#god damn it maas
They are literally going to break my heart in like, 100 pages...
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Do you have any recommendations for an enemies to lovers book? (And I mean i-will-kill-you-and-enjoy-it enemies to i-can't-imagine-life-without-you lovers: very specific, I know) kinda like Helnik vibes, I guess?
I read 'To Kill a Kingdom' a couple of days back and absolutely loved it (though I though the ending after the big battle was rushed; I would have liked some more tension), so highly recommended! But then I read a couple of sub-par books and need something to restore my faith...so, here I am.
Oh god I’m horrible at book recommendations but I shall try😂also “To Kill A Kingdom” is on my list!!👀I feel like you’ve probably heard about most of these but enjoy nonetheless😂
•Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas—this whole series is great and there’s quite a few ships that follow the “enemies to lovers” and “I want you dead” trope and the are all FANTASTIC so would definitely recommend, also one of my fav series ever!!
•A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Mass—can you tell I’m an SJM fan? Tbh ACOTAR was one of my first dives into fantasy and I loved the ship in this, it was done so well and I cant wait for the next book!!!
•From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout—you may have seen me just rambling away to Annie and Jordan about this, but I can explain to you how good this series is!! I’m in love with the characters and the world and she pops out books so fast so even if it’s an on-going series, you don’t have to wait long for the next book plus...really strong “I want to kill you” vibes💀
•The Cruel Prince by Holly Black—I won’t lie and say this is one of the best series I’ve ever read, like it lacks the complexity the others have but I still love it, nonetheless!! It’s a good wee read and you have the classic “dagger to the throat” moment so how can you not love??
•Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff—this is actually the second in the series so I recommend reading the first one, but it’s so good!! Sci-Fi isn’t my go-to genre but the way these books are laid out and the plot twists? DAMN THEY SUCK YOU IN! This was definitely my favourite in the series and the ship is just🤌🏽its a bit more “relentless, sarcastic brunette who always flirts and strong-willed, sassy blonde who shuts him down” but it’s still got the “enemies to lovers” feel so would recommend!!
•The Risk by Elle Kennedy—listen, I love all the Elle Kennedy books and I have no shame in admitting they are fun trashy novels, BUT THIS ONE?? My fucking favourite and it’s like “forbidden romance” meets “enemies to lovers” so!! Brenna and Jake are just fucking great, and I’d also recommend “The Deal” and “The Score” for more subtle “enemies to lovers” plots!! This is a bit less on the “I will kill you” side since it’s set in a college but good nonetheless!
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A Court of Shadow and Ribbons
My First Post - ACOSF fanfic
I have only just discovered fanfiction and some of the stuff here and on AO3 is addictive. Big thanks to sarah-bae-maas, TrashForAzriel, MusicalMassasinsXxx, hey_itsjoanna and Chele shutupeccles for your inspiration.
Have about 15 chapters written, but will post slowly so that I can keep up with the story. No doubt if I haven’t finished a cohesive story by this time next year, SJM will have blown all of my plot lines out of the water, but that’s OK too, she is a legend and can do whatever she likes and I will love it!
Set after the special Az chapter of ACOSF. Attempting to fit in with the rest of Silver Flames and set us up for more Gwynriel. Hope you can handle the build up! SPOILERS. Do not read if you have not read ACOTAR up to and including ACOSF and the extras
Azriel noticed the glint of gold as it swung out of the top of Gwyn’s fighting gear the following day. He suppressed a smile and his shadows gathered tightly around him.
Why was that moment so pleasing to him? She knew the gift was from a friend, why wouldn’t she wear it? It set off her copper hair and looked as though the chain had been wrought directly from her very being. Could she have any idea that Az left it for her? Would she be dismayed to find it was from him, re-gifted in-fact after the failed attempt to please Elain? Az gritted his teeth. He remembered all of those enticing few moments with the beautiful Archeron sister. Finally he would find out if she was truly made of porcelain, or of the tougher stuff that the inner circle had glimpsed a few times during Nesta’s recovery.
Rhys. His timing was disastrous, his timing was annoying. Perhaps his timing was fortuitous. Why would The Mother provide mates for his brothers after all this time and leave him out. He guessed it was his luck, his destiny to be so left out of the family.
His relationship with Mor was better. They did not get to spend time together these days and she seemed happier. He didn’t think that it had anything to do with him. For the first time in a few hundred years that thought did not make him want to slash something. For the first time in centuries, he simply could be with Morrigan and not need more. He’d thought that it was Elain. Rhys dictated otherwise.
The snow was swirling around the training ring and the priestesses were doing a very good job of ignoring Nesta and Cassian’s scent and eye movements in between bouts of decidedly trying to hack at each other with an axe (Nesta) and a cudgel (Cassian). This would deteriorate into something messy soon as Nesta began to feel the weight of her weapon and struggled to aim the cutting edge where it would do the most damage. Azriel could see the humour in Cassian’s eyes as he too saw the fatigue begin and the blows become clumsy.
He glanced down at his scarred hands and missed the swipe by Cassian at Nesta’s exposed side while she ducked and came up with the blunt side of the axe at his waist. The gathered trainees gushed and Gwyn and Emerie clapped as Cassian surrendered his cudgel in return for a light brush of Nesta’s lips across his. He grasped the axe in his free hand and removed it to the weapons rack while Nesta was congratulated by the others. Gwyn stood back a little, she fingered the golden rose around her neck and glanced quickly at Azriel. He shrunk back into the water table and found his finger nails needing a cut, and a clean for that matter. His gaze lifted moments later to find Gwyn’s back to him as she returned to lunges with her practise sword.
Az cursed himself a coward. He really needed to visit one of those pleasure houses that Rhys had basically ordered him to go to. His libido was on a hair trigger and this Elain/Gwyn, should he shouldn’t he was the most difficult situation he’d found himself in that was not life threatening. What was sex without feelings. A relief he reminded himself. It would be a God’s damned relief.
Cassian had arranged the troops (they were not all Valkyrie or even qualified Illyrian fighters yet but they were certainly something) in formation of four lines of three. They began their cool down exercises and Azriel was able to revert to his normal strategy of walking the side and back of the group while Cassian instructed. The women had originally been uncomfortable with his presence, especially behind them, but he had learned to stay a good distance and using his softest voice, make corrections here and there. Sometimes he would ask one of the others to help by touching or directing the person having trouble with a move, but he never touched them himself.
Nesta made a suggestion that the group could use some chanting and humming to get in time with each other’s moves. Gwyn agreed to lead, she sang in a low undulating voice that seemed to carry out around the training ring and back to all of those repeating her words. Az found himself splaying his wings a little as if they wanted to absorb the sound. His shadows quieted until they were nearly flush against his whole body. This. He thought to himself. This is what he needed to calm and maybe get some sleep. He found his throat closing and emotion washed through him with the pure sound of Gwyn harnessing the breeze and the replies of the group.
Cassian punched him lightly on the arm.
“You really are a brute brother” Azriel shook his head and smiled at Cassian
“Interestingly brother, I get the impression that you liked that cool down and maybe could do with some more of that…” he looked over his shoulder at the water station where Nesta and her besties were sculling water and encouraging each other in what looked like teasing.
“……….relaxation”. Cassian did not let the tone deny what he was inferring.
“I could kill Rhys” Azriel grumbled
“For what?” Cassian was obviously shocked, “Rhysie did not tell me anything that I have not already guessed at, so whatever you’re talking about, you’re going to have to explain to me at some point”
Azriel shifted his feet and wrapped himself in shadows and wings.
“Just your average, you know five hundred year old male watching his brothers mate successfully and wondering where he fits into this family these days” He thought that he had diverted the conversation just enough to get Cass to concentrate on things that might upset Az and get him off the topic of horniness. The trouble with being friends with someone for five hundred years is that they can SEE RIGHT THROUGH YOU.
Cassian clapped his hand between Azriel’s wings and shot into his ear at a level that none of the ladies could hear
“Things get tight sometimes Az, and I believe that Esther from the Sidra Salvation would be VERY pleased to see you again”
“Fuck Cas, keep it down. You know what these females have faced”
Cassian merely looked intently at his discomforted visage.
“As do you my friend, as do you”
Game Cassian. Azriel knew then what had been obvious to his friend, the wanting the lust. Gods, so long as he was not showing that side to anyone else. He couldn’t be, he didn’t even know what he felt. Except rung out, unsatisfied and weary of the machinations of outside influences who wanted to thrust Prythian back into conflicts that it could little afford.
Azriel spread his wings and nodded to Cassian
“I’ve got places to be” as he shot straight up on the wing, then disappeared as he winnowed as far as he could in the one jump. He winnowed to Mor
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One Last Time 
Summary - Elain and Azriel were the true definition of highschool sweethearts.
But when goals and future paths don’t match for them, they do what anyone would do, go their own way.
However, they made the mistake of leaving too many loose ends.
What will happen when destiny brings them together seven years later, when Azriel is one of the heads of a huge gangster group who is still stuck on that one girl and Elain is a renowned neurologist with a life of her own?
Loosely based on Ariana Grande’s song ‘One Last Time’
An: All characters belong to Sarah J. Maas
Warnings: Mature language, violence, alcohol consumption, smoking, drugs
Hope you all enjoy!
“Az, what do you want me to say? That even after all these years, I’m still in love with you? Well you’re wrong. There’s only one person whom I love and it’s my son. There’s no space in my heart for anyone else. And definitely not the person who broke me.” Liar, liar, liar.
He’s right in front of me and my back is against the wall. “You might have gone through a lot in life El, but you screwed up when it mattered the most.”
My hand moves on it’s own and strikes him, causing a sting in my palm. His eyes are blazing as he looks at me. I raise my other hand to strike him again but he grasps it, strongly and looks at me. Something flashes in his eyes that I can’t comprehend.
“Fuck it.” I move in towards her, crashing my lips with hers. She instantly replies, moving with me and gripping onto my shoulders tightly.
I push her back against the wall and her legs wrap around my waist. She bites my lip and I release a groan, causing her to remove her lips from mine. I trail my lips down to her collar bone, kissing the expanse of her neck. I close my eyes.
Our hearts beat thunderously against each other’s chests and I’m suddenly 17 again, when I don't have anything to worry about, our lives in a perfect fantasy world. No drama, no fiance’s, nothing stopping us from taking whatever we want. Everything we want.
“Az, we shouldn’t.” She whispers and I know, I know we shouldn’t, but fuck I can’t stop.
I slide my hands down to her thighs and I grip them tightly, pushing her skirt up and she lets out a whimper .
I don’t care that Vanserra is probably on the same floor as us. I don’t care that my son is just a few doors away from me. I don’t care about anything other than the fact that Elain is finally in my arms after 7 excruciating years.
I move my lips down her throat, gently sucking her skin near her pulse point. “Az, Az, Az.” She whispers out, tilting her head, giving me more space to touch her, to kiss her.
I stand up straight, with her in my arms and walk towards the bed, slowly laying her down. I rip off the shirt she’s wearing and let it drop to the floor. She sits up and starts unbuttoning my shirt. I hold her hands and look at her carefully.
“Are you sure?” I whisper so softly, I don’t even know if she’s heard me or not. But she quickly nods her head, her eyes slightly glazed.
And then, everything goes very fast.
Somehow, both of our clothes have been discarded and I’m on the bed along with her, roaming my hands all over her body, her hand moving lower and lower on mine. Instantly, I pull her on top of me, letting her take control of it all.
Both of us lie beside each other, our breaths coming out quick and shallow. I don’t look at her. She doesn’t look at me. I gaze up at my ceiling, thinking about the things I hadn't allowed myself to think of in the past few years.
How I lived 7 years without her is unknown to me. But then again, I wasn’t living. Not really. She was the one who made me feel alive. Who makes me feel alive.
If only she knew how much I loved her. How much I still love her.
I stay in bed for a while longer, stealing glances at the woman sleeping beside me. She’s lying on her stomach, facing me. Her chestnut hair is splayed across the pillows, one hand tucked under a pillow, the other stretched out and interlaced with mine. She looks so peaceful.
Sighing, I get out of bed, not before leaving a small kiss on Elain’s forehead. I open the door to find Daemon standing in front of me with his fist raised and eyes wide.
Shit. I had completely forgotten about him.
“Good morning!” He exclaims with a warm smile. “I was looking for you, but you weren’t anywhere, so I thought I could see where Momma was.” He looks at me with uncertainty. “But, what are you doing here?” He looks down at his feet and that’s when it strikes me that I’m only wearing a pair of drawstring pants, without any shirt. I bring my hand up to the back of my neck as I think of what to say.
“I-um, I slept in here, because I was really tired after last night.” Not a lie, although, not completely true. “Did you need anything?” I ask hurriedly.
He starts shaking his head but then nods. “I’m hungry.”
I blink at him before answering. “Um, sure, I’ll just take a quick shower and come down in ten minutes, kay?”
“Okay!” He smiles and runs towards the stairs. He stops midway and looks at me, “And it’s okay if you sleep with momma.” Then he cups his mouth and whispers, “She keeps the bad dreams away.” And then he turns and moves on.
I smile at his retreating figure. “Yeah buddy,” I whisper as I turn back to glance at Elain still asleep, wrapped up in the blanket. “She does keep the bad dreams away.”
After what feels like hours, I hear footsteps trodding down the staircase. Daemon’s lying with his head on my lap, watching The Lion King, while I’m going through my emails. “Good morning Momma.” Daemon doesn’t even bother to look up before speaking. But I do. And I’m certain that either my heart has stopped beating or is beating way too fast.
Elain’s wearing a simple black turtleneck sweater with fleece leggings of the same color. Her hair is up in a simple ponytail, yet she is breathtaking. I am also mildly surprised because while black is my go-to color, it sure as hell isn’t Elain’s. Up until now, I didn’t even know that Elain had any black apparel in her wardrobe.
“I’m leaving with Lucien, and will be back by sundown.” She mutters as she covers her eyes with a pair of sunglasses and passes both of us without looking in our direction.
“Where are you going?” I turn around in my seat and ask.
She opens the door and pauses before muttering something under her breath and walks out, slamming the door behind her.
Both Daemon and I look at each other for a second, before I quickly get up from my seat and move towards my office, after peeking out the window to see Elain getting in a black Jeep with Vanserra at the passenger side. She looks like a woman on a mission, and after yesterday, I can only guess where she’s going to run off to.
Damn it, Elain.
It was a mistake, it was a mistake, it was a mistake.
I continuously repeat in my mind as I walk away from Azriel and Daemon, towards the front door.
I couldn’t fall asleep. I know he couldn’t either. Both of us lay there, only a few inches apart, but in reality, miles apart.
And it hurt so much.
I wasn’t even thinking properly. All I know is that I needed him so much at that moment.
I could blame it on drugs, it was a convincing enough act, but both of us would know that it would be a lie. None of this is right, but for some reason, it feels right to me. I can easily say that last night was one of the best I’d ever had.
Somewhere in between all the overthinking and overwhelming feeling of having everything and nothing at the same time, I fell asleep.
When I woke up, the only thing I felt was bliss with the mixture of misery. Two extremely contrasting emotions, but many times felt together.
“I’m leaving with Lucien and will be back by sundown” I say walking towards the main door. That was the first thing I did as soon as I woke up. Called Lucien, and ordered him to come and pick me up. Then, I had to rummage through my entire wardrobe to find something, anything black. I had to resort to the clothes Nesta and Feyre had initially got for me to find a comfortable enough outfit.
“Where are you going?” His voice comes to me, and it takes everything I have in me to not turn around and run to him. Instead, I continue toward the front door and mutter, “To hell.” before slamming the door behind me.
Lucien is already waiting for me, leaving the driver’s seat empty. As soon as I sit in , I see Lucien look back towards the house and give me a questioning look. I ignore him and connect my phone to the bluetooth. I give him a wry smile as ‘Prisoner’ starts playing and I take off towards our unknown destination.
Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I know I have to clear up everything that happened in the past years when Azriel and I were separated, to be together again. And god help me, I really want to be with him. There’s no way to resist it anymore. But first, I needed a little blackmail material.
I stop the car during the red light, listening to the song playing when Lucien groans.
“Elain, where the hell are you taking me?” Lucien asks for the millionth time. “Are you kidnapping me? Is this some sort of revenge thing? I helped Rhys take you, now you take me?”
I pin him with a serious look. “I am going to kill Graysen. You in?” He hesitates before answering and I add, “If you don’t want to help, I’ll turn the car and let you go this instant.”
He looks at me with unblinking eyes for a moment and then closes his eyes, sighing. “I knew you’d be trouble Archeron.” Then he opens his eyes and looks at me blankly. “I know the perfect place to hide a body.”
I turn my head to look ahead and smirk. “You know you love me Lu-lu” I sing out.
He balks at me. “Lu-lu? That’s it, I’m not going to help you. In fact, I’ll be the one telling the police.” I just scoff and then he adds as an afterthought. “After giving you at least a year to run and hide away.”
I smile widely and turn towards him once again. “I love you too, you know.” He just grunts in agreement and slides down in his seat. I shake my head. “I’m serious. I’m so grateful to you for being there with me when I had no one. I - I will never forget it, okay. And-,” I inhale deeply before continuing, “And if anything happens to me, promise that you’ll be there for Daemon.” I softly add. “And Azriel too.”
Lucien sits up straight and looks at me, his heterochromatic eyes wide and perplexed. “What do you mean ‘if anything happens to you’?” I ignore him and look ahead at the empty road. “Elain, what is that supposed to mean?” He asks firmly. “Elain!”
“I don’t know, okay! I just had this, some kind of, I don’t know, weird sort of feeling that something wrong is going to happen. I need to ensure that there will be someone for Daemon after I’m gone. I need to know he’ll have someone. So please, just promise me, that you’ll be there for him. For both of them.”
“Elain nothing is going to happen-”
“Just promise!” I shout with panting breaths. He closes his eyes and nods.
“Of course. Of course I will. You know that.”
I nod gratefully, trying to control my tears. “Thank you Lucien. Thank you so much for everything.”
Lucien remains silent for a few minutes before he speaks up again. “You know Az won’t let anything happen to you, right? And neither would I for that matter. And nor your sisters, nor Cassian and Rhys. I mean, Nesta would literally cause an avalanche than let anything hurt you.” He looks outside and mutters, “Speaking of avalanches, why are we up in the mountains?”
I roll down my window, inhaling the fresh smell of snow and pine. I don’t reply to Lucien. Instead, I just smirk.
He widens his eyes in horror. “Oh, fuck, Ellie, what are you going to do?”
Half an hour later, I finally stop the jeep off the road. I jump out and tell Lucien to follow me, tracking through the woods with no specific trail to follow. We stop when we come in front of a large log house. There was a time when I loved coming here and relaxing, but now, it all seems tainted. As if they all mean nothing.
I rush up to the door and put in the passcode, but it doesn’t work.
“You still haven’t told me where we are or what we’re doing.” Lucien voices from behind me. “And who’s house is this. Please tell me we aren’t breaking and entering.”
I try in another combination and stand back as the door finally unlocks. I walk in and Lucien follows me with a groan. I dramatically bow down and tell him, “Welcome to Graysen’s private quarters, i.e. where he hides all of his information.”
Lucien’s brows shoot up and he looks positively terrified of me. “Why are we here Ellie? And why have you brought me?”
“Because I need someone who won’t ask many questions and let me do whatever I need to.” I narrow my eyes at him. “Apparently, I was wrong with one of those things. But, I need you to stay here and look out for anyone who might seem suspicious. Graysen doesn’t ever come here during the weekends, so he won’t show up, but I don’t know about others.” I leave him before he can say anything else, rushing towards the room where he keeps his computer and files.
I didn’t believe what Azriel and Rhysand told me about Graysen dealing drugs and yesterday I found out I was correct. When you’re in a room full of drunk and high people, it doesn’t take much acting to make them believe you are just the same. I wasn’t shocked that Judy, Graysen’s most trusted employee, was there. She wasn’t completely out of it, but a few more drinks and she would’ve passed out, which allowed her to give me the best piece of information she could’ve ever slipped. I’m also certain that she followed me out of the club when I left with Az, which is why I ended up ‘slipping’ off the bridge.
I log on to Graysen’s computer with the same password that he uses for everything and search for his finance records which he has saved as ‘Finance Records’. Going through his finance records proves that I was right and Graysen isn’t supplying or buying drugs. I search for a pen drive and transfer the files onto it. I rush out of the house where Lucien is waiting anxiously while sitting on the front steps.
I smile and shout, “Don’t worry Lulu, you’re not gonna die today, that’s saved for -” I pause when I hear another car coming towards us. Both of us look at each other and start running towards our car as quickly as we can. I start the car and escape from there.
“Did you see his face?! That was-”
“Rhysand’s father.” I turn and look at him, my breaths coming in pants. “Why was Rhysand’s father there? I haven’t told anyone about Graysen’s log house. And I don’t think anyone else knows about the information being kept there.”
Lucien furrows his eyebrows and says in a small voice, “You don’t think he’s working with Graysen, is he?”
As soon as the fact registers in my brain I take a sharp u-turn, causing Lucien to scream, “Fucking hell Elain, you’re going to kill me!” and set off on towards a different destination, altogether.
After 15 agonizing minutes, during which Lucien continuously ranted about how I will cause his death, we finally reached a medium sized cozy-looking cabin well hidden amongst the trees.
A large man with silver hair is leaning against a tree, as if waiting for us to arrive. He remains where he is as I stop the car and get out, walking towards him. Only when I reach near him does he push off from the tree and open his arms wide, with a small smile twinkling in his pine green eyes. I smile widely as I rush into his arms, enveloped by the pine and snow smell.
“God I missed you. So much.” His voice after so many months feels so calming, I instantly tear up.
“I missed you too. Both of you. I’m glad that her number is the only one I can remember by heart.” I smile up at him.
“She went psychotic you know?” He says softly, removing his gloves to wipe my tears. “You know how she is on a normal basis, but after hearing not from you for so long and then finding out what happened, she went completely psycho.” He leans down and gives me a conspiratorial wink. “And we both know how terrifying that is.”
I can’t help but laugh. I give him a tighter hug when I hear a door opening, followed by a loud squeal. “Lainie!!!” Suddenly, I’m engulfed by another pair of hands and my face is filled with golden hair. I can’t stop the tears falling from my eyes. There are many things I wish I could change in my life from the past 8 years, however, I could never regret the moment I met the two people who were standing here and hugging me. The two people who took me into their small, weird, beautiful family. Those who considered me as their own.
