Bat Bros' Brewery: 🦇³
Apologies that this is late to the game. I'd meant to have this modern AU fic properly finished as a one shot for Day 4 (Bat Boys), then Day 7 (Free Day), of @azrielweek2022, but last week coincided with a lot of our moving preparations. That insanity took over my life, understandably, so here it is now, but in the form of a headcanon, instead. I'm sorry, I know it's not my best effort, but I'm currently so exhausted that I fell asleep at 6pm last night and slept for 12 straight hours, so... 🥱🥱🥱
Please enjoy the unedited fluff and nonsense.
While at university, all three of the bat bros lived together while in appropriately different fields (Rhys studied an arts-law double major, Azriel studied software engineering with a minor in robotics, and Cassian studied secondary education with the goal of teaching PE and bio).
To celebrate the end of their year as JAFFYs, Cassian and Rhys bought a home brew kit and set it up in the dining room of their share house.
Azriel, who was a year ahead, just rolled his eyes and sighed. Rhys and Cassian could get chaotic.
After their final exams, the three of them made their first attempt at a basic ale. Reader, it was barely tolerable (and entirely messy), though their friends didn't much care; it was still free beer, and it "did the job."
Their second attempt was marginally better.
It wasn't until their third go round that they had something they would call both functional and enjoyable.
By the end of Azriel's third - and Rhys and Cassian's second - year, they had a solid ale and lager, and were almost there with a stout.
By the time Azriel was graduating, at the end of Rhys and Cassian's third year, it was so good that they were proud to serve it to their friends.
Rhys' girlfriend, one Feyre Archeron, a first year fine arts student who was the youngest sister of his law classmate, Nesta, had even designed a logo for the three of them. Thanks to their years on the high school football team, they called themselves the bats, and Feyre had grown up obsessed with the TV show Charmed, so... 🦇³ it was.
A decade passed them by, and they had all settled down, both into relationships and careers. Azriel worked in the tech industry, as did most who completed his degree, for a moderately sized company.
Feyre and Rhys had married young, followed by Azriel and the middle Archeron sister, Elain (a botanist) two years later. Azriel and Elain had met when Feyre brought Rhys (and Cass and Az) home for dinner with her sisters, who were attempting to mend bridges after their rough childhood. Nesta and Cassian then proceeded to drag out an almost decade-long battle of wits that had finally ended with a hook up at age 29. After that, they were as inseparable as their siblings, though not married. They joked that it would be another ten years before "any of that," or, to call it even, they'd probably marry by 40.
At approximately the seven year mark after graduation, Azriel, Cassian and Rhys were all getting a little frustrated with their careers, as they could feel themselves stagnating. By the ten year mark, they had decided to actually do something about it: turn the Bat Bros Brewery into a legitimate business.
Over the preceding years, they'd taken quite a few short courses in home brewing, not to mention they'd discovered that Elain, an avid cook, had an amazing palate for beers and cider in addition to food. Their brews were, in short, pretty damn good, so they began to run a stall at the local farmers' market on the weekends.
The first weekend all of their friends and families came out to support them - they highly suspected that Rhys' cousin, Mor, had a thing or two to do with that - and everyone had a blast. The second weekend was a bit of a let down, and they were worried about beginner's luck, but business picked up a bit in week three, and slowly but steadily continued to improve.
Not quite two years into this endeavour, the boys taking it in turns to run the stall each weekend, or sometimes running stalls at bigger festivals after they'd made a name for 🦇³, the co-owner of a local gastro pub got in contact with them and said that she and her sister would love to stock Bat Bros Beer on tap.
It took some time to ramp up production in their small, rented brewery space - and they tentatively began to look at larger facilities, just in case - but eventually, 🦇³ ale and lager were on tap at The Wolf and Shadow, with their stout and cider to both follow in autumn, if sales were as good as they hoped.
Nuala and her twin sister, Cerridwen, were so pleased with the popularity of the Bat Bros Beer that they could hardly wait for the new stock to arrive, and they began to negotiate for a Wolf and Shadow special brew.
