Azriel x Gwyn - Small Fires
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They had agreed to meet at Rhys and Feyre’s house by the river.
It was easier to have Lucien meet them there than to have him winnow part way to the House of Wind.
Azriel would admit he was in no rush to see the firey male. However, this wasn’t about what he wanted. But rather what Gwyn needed.
He’d truthfully never seen her angry before. Frustrated, stubborn, fierce, he’d seen that. Her anger at Devlon’s inaction, on the other hand, had been another story entirely. At first, Azriel had thought he'd imagined it. The shimmer to her skin, the spark just under the surface. Until he’d felt the heat rolling off of her and caught sight of fire flaring to life in her hands. Only then had he been certain it wasn’t his imagination.
He knew in that instant that he had needed to get her the hell out of that camp. The Illyrians had hardly been welcoming, but they’d be even less so if they further learned Gwyn's origins. They'd already considered her an outsider. The last thing anyone needed was for the Illyrians to deem her a threat.
Azriel did not fear them, not in the slightest. But he also wasn’t stuck living among them. Emerie was. And if Gwyn had done this for anyone it was Emerie. To see all her efforts de-railed by the blood that ran through her veins, something she had no say in, he refused to let that happen.
When they’d arrived at the house Lucien had been standing silently / sitting silently observing Elain with a thoughtful look on his face.
Elain appeared to be ignoring him as usual, though, as always, she did not send him away. She never did. Azriel had never noted so before, but now it was plain to see. Although an undercurrent of unease sat between them, neither of them ever fled the other’s presence.
Strangely enough, neither the realization did not bother him.
Instead, it was the fact that as soon Gwyn stepped into the room Lucien’s head turned her direction. The other male’s awareness of Gwyn, that bothered him.
What’s more, as soon as Lucien’s eyes landed on her he smiled.
Lucien stood up from where he sat and approached them. Elain did not move from her seat, but Azriel did not miss the brief flicker of her eyes toward Lucien’s back as he moved away from her.
Gwyn stepped forward to meet the male halfway.
She smiled at him fondly, earnestly, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. And Azriel found himself disliking the other male more than ever.
- - -
Gwyn was surprised when Azriel had been the one to suggest bringing Lucien to meet her. She had a distinct impression that the two did not get along and that the feeling was entirely mutual. Which was a shame, because she quite liked both their company.
“Is everything alright Little Red?” Lucien asked as soon as he was close, “Rhysand was rather vague in his request that I come and see you.”
“I’m okay,” she assured him, “But there is something I think you should see.”
Lucien’s face grew concerned but he remained silent, waiting for her to elaborate. Rather than say anything, Gwyn decided it best to try and show him.
Exhaling, she focused on her hands, tried to summon the flames and ignite her palms as she had in Devlon’s presence.
But nothing happened.
Maybe focus was not enough.
Gwyn thought about what she’d been feeling when the incident had happened. Her anger, her frustration, her desperation to not feel helpless. She attempted to recapture those feelings as she tried harder to call upon the fire.
Gwyn glanced down at her hands as she began to feel the tiniest kiss of heat.
No flames lit, but her skin had begun to glow a faint orange and she could sense the heat further building beneath her skin. Thus, she doubled down on the negative feelings she’d felt back at the camp and soon enough the tiniest flames flickered to life at her fingertips.
Looking up, she saw those very flames reflected in Lucien’s eyes. A slight smirk graced his lips.
“I suppose you truly do have fire in your blood, Little One.”
She could tell from his smile that he was remembering their previous conversation, and so Gwyn found herself smiling back. Far easier than they’d come, the flames faded. But she could still feel the warmth sitting just under her skin.
Lucien must’ve sensed it as well because he reached for her, but before he grasped her wrist he looked to her for permission. She gave him a single nod. And so, Lucien took her wrist in one hand and ran a finger along her veins. Likely getting a feel for her power.
“You’ll need training, to control it properly,” he commented.
She nodded again.
She’d had the same thought. Fire was a beautiful but equally destructive element. Gwyn knew well enough that she could not afford to lose control of it.
Like any skill, she would need to work on it, hone it. That was surely why Azriel had asked for Lucien to be brought to her in the first place, and she was grateful he’d had the foresight to know that she’d want to learn.
They were the same in that regard, she and Azriel. Both of them were always eager to learn, to acquire more knowledge.
She’d learned that back when they’d first grown close. It was one of the reasons Gwyn had known she could trust him.
Those willing to learn, who sought knowledge, were rarely if ever, bad people.
Gwyn would certainly have her work cut out for her though, with all the revelations this week.