From behind me, someone clears their throat and I turn to find Lucien looking at me and my companions in shock.
“Oh, Lucien, I forgot to introduce you.” I release myself from their hold and step towards Lucien. “Meet Aelin Galathynius and Rowan Whitehorn.”
AN: I am soooo sorry for vanishing. Even now, I can’t promise to update regularly, but I will try my best. And I might also go back and edit the previous chapters to make them better.
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Hey, about the ACOSF, what I got about the quote of the people traped in the stone was more like someone used the harp to open a wyrdgate, and then the people was left traped there. And people = illyrians, 'cuz if you remember before KoA, Sarah said that Rhys and Maeve had something in common, and when we found out that maeve was not from the same planet as Aelin, I thought, well, that's it - the illyrians are not from the same planet as Feyre, but no one knows HOW they got there.
Part 2: And just to add to this thought, Cass said that Illyrians are not high fae, and they're no lesser fae - they're just illyrians. Maybe they keep to themselves and keep those ranks and tradition hoping that someday they'll be reunited? I haven't yet read Crescent city, but I saw people talking about how Az knife is kinda linked to the plot.
Well DAMN. I hadn’t considered that the Illyrians weren’t from the same planet. I could totally see it. I mean the Fae kind of seem like they aren’t technically from that planet either. Idk if that was stated in the book of if that was the impression I got from some of the lines in the book (I can’t remember now 😂).
I’m not sure we will ever find out who was trapped in the walls of the prison. Like if it was the 8th court people or some other people. @sarah-bae-maas wrote a LEGIT theory about SJM’s “twilight of the gods” Pinterest board and how the culmination of the books could be a few of the characters from each all meeting up via wyrd gates/doorways to team up against the “gods” or some Big Bad villain. I could totally see all these bread crumbs leading us to that conclusion one day down the line.
@itach-i told me when she got to the prison scene in ACOAF that Lanthys’s form reminded her of the Valg. And since the Valg didn’t have bodied like regular people, he could have been one. I mean we have no idea. (Lanthys’s appearance also reminded me of Aidas or whatever the 6th prince of hell’s name was in the first CC book.)
I haven’t seen the posts about Az’s knife but I remember thinking at a few points in CC that I thought soemone was going to pull out Truth-teller. 😂 so I totally see how this could all come together. I’m actually really interested in what from this last book will show up in CC2. (Like is the mask sitting in the antique shop somewhere, was the shadowy object Nesta saw in Lanthys’s vision the horn? Or truth teller? etc.)
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House Of Earth And Blood Review
I'm crying and on the verge of dying.
This book broke me into pieces.
WHAT I LIKED (LOVED)
I loved every aspect in this book. Every page, Every paragraph, Every sentence, Every word, I loved. This book was truly and utterly amazing. I loved the characters in this book, BRYCE, HUNT, DANIKA, RUHN, CONNER, LEHABAH, SYRINX, HYPAXIA, FURY, AND ETC.
I loved the character development in this book as well as the emotive language that pulls you into this book and tears you into pieces. The beginning was hard to take as there was a lot of information to take in but after about 100 pages everything was just as I had imagined. I flew through this book so quick that I did not even realise the hours passing by. I loved the plot in this book as it left you curious and hungry to find out how all of this would end. The cliffhangers and the shocking info that has been given to you at the end of every chapter made me love this book even more because it just created a spark of something inside of me that forced me to read on no matter the shock or pain that the chapters have left you in. I also loved the friendships, romances, the family bonds and everything in this book.
WHAT I DID NOT LIKE (HATED)
I hated/disliked a little things in this book and it has got nothing to do with Sarah's writing but some of the characters that just made me so angry that I was fuming.
THE AUTUMN KING: He treated Bryce as if she was shit (but the part were he saw that Bryce was more powerful than him made me laugh).
SABINE: I don't hate her, I just don't like her. This is because she blamed Bryce for Danika's death just because she was a "whore" and a party girl. Like WTF. Sabine hated her daughter, I just don't understand. Like get your shit together.
MICAH: I hated this guy. Pure hatred ran through me even just hearing his name. First of all he nearly killed Bryce, Number 2 he fricking killed Danika, Number 3 he just simply was an asshole to me, like I was so glad when Bryce killed him. I felt no sorrow as the devil himself deserved the pain and that gruesome death Bryce released on him.
SANDRIEL: How dare she try to capture/kill Bryce. I hated her just as much as Micah because she put so much pain into Hunt's life and she was just horrible.
I loved Bryce. She has got to be one of my favourite characters that Sarah. J. Maas has created.
I loved her bad-ass character as well as the sweet, innocent girl you come to know later into the book.
I read/watched her grew up from a person who does not give a damn about life in general to a matured (a little) grown women who does not fear life and anything that comes in her way. She grows stronger and more independent throughout the book. She is willing to save the one's she loves and she is willing to give them a happy ending. She always thinks for others instead of her which made me love Bryce so much.
When we found out that she has the Starborn gift I was so shocked as well as happy as she used the gift to save basically the whole word from sinister devils that leaped from the pit of Hel.
I loved how she never gave on Hunt or anyone who was close to her.
Hunt was a bae in this book. I loved him so much. I loved how he had not a single bit of love in his heart but later on as he spends his time with Bryce he realises the love he has and how beautiful is feels. I loved his snarky comments that were humorous as it just lightened up my mood. I loved how he sacrificed his life for Bryce. Like when he covered Bryce from the missile so that she could live it broke my heart that he was literally shredded into pieces. But thank god he lived. And also when he lied about all those thing to Bryce it broke me and I was just like why, don't you dare do this to me Hunt.
SYRINX AND LEHABAH
I loved them two so much, loved Syrinx's smart brain and attitude as well as it's cute appearance in this book. When he lived after he drowned I was literal crying because... you know why if you read the book.
Lehabah was on a whole new level for me. I loved how shy she got when she saw hot males around or when she was praised and when people gave her kind comments.
But when she sacrificed her life for Bryce, Danika and everyone she cared about, when she died I literally died. My heart broke. I will never forget her as she played a big role in this book and placed a special place in my heart.
Loved Danika as a whole. Loved how she protected Bryce through all dangers and loved how she appeared at the end for Bryce's anchor. Loved everything about her and was so upset and heartbroken when she dies as she was so special to me. Loved how she motivated Bryce to live for those who care and love for her.
Loved how he cared and treasured Bryce since the day he met her. Loved how he was possessive and protective over Bryce. Loved their sibling relationship as they were so connected and protected each other no matter how dangerous the cause was.
BRYCE AND HUNT
Loved their relationship since the beginning. How they were enemies (kind of), friends, best friends then lovers. Loved how their relationship bloomed into something phenomenal and beautiful. I loved how they were there for each other no matter what was in their way.
I also love the slow-burn romance they had as it was just hot and sexy.
It made the book all the more fun.
I also loved the part when Bryce washed and clothed Hunt when he was in a bad state, she didn't care about the people he had murdered she just cared about his mental state.
BRYCE AND DANIKA
I loved the relationship they had. Loved the sisterly bond they had as it was so passionate. I loved how both of them were always there for each other even if Danika was dead. I was so sad when Danika died and Bryce was about to commit suicide but luckily Juniper came as quick as possible. Loved how they both motivated each other and how they looked out for each other.
Overall this book was absolutely amazing. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys romance, mystery, horror (a little) and more.
Sarah. J. Maas is so talented and I am so grateful that she has written this book as it has stopped the reading slump I was in. This book has a special place in my heart that I am very grateful for. I love how this book ended and cannot wait for the next book in the CRESCENT CITY series.
My Darling Kuchel
A chapstick in his coat pocket, then a ginger hair in his trousers... eventually a phone well-hidden in a secret compartment in his trunk. You can leave, but it doesn't mean he can't come back.
LevixReader | AU | Cheating | Slowburn | Eventual Smut
As comfortable as it looks, I don't see the purpose of it. My toilet has more use than that piece of shit.
Erwin: Need you first thing in the morning. Take extra clothes. You're going somewhere.
Tch, what does the he want now?
Usual routine: brush my teeth, long, sweet dump and shower. Get dressed and life goes on and on. It's no time to get so wimpy.
Well, about damn time.
"Shiganshina, currently working under Survey Corp."
She can't be fucking shitting me. She can't be just so near and not scratch her whereabouts sooner. Been fucking looking for her for 3 years— 3 fucking years and she's building a nest under my nose.
"And Sir." What.
"When do you deposit the payment?"
"Can't you yell any more?"
"You look like shit." Fucking masterpiece. Erwin looked like something out from my asshole. Marie probably chewed his ass raw last night. The sting from slamming the faxed docx lasted as fast as the thud in his desk.
"Thank you for the warm words."
"Should I break your bones, Erwin? Maybe break it enough it'll hurt to go to the toilet for a while."
"Do you have your clothes with you?"
"I'm still hung up with the idea of breaking you."
"Didn't I tell you to tell me if you know something about her?"
"Then it shouldn't take too long when you're receiving all her damn monthly reports, should it not?"
"You're right. I did not tell you right away. My hands were tied, Levi."
"Is that How Marie likes it these days?"
"F/N had some dirt on me. The one when we were in Coron."
And look at the blondie struggle. F/N sure had something going in for her. Paraded his ass hair for Marie to braid all night. Of course I'm right; Marie Kondoed his ass. One night in Coron, turned out to be his hell floor 4 years later.
Never gonna do that again.
"Bring marshmallows with you."
"That concludes our recommendation!" Armin concluded, a methodical approach you noticed, and easy to execute at that. It was almost too fluid, and seems illegal, but legal nonetheless.
"Armin, let me get this straight," Kuchel played with your pen, scribbling in her cutesy sketch pad you brought for her. "You want to either, make our shampoo too expensive and a limited edition. If it doesn't work, we'll settle with sachets or bottlets and transport half the workers to another factory, yes?"
"I know it's a gamble ma'am but we can try. I think Erwin would be enamored by the idea."
Indeed, Erwin will like it. The man loves gambling.
"But the 2nd factory?"
"We propose to sell them to farmers we will contract for the production of xxx crop."
"That's actually not a bad idea..." You pondered, now Kuchel was tugging your hair you grew out after giving birth to her. You've tried the shampoo; it was immaculate. The scents, come with pomegranate or oak moss. It sticks around over the whole house after using it. Moreover, it lasts longer than the old formula. It sure is unusual but it do stands out over the rest of the saturated market. The formula carries away excess oil effectively in just one wash.
Cruelty free too. A bonus perk.
"They get the land, we get crop production and installment and they get paid." The habit of chewing the pencil dates back years prior going back to you. Kuchel had your highlighter now.
"The current fair market of the land is about xxx, exclusive of the factory of course."
"But Armin?" Kuchel drew something in your face. Eren took the highlighter away from her. "What would happen to half of the workers? They'll just get laid off? We could hire them in alternate, what do you think?"
"That's quite a stretch to the cost... I think." Armin rebutted.
You pondered deep. Termination due to redundancy is not out of the question, it's legal, but too cruel for the workers. You can't just cut them off because you can't do it anymore-
Are we still speaking about work here?
Snap out of it!
The monster caged up whispered to you.
"We can terminate them too, ma'am-"
"That's out of the question, Armin."
"We can transfer them to other branch, if they want to. Convincing Erwin is the difficult part." The quick thinking blonde blurted out. And that kind of made sense. It was a series of net you've woven along, to protect the workers that might receive the fall out, if it happens.
You have to work smarter so it will not happen.
"Kuchel, stop tugging Armin's hair!" A fistful tangled in her toy-sized fingers, Kuchel did not let go. She mumbled his hair was so soft. You could only apologize to the blonde still attempting to scoot over to get out of the tangled mess. It was almost offtime in the office; a month's worth of work already finished. Damn, your predecessor procrastinated good. It was a good distraction, it kept the whispers of the past away from getting under your skin.
Kept them at bay.
Kept them from missing that one person that still means a lot to you.
And certainly you're not expecting him at the door.
"Maa!" She penguin-run. Kuchel grappled at the hem of your skirt. Startled at the sudden touch, your knees almost gave out by the sudden bend to pick your daughter up. Your face still with Kuchel's masterpiece, the last thing you're expected to do was to get flustered at your unkempt— and if you should put it in a professional sense— appearance. Aside from Kuchel's doodle in your face, nothing seemed amiss. You suddenly got conscious of the probable wrinkle in your blazer, or tangles in your hair.
Cookie crumble in your skirt's hem, probably? You hope not.
But why should you care? You have nothing to do with the man already! You don't leech off his money and never have you imagined you'll do it soon or ever. To you, financial stability means independence. And independence gives dignity. You promised to never give him the time of the day. Never will you ever again, after the strenuous pregnancy you had to go through alone, to never get yourself entangle with him anymore.
And never did you expect him to appear in your doorstep. Kuchel even being here.
You tightly heaved Kuchel in your arms, as if Levi will take her away soon.
"Eren, all of you, you can go home now." You shifted your attention to your team. You hoped you're able to maintain the air of professionalism, but who are you trying to fool exactly? "We'll continue this tomorrow. Thank you for the hard work!" Your smile isn't fooling anyone. You know that. You've been high and low with your team years back. It might not look professional to others, certainly not to Erwin, but you've formed relationships with these people. They know what hell you've been through, and the things you did to get out of it. Hell, you can't even say that you got out.
And you're not sure if you want to because once again, your eyes are caged with his penetrating steel ones.
Silence engulfed both of you.
"Maa!" You flinch at the sudden call, Kuchel smacking her lips as she tugged at your shirt. Breathing, once a taken for granted mechanism, was suddenly one of the most difficult things to do.
And for the love of god, you needed it right now.
"Are you on official business?" What a humorous thing to start up a conversation. Your heaved Kuchel tighter, hoping to transfer the unneeded nervous energy you prayed to not dawn in your voice. He still wasn't saying anything, and it kills you by the second for him to say something— anything to lift the suffocating spell he bound you from the moment he walked through that door.
"You sure fucked me up looking for you, runt." There goes the endearment. His tone unamused, but nevertheless a hint of relief washed over him. "Someone knocked you up while your husband's high and low up his ass?"
You didn't answer, but how dare him to accuse you of the very reason you left him for! "If you're here for unofficial business, I think we're done."
"Oh no," he stride over to you. "No no no no." He loomed over you; he looked the same afar, but now you've seen him close, you can see how much sleep deprived he had been; the lines in his eyes now there, his cheeks a little sunken.
"Who was the guy?" His voice cold, spine-shivering cold. He never took this tone to you, at least the way you remembered it.
"Da!" Kuchel interluded. Mocking him in all his seriousness. "Da da da!" She started pulling your hair. "Kuchel, mommy's kinda into something right now yea?" You bounced her in your arms, knowing it makes her sleepy the moment you do it. His eyes lingered over his daughter, her name giving away the revelation. He recognized the lip and the nose-- heck he could even piece out together her age and the years you've left him. His eyes softened at what you thought could be the dawning, inevitable conclusion that you ran away from him pregnant at that time. And then, anger in his face registered.
"Why didn't you tell me we were expecting-"
"You're not in the picture anymore, Levi."
"I'm his father, F/N."
"Where were you then? Petra's?"
"We're over since the day you left!—"
"No shouting in front of Kuchel." You growled, his antics stopped right away.
"I told you, I've ended it with her and I was about to tell you that night." You saw him squirm at the struggle of not fitting in his colorful language. If he wanted to see Kuchel, he would be needing to refrain from being his usual potty mouth. She would not need his sentence-ender 'shitty' for crying to heavens!
"Actually, I've never berated you about your Petra escapades before." The rage swirls in your stomach, threatening to spew like bile in your throat. "How is she? Did Oluo find out? Should I tell their in laws?"
"She's married now F/N, let's leave it at that."
"No, Levi. I don't think I should. No blushing whore should sleep with a married man and think she could get away with it." You hissed, closing the gap between you and your husband. "I think telling them will not suffice it. Should I sleep with Oluo as well?"
"You wouldn't fucking dare." He hissed right back.
"Language, motherfucker." There came your faintest whisper. You glared at him, your eyes begged to blink but didn't . "Funny how you want me all to yourself but you have no problem sticking your dick over your dolled-up bitch. I'm tired just seeing you, you piece of a nutsack."
"Nutsack!" Kuchel cooed. "Da! Nutsack!"
"See? She knows your name!" Sarcasm dripped over you like mercury, your strides imitates that of a victorious lone warrior. Short lived, yes. Because you know, at the back of your head, the things you've said to him, hurt you too. You miss him, yes. But he can't have you again without doing so much as lifting a fucking mountain. Levi is still Kuchel's father; you can't deprive your child of that, but you? Your heart?
If he still wants you, he can take you back. But it won't be easy; not like the prior years being together with him.
It's your turn to be difficult now. And if he surrenders, then that will be it.
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What I loved about acosf:
Nesta. Her journey here was phenomenal. She’s actually such a tender, loving soul, but also so...steely and powerful. Very different from being in Feyre’s head. Her story reminded me most of Aelin, as they both struggle with feeling worthless and suicidal and nothing.
The tools Nesta uses to heal: physical training, breathing exercises- this is actually stuff people use to heal from trauma. It was nice to see it represented well and believably in a fantasy setting.
SJM just really crafted the perfect healing arc for Nesta- isolating her in the house of wind, and only having her in contact with a few people. Nesta and the House getting along. Nesta learning to trust bit by bit, rather than thrown into a huge group that already loves and trust one another. When Cassian finally understood that she wanted to train alone, I was like YES FINALLY. She’s too proud to be weak in front of others! And she needed it to be slow, and away from her family, because she just felt too judged by them
The library! I loved seeing more of it and it being used to help Nesta as well.
The stairs. Oh my god. The way Nesta walks down and down and then up and up throughout the book and then she doesn’t go into Velaris to drink. And instead it’s a way for her to excel at the Blood Rite because she can carry Gwyn
Gwyn!! Such a lovely small bean, I want a thousand stories about her. She was such a ray of light on the page. I loved that we got to hear from one of the priestesses. That felt essential- that they not just be these blank walls of pain with no way to heal from rape. That always struck me as too sad, and I was happy to see Gwyn grow and start to heal and voice her pain and trauma.
Emerie. Emerie blushing at Mor. I SHIP THEM SO HARD HOLD ME
Cassian! Cassian is really just...a top tier character. Perfect? I love him as much as Feyre. He’s like...as strong and brave and caring as she is. And I think his Goodness was such a shining light in this book. It was so...grounding to have him as a presence. You just know that he’d never pull any sneaky snake shit, that he’d never be intentionally cruel or mean. he’s just...a good, honorable person. And I stan.
NESSIAN. babies. absolutely perfect together? I mean I literally could not ask for a better ship. So...fiery and burning and also tender and loving and the energy just CRACKLES BETWEEN THEM and Nesta being like...overwhelmed by Cassian’s presence and Cassian just defending her against everyone and wanting to protect her, no matter what, and Nesta wanting to shield him even from herself. Oh my god. I need to reread cause this shit it amazing
The sex scenes. Damn. When Maas wants to...she writes some hot sex scenes. The mouth fucking! Ack. I died.
The blood rite. I thought I’d hate it because I didn’t want to deal with the threat of them being raped the whole time, but then I was like wait no SJM won’t make that happen, and she didn’t and instead Nesta just killed tons of people and bonded with her friends and Emerie got to win the rite!! Which she deserved.
Nesta obliterating the queen. The paragraph about her power. I shook.
I liked the trove quite a bit tbh and thought it was amazing to see Nesta wield it.
When Elain mf archeron was like “you only care about what my trauma does to you” I was like DAMN GIRL I WANT YOUR BOOK
Seeing Rhys and Feyre from other people’s povs was super interesting
Nesta apologizing to Amren. Amazing. I loved that this was her one formal apology- though I think maybe Elain deserves one in another book. Anyways, this all was just so in character for both of them.
Nesta telling Feyre about the pregnancy issues. Exactly what needed to happen.
The last chapter was absolutely perfect. The last words! Nesta at peace about her father. Wonderful.
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Word count: 3156
Soulmate au: The one where the first time your soulmate touches your skin it leaves a permanent mark
Follow the link or read it under the cut!
KO-FI and commission info in the header!
He met Kakashi first. Well, that was kind of obvious. Genma met the last of the once proud Hatake line when they were both in the academy, not technically age mates although they attended all of the same classes. Back then Kakashi hadn’t covered so much of his body at all times but he’d still carried with him the sort of air that made others stay away, the air of one who stood above the rest even if he was good enough not to rub that in any of their faces. Genma watched Kakashi from afar because he was talented and interesting but never made much of an effort to actually get to know him. They ran in different groups of friends and there only ever seemed to be two or three people Kakashi deigned to give his attention to. No point in trying to make friends with someone who didn’t want any.
It wasn’t until they were both nearing the end of their teenage years and Kakashi had been broken in so many ways it hurt just to look at him that Genma realized they had never touched before. He realized only because, well, because they touched. For the very first time. And when he pulled his hand away from where he’d clapped it down on to Kakashi’s shoulder with a great deal of frustrated exasperation the imprint of his hand stayed behind. Some of it, at least.
“Just leave it be, Genma,” Kakashi was saying. “I’m paying my respects. The dead don’t care about rain so I don’t see why I should. Look, if you’re worried about me being late for the mission I’ll catch up, okay?”
“Go on ahead without me.”
“No, shut up for a damn second!” Blinking several times in rapid succession did nothing to clear the mark from his view. Half a handprint. He’d never studied his own fingerprints very closely but he knew that mark hadn’t been there a second ago so it couldn’t really be anyone else’s. What he did know for sure was that he definitely had a whole hand on that arm the last time he’d checked.
Kakashi only had one eyebrow visible at the best of times and when he turned away from the monument it was lifted in question, his uncovered eye dark with the shadows he’d been carrying with him since Obito’s death.
“Alright, I’ll shut up then,” he said. Amazingly his words came out with just the slightest undertone of humor rather than insult. If Genma’s brain weren’t currently exploding he might have appreciated that a bit more.
“Look at your shoulder. And don’t you dare try to run!”