By the end of that school year, Az, Cass and Rhys - along with Elain, Nesta and Feyre - realised that they could no longer treat BBB as a part time venture. With their families on top of two essentially full time jobs, it was too much, and something had to give; Cassian quit his job at the local high school, and Rhys and Az left their positions, too.
Their collective experiences weren't for nothing, though. Bat Bros Brewery boasted one hell of a website, to say the least.
As the school year ended, they found themselves moving into a much larger building that they fitted out with just enough equipment to get them started, and plenty of space left over to expand as they (hopefully) needed.
Everything progressed so well that, by the next December, other local pubs and restaurants were also clamouring to stock 🦇³ products.
The boys were very pleased that they didn't have to slink back to their old jobs with their proverbial tails between their legs.
Feyre, Elain and Nesta were glad that their partners were being professionally fulfilled once more.
By the ages of 38, 37 and 37, Azriel, Cassian and Rhys were happier than ever. In addition to their brewery, Azriel and Rhys had Elain and Feyre respectively, and a hoard of kids (or "batlets") between them. Nesta had proposed to Cassian on his 37th birthday, and they were "happily engaged."
You know those couples who get engaged and stay that way forever? Cassian and Nesta were beginning to appear that way until, one Autumn day, they invited their siblings, nieces and nephews to the park for a picnic.
Well, surprise, it was their wedding!
Nesta's good friend Gwyn was officiating, and Emerie, the other member of their inseperable trio, had returned early from her trip home to Illyria when Nesta had asked (because Nesta had never asked for anything like that before).
It was the most spectacular, Pinterest worthy autumnal wedding that anyone could have imagined. Elain was overjoyed that her spiced apple cider cake (made with 🦇³ apple cider, of course) was THE wedding cake; Feyre took the photos (and thank god she'd gone back for her tripod, after all).
At the end of the day, Nesta and Cassian handed out thank you cards that said the "three" of them were so glad everyone made it.
Feyre, the first to open hers, actually screamed. Mor followed suit no more than a second later, as Elain laughed her joy.
Azriel just raised his eyebrow at the commotion, at which point Elain gave him her card to read.
A giant smile bloomed on Az's face as he and Rhys tackled Cassian in a hug.
TSTS Chapter 25
I could spend the rest of my life apologizing for the long wait between chapters, but I'd rather just tell you how much I appreciate the support for TSTS and hope you like this chapter! Please let me know your thoughts. :)
Read it on ao3 here.
Chapter 25: Decay
It was late afternoon when Elain entered the conservatory for the first time since Koshei's attack. The cavernous, glass-walled room, once so full of vibrant color and light, was an empty shell of what it used to be. It reminded her of a graveyard - and she realized how close that thought was to the truth when the image of Phillip's motionless corpse flashed across her mind's eye.
If it was up to Elain, she wouldn't be here. But Lucien had suggested the conservatory as the meeting spot for healing power training, so here she was.
“I hate being here,” she said.
“I know,” Lucien responded. She looked at him, surprised. “That’s why I chose it,” he admitted. “Sometimes the best way to summon your powers - especially powers that you don’t have significant control over - is to enter a state of high emotion. It stirs up the magic, you see. And this place," he swept his arms around, "is certain to bring forth emotions."
Elain thought about the times she had called her powers forth without meaning to. When she was angry at her family. When she was angry at the unfair lot life had thrown at Vassa. That day in the conservatory with Koschei, and of course, in Pentalos. When she’d used her powers not to revive, but for the opposite effect.
She nodded. “That makes sense.” A shriveled violet lay abandoned on the conservatory floor. She bent down and picked it up. “The first time I ever really used my powers - without meaning to, of course - was here, in the conservatory. That day with Koschei. I was so angry, and I felt so helpless - so hopeless - and I picked up a rose and it just…happened. One second the rose was dead and the next it was fresh and vibrant in the palm of my hand.”
“That’s good,” Lucien said encouragingly. “That means we’re on the right track with inciting strong emotions.” He paused slightly. “Do you think you can try again?”
“I can try,” she said. “But expressing my emotions intentionally does not come easily to me.”
