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#gwynriel fic
tealnymph24 · a month ago
how long do you think azriel's mating frenzy would last?👀👀 yk considering how he can apparently go days training without getting tired
Anon, I love you! You're asking the real questions.
Azriel Mating Frenzy Headcanons:
Azriel's frenzy would last a minimum of three weeks.
Minimum three weeks
When it first hits him, right after Gwyn accepts the bond, it would be cute because he would be hesitant to just pounce on Gwyn
Gwyn would have to coax him at first to let go
She would want him just as bad as he wants her
It would start slow and gentle
Soft kisses and slow caressing
But pretty soon they'd be ripping off each others clothes
They would not make it to the bed at first
They would end up fucking in the middle of the hall, on the floor
Then they would try to make their way to a bedroom, but they would only make it as far as the wall
When they finally manage to pause long enough to get to a bed, Azriel spends the next few hours exploring literally every single inch of Gwyn's body
Like, he fucking worships her. Thoroughly
They spend at least three days locked in a house together making love on every available service
When Gwyn finally decides they need to rejoin society, Azriel is reluctant but agrees
But the frenzy is still getting to him. Bad
He can't keep his hands off her
He doesn't realize how bad it is until they go back to Velaris and see Cassian and Rhys
Azriel almost rips Cassian's head off for waving at Gwyn
Nesta and Emerie think it's hilarious because Gwyn can't walk more than five feet without Azriel whining
He literally cannot stay away from her
They will be in the middle of training and then he has to whisk her down a hallway to fuck her against a wall
Gwyn is extremely patient through all of it because she also has a hard time keeping her hands off of Azriel
The first week, they try to attend family dinner, but all the mated couples there know it won't be long before they excuse themselves
It will start with heated glances
Then Azriel's hands will start drifting, touching her everywhere
His hands will sneak under her dress beneath the table
He nearly takes her in the middle of the room when he realizes she's temporarily given up on wearing underwear
Again, they make it as far as a deserted hallway before they end up fucking against the wall
Azriel would constantly apologize for how irrational he is being, but Gwyn would keep reassuring him that she understands
They would barely sleep for all three weeks
Everyone would just accept that they won't see Azriel and Gwyn until at least 10am each day
Every morning, they would try to just get up and go about their day, but they would end up naked again in about five minutes
They would have to bathe together in the mornings because Azriel wouldn't be able to handle seeing Gwyn naked without needing to touch her on sight
Azriel wouldn't be able to go on spy missions for the first few weeks because he wouldn't be able to stand being away from Gwyn
The IC just accepts that Gwyn and Az won't be at family dinner for a while after that first time
It gets to the point that Gwyn gives up on trying to wear anything to bed at night because she knows what will happen
Even though he can't stop wanting to fuck her every second of every day, Azriel is super soft during this time
Azriel is the king of aftercare
He always gives Gwyn massages, runs hot baths for her, cuddles her when they're both too tired to do anything else, etc
He's just so thrilled to have Gwyn as his mate and he wants to make sure she is as happy as he is
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starbornsinger · a month ago
Text
Favourite Distraction (Gwyn x Azriel One-shot)
Summary: During a training session, the line between friendship and romance becomes more and more blurred for Gwyn and Azriel. Fluff, some steam. Set in the Nepenthe universe.
Word Count: 2.4K
“The chances of you making it out of this alive are slim.”
Well, the blade at Gwyneth’s neck certainly proved that point. The sharp tip pressed into her skin, threatening to slice her open with the slightest flick of a wrist. “If I apply any pressure, I’d go straight through your neck. If you move, I’ll slice your throat.”
Nowhere to go.
Gwyn’s teal eyes scanned the surrounding area wildly, landing on the sword which had skittered a mere foot away. Even with her fingers splayed painfully, the priestess could only graze the hilt of her weapon with her fingertips. There was no way she could grab hold of it, not without risking death.
She gulped. Pinned to the floor on her stomach, the cold steel of the dagger kept her from fighting back, and Gwyn knew she was running out of options. Bargaining was her last resort.
“I—” “Don’t move,” the male repeated harshly, his knee digging into her spine. “My hand might slip.”
Gwyneth was stuck. She had no escape.
“Damn it,” she swore under her breath, and patted her hand on the solid ground. “Alright, you win.”
Azriel withdrew his blade at her tap-out; he was sitting on her back, practically crushing her lungs with the weight of him. Six months ago, she might have panicked at a male being so close— and being trapped by him as well. But Gwyn had made great strides in her journey to healing, and now, the comfort and trust she had formed with Azriel was unbreakable.
“Not bad,” he mused lowly, flicking dust off his shoulder. “But not good enough.”
“Well, when you’ve got a blade to my jugular, defending myself gets a bit tough,” she choked out, as Azriel lounged on her as though she were a bit of furniture. She rubbed her neck, where a small bead of blood had formed, and wiped it off. It smeared on her freckled skin, but didn’t seem to notice. “Are you going to get off of me, spymaster?”
Azriel shrugged. “I’ll think about it,” he replied dryly,but she could hear the grin in his voice. Gwyn scowled, and rolled onto her side, effectively pushing him off of her.
She laid on her back, staring up at the sky as she panted. “Must you make everything so difficult, Shadowsinger?”
“I doubt your opponent would be any easier on you,” he replied, not missing a beat. It made her want to throttle him. “Well then. Thank the Mother my opponent is only you.” The priestess smirked, and Azriel had the nerve to look mock-offended. “Lucky me.”
“Lucky you,” he echoed, with a twinkle in his hazel eyes. Gods, he was handsome, Gwyn thought, sitting up. She drew her knees to her chest, resting her chin atop them. Azriel sheathed Truth-Teller. Gwyn watched silently, chewing on her lip. He stretched his wings momentarily, shaking them out as though it were a sore muscle. He looked so peaceful, Gwyn thought, as the sun shone through his wings. It made the reds and blues dance, and illuminated every vein and curve. The hair that looked raven black most days now looked reddish-brown in the sunset, which cut his features in a most handsome way.
Even sweaty and tired, he still managed to be so damn handsome. Azriel was distracted, thankfully, and so Gwyn could take a moment to take in all his features. She sighed softly. She was falling way, way too hard. But Mother knew she’d die before she admitted it.
Azriel must have assumed she was tired— which in truth, she was— because he glanced in her direction, and announced, “We can stop for today. It’s close to dinner. I’m sure you’re hungry.” He pulled himself to his feet, offering her a hand. The shadowsinger then paused, looking down at his scars with a frown, and began to withdraw. His shadows thickened.
No.
Gwyn’s hand shot out to grab his, gripping it tightly. Azriel blinked, the only indication of his surprise, and hoisted her up alongside him. She dusted herself off, then stood up straight. The two of them stood mere inches from each other, practically chest-to-chest as the Valkyrie looked up at him. “If— if you’re up for it, I wouldn’t mind another round,” she heard herself saying. Wait, what? The priestess amended quickly, stumbling over her words a bit, “I um, I had a late lunch. With Nesta. So I wouldn’t… I mean, only if you want to. I’m sure you’re tired of training.”
Azriel didn’t want Gwyn to leave. Not really. Nor did his shadows, really. So when she had asked for an overtime lesson, he felt a bit pathetic about how his heart seemed to skip a happy little beat. His shadows were clearly elated; a moment ago, they had been swirling with the blackness of his insecurity, and now? It was like watching an excited puppy pace back and forth. They danced and darted, and it took all of his control to wrangle them away from Gwyn. They shot towards her, curling around her arms and waist in a misty embrace. She let out a laugh, the sound ringing beautifully. Every smile, every giggle: it was all carved into his mind. A brand, a disarming he was glad to accept.
Gwyn’s lips twitched upwards. “Is that a yes, then?”
Azriel scratched the back of his head nervously, looking away from that piercing teal gaze. “I suppose it is,” he replied. The spymaster was a bit surprised at himself, really, surprised to see how relieved he was that she had asked. And Gwyn, it seemed, was relieved as well. She exhaled, letting her shoulders sag a bit, and chuckled. His eyes caught on the bit of exposed skin her white tunic had revealed, admiring the splatter of freckles on her collarbone. Her skin looks so damn soft, he thought, as his shadows once more crept out to caress her skin. They settled on her shoulder, and she tilted her head to rub her cheek against a tendril. She grinned at him, her lips curling back to reveal that bright smile of hers. With this priestess, he swore he had found religion in an entirely new way.
Azriel shook out his hands, then clenched them into fists and got into a fighting stance. He narrowed his eyes, studying her. Where would she strike first? How would she try to trick him? She seemed to be doing the same, because she had a damn smirk on her face that the spymaster couldn’t help but return.
“What?” She laughed, as they circled each other. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Because that’s how you’re looking at me!” He replied, with a snicker. Gwyn’s foot pivoted ever so slightly, and he anticipated the punch that was thrown seconds later. Ducking low, Azriel managed to avoid that swift hook of hers, throwing one of his own.
“I am not!” The priestess protested, using her padded forearm to block his hit, then raised her knee and slammed it into him. Azriel let out a loud “oof”, stumbling back a step. He clutched his side, praying she’d take the bait. “Yes, you are,” he said between exaggerated pants. Gwyn did as he’d hoped: she raised her other leg to strike his uninjured side. Faster than lightning, his shadows wrapped around her ankle, suspending it mid-air.
Gwyn’s eyes widened, and she looked at him in disbelief. “You wouldn’t dare.”
“Wouldn’t I?” He asked, a mischievous twinkle in his eye. When the Valkyrie was yanked to the ground, she let out a cry of frustration, slamming her fist on the mat. She propped herself up on her elbows, squinting up at him.
“You know, you make it especially difficult for me to like you sometimes, Spymaster,” she scowled, as Azriel crouched down beside her.
“You and I both know that’s a lie,” he drawled. He couldn’t help but tease her, especially considering that he had beaten her in mere seconds. “I thought you wanted another round.”
“I did,” she replied, then suddenly, her leg swept out and smashed into his. He went toppling backwards, losing his balance and falling on his ass. “We’re not done yet.” Gwyn grabbed hold of his forearms, trying to grapple with him. They were a tangle of limbs and fists, tossing battle strategy out the window for an all-out brawl. It was a rare moment for Azriel, one where he decided that, for once, he’d have a bit of fun.
Gwyn was laughing once more, as they rolled around on the mat like warring toddlers. She wasn’t a small woman by any means, standing only a half foot shorter than he, but she was thin and flexible, which meant trying to grab her was like trying to catch a summer breeze. Grappling with each other alone in the ring, Azriel tried his best to pin down the nymph, but that only seemed to encourage her more. Those tricky fingers of hers now began tickling him, and Azriel’s eyes widened.
For the first time in what felt like ages, he giggled.
The Spymaster of the Night Court was giggling. He was chuckling at first, which evolved into a laugh, which then turned into an eruption of giggles and guffaws. He flailed his arms, trying to push her off. Gwyn was absolutely stunned. She’d never heard such a sound from him; Mother, he barely even reached a dozen decibels. But now? Now his shadows swirled about them, rippling from each laugh that escaped those perfect lips of his.
Gwyn was seeing stars, and it wasn’t because of the approaching twilight.
“Stop— No, not there!” He managed to choke out, grinning like an idiot. Tears came to his eyes as she attacked his abdomen, his underarms, his neck.
“No,” Gwyn shouted back, with a devious smile. “You’re a feared Ilyrian warrior who kills great beasts! Can’t you fight off the Tickle Monster?” But Azriel was too overcome to respond, trying to push her off and retaliate by attacking her sides. The priestess clambered on top of the male, sat atop his hips as she straddled them with her thighs. Finally, she managed to pin his arms to the floor, leaning over him as he gasped for air.
Azriel’s wheezed, letting out a chuckle. Gwyn had him pinned by the wrists, and although he could escape if he tried, he didn’t want to. Because he had realized the position they were now in.
And he liked it.
Gwyn seemed to realize too, because her face turned even redder than her hair. She was straddling him, and she could feel every inch of his body, the soft bulge that pressed in between her legs. The bulge that was slowly hardening as it absorbed the heat of her. The priestess swallowed, his hands still pinned above his head. Azriel made no move to escape, looking up at her like— Like he wanted her.
His hazel eyes, usually dark and brooding, were sparkling like the night, focusing all of his raw emotion on her with an intensity she didn’t think she could handle. There was mischief in his gaze; there was affection.
His lips parted slightly, and he inhaled slowly. Was he smelling her? Oh Mother, could he smell her? Gwyn swore silently, realizing that her own scent had changed from its usual flower sweetness to something smoky, and tangy. She squeezed her thighs together, trying to trap the heat she was feeling down there.
He missed nothing, glancing at her hips and then back up at her face. Gwyn bit down on the inside of her lip. A strand of her hair had fallen from behind her ear, and she tucked it back. With one hand now freed, Azriel lifted it. Hesitantly, he set it on her thigh, scanning her eyes for permission. All she did was offer a barely perceptible nod. He slid it up higher, to the curve of her hip. They had gotten closer, their faces inches apart as her hair curtained their faces. The shadows around them had thickened, wrapping around Gwyn’s waist and neck.
He wanted her badly. There was no denying it. The spymaster had felt desire for Elain, but what he felt for Gwyn was magnetic. She made him laugh, made him smile. She would be the destruction of every wall he had painstakingly built, and gods, he welcomed it. Those teal eyes of hers were foggy, darting up and down his body. The priestess was stunning. He loved every state of her: her robes, the dress she had worn to Nesta’s mating ceremony, how she looked after training. Even when she was a sweaty mess, the afterglow of her rosy cheeks made his heart skip.
His hand trailed that path from her hip to her thigh, as they stared at each other in silence. There was a humming in his head, a euphoric feeling he only got from faerie wine. Gwyn bit her lip, an action that set him aflame, then cupped his cheek. Her thumb traced his cheekbone, running over his lips and parting them.
“You’re beautiful,” she said absentmindedly, and Azriel blinked, a bit taken aback. He let out a soft laugh.
“I’m beautiful? I’m a male, Gwyn.”
“And?” She challenged. “Males can be beautiful.” She lifted her chin, letting out a hum. Her fingers brushed over the cleft in his chin. “They all say you are.”
“Who?” He asked, his voice soft, low.
“Anyone in Prythian with a working pair of eyes. You’re quite popular, you know,” she mused, her voice smooth as silk. Azriel’s shadows toyed with the strands of her hair, brushing them gently.
“Am I popular with you?”
Gwyn was quiet for a moment, and he worried he’d overstepped, withdrawing his hand—
“Yes,” she said quietly, placing her palm over his. He froze. “Your shadows are too. Or rather, I am with them.” She glanced around them, to see the cocoon of night that had formed, contrasting the setting sky. Azriel hummed his agreement. Gwyn paused again.
“You're our favourite,” he quipped quietly, and that seemed to make her blush deepen. Gwyn gulped, looking around as though trying to grapple for something to say.
“So, uh, does this mean I win?” the Priestess stuttered. She motioned to their position, snapping Azriel out of his trance. He blinked in surprise, before his face contorted into a devious grin.
“Not a chance.”
He shoved her off him, and she fell backwards laughing, kicking his chest.
And then the fighting started all over again.
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fiction-is-happier · 5 months ago
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The Stars That Answer
Here’s a little Gwynriel scene I couldn’t get out of my head! Set just after Nesta and Cassian’s mating ceremony. 
Gwyn stepped out onto into the moonlit garden hoping to get some fresh air. It wasn’t exactly crowded in the river mansion and there hadn’t been many guests at the ceremony, but Gwyn still found her heart pounding a beat too fast in the bustle. She just needed some space to gather herself and aimed for the large patio doors off the foyer.