So Kakashi looked. By some miracle he didn’t even try to flee, although that might have had something to do with the way his knees wavered and folded underneath him. When he lifted a hand to trace the shape of one on his shoulder his cheeks danced through several different colors that Genma wished he knew how to properly interpret. Trying to figure out what was going on in this guy’s brain had always been more guessing game than exact science.
“Half?” Kakashi whispered eventually. “What...does that mean?”
“Oh no you don’t, I know exactly where your head is going, don’t even try to say you must be broken or unwanted or any of that! We’re just...probably waiting on another, you know?” Genma licked his lips nervously, passing the senbon in his mouth from side to side.
“Well yeah. You know, like how Raidou’s got two mums and a dad? Or how Shizune’s got two mums and two dads? We just got to find our other one probably.”
Kakashi chewed that over for several minutes. While he thought Genma did his best to be subtle about inching closer. He’d been excited about finding his soulmate since he was old enough to know what they were but he knew there were less and less people like him every generation, shinobi more and more frequently taught from a young age not to look forward to something that could end up being used against them. Some people even hoped they never found their match to avoid the chance of testing their own loyalties. Privately Genma had always questioned any loyalty that didn’t leave room for questions.
Slowly the minutes passed as his shuffling took him closer and closer. They really were supposed to be leaving on a mission, were supposed to have left almost a half hour ago, but it wasn’t like the man they were being sent after would die any different if they arrived at night rather than midafternoon. Well, their pay might be cut some if they didn’t make it look quite like the accident they were contracted for but that wasn’t the end of the world. This was more important. If he used his best puppy eyes the Sandaime might not even punish them.
Eventually Kakashi lifted his head and took a deep breath, startling to see that Genma was so much closer but very tellingly not protesting. When he spoke every word carried the faintest tremble.
“I get...two?” he murmured. “Two people who want me?”
“Oh is that- that’s what you were thinking about? God damn it, Hatake!” With a roll of his eyes Genma flopped down on to the ground and threw both arms around Kakashi’s shoulders, more than aware that he was risking a knife between the ribs but also more than willing to take that chance. “We’re your soulmates. We wouldn’t be matched if we weren’t what you needed, you know? I want you, let's be clear on that, and I’m sure they’ll want you too.”
“Not dumb. I’m a genius.”
When their eyes met Genma was cheered to see that spark of humor had returned. His first soulmate had a lot of issues but that was fine, they could work on those together. They’d be fine until the day they could finally be whole.
It took a while. Quite a few years. More than a decade, actually, but Genma would be happy to tell anyone that neither of them had really minded the wait all that much. They had each other through it all and despite the idiot’s protests they spent most of them working Kakashi through the worst of his abandonment issues until he could be called something at least adjacent to mentally stable. In that time they both did their rounds in ANBU and left the organization to seek healthier ways to serve their village. Where Genma chose to fall back in to the regular mission roster Kakashi found himself roped in to taking on a team of genin, something neither of them thought was a really good idea but neither could see a way to get around.
The kids were, collectively, almost as messed up as their sensei had been. Out of the three the most normal was a little pink bubblegum girl named Sakura who spent most of her time swooning over the last of the Uchiha line. Kakashi did what he could to avoid contact with them just as he did for most people, a habit that Genma found entirely exasperating.
“How are we meant to fill out the rest of our marks if you won’t touch people?” he’d asked once.
“Maa,” Kakashi had waved him off. “They can touch you.”
Genma had rolled his eyes and very carefully not traced the colors filling half of his right palm.
Leaving the village periodically had been a part of life since he first graduated the academy but knowing that he was leaving Kakashi behind, trapped inside those massive walls until he felt that his new team might be able to survive the world beyond them, that was new. Mostly it was a new amusement. Genma made sure to bring home as many tales of the outside world as he could, playing them up for all the amusement he could squeeze out of watching Kakashi rock between wistful and jealous. Neither of them had ever really known what to do with kids until three of them were unceremoniously dumped in Kakashi’s lap so Genma didn’t feel much guilt over not coming to see the little rugrats. He knew all he needed to know about them from the horror stories his partner told him.
Or at least he thought he did until the years began to turn and slowly the rest of the village started talking about them. It figured that Kakashi would stumble his way in to accidentally raising some of the most important kids of their generation. If the last of the Uchiha wasn’t notable enough then he had the son of the Yondaime Hokage and if that still wasn’t notable there was always the bubblegum girl who picked herself up off the ground and apprenticed herself to the Godaime, smiling deceptively at anyone who pleased her only to punch straight through the sternum of the ones who didn’t. Genma, when he finally met her face to face, decided that they could definitely be friends after she gained a few more years.
He didn’t realize exactly what such an errant and mindless thought would become.
Keeping his distance from Kakashi’s kids became a lot harder once they stopped actually being kids, growing steadily in to adulthood until one day he met his partner at one of the dingy bars they both shamelessly adored only to find that Kakashi wasn’t alone, slightly harried looking where he sat in the middle of four other bodies all smiling and trading jokes about his new haircut. Genma was already laughing a little to see Naruto poking at the spikes now several inches shorter and neater than they had been earlier in the day.
“It’s certainly an interesting look, senpai,” Cat was telling him - or Yamato, Genma remembered he was supposed to call him now.
“Maa, it’s an accidental look,” Kakashi admitted. Genma slid in to the seat next to him with a little wave to everyone else, barely reacting when Kakashi swooned dramatically in to his shoulder. “One of the ninken knocked in to me when I was trimming and I took a massive chunk off the left side. It was either leave it like that or make everything match.”
“Well I think it looks nice,” Sakura offered. Oddly enough she even seemed to mean it.
Kakashi nodded gratefully in her direction only to wilt when he spotted the notepad that Sai had whipped out, already doodling an outline of the new haircut. Apparently the reminder of his own reflection was not a welcome one.
“So cruel,” he moaned. “All of my loved ones are so cruel to me!”
“I’m sure we’d all be a lot nicer with more alcohol in us.” Well aware that he wasn’t being at all subtle, Genma could only offer a beaming smile when his partner leaned away to glare at him.
“Does that mean you’re not paying for my beer?”
Kakashi harrumphed his way out of his seat and stomped away towards the bar, gumbling under his breath about joint accounts and shared finances. With most of the table laughing along with him it was only too easy for Genma to ignore Sakura’s narrowed eyes. They’d crossed paths several times during her apprenticeship to Lady Tsunade, a source of much amusement for him whenever he pulled guard duty, but he’d never really had a chance to get to know her more than that so he could probably be forgiven for not knowing what that particular look on her face meant. Or what doom it spelled for those that might ignore it.
When Sakura got up to walk after her old sensei Genma figured she was only going for another drink. Maybe popping off to the bathroom. He would have thought she was going to powder her nose if he had ever seen her wearing more than mascara but even the village civilians knew that the Yamanaka girl was the one obsessed with painting her face. If he had to guess he’d probably say Sakura’s version of dressing up had a lot to do with picking an outfit that best showed off her admittedly impressive biceps.
Not, of course, that he was disparaging such choices. He’d always been attracted to competence more so than a painted face.
It took several minutes for Kakashi and Sakura to make their way back across the bar but when they did they were both wearing faces like they’d seen the meaning of life itself and lived to talk about it. Genma was out of his seat and reaching for Kakashi in an instant, baffled when the man only stood there and blinked at him.
“Genma-san can we talk to you outside?” Sakura asked in a strained voice.
“Sure. Yeah. Did you…break him?”
“I think I might have,” she breathed. Then she turned and walked towards the back entrance with jerky steps.
Without bothering to answer any of the questions from those left behind Genma took his partner’s hand and dragged them both after the pink hair bobbing away from them. Sakura’s compact little body was built much better than either of theirs for weaving her way through the crowd, enough so that by the time they stumbled out in to the back alley Genma was a little worried she might have had time to disappear on them. Thankfully she hadn’t. He did, however, note that her eyes were just as wide as Kakashi’s and both of them looked rather like they would have loved to flee if only they could figure out which direction to go in.
“Alright, who’s going to tell me what’s going on?” he said. Kakashi gurgled a little.
“I, ah, okay so...please don’t be upset.” The leather of Sakura’s gloves creaked in protest as she wrung the poor things between her bare hands with perhaps a little too much violence.
“No promises. Go on then.”
The look she gave him was utterly devoid of humor but luckily for his bones she chose not to punish him for trying to lighten the mood. After a few more times wringing her gloves she allowed them to drop to the ground, taking one very deep breath before turning both hands to reveal her palms. One of them was half colored in.
“Look I know he’s your- I know that you two- I didn’t mean to! Genma-san I’ve never seen anything like this! I was just trying to get his attention so I put a hand on his shoulder and I guess I’ve just never touched him skin to skin before and-”
“Woah, calm down, calm down. Don’t start hyperventilating. It’s...you left a...a soulmark?”
All the breath in his lungs whooshed out of him with some indeterminate noise when both Sakura and Kakashi nodded in the affirmative. It felt like suddenly there was no more oxygen left. Distantly Genma could tell that his legs were trembling but he couldn’t be bothered to care about that at the moment, not when everything he’d been waiting so long for was coming true right in front of his eyes.
He didn’t realize how long he stared for until Sakura cleared her throat and he peeked up to see that she looked even closer to flight. Only then did the rest of her words finally sink in and he understood why she didn’t look happier about such an auspicious discovery.
“You idiot!” Kakashi flinched when Genma reached over to smack him on the back of the head. “How many years have you known this girl and you never told her we’ve got another soulmate!?”
“A- a what?” Sakura breathed.
“We- oh sweet chakra farts just give me your hand, here.”
Impatient to seal them all together, Genma didn’t wait for permission to reach over and clasp Sakura’s hand in the one of his own that looked very much like hers, colored in on one half where he’d first touched Kakashi in the same place she had. All it took was a brief press of skin and then he was pulling away to turn his hand over. They still matched, of course, only now they both sported palms entirely covered with the beautiful mix of colors that made up their soulmarks, each half ever so slightly unique to show that they were both bonded to a third. No doubt Kakashi’s mark looked identical and for the space of a single moment Genma thought to pity his first partner that he didn’t have the same ability to just sit and stare at his own mark.
The moment passed quickly. Kakashi was a sappy guy under the front he put up for others but he wasn’t quite that sentimental. Which was good. Sometimes Genma needed a little help tossing out his old ripped clothing because those shirts had been with him through so many missions they almost felt like friends.
“Oh.” The breathy whisper of Sakura’s voice brought him back from whatever tangents his brain had been trying to distract him with. “I...both of you!?”
“Maa, sorry about that,” Kakashi offered sheepishly.
“Don’t be- you- and you- and you think I need you to say sorry?”
“I’ve been chipping away at those self esteem issues for years, trust me. Might be nice to have some help with that.” Genma chuckled to cover his nerves. “Seriously though, you don’t mind do you? We’re both maybe a bit old for you but we’ve been keeping a spot on the couch warm for whenever we found you. If you need some time to think about it that’s okay. Just, ah, just know that, um…”
He was cut off from having to finish that thought by deceptively slim arms throwing themselves around his neck. Genma closed his eyes and reveled in the instant familiarity until Kakashi very shyly pressed himself in from behind and then that was it. They were complete. It would have been impossible to find words to describe the difference but it was there and Genma was just as happy to feel it instead of talking about it. After all this time they had found her, the missing piece in the beautiful puzzle of their bond.
“Who needs time?” Sakura mumbled against his neck. “I’ve got so much to catch up on.”
“Later,” Kakashi insisted very quietly.
It wasn’t hard to guess his meaning. Genma smiled when he felt one of Sakura’s arms tighten around him even as the other let go to reach for Kakashi, all three woven together exactly as they were always meant to be. This, he decided, was one of the better things the universe had created. He might give fate a hard time for all the shit it had thrown at them over the years but it had always been clear to him that this right here, the three of them together, this would always be worth it.
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I Dreamt About You Every Night
Tony Stark has been dead for seventeen years due to a mission gone wrong. He's survived getting blown up, palladium poisoning, terrorist attacks, and even Thanos himself, and he gets killed by - what was supposed to be - a simple day-to-day mission. Or, so everyone thought.
|| Chapter one ||
“You survived; I survived. We’re together again. I once begged the gods to let me see you - if only for a moment. To see you and know you’d made it. Just once; that was all I ever hoped for.” -Sarah J. Maas, Queen of Shadows
Peter's body reacted before he could even fully registers in his mind who he was staring at, slamming the door right in the person's face.
Right after the door shut, the reality of what Peter just saw came crashing down onto him, making him groan and tug on his hair stressfully.
"No. No, no, no, no, this can't be happening. This can't be happening again." Peter moans, bending over and placing his elbows on his knees in an attempt to catch his breath back.
“Hey, Pete. I know this is a really bad time and way to be doing this, but do you think you could freak out with me in the house? I kind of don’t want everyone to know I’m alive yet.” The voice was heard through the other side of the door, making Peter straighten back up.
Taking a deep, shuddering breath in, Peter opened the door back up, the air once again being knocked out of his lungs when he saw the man standing on the other side. Not wanting others to see him talking to the man - or the air -, Peter quickly grabbed his wrist and pulled him in. As soon as the door slammed, Peter instantly went back to freaking out, his hands finding his hair once again.
Peter didn’t even know what to do currently other than pace. I mean, what are you supposed to do when you start seeing your dead mentor/father figure again?
“Look, Pete, I know I’m kind of just springing this upon you; I’m probably not doing this in the best way possible. But Pepper told me you didn’t really go over there anymore and that if I didn’t come over here to see you that-” Tony began to ramble, Peter quickly shushing him.
“No. No talking. Just- Just- Just- shh... for a second.” Peter says, looking up at the ceiling and taking a deep breath in. “I thought I was doing good. This shouldn’t be happening, again.” Peter murmurs to himself.
“Wait, again? What do you mean again?” Tony voices his confusion, stopping there when he realized that him talking was making Peter freak out even more.
“You know what, this isn't even real. You’re not real; you can’t be real. This is all one big figment of my imagination.” Peter laughs, rubbing his face and keeping his hands over his eyes afterwards. “It’s all a part of my imagination - you’re a part of my imagination - and when I open my eyes back up, you’ll be gone.” Peter says before counting down from three.
Once he got to one, Peter dragged his hands down his face, whimpering when he saw Tony still standing there.
“Yeah, sorry, Kid, but I’m as real as can be; I can’t just disappear.” Tony says sympathetically.
Both Tony and Peter’s attentions were quickly taking off of each other and placed onto the fact that the front door was opening once again.
“Hey, Tiger, we’re home. You would not believe what Benji and Claire were-” A very pregnant M.J greets as she walks into the house, a small girl sleeping in her arms. She quickly stopped short and looked like she had seen a ghost when she looked up to where the two men were.
“Please tell me you can see him too.” Peter pleads once he took in the panic that was on his wife’s face. “J? Can you see him too? Em? Can-” M.J slightly nodded, Peter gasping at the response and turning around to face Tony.
“Surprise.” Tony half-heartedly says, sounding like he was also drained from this situation.
“Oh my God.”
* * *
“So, you married ‘Scary Girl’ then, huh?” Tony asks after a bit of silence.
Once the overwhelming feeling of shock wore off, M.J was able to wrangle Peter and Tony into the living room before wrangling their three kids up into their rooms and making her way into the kitchen to finish up dinner.
Now, Peter and Tony were just sitting in silence - or at least they were - with Peter staring out of the window as he attempted to calm his racing mind.
“Yep.” Peter shortly answers, not looking away from the window and not really being able to respond with more.
“And I’m assuming that the little girl in ‘Scary Girl’s arms and the other girl and boy that went upstairs are your kids?” Tony continues to ask, scoffing in disbelief when Peter nodded. “Shit, Pete. You’re really all grown now, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, well that’s what happens when you’ve been dead for seventeen years. Seventeen years. That’s how long you’ve been dead; supposedly. I-I mean, how are you even here right now? We had a funeral for you - we buried your dead body. You are - in every sense of the word - dead.” Peter says, finally turning to face Tony.
He looked exactly the same. You wouldn’t even be able to tell that seventeen years had passed by looking at Tony. He looks exactly the same as he did when Peter last saw him at the mission.
Just looking at him made Peter realize exactly how Tony must have felt when he got dusted. He now understood what it was like for someone to be gone for so many years, only to pop back into their lives and look like nothing had even happened.
The only difference was Tony was ready and prepared for when Peter got snapped back.
“See, Pete, I wish I could tell you what happened, but I don’t even know myself. One minute, I’m being swarmed by those HYDRA goons, and then the next, I’m waking up in the middle of a field and seventeen years have passed.” Tony tells him, confusing Peter.
“Wait, you don’t remember anything? Not even who took you?” Peter asks.
“No. I don’t even remember them sticking me with anything when we were at the base. I couldn’t tell you where they took me, what they wanted, or what they even looked like.” Tony responds, making Peter sigh.
“Do you think they were trying to make you into another soldier? Like Bucky?” Peter asks, letting out the breath he was holding when Tony shook his head. He doesn’t know what he would do if he found out they were experimenting on Tony this entire time.
“No, I would have noticed the changes. I don’t have a single scar, bruise, or scratch on me. My best guess is that they took me for the same reasons the Ten Rings took me; to build tech and weapons for them.” Tony says.
“Yeah, but if you were building all of this stuff for seventeen years, something would have popped up by now, right? I mean we haven’t heard anything from HYDRA in ten years; we honestly thought we managed to destroy them.” Peter says, the conversation being paused there when M.J came in afterwards.
“Hey, Fellas, hate to break up the family reunion, but you might want to keep the HYDRA talk on the down-low now. Dinner’s almost done and the kids are going to be down here soon.” M.J informs them.
“Thanks, Love.” Peter murmurs, watching as M.J made her way back into the kitchen.
“Damn, Pete, you’re like a fully-grown man now. I mean, hell, you have a wife now, three children and one on the way, your own company. I really missed a shit ton, huh?” Tony marvels, Peter sighing out a ‘yeah’ before they both fell into another bit of silence.
During that silence, Tony couldn’t help but think about something Peter said earlier. About how Peter was crying that this was happening again. He was still confused on what Peter meant by that and why he was adamant that no one else would be able to see him.
“Who are you?” A tiny voice asks before Tony was able to speak up, startling both men sitting on the couch. Tony looked around the living room, confused on where he was hearing the voice from until he looked up.
Sure enough, there was a little girl sitting upside down on the ceiling and very much so waiting for a response.
“Uhh…” Tony elegantly responded, unsure of both how to respond and how to react to the child being on the ceiling.
“Annie-May, get down from the ceiling. What have we told you about doing that?” Peter scolds, standing up and catching the girl as she let go and dropped from the ceiling. All Tony could do was watch, marveling at the fact that Peter really truly was a Father now.
“Not to.” The girl answers, sounding fully reprimanded. Peter just sighed, shaking his head fondly before looking over at Tony.
“I guess I should introduce you to my youngest daughter. Tony, this is Annie-May. Annie, this is Tony.” Peter introduces as he sits back down on the couch with Annie in his lap. “What are your siblings up to?” Peter asks once they settled.
“They’re working on their science project.” Annie answers.
“Why don’t you go get them and tell them that dinner is about ready.” Peter says, placing Annie down on the floor and shooing her off. “If you want to stay for dinner so we can talk more about this afterwards, you can. I understand if you would rather go back to Pepper and Morgan and make up for lost time with your family.” Peter hesitantly offers, already mentally preparing himself for Tony to up and leave.
“Pete, you’re my family too; you know you’ve always been my kid. I would love to stay for dinner. Plus I’ve got to see how much karma is biting you in the butt with your kids.” Tony sincerely replies, making Peter laugh.
And for the first time, in seventeen years, Peter was relieved from the heavy weight of guilt that would sit on his chest.
Tag List: @spideyspeaches @lost-lunar-wolf @joyful-soul-collector @hatakehikari
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a hymn to war | a tog + acotar story | p r o l o g u e part 2
summary: set in the future after acofas & koa | Prythian and Erilea have been opened to each other ever since a portal connecting the two worlds was found. Queen Aelin Galathynius has signed a secret peace treaty with the High Lady and High Lord of the Night Court, thus fortifying their friendship, and the union of their families. But when the other High Lords of Prythian discover the Night Court’s secret friends, they are intent on seeing them as foes, and Eris Vanserra is ready to take the opportunity to further destroy what little is left of Prythian’s unity.
In a world remade by peace, you can hear the faraway drums of war that can - and shall - destroy it once again.
tw: verbal, emotional and physical abuse; sexual themes; violence & gore
a/n: guys, i’m very serious when i say this is the most explicit fanfic i’ve ever posted. if you are not comfortable with the themes above, do not go any further. this chapter is particularly gory and touches a lot on physical abuse and violence overall
p.s. indeed i had to make a 3 part prologue. i am sorry. it was stronger than me. this would not be considered by anyone in the publishing world as a real prologue, since it’s like, 3 parts and 13k words at least, but... yup. we are rolling with it.
rating: explicit | | masterlist | ask box | gen 2 page |
<----- PROLOGUE PART 1
NEXT PART -----> (coming soon!)
~the worlds, books, and any recognizable characters belong to sarah j maas~
A century or so ago...
Autumn Court Woods, Prythian
The girl changes his bandages three times through the night.
He keeps bleeding.
She binds his arm, and his knee, too. She wipes at his face with a damp cloth, and finds herself memorizing his features by candlelight. Full lips, gaunt cheeks, a sharp jaw. He is young, but already built for war.
After that, Alva does not allow her eyes to linger on his face any longer than necessary.
Her father touches her shoulder when the candles begin to burn low. “You should get some sleep.”
“What do you think happened to him?” She whispers, looking up.
She looks like her father. Caramel hair, brown skin, dark eyes. Alva has earned none of her mother’s features, except, of course, her human ears.
They buried her years ago now, but to this day, Alva wishes she could have gotten a little more to remember her mother by. She would have settled for even a single freckle, if she had known time would be cruel enough to take her mother from her so early, and leave only scraps of memories and tiny little trinkets and pangs of hurt behind.
She looks like her father. And her pain looks like his, too.
Sometimes Alva catches her father staring at her mother’s old dresses. Sometimes he sleeps clinging to them. So perhaps it is best that Alva takes more after her father - if she looked more like her mother, she reckons she would become another painful reminder to him.
