The Great British Bake Off was the most-watched television show in the UK, and Elain Archeron has just gained the highly converted position of as contestant.
6 months ago when she applied, the quiet Archeron sister never imagined that she would ever be selected. She applied on a whim with confidence borrowed from her 2 sisters. But now she was here in the quiet countryside all alone in the bake-off tent with harsh criticism from Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. Elain is ready to give up. She misses her garden and her sisters. She is trying as hard as she can and isn’t sure how long she can stop the tears from falling. Her only saving grace is that of the quiet, dark-haired and beautiful crew member, Azriel.
Azriel has been working on the crew of The Great British Bake Off for over 5 seasons, he expected this year to be just like the last 5. But it’s different. He met Elain Archeron. He was tongue-tied, not sure how to talk to the most beautiful woman he’d ever met. He had heard the stories of love at first sight and true love, but he never imagined that it was real. But as he stared at the beautiful contestant, he was in love.
A friendship is formed, memories are made, and maybe Azriel was wrong and true love does exist.
Sneak Peek at Chapter 1
Elain was running late. Her train is set to leave from platform 4 at Paddington station in exactly 4 minutes. As she looked at her phone and saw the time, she picked up her pace. She rolled her bright pink suitcase behind her and began to run. The backpack on her back jumping up and down with every step she ran.
“No, no, No. I can’t miss this train. I can’t.” She was silently cursing Mrs Reid, her next-door neighbour who demanded to know where Elain was going and why she needed such a big suitcase. Also, she had to explain that her younger sister Feyre would be in her flat twice a day to feed her cat, Xander. Mrs Reid, a retired 85 window was the nosiest woman on the street. And if she didn’t warn her, Feyre would most likely be visited by the police with Elain’s neighbour suspecting a break-in. Because of that, and because Elain couldn’t give her neighbour a proper answer of her whereabouts this weekend, the old woman wouldn’t let her go. But Elain couldn’t tell her where she was going because it was a secret. Well, not a secret. But she had signed an NDA. She was a contestant on the UK’s favourite TV show, The Great British Bake Off.
“2 minutes,” Elain said to herself as she moved to a run. Ticket in hand, she got to the gate and thrust the paper into the machine. The gates opening. And with a sigh, Elain ran down the platform towards her train. “I’m going to make it, I’m going to make it.”
As Elain slipped her ticket into her bag she ran as fast as she could. Any minute now she would hear the whistles and her train would be gone. Not looking where she was going she was suddenly was stopped and she was flying through the air, her feet catching on a large set of black suitcases. Everything moving in slow motion as her suitcase skidded off down the platform and she readied herself for a painful fall to the hard ground.
Elain squeezed her eyes closed expecting the pain to radiate through her body, instead, a hand moved to her waist saving her from her demise.
“What?” She said not sure what was happening. Elain opened her eyes and looked up at a man. A tall man with dark hair, almost black and a well-built body. Her eyes landed on her savour’s face. He was beautiful. Not pretty, not handsome. He was beautiful. Not a word used to describe a man. But this man. He was drop-dead beautiful.
“Are you okay?” The man asked as he pulled Elain to her feet. His hands still on her waist.
Caught in a daze, Elain looked up at this man. Her voice was stuck in her throat as she just stared at him.
“Are you alright?” He said again, a sense of worry in his voice.
Elain shook her head. “Yes, yes. You … you saved me.” She said still staring into his beautiful hazel eyes.
The sound of a whistle pulled Elain from her saviour. “No, no, no!” She said quickly looking towards the train. “No!” She yelled even louder trying to locate her suitcase. It should be easy to find. A bright pink suitcase. Where was it? She couldn’t see it.
“Looking for this?” The man said pulling along her case.
“Yes, yes. Thank you.” She yanked the suitcase from the stranger and ran back towards the train. “Thank you, for saving me …… and finding my suitcase. But I have to catch this train.”
Elain turned away from the man and ran towards the train. The doors were closing and her heart raced.
“Wait.” She hears the man behind her say. He was running after her. His large case that she tripped over behind him. But Elain couldn’t look back. She had to get on this train. She flung herself at the first door she could reach, pulling her case after her she launched herself onto the floor of the train, her knees burning instantly and cutting on the old, rough train carpet. But she didn’t care. She had made it. The doors closed and she heard another whistle and the movement of the train.
Breathing heavily Elain smiled. She had made it. Devon, here we come.
It feels like forever ago that I posted about this story. I am sorry for anyone who was looking forward to this fic. Hopefully you like this little meet-cute. I am hoping to upload chapter 1 early next week. @1islessthan3books @123moiaussi @aconfusedkoalalover @onceupona-chaos @illyrian-lover-flower
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Sometimes i ask myself If I'm dumb for seeing elriel endgame hints, the majority of the Acotar fandom seems to trully believe gw*nriel will happen, then i remeber it is the Acotar fandom and i never found such dumb beings in the world as they are, then i chill and wait for elriel endgame confimation
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Elain and Azriel holding hands
I'm doing this because it seems people believe Az doesn't want to touch Elain because of his hands. Well...
