#from Eris and Nesta
Feel like Nyx would be the nephew that sneaks away to his aunt's house in the middle of the night and stay there for like a week straight because they are his favourites, and neither Eris or Nesta questions it when he shows up out of nowhere because they do love him but Feysand are so terrified of what they might say to their precious child but really, Nesta is the only one who treats Nyx like he didn't fall out of the sky and is entitled to have anything he wants.
Oh god yes
Baby Night Night has never had a god damned chance- that kid is equal, damaging parts unbelievably sheltered/spoiled and just like....trapped in a long shadow of expectation.
And his Autumn relatives don't cosset him!
Like, the first time he runs away he's like...hmmm...sixteen? Angry. And Neris are fine with anger. But that teen angst bullshit? No. They put the kid to work.
And while work is just helping Auntie Elain bake her wife a birthday cake, she makes him do the dishes. Without using his powers. Eris takes him along to meetings and makes him sit through all the boring bullshit that entails.
But- afterward, Eris explains what happened. Like they're equals. He asks what baby Night Night thinks. Auntie Em likes her cake so much she hugs him, like he's a little kid. It's nice.
It's actually...making him feel better.
And sure, Auntie Nesta is grouchy and terrifying. But she's no where near as bad as Night Night's parents make her out to be. Sure, she's using blood magic, but it's alchemy. Yes, she's really, really busy, just like Uncle Eris, probably too busy for kids like his mom says, so much so Night Night has to assume they're making time for him- which makes him feel...warm? kind of ashamed?- but she doesn't leave him alone.
She's there, and it's pretty funny to see how happy it makes Uncle Eris to listen to her complain about boring government policy.
When Night Court lackeys eventually show up thinking Nyx has been kidnapped- well, lil baby boy comes to understand a little bit why Eris and all the Aunts like how mean Auntie Nesta can be. She sends home the royal guard in tears- and then tells Nyx he can stay as long as he wants, but he has to tell his parents he's safe.
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omg i just remembered that lucien said to feyre in acotar that his scar was miserable to look at, and later alis said tamlin puked when lucien got his scar, he must be so insecure about it my poor boy, but what gets me is: how come NOBODY told him he looked even hotter? like what? sassy diplomatic (who can fight) stylish long haired redhead with a sexy scar on his face? he should be getting as many marriage proposals as nesta
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I’ve just been thinking about how sjm’s foundation for Eris’s redemption arc is that Mor is lying.
She really could not have come up with a better idea than the victim has been lying about their trauma for hundreds of years? Am I reading too much into this or no because that just puts such a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t want to see an abuser get redemption like that. And even if Mor was lying, I don’t understand why sjm wants to put that in one of her books??? Again, maybe I’m reading too much into it, but the idea of an entire subplot revolving around a victim lying just does not sit right with me and I don’t know how to properly fit that into words.
That’s not even a redemption arc, either. She just wants people to suddenly like Eris, so she’s going to try and say that he’s been good the entire time, rather than making him actually atone and work to be a better person. Or Eris could just not be redeemed, but this is sjm’s new thing that she loves so that’s going to be forced down our throats in the next books.
For once I would just like sjm to make a legitimately well written morally ambiguous/grey character. I know it’s never going to happen since she has such a black and white mentality with her characters because they can either be entirely good or entirely bad (and it’s always based off of whether the mc likes them or not), but a girl can dream.
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Stealing the Dusk Court from under Nesta wasn't enough apparently...
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Jesus Christ finding out how many people actually EXCUSE Eris is the same as lifting up a rock and seeing a bunch of cockroaches skitter out. Like Rice I hate, but because how much the narrative bends over backward to excuse what he does and make him ~the best male~ I can see why some people like him. But Eris? Man’s been on page like a handful of times, most of the time they were him being a total dick or being irrevocably inconsistent with what’s already been established. Mor deserves better
1. hi I love you 2. yes, I wish stans had some basic fucking common sense
It’s so stupid that they read one (1) dance scene and immediately started shipping him with Nesta while pretending they’re superior to people who stan Rice. They’ve just co-opted stanning one abuser (who’s actually condemned by the narrative in acomaf) instead of the other who’s excused for his actions.
The most annoying eris stans are the people who bend over their back to excuse Eris (by theorising that 1. he was abused by his father and 2. that mor lied about her abuse) (which isn’t even canon, and which is a very disgusting take in itself) while ignoring Mor and Lucien’s actual statements about him being horrible.
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Don’t think about the fact that after 500 years of feeling like a worthless bastard and killing his own rapist father, Cassian is now actually brothers with a member of his found family through their mates and is planning a family of his own.
Don’t think about the fact the this must make Azriel, who also had a horrible father and has endured endless abuse, feel so left out that he thinks Elain is the only answer even though she’s mated to someone else and that his show of emotions came not out of possessiveness but a profound frustration and feeling of standing on the outside looking in at his own brothers.
Don’t think about the fact that Gwyn doesn’t even know who her father is and has lost every person she’s ever loved prior to meeting Nesta and Emerie.
Don’t think about the fact that if Azriel and Gwyn are mates not only would the Gwynriel/Nessian double dates shatter the universe, but they could have a child that ends up being Cassian and Nesta’s child’s mate thus showing that even when Azriel was questioning why he isn’t connected with his brothers the universe was pulling him to a different path for their family to come together.
Don’t think about the fact that Lucien’s entire life has been him bouncing around from tyrant to tyrant with no real sense of place or belonging and he doesn’t know that the man who murdered his lover is not truly his father.
Don’t think about the fact that Elain is sunshine and light personified and that as much as Feyre and Nesta love her she will never truly be free to explore and grow on her own if she stays sheltered in the Night Court. Don’t think about the fact that she could bloom like a tulip under the light of the Day Court and ride across the very sun.
Don’t think about the fact that Night and Day have always been the closest allies and that Lucien and Elain as High Lord and Lady of Day might be the only way that all of the courts can be united to work together (Dawn, Day, Winter, Summer, and Night are already allies but this would pull in Tamlin because despite everything he wouldn’t hurt Lucien. Eris loves his brother and has protected him once before but he’s also smart and wouldn’t even think about going against such an alliance).
Don’t think about the fact that it’s also possible Gwyn is Tamlin’s daughter and if he dies the magic might pass to her and she and Azriel become High Lady and Lord of Spring (because SJM breaks her own rules all the time lol)
Don’t think about the fact that Nesta is mother blessed and in control of the deadliest weapons in Prythian and also mated to the most feared general in history and this fucking POWER COUPLE could raise and lead a Prythian-allied army the likes of which no one could ever defeat and become the god of war and goddess of death reborn.
Just don’t think about any of that.
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Cassian’s love in ACOSF
There’s a lot of things Cassian does in ACOSF that we tended to overlook, so let’s go through them,
-Cassian set training up at the house of wind because he finally figured out that Nesta didn’t want to train in Illyria,
-Was always waiting for Nesta after she was done climbing the steps,
-Always waited for Nesta to consent to various sexual activities.
-Would rip Tomas to shreds if Nesta would give him the name and go ahead.
-Nearly lost his mind when he thought a creature from the bog had killed Nesta.
-When figuring out that Nesta had to adjust to him, told her that he didn’t want to hurt her and went slow in order to do so,
-Made sure Nesta was safe before going to assist Azriel.
-Told Nesta that his friends had nothing to do with their relationship.
-Told Nesta that her idea to train the priestesses was a good idea when a lot of people have dismissed her ideas before.
-Brought Nesta’s dinner up to her after the bog/kelpie attack because he knew that Nesta wouldn’t want to deal with people.
-Told Rhysand that during Elain’s visit there must have been something to set Nesta off, and told him that the next time Elain wants to visit Nesta to tell him so he could ask Nesta if she wants Elain to visit her.
-Respected Nesta’s choice to not want to see Feyre (even though she had never told him that and it physically pained him to see them fighting) and told Rhys to stay out of Feyre and Nesta’s business because despite knowing that Nesta and Feyre need each other, he knows it’s not his or Rhys’s business to fix Nesta and Feyre’s relationship, it’s theirs,
-Had to be physically restrained by Azriel during Nesta’s nightmare scene, because he thought Rhys was trying to hurt Nesta.
-Stayed with Nesta overnight after the nightmare scene because he was concerned for her,
-told Rhysand that he was pissed at him for going into Nesta’s mind just to scold her because Rhys had assumed that Nesta was incapable of kindness when she had done nothing but treat Gwyn and Emerie with respect. Also mentioned that he didn’t like how Rhys was incapable of thinking one good thing about Nesta.
-Told Amren and the IC that it was wrong to keep what Nesta’s powers could do away from her, and told Nesta about it, (even if he did it in the wrong way)
-was against using Nesta to seduce Eris.
-noted Nesta’s love for music, books, and dancing,
-Searched a long time for Nesta’s tiny book (the first ever one) and got the Symphonia from Helion’ court, because he knows Nesta loves books, and snored every song that brought her joy for the Symphonia because music was an escape for her,
-danced with her during winter solstice despite the fact that he would get in trouble for interfering with Feysand’s plan, because he knew Nesta’s mother used her love for dance her social arsenal so he didn’t want to take that joy away from her, and gave her a happy memory of it, because he wants to make her happy.
-would rather stab himself in his own heart than kill Nesta because he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he did. And fought the control of the crown to tell Nesta to run,
-Gave Nesta one of his siphons in the prison to protect herself.
-Despite their mating bond snapping into place, left Nesta even though he didn’t want to because he knew she wasn’t ready for the mating bond yet and don’t want to take advantage of that.
-Was rendered speechless by Nesta’s proclamation of love. But showed it through touch and emotion how much she meant to him too.
And various other things that I can’t recall off the top of my head.
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Eris: welcome to the 'fuck Cassian' support group, where we gather to say a collective 'fuck you' to that pathetic brute
Eris: but first, a few words from our newest member
Nesta, sweating: so i may have misunderstood–
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Nessian Headcanon’s PT. 4
The Nessian’s are starving right now so here are some mated life hc’s:
heads-up: if you don't like trauma jokes, this ain't the hc for you. Come back next time.
Nesta laughs a lot more these days.
No one expects it from her, but Nesta is the queen of dry, dark humor.
Rhys, shivering in the snow mutters, "I have never been this cold in my life."
Nesta, without missing a damn beat, says "Drowning in the Cauldron was colder."
Azriel is nodding in the corner and hollering.
It's the heat of summer and Azriel is shaking his shirt, sweating. "Gods, it's so fucking hot."
Nesta, without missing a beat, "Hotter than when your hands got barbequed?"
Rhys and Cassian: *slaps hands over mouths*
Azriel and Nesta making trauma jokes 🤝 and Cassian is just 😟
Cassian always wakes up first. It's cheesy, but he just watches Nesta sleeping, usually in one of his shirts, and he can feel his heart try to beat right out of his chest. He didn't think love would feel this...painful. It's a constant knot in his chest, always twisting and twisting and he doesn't want it to stop.
Nesta loves brushing Cassian's hair, and it calms him down. There's a battle and Cassian is worried that his battle plans won't work well. He's afraid that he won't be beside Nesta even though he knows the Valkyries can take care of themselves. The morning of the battle, Nesta brushes his hair and knots a braid into the side of his head–a Valkryie custom for valor.
"Go kick ass, General," she says as she looks fiercely into his eyes.
He kisses her long and hard. "Go kick ass, General," he repeats, because Nesta is General of the Valkyries.
"Lower." Nesta looks up at Cassian, panting. His eyes are more green than hazel today, and he's watching her with an unyielding gaze. His brows rise at her. "Lower, Nes."
Her legs are shaking and her body is spent. She really doesn't think she can keep going. She screws her eyes shut, moans, and...
does the one last squat.
She collapses on the ground, catching her breath. The roof of the House is especially hot today, and even the sports bra she'd been working out in is too much. She turns her head towards Cassian and is about to ask him to fly them to the beach, but he's looking intently–and none too discreetly–across the way.
At Gwyn and Azriel.
Nesta sits up–none too discreetly–and sees how Azriel is leaning his arms back on the railing, a soft smile twitching at his mouth as Gwyn talks animatedly with her hands. But, it's his shadows that have Nesta's rapt attention; they are swirling through Gwyn's hair and she doesn't seem to mind or even notice.
Cassian shoots Nesta a look. She blinks at him. He sits down next to her, his leg pressed against hers, and they take a moment to study their respective brother and sister. Cassian opens his mouth and Nesta already knows what he's going to say.
"Fifty says it happens within the year," she beats him to the punch.
