The Hewn City - Azriel x Reader
Fanart by rosalynnart on DeviantArt
Summary: As a member of the Inner Circle, Rhys has requested you accompany them for their routine visit to the Court of Nightmares. You’re terrified - enter protective Azriel.
Warnings: crappy parents, brief mentions of violence
Word Count: 5,000
A/N: I love Azriel, that’s all. Requests are still open, and my request guidelines are linked on my masterlist. I hope you enjoy, please consider liking/following and all those things! :)
You hated the Court of Nightmares.
It was the place you’d been born and raised, tormented by your greedy parents and their fake friends. It hadn’t taken long for you to become disillusioned and disgusted by life in the Hewn City; you hated the way everyone was watched and judged, the way any and all relationships could be sabotaged in a matter of seconds all for a little bit of power.
You ran away when you turned 18, right as the War began. Everyone important (including your parents) was preoccupied with funding and logistics, and so no one chased after you. You weren’t surprised, you hadn’t expected them to send a cavalry after you. Of course you were a little hurt by their lack of interest in you, but it only reminded you why you were leaving in the first place.
You walked for days with hardly any food or water, until you were so exhausted you thought you might collapse in the woods and die. So be it, you had thought, I’d prefer death to living in that Cauldron-forsaken city, anyways.
It was pure luck that you stumbled upon a camp of Night Court soldiers, all of whom were shocked by the appearance of your starving, disheveled self. None of them had jumped to help you, save for one Illyrian soldier with long hair and bright red siphons. He’d caught you as you all but collapsed onto him, carrying you to the healers’ tent and then to his own, where he fed you a really disgusting, genuinely awful stew.
“At least it’s warm,” he said with a shrug, handing you a bowl of steaming grayish slop.
You frowned, prodding a particularly chunky bit with your spoon. “What’s this supposed to be?” you asked, pointing to one of the lumps.
“Rabbit? Maybe deer?” he tried. “I have no idea, I’ve stopped asking.” You sighed, shaking your head as you brought the spoon to your mouth.
And that was how you met Cassian. Though it took all your effort not to throw up whatever it was he’d given you, you were still grateful for the meal, learning a little while later he’d given you his only dinner ration for that night. You were being honest when you told him that was the kindest thing anyone had ever done for you.
Cassian convinced his commander to let you stay with the legion. You were more than happy to help the healers tend to the many wounded, often collecting herbs for them since they had very little time to do so.
After a few months you began to befriend the seemingly brute soldiers, all of whom were actually quite funny and caring in their own way. You had assumed wrongly that they were only fighting out of obligation to the Night Court - on the contrary, many of them genuinely cared about freeing the humans, and were willing to fight and die for such a cause.
You began helping them advocate for themselves, acting as a messenger between them and their superiors whenever they needed anything. They’d been moved when you convinced the commander to get them waterproof bedding. You were just happy to help your new friends.
As the war progressed your legion became quite well known for its strength and enthusiasm in battle. Eventually, they caught the attention of the High Lord, who was eager to know how your commander kept them all so motivated. Your commander never told you that in his response, he attributed the soldiers’ high morale to you.
You didn’t find out about it until the High Lord himself summoned you to his encampment, wanting to meet you for himself.
“Y/N, is it?” he asked. You gulped and nodded, hating the way all the High Lord’s advisors were just staring at you.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said, walking over to you and clasping your hand. “You’ve made quite a name for yourself.”
“Oh, not really,” you replied dismissively.
“On the contrary, your commander attributed most of your legion’s success to you,” the High Lord said. Your eyes widened.
“He did?” you asked meekly.
“Yes, he did.” The High Lord led you over to the large table in the middle of the tent, covered in various maps and reports. You quickly recognized the different markings noting the enemy’s various armies in relation to your own.
“Their reinforcements are closer than I thought they were,” you said, pointing to an enemy group only half a day’s travel away from the front lines.
“Straight to the point, eh?” he chucked. You shrugged.
“Their proximity is worrying since our own reinforcements are two days away,” he continued. “I’m hoping my son will be able to urge them faster.”
“Your son?” you inquired. The High Lord nodded.