Her father’s eyes fall on the lord’s face, and pensively, he retorts, “His brothers happened.”
“Why would they hurt him?”
“It is how they settle things, Alva,” the male says. “They hurt each other. One day, one of them will take their father’s bloody crown. And his brothers do not want it to be him.” He points with his chin, and then moves to sit at their small crafted table. The chair creaks, but the lordling does not wake. He does not move at all. Alva watches his chest slowly rise and fall as he takes difficult breaths. She cannot imagine the pain he is in.
A wave of copper falls over his eyes. Alva has the sinking urge to brush it away. Her hand closes into a fist on her lap instead. “But he’s only a year or so older than I,” Alva retorts, brows pinching together. “What possible threat can he pose?”
His father looks at her over his shoulder. “Perhaps he threatened them.”
Alva highly doubts that. The lordling looks harmless enough.
“Go to sleep, daughter,” her father says gently. “I will keep watch.”
“In an hour or so he will need-”
“-his bandages changed again.” The male nods.
“And the ointment-”
“-for his eye.” A smile thrown her way. “I promise I will not forget.”
Alva sighs softly, and rises. She places a kiss on top of her father’s head. “You should sleep, too.”
“Eventually, my sweet girl. Eventually, I shall.”
Alva stands there, her eyes mirroring the shadows of her father’s. Silently, her father takes her hand and squeezes. A little burst of strength embraces her heart. “Go,” her father says gently. “I will be just fine. And so will the lordling. Worry not.”
Alva retreats upstairs, but her father catches her gaze slipping back to the lordling one last time before she disappears out of view.
Vanserra Manor, Autumn Court, Prythian
“Where is my son.”
Octavian’s eyes rise to the ceiling as his mother’s shrill voice echoes through the halls. She bursts through the doors of the dining room like a hurricane come to life, eyes wild and hair full of knots.
Calmly, Octavian sips his coffee. “Which son are we speaking of, mother? You’ve four of them, after all.”
He receives a look full of rage. In exchange, he smiles.
“What did you do,” she snarls low. “What did you do to him.”
Each question is an order.
Octavian rises, towering over her. His mother watches him, her eyes like a bird of prey’s. He thinks she really might kill him this time, and Octavian will laugh himself hoarse at seeing her try.
“Oh,” he says, “you mean your son. Your precious son, that is. The one that is not me.”
“Stop your pretenses, Octavian,” Paloma snaps, “tell me where Jerek is. He has not come home. It is morning.”
“He’s just fine, mother.”
Octavian raises his eyebrows at Crius’ amused voice. His brother marches into the dining room with the lazy grace of a cat after a full meal. Paloma blinks at him. “Just fine?” She rages. “What does that mean?”
“It means just that,” Crius sits at the table, feet up. “Do not worry so. We chased him a little. I am certain he will be walking through those doors any minute now.”
Octavian gives him a look, wondering if Crius had indeed ended their brother without him. Crius, for his part, gives his brother nothing at all.
Instead of saying anything else, Paloma retreats, marching out into the halls. Octavian watches her go, his mug groaning at how hard he holds on to it.
Either his mother did not notice the red lines on his face, or she did, and simply does not care.
Octavian is tempted to believe the latter.
She finds him in his office.
But Eris is prepared.
Before Paloma can get her hands on him, a wall of fire rises between him and her, barely licking the floors, barely contained so as not to touch any furniture around them.
“I will kill you,” Paloma growls behind that fire, a guttural sound that reverberates through the walls. “I will tear your head from your shoulders, you miserable-”
Eris clicks his tongue, eyeing her from the corner of the room. “Paloma, my dearest-”
“You give me my daughter back,” she shrieks, pointing a claw at him, a promise of death in every emphasized word. “I want Annika back. Her training is over. Fraser’s, too. And I want those two out of my house-”
The flames disappear, leaving a line of smoke between them. The line Eris has drawn, long ago, now materialized. Eris watches his wife, hands behind his back, his tunic immaculate, not a hair out of place.
“Are you done, dearest?”
A sob escapes her. “Give me my children back.”
“They’re also mine,” Eris murmurs. “And they chose me.”
Paloma is onto him before he can blink, her fingers twisting his tunic. “Because you have given them no choice.”
Eris’ touch is soft. He cradles her hands in his, and kisses her knuckles. Paloma is trembling, and she can taste her tears. “My wife,” Eris says, “you cannot fight me. You cannot win.”
“Please,” she whispers, “please, stop this. Annika is but a girl and Jerek, Jerek has not come home-”
“My dearest, Annika is more powerful than you can imagine,” Eris says, squeezing her hands until Paloma stops squirming. “And so is that sorry excuse of a son.” Eris breathes a laugh, shaking his head, as if he finds it all absurd. “Jerek does not listen. The amount of power he was blessed with… Gods only know what a waste it is on him.”
She cannot breathe. Stoicism be damned. “If there is a part of you, no matter how small that part may be, that still cares for me, that cares for your children, please, please, Eris, listen to me.” He begins to pull away, but Paloma holds him in place, sobbing into his chest. “You will never rule Prythian. You will never restore this Court. And you will never be Beron.” Something like rage and shock flickers in his eyes, but she carries on, “You are not training your children to help you rise, you are training them to destroy each other and destroy you. There is still time for Fraser, for Annika, and for Jerek. Please, leave them be.”
Eris works his jaw.
Paloma looks up, into his eyes. “You said you could love me,” she says. “Why are you trying so hard not to?”
Eris brushes past her. “You are right. I will never be my father.” He stops before the door. “I will be worse.”
Paloma holds her breath as her husband turns to look at her. “And if you try to intervene one more time, I swear that I will send you away and lock you out for the rest of your days. And you will never, ever, see any of your children again.” For a male born of fire, she never did think she could hear such coldness in his voice. “You can be with me, wife. Or you can be against me. I advise you to choose wisely.”
He bangs the door shut.
The Lady of Autumn still sees that line hours after the smoke fades.
Autumn Court woods, Prythian
He wakes in a cot.
The forest is no longer burning. But he is not outside.
He hears and smells fire, but not of his own creation.
The first thing he feels is thirst. Incredible, dizzying thirst. The second thing is pain.
So much pain.
He cannot open his eye still, but he sees just fine from the other one. He sees a wooden ceiling. Painted walls. The corner of a chipped, yellow counter. A rough blanket.
Jerek wonders if he’s dead.
“You’re not dead, my lord.”
“Am I… speaking? Out l-loud?” He tries, his throat aching. As his brain slowly wakes again, he realizes that he is, indeed, speaking. And he is, indeed, alive.
A soft chuckle. “You are, my lord.”
Caramel hair. Dark brown skin. A curved mouth.
Suddenly, Jerek does not believe he is alive after all. “Are you…” he coughs, “... the Goddess?”
“Very far from it,” she says. “Here, you need to drink.”
He is gently pushed into a sitting position, and every muscle cries in protest as he does so. He can barely hold his head up, let alone wrap his hand around a glass, but then someone is tilting his head back slightly, and a rim of a glass touches his lips.
He never knew he could love water so much.
“Slowly,” she says, then takes it away.
Jerek focuses on his surroundings. “I should… I should not be here.”
“Do not worry,” the female says, placing the glass down. “Your brothers will not find you here. You masked your scent pretty well, and father spread some strong herbs over our door.”
“They will hurt you for helping me.”
“They will not find us. I promise.”
Jerek’s vision focuses on the female at last. Long hair, tied up in a low-bun, tight curls falling over her face and-
The most incredible eyes he’s ever had the privilege to look upon.
Jerek is suddenly at a loss for words.
They often receive visitors at the Manor, but Jerek has not spoken to someone - to a female - his age in such an informal way. Ever.
Immediately, he stutters a dumb apology, and bows his head, even though he thinks he might never be able to lift it again. “S-Sorry, my Lady.”
The female gives him an odd look. “Did you just bow?”
Jerek’s good eye blinks. “Yes…?”
She scrunches her nose. “Why?”
“B-because… it is proper. I am in the presence of a lady,” he blabbers, and kicks himself a hundred times over in his mind, thinking that his cheeks might be burning, too. He prays he does not erupt into flames any time soon.
Suddenly, she laughs.
And it is a sound that leaves him feeling a bit dazed. It feels like a small reprieve from the pain.
“Well, my Lord, I thank you,” she grins, “but I do not care for such formalities. My name is Alva.”
“Alva,” he whispers, letting her name roll of his tongue, marvelling at how easy and perfect it sounds. “I am no lord. My name is Jerek. Thank you for saving my life.”
Alva watches him through dark lashes. “You were in a pretty terrible state.” She eyes his arm, and he realizes he’s all bandaged up.
“You did this?”
Alva grins. “Father is not very gentle, so I had to do it. Do forgive him, he was a warrior a long time ago. He’s used to tending to males who no longer seem to feel physical pain.”
Said father is now outside, from what Jerek can hear. Harvesting.
Jerek looks around. The cabin is small, yet practical. Lively. He’s never seen these many colours in one room alone - yellow, orange, red, bright blue. The upper cabinets are hand-painted, with little orange trees at the bottom, the paint now slightly faded, but still bright. The couches have hand-sewn pillows thrown over them, and the soft-looking curtains drag over the dark floors. There is so much light here.
“It is not what you are used to, I reckon,” Alva smiles. “But it is home.”
“It’s beautiful,” Jerek says, almost to himself. A fire burns next to him. “What time is it?”
“You slept for the entire night and half the day,” Alva says, “but that is good. You need rest. Stay as long as you like.” And then, she quickly adds, “I would prefer it if you ate something.”
She places a plate of dry meats and fruit in front of him, and Jerek has the good sense to keep his wits about him. He reckons the female would not take well to him bursting into tears at the gesture, for Gods’ sake. Jerek is all too used to fend for himself and tend to his own wounds and illnesses, but he does not have to be so bloody obvious about it.
“Thank you,” he whispers.
Alva grabs a plate of her own, and they sit in silence for a little while. She is all but a stranger to him, and yet Jerek would trust her again in the blink of an eye. It makes it all the harder the fact that she’s achingly pretty, but Jerek is very keen on not thinking about that.
Very keen indeed.
Jerek dares to take another look at her, ignoring his pain for a little while, and notices the way she brushes her hair behind her ear, how the curls framing her face bounce over-
Her round ears.
Alva stops mid-motion, and freezes as if she realizes only then that his eyes are on her. As if she realizes what she’s just shown him. She visibly gulps, eyes shifting to him.
Jerek simply says, “You’re human? You don’t smell like one.”
And kicks himself again.
He does not know the first thing about courting, but he reckons commenting on a lady’s smell is not the place to start.
Alva lowers her eyes.
Jerek watches her for a moment. “You need not be afraid of me.”
Alva looks up at him, eyes full of uncertainty. “No?”
Jerek shakes his head. “I am not my father. Believe it or not.”
Alva begins to smile. “I believe you.” She pauses then, turning her eyes to the window as if she can see all the way to her father. She sighs, then murmurs, “I am what some might call a… half-breed. My mother was human. She met my father when he was passing through the human lands. He’d been looking for ointments for a badly healed leg. Her father owned the store, and she worked there.”
Jerek stayed silent, watching her in marvel as she spoke.
“She was his mate,” Alva whispers.
Jerek breathes in, and winces at the pain in his chest. “I did not know it to be possible,” he says softly. “For mating bonds to occur between different species.”
“It happens more often than you might think,” Alva says, her gaze falling back on him. “If they are capable of falling in love, then why should they not be capable of having the bond between them?”
Jerek blinks at this. “You are right.”
Alva smiles. “Anyways, my father tried his best to stay away from her, and mother stayed for long hours at the store, waiting for him to come back. Eventually, he did. They were secretly married only a few weeks after.”
“Then mother had me,” she continues, her voice lowering, shadows kissing her face. “Father begged mother to allow him to bind his life to hers. He thought there was a chance that it might turn her immortal, and keep her with us for longer.” She paused for a moment, swallowing the knot on her throat. “B-But mother was afraid that it would have the opposite effect.”
“That your father would live as long as your mother,” Jerek whispers.
Alva nods. “But mother knew that I took after father. Despite…” Alva gestures to her ears, sighing. “Immortality runs through my bones. And thus, my mother was afraid that if my father lived as long as she did, that I would be alone. And so…” Alva clenches her teeth, tearing her eyes away from him. “Well.”
Jerek is about to reach out a hand when he stops himself. Instead, he murmurs, “I’m very sorry for your loss.”
Alva gives him a teary smile. “I apologize,” she whispers, looking down at her hands. “I just never had the chance to tell that story to anyone, and…” She shrugs.
She turns her face away from him, wiping a discrete tear, and pats his hand before he can say anything else. “Please, eat. You need to regain your strength. I shall make you some tea.”
“Alva,” Jerek murmurs.
She rises, but turns to him.
“Thank you,” Jerek says. “Thank you for telling me.” A pause. “I know the word of a male you just met might mean the same as a pile of dust to you, especially my own, but I swear it,” he whispers, “I swear it I will not say a word.”
Alva watches him for a long moment. “Jerek,” he says, and he thinks he might collapse if she says his name again, “you are a good male.”
And his answering smile might have made him feel as if there were a thousand needles piercing his face. But it was worth it - if all to see her smiling back at him.
“Right, son,” the male says - Arlo, as Jerek now knows him as. “You’re as good as new.”
The days passed in a blur.
He can walk now, and though his arm is still sore, it is no longer broken. Alva told him the day before his finger might never be straight again, but Jerek had been all too consumed by her voice to really care.
He can never repay them.
These people - who risked so much for him. Who helped him, even though they did not know him.
“Thank you,” Jerek whispers. His eye had now opened, but it was still purple all around. It would take a few weeks to fully heal, Alva had said. Perhaps less than that, if you rub salve around it.
The male smiles at him in a way that makes Jerek feel pitied. He takes Jerek’s hands in his own rough ones. “Can I give you a piece of advice, boy?”
A warrior, through and through - the fact that Arlo had bothered with him in the first place had made Jerek’s heart crumble, but the care with which Arlo had helped him had ripped him apart completely. “Please,” Jerek nods.
“Be careful,” Arlo says. “That fiery temper of yours can keep you alive, but it can also be your destruction. Trust me, I would know.”
Jerek lowers his eyes. “It was an honor to know you. Thank you for everything you have done for me.”
“Do not mention it, son,” Arlo says. “You can thank me by staying alive. Do that, will you?”
“I will certainly try, Arlo,” Jerek says. “I will certainly try.”
Arlo nods once, then looks over Jerek’s shoulder.
Jerek follows his gaze, and his eyes land on Alva, watching by the doorway. Jerek’s breath is whisked away.
“Those carrots need tending,” Arlo mutters.
Jerek is walking - limping - toward her before he can see Arlo go the other way. She shies away from his gaze, one hand touching the doorframe.
Jerek has the distinct urge to hold her, but he does not know what to do with himself.
Alva clears her throat. “Remember the salve.”
“And eat regularly.”
She finally meets his eyes, and Jerek swears he is imagining the flush rising to her cheeks. He has to be. “Do not sleep on your right side. Because of your arm.”
Alva sighs softly. “Stay alive, Jerek.”
He thinks that, for a moment, he sees it all. Holding her hand, and spinning her around, into his arms. Walking among the cypresses with her close by, helping her pick out the most delicious apples high in the branches she could not reach, touching her face before he kisses her-
Her smile, drawn just for him.
For that one moment, he sees it all.
Alva parts her lips, but Jerek steps back as a searing pain stabs him in the chest - a reminder that he still lives in a world where Octavian and Crius walk around. A reminder that if his father found out where he has been for the past few days, he would do everything in his power to destroy this peaceful corner of his court, and the two people who dared to help him.
So Jerek steps back.
And the moment fades away like smoke.
Alva lowers her eyes again.
Jerek whispers, “Thank you, Alva.”
She nods once. And Jerek watches as she walks inside, closing the door behind her to keep out the cold.
Jerek closes his eyes for a moment too long.
And then he’s walking away.
Another line of smoke burned into the ground.
Velaris, Night Court, Prythian
Astrid Archeron glares at the dead roses.
“Come on,” she snarls.
This young, she is already proficient in most areas. Flying. Fighting. Swordsmanship. Her father is, after all, a spymaster. And though Astrid should feel like a prodigy, she feels like a failure.
She killed the stupid roses again.
Her mother’s favourites, too.
Elain Archeron will be so disappointed when she comes home.
Astrid has been sitting in the gardens for the past three hours, staring at the damned things, willing them back to life but with little to no success. The most she has succeeded in doing is giving back a little colour to the petals, but it quickly fades back to brown before she can keep a hold on her powers.
In truth, she hadn’t meant to do it, but her little sister had gotten on her wrong side that morning, and it did not help that Astrid had not done as well during training sessions. Her uncle Cassian had bested her again, even though Naza, his daughter, had told Astrid all her father’s weak points (spoiler alert: there weren’t very many...). She had yet to win a fight with Seren, Feyre and Rhysand’s oldest son, too, so she had spent the early hours spitting dust and wiping grass stains all over her brand new leathers.
And now, her mood kills the plans.
Astrid sighs softly, until she catches a familiar scent wavering above. The boom of wings makes her look to the skies, and she watches as her cousin falls toward her.
Aidan’s feet hit the ground with the grace of a cat. He folds his wings tightly behind him, and leans his head to the side, watching her. “Are you in a rage again?” He asks, sounding a little breathless. “Is this a bad time?”
“Goddess,” Astrid grunts. “What do you want?”
Aidan clicks his tongue. “I heard my idiot brother bested you again. When are you going to teach Seren a lesson?”
He watches as Astrid’s face turns bright red. As if a sudden gust of wind has passed over the garden, another set of roses falls to the side, losing their colour. Astrid glares daggers at him.
“Oooh,” Aidan says, coming closer. He’s had enough experience with Astrid’s bad temper to know that it might not help if he’s constantly poking her - but it really is fun to do so. “Look at you, killing innocent plants and all. Good job, I guess. Aunt Elain is going to cry her eyes out, though.”
“I know,” Astrid rolls her eyes. “I’m trying to fix it, alright? Stop making it worse.”
“Me?” Aidan raises a brow. He looks exactly like Feyre as he does so. It’s unnerving. “I’m not the one blessed with powers, Az.”
Astrid places her hands on her waist, breathing in deep. “Blessed,” she snorts. “You can say that.” She shakes her head. “So, what do you want?”
“Do I have to have a reason to visit my favourite person?” Aidan says, circling her. “My bestest friend? My partner in crime? The only family member I could never get angry at?”
Astrid narrows her eyes. “Cauldron, you really must want something,” Az deadpans. “Let’s hear it.”
“You ungrateful brat,” Aidan declares. “I just said you were my favourite person. That is a huge compliment, I will let you know.”
“I am your favourite person because we’re the same age and everybody else is older and you hate most people,” Astrid says matter-of-factly. “Now, spit it out. I don’t have all day.”
Aidan grabs her by the shoulders, practically lifting her off the ground and completely throwing the concept of personal space out the window. “I discovered something. Well, I think I have.”
“No,” Astrid pushes him away. “I don’t want to know. Last time you said that my mother did not allow me to leave the house for two weeks. My wings were aching-”
“You cannot possibly imagine what it is this time,” Aidan smirks. “You need to see it with your own eyes.”
Astrid sighs. “We’re grown now, Aidan. We can’t just-up and leave.” She pauses then. “Is it dangerous?”
Astrid’s eyes glint. “Where?”
Aidan hesitates, biting his tongue.
“Shit, Aidan,” Az whispers, “where did you go?”
Astrid widens her eyes and without even a warning glare, she smacks Aidan on the head with her wing. “Are you mad? What were you doing there?”
Astrid blinks at him. She always wondered whether or not Aidan had some semblance of self-preservation, but she now has her answer. “Good Goddess. That is still Devlon’s territory. If your father knows that you’ve been tiptoeing around the warlord’s territory you will never hear the end of it.” Az suddenly gasps, as a more horrifying option comes to mind. “What if aunt Feyre knows?”
“My mother and father won’t know,” Aidan says with the calm of a spring breeze. “I wanted to see the Mountain for myself. I wanted to know the ins and outs.” Aidan draws closer to her, hushing his voice, “If we are to take the rite together next season, with Naza and Seren-”
“Still,” Astrid cuts him off, “if anyone finds you, the warlords may very well prevent you from completing the blood rite. They will call it cheating-”
“I need to show you what I found in that Mountain,” Aidan says, emphasizing each word. “Please.”
Astrid has no recollection of seeing her cousin this serious. It’s a little frightening. His eyes are too blue, and too wide, and there is a sort of curious desperation topped with a wild madness that leaves Astrid open-mouthed.
But also frustratingly curious.
Ugh, the bastard.
“Cauldron boil me,” she grunts, “fine.”
Illyrian Mountains, Night Court, Prythian
She gives her father the excuse of Aidan inviting her for a nighttime flying session, which is not exactly a lie, but because Azriel has absolutely no idea of her cousin’s madness, he only smiles as they go, leaving them with a warning to be careful and not be late, and nothing else.
They soar over the mountains in the cover of near darkness.
Aidan is only a year older, but he is already faster than her. They race each other, and in the end, he lets her win. Or so he tells her.
Where Astrid is concerned, she has won fair and square.
They are careful when they reach the mountainside.
Aidan gestures with his head, and they slowly descend a few miles off, deciding it is best to climb, rather than fly to the location so as to avoid being seen. Astrid folds her wings the moment her feet touch the rocks, her eyes taking in every single detail. Aidan’s nose is in the air, and they wait a moment longer - just in case.
The sacred Mountain is a mammoth of a thing.
It rises high above the clouds, piercing the skies. The clouds hang low and dark this evening, so the top is completely out of their sight. Astrid has never seen the Mountain this close, and the power drumming in her veins is enough to make her shiver.
“I thought they closed this part of the Mountain,” Astrid whispers to Aidan’s back, carefully listening in for any beasts or Fae roaming about as they walk up the Mountain. “Why is no one here?”
Aidan does not look over his shoulder as he responds, also attentive to anyone - or anything - that might suddenly appear, “There has not been an invasion in decades. Centuries. My best guess is that they got lazy. Or perhaps the rite will be different next season.” Aidan shrugs.
“Or perhaps it is a trap.”
She feels him smile, even though she cannot see it. “If it was a trap, cousin,” Aidan says, “then I would have been caught already.”