Lucien’s face was amused. “Perhaps you could teach Feyre a little of that self-control,” he teased, “When I met her, I was shocked by how…overly expressive she was. Is. You’d think with an older sister like you, she’d be a little better at controlling her emotions.”
Elain chuckled. “You’re forgetting that Feyre has two older sisters. She takes after Nesta much more.”
Lucien laughed, then continued talking in a more serious vein. “I’ve never trained someone to use their magic before. But I think the most important thing to start with is to accept this knowledge: magic is a part of you. It is embedded in your soul. It is every drop of blood running through your veins. It is your very essence.
“…But it is also quite finicky. Anything you are feeling - anything you want or hate or dread or love - your magic will respond in kind. High emotions like anger and hatred will bring forth your magic, but because the magic is responding to these uncontrollable, negative feelings, and because these feelings are as fleeting as they are emotionally draining, the strength of the magic is not nearly as powerful as it could be. It’s simply a reaction. What you need to do is learn how to summon your magic without relying on emotions like anger and fear.
“Healing magic works best when you exert all your focus onto positive emotions. Happiness, excitement, adoration, passion…love.” He said the last word quietly, and Elain couldn’t help but glance away. “While all emotions are inconstant in nature, positive emotions differ from negative ones in more than just sentiment - they leave a mark, a foundational building block, that you can draw from and use to aid your healing magic, rather than a negative or traumatic memory that will only detract from its potential.”
What Lucien was saying made sense. The night her magic was the strongest it had ever been - that night in Pentalos - she had been protecting Azriel. It hadn’t just been in her fear that incited her magic, but her intense care for him and the need to protect him. It had sparked her magic and elicited powers she’d not even been aware of.
It felt like a foggy mirror being wiped clean, the way this revelation cleared her confusion surrounding her healing magic. To summon her seer powers, she needed to be a blank slate - needed to empty herself of emotions and personal desires and everything that made her Elain Archeron and simply just be, letting those otherworldly visions speak to her instead. But to use her healing magic, she needed to capitalize on the love and devotion she felt toward others.
Healing was an act of selflessness. Of course it was strongest when one’s intentions were genuine and rooted in decency.
“Have you ever purged your magic?” he asked.
“A purge. It’s when you cleanse your magic, so to say. Like running it through a stream and letting all the dirt and mud and nastiness drift away with the current.”
“No,” she answered slowly, though the idea of it sounded rather lovely. How pleasant would it be if humans were like that, capable of being rinsed and purified of sin so easily? So absolutely?
“Then that is how we will begin. Healers have to purge their magic frequently to keep it pure and unfettered. It is a delicate art, one that is affected easily by rot.”
“How does one purge their magic?” she asked curiously.
“You have to expel any built-up, supremely negative emotions. To focus on the positive…you must first feel the negative.”
She frowned. Pushing down her negative feelings, trivializing her traumatic experiences, ignoring repressed memories…those were three of her favorite coping mechanisms. And as ill-advised as they might be, they got her through the day, right?
But pretending her trauma was nonexistent certainly did not diminish the significant stains it had left on her soul. Perhaps it was time to try a different approach.
“Are you ready to begin?”
She steeled herself. Nodded.
“Close your eyes.”
“Take a deep breath.”
“What makes you angry, Elain?”
Her limbs went still, shocked at his blunt and straightforward question. If only she could summon her powers with how awkward she was feeling right now. But she had to try…
What made her angry? A lot of things, to be honest, none of which she particularly felt like telling Lucien, of all people.
“If you don’t feel comfortable answering, just think about it in your head,” he said kindly.
“Dead flowers,” she said in a rush, the first not-so-incriminating thing that popped into her head. Bright pink circles tinged her cheeks as she tensed. Would he think her answer was silly? It was true, though. She hated seeing dead flowers, hated seeing something so beautiful die from neglect. It made her unashamedly, albeit perhaps a bit unreasonably, angry.
“Okay,” Lucien said, and to his credit he did not sound amused in the slightest. Elain relaxed slightly. “What else?”
“When I’m woken up before I want to be.”
