had a bad breakup with his long standing girlfriend. And I… I wanted to feel again even if just for one night and for all the wrong reasons. After… we just spent the night watching tv and eating junk food. He was my friend…” she started sobbing “I am so sorry. I was still so mad at you…” Rowan turned and held her, his chin on her head “and now he is gone and it hurts so much…” her sobs grew in intensity and it broke his heart. He had no idea how to console her, how to take her pain away.
“I am not mad,” he whispered against her hair “I had left and you had every right to be mad at me. I just hate that I was the one who caused you pain.”
She tightened the embrace but did not add anything else so he turned again and went back to cooking.
“Can you cook?” She asked in a whisper.
He patted her hand “I am good.”
At those words he felt her smile briefly.
“It smells lovely.”
“I am good at coking.”
“I did not know posh boys would know how to cook.” She teased.
“We posh boys have a refined palate. Not like those army boys, they are bottomless pits. You’d fit well.” He cut a cherry tomato in half and reached at his side to fed it to her.
“You really don’t like the army.”
“No one does,” and he gave her another one.
“You are mean.”
He laughed “where is the news?”
Her thumb brushed his abdomen “I went to Sam’s grave the other day.” She admitted quietly “I told him about you.”
“I told him that I met an annoying airforce guy and that somehow I am starting to like him very much…” she continued, hoping not to ruin the moment “at the same moment a butterfly landed on my hand and I took it as a sign that Sam is okay with me moving on.”
Silence. He kept cooking for a moment then he stopped and turned in her arms.
His green eyes fixed on her “are you sure?” He said very quietly.
“Yeah.” Her head returned to his chest and looked up at him “I want to.”
“Good,” was his reply, then he squeezed her “because I had a chat with my wife and I told her about this really infuriating firefighter that has been plaguing me for months. I told her that although this woman drives me completely insane, I want to try.”
She stared at him and answered the question he was silently asking.
“Yeah, I am sure.” She answered kissing his chest.
Then he turned around and went back to cooking “now let me finish making dinner.”
“Fine. Cook, but I will keep hugging you.”
She could almost hear Rowan rolling his eyes and she chuckled and moved away “fine, have fun with my kitchen.” She went back to the sofa.
Aelin was restless. She stood again and walked back to the kitchen, her back against the counter while staring at the man preparing their meal.
“A man cooking for his woman is very sexy.” She blurted out and stole a piece of chicken from the pan and he glared at her.
“My woman?” He asked and his stare was on her.
Aelin realised too late what she had said “I am not… I mean we are not…” she was getting flustered and had no idea how to get out of the hole she was digging herself in.
He flicked her nose playfully “whatever you feel comfortable with…”
“We could…” slowly she glided toward him “I don’t know… try a second date when you come back? We still have an opera date.”
He turned to look at her and the smile she gave him melted his heart. She seemed a bit better. His hand started moving on his own and he caressed her head and she closed her eyes enjoying the contact.
“I’ll be back in three weeks. Once I am back here we can make plans and we can discuss our situation.”
The smile she flashed him was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. She leaned against his arms and placed a timid kiss on his bicep “Go on cooking, captain. This lady here is starving.”
She walked away swaying her hips and Rowan almost dropped all his stuff while staring at her.
Once the meal was ready he walked to the living room where she was sitting cozy on the sofa.
“Food…” she extended her arm and tried to grab the plate but he pulled away to tease her.
“Whitethorn, if there is one thing you need to learn about me is that I get very angry when I am hungry. Don’t piss me off.”
“Fine. “ he passed her the plate.
“Why did you put veggies in it?”
“Eat.” He ordered.
“You are so bossy.” She took a bite and the food was delicious. Having a man around that could cook would be a lovely bonus.
They ate in silence and once they were done she cleared the plates and loaded the dishwasher then he reached and extracted something from on of the shopping bags.
“I think you need cake today.”
Her eyes widened. That was her favourite chocolate hazelnut cake from the bakery down the road.
She walked to him, pulled his face down and kissed him. Rowan chuckled “it’s just cake.”
“It’s more than that.” She said, while cutting herself a slice. She was about to cut a second one but Rowan stopped her “not a fan of super sugary stuff.”
She gasped in shock “Alien.” She grabbed her plate and walked back to the living room, scoffing her cake happily. He had surprised her in so many ways that day.
It was quite late when he started badgering her to go to bed “you have work tomorrow.”
Aelin groaned and stood. Went to the bathroom and got herself ready for bed and Rowan followed soon after.
She went back to her room but was surprised when he did not follow. Popping her head through the door she saw him getting the sofa ready for bed.
“What the heck are doing?”
He turned “going to bed?”
Her hands on her hips, Aelin rolled her eyes “get your arse in my room, Whitethorn.” And walked away.
Rowan stood frozen with a pillow still in his hands.
“Are you coming or do I need to drag you here? And I probably could.”
He walked in her bedroom still puzzled “In your bed?”
Aelin rolled her eyes again “Yes, you on one side, me on the other if you want. I promise I will not jump you. Can we just cuddle and sleep?” She crawled in bed and eventually he followed.
“What about no sleepovers?” He asked remembering the rules they had set.
“Let’s just call this unexpected circumstances. I really don’t want to be alone tonight.”
“Ok.” He extended his hand and caressed her face tenderly.
He lay down and she snuggled against him. Her hand on his heart and her head tucked in the crook of his neck.
“Night Captain…” she whispered to him.
Rowan pulled an arm around her and dragged her close to him and kissed her head “Good night, Fireheart.”
Rowan’s eyes popped open on instinct. And it took him a moment to remember where he was. He looked down and saw a mane of blond hair sprawled on his chest. Aelin was half sleeping on top of him. The scent of lavender all around him.
Drat. He had to get up and go back to the airbase but he did not want to wake her up. Very slowly and carefully he did manage to extricate himself without her even moving. Good, she was a heavy sleeper. He grabbed his uniform and got changed in the bathroom and then folded the clothes she had given him.
Then headed for the living room and looked for pen and paper. He was not leaving without a note. Once he was done he placed the note near her phone and left the house and threw her keys back through the letterbox after having locked the door.
His taxi arrived no long after. He went back to his place, collected his bag and then headed to the airbase.
“Good morning Captain,” one of the engineers met him halfway. He had changed into his jump suit.
“Here’s your paperwork, sir. We have the flight plan approved as you requested. “Thank you,” said Rowan opening the canopy of his jet and throwing his bag in the small corner behind the seat.
He walked around the aircraft and methodically did all his checks. He took a clipboard from the technician at his side and signed off his pre-flight checklist.
With agility he climbed the ladder and entered his jet. Helmet on, he lowered the canopy, finished his checks and gave a thumb up to the man on the ground.
“Orynth main, Typhoon Fox trot, fox trot, niner, seven, six two.” Rowan called ATC and finished a few operations in his cockpit.
“Typhoon FF9762, Orynth main, go ahead.”
