Mourning in Moonlight
A/N I always forget that Gwyn has a stone that literally heals people and recently it’s been running through my mind that Azriel is the Angel of Death and Gwyn quite literally can help people live. Idk I just really like that parallel. Also, I don’t think that Gwyn and Azriel are the ones who are going to defeat Koschei, I just needed a setup.
A/A/N This is not the Gwynriel fic that has the excerpt I posted yesterday, it is my old Feysand one that I re-wrote to fit a Gwynriel storyline so if there is any mistakes I apologize. If you enjoyed please like, reblog, but most importantly comment! Feedback is not just appreciated but encouraged!
The Angel of Death and Goddess of Life say goodbye
TW: Blood, death, angst, recalling Gwyn’s sexual assualt
The moon was still rising in the sky as Azriel suited up for the battle ahead of them. This night attack was the only chance they had of getting the upper hand over Koschei and for once all of the generals and high lords had come to the same agreement. The past days had been draining on everyone with the meticulous planning that had been done throughout meetings and discussions.
The creeping feeling of unease surrounded Azriel to the point where the high collar of Illyrian leathers felt suffocating and the shadows around him slithered as if they could also sense the impending fight ahead of them.
He had never felt so out of control in his life, even all those years chained up in that cell as a child didn’t compare to the sheer anxiety building up inside Azriel. The fact that there was no way to ensure his brothers, friends, family, and mate were safe throughout this battle made Azriel’s heart accelerate to the point where he thought he’d have a stroke.
He quickly spun around, and his breath escaped him as his mate came into view. Only one thought echoed in his mind.
I am the luckiest male in the world
To Azriel, Gwyn was everything he didn’t know he needed. No amount of wishes or dreams could have possibly prepared him for the love and adoration he felt for the female. Mor often teased Azriel about how star struck he was around her, but he couldn’t help it.
When he started loving Gwyn, it was like everything fell into place. For so long Azriel thought that he was destined for nothing but a life full of solitude but all it took was one moment of seeing her teal eyes light up and he realized he couldn’t have been more wrong.
When Azriel saw Gwyn, the earth didn’t tilt on its axis but aligned and balanced. When he admired her, the world didn’t fade into the background, but rather burst into life. The colours seemed more vibrant, the scents more pronounced, and even the beating of his heart sped up.
To him, Gwyn was a goddess and his loyalty to her was unfaltering. Because while others may pray to the Mother, to the Cauldron, or to the Gods, the only thing Azriel worshiped was her, his Goddess of Life.
“A penny for your thoughts?” Gwyn’s voice snapped him out of his daze. He chuckled before pulling her closer to him, wrapping her in a hug.
“Just a penny? I thought they would be worth more than that.” Azriel replied. She rolled her eyes as if annoyed, but the smile on her lips told him otherwise.
“Even in moments like this, your never-ending humorous attitude doesn’t cease to amaze me.”
“Would you believe me if I said that I was panicking on the inside?” He questioned, “Because I am.”
Her eyebrows furrowed together in concern, “Since when did you become such a worrier?”
“Since I found you.”
Her eyes softened before she stepped back to tilt his head to meet her eyes. “You’re worrying for nothing, Angel. With the amount of planning we’ve done and the number of times we’ve gone over said plan, I don’t think there’s any way for any of us to fuck it up.” Gwyn teased, nudging him with her shoulder, “We’re going to get hurt and we’re going to get injured, but all of us will be alright in the end. We have to be.”
Azriel leaned down and kissed the crown of her head, wrapping Gwyn in his embrace. His hands sought out hers, but he paused as he felt something already grasped in her hand. Ever so gently he lifted up her left arm and gazed at the teal invoking stone gleaming back.
“You’re taking the healing stone with you?” He asked with a quirked eyebrow. Even now it was rare to find her with the object that seemed to be a reminder of what she went through at Sangravah, why she had that stone to begin with.
“Why not?” Gwyn shrugged, “I figured if someone needed immediate aid, this stone would be the best way for them to receive it.”
“A warrior and a healer? How did I get so lucky?”
“I ask myself that same question everyday.”
The two mates embraced in silence, trying to memorize every detail of each other before they had to separate for the impending battle.
Cassian’s voice suddenly rang out so loudly they jumped out of their skin, “Gwyn! Come here! Lucien’s hair got caught in the Illyrian leathers, but he won’t let me cut it off!”
A cry of muffled anger resounded. “Oh, be quiet you fire brained fox, I’m trying to help you! This is why you should have listened to me when I was showing you how to tie your hair for battle!”
“You weren't showing me shit Cassian, all you did was tangle up my hair in your leather strips! Where’s Elain she always braids it nicely.”
A sigh escaped Azriel’s lips, “Children, they are literal children.”
Gwyn let out a bellowing laugh that echoed in the tent. She slipped out of his hold, a small sound of protest escaping him which she simply chuckled at, before turning towards the exit where the voice of Cassian and Lucien only got louder.
Gwyn looked over her shoulder at him, a teasing glint in her eyes, “And Angel? Stop worrying, I’m not dead yet.”
The roaring of battle in Gwyn’s ears drowned out the pounding of her pulse. Even with the night attack, their numbers had substantially dwindled with Koschei’s few flares of magic. The power it held shook her to the bones. A legion from both the Winter Court and Night Court were decimated in seconds because of it and would have killed Emerie had it not been for Mor winnowing her away in time.
Death seemed to creep over Gwyn’s shoulder as she fought to stay alive. Her arm was sore from parrying and swinging, her legs ached from running, her head rang with every sound of metal and scream that echoed around her. It was getting harder and harder to concentrate as every person whose heartbeat did absolutely everything they could to win this war.
Even just around her, during any other moment Gwyn would have been enamored with the scene in front her. Pure fire from Lady of Autumn glowed in the night against the bodies that burned in its path, Tarquin’s waves of water flooded the fields swallowing the cries in the dark, and Vivianne’s ice spikes impaled anyone who wasn’t watching in the areas of the battlefield that the moon did not illuminate. Feyre and Rhysand had taken to the sky and were misting off entire groups of Koschei’s army.