He chuckled. “Such a Sleeping Beauty,” he teased, and she smiled, wondering how he knew of the old human fairy tale, then remembering he’d been alive for quite a few centuries. He probably knew a million more things than she did.
“What else? Perhaps something a little deeper?”
A heavy swallow from Elain as she considered his question. “My sisters,” she finally answered. “Not always, of course, but sometimes…they make me very angry.”
“They have always been at each other’s throats. From the time we were children, and it’s better now, I suppose but…they were always fighting. Always angry. There was rarely peace.”
It was something she’d never admitted out loud, not even to Azriel. Certainly not to Nesta or Feyre. That there were remnants of resentment coiling in her gut still, to this very day, about all the times her sisters had played their tug-of-war game of fury. Most of the time, she was caught in the middle, expected to remain a neutral player. Never allowed to be angry herself.
A thrum of electricity shot through her veins, so strong she opened her eyes in surprise.
“Close your eyes,” he reprimanded her. She frowned but did as he said. “You felt something, didn’t you?” When she nodded, he continued excitedly, “Good. Good. What else?”
In a soft voice, she replied, “It makes me angry when decisions that I should make are made for me. When I am not in control of my own life.” Her heart was hammering against her chest. Another shock of power hummed through her.
“Good, Elain. Keep going. What makes you the angriest? What makes you absolutely livid? What fury do you hide behind that placid demeanor? Behind that perfect veil of poise?”
The flush had now spread over her entire body, and the primal rage he’d been trying to elicit from her rose with a vengeance - as did its usual companion of fear. Did he know what he was asking of her? That there was a reason she held her feelings and secrets so close to her chest and yet he was asking her to lay all her cards on the table? To do what she so rarely did, and for so few people, because to do so was to expose the shame and self-resentment that existed beneath the flimsy cover of her soul?
“You’re scared,” he mused, and she froze, wondering how he could possibly know that when she felt an uncomfortably familiar tug in her chest. The bond. It had been so long since the bond reacted this viscerally - even longer since it had happened while the two of them were alone. If ever.
The bond. The stupid, fucking bond that had marked her as someone not entirely herself within seconds of her immortal life beginning.
The male in front of her, asking all these maddening questions, the most integral element of the gods forsaken bond in question.
She knew it was irrational to blame him. He was just as chained as she was, wasn’t he? He had not asked for this either.
But just because you know it is wrong to be angry doesn’t mean you stop being angry.
“It’s infuriating, isn’t it?” Lucien asked.
“What?” Elain replied, taken aback.
“The bond. Our bond,” he said quietly. “It is infuriating that we were never given a choice. Or a chance.” The last word sounded so sad it made her sad, too. Though, she mused, she supposed she’d been sad about the bond for a very, very long time. And Lucien had been sad too, a fact that could have made her feel worse but actually made her feel better for a second. But then that sadness twisted into a fierce anger because they would never be free of the restrictive and confining knot tying them together, and it was so unfair, it was so fucking unfair to both of them -
And so Elain was feeling all these things - insatiable fury, sour humiliation, shared misery, bitter fear and the ubiquitous shame that lived beneath it all - and she did not know what to do. Did not know what to do with all of these scorching pieces that burned inside of her. Did not know how she was going to bottle all of this energy back up, fold it up until it fit nice and neat inside of her body.
“Do you feel your magic pulse within you? Feel the way it’s trying to claw its way out of your skin?”
“Yes,” she breathed.
“Let it. Let it out, Elain.”
“I don’t want to hurt anyone.” Because that was part of it, perhaps the biggest part; that if she wasn’t perfect and lovely and kind and sweet Elain who never upset anyone and stayed silent even when a better person would have screamed - what kind of ruin would occur? If they peeled back her shiny, duplicitous layers and discovered what rotted beneath, who would she hurt? Would anyone still love her, then? Would she herself ever be able to grow from the decay?
“You won’t.” He sounded so sure that a tear slipped down her cheek. “You’ll heal.”
Heal. It was all she needed to hear.
With a heaving sob, Elain let it out.
Let out every grimy, grubby feeling that had suffocated her for far too long. Let it out in a vivid and robust burst of magic that blew across the conservatory with a great, resounding whoosh. Her body shook and vibrated with innate power as it expelled that which had existed inside of her with no outlet, no relief, for far too long.