"A hundred says they go to Starfall together," he counters.
They shake on it, but they don't let go. Cassian brings her bruised knuckles from sparring with Emerie to his lips, and the gentle kiss sends her heart tumbling. He stands and brings her up with him. He scoops her into his arms and says, "Let's go to the beach."
The way he intrinsically knows her has Nesta falling in love all over again. It's thrilling.
"You're not going to win."
Rhysand is leaning heavily on the table, his cards clutched tightly in his hands. Nesta's eyes flick pointedly to the bead of sweat on his temple that she knows he feels. The irreverent look just makes Rhysand angrier.
"Fine. You want to play like this? I'll fucking play." He shoves the rest of his poker chips to the center of the table. Cassian had long left the game and is grinning at the both of them, his eyes darting from Rhysand to his mate. Azriel is watching intently, his leg bouncing.
"What's your move, sister?" Rhys tries to goad. Nesta just blinks at him. He spits out a curse and runs a frantic hand through his hair. "Fuck it." He slams his cards on the table and anxiously looks at her.
Nesta meets his violet eyes. He thinks he's won. It's not a bad hand, but...
She gently lays her cards down. A royal flush.
Cassian erupts into laughter and Azriel's chin dips to his chest in shock. Grinning, Nesta gathers the chips. It was one of her best games.
And Rhysand...He's screaming, a vein in his neck bulging. The chair he'd been sitting on the edge of is on its side and he's pacing.
"Denial looks spectacular on you, Rhysand," she says matter of factly.
His hair is wild from his hands running through them. "I thought I had you. I was convinced I had you."
Nesta nods solemnly.
Rhysand shakes his head. "That..."
"Was the best game of poker I've ever seen," Azriel finishes, nodding appraisingly to her.
Cassian's hand squeezes her knee under the table.
"Perhaps I'll buy you a therapist with all this money I just swindled from you," she says to Rhysand. Azriel nearly falls back from his chair he laughs so hard.
Rhysand's violet eyes dance with feral amusement. "Make sure they're a family therapist, sister."
When Nesta laughs, she doesn't try to swallow it down.
Nesta quite likes her scary reputation and uses it as a weapon, but a person can only take so much fear and gawking. There are times when she doesn't want to be called Lady Death, but just Nesta. When they're in public/formal court gatherings Nesta's cue to Cassian that she's feeling bad and needs to leave or just needs his support is to hold his hand and hold his bicep with the other. To the outside, it looks like a casual touch between mates. For Nesta, she's clinging to the one person who understands her, the one place she has comfort.
Cassian, who has always been an expert buffer, takes over as courtier and deflects all questions towards Nesta, and takes them himself. When their home and alone, Cassian drapes a wing over her, entangles their legs, and holds her to him; his touch reminds her she's a person, that she's more than what she seems–that she is Nesta before she is anything else.
Nesta and Cassian are kneeling behind a bush at the River House, watching Gwyn and Azriel talk beneath a willow tree. They're peaking through the holes in the shrubbery, doing their best to stay hidden.
"Can you hear them?" Nesta whispers to Cassian.
"I can barely see them through all these damn flowers," He says in a strained whisper, scratching at his chest. "Elain is overdoing herself on the garden."
His eyes begin to squint and before he can give them away, Nesta quickly pinches his nose and covers his mouth. He sneezes right into her hand and at this point in their mating, there is really nothing that can gross her out. "This is why we're not spies."
"No, we're just courtier assholes who run their mouths," he says and Nesta has to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from cackling.
Cassian points and she sees Azriel lean his head back and laugh so loudly the sound reaches them across the large lawn.
Cassian's eyes are wide. "He never laughs."
"He does, just not at your jokes."
Cassian glares at her. "I'm funny."
Nesta purses her lips and gives him a pointed look then jerks her chin towards Gwyn. "Apparently not as funny as her."
But Cassian's jaw is slowly dropping as he watches Azriel. "Holy shit, he's gonna do it."
Nesta leans forward, eagerly peering her eyes. "Do what?"
"His tick." Before Nesta can ask what he means by that, Cassian continues. "He has a tick he does when he's flirting. He puts a hand on the back of his neck and smirks." Cassian points. "And the smooth motherfucker is about to do it."
Sure enough, Gwyn is talking with her hands, a shadow twirling around her fingers and there is Azriel, lifting his hand and resting it on his neck. Nesta almost gasps as Gwyn bites her lip, but Cassian returns the favor and clamps his hand over her mouth. His chin grazes Nesta's bare shoulder. It's prickly and unshaved, making her shiver deliciously. He notices and winks. They promptly leave so that chin of his can scratch at very specific places, leaving Gwyn and Azriel to do whatever...whatever they're up to these days.
"Nesta." She says seriously, eyes narrowed at a small set of blue-grey ones so identical to her own. "Nes-ta." Nyx just babbles happily, his chubby baby hands grasping her cheeks. "Aunt Nesta," she repeats seriously. "Say it with me." Her beloved nephew just pulls her lip.
"Absolutely not," she hears behind her, and Rhysand is coming around and taking his son into his arms. He lifts Nyx so that father and son are eye to eye, their faces so similar save for the Archeron eyes. "Dada," Rhysand tells Nyx. "Dada." Nyx just laughs. "This is serious, son," but a smile spreads across his face. Nyx mumbles something wordless.
Nesta shoves her shoulder against Rhysand's and takes Nyx back. "Aunt Nesta." She presses her nose to his tiny one. "Listen, kid, I'll settle for Aunt."
His baby shriek is music to her ears and Nesta can't help but blow the biggest raspberry on his cheek, making him squeal. She doesn't miss the soft look on Rhysand's face as he watches her with Nyx.
The next day a three-tier chocolate hazelnut cake from her favorite bakery is waiting for her. There's no note, but it doesn't need one.
Nesta, Cassian, Azriel, and Gwyn are having a beach day. When Nesta and Cassian arrive to already find Gwyn and Azriel clinking their cups in silent cheers, they look at each other and grin.
"Would you look at that," Cassian says under his breath so that only Nesta could hear him.
Nesta's eyes drift to Azriel's bare chest and stomach. "Is he flexing?"
Cassian's grin is near feral. "For damn sure." Then he asks, "Is Gwyn blushing?"
Nesta's grin matches her mate's. "For damn sure."
Azriel, Cassian, and Nesta are on a covert mission in the Autumn Court. Nesta and Cassian were here on official business, but no one knew Azriel was with them. He'd been spying in the shadows until Eris nearly caught him. Nesta, coming to the rescue as she does, shoves Azriel into a closet but it's tighter than she thought it would be with two bulking Illyrians.
"This is why you two aren't spies," Azriel mutters.
Cassian shoves Azriel as best he can in the tight space. "Big talk coming from the person who nearly got found."
Nesta, her ear pressed to the door, says, "It's way too tight in here. I can barely breathe."
Azriel, not missing a beat, says, "Can't possibly be tighter than the Caldron."
Cassian smacks the back of Azriel's head but Nesta's knees are buckling with the force of trying to smother down her laughter. In the end, they have to abandon the mission and Azriel winnows them away. When they land at The House, Nesta laughs herself hoarse and Azriel laughs with her.
The Valkyries are training on the roof with Cassian and Azriel, and Nesta realizes that this is her happiest place: this roof and these people. She walks up to Azriel, a chilled wind ruffling his hair, and she says, "If it's permission you're waiting for you don't need it."
He raises a brow at her. Nesta only pointedly looks at Gwyn who is slicing two white ribbons at once with perfect form. Nesta has never seen and never expected to see Azriel blush, but here he is, pink-cheeked and shuffling on his feet.
She bumps shoulders with him. "The only permission you need is hers, but you do have my blessing."
She expects him to respond with a quip about the all mighty Nesta bestowing her approval upon him, but a clear and relived look passes over his eyes. He gives her a grateful nod and Nesta knows when to not push a person anymore because Azriel looks like he's going to combust if she keeps talking about Gwyn to him.
She leaves him with this, "Believe me, Az, when I say that you have her permission." She doesn't miss his shadows dancing around him exuberantly.
Nesta didn't tell anyone she was coming here. She honestly didn't even know she was going to come here until her feet somehow found their way at the smooth gravestone. She'd never come alone. The two times she visited her father's grave–a stone really since his body was turned to ash–was once with her sisters, and the other with Cassian. She didn't know why she'd come today, but here she was yanking at the green grass. Maybe it was a call in her blood; like calls to like and all that Caldron bullshit. Maybe it was nothing at all and Nesta was alone talking to an empty stone.
Lazy, unhurried footsteps padded on the grass behind her. She knew those steps. Turning, she scowled and said, "What the fuck are you doing here?" she didn't mean for the question to sound so malicious, but her incredulous curiosity held an edge, a sharp bite.
Rhysand took it with a grain of salt. He shrugged, his hands ever in his pockets, and gracefully sat on the grass beside her. A safe distance apart. "I visit every once in a while."
Nesta was shocked. "Seriously?"
"Why? You didn't know him."
Rhysand took a moment to answer. "To try and understand him. Our stories begin with our parents, and understanding yours helps me understand my mate, and you, and Elain." He swallowed. "And understanding you three helps me take better care of you all. I like to tell him that his daughters are loved and cared for." Nesta was about to snipe at him for that, but he gave her a knowing look. "This is not me trying to be an overbearing asshole. But, I take care of my family. Like it or not, you and I are family Nesta. I didn't start off right with you, and I will never be sorry enough. But I want you to know that there is nothing I wouldn't do for you."
His words pierce her. He means every single word. They are words, she realizes, that she wanted her father to say. Promises she knows Rhysand will go to the mat to keep, but promises that were empty when coming from her own father.
Rhysand is everything their father was not. He went to every corner of the world in the hopes of finding something that would save Feyre and Nyx. There was no one he would not kneel before if it meant saving them. And that alone won Nesta's respect. She keeps his gaze and says, "You would have hated him."
They are silent as they look at the gravestone until Rhysand–a contemplative but resolved frown on his face–finally says, "I think you're right."
"You deserve Feyre and Nyx," she tells him softly. "And they deserve you."
Nesta laughs at Rhysand as he brushes a tear away.
Cassian shoves his shoulder against hers. "You be cool."
She shoves him back, her dress clinking with the movement. Her Starfall dress was a gift from Rhysand and she has to admit, the male has fantastic taste.
"If Gwyn and Azriel do show up together it doesn't mean anything."
Cassian scoffs. "Oh, it will definitely mean something."
Nesta tightens her fingers around his. "We can't make a big deal of it."
"Can I make a big deal of winning the bet?" Cassian smirks.
Nesta rolls her eyes. "You might not win."
Again, he scoffs. "Nes, babe, I am most definitely winning."
Again, Nesta rolls her eyes, but she can't help the bubble of excitement for her friend, her sister. Gwyn deserves this happiness. So did Azriel, who'd become her dearest friend outside of Gwyn and Emerie.
"Hold on," Cassian's voice is rough. He stops them before they go through the doors where Starfall is in full swing, tugging on her hand. Before she knows what's happening, Cassian has her in a closet. He shoves her roughly against the wall and a wicked thrill warms down her spine. His nose grazes the column of her throat and his voice is damn near gravel as he says, "I need a few moments before everyone starts battling each other for the first dance with you."
"You won't be fighting for that honor?" She's breathless, her head falling back to give him more access.
His lips hover over hers in the faintest of touches, and she's about to reach up and claim his mouth but he leans just out of her reach. His hand goes to her thigh, down her leg, bunching the silver jeweled dress. He wraps her leg around his waist and presses her harder against the door. "I don't need it. Everyone out there already knows who you're mated to. They're grasping at air." He squeezes her sides so tightly she gasps. "I'm not."
She doesn't even suck down a breath before his mouth is ravishing hers. The kiss is hard and bruising, his lips moving over hers in a patient roughness. He kisses her like he has thousands of years to do it, but refuses to wait. His tongue is languid yet fierce, sweeping over her own. She moans utterly indecently into his mouth, her hands fisting into his silken hair. His teeth graze her bottom lip and then he's biting down, taking it into his mouth. Nesta is about to tell him to just skip Starfall all together, but then the closet door is being opened.
Rhysand, his hand over the eyes of Nyx on his hip, is scowling incredulously at them. Nesta and Cassian have yet to fix their stance.
"Learn to knock, Rhys," Cassian growls.
"It's a fucking coat closet! You horny teenagers!"
Nyx laughs in his father's arms. He reaches his hands out for Nesta, and then what happens next ruins Rhysand's whole entire night.
Nyx’s very first word.