“How many times-”
“Too many to count.”
Astrid has no guesses as to what could possibly be so interesting that would make Aidan risk so much just to see it, time and time again. She imagines a rare, strange-looking beast living in the caves of the Mountain, or perhaps a treasure chest.
With Aidan, you never know.
She follows him up the Mountain, until Aidan stops her.
Astrid pauses to listen to the silence, watching the last rays of sun in the horizon. “Through here,” he murmurs, and tugs on her hand.
Astrid hesitates, digging her heels on the ground. Instead of going forth and keep walking through the rings up the Mountain, Aidan drags a hand through the rocks in front of them-
And pulls one out.
Astrid expects the rest to fall and she rushes forward but-
They remain there. Unmoving. Held by nothing but air.
Aidan gives his cousin a smile, then proceeds to remove the rest of the rocks, revealing something like a cave, but-
It feels… odd.
Her skin prickles.
That is no cave.
“Aidan,” she hisses, “what are you-”
“Shush,” he whispers, “be quiet.”
Astrid keeps her hands fisted at her sides, looking around and beyond them. A line of sunlight touches the sides of the entrance, but as Aidan pulls out the last rock, Astrid almost steps back - and almost goes rolling down Ramiel itself.
Beyond that… entrance, is-
More than darkness.
It is a void.
The last rays of sunlight should be illuminating the space, but the light pulls back, and not a single ray shines through.
Aidan is staring at her, watching for her reaction.
“Listen,” he whispers.
Astrid’s heart races.
As Aidan tugs on her sleeve, Astrid dares to lean in - only slightly. And-
A line of sweat turns ice cold, dripping down her spine. She hears-
Waves crashing onto a shore-
Astrid blinks, a little gasp falling from her mouth. She looks to Aidan-
To see him marvelled.
He’s looking into the void as he might step into it. And for a second, Astrid thinks he might.
She touches his arm and Aidan’s eyes snap to her. It’s like she’s woken him from a dream. “Aidan, let’s leave.”
“No,” Aidan hisses, pulling his arm free of her grip. “Listen, Astrid. Do you know what this is?”
Astrid looks between him and the strange darkness, and feels her hair stand. “That is not something we should mess with. Whatever it is.”
“It is a portal.”
“No,” Astrid shakes her head, and shakes it again, and again. “No,” she says, “no, absolutely not. No, Aidan.”
But he’s smiling.
He’s smiling as if he’s gone mad - truly mad this time.
“Az, there are ancient texts that-”
“A portal?” She hisses. “A portal, Aidan?” She cannot breathe. “You know what this means?” She will kill him. “If you have discovered this… this thing on this side-” She will throw him over this Mountain, “-then-then you can be sure that whoever - whatever - is on that side,” she points at the void, “has probably discovered it too. You need to close it. Close it now.”
She blinks at him. “What are you saying?”
Aidan shakes his head. “This is… this is a discovery of a lifetime. There is another world beyond. Another world.”
“I know what this means, you fool,” Az snaps. “It’s dangerous, Aidan. That’s what it is. Who knows what might crawl through?”
“It has existed for as long as this world has,” Aidan reasons, “if something were to crawl out, then it would have done so by now-”
Astrid steps back.
“Az…” Aidan murmurs, looking disappointed.
Astrid shakes her head. “No. I do not want any part in this.”
Her cousin looks toward the void as if he sees something she does not. Like…
Like he wants to follow that path.
“Tell me you are not thinking about going in,” Astrid sneers. “Tell me so I can hit you over the head and drag you home.”
Aidan pauses. He works his jaw. “I need to… there’s something there, Astrid. I need to know. It’s pulling me in. Tugging at me.”
“There is nothing but darkness,” Astrid scowls. “Nothing but danger. If anyone discovers this… Aidan, we cannot tell a soul.”
Aidan looks her way. “I know that. That’s why I told you.”
Astrid closes her eyes for a moment, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Fuck. Fuck. This is big. This may very well make everyone panic-”
“Then we will not tell them,” Aidan says.
Astrid watches him warily. “Promise me you will not go in.”
“Promise me,” Astrid steps toward him, and though he towers over her, she holds his gaze. “Promise me.”
Aidan’s face visibly falls. He looks toward the darkness again, as if someone might have called his name. Astrid does not dare to look.
“What is it?” Astrid murmurs.
“I cannot shake the feeling that I-” Aidan shakes his head. “Nevermind.”
Astrid breathes out a sigh. “The energy here is…”
“Strange,” she corrects him. They trade knowing looks, and Astrid adds, “Close it, Aidan.”
“It’s madness, and you know it,” Astrid says. “This kind of stuff can only lead to your death.” She grabs his shoulders. “Look at me.”
“I will not lose you so you can satisfy some curiosity.”
“It’s more than that-”
“No, it’s not,” Astrid cuts him off. “You’ve read about an ancient portal and now that you have come across it, you cannot think of anything else. Think of your family, and the danger you would be putting them in. Think of yourself, and the danger you could be putting yourself in.” Aidan’s jaw ticks, and Astrid digs her fingers into his tunic. “Close it, Aidan,” she whispers. “Let’s get out of here before we tempt danger any further. Please.”
Aidan breathes in.
He watches his cousin’s face, the fearful, worried eyes, the lines on her forehead, the tension she holds in her wings. At last, with one last look into the void, Aidan puts back rock after rock after rock. When he is done, the sun falls over the horizon, and that voice - that female’s voice - fades into nothing, as if she is only a dream.
And nothing more.
Paz watches her mother over her scribbles.
The window is open, and the Night Court hair flows in to kiss her mother’s cheek, and upset the strands of her shoulder-black hair.
Amren’s got her nose in an ancient, dusty-looking book, deciphering some equally ancient, Holy language that Paz can not even begin to comprehend. She keeps her mother company, while pretending to skim over her studies.
She’s tired of words.
And tired overall.
Amren feels her watching and raises her eyebrows in a way that clearly says, Well, do spit it out.
Paz sighs softly. “Mama.”
“I would like to join father’s legion,” she tentatively says, placing her book back on her lap. While she’s been at the Night Court, her second home, all she’s been doing is looking over books and, more often than not, provoking Astrid and Aidan into a fighting match. But they never push her as far as she wants - and needs - them to. And she is restless. “Train with them. Learn the skills.”
Amren’s eyes flash, and her ink pen is brought down onto the desk. Paz narrows her eyes, watching as her mother chooses her words carefully. “Is it really what you want?”
“Yes,” Paz says.
Amren watches her for a moment, too. “Then do it.”
Paz smiles, a sort of all-knowing, almost feral smile that her mother returns. It always makes her feel as if it is them against the world. “But,” Paz continues, “father will prove to be a difficult opponent to convince.” She pauses, lowering her eyes. “He means well. But he will worry, as you know he tends to do.”
Amren snorts a bit. “With one word from me, your father will not oppose you.”
Paz’s smile widens. “Exactly.” Amren gives her a knowing smirk, and Paz then murmurs, jokes aside, “Thank you.”
It is not often that Paz is denied anything - not even where her mother is concerned. Amren has raised them Paz and her brother with both steel and warmth, so Paz is well-acquainted with either side. Still, she wonders at her mother’s own lack of opposition concerning this one thing.
This one very obvious thing.
“You have never treated me as papa does,” Paz murmurs, staring at nothing. “He thinks I'm weak. So does my brother.”
Amren lifts her head then. “Your father does not think that.”
Paz gives her a look. “Have you seen the way he treats me? The way they’ve both treated me after that day?”
“Paz,” Amren says sternly. Her daughter’s eyes return to her. “Your father does not think you are weak. That, my daughter, is called love.”
Paz lowers her eyes. “You... you are as close to a god as can be. Look what you accomplished during the war. People still tell stories about you, everywhere I go. You, mother, are strong.” Paz shakes her head a little. “And perhaps I have always ached to be strong like you. Instead, I got lungs that only work half the time and a heart that cannot take much. I know papa and Zelos mean well. I know the others mean well, too, but I just wish…” Paz bites her lower lip. “I just wish I had more in me. I wish there was more to me than a title and the ability to make others see things that feels more like a circus trick than a real power. Illusions of the mind are nothing to what you can do.” Paz shrugs. “I want to be more. And I will be more. And I want papa and the rest of the world to see that. I want them to see me… as they see you.”
“But you are not me,” Amren says.
Paz looks up at her mother.
Amren rises, rounding the desk between them. She touches her daughter’s chin, looks into her eyes - Amren’s own eyes - and says, “You are much better. Because you are the one thing I never thought I could have. You are the one of the many things your father gave me. And for those reasons, you, Paz, are perfection personified.”
Paz rolls her eyes. “You are my mother. Don’t you think you’re a bit biased?”
Amren smiles. “No.” When Paz looks away, Amren turns her face back to her. “This,” she touches her daughter’s collarbone, feeling the heartbeat beneath, “is not a weakness. It will never be a weakness. This, Paz, makes you stronger than anyone else. Because everyone else has it easy. But not you. You have fought for this life the moment you were born. I knew it, from that very first day I heard your first cry, that you would never stop fighting. And that is what makes you stronger than most.” Amren touches her daughter’s cheek. “I am older than you can possibly imagine, my girl. Older than the earth beneath your feet. And you have yet to reach maturity. You, Paz, will not become great. You are greatness. And not because you are mine, or your father’s, but because you are you. You want to prove it to yourself that you can fight? Then prove it, girl. You want to command armies? So be it. You are more than a story, and more than your heart, and more than your powers.” She leans in, kissing the top of her daughter’s head. “You are love and light and darkness and power, Paz. You are everything. Do not ever think otherwise.”
Paz watches her mother for a long second. She watches Amren leave a caress on her cheek and move back to her desk.
“Mother,” Paz whispers.
Amren’s silver eyes look up at her.
“Thank you.” Paz says. “I love you.”
Amren’s answering smile is strength itself. “And I love you, my daughter.”
Vanserra Manor, Autumn Court, Prythian
His mother is upon him the moment he arrives home.
“My darling boy,” the Lady of Autumn murmurs, holding him in an embrace. He towers over her now, so he feels as if he is the one holding her. “Five days,” she sobs into his shoulder. “Five days, Jerek. I thought you were dead. They would not tell me anything, they-”
“Mother.” Jerek winces.
He has been close to passing out since the moment he walked up the gravel path. Home was farther away than he’d anticipated.
Sincerely, Jerek was expecting Octavian and Crius to finish what they started, but halfway through trying to find his way back home, he realized that they would not come. For now, the wolves had given up the chase. But they would come. Jerek knew they would.
And he would be prepared.
He gently pries his mother’s hands off his face, and ignores her gasp when she finally takes in his appearance. Jerek has long discarded his bandages. After all, he does not wish for his father to realize where he has been, or who has tended to him. For all he knows, Octavian and Crius left him to die in the woods, and somehow, he managed to get back up and come back home.
Alia stands near their mother watching him in silence.
There are hushed tears in her eyes. She looks thinner. Pale. Dark circles live under her eyes. “Jerek,” she whispers.
“Everything is fine, Alia.”
“Nothing is fine,” his mother hisses, grabbing his hand. But it is the hand belonging to his sore arm, and Jerek tries and fails not to groan in pain. “I will kill them both-”
“You will do no such thing,” Jerek tells her sternly. “You will say and do nothing, do you hear me?”
Paloma looks as if her son might have yelled at her. Shock paints her features.
“I’m home,” Jerek says, snarling low when he feels his lip split open once more. “That is all that matters.”
His father’s footsteps echo in the halls of the manor.
Jerek raises his chin.
And then Arlo’s words come back to him. That fiery temper of yours can keep you alive, but it can also be your destruction.
Jerek’s hands tremble with barely controlled rage.
But the male was right. If he strikes now, in a blind rage, his mother and sister will suffer. And Gods only know what Eris has done with Annika. What he still might do.
One day Jerek will strike.
And when that day comes, his father and his brothers will not see it coming.
So when his father comes to a stop at the top of the grand staircase, smiling down at him, Jerek bites his tongue, and keeps his hands fisted at his sides.
“Jerek,” says Eris, cruelty in every corner of that smile.
Jerek returns the smile, showing teeth.
Then, with aching limbs and a heart on fire, Jerek bows.
His mother’s breathing halts completely. A tear falls on the ground - Alia’s. His sister’s eyes are fixed on him even as he rises.
Eris nods in approval. “So you have learned your lesson.”
“I have,” Jerek says, voice echoing through the walls.
“Good,” his father says, and continues down the hall, disappearing out of sight.
Jerek is left an empty shell. He swore long ago he would never bow to his father, not like Octavian and Crius and Fraser have done. But Jerek had been foolish. Now, he knows better.
Now, he is cleverer.
Without another word, he makes his way upstairs.
His mother and sister do not follow him.
On his way to his chambers, he scents Fraser. His brother is watching him from his doorway, his eyes unreadable. He’s got a few years on Jerek, but what may have once been brotherly sympathy in his gaze, now is just-
Jerek waits for Fraser to say something. But his brother only shakes his head, and goes back into his own chambers.
Jerek swallows the knot on his throat. He guesses he deserves it.
If he knew of the things his brothers did, what they most likely did to Fraser-
Jerek shakes his head at himself.
He should have known.
I should have known.
Jerek draws himself a bath.
He lets no one - not even his mother’s healer - touch him, see him, speak to him.
He sinks into icy waters.
He closes his eyes.
He sees brown skin and caramel hair.
For the next handful of years, he does Eris’ bidding.
He becomes skilled at many, many things. Especially at lying.
He charms visitors, even when they become scarce. Even when word reaches the rest of the Courts of his father’s ruthlessness. He trains with his brothers, and allows them to get the better of him once or twice, and he becomes strong, like his father wants him to be. He gets sent into the woods to fight the naga, and he comes back with blood on his teeth, but gets a nod from the High Lord. He loses hours on books on war strategy, politics, geography and history. He’s a fast learner.
He cuts his hair short.
He towers over the rest of his brothers - even Octavian.
He grows, and the fire grows with him.
But Jerek knows how to keep it in check - he’s been practicing for years, the same way he practices his charm. He’s not a good fighter - he’s a deadly one. And the easier it becomes to hold on to a sword, the more the thing inside his chest feels like stone.
He still dreams of brown skin and caramel hair. Only sometimes.
He takes lovers, from season to season. Females who fall into his arms easily and eagerly, and for a while, he forgets. But the exhaustion always finds him in the end, and the anger too.
There is so much anger.
Sometimes Alia watches him as if he’s something to be afraid of. And when Jerek catches his reflection in a nearby mirror, he knows why.
He looks just like his father.
He’s grown into his face. His jaw has become sharper, his features more defined, his amber eyes darker. The child is gone.
Varian’s Palace, Summer Court, Prythian
Paz turns to see a young male dressed in bright blue, his tan skin glowing in the afternoon sun, dark hair catching the sea winds. He bows low, and Paz tries her hardest not to laugh at the expression his brother makes behind the male’s back.
Zelos is unforgiving to them all.
He thinks everyone who approaches her is but a walking fool, and laughs himself hoarse at every male who embarasses himself in front of her. Every. Single. Time.
Paz fights the smile as the male rises, as he holds up a trembling hand. “Will you… give me the honor… hum-”
“Do you want to dance?” Paz completes for him.
The male nods fervently and gratefully, and Paz breathes a soft laugh.
She allows him to twirl her over the sands as her family and friends and fellow court members distract themselves with food and drinks and conversation.
Paz is bored to death.
Frankly, she attends the balls for her father’s sake. And for her cousin Tarquin, too. If it were truly up to her, Paz would not indulge anyone else for a dance ever again. It is not that she does not enjoy the dresses and the music, but she’s shit at dancing.
One of her many failures as a royal, to be sure.
The music ends and Paz watches the male walk away in trembling legs, smiling softly to herself.
A familiar face comes into view.
The daughter of the commander of the Night Court’s armies and the Night Court’s very own emissary wraps an arm around Paz’s shoulders, and whispers, quite drunkenly, “Paz, my friend, you look ready to cut your own throat. May I join you?”
“Good Gods,” Paz laughs, holding Naza by her waist. “You are shattered.”
“I am,” Naza nods dramatically. “I love you, Paz, but your party is awfully boring. I cannot stand your court. Aidan is brooding. Seren is off tormenting Tarquin - some carranam, my cousin -, Astrid is being antisocial, and…” she leans in, whispering loudly, “... I broke a vase. I think it was ancient. I think it had dark magic in it.”
Paz smiles fondly, taking Naza’s face in her hands. “You,” says Paz, “need water.”
“I don’t want to swim, this dress was expensive.”
Paz snorts a laugh. “I have never seen you drink, what’s gotten into you?”
Naza rolls her eyes, and shrugs. “If you must know, I am preparing to visit the Spring Court in a week, and I am already dreading it. All these treaties to keep the peace, all these false niceties…” She shakes her head. “Hey,” she says to Paz conspiratorially, “have you noticed that everything in Spring smells sickly sweet? What’s up with that?”
Paz watches on, amused. “Who knows.”
Naza nods. “Mother hates it too.”
“Nesta hates everything about the Spring Court,” Paz points out.
“That is true,” Naza says. “And besides, Tamlin wants to introduce us to his son - apparently the male is old enough to be formally introduced as heir, whatever that means, and he’s throwing a ball and everything. It’s supposed to celebrate the friendship between Spring and Night. How boring.”
“Cheer up,” Paz grins. “Perhaps you will have fun. Perhaps Tamlin’s son will turn out to be a real amusement.”
“Doubt it,” Naza mutters, “if he’s anything like his father, he’s going to be an absolute tool and- HEY. HEY, YOU.”
Zelos looks away from the person he’s been speaking to and turns to throw Naza an amused glance.
“I have matters to settle with you.” Naza points him a finger, and Zelos lets out a loud, rough laugh. When Paz looks between them, confused, Naza clarifies, “Your idiotic brother owes me fifteen gold coins.”
“Cauldron,” Paz frowns, “do I even want to know?”
“I bound my wings to fight him because he said I would lose my edge,” Naza grins wickedly. “I dragged his face through the dust.”
“Hum hum.” Naza snaps her eyes to her then. “Oh, and happy birthday.”
Paz snorts a laugh. “Thank you.”
Naza pats Paz in the head and off she goes to torment Zelos. Paz smiles at them both, then sighs to herself. She looks around, and notices that no one is even looking her way.
Without bringing any unwanted attention to her, Paz does something she has wanted to do since the moment she’s walked into this party: she fuck right out of here.
She takes her shoes off, and breathes a sigh of relief as they touch the cool marbled floors of her father’s palace. She manages to slip into her chambers without anyone spotting her, and the first thing she does when she shuts the doors is pull her hair from her braids.
Paz massages her sore scalp, wincing slightly.
Dusk paints the skies in shades of orange and red.
The princess of Adriata walks to her balcony, breathing in the sea air. Below, she watches her friends and family dance, laughter echoing the waves rolling into the shore.
She sees Feyre and Rhys to one side, softly swaying with each other. Nesta and Cassian, speaking quietly to one another. Seren patting his younger brother on the back, receiving a soft elbow to his gut in response. She sees Zelos rolling his eyes at Naza, before pulling her into a dance. Elain and Azriel trading a discreet kiss near the waves. Astrid laughing at her sister, Nora, while shaking her head in exasperation.
Morrigan and Vassa, immersed in conversation, their heads close. Mor’s hand gently stroking Vassa’s.
Her mother and father. Watching each other with love in their eyes.
As the princess’ eyes turn to the vast sea, she wonders.
She wonders if… she, too, should not have someone to share her life with. Wonders if she will even ever find someone like that. She wonders, and wonders. Wonders if she will ever get to meet someone who will kiss her as Mor kisses Vassa. Someone who will love her as her father loves her mother. Someone who will see past her fears and doubts and insecurities. Someone who will take her fragile heart in their hands and keep it safe.
Someone who will love her warm days, as well as her cold nights.
Autumn Court Woods, Prythian
Eris sends him to scour the woods.
The naga got out of control again.
Eris is trying to find a way to leash them - to have them do his bidding, too.
Jerek spends the day following their scent. He takes his time. He is in no rush to get back to the manor - to his sister’s worried glances, his mother’s tears, his father’s wrath, Fraser’s eerie silence.
He carries no weapons. He no longer needs them.
He wears no fighting leathers, either.
He’s been fighting the naga for long enough that if they give him another scar, then Jerek is not too bothered about it. Loose shirt and trousers it is, then.
Autumn wind touches his cheeks as Jerek squats near the stream to sip a bit of water. As he brushes back his hair, Jerek looks around.
He’s lost track of the naga again for some time now, but this place is familiar in a way that triggers nervousness in him.
He looks beyond the trees and-
Smoke from a chimney.
A cabin, so well hidden, and in the middle of nowhere. Practically impossible to find unless you… stumble into it.
Jerek rises, heart beating in his throat.
It feels so long ago now, like a fever dream. But it has only been- what? Six years?
Walk away, his reasoning voice tells him. Walk away before you do something foolish.
Dark skin. Caramel hair. A laughter like a sunrise.
But he’s walking.
He’s walking, and he’s not able to stop.
He tells himself to, but his legs carry him through the thick trees anyway.
The crops are still here, but there is no one home. The silence is achingly familiar. Soothing. Peaceful.
A faraway dream.
Jerek knows they are alive, for their scents are fresh.
And that scent… he has not forgotten it.
He tells himself he’s walking the opposite way. He tells himself he is putting as much distance from the cabin as he possibly can, because that is the right thing to do, and he should never have come, he should-
But the wind blows his way, and her scent - fresh, and strong - captures him in a moment of weakness.
He is a weakling after all.
For he follows the wind.
The river leads to a creek, and in the distance he sees her.
Her hair is longer.
Lighter, too, like she’s spent days basking in the sun.
Jerek’s knees feel weak.
He’s spent too long on his own. The memories of her caring voice threaten to shatter whatever composure he’s managed to acquire over the last few years.
She leans over a path of herbs, frowning at them, tilting her head this way and that. There is a book opened in her hands.
The name is on the tip of his tongue.
The wind is blowing the other way, so she does not catch his scent. Jerek refuses to hide - it is bad enough that he is watching her without her knowing. He approaches slowly, warily, as one might a rare, precious creature.
His foot catches on a broken twig and crunch.