She had hoped to learn more about her heritage and wound up discovering new abilities she knew next to nothing about. At least, they were new to her.
But the sooner she could get some grasp on them the better.
Lucien’s voice cut through her thoughts.
“Come stay with me, I will train you.”
- - -
Lucien wanted to take her away. That was the last thing he caught of their conversation.
His shadows cried out their objection, to which Azriel agreed. He all but glowered at the male standing not so far from him. Not that Lucien noticed or even cared.
Before he could speak up in objection, Nesta beat him to it.
“Not a chance on hell, Vanserra,” the eldest Archeron sister spat, probably with more venom than was necessary.
He could always count on Nesta to speak her mind. Though at times it was to her detriment.
“Nesta,” Gwyn chastised, looking back over her shoulder at her friend, “Should it not be my choice?”
From the shock, upon Nesta’s face, it was clear the female had not been anticipating her friend’s response. Azriel had certainly not.
“You wish to leave the Night Court?” Nesta asked, her surprise evident in her voice.
“I did not say that, but I should like to have the chance to think about it,” Gwyn replied, turning back Lucien who'd kept his eyes focused on her the entire time.
“May I?” she asked the male.
Lucien nodded, “Of course.”
No one else in the room spoke up in favor or against the idea.
Elain was silent but her hand stilled on her flower arrangement she'd been working on the moment Lucien had made the suggestion. Nesta was clearly not excited about the prospect. Feyre, of course, eyed her sister worriedly, no doubt fearing Nesta would say something damaging she couldn’t take back. And naturally, his two brother’s moods were reflective of their mates. Cassian ready to step in should he need to, and Rhysand no doubt communicating silently with Feyre through their bond.
While Gwyn didn’t see Lucien as anything other than potential family, Azriel wasn’t so sure about the other male. Gwyn may very well belong to the Autumn Court, but that did not necessarily mean they were actually related.
And while Lucien might be mated to Elain, perhaps the other male might finally be considering abandoning the effort. It had been years now, and not all males were as foolish as himself. Content to wait around years in the hopes that something might change. It was quite possible, Lucien might entertain the idea of walking away.
Hearing Gwyn’s words to Nesta, that she would consider going off with Lucien to stay with his band of misfits left Azriel feeling cold. As though, if she went, Azriel would again find himself losing to the Autumn Prince. But as soon as he had the thought, he chased it away. Gwyn was not some prize to be won or lost. He knew that.
It took a moment, but Lucien finally seemed to read the tension in the room.
“If the idea of leaving makes you uneasy I have no issue with coming here to see you,” he offered, then, seeming to give it some further thought, looked to Feyre and Rhys, “Assuming I’m welcome move about the Night Court freely?”
Rhys appeared to consider this, whereas Feyre answered almost immediately.
“Of course you can,” his High Lady spoke with a smile.
Once upon a time, Lucien had been her first and only friend in the realm of Fae. Though Feyre never admitted it, he knew the rift in their relationship saddened her. Rhys knew it too. But there was nothing that could be done to fix it. Too much had happened, too much time had passed. One day they might find their way back to each other, but it would be no easy task.
Personally, he did much like the idea of seeing more of the Autumn Princeling. But if it was for Gwyn’s sake he’d learn to deal with it.
It was far better than the alternative.
- - -
Sometime after dinner, as talk again returned to a discussion over Gywn’s situation, along with that of the remaining mortal queens, Elain had managed to wander off.
As Gwyn was busy speaking with Nesta and Lucien, Azriel took it upon himself to check on the middle Archeron sister.
Unsurprisingly, he found her in the garden with her rose bush. The gloves Lucien had gifted her all those years protecting her delicate hands. She’d never thanked the other male for the gift, but Azriel had noted countless times how often she’d used them.
“How are you feeling about Lucien being here more often?” he asked.
She said nothing at first, only halting briefly in her pruning.
“He won’t exactly be here, will he?” Elain responded. Her tone sounding odd.
No, he supposed she was right. He wouldn’t be visiting the river house, but rather the House of Wind. But who was to say, given free reign, that he would not try and come to see his mate. Then again, as much as he disliked Lucien, the male was never one to appear uninvited.
“Have you ever thought about how much easier things might have been if you and I were mates?” she questioned softly.
Azriel blinked once, surprised by the turn-in conversation. But he knew the answer well enough.
But the cauldron had not seen it fit to bless him with a mate.
However, he had once coveted the beauty before him. Their attraction mutual, as far as he could tell.
“Yes,” he found himself admitting, “I have.”