“Oh,” Gwyn said, surprised. Azriel sat at the small iron table, his wings resting behind him. He turned shocked as if she had somehow snuck up on him.
Azriel smiled slightly, “Did I steal your spot?”
“I just needed some fresh air.”
Azriel nodded and he stood, “I’ll leave you to it.”
“No,” she blurted, “please, you were here first. There are two seats.”
He paused before nodding his head slightly and reclaiming his seat. Gwyn rounded the small table and perched at the edge of the chair.
He didn’t speak as he looked out at the river and she saw his curious shadows dancing around his shoulders. Gwyn took a deep breath and tilted her head back, bathing her face in moonlight. She couldn’t help but think of the last time they had met like this, just the two of them and the stars. It was Winter Solstice, long before the Blood Rite.
The Blood Rite. Sometimes she couldn’t believe that she had done it, fought and climbed and survived.
“Are you staying here?” Azriel asked gently.
Gwyn opened her eyes, “Feyre offered me a room but I’m not sure if I can…” She trailed off uncertainly.
“I took them up on the offer,” Azriel said dryly, “I won’t get much sleep at the House of Wind.”
Gwyn laughed. Nesta and Cassian left their own mating reception almost as soon as the ribbon was tied.
They lapsed into silence. Gwyn was used to the silence with her sisters at the library. But this one was different, comfortable. Her mind slowed as she breathed deep, practicing her Mind Stilling. They were silent for so long Gwyn was confused as to who was breaking it until she recognised her own voice. “Tonight was a test I think.”
Azriel didn’t say anything but she knew all of his attention was on her as she spoke.
She swallowed, “I-I’m not sure what I’m doing. When I first came here to Velaris, the library was where I needed to be. Safe and surrounded by my sisters. But after the Blood Rite, I’m not so sure. I hadn’t left the library for so long and then the first time I did; I climbed a violent, dangerous mountain all the way to the top.”
She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye as she looked up at the stars.
“I wanted to test myself today to see if I could leave the library without my life being in peril. I didn’t consider the battle with Mor for the last slice of cake though.”
Az chuckled. “So what’s the result of your test?”
Gwyn shrugged, “Who knows, I’m just as confused as ever.”
“You don’t have to decide right away,” he said softly, “you can take it a day at a time until you’re ready.”
Gwyn nodded, pushing out her breath. “What are you doing out here moping anyway?”
“I’m not moping I’m hiding.”
Gwyn raised her eyebrows at him, “From the party?”
The corner of his mouth twitched up even as he sighed. “It’s complicated.”
“More complicated than contemplating my whole future after being one of the first female’s ever to win the most brutal warrior challenge?”
He huffed a laugh as he looked her in the eye and rubbed a hand across his jaw. “Well it’s going to sound insignificant compared to that.”
“True,” she grinned, “but I can still hear it.”
He shot her an amused glance before taking a deep breath. “Both of my brothers are mated and settled. Cassian and Nesta happy after all the pining and dancing around each other...” He trailed off.
“You’re jealous.” Gwyn stated, without any mirth or mocking.
Azriel shifted in his seat, his elbow coming to rest on the table, confirming her suspicions.
“Is there” she started, “do you have anyone who-“
“I thought I did, for the longest time and now I,” he broke off with a shudder. He swallowed as he said softly, “I just don’t know why it’s so hard for me.”
Gwyn’s heart bled at the look on his face, the hopelessness and sadness she saw in his deep eyes. Before she even realised she was moving she reached across the table and grasped his scarred hand, gently squeezing. Azriel’s head whipped to their joined hands in shock. He made to pull away but she squeezed tighter, keeping him in place.
She opened her mouth to say something, but the words left her. Generic sentiments like ‘there will be someone for you’ or ‘they’re all foolish for not seeing how wonderful you are’ all seemed so inconsequential compared to the waves of sadness she felt coming from him, from his shadows. All she could do was stare into those deep eyes, and let her thumb lightly brush his cold fingers. His shadows etched closer and closer. She swore his eyes fluttered with every swipe of her skin on his.
Finally when the silence became too taut she started “I-“
“Azriel?” A gentle voice said from behind them. Azriel whipped his head around and pulled his hand free from Gwyn’s embrace, his shadows retreating behind his shoulder.
“Feyre is looking for you.” Elain told him, smiling tightly at Gwyn.
Azriel nodded and turned to Gwyn. “Find me if you want to return to the library, I will be happy to take you.” He bowed his head slightly as he turned and followed Elain into the house, his powerful wings flexing behind him.
Gwyn took a deep breath and looked to the stars, the feel of his hand in hers like a phantom touch.
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daevastanner · a day ago
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Gwynriel: One Bed
I recommend first reading this headcanon for context: Confessing Their Feelings
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Azriel had never in five hundred years blushed this hard.
Gwyneth Berdara was in absolute stitches, bracing her arm on the wall of their cramped room here at the inn, the index finger of her free hand pointing to the single bed they were meant to share.
“Truly, I-I asked for one room, not one bed—“
Gwyn’s wheezing laughter cut him off and his cheeks flushed an even deeper shade of scarlet.
How or why she found this funny he couldn’t understand. Less than two months ago they’d confessed their feelings for one another on the banks of the Sidra, agreeing to take things slow.
And now here they were, on an assignment together in the mountains forced to share a bed.
So much for taking our time…
“This is… this is…” Gwyn snickered, “this is right out of one of Sellyn Drake’s books.”
Azriel’s mouth went dry at the mention of the smutty books he knew the Valkyrie trio liked to indulge in. Not necessarily the concept, but more at the mention of it in relation to him… to them.
Gwyn caught her breath and removed her jacket, crossing to the far side of the bed then collapsing unceremoniously onto the limp mattress. Azriel tried not to look at the way her pants hugged her narrow waist or how the white tunic tucked into them outlined the curve of her breast.
Stop.
Right. This could not be allowed. Not tonight.
The shadowsinger cleared his throat and shed his pack. “I’ll take the floor, of course.”
“Oh, don’t be ridiculous,” Gwyn snorted.
Azriel ignored her, snatching up one of the pillows and tossing it to the scuffed wooden floor.
“Shadowsinger, I already know how this plays out,” she sighed, closing her eyes and placing one hand behind her head. With the other she continued speaking with dramatic flourishes of her fingers. “You offer in a gentlemanly fashion to sleep on the floor. I say it isn’t necessary. You make some excuse about my honor or my virtue and then I tell you that I don’t mind if you keep to your side.”
Azriel’s brows raised as he studied her relaxed expression.
She proceeded. “And finally, you relent and you get into the bed beside me. You try to stay as far away from me as possible and I tease you for it and then drift to sleep. Whoever wakes up first will quietly admire the other’s beauty in the soft light of dawn and appreciate their sculpted features or the shape of their lips—“
“Then the sleeping one wakes and tells the one who is awake that their breath is abhorrent,” Azriel supplied with a smirk.
Gwyn opened her eyes and grinned at him. “Someone read This Oracle’s Love Letter.”
Azriel, feeling slightly more at ease, shrugged out of his jacket and took a hesitant seat on the edge of the bed. He faced Gwyn with a wry smile. “Honestly, I don’t mind the floor. I’ve slept in worse places…”
And I know what you’ve been through and would not blame you if you did not want to sleep with a male in your bed…
Gwyn’s eyes softened. “It’s fine, Shadowsinger. It’s just you.” The skin beneath her freckles turned pink. “And I feel comfortable around you. Especially after our… discussion by the Sidra.”
“I would think it would make this predicament all the more daunting, Berdara…”
Gwyn tilted her head at his balking tone. “How so?”
Azriel’s heart thundered. He was nervous as a prospective bridegroom.
Which was a ridiculous thought. No. He was no bridegroom to anyone. Much less Gwyn. Who had told him she was not ready for a relationship.
Or for a male to be admiring her form…
“We… Let’s say we do sleep in this bed side by side…”
“Yes, that’s how it’s done typically.”
Azriel continued, “Doesn’t it bother you to know that I am lying next to you and that I am… that I’m…” the words were hard to grasp. Azriel forced himself to voice his fears, but the words left him quietly, as though he had been defeated. “That I am attracted to you….”
It was quiet and Gwyn’s expression was carefully blank. Azriel was desperate to know what was on her mind.
…she is confused, Singer… his shadows relayed.
Before Azriel could inquire, Gwyn raised a hand. “If I recall, that conversation ended with both of us agreeing that we take our time and… and work on ourselves.” She gestured to herself. “Nothing has changed for me. Has anything for you?”
Only that I have grown to constantly crave your company…
But instead he said: “No.”
Gwyn smiled brightly. “Well then nothing will come of us sharing a bed.” She patted the spot beside her. “Blow out the candle and let’s sleep. I’m exhausted.”
Azriel didn’t have to force the small smile on his lips. Truly, she brought that out of him with no effort.
“Very well.” Azriel blew out the candle, the room now only illuminated by moonlight. “Do you… do you mind if I remove my leathers?”
“Not if you don’t mind me removing mine,” replied the priestess nonchalantly.
And sure enough, on the bed she was wriggling out of her leather pants leaving her in only leggings and her white top. Azriel followed suit and slipped beneath the blanket before she could potentially glimpse the outline of his manhood.
He tucked his wings in tight and eased back onto the pillows. “So in our ongoing book—“
“Ah, yes, The Shadowsinger and the Valkyrie.”
“Right,” Azriel nodded. “What happens in our… single bed scene?”
Gwyn’s eyes danced with amusement, the silvery moonlight making them glimmer like gemstones. “Well, my knowledge of smut is still rather scanty. The only one I’ve read was an enemies to lovers story so it doesn’t really apply here.” She angled her head. “I guess we decide what happens.”
Azriel’s mind was racing for what to do. The shadowsinger, normally so calm and composed, was scrambling to arrange his thoughts. In the flurry of panic all he could bring himself to say was:
“Goodnight to you.”
Then he crossed his arms tight across his chest, and scooted towards the very edge of the bed. Though his eyes were closed, he could feel Gwyn grinning… then he heard her snort.
“We have a long day of recon tomorrow,” Azriel said, his lips twitching. “I recommend you rest.”
“Yes, but I was laughing too hard and now I’m wide awake. I need to wind down…”
The things I could do to help you wind down…
But instead he said: “Best of luck.”
“You know what would help me wind down?” the priestess said, her voice sly.
Azriel did not answer. Only kept his eyes shut, lying still as a statue. Gwyn still answered.
“A lullaby. Someone singing me to sleep…”
The edge of Azriel’s mouth curled up in spite of himself. “I am not singing for you.”
“Give me one good reason.”
“No.”
She groaned beside him and Azriel heard the mattress squeak as she slammed back against it angrily. He could picture her lips thinning (as they always did when she was angry), her eyes narrowing. A small, beautiful creature wearing the fierce expression of a warrior. The corner of his lip hitched up… and he snorted.
“Something funny?” she snapped.
Azriel opened his eyes, chuckling as he turned his head to look at her. Sure enough, she was wearing that malevolent glower.
Snickering, he blurted the words before he could think about it, “You’re adorable.”
Gwyn’s eyes widened and Azriel cleared his throat, wiping the smirk off his face.
“I am not adorable,” she growled. “I am a Carynthian. I am a Valkyrie. I am very, very frightening and imposing and-and… assertive.”
Azriel laughed, a full bodied noise as he saw her fight off a smile. “So frightening and imposing that you have to tell me as much… And assertive is just a nice way of saying bossy.”
“I am not bossy!” Gwyn gasped.
“Please,” balked the shadowsinger. “Shadowsinger, I need you to install a wooden beam to stone. Shadowsinger, I need you to train me on dagger handling. Sing for me, Shadowsinger.” He gave her a rakish grin. “You are the bossiest female I know.”
Gwyn raised her chin. “If I was a male you would say I have initiative.”
“If you were a male I’d call you Rhysand. The bossiest person I know.”
“He is High Lord.”
“Oh, even before then he was a bossy little shit, I assure you,” Azriel murmured with a fond smile. “He enjoyed ordering me and Cassian around when we were boys. Nothing mean or harmful. On the contrary, rather inane commands. Make a pile of snowballs. Stack the pillows into a fort. Run to a tree and back.”
“He sounds like fun…”
“It was fun,” mused the shadowsinger. “But that you think so proves my point. No wonder you and Rhysand get along. You’re essentially the same person.”
“That’s an exaggeration…”
“It’s not a bad thing. Everyone likes Rhysand,” Azriel argued. His gaze grew tender. “I like Rhysand.”
In the silvery moonlight Azriel could see Gwyn’s cheeks turn pink, and his stomach flipped. Yes, he could admit to himself that he took pleasure in making Gwyneth Berdara blush.
In a voice so soft he wasn’t certain it belonged to her, Gwyn said: “What do you like about Rhysand?”
But Azriel heard the real question:
What do you like about me?
The shadowsinger rolled onto his side to better see her. She chewed her lower lip and Azriel briefly wondered what it would feel like between his teeth.
He swallowed the dryness in his throat. “I like that Rhysand is kind. He gives nearly everyone the benefit of the doubt, even if they don’t deserve it. He’s very hardworking and determined.”
He was surprised at how little he had to think about things he liked about Gwyn. They tumbled from his lips like water from a fountain.
“He’s very loyal - he would lay down his life for the people he cares for. He’s brave.” The shadowsinger matched the priestess’s gentle smile. “He’s also very funny. When we were boys he would have me in absolute stitches with laughter.” A pause as his heart drummed against his ribs. “What’s not to like?”
The silence between them was thick with an emotion Azriel couldn’t put his finger on. But then it struck him like lightning. The look in her eyes and the pounding in his chest. The way both of them were short of breath just staring at one another.
Yearning.
That was it.
They were both yearning.
His fingers itched to feel her freckled skin, to brush back a lock of her hair, to trace the outline of her lips. And likewise she was drinking him in with her eyes.
Azriel fought against the firming he felt between his legs, not wanting to scare her off… but he could scent it just barely. He could scent the desire coming off of her.
And when she averted those big eyes and her throat bobbed, he knew she was embarrassed.
So he pretended not to notice, shifting his wings to lie on his back and stare at the ceiling.
“For what it’s worth,” Gwyn said timidly, “I feel very fortunate to have you as a friend.”
Azriel smiled to himself, staring up at the ceiling. “The feeling is mutual, Berdara.”
And it truly was. He wanted more with her. So much more. More than he’d imagined having with Elain or Morrigan and he couldn’t explain why. He couldn’t explain why his heart leapt whenever he saw her or why whenever he entered a room it was Gwyn he looked for first. How for once, with Gwyn, he wasn’t constantly questioning his worth and if he deserved love. It was just so… easy with her. Easy to accept he’d conquer whatever demons he needed to in order to be his best for her. To be with her.
These were all ideas that he found himself welcoming eagerly.
However, for now, he was content to be her friend. To laugh late into the night and talk endlessly with her. If that’s all he ever remained then he would be happy to pine after Gwyn for centuries - he was confident it would not affect the joy her company brought him.
But then Azriel closed his eyes and in the darkness Gwyneth Berdara said:
“I look forward to eventually becoming more.”
And the words left Azriel without a second thought: “Me too.”
And for the first time in a very long time, both Azriel and Gwyn slept soundly, nightmares nowhere in sight. Together chasing away the terrors that plagued their thoughts, merely by lying side by side.
And when morning came and Azriel opened his eyes, he indeed found Gwyneth Berdara admiring him. When she blushed and he grinned she only said: “Your breath is abhorrent.”