Rhysand's head whips down to look at his son, who is clapping and reaching for his aunt. "No." Rhysand is shaking his head. "This is my nightmare."
Nesta drops her leg from around Cassian, smoothes her dress, and does not fight the tears warming her eyes. They don't spill over, but they're there all the same. It started as a joke, trying to get her nephew to say her name first. It was all just to piss off Rhysand, but nothing could have prepared her for the overwhelming swell of love that would come from hearing her name come from her nephew. He doesn't know how much fear that name instills. He doesn't know how it is cursed and sneered and spat on. He only knows it's her name, his aunt who talks to him like an adult but tickles his sides. His aunt who always gives him an extra kiss. His aunt who he has no idea saved his life.
Nesta takes him into her arms, kisses his cheek, and she remembers how small he was when he was born, how he didn't cry. Whatever power is left in her, she calls on it. She doesn't know how it worked then and she doesn't know how it works now, but she doesn't give a damn. She will force it to bend to her will–all to bless the child in her arms. She kisses the center of his forehead and murmurs a demand. Not a prayer–a demand. "Be with him. Do not leave him. Protect him. Guide him."
Cassian is still as he watches and Rhysand has tears in his eyes.
Nesta just hoists Nyx on her hip and nods to the doors. "Are we going to this party or not?"
It's her favorite Starfall yet.
Feyre, when Rhysand told her of what happened, brought her into a bone-crushing hug. She forgets how much stronger her sister is.
Cassian and Nesta hover in a corner with the best advantage to spot when Azriel and Gwyn come. They try to look inconspicuous, laughing occasionally. Cassian mutters under his breath taunting things, and Nesta makes sure to give him a good view of her backside whenever she turns.
And then he's swatting eagerly at her arm. "Looklooklooklookloook."
Gwyn and Azriel, a much too causal distance apart, enter together. Azriel's hands are in his pockets, his eyes on Gwyn. The look on Gwyn's face takes Nesta's breath away. Her sister looks resplendent in a cobalt blue shimmering dress. Her face is lit with joy and the teal in her eyes has never been more vibrant.
With both their eyes trained on Azriel and Gwyn, Nesta wordlessly hands Cassian his money.
There was indeed a brewing fight for the honor to have Nesta's first dance of the night, but Azriel won with a simple death glare in his eyes. No one was as good as Eris, but Azriel is a very close second. He knows when to spin, when and where to step, and he's just plain fun to dance with. He is her friend, probably her best friend if she has to pick. Gwyn and Emerie don't count as friends to her–they are sisters.
Rhysand even cuts in for a dance. "I want to see what all the fuss is about," he says for an explanation. At the end of their dance, he's a little breathless and gives her a nod. "Yeah, okay. I get it."
She dances with Gwyn and they laugh until their lungs feel like bursting.
She dances with Feyre and Nyx, and Nesta can feel the healing between them.
When the stars fall, she is surrounded by family. Cassian's arm is around her, her head resting on his chest. In the corner of her eye, Gwyn and Azriel are standing much closer than they have all night.
At the end of the night, when the party nears its end, Nesta moves easily through the crowd. She's ready to disappear into her house and rip that three-piece suit off Cassian. He's shaking hands with someone she doesn't recognize and saying goodbye, so he doesn't hear her over the music as she creeps up behind him, her arms wrapping around his middle and hands running up his chest.
"You're wearing the hell out of this suit," she says onto his back and smiles as she feels his laugh and deep breath.
She nods, her fingers dipping past a few buttons and onto the skin beneath his shirt. "Your ass is spectacular."
He laughs and moves to look down into her eyes, a devilish glint in his hazel eyes. He turns her so that her back is to him. "My turn."
A guttural sound of approval and his mouth is ghosting the shell of her ear. "Yours is better." His hand drifts down her back, over the slope of her ass, and right as he's giving her a hard squeeze that promises what's to come, he's stepping around her.
His rough, calloused hands are gentle even in their light yet firm grip of her neck and face. His thumbs smooth under her eyes and the look in his eyes is intoxicating. It's knee-bending and breath-shuddering. "I love you."
Nesta grips his hands and kisses each of his palms.
And once was apparently not enough because he's leaning his brow against hers, breathing the same air. "I love you."
She smiles at him. A secret smile just for him. "Take me to bed."
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Fix-it fic snippet
“Do they know?” Eris asked.
Mid-motion, Lucien stopped pulling yet another track through his hair, the braids settling with clear, magical assistance. “Jurian clocked her. But then he saw that Emerie was hurt and”-
“Emerie is hurt?”
Nesta didn’t think. Stormed toward the sound of laughter, the beautiful two-story cottage wrapt in blackberries, red-tinged ivy vivid with sunset.
Eris was dragged behind her for about a step before he, being Eris, winnowed them both to the doorstep. A second’s pause stretched for this- a thank you Nesta couldn’t say aloud, panic shredding through her thoughts- a feeling Eris could hear, feel, parse. An acknowledgement that was all in silence before he haltingly reached, to smooth, gentle, the fall of her hair.
And then Gwyn opened the door.
Took a single glance at Eris- stone-faced, beautiful, holding Nesta’s hand like a lifeline- and grinned absolutely wicked before throwing herself at Nesta.
Hard enough, that Eris had to catch them both.
Released her hand to do so, capturing careful before true topple only Nesta, his grip the very definition of respectful, high on her back. Warmth through the worry, bracketing her spine.
There was no time to appreciate it. Nesta spit Gywn’s hair out of her mouth, and without a shred of shame yelled. “Em?”
A third body hit the tangle fast enough she must have already been coming, a wreath of wings suddenly ensconcing their messy embrace from the other side. Nesta fought free an arm to catch her laughing friends hand. “You’re okay?”
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I just started getting into the ACOTAR fandom- read the books, but only got into fandom since ACOSF- and started following a few blogs (like yours) from a rec. I was wondering if you could give like a crash course to the ACOTAR fandom. I’m mostly following gwynriel blogs, but seeing the drama in this fandom is A LOT. Can you help a girl out?
welcome to the madness. i too started to join into the fandom after acosf released and sometimes it’s a great decision and sometimes i question wtf i was thinking lol. anyway…
acotar fandom guide:
feysand shippers: feyre has never done anything wrong ever in her life, rhys is the feminist icon we don’t deserve, rhys is a bisexual king/wtf rhys is the straightest man to ever man you’re insane
nessian shippers: nesta deserves better than this fandom and that’s on god, why is no one talking about how hot nessian is after silver flames wtf azriel fuck off, nesta is a goddess and cassian worships her body every dayum day
elriel shippers: let me write a 10 paragraph essay on why potatoes spell true mate, did you know gwyn was a toddler and a lightsinger at the same time?! it’s so anti-feminist not to support elain and her choices, it’s so obvious elain’s book is next y’all just can’t read
elucien shippers: she. felt. him. we may not have a lot in the way of canon, but let me spread the gospel of headcanons and talk about the top 10 ways elain is gonna enjoy that firedick, i just want elain to get to know lucien but guess that means i’m misogynistic and shat all over my ancestors who marched for women’s rights
gwynriel shippers: gwyn is a manatee, az’s shadows ship them so hard you don’t even know, that whole ribbon thing is gonna get kinky just you fucking wait, that bonus chapter ended the potato famine 🙌
emorie shippers: ok but they’re gonna ride pegasus together fucking bet, not enough fan art for this bi disaster i’ll tell you that, emerie and mor are gonna be the hottest couple of prythian fucking fight me
vassien/vucien shippers: we are not elriels stfu
helion/lady a shippers: it’s the longing and the forbidden love no one can do it like them, they deserve all the good things in the world, sellyn drake has written stories about them i will die on this hill, they are gonna get their happily ever after. periodt.
tarquin stans: hottest highlord in history, a true man of the people, big dick energy, has been shipped with literally every character in the series
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Reason N° 56282929292 I don't trust Feyre POV:
When people say "Ooh Nesta was so mean! She refused to teach Feyre how to read!!"
▪️ACOTAR according to Feyre:
According to this train of thoughts, Nesta and Elain didn't bother to teach Feyre how to read and hence why she grew up illiterate. As if Feyre asked them and they flatly just said NO.
▪️But then we get to ACOWAR and guess what?:
▪️A couple of things:
1. Neither Nesta nor Elain knew about Feyre's inability to read.
2. Feyre never asked them to teach her. She straight up made assumptions that they wont bother or they will just refuse.
3. Nesta would have taught her, she freaking loves books and reading!! And Elain, sweet sweet Elain as Feyre always describes her...why would she refuse to teach Feyre?? If Elain is always super kind and nice?
4. Nesta getting all the information about Feyre through Amren. And this is not the first time. If Nesta didn't care about Feyre, she wouldn't even have bothered to ask Amren about Feyre.
You want another proof:
Again, Nesta getting information about Feyre from Amren, this time regarding the blood rubies. Which btw, this is one of the reasons that made Nesta decide to join the High Lords meeting. Because her little sister risked her life to defend a court that sent her a death threat!
Also, we see how Nesta in ACOFAS detaches herself from her sisters and the IC. We know that she decided to leave Feyre's home and live on her own. Why? Because that way she can have some privacy and also she wont get judged every single minute of the day on what she does or should do. (Apart, of course, from all her PTSD struggles, etc..).
But guess what?
Who is the only person she actually keeps in contact with?? Who, out of her sisters and the IC she actually bothers to visit and talk with?
Yep, you guessed it. Freaking AMREN.
Nesta, the cold bitch who doesn't care shit about anyone else, actually bothers to visit Amren and watch her build puzzles while they talk. And guess who always feed Nesta information regarding what's going? Yep, right again. AMREN.
Sometimes, I do struggle with first person narrative because they dont tend to be objective but, the trick is to know how to read between the lines. I could go on and on about lots of things I've been finding that I think they're important to highlight when it comes to secondary characters, without involving Feyre and Rhysand.
I find frustrating that people dont seem to move on from the first 4 chapters of Acotar when it comes to Nesta, but the other characters are just fine.
Perhaps, closer to the release of ACOSF I might post some of my notes of the little things I think might be important to mention when it comes to Nesta, Cassian, Elain, Azriel, Lucien, Mor, Tamlin and Eris because I know they will all play a role in the next books.
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Is it just me or does it feel like Nesta’s anger tends to be overdramatized or misunderstood as rude behavior instead of just the accurate response to the situation?
Because like... when is Nesta’s anger not in direct relation to the situation at hand? Like she doesn’t want fae in her house so she’s mean company. They’re literal fae. She’s a fucking human.
When she tells Feyre and the rest, she’ll rip out their throat if they ask Elain to help them, she feels threatened. Nesta just turned fae and they’re like ehh no big deal you should help us and Elain is still a zombie of who she used to be, and she’s surrounded by people she doesn’t even know who are asking her to tell the high lords of a time that is depicted similar to an assault.
When she gets mad at Elain at the library, Elain literally acted like it was no big deal and there was no reason why Nesta should really be mad when they kicked her out of her house and sent her away, no matter their intention. No matter the perspective, Elain did not connect those dots that Nesta might not feel happy about the situation???
In Wings and Ember, Nesta starts hurling insults at Cassian, when he is towering over her, asking personal questions, when he is in a room alone with her.
At solstice, they literally don’t talk to her, and just have her there awkwardly and then she leaves, and Cassian gets mad because of what??? And then Nesta does what???
And I cannot stress enough, that Nesta’s coping was not hurting anyone but herself! So, why was it treated like a wound to everyone, as if she punched and kicked them herself.
Like it makes no fucking sense!!! At this point, they’re just ignorant for no reason! You cannot be this blind, this stupid. Like are they meant to be portrayed like that??? Because it only is with Nesta and people who are antagonistic, lIke Eris for example. Like someone who directly threatens the “peace” of their happy family, even when they’re really not doing that much.
I know Nesta has the choice to respond more pleasantly, but.... she doesn’t have to and her not responding well in these situations is rightfully so. So, I don’t understand why I sometimes still see posts about Nesta being a mean, bitchy sister or that the inner circle responded accurately or whatever. Like... Are we reading the same book?
Nesta inspired Feyre to go back to Tamlin, and go save her love. Nesta went to the wall to try and get Feyre. Nesta, no matter how much Elain says she coddles her, took care of her. You don’t think the love Nesta only showed Elain made a difference? Feyre wanted that, so it definitely did. And when Elain was at her lowest, who was there? Nesta fought in a war, told the high lords what the IC wanted about what was done to her, and consistently showed that she cared A LOT about Cassian. When did she insult people? Kick a baby? Burn a city down? Like the balance in this book is atrocious. The response and the actions that facilitate this response are wildly disproportionate to the situation at hand.