In the corner of her eye, Gwyn’s attention was drawn to a dark corner where something glinted even in the pale light. Her eyes widened as she realized it was Koschei himself gliding towards the peak of a hill, one that had a high vantage point over the entire battle. Not only that but hanging off of his hip was a tiny black box, one that Elain had mentioned was his one weakness, the only way to kill him. Rapid huffs of air left Gwyn’s lips as she found herself being the only one close enough to see the slinking man and metal in the shadows.
Nesta, Emerie, and Azriel were all out of her vision and there was no way to shout for anyone who was in the midst of combat as no one would not hesitate to kill them if they were distracted for even a second. Gwyn contemplated her options before quickly running towards the hill and merging with the shadows, hoping that they’ll give her the much-needed cover.
Her breath evened out and she creeped towards the Death Lord, trying to spy an opening for a killing blow. However, she paused her steps as she noticed he was actually smiling.
“Ah the Valkyrie, how wonderful of you to join us!”
Alarm bells clanged louder than a steel drum as Gwyn recognized that it was a trap, and as quickly as she could pulled out her sword, ready to defend herself against the enemy. Arrows flew at her from the shadows as Koschie’s soldiers stepped out and she tried her best to dodge them, however more than a few clipped her armor.
The flurry of arrows passing by caused a clearing in the field and Gwyn started backing up towards it, trying to get as far away from Koschie as possible. Suddenly she bumped into something hard behind her to her horror he registered that there was something between her and others on the battlefield. Unfiltered panic took hold of her as this invisible shield caged her in with the soldiers and most terrifying, the Death Lord himself.
A cloud of shadows appeared on the other side of the barrier and Azriel’s face appeared, fear written across his face. “Gwyn?” He called, voice dripping with horror, “Why can’t I get to you?”
“I don’t know,” she cried, “Azriel he’s here! He’s with me!” He looked confused for a split second before his expression switched to one of realization. Immediately he started firing blow after blow in front of him, with Gwyn following soon after, hitting it with every ounce of power they had while the shadows around Azriel destroyed any attacks coming his way. The soldiers with Gwyn had stopped firing their arrows but it didn’t fill her with relief, if anything it did the exact opposite.
Koschei cackled as he saw the two of them trying to break through the clear wall. “Adorable! Just adorable! Please continue, I quite like seeing you both try to break through something Death itself has created.”
Gwyn spun around a ball of dread forming in the pit of her stomach as it dawned on her that there really was no way to break through the barrier. Her eyes found Koschie’s, who was now standing, and she squared her shoulders, ready to meet her foe in battle. Determination sparked inside of Gwyn.
I have never found a fight I haven’t been able to win, I don’t intend to lose today
After each of the previous blasts of power, Koschei had taken some time to build up his strength for another one, so with that knowledge Gwyn quickly thought of a plan.
She drew Silver Majesty and threw herself into the middle of the soldiers, digging her sword into any and all objects around her. It was gruesome, with her enemies’ blood dripping from her hair and down her face, screams of pain and cries of anguish emulated through the air, and the metallic stench of death spread throughout the plains.
To Gwyn, everything was a blur. There was no recollection of her kills, just endless swinging, and hacking, trying her best to stay alive as more of them came at her. A sense of calm had washed over, and her body was on complete autopilot. As she impaled a soldier, Gwyn twisted and while grabbing an arrow off of the ground, she used her momentum to hurl it towards Koschei. A seed of terror took root in her as she saw how it simply ricocheted off of him like a pebble, as if there was a translucent shield around the King.
As soon as she saw a gathering of shadows start to form from the Koschei, Gwyn shifted closer to the soldiers who were all too focused on trying to kill her that they didn’t notice the impending blast from the Sorcerer.
Come on, come one, just let this work
A shot of shadows, death, and darkness came from Koschei so powerful that even the air around seemed to burn in its vicinity. Gwyn threw herself sideways and tried to move quickly out of the way as the soldiers behind her disintegrated immediately, the only thing left of them were their ashes which were soon blown away in the wind.
A shriek of pain left Gwyn’s lips as the blast caught the right side of her body, her arm burning and her Illyrian armor turning to dust, the skin underneath blistering immediately. The feeling of being set ablaze spread throughout her body as the Death Lord’s magic dug into her skin, sinking into her veins.
Shrieks of horror sounded from across the battlefield. With what she could muster, Gwyn’s eyes flickered up and she saw the tear-streaked faces of Nesta, Emerie and Azriel staring back at her.
Gwyn wished that she could do what her mind was demanding, but her body was giving out on itself. A hand curled around the back of her neck, long fingers gripping onto her skin and her hair, getting tangled in it and suddenly, she found herself staring into the dark eyes of Koschei.
A shiver ran down Gwyn’s spine as the black pupils seemed to bear into her soul. Never in her life had she seen something so void of life, so dark and gloomy that it seemed to suck the life out of the air while not moving at all.
The urge to get away from him made Gwyn fight against the hold on her neck. She tried everything, every single maneuver that Cassian and Azriel had taught her and every attack she read about. Kicking, punching, thrashing, but the pain of the blast was still reverberating throughout her body and paired with Koschie’s iron grip, there was no escaping. He batted her sword away like a fly and the dagger strapped to her leg was soon discarded too. Gwyn found herself weaponless and defenseless before the Death Lord
“You have a warriors heart Valkyrie I’ll give you that,” he taunted in her ear, so close to her that his breath grazed her skin, “but you will not be the first person with one to die and I do not plan on you being the last.”
A lump formed in Gwyn’s throat as she thought about her family and friends who she would leave behind and it took everything inside her to not cry in that moment. Gods she wished she could hold them one more time before the end. Cassian the gentle giant whose heart was as big as him, Nesta and Emerie the sisters she’d bonded with through love, loyalty, and acceptance. And Azriel,
Oh Gods Azriel.
Gwyn didn’t even want to think about not feeling her mate again, the very thought formed tears in her eyes.
Gwyn’s hands curled into fists as the weight of the world felt like it was on her shoulders, the feeling of death creeping into her chest. Suddenly she felt something digging into her thigh. Her eyes glanced down, and Gwyn realized it was the invoking stone she earned because of that fateful day in Sangravah. Her heart rate accelerated as a plan started to form in her head.
“Your life has been quite the journey, but death for everyone, even you Gwyn Berdara is inevitable.”