And that was that.
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tealnymph24 · 5 months ago
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A Song of Shadows: Chapter 1
Title: You Are My Friend, Right?
Gwyn gives Azriel a friendship bracelet, and he starts to wonder if there might be something more between them.
Read on AO3
Azriel X Gwyn
Warnings: Just straight fluff.
Word Count: 1,074
Single pov
Masterlist
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Tags: @angrypotatofairy | @lizziewanda
Staring out at Velaris from the balcony at the House of Wind, Azriel let his mind wander. For once, he wasn't restless. He felt calm, peaceful almost, and he couldn't quite figure out why.
He was still working far too much and war was looming again. Yet the aching in his chest had eased, his sleepless nights had become fewer and his yearning for Elain, and even Mor, had become an infrequent part of his thoughts. What had caused this shift?
His musings were interrupted by the gentle sound of footsteps from the dining room. He turned just in time to see Gwyn emerge from the glass doors.
Of course, he should have guessed it would be her. His shadows never seemed to warn him when she was coming.
"Good evening," he greeted her with a small smile. "What are you doing up so late?"
"I could ask you the same thing," she teased with a glimmer of amusement in her teal eyes. "It's almost 1 a.m., we should probably both be sleeping."
"Fair enough," he chuckled. "I'm sure Cassian and Nesta would agree with you."
He watched as she made her way over to the edge of the balcony to stand by him. As she came to a stop, his shadows danced across the distance between them and settled themselves in her red-brown hair, as they often did lately.
He had stopped trying to keep his shadows from going near her weeks ago. She didn't seem to mind (she had said as much), and they wouldn't listen anyway. They seemed to like her too much to pay attention to his commands when she was present.
"Were you in the training ring again?" He asked, noting the leathers she was still wearing.
"Yes," she admitted with a shy smile. "I can't help myself. I want to perfect that dagger technique you showed me."
He couldn't stop himself from grinning at her. She was just as obsessive as he was about conquering any challenge that presented itself.
In the few months he had been training her, both alone and in groups, he'd learned they both shared a deep love of competition and strategy. It was something he admired about her.
"Don't worry," he encouraged her. "I'm sure you'll get it in no time. In a few weeks, you probably won't even need me to teach you anymore. You'll have mastered everything."
At that, her face unexpectedly clouded.
"Are you going to stop training with me?" She asked, a hint of disappointment in her tone.
"No, of course I'll still train with you," he quickly responded. "Someone needs to make sure your technique stays consistent, and we both know Cassian is too distracted to do it."
Her face lit back up at his answer. Good, he thought. He hated seeing her the slightest bit unhappy.
"Nesta isn't much better these days," she playfully replied. "That reminds me, I have something for you."
"You have something for me?" He questioned, taken aback by her statement. He was so rarely shocked, but she seemed to have a talent for it.
"Did I forget a holiday? I didn't know we were exchanging gifts." He couldn't recall any summer holiday that required presents.
She laughed at his confusion, irreverent amusement dancing across her freckled face.
"Calm down, it's just something I made for you," she said. "I was going to slip it under your door, but I saw the lights on and knew you must be out here."
He tried to hide his curiosity and nervousness as she slipped a hand into her pocket to retrieve the item.
She pulled out what appeared to be a delicately braided bracelet of blue, black and gold threads with a small charm in the middle.
Her hands shook slightly as she handed it to him, a faint blush appearing on her cheeks.
"It's a friendship bracelet," she explained, the words quickly tumbling out of her. "The colors are supposed to match your spirit. I know it doesn't really go with your normal all black look. You don't have to wear it. If you don't want to, I mean. I just wanted to –. "
"I'll wear it," he interrupted, already moving to tie it on his wrist. "It's perfect. I... I don't...you didn't have to do this, Gwyn."
A friendship bracelet. For him. He'd never had anyone make him anything like it. He suddenly couldn't speak around the unexpected lump in his throat.
Her blush deepened as she watched him finish securing the bracelet. His shadows gently grazed her cheek as if they wanted to feel the warmth pooling there.
"Thank you," he finally choked out, bringing his eyes up to meet hers. "I'm sorry I don't have anything to give you in return."
"It's alright," she quietly responded. "I wasn't expecting anything, I just wanted to give it to you because you're my friend. You are my friend, right?"
"Yes," he said, a strange spark building deep in his chest. "Of course, I'm your friend."
That is what they were, wasn't it? Friends. After all, they had been training together for months, with long-winded debates frequently ensuing afterward. And he'd lost count of how many times she'd found him on this very balcony and they'd fallen into easy conversation about everything from astronomy to the ridiculous plots of her favorite romance novels. Gwyn had most certainly become his friend these last few months. A very good friend.
"I'm glad you like it," she said, bringing him out of his reverie. "I should probably go to bed. I have to help Merrill in the morning, and she won't be happy if I'm late."
"Yes, you're right," he replied, his thoughts drifting back to the precious gift on his wrist. "I should probably try to get some rest too,"
"Well, good night," she said as she moved towards the door, his shadows still dancing around her.
"Gwyn?" He called after her.
"Yes?"
"I'm glad we're friends."
"Me too, Azriel," she smiled, happiness radiating from her. "Sleep well."
"Good night, Gwyn," he said as she disappeared into the house.
As her footsteps faded into nothing, he couldn't help the smile that slowly spread across his face. Gwyn was his friend. The thought made his heart burst in a way he wasn't quite sure he understood, but he didn't care. He would explore the feeling later. For now, it was enough to just know...Gwyn was his friend.
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faithisilliterate · 5 months ago
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A/N: So... here’s a Gwynriel one shot, inspired by the head cannon of that Gwyn’s freckles form constellations and the very quick fact introduced in ACOSF that Azriel finds space fascinating (I have not been able to get that out of my head). I don’t really have much to say, other than I find this ship really cute. Thank you if you read it!!
The Constellations of Gwyn
(Gwynriel One-Shot)
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Azriel would count the constellations before he fell asleep.
It was a habit from his childhood. Locked up in the cold and still air of that dungeon, his shadows would go to cover the light that shone through the bars of the small dungeon window during the day. What bright and foreign beams they were, stoking his fear of a world so unfamiliar and walked by men like his father. But at night, the silence and tension was broken by the whispers of his shadows, which parted away from the glass so he could glimpse those bright celestial specs.
By some strange knowledge, his shadows knew of them. You are not so different from them. The stars sit in the darkness just like you, but they can be glorious if you simply try to see them as such.
And so he did. He observed them. Some were bright and boastful with their glare, others with frail luminous. Some bloomed red, but his favorites were those of white light that traced out patterns across the expanse of space.
Years after the dungeon, he would still count his constellations. When he was settled in the Illyrian mountains, nothing more than a pack under his head and his leathers for warmth, he’d seek out Enalius. The wide stance of the war god lorded over the plains of te slumbering heavens, secure in his power on Azriel’s behalf. When he walked along the Sidra in the dead of night, listless and lonely and forsaken from sleep, his shadows would tell him to seek out the Lovers and pretend that he was one of the two bright stars that lived so closely and burned so bright in their embrace— and he would pretend that he would one day burn as bright too, with whoever would allow him to.
But he grew restless. The more stars he counted, the bigger the sky became, so big it provided no more comfort. He no longer felt them to be his advisors, his companions, his confidents. He was too small to think of himself among them; that was far too wishful. The stars are just like you.
I don’t think that’s true any more.
The sun was not so awful, at least that is what he said when night failed to provide him solitude. If he could not find comfort in the stars, he would befriend the sun, for the sun was a star all the same.
Sitting in the brightest window in the House of Wind’s library, the sun silenced his shadows. Good, some peace.
Silence is not peace, his shadows whispered.
As if you would know.
His shadows did not speak, but a sudden laughter broke through, and from the shadows of the bookshelves emerged Gwyn.
She smiled only briefly to him, but the light of it was so lovely it shocked him. The stars are just like her freckles. The thought came so quickly he couldn’t will his shadows to quiet, or stop from falling into the old patterns.
His shadows were not wrong. Even with that brief glimpse, he was tracing out the constellations of her face. The Sword formed by those five specs just south of her right her ear. The Quill sat by her left temple. The Waves that rolled along her cheeks and crashed against the bridge of her nose. The Heart, with its three point sitting to the left of her mouth. The Ribbon, the northmost collection, spread over her brow.
And finally, the most distinct of Gwyn’s constellations, for its two points sat at the edges of her lips, brightened by that lovely secret smile— he would call that one Joy. And he would count them, each constellation of Gwyn, before he fell asleep that night.
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bookprofessor · 2 months ago
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GWYNRIEL BLURB
Oye, Gwynriel mijas! Es hora de comer! Come get your Gwynriel fix. It’s a tiny blurb, nothing elaborate, but a moment I thought of for these two and how they make their first accidental bargain with each other. Enjoy 😊
.
.
.
“What’s your favorite song?”
The question catches Azriel by surprise. So much so that his sword drops an inch and that was all the opening Gwyn needed to get hers at his throat. He rolls his eyes, but he does not yield. Five hundred years and he has yet to learn to do so.
He brings his sword up in a high arc, swinging down onto Gwyn’s sword with a harsh force.
“I don’t have one.”
She parry’s—quite well, in fact—and her footwork is so clean, so quick that he recognizes the move. It’s his. His eyes quickly flick back up to Gwyn and he smirks. So, she’d been studying him.
“That’s nonsense,” she pants. “Everyone has a favorite song. Especially singers.”
“What’s,” he side steps her swing. He’ll have to remember to tell her later when they’re done that she swung too fast. “Yours then?”
She grins. “Easy. Siren Seas.”
He swishes up, curves down at a sharp angle, and right as he’s going for the downward move that usually makes his opponent yield, Gwyn blocks him. The sharp sound of their swords in the night, their panting, it’s almost enough to make him say this one. This is my favorite song.
“Typical,” he says instead. “The Nymph picks a sea song.”
Gwyn’s brows narrow, her nose scrunches. She swings hard, but again too fast. “At least I have a favorite song, asshole.”
Azriel huffs a laugh as he quickly jumps to the side, narrowly avoiding the graze of Gwyn’s blade. He likes her like this: angry, insistent, and thus honest. He doesn’t feel like many people give him that—the truth.
She’s lagging now. Her left arm—her sword arm—is getting tired. Her elbow drops when she goes to slash and her footwork is becoming repetitive. She knows she can’t beat him yet, but she’s put up one hell of an effort. Of all the priestesses, and the Valkyries now, Gwyn is the fastest learner.
He feigned left, a move that she always fell for, and darted his sword to her vulnerable right flank.
“Yield,” he pants, a winning smirk on his sweating face.
Her teal eyes squint up at him and for a thrilling moment he thinks she’s going to hit him when he’s not expecting it, but she lowers her arm with a resigned yet tired sigh.
“Fine.”
She walks to the water station and he notices that she doesn’t walk with the limp she had three days ago.
And then he scratches awkwardly at the back of his neck because he’s starting to notice a little too much about Gwyn these days.
“You fought well.”
She finishes the rest of her water, a drop of it spilling over the side of her mouth and down her neck until it disappears down her Illyrian leathers. “I know.”
He quirks an entertained brow at her and says, “But you’re swinging too fast. Offensive doesn't mean speed, it means pushing your strategy onto your opponent. You’re showing them you’re ten steps ahead.”
Gwyn nods, her eyes distant like she was writing that mental note down. Her tongue darts out and she licks her lips, her hand rubbing a knot in her neck.
His shadows curl in tight around his neck. Their wisp like touches cold against his skin.
Lovely, the shadow tickling at his ear whispers.
Do you see it? The shadow creeping up his neck says.
A darkness, the one at his other ear. A darkness shrouded in light.
We like it, they whisper in convoluted voices. We do we do we do.
He wants to ask what the hell they mean, but Gwyn is looking at them. He wants to shy away, like he always does when his shadows catch someone's eye, but the look in Gwyn’s eyes—a stunning shade, really—are not reproachful. She’s curious. Her head tilts and her right brow furrows.
“What do they feel like?”
For the second time tonight, he is asked a question no one has ever asked him before. For some reason—maybe it’s his shadows slowly inking away from him and closer to Gwyn in curious slithers, or perhaps it’s the light in her eyes and the slight lift of her hand as if opening her palm to them—but, Azriel decides to be honest.
“Cold,” he says. “They feel cold. Like a refreshing breeze on a scorching day, or the cold side of a pillow.”
Like dogs, his shadows nip around her heels. They move in jerking motions as if sniffing around her, as if waiting to see what she’d do.
Gwyn only kept her hand out, waiting and patient and curious.
It astounds him.
She looks at him suddenly, a mischievous curve to her full mouth and a teasing glint in her eyes. “Do they have a favorite song?”
His head falls back and he laughs. From the stomach deep belly laughs. He is completely shocked by it, his shadows skirt around his feet as if looking up at him in shock, too.
Gwyn just smiles.
“I play mostly instrumentals,” he confides. “I like the piano best.”
“That’s good because I mostly do lyrics. I’ll just have to put words to what you play, then.”
“Who says we’re going to play together?”
She tilts her head. He’s starting to think she does that when she sees a challenge. “I do.”
“I never play for anyone else.”
“And I never leave The House,” Gwyn counters and his shadows curl around her ankles. “Looks like we both have things to work through. Add that to our training sessions, I guess.”
He glares at her, but her head remains tilted in that challenging stance as if asking him if he yields. Never, he says to the prospect. He meets his challenges head on.
He sticks his hand out between them. “Deal.”
She has a surprisingly firm grip.
And she surprisingly doesn’t flinch away from the rough skin of his ruined hands.
“Deal,” she grins, like the true winner of the night.
They shake on it and it’s only then does Azriel realize what he’s done. His eyes widen in horror at his own stupidity. Time slows as he feels a flash of warmth on his wrist and he sees the recognition appear in Gwyn’s puzzled face. He wants to jerk his hand from out of her grasp, but she’s got a tighter hold on him then she realizes. He wants to apologize, to say he didn’t mean to phrase it like he did, but Gwyn just looks down at her wrist and…laughs.
She laughs and laughs and releases his hand to look at the bargain mark now on her wrist.
Did she realize that she squeezed his hand right before she let go?
“Well,” she giggles. “That’s...that’s just hilarious.”
“Gwyn,” Azriel starts, shaking his head and stomach dropping in dread. “I didn’t mean for this. I’m so sorry. So, so—
She shrugs. “I shook on it and said the word, too.” She looks down at her wrist again. “It’s fine, Azriel. Really. It’s a small bargain anyways. No stakes. Just music. There are much worse things. Besides, I like the tattoo.”
He finally looks down at his own wrist. It’s small and shocking and damn, how many more shocks can he take tonight?
The bargain tattoo is of two lines and a horizontal S above it.
The symbol of congruence.
How strange, he thinks. Of anything—any word, any symbol, it’s this one.
The symbol of congruence was an old Illyrian symbol. One he hardly ever saw as it was not usually in line with customary Illyrian beliefs. It was the sigil of agreement and harmony. Of compatibility.
“Well,” Gwyn said as she dropped her arm to her side. “See you tomorrow then, duet partner.”
He barely looks up from his wrist in time to watch her leave. One of his shadows trails her all the way to the door, her red hair swinging in its ponytail. As the door shuts, he could have sworn that the shadows seemed lackluster in color for a moment. They seemed to pale and still their constant movements.
Looking down at the bargain tattoo, he felt something in his chest. Something unknown for right now, but to be discovered another day. He smiled then. He’d have that other day. With Gwyn.