When the last of the roaring power had stopped rattling her bones, she opened her eyes. And gasped.
Color. Beautiful, vibrant flashes of color, of life, danced across her vision. Vines climbed halfway up the walls. Budding roses and lilies and gardenias, not yet fully bloomed but well on their way, were bunched together by the rows. Dark, rich soil lined the spaces between the still-growing blossoms. It wasn’t the conservatory as it was before Koschei’s attack, but within a few weeks, after the plants were given time to grow, she was sure it would be.
All that which had been destroyed was now revived.
And she understood, then, why purging your magic was compared to a cleanse. She felt renewed. Absolute in the aftermath of absolution. Bright and whole and imperfect, all at once. A lovely, warm contentment stole across her.
“Holy gods,” Lucien whispered. His one good eye was wide as he stared at her. “If that’s what you can do with negative energy…” He trailed off, shaking his head in wonder.
She smiled, feeling lighter than she had in months. Years. A lifetime.
“Let’s try again,” she said.
The wind bit and snapped at Azriel’s cheeks as he flew over the island, eyes scanning the surface to no avail.
Mikaou was located only a half-a-thousand miles or so from Pentalos, but before today, Azriel had never stepped foot on the island. It came as an unwelcome surprise. With wildly unpredictable temperatures, a significant lack of native inhabitants and the desolate, barren plains that coated its surface, Mikaou couldn’t be more opposite from his mother’s homeland.
He wasn’t at Mikaou for fun. A few days prior, spies from the Night Court had discovered Autumn Court soldiers on the island. While this sighting wasn’t new - there had been multiple sightings of Autumn Court soldiers on the islands off the coast of Prythian over the past few months, including Mikaou - the spies had noted a significant increase in the number of soldiers on this particular island. So Rhys had told Azriel to go check it out, and so he’d spent the last three days on this gods forsaken island searching for clues about the Autumn Court’s connection to the island.
His search was not going well. Much like his and Elain’s fruitless attempts to locate where the Autumn Court soldiers were stationed in Pentalos, he had not been able to find hide nor hair of the soldiers on Miakou. It was like the soldiers had the uncanny ability to disappear at the drop of a hat, and while winnowing was common enough among Fae, the vast majority did not possess enough innate power to winnow. The odds of every regular old foot soldier being able to do so was virtually impossible. It was the strangest, damndest, most infuriating thing. Where were they hiding? How were they able to conceal themselves so well?
And the question that gnawed at Azriel the most: what the hell were they doing there in the first place?
Assuming their theory about the Autumn Court working with Koschei was correct, then it would only be logical to assume that the soldiers were combing the islands looking for - or guarding - something that Koschei cared about.
There was only one thing Koschei cared about, but Azriel had no idea why the death lord would think the missing piece of his soul was located on Pentalos, Mikaou, or one of the other southern islands. If that was even the reason why the Autumn Court soldiers were there.
Azriel ran a frustrated hand through his hair. He hated not having all the pieces of information. He was the spymaster, for gods sake; if anyone was able to figure out this increasingly confounding mystery, it should be him, shouldn’t it? His failure to do so was not good for his reputation.
Ego aside, Azriel also couldn’t help but feel as if he was overlooking some very obvious clue. And as someone who never overlooked anything, this significant gap in knowledge was as haunting as it was problematic. If he and his superb network of spies couldn’t solve this mystery, who could?
Like so often these days, the thought of Elain flashed across his mind.
And Azriel had his answer.
While Azriel brooded over the mystery with the Autumn Court, Elain brooded over Vassa’s secret.
When she wasn’t training her healing powers with Lucien, Elain spent her time surreptitiously wandering the halls of the Manor, fully in spy mode. Vassa’s betrayal stung more than she cared to admit, but instead of letting that anger get the best of her, she decided to funnel her heightened emotions into the task at hand: finding out what the hell her “friend” was hiding.