“Orynth main open flight plan activated at 0643 Zulu.”
“Typhoon FF9762, flight plan activated.”
“Copy that main. Standing by for taxi.” Rowan felt a bump and he knew ground staff had attached the tug to taxi him out on the runaway.
“Typhoon FF9762, main, taxi to east runaway.”
He read the message back and slowly his aircraft taxied to his position on the runaway.
“Main. Typhoon FF9762, east runaway ready for takeoff.”
“Typhoon FF9762, east runaway cleared for takeoff.”
He repeated the message and revved up his engines and his aircraft started to move along the runaway. And then he felt it. The rush of the speed and the need to be in the air again. He loved being in Orynth and spend time with Aelin but a part of him always longed for the skies whenever he was on the ground.
He banked east and the sun was jus beginning to appear at the horizon and the sky was ablaze with golden and reds. His mind went to Aelin and he hoped she would be okay. Leaving her behind that morning had not been easy.
“I am coming back soon,” he whispered as he cleared the inhabited area, then climbed higher in the atmosphere and gunned the engines on his way back to Doranelle.
When the alarm went off Aelin swore and groaned “Rowan switch it off.” Her face still smashed in the pillow, she extended her arm to woke the man at the other side of the bed, but when her fingers slammed the cold mattress she woke up immediately.
“Captain Whitethorn, if you are going to scare me you are going to regret it.” She grabbed her pillow, ready to fight him.
She waited a bit longer but no one ever appeared “Rowan?” She called again, her heart racing.
She turned to her phone and noticed a letter on top of it. It had her name on. With shaky hands she took the piece of paper and unfold it.
I hope you had a nice sleep. Being a comfy pillow is another one of my special skills. Highly required to join the airforce.
She chuckled and a few tears left her eyes
Sorry for not waking you up, you were sleeping soundly. By the time you wake up I will be back in Doranelle already. Leaving you this morning was not easy. I am not the easiest of men to be around and I am bad at dealing and communicating my feelings. I want you to know that when I come back, if you are in, I am as well. Wait for me, okay? That’s all I am asking for.
Be safe, please.
Aelin laughed and read the letter again. In that moment her phone pinged and she noticed it was Rowan and her heart raced again. He had sent her a picture of him in his jump suit, helmet under the arm, sunglasses on his head while standing near his jet. The image read The Buzz has landed.
I hope you and ego had a safe flight. She texted back quickly, while going to get breakfast ready.
We did. Did you sleep well?
I had the best pillow ever.
His reply took a while to come through so when her mobile pinged again she ran to it Don’t get too used to it. I woke up with half of your hair in my mouth. You are a tornado even when sleeping. Menace.
Such a rude man. Then she waited a moment and texted again thank you for yesterday. It meant a lot to me. It helped.
Now behave. I have to teach a class. Be safe.
Aelin resumed her breakfast, had a shower and eventually she went to work. They needed a quieter day.
“Someone has a big smile,” Lysandra met her as she entered the station “you disappeared with captain tight pants. Did you get lucky?”
Lysandra groaned “are you kidding me? I could cut the sexual tension between the two of you with a knife.”
Aelin ignored her and walked to the changing room and sat on the bench while Aelin got changed into her uniform “It will happen, just not now.”
“What are you waiting for? Have you seen the man?”
“He is Doranelle. He is across the ocean, that’s why.” Aelin almost shouted “He flew in yesterday to be with me at the funeral. We spent the rest of the day together and this morning he flew out again. That’s why I am waiting.”
“I did not know.” Apologised Lysandra.
“It’s fine.” Aelin sat down on the bench beside her friend “he cooked for me, he got me chocolate cake, we slept in the same bed and we cuddled. That’s the letter he left me.” And she passed her the bit of paper.
“It seems like he wants to be with you.”
Lysandra caressed her head “you are still not sure?”
Aelin shook her head “It’s not that. I want it. It just terrifies me.”
“I know…” Lysandra took Aelin’s hand and they both stayed in silence until Elide arrived to get changed as well for the beginning of her shift.
“Here’s another happy bunny.” Joked Lys, noticing the big smile on Elide’s face.
Aelin turned and Elide blushed at having both women’s attention on her.
“Did you do something naughty?”
Elide ignored them.
“Come on Elide, Lys is basically married and my sexual life is non existent. Let us live precariously through you.”
“Fine.” Groaned Elide while opening her locker “Lorcan and I kissed.”
The two women cheered and they knew that for Elide had been a big step.
“See? Definitely better than mine.”
“Is he a good kisser?” Lysandra was leaning forward super interested.
“I have no one to compare it to, but I have a feeling that they were a few good kisses.”
“Did they make you feel all warm and fuzzy?” Elide nodded eagerly.
Aelin took Elide’s hand “that is wonderful. And when you are ready for the next step, we are here. Lys mostly to be honest.” Aelin chuckled “By the time I will have sex again they might have changed how it’s done and I will need a crash course as well.”
“Just don’t go to Ansel yet. You are far too innocent just now.”
The three women laughed and as if by magic the red-haired woman joined them.
“Good morning ladies,” she opened her locker and started to get changed “I hooked up with Marcus last night.” She confessed. And if Elide was shy, Ansel was the opposite.
“As in acting captain Marcus at west station?”
Ansel smiled “the one. The guy needed to be cheered up. I helped.” She wore her shirt and tied her hair “and he was not the only one who got cheered up. That man knows how to use his hands.”
Aelin and Lysandra laughed but Elide just looked at them in confusion.
“Aelin and I will help. I promise.”
“So are you two going out?”
“Hell no, the man has a nice butt and is quite good looking but no. This woman is free.”
“Come on ladies, time to go to work.”
Aelin left and went to look for Aedion. She found him near their second rig “Morning, you.”
Aedion looked up from what he was doing.
“No, I was just checking the rig was in good shape.” He stood and looked at her “when are we getting more people? I know now it’s not the time for west, but we need a permanent team for this one.”
“I know. Dorian and I are interviewing some newbies today and you can join us. You will be basically in charge of this baby here.” And she patted the vehicle “I spoke to Manon and Asterin yesterday and they still want to join us. We are getting Kyllian and Wesley too, they are on the green side. I just don’t know when. Marcus is dealing with a lot right now.”
Aedion nodded “I know. Starting with the newbies will be enough.”
“Good, it will give you enough time to start training them.”
Aedion smirked “A bit of my tough love will get them into shape quickly.”
“Just don’t break them, please.” She stepped around the rig as well “just add Luca to the regimen. I know he is been with us a while already and he attended a few calls, but going through some basics again will do no harm.”
“The boy has done really well in the last few calls we had.” Noted Aedion with a bit of pride. Luca had been their newbie in a very long time and it had felt strange at the beginning.
“I noticed that and I am really happy how he has grown.” Aelin smiled and leaned against the truck “maybe not the most basic stuff, he is confident with those. But have him with you. Just go through with him things he does not feel confident about.”