Another shock, but not an unwelcome one. In the corner of his eye, a white ribbon flickers in the night breeze.
.
.
.
Here’s Pt. 1 of my Gwynriel headcannons and here’s Pt. 2
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daevastanner · 20 days ago
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I just wanna point out that when Gwynriel become a couple they are openly adorable without even realizing it and both Feysand and Nessian but especially Morrigan love to see it
Like Gwyn will snort laugh really loud and get Morrigan’s attention. She’ll turn to look at what’s so funny and see Azriel looking immensely pleased with himself while Gwyn is trying to catch her breath
Or Feysand will catch Azriel smiling faintly at Gwyn while she holds a conversation with them, his eyes shining with admiration for her the whole time
And Nessian will be caught in the crossfire of their teasing banter and are content to just watch
I can’t, guys. Gwynriel.
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tealnymph24 · 5 months ago
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A Song of Shadows: Chapter 2
Title: A Heated Training Session
Gwyn starts having unexpected thoughts about Azriel while training with him in the summer heat.
Read on AO3
Axriel X Gwyn
Warnings: A little steamy
Word Count: 3,421
Masterlist
If you would like to be tagged in updates, please let me know.
Tags: @ayshasn | @multifandombooklove | @unpopularcharacterstan | @howtopotato
Gwyn knew today's training session was going to be brutal. Not because of the training itself. She had gotten used to the sore muscles and bruises months ago. No, today would be torturous because of the weather.
The midsummer heat had set in on Velaris in the last few weeks and it showed no signs of relenting today. She could already sense the oppressive warmth that awaited her in the training ring as she slowly made her way upstairs.
She would have much preferred to train at night when the sun gave way to the cool evening air. But while she had been continuing her nightly excursions to the training ring for practice, Azriel sometimes joining her, Cassian insisted she come to the morning sessions with the others.
As she approached the doors that led out, she mentally prepared herself to endure the next two hours of scorching sun. Stepping out into the bright day, she immediately froze. All thoughts of the weather rushing out of her mind.
Before her, standing by the far edge of the training area, was a shirtless Azriel. The witty, brooding male who had become her close friend these past months was entirely shirtless. Utterly bare from the waste up.
Why couldn't she think straight suddenly? Why couldn't she rip her eyes away from his torso? Sure, this was the first time she had seen him shirtless, but that shouldn't matter. She had seen Cassian shirtless plenty of times in the past month and her brain had never become a puddle then.
She needed to get a grip. Azriel was her friend. There was no reason at all to be shocked by seeing him shirtless. After all, it was brutally hot outside.
"Hello," Azriel greeted her, bringing her back to reality. "You were almost late. You're not starting to slack on me, are you, Berdara?"
"I am right on time, thank you very much," she testily responded as she strode toward him, desperately trying to keep her mind from wandering back to his bare chest.
"What are we doing today, anyway? I want to know how miserable I'm going to be."
He chuckled. "Sounds like someone's cranky."
"I am not! I'm just hot."
"Come on, a little heat never hurt anyone."
"That's not true. We could get heat stroke and die."
"We're fae. Heat stroke would take a lot longer than two hours to set in, let alone kill us. You'll be fine."
She only stuck her tongue out in response.
His shadows, seemingly amused by their interaction, danced towards her. As they gently settled around her hair, as they often did, her annoyance ebbed.
"I'm sorry for being irritable," she finally said. "I just hate the summer. It's too hot.
"I don't like the summer either," he replied, the ghost of a smile teasing the corners of his mouth.
Before she could respond, Cassian and Nesta emerged from inside. Their conversation cut short, she followed Azriel to the other side of the training ring.
"Alright, we're splitting into two groups today," Cassian called out. "Since it's so damn hot, I don't want everyone to try learning new skills today. Instead, we'll practice ones you've already learned. Hand-to-hand techniques with Azriel or sword play with me. You choose."
Not wanting to hold hot metal in her hands all morning, Gwyn decided in favor of hand-to-hand practice. She took her place among the group, situating herself at the front directly facing Azriel.
She copied his movements as he began the lesson. He led them through a series of exercises to warm-up, then moved onto the fighting techniques they had previously learned. Before long, she was drenched in sweat. All of them were.
As the lesson wore on, her mind drifted again. Back towards his impossibly toned abs. How did anyone get abs like that? She watched sweat drip down his chest, creating a trail leading to his v-line and below.
"Are you paying attention, Gwyneth?" His unexpected question pulled her out of her thoughts.
"You're letting your elbows drop and your feet are sloppy," he chided.
"I am not," she protested, annoyance with herself creeping to the surface.
What was wrong with her? She was never like this during training. Never. She was always a model student. It had to be the heat ruining her focus and making her think such ridiculous things. It had to be.
Azriel continued the lesson, and she tried her best to stay focused. But her mind kept drifting. To his arms. His abs. His shoulders. His pecs. Everywhere but where she actually needed to concentrate.
She couldn't focus. She was so miserably hot. It was like her skin was burning. And an unfamiliar warmth had spread between her legs that she refused to even consider.
Was she losing her mind? Azriel was her friend, dammit. She shouldn't be looking at him like this, no matter how perfectly sculpted he was.
For the next 45 minutes, she waged a mental battle with herself, attempting to keep her mind on the lesson. But it was pointless. Azriel had to correct her no less than five more times, much to her humiliation.
She mentally rejoiced when he finally told them to take a break, giving her a reprieve.
"What's got you so distracted, Gwyn," he asked as everyone else dispersed.
"I don't know what you're talking about," she insisted, refusing to admit anything. "I am not distracted."
He raised an eyebrow, but simply shrugged at her before striding toward the table laden with water and snacks.
She watched him walk away, sweat dripping down his muscular back. She had never noticed just how toned he was. All of him. There wasn't an inch of him that wasn't covered with muscle. At least the parts she could currently see. She wondered if his other half would be the same.
What the hell was wrong with her? Where had that thought come from? And why was she thinking about his back muscles? He was her friend. Friends don't stare at each other’s abs, and friends definitely don't get distracted by each other’s back muscles.
He was right. She was distracted today. It was this blasted heat, that's what it was. It had to be the heat.
"You clearly need more personalized attention today," she suddenly heard Azriel say from in front of her.
She blinked. "What?" She asked, wondering how she had missed him walking back to her.
Had he somehow known where her mind had drifted before? She couldn't help the blush that crept up her cheek at the thought, praying her scent wasn't affected by her ludicrous thoughts.
"Sparring, Gwyn." Azriel said, amusement in every syllable. "I said, let's spar because you clearly need more personalized attention."
Sparring. He was talking about sparring.
"Oh, right, sparring," she replied, understanding and relief flooding her. "Can't we just end the training early today? This heat is unbearable."
He rolled his eyes. "Your enemies won't wait to attack until the weather is more to your liking."
"Well, who said I want to spar with you? Maybe I want a more difficult opponent."
That drew a snort from him. "Oh, please. I've taught you everything you know. You couldn't beat me in a real fight on my worst day."
"Oh, really? Wanna bet?"
He smirked. "Fine, but I get to set the terms."
"Fine, but be careful with your terms, Az," she quipped, forcing herself to match his confidence. "You don't want to end up regretting it."
"Alright, if you win, I'll take you to that little restaurant by the river you liked so much," he offered.
A thrill went through her. She knew exactly where he was referring to. It was a quiet little place near the edge of the Sidra, right where the river met the sea. He had convinced her to go there last month when she'd mentioned wanting to explore Velaris more. She had been nervous about going, but he had made it sound so lovely. And it had been. Absolutely magical. It would be so nice to go back.
"Okay, I'll accept that," she told him, excitement bubbling. "And what if you win?"
His hazel eyes sparkled with mirth. "If I win, then you have to accept Mor's invitation to her birthday party next month."
"But that's at Rita's!" She gasped out. "I can't go to that. There will be so many people, I won't know anyone, and and..."
"If I win, you have to. You're the one who agreed to let me set the terms of our bet," he taunted. "You said you could beat me, so you should have nothing to worry about."
She huffed, refusing to back down. Instead, she strode toward the sparring ring.
"You're on, Shadowsinger," she called over her shoulder, determination settling in.
He chuckled as he obediently followed her, a smug smile appearing. She was going to win this ridiculous sparring match just for the sake of wiping that smugness off his face.
Once he had instructed the others to continue practicing among themselves, they both took their places.
"If we're going to do this, I want it to be a real fight," she said. "No mock-punches, no fake kicks. I want this to be a proper match."
"Fair enough," he responded, his face revealing nothing. "But you're going to regret this, Berdara."
"We'll see about that," she promised.
With that, they began circling each other like snakes, each of them preparing to strike. Looking for the first sign of weakness in their opponent.
She struck first, knowing he would never make the first move. She had played chess with him enough to know he liked playing black, which traditionally went second, because he enjoyed the challenge. Fighting would be no different.
He blocked her blow, easily pivoting to avoid it. She knew it wouldn't be that easy. She would have to outsmart him instead of out maneuvering him. She laid out her plan.
She would let him think he had the upper hand, give him confidence. Convince him she was getting tired. She knew he got sloppy when he thought he was winning. He did it on purpose. He hated winning too easily. He didn’t just want the challenge, he needed it.
So, she would give him one. Only he wouldn't know what the challenge was. She knew he could end it quickly, but he wouldn't. He was too confident; he would draw it out. Her only chance of winning would be when he started letting his guard slip. When he inevitably got bored and wanted to make things more interesting. She just had to wait.
So, she kept attacking, knowing he would keep blocking. It was like a perfectly choreographed dance. She struck, he parried. Neither one ever gaining the upper hand, the sun still beating down from above.
She just had to stay focused. Not let herself pay attention to his rippling biceps. His broad shoulders shining with sweat. His tensed abdominal muscles. What would those perfect muscles feel like if she touched them? What would his strong body feel like against hers?
What the hell was wrong with her? What was she thinking? She needed to stay focused but all she could think of were his stupid biceps and his impossibly perfect abs. She hated those abs. And she hated that stupid v-line. Males should only have v-line in books.
She should blame this all on Emerie and Nesta. It would be their fault if she lost this fight. They were the ones who got her into those smutty books. It was their fault she was thinking about such ludicrous things. Them and this blasted heat!
The fight dragged on, much to her annoyance. Azriel was toying with her, she was sure of it. She needed to end this. He had to think she was tired for her plan to work, but soon she would actually be tired.
She decided to make a move to lure him in. To play his own game. Deliberately leave holes in her defense. It was a risk, but it would be worth it if it worked.
She continued their dance, striking and letting him parry, but she left her abdomen open. A rookie mistake, but hopefully he would think she was just getting sloppy. She just needed him to take the obvious blow to her stomach. It would knock her to the ground, but it would give her the opening she needed.
He took the bait. His well-aimed blow took her breath away and knocked her flat on her back. She let him think she was almost finished, luring him in closer.
Again, he took the bait. He moved to pin her, but she swung out with her legs. He didn't have time to pivot before she collided with his ankles, sending him tumbling to the ground next to her.
She twisted toward him as he fell on his back. Before he could recover from the fall, she quickly leaped on top of him, pinning him between her legs.
His arms shot out, aiming for her hips.
She saw the opening faster than he could react. He had fallen into her trap, exactly as she had planned. It was too late for him to correct his mistake. She was already drawing her fist back for the final blow.
This was it. She only had this one moment to strike. His upper body was momentarily unguarded, but it would only be open for a second. Not even long enough to blink.
As realization flooded his face, her fist connected with his jaw. Every ounce of her strength pounding into the vulnerable corner of his jawbone - just like he had taught her.
The other side of his face collided with the dirt as the force of the punch knocked him to the side. His hands stopped their maneuvers toward her, going to his jaw instead.
He was down. Defeated. She had won.
She only had a moment of excitement and shock before the reality of how hard she had struck him set in.
"Owwww," he groaned, pain evident in his voice.
"Oh my god, are you okay?" She gasped, panic setting in. "I didn't know I could hit that hard, I'm so sorry!"
She quickly leaned forward to examine his jaw, one hand on his chest to steady herself and the other reaching toward him. He grimaced at her touch but allowed it.
"I'm fine," he reassured her, despite the bruise already blooming where her fist had made contact. "I think my ego is more injured than my face."
"I'm so sorry," she repeated as she gently examined the injury, silently praying she had not broken his jaw.
"Gwyn. I'm fine. Really," he insisted. "You don't need to apologize, I promise."
"Okay," she quietly conceded, finally meeting his stare.
She held his gaze, unsure why she suddenly felt so nervous. His eyes darkened and his shadows swirled around them both.
Something in the air between them shifted, sending a shiver down her spine. She knew should look away, but she was frozen in the moment. She was lost in his dark gaze, the feeling of his body below hers shutting out all logic and reason. That damn warmth between her legs spreading, a steady throbbing now pulsing through her. She prayed Azriel didn’t notice.
A booming laugh echoed across the training area, bringing them both back to the present.
"I never thought I'd see Azriel get his ass handed to him," Cassian laughed. "Well done, Gwyn."
The realization that they had an audience hit her like a brick. She became all too aware of the fact that she was still straddling him, her hand resting on his muscled stomach. She swiftly moved to stand up, offering him a hand in the process.
They both quietly brushed themselves off. She couldn't look at him, not with the images of him beneath her still flashing through her mind. Not with the aching in her core still there.
"How about we call it a day?" Azriel finally spoke, running a scarred hand through his dark hair. "I think you've earned it."
If she didn't know better, she would have thought he seemed nervous. She brushed the idea away.
"Okay, if you say so," she agreed, unable to focus completely. The feeling of his skin was still roaring in her brain.
"I guess I have to accept Mor's invitation," she said, desperate to think of anything normal.
"If you want to," he replied, confusion on his face. "But you won. Fair and square. You don't have to accept anything."
She finally met his gaze and blinked. He was right, she had won. She had almost forgotten.
"Well, as long as you hold up your end of the bargain, I can at least consider Mor's offer."
"It's your choice. I won't force you. But if you do want to go, I'll be there the whole night. You could hang out with me if you want."
The words seemed to tumble out of his mouth. He unnecessarily ran a hand through his hair again. Almost like he was as flustered as she was.
Was she going crazy or had she also seen faint color staining his cheeks? Surely it was just the heat from fighting, she assured herself.
"I'll think about it," she offered, still trying to quiet her mind. She needed to escape. She needed to calm the ridiculous stream of thoughts rushing through her head. She needed to stop thinking about how he had looked beneath her. How it had felt to have him between her legs. How wonderful his skin had felt. Dammit! She really was losing her mind.
She turned to leave, but he caught her by the shoulder, stopping her in her tracks.
"How about I meet you on the balcony at 7?" He asked, forcing her mind to focus for a moment.
"For what?"
"Dinner"
"Oh, right. Dinner"
Disappointment clouded his features. "Unless you don't want to go."
"Of course I want to go," she protested. "I won, so you owe me."
"Okay, then I'll meet you at 7?" He asked again, seeking her confirmation.
"I'll see you at 7," she promised, unable to stop her smile at his persistence in trying to gain her consent. He never did anything without her explicitly saying she was okay with it. She loved that about him.
Before he could stop her again, she turned out of his reach to head inside. She needed to escape before her mind drifted below his neck again. What was wrong with her?
"Gwyn," he called, just before she reached the doors to the stairwell.
She turned to look at him, waiting. She tried to avoid looking at his exposed body again but failed miserably.
"You fought well today," he complimented her. "Good job."
Her chest fluttered. He never gave compliments in training. Never. Maybe the heat was going to his head too.
