Elriel Month 🌸🦇
I suggest having read Day 4: Forbidden and Day 8: Invisible String before reading this one. ♥️
No one had warned her how rejecting a mating bond would feel like, but Elain didn’t feel anything as her magic nudged at that thread around her rib. It was a slow work of detangling it from her bones and reducing it to cinders from one tip to the other.
No one had ever explained how a mating bond was supposed to feel like either. Was it supposed to feel like something wrapped around you or something from within you extending outwards? This thread felt more like a lasso holding her than a glimmer of love radiating from her soul.
She’d seen Feyre and Nesta with their mates. Their happiness was overwhelming but warm. It had made Elain wonder why she couldn’t have that sort of mating bond. The one that promotes good feelings, not this one that always felt like a burden. Was it possible that there were different kinds? That Elain had been given the worst kind with a male she had no interest in? Does that mean she could’ve had the best kind with the male she was in love with?
Elain pushed her thoughts away as she remembered what day it was and that after her undoing of this mating bond, her life would begin. After her bond with Lucien was no more, she’d finish marrying Azriel.
Marrying. A wife, she’d be a wife.
Azriel had proposed to her with a ring twin to the rose necklace around her neck. A diamond in the center of a rose of stained glass. He’d asked her to marry him in the human tradition. To be his the way she had always wanted to be somebody’s. And he’d be hers the way she had expected somebody to be hers.
Elain had cried so much that her sisters had thought Azriel had done something to hurt her. But when she’d told them between sobs, they had also cried. Nesta had hugged Azriel the longest, whispering something to him that only he’d hear. But Nesta had told her later, that she’d told him she was glad it was him for Elain. That she knew how loyal he was. That she knew there wouldn’t be anything he would not do to protect and cherish Elain. That she gave her blessing happily and proudly.
Feyre simply said she’d always hoped it would end like this. That she had known.
And apologized again for what Rhys had done to keep Azriel and Elain separated.
Elain always laughed remembering the hard time Feyre gave Rhysand when she found out he had forbidden Azriel from pursuing Elain. But there was no hard feeling in her heart towards her brother and friend. Not when Rhysand had done so much for her and her family. Not when he’d apologized with tears in his eyes and hugged Azriel, who also cried telling him not to worry.
Now here she was. Just a moment away from saying “I do,” and marrying her forever love.
A tear slipped down her cheek as she finished undoing the thread. Lucien’s hand in hers went slack as that connection broke. But he didn’t scream in pain or sob with suffering. Instead, when she opened her eyes and met his gaze, a sense of freedom had enveloped both of them. Lucien frowned slightly at the lack of that thread, but he brought her hand to his lips and planted a soft kiss over her fingers.
“Be happy, Elain Archeron.” Elain gave him a smile. He returned it. “And also, thank you.”
Elain did her best not to glance towards a chair to her right where a certain red-haired Queen sat watching. The wedding was taking place at night specifically so that she could attend. Elain nodded her head and watched Lucien stroll his way to his chair on the first row before turning around to her beloved.
And just as their eyes met, everything went dark.
Nothing surrounded her except darkness and shadows. She felt them swirling around her. Then a light appeared at the end of the way.
Her never ending vision. The one that had made her understand the shadows and showed her the way to Azriel when Koschei had taken him.
The one that replayed Rhysand’s command to her shadowsinger that solstice night.
That string of gold she had once grasped before the vision had finished, made its way back to her. She reached for it and when her hand made contact with it, her heart sang in joy.
The vision did not end. She did not fall forward the way she had the last time she had touched the string.
So she took a step forward. Another. Another.
She gathered the string round her palm as she walked towards the light, shadows trailing her step and swirling before that door.
More threads of gold began to spill out of the light. She gathered those, too. Her soul purring in elated ecstasy as one by one those strings wove together. Her heartbeat turned thunderous as her mind wondered...
She stopped in front of that opening, squinting her eyes against the brightness.
Open, open, open, the shadows told her.
She saw a handle and put her hand on it. Something in her warned her that there was no going back from what lay beyond this dark hall. That once this truth was revealed, it would stay forever.