Azriel, graceful as any courtier, offered her an arm. I couldn't tell if she was looking at his blue Siphon or at his scarred skin beneath as she breathed, "Beautiful."
Color bloomed high on Azriel's golden-brown cheeks, but he inclined his head in thanks and led my sister toward the back doors into the garden, sunlight bathing them.
"I can help her," said Azriel, stepping to the table as Elain silently rose. No shadows at his ear no darkness ringing his fingers as he extended a hand.
Nesta monitored him like a hawk, but kept silent as Elain took his hand, and out they went.
... Then Azriel, gently taking Elain's hand in his own, as if afraid his scars would hurt her.
"It has never failed me once," the shadowsinger said, the midday sun devoured by the dark blade. "Some people say it is magic and will always strike true." He gently took her hand and pressed the hilt of the legendary blade into it. "It will serve you well."
Elain looked up at Azriel their eyes meeting, his hand still lingering on the hilt of the blade.
But Elain had given it back- had pressed it into Azriel's hands after the battle just as he had pressed it into hers before.
And some extras that involve hands but not in the hand-holding way.
But Azriel only took Elain's heavy dish of potatoes from her hands, his voice soft as night as he said, "Sit. I'll take care of it."
He knew it was wrong, but there he was, sliding the necklace around her. Letting his scarred fingers touch her immaculate skin. Letting them brush the side of her throat, savoring the velvet-soft texture. Elain shivered, and he took a damn long time fastening the clasp.
Azriel's fingers lingered at her nape, atop the first knob of her spine. Slowly, Elain pivoted into his touch. Until his palm lay flat against her neck.
It had never gone this far. They'd exchanged looks, the occasional brush of their fingers, but never this. Never blatant, unrestricted touching.
Never say Elain balks from touching him, because she wants him to touch her.
Never say she doesn't like his hands, because she actually loves them.
Never ever say Azriel doesn't get over his own hatred or what he thinks of his hands just to touch her.
They like each other, deal with it.
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Why They’re Important for Endgame
Ever since I read this post by @breaking-shadows a few days ago (you should all read it, it’s amazingly explained and incredibly analyzed!!!), I’ve been aching to add my own two cents from what I know as an aspiring writer, too. @breaking-shadows does a great job of showing you how the Stakes have built up from the start regarding Elriel and I will try to explain, to the best of my capabilities, what Stakes are, a few types of Stakes, how we see them in Elriel, and why that helps me confidently (99% because in the end SJM can do whatever) say that Elriel is endgame.
Because I’m not a published author or writing expert, I’m going to cite people who are and attach the links to the pages where I got the info from, in case you’d like to learn more or simply corroborate. This way no one can say I, as a newb, cannot be trusted.
This is going to be a long ass post, you were warned.
“Every story must have stakes. Stakes (especially high ones) keep the plot moving, keep the characters growing and changing, and keep your readers engaged.” – Claire Bradshaw
First: What are Stakes?
Editor Clair Bradshaw says that Stakes refer to what a character stands to lose or gain. It is literally what is at stake. If a character wants to rob a bank, for example, what is at stake for them? If they get caught, they have to serve prison time. Perhaps if they do not rob the bank, they will not be able to feed their family. What if they were being forced to rob a bank by an outsider? Is their family in danger if they do not rob the bank? Do you get where I’m going?
Rob the bank and fail: jail and hurt kin. Rob the bank and succeed: money to survive and safe kin. These are Stakes.
Some questions to ask (to identify the Stakes) are:
What does the character stand to lose / gain?
What do they want and what stands in the way of getting it?
What are they risking?
When are the Stakes not high enough?
When what they stand to gain/lose is nothing or not very important.
When the external consequences and repercussions of the character’s actions are non-existent.
And when the story that is being told does not define or is not life-changing for the character.
Second: Types of Stakes
Donald Maass (novelist and head of the Donald Maass Literary Agency) and C. S. Lakin (multipublished novelist and writing coach) identify three types of Stakes:
These stakes “illustrate why this goal and the action that must be performed to that end matters in a profound and personal sense.” These are connected to the main character. What do they want? How does getting or not getting it affect them? These Stakes do not affect any other characters but themselves.
These stakes are the ones that “test the limits of the character’s conviction.” What do they have to overcome? Do they want it enough to fight for it? How many obstacles are in the way?
These are “things that can go wrong in so many different ways” and that promise “even bigger disasters that will happen if the hero doesn’t make matters come out OK.” These Stakes affect the world at large and other characters besides the main one(s).
Third: Where are the Stakes in Elriel?