Pools of water gathered and soon fell from her eyes, the tears trailing down her cheeks washing away the blood that had splattered there. And as a smile came upon Gwyn’s face, she whispered no louder than a breath, “I’m not dead yet.”
She arched her back like a cat and twisted as much as she could, feeling pieces of her hair being ripped out of her scalp with the movement. And with all of her might, Gwyn slammed her invoking stone onto the black box strapped to the Death Gods side. He screamed in agony and dropped her out of reflex to grasp it.
Gwyn panted as she felt the air get knocked out of her from the impact but with the sheer amount of adrenaline that rushed through her, she managed to lift her head to see the now howling Koschei.
The former Sorcerer was writhing in pain and parts of his body seemed to crumble into wisps as the black box was shattered by the stone. The grass around him shriveled up as black blood dripped out of his nose, eyes, and ears. Koschei was literally rotting from the inside out. With every passing second more and more of him decayed away, the wails of despair and black liquid being the only thing left from the mighty Death Lord.
From her peripherals, Gwyn saw the glimmering barrier crumble and immediately swirls of shadow and the depths of night appeared, pulling her into a firm, warm, chest. The faces of her family and friends appeared beside her, their frantic eyes running over her body, taking in the carnage of Koschei’s blast.
Her eyes dart upwards to find Azriel’s, his chest rumbles as he yells for someone to help her.
“Thesan, Madja, anyone please!” Hands pressed on her bleeding wounds and soon after both the High Lord of Dawn and the healer winnowed right to them. It takes no longer than mere seconds of glowing magic from the Dawn Court ruler for the male’s face to fall with sorrow.
“I’m so sorry,” Thesan started, his voice shaking, “but the magic of a Death Lord is one I cannot heal, that power far exceeds anything that anyone living in Prythian has.”
For a few seconds it turned so quiet that a pin could drop. Then Nesta’s body racked with a sob and a domino effect seemed to happen as everyone came to the realization that Gwyn Berdara was going to die tonight.
Her eyes flickered up to all of those surrounding her, the family that took Gwyn in as one of their own. Gratitude unlike any other flooded her body.
I have to say goodbye
Prying her dry lips open, she was able to rasp out, “Nesta, Emerie?”
“No.” Nesta stated knowing what her sister was going to say, voice wavering with emotion, “No goodbyes, not yet, not ever.” Cassian wrapped his mate in a hug as though it could hold them both together.
“Gwyn you can’t say goodbye,” Emerie cried out, “We were going to go to pick out my dress for my mating ceremony remember? And then- and then we were going to rebuild the Valkyrie Lands, with a training centre and a home just like the House of Wind! How are we supposed to do that without you?”
Gwyn swallowed the lump in her throat, “I don’t want to leave you two, but it seems like fate has different paths for us.” She took in a stuttering breath, “Thank you for being the most loyal and devoted sisters I have ever known. Never did I think that I would find this bond again after Catrin yet from the moment I met you two I knew that I had found just that and so much more. There are no words that will ever encompass the love I have for you two.” Sobs escaped the two females' mouths as they came to terms that this would be their last moment with their sister.
“Cassian,” Gwyn called, and the General lifted his tear streaked face. “Thank you for being the older brother I have never had and for pushing me to do better, be better. I will forever remember those bullshit drills you made me run when I came late. I couldn’t have found a better trainer or friend even if I searched for centuries.”
Cassian then bent down and ever so softly pressed a kiss to the top of her forehead whispering I love you
Gwyn looked at the trio in front of her and the encompassing feeling of love overwhelmed her. “We are not related by blood, but I couldn’t have asked for a better family.”
Her head then tilted as she saw Rhysand and Feyre, “Thank you for taking me in all those years ago after Sangravah. That sanctuary is the only reason I am here today and for that I am eternally grateful. It was an honor to call you two my High Lord and High Lady.”
Their eyes shimmered with tears as they took in the dying warrior, whose eyes still gleamed with life as she bled out before them. “You will never be forgotten Gwyn. The books will bear your story and the streets will sing your name. I swear it on my life,” Rhysand swore. She could only smile in thanks at the oath.
A flash of light appeared, Elain and Lucien suddenly winnowed to them. Immediately the former let out a gasp and tears sprang into her eyes. “Gwyn, oh my gods.” Even Lucien with all of his charm was speechless.
“Sunflower, sunshine,” Gwyn greeted with a pained smile and the two shifted ever so much closer, “I wish I had more time to know you two. Maybe I could have learned a couple things about gardening, fishing, and running a manor. Thank you for the few moments we did have that were filled with nothing but joy and may we have more of that in another life.” The two rulers of Spring nodded their heads.
“Another life,” Elain whispered.
A smile came upon Gwyn's lips, before she turned her head away from them and rested it on Azriel’s chest, which was shaking with the effort to hold in his sobs.
“Angel,” she softly called, “I do not want my last moment with you to be one where you’re wearing a mask that hides how you feel.” With those words escaping her bruised lips, the dam broke and Azriel was soon sobbing over her, his fear, anguish, grief, all of it came out of him as the shock wore off.
“Gwyn, I love you, I love you so much,” he whispered in her ears as a shield as blue as the deep sea came around the two. She shuffled around and with the strength she could muster, raised her hand and cupped Azriel’s face.
Gwyn’s tear-filled eyes met his and her thumb brushed away a tear that rolled down his cheek, “My beautiful mate,” she murmured and a strangled sound came out of his throat. She opened her mouth again, but a cough of blood came out instead.
“Save your energy my love,” Azriel begged her, not wanting to let go yet, but Gwyn shook her head.
“I am dying Angel, there has never been a better time for me to talk,” she choked out. His head shook in denial at the words.
“Listen to me Azriel,” Gwyn begged, and he lifted his head.
“My life has not always been a kind one. For years I mourned when the few people in my life were ripped away from me, even now the image of Catrin’s bloody head still haunts my dreams when I sleep. My dignity was stripped from me like my clothes, my body touched and violated by those who sought nothing but to hurt me and those who I cared for. And when I finally built up the courage to leave the one place I considered home in hopes of overcoming my greatest fear, I was captured unconsciously in the dead of night, out of my own bed, and placed in the most deadly ceremony to ever exist.”
Azriel hugged her closer to his chest as she recounted the pain in her life. Gwyn’s hand moved up to cup the back of his head and he rested his forehead on hers.