Now that I have read from her POV and go back and read Feyre’s POV, and the rest of the POVs in ACOFAS, I’m like uh..... was Nesta ever even that bitchy? Like where is this asshole character?
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Please designate what type of fruit each acotar character is and why. I’ll start: Eris is Durian cause he talks so much bullshit he probably has a stank ass breath.
As with most things on my blog today, I'm gonna thank @technotzar @evalinashryver @symphonyofbleedingshadows @exiledelain and @hellacioushag for helping with this but also blame Kara for sending it in the first place.
Feyre - Apple. Simple, nutritious, utilitarian, you can carry it around for when you need a healthy, supportive snack
Rhysand - Pomegranate. Dark, mysterious, take a bit of work to get inside
Nesta - Coconut. Hard on the outside, tasty and complex inside
Elain - Strawberries. Cute, smol, come from flowers
Cassian - Banana. Simple, long boi
Azriel - Pineapple. Pokes things. Alternatively a jackfruit. Because of jacking. Off.
Mor - Orange. Bright and fresh and full of Vitamin C
Amren - Tomato. Is she a fruit? Or a vegetable? Science says fruit but we are unsure.
Lucien - Peach. Lovely colors, bruises easily.
Helion - Passionfruit. Colorful, gooey inside.
Gwyn - Blueberry. Smol and cute and full of healthy antioxidants. My favorite fruit.
Tamlin - Grapefruit. Is he sweet or? TBD, we just can't over that bitter taste.
Emerie - Plum. Firm yet sweet.
Beron - Lemon. Only useful when squeezed.
Vassa - Raspberry. Only good to eat for a limited window of time. Pay attention or you'll miss it.
Jurian - Elderberry. How old is this human, anyway?
Nuala and Cerridwen - Cherry. Usually depicted as a pair.
Eris - according to @tealnymph24 Dragonfruit. Stylish but a little scary on the outside and you're not exactly sure how to approach him. But once you get past his intimidating exterior, he is delicious and sexy on the inside.
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You know what I think is interesting?
The reason why Eris refused to marry Morrigan was in his own words " because she was sullied by a lesser faerie bastard"
Then in acosf he says the reason why he wants to be a high lord is the same why he left Mor untouched at the border, which happened after the whole scandal with Cassian, and after he refused the marriage:
This is the same book we get the information that Gwyn's mother was supposed to live in the forest house, Beron's residence, because she couldn't dwell in the rivers of spring, meaning Gwyn's grandfather had to live there. We are also told that her mother was part nymph, which equals as part lesser fae. But because shd couldn't handle confinement, she was sent to a temple:
Beron's power is described as crackling. Nesta says Gwyn has a crackling sort of energy, that her power, silver fire, answers to:
In acowar, Eris says killing Jessminda, a lesser fae, was the first and only thing he denied his father, revealing he was the one who made sure Lucien got to the spring border. So even while refusing Morringan for sleeping with a so-called-lesser fae, the one thing he said no to Beron was killing one:
During acosf we also get Nesta asking him who does he love:
And only a few pages later, Rhysand asks if he will give him everything he wants from his armies to his firstborn, which Eris glares and answers "not as far as the firstborn"
I can't help but feel that this is all connected.
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i love eris vanserra and here is why:
this one goes out to my fellow eris simps @vanserrasvalkyrie, @ladyvanserra, and @nina-zcnik. *raises glass* to feeling seen!
he’s a momma’s boy. he does what he can to protect his mother.
alternatively, he’s an asshole. but not an evil asshole. let me explain.
there is more to him than meets the eye.
re: mor. he repeatedly says “there are other powers at play” regarding that day long ago. so why do we automatically paint him the villain?
and then at the end of acosf, he tells cassian that he is not the person he wants to explain himself to, though cassian says he doubts mor would listen. meaning he wants to explain himself to mor.
re: lucien. he was not there that day with jessminda. on page 274 of acowar, he tells them “It was the first and only time I have denied my father anything.” eris is the reason lucien made it to the spring border, alerting tamlin to get there an ensure lucien’s safety in the spring court.
re: feyre. he was ordered to go after her at the beginning of acowar. he recognized her power, his eyes filling with fear when she announced her status as high lady.
at the high lord’s meeting in acowar, eris was the only member of the autumn court to volunteer to take the antidote for fae bane from the dawn court alchemist.
also at the high lord’s meeting, eris got his brothers in line when they were trying to be intimidating to the others.
and again at the high lord’s meeting, he did taunt mor, sure, but he also apologized.
gosh this high lord’s meeting was great in terms of eris content. when nesta stood up for the humans, eris and his mother were the only ones of the autumn court to be impressed by her stand.
AND WHEN HE WAS LEAVING THE MEETING, it says that feyre could have sworn there was something like sadness and regret when he glanced at lucien.
at the end of acosf, cassian says, “i think you might be a decent male, deep down, trapped in a terrible situation.” and “i grew up surrounded by monsters. i’ve spent my existence fighting them. and i see you, eris. you’re not one of them. not even close.”
for all of his posturing and assholery, eris has never stood against the inner circle. he has his own motives, yes. but in the war against hybern, he made sure his father and brothers came to help. he’s made bargains and deals that seem sketchy, but when you analyze them? he just wants what’s best for his court and will do anything to keep his father from wreaking havoc on innocent people.
in conclusion: eris vanserra is not a bad guy and this blog stans him. thank you for coming to my ted talk.
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Gwynriel as seen by the Inner Circle
My Headcanons on each member’s reactions to Azriel and Gwyn (before anyone knows they are mates... almost anyone 🌚)
Varian is surprised the first time Azriel and Gwyn show up to a party together and indicates as much to Amren.
Amren shrugs murmuring that it was inevitable that someone as pretty as Azriel would find a person that would reciprocate his affections.
Still, she watches with quiet satisfaction while Azriel introduces Gwyn to everyone formally.
And when he introduces Amren to Gwyn she makes a concentrated effort to be friendlier than usual, going so far as to tell Gwyn that she’s glad she’s here.
Amren thinks Gwyn talks too much but feels it’s wrong for her to point it out as it seems to be one of Azriel’s favorite things about the female.
The daemati communication is off the rails between Rhysand and Feyre every time Gwyn and Azriel are together
And it’s Rhysand who cannot stop screaming to Feyre down the bond
Did you see the way he put his hand on her back?
Look, look, look, he’s flexing his wings and trying to shield her from Eris!
Look at what his shadows are doing, Feyre!
Feyre, I think they are going to kiss...
Feyre is here for it. Anytime Rhysand points something out she nearly dislocates her neck whirling around to try and catch these moments
One night Azriel brings Gwyn over for dinner with just Feyre and Rhysand.
Both bat boys get called away on Windhaven business.
Feyre and Gwyn spend the rest of the night getting wine drunk and painting.
“I’m going to stick to singing,” Gwyn says staring at the splotchy mess that is her portrait
Feyre frowns. “I think it has character.”
Gwyn giggles drunkenly. “Is the character vomit?”
Rhysand and Azriel find the two passed out in the river house library next to a large stack of poetry books and a platter of strawberry stems
And just like Nesta is besties with Azriel, and Feyre is besties with Cassian, Gwyn becomes besties with Rhysand
They’ve read all the same books and get into spirited debates about the realism of the world-building in each of them
And Rhysand loves to tell Gwyn embarrassing stories about Azriel in his youth
Once Rhysand hires her as an official member of the Night Court defense, she turns in some of the best reports he’s ever seen
Whenever he remarks on that aloud he doesn’t miss the way that Azriel beams with pride
Rhysand loves to compliment Gwyn simply to see his brother’s reaction
Feysand are big Gwynriel shippers
But no couple ships Gwynriel more than Nessian.
Nessian actively looks for ways to get the two of them alone.
Cassian and Nesta are totally that couple that considers themselves experts on relationships and dish out tons of unsolicited advice.
“Just make the first move, Gwyn. Don’t be scared. I can tell that he likes you,” Nesta says.
Gwyn just raises a brow. “I know he likes me. What move are you talking about?”
“Listen, she’s absolutely crazy about you. Just go for it, Az” urges Cassian.
Azriel tilts his heads. “I know she likes me. What am I meant to ‘go for?’”
Nessian are just shaking their heads and muttering to each other about how Gwyn and Azriel need to get together already...
But then Gwyn and Az show up to training and his arm is around her shoulders...
And Gwyn is acting like she doesn’t have a care in the world.
And Azriel is grinning like an idiot.
And they just walk past Nessian to the training ring like nothing is different.
“Uh... hi?” Cassian says to them.
“Morning,” Gwyn and Azriel say casually, not even meeting Nesta or Cassian’s eyes.
Nessian look at each other and go:
“Thank gods for us,” Cassian sighs.
These four have dinner almost every night.
Gwyn tends to get very animated with her hand gestures the later the night goes on and Nessian notices the way Azriel watches her all dopey eyed.
“I just hope she can handle Azriel,” Cassian confides when he and Nesta are heading to bed. “He has... stamina. And... an imagination.”
Nesta snorts. “You have no idea just how filthy Gwyneth Berdara’s mind can be.”
Again, no one ships Gwynriel more than Nessian.
Elain has known since Winter Solstice that Gwyn is Azriel’s mate.
She saw it in a vision that night, which is why she gave him back that necklace.
She and Gwyn are very different and there’s a little awkwardness at first, but ultimately Elain is relieved.
It finally makes sense why she and Azriel could never really bring themselves to move forward.
One day Gwyn catches Elain alone in her garden.
“Want some company?” she asks, plunking down on a bench across from a rose bush.
Elain raises up from the bed of daffodils she has been tending to and her eyes are red with tears. Gwyn is on her knees beside the female in seconds asking what’s wrong.
Elain confesses to Gwyn that she’s happy for her and Azriel (but does not mention they are mates because they’ll find out eventually) but she is very lonely.
“I know it’s Lucien now. I can see it and... I want to know him. But I don’t know how to ask. He’s waiting for me to make the first move and for all that I can see, I can’t see what I’m supposed to do.”
Gwyn doesn’t know much about relationships but she knows how to cheer someone up. Having long since disposed of her fear of leaving the library, she takes Elain plant shopping in Velaris and says “no more talk about males the rest of the day.”
Gwyn becomes Elain’s co-conspirator in the best way to approach Lucien, and in the end they decide to send him an arrangement of flowers.
They choose bellflowers (gratitude), frost flowers (patience), and daisies (new beginnings)
After a few weeks Lucien turns up at the river house and thanks Elain for the bouquet. She asks if she can court him.
Thanks to Gwyn’s help, Elucien become big Gwynriel fans.
Lucien is pretty indifferent to Azriel, but he does think that he and Gwyn are cute together.
At Starfall Azriel laughs so loudly that everyone jumps. When they turn around they see Gwyn shushing him and snickering.
Lucien turns to Elain. “I don’t know that I’ve ever heard him laugh like that before...”
Elain just smiles, “Gwyn has a way of bringing that out in him.”
No one - no one - is happier for Azriel than Mor.
She hasn’t seen him like this is centuries.
It reminds Morrigan of when he first started flirting with her and thought he stood a chance.
He’s all smiles and laughs and admiration.
And Gwyn is a good karaoke partner.
Morrigan and Gwyn sing karaoke almost every Friday at Rita’s... until one day Azriel asks to join them in a trio.
And Morrigan can’t believe her ears.
Azriel has never wanted to sing in public. In fact, she hasn’t heard him sing in centuries...
When they all sing together, she remembers what a beautiful sound Azriel’s voice is.
And Morrigan can’t help but smile at the way Azriel looks at Gwyn when she harmonizes high notes - like she’s the most amazing thing to exist.
One night Gwyn is staying at the river house and she retires to Azriel’s guest chambers while everyone else stays up playing cards.
“Az,” Morrigan says gently. “You’re really lucky, you know that?”
Azriel just smiles, knowing exactly what she’s talking about. “I know.”
She pecks Azriel on the cheek. “Gwyn is lucky too.”
Azriel’s cheeks flush...
...and he proceeds to annihilate Morrigan at poker shamelessly.
Morrigan is the first to congratulate the pair when they announce that they are mates. No one knows quite how to react to the news, but Morrigan’s happiness for them is instinctual.
She has missed seeing her friend smile.
And for the rest of their lives Morrigan shamelessly teases the couple about how disgustingly adorable they are together.
Because she knows Azriel secretly loves it despite the way he rolls his eyes.