Now that my impromptu writing class is over (lol), let us analyze the current Stakes in Elriel, shall we? (For a deeper analysis of how the Stakes built-up over the books refer to @breaking-shadows’s post.) There may be some I missed, which do feel free to comment!
Personal stakes (ones that affect the character itself):
Choice – Elain. We have seen throughout the books how Elain’s choice has been constantly taken away from her: being turned fae, Greysen, living in Prythian, etc. Where she currently stands, the narrative has presented yet again how choice is being snatched away from her. We know she wants Az, but can she choose him? Will she allow her choice to be snatched from her again? Will she fight for her right to choose and choose Azriel?
Healing/Self-esteem – Azriel. Though there is a journey of healing to be had for Elain, too, I feel like that journey has begun since Acofas, whereas from Az’s chapter we know that Azriel does not think too highly of himself and that he does not believe he deserves Elain. This is a personal issue he must resolve either with her or by himself, but he needs to sort through that.
Happiness – Both. Yes, happiness. If Elriel is the route SJM will take, both Elain and Azriel have their heart at stake. They both want each other and ignoring that for the world’s sake will conclude in their misery.
Past Love Interests – Both. Though we, the readers, know neither Mor nor Greysen are candidates for Az and Elain respectfully anymore, they need to let us know if they are completely over them. Are their past desires going to surface in their story, or have they found closure within themselves?
Misunderstandings – Both. Okay, here comes in Gwyn and that darn necklace. I know Gwynriel stans hate it when we mention her as a plot device, but if Elriel is going to be endgame, Gwyn is going to serve a function in it whether you like it or not, otherwise what was the point of SJM adding her to the chapter. Gwyn does not have to be used by Azriel to keep the plot moving. She could be a friend, but I’m sure her character will provoke tension. Elain doesn’t know who she is and probably will read incorrectly into it when she sees her with Az. Not even to mention when she sees the necklace on Gwyn.
Ultimate Stakes (the obstacles):
The mating bond – Elain. This obstacle is the catalyst for the rest of the Stakes that are going to be mentioned below and half of the ones mentioned above. Without the mating bond, Azriel and Elain would’ve already been together by now, but where is the fun in that? 😏 Will Elain reject the bond? Does she know she can do this? If so, why hasn’t she? What does she know that we don’t? There is a lot to be explored from this. The rejection of a mating bond is a plot we have yet to read. This would add spice to what we know and help with the questions a lot of us have regarding the Acotar universe.
The High Lord’s order – Azriel. Let’s face it, Rhysand was not the one giving the order, it was the High Lord of Night. Az himself recognizes his friend pulled rank. This is a major obstacle to overcome. Will Azriel go around his High Lord’s order (something he has never done), or does he not want Elain enough to fight for her, for what they could have? What repercussions could it bring if Azriel breaks the rules? How will that affect the dynamic between the IC? You cannot deny this sounds exciting. The drama this could unfold is out of this world.
Public Stakes (world-altering):
The Blood Duel. This Stake has the potential to unfold in civil war between Autumn and Night. Though I believe Lucien will never declare a Blood Duel for Elain if she explains how she feels (he is noble and galant at heart), Beron is aching for a fight and I assume he will force his hand. Could he himself declare the Blood Duel just for the war he wants to unleash? Could this lead to his death and Eris’ promotion to High Lord? Will Azriel fight to the death with a High Lord of Prythian? Could he kill Lucien for real if the male is forced to fight for a mate that does not want him? Could Elain herself fight in the duel for her choice (that is a post for another day)? What will this mean in the overarching plot? How will it affect other courts’ relations to the Night Court? The potential is endless.
Fourth: Why I believe Elriel is endgame according to the stakes
Listen, as you have already learned, stakes are important propellers of a story, and good stakes mean good plot. The higher the stakes, the more readers are going to want to watch the tension and drama unfold.
Elriel has a lot of them.
They have enough to move the plot of a single book: the personal stakes move the romance plot, the ultimate stakes keep the angst, and the public stakes connect the overarching plot to the previous books. Not to mention whatever storyline SJM creates to get the characters together (like the Spy!Elain theory connected to the Dusk Court theory). It sounds too well thought out to be something an author would dismiss to have the characters join with the easier choices.
Sure, Elucien and Gwynriel have their own stakes (which I could explore if you guys want me to), but they are mostly personal and not as world-altering and character-defining as Elriel’s. Plus, when you ask the questions from the first part of this post, the stakes just aren’t high enough for Elucien’s and Gwynriel’s journeys (there are absolutely no obstacles for them) unless there is something SJM hasn’t told us yet.
The stakes have been building since Acomaf and have reached their peak in the Azriel chapter. I cannot, for the life of me, imagine an author adding stake after stake to a relationship just to anticlimactically ignore them. As a writer it just does not make any sense to me, and as I reader I would be really angry if Sarah does not exploit the potential within that route.