“My son Rhysand is the commander of this legion,” he said, pointing to one of the markers on the map. “He does a good job, though his troops are not as eager to fight as yours are.”
“Our soldiers want to see the humans freed,” you said. “Many of them have told me they would willingly die to win this war. I believe that has helped them stay strong when the fighting gets rough.”
“Very admirable of them,” the High Lord said thoughtfully. “I wish all our troops thought similarly.”
You nodded, still looking down at the table. “This map is very impressive, sir.”
“Thank you,” he replied. “It’s the most accurate information we have.”
“How often do you update it?” you asked, looking up at him.
“We track the enemy’s movements down to the hour. Every shift, every change is reflected here.”
“Down to the hour?” you exclaimed, eyes wide. “How do you accomplish such a thing?”
“You’d have to ask him,” the High Lord replied, gesturing behind you.
You turned around, eyes landing on an Illyrian man clad in black leather. His hair was shorter than Cassian’s, wielding blue siphons instead of red. The biggest difference between the two, however, were the dark shadows that circled around him slowly. Your cheeks flushed as his gaze met yours, hazel eyes piercing. You smiled and gave him a small wave, but his face remained the same.
“That’s Azriel, the official shadowsinger of the Night Court,” explained the High Lord. You nodded slowly, turning back towards the table.
“Go introduce yourself, if you’d like,” he added. “He’s quiet, but perhaps he’ll enjoy some conversation.”
“Yes sir,” you said with a nod, looking again at the shadowsinger and walking in his direction, pushing through the swarm of advisors and generals.
“Hello,” you said softly as you stopped in front of him, craning your neck upwards a bit to meet his eyes. “I’m Y/N.” His eyes widened as he looked down at you.
You bit your lip nervously and offered him your hand, though he kept his clasped firmly behind his back. You dropped your arm awkwardly, grabbing at the bottom of your shirt.
“I’m from the western legion,” you added, trying to make conversation. His eyes softened somewhat at that.
“Do you know a Cassian?” he asked quietly, voice deep and rumbling.
“Yes!” you replied brightly, trying to ignore the way your stomach had flip-flopped when he spoke. “He was the one who rescued me, actually, and convinced our commander to let me stay. He’s a close friend of mine.”
“Rescue?” he inquired. You nodded, not really wanting to elaborate.
“Well, any friend of Cassian’s a friend of mine,” he said, giving you a small smile. “I’m Azriel.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Azriel,” you said with a grin.
“It’s nice to meet you too, Y/N.”
You met Rhysand a little while after as he’d been giving a report to his father. When you returned to your legion and asked Cassian about both of them, he told you the story of how they’d met and became friends. You were shocked by all the horrors they’d endured, and a little mad at the High Lord for separating them.
“We probably could’ve won this war months ago if he let you all fight together,” you huffed, crossing your arms over your chest.
“Damn right, Y/N,” Cassian replied.
When the war ended, you were there to watch their reunion. You’d become a little emotional at the sight of them together, all smiling brighter than you’d ever seen before (even Azriel). You had tried to hide your teary eyes from them, only to start bawling when they grabbed you and pulled you into the group hug.
Rhysand had left soon after for the Court of Nightmares with his father. You’d urged Cassian and Azriel to go with him, insisting they needed some time to catch up with each other. You had opted to stay with the soldiers, helping them sort through their belongings and figure out where to go next. Like you, not all of them wanted to return to where they were from. You’d ended up in a small Illyrian camp with several of the soldiers from your legion, where you helped them settle in and begin navigating the ins and outs of running what was essentially a small town.
The next time you saw Rhysand, he was High Lord.
With his father dead, Rhysand was appointing a new Inner Circle with different values and morals than the one before it. He had asked you to be his advisor for social affairs, and you’d very emotionally accepted (“Do you cry at everything?” he teased, wrapping you in a hug as you nodded dramatically).
You were thrilled to learn Cassian and Azriel were also a part of the Inner Circle, as well as Rhysand’s cousin Morrigan and friend Amren. You were thrilled to have female friends for the first time in your entire life.
You also loved your job. As social advisor, you helped the various camps and smaller settlements throughout the court communicate with the High Lord, negotiating financial agreements and the like. It also meant you got to visit all your old friends, many of whom were starting families and working to change social standards in their towns.