"Thank you," she smiled, pride flowing through her, pulling her back to reality. She had done it. She had beat him. And he had complimented her on it. What a strange day it was turning into.
She allowed herself one last look at him before heading into the stairwell. Only it wasn't his muscled arms, or chest or abs that left her breathless this time. It was the look on his face as he gazed after her that had her mind reeling.
He was drenched in sweat with a huge bruise across his jaw, yet she couldn't help but notice how happy and relaxed he looked. All traces of the sadness she sometimes saw in him were gone, replaced with a gentle serenity. His eyes were soft, and his shadows were practically dancing around him.
The image burned into her mind; she couldn't stop smiling as she made her way down to the library.
She liked seeing her friend so happy. But why did the word friend suddenly not feel right? She couldn't shake the feeling that something had shifted between them today. 
But she wouldn't let herself think about it. She wanted to enjoy every moment of dinner tonight and thinking about how she had felt during training would just further distract her.
It was probably just the heat going to her head anyway. It had to be. All of these insane thoughts were just a result of being too hot.
A cold bath would certainly help, she thought. She would simply take a cold, cold bath...
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tealnymph-writes · 11 days ago
Text
A Song of Shadows: Chapter 23
Title: Novel Explorations
Gwyn accompanies Azriel on another spy mission where they explore the finer aspects of romantic literature.
If you would like to be tagged in updates, please let me know!
Read on AO3
Azriel x Gwyn
Warnings: Steam. Lots of steam. 
Word Count: 5,881
Masterlist
“Okay, I’m ready,” Gwyn chirped, taking Azriel’s outstretched hand. He grinned, lifting her in his arms and winnowing into the darkness, releasing her a moment later when they arrived at their destination.
It had been several days since Azriel had taken Gwyn to family dinner, and, in that time, he had increased surveillance in Vallahan. Gwyn had begun accompanying him when it was his turn to monitor the estate that belonged to the lord they had been investigating. It was the best way she could spend time with him, especially with Azriel now having to visit the Mortal Lands as well.
Azriel guided her to a now familiar outcropping, hidden by trees, and sat down, situating himself against a large oak tree. She plopped down next to him, moving to pull out the blanket she had brought, but was interrupted when Azriel suddenly hauled her between his legs, pulling her against his chest.
She giggled, leaning back into him, and tilting her head to see his face. “I don’t mind sitting next to you. You know that, right?”
He gave her a crooked grin, his hazel eyes dancing with mischief. “Yes, but it’s cold. You’ll stay warmer this way.”
“I have a blanket,” she argued, knowing he would ignore her protests. It had become their habit the past few days; he would hold her in his arms and watch the estate, occasionally instructing her on spy techniques, and she would sit quietly, reading a book if the moon was out (like tonight) or learning how to perform maintenance on weapons otherwise.
As expected, Azriel didn’t respond, instead grabbing her blanket and draping it over the both of them, carefully tucking the corners around her legs. She smiled, quietly adjusting herself into a comfortable position against his chest. When she was settled, his arms came around her waist, giving her a small squeeze before resting gently around her.
She pulled out the book she had brought, eager to finish it. The book, Neon Gods, was a recommendation from Nesta. She had told Gwyn it had a different kind of smut than what she was accustomed to, so it might help her see a different side of sexual pleasure. And cauldron had Nesta been right.
The book was far more…wild than most of the books Nesta and Emerie gave her, but she had devoured it, reading the pages faster than she would have thought possible. She had never read anything like it. She wasn’t even sure half of what was in it was possible, let alone if people actually took pleasure from what was in the book.
She flipped to the spot she had left off and immediately began reading, leaving Azriel to silently watch the estate, his shadows swirling around them protectively. She loved moments like this where they simply enjoyed each other’s company, no need for conversation or anything else. Just being together was enough.
Even with his confession about his involvement with Elain, things had been good between them. She had felt a bit of sadness at first, but he had spent every moment since then showing her how sincere he was when he said she was the only female he cared for. Everything was in the past. There was nothing for her to worry about, which allowed her to focus on more pressing issues - like the book she was reading.
Within the hour, she had finished it, the ending coming far too quickly for her liking. She set the book aside, half of her proud she had read such an exciting book and the other half more confused than ever. The more smutty books she read, the more she wondered if the things she read about were purely fantasy. She could see the appeal of certain things, but were they actually possible? Or comfortable?
“Why are you frowning?” Azriel murmured, leaning forward to pepper her jaw with kisses until she was smiling again. “Did your book have a sad ending?”
“What? Oh, no, it was good,” Gwyn assured him absently, tilting her head to give him access to her neck. She let out a small sigh when his lips touched the sensitive skin below her ear, marking a trail along her throat.
“Mmm, what was it about?” Azriel asked against her, his breath tickling her skin. She shivered, but not from the chilly autumn air. She tried to focus on the plot of her book, what little plot there was, but she was far too distracted by the lovely feeling of his lips on her skin. “Gwyn?”
“Hmm?”
“Are you going to answer my question?”
“What question?”
He chuckled, pulling his head away, causing her eyes to snap open. She blinked rapidly, her body overly warm despite the cool night. Before she had time to recover her thoughts, Azriel had reached for her book, flipping it open to a random spot.
She blanched, grabbing for the book, but he held her tightly with one arm, keeping the book out of reach with the other. Of all the books for him to look at, this was one of the last ones she would want him to see. It was positively scandalous - even if she was rather intrigued by it.
“Azriel, give it back!” She demanded, her face turning crimson. Despite being more comfortable with the idea of sex, she still couldn’t help blushing in moments like this. She knew he would never judge her for what she read or thought, but she wasn’t totally used to discussing these things yet. “Give me the book, Az.”
“I just want to know what it was about. You were frowning. I want to know why,” Azriel shot at her, holding the book out to his side. “Answer my questions and I’ll give it back.”
“You’re a bumhole,” she tossed at him, crossing her arms and pouting. He gasped, feigning hurt. She rolled her eyes, refusing to give in.
“A bumhole? Really, Berdara?” Azriel tsked, nuzzling her neck despite her annoyance. “If that’s the worst you can do, remind me to teach you how to curse.”
She gaped at him, giving him a playful shove that he only laughed at. “I don’t need your lessons, thank you. Now give me my book.”
He affectionately tugged on her braid, undeterred by her display. “I told you, I’ll give it back if you answer my questions.”
“Promise?” She pressed, giving him a scathing look. He bit back a laugh, not bothering to hide his amusement.
“I promise, Bird,” he agreed, flashing that crooked grin that always made her heart flutter. She huffed, but conceded, settling against him.
“The book is a retelling of the Hades and Persephone legends,” she explained, ignoring the soft stroking of his hand along her arm. “It’s set in a modern world, but they still have a god-like structure, complete with Hades ruling a part of town that everyone thinks is bad but is really quite nice. Persephone ends up there, and then they fall in love.”
Azriel quietly hummed behind her, exaggerating his thoughtful demeanor. “That sounds nice. Why would that make you frown?”
“No reason,” she deflected, picking at the grass. She could feel him watching her, but she remained quiet, debating how much she wanted to say. He had told her she could talk to him about these things, and she wanted to, but she was nervous. After a few minutes though, she shook off her anxiety and decided to continue.
“Azriel, I was frowning because…” she trailed off again, trying to find the right words. He patiently waited, idly playing with her hair. “Because I was thinking about whether or not people really do some of the things in the book.”
She turned to him, meeting his curious stare. He tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear, tilting his head inquisitively.
“What do you mean?” He pressed, running his thumb along her jaw. She shivered again, goosebumps spreading across her skin. “What kind of things?”
She looked at the ground for a moment, avoiding his gaze. She could feel her face growing warmer, but she pressed on. “Sex things. This book I was reading, the couple in it, they do…strange things. They like having sex in this room, in front of people. And it’s not just that, some of the positions they get into…well, I’m not sure some of it is entirely feasible. And I’ve read other books where I’ve wondered the same thing. Certain positions seem like they might be…uncomfortable.”
He quirked an eyebrow, a grin teasing his lips. “What do you mean by uncomfortable?”
“I... nothing, I'm not sure if they work comfortably in real life. That’s all,” she rambled, blushing furiously.
“Why wouldn't they?" He pushed, smirking devilishly, his eyes filled with heat. She shifted between his legs, her body suddenly warm and tingly everywhere.
“I don't know. Don't you need...friction?”
“It is nice, yes,” he grinned, his face positively smug now. She should have been annoyed with him, but she couldn’t find it in her. She liked the devious look he had in his eyes, the one that told her she could say almost anything and he would still be utterly satisfied that she was talking to him about these things. It gave her courage to go on.
“Well, I'm just not sure if certain positions allow for the right amount of friction,” she said nervously, focusing on his face instead of the pounding of her heart and the growing warmth between her legs.
“What kind of positions?”
“You know, the ones in novels,” she replied, shuffling between his legs again and unexpectedly finding a new bit of hardness when she pressed against him. Oh gods. She hadn’t realized this conversation was having quite that effect on him.
“No, I don't know,” he quipped, not bothering to hide his amusement, eyes dancing with mischievous desire. “According to Nesta, these novels can be very interesting. I don't know how adventurous the positions you're referring to are.”
She tried to subtly shift her body away from his, to give him space, but he held her firmly, causing her body to press tighter against his obvious hardness. She sucked in a breath, her mind going fuzzy.
“Well, I'm sure you do know,” she argued weakly. She was far too distracted by his hard body pressing into her backside. “I'm not explaining it to you.”
He leaned in, grabbing her chin and tilting her face up to place a soft kiss to her mouth. He hovered there, his eyes heavy lidded and his lips brushing against hers. She sucked in a breath, taken off guard by his reaction. She had expected teasing, not whatever this was.
“Then show me,” he finally murmured against her mouth, their breaths mingling. Her face flushed an even deeper shade of red, her eyes going wide. He wasn't serious. He couldn't be. There was no way he actually thought she would show him.
“I can't show you,” she insisted, caught between the delicious sensation of his body pressing into her and his desire filled gaze. It felt so good, but she couldn’t think.
“Why not?” He asked, his voice the deep honeyed tone that always undid her. Gods she loved his voice. She clamped her thighs together, acutely aware of every inch where their bodies touched.
“Because we're…we’re…I don't know,” she gestured wildly. She wasn’t even sure why she was protesting. A part of her wanted to show him. Wanted to have him teach her about these things. And if she was honest, that part far outweighed the side that was still resisting. “And I'm not...we're not...doing that.”
“Doing what?” He pushed, holding her gaze.
“You know what.”
His lips turned up at the corners, his face still almost brushing hers. He studied her for a moment longer, then finally spoke. “We can keep our clothes on,” he suggested, his thumb making lazy strokes along her jaw. “Just show me. I promise I won’t do anything you don’t want me to do.”
She sighed, giving in. She was far too curious to keep arguing. Besides, she could trust Azriel. He would always make sure she felt safe. And she was tired of being afraid, of letting her fears control her. She wanted to do this, wanted to learn from him.
“Okay, but…” she trailed off, chewing on her bottom lip while he watched her intently. “Don’t laugh. Okay?”
“Gwyn, honey, I won’t,” Azriel soothed her, his free hand cupping her face. “I promise. I just want to know what you’re curious about. Show me. Please.”
His last words only made her heart race more. There was something so…sensual about the way he said it, like he found her curiosity…sexy. And maybe he did. The thought drove her forward, her body moving without question.
She pulled out of his grasp, shaking off the blanket and moving to her knees between his legs while he steadily watched. Then she carefully straddled him, placing her hands gingerly on his shoulders. His hands came to rest on her waist, holding her there but not tugging her any closer.
“Is this the first position you were curious about?” He asked, his gaze dipping to where their bodies almost met. She had been in his arms like this a few times, but never when she was so openly aroused. It was a new sensation, but it felt nice. More than nice.
She hesitantly nodded, somewhat unsure of herself. “Yes, it seems feasible, but…I was curious how it works. Does the female have to do everything?”
He softly chuckled, pulling her slightly closer, just enough so she could feel his hardened length barely grazing her core. She held back a gasp, the sensation sending a jolt of awareness through her. Her heart was pounding, yet she didn’t want to stop. The way Azriel was looking at her, with a mixture of desire and the softness she knew he rarely showed anyone, held her in place, her body utterly pliant in his strong arms.
“No, the female doesn’t have to do all the work,” he explained, one hand slowly gliding along her side. “But she does have all the control. If she wants things to stop, she can stop them. Or vice versa.”
“Oh, that’s nice,” Gwyn mumbled, unable to ignore how warm she was becoming. It was like her skin was burning. All she could think about was the aching between her legs. A part of her wanted to push into him more, to find out how he might react, but she wasn’t sure if she should.
“Gwyn, are there other positions you’re curious about?” Azriel finally asked when she kept staring at him. She blinked, bringing herself back to the moment.
“Yes, but I’m not exactly sure if you want me to show you the next one,” she admitted, avoiding his gaze as she thought of what she had read. It was something she had never seen before, but it had intrigued her immensely. “I’m also not sure how it would work with your wings.”
“Show me and I’ll worry about my wings,” Azriel smiled, holding her hips. She didn’t entirely want to move, but she was curious, so she obeyed his command.
“I need you on your back,” she instructed, placing her hands on his chest.
He instantly obeyed, a devilish smirk forming as he shifted away from the tree, his hands still cradling her hips. When he was clear of the tree, he carefully laid back, his wings spread out to his sides. She stared at him for a moment, then began moving.
She crawled over his torso, attempting to avoid his wings. His hands dropped to her calves, occasionally stroking them as she continued moving, pausing when she was halfway up his chest. He gave her an encouraging smile, his eyes dancing with mischief. She was almost certain he knew where she was going, but she plowed on, ignoring the small burst of anxiety she felt.
With one last look at him, she moved farther up, inching herself over him until she was hovering above his face. He moved his wings, allowing her to straddle him easier, but she still held her body rigid so there was a generous amount of space between her core and his mouth. She suddenly felt ridiculous and embarrassed. What if this wasn’t something people normally did?
Shame flooded her as she tried scrambling off him, but he suddenly grasped her thighs, holding her tightly above him. She froze, looking down to meet his gaze only to find his face full of unconcealed desire, his eyes darting between her face and her core. She held perfectly still, terrified to say anything.
Azriel seemed to sense her worry and broke the silence, his voice husky and breathless. “Gwyn, honey, I hate asking this, but what part of this position were you unsure of?”
“Umm, I had never read about it before,” she began, her hands shaking at her sides. “I wasn’t sure if people really did this or if…if it was just something in novels.”
“Oh, people really do this,” Azriel drawled, his eyes darting back to her core for a moment. His tongue darted out to moisten his lips, his neck flushed. “It’s quite fun. I’m rather fond of this position actually.”
She let out a breathless “Oh” of shock at his confession, her body suddenly trembling from how stiffly she was holding herself above him. She couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. She should probably say something, but her mouth seemed to have stopped working, her mind unable to focus on anything other than how close his mouth was to very sensitive parts of her body. Yet, despite her anxiety, she felt no fear. Only an aching sense of need, like her body desperately wanted what only the male below her could offer.
Azriel seemed to sense her frenzied emotions because his gaze snapped to hers, the heat in his eyes immediately turning to worry. Before she could even process it, she was on her back, one of Azriel’s scarred hands cradling her head in the grass while his other arm gently stroked her side, his body hovering next to her.
“Gwyn, are you okay?” He questioned, fear filling his face. “I shouldn’t have said that. Bird, I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have pushed you. We can stop.”