Alva gasps and rises, straightening and turning at once toward him.
She clings to the tree as if she might hide from him, the book falling into the pile of leaves.
Her eyes widen in recognition and-
There is fear in her gaze, and, foolishly, he takes a moment to understand why.
He looks just like Eris.
Alva blinks, but does not approach him.
Jerek clears his throat, and speaks softly, “Alva. It’s me.”
Alva narrows her eyes slightly. “Jerek.” She breathes in shakily, pulling her curls behind her round ears, away from her eyes. “Y-You’ve grown,” she murmurs, watching him just as warily.
Jerek nods, and lowers his head into a bow. “So have you.”
She’s not much taller than he remembers, but her face has lost most of its roundness and her features too seem sharper. Wiser.
“I apologize,” Jerek whispers, “I did not mean to intrude, I was passing by-”
Alva remains right where she is. She is cautious. Smart. “Why were you passing by?” Because no one ever comes here.
And he does not wish to lie to her, so he tells her a fragment of the whole story. “Naga have been roaming these woods lately. I lost them. Recognized the river. And then I caught your scent.” Jerek bites his tongue. He is doing this all wrong. His sharp tongue and charming words have all gotten lost somewhere. He’s reduced to nothing in front of her. “I’m sorry. I wanted to see if you were alright, I-”
Alva steps away from the tree. She takes a step toward him, and another.
Jerek parts his lips, watching her, unblinking.
She looks curious now, more than afraid. Jerek watches her face as Alva’s eyes take him in slowly. He knows he’s changed, and suddenly he’s ashamed. But Alva simply murmurs, “Did your arm heal well?”
Jerek could cry.
He breathes a soft laugh. “Yes. Yes. Thanks to you.”
Alva smiles at him in that familiar way, and he feels the sun on his face at last.
He goes back the next day.
He didn’t mean to.
But the day before, caught sight of the herb drawings in her book, and because Jerek knows the woods near Vanserra manor like the palm of his hand, he caught bunches of the herbs she’d been searching for. The next day, however, he does not see her. He leaves the basket at the door, and leaves before she can wake.
He tells himself this is where he draws the line.
He tells himself he will not go any further.
But days later, he returns. He does not approach the cabin, because he catches her scent near the river. He follows it. And it leads him to a note left hidden between two branches of a nearby cypress.
His heart falls out of his chest.
I’m sorry I was afraid.
I’m not afraid anymore.
Two little lines that leave him shaken to his core.
Jerek breathes once, twice.
And before he knows it, he’s ripping a splinter from the tree and dipping the sharp edge in a nearby mud puddle.
He writes clumsily, hand shaking,
I saw the sun for the first time in years when I looked at you.
He leaves the note, and forces himself to go.
His hands burst into flames involuntarily, and he has to dip them in the river a few times before he can walk back home.
It is when the fire does not listen that Jerek knows he’s utterly fucked.
Days later, the note is waiting for him in the same place.
I thought I knew warmth, and then you looked at me.
I cannot keep you from me.
And I do not want to.
It feels like dying.
And he’s all too willing. He writes,
You should keep me from you.
I should keep myself from you.
But I missed the sun.
I missed the warmth.
I shall not keep you from me if I cannot keep myself from you.
I believe in fairness, above all.
I shall be just as stubborn.
I spend days and nights burning at the mere thought of you.
How is that for fairness?
Fairness would be if I were to tell you something that might be of equal worth to your words, but I am afraid I have no such talents.
The feeling is mutual.
If you burn, I burn.
If I were a better male, I would never condemn you to the fire with a smile on my face.
I want that smile.
And the fire to go along with it.
That day, she is waiting.
She watches him open the parchment, wanting to see his face change at her words. At her confession. Alva gulps down as he writes. He passes her the note.
He dares to touch her hand, and Alva’s eyes follow him as he leans down and brushes a kiss to her knuckles, leaving her in flames. “I have to go,” he whispers.
Alva nods, heart in shambles. Her eyes do not leave him until he disappears through the trees.
She opens the note then.
So you shall have it.
Anything you want. Ask me.
And even if it is not much, I shall offer you all that I am.
He comes to her at dawn a few days later.
Alva’s flushed face lures him in, so does the careful movement of her gaze over his collarbones, visible through his blouse. In the note there is a simple word.
He gives them both no time to reconsider, and neither does Alva.
Jerek touches her hand and pulls her toward him.
He wraps her in his arms and it feels like home.
Alva touches his cheeks, and Jerek realizes that he’s not felt warm, not truly, for a long, long time. He’s been cold fire all along.
Alva looks into his eyes, her thumbs tracing his cheeks.
She kisses him first, and Jerek clings to her like she’s a rope and he’s been drowning for ages. At the little sound she makes in the back of her throat, Jerek’s mind turns to smoke. He parts her lips and tastes her, and a shiver runs down his spine at the feel of her pressed against him, soft curves and burning lips and soft breaths and gentle touches.
He pulls her up, against their tree, lips moving down her neck.
Alva lets out a little breath, her fingers brushing over his hair, the inside of her thigh brushing the outside of his, sending a thousand lightning strikes right up to the once dead thing inside his chest.
He looks up, into her eyes, and brushes his nose against hers.
Alva smiles at him, biting her lip.
“All that you are,” she whispers to him. “That is what I want.”
And who is he to deny her?
Vaserra Manor, Autumn Court, Prythian
She defeats the male with a feral smile.
His father’s guards are no longer a match for her. Annika is not sure they ever were.
He’s badly wounded, but he put up a good fight - better than most. If a healer gets here on time, he might survive.
If he does not, that is too bad.
Should not have tried to get his teeth that close to her neck.
She catches her father’s scent before the sound of his clapping reaches her, echoing through the cold, humid basement.
She smiles to herself in satisfaction, turning around to greet Eris with a nod of her head.
“My daughter,” Eris says, as the other guards begin dragging the wounded male away. Annika sneers at the blood dirting the marbled floors. “You are getting better and better everyday.”
She knows she is his favourite.
Of course she is.
Octavian is useless with all his reckless strength and empty skull. Crius is equally a lost case - his skills with weapons do not compensate for his impulsiveness. Fraser might be a good spy, but that’s all her brother is good for. Now, for Jerek…
Jerek could be fair competition. She will give him that. But even if he chose to nurture his power, which he does not, the idiotic fool, he would never reach her. Not in this lifetime, nor in the next.
She is the best.
And Eris knows it, too.
“Thank you, father,” Annika says.
“You know,” Eris says, circling her, “you have surpassed every expectation I had for you.”
Annika stays very still, watching him.
This is the moment.
This is the moment she has been waiting for her entire life. This is what she has trained for. Everything she wants is at an arm’s reach.
“Good,” Eris says, halting. “You are not a complete disappointment.”
“I am your strongest child,” Annika replies. “I have trained with the best instructors. Spent my life following your orders. I am more than that. I can best all of your other children by far, and you know it.” She raises her chin. “I have not once let you down, father.”
Eris nods once in approval. “Carry on.” He places his hands behind his back, and turns to leave, but Annika is not a fool, and she will not let this moment pass her by.
“The Lord of Spring has a son,” she says to her father’s back. Eris halts. “He has intentions of presenting him as his heir during a celebration with the Night Court in a week’s time.”
“Fraser has already informed me,” Eris mutters over his shoulder.
“Wait,” Annika says.
Eris breathes in, an impatient air about him as he turns back around to face his daughter.
Annika clenches her jaw. “Do you not take offense that Tamlin has not invited you?”
Eris tilts his head to his side, trying to see her angle.
“He’s undermining you.”
“He has not invited the other courts.”
“He is undermining you,” she repeats. “And undermining them. Spring and Night are strong because they are united. And someday, they might turn against you.” She takes one step closer. “Send your heir. It would be an insult, a downright war plea if they refused a guest of the Autumn Court.”
“I have not chosen an heir.”
“Yes, you have,” Annika says. “You have chosen me.”
Eris raises a brow.
“I am the strongest,” Annika continues. “I am your best chance. You know it, father. Unconsciously, you have already chosen me. None of my brothers will accomplish what I will.” She smiles. “Name me your heir.”
A tense pause ensues.
And then Eris howls in laughter.
Annika narrows her eyes. For half a second she is stunned into silence, but has the strength not to let anything show on her face, not even her flush, not even when the remaining guards begin laughing along, too, though with strange unease.
Her father is in hysterics.
Her hands are still caked with blood.
At last, Eris stops. He shakes his head at his daughter. “My heir?”
“Yes,” Annika snarls. “Your heir. That is what I trained my entire life to be.”
Eris tilts his head to the side once more, but now his eyes glint predatorily. “You are not ruthless enough.”
Annika scoffs. “Then you do not know ruthlessness, father.”
Eris smirks in amusement. “Then, let us prove it.”
Some of the guards are still laughing when Eris points to one of them.
The laughter dies down.
The guard shrinks.
The guard gulps down, and Annika watches as he moves to stand between her and Eris. Fiery rage burns inside her as she watches her father give her a twisted smile.
He looks at the guard. “Kneel before her.”
The guard parts his lips, his entire body trembling. He obeys without any hesitation. Both knees hit the floor in front of her, and Annika sneers.
“What is this?” She snarls.
She downright scoffs. “This is pathetic. I have killed before.”
“Then you shall have no qualms about doing it again.”
Annika meets Eris’ eyes over the expanse of the basement. The silence spreads, until it is shattered by the male’s choked breaths, by a drop of water dripping down the stone walls, by a nearby wavering flame on a candle.
She works her jaw.
As she looks into her father’s eyes, she understands.
She cannot kill the guard slowly. Any other way would be considered mercy.
Annika thinks of her twin, safe in the arms of their useless mother. She thinks of her idiotic brothers, equally useless, equally weak.
She is not weak.
She thinks of the look of horror and disgust and disappointment in her mother’s eyes that afternoon years and years ago, when Annika had cracked the neck of the squirrel who had been close to biting Alia.
Her mother has never looked at her again after that.
Annika thinks of her father, the male who gave her her eyes.
She looks down.
The male has pissed himself.
Annika sighs in exasperation, and grabs him by the throat, pulling him up. He shakes and trembles and convulses and squeals.
Her eyes stick to her father’s as she takes her free hand.
And punches it through the male’s ribs, ripping apart skin and muscle, veins and bones, all in one move. The male chokes, eyes bulging out of his skull. Annika does not blink. Does not tear her eyes away from Eris. Not as she wraps a hand around the male’s stuttering heart.
Fire reaches the tip of her fingers.
She sets him on fire from the inside out.
She tears his heart out, throws it at her father’s feet, and drops the male, as fire ripples out of his opened chest and spreads throughout his body. The armour goes first. The skin second. It takes a long time, but the male does not have it in him to scream.
Eris’ face shows nothing, not even when blood splatters at his polished shoes.
Annika wipes her hands on her trousers as the male burns beside her. “Satisfied, father?” How is that for ruthlessness, you miserable tool?
He gives a single, nonchalant gaze to the burning male, then to every silent guard watching. His eyes, now glinting with faint amusement, turn to his daughter at last.
“You are powerful, there is no doubt,” Eris says. “What a pity. What a shame. A female is not worthy of a crown.”
Her blood might have stilled then.
Not worthy not worthy not worthy.
Eris scoffs at the male’s half-burnt body. He turns on his heel.
Red falls over her vision.
Her voice might have stopped the world from turning.
“You will give me the crown,” Annika says to her father, stepping over the flaming body to meet Eris halfway. “You will give me what I fought, killed and sacrificed for.”
Eris tilts his head. “No.”
Her jaw ticks. “You refuse to give me what is mine, what has been mine since birth?” Annika’s mouth trembles against her better wishes, but she feels as though she is watching herself through a foggy glass. Her limbs feel as though they are not part of her anymore. “Then you are a bigger fool than I thought,” she says, voice below a whisper, freezing every guard in this room to their core, “you, father, are a miserable fool. I shall have my crown. You shall name me your heir.”
“You shall mind your tone,” Eris says, taking a deadly step toward her, as if he thinks he might still scare her away. “I am your father, your High Lord. You will not have my crown.”
Not worthy not worthy not worthy.
The flames erupt before she can fight them, and she strikes before she can think better of it.
All her life, she’s been a strategist.
What makes her the best is not her strength, or her willpower, or her fire - but her mind. Annika knows when to strike. She knows when to wait. She is discipline. She is tactic. She is ruthlessness.
Or, at least, she was.
Now she is uncontrolled rage.
She manages to get her hands on her father’s neck, and before he can release himself from her grip, she turns, one knee hitting his back, and her hands - pulling down at his throat. Eris goes flying through the air behind her, and Annika spins on her heels the moment he rights himself, and falls with a hand and a knee to the ground, agile as a cat. Eris does not wait.
Her arms are in flames. Her chest, too.
He attacks so quickly it is like a snake biting.
Annika refutes, pushes him back, and claws. She is a wind of flames and shadows.
She scratches one of her father’s eyes, but it is not enough - it gets him bloody, but it is not enough. Not enough by far.
Her distraction only lasts half a second.
But it is enough for Eris to deflect her attack, and get his hands on her, spinning her around, one arm with an iron grip at her middle, the other at her throat, nails sinking into her neck, drawing blood.
And just like that, she is trapped.
Shock is a cold river inside her.
He’s bested her.
He’s bested her.
In the space of a second, she has lost.
Not worthy not worthy not worthy-
She faces the burning body as her father’s grip tightens, choking every last breath out of her chest. And-
One of her ribs crack.
She does not yelp. She does not scream.
The pain is helfire.
Blood pours out of her mouth.
She will not die. She will not die.
She will not die at the hands of her father.
This is not her end.
But she is trapped.
She was bested. For the first time in her life, she was bested.
Not worthy not worthy not worthy.
“You,” Eris snarls low in her ear, full of viciousness, full of hatred, “have tugged on my last nerve, you foul bitch.”
Another rib cracks.
Annika sees black.
She keeps her eyes opened through the pain, the flames in her vision blurred. That rib has punctured something vital. She can feel it.
“You shall not have a crown,” Eris continues, one nail painting a red line acoss her neck. “You shall have nothing.”
Blood is in her mouth. She cannot speak.
“The only reason why you are not dead, daughter,” Eris whispers, “is because I am merciful. The only reason why you are not ashes, is because I willed it so. You are only alive at my whim.” He throws her to the ground.
Annika attempts to rise. She will not kneel. She will now bow. Never-
Eris kicks her in the chin.
Annika falls backward, that broken bone digging into her lung. She takes a shallow breath. A sole digs into her throat.
“This is the last time you defy me,” he says, “this is the last time you fight back. Let this humiliation serve as a lesson.” He presses down, and her lungs burn. Blood bubbles in her mouth. “You shall be married to Emilian Ardor in the North. He will keep you in check. He shall keep training you, and I shall allow it, because like I said, daughter,” Eris pulls his foot away and leans toward her face, “death would put an end to your humiliation, and you deserve to feel it. Keep training knowing you will never be strong enough. Keep living knowing you will never be worthy.”
Annika speaks through the blood, “I will kill you someday.”
It is a promise.
Eris grins. “Watch what happens to your mother.”
Annika wants to laugh. Instead, she spits out the blood and chokes out, “Kill her. Why would I care.”
Eris laughs low. “Oh, you would care. You would care if Alia’s head joined your mother’s.”
Annika stops. She is certain her heart stops, too.
Eris gives her a triumphant grin. “You should clean up, daughter. Emilian will not accept a bride covered in blood.”
His laughter still rings in her ears even hours after Eris has left her.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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An Insider’s Guide to Throne of Glass: Aelin’s Infamous Gold Nightgown, 3/?
She was still smiling when he asked, “Are all your nightclothes like that?”
“So curious about my negligees, Prince. Whatever would the others say? Maybe you should issue a decree to clarify.”
He growled, and she grinned into her pillow. “Yes, I have more, don’t worry. If Lorcan is going to murder me in my sleep, I might as well look good.”
“Vain until the bitter end.”
She pushed back against the thought of Lorcan, of what Maeve might want and said, “Is there a specific color you’d like me to wear? If I’m going to scandalize you, I should at least do it in something you like.”
“You’re a menace.”
She laughed again, feeling lighter than she had in weeks, despite the news Rowan had given her. She was fairly certain they were done talking for the night when his voice rumbled across the bed. “Gold. Not yellow- real, metallic gold.”
“You’re out of luck,” she said into her pillow. “I would never own anything so ostentatious.”
She could almost feel him smiling at her as she fell asleep.
Thirty minutes later, Rowan was still staring up at the ceiling, teeth gritted as he calmed the roaring in his veins that was steadily shredding through his self-control.
That gods-damned nightgown.
He was in such deep, unending shit.
- Chapter 29 of Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
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Amber Lamps - Chapter 1
Pairing: Bucky Barnes x Julie Vaquard
Word count: 1,123
Summary: Bucky and Julie arrive in France to kick some ass, its more than that, I’m sorry, I’m no good at summaries, I’ll either write 500 words or nothing. I’ve read all Sarah J. Maas books twice, so you’d know I have high standards of writing, I promise it’s good.
The howling wind was of no help against the unease that had settled in her mind since she woke up. The quinjet was silently whirring, settled atop the large H painted on the concrete platform.
Heaving her dark duffel bag which contained her belongings for this mission onto the lowered ramp, she glanced over her shoulder at the silhouette of her companion. Treading forward Bucky gave her a nod before taking both their luggage further into the jet.
Neither of them spoke as they buckled in their harnesses, and the aircraft readied to take off into the night air.
The briefing had been swift, as they had been anticipating this very day for months prior, but nothing had prepared her for the dread of being away from her life for such a long time, weeks at best, months at worst.
Willing herself back to the present moment, she willed her eyes to look at her surroundings. Sooner than later she nodded off to the incessant hum of the engines in flight.
The sound of the jet turbines shutting off and beeps here and there brought her out of slumber that beckoned still.
She got up and gathered everything, everything being just her bag, in this case.
“You ready?” said the soldier, not a hint of the Brooklyn drawl she’d come to cherish in the rare times it came around present.
“Yeah,” she mumbled.
An exchanged nod later they both stepped off the ramp and into the late morning air that hung in the clearing the jet landed in.
The mission was simple: figure out the workings of the gang that operated throughout France, and put an end to their production of illegal weapons; why might this simple task take weeks, one may ask. Well the answer, in short, was simply that Les Corbeaux, The Ravens, operated with such secrecy that nearly all previous attempts of SHIELD dismantling them had failed, most missions ending with agents outgunned and outmanned, with little to none surviving. Both of them were to stay in a safe house, an apartment bought under fake aliases and identities, which was located near the heart of the City of Love.
She was wearing plaid trousers, a simple blouse and a dark coat, with Bucky wearing clothes of similar appearance, their sole aim was to blend in with the citizens and draw as little attention as possible.
A car had waited near the landing zone, which they drove for an hour to the safe house.
The streets of her childhood struck a deep sort of longing in her, one that lived in her heart since the day she left.
The apartment was in a building that was entirely SHIELD owned, so no one without the right authorisation had access, but still she worried about ambush.
Driving into the the underground garage built just for the one car, they slowed to a stop.
She climbed out of the passenger seat, and grabbed hold of her bag from the boot, with Bucky grasping his, they both walked towards the elevator. The doors slid open without a sound, as they stepped in and stood in silence until arriving at the topmost floor. Out of habit her fingers grazed her revolver that was tucked into her coat.
Despite that her hand kept poised over her pocket.
The doors once again glided open and her gaze came upon a spacious apartment with an open front room.
It was artfully decorated with several rugs adorning the hardwood floors. On the walls hung paintings of different sizes and shapes.
“This one’s much better than the Venice apartment,” Bucky murmured.
“Much, much better,” she confirmed.
Setting her bag on the suede settee, she walked through the hallway to the bedrooms.
Living here wouldn’t be bad after all, she thought.
Later that day, they both inventoried the weaponry and ammunition stored in the attic, which was unlike the rest of the apartment, instead built like a lab straight from the Avengers Tower.
They were to go scouting near the docks of a city not far from Paris the next night, and they had until then to plan out their route and tactic, should the enemy take it upon themselves to make them feel welcomed.
“We’ll take this trail here over the rooftops to the pier, then travel along it to the docks.”
“No, Bucky, the rooftops near there aren’t high enough to be stealthy, they’ll see us.”
“Okay, the alleyways then.”
“We can’t risk the alleys, there might be guards.”
“Well, Jul, you don’t leave much else to choose from.”
“The tunnels underneath the city.”
“You mean the sewers?”
“I mean our only safe entry and exit to the docks.”
“So, the sewers.”
“Yes, yes, the sewers.”
“I’ve seen enough of the French sewers to last a lifetime!”
“Well Bucky, if you want to get shot, or worse, be my guest and take the rooftops.”
A a nearly silent huff was her only reply.
Several minutes later, her eyes looked up from the map to peer into his deep cerulean ones, which were incredibly striking this close up; the blue of them urged a sudden, unwelcome memory to her mind: blood-stained walls, a dark mass leaned back on a chair, screams tainted with anguish splitting the silence. Shaking the scene from her mind, she instead turned back to the map, the dreaded sound still ringing in her ears.
They were sat on the settee, discussing their plan for tomorrow, with a few pizza boxes settled on the low oak table, when the SHEILD issued phone rang. She pressed attend and set it on speaker.
“Hey, how’s it going?” came Sam’s voice.
“It’s going well, we’re-“
“Taking the damn sewers for our first stakeout,” Bucky interjected.
“We’re taking them because their safe,” she supplied.
“But their filled to the brim with God knows what!”
“But their safe!”
“Bucky, there ain’t no arguing with that, listen to the woman, she knows those streets better than anyone,” said Sam.
Bucky went silent at that.
“Alright, yeah, we’ll take the sewers,” he muttered.
She knew he was aware of the danger in taking the rooftop route, and silently thanked him for trying to lighten the tension that hung thick in the air.
The rest of the night was spent watching local news channels and readying some equipment for the next night.
She knew he spoke French, partially because of the countless times she’d previously heard him pronounce words with precision only knowledge of the language could enable, and because of his Winter Soldier training.
With murmured “good nights” when the moon hung high in sky, they both went to their own bedrooms and awaited the action that tomorrow might bring.
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“have you lost your damn mind?” for mariaxzelos i love their dynamic and need more of them!