“I will help as much as I can, but being captain it means having to deal with all the extra shit that Dorian dumps on me.”
Aedion laughed “better you that me.”
“Hey, Ace, are you okay?” He asked at her strained smile.
Aelin sighed “I will be.”
“You always say that.”
Aelin shrugged and walked away back to her office.
Yes, I know, the murderer story finished quickly. just keep it in mind. It will connect with a bigger arc much later on.
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Only You ~ Rowaelin
A Rowaelin fanfic, set if Aelin’s parents had lived and she had met Rowan under normal circumstances, if Erawan and Maeve weren’t threats. Hope you enjoy!
@jesstargaryenqueen @sailorsassley @sjmships @tomtenadia @endlessdaydream @aflickeringsoul @tillyrubes10 @fredweasleyhasadhd @rowaelin-cressworth @cookiemonsterwholovesbooks @rowaelinismyotp @rosegoldannie @maryberry @viajandosinalas @becarefuloflove @allthebooksunderthemoon @sheharahu @swankii-art-teacher @superspiritfestival
Chapter Fifteen ~ Bridges
Chapter Fourteen ~ Chapter Sixteen
The air was cold and the snow whipped around Aelin’s face as she made her way through the forest to the gate that lead to the city. She had debated using her old shortcut across the river, but it had felt too much like old habits.
Rowan walked by her side, his body a solid presence beside her. He had not said a word since they had left, she had figured it was nothing to do with her but more to do with seeing Sam — who had not made a good first impression on the fae male.
Their footsteps crunched in the snow and Aelin was thankful for her flame in times like these. Rowan seemed unfazed by the cold wind that blew around them— she supposed with his ice magic he was used to it.
The gate had been left open, the wind banging it against the post. Rowan held it open for her and she slipped through. Rowan was a couple of steps behind her but she could feel his gaze on her. She twirled round and stopped.
“You don’t have to do this. I can go alone.”
He shook his head. “You’re not going alone.” He stepped around her and continued towards Orynth.
Aelin jogged to catch up with him, pushing her hair from her face. “Nothing will happen. He’s not going to do anything. I can also protect myself.”
“I’m not worried about that. I know you can protect yourself.”
She rolled her eyes. “Then why are you coming? Sam is going to think—“ She paused.
“What?” Rowan stopped in his tracks.
“You’re jealous.” Aelin made her way to stand in front of him. “You don’t want me to be alone with Sam.”
“Can I not just accompany my mate somewhere without being questioned?”
Aelin laughed. “Of course. But you don’t have to lie to me, I actually find it sweet.”
He glared at her. “It’s not sweet and I’m not here because I’m jealous.”
Aelin began walking ahead. “Whatever you say, Rowan.”
He growled and grasped her arm to spin her around. “I’m not jealous. I just can’t stand the thought of you alone with him after how he made you feel and what he said.”
Aelin tried not to smile at his protectiveness.
“I don’t know why you look so happy about this.”
She nudged his side. “Because I kind of like protective Rowan, it’s a new side to you.” Aelin wrapped her arm through his own. “But you don’t have to feel worried about Sam, he’s harmless. Our romantic ship has sailed and what he said to me… it was probably warranted — considering everything.”
He let out a hmph but held her closer. “I still don’t like how he spoke to you. And I know nothing romantic is going on, but if it was me going to see someone I had been intimate with, would you be totally okay with it?”
Aelin didn’t have a response to that. He was right. She hated the thought of Rowan being with anyone else, or even being in the same room as a woman he had bedded before.
“We’ve only been mated for a few weeks Aelin, the first years can be volatile for a male. So you have to be patient with me.”
Aelin didn’t respond. Houses and small shops started to line the streets as they made their way further into Orynth. The snow was heavier than before, the flakes settling on the cobbled path, the sky dark with clouds.
“Maybe you should wait outside whilst I go in.”
They had stopped outside of the library, the familiar oak door, the sign above, it felt odd to be here during the day— Aelin had been so used to sneaking here in the dead of night, praying that no one would spot her as she crept through the streets of Orynth. Aelin tried not to dwell on the wave of sorrow that went through her. She hadn’t realised she missed it as much as she did. Sam knew her as well as anyone, and she hadn’t realised she missed talking and laughing with him. She lost a friend in the process and it tore at her. She stared at the door a moment longer before turning herself to Rowan.
“I won’t be long.” She raised herself onto her tiptoes and planted a soft kiss on Rowan’s mouth. “I love you.”
Rowan’s lips lingered on hers a moment longer before he pulled away.
It was still early in the day and she knew the library would be quiet for a while longer. She hesitated slightly before stepping inside and she sighed at the familiar scent of old books, she took a moment to take it in. It was still one her favourite smells, it felt like a warm embrace.
She couldn’t see anyone inside, the towering bookshelves obscured most of the space; the dark wooden shelves reaching almost to the ceiling, ladders lining those same shelves. It felt like years since she had been here, but it had been less than two months, the thought was jarring— it had been so little time since she had been here… and yet how fast things had changed.
She heard the shuffling of feet somewhere further into the library and her heart began beating faster, her palms becoming sweaty as she anticipated the meeting.
She hadn’t forgotten the last time they had spoken. The way he had looked at her, grovelling on the floor, Aelin begging him not to walk away, the look of utter disgust in his eyes. His parting words to her still stung, and yet there was a sense of anticipation in seeing him again. She took in a long breath and continued forward, stopping when Sam’s figure emerged from an aisle, his face obscured in the shadows. He didn’t see her straight away, his hands full of books as he scanned a different shelf.
She hesitated momentarily.
He stilled, his head turning to observe her. His hair was messy and she could see small clumps of dust from where he’d been digging through piles of old books. She stepped closer to him, giving him a small smile as she did.
“Do you have time to talk?” She brushed her hand down the spine of a book as she spoke.
Sam paused before placing the books on the trolley that had been sat to the side of him.
“It won’t take long, but it’s important.”
He looked out behind her, his eyes narrowing at what he saw outside. She turned to look as well. Rowan stood with his arms crossed against the pillar, his eyes locked on Sam.
Sam cleared his throat once. “Have you come to finish what Aedion started?”
Aelin felt her shoulders drop. “Of course not. I actually need your help.”
He turned to walk away, Aelin trailing behind him.
She scoffed. “You look it.”
“I’m sorry if I don’t feel inclined to come to your rescue Aelin. Everything considered, I think I’m being polite.”
Aelin caught his wrist before he walked away again. “Please Sam. Just five minutes.”
He brought his other hand to where she held his wrist and pried her hand off, shoving it away. “I said no. Please just go.”
“I said get out.” His voice rose as he spoke. His hand shaking slightly as he pointed to the door. “I don’t want to ever see you again, do you understand? Get out of my Gods-damned store and don’t ever think of coming here again.”
The sound of the shop bell rang out in the quiet and heavy footsteps followed.
“You dare speak to her like that?” Aelin didn’t have time to stop Rowan as he stormed toward Sam. “I’ve told you once before and I will say it again. Watch how you speak to your future queen.”