The only part you did not like were the mandatory visits to the Hewn City once every few months, just to make sure everything there was running smoothly. For the many years you’d been working for Rhysand you’d managed to get out of every single visit, claiming you had scheduled trips to check up on camps and emergency meetings with different war-lords.
You had, however, run out of excuses.
“Y/N, I cannot allow you to miss another one of these trips,” Rhysand said sternly over breakfast. You glared pointedly at the plate of eggs in front of you, refusing to make eye contact with Rhys. Azriel and Cassian were sitting silently at the table, watching the two of you argue.
“Don’t you think,” you seethed, “that after years of trying to avoid this, I might have some reason not to go?”
“All of us have reasons not to go,” Rhysand said plainly. “No one enjoys these visits, but they’re mandatory. And you’re the only member of the Inner Circle who’s never visited. People have started talking.”
“Let them talk,” you scoffed, stuffing a forkful of eggs in your mouth.
“I don’t want to let them talk,” Rhys countered. “I don’t like them calling members of my Inner Circle weak, or negligent, or cowardly.”
“Well, I don’t care what they think of me,” you dismissed with a wave of your hand. “Amren hasn’t gone on the last few trips, either. I hope you’re planning on having this conversation with her as well.”
“First of all, I’d be a damn fool to try and tell Amren what to do,” Rhys stated, Cassian and Azriel nodding in agreement. “Second, she’s been to the Court of Nightmares before. Like I said, you’re the only one who hasn’t gone.”
You sat in silence, staring blankly in front of you. Rhys sighed.
“Y/N, I’m going to have to remove you from the Inner Circle if you don’t make this next trip,” he said finally. Your head snapped up, staring at him with wide eyes.
“You wouldn’t,” you hissed.
“Rhys,” Azriel warned softly, glancing between the two of you.
“I won’t have anyone thinking my Inner Circle is weak,” Rhys said, throwing his hands up. “I don’t want to remove you, but don’t think I won’t do it.”
You sat back in your chair in defeat, thoughts of your childhood and parents racing through your mind. Your breaths became faster, the three Illyrians at the table looked at you in concern.
“Y/N-” Cassian started, but you stood up abruptly, hoping they wouldn’t notice the tears forming in your eyes.
“Fine,” you choked. “Fuck you, Rhys.” You stormed out of the room, racing up the stairs, leaving the three of them staring after you in alarmed confusion.
You didn’t talk to anyone until the day of the trip, when you met them downstairs to leave. You were wearing a tight black dress that draped down to the floor, hair and makeup done nicely. You would be able to fit in without calling too much attention to yourself.
“Hi,” Rhysand started hopefully, but you just stared at the ground in front of you, refusing to acknowledge him. He sighed.
“I’m sure you know already, but you’ll have to play the part when we get there. Acting all cunning and ruthless, bowing to me, those sorts of things.”
“I’ll behave,” you replied numbly. Azriel moved next to you, grabbing your hand as you prepared to winnow. You didn’t miss the slight rub of his thumb against the back of your hand, the slight squeeze as you closed your eyes.
When you opened them, you were standing in a dimly lit room, stone walls covered in black banners, no windows to be seen. You breathed heavily, hoping Azriel hadn’t noticed how much your hands were shaking.
“Mor will send for us when the Court’s assembled in the throne area,” Rhysand said, taking a seat in a large plush chair.
“Y/N are you alright?” Cassian asked, concern evident in his voice. You hadn’t once looked up from your feet.
You shook your head, no you were not alright. In fact, you were far from alright, seeing as you were back in the one place you’d never wanted to return to.
You stiffened as Azriel wrapped his arm behind you, rubbing your shoulder comfortingly. You relaxed immediately, leaning into his side.
The room remained silent for a few minutes, Azriel trying his best to comfort you. You were almost sad when he pulled away as Mor walked into the room. You could’ve stayed nestled against him for hours.
“They’re ready for us,” Mor started. “Y/N, your parents are waiting outside. They want to talk to you.”