@thecrispypotatochip @genya-berdara @mystupidbabydoll @gwynrielsupremacy @generalnesta @ayshasn @feathery-ass @gwynkyrie @imsointobooks @allthebooksunderthemoon
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Azriel’s shadows and Fourth Dread Trove
I don’t know how many theories I made about the fourth Dread Trove at this point but here you go again another theory.
(1) And in this theory I wrote about the fourth one being unmade. I still think that BUT at the end I wrote that was the reason Nesta couldn’t see it.
However, after this theory my mind changed.
In the book when Cass and Azriel went to rescue Eris from Briallyn but they came to face with Koschei. At first when I read this part I thought nothing about it but reading a second time...
“Where is Briallyn?” Azriel demanded.
“I spend so many months preparing for you,” Koschei crooned, “and you don’t even wish to speak to me?”
It’s obvious he speaks to azriel. So obvious.
And so many months??? Preparing? What did he prepare?
Then I thought about it why Koschei would prepare for Azriel. And Fourth dread trove came to my mind. What Nesta saw about the fourth dread trove.
Veiled in shadows
We all know that Azriel is a shadowsinger. Only shadowsinger we know about. AND only he can go into the shadows.
Also he can hide things in shadows. Like the necklace he gave to Elain.
When Azriel discovered his powers, fae must know about the shadowsingers to call him that.
There has to be another shadowsinger in the history.
What if this shadowsinger hid the fourth dread trove IN shadows. And Koschei knows about this. That is why he prepared for him?????
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I Read A Court of Silver Flames Because I Guess I Just Hate Myself Now
Here’s a fun fact about me: I work in a hospital emergency department. Some shifts, I hit a point where we’re short-staffed, there are sixty people in triage, ambulances are calling in every 2.5 minutes, everybody has COVID and/or bedbugs, and I’m running on adrenaline, half a protein bar, and a metric fuckton of cold black coffee. I realize it’s not going to get better, so I embrace it. I lean into the shitshow, and it’s almost like ascending to a higher state of consciousness.
It’s a point where, someone could literally take a shit on my shoes while naked and screaming obscenities (this has happened), and I’m just like, IS THAT ALL YOU GOT? BRING IT ON! When I hit that point, I am fucking invincible.
That’s where I’m at with SJM books, and… ACOSF almost broke me anyway.
I might be done after this one. Either way, I’m going to have to take a long, hard look at every life choice that brought me to the last two days I spent reading this book.
Hold on tight, everyone, because this book is a dumpster fire of such epic proportions, I wouldn’t use its pages to wipe my ass. This is a very long recap, and I had to cut a LOT just so it wouldn’t be a novel by itself. CW for a truly astonishing amount of slut-shaming, piss-poor treatment of mental health and addiction issues, and multiple graphically detailed sexual assaults.
We open with Nesta reminiscing about her experience in the Cauldron. I really used to like the idea of “the dark between the stars,” but now that metaphor or some variation is in every shitty fantasy book. I think SJM’s contract with her publisher requires her to use it at least 11 times per book.
And, the writing. It has not changed. Hilarious—I thought it’d be hilarious if I wrote this entire review in SJM prose, but… no. I can’t. My pride… it just won’t let me. I will settle for one, just one paragraph, hoping against hope it’s enough to drive the impression home. Just know—it’s like bad poetry, fractured fragments of slivered sentences, bizarre sexual metaphors that blaze into your eyelids and claim a space in your brain. An unholy attempt at a signature style, or lack of a competent editor. Or both. All of it.
Ahem. Anyway. There was a throwaway line in ACOWAR where it’s implied that, what looked like seconds for everyone on the outside, was actually a very, very, very long time for Nesta inside the Cauldron. It was never explored, but it was a cool idea that made a lot of sense: Her trauma stemmed not from becoming a gorgeous, powerful, immortal High Fae, but from whatever lengthy torture she endured.
The first three pages of this book completely undo that theory of mine. Nesta is LITERALLY just whining about becoming immortal, and how much that sucks. She drinks to “quell her writhing power.” So, yeah, it’s the exact same goddamn predicament as every SJM character ever: Woe is me, I’m powerful and immortal and special! Oh no. Sad. :(
For the purposes of this review, we’re going to act like Nesta has legitimate things to complain about, because the book seems to think she does (and I don’t mean to downplay her father’s death. It’s just that the majority of the narrative focus is in a weird, weird place that makes no sense to me). The book does not deal very well with said trauma.
Cassian retrieves Nesta from her crappy apartment, because Feysand wants to talk to her. We’re told this building is sorely in need of repairs, and I’m like, wait a minute, didn’t Feysand just build themselves a riverside mansion? But “Velaris has no slums,” so I guess it’s fine. Cassian is nervous about being here, and thinks about how Nesta infuriates him and he’s borderline afraid of her, and OH MY GOD SHE’S WEARING ANOTHER MAN’S SHIRT.
Also, she’s “too damn thin,” but still somehow has “full, inviting breasts.” These are not!!! Things!!! That can coexist!!!
Cassian says “Feyre wants you at the house,” to which Nesta is like “Which one? She has five.” At least someone is thinking it. Shit, I’d be running up their tab too, just out of spite. If they’re going to waste this much money on FIVE HOUSES (not to mention all the shopping and gift-giving that goes on in these books), might as well waste even more! Maybe they’ll see the bill and grow some self-awareness!
They go to Feysand’s riverside palace, and Nesta thinks about how much she hates it. Not because, idk, it’s a colossal waste of money—she hates it because it’s too damn perfect. Feyre has a magical shield around her, and is wearing leggings and a baggy sweater because she’s literally a white girl Instagram influencer.
Amren and Rhys are exceptionally nasty and slut-shamey in this conversation. Feyre just barely keeps Rhys in line with her serene feminine calm, or some shit. Seriously, Feyre spends most of this book either reining Rhys in from his temper tantrums, or crying. I cannot stand Feyre, and I think she got shafted in this book.
Meanwhile, the narrative takes a moment to suck Rhys’s dick: “the raw command in his voice, the utter dominance and power.” See, he’s just so naturally alpha that everyone else’s fucking biological instincts make them want to bow to him. God, this is such fucked up worldbuilding on so many levels.
The Inner Circle is tired of Nesta spending their money on her bad habits. Exorbitant wealth aside, this is understandable. They stage an intervention, cut her funding off, and suggest psychiatric treatment and/or rehab—wait, no, just kidding. They… *checks notes* ORCHESTRATE A PLAN TO CONTROL EVERY ASPECT OF HER LIFE.
They’re going to make her live in the House of Wind and work in their library for no pay, in between training every day with Cassian. All of this is phrased like a command, like they own her, and you get two guesses whose idea it was (hint: it wasn’t Feyre’s).
Oh, wait, they do actually give her one other option: go back to the human lands. Because—and this is literally in the text—“it’ll be more than enough of a prison” for Nesta. I mean, fucking YIKES, guys. You could have just cut her off, let her do whatever the hell she wants, just with her own resources.
Let’s talk about this for a second. I spend a lot of time with psych patients, and with many people… yeah. Enablers can make the problem worse. There comes a time when “tough love” is necessary. It was for me. I have, historically, been an utter piece of shit to people I cared about, while mentally ill. But there is a FINE FUCKING LINE between “I’m not going to pay for your drug habit” or “you’re being an asshole so I cannot keep speaking to you for the sake of my own mental health”, and “I am going to seize control of every aspect of your life and shame you for your choices.”
Finally, we learn that Rhys is having Nesta’s apartment building condemned and rebuilt into a shelter for families displaced by the war, which sounds nice until you think about it for longer than twenty seconds. What about the people who, idk, LIVE THERE ALREADY? Why didn’t you use that GIANT CHUNK OF RIVERSIDE LAND NO ONE WAS USING to do that instead?
Rhys wants Cassian to investigate the human queens, because his actual spymaster is too busy with some other vague shit. Cassian is like, aren’t I supposed to be running the army, but apparently that’s not “enough” now. When they’re on the brink of war. Okay.
There’s a super interesting bit about how Cassian and Azriel and Rhys were huge sluts in their youth, and would often have sex in the same room as each other. Because that’s... a thing that heterosexual men do all the time.
All of Cassian’s narration is, tbh, dramatically homoerotic. Especially where Rhys is concerned. There’s a line a little later where he describes “a smooth male voice purred into his mind.” Other highlights include “the inherent dominance in his stare”, and making note of his “hard muscles.” I am 100% certain this is unintentional, just a byproduct of SJM not understanding how to differentiate POVs, which makes it even more hilarious.
Moving on: Nesta doesn’t want to eat. We get reminder after reminder that Nesta is skinny, just SO SKINNY, and goes ENTIRE DAYS without eating. It’s repeated so much it feels like a weird flex, and I am… sorry for what I said about her character getting a nuanced portrayal of PTSD. We got one entire chapter about her sleeping around, overspending, and drinking, and now all that’s left is NIGHTMARES AND WEIGHT LOSS. The book doesn’t even bother going into what happens if you quit alcohol cold turkey like that. All she does it occasionally think about how she wants a drink. And… I don’t care if she’s Fae; alcohol withdrawal is no joke. You certainly don’t just go from binge drinking every night, to hard physical training and teetotaling in one day. It is a hellish recovery process that can land you in the hospital, and I’ve seen it happen to people who don’t consider themselves “alcoholics” (the definition of alcoholism is also a lot broader than most people think). At least get this girl some thiamine and folic acid supplements, ffs.
The ~sexy banter~ between Cassian and Nesta is already uncomfortable. Cassian insists Nesta will end up climbing into his bed, approximately two paragraphs after Nesta tells him to never put his hands on her again, AND approximately three pages after we get a detailed recap of the time she was sexually assaulted. It is a tonal nightmare.
Nesta has these little conversations with the enchanted house, which argues with her and brings her cake and smutty books. It’s the most compelling relationship in this entire series.
The Illyrians are still sexist assholes. Nesta refuses to train. Cassian meets with Jurian, Lucien, Eris, and Vassa (the human queen who turns into a firebird at night. Described as “golden.”), “playing courtier.” There’s still no sign of a plot. Cassian does not enjoy his new role, and reflects that he’s VERY VERY badly suited for it (he is correct), which begs the question: WHY THE FUCK. You’re a head of state, Rhysand. You can’t just appoint unqualified people to critically important positions because you think they need to undergo character development.
We learn that our big villain for this book is Briallyn, the human queen who went into the Cauldron and became—brace yourselves—old and ugly. Her entire motivation is literally just “I want my youth and beauty back,” because FEEEEEMAAAAALLEEEEE. She’s working with Koschei, this death god sorcerer guy, and Beron, High Lord of the Autumn Court, whose motives are only slightly more nuanced (read: still shallow af, but not tied up in their gender).
Nesta meets an Illyrian with clipped wings named Emerie (coded Asian, with a very traditional, sexist, and abusive father), and a half-nymph library priestess named Gwyn. Both are slim and slender. Both these characters start training with Nesta and Cassian. Emerie has this line “It’s nice to meet another female who’s not obsessed with marriage and baby making.” Remember that line. Just remember it.
Nesta keeps insulting Rhys, which makes Cassian and Azriel shit their pants. Guys, I think Cassian is into Rhys.
Feyre mentions that she “hasn’t figured out how to break free of (the magical shield Rhys put around her)”, and, um…. Isn’t this eerily close to what Tamlin did to her in ACOMAF? Does no one else see the resemblance here? But no. Of course not. Rhys isn’t a controlling bastard, he’s GOD. This series isn’t even pretending he’s not the center of the universe anymore. Feyre who? We’re also reminded that she is TWENTY ONE YEARS OLD. Cassian tells us that at that age, he was still “drinking and fucking”, ie, extremely adult behaviors, so there goes any pretense we still had to cling to that Fae mature slower than humans. Also, “she’s so mature for her age” is a classic pedophile excuse.
Also worth noting is that Gwyn is 28, and Cassian calls her “just a girl.” Nesta is 25. I’m just going to leave that there.
Nesta finally agrees to train, and does CrossFit with Cassian. We learn about the Blood Rite, which separates Illyrians into three tiers of warrior. Rhys, Azriel, and Cassian are three out of six warriors ever to have reached the top tier. Women haven’t been allowed to participate because “they would have a different, worse kind of violence to defend against.” I get where he’s coming from, but… men rape each other all the time, especially in male-dominated or male-exclusive environments like prison or the military. I’m sick of the “but they’ll get raped” excuse for keeping women out of dangerous job environments. Just, idk, TRAIN YOUR MEN NOT TO RAPE.