“Rowan.” Aelin hissed.
“So you came to rub it in my face?” Sam scoffed. “I never took you as the type to do such a thing. But I guess there were a lot of things I was wrong about with you.”
Rowan let out a growl. “You are out of line.”
Aelin tried to shove Rowan away, but he stayed firmly where he was. His eyes never leaving Sam’s.
“Sam listen to me. It’s Lysandra.” Sam briefly looked to her, his brows rising slightly. “She’s the one that needs your help. But she couldn’t be here to ask herself.”
Sam backed off slightly, his posture relaxing ever so slightly. “Send your guard dog home and I’ll consider listening to what you have to say.”
Aelin glanced at Rowan, giving a brief nod of her head. She wasn’t in danger, and having Rowan here was making everyone more tense than necessary.
“I won’t be far.”
Sam gave a sarcastic smile. “I’m sure you won’t.”
Aelin gave Rowan another weary look, trying to hasten his exit. When the door slammed closed she let out a breath. She could see Sam assessing the situation once more, he watched intently as Rowan walked down the street and then disappearing into the alley.
“Can we sit?” Aelin asked hopefully.
“No. You can talk to me here.”
Aelin let out a huff and found a stool to perch on anyway whilst Sam stood leaning against a wall, his arms crossed and looking anywhere but at her. She didn’t have the energy to argue with him— it was not why she had come.
“Why does Lysandra need help?”
Aelin hesitated slightly before coming out with it. “She’s pregnant. And she doesn’t want anyone in the palace knowing about it, and there’s nowhere else she can go where it can be kept a secret.”
“And why would it be any better here? Surely the same problems arise no matter where she goes.” He shifted his arms to his side and stood up straighter. “Can’t she just marry whoever the father is?”
Aelin shrugged. “Maybe. But you know Lysandra, she doesn’t want to burden anyone and I don’t think she feels like she is good enough for them.”
Sam gave her a curious look. “Who’s the father, Aelin?”
“I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you. But Aedion is the father.”
Sam let out a short laugh. “Not a surprise at all.” He slid down the wall and sat on the floor, stretching out his legs. “I don’t see why they couldn’t just get married. Lysandra is basically your sister, everyone loves her.”
“Not everyone loves her. There are a lot of people who would be opposed to the marriage— especially now…” She trailed off, not sure how to continue.
“You can say it.”
She thought for a moment. “Especially now that I can be of no use to marry for an alliance. A lot of the lords are hoping Aedion will marry a foreign princess and make alliances instead. Convincing them to give Aedion and Lysandra their blessing will be hard.”
“I still fail to see where I come into this.”
“Lysandra just wants somewhere to lay low for a while. But we need her to be within reach of healers and we need to be able to see her without suspicion… and you were the best idea we came up with. Or actually, the best idea Rowan came up with.”
Sam shook his head. “He probably just wants to keep a closer eye on me. Make sure I don’t start moving in on you.”
Aelin couldn’t help the redness in her cheeks. “You wouldn’t do that. You’re too good of a man to try and steal someone away.”
“Or not enough of a man to keep them in the first place.”
Aelin was silent for a moment. “You know that’s not true.”
He ran a hand through his hair. “I don’t have you anymore, so I’d say it is.”
“You were the last person I wanted to hurt.” Her voice somber.
He shrugged. “I think we both knew things were coming to an end anyway. I couldn’t be what you needed. I was making you give up too much to be with me, and it was unfair to do that.”
Aelin slid off the stool and onto the floor next to him. “You have no idea how much I wanted the life you told me about. To travel the world and have a family, live on a little farm with our animals, living completely free. I wanted it all.” She played with the hem of her sleeves. “I had so many arguments with my parents about not wanting to be the heir, begging them to give it to Aedion or to Elide. I was so in love with you, Sam, and it pains me that I couldn’t give you the life you wanted either.” She glanced to the side, Sam was already staring back at her. His eyes turning watery. “I wanted to tell you about Rowan. I had planned a whole speech and was going to explain everything to you.”
He wiped at his eyes. “I didn’t mean to be so cruel that night. I was angry because I’d foolishly thought I could come to you and convince you that we were it, that it didn’t matter about ranks or thrones or any of that— I was going to try and sweep you off your feet and hope you would change your mind.” Sam closed his eyes, rubbing a hand down his face. “I think we were doomed from the start, weren’t we?”
She gave him a half smile. “Maybe,” she leant forward. “But if I could go back… I would never change any of it. You made me very happy Sam, and I will be grateful that I was able to be loved by you.”
Sam looked at her then, studying her face for a moment. “It was an honour to be loved by you, too. It really was.” He smiled at her, a smile she hadn’t seen in a long time. “He better treat you right. Or I’ll have no choice but to beat him.”
Aelin laughed, a deep hearty laugh. “He’s certainly no match for you Sam.”
Sam laughed too and the two of them laughed together, just like they had before. And when they managed their composure, their laughs giving way to silence, Sam stood and offered his hand to Aelin; she took it gladly, savouring the touch, remembering the feel of his hand in hers.
“Lysandra can stay here for as long as she likes. You and Aedion are welcome to visit whenever you want. But maybe you can leave Rowan behind… I’m not sure I’m ready for that just yet.”
Aelin nodded in understanding. “Thank you, Sam.” She didn’t give him time to stop her as she wrapped her arms around him in a tight embrace. Nuzzling her head into his neck like she used to, breathing in his scent. “You don’t know how much it means to me.”
Sam wrapped his arms around her, squeezing gently. “I would do anything for you, Aelin.”
She pulled away. “I know. And if there’s ever anything you need…”
Sam smiled in reply. “I guess you better get going,” he nodded in the vague direction of Rowan. “Don’t want to keep him waiting.”
Aelin snorted. “I’m sure he’ll survive.”
“Should I expect Lys this evening?”
“She’ll be here before dinner I imagine. I’ll stop by tomorrow and let you know the details of what will happen.” She paused before the door. “You just have to say the word and we’ll figure something else out. I know this is a huge imposition on you.”
Sam just shook his head. “It’s fine. It’ll be nice to have some company around here for once.”
Aelin pulled the door open and the cold winter air wrapped itself around her. The snow was falling faster and the streets were covered in a thick blanket of white now. “I’ll see you soon.” She lifted a hand in farewell and stepped into the frigid winter air.
She paused a moment, composing herself before finding Rowan. She was relieved that Sam was okay. That he wasn’t angry at her, and that they were able to be civil. Perhaps in time they’d find their way back to friends— but she wouldn’t push it.
She found Rowan waiting in an alley a couple of streets down from the library. She had followed his scent, finding him leaning against a brick wall, inspecting a dagger she had not realised he had been carrying.
“I hope you put that away when people come past.”
He twirled the dagger between his fingers before slipping it into the inside of his jacket. “I know how to behave in front of people, Aelin.” He pushed off the wall and ran his gaze over her. “You’re okay?”