She blinked dazedly, staring up at him through lowered lashes as her brain slowly started working again. “No, I’m fine. I was…a little shocked. That’s all. But I want to keep going.”
The words sounded distant, like they weren’t coming from her own mouth, but every word was true. She wanted to keep exploring this with him. She liked the way he had been looking at her, and she liked the way his body felt against hers. And, if she was totally honest, she was rather curious how the other two positions she had wondered about would feel with Azriel. His body seemed to fit so perfectly with hers, and she wanted to feel him close again.
“Actually, the next position requires me below you anyway,” she explained with a soft smile, reaching up to brush his hair away from his worried face. “Azriel, I’m fine. Can we please keep going?”
He studied her, a muscle in his jaw working furiously, but eventually he nodded, carefully moving his hand away from her head. He gave her a nervous smile, running his fingers through his hair before nodding at her to continue.
“Um, you have to do most of the work for this one,” she shyly admitted, leaning up on her elbows. “I’m not really sure how to explain it.”
“Is it in the book you were reading?”
“Yes,” she nodded.
“How about you show me the passage it’s in?” He suggested, his voice oddly strained. She wondered if he was as flustered as she was.
She reached for the book, quickly flipping through the pages until she found the scene she wanted. When she had located it, she handed the book to Azriel, gulping down air as his eyes scanned the pages. She waited, hoping he wouldn’t find the position strange.
“Oh, I see,” he mumbled, a slight smirk teasing his lips again. “Are you sure you want me to show you this position, Gwyn?”
“Yes,” she insisted, ignoring the pulsing ache between her legs. She knew her scent had shifted by now, but, for once, she didn’t care. She just wanted to feel his body against hers again. “I want to know if it’s comfortable or not.”
“Okay,” he said simply, holding her gaze before he finally moved. She rolled onto her side, knowing the position required it, and then she watched him.
Azriel carefully hooked one of her legs over his right arm, gripping her thigh while he moved to straddle her other leg. He moved painfully slow until he was seated between her legs, her thigh cradled in his large hand, but he remained a small distance away, his lower body not quite reaching her core. She knew he would have to be closer to fully demonstrate the position, but he stayed motionless.
“Gwyn, honey, how much farther do you want me to go?” He asked, his voice firm but rough. The scent of his arousal reached her, turning her mind into a haze of tantalizing warmth and need. “I can stop here. Or I can keep going. Tell me what you want.”
She stared up at him, the warmth of his body against hers the best kind of distraction. Gods this felt good, and she wanted more. Desperately.
“Keep going,” she demanded, voice shaking. Her body was on fire, but she didn’t want to stop. “I want you to show me.”
He studied her but didn’t argue. After a long moment, he slid closer, shifting forward until he was fully pressed against her core, her leg wrapped firmly around him. She let out a small gasp when his hard body made contact with her, a hand flying to her mouth as the sound escaped her.
His mouth fell open, his eyes darting to hers, and if she wasn’t mistaken, his hands began shaking. She slowly uncovered her mouth, looking at him shyly while he sat frozen between her legs. She could tell he was torn between arousal and worry, but she couldn’t think of a single thing to say to calm him.
She was lost in her own emotions, her body urging her to shift her hips, to press herself more tightly into him. It felt so sinfully good having him like this. Her breasts had grown heavy, her nipples peaking beneath the thick leather, her core aching fiercely. She had never felt anything like it.
“Gwyneth, are you okay?” Azriel forced out, his voice so low it was almost a growl. That only made her warmer, the clear desire in his tone seeping into her bones. “Gwyn? Say something.”
“I’m fine,” she replied slowly, her voice quivering. “I understand how this position works now. Thank you.”
Much to her dismay, he slowly nodded, taking her words as a dismissal. Before she could stop him, he moved away from her, carefully setting her leg back down and kneeling beside her. She sat up slowly, watching him unsteadily breathing, her own breath coming out ragged.
“Azriel, are you okay?” She timidly asked when she had somewhat caught her breath. Her body still ached with need, but she could at least think for a moment. He blinked at her, chest heaving while he chewed on his bottom lip. Her eyes fell to his mouth, unable to resist when he bit his lip like that. She found it sexy and adorable.
“Of course, Bird,” he assured her, his hands absently running through his hair. “Are there…any other things you were curious about?”
She nodded slowly. “Just one. But we can stop if you want.”
“No, I’m fine,” he insisted, brushing his hands off on his thighs. “We can keep going as long as you want to. Show me what it is.”
She hesitantly stood, offering him a hand on her way up. He obediently stood with her, both of them brushing themselves off before looking at each other. She tucked a lock of loose hair behind her ears, then shyly met his gaze, his eyes still brimming with heat.
“Umm, you’ll have to hold me for this one,” she instructed, moving forward to lace her arms around his neck. He obeyed, reaching down to grab her just below her backside. She shivered, losing herself in the feeling of his chest pressed firmly against hers.
“Like this?”
“Yes.”
He lifted her without further questions, allowing her to wrap her legs securely around his waist, just like they had when he had taken her to the lake. He waited for more instructions, giving her time to try and rip her mind away from the memory of that wonderful night. She wanted to feel his bare skin against her again, to feel his hard muscles underneath her fingertips.
“In the book, he lifts her like this,” she finally whispered, unable to tear her eyes away from his heated stare. “They’re in the middle of a room, and he lifts her and then he starts…he starts…well, you know.”
“Fucking her,” Azriel offered when she trailed off. She nodded, her mouth suddenly very dry. “Does he lean against anything, or does he stay in the middle of the room?”
“Eventually he moves against something, but he starts…everything while they’re still in the middle of the room,” she explained, swallowing rapidly. “I’m not entirely sure how that works. It seems like our…parts aren’t aligned properly.”
He slowly smiled, his eyes dipping to where her core rested near the base of his stomach. “You’re right, but it’s still possible. It just takes a little bit of maneuvering to make things…align.”
“How?”
“Let me show you,” he replied, his hands squeezing her backside gently. She shivered again, goosebumps erupting along her skin. “Loosen your grip on me to where only your palms are on my neck.”
“But…” she began protesting, worried she would slip from his arms.
“Trust me. Just do it,” he firmly but softly commanded, his voice dipping back to that delicious, honeyed tone. Her resistance crumbled, her arms moving almost of their own volition. She did as he instructed, his arms the only thing keeping her upright.
Then his hands moved, bringing a gasp to her lips as they slid across her backside, dropping her body lower, her legs slipping slightly as he dropped her down. Before she could protest again, he stopped, his hands once again firmly holding her. But now their position had changed.
Her body was now slightly angled back, almost like he was going to drop her, but their…parts were perfectly aligned. One movement and his hips would be grinding into hers. It made her breath catch, heat flooding to her core as she slowly understood how this position worked.
“It seems like a lot of work for the male,” she breathlessly laughed, immediately regretting it a moment later. The laugh made her body shake, which only brought him closer, the movement vibrating through her core. “Holding up the female, I mean. While also doing…you know.”
He let out a sound that was somewhere between a laugh and groan, his hands gripping her tighter. “It can be a lot of work, yes. That’s why I prefer being against a wall or something. It takes some of the strain off.”
“Show me,” she murmured, the words leaving her mouth faster than she could think them through. All she knew was that she didn’t want this to end; she wanted to feel him as close as possible, for as long as possible.
He blinked, searching her face for signs of hesitation, but she simply stared back, wanting nothing more than to have him pressed tightly against her. All her normal anxiety was quickly fading the longer he held her. She felt safe and warm and dizzy with need. It was unlike anything she had ever experienced, and she wanted more. With him. With the male who had helped her reach this point.
When he was satisfied she wasn’t going to take back her command, he slowly moved toward the large tree he had previously sat against. He hoisted her slightly higher, causing her core to drag against his hard frame. She bit back another gasp, steadily watching his face while he walked to the tree.
He carefully pinned her against the oak, then, almost without thinking, he leaned into her, sending a jolt of unexpected pleasure to shoot through her when his hardened length pressed firmly against her core. This time, she couldn’t hold back the sound that escaped her, the loud moan leaving her lips before she could fully process what was happening.
He instantly froze, his eyes widening with worry even while his body trembled with the same need she was feeling. She gripped his shoulders, her eyes fluttering shut as the sensation of his…his cock, yes that’s what it was, pressed against her. Oh gods, she didn’t know what to do. Her body was screaming at her to rock her hips, to pull him closer, to kiss him until she forgot her own name.
Azriel seemed to be having the same internal struggle, a silent battle waging in his eyes as his fingers bit into her ass. His head dropped, his eyes darting to her lips while he fought whatever instincts were warring in his mind. She wanted to tell him to kiss her, to let go, but she couldn’t speak, couldn’t think.
There was only her and Azriel, wrapped tightly around each other. She had expected to feel a small bit of fear or anxiety when they began exploring this side of their relationship, but instead she just felt undiluted need and want. She wanted him. In every possible way. She knew this was only the beginning of what she might share with him, and she was filled with excitement.
Even with everything she had been through, this felt right. It felt natural. She knew without a doubt in her mind that Azriel would never hurt her, that he would be gentle when she needed him to be, and he would never push her past where she felt comfortable.
And something about that knowledge was somehow even sexier than anything else he had done. She could give herself to him when she was ready, and she knew she had nothing to fear from it.
With those thoughts swirling through her brain, she buried her hands in the hair at the nape of his neck, tugging him down, their lips hovering a breath apart, eliciting a groan from him. She wanted him to move, to shift his hips and show her exactly what this position felt like.
But just before she could kiss him, his head shot up, the desire in his eyes quickly changing into the familiar icy facade of the warrior who had trained her.
“Someone’s moving,” he informed her, quickly kissing her forehead before setting her gently on her feet, leaving her with an aching hollowness between her legs. Unfortunately, she would have to explore that later; they had a job to do now.
He pulled her to the edge of their little outcropping, tucking her to his side so she was half shielded by his large body. She peaked around his arm, following the direction his shadows were now darting, his eyes focused on something far away. She spotted movement in the distance, someone striding quickly through the garden toward the road that she knew led away from the estate. Just as they disappeared into the trees, hiding them from view, Azriel turned to her, softly cupping her face.
“Gwyn, there is another spy waiting along that road. I need to go speak with them,” he explained, speaking in a firm voice that left no room for argument. “I don’t want to leave you here, but if I take you down there, then I need you to follow my every command. No arguments. Okay?”
“Okay, I can do that,” she quickly agreed. “Do you think something is going to go wrong?”
“No, it should be fine,” he promised her, his thumb stroking her cheek. “But I’d rather not take chances. So, please just follow my lead this time.”
She nodded, holding his burning gaze. Satisfied by her agreement, he took her hand in his, tucking her against his side again as he quickly winnowed them. They appeared in an unfamiliar patch of trees a moment later, his shadows shielding them from view. Azriel paused, taking in his surroundings, then guided her forward.
She was suddenly grateful she had been training for this, otherwise she wasn’t sure she could have been as quiet as he needed her to be. She sucked in a breath when a figure appeared before them, steeling herself for whatever awaited them. But it was only one of Azriel’s spies, the one he had mentioned.
Azriel approached the spy, whose face was almost entirely concealed by the hood of his cloak, and began whispering, holding Gwyn’s hand firmly the whole time. They were speaking too low for Gwyn to hear everything, but she caught enough to understand. After a few moments, the other spy nodded to Azriel, bowed to her, then disappeared into the night, following the person they had seen leave the estate.
Azriel turned to her once his spy faded into nothing, cupping her face with his free hand. “Gwyn, you heard enough of that to understand what’s happening, right?”
She nodded. She knew the other spy would trail the mysterious person as far as they could, leaving Azriel and Gwyn to watch the estate for the night. She had already mentally prepared herself for this. After all, it was part of the job, she knew that.
“Good, then I don’t need to explain,” Azriel sighed, stroking her face softly. “It’s up to you what you want to do, Bird. I can quickly take you home, or you can stay with me for the night. I’m not leaving until sunrise though.”
“I want to stay with you,” she instantly responded. There was no question in her mind, she wanted to help him, even if that meant sitting with him until the sun rose.
“Okay,” he conceded, for once, not questioning her. He wrapped his arms around her, winnowing them back to their hidden spot on the hill. Without a word, Azriel settled back against the large oak tree, on high alert. She obediently settled between his legs once more, wrapping the blanket around them both and leaning back against his chest.
They both watched the estate carefully, Azriel informing her that his shadows would watch the perimeters while they surveyed the back of the house. They only spoke occasionally for the rest of the night, focusing their attention on their duties. When the sky began to lighten, Azriel quietly urged her to her feet, taking her in his arms and winnowing them home, their job complete for the night.
*****************************************************
Tags:  @chloepereyra | @lovelyladymayyy | @erisvanserrarailmepls | @valkygwyn | @remellarome | @inejjg | @azrielsgirl | @gisellefigue08 | @acourtofmidnightsnacks | @67impalagirl13 | @illyrian-valkyrie | @arinbelle | @amandapearls | @bittermuire | @cauldron-blessedarcheron1 | @starbornsinger | @princessofmerchants | @allygug | @zooni92802 | @molinden | @tallyovie | @siyeoncruella | @thelittlebookishcorner | @zerxfaithinhumanity | @words-are-what-i-hide-behind | @vasudharaghavan | @gwynkyrie | @niytavia | @fairytamy | @madie2200 | @icarusave | @spookylightkidranch | @mirubyai | @gwynsazriel | @live-the-fangirl-life | @bookprofessor | @ddsworldofbooks | @positivewitch | @cursebreaker29 | @zullyluly | @violentdelightshaveviolentends12 | @faithisilliterate | @b00kishwh0re | @spookyfreakturtlefire | @inejbrekkxr | @whereisvaughan | @aelingalathyniusrailme  | @secretlovelybeauty | @gwynrielsupremacist | @bookologist | @unpopularcharacterstan | @moodymelanist | @discorrdiia | @generalnesta | @flora-shadowshine | @amaranthas-whore | @georgialeighc13 | @sia-r | @gpxxx | @annikaschwietz | @rewiue
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bittermuire · a month ago
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In the hours of night
gwynriel are mates but unaware / gwyn is grieving and needs to share the weight with someone / azriel realizes his feelings.
tw: mention of suicidal tendencies
---
I’m dreaming.
Catrin was laughing, eyes squeezed shut, dark hair strewn carelessly across her shoulders and down her back.
I’m dreaming.
Catrin was gasping for air, face purple, the hands squeezing around her neck red and angry. She was wheezing, eyes wide with panic.
I’m dreaming.
Catrin was curled up, asleep, clutching the blanket close around her body and all the way up to her chin. Her face was relaxed and open.
I’m dreaming.
Catrin was dead, limbs cold and skin gray, body over here and head over there.
Catrin was dead.
I’m dreaming I’m dreaming I’m dreaming
Gwyn jerked awake, coated in sweat. She choked on a dry, helpless sob, the realization coming too soon, just like it always did—
Catrin is dead.
Breaking from the foggy weight of sleep, Azriel slowly sat up in bed, rubbing his face. It was the middle of the night. What was he doing awake?
Rolling back onto his side, he tried to put himself under again, but something in him couldn’t settle. He was restless—oddly enough, he felt a great sense of wrongness. Not necessarily with him… there was something wrong, something split and cracked in two. Decided, he disentangled himself from the blanket and rose, padding quietly down the hall to the kitchen. Some food would do him good.
As he was about to start down the stairs, there was again that weight in his chest, pulling him to the other side of the hall. His feet moved without order—perhaps subconscious. Azriel frowned as he found himself in front of the glass doors to the balcony, staring into the night. There was nothing out there, except the dying plant Nesta stubbornly kept alive and the rickety old chair Cassian sometimes used.