You felt Azriel tense up next to you as Rhys and Cass looked at you with wide eyes. You felt like breaking something, rage quickly replacing your fear. How dare they want to speak with you, after letting you walk out of their lives into a war?
“I’m going to wring their necks,” you muttered, stalking past Mor with Azriel following closely behind you. You didn’t need her to lead you to the throne room, you knew well enough where everything was in this damned city yourself.
You kept your eyes focused in front of you as you walked through the doorway, shoulders pushed back, features neutral. You ignored the figures waiting by the wall, ignored the calls of your name.
“You filthy runaway!” you heard your mother shriek from behind you. You ground your teeth, refusing to acknowledge her. Azriel caught up to you within a few strides, moving beside you as you continued forward.
“I didn’t know you had family here,” he said, eyes fixed forward just as yours were. Everything was a careful performance here.
“I was born here,” you said coldly. Azriel was silent next to you.
“I had no idea,” he replied finally.
“I never told anyone.”. The entrance to the throne room was now in sight. You could sense Cassian coming up behind you, moving to flank your other side.
“I’m sorry,” Azriel added. He glanced at you, grabbing your hand and squeezing it before dropping it quickly. “I would’ve argued with Rhys about you coming if I had known.”
“I know you would’ve,” you said, watching him adopt the emotionless soldier persona once again. “Thank you.”
The three of you entered the throne room together, walking in sync past the crowds of Hewn City residents to the opposite wall. They fell silent as you approached. It almost made you smile, them at least pretending to respect you for the first time ever. You almost hoped someone would dare to say something out of line, just to see what Rhys and Cassian and Azriel might do. At the same time, you wanted to curl up into a ball in your bed and never see anyone again. Your confidence, as convincing as it was, was still an act.
You stood between them, waiting for Rhys to enter. You watched Mor saunter past her parents, giving them a taunting smirk. Maybe one day you’d be able to do the same.
You straightened as Rhys walked in behind her, purple eyes gleaming despite the terrible lighting of Hewn City.
“Your High Lord, ladies and gentlemen,” Mor announced, dropping to one knee as he sauntered into the room. You did the same, admiring the way Rhys emanated power and control. A quick glance to your left and you made brief eye contact with Azriel, whose muscular thighs were only accentuated by his kneeling. Your eyes widened, gulping as you looked back towards Rhys.
“My subjects,” he drawled with a grin, making his way up to the throne and sitting down casually. He scanned the room for a moment, then nodded. “Rise.”
You stood up slowly, watching Mor’s father step forward to deliver his report on city happenings. You weren’t really paying attention, choosing instead to let your gaze wander over to Azriel again. He was wearing all of his siphons, wings folded behind his back neatly. He looked somewhat relaxed, though his hands were positioned to draw his weapons if needed.
You loved Az’s hands, the hands he had tried to hide from you for months. When you finally asked him why he hid his scars, he’d reluctantly told you about his childhood. He’d been surprised when your reaction was not one of pity, but rather one of immense anger. How dare anyone do that to him? Azriel, who was so selfless and giving, did not deserve such pain.
“You’re staring,” Az muttered, a small smirk on his face.
“Am not,” you replied with a glare, fixing your eyes in front of you as your face heated up.
“Are too,” he teased. You rolled your eyes, hoping he didn’t notice the blush tinging your cheeks.
Kier was just finishing up his dull speech. Rhys looked beyond bored, though you knew it was all just a front. He would probably spend hours reviewing whatever information Kier had told him when you returned home.
“My Lord,” Mor’s father drawled. “I noticed the sixth member of your Inner Circle has joined you today.”
You stiffened as the whole room glanced in your direction.
“Y/N?” Rhys said, gesturing to you. You took a step forward and bowed, quickly returning to your place between Az and Cass.
“Welcome home, Y/N,” Kier said, a twisted grin on his face. “We missed you.”
“I’m sure,” you replied cooly, voice echoing off the stone walls. You picked out your parents rather quickly in the crowd, almost shuddering at the way they were glaring at you. You raised your eyebrows, taunting them to say something. They remained silent.
“If there is nothing more to discuss, I’ll be going now,” Rhys announced, pushing himself up from his seat and making his way towards the door. “Thank you for this, truly. You’re all dismissed.”