Aelin rolled her eyes. “I told you he wouldn’t hurt me.” She still slipped her hand into his own and pulled them toward the street. “Everything is fine. Lysandra can stay there as long as she likes. I’ll inform my healer that she’ll be needing to make a trip into the city every couple of weeks, and come up with something to tell Orlon and the other court members.”
Rowan looked skeptical. “This plan works fine until she actually has the child. How do you explain then?”
“By the time she has the baby we will have thought of something. Perhaps they’ll get married and then it won’t be a problem.”
“I thought you said the lords would never approve a marriage between them?”
“I can be quite persuasive.”
Rowan didn’t say anything as they walked through the streets of Orynth. Aelin stopped at one shop to pick up Lysandra’s favourite chocolates and snuck some for herself into the purchase.
The streets were quiet as they meandered through. The snow enough to keep people away and inside their homes, huddling by the fires, if the smoke from the chimneys was anything to go by.
Just as they were reaching the edge of the city, Rowan let go of her hand and exclaimed there was something he had to do, telling her to go ahead and he would see her at the palace. Aelin had narrowed her eyes at him and reluctantly agreed. Giving him a chaste kiss before returning.
Even with her flame she was thankful for the warmth of the palace. The hallways were cast in a soft orange glow, the curtains drawn to reduce the cold that seeped in through the windows. The halls were unusually empty, much like the streets of Orynth, but she supposed on a day like today guests would be huddled in their rooms or in the many drawing rooms that dotted the palace.
She shook off her damp cloak as she entered Lysandra’s rooms; hanging it by the fire in the hopes it would dry. The room was vastly different to her own, the colours more subdued, the windows smaller, hidden behind shorter cream curtains. Touches of Lysandra were thrown in here and there — a blanket that her mother had made when she was a baby was thrown across the end of the bed, a rug of dark red lay across almost the entire floor and the trinkets she had collected from various cities, lined along the mantel.
“Did it go okay?” Sat on the two chairs near the flames were Aedion and Lysandra. Her cousin was holding Lysandra’s hands in his own, his thumb rubbing soothing circles.
Aelin took a seat on the couch, tucking her feet beneath her. “Everything is good. He was happy to have you stay as long as you pleased.”
They both let out a sigh of relief at the news. “Thank you.” Aedion was helping Lysandra to her feet. “We’ll head there now. I’ll try to be back for supper.”
Aelin stood with them, her eyes going to Lysandra who’s face was pale, a thin sheen of sweat lining her forehead.
“Lys? Are you okay?”
She nodded. “Probably just morning sickness.” She turned to Aedion who had a bag in one and her cloak in the other. “Can you give us a moment?”
“I’ll be outside.”
Lysandra moved to the edge of the bed, placing herself down. Aelin wordlessly joined her, the two of them sitting and watching as the snow floated down outside.
“You don’t have to go Lys. We can figure it all out here… You won’t show for a while yet.”
Lysandra just shook her head. “It’s easier if I’m not here. I don’t want people talking, and I don’t want to have to deal with the looks of pity I’ll get.”
Aelin scoffed. “If anyone did that, they’d have me to contend with.”
Lysandra managed a small smile.
“Sam will take good care of you. He was happy for the company.”
“Thank you for going. I know how things were left…”
“It’s all good now Lys. We talked a little and I think we have accepted how things are.”
Lysandra fiddled with her sleeves, the silence stretching a little too long before she began to speak. “I know you must think I’m being difficult or crazy for not just marrying Aedion and that I’m making a fuss about not wanting people to find out,” she took a breath. “But I see the way people look at me. The way they whisper as I walk past. It doesn’t matter that I’m friends with you or if Aedion and I are together, they’ll still only look at me as the orphaned servant girl who got lucky.”
“I could marry a king and they would still look at me like I am nothing. All I can think of is if it’s like this now, then what will they say when I start showing? When I have the baby? Not only that, but the Lords of Terrasen would never agree to let me marry Aedion anyway— so it’s never been about whether I want to or not. I know I am not good enough for him, and it’s easier if I just go somewhere else for a while and make this whole thing easier.”
“Do you think Aedion gives a shit what everyone else says? Do you think I give a shit what they say?” When Lysandra didn’t respond, Aelin continued. “You worry about what people will think, how Terrasen will be if you married him but I can promise you, it will survive. Do you think Orlon would’ve married Darrow if he knew that it would ruin Terrasen?”
“Maybe so. But you have to know that you have people on your side. If you change your mind about this all, we’ll do our best to support you.”
“Thank you.” Lysandra paused a moment. “You can tell Orlon. He has always been kind to me, and I trust that he’ll do what’s best for everyone.”
“Everything will work out, just wait and see.”
Aelin embraced Lysandra, lingering a few moments longer before exiting the room with her. Snuffing out the flames with her magic as they closed the door.
Aedion was waiting on a bench just down the hall and as they approached he wrapped the cloak around Lysandra. He turned to Aelin, nodding once in acknowledgment for what Aelin had done. That conversation would come later. But for now, Aelin watched as they walked away, eventually disappearing.
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Convince Me- Ch. 14
notes: surprise!!!!!! if you're thinking "omg it has been forever since you've updated this fic," you'd be right, and the reason is because I suck. but seriously, I got super stressed with school and college decisions and stuff and I truly didn't have the time, but I just recently graduated as my high school's valedictorian so I guess it paid off! Nonetheless, I have plans for this fic and I am going to finish it goddamnit. I really hope you guys still have interest, I know this may not be my best but I really hope you all still like it :) if you have thoughts on the story or just want to talk leave a comment and I'll reply! Anyways love you guys mwah mwah mwah
read it on AO3 here or the previous parts are linked in my masterlist!!
The silence in the room was thick. It felt as if the density of the air had shot up, so heavy that it had locked all of them in place. Maeve's outstretched hand did not waver, her dark eyes glittering with threats she didn't need to vocalize. Rowan had gone still the second Maeve walked through the door, and he hadn't so much as taken a breath in the time since. No, the only movement Aelin could see was the flitting of his eyes as he read and reread that headline. Neither of them uttered a word.
Aelin wasn't so prone to silence. She had arguments and defenses practically dripping off her tongue, but she knew better than to let them slip. This wasn't her fight, at least not yet. If things turned south, it was Rowan's career that was at risk, not hers, and she would never forgive herself if her inability to hold her tongue cost Rowan the one thing he loved. Even if the accusation in question was the most idiotic fucking thing she had ever heard.
That title alone was enough to have her seeing red. She wanted to break something- maybe the offending phone in Maeve's hand, maybe the large windows that made up several of their studio's walls, maybe every single one of Lysandra's father's fingers, one by one. She wanted to clench her fingers around a glass until it shattered in her hands, and then squeeze the shards until blood ran down her arms. She thought she might dip her fingers in the warm substance and let it be her ink, and she would write about how fucked up this whole thing was, because maybe if she did something so grotesque and disturbing people might finally pay attention.