And, strangely, the blurring figure of Gwyn, leaning over the railing, pale face tipped up to the stars.
Frozen, Azriel stared at her for a long minute, trying to figure out what exactly she was doing. As far as he knew, Gwyn was a deep sleeper, and never had any trouble with getting a good night’s sleep. Presumably, there was something wrong.
He reached for the door handle.
But then again, was he truly equipped to approach her? Azriel, who was too wrapped up in his own misery to relieve anyone else’s?
He turned away, stuffing his hands in his pockets.
But if he didn’t, who would? He knew from his own experience that the night hours were for quiet and solitude, and grief saved for midnight was the worst kind there was.
Taking a long, deep breath, he reached again for the door handle, and stepped out onto the balcony. The wind was soft and long and warm, wisping across his cheeks with the fondness and care of a mother.
“Hello,” he said quietly, trying not to startle her.
She didn’t turn, the only indication of her surprise her stiffening back.
Regret spiked his gut. He’d stepped too far. “I’m sorry, I can go.”
“No,” she said, and stood straight, facing him. Her copper hair was tied back, displaying the sharpness of the grief on her blotchy, tear-stained face.
Somehow, her blue eyes were glowing, in the way Azriel had come to recognize as both a good and bad thing.
He was frozen again, feet planted to the ground, mesmerized.
She smiled slightly. “Stay. Come stand with me.”
He didn’t say anything, and Gwyn was grateful, as they stood together at the railing.
Grateful—both for his silence and his presence.
“I don’t want to worry you,” she finally said, staring determinedly out to the snowy mountains. “But I have dreams.”
“You don’t have to tell me, Gwyn, if you don’t want to.”
“It’s the middle of the night.” Sorrow was a heavy weight to hold. “I have to tell someone.”
He nodded once. Something in her guessed that he understood.
Closing her eyes, she let out a long breath. “I dream… about Catrin. All the time. And it’s like a mind game—I always start by reminding myself that I’m dreaming, that it isn’t real, that she’s dead, but then it ends… it ends when I’m seeing her again, dead.” The voice was not her own. It was detached, cold. “And I don’t want it to be real. And I think to myself, I’m dreaming, because I want to wake up and see her alive.”
She looked at him, frankly and directly. His face was open, eyes bared, ready to take what she had to say.
“It’s the worst feeling,” she said, still in that dead tone. “Wanting to be asleep but wanting to be awake.” She blinked. “It makes me not want to be alive.”
When the sun rose, it was all okay again. When she had Nesta and Emerie, and Azriel was sitting across from her at the breakfast table, and she was breathing and training and laughing. The night suffocated her. It was so quiet, because she had no one. Because she was begging the stars for someone to have at night, but no one ever came.
Someone came.
The realization was sudden—rushing, surging, glowing warm and sharp with understanding. Her skin pricked with goosebumps, and tears pricked her eyes.
“I miss her,” she whispered, voice breaking, sinking back into herself with bitter relief. Azriel watched her, still without words. “I miss her so much.”
He never wanted to feel this fear again.
By the Mother, it was horrifying—freezing cold, like ice filtering through his veins. Those words… It makes me not want to be alive… they had struck pure, awful terror in his chest, in his entire body.
He could not imagine his life without Gwyn. He could not imagine life itself without Gwyn. The thought horrified him. It felt so wrong, at its basest level; the barest imagining of it left him with a hollow sense of desperation.
For so long, Azriel had been telling himself and he and Gwyn weren’t even that close—somehow, she’d carved out a little place in his heart and settled there, with that teasing smile and twinkle in her eye.
And he understood that Gwyn was living that nightmare; her twin, her perfect complement, was stolen from her reaching fingers, brutally murdered right in front of her. Gwyn was feeling this, Gwyn knew this—this ice in her veins, this terror, this desperation. This sorrow. And she’d felt it through to its bitter end, to the realization that Catrin was truly gone.
He wanted to reach for her. He wanted to comfort her.
I don’t know how. I don’t know how to soothe this. I don’t know how to start.
He looked at her—always the first one he heard laughing in the morning, always the first one he saw smiling—and watched as her face crumpled, as hot tears began to track down her cheeks. She moved toward him and he gathered her close, feeling her old scars break open again.
“I miss her,” she sobbed, and clutched at his shirt. “I miss her, I miss her.”
“I’m sorry, Gwyn,” he whispered, and held her tighter.
Hours later, they sat across from each other on his bedroom floor. Gwyn was wrapped up in one of his blankets, groggy with fatigue. They’d eaten two meals, drunk too much tea, and played at least fourteen different board games, all of them from Cassian’s hoard of games he never played but refused to get rid of.
While Azriel was freshening up in the bathroom, Gwyn busied herself with organizing the board games into: excellent, moderately entertaining, and to the trash. She looked at her piles with satisfaction, and smiled as Azriel settled back down on the floor, brow furrowed.
“What’s all this?”
She gestured to the piles. “Excellent, moderately entertaining, and to the trash.”
“Oh, good,” Azriel laughed. “I’ll let Cassian know.”
Gwyn laughed too, saying, “We both know he’s not getting rid of them.”
“Wishful thinking.”
They looked at each other, studying each other, thoroughly sunk into this new and yet old familiarity between them. Gwyn was relaxed and warm.
She felt fresh. She felt… raw, but in a good sense.
That grief no longer felt all consuming, overwhelming. It was still there, but Gwyn understood that it would likely be there forever. And though she knew it would rise again, for now, she was alright, and that was enough.
“Thank you,” she said simply. “For tonight.”
He nodded. “I’m always here. I know I can be distant, quiet... but I’m here.”
Something passed between them, some inexplicable comfort.
She smiled. “I know.”
---
tags: @lovelywordsandwine @gwynkyrie @princessofmerchants-reads @gwynrielsupremacy
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daevastanner · 37 minutes ago
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Chapter 12 of my Gwynriel fic A Court of Light and Melody is up now!
Read on ao3
Read on Wattpad
Teaser for chapter 13 on tiktok
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tealnymph24 · 5 months ago
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A Song of Shadows: Chapter 3
Title: Azriel POV - A Heated Training Session
What was Azriel thinking during that steamy training session? Was he as distracted as Gwyn was?
Read Gwyn’s perspective here: A Heated Training Session. 
Read on AO3
Azriel X Gwyn
Warnings: Mature Content
Word Count: 3,512
Masterlist
If you would like to be tagged in updates, please let me know
Tags: @chloepereyra | @lovelyladymayyy | @azrielsshadowsdanceforgwyn | @corrdolium | @ayshasn
It was so fucking hot, Azriel thought as he stripped off his shirt. Giggles erupted from several of the young priestesses who had already arrived for training.
Azriel didn't care. He was sick of this heat. Besides, he already had enough trouble focusing during training. He didn't need to make it worse.
Ever since Gwyn had given him the friendship bracelet that now permanently rested on his wrist, he had started realizing he had feelings for her. It started out small but had grown to the point that she was all he could think about. She drowned out all thoughts and feelings he had ever had for any other female. She was everything. It made him happy. Beyond happy.
But he couldn't, wouldn't, try to start anything with her. Her friendship was too precious. He would wait until she made a move first. And if she didn't, then he would content himself with being her friend.
But training had become almost unbearable. He loved training with Gwyn but seeing her in leathers made his body ache with desire. So, there was no way he was going to suffer more than necessary by keeping his shirt on today.
Just then, the doors to the training area swung open and out came Gwyn. She looked perfect, as usual. She was so damn beautiful.
He watched her step out, then freeze. She was looking straight at him, but she seemed to have lost all sense of reality. Had the sun disoriented her? He tried getting his shadows to find out, but they ignored him. They never told him anything about Gwyn; they wanted him to work for it.
“Hello,” he called over to her, hoping to bring her back to the present. “You were almost late. You're not starting to slack on me, are you, Berdara?”
“I am right on time, thank you very much,” she testily responded as she strode toward him. He let his eyes slowly roam over her gorgeous legs. He wanted those legs wrapped around him.
“What are we doing today, anyway?” She asked as she stopped in front of him. “I want to know how miserable I'm going to be.”
He chuckled. “Sounds like someone's cranky.”
“I am not! I'm just hot.”
“Come on, a little heat never hurt anyone.”
“That's not true. We could get heat stroke and die.”
“We're fae. Heat stroke would take a lot longer than two hours to set in, let alone kill us. You'll be fine.”
She only stuck her tongue out in response.
His shadows, surprisingly patient today, had waited to go over to her until now. As they gently settled around her hair, he saw her annoyance ebb.
"I'm sorry for being irritable," she finally said. "I just hate the summer. It's too hot.
"I don't like the summer either," he replied, the ghost of a smile teasing the corners of his mouth.
Before he could say anything else, Cassian and Nesta emerged from inside. Their conversation cut short, he walked with Gwyn to the other side of the training ring.
“Alright, we're splitting into two groups today,” Cassian called out. “Since it's so damn hot, I don't want everyone to try learning new skills today. Instead, we'll practice ones you've already learned. Hand-to-hand techniques with Azriel or sword play with me. You choose.”
Hoping Gwyn would follow, Azriel moved toward his designated area. To his satisfaction, she joined his group. Positioning herself directly in front of him. He wasn’t sure if that made him excited or nervous. He would have an excellent view of her, but he ran the risk of his body reacting a bit too noticeably.
As he began the lesson, she copied his movements. He led them through a series of exercises to warm-up, then moved onto the fighting techniques they had previously learned. Before long, he was drenched in sweat. All of them were.
As he instructed the group, he tried not to look too pointedly at Gwyn. She was always stunning, but especially so when training. Always so focused, so determined. Not to mention the added benefit of training leathers not hiding a thing. Not one damn thing. He could see every luscious curve of her body.
As the lesson wore on, a few of his shadows that had settled around Gwyn unexpectedly drifted back to him to whisper in his ear. The lovely bird seems nervous and her scent is strange, they told him, using their pet name for her.
Worry filled him. Was something wrong? He couldn’t smell her from this position. His shadows were reluctant to tell him what had changed in her scent, but he promised them it would be kept a secret. After a moment, they gave in.
Her scent is full of arousal. For you.
His mind went utterly still. He shouldn’t have made his shadows tell him. What she was feeling was private. He shouldn’t know. Yet he also couldn’t help but feel a surge of joy. Could this mean she felt the same as him?
It didn’t matter, at least not at the moment. He might be upwind from her, but he was not the only one here. She would be teased mercilessly if Cassian, or Nesta for that matter, caught her scent.
He decided to try drawing her out of whatever thoughts were causing the shift. He might be excited by the idea of her thinking about him, but he didn't want her to get teased for it.
“Are you paying attention, Gwyneth?” He asked, pretending to correct her. “You're letting your elbows drop and your feet are sloppy.”
“I am not,” she protested. Good. Annoyance might override her distraction.
He went back to the lesson, stopping every so often to correct Gwyn for mistakes she wasn’t making. His shadows kept flitting back to him, telling him when her scent was getting too strong. He was desperately trying to help her keep it under control.
The problem was that it required his full attention be on her, which made his own scent become a risk. What if she scented his arousal? He didn’t want to make her uncomfortable, but he also couldn’t help it.
Covered in sweat, a flush creeping up her neck, she looked incredible. He wanted to taste her. To coax her full lips open with his own. Feel her skin against his. Strip those tight leathers off of her inch by glorious inch. He wanted to slowly learn exactly what made that beautiful mouth moan.
He knew he would have to go slow with her if she ever allowed him near her like that, but he would do so gladly. She deserved someone who would go slow, who would let her have control when she needed it. After what she had gone through, it would take time before she was fully comfortable being with someone. But he was willing to walk that journey with her. It would be his honor if she wanted that with him.
After 45 minutes, he decided enough was enough. His thoughts were driving him crazy and she seemed to be struggling too. He needed to think of something else. He told everyone to take a break.
“What's got you so distracted, Gwyn,” he asked as everyone dispersed. He had to act like he didn't already know.
“I don't know what you're talking about,” she insisted. “I am not distracted.”
He raised an eyebrow at her but didn't push. He already knew the answer. He shrugged at her before striding toward the table laden with water and snacks.
He could feel her watching him. He didn’t need his shadows to tell her she was still thinking about him. He was downwind now; he could smell her. The scent hit him like an arrow straight to his most sensitive areas. All logic and reason left his body. Her scent was normally pleasing to him, but this was different. Laced with her arousal – arousal for him – her scent was intoxicating.
Now he was the one losing focus. He needed to get this under control. He made his plan, then strode back to her.
“Let’s spar, Gwyn,” he said as he approached. “You clearly need more personalized attention today.”
She blinked. “What?”
He allowed himself a small smile at the blush that crept up her cheeks. He couldn’t help but find some amusement in the situation. She was finally as distracted in training as he normally was.
“Sparring, Gwyn.” He said again. “I said, let's spar because you clearly need more personalized attention.”
He figured sparring would force her to be more focused, and it might help hide her apparent arousal from the rest of the group.
“Oh, right, sparring,” she replied, her brow furrowing. “Can't we just end the training early today? This heat is unbearable.”
He rolled his eyes. “Your enemies won't wait to attack until the weather is more to your liking.”
“Well, who said I want to spar with you? Maybe I want a more difficult opponent.”
He snorted. His plan was working. “Oh, please. I've taught you everything you know. You couldn't beat me in a real fight on my worst day.”
“Oh, really? Wanna bet?”
He smirked. “Fine, but I get to set the terms.”
“Fine, but be careful with your terms, Az," she quipped, matching his confidence. "You don't want to end up regretting it.”
“Alright, if you win, I'll take you to that little restaurant by the river you liked so much,” he offered.
Her eyes lit up at the offer, as he knew they would. He had taken her to his favorite restaurant on the edge of the Sidra about a month ago and she had loved it. She had been nervous about going, but he had convinced her she would enjoy herself. And she had. They both had. Taking her back was the least he could do for causing all of this.
"Okay, I'll accept that," she told him, excitement erasing her irritation. "And what if you win?"
He wanted her determined to win, so he decided to toy with her a little. "If I win, then you have to accept Mor's invitation to her birthday party next month."
"But that's at Rita's!" She gasped out. "I can't go to that. There will be so many people, I won't know anyone, and and..."
"If I win, you have to. You're the one who agreed to let me set the terms of our bet," he taunted "You said you could beat me, so you should have nothing to worry about."
She huffed, taking the bait.
"You're on, Shadowsinger," she called over her shoulder, as she strode to the sparring ring.
He chuckled as he obediently followed her, satisfied he had won. Once he had instructed the others to continue practicing among themselves, they both took their places.
"If we're going to do this, I want it to be a real fight," she said. "No mock-punches, no fake kicks. I want this to be a proper match."
"Fair enough," he responded, not revealing anything. "But you're going to regret this, Berdara."
"We'll see about that," she promised.
With that, they began circling each other like snakes, each of them preparing to strike. Looking for the first sign of weakness in their opponent.
She struck first, as he expected her to. He knew that she was aware of how he fought, that he didn’t like moving first. Besides, he wasn’t worried about winning this match. He only cared about keeping her away from everyone else so she could be as lost in her thoughts as she wanted to be.
He blocked her blow, easily pivoting to avoid it. Just because he didn’t care about winning, didn’t mean he was going to make this easy on her. No, it just meant that he could let his mind wander a little bit too.
She was like a beautiful dagger when she fought. Pointed and focused, unassuming but dangerous. All sloping curves and sharp angles. He couldn’t take is eyes off her.