Azriel. Him. Home.
Friend. Lover. Husband.
Elain took a deep breath in.
And opened the door.
Azriel gaped at her from the altar. Tears streaming down his cheeks.
There was a heavy silence in the garden of the river house, where their ceremony was taking place. The people watched them as Azriel and Elain looked at each other.
Azriel. Him. Home.
Friend. Lover. Husband.
Elain felt it, then. That sense of joy and pride and comfort. That sense of belonging and owning. Golden threads flowing from within her towards him. No lasso of strings around her.
“A spell,” she whispered, understanding now.
Because she knew Azriel would not dare move, she took a step towards him. Another. Making her way to him like she had towards the light. He had always been at the end of that dark hall. He had always been hers, the way she had always been his.
A spell. That had been what had kept her from stepping forward, what had made her fall away from her vision that one time she touched the string. What had kept them from being together.
A spell. One she had not simply undone...
She glanced back at Lucien with the question in her eyes. He smiled softly and gave her a nod.
The son of Day, with the power to undo spells and wards. He had helped. Had understood at some point, that their connection had been fabricated, and had helped.
Elain mouthed her appreciation, and turned back to her real soul-bounded.
Azriel’s lips trembled and his eyes overflowed. She allowed her love to shine through her own eyes and closed the distance between them. She reached a hand to his face, cupped his cheek. Azriel closed his eyes.
“It’s always been you,” she said, unafraid.
“What is going on?” Cassian asked from his chair.
“Mates,” Rhysand said from the front row. Tears glistening his own cheeks, regret and sorrow shining in his eyes. “They’re mates.”
Feyre’s eyes widened, but she reached out for Rhysand’s hand with one arm while she held Nyx with the other. “Is that possible?”
“There were signs,” said Amren from her place besides Varian and Nesta. Her face contemplative, as if pondering how this was possible. “Plenty of signs.”
“A spell,” said Helion from a few chais behind Rhys. He glanced towards Lucien —his son. Lucien still kept his distance from the High Lord of Day after learning the truth, but Helion’s eyes took on a new glow as he regarded his son. No doubt piecing together that he had acquired his powers. That Elain could not have undone such a spell on her own. There was pride in the twist of his lips. The Lady of Autumn Court sat beside him, looking healthy and comfortable.
But Elain focused back on Azriel. His eyes had opened and gleamed with love and awe and wonder. He rested his forehead against hers.
“Wife,” he said.
“Mate,” she called him.
And that light within her heart pulsed with happiness.
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“The amulet tiny enough that it could be dismissed as an everyday charm.”
Or, what if Elain Made her necklace?
Please don’t screenshot this post without permission.
Disclaimer: the following is a crack theory that demanded to be written; it's a bit of fun, that's all. But if it turns out to be real, I definitely meant every word.
The golden necklace seemed ordinary - its chain unremarkable, the amulet tiny enough that it could be dismissed as an everyday charm. It was a small, flat rose fashioned of stained glass, designed so that when held to the light, the true depth of the colors would become visible. A thing of secret, lovely beauty.
“It’s beautiful,” she whispered, lifting it from the box. The golden faelight shone through the little glass facets, setting the charm glowing with hues of red and pink and white. Azriel let his shadows whisk away the box as she said softly, “Put it on me?” - ACOSF, Azriel’s bonus chapter
Elain’s necklace is a hotly contended topic. Who has it? To whom does it really belong? Will we see it again? All are questions that have been asked across the fandom, with many interesting ideas put forward in response. Cassian’s gift to Nesta the previous winter solstice was only mentioned briefly in ACOSF, and while it was very thoughtful, and tailored perfectly to Nesta herself, it remained gone after Cassian threw it into the Sidra in a fit of pique.
Given the many parallels between Cassian and Nesta’s chapter in ACOMAF, Wings and Embers, and Azriel’s bonus chapter from ACOSF, some people believe that the necklace will be brought up, for closure, but won’t play a big part in the story going forward - similar to how Nesta’s gift was handled. This may very well be the case, but I believe that the necklace, once properly reintroduced - so that the majority of the readers, who were unaware of the bonus chapter, can learn of its backstory - could become significant.