Unfortunately, she hadn’t discovered anything out of the ordinary, unless you counted accidentally happening upon Jurian and a handmaiden in an otherwise abandoned corridor while the two were locked at the lips and thrashing around like a pair of sex-depraved eels. Thankfully, neither noticed Elain’s momentary presence, and she was able to escape without any awkward confrontation. Though she did have the sudden urge to scrub her eyes clean with soap.
Elain sat on her bed afterward, thinking. Clearly her brilliant plan of roaming the manor until a clue jumped out in front of her was foolish. She needed another angle.
Needed to try something else.
Despite her many months of seer training, Elain still had trouble calling forth visions on command. Sure, the premonitions appeared clearer and more consistently than before, but she still hadn’t mastered the knack of seeing exactly what she wanted, when she wanted. But there was no time like the present, and ever since her and Lucien’s training session the other day, her entire being felt lighter. She may as well try and see if the purge had strengthened her seer powers as well as her healing ones.
Steeling herself, she folded her legs underneath her and inhaled deeply. Slowly but surely, her muscles relaxed. The tension weighing on her body and mind lifted. She relished in the comforting mindlessness for a moment, and then let herself ask for exactly what she wanted.
Vassa. Show me what Vassa is hiding. Show me what she is keeping from me.
For a few seconds, all Elain saw was the darkness behind her eyelids. But she didn’t let frustration take over. She just focused on her breathing, on keeping her mind settled, and on singing to her shadows as best she could.
It didn’t even surprise her when, a moment later, a vivid scene began to play out in her mind. Vassa was standing in the library of the Mortal Manor. Elain had only been there once before, but the shelves full of books that lined every inch of wall and wound up to the ceiling made the location obvious. The bright crimson dress Vassa wore also struck a chord - it was the same dress she’d been wearing at breakfast this morning. This vision must take place in the very near future.
Vassa was perusing a heavy tome with furrowed brows. She flipped through the pages feverishly. It was clear she was looking for something specific, and when a flash of recognition ran across Vassa’s face, Elain knew that she had found it.
The queen grabbed a pen off a nearby table and scribbled something in the book, then snapped it shut with a look of grim acceptance.
The slamming of the book served as the abrupt end to Elain’s vision. She blinked, taking in her surroundings, reacquainting herself with reality.
A minute later, she had a plan.
The plan went into motion late that evening when, a few strikes before midnight, Elain slipped out of her bed. She crept down the dark hallways wearing a nightgown, loose robe and silky socks that made it easy for her to slip undetected through the manor.
Reaching the library, Elain hesitantly pushed on the heavy oak door. It opened with an echoing creak; Elain winced. Some spy she was. She had probably just woken up the whole Manor! But after a few minutes, when no sounds of a suspicious arrival appeared, her chest relaxed. She was glad that Lucien had departed for the Spring Court earlier that morning, because sneaking around a bunch of mortals was one thing; sneaking around a skilled Fae with superior hearing and scent was quite another.
Grabbing the nearest book she could find, Elain used it to prop open the door, preventing any more incriminating noises. Then she turned to face the darkened room before her. Using her heightened Fae senses and the moonlight pouring through the floor-to-ceiling windows, she was able to easily see the corner of the room where Vassa had stood and pored over books earlier that day.
Elain slowly started walking among the books on the shelves, hoping one of the titles struck a chord of significance. Every so often, she’d pull a book off the shelf at random and flip through it, just to see if anything jumped out at her, but she’d had no luck thus far.
Finally, after about 10 minutes of perusing, she came across a book that carried Vassa’s scent so strongly it must be one the queen had recently touched.
Tilting her head sideways, she read the title stamped on the spine: THE ROYAL LINEAGE. Elain plucked the book off the shelf and thumbed through it. It seemed to be a detailed account of the ancestral lines that made up human royal families, dating back at least a thousand centuries. Maybe more. Either way, the knowledge held in this book certainly predated any of the Fae she knew, which was an impressive feat in and of itself.
But why was Vassa so interested in it? Was the information inside this book important in the fight against Koschei? Did it have anything to do with the secret she was keeping from Elain?