2.“Have you lost your damn mind!?”
a/n: this headcanon takes place 80 years or so after acofas. || if you guys don’t remember these characters, María is a human girl who is the mate of Aidan, Feyre and Rhysand’s son. Zelos is Amren and Varian’s oldest son, and here we introduce once again Fraser (who I wrote before, but it’s been a while), who is Eris’ son. For a little background context: the Courts enter a war with Autumn when Eris tries to rule the entirety of Prythian. Fraser, one of Eris’ sons, used to be a spy, but since Eris threatened his mother and his sister, as well as his younger brother, Fraser switches over to fight with the Night Court, and now resides in Summer.
p.s.: it’s quite long, so most of it is under the cut. // this headcanon can serve as a follow-up to this headcanon.
You can read more about the gen 2 here.
Read more about Fraser here.
Read more about Zelos here / here.
send me a prompt from this list
the world and all recognizable characters belong to sarah j maas
the cold wind blew over her face, unsettling the baby hairs at her forehead
not even an hour into her training with Zelos, and her braid was already coming undone
as was she
her breathing was shallow
her lungs felt like lead inside her chest
her hands were covered in dust
the Illyrian mountains rose in the distance, blocking out the afternoon sun
“Get up,” said Zelos
in shaky legs, María rose
“That was good,” Zelos nodded once. “But you need to be stealthier.”
his own leathers were covered with dust and dirt
but not one hair was out of place
and he didn’t look winded at all
María took a deep breath. “You attacked me by surprise, I wasn’t rea-”
“Yes,” Zelos said, “because no opponent is going to let you know before they gut you.”
“Keep your anger in check,” Zelos said sternly. “It has no place here.”
fine, she might have been losing her cool
but after an hour, her body already ached and begged her to stop
and she hated it
she never expected to master fighting after only a couple of lessons
but she never expected it to take so long
or for it to be so difficult
she was nothing if not persistent
“Alright,” said Zelos. “Go again.”
she repeated the movements he’d taught her, but Zelos slapped her hand away everytime
he was much stronger
but she was lighter on her feet, and faster
and that had to be her advantage
to catch him by surprise
she ducked underneath his arm, avoiding another punch to the shoulder, twirled, and elbowed him right at the end of his spine
Zelos turned on the last second. “Better.”
despite everything, she smiled to herself
after another set of exercises, Zelos stopped her in place
María silently thanked every star in the skies, because finally, finally he’d let her have a break-
“I’m going to teach you to hunt now.”
hell and all its demons-
“To... hunt?” María said, keeping her breathing in check
she followed Zelos’ eyes to the forest beyond, dark and eery, the trees so thick she couldn’t see past a few miles
Zelos raised a brow
she bit her lip, then muttered, “I don’t want to murder an innocent animal-”
Zelos laughed out loud
which made her eyes widen - María had never heard him laugh like that
it twisted his face into something completely different
something almost friendly
“You’re not going to hunt food,” Zelos explained after his laughter had died down, shaking his head as if she was the absurd one. “I’m going to teach you to hunt a different kind of prey. An enemy.”
María frowned. “Why do I need to know-”
“You never know when you might need to chase a fucker down,” said Zelos
María huffed, but didn’t say anything else. “I’m going to run,” Zelos said. “You will give me a few minutes until I’m deep in that forest. And then you’re going to find me.”
“I can find you by smell alone,” María said impatiently
Zelos smirked. “Not if I’m hiding well.”
and without another word, he disappeared into the darkness of the trees, faster than lightning strikes
María kicked a pebble, feeling like a child
the mountain was deserted, and she had but a dagger in her boot
what would she do if an animal came prowling?
you’re stronger than an animal, she reminded herself, you’re not human anymore
even if months had passed after her transformation, the reminder still surprised her
she took a deep breath, and after the wait was over, María jogged into the forest
the air was heavy with silence
not even the murmur of small creatures could be heard
damn Zelos for putting her up to this
it’s not like she was afraid of the dark, or being alone in the woods, even if the mist was quite sinister but-
she caught his scent on a nearby tree and slowed down, taking the time to look around, and assess her surroundings
her eyes captured everything
it was incredible, how far she could see, and how much
after a while, Zelos’ sent was lost
she’d gone too far
turning, María eyed the too-still trees
clearly, Zelos was playing a game of chase
seething, she turned back around, wondering where she’d come from, and where she was supposed to go next to go back
she was lost, and she would only find Zelos and her way back by using her senses
suddenly, a cold shiver ran down her spine
María strained her ears, listening in
the foul scent hit her like a ton of bricks
and then a brute force pushed her backwards, and she went flying into a tree trunk
she had the good sense to claw her hands on the tree, so the impact wasn’t too bad, but her head still swam
she gasped as she slid to the ground, turning around herself
until she saw it
definitely Fae, but nothing like it at the same time
serpentine features, claws, and Fae-like bodies
black eyes like two voids
it stalked toward her slowly, and María held up a hand on the tree to steady herself
“What do you want?” she snarled
the creature could only be a naga
Aidan had told him stories about them
her stomach recoiled as it opened its mouth, and a voice like she’d never heard before rose amongst the trees, sounding like a snake slithering in the grass. “We smelled human blood.”
María looked around, and the shadows darkened
there were more of them, hiding
María barred her teeth. “There are no humans here.”
“You,” the creature whispered, like an enchantment. “It still flows in your immortal veins.”
the shadows pushed in, and María was forced to move
where was Zelos?
had he been hurt?
María held up the dagger from her boot, and wished that she had something bigger
but this would have to do
“Come closer,” she warned, “and I will spill your blood.”
the shadows laughed
and stalked her
she ran through the woods, not knowing which direction she was taking but knowing, feeling, that she was being followed
as she ran, as fast as she could, she looked up into the high trees above, trying to look for a way out of this
thick ivy strings fell down, and she swatted them away-
until she got an idea
those strings were long, and hard
long enough to-
María gasped as her plan came together
as she ran, she listened in
three - four, max - of those creatures stalked her
she imagined a triangle shape, with her at the tip, and them behind her, trying to close in on her
this would have to work
so she ran faster, and faster, and faster, until everything was a blur around her, until her lungs ached and her legs felt like they were giving out
her heart beat painfully fast as she, suddenly, cut through a dense path, gathering those long strings of ivy that seemed to fall from the skies
and around she went
fast, she had to be fast, before the naga noticed and understood her plan
before they caught her scent going in another direction
she went behind and around them, and then, like a flash, she appeared right in front of them, and pulled hard on the ivy that she’d wrapped around the trees, scarring her hands
the creatures hit the line of ivy she’d created, and staggered, ripping it to shreds
but she was quicker
she’d made them topple over each other, and that gave her time to throw her dagger
it seemed to ricochet
the blade cut the air, and cut open three throats
the creatures went down with the ivy, bleeding on the forest ground
the one that survived sneered and whispered, “Others will come.”
María clenched her teeth viciously. “I’ll kill you myself.”
the creature pounced
and María reminded herself of what Zelos had taught her
she couldn’t fight with anger
she needed to be stealthier
because the enemy would never tell her when it would kill her
so she pushed back, and her arm went swinging, hitting the creature in the stomach hard
hard enough that it staggered back, and María ignored the pain in her wrist, arm and shoulder, and kicked it away from her
when the creature tried to pounce back, María made her killing strike
jumping up in the air, cat-like, she swinged her leg, breaking the creatures neck
the cracking sound almost made her throw up
she fell into the grass and dirt, breathing hard
she’d killed four naga
“Fuck,” she muttered, and lifted herself up
if she’d been exhausted earlier, than she could baerly move now
but she did
because something told her that Zelos was in trouble
others will come
these creatures had gotten to him first, she was certain
“Oh, no, Zelos,” she almost sobbed
she’d been so intent on finding him that she didn’t catch his scent
instead, she caught another
unfamiliar and closer
adrenaline was still running through her veins, and so she didn’t think
she’d given in to her instincts
and when she smelled smoke, every instinct came alive
María rounded a tree
and the male caught her by the neck, lifting her up
María choked, shock and fear and desperate survival making her kick the air
she caught a glimpse of copper hair before she kicked
it seemed he was just as surprised to see her and not another predator, for it made him distracted
and when María kicked, he let go
she fell into a squat on the ground
and when the male barred his teeth, snarling at her, she attacked
they went rolling down a steep hill
her mind was mist
all she thought of was survival and finding Zelos
María’s back hit a fallen tree trunk and she winced, fighting to keep the male off her
but he was heavy
and a fighter too
so she clawed her way out
the male pushed back, holding on to his cheek, yielping
her nails were bloody
María breathed hard, her back against the ground-
the male, at hearing and smelling another male, pushed back completely, looking around for that thunder voice-
Zelos went sliding down the hill, and then picked María up in his arms, holding her back up
she moved before she could think of doing so
she was going to bite that male’s head off
her mind didn’t even register that Zelos was fine, and alive, and that the naga hadn’t-
he held her by the shoulders, keeping her in place
it must have taken a great amount of strength
for Zelos had to push her against the tree to keep her from killing the male. “Hey,” he growled in her face. “Hey.”
María was trembling all over
“Focus on my face,” he said
but she couldn’t
her eyes had marked the male over Zelos’ shoulder, who still hadn’t moved, who was still holding his bloody cheek
“Focus!” Zelos growled, and the forest went silent once more
María finally turned her eyes to Zelos’
slowly, she came back to herself
they were trading words - Zelos and the other one, but María couldn’t process any of it
Zelos’ arms were still pinning to the tree
as were his legs
apparently she’d been kicking him, too
Zelos turned to look at her again. “Breathe, damn it.”
the male still wasn’t running
María blinked in confusion
and her mind finally eased
it was only then that she felt the pain in every muscle
she practically sagged against Zelos. “I thought you were dead, you bloody fool.”
“I smelled the naga, but I couldn’t find you. Their smell hid yours. I thought you’d ran, I never thought you’d fight them off-”
and then the voice behind Zelos, “Who is she?”
“Who are you?” María spat over Zelos’ shoulder
“Can I let you go now?” Zelos asked. “I can’t have you kill him. He’s under my father’s protection.”
and Zelos let go
she held on to the tree
“What the fuck were you doing attacking Aidan’s mate?” Zelos snarled, turning to the male
María had cut his face badly
serves him right for attacking her
“I didn’t know,” he said, wiping the blood with his dirty sleeve. “Like I just said, I have an audience with the High Lord. I was sent by your father. I’ve a letter.” The male threw a ripped letter to Zelos, and scowled. “Plus, I didn’t know what she smells like, or better, what her mate smells like, so how could I guess she wasn’t dangerous?” The male looked at her sideways.
“Where’s the guard that came with you?” Zelos asked, probably having smelled him on the male
but - guard?
“Where do you think?” The male said. “The naga began chasing us. They killed him, and I ran, but all of a sudden they stopped and went the other way. Probably having smelled her.”
“I’ve a name,” she snapped
“Do tell, little one.”
“I’m-” she fumed. “I’m not little one to you.” She raised her chin. “You can call me María. Why did you attack me?”
“You fucking rounded a tree and scared the shit out of me. I caught your scent miles away, but then all of a sudden you’re there, looking murderous-”
“I’d just killed the naga, and in the process I saved your own damned life, thank you very much,” she said back
“Killed them?” Zelos stuttered. “Are you out of your damn mind?”
“What was I supposed to do? Let them eat me alive?” María shouted at him. “I did what I had to do. I did what you told me to do.”
“I’m not condemning you, you fool,” Zelos said. “But you took on four naga and came for seconds?” He pointed at the male behind him
“He,” she said, pointing to the male too, “grabbed me by my throat-”
“Because you pounced out of nowhere!” The male said, gesturing wildly. “And you cut me!” He pointed at his bloody cheek - at the scratch that would surely make a good bruise
“I’m not apologizing to anyone,” María burst out
“Alright, alright,” Zelos tried
“And what were the naga doing here?” She turned to Zelos, and he almost took a step back at her tone, and face. “I thought they were never supposed to be here.”
“They weren’t,” Zelos said grimly. “And I don’t know. But what’s more more important...” he turned to the male, “...is why you would cross the Night Court through the Mountains to get to the High Lord. Why not go the usual route?”
the male sneered. “In case you forgot, Zelos, my father and my brothers are still out there trying to kill me, so I would rather not risk being seen.”
“Why’d my father send you and not my sister?”
María looked at them back and forth, and before they could read the change in the male’s eyes, or before Zelos could question him further, María spat, “Who are you?”
the male turned to look at her. “Name’s Fraser.”
“Eris Vanserra’s son,” Zelos said to her
she’d just scratched one of the Autumn Court heirs
she crossed her arms. “I’m María.”
Fraser actually grinned, but it was a feral type of smile. “I wish I could say it’s a pleasure to meet you, but you look like a vicious little thing who I’m not sure might still twist my neck.”
“I killed the naga to protect myself,” María said, throat raw. “And I thought you were out to kill me, too. Plus, I thought Zelos was dead.”
“Aw, were you worried for me?” Zelos poked her side
“Shut up,” María grunted, not wanting to be part of the joke. “It’s not exactly a pleasure to meet you either.”
“Give me ten minutes and you might change your mind.”
Zelos looked ready to run out of there
María simple tilted her head to the side, narrowing her eyes
Fraser’s dark eyes glinted. “You’re vicious, alright.”
“Shit,” Zelos murmured
“What is it?” María said
“We have to report the naga,” Zelos said. “And it’s past sundown. Your mate will be at my throat.”
he’d be worried sick by then
“Let’s just go home,” María said, then turned to look at Fraser. “I suppose you’re coming too.”
“I suppose,” Fraser bit back.
“Let’s retrieve the body of your guard,” said Zelos. “Lead the way.”
Fraser nodded once
“Why is not my sister here, Fraser?” It seemed Zelos wasn’t willing to drop the subject. “Or your own brother? Why you, who’s still being guarded in case you betray us?”
María looked between them a few steps behind
it seemed she still had a lot to learn about the things that had happened before she’d returned to Prythian
Fraser looked suddenly uncomfortable. “She’s alright, if you’re worried. You should write to her, she’ll explain.”
“Or maybe you should just tell me now.” It sounded like a threat
Fraser looked at him. “Write to her. It’s not my motives to explain”
Zelos’ sister - Paz, who María had meant before
“Is she sick?” María asked him
“I’m not talking to you, little one,” Fraser said, but there was no harshness in his voice - he sounded like a cat playing with his food, “not after what you did to my cheek.”
“Serves you right,” she muttered under her breath
“Stop it, both of you,” said Zelos. “If you want to take it out on each other do it far away from where I can hear you. I’m no babysitter.”
María resisted the urge to show Zelos her middle finger, because that would be childish, and instead glared at his back
and pretended to ignore the amused, yet curious look Fraser shot her over his shoulder
@acourtofabsandillyrians @mariamuses @lost-in-fictionn @faequeenaelin @mysweetvillain @loysydark @lord-douglas-the-third @empress-ofbloodshed @city-of-fae @cwheart @sewingmonster @b00kworm @spyofthenightcourt @scarznstars @sleeping-and-books @hizqueen4life @thesirenwashere @agirlwhofans @aelin-queen-of-terrasen @theoverlyenthusiasticwriter @keshavomit @paz-fretes @highqueenofelfhame @rosegoldannie @ourbooksuniverse @slightfanofeverything101 @yourlocalautisticoverlord @just-a-starcrossed-writer @nahthanks @to-read-is-to-breathe @aelinfeyreeleven945tbln @wildernessfaerieee @enpointe10 @lisaflowers @claralady @ellequinestpersonne @ladywitchling @uttertrainwreck @lady-therion @shyvioletcat @anonniemouselove @observantmap @scarznstars @ireallyshouldsleeprn @vasudharaghavan @tillyrubes10 @fuzzypineapples @music-and-movies @julemmaes @destiny14444 @judelovescardan @maastrash @athenasaesthete @nite0wl29 @ifangirlninja @highlordrhysie @courtofdreamsandterrasen @fireheartdreamerstarborn @space-buns-arsinoe @acourtofglass @alxanxah @booklover242
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The Review Crew’s Best Books of 2020
Jenn’s Pick – The Switch by Beth O’Leary
I could talk about books for days, I love hearing about a book someone is currently reading or a book that changed them. When faced with the task to choose my favorite read of 2020 I thought I had it narrowed down to a few great picks, then I made the mistake of looking through my Goodreads list and revisited all the books I loved in 2020. I’m thankful for each one that I read as it was a much needed escape from the madness happening outside of my door. I decided to share my favorite audiobook, a book I would recommend to a wide variety of friends and one I’d listen to again.
This book is The Switch by Beth O’Leary. It was so sweet and wholesome and unlike any life swap story I’d heard before. Eileen is sick of being 79 and her granddaughter Leena is realizing being a 20 something-year-old in the big city isn’t all she had hoped it would be. Both are well overdue for some life changes. I enjoyed getting to know each of our main characters and all of the supporting roles too. The adventure was never-ending with these two, it was a sweet story that touched on more sensitive family matters and had parts that made me laugh out loud plus, the narrator was amazing. If you haven’t checked this one out yet, do it! You won’t regret it.
Another favorite hobby of mine is to retell the entire novel I’ve just read to my endlessly patient husband, perhaps I should have asked him which book I was most excited about sharing this year.
Find it on Goodreads.
Cat’s Pick – Network Effect by Martha Wells
Man, picking my favorite read from 2020 is easier said than done! It’d be easier to say what my favorite novel was in each genre. That being said, if I had to pick, I’d probably go with Network Effect, by Martha Wells. It’s the first full-length novel in the Murderbot series, and is full of awkward human-bot interactions, while my favorite (and sassiest) bot works very hard to save the day. For the fifth time. Murderbot is a character that I’ve grown very fond of over the years (and yes, I know this fact would horrifying poor little Murderbot), and I really enjoyed seeing a longer event for this character. And the humans they’ve sworn to protect.
Long story short: I’ll take all the Murderbot goodness that Marta Wells is willing to hand out! Also, please don’t let the name Murderbot put you off from this series, the main character is truly endearing, and their quirky naming conventions are simply a side effect of that.
Find it on Goodreads.
Allyson’s Pick – Crave by Tracy Wolff
Grace’s entire life has been turned upside down. First, she lost both her parents. Now, she’s being shipped off to her uncle’s school.
Now? Now she’s about to learn that the supernatural beings of legend and lore actually do exist – and she goes to school with them.
Crave captivated me in so many ways. The character development was outstanding. I loved the feeling of experiencing Katmere academy through Grace’s eyes.
Find it on Goodreads.
Tanya’s Pick – The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
So my book is The House in the Cerulean Sea. It was a recommendation in a FB group and I knew nothing about it going in. I listened to the audiobook and the Narrator was fantastic although in the beginning, I was so bored and didn’t understand the recommendation.
Then the MC gets to the island and meets the orphaned children. I was hooked! The characters were amazing. Smart, sassy and so loving, even after all they had been through. The magical elements were so fun and Lucy (Lucifer- son of the Devil) was sinfully sweet! The threads of self-love, family, romantic love, and acceptance all rolled up in humor and magic were just outstanding! So many happy tears!
Find it on Goodreads.
Sara’s Pick – Wonderland by Zoje Stage
A mother’s love and duty knows no bounds. Even when coming up against all things supernatural and terrifying. She’ll stand between those things that go bump in the night, and her family.
Enter the Bennett family. They just moved from the city to a lovely location in the woods. Only…it is hardly that simple, now is it? The horrors that await this family are beyond their imagination.
After Babyteeth I knew I wanted more. In comes Wonderland to once again keep me up at night and scratch that itch for horror and thrill. My favorite read of 2020 hands down.
Find it on Goodreads.
Allison’s Pick – The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
The idea of living forever yet having no one remember you intrigued me right from the start. It was part watching centuries pass through Addie’s eyes, part clever cat-and-mouse game and part beautiful love story. I had ALL the feels reading this. I longed to live in 1691… I loved characters with my entire soul and hated others with the fire of a thousand suns. I was scared and happy and angry… excited and surprised.
ALL. THE. FEELS.
I have had a favorite book for twenty-three years. But this book has taken over as my #1. Holy hell, my God, Lucifer be damned, if there’s just ONE book you read this year… make it this one!
Find it on Goodreads.
Melanie’s Pick – House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas
The famous Sarah J. Maas is back with a new series, one that promises fantasy and romance all wrapped into one. Bryce Quinlan once had a perfect life, now she’s out on a path of vengeance.
Then there’s Hunt Athalar, a Fallen Angel. Literally. His skills are being put to work by the Archangels who control him, but that’s not enough to keep him from plotting his own forms of revenge.
House of Earth and Blood was both a roller coaster and a train wreck. I can usually spot a plot twist but this book blindsided me and I actually put it down for a couple of days so I could process the events.
Find it on Goodreads.
Di’s Pick – The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman
The Orphan Collector turned out to be a prophetic book accidentally. It was written about the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic before Covid had been identified. Wonderful research was done by the author with great characters to present the story.
The Orphan Collector is a book that was hard to put down. I cheered for Pia, the main character, and mentally booed Bernice, the “villain”!
Find it on Goodreads.
Sherry’s Pick – Anxious People by Fredrick Backman & Suicide House
Anxious People stole my heart this year. Backman is one of my favorite authors and he always delivers. With a lot of heart and quirky characters, you never want his books to end. This one seemed a little chaotic in the beginning, but as the pieces slowly fit together, there is a method in the madness.
The Suicide House was my sleeper of the year. I never hear anyone talk about this author, but he always delivers. A chilling and suspenseful book filled with secrets and murder.
Find both books here and here on Goodreads.
And that’s a wrap on our favorite 2020 reads, we are so excited to see where the wonderful world of books takes us in 2021!
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An Essay on Why I Hate This Book, But Will Still Read the Sequel
This isn’t the first time, I’ve had enough thoughts on a book that I’ve written a long-form review (click link for another essay), and, knowing me, it won’t be the last. Few things get the words flowing like a book I need to make a point about. First and foremost, I like to make a few disclaimers. One, these are all opinions and if you disagree with them, I’m totally okay with this; that’s what makes talking about books exciting. Two, I didn’t do research for this impromptu essay, so any blanket statements I make should be taken with a grain of salt (also if I get plot points wrong it’s because my brain blacked them out). Three, I will spoil the ending of the book, so if you’re someone who likes to go into a book with minimal knowledge about the plot, this isn’t the essay for you.