First, let’s discuss Elain’s necklace in the context of her character; I outlined how the necklace could be a metaphor for Azriel himself in this post, which I still believe to be the case, but it could also have another connotation - we know by now that SJM loves her double meanings.
A look at the colours in general, when not applied to roses, shows us that the charm glowed in a specific set of hues.
Red symbolises energy, passion, danger, good luck*
Pink symbolises femininity, playfulness, romance, youth, good health
White symbolises purity, new beginnings, insight, mourning*^ (Khaganate), healing^ (Yrene Towers' healing magic)
Gold (chain) symbolises love, compassion, passion, courage, wisdom, magic
* denotes a non-western association | ^ denotes a previous use in an SJM work
The fact that the charm is made from “stained glass” could also be relevant.
Glass can denote both fragility/vulnerability and rebirth into something - or someone - stronger, as well as protection.
Stains are colours, or marks, either intentional or not, that are imbued onto/into an object, and are hard to remove.
It’s - almost - a given that any of SJM’s heroines will experience danger and passion, while Elain is the most traditionally feminine coded character of the Archeron sisters, and is known for her compassion, wisdom, and sense of humour. Elain wants love and romance with Azriel (granted, this is not yet canon, rather an assumption based on the text that many believe will hold) and her book will herald a fresh start for her, as did Feyre and Nesta’s own stories, respectively. So far, the colours and materials used in the necklace appear to symbolise both Elain’s life to date, and her potential journey ahead.
The terms used to describe the rose that hangs from the “unremarkable” chain, “dismissed as an everyday charm” and “amulet,” appear to denote more than just a pretty piece of jewellery.
An amulet can be a good luck charm, or a ward against danger, disease or evil; essentially, it conveys protective properties.
A charm can mean to be captivating or delightful; a small ornament worn on a necklace or bracelet; to control or achieve by magic.
Elain is known to be charming, and is well-liked by almost everyone (within the series, anyway); she has acted before to protect her loved ones against harm - both as a human, and then again after she was turned into a High Fae - and I expect she will do so again, in her own book. She is subtle about it, in the same way she uses discretion in almost all aspects of her life (that we have seen), so it is easy for her “everyday” actions to be “dismissed,” yet significantly alter the course of events.
Elain convincing Nesta to become involved with the Night Court’s plot to contact the Human Queens, then maneuvering such that their house was empty of staff - for Rhys, Cassian and Azriel to safely enter - are examples of this, but perhaps the most telling instance of Elain acting to change the course of the future - one that she had perhaps Seen - was when she stepped out of a shadow and stabbed the King of Hybern in the neck with Truth-Teller, to save Nesta and Cassian’s lives, after which Nesta took the blade and decapitated the King.
“My sister Elain can convince anyone to do anything with a few smiles.” - ACOMAF, chapter 24
Elain stepped out of a shadow behind him, and rammed Truth-Teller to the hilt through the back of the king’s neck as she snarled in his ear, “Don’t you touch my sister.” - ACOWAR, chapter 74
“And do not forget that Nesta herself - and Elain, with whatever powers she has - is here. Feyre is here. All three sisters blessed by fate and gifted with powers to match your own.” - ACOSF, chapter 42
Ironically, much of the online fandom dismisses Elain’s actions as insignificant, and mocks her or her life for being boring (unremarkable, tiny), which tracks with Nesta appearing to claim that she killed the King of Hybern with “luck and rage” to Gwyn - no mention of Elain in sight. Without Elain, there would be no more Nesta or Cassian, or potentially no more Prythian. This is almost certainly intentional on SJM’s behalf, we just have to wait to see how it plays out.
SJM frequently uses the word “glow” to depict magic, and Elain is, essentially, sunlight personified. The fact that the necklace was described as glowing in three specific hues after being held to the golden faelight sounds like it could be foreshadowing that it may end up containing magic that is associated with those three colours… if I had to guess, I would choose good luck/ fortune, good health/healing, and insight/wisdom as best fitting with both Elain and the amulet/charm theme. I initially wondered if Azriel had given Elain the necklace with protective spells already worked into it - and this could definitely still be the case, as it’s a much simpler option - but the potential parallels with Nesta’s story in ACOSF, and so much pointing towards Elain’s journey being linked with secrecy and the discovery of her hidden potential made me think otherwise.