Eyes narrowed in concentration, Elain continued to flip through the book until something caught her eye. She brought the book closer. Written in the margin in cramped, cursive handwriting was one word, followed by an inexplicable question mark:
If Elain was confused before, she was baffled now. What or who was a Celian? Her first thought was that it sounded like someone’s first name, but the plurality had her quickly dismissing that theory.
She turned her attention to the paragraph beside the scribbled word. It listed a bunch of mortal families that Elain had never heard of before.
Frustration rushed through her. Could Vassa not have left such a cryptic clue? Elain wasn’t even sure if this had anything to do with the secret the queen was keeping from her. Gods, it was all so -
“Enjoying your midnight stroll?” asked a voice behind her.
Elain slammed the book shut at the same time a scream crawled up her throat, but before she could release it, Azriel clapped a hand over her mouth.
“So jumpy,” he murmured in her ear.
Slowly, Azriel removed his hand from her mouth, but not before running a calloused thumb over her lip. A shiver danced down her spine.
“Should I be worried that you seem to find such joy in scaring me?” she asked.
“Very worried,” he answered seriously. He released her. Elain turned around, swallowing heavily as she met his hazel gaze.
"How did the mission go?"
"Good." He took a step back, surveying her hungrily with those penetrating eyes. After a beat, a slight frown graced his devastatingly gorgeous face. His stare darkened.
“Why are you wearing that?”
She glanced down at her nightgown. “Because it’s nighttime?” she replied bemusedly.
“So you just walked around the manor dressed in this? When anyone could have woken up and seen you?” Though his tone was cool and controlled as ever, a dangerous edge laced every word.
The taut lines of his jaw tightened. He shook his head, his disapproval a living, tangible thing. “Were you hoping someone would see you wearing this tiny, sheer thing?” His long fingers thumbed the lacy edge of her gown, twitching slightly, as if he longed to tear it to shreds.
Elain had seen many sides of Az, but this one - this dominant and slightly intimidating version - had her toes curling in her slippers. The thrill-seeker in Elain decided to stoke the fire a little more.
“Careful, Az,” she cooed, “Your jealousy is showing.”
Within a heartbeat, Azriel had her pinned against the bookcase, several spines of books digging into her back. “Of course I’m jealous,” he grated out, eyes full of lust and an animalistic fervor that, instead of scaring her, merely turned her on even more. With two long fingers under her chin, he tipped her head up. “I don’t like anyone else seeing what is mine.”
Mine. The thumping of her heart had reached a nearly chaotic pace.
“Yours?” she whispered back, trying to keep a modicum of control. “So possessive, Spymaster.”
“That,” he said, tracing his lips across the sharp lines of her jaw, “is an understatement.” A moment later, Elain found herself facing the bookshelf. He lifted the hem of her gown up to her waist, exposing her lower half. A growl guttered through his throat as he saw that she was completely bare beneath, which in hindsight had been a very risky move on her part.
“No panties? I swear to the gods, Elain, it’s like you’re begging for a punishment,” he rasped.
A strangled whimper escaped her throat. His dominant words, the dark promise they held, and the undeniable fact that she really wanted to know what kind of punishment he had in mind had her pussy throbbing hotly. Moisture dripped down her thighs, and she knew it was obvious to Azriel that she was absolutely and utterly soaked. No foreplay necessary.
He spread her cheeks wide for a moment, inhaling raggedly, before hooking one arm around her waist and holding her tight to his board chest. She let out a pathetic mewl when she felt his thick, hard length digging into her back. His other hand gathered her long hair and pulled, just this side of rough, baring her neck to him.
“Az,” she whispered as his lips danced down her throat. His hot breath over her racing pulse sent yet another rush of heat between her legs. Instinctively, her back arched, breasts pushed up directly in his eyeline. When he noticed, he let out a low growl and grasped both of her breasts in each of his massive hands, massaging and twisting her already rock-hard nipples.
“We should go to the bedroom.” Her voice was nothing but a broken whisper as his nimble fingers started untying the laces on her bodice, lips never leaving her throat. She was beginning to think he had a slight obsession with that part of her body.
Not that she minded. Not at all.
“Someone could hear us.” A sudden nip to the center of her throat made her gasp.