She already knew that news sites had little reservations about exploiting celebrities' weaknesses. She had seen it done too many times, had experienced it herself. But this- this was different. They not only capitalized off of Lysandra's pain, but then further commodified it, twisting it to wring out one more story they could sell. They put the most vulnerable part of her life on blast without her consent, just to trivialize it by making it a launching pad for some bullshit love story.
It didn't matter that the whole of Lysandra's trauma had been laid out for the world. It didn't matter that she was hurting, forced to relive the worst moments of her life. Because all she was- all any of them ever were- was a story. They were things to be sold and consumed, and how they felt didn't really matter, so long as the views kept rolling in.
It made Aelin feel sick. And powerless. Because god knows they all had shit they wanted to keep to themselves, but that wasn't really feasible in this line of work. She didn't care if there were tabloids of her shopping at Trader Joe's or pumping her fucking gas, but she would like to think there was a limit to what reporters would stick their lenses into. Some universally accepted boundaries, so when things got too private or too serious, they'd all back off. Or at the very least talk about it amongst themselves and have the decency not to harass the artist. But there wasn't, and there never would be.
Aelin loved her job, and she wouldn't trade it for the world, but there were some parts that she fucking hated. Parts that needed to be changed.
After what felt like ages, Rowan finally opened his mouth, some quiet word forming on his lips, but he closed it again before he made a sound. And then, he laughed. It was short and harsh, more disbelief than humor. "This- this has to be a joke."
"One might think so," Maeve mused in a mocking voice. "I mean, for someone who seems to value his career so much, you make a habit of disobeying me. It's doesn't follow reason, yet here we are."
"There's no way anyone is taking this seriously. Nothing that happened today was even the slightest bit romantic."
"I'm glad you think so, Mr. Whitethorn, but the general public seems to disagree. First you're found leaving Lysandra's house this morning, of which you had been at for several hours, and then you passionately embrace her, making a show of being all big and protective. I'm sure you can see where they got their story."
Rowan scoffed humorlessly. "I would hardly call that passion. She was falling apart, Maeve. I did the only thing I could to keep her together."
"That's not your job, Rowan. Your job is to do what I ask of you."
Rowan opened his mouth to speak, but then closed it again sharply, jaw flexing with the effort of his silence. It surprised Aelin that he was being even this forward with Maeve- this defensiveness was a far cry from the quiet acquiescence she was used to from him. But she guessed there was a limit to his backbone when it came to their boss- Maeve was right, his career was dependent on her, and Aelin knew he would take the unjust blows if it meant he kept his job, no matter how angry it made him.
But that didn't mean she would.
"You would rather he had left her to the wolves? Would that have been better for appearances- Rowan standing idly by while Lysandra spiraled, thrown back in to the most traumatic time in her life for everyone to see? Are your priorities really that out of whack?"
Maeve dragged her eyes to Aelin's slowly. "I don't remember asking for your input, Ms. Galathynius. Besides, you're not off the hook either- your little scene this morning caused plenty of problems of its own."
Aelin's nails dug into her palms. "Forgive me for standing up for my friend. Your artist. You know, you should be out there defending Lysandra, not in here scolding Rowan for being a decent human being. Something you obviously couldn't understand."
"What a touching show of loyalty." Maeve canted her head, letting the slight slide right off her back. "Stupid, but touching. I didn't realize Rowan here needed someone to fight his battles for him. Tell me, then, Ms. Galathynius, what was Rowan doing at Lysandra's house in the first place? I wasn't aware they were friends, were you?"
Aelin took a measured breath through her nose, attempting to both rein in her anger and buy herself some time. They were broaching dangerous territory. She couldn't exactly tell Maeve that Rowan had driven her there because he had been in bed with Aelin when she got Lysandra's call. There was no need to explain Aelin's presence there- beyond being Lys's best friend, she had lived through that time in Lysandra's life with her. It made sense. But Lysandra and Rowan were hardly even friends. There wasn't a chance Maeve would believe that Lys called him over to comfort her, and even if she did, that would paint a poor picture for Maeve's romantic concerns. Plus, there was only one extra car there, which meant the only plausible stories were either that one of them had gone home with Lysandra that day and had been staying the night, or that they drove to her house together. Neither seemed like a very good option.
But Maeve was staring at her expectantly, and she had to give her something. "They aren't," Aelin lied on autopilot. "Lysandra called me in the middle of the night. I could tell she was in a really bad place, and I knew I needed to get over there, but when I got in my car the damn thing wouldn't start. I didn't have any time to waste, so I called Rowan and asked him to take me there."
"Why Rowan? Why not Manon or Elide- people she's close to?"
"Rowan's house is the closest to my apartment. I needed to get to Lysandra as soon as possible- it just made the most sense."
"And Rowan got up in the middle of the night, just to do you this favor?" Maeve says doubtfully.
It was taking everything in Aelin not to punch her boss in the nose. "I conveyed the urgency of the situation. It had nothing to do with either of us- it was about Lysandra's safety."
The story might seem farfetched and highly coincidental, but Maeve couldn't disprove it, and Aelin was a damn good liar. She would sing this story into the ground if Maeve wanted to push it, but as mad as her boss might be at how the situation looked, Maeve had no way to contradict her explanation and she knew it. If she hadn't been entirely committed to making this lie believable, Aelin might have let a smirk play on her lips. Maeve might be good at getting people where she wanted them, but Aelin wasn't a stranger to the art either.
"Well," Maeve spoke through clenched teeth."How lucky for you, that Rowan was feeling so charitable. But that doesn't negate the fact that he was fully aware of the simple restrictions he's been given and chose to violate them anyway. If you refuse to comply with what you legally agreed to, Rowan, you and I are going to have a problem."
Maeve turned to face Rowan fully, leaning into his space a bit. "Do I seem like someone who doesn't follow through on their promises to you? Or are you actually just stupid enough to think you can keep getting away with willfully disobeying me? Your signature is on that contract Rowan." She gripped his chin harshly. “You. Are. Mine. And if you value your career and your reputation, you'd do well to remember it."
Aelin's body moved before her mind did, grasping Maeve's wrist and pushing her away from Rowan none too gently. There was a red haze clouding her vision- if she had been pissed before, she was royally so now. It wasn't new information that Maeve thought she was god and expected everyone to bow to her every whim, but the way she was speaking to Rowan, and to go so far as to put her hands on him- Aelin wouldn't allow it. She wouldn't sit back and watch this tyrant bulldoze everyone she cared about because she, what? Had some fucking sway in the music industry? If facilitating her career was just going to be used as leverage over her, Aelin didn't want it.
Maeve looked slowly from Aelin's incensed eyes to where her hand circled her wrist. Then, Maeve's hand gripped her back, her acrylic nails digging into the thin skin of Aelin's wrist. Aelin's lip curled a bit in a silent wince, but she refused to balk at the cruel gleam in Maeve's eyes, even as her cherry-red lips twisted into a sneer. "You-" Maeve started.