Anyway, Nesta continues to talk shit about Rhys (I’m savoring it while I can, because I know it won’t last). Cassian tells her to stop and grabs her wrist. She tells him to let go, he says “make me,” and she… kisses him? I actually had to reread this scene to make sure I was correctly tracking what happened. Then she gives him a hand job through his pants and makes fun of him for coming so quickly. Isn’t it romantic????
We learn about the Dread Trove, these three powerful scary objects (Mask, Crown, and Harp) that grant enormous power when wielded together. You know, kind of like the Deathly Hallows. Elain volunteers to look for them, and we get the line “Maybe you’ll become interesting at last, Elain,” which is just too meta for me to handle. Nesta puts her foot down and asks why Feyre doesn’t do it herself. Feyre can’t, because she’s pregnant. Everyone is somehow surprised, like that shield wasn’t the most obvious thing ever. Apparently, she now has to limit her magic use, because fuck this worldbuilding.
Feyre’s baby is a boy, which is apparently the greatest thing ever, because a) that’s what she wanted (makes me super uncomfortable when parents do this, tbh), and b) it might inherit Rhys’s power. Wouldn’t it have been more interesting if the baby was a girl, and she inherited that “High Lord’s power” anyway? Isn’t this a feminist series? Whatever, what do I know.
Nesta fantasizes about a threesome with Cassian and Azriel, and WAS THIS THE THING THAT WAS CUT?!?!?! Part of me wants to die, and part of me is really fucking salty it’s not still in the book, because I feel like that would be hilarious. So, the threesome doesn’t happen, but a blow job does, and the level of detail is excruciating. Cassian’s dick is apparently so huge that Nesta’s (long, slender) Fae fingers barely fit around it. No, really. He also doesn’t fit when she tries to deep throat him. I think Cassian needs medical attention. Also, there is SO MUCH semen in this book’s sex scenes. So much. I feel attacked by this book.
(pictured: Cassian’s dick)
Nesta has a nightmare that unleashes her power, which is “pure death” manifesting as cold silver flames. Rhys and his “thundering dominance” (yes, this is in Cassian’s POV) calm her down, and he uses his telepathy to experience what she went through in the Cauldron. This is literally what it takes for this guy to learn empathy.
We then learn that Rhys is having a bad day because his baby has Illyrian wings, so childbirth will be a possibly lethal nightmare for her. Rhys angst to Cassian and Azriel, and Cassian tells Nesta, but Rhys is like, NOBODY TELL FEYRE SHE CAN’T HANDLE IT. Feyre, remember? The one who’s pregnant. The one who’s most affected by this. Just… stay tuned; it’ll get worse.
Nesta tells us that she actually thinks Rhys is a great ruler, she just doesn’t like his smugness.
Nesta locates the Mask in a creepy swamp—it’s literally just the Dead Marshes. Azriel is Gollum in this scene. Now you have to picture Azriel as Gollum, I don’t make the rules.
They’re attacked by Autumn Court forces, and Nesta is attacked by a kelpie, which… graphically sexually assaults her. Yeah. She finds the Mask and puts it on, raising the dead in the swamp to fight and save the day.
Then there’s a twelve page sex scene. WHY IS THERE SO MUCH SEMEN IN THIS BOOK. Most of this book, tbh, is filler. Like, infodumping and shitty banter filler, but also literal filler, in the sense that someone is being FILLED on every other page, and
god I’m so sorry for that pun the book made me do it somebody please just put me out of my misery
There’s a discussion about what to do with the Dread Trove objects. And we gotta talk about Feyre again, because she is SO secondary to Rhys in this book. Every now and then we’re reminded that she’s High Lady, but the book is far more invested in jerking off Rhys. At one point in this conversation. Azriel only listens to her “command” because Rhys tells him “her word is law.” I mean, I definitely do not think that Feyre is remotely comparable to Rhys in terms of qualifications to run a country (her lack of education, and being TWENTY ONE, to start), but that’s part of the inherent problem with these books. The whole situation here comes across as Rhys being a 50-something CEO having a midlife crisis, who appointed his barely-legal sugar baby to the company board, and Azriel is an exasperated subordinate who can’t believe he has to pretend this makes sense. There is NOTHING about Feyre that makes me buy that these people feel any respect for her. Protectiveness and affection, sure, but her character gets zero command presence on the page. YAY, FEMINISM!
(and, yeah, this gets worse. We’ve only scratched the surface of the bullshit.)
Then there’s another twelve page sex scene. With semen.
Nesta accidentally forges three magic swords. What follows is… something.
We get some backstory about how Prythian used to have a High King with a magic sword. Amren says Nesta should never be allowed to know she can do this, because of Reasons, and Cassian is not okay with that until Rhys orders him to obey Amren’s orders.
I feel like I’m watching Galaxy Quest, where the woman’s only job is to repeat what the computer tells her, even if she knows the answer herself. Nobody listens to anyone—especially not the women of this court—unless Rhys tells them to. Rhys is also still not telling Feyre about the risks she’ll face in childbirth, and angst about that for three whole pages. I fucking hate Rhys.
Amren then tells Rhys he could become High King with these magic swords, and oh my god, we’re really doing this again, aren’t we? I’d like to remind everyone of Aelin’s infamous “you could be an empress, hooray colonialism” scene in the TOG books. Well, this one is worse. Rhys is like, BUT I DON’T WANT TO ANTAGONIZE MY FRIENDS. His sycophants remind him that all the High Lords we’re supposed to like would be “willing to kneel,” and Tamlin and Beron are Bad Guys anyway. Cassian thinks, “He could think of no other male he’d trust more. No other male who would be a fairer ruler than Rhys. And with Feyre as High Queen… Prythian would be blessed to have such leaders.” Rhys does his “power rumbles through the room thing” for the fourth or fifth time this book, and Amren says “why do you shy away from the power that is your birthright.” Rhys waxes eloquent about how he DOESN’T WANT IT, and how he’s supposed to DEFEND MY PEOPLE.
I fucking hate Rhys.
I don’t even remember the last time I hated a fictional character this much, and this book makes it 108320853058x10^8508305 times worse by expecting me to be enamored and impressed by his power and humility.
AND IT GETS WORSE.
Amren (seriously, stfu, Amren) talks about how the three Archeron sisters were basically gifts to Rhys’s court with “powers to match your own” because this is his DESTINY, and isn’t this the most feminist thing you ever heard? I mean, Rhys did invent feminism, after all.
Eris is still in this book for some reason, and hits on Nesta. Tamlin shows up and Nesta threatens him with her silver flames. Later, she and Cassian talk shit about Tamlin, and how he never deserved Feyre, cementing my theory that this book is just 800 pages of Feysand propaganda.
Nesta, Gwyn, and Emerie continue training, and model some of their techniques after the Valkyrie, an all-female fighting force that died in a mass self-sacrifice (because of course they did). They think they’re keeping said techniques a secret, but it turns out Cassian already knows all about it, better than they do, BECAUSE OF COURSE HE DOES. Wouldn’t it have been so much cooler if Nesta surprised Cassian with a technique he’d never learned? But, I guess that would require her to have a single ounce of dominance or agency in her own story.
Elain shares an anecdote about how Nesta seduced a duke when she was fourteen, and the (much older) duke wanted to marry her. There’s exactly one sentence of aesthetic woke lip service to “wow, that duke was a pretty gross dude,” but it’s nothing compared to the time spent telling us how gorgeous and seductive this FOURTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL was.
Nesta finds out that Amren voted to keep the secret about the magic swords from her, so she storms down to Velaris to confront her. They argue, and Feyre shows up to intervene. Nesta is like, nobody trusts you with your future either, did you know you’re going to die in childbirth?
So I gotta be honest. For about one minute, I was like…. complexity????? Are we going to get some complexity and self awareness from this book???? Wow, what if Feyre has to confront Rhys over his shitty behavior here, and faces actual consequences? But then Feyre starts crying, and Nesta thinks she’s gone too far.
Rhys threatens to kill Nesta, and the next Nesta POV we get has her thinking about how she deserves that.
So Nesta and Cassian head out of the city for an impromptu camping trip, so Rhys doesn’t actually murder Nesta. We get pages and pages and pages of angst, where Nesta hates herself and has suicidal thoughts. OVER THIS. I don’t think I’d have hated this anywhere near as much, if the trigger for it hadn’t been NESTA TELLING FEYRE A CRITICAL PIECE OF HER OWN MEDICAL INFORMATION EVERYONE ELSE THOUGHT SHE WAS TOO DELICATE TO HANDLE.
I’m pretty fucking angry about this. I’ve dealt with families who didn’t want to tell their (fully mentally competent) relatives about terminal diagnoses, and it is a low, shitty, DISRESPECTFUL thing to do. Rhys and the IC are treating Feyre like a child here, and Nesta was 100% right to tell her the truth. I’ll die on that hill.
There’s more training, and more sex, and then Cassian and Nesta take a field trip to the prison to retrieve the Harp. Nesta has a vision of Queen Briallyn looking for the Harp (she has the Crown now), and we’re reminded how OLD and UGLY she is. You also get three guesses what color her eyes are, and the first two don’t count.
Some eldritch abomination called Lanthys escapes from the prison, and there’s a fight scene, and he shows Nesta visions of them ruling together (and also graphic nonconsensual sex, since he’s wearing the Crown in said vision). She breaks free of the vision by thinking about sex with Cassian. God, I wish I was joking. A big deal is made about Lanthys being a “true immortal,” but then Nessian kills him in like a page.
We get a lengthy history lesson about some shit I am not going to recap, because a) I don’t care, and b) it’s laid out like all the rest of the exposition in this book, meaning it’s a textbook in dialogue format. I feel like somebody gave SJM the (usually sound) advice that you shouldn’t infodump via long blocks of narration, so she just added quotation marks and “Rhys/Amren said” around her blocks of text and called it a day.
Rhys asks Nesta to seduce Eris in order to secure their alliance. No, I’m not joking. He’s like, you did it for that creepy duke when you were FOURTEEN, why not do it again? Also, “Eris will expect to dance with a lady of this court” like it’s her responsibility or something. He says he won’t let Feyre near him, and Feyre is like, “you won’t let me???” Rhys plays it off with a “charming smile,” to which she rolls her eyes and calls him insufferable. Squeeee. Isn’t toxic masculinity cute?
Winter Solstice happens. Nesta goes to the scary dark pit at the bottom of the library, and realizes it’s just the essence of the house that she’s befriended. She wishes it a happy solstice, and it gives her a sprig of pine. This is the best scene in the entire book.
There’s a fancy ball at the Court of Nightmares, where Feysand can be themselves—I MEAN, where they have to pretend to be tyrannical asshole overlords to keep the undesirables in line. There’s a paragraph about how everyone knows Feyre is pregnant now, and it’s… something.
“Rhys’s face was a portrait of smug, male pride” So, all I can think of is this:
(if Tamlin is the Beast, I think that makes Rhys Gaston now.)
“(…) Cassian knew he’d shred anyone who so much as blinked wrong at Feyre into a million bloody ribbons (…) cold violence rippled off Rhys as they walked toward the dais, Feyre’s baby-rich scent filling the air. He’d let everyone here smell it.”
See, at this point, I was just cry-laughing hysterically because OH MY GOD HE’S LIKE A DOG PEEING TO MARK HIS PROPERTY. THIS ISN’T EVEN SUBTLE ANYMORE
HE LET EVERYONE SMELL HER
Okay, I’m calm. Eris wants to marry Nesta, in exchange for his forces in the conflict that’s apparently supposed to be the plot. I admit I have exactly 15% of an idea what’s going on with that. Nesta says she won’t marry Eris, even though she “deserves him” and “doesn’t deserve” Cassian because he’s so wonderful, and then they have sex. Cassian never corrects or reassures her about how she does in fact “deserve” him, and she isn’t “just like Eris.” Nope, just sex. She lets down the walls in her mind and “golden threads” connect between them, and please tell me this isn’t what I think it is.
Nesta, Gwyn, and Emerie qualify for the Illyrian Blood Rite, because they’re “as trained as any warrior in Illyria.” It’s been less than a year since they started training, because Feyre isn’t done being pregnant yet, but whatever. Sure. Totally how physical training works.
There’s a Starfall party, which Nesta spends running stairs. She reconciles with Amren, and learns she brought the magic house to life with her powers because she wanted a friend. Awwww.