With that said, this would be me @ SJM if she goes with the easier choices for Elain and Azriel:
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Azriel looking at her gift from Elain✨
I just couldn't resist not drawing this little Elriel.
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Cassian: Az, Truth or Dare?
Cassian: Kiss the prettiest person in the room
Gwyn *blushing*: Yes?
Azriel: Can you move? Elain's behind you
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There are some things that I find quite surprising about Truth-Teller. First, it's black and has runes engraved (we know made objects are black) and second it's what Az says about the dagger and how he doesn't let anyone touch it (with the exception of Elain).
Notice this scene, for example. Mor was saying that Az probably has a drawer full of daggers she has given to him over the centuries, and Feyre asks if Az would ever give up Truth-Teller, give up as in "he won't use it anymore" or "to someone else". To that, Mor says "he gave it to Elain". To me that implies that Mor doesn't believe he would ever give up Truth-Teller but that he gave it to Elain anyway, for her to use, and she either finds it amusing or there's something she knows about that.
Then Feyre remembers Elain giving the dagger back and pressing it into Az's hand the same way he did to her and then she turns around and doesn't look back. Many antis could say that's why this particular exchange doesn't mean anything but I don't think the same. First, she put it into his hands the same way he did to her, and second, Az said when he gave it to her:
"I won't be using it today- so I want you to."
He was clear, he said she could use it that day, and I think Elain understood that and considering she notices Az, she saw how important the dagger is to him even if no one told her. And I'm pretty sure she knows by now how important that moment was, and not for nothing that moment was brought up in Acofas.
Elain turned around without looking back, why? Because its not hers and because she accomplished what she had to do and because she had to give it back. That's it, it's not her dagger, it's Azriel's. And again: she did so in a sweet and soft way, the same way he put Truth-Teller in her hands.
He gently took her hand and pressed the hilt of the legendary blade into it.
After all this Mor just humms to herself... Still think this female doesn't know what's up?
Also important to say and something I noticed rereading Az's scenes with Truth-Teller is that it's an item that makes him feel calm. Whenever there's danger he grabs Truth-Teller first, if he's bored or has nothing else to do he sharpens the blade, always taking care of it. And when he tortures people he always uses the dagger. If Mor is right and he has tons of daggers he could easily use another one to torture, but he only uses this one and I think this is because of its powers.
"It has never failed me once."
Maybe that means he hasn't missed at all when hurting someone, or maybe it's because he can always get the truth out of prisoners whenever he uses it. I think both situations are right.
So, and I know this has been mentioned a lot, this particular exchange is SO important, it marks a before and after in Elain and Azriel's relationship and in his feelings.
"The only bridge of connection... That knife."
The knife that never fails him, the blade that he never lets anyone touch, the blade that always strikes true. You realize, since the moment he got Truth-Teller, he was NEVER away from it with the exception of THIS moment?
There's absolutely no way that after more than 500 years of having the blade (because Az is like 550+ yo) and never giving it to anyone, that this means nothing. I know he felt a pull, I know he felt a connection and that's why he gave his most prized possession to Elain. And the text even says this. It says that their bridge of connection is that knife. What bridge? The only bridges described in the Acotar world without it being actual bridges, are mating bonds. Maybe they have some other type of bond? I know there's some especial bond both of them share, I just don't know what it is.
I can't help but picture Azriel battling in the war without his knife and trusting Elain with it when he was never away from it even for one moment. Was he anxious because he didn't have Truth-Teller? I hope we find out.
This is what I was talking about, Az uses Truth-Teller as some kind of comfort object. While he's waiting he's sharpening the blade (this happens too in a scene with Feyre in Acowar).
I also noticed his shadows start to gather around him when he says "It suits me." Honestly I wonder if this is because before that he said that spying is waiting for the right moment, and if - it might be a stretch - he was thinking about Elain, because we know that in Acosf he has to stay away, but we also know he wants something with her even if he doesn't let himself think about it. And by this moment he had already had that awful conversation with Rhys, and we also know Az doesn't give up easily.
Well, anyway, let's move on. And this is the part (and I already made a post about this) that makes me think Truth-Teller has real powers.
Az was with Truth-Teller in his hand, and even the name says "truth". And funny enough, he says the truth here.
"You'd know if she'd died," - "Right here - you'd know, Cass."
How does he know that? He doesn't have a mate and if he had one over the centuries and she had died everyone would have known because he would have gone crazy... Or does he? When was the only time Az was crazy at the possibility that someone was in danger, hurt or dead? And he risked his life even when someone told him he would die?
Yep, it was when Elain was captured by Hybern. And also, she had chains around her wrists that glowed purple, and if there was a connection to Az and her powers were contained by the chains, that connection must have gone mute. And we know this has happened a few times over the books when it comes to bonds and magic interfering. I don't think Az by this point had realised there was a connection with her, but I do think he felt something in him stirr and that's why he thought of Elain first and risked his life.