“I would do it all over again,” she breathed, “I would do it 10 times over, a thousand times over, lifetimes over, if it meant that I found you at the end of it all. The pain, the grief, the despair, it is worth it if I get any amount of time with you. Our love has not been perfect, it never has been, and it never will be for love itself will never be that, but it is us and it is ours. That alone makes it the most precious thing I have ever come to have.”
“I wish I could do more,” Azriel sobbed, “I always imagined that the end would be thousands of years from now, in our house, with our children, family, and friends around us, never here, never like this.”
“My Angel,” Gwyn cooed, “I am laying on a battlefield, my enemy dead, those who I love safe and protected, and in the arms of my mate, the one who holds my heart in the palm of his hand and his in mine.” A gentle smile came onto her face, “I cannot think of a better way to go.”
“Gods do I love you,” Azriel swore. “The greatest privilege I have is being your mate and getting the chance to love you. No one, not even the Mother herself will ever be worthy enough for the gift that is your heart and nothing fills me with more joy than the fact that I called you mine and you called me yours.”
A weak cry escaped Gwyn’s mouth as she felt the aches in her body grow stronger, “Wherever you go and whatever you do Az, I will be with you I swear it. I found what I hadn’t known I was looking for and I don’t plan on letting something as trivial as death separate me from you,” her voice turned to gasps as the pain became almost unbearable, “I’m so sorry my love that you will not see me or hear me, but I will be there.”
He gently brushed a hair from her bloodied face, “Gwyn, my lovely Gwyn it’s okay, we’ll be okay.” A soft look entered his eyes, “My brave warrior, you have fought all your life for others and for yourself, you can rest now my love, you can rest.”
Everyone around could hear how the once rhythmic and lively pounding of Gwyn’s heart had decreased to an uneven and slow thump. Her eyes closed until only the white of the moon could be seen behind her lids and the presence of Azriel was all she could feel.
“Yes, my love?”
“When I am gone, do not hide what you feel. Embrace the emotions that come with life, all of them no matter how ugly or terrifying they may be. And if there is one thing I beg of you to do, it is to love. Love with every fibre of your body and every ounce of your soul. You have too kind of a heart for it to freeze inside ice.”
“I will Gwyn, I will. I’ll love for you Gwyn and all the love that you couldn’t share in this world, I’ll do it in your memory. And I truly hope that you may find the peace you never got in this life in the next one. Just know that I love you so much.” Those last words were repeated like a mantra in her ears, endless adoration that lulled her like a lullaby.
I love you
I love you
I love you
A smile came onto her face as those were the last words she heard before the breaths stopped, her hand dropped, and the beating of her heart ceased to exist.
Azrie’s entire body shook with the sheer force of the sobs that overtook his body and there was no one that could comfort the male who was racked with grief. The touch of his friends, the arms of his brothers, even the glow of the moonlit sky, all of it did nothing to stop the absolute emptiness as his mate died in his arms, feeling the warmth leave her body.
And the world watched as the Angel of Death mourned for his Goddess of Life.
A/N Thank you so much for reading! Once again, I do not think that Gwyn will be the one to kill Koschei or anything like that, I just needed some sort of plot point that would require her to do a sacrifice. Also I just thought it would be a cool concept for a stone that’s purpose is healing to be the thing that destroys the Death Lord’s box. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed!
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Sorry it's late again, I've had to split this into 2 parts , possibly 3 but I'll see... anyway it's time for a little IC breakfast party. Bon appetit 🤭👀
Taglist: @meher-sumedha @vikingmagic33 @sv0430 @imsointobooks @trashforazriel @gwynriel-reblog @snickerdoodlechittybangbang @the-introverted-reader sorry if I've forgotten anyone! X
GWYNRIEL HEADCANON CRESCENDO CHAPTER 9 (PART 1)
The next morning it was the last day of Gwyn's free weekend, which was fine with her. She hated not doing anything and had become rather accustomed to always occupying her brain one way or other, if not her brain then she'd exercise her body, training morning and night but with the news of a potential task to fulfill soon with the other Valkyrie's, Azriel had let her have a break from their training the night before to help mull over Rhysand's words and make her own decision. She'd already made up her mind lastnight but it did nothing to quell the flutter of nerves that trickled around in her stomach now.
Gwyn had been picked up from the library by Mor who was waiting for her outside.
Mor stood to attention when she caught sight of Gwyn's flaming hair, noticing her slight furrow of her brows.
"Az has gone to fetch Emerie, we will meet them at the House of Wind."
"I think Nesta wants to speak to you both before we all go to the estate"
Gwyn offered her a small smile but it didn't reach her eyes.
"Hey, you have a choice in everything you do, you don't have to say yes" The blonde beauty placed a consoling hand to Gwyn's arm offering her a smile of her own, her large brown eyes softening.
Gwyn tucked a strand of her long hair behind an ear and nodded in answer and grabbed onto Morrigans hand before stepping into darkness.
Flying, she decided was much better than winnowing as they both appeared in the living area of the House of Wind where Nesta, Cassian, Emerie and Azriel were already waiting for them.
Nesta, dressed in her usual blue day dress and Emerie in a brown leather tunic with a cotton undershirt and dark pants sat on the large sofa, stood upon their arrival and both started talking all at once while the Illyrian warriors stood brooding respectively behind them.
"How are you feeling?" Asked Emerie in a hushed tone.
"What do you want to do?" Nesta and Emerie asked in unison.
Gwyn just stared at them like they'd sprouted two heads.
"I'm going obviously, of course I'm going!"
"Ok" nodded Nesta, the pride on her face evident.
"Are you sure Gwyn?" Asked Emerie relieved that Gwyn wasn't feeling in any way put off at the thought of what lay ahead.
"If you're going, I'm going. We all go together."
Nesta smiled and squeezed her hand turning to her Mate who'd had his arms tightly folded over his chest up until that point.
"Then I think we should go and deliver our answer to the High Lord, General"
Cassian bowed before his love and extended her his palm "Shall we my Lady?"
Nesta smiled at Gwyn and Emerie from over her shoulder as she and Cassian made their way out to the balcony.