This nice moment is immediately ruined by the revelation that Nesta and Cassian are indeed mAtEs. She says some reasonable things about how that’s just a stupid word, and imposes a truly ridiculous and creepy level of obligation on people who may not even like each other—
No, just kidding, she’s actually like “I don’t like that word because it’s a fae thing and I never wanted to be immortal and powerful.” Cassian is offended, they fight, and Nesta runs away to angst more about how she just doesn’t deserve Cassian. I’m exhausted.
Nesta, Gwyn, and Emerie are kidnapped from their beds at night to go participate in the Blood Rite, which is basically the Hunger Games. They literally sleep up in trees like Katniss, while “alliances” are formed, and somebody dumps a bunch of supplies for their rivals. Don’t know why the Illyrians think it’s such a great idea to risk killing half their potential troops, but oh well, gotta have that intense and utterly illogical fantasy military training.
Nesta finds an injured Emerie and drags her to safety. Emerie has a head injury that leaves her unconscious for more than a day, but Nesta is all relieved when she stops bleeding. Right, cause that’ll make a difference if she’s brain dead. Honestly, wouldn’t it have benefited them to spend a week or two of their training on wilderness survival and basic emergency medicine?
The trio make it to the sacred mountain they’re supposed to climb in order to win the Rite, and share stories of their respective traumas. In any other book, this might have been a cathartic scene, but I just can’t summon the energy to give a shit. Also, Gwyn was rescued by the Inner Circle after being gang raped, because of course she was.
This asshole Bellius—remember him? No? I didn’t either. He’s another generic sexist Illyrian, and that is literally all you need to know. Anyway, he and his cronies are catching up to the trio. Nesta can’t keep carrying Gwyn up the slopes of Mount Doom—I mean Ramiel—so she tells Emerie to drag Gwyn to the top while she holds the line. The writing in this part isn’t actually bad. Let no one say I don’t give credit where it’s due.
During all this, Eris has been captured, and there’s some drama about how Rhys can’t go rescue him because he literally made a suicide pact with Feyre—if one of them dies, they both do. My dudes. Your codependency is fucking weird as fuck.
Cassian and Azriel have a brief run-in with Koschei.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter.
Emerie and Gwyn win the Rite. Nesta is about to get killed by Bellius, but Cassian shows up and kills him. Except, he’s being mind-controlled by Briallyn. She gives a speech about wanting power and her youth and beauty back, because remember. She’s OLD. And UGLY. And dark-eyed and dark-haired.
Cassian is literally trying to kill Nesta and she thinks AGAIN about how she doesn’t deserve his love. Is Cassian Jesus? No, sorry, that would be Rhysand, but WHAT THE FUCK, NESTA. YOU SAY “I DON’T DESERVE HIS LOVE” MORE THAN THE AVERAGE EVANGELICAL PASTOR.
Briallyn orders Cassian “Kill”, so he exploits the dumbest loophole ever and tries to kill himself instead of Nesta. She takes advantage of the distraction to lunge at Briallyn, and “unmake her.” We’re reminded one more time how ugly she is before she dissolves into ash.
Just when I think the book is finally over, Feyre goes into labor.
(Yes, this is basically Breaking Dawn 2.0, as others have remarked)
The healer suggests a c-section, and I’m like, FINALLY SOMEONE SAID IT. C-sections (even successful ones) have been around in some form since the 1500s, and these guys are MAGICAL FAERIES who can do MAGICAL ULTRASOUNDS. Also this world has flushing toilets, and FUCKING FLUFFY SWEATERS AND LEGGINGS. But the healer says there’s never been a successful c-section, and you know what? I don’t care. I want Feysand to die anyway.
Finally, something good is happening in this book, but all the characters are crying and praying.
Nesta uses the Mask, Crown, and Harp to stop time right before Feyre dies. She, uh. She gives back the power she took from the Cauldron, to save Feysand and the baby. No, I am not fucking joking, do I look like a person who has the energy left to tell jokes?
Nesta calls Rhys her “brother,” and I’m like…. what? When? What happened? When did these two ever express any emotion toward each other that wasn’t vitriol? Then Rhys kneels to Nesta to thank her, which is actually a nice reversal of what I was expecting. Then they hug, for some damn reason.
Nesta hangs out with Gwyn and Emerie, and she thinks about how if Emerie’s shitty family punishes her for winning the Rite, she’ll hunt them down with the Trove objects— “Which was why the Trove should be kept far away from her.” And, okay, I’m fine with the notion that people should know their temptations and limitations, and acknowledging those is a part of the healing process. But.
RHYS NEVER HAS TO DO ANY SUCH THING. HE SPENDS EVERY SECOND OF HIS PAGE TIME IN THIS GODS FORSAKEN BOOK FANTASIZING ABOUT VIOLENT REVENGE, BUT FOR HIM IT’S ALL SEXY AND MASCULINE AND POWERFUL.
GOD. FUCK THIS BOOK.
Feysand name their baby Nyx, in case anyone gives a fuck.
Then Nesta accepts the mating bond with Cassian and—
Jesus. Fuck. Okay. She says she used the last of her power to remake her womb so she can carry an Illyrian baby. She says to Cassian, “I don’t want to rule the world, I just want you.”
(pictured: my sanity)
I went into this book with the best of intentions. I gave SJM the fucking benefit of the doubt. I even wanted this book to be good, because I really liked Nesta as a character, and sometimes SJM does write decent shit. I have pointed that out where I’ve seen it. I’m not here mindlessly hating on her books. But, considering the amount of racism, misogyny, bad writing, homophobia, and horrible handling of serious issues that she’s refused to address after THIRTEEN BOOKS, I was bracing myself for ACOSF to be a disaster anyway.
I honestly did not think it could possibly be this bad.
I was bracing for shit on my shoes, but this is GI bleed diarrhea in my face. Thank fucking god it’s over.
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✨Gwynriel Headcannons 🦇
This got away from me and is super long so buckle in, mi gente 🤭 it’s more of how they become mates and less little things about them. I’ll have to make a pt. 2 at this point with the little things about them as mates because you know I am already strapped with those headcannons.
Azriel headcannons pt. 1 , pt. 2
Of all the mates in the inner circle, I think Gwyn and Azriel are the most complicated in terms of all the hurdles they will have to jump through.
Azriel’s entire life has been confusion. He loved Mor for 500+ years—
(anyone else think Azriel low key knew about Mor being Bi and kept her secret without her knowing he knew?)
— and then Elain comes into the picture and confuses him even more.
Azriel, at his core, is desperate for love. Moreover, I don’t believe he’d recognize true, healthy love because the “child weaned of love considers harm a comfort.” - Gillian Flynn. Case and point Mor and Elain.
Gwyn is also a survivor of a brutal attack and that healing journey is so commendable and has to be done without the idea of Azriel as a prize or her being “ready again” as a prize either.
Gwyn’s healing must not be centered around a romance plot because that is such a cheap way to “solve” a sexual assault.
That makes me think that Gwynriel will resemble Rowaelin very strongly in terms of creating a deep friendship rooted in understanding and shared secrets and trauma.
Their love and eventual realization of a mating bond will be really slow. Silver Flames has already started the ground work that Gwyn trusts Azriel.
That said, Azriel is the first to recognize the signs of the mating bond. Like Rowan, Azriel doesn’t/isn’t sure about it because of how utterly unexpected it is. He sees Gwyn as his friend, and even that bond is tentative at first because he understands her hesitancy with males.
Their friendship begins to form during private training sessions that happen accidentally. Gwyn prefers to train on the roof at night because “there is no safer place to fail than in darkness.” Azriel, our resident night owl and all around insomniac, is like damn girl you’re right.
Azriel also canonically trains at night, too. So, they begin to train together and Azriel helps Gwyn with all the maneuvers Cassian overlooked because he was too busy simping over Nesta’s ass in those Illyrian leathers.
Cassian and Nesta’s cool down was about silence and stillness of the mind. Azriel and Gwyn’s cool down is about stillness of the soul.
Stillness of the soul comes from sharing pain and grief—two things that demand to be witnessed. We release hardship and trauma when there is a friend with us in the dark who understands. This is the foundation of Gwynriel: a friend in the dark.
Azriel starts opening up about his childhood. Gwyn talks about her sister. Neither feel judged about how dark their souls truly go.
Gwyn, ever the chatterbox, begins to discover that our silent Shadowsinger isn’t all that shy or silent. Mans, to her utter shock, meets Gwyn’s chatter energy step for step. They can talk for hours. They do talk for hours.
When your soul feels seen it will sing and sing and sing.
Not that Azriel never felt understood by his brothers or the inner circle. It’s just different when you find your mate, the other side of your coin, the other end of your very long tunnel.
One night, under a clear sky full of stars, Gwyn sings a raunchy sea shanty about a crew of female pirates who, rum drunk, steal an entire treasure trove beneath the unsuspecting noses of a male rival pirate crew. The shanty is entirely inappropriate and absolutely hilarious.
It’s the first time Gwyn hears Azriel’s laugh.
Azriel, when he’s truly laughing, laughs from the stomach. It’s full and deep and loud with a musical lilt to it. Gwyn decides his laugh is her favorite song.
Gwyn is working on slowly leaving the House, and every time she does Nesta is there like a comforting panther ready to strike at any who approach. As comforting as a panther can be.
One day Nesta is away with Cassian on court business, but Gwyn is adamant on maintaining her schedule of acclimating herself to being away from the House. She goes by herself, and for a while she’s doing great, until she isn’t. She’s sweating, she’s breathing too hard, and she wants to hide hide hide.
Azriel doesn’t know why, but he feels the sudden urge to fly out to the side of the Sidra along the base of the House.
As Gwyn is focusing on her Mind Stilling, a shadow casts overhead. She hears a rush of wings, the soft landing of feet, and Azriel is suddenly beside her.
She glares daggers, knives, and swords at him. “I’m fine.”
Azriel’s face is impassive. His eyes stray to her sweat soaked nose and Gwyn wants to shove him when he says, “Of course.”
She doesn’t ask him to leave and he doesn’t offer to. Neither talk and Gwyn finds she can breathe a little easier.
She hears male laughter and her whole body tenses. Azriel steps closer, his eyes straight ahead. She knows she is safe. She knows anyone who tries to take her on is asking to take on the famed and feared Shadowsinger and the entire might of the Inner Circle. Hell, if anyone harmed her they’d have Nesta to answer to. But she is still afraid.
She hates it. She hates her own fear. She is a Valkyrie godsdamn it. Males should fear her.
But she is still afraid.
Beside her, Azriel hums.
It’s not a song she knows and she knows every song. His voice is low and deep and Gwyn finds herself harmonizing. They continue like this for quite sometime until Gwyn realizes this is the farthest she’s ever gone. Her grin and whoop of glee echoes around her and in the corner of her eye she sees Azriel watch and smile, too.
Later, Gwyn will realize that she has never harmonized with anyone as well as she did with Azriel.
Later, Azriel will realize the same.
It’s Nesta’s birthday and to everyone’s shock she wants to celebrate at the River House.
Gwyn asks about Nesta’s decision in private and Nesta says, “There were so many parties I avoided or ruined at that house. I want to cover those memories with new ones. I want to laugh with Feyre and tease Rhysand for how lavishly he gives me gifts. I want to play with my nephew and know that I belong.”
Gwyn decides that she will not miss Nesta’s birthday. Emerie is with her as she leaves the House and they walk together to the River House.
Nesta is glowing. She’s laughing, she’s chasing Nyx, she’s happy. Cassian has an arm around her and Nesta leans into it. They kiss they laugh and the look in their eyes...
It makes Gwyn want to be happy, too. So, when Nesta asks her to sing Gwyn gladly does.
The inner circle sings along and sometimes she sings alone, but Gwyn is having the time of her life.
There is a grand piano that Rhys doesn’t know how to play but purchased because it looks aesthetically beautiful, and for the occasional Azriel serenade.
When Azriel sits on the piano bench he raises a challenging brow to her. Gwyn lifts her chin and feels the way she did towards that white ribbon. As Azriel starts the beginning notes of a familiar song, Gwyn follows with a vibrato.
Their duet is like nothing he’s ever felt. Azriel enjoys singing. He does it all the time even though his brothers only think he does it once every few hundred years. He sings when he flies, when he needs to think, when he feels alone.
But singing has never felt like this. He goes low and Gwyn instinctively knows whether to join his note or go high. He drags a note and she follows. She changes the key and he adjusts quickly to her. His fingers on the piano keys answer her quickening pace. Their voices are so in tune he’s never felt so complimented before.
It feels like a challenge. It feels like an answer. It feels like something has come to a climactic completion.