After this he gives her Truth-Teller, the blade he doesn't let anyone touch, just to keep her safe because he trusts it and he can't fight. After. This. Rescuing. Scene.
Mind you, Mor told him not to fight just before this, and he still loved her at this precise moment. That's why he didn't try at this point... But he also felt a pull towards Elain. Huh.
Can you really say after all this, that there isn't a connection between Azriel and Elain?
He was so bothered by the possibility that he couldn't be there and that she would be defenseless that he did that.
And it all connects to Acosf and Azriel knowing where exactly Cass would feel if anything happened to Nesta.
Az already knew, because he felt it once.
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Look at this!!! 🥺😭💔
Art by @kierqe ✨
Click for better quality. 🌹
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Azriel smiled faintly. “Would you like me to show you the garden?”
She seemed so small before him, so fragile compared to the scales of his fighting leathers, the breadth of his shoulders. The wings peeking over them. But Elain did not balk from him, did not shy away as she nodded—just once. Azriel, graceful as any courtier, offered her an arm. -ACOWAR, Chapter 24
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What Cassian wanted VS what Azriel wants
Foreshadowing and friendly reminder
Something I noticed while rereading the Az bonus chapter and Wings & Embers, besides the obvious similarities that I won’t be mentioning because there are posts about this already. To be honest I don’t know if this has been pointed out before but I have to share it.
In Wings & Embers we have a Nessian scene that went from purely political to really hot even for a YA novel. And there’s a direct parallel to the Elriel scene in Az’s bonus chapter.
Cassian wanted Nesta to touch him, funny thing is that the first real romantic interaction and kiss both of them had ended up with Nesta touching him and making him finish.
Whereas in the Az bonus chapter it was Az who wanted to pleasure Elain and see what sounds she would make as he entered her.
I can’t help but think that just as it was with Nessian, this is exactly what’s going to happen first with Elain and Azriel, you know? Foreshadowing, if you will.
Also friendly reminder because both chapters exist and as both ended up in a bad way we're getting the problem solved as it was with Nessian.
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Elain Will Fight the Blood Duel Herself
As sexy as the thought of Azriel fighting to the death for Elain sounds (I am a sucker for males showing their love for their females in life-threatening situations like these), I think that Elain herself fighting the blood duel sounds like something the books have been preparing us for, and more along the lines of SJM’s stories anyways. Plus, we already have seen Azriel rescue/fight for Elain before —when he went for her in Hybern.
I have been thinking about writing this ever since I did the “Elriel Stakes” post and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I feel like I can’t be the first one to think about this theory, especially since so many of you have written or contributed to the Spy!Elain, Sleeping Beauty, and Dusk Court theories. All of them depict Elain as a self-sufficient badass, which she totally is, who is capable of sneaking around, saving Azriel (our casted Sleeping Beauty –lol– by @silver-flames ) and restoring a whole court! Therefore, I feel like I am just highlighting what others have perhaps already thought about.
However, I haven’t read any post saying it out right, so here I am. 😊
Elain is seen by a vast majority of the fandom as this delicate glass doll who needs protection and coddling. That would be okay —even expected— if Acowar-Elain hadn’t shown us a different side to her. Granted, in more than half the book Elain is in a trance, heavily impacted by her trauma and not understanding the visions she gets. But after Azriel, her mate, brings her back to reality she recovers, Elain shows us a new side of her that we hadn’t seen before. She didn’t begin to show claws in Acosf, like Nesta believes. She started way before.
And this whole conversation:
We had these gems:
Even while being rescued from Hybern, Elain helps rescue Briar. I want to point out that Elain’s hands where tied by magic chains and her arms were looped around Az’s neck, so for her to grab on to the girl... I just imagine it must have been difficult and most likely painful. Also, let us appreciate the command full of authority that came out of Elain’s mouth. (Our High Lady in action!)
If Elain had been crying with ugly sobs and scared to death during this whole scene, no one would’ve had the right to judge her. She had been kidnapped and probably eyed by half of Hybern’s soldiers (she was in her nightgown). It would have been okay if we’d expected her to go back to her trance-like state. However, our “delicate” Elain showed a coolness and calculated mind during this whole ordeal. She thought about the safety of the other girl even though it could have damned both her and Azriel.
Also, she was quick on her feet (quite literally):
Note how the other girl screams and compare how Elain did not think twice before she began to kick at the hound’s face with her bare feet. If that does not scream badass, I don’t know what does. And it agains depicts how alert and cool-minded she was instead of the frightened girl she had every right to be (like Briar).
Elain had not been afraid in the face of danger (did you, too, think about Simba and his “I laugh in the face of danger” moment? No? Was it just me? Okay...). Moments before the hound and saving Briar, Feyre notices:
That girl looked as calm as if Azriel himself had trained her to keep a neutral expression and think things through. She had been gagged seconds before, but now she was calmly awaiting to see what Az and Feyre would do to get them out.