Mor got up from her perch on the arm of the chair to the side of Gwyn and nodded over to Emerie who smiled and turned to Azriel, he stalked over from his position in the shadows that swarmed him from the corner of the room to the female Illyrian and offered her his arm and they disappeared without a blink of an eye.
Gwyn didn't think her face had moved with expression but Mor had just shrugged her shoulders and gently took Gwyn's pale hand again.
"Ready?" She asked
"As I'll ever be" affirmed the Priestess who grasped Mor's waiting hand with a certainty that made the blonde look up into Gwyn's eyes and dip her golden head before they too left for the estate.
There was the comforting noise of hustle and bustle wafting through the doorway of the River House as Gwyn stepped through the threshold, the smell of the kitchen hit her senses and made her mouth water.
"Brace yourself, these family gatherings can get a little raucous." Mor tilted her head to Gwyn's shoulder and whispered through the corner of her painted red mouth as they rounded the corner to the dining room " If in doubt smile and wave"
As soon as Gwyn saw what awaited her around the corner she had a good five seconds of doubting her social skills completely.
There was a large and rather obscenely long table in the centre of a room that was decorated with creams and honeys, echoing the sunlight
that filtered through the large windows lining the wall, gilding the space with warmth that reminded Gwyn of long, lazy summer days.
"Come on, Valkyrie, the gang awaits" muttered Mor.
Gwyn took a step forward following Mor's lead and nervously hooked her hair behind an ear, feeling a little out of place in her clothes, ones that were saved for specifically being off duty, the dove grey dress plain in comparison to everyone else's finery.
Rhysand put his wine glass down at the end of the table where he stood chatting to his wife and motioned for the new arrivals to come in further.
"Gwyn, good morning, I do hope you slept well?" He asked tilting his dark head in her direction.
The whole room stirred to attention. Nesta and Emerie made their way over to their found sister from the side of the room which was lined with chaise lounges and plush sofas and beamed at her. Although they knew Gwyn wanted to deliver on her vow to go with them, there was a definitive sense of relief and pride they expelled from the smiles they sent towards her.
"Yes, thank you" she smiled softly, greeting Feyre as she slowly made her way towards the gaggle of bodies. Until a voice circled through the air stopping Gwyn cold.
"What an exotic scent you have girl" the voice trilled, a sound that didn't match the body from which it came.
Gwyn looked to her right, then downward and found a pair of silver eyes trained to her form, unnervingly still in their gaze as they perused Gwyn from head to toe.
Gwyn stood to her full height and looked down at the small female before her, narrowing her eyes back at the blatant examination.
"I am not some exotic bird for your perusal, nor am I a girl" she shot back, her spine straightening with her words.
The diminutive dark haired female smirked and her mouth turned to a blood-red slit, her cold eyes unwavering in their stare.
"I hear that you sing, Priestess is it? Or do you go by Carynthian?" She smirked.
Gwyn, turned herself fully to face this confronting creature letting her own teal gaze rake over the observers small frame and looked back into those silver eyes, eyes so bright it should've been uncomfortable to see such a pair staring back at oneself.
"I do. Sing." Gwyn tilted her copper head staring intently at the stranger with ire.
"Although, wielding a sword has become a great pleasure of late." She smiled with her teeth, her teal eyes now a cold stormy blue.
The silver eyes widened for a second and a slow smile crept across the small female's delicate face, her eyes shining with glee.
Gwyn's eyes shot open at the sight of the smile coming from the standoffish female before her and the room suddenly filled with a crash of noise.
Rhysand clapped his hands and gave an exasperated glance over to the owner of those silver eyes.
"Amren, meet Gwyn" he lazily waved his hands between them "Gwyn meet Amren, my second in command"
The two females looked upon eachother again, Amren appearing entertained by the ordeal.
What is she?! Gwyn thought to herself at the sense of ancient power that emanated from the creature opposite her. She frowned.
"It's nice to meet you, Gwyn" Amren smirked, her red lips curving devilishly.
"It's Gwyneth, actually. My friends call me Gwyn"
Amren's head fell back as her lips opened and let out a loud harsh bark of laughter before locking her silvery eyes back on Gwyn, the amusement dancing across her features as she lifted a slim pale finger to point in Gwyn's direction.
"I like you" she smiled, her red lips stretched wide then turned her back and moved to take a seat at the table in the centre of the room.
Everyone in the room had been holding their breath and stayed silent for the duration of the exchange and seemed to exhale collectively upon the approving announcement from Amren. Happy that Gwyn had been accepted by one of their more, difficult family members.
Gwyn blinked, unsure how to follow that particular sudden turn of events and Feyre tapped her husband on his arm whispering something which made him clap his
hands together again.
"I do believe that it's time for us to eat" he smiled around the room.
He'd had a shit of a night. He didn't sleep. He couldn't sleep. After he pleasured himself he had to run himself another bath just to wash again, with colder water.
Damn him to hell Azriel came so hard he'd given himself a headache. The bottle of powder that rested on his bedside cabinet for that particular ailment now stared back at him like some kind of joke. How funny he thought, the gift he'd use to imagine it was Elain pleasuring him, he now required to quell the throb at his temples from finding his pleasure elsewhere. From Her. His Mate.
No, Gwyn was his Mate, but that didn't mean he felt anything for her. It was just the rush of the flight, her closeness. He'd not held anyone or been held for that matter for a long time.
He tried to think of Elain again that night, but her image never changed to the usual sordid visions he imagined those months ago.
'This isn't the first time you've thought of the Priestess though, Shadowsinger,' his shadows taunted.
Azriel rolled over, his back now to the powder, his arms wound over his broad chest tight.
He didn't want to admit it though but the shadows were right, he'd thought about Gwyn more often than he'd like to admit and it only became apparent earlier when he'd held his cock thinking of her, shocking himself with the power of his orgasm.
Azriel had never touched himself to the thought of Gwyn before now, sure he'd appreciated a few quick glances over the training grounds to admire her body, her long shapely legs, the curve of her round perfect backside and how the leathers hugged the sweet swell of her breasts, how gracefully her body moved sent him into a mindset he'd quickly had to get himself out of when he was supposed to be leading a group in defence stances for Mother's sake! He didn't need anymore trouble on his hands and Gwyneth Berdara was certainly going to cause him trouble if he let her.
This bond business was definitely taking it's toll on him he thought, even if it was a mere whisper to his ears, the notes a faint lull.