- - -
Gwyn wound up in the small library of Rhysand and Feyre’s home. Though to call it small might’ve been a bit of an insult. It simply wasn’t as large as the once housed in the House of Wind. But it was nice, tidy, private. And she needed that bit of privacy right about now.
Gwyn dropped into one of the chairs by the window.
Azriel had wanted Elain for a mate.
The very idea broke her heart. A new crack forming among the many scars that already ran across it.
A single tear escaped from the corner of her eye, but she wiped it away almost as quickly as it came. Which was just as well, because not a moment later she heard a knock.
Glancing over her shoulder, she saw Lucien standing in the doorway. Normally, she’d have no issue detecting him. But clearly, her heightened emotions had her distracted.
It took a mere second for him to take in her face. His mood immediately shifted as he approached her. His long strides closing the distance between them with ease. Lucien sat down in the seat opposite her and placed a gentle hand on her knee.
“Little One, what’s wrong?” he voiced, concerned.
Gwyn pressed her lips together, inhaling deeply she forced herself to push the feelings down and keep the tears at bay.
“I’m an idiot,” she confessed.
Lucien straightened at that, “What?”
Her foolishness did not require explaining. It was Elain. It’d always been her. The necklace, everything...
Why had she done this to herself? Why had she gone and allowed her hopes to flourish again?
Gwyn shook her head, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
From the look on his face, Lucien obviously did not want to let it go at that. But he conceded to her all the same.
“Alright,” he let out reluctantly.
The male stared at her with thoughtful eyes.
“My offer to take you away from this place still stands,” Lucien spoke softly, as though fearing someone might hear, “Clearly, something here has upset you. I will take you away from it, should you wish.”
She appreciated his willingness to help her by any means. In truth, Gwyn hardly knew anything about Lucien. Only second-hand stories she’d heard from Nesta and the others. But she found something about him inherently trustworthy. Her gut insisted that he would not hurt her, and she was inclined to believe it.
She’d been honest when she’d said she would consider his offer. The idea of leaving the comfort and security of the library, the Night Court, left her feeling a tad apprehensive. But in recent months Gwyn had started to learn to push past that feeling.
Lucien’s idea made sense from a practical standpoint. It would get her out of her comfort zone, and she’d have a teacher readily available. She knew she’d be safe. After all, if Emerie could manage to live among men she loathed. Gwyn could certainly learn to live with Lucien.
Yet despite knowing that, she still felt uneasy.
“I don’t know if I’m ready to leave,” she admitted.
She’d miss everyone, Nesta, Cassian, her fellow priestess’...Azriel.
Lucien said nothing in response, only sat there quietly, ready to listen.
“I know it sounds silly. It’s not as though I’m leaving to never return again. It’s just, the idea of being away...it feels strange. For years now, this place, this court has been my life. My home.”
But then Gwyn was struck with the realization that she hadn’t this way when she’d wound up staying at the Illyrian camp. She hadn’t felt as though she’d left home at all.
Because Azriel been there with her.
Her throat ached at the thought.
He wanted someone else. Had always wanted someone else, despite the fact that the female already had a mate. A mate who happened to be sitting right in front of Gwyn now. She wondered if Lucien knew. Though she supposed, he had to.
He might not have been as old as three males of the Inner Circle, but he’d certainly been around long enough to learn how to read other’s intentions.
And yet he did nothing. He did not pressure Elain, nor did he seem to hold any resentment toward her for entertaining the company of another male. He also never returned her coldness toward him. Lucien was only ever the patient mate, waiting on the sidelines for the female the Cauldron destined for him to make her decision.
Gwyn wondered how long he’d be willing to wait.
She found herself almost envious of the other female. She wondered what that must be like, to be wanted, to be adored. Until she remembered something her mother had always said. That envy was one of the worst sins. It could twist even the purest hearts into wicked things.
She refused to go down that path.
Gwyn had plenty in her life to be thankful for. She would not ask nor demand more.
She was content. Gwyn had friends who were like family. A possible family that she might one day reunite with. Every day she grew stronger and more skilled in combat, more capable of fighting for herself and those she loved should war descend upon them.
If she could gain mastery over her fire, she would prove stronger still.
“A home will always be a home, if it is where you are meant to be you’ll always find a way back,” Lucien said, his voice close to a whisper.
She stared up at him, to find him watching her.
“I will never force you to do anything you do not want to or are not comfortable with. I only want you to understand that you will always have options and that in your life the only one with the right decide what you do is yourself.”
The way he spoke, she could tell his words were as much a reminder for him as they were for her.