"This could be helpful, Maeve," Rowan interjected.
After a moment, Maeve forced her eyes to turn towards Rowan, her infuriated gaze conveying how unhappy she was to have been interrupted. But she wasn't saying anything, so she had to be moderately intrigued- Aelin imagined that glimmer of curiosity was the only thing keeping her from ripping Rowan a new one. Whether Rowan anticipated this response from Maeve and decided he could get away with the interruption or if he had just done the first thing he thought of to deescalate the rapidly intensifying situation, Aelin didn't know. Probably a bit of both.
Before Maeve could decide she was more angry than interested, Rowan elaborated. "A story like this- new and mysterious and tragic, already spreading like wildfire- is going to taint any coverage the band gets for at least a month, likely longer, and Bitch Queen's tour starts in a week. Any press you were hoping to receive for their debut tour is practically scrapped, entirely overshadowed by this story. Every time they go out in public or have any sort of press release, the questions won't be about the tour, they'll be about Lysandra. Any articles about the tour won't praise their performance or skill- they will all circle back to this. No one will talk about anything else- not the music, not the performance, not even the girls themselves. We both know the reception of a debut tour is crucial to a group's future success. Without positive coverage for their tour, it won't matter that the band's album was a smash hit- they'll start to fizzle out. And as long as this story is everyone's focal point, the tour's screwed.
"But, if there was another, less damaging story circulating- like these dating rumors- that might die down quicker. Dating gossip is always interesting for a week, and then the next big rumor comes and everyone's forgotten about it. If we let these rumors run their course- not necessarily encouraging them, but not denying them either- it would give people something else to focus on. It would take a bit of the attention off of Lysandra's situation and redirect it towards something more superficial. That would give Lysandra some privacy and let the attention circle back to what it was meant to be on- the tour. Then, by the time they start performing, people will have ditched the rumors and will be able to properly focus on the girls' performance. Once that happens, I can make a public statement denying any relationship with Lysandra, and we're back to where we started. Everybody wins."
Everything was silent for a tense moment. Maeve's face was carved from granite, showing no particular emotion, but Rowan had made some good points, and they all knew it. Aelin applauded his quick thinking- the plan would get him out of hot water with Maeve, and he managed to help Lysandra along the way. The logistic benefits it brought were undeniable, and though she was saving face, Aelin knew Maeve recognized the solidity of Rowan's idea.
Unable to admit Rowan offered a good plan, Maeve snapped, "Don't condescend to me, Whitethorn. You think I haven't already thought about how to spin this? You think I don't know how to make a scandal into a PR dream? I've been doing this a lot longer than you have, and you're lucky that my expertise will get you out of this shit hole you've dug for yourself. Your thoughtless actions put us in a terrible spot, and this unplanned opportunity that arose from it is the only reason I won't have your job for this."
Rowan was prudent enough not to smart back, even though they all knew it was Rowan who had likely just saved Maeve's ass. The lame attempt at saving her pride was something Aelin almost laughed at, but they had come close enough to ruining their careers for one day- she would let Maeve pretend she was saving the day if it meant they kept their jobs.
Maeve looked between the two of them before throwing her head back dramatically, using her thumb and pointer finger to massage a spot between her eyes. "Get out," she snapped.
"Yes, ma'am," Rowan said deferentially, bowing his head slightly. Aelin didn't need to be told twice. But as they darted out the door, Maeve stopped them.
"Oh, and Rowan?"
They both turned to face their boss, but Maeve only had eyes for him. "Yes ma'am?"
Her eyes never left Rowan's as she curled her lip and said, "Keep your girlfriend on a tighter leash."
With that, she strode past them, not sparing Aelin a glance. As if she wasn't there at all.
"Christ, I'm so sorry about all of this."
Lysandra hadn't stopped apologizing to Rowan all night, no matter how many times he told her it was fine. Maeve had caught Lysandra before they all left for the night, and she had kept their meeting brief. Maybe she didn't want to broach the subject of Lysandra's assault too directly, or maybe she was just tired of dealing with her artists and their problems, but she simply informed Lysandra of their situation and their plan, promised that her PR team was already working to handle or remove as many sites as they could regarding her past, and let her go. At first, Lysandra was a bit concerned about their boss's lack of emotion towards the whole situation, but her icy removedness was better than the harshness and blame she had been expecting.
It made more sense to her once Aelin explained she and Rowan's run-in with Maeve. Whatever anger Maeve had about the situation seemed to have been expelled then, and since Rowan had been able to spin it all to their benefit, their boss was drained back to her regular levels of bitchiness. So, if nothing else, at least her provocation of Maeve ended up helping her friend. Even though she would likely be on Maeve's bad side for the rest of her life, that made it worth it.
Still, Lysandra felt horrible about dragging Rowan into the whole thing. "You were just trying to help me," she bemoaned, "and look what that brought you. You guys already have the media on your asses, and I just added one more problem for you to deal with."
"Worry about yourself, not me," he said gruffly, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest. "I can handle some fucking paparazzi assholes."
Rowan never was the comforting type, but Aelin appreciated the effort. He wasn't much for tears and feelings, but he had done his best to be there for Lysandra, a girl he honestly hardly knows. It meant a lot to Aelin.
"But now you're in trouble with Maeve, and-" she turned to face Aelin, "Everyone thinks I'm dating your boyfriend! God, I can't believe I somehow managed to make this situation worse. I'm more trouble than I'm worth."
"Hey, stop that," Aelin said firmly, her hand lifting Lysandra's chin. "All of that was outside of your control. You haven't done anything to feel sorry for. Besides, this whole thing is going to end up helping us, remember? It should hopefully get the reporters off your back and let us have a fun, normal tour. So stop moping about it. Everyone's good."
Lysandra shot her a watery smile. "Right. Thank you, A."
"Of course. I'm serious, Lys- stop feeling guilty."
"I know, I know." Lysandra raised her hands defensively, a small laugh bubbling out of her throat. Then, she sighed. "It's just been... a lot for one day."
Aelin eyes drifted over her friend sadly. "I understand." She didn't want to prod at already open wounds, so she spoke carefully as she asked, "Did they ever... figure out who tipped them off?"
Lysandra's eyes were downcast as he nodded. "Arobynn Hamel. Remember him?"
Aelin closed her eyes harshly. "Fuck," she whispered. "I thought he was in prison?"
Arobynn had been a good friend of Lysandra's father. Aelin had only met him a handful of times during their childhood, and he had always felt off to her. Something about the lingering touches to her shoulder and the gleam in his eye as he looked her over had always made Aelin uncomfortable. He had never actually done anything to either of them, as far as Aelin knew- probably didn't have the chance, seeing as he got arrested for drug possession and intent to distribute when they were still young- but Aelin knew he had been aware of what Lysandra's father was doing. And he never turned him in, never beat his fucking ass for touching a child. He probably slapped him on the back, knowing the sick fucker.