Though the bond had snapped for him in Sangravah, it had been in a circumstance full of rage and blinding bloodlust, the bond was cloudy. It happened so long ago he'd pushed it so far down, now it was only a gentle ember rather than a flaming fire burning his rationale to flame. For now anyway.
Thank the Cauldron.
So Azriel had decided it was time for him to take a step back and give her some space, that way he won't be tempted to do all the things his treacherous body wanted him to. Nevermind neither Gwyn wouldn't want him to touch her like that, he was certain.
'You noticed her scent change Master,' his shadows jostled around him.
He flung his arm over his eyes sighing loud enough for it to echo around his room, the low rustle of his wings following it.
No, Azriel did not sleep. He woke up like thunder, quiet with an undercurrent of crackling pent up energy about to snap at any given chance.
Everyone knew his presence wasn't a pleasant one the next morning. He'd not uttered a word to either Cassian or Nesta when he landed back at the house with Emerie. He'd made the last minute arrangements with Mor via Rhys that night much to Mor's bewilderment. Then he'd seen Gwyn, in her dove grey dress, simply cut and modest but it did nothing to hide her feminine figure. He had bit the inside of his cheek until it bled onto his tongue, only adding to his vexation.
He'd kept as much of himself hidden in the shadows observing her from behind the sofa where Nesta and Emerie stood infront, trying not to watch the Priestess for a reaction to his planned dismissal.
He knew what he'd see and he had felt like a prick when he'd approached the Illyrian female and vanished without a blink of an eye in Gwyn's direction but he had to remind himself that Gwyn needed to be protected from him, from his darkness. The shadowsinger was not worthy to be in the presence of such pure light. She deserved
someone warm, soft, carefree. Someone that wasn't him.
Besides that, he'd wanted to rip Rhy's throat out for suggesting the Valkyries join him and Cassian to Windhaven knowing that Gwyn would never turn down the opportunity to prove herself. She was brave and headstrong and he could do nothing but let her make her own choice, for he knew how shrewd Gwyn could be when her mind was set on something.
'The Valkyrie reminds us of someone' his shadows teased, flicking his ears as they swelled around his arms making the cobalt on his siphoned hands flicker.
His mood was diabolical to say the least.
He'd arrived at the River House with Emerie in tow and made his escape to the spot near the furthest corner of the room, safe. Cassian shot him a look he couldn't care to over think while Nesta sat with her winged sister introducing her to the usual horde, Mor she knew of course and Feyre briefly. Amren hadn't said much but smiled and nodded, approval enough Azriel supposed.
He hated all this waiting around, usually he thrived in it but that was work. This, this was awkward territory he'd rather not step afoot.
Elain had caught his eye once or twice upon arriving and he'd not let his gaze linger like it was prone to before. Rhysand's words still playing through his mind, not that it mattered now.
His shadows encased his body from the shoulders down in a dark misty shield.
Suddenly his shadows dispersed around his shoulders and he'd felt a change in the air as Mor rounded the corner with a very quiet looking Gwyn.
Azriel had stood from his leaning position and watched silently, as the room took their newest arrival in.
Azriel's shadows whispered in his ear and he'd turned to watch Elain. Her face remained neutral at the sight of the copper haired female but her eyes, they gleamed with something he had no name for. She caught him looking at her closely and he turned his attention away, only to find Mor slowly walking over to him.
She sidled up to him and leaned into his shoulder so as to keep quiet from prying ears.
"What the fuck was that Az?"
Azriel merely shrugged and glanced down at her "I don't know what you mean?"
"Don't pull that shit with me. Is this some kind of game, are you playing them against eachother?" She hissed, her chocolate eyes slits.
Azriel snapped his head back to hers and his jaw grit down hard enough she heard his teeth grind together "What the fuck are you talking about Morrigan?" He snapped in a rough whisper, his eyes blazing into hers.
Mor simply nodded in the direction of the middle Archeron sister and the red-haired priestess who was now being slowly circled by Amren.
"You have no fucking idea Mor, just, stay out of it" he tore himself away to stand facing the current exchange going on infront of him, curling back into the wall of shadows that embraced his body in comfort.
Azriel sensed Mor step away but not before she let her gaze watch him for a moment, her head tilted with so many questions. None of which he had answers to.
Gwyn's stance went rigid and he knew that stance, it meant she was preparing to pounce. Her head held high, shoulders back, legs apart.
He'd held his breath, and exhaled slowly when he'd heard Gwyn's quick retort. As sis everyone else in the room by the looks of their faces, Feyre grimaced, Rhys smirked, Mor eyes wide, Emerie her eyes flitting from her sister and the smaller dark haired female, Cassian rubbed small circles on Nesta's shoulder and Nesta folded her arms and burned a glare at Amren that she no doubt had felt. Elain looked, interested, a small smile blanched her lips as Gwyn had just made Amren aware that they were not yet friends.
Azriel's shadows danced across his shoulders and softly melted away back to his shoulders as the stand off ended and the sound of Rhysand's hands clapping echoed throughout the entire room. Their need to strike an attack gone.
Mor had looked at him again then, noticing the shadows reaction. Her blonde brow arched. He set his jaw and walked away from the wall to
join Amren at the table and took his seat with a slump. Amren greeted him with a raised glass of wine.
"Miserable I see" she said leaning back in her chair.
"How observant" he quipped, reaching over the table and snatching the glass from her small hands.
Amren merely tilted her head from over her side of the table and smiled. Pouring herself another glass.
"Poor Azriel, did you not sleep well"
"No rest for the wicked," Azriel swigged the red wine down his throat slowly..." dearest Amren, a witch like you should know"
The female chuckled and tilted her glass to him again.
"Now now brother, we have company. At least pretend to be civil infront of our guests" Rhys had both his hands resting on Azriel's shoulders and looked down at him smiling tightly.
Feyre glided about the room showing everyone to the table and telling them to take their seats wherever they wish.
Rhys had sat next to Azriel at the head of the table, slowly the others took their places.
Feyre took her seat at the other end of the table, then Nesta took her place at the chair beside Azriel opposite Amren, with Cassian following beside her, then sat Mor next to Feyre. That was his side of the table. Who knew taking a seat at a table could be so... unsettling.