“I know first-hand what it feels like to believe you have no other choice. It leads one to make mistakes one can never take back.”
Gwyn eyed him with concern, “Have you done something you regret Lucien?”
His eyes saddened, “Far too many things.”
She wanted to reach out to him, hug him, and tell him that she believed in his goodness. That his mistakes alone surely did not define him. But Gwyn wasn’t sure that was what he wanted, and so she held back.
Lucien rubbed her head and gave her a small, almost bittersweet, smile as he rose from his seat.
"Let me know what you decide, Little Red,” he said briefly before departing without another word.
With him gone, she was once again left alone in the library with her thoughts. And what a great many she had.
- - -
They’d returned to the House of Wind rather late that night, after having had dinner at the river house.
Cassian and Nesta had gone off together almost immediately upon their return. In the months since their mating, their hunger for each other had yet to subside. Though, if they were anything like Rhys and Feyre, it was likely it never would.
He was happy for his brothers, even if it left him feeling a bit green with envy at every reminder.
Gwyn had not said much to him on the way back. But he’d overheard her telling Nesta that she intended to work out in the training ring despite the late hour. Something about needing that time to think.
And so, after he’d gotten his own affairs in order, Azriel headed up to the ring to find her.
As he neared Azriel could sense his shadows begin to dance. They moved as though in time with a song he himself could not quite hear.
Reaching the archway, he caught sight of Gwyn. Her movements were rhythmic and fluid, the sword she was wielding a perfect extension of her arm.
She must’ve sensed him because she stopped what she was doing and turned his way.
Their eyes met, but her expression did not change. It remained perfectly neutral. A practiced look that he all too easily recognized, because it was one he enacted almost every day of his life. The sight of it on her face fed his growing concern.
“Can’t sleep?” he asked.
It took her a moment, but she nodded, “I have a lot to think about.”
In that regard, he agreed with her. The last few days had no doubt proven life-changing for her. She’d awoken abilities she’d never even known she had. But something in her tone, in her voice, in her steady effort to keep her neutral expression in place gave her away to him.
“You’re honestly considering leaving with him.”
Neither of them needed to clarify who it was Azriel spoke of. They both knew.
Yet for some reason, Gwyn appeared surprised at his directness. Her beautiful eyes widening a fraction in response. But she did not speak up in denial. They stared at each other a moment longer before she managed an answer.
“Perhaps,” she admitted.
Azriel found himself stepping into the ring, closing the distance between them.
“Why?” he found his voice rising, “Lucien has already offered to teach you here.”
And he’d come to terms with that, but the idea of Gwyn leaving? He had not prepared himself for that.
She inhaled, before answering, “I know.”
Then why were they having this discussion?
“But it might do me some good to see what lies beyond the borders of the Night Court.”
Azriel did not want to trap her here. He would never dream of it. He had always been supportive of her broadening her horizons, seeing the world. She deserved a chance to learn, to live.
Yet something had him fearing her leaving in this current state. As though, if she left now she might not come back. He could not explain why he thought this, but he felt the certainty of it in his very bones.
“You said you wouldn’t leave,” he attempted to say, only to realize that wasn’t what they'd agreed on.
“When did I say that?” she naturally responded.
He corrected his wording, “You said you wouldn’t run from me.”
- - -
His words struck her, leaving her unsure as to what to say.
She wasn’t running from him. Was she?
“I’m not running from you, Azriel,” Gwyn found herself insisting, “This isn’t about you. It’s about me, how I feel.”
She wasn’t lying about that, not exactly. Gwyn had tried to put her growing feelings for Azriel aside to protect their friendship, but the more time they spent together the harder that was proving to be.
Gwyn had believed she’d been successful right up until their time in the Illyrian camp. When she’d come face to face with the prospect of Azriel with another. The sight had left her with an ache in her chest, and though he’d run after her to assure her there was nothing going on between him and the female it did not mean that he wouldn’t have a relationship with someone else in the future.
That someone might be Elain or it might not. All that mattered was she could not behave the way she had at camp. Little by little she had to learn to let these feelings go. Because locking them away clearly wasn’t working.
Distance might help save what was between them.
“You’re lying,” Azriel insisted, “I’m not sure why but there’s something you aren’t being honest about. I can feel it.”
His observation left her feeling angry.
“Stop that,” she shouted, “Stop trying to see into my head, my heart. You have no right.”
For the briefest of moments, Gwyn found herself blaming him for her inability to let go. He was the one sending her mixed signals, acting as though he might want something more with her only to turn around and admit to wanting another female as his mate.
Her feelings were to mostly blame, but he was not faultless. How could she let him go when he seemed to not want her to?