They end a song on the same note, on the same breath, and they are both panting, both wide eyed and delighted.
Nesta smirks to herself.
Mor, a glass of wine in hand, holds it out in cheers when she and Azriel catch each other’s eye.
Cassian and Rhys secretly watch with shock and excitement because Azriel has never played or sung without being prompted. When Cassian whispers something in Rhys’s ear, Rhys grins and shakes Cassian’s hand.
Elain, in a chair with Nyx, frowns.
But Azriel and Gwyn don’t notice. They stare at each other and they catch their breath. They grin.
Trouble is stirring at the Summer Court and Tarquin suspects he has human spies trying to infiltrate his court. Rhys, in a display of friendship, sends Azriel, Cassian, and our three Valkyrie baddies.
Cassian cannot go anywhere unsupervised.
During this trip, Gwyn finds out about the Elain-Necklace-Re-gift.
Things do not go well.
Nesta is enraged for both the sister of her heart and the one of her blood. Nesta approaches Azriel with every intent to beat his ass, but Cassian interjects. That is until Nesta challenges Azriel to a Blood Duel.
A Blood Duel is a Valkyrie custom that is a contained and controlled fued-letting. The challenger decides how many cuts they wish to inflict, and if the challenged party accepts, the duel cannot end until the number is exacted.
Nesta only asks for three. One for Elain, one for Gwyn, and the last is for Azriel himself because he has to decide to stop doing things that harm him.
The Blood Duel is private and the two fight for three hours.
Nesta is floored when Azriel, after the three landed cuts, cries.
He feels like his father who was terrible to his mother. He feels like Eris who was terrible to Mor. He feels like Tamlin who was terrible to Feyre. Azriel just feels terrible and worthless and horrified.
Nesta, who understands this all too well, doesn’t tell him he isn’t. She knows that when a person is this low, when they hate themselves this much, they don’t want to be proven wrong. They just want to stand back up again. So, Nesta only asks Azriel this one thing, “What do you want to do about it?”
Azriel does not feel shamed or judged by Nesta when he says he doesn’t know. When he admits he’s never had to apologize for his actions and doesn’t know how to start now.
And this is when Azriel realizes that he is beginning to heal because Gwyn is no longer the only person he shares his hurt with. That Azriel was able to look at someone other than his brothers, other than Gwyn and whatever she was becoming to him, and show the side of him that felt regret.
Azriel later finds Gwyn on a private beach. The dammed necklace dangles between her fingers, her red hair ruffles in the salt breeze, and Azriel feels his knees falter.
He cannot remember the last time that has happened to him.
They are quiet for long moments. The waves break on the shore, palm branches scratch above, and there is a haunting hum in the way the sea ebbs and flows.
“It wasn’t about the necklace,” Azriel finally says. “It wasn’t about Elain, either. It was about how I felt discarded. How I’ve always felt that way. Giving you the necklace was giving you the last piece of me I had to offer—the piece that desperately wanted someone to choose it, to love it.”
Gwyn’s throat is painfully tight and she doesn’t respond for a moment. Azriel’s tight face is drawn and so so sad when she asks, “How badly did Nesta get you?”
It’s not what he was expecting, but Azriel huffs out a small chuckle when he shows his left arm. The gash is the deepest one and hurts like a motherfucker. It is the gash she said was for him.
“I think Nesta is one decade away from taking over the world,” Azriel says.
Gwyn’s lips twitch. “More like half that.”
The necklace catches a glimmer of moonlight and they both watch the charm spin.
Gwyn takes a deep breath and releases it into the sea breeze. She looks fully into Azriel’s eyes and says without hesitancy or a tremor, “I do choose you, Azriel.”
His eyes gutter. His chest feels like it’s concaving in relief and disbelief because he doesn’t deserve this. He doesn’t deserve the hand Gwyn extends to him as she stands, doesn’t deserve the way she gives a small squeeze when he takes hers.
“But I don’t choose only this,” she says to the necklace she holds up. “I choose all of it.”
And then she puts the necklace in his hand.
“So, I don’t need it.” Azriel is shocked he doesn’t fight the hand that cups his face, is shocked he leans into it. “But I think you need it. You need to choose yourself, Azriel.”
He hears Nesta’s voice in his head. What do you want to do about it?
He hears his father’s horrible voice. He hears his mother. He hears his screams as his hands were burned. He hears Mor’s laughter as she avoided his eye for so many centuries. He hears everything and it’s too much.
But he also hears a song. A soft crescendo of courage and friendship, a raunchy sea shanty, a duet that was both an answer and a challenge. He hears Gwyn. He hears himself.
With the entire force of his body, Azriel throws the necklace into the ocean.
Gwyn is a steady presence beside him and in the space between their souls, something that feels like a shore begins to form.
I could write an entire fic about their time at the Summer Court, but the Valkyrie’s accidentally decimate TWO buildings in a skirmish and Cassian, bless, takes the blame for Nesta.
Tarquin near has a whole ass aneurism and makes a decree forever banning Cassian from Summer. The decree is sealed with a Sea Gem engraved with Cassian’s name—it is the second highest threat below the Blood Rubies.
There is a noticeable difference between Gwyn and Azriel when they return from Summer.
They walk together most every day.
Every day they make it further and further into the city and every day that shore between their souls becomes a little more clear.
One day, they make it to Azriel’s favorite bakery. Azriel orders them chocolate croissants and coffee and when Gwyn offers him a bite of the vanilla bean macaroon she’s eating he PANICS.
He doesn’t know know but there’s something instinctual in him that leaps at the idea of accepting her offer of food. There’s also the part of him that deeply loves and respects the friendship they’ve built so taking the macaroon from her hand without her understanding what it would mean, without him fully understanding what it means, is a betrayal.
He shrugs off the macaroon. “Not a fan of vanilla bean.” A lie. He loves it. Has had that macaroon plenty of times.
If Gwyn notices Azriel acting off the next few weeks she doesn’t mention it.
But Azriel’s brothers sure do.
“The fuck is up with you?” Cassian asks bluntly.
Rhys, with the more gentle approach, says, “you’ve had this look of having a branch of ash wood up your ass that last few weeks.”
They’re at the River House and Nyx is crawling around their feet on the grass. Azriel has known Rhys for over 500 years and has never seen the look on his brothers face as he watches his son. Rhys didn’t even look this way around Feyre. This was the face of a father besotted with his son—who was looking more and more like Rhys every day.
“I want to build a house,” Azriel avoids their questions.
His brothers look at him bewildered. Even Nyx pauses and blinks up at Azriel.
Cassian raises a brow. “I am genuinely worried about you.”
“You and your big ass forehead can keep your worrying to yourself,” Azriel retorts.
Cassian bellows in laughter at the call back to Azriel’s first words to Cassian when they were children. Nyx claps along with Cassian’s laughter and Rhys just watches Azriel with that infuriating Rhys look.
Of everyone Azriel has ever known, Rhys has always known him best. That is, expect for Gwyn. Stars wink in those violet eyes and Azriel wants to punch his brother for that damn knowing look. Rhys always fucking knew.
Cassian shoots a look at Rhys but he’s already grabbing his son and heading inside.
Cassian glares at Azriel. “I have a feeling you just lost me a shit ton of money.”
Azriel shrugs. “You’ve always been a terrible gambler.”
And then Cassian gives Azriel a look that surprises him. A look that says Cassian knows more than he lets on. “Do you want to know what I bet Rhys?”
Azriel looks long and hard into his brother’s eyes and sees the answer in them.
He looks away. “No.”
A month later, Azriel lands on the roof of the House and is bone tired. True to his word, Rhys and Cassian helped Azriel build the house on the shore. The little spit of land he’d had his eye on for years. He’s exhausted from the labor of building the whole damn thing with his own hands and doesn’t notice the shadowy shape in the distance until his own shadows leap and dance around him as Gwyn nears.
“You’ve been hiding.”
There’s no reproach in her voice and her stunning teal eyes are only curious. Worried. For him, he realizes.
He scratches the back of his neck. “I’ve been...”
“Building a house,” she supplies with a raised brow.
Azriel stammers for an explanation but Gwyn raises a hand. “You don’t have to explain. But, I have missed you.”
She doesn’t know what those words do to him, but Azriel doesn’t know what his absence has done to her.
He wants to tell her the house on the shore is almost done and he’s built it with her in mind the entire time.
She wants to tell him she walks alone now and doesn’t feel afraid.
He wants to tell her she helped him find his voice.
She wants to tell him he helped her find her courage.
He wants to tell her that this is love.
She wants to tell him that this is love.
He looks at her and that shore in his soul is singing. His chest aches.
She looks at him and feels safe.
“You know where to find me whenever you’re ready,” and then she’s gone. He’s alone on the roof and his shadows for the first time feel lonely and he wants to scream what he’s feeling, what he’s suspecting.
But Azriel deep down doesn’t believe he deserves this.
His brother always knows when he needs him and always has a way of sneaking up on him.
Azriel sinks to the ground and lays on his back. “I’ve done heinous things, Rhys.”
Rhys lays beside him. “Same.”
“I’m not a good person.”
“Perspective,” Rhys retorts. “And whatever awful things you think you can’t be forgiven for, I’ve been beside you while you’ve done them or have given the order. If it’s hell you’re afraid of, then be at peace. Your brother is the king of it.”
“So are you, brother.”
They watch the stars in the sort of companionable silence that comes with being family until Azriel says, “I think...I think Gwyn is my mate.”
The truth of it is soft sand. It is the sea under a night sky. It is serendipitous and it is half a duet, waiting for its partner.
“I know,” Rhys says softly.
“How do I tell her?”
“What makes you think she does not already suspect?”
Azriel whirls up into a sitting position, wide eyed.
“She sees Nesta with Cassian. She knows what a mating bond is. She’s intelligent.” Rhys sits up. “And mates know when they are bonded.”
Azriel is breathless as he asks, “Has she said anything?”
“Not that I know of,” and then Rhys raises a brow. “But neither have you. All I know is she’s asking questions and you should be the one to answer them with her.”
Azriel is about to run to her but the panic sets in. What if she doesn’t want me?
Rhys claps a hand on his shoulder. You owe to both of you to try.
He waits until nightfall the next day to find her because it is always safest to fail in darkness, as she once told him.
He watches her severe a white ribbon with ease. He wants to clap.
“You can come out now.”
He’s not surprised she knows he’s been there the whole time, finding his courage.
He doesn’t know where to start. The space between them has never felt so cavernous. He settles for, “Do you want to see the house?”
Gwyn tilts her head. She studies him for a moment. “You want to talk about the house you’re building?”
“No, I want to show you it.”
She rolls her eyes. “Semantics.”
He quirks a challenging brow. “Perspective.”
He holds out a scarred hand and she does not hesitate to take it.
He winnows them to the house on the shore and he’s not sure who leans into whom, but they’re embracing and neither immediately notice when they arrive. They only know the other’s arms around them, the shared breath, and the mutual feeling of arriving home after a long, long time away.
Gwyn nods toward the house behind them, her nose brushes his. “Show me what you’ve ditched me for.”
He laughs. From the stomach. And it feels really fucking good.
It’s easy taking her hand, it’s easy falling in step with her. It’s easy showing her the beach he picked and telling her why. It’s easy telling her he’s always wanted a home he created for himself. It’s easy sharing his hopes and dreams and deepest fears. It’s easy because she does it, too. It’s easy because she is his friend in the dark.
The next step is not easy. He sees everyone who has ever turned away from him.
But Gwyn is not them.
She beats him to it. “Tell me about mating bonds.”
He falters. He literally crumbles. His hands shake as he runs them through his hair and Gwyn is kneeling beside him, patient.
He tells her about the history of the bond, of Rhys and Feyre, and Nesta and Cassian. But more importantly he tells her about them. About how the bond between them feels like a shore. About the music between them. About the way his shadows and soul sing of and for her. How she had snuck up on him and somehow become his dearest friend.
He tells her of all the little moments that were arrows pointing him to her, to the truth of their bond. He tells her of the vanilla bean macaroon and she cackles.
She tells him that was when she suspected, too. She tells him of that shore between them, how she’s seen it, too.
She tells him of the friend she found in him. Of the strength in her voice and soul when she thought of him. She tells him that they can take their time.
She tells him that she chooses this—him.
“So,” she looks around them. “You panicked at the realization of having a mate and responded by building said mate a house.”
Azriel laughs and leans his head against hers. “Got any vanilla bean macaroons on you?”
And that’s my Gwynriel! Hope you liked it, hope you have a friend in the dark and if you don’t then here’s my hand 👋🏽
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