Azriel stretched his hands infront of him swirling the wine in the glass trying to distract his eyes from the goings on around him then took another slow sip as he heard the gentle voice of Elain mutter her welcome to Emerie as they both sat down beside Amren, leaving Gwyn to sit directly opposite him. Her melodic voice thanking his brother as she took her seat and brushed down the skirt of her dress.
Fuck me could this day get any worse.
Azriel threw the remainder of his drink down his throat in one gulp and let the glass down with a loud thump. Amrens eyes caught his and looked back to the glass he'd just dumped before she asked Emerie some inane question about her wings. Azriel rolled his eyes. Amren hated small talk. He knew she was watching him still, she was just using the cover of talking to disguise her ongoing observations.
'The witch thinks you're up to something'
his shadows brushed over his side whispering.
Rhys made a toast to all in attendance and with a click of his fingers the table was suddenly covered with pastries, fresh fruits, breads, cheeses, meats, jams, spreads, juices and large pitchers of water along with plates and cutlery.
"Help yourselves everyone, just save some meats for everyone else OK Cass?" Rhys smirked.
Cassian huffed a laugh before he stabbed a piece of ham with his fork and dragged it to his plate, staring at Rhys with his thick dark brows raised in innocence.
"I'm all for sharing Brother, but my wife" he looked to his left at Nesta who was frowning at him with annoyance "Has quite the appetite for it and"... he shoveled a piece of meat in his mouth and chewed "As doting husband I am more than happy to provide" he swiftly received a firm slap to his large bicep that shot Nesta's face pink at the insinuation that sent him into a fit of laughter as he placed slices of the meat onto his Mate's plate.
Rhysand chuckled and raised his glass to the room...
"Cheers to appetites" his gaze found his Feyre's from across the table, hunger for something other than food in his violet eyes.
Feyre coughed and shot him a look telling him to behave to which Rhys merely tipped the corner of his mouth before biting into a piece of melon.
Azriel looked up as Gwyn did at the same moment and they both gave eachother a small smile. He quickly realised what he'd done too late, and grabbed a piece of crusty bread from the table and hastily placed it to his mouth, chewing the bread without the butter he'd usually accompany it with.
Gwyn looked down to her hands in her lap and Rhys, to his thanks grabbed her attention.
"No whiskey for you this morning Gwyn?"
Gwyn placed the fork back down on her plate and smiled at his brother with her eyes narrowed, her nose scrunched and freckles dancing across her skin.
"Sorry to disappoint you
but no, I fear that I shall have to stick to juice this morning." The glint in her teal eyes shining as if they were back-lit with the morning's sun.
Azriel chewed his dry bread, his teeth making a quiet crunch against the break of the crust.
Rhysand drew his gaze over to him and smirked, chewing softly.
"I noticed the wine Brother, a bit early for drink don't you think? For breakfast?" Rhysand kept his eyes on his plate but a smile danced over his lips.
The bastard is enjoying this.
'Yes, he is' the shadows confirmed happily, enjoying his current situation greatly as they perched upon his shoulders lazily floating about.
Azriel shrugged and regarded his brother with an unflinching stare as he passed the bread to Nesta. Gwyn reached for the bowl of berries that Amren held out to her, exchanging a thankful smile and spooned a small heap onto her plate and noticing that Rhysand was in a jovial chat with Nesta, she held the bowl out to Azriel who's eyes bulged out of his sockets at the gesture. His lips locking into a thin straight line, his Adam apple bobbing up then down. He felt her teals eyes follow the movement and he stiffly shook his head. The realisation immediately hitting Gwyn that she had offered him food.
Gwyn's hands froze midair and her fingers pale and slight, clutched the edges of the porcelain tightly her knuckles whiter than snow. She mouthed a silent apology and placed the bowl down infront of her not knowing what else to do. Gwyn brushed a lock of her copper tresses behind her arched ear and smiled into her lap, biting her lip before stabbing a blackberry with her fork and raising it to her lips. The movement capturing Azriel mid bite of his piece of cheese his gaze enraptured by the fruits flesh bursting upon her pink plump lips, he quickly threw a small handful of grapes into his own mouth and chewed until the grapes tasted of nothing.
Rhysand sat back in his chair and huffed a laugh in between the pair, his tattooed hands cupped and lifted the bowl of berries that Gwyn abandoned and passed it to Azriel, holding it aloft in his line of sight.
"Berries?" Smirked Rhysand.
Claws scratched at Azriel's walls and he let the surface barrier down to let his brother inside his head
"Will you fucking relax Azriel"
"You just want to see my squirm you prick"
In his chair Rhysand's shoulder jumped with laughter
"I must admit, I find the thought of you breaking over blackberries quite entertaining brother"
"I would but I have Feyre for that now"
Azriel pushed his brother out and he regained his senses. He chanced a glance over to Gwyn and her brows were creased , watching the two brother's, her curiosity piqued.
"Do you do that a lot?" Her head turned to address Rhys, who blinked and pulled at his cuffs.
"What dear Valkyrie?"
Gwyn speared another piece of fruit and held her fork as she spoke, waving it in the air pointing to Azriel and the High Lord.
"Speak to eachother through your minds, because I have to say, I feel rather left out" she pouted playfully.
"It's the only way I can tell my brother's to piss off in gentle company"
"Oh how subtle you are" muttered the Spymaster, accepting the plate Amren held across from him of the meats.
He kept his eyes away from the redhead opposite him but couldn't help the small smile that quirked the corners of his mouth as she let out a quiet laugh at his bickering.
Amren held Azriel's gaze as his shadows moved twirling their way silkily brushing through Gwyn's loose hair, emitting a giggle from the priestess as she curled her fingers through the shadows.
Amren's eyebrows shot skyward, her hands still grasping the lip of the plate, Azriel's larger hands holding onto the other edge, gave a tug and the plate followed him back down into his seat. His jaw ticked, the muscle clenching in pulses while more eyes around the table watched the shadows little performance. Amren blinked over at Gwyn, Rhys sat back in his chair and looked over to Azriel, his expression all knowing.
I'm going to fucking kill
It was Feyre who spoke first, her mouth agape, eyes wondrous...
"Well, that's new, is it new?" Her golden brown head looking to the rest of the table to see if this was something that had happened before but even to her memory Azriel's shadows had always been on a tight leash. Until now.