So, because I am terrible at brevity, all of the above was just a really long-winded way of me pondering that, perhaps, the glass charm could be further “stained” by Elain’s magic, rather than colour alone, to become an item that truly protects, or heals etc.
Cauldron-Gifted Magic/Fae Can Make an Object
Nesta surprised everyone, including herself, when she accidentally Made a trio of very useful weapons in ACOSF - a sword, a dagger, and the great sword Ataraxia - while “letting off some steam” at a smithy; she then proceeded to outdo herself by Making the whole House of Wind. While this was an important plot line for Nesta herself, the history lesson we received from Rhys, prompted by none other than Azriel himself, could be also applied to Elain, who is also Cauldron-Made, as well.
Amren slid her eyes to Cassian. “What happened in the shop?” “Nothing,” he said. “He let her hammer at the metal for a bit, so she could get a sense of the hard work that went into making weapons. But there was no cursing.” Rhys straightened. “Nesta hammered the blades?” “All three,” Cassian said. “First the sword, then the dagger, and then the great sword.” Rhys and Amren exchanged a look. - ACOSF, chapter 42
“Someone please explain,” Azriel said, peering at the three blades from a safe distance. Cassian forced himself to sit perfectly still as Rhys dragged a hand through his black hair. “Once, the High Fae were more elemental, more given to reading the stars and crafting masterpieces of art and jewelry and weaponry. Their gifts were rawer, more connected to nature, and they could imbue objects with that power.” Cassian instantly knew where this was headed. “Nesta put her power in those swords?” - ACOSF, chapter 42
Amren (and Rhys), who dropped many informative hints over the course of ACOSF, gave us some gems that not only taught us how objects were historically Made, but that future objects could be Made when the emotions of a Cauldron-Made fae were high.
“Who knows what she might transform you into when her emotions are high?” - ACOSF, chapter 42
Nesta, who at the time held the power of death she took from the Cauldron (and is currently left with some form of magic, we just don’t know what), is not the only Cauldron-Made fae in existence; Elain, beloved of the Cauldron, was gifted powers to match. Many suspect that her powers may be more akin to life and growth - different to Nesta’s stolen power, but complimentary in a way, and perhaps equally as raw. Elain - the gardener, the flower grower - would appear to be, theoretically, of course, the most connected to nature of them all.
Azriel said, “Nesta created a new magic sword.” “Yes,” Amren said. “Only the Great Powers could do that—Gwydion was given its powers when the High Priestess Oleanna dipped it into the Cauldron during its crafting.” Cassian’s blood chilled, waves rippling over his skin. “One touch from Nesta’s magic while the blade was still hot …” “And the blade was infused with it.” “Nesta didn’t know what she was doing,” Cassian said. “She was letting off some steam.” - ACOSF, chapter 42
Now we come to Elain. After Azriel turned her down at winter solstice, she was hurt, confused, and likely heartbroken. Of course, we don’t know the exact sequence of events that led to her necklace being back with Azriel’s pile of gifts the next morning - did she put it there straight away, or wear it as she went upstairs to her bedroom to work through her emotions? I suspect it was the latter, in which case, Elain giving the necklace back doesn’t hint that she and Azriel aren’t meant to be, or that it was rude, as some like to say. Rather, it suggests that she showed tremendous personal growth and self respect by returning the necklace, especially remembering that she kept Graysen’s ring after he broke her heart in ACOWAR.
Now to consider what emotions she could have gifted the necklace. Although she was hurt and heartbroken, Elain is canonically kind, strong and wise, so I doubt she was feeling vindictive; if anything, I imagine her thought process was similar to Nesta’s to reach “ataraxia” - Inner Peace. To conclude that she deserved better than abandonment - again - Elain probably cycled through a slew of feelings, including the aforementioned hurt and heartbreak, but then moved on to valuing herself, perhaps protecting her heart, and then a sliver of hope for the future. All of these emotions could feasibly have led to her imparting magic leaning towards healing, wisdom and fortune into the charm.