You waited until him and Mor had left to follow, making your way through the crowd with Azriel and Cassian on your heels. You failed to see your mother stalking towards you as you approached the doorway, failed to see her until she was right beside you. She grabbed your shoulder, stopping you in your tracks and turning you to face her forcefully.
Your heart skidded to a stop, face palling at the furious look on her face.
“You ungrateful child,” she hissed, nails digging into the skin on your shoulder.
“Let go of me,” you whispered. “Let go.” The whole room had stopped to watch the two of you.
“How dare you align yourself with him,” she screeched. You pulled away from her, heart pounding as she continued moving towards you.
“You’re pathetic,” you spat defensively, wanting nothing more than to push her away from you. She only cackled, eyes blazing as she lunged at you.
You gritted your teeth, bracing yourself for impact, but a leather-clad arm reached out from beside you before she could reach you.
Azriel, who you’d almost forgotten was with you, had grabbed your mother mid-air, pinning her to his side as she struggled in his grip.
He looked more furious than you’d ever seen him, a rarity for the shadowsinger who hid his emotions like secrets. His massive wings were unfurled, jaw clenched as he looked down at her like she was a criminal Rhys had asked him to torture. You almost smiled at how fearful she looked as she glanced up at him, powerless.
“If you touch her,” he said, his voice a deadly whisper, “I will gut you, and throw you off the mountain again and again until you stop screaming.”
Her face blanched, looking around nervously as she tried to get away. Azriel did not let her budge.
“Let me go,” she asked, voice shaking. “Please, let-”
“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t break every bone in your body right here in front of everyone,” he said, voice calm despite the rage so clear on his face.
“Please,” she begged again. “Please.”
He looked back at you and you nodded, watching as he threw her to the ground in front of you. She let out a shaky breath, carefully drawing herself up from the floor…
She was not expecting your punch, eyes widening as your fist connected with the side of your face. Neither was Azriel, if his look of pleasant shock was anything to go by. You admired the way her body crumpled back onto the ground, grinned openly at the frightened look she gave you.
“I hope you die a painful death,” you said, almost cheerily. You turned, seeking out your father in the crowd and pointing to him. “You too,” you shouted, watching as he paled.
You turned on your heel and stalked out of the room, giving Mor a thumbs up as you passed her in the doorway. She gave you a small smile and an approving nod.
You waited until Rhys winnowed you all back to Velaris to let yourself relax, your shoulders slumping as you collapsed into a chair. You were exhausted.
“I’m fucking starving,” Cassian grumbled, lumbering out of the room just as quickly as you arrived. You smiled a bit, opening your eyes to see Rhys watching you intently.
“Y/N,” he started, but you raised a hand to silence him.
“I don’t want you to say anything,” you said flatly.
“I had no idea,” he continued anyway. “I would have let you stay…”
“What’s done is done,” you sighed. “Besides, if I hadn’t gone I never would’ve gotten to punch the shit out of my mom.” He chuckled and you gave him a sick grin.
“I can arrange to have Azriel torture them, if you’d like,” Rhys offered, the same option he’d given Mor when she’d returned to the Court of Nightmares. Azriel nodded earnestly, as if he’d be happy to do it.
“Thanks, but I’d like to do it myself, when the time is right,” you replied. The two of them nodded in understanding. Rhys gave you a small smile and disappeared from view, probably to join Cassian.
Azriel walked over towards you carefully, sitting down in a chair next to yours. He reached his hand out, slowly brushing a stray hair out of your face. You hummed and leaned into his touch, so soft and caring despite the scars.
“I wasn’t expecting you to punch her,” he said quietly. You chucked.
“I wasn’t either, but I’m glad I did,” you replied, opening your eyes and finding his hazel ones gazing at you fondly.
“You’re staring,” you teased lightly, quoting him. He smiled but didn’t look away. You blushed, biting your lip and looking down at your lap.
“Thank you for keeping her away from me,” you almost whispered. “I don’t know what I would’ve done had she actually, you know…” You trailed off, remembering the fear you had felt when she grabbed at you. “It was like I was frozen, I couldn’t move.”