“I can’t wait,” he rasped, running his hot and wet tongue sweetly over the affronted area. She let out a soft moan.
Anticipation gripped her in full force as his shadows suddenly twisted out of thin air. They wrapped around her wrists and lifted them until her fingers clung to the shelf before her. Then they disappeared as quickly as they’d come.
She inhaled sharply and tensed up when the tip of his cock slid across her folds.
He paused. "Okay?" he breathed in her ear. Her heart warmed. Despite his daunting demeanor and dark threats, he would never do anything she didn't want him to. She gave an eager nod.
“Hold on,” Azriel warned, and then he was pushing inside of her, filling her completely in one mighty thrust, and their quiet moans and groans and heavy breathing echoed throughout the library, and if anyone walked by they would no doubt hear them in the throes of pleasure, but Elain had never cared less about impropriety, had never cared about anything as much as living fully in this glorious moment of ecstasy for as long as possible -
Elain pressed up on her tip-toes, adjusting the angle ever so slightly, and on Azriel’s next thrust, he hit a spot inside of her that sent waves of tingling pleasure all throughout her body.“Ohhhh,” Elain moaned. Her center clenched greedily around his member, like it was refusing to ever let go of such a good and wonderful thing.
“I can feel you milking my cock,” Azriel groaned. “Just like - fuck, just like that,” he panted out when she squeezed him again, intentionally this time. She loved how good it felt, how right, but she loved how it unraveled him even more.
“Oh gods,” she said breathlessly. “I missed you.”
Elain stiffened. She hadn’t meant to say it. Hadn’t meant to say anything at all, but the words had poured out of her mouth anyway, and now she couldn’t take it back. It wasn’t like she didn’t mean it, but it sounded so…coupley. And she might not know where she and Azriel stood relationship-wise, but she knew they were most certainly not a couple.
But Azriel just leaned forward and kissed her temple. “Is that right?” he asked, his movement sweeter and slower now. “You missed my cock buried deep inside your little wet pussy?”
“Yes,” she said as her body began to shake, the pleasure threatening to destabilize her. Azriel’s grip on her waist tightened as he held her up.
“Did you think about this when I was gone? Did you think about how full I make you feel?”
“Every night,” she breathed back, eyes rolling to the back of her head as his balls slapped against her clit on his next stroke.
Suddenly, Azriel ceased moving. He took his hands off her and stepped backward until the only part of him that touched her was tip of his length still inside of her slit, the most torturous of teases.
“Show me what you thought about, ‘Lain. Show me how much you thought about fucking that sweet, juicy cunt on my big cock.”
Lust-riddled and desperate for release, Elain did the only thing that she could: she began moving backwards, fucking herself on his rigid member, clutching onto the wooden edge of the bookshelf like it was a lifeline.
“Gods, that’s sexy,” he moaned roughly, which made her moan in turn. “So perfect, Elain. You always feel so perfect I can hardly believe it.”
And then, as if he couldn’t control himself, he gripped her hips and thrust forward into her with a vengeance. His mouth found a groove between her neck and chin and sucked relentlessly.
That was all Elain needed to fall over the edge. The orgasm hit her fast and hard, and she barely registered the obscene noises coming out of her mouth as she rode out the waves of ecstasy. Azriel, unable to hold out any longer now that her pussy was throbbing around him uncontrollably, came inside her shortly after.
After a moment of heavy breathing, Azriel scooped her up in his arms. The force of her climax had exhausted her completely, and her eyes were still closed. Azriel twisted, and when Elain finally opened her eyes, she saw not the library but her bedroom.
With heart wrenching gentleness, Azriel laid her down on the bed. She didn’t hesitate before she gripped his arm and tugged him forward. “Stay,” she said. And he didn’t hesitate to climb in immediately after.
She curled against his chest, something settling deep within her. He mindlessly began stroking her hair. She hummed in pleasure, and within a minute was out cold.
Azriel watched her sleep for a moment, reveling in her decadent serenity.
“I missed you, too, you know,” he murmured, even though he knew she could not hear him. “So fucking much.”
And with that, he continued stroking her hair.
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