I just cannot help but picture that same attitude on her while she stands before her opponent in the blood duel (whoever it turns out to be) and calculates how best to attack.
Then we have a scene of her actually KILLING the king of Hybern:
Look, say what you will, but I think Nesta gets all the credit for doing something she would have never been able to do if Elain hadn’t stabbed the king’s neck. Why Elain is barely brought up when people talk about the war, I will never understand, because she was the real Kingslayer. She killed the Fae king. With zero remorse. Even though it was to safe her sister, I would have thought the fact that she ended a life would have affected her in some way (perhaps if did, but she didn’t show it). This is when I think, “are there really people out there who think Elain is too soft for Azriel and what he does?” She killed Hybern’s king and went right back to gardening like nothing, y’all. Think about that before you say my girl’s too soft to stomach what Azriel does.
Now I’m going to bring out the big guns. These two moments are key for me to say she will fight for herself before letting anyone (especially the male she loves: Azriel) endanger their lives for hers.
This scene is mostly used by fans to illustrate how Elain will reject/does not believe in the mating bond. But I have always seen this moment as a stand. The fact that she knows she belongs to no one, that she will be with who she chooses for herself, is incredibly powerful. She’s her own boss. If there is anyone who would fight for her, it’s herself because that is who she responds to. You feel me? And if anyone will fight for her freedom, it will be Elain herself, because not being allowed to reject the mating bond is akin to chains locking her to a master. She will be the first to break those chains.
Do I really have to go on?
For me, this was straight up foreshadowing. The blood duel is a fight to the death between two males claiming a female. This quote (directly from her lips) tells me one thing: she will not allow that. Elain will not let Azriel and Lucien (or whoever) fight over who gets her. She doesn’t belong to either, even if both turn out to be her mates.
She will fight over getting herself. She will fight for her freedom. For her choice. That quote says everything... At least, I’m super sold on the idea.
Additionally, when we analyze the other sisters’ journeys, they fought their battles themselves. Feyre did the trials for Amarantha and later destroyed the Spring Court (from the inside) by herself. Nesta fought Lanthys and participated in the Blood Rite (saving her sisters and Cassian) herself. They both had help from the bat boys, but so will Elain. Azriel will play an important part in training her, readying her for whatever (Spy!Elain yay!). But the final fight will be hers alone.
The other girls from ToG? Same pattern. Even Elide, who is the most similar to Elain (I believe) in how she seemed delicate, was still always super capable of fighting her own battles, and she even saved someone important to her, against all odds (no spoilers just in case).
I can’t talk about CC because I haven’t read that one... 😬😕
In conclusion, Elain will be her own hero. She will stand up against whoever challenges her to gain her freedom. Or she will challenge someone (Beron! Beron! -just me chanting) herself. It won’t be easy and she’ll probably be all physically hurt in the process, but that is part of the angst. Nonetheless, she will win thanks to Az’s and her besties’ “the wraiths” help.
This Blood Duel business has too much potential. Let me know what you guys think! 😊
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Why do people think that Azriel believing that he isn't worthy of Elain means they're not endgame or "toxic"?
Like...Do you remember how Rhys was with Feyre?
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YALL MY FRIEND @/diielliee (tw and ig) DID THIS FOR ME. HOPE YOU LOVE IT AS MUCH AS I DO💕💕
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Right now I'm just wondering when, where and how Elain will say Azriel's name the first time.
Is it going to be because they ran into each other and she says something like "Azriel..."?
Or is it going to be after the first time they kiss? Like we/they got interrupted but I can easily see this happening afterwards.
Or it might be during/after the first time they lay with each other... You know wink wink.
Or my favorite one: Elain saving Azriel and screaming his name when he's taken/hurt. Like Nesta did with Cassian.
Or my other favorite one: Elain saying to Koschei "Don't touch Azriel, he's mine".
OK I LOVE the last one.
And there's another one that could be if Elain confronts Rhys about the Solstice scene "What did you say to Azriel?". It would be even more amazing if Az was there and he heard.
And I also NEED that the first time Elain says it, it's from Azriel's PoV. We can't have it any other way. I need to know what he feels or thinks when she says it.
I'm a firm believer, too, that the first time she says his name it will have a huge significance in both their lives. And I'm almost certain Az's heart might skip a beat or that we will finally have Az's breath hitching.
Anyway, I can't stop thinking about this.
Also, I know Elain wrote Azriel's name on his Solstice present, but she still hasn't said it out loud... I wonder why.
I'm going to keep imagining scenes like these for the next 2 years, apparently.
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A Comparrison between Az’s Chapter and Cassian’s Chapters in Acofas
Today I found myself inspired by @thereaderspeaks ‘s post and what I had to add about it, to write this long-ass post comparing Az’s chapter in Acosf to Cassian’s three chapters in Acofas.