With all that out of the way, let’s get into my review. A Court of Thorns and Roses [or ACATAR] is a special book in that it stokes the most complicated feelings I’ve had about a book in a long time. I’m not the only one who has had a similar reaction. In the book community, the series has gained a touch of infamy. It’s been called out for sexism, racism, and for being generally cringey. Going into the experience of ACATAR, I knew it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling with fairies and odds were, I wasn’t going to enjoy it, but I wanted to be wrong. I wasn’t. A chaotic mess of tropes, cliches, and plot conveniences, ACATAR never let up— Balls to the wall, absolute nonsense tied together with some of the most unlikable characters I’ve ever read. Two main problems stuck out the most: 1, the writing itself, and 2, the themes and messages of the book.
Part One: Plot Summary
Feyre, our narrator, is poor—like risking going into the dangerous part of the woods to hunt for scraps of food, poor. While following a deer, she spots a greater prize, a massive wolf. The pelt and meat will sustain her family longer than most of her hunts. It goes down easy and Feyre’s internal alarm system triggers, this was too easy. She shrugs it off and takes the dead wolf home. Here, we meet Feyre’s family, a rag-tag group of absolute jag weeds. Her dad, the ex-noble who’s given up on life; her sister, the Cinderella step-sister impersonator; and her other sister, the diet version of Luna Lovegood. None of them help her or themselves, and yet Feyre’s all like “I love my family. They’re the best.” I’m over here looking like this meme:
Bursting through the door, a talking giant wolf enters their home and I have to assume it looks just like the CGI wolves from the Twilight Saga movies, jorts shredding in the wind and all. Our good old wolfie, is Tamlin, the high lord of the spring court. He demands Feyre’s life in retribution of his dead friend, the wolf Feyre killed earlier. After some back and forth, Feyre agrees to go with Tamlin to his world and stay at his castle, which follows the traditional Beauty and the Beast tale. They leave and go to the fae world and Feyre’s distracted from her misery by the beautiful scenery. “Wow,” she says in an Owen Wilson voice.
For the next fifty pages or so, we get a montage of her adjusting to her new life, learning about the fae, her fate, and the love interest, Tamlin. This special brooding babe is even more boring than most YA heroes so I suppose he’s impressive in that respect. I know three things about him: 1, he’s nobility, 2, he’s quiet, 3, his past hurt him. Let’s get into that last one, because it ties into the plot. Tamlin refused the marriage to the queen of his realm so in retribution, the queen put a curse on the land during a masquerade, so now everyone in the spring court has a mask permanently attached to their face.
Feyre has dinner several times with Tamlin and his best friend, who’s not important despite being the third main character for over half the book. Then Tamlin learns Feyre likes to paint and gifts her a painting room. They spend a day in a pool of stars, and fall in love. I shit you not. Romance-wise I’ve read way worse, but it’s still not great and I’ll get into that in the next part.
All while this is going on, the monsters in the woods are getting closer and causing trouble for the fairies. The danger escalates so much that Tamlin decides to send Feyre back to her family, but not before porking her brains out. Mostly satisfied and sad, Feyre goes to her family whose been living in luxury since Tamlin’s been sending them money. They still suck and Feyre still likes them. She decides that she can’t spend more time away from Tamlin and thinks something is going wrong. Arriving at the spring court, she finds that no one is there and only the remnits of a battle remain. She searches the place and happens to run into the servant who helped her while she was living there, we’ll call her Exposition Lady. Exposition Lady tells Feyre all about the curse and how the queen gave Tamlin only one way out of it. Plot connivence! *trumpet noise* Tamlin had to find a human that hates fairies who accidentally killed a fairy to fall in love with him and she must say the words to him. Boy, that’s awful specific.
Feyre is even more determined to save Tamlin and gets Exposition Lady to lead her to the mountain where the queen is keeping the spring court. After warning Feyre a ton of times about how she’s on a suicide mission, Exposition Lady leaves, chucks the deuces and vanishes from the book. Feyre eventually gets caught in the mountain and brought to the queen. During her villain monologue, the queen proposes a new plan to Feyre, pass three tasks and she’ll release Tamlin and the curse.
God, this book is so long, I’ve been typing forever and we’re only 60% through with it. I’m pressing the fast forward button. Okay, so, there’s this character who showed up earlier but isn’t important until now. His name’s Rhysand—the high lord of the Night Court. He’s more interesting than everyone else in the story, but mostly because he’s highly suspect. He decides to help Feyre on the down low in exchange for her spending a week of every month with him. Luckily for Feyre, she loves going through two periods every month. Fun times. Anyway, he helps her get through the three tasks which includes fighting a giant, blind worm, solving a riddle, and killing three fairies.
There’s some other stuff that makes me want to tear my hair out, but I’m tired and I bet you are too. Feyre finishes all the tasks and the queen’s like SIIIKKEE. Imma kill you all. Feyre’s death gets Tamlin angry enough to break free of the queen’s restraints and he kills her. All the remaining fairies get together and touch Feyre to like pass on their powers or something. She turns into a fae. Then the book ends with Rhysand reminding her of their deal and her walking off into the sunset with Tamlin.
Part Two: Writing is hard, dunking on this book isn’t
Now that we got through that fucking train wreck, some of which I admitted for your benefit, I’m moving on to the writing craft of this book. Sarah J. Maas has a particular writing style like most authors and many people enjoy it. Only, for me, it often took me out of the story and reminded me that I was reading something written by someone. That sounds petty, but one of the marks of good writing is forgetting you’re reading and getting lost in the story. Mass should have a mug that says “I Heart Em-Dashes” because, damn, there were a lot of them. So. Many. Pauses. I’m guilty of using too many semi-colons, so I get it, but usually unnecessary writing ticks get removed during editing, particularly for a traditionally published book like ACATAR. Her em-dash fetish isn’t so much a problem as it is noticeable and disruptive. Anyway, enough of my nit-picky issues, let’s get into the real stuff.
A Court of Thorns and Roses has the same effect as watching reality tv. It’s nonsense held together by the belief that at some point it will get better, but it doesn’t because it will never be anything more than what it is: Light entertainment at best and degradation of media at worst.
The pacing is heavy-ended, which does several things to a book. It makes the beginning feel irrelevant and the middle bloated. All the best action happens at the end with little to no build-up and yet, ACATAR pushes near five hundred pages. It tried to be an epic fantasy and a romance at the same time and if you’re not deliberate on each page, you fail one of those tasks. In my opinion, it failed both of them. Epic fantasies require intense world building and ACATAR spent more time on Feyre’s love relationship like a romance would do, but the relationship was so under-developed that it can’t withstand scrutiny, thereby failing both tasks. In the words of Ron Swanson, “don’t half-ass two things, whole ass one thing.” This isn’t to say that good romance can’t exist within a fantasy book, it just shouldn’t take up the same amount of screen time as the main plot. N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, Maggie Stiefvater’s the Raven cycle, and The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones all do this well. Honestly, you could argue that ACATAR did balance its plots with skill and I simply didn’t like how it did it, and that’d be true too. I found that the two largest elements of the book suffered at the expense of the other.
Part Three: What Books Say Matters
A Court of Thorns and Roses falls into the category of young adult books that support toxic relationships. An alarming number of books marketed at young women and girls feature a kind, if bland female narrator who falls in love with a semi-abusive jerk. It’s made “okay” by the fact that he’s hot or misunderstood, or whatever nonsense the book feeds the reader. Whether the author intended it or not, Feyre is caught in a cycle of abuse, starting with her family. They manipulate her into doing more work and excusing their lack of action by allowing her to believe that acts of sacrifice are required for their love. The exact same thing happens with Tamlin. He controls her world and she ends up sacrificing her life for the sake of undoing his action’s consequences. [granted, the queen should be held accountable for causing the entire situation in the first place].
You could say “Emma, this is only a book with fictional characters, what’s it matter?” It doesn’t matter in the sense that I’m going to call CPS for Feyre, instead it matters in that it creates a narrative that excuses the bad actions of others in the name of love and that accepting this behavior will lead to a happy ending. Then it’s put into the hands of thousands of teenagers. Books effect reality because we bring them into it. Tamlin does bad things and wins Feyre’s heart. On the flip side, Feyre’s other love interest isn’t any better. Rhysand drugs her through a good portion of the book and touches her without her consent. It’s later excused as a way to protect her from other fairies who would do worse, but what Rhysand did isn’t okay either. The takeaway here is that these plot points were choices intentionally made and approved by many people before being printed into a book. As readers, it’s our responsibility to critically think about what we consume, so that toxic messages from a book do not follow us into reality.
In conclusion, A Court of Thorns and Roses is not a good book and it’s sequel won’t be either, but I’m still going to read it, because this year was a dumpster fire, might as well add fuel to the pyre.
Tagging: @queenoffloweryhell @raywritesblog @weathershade @sapphcon-ic Forever ago you guys said you’d like to be tagged in any future essays I do, feel free to let me know if you’d like to unsubscribe. If anyone would like to be added also let me know.
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i swear to god,if Azriel ends up with elain i’m gonna kill sarah j maas and then myself!he deserves his own mate and epic love story,not someone else mate.also i don’t nuderstand why sarah won’t give elain and lucien a possibility to develop their bond
True!!! I want Elucien not Elriel. Not because Azriel is a shadowsinger, a torturer , an illyrian ( as mass has made Almost all the main ships ( about Archerons) with the Illyrians) because first of all, Elucien is so damn revolutionary, and Lucien deserves all the happiness of this world, and as for Azriel, i think that he should get out of the romances in the Inner circle, ( Mor and Elain) and begin a new life, cause he fucked up 500 years of his life , behind Mor, and( he might do it after Elain)
But I also think mass might make Elain end up with Azriel cause of two reasons :-
1) WINGSPANS :- he has the largest Wingspan, how the heck won't he get a love interest present in the IC.
2) MATES:- there is no mass's ship where the pair are not mates. So for a change, she might make Elriel common , but I don't think that will be relevant cause, like Kallias and Viviane, if they get close enough the bond would snap automatically , and again Mass would have made no difference in her ships.
As for Lucien , I believe Sarah is not letting them bond, because either Lucien is uncomfortable with the mind reading , ig , and is somewhat afraid of Azriel?? ( Shadowsinger ) . Also , maybe because he joined the band of exiles, Feyre, being a hypocrite , won't let them bond, cause she lost her friend. ( Ridiculous reason really) anyways, that might be his reasons , as for Mass, she wants to make the illyrians superior to other love interests.
Also, Azriel torturing people , then coming back to spend time with Elain in garden , with flowers etc is somewhat sweetly weird.
I just hope that if Elucien is canon, then Elain should not make Azriel hang around like Mor, for another 500 years.
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immj2 26.11.20 lb
preemptive maafi for all the raita she’s gonna phailaofy.
notice vansh watching from the pic. i’m telling you his ass been monitoring everyyyyyyyyyyything all this time.
i know i said i love boys in the layered look but how many fucking layers is he wearing?????? it’s above 30C in mumbai these days and he lives in an ALL-METAL SHIPPING CONTAINER?!!?!?!!?!?
lmao he’s fully thinking ki mere kaunse account se nijod ke laayi hai itna?????
2L kam hai and his ass playing hardball.
she’s like tum mein insaniyat naaam ki cheeeez nahi hai kya?!!?! lmao sis, insaniyat joti ismein toh paise leta hi nahiiiii. learn to recognize ppl better, idiot.
“payment poora nahi hai, toh main bhi poora nahi jaa sakta. ek aankh yahaan chod doon??? ya aisa karte hain ek haath yahin rakh deta hoon.”
lmao she’s realllllllly not in the mood for his dumbassery.
arrange 2 more bundles from somewhere, or find someone else.
dat paaaaaaaar ki nazar!!!!!!
the way he INSTANTLY snatched it from herrrrrrrrrrrr.
he’s taunting her on giving away dead husband’s watch so easy. DUDE THIS SOOOOOOOOOO VANSH.
Chehra Appreciation Time.
“contract sign kar rahein hain toh meri bhi kuch shartein hongi usmein.” lol, ohhhhh boyyyy.
riddhima already like your bitch ass better not ask for some nasty shit, the moment he said “pati-patni” she’s like SIRF PAPERS PAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
contract-zoned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! by own wife!!!!!!!!! koi nahi, welcome to the illustrious tellywood club, my man.
his shartein should be interesting if he’s making thisssss face.
THIS FUCKING CHUGALKHORRRRRRRRRRRRRR ARYAN. I NEED ISHANI TO “TAKE CARE” OF HIM, HONESTLY.
ALSO IF RIDDHIMA HAD JUST BOTHERED TELLING ISHANI/ANGRE HER PLAN THEY COULD HAVE KEPT KABIR OCCUPIED. BUT NOOOOOOOOOOO.
he’s like who’s this person you’re meeting and getting all these ideas from huh???????
“sharam nahi aati tumhein, apne hone wali patni pe itna bada ilzaam laga rahein ho, uski jasoosi kar rahe ho????”
lmaoooooooooooooooo ‘hello kettle, this is pot. YOU’RE BLACK!!!!!!!!’ waala situation ho gaya yeh toh.
lmaoooooooooooooooooo someone’s been watching dhoom 2 a lottttttt. nakli maut waala plan bhi wahin se churaaya, aur yeh costume waala bhi.
lol riddhima’s tinyyyyyyyy smile.
oh. they’d seen him on the cctv. thank god after falling off the cliff, isko buddhi aa gayi ki ghar pe bas camera lagwaana nahi hota, make sure it’s properly working also. warna har teesre episode mein it used to be angre coming and saying sorry camera was down, sorry it was hacked, sorry whatever happened was in the blind spot of the camera, etc.
rrahul like why should everyone else have all the fun, mere ko bhi chahiye hamming ka mauka. koot koot ke hamming bharna hai iss scene mein.
btw she explained this rando dadaji off as orphanage ka manager who she knew from childhood.
lmaooooooooooooooooooooo chun chun he badla le raha hai tuchche methods se. donooooo se pair choooaaa raha haiiiii.
kabir like you have veryyyyyyyyyy modern interior decoration tastes for your age.
explained it away saying his grandson decorated the place.
uh huh sure.
anyway, kabir just left riddhima here and went saying come on time for shaadi ka muhurat. lol what a dumbbbbbbbbbb. why wouldn’t you take her with you??????
NOT EVEN THEIR VAAAAAGUELY THREATENING WAALE STATEMENTS MADE HIM CURIOUS?!?!!?!?!?!? SACH MEIN LAGTA HAI KI SUITS KHAREEDNE KE LIYE AQAL KAHIN BECH AAYA HAI KABIR.
kaisa tha mera Dadasaheb Phalke Farzi Awards 2021 waala performance?!?!?!?
she’s like acting ke naam pe kuch bhi karwaaoge, pair kyun chhoone ko bola?!?!?!!?
tell me this isn’t a vansh look. THIS MAN IS VANSH.
“character mein ghussna isse hi kehte hain.” ,“pair chhoo bhi liya toh kya hua..... meri PATNI banne jaa rahi ho tum.” HE SAID IT IN A DEEPER VANSH-LIKE VOICE TOO. IF SHE STILL DOESN’T GET THAT IT’S HIMMMMMMMM, I JUST DON’T KNOW HOW SHE’S SURVIVING, BEING THIS STUPID.
“sirf papers pe.”
lmao dude just can’t catch a break.
ALSO I NEED TO YELL AGAINNNNNN ABOUT HOWWWWWWW GLAD I AM THEY’RE LETTING HIM MOVE HIS FAAAAAAAACE TO EXPRESSSSSS HIMSELFFFFFFFFFFFF. GENUINELY THE BESTTTTTTTTTTT DECISION THIS SHOW HAS EVERRRRRRRR MADE.
lmao he’s muttering ki “waise bhi tumhari jaisi ladki ke saath deal karne se pehle contract sign karna bohuttttttttt zaroori hai.” vansh wishing he’d made her sign a pre-nup the first time around lol.
kala namak metaphor. ki hai pink, but called black. andar kuch aur, baahar kuch aur. “bilkul tumhari tarah”
BITCH. IT’S VANSHHHHHHHHH.
“wahan uss kabir se shaadi ke vaade rahi ho; yahaan mujhe apna husband banaana chahti ho....... i know, i know, sirf papers par; par bohut saare rang nazar aa rahein hain tumhaare.”
IF SHE STILL DOESN’T GET IT, IDK MAN. MAYBE HE SHOULD HIRE A SKYWRITING PLANE OR A FLASH MOB TO TELL HER THROUGH INTERPRETIVE DANCE OR SOMETHING. COZ GOOD LORD COULD IT BE MORE OBVIOUS?!?!!?!?
“kahin vansh ke saath bhi toh koi tedha sa, cute sa, dhoka toh nahi kar diya tumne?”
OH. MY. GOD. AT THIS POINT WE DON’T EVEN NEED DNA TESTING.
commenting on how she’s still wearing vansh’s mangalsutra and “yeh kaisa dikhaava hai; haathi ke daant, dikhaane ke kuch aur, aur khaane ke kuch aur?” dude, at this point, even if he tells her outright that he’s vansh, will she realize??????? i don’t think so.
you have no right to talk about me and vansh, limit mein raho, etc. etc. SIS................... YOU SO DUMB. JUST LOOK AT HIM. THAT A VANSH LOOK. NOT A VIHAAN LOOK.
she’s like i’m not paying for this badtameezi, i don’t wanna do any contract with you; goes to rip up the papers. niiiiiiiice. i wanna see this spine more. take no shit from him, no matter how cute.
he’s like uh uhhhhhhh not so fastttttt. this my contract copy. OH BOY FOR SURE HE’S ENTERED SOME SHADY SHIT IN IT.
gives her the special copy he made for her and lmaooooooooooooooo
RATE CARD BANAAYA HAI BANDE NE, KHUD KI HI FAMILY KO BARDASHT KARNE. if you ask me, literally ALL the tellywood men need this, coz they really put up with The Most from their crap families.
“saans lene ki bhi payment jod do tum!” riddhima being 100% done with this fucker is my favt. riddhima. sis ko bhi pata chale, how difficult it was for him to put up with you for all these days.
“yeh toh maine socha hi nahi! haan, iski payment bhi add karni chahiye; kyunki tumhare saath toh waise bhi saansein thodi kam hi aati hain.”
ASDKJAHKJDHKSAJDHKASJK KAISE BHIGO-BHIGO KE MAAR RAHA HAI AUR YEH BEWAKOOF SAMAJH BHI NAHI RAHI.
outta nowhere kheencha-taani over the bottle (does she wanna maarofy it on his head????? bandi hai toh expert, logon ko sar pe maarne mein.....) aaaaand.........
at this point it’s gotta be muscle memory for him coz..............
yup. he’s done it that many times. and they haven’t even shown half of them.
she’s unnerved and trying to back outta the whole thing. he’s like read the contract first.
lmaooooooooooooo his rules:
1. if they argue, no matter whose fault it is, she has to apologize.
2. after a fight, she has to cook whatever he wants to eat at the moment.
3. she cannot say three continuous “no”s.
lmaoooooooooo she’s literally like what is this bs?!?!!?!?!?!?
“yeh toh mera professional rate card hai. personal alag hai.” oooooooooh boy, cannot wait to see what’s on THAT one.
she’s like bhaaaaad mein jao tum, aur tumhara rate card, mujhse nahi hoga.
he’s like 2 min to think. 25% cancellation charge. BY GOD LOOOOOOOOOT MACHAAA RAKHI HAI MANHOOS NE.
idhar mummy getting mangalsutra engraved with kabir’s name and jeweller informs ki i always give preference for your family; just this morning i gave riddhima best price for all her jewellery.
“haan ya naa?”
she’s like you know i’m desperate and that’s why you’re blackmailing me like this.
“please mere saamne yeh abla naari waala naatak mat karna. main toh sirf tumhe corner kar raha hoon, tumne toh apni poori family ko corner kar liya.”
IT HIMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM AND HE WANTS REVENGEEEEEEEEE, SIS. OHHHHH BOYYYYYYYYYYYY. DADI KA, MAA KA, BEHEN KA, KHUD KA, SAB KA BADLA LEGA RE TERA VR.
kabir has been informed about baada haath riddhima has maarofied. now he will do jasoosi. ouff.
she’s like you don’t need to know what majboori i’m in and why i’m doing all this to the family. just sign the damn contract.
done done-aaaaaaa done. just look at his haraaami face. ram jaane kya kya ghusaaya hoga papers mein that she didn’t even bother reading before signing.
“ek zeher ko kaatne ke liye main ghar mein doosra zeher laa rahi hoon.” yup, men just be That Way. each one worse than the last.
THIS IS FUCKING VANSH AND LITERALLY NO ONE ELSE. THE LOOKS, THE DISAPPEARING SMILE, THE DEEPER VOICE ONCE SHE’S GONE, IT’S ALLLLLLLLLLLLLL HIM.
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Chapter 33: I have some thoughts
Hawke thinking himself not worthy of Poppy is just sad and it’s so wrong he thinks this
He is definitely a vampire or whatever they are called in this lore. Like it’s so obvious to me - the thing with his teeth, that he talks as if he were really old (which he must be)
ASKING FOR CONSENT MULTIPLE TIMES AND IT BEING SO DAMN HOT. Guys write that down please
The Dirty Talk is awesome (even though I’ve read dirtier)
The sex being Poppy’s choice and her choice alone and Hawke being respectful of it.
The last thing he said to her also strengthens my theory that he either is the dark one or very close related. But having seen someone compare him to Rhys I highly suspect he is the dark one
I don’t trust the Ascendet at all.. they’re so hiding something bad.
Ian is either dead or dead inside (not a joke) and I’m already sad for Poppy
I hope Kieran sticks around in book2, ‘cause I like him
Honestly I’m unsure whether or not Poppy will ascend. On the one hand I want her to for ever live happily ever after with Hawke but on the other hand I don’t trust the gods as far as I can throw my piano.
I didn’t have any idea about the plot before going into the book and therefore I don’t know what’s going to happen next and I’m NERVOUS AS FUCK. But I’m enjoying this book so so so much. Almost as much as the Sarah J Maas books. Not quite but almost.
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