“Gwyn,” he said almost pleadingly.
But she could not do this. Not now when her emotions were running high, clouding her judgment.
“I need to go. Try to get some rest. I’m sure I have a lot to catch up on with Merrill in the morning.”
His face shuttered.
He said nothing else.
And so she moved past him, leaving him standing there in the ring alone.
- - -
It had been days and still nothing.
After her discussion with Lucien in the library, Rhysand had found her there.
When she’d started to apologize for wandering off, he’d brushed it off and reassured her he did not mind her presence in the library.
Instead, he’d asked her a favor. The High Lord had explained to her his suspicions about the book she and Azriel had encountered in the library. Both he and his second in command, Amren, believe that the book was related to one of two things. True witches or the true immortals. Both of which would prove dangerous if it fell into the wrong hands.
When she’d questioned the High Lord about owning the book he admitted that he’d never come across such a thing, had not even known it existed amongst the vast collection of books he’d inherited.
Rhysand had tasked her with finding the book, by any means necessary. Gwyn had been trying for the last week or so and still she had nothing to show for it. She’d tried asking the House. She’d checked the library archives for any mention of such an ancient tome, and she’d all but searched every single shelf on the floor she and Azriel had been on when it appeared.
Wherever the book was, she felt rather certain it was content to remain hidden there.
The hours she’d spent had not been a complete waste though. It gave her a distraction.
Busy as she was, she almost forgot about the argument she’d had with Azriel. If it could be called an argument.
But he needed to understand that if she chose to leave it would be because it was what was best for her, not because she was running away from anything. She knew better than anyone that there were two things in life you could never outrun, the past and your own feelings.
So for now, she would remain in the Night Court. Not for Azriel, but for herself. Because she felt there was something she was meant to do here, and she had a strong inclination it had something to do with the book she'd been tasked with finding.
And she would find it, one way or another.
- - -
He sat with Nesta and Elain in the living room of Rhys and Feyre’s home.
Elain held Nyx within her arms, the little rascal giggling wildly as she played peekaboo with him.
Azriel himself wasn’t particularly familiar with the game, but both Nesta and Feyre had assured him and the others that it was a common practice in the mortal realm. Along with pretending to steal a child’s nose, which, personally, made no sense to him.
Then again, many mortal traditions did not.
Cassian was speaking with Rhys and Feyre. Nesta had intended to join them, but Azriel had asked to speak to her first. It was something that had seemed to surprise all of them.
In fact, Cassian had made some joke about it. Not that he’d paid much attention to it.
No, he’d kept quiet until he and Nesta were alone. Well, aside from Elain and Nyx.
The four of them sat under the warm afternoon sun in the garden that Elain tended to.
“Gwyn wouldn’t be avoiding you over nothing,” Nesta remarked.
He knew that of course. But days had passed since he’d last seen her and he was no closer to figuring out what it was that had caused the sudden shift in her attitude toward him. She still hadn’t chosen to take Lucien up on his offer to spirit her away from the Night Court.
According to Nesta, the other male had agreed to come once a week to meet with Gwyn. And so he was due for a visit soon. Azriel needed to fix the rift between him and Gwyn before then.
“Do you think she could’ve overheard our conversation in the garden that day?” Elain spoke up, as she lifted Nyx off the ground to spin him around.
Nesta eyed Azriel, “What conversation?”
He gave it some thought and realized Elain might be right.
Usually, his shadows alerted him when anyone approached, but that often wasn’t true when it came to Gwyn. And the timeline made perfect sense. They’d been fine when they’d left the Illyrian camp and when they’d first arrived at the river house. It hadn’t been until after dinner when they were getting ready to return to the House of Wind that Azriel had noted the strangeness in her mood.
If that was the case he could easily understand how his words might’ve been misconstrued.
Azriel had admitted to once wishing that Elain was his mate. It stood to reason Gwyn might think he still felt that way.
But, if so, why hadn’t she said anything to him about it?
He considered this a mere second before the answer grew obvious.
What reason had he given her too?
Closing his eyes, Azriel took a deep breath.
He knew now what he needed to do.
~ ~ ~
Notes: Sorry this one is coming to you a little late. I’ve been a bit of a mini rut this week between writing this fanfic and working on my own original story. I also haven’t been reading much these past few weeks, my free mostly spent watching baking shows, so I’ve been a bit short on inspiration. And I do not like putting anything out that I do not enjoy reading myself. Anyways, I hope you all enjoy the end product of my toil.
As always, any feedback is appreciated =)
~ ~ ~
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