“I think I would’ve actually killed her if she had gotten to you,” he said. You glanced up at him, his face carefully neutral as he thought about his words. “I was just...so mad at her, for calling you filthy and ungrateful, for insulting you in front of everyone.” He met your gaze and his face softened.
“Az,” you said gently, reaching out and gently taking his hands in your own.
“I’m sorry if it was out of line-”
“No,” you interrupted, “no, thank you for doing it. It gave me enough time to remember how little I care about her opinion of me.”
“She still shouldn’t call you such things,” he said, jaw clenching. “You’re one of the bravest people I know, running away from home and joining an Illyrian war camp, of all places.” You laughed, giving his hands a small squeeze.
“That place wasn’t home,” you said with a shake of your head. “That’s why I ran away, I wanted to find a place where people actually cared about me.”
“Did you?” he asked softly, eyes darting nervously between your face and your hands, still intertwined with his.
“Yes,” you whispered, heart surging as he smiled at you.
“You don’t have to go back, ever,” he said, looking at you intently. “I won’t let him force you again. I promise.”
“Thank you, Az,” you said gratefully.
“And I swear,” he continued, “if either of your parents steps one toe out of line I’ll make them regret every minute of their lives.” You grinned.
“Well, if that happens let me know,” you said, “I wouldn’t want to miss any of the fun.”
He laughed then, truly laughed, scooting his chair closer to yours.
“I won’t let anyone touch you,” he murmured, your heart almost stopping as he leaned forward and pressed his forehead against yours.
“Az,” you breathed, stomach fluttering.
“Y/N,” he replied, voice husky with some emotion that made your head swirl.
“Az,” you giggled, sticking your tongue out, licking the tip of his nose.
His eyes widened, a smile spreading across his face. “Gross,” he joked, bringing a hand up to cup your cheek. His eyes became serious, searching your face for any hesitation.
You leaned forward, closing your eyes as you pressed your lips against his. You could’ve sworn you felt his heart leap as he began to kiss you back, reaching around you to pull your body onto his lap. You couldn’t ignore the sparks of joy you felt as his hands roamed your back, nose pressed against your cheek as his lips molded against yours again and again.
You were the first one to pull away, needing air, heart melting as you opened your eyes and saw Azriel watching you with such obvious adoration. You admired the small smile on his face, the flush of his cheeks and his tousled hair, the quickened rising and falling of his chest…
And then something clicked, something deep inside you, and your eyes widened with immediate realization.
“It’s...it’s you,” you gasped, overcome with emotion. He gulped and nodded, looking at you hopefully.
“Yes,” he breathed. “Yes.” He paused, panting heavily. “Is that...okay?” he asked, looking more nervous than you’d ever seen him before.
“It’s perfect,” you choked out, grabbing his face and pulling him in again. He groaned, your stomach doing flip flops as his hands came up to cradle the back of your head. He tucked his thumbs under your ears, claiming your mouth as his own.
“How...how long have you known?” you asked between kisses, your hands exploring the firm expanse of his chest.
“Since the first day I met you,” he mumbled against your lips, breathing heavily as you pulled back again.
“You’ve known for that long?” you asked incredulously, eyes wide. He nodded, grinning like he was the happiest man alive. “And you still waited for me?” You were touched.
“I would’ve waited until the end of time for you,” he said, ducking his head down and nuzzling your neck with his nose. “Though, I will say, it took you forever to realize.”
You swatted his shoulder playfully, resting your chin on the top of his head and closing your eyes. “I’ll cook dinner tonight, okay?” you said softly. You felt his whole body tense.
“Are...are you sure?” he asked thickly, as if you still might reject the mating bond.
But how could you ever think of such a thing, when you were sitting in the lap of the most protecting and caring person you’d ever met?
“I’m positive,” you murmured, tilting his head upwards and pressing a kiss to his forehead.
“Well in that case, I’m quite fond of chicken,” he teased.
“You’ll get whatever I feel like making,” you huffed, relishing in the way his whole body vibrated as he laughed.
“And I will happily eat whatever that is,” he replied lovingly.
“Even toast?” you asked.
“Even toast,” he grinned, capturing your lips in another kiss.
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