@rhyssescups does an amazing job in this post (and @psychee92 in this one) of comparing Az’s chapter to Cassian’s POV in Wings and Embers. I’ll also attach @psychee92 ‘s comparison of both batboys’ attitudes after their respective solstices. But I’m going to concentrate on Az’s POV and Acofas rather than Wings and Embers.
There are a LOT of things in common, so when you add the posts linked above to this one, you’ll see how Azriel’s emotions and his interaction with Gwyn mirror those of Cassian. Everyday I find more peace of mind regarding Elriel.
Before I begin, I want to clarify that Emerie is not in Wings and Embers, but on Cassian’s perspective in Acofas. I had seen many people on Tumblr and on Twitter saying (by mistake) that she’s in W&E, so I wanted to point that out. It is Mor who is mentioned in W&E. How Cassian does not want to tell her about Nesta, etc. For more on that, check out the links I attached above.
There are many elements that Cassian and Azriel share in their chapters and I decided to divide them into categories. I’ll support them with quotes so that we have the receipts. With that said…
Let’s get started!
In both instances there was something that separated the couples and caused distance.
In Cassian’s case it was post-war-Nesta and even Cassian himself (it was pride that kept him ignoring her all through the party until he couldn’t take it anymore and ran after her, simple as that):
In Azriel’s case it was his understanding of what he feels for Elain and the fact that she has a mate. But also, let’s add Rhys’s order as a new element that will cause distance.
Cassian did not allow himself to think about Nesta because of the feelings that stirred up in him.
Anger, passion, confusion.
Well, well, well... What do we have here?
Anger, passion, confusion.
He was ready to spar it out of his system, too, like Cassian.
3. Something the batboys associate with their mate Archeron sister
I noticed that in both cases, Cass and Az had given their girls something that they associated with them, be it material or other.
For example, Cassian’s was names for Nesta’s poses.
He saw Nesta stand in any particular way and if it was something she repeated he gave that pose a name. It is something he associates with her.
In Azriel’s case, we know he gives Elain a rose necklace.
Roses signify Elain because of what she does: gardening; But also, it could simply represent them. Their way of spending time together (here’s a post of different refences of Elriel in the garden by @silver-flames) and their relationship that has been slowly blooming in secret, like how that charm shines with colors when it’s in the light, but looks ordinary in the dark.
4. The batboys hurting the sisters
In both POVs the Illyrians hurt the Archerons.
Cassian does it out of anger. Because Nesta kept rejecting him. Instead of holding his tongue, like any mature person should, he tells her something that destroys her (we know by her reaction).
See how her eyes go empty?
Well, in his chapter, Azriel hurts Elain, too, though it pains him as much as it pains her because he did not do it intentionally.
5. The sisters rejecting/returning the gifts
Nesta rejects Cassian’s gift, though I wouldn’t have taken it either after what he told her. This quote comes from before his insult, but my point is that she left without taking the gift.
Also, notice how Cassian hadn’t wanted to give Nesta her present in front of the others, something that Azriel does, too, though for different reasons. Cassian had feared rejection and had been waiting for her to approach him.
Azriel had not given Elain her present because Lucien, her mate, was there.
And of course, Elain returns her gift after Azriel left her standing in the hall with the words “this was a mistake.” I wouldn’t have stayed with that necklace either, not when it reminded me of that moment.
Something particular that happens in both characters’ PoV is the regifting of the objects the batboys used to relate to their girls. I do not think they are necessarily wrong, just that it happens.
Cassian uses the name of one of Nesta’s poses to describe Emerie.
He also compares her way of speaking and the look in her eyes to that of Nesta.
Azriel regifts the necklace that represents Elain to Gwyn (though he doesn’t give it to her personally, just hands it to Clotho for her to do it), and describes her with the same quote he used on the necklace (Elriel).
I have my own theory on why the thought of her smile makes him smile. Soon I will explain.
7. Getting rid of the gifts (decisions made in haste)
Cassian being all impulsive and throwing the very expensive and extremely unique gift to the Sidra:
Gotta love our hotheaded overgrown bat. (My baby!! <3)
Then, we have Az making the dumb decision of regifting the present because somehow he couldn’t get rid of it (symbolism but not the post for it).
He was in a bad place when he made the decision, and even Clotho points out that his eyes are sad.
The quote in purple is important to note. The theory about Clotho not giving Gwyn the necklace? That line is good for it. The fact that he told Clotho to give the necklace to anyone as long as he didn’t have it and the sadness she gleaned in his eyes is enough for her to know there is more to it than what he tells her.
I also want to point out that we know for a fact that Cassian regretted getting rid of the present and that he knows he had been foolish that night. So, considering how parallel to each other these chapters are, I’m sure that Azriel will, too.
8. Distraction/Consolation (Aftermath)
I think it is important to highlight how Cassian got to the Townhouse late and was followed by a worried Mor, who most likely consoled him after his disastrous evening with Nesta...