“Who knows what emotions she poured into the blades with her power? It might have shaped them into instruments of such feelings—or it might have been the catalyst to release her power. There is no way of knowing.” - ACOSF, chapter 42
I would assume that, if the necklace was Made, it wouldn't be as obviously fear-inducing as Nesta’s Trove, because Elain has always been both gentle and subtle, even before turning fae. It would stand to reason that any item she made would be less fiery than something Nesta Made, and that's not considering that a necklace is already subtler than a great sword. This could explain why Azriel didn't appear to notice anything as he had it with him in his pocket all day, before dropping it off with Clotho. But did Clotho - or anyone else - notice?
What does this mean for Elain personally, and the Inner Circle in general?
As Nesta Made her trio of weapons (a great sword for her, a sword for Feyre and the dagger for Elain, perhaps?), will Elain Make more than the necklace? A trove intended for healing and protection, rather than death?
Amren’s brows flattened. “The Dread Trove was forged by the Cauldron. Nesta possesses the Cauldron’s powers. So anything she crafts and imbues with her power becomes a new Trove. - ACOSF, chapter 42
As I mentioned in In Defence of Elain Archeron, if Beron, or Koschei himself, discovered that Elain was a Cauldron-Made Seer, she would be at risk of him trying to claim her as Lucien’s mate. If either of them discovered that she could do this - that she could create anything, turn anything, into a Made object - she would become even more sought after than as a "simple" Seer. It could be significant, then, that Azriel, Elain’s most obvious intended love interest, whether he is her "true" mate or not - and someone who has been as protective of her as Rhys and Cassian have been of their own mates - informed us that the knowledge would put Nesta in danger of either kidnapping or death; but we can be fairly certain that he was thinking of Elain, too.
Azriel said, “People will kill for this power. Either kill her to stop it, or kill us to capture her.” “Nesta forged a new Trove,” Cassian said, reining in his rage at the truth of Azriel’s words. “She could create anything.” - ACOSF, chapter 42
So, assuming that Elain did, in fact, Make her necklace as she was working through her emotions at winter solstice, before she returned it to Azriel… what now?
Did Elain return her necklace herself? Or was it taken by Azriel’s entranced shadows, or shadows of Koschei's own making, sometime after Azriel arrived at the House of Wind, but before he checked his gifts in the morning?
Who has Elain’s necklace? Did Clotho give it to Gwyn, or did she use her discretion and keep it, because she noticed that Azriel was upset about it? Did Azriel get it back when he realised he shouldn't have re-gifted it, and he suspected his actions in doing so in the first place were odd? Does Koschei's Night Court/Library mole have it, and how did they get it?
Do they know what they have in their possession? If yes, I hope it is safely with Azriel, and not with an enemy... but I'm not holding my breath.
When will it come back into play? If it's with Azriel, will he give it to Elain as soon as they act on their feelings, or will he realise that she Made it before returning it to her prior to their first mission together? Assuming that Spy Elain happens, or course. If the Night Court’s mole has it, will they use it against Elain or her family towards the end of ACOTAR 5?
How will it come back into play? Even if Gwyn has it, I don't want to (or expect to) see any confrontation between her and Elain over either the necklace or Azriel - and I'll never understand the people who do. Gwyn is friendly and sweet, while Elain is canonically compassionate and wise - she would not "turn evil" over a necklace, or a lost love. Will it be a surprise reveal by an enemy of the Night Court/Prythian? Has Azriel been carrying it around all this time, and will he realise that it has afforded him some level of protection after a dangerous operation?
What role will the necklace place in the story? Will it find its way back to Elain, and will any magical protection qualities save her, or Azriel (or someone else) as they search together for the fourth Dread Trove item? Alternatively, if an enemy has had access to it, will they have tampered with it in any way?
There are so many possibilities for this necklace, including it being completely unimportant to the main plot (in which case, please ignore this post), and I cannot wait to see what happens.
Just, hopefully not this... 🤞🏻
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