"No that's definitely new" Cassian uttered, his hazel eyes narrowing on the shadowsinger, another set of eyes that Azriel didn't need asking him questions.
Nesta and Emerie exchanged looks from across the table and Gwyn had stopped playing with the darkness swirling around her pale hands at the sudden quietness around the table, she raised her head and first looked to Azriel who did his best to look completely unbothered by it all, grabbing another piece of bread, taking his time smothering it with butter.
"What, do they not do this normally?" She asked around the table.
Mor shook her head slowly and watched Azriel eat, then looked over to Elain who was no staring at her hands in her lap, biting her lip.
Azriel sensed the need to recover the sudden drop in atmosphere decided to start speaking and address the elephant in the room.
"They're increasingly disobedient these days, they do what they want" He shrugged, his expression bored.
"Either that or you've gone soft Shadowsinger" piped Amren, her eyes sparkled like liquid silver shining.
"Well, they're friendly" cheered Gwyn her smile slight and awkward.
"Indeed" scoffed Rhys.
Elain stood from her seat and spoke to the table as she smoothed out her hair...
"Right you are Elain, tea would be perfect, thank you" he smiled warmly.
Azriel shot Elain a look and she held his hazel gaze for a moment before she left the room to inform the kitchen to prepare teas and coffees. Her feet hurried down the hall.
The shadows withdrew begrudgingly from Gwyn back to their Shadowsinger who scolded them immediately on their return.
What in the Cauldron were you thinking?!
'The Priestess likes us , we like the Priestess'
Yes, I'm very fucking aware of that and so now is everyone else. God's sake.
Azriel raked a gloved hand through his tousled dark hair and blew out a breath.
Gwyn's eyes sought his and he looked away. His face expressionless.
"I wonder if it's your scent, it's not usual, it's"...Amren sniffed Gwyn's shoulder, making her flinch in her seat "different"...
Amren's perusal of Gwyn sent an trickle of anger through Azriel's spine but he bit it back. Watching them closely, he was intrigued himself. His shadows didn't go to anyone else, ever, not in his lifetime. Not even with Mor and definitely not with Elain. They always seemed to skitter away in her presence.
Azriel frowned at the table.
"Excuse me?" Asked Gwyn her auburn brows raised
At that Elain entered the room once again followed by Nuala and Cerridwen, the latter going over to Feyre whispering in her ear.
"Nyx has woken up from his nap so I have to go and feed him I'm afraid but I will talk to Rhys if you need me" she looked over to her Mate "darling" and she left to go upstairs.
Elain took her seat and poured herself a cup of herbal tea, smiling softly at everyone around the table, ignoring the tension.
Nuala laid the other tray of saucers, cups and teapots and coffee on the table and left back to join her sister in the shadows.
"Your scent girl, what exactly are you?" Amren asked, her eyes darting over Gwyn's frowning face.
"How dare you" snarled Nesta across the table, her fists clenched tight as she stared at Amren. Silver meeting silver.
"It's really none of your business, but to answer your question, no matter how rude, I'm 1/4 River nymph and 3/4 high fae."
Azriel sat up in his chair, watching , listening.
Gwyn tucked her hair behind her ear, the motion marked by the inquisitive female beside her "My grandmother was a river Nymph from Spring, she seduced a high fae from Autumn, she then had my mother who was too wild to be confined in the Forest House, so my mother was given to the Priestess's at the temple of Sangravah"
Gwyn inhaled before she continued, her eyes trained on the cream table runner her fingers were toying with " Then she conceived me and my twin sister on Calanmai during the Great Rite. She didn't know who my, our, father was and I've never been told, other than the magic chose him that night. And the rest is history" she gave an empty laugh, raising her eyes to Amren's, a storm meeting ice.
Only the ice seemed to soften and Amren patted the back of Gwyn's freckled hand.
"A daughter of Calanmai, unusual indeed, a twin as well, such a rare thing... I wonder."... those all seeing eyes turned their gaze to Rhys asking him questions he was surely answering within his own mind.
Azriel looked to Gwyn and offered a small smile. She did not return it.
"Gwyn?, would you care for a walk around the gardens?, I find the cool air refreshing" Asked Elain, her usually timid voice now ringing across the table with a candor unlike her usual self.
Nesta stood and shot a look towards Gwyn who had raised her eyes in surprise at Elain's question. Considering their current relationship it was all a bit, out of sorts.
Azriel's heart leapt into his throat and he poured himself a glass of wine that Rhys had made appear, sharing the bottle between them. Both the Males uncertain of how these events would end, just as the red-haired Valkyrie walked out the room with Elain in tow, followed by Emerie and Mor who'd suggested they all get some fresh air. Amren made her quick getaway with an excuse to read up about Calanmai.
Nesta hung back and gave Cassian a quick peck on his lips as she stepped away from the table, shooting a look of steel in the direction of The High Lord and Spymaster.
Cassian leant back in his chair, his body leaning away from behind his wife so he could look over towards his brothers, his brows furrowed.
Claws drew on Azriel's mental barriers again and he sighed letting them down.
"Fuck off Rhys"
"Cass wants to know what's going on" he drawled
"Tell him it's nothing"
"He doesn't believe me"
"For God's sake, tell him anything, I don't know!"
"No, not anything, just not a lie but also not the truth"
"So, I tell Cassian that you are losing control of your shadows? Or that you wanted to be the blackberry between Gwyn's lips?" Rhys laughed.
"Rhys, I swear to the Mother!"...
"Shadows it is then brother"
Azriel fought the urge to grab the lapels of Rhysand's jacket and haul him across the table right then but knowing Cassian was still watching him he chose to dissolve his frustrations and drank readily instead.
"Well I suppose we should retreat to the sitting room as Males do when the ladies vacate the premises?" Rhys stated, standing from his seat taking the bottle of wine with him as he walked out into the hall. Azriel made to get up but found a meaty hand on his shoulder, he looked up to find Cassian's hazel eyes boring down into his.
"Brother, would you follow me to the sitting room to fill our cups?" He turned and started walking away then stopped and muttered over his shoulder to the Shadowsinger in a tone that filled Azriel with dread.
"Then you and Rhys can tell me what the fuck is really going on".
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