...and compare it to how Azriel had needed to release unspent energy and was successfully distracted from his bad juju by the short lesson he gave to Gwyn:
He straight up says he’s thankful for the distraction. That was what the whole convo had been for him -in a good sense.
It also aligns super well with @silverlinedeyes ‘s theory of Gwyn being a lightsinger in how they appear to people when they are lost. Gwyn was there when Azriel needed someone (even just to distract him), be it coincidence or not, and that cannot be ignored.
If Gwyn does take on a role in Acotar 5, I think it will have a lot to do with being his friend and confidant (and trainee), someone who will help him figure out what to do about his situation, just like how she unknowingly helped him on solstice.
9. Empathy towards the Valkyries
Another parallel that I found in the chapter is how Cassian felt empathy for Emerie’s situation upon looking at her...
...and how Azriel’s interaction with Gwyn brought about the same reaction:
This is what I was talking about earlier. Notice how he sees her pain and grief and prefers when she’s happy to when she’s sad? Who wouldn’t want that? That is the same mentality I apply to his smile at the thought of her smiling. That he is glad that something would make her happy after what she has been through. Especially after remembering her past (within the last three pages).
10. Emerie and Gwyn’s attitudes
This was super curious for me! Look at how both girls say goodbye to the batboys:
Emerie being a whole independent female, and Gwyn…
Literally got the same energy from them.
Gwyn finished the convo and continued her practice like the badass warrior that she is. There was no demure glance or cloy blush anywhere. The interaction was not romantic, purely platonic. Just like Emerie’s with Cassian.
11. This interesting parallel:
These two moments that are almost identical:
Cassian tells Emerie to give the Illyrians the clothes he just bought and to tell them it was the High Lord’s gift. He does it because he knows the Illyrians would not accept them if they knew they came from Cassian.
Another one (DJ khaled voice).
“Just tell her it was a gift from Rhys.”
Why does he do that? Because it wasn’t romantic and if Gwyn had known she’d have brought it up in conversation. He just wanted to be rid of it, so he gave it to her, perhaps as a way of thanking her for the distraction yesterday, but nothing more.
“If there’s another priestess here who might appreciate it, give it to them.” He didn’t care who’d have it as long as it wasn’t him.
(Wings and Embers + Acofas) Cassian = Acosf bonus chapter Azriel
That’s the real formula bestie SJM used and the receipts are here.
Azriel mirrors Cassian in emotions, actions and interactions.
Remember how Nesta Antis began shipping Cass with Emerie after their interaction in Acofas simply because they hated Nesta? Their scene had zero romantic energy, but Nesta Antis still did it.
Well, history repeats itself with Elain.
Regarding Gwyn: So far, I see no build-up to something more than a friendship. Like we explored, Az’s scene with her was similar to Cassian’s with Emerie. The differences lie in that Gwyn is more energetic than Emerie and that Az’s shadows reacted to her power (she has powers, read about it in the lighsinger theory).
There is literally nothing more I can add.
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Remember all the moments where he volunteered to help Elain around the Night Court?😭
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Elain Archeron Appreciation Week
Day 4: Favorite Ship
💕 E L A I N • & • A Z R I E L 💕
Elriel will forever be the couple I root for because of this scene. If I had to choose a moment in particular that made me believe in them being endgame, it’s this one.
Putting aside the mating bond theories, this moment is important because it happens long after we had this other conversation:
For Elain, it is vital that she is seen. And she doesn’t mean noticed, because everyone notices her. She’s the most beautiful Archeron sister, so of course she’s noticed. She means seen. As in, someone looking beyond her beautiful exterior, beyond her soft persona. Someone who would look at her and see her, everything she is, and understand her, cherish her.
That person is Azriel.
When Elain was withering away to nothing, when everyone thought there was something missing in her ever since the cauldron, Azriel was the one who saw her. The one who said there was nothing missing in her, but something gained.
He was the one who listened. The one who heard her.
Can you hear mine?
Azriel was the only one who knew she didn’t need anything, that she was perfectly well as she was.
And that is the kind of romance we love to read. The kind of romance that SJM gives us.
So how could I not ship Elriel? How could I not want to see Elain return the favor?
Azriel made her understand she was whole, that she was sane and well. So of course I want it to be her to tell him he is complete too and that she sees him just as he sees her.
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Azriel strode to the lone window at the end of the room and peered into the garden below. "I've never stayed in this room." His midnight voice filled the space.
"My money's on yes," Cassian said. "Want to make a wager?"
"No," Azriel said, not turning from the window.
I snorted. True
Azriel remained at the window. "Will Nesta stay here if she comes?"
"I'd still be surprised if they remember once the storm clears," Azriel said, turning from the garden window at last.
Huh...Wonder what Azriel would find so intriguing in a garden?👀
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