"He is," Lys explained. "Turns out he and my father managed to maintain their friendship while behind bars. Because of the nature of his crime, my father doesn't have many privileges, but Arobynn's was nonviolent and he's supposedly been on good behavior, so he has some. Anyway, he made some calls to someone at US Weekly, and all he had to do was drop a few hints and they found everything. Our guess is that my father heard about our success and wanted to get back at me for turning him in, so he had Arobynn leak it all for him."
"Fucking bastard." Aelin twisted her lips. She didn't like seeing that look in her friend's eye- so distantly devastated, laden with a pain so deep and constant that it had become a constant ache. It might not be big and flashy anymore, but it was there, and it had sunken into her flesh, perhaps more bearable now, but never ending. That pain was something Lysandra could count on. And it was exhausting. "Is there anything I can do for you?"
Again, a weak smile. "No. You've done more than enough already." Aelin shook her head dismissively, but Lysandra wasn't having it. "No, I'm serious, Aelin. I couldn't have gotten through today without you. Just having you here... it's the only thing that makes it bearable."
Aelin gripped her hand. "I know the feeling." Using their joined hands, Aelin rose and hauled Lysandra up. "C'mon, you want to go to bed?"
"Yes, but I'm, uh-" Lysandra looked down, scratching the back of her neck self-consciously. "I'm waiting on Aedion. He's going to stay with me tonight."
Aelin grinned at her words and the flush creeping across her friend's cheeks. She nudged Lys with her shoulder. "You don't have to be embarrassed. You guys have been dating since you were thirteen in my eyes."
"It's not embarrassment, it's that. I can't stand to give you the satisfaction." Lys playfully rolled her eyes.
Aelin patted her shoulder in mock sympathy. "Aw, Lys, I can't help that I'm always right. You all should really start listening to me more- my track record is stellar."
"Didn't you almost get us fired today?" Rowan questioned.
"Irrelevant. When it comes to matters of the heart, I'm never wrong."
"Didn't you spend months swearing up and down that you didn't like Rowan?" Lys added.
"Willful ignorance. Who would own up to having feelings for this brute?"
Aelin met Rowan's glare with a bright smile right as a knock sounded through the room. Lysandra darted towards her front door, and Aelin began gathering her things, knowing that her cousin's arrival was her and Rowan's cue to leave.
Lysandra had barely opened the door before Aedion had wrapped her in his massive arms. She melted into his touch, shoulders sagging as she buried her face in his chest. He was murmuring her name over and over, his hands clutching her back and waist like he was trying to pull her into his skin. Rowan looked desperate to be away from the PDA, and Aelin was also inclined to give the couple some privacy- Aedion had been out of town on business when the story broke late last night, but he came home as soon as he heard, and though they had spoken on the phone, Aelin knew he and Lysandra would have much to discuss tonight.
Just as Aelin and Rowan slid around them to the door, Aedion pulled away from Lysandra, moving his hands from her waist to her cheeks, scanning over her wildly. She shot him a sad smile, eyes beginning to brim with tears again. Aelin didn't want to intrude on their moment any longer, so she simply called out, "Call if you need anything, Lys," before walking out towards Rowan's car.
The drive home was quiet. They had both had an incredibly taxing day, and unless Rowan had managed to cram a few hours in on Lysandra's kitchen counter, they had been operating on very little sleep. Still, Rowan's hand was a constant weight on her thigh, unmoving even when she twined her fingers with his. She couldn't wait to burrow into his soft mattress, wrapped up in thick blankets and his arms. Perhaps she had tired herself enough that sleep would come easy that night.
Once they arrived at Rowan's house, they moved like machines, hanging up keys and shedding clothes, brushing teeth and turning down covers. Aelin could see the sleepiness in all of Rowan's movements- the slight shuffle of his feet as he walked, the slow blinks of his eyes, the periodic yawns that took over his face. Looking at him, Aelin was overcome with gratitude. Rowan was kind, yes, and she knew he didn't want Lysandra to suffer, but she also knew that if Lys wasn't her best friend, Rowan wouldn't have devoted nearly as much of himself to this situation as he had.
When he slid into the sheets next to her, Aelin could stop herself from wrapping her arms around him. "Thank you," she murmured into the taut skin of his chest.
"What for?" he asked with heartbreaking gentleness. His hands started making slow strokes through her hair.
"Everything. Today. I really appreciate all that you did for Lysandra."
"It was nothing."
"It wasn't nothing. You don't know Lysandra all that well, but you still drove me over there in the middle of the night and stayed up while I comforted her. You held her when she needed support. You helped today- so much. So thank you."
She listened to the thrum of his heart as they fell silent for a moment. Then, he said, "She's your best friend, baby. Anyone whose important to you is important to me."
Aelin propped her chin on his chest, looking him in the eye as he brushed golden strands out of her face. "And, I'm sorry. I never wanted to get you in trouble with Maeve. And I know you can handle it, but I also know how important your career is to you, and I hate that you had to jeopardize that for me today."
"You aren't responsible for Maeve's actions. Don't feel guilty about things you can't control. Besides, we worked it all out, so there's nothing to beat yourself up about."
"Still, now you'll have to indulge these idiotic rumors. I know you hate how the news meddles in your personal life- I'm sorry that I forced you into a place where you had to compromise your privacy."
He shook his head bemusedly at her. "Weren't you just telling Lysandra not to feel guilty about all of this? How is she supposed to take your advice when you can't even manage to?"
"It's different," Aelin huffed, snuggling deeper into his chest. After a moment of silence, Aelin said, "Maeve called me your girlfriend today."
Rowan stiffened a bit. "Mhm."
"Have we been too obvious?"
"No," he reassured her. "I mean, everyone with eyes can see that there's something between us, but she has no reason to think that we've acted on it. I think she mostly just said that to get under my skin, make sure I know she's watching me."
"I don't want to make things harder for you."
He tightened his grip around her, nestling them deeper into the mattress. "Hm, I'll live. But you'll have to make it up to me." He dragged his nose playfully along her cheek, though his eyes had fallen shut.
"Oh, yeah? How so?"
"Lots and lots of sex."
Aelin grinned. He somehow always knew how to make her smile, even on a day as shitty as today. "I think that can be arranged."
"It has to be the good stuff, too."
"Have I ever disappointed?"
Aelin could hear the smile in his voice when he said, "You couldn't if you tried."
tags: @strangely-constructed-soul @sapphic-beauty @the-regal-warrior @carbconnoisseur @queen-of-glass @courtofrandomstuff @jewel334 @thesurielships @alyx801 @girl-who-reads-the-books @illyrianwitchling13 @texas-shaped-waffle-maker @wannawriteyouabook @b00kworm @illyrian-bookworm @sleeping-and-books @jlinez @lovemollywho @slytheringalathynius @hsilberfarb @musicmaam @sanakapoor @januarystears @peaches-and-daydream @superspiritfestival @morganofthewildfire @gracie-rosee @hkanes
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