Her skin looked so warm from the scorching heat and sparring. He wanted to feel it for himself. To help her out of her stifling leathers. He wondered what sounds she would make if he slowly, gently ran Truth-Teller's cold blade down her bare skin, its hilt across her most sensitive areas.
She kept attacking and he kept blocking. It was like a perfectly choreographed dance. She struck, he parried. Neither one ever gaining the upper hand, the sun still beating down from above.
He let his mind drift again, curious what thoughts were running through her head. He assumed it was his shirtless appearance that had frazzled her to begin with, but where had her mind wandered now? Her scent was still thick with arousal. His pants grew painfully tight.
He wanted her. All of her. He wanted to taste her on his tongue. He wanted to feel her body pressed against his, nothing between them. To trace every inch of her with his hands, his mouth. He wanted her to let him teach her all that he knew of pleasure. It would be an honor and a joy to explore that with her if she let him.
The fight went on and he could tell she was growing annoyed. He had not made a move to win. It was confusing her. Suddenly, she left her abdomen open. A rookie mistake, probably to lure him in for the obvious shot. But what was her plan after that? Surely, she didn’t want him to win.
He took the bait, curiosity getting the best of him. His well-aimed blow knocked her flat on her back. He moved to pin her, but she swung out with her legs. He didn't have time to pivot before she collided with his ankles, sending him tumbling to the ground next to her.
She twisted toward him as he fell on his back. Before he could recover from the fall, she leaped on top of him, pinning him between her legs. His arms shot out, aiming for her hips.
That’s when he saw it. The opening he had just given her. He had walked into her trap like a moth to the flame. It was too late for him to correct his mistake. She was already drawing her fist back for the final blow.
As realization flooded him, her fist connected with his jaw. The force of the blow pounded into the vulnerable corner of his jawbone - just like he had taught her.
The other side of his face collided with the dirt as the force of the punch knocked him to the side. His hands stopped their maneuvers toward her, going to his face instead.
He was down. Defeated. She had won.
"Owwww," he groaned, too shocked to hide the pain that was shooting through his face.
"Oh my god, are you okay?" She gasped, sounding oddly panicked. "I didn't know I could hit that hard, I'm so sorry!"
She leaned forward to examine him, putting one hand on his bare chest and the other reaching toward his jaw. He grimaced at her touch but allowed it. The feeling of her gentle hands almost overriding the pain.
"I'm fine," he reassured her, despite the bruise already blooming where her fist had made contact. "I think my ego is more injured than my face."
"I'm so sorry," she repeated as she gently examined the injury. He marveled at her for a moment. She had just struck him harder than he would have thought possible, yet here she was tending to his injury. She was an enigma.
"Gwyn. I'm fine. Really," he reassured her. "You don't need to apologize, I promise."
"Okay," she quietly conceded, finally meeting his stare. His mind went still. The look in her eyes was not like any he had ever seen from her. There was something more there.
Something between them had shifted, he was sure of it. The thought sent his heart racing. He should look away, let her escape his gaze, but he was frozen in the moment. Afraid to move. Not only because of the joy he felt as she looked at him, but because of the growing ache she was causing throughout his entire body. Happiness and arousal intermingled, rendering him incapable of action.
She was still straddling him with her hands resting on his chest. He could feel the warmth between her legs. It was driving him insane. One wrong move and she would notice the increasing hardness beneath her. He needed her to move, but he couldn’t find the will to turn away from her. He was barely resisting the urge to pull her hips closer to him. To grant them both the friction their bodies were craving.
A booming laugh echoed across the training area, bringing them back to the present.
"I never thought I'd see Azriel get his ass handed to him," Cassian laughed. "Well done, Gwyn."
The realization that they had an audience hit him like a brick. He needed to get a grip. Luckily, she finally moved to stand up, offering him a hand in the process.
They both quietly brushed themselves off. Not looking at each other. He couldn't look at her, not with the images of her straddling him still flashing through his mind. Not with the lingering feeling of her throbbing core still a steady pulse through his body.
"How about we call it a day?" Azriel finally spoke, running a scarred hand through his hair, trying to calm himself. "I think you've earned it."
He was frazzled, worried. What if he had scared her? What if she was uncomfortable? He would never forgive himself.
"Okay, if you say so," she agreed. "I guess I have to accept Mor's invitation.”
"If you want to," he replied, confused. "But you won. Fair and square. You don't have to accept anything."
She met his gaze and blinked, almost like she was shocked. Maybe she was still flustered. He certainly was. He couldn’t think straight. The feeling of her body pressed against his was too fresh.
"Well, as long as you hold up your end of the bargain, I can at least consider Mor's offer."
"It's your choice. I won't force you. But if you do want to go, I'll be there the whole night. You could hang out with me if you want."
He couldn’t stop the words from tumbling out. Her words had sent a rush of hope through him. Maybe she was just feeling the same things he was. He ran a hand through his hair again, trying not to show his excitement.
"I'll think about it," she offered.
She turned to leave, but he caught her by the shoulder, stopping her in her tracks. He still owed her.
"How about I meet you on the balcony at 7?" He asked, trying not to think of how their bodies had fit so perfectly together. He failed miserably.
"For what?"
"Dinner"
"Oh, right. Dinner"
Shit! Did she not want to go? Maybe she was uncomfortable.
"Unless you don't want to go."
"Of course I want to go," she protested. "I won, so you owe me."
"Okay, then I'll meet you at 7?" He asked again, seeking her confirmation. He wanted to make sure she was comfortable spending time with him after today.
"I'll see you at 7," she promised, suddenly smiling at him. Any worry he felt leaving him. That gorgeous smile made everything okay.
Before he could respond, she moved toward the doors to the stairwell.
"Gwyn," he called.
She turned to look at him, waiting. He noted that her eyes lingered on his bare chest. He couldn’t stop his satisfaction at knowing she hadn't stopped thinking about him.
"You fought well today," he complimented her, not letting his male pride show. "Good job."
"Thank you," she smiled brightly, her eyes positively sparkling. Her happiness was enough to make his heart burst.
He let himself watch as she turned back to the doors. She was so damn beautiful. Could he really be so lucky? Could she really have feelings for him? The lingering pain in his jaw was nothing compared to the bliss the thought brought him.
She disappeared into the stairwell just as Cassian clapped him on the shoulder.
“Well, that was quite an exciting training session,” Cassian said, mischief dancing in eyes. “Wasn’t it, Az?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Cas,” he responded, still too happy to understand Cassian’s meaning.
“Oh, I think you do,” Cassian laughed, starting to move away. “I can smell it all over you, Brother. At the rate you two were going, I was worried you were going to ravish her right in the middle of the sparring ring.”
Azriel was too shocked to defend himself. He had thought he had kept his, and Gwyn’s, arousal hidden. Apparently, he was wrong. Maybe he should take a cold bath before dinner to make sure his scent went back to normal. Yes, a very cold bath would help...
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tealnymph-writes · 10 days ago
Text
A Song of Shadows: Chapter 24
Title: Azriel POV - Novel Explorations
Gwyn accompanies Azriel on another spy mission where they explore the finer aspects of romantic literature.
Note: This originally was only going to be a scene from Gwyn’s POV, but I decided to just have some fun and do it from both, which is why I am posting it as a bonus chapter. Enjoy!
If you would like to be tagged in updates, please let me know!
Read on AO3
Azriel x Gwyn
Warnings: Steam. Lots of steam.
Word Count: 6,305
Masterlist
Azriel quietly watched the estate in front of him, leaving Gwyn to read her book in peace. She seemed utterly entranced by whatever story she was reading, leaving him to spy on his own. But he didn’t mind, not one bit. As long as he got to hold her, he was more than satisfied.
Azriel was leaning against a large oak in a sheltered outcropping overlooking the estate he had been monitoring for weeks. Ever since dinner a few nights ago, he had increased surveillance here and begun working with Lucien to start patrols in the Mortal Lands. Despite his schedule being more hectic than normal, Gwyn had willingly volunteered to accompany him when it was his turn to watch the estate.
Which meant he got hours and hours of alone time with her, something that made him happier than he could have ever imagined. With her sitting between his legs, tucked firmly against his chest, the time went by far more pleasurably than it would if he were alone.
Even with his confession about his involvement with Elain, things had been good between them. Gwyn hadn’t pulled away as he had feared. Finally, with everything out in the open, he could truly just be. Gwyn was his and he was hers. There was nothing left to worry about, which gave him far more time to worry about other things - like the adorably pouty face she was currently making as she set her book down.
“Why are you frowning?” Azriel murmured, leaning forward to pepper her jaw with kisses until she was smiling again. “Did your book have a sad ending?”
“What? Oh, no, it was good,” Gwyn assured him absently, tilting her head to give him access to her neck. She let out a small sigh when his lips touched the sensitive skin below her ear, marking a trail along her throat.
“Mmm, what was it about?” Azriel asked against her, amused by how easily she was becoming distracted. Her eyes had fluttered shut, her face full of pleasure as he continued kissing her throat. “Gwyn?”
“Hmm?”
“Are you going to answer my question?”
“What question?”
He chuckled, pulling his head away so he could find out the answer himself. Her eyes shot open, a flush coloring her cheeks. He smiled in amusement while he reached for her book, ignoring the look of horror on her face as he flipped it to a random spot.
Gwyn grabbed for the book, but he kept it out of reach, holding her tightly with one arm and the book with the other. He knew it was probably filled with smut, but he didn’t care. He mostly just liked seeing how flustered she got any time he dared look at one of her romance novels.
“Azriel, give it back!” She demanded, her face turning a lovely shade of crimson. “Give me the book, Az.”
“I just want to know what it was about. You were frowning. I want to know why,” Azriel shot at her, holding the book out to his side. If he was honest, he didn’t really care about the book, but he enjoyed when she talked to him about it. “Answer my questions and I’ll give it back.”
“You’re a bumhole,” she tossed at him, crossing her arms and pouting. He gasped, feigning hurt. She rolled her eyes, refusing to give in.
“A bumhole? Really, Berdara?” Azriel tsked, nuzzling her neck. He couldn’t help it; he found it incredibly sexy when she was annoyed. “If that’s the worst you can do, remind me to teach you how to curse.”
She gaped at him, giving him a playful shove that he only laughed at. “I don’t need your lessons, thank you. Now give me my book.”
He affectionately tugged on her braid, undeterred by her display. He knew she wasn’t truly mad, only nervous. Her blush gave her away. “I told you, I’ll give it back if you answer my questions.”
“Promise?” She pressed, giving him a scathing look. He bit back a laugh, not bothering to hide his amusement. She was so damn adorable when she was annoyed with him.
“I promise, Bird,” he agreed, flashing her a crooked grin that had become reserved only for her. If the way she instantly melted was any indication, she seemed to like it. A moment later, she huffed but settled back against his chest.
“The book is a retelling of the Hades and Persephone legends,” she explained while he softly stroked her arm. “It’s set in a modern world, but they still have a god-like structure, complete with Hades ruling a part of town that everyone thinks is bad but is really quite nice. Persephone ends up there, and then they fall in love.”
He quietly hummed behind her, exaggerating his thoughtful demeanor. “That sounds nice. Why would that make you frown?”
“No reason,” she deflected, picking at the grass. He watched her steadily, quickly realizing there was more that she wasn’t telling him. He could guess what it related to, so he chose not to push her, letting her decide if she wanted to continue the conversation. To his delight, she went on a few minutes later.
“Azriel, I was frowning because…” she trailed off again, thinking. He patiently waited, idly playing with her hair. “Because I was thinking about whether or not people really do some of the things in the book.”
She turned to him, meeting his curious stare. He tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear, tilting his head inquisitively. He wanted her to keep talking, but he knew he needed to be careful. She still wasn’t completely comfortable talking about sex, so he needed to help her relax enough to discuss this.
“What do you mean?” He pressed, running his thumb along her jaw. He felt her shiver, goosebumps spreading across her skin. That was a good sign. It meant she still felt safe, even if she was nervous. “What kind of things?”
She looked at the ground for a moment, avoiding his gaze. Her blush deepened, but eventually she continued. “Sex things. This book I was reading, the couple in it, they do…strange things. They like having sex in this room, in front of people. And it’s not just that, some of the positions they get into…well, I’m not sure some of it is entirely feasible. And I’ve read other books where I’ve wondered the same thing. Certain positions seem like they might be…uncomfortable.”
He couldn’t help the amusement that bubbled up at her response. She seemed almost afraid to tell him, as though he might find what she was saying odd. Or perhaps she thought he would think she was naive. Either way, he would have to explain to her later that nothing she said regarding sex could shock him or make him think less of her. It only ever excited him.
He quirked an eyebrow, a grin teasing his lips. “What do you mean by uncomfortable?”
“I... nothing, I'm not sure if they work comfortably in real life. That’s all,” she rambled, blushing furiously.
“Why wouldn't they?" He pushed, smirking devilishly, his eyes filled with heat. She shifted between his legs, sending a jolt of awareness straight to his cock.
“I don't know. Don't you need...friction?”
“It is nice, yes,” he grinned, unable to hide the smug satisfaction he felt that she was discussing this with him. He loved that he was the one she felt safe enough to talk to about sex. That he was the one she was willing to ask these questions.
“Well, I'm just not sure if certain positions allow for the right amount of friction,” she said nervously, holding his gaze. The scent of her arousal drifted up to him, filling him with desire. He could feel his cock growing harder by the second, but he ignored it, focusing on her.
“What kind of positions?”
“You know, the ones in novels,” she replied, shuffling between his legs again and accidentally rubbing against his now very hard length. He held back a groan, wanting to keep her talking, but gods it felt good. So fucking good.
“No, I don't know,” he quipped, not bothering to hide his amusement. “According to Nesta, these novels can be very interesting. I don't know how adventurous the positions you're referring to are.”
She subtly shifted again, the flush on her cheeks spreading down her chest. He held her tightly, keeping her firmly tucked against him while he forced himself to avoid thinking about how far that flush might go.
“Well, I'm sure you do know,” she argued weakly, seeming just as flustered as he was quickly becoming. “I'm not explaining it to you.”
He could tell she wasn’t uneasy - far from it - so he let a little of his restraint slip, his desire bubbling to the surface. He leaned in, grabbing her chin and tilting her face up to place a soft kiss to her mouth. He hovered there, his eyes heavy lidded and his lips brushing against hers.
“Then show me,” he finally murmured against her mouth, their breaths mingling. Her face flushed an even deeper shade of red, her eyes going wide, but he resolutely stayed where he was, a challenge in his eyes. If it weren’t for the obvious curiosity she was showing, he would have backed off. But he could find no evidence that she was uncomfortable, only nervous.
“I can't show you,” she insisted breathlessly, still held firmly between his legs, his hold on her chin keeping her teal eyes focused on him.
“Why not?” He asked, dropping his voice to the deep, honeyed tone he usually reserved for the bedroom, except with Gwyn. He found it often came out when he least expected it with her, the need to make her happy overriding his usual reservations.
“Because we're…we’re…I don't know,” she gestured wildly. Despite her protests, the scent of her arousal had grown, making him ache for her even more. “And I'm not...we're not...doing that.”
“Doing what?” He pushed, holding her gaze while he ignored the throbbing in his pants.
“You know what.”
His lips turned up at the corners, his face still almost brushing hers. He studied her for a moment longer, deciding if she was reaching a point where he should stop, but he only found desire and nervousness, so he plowed forward.
“We can keep our clothes on,” he suggested, his thumb making lazy strokes along her jaw. “Just show me. I promise I won’t do anything you don’t want me to do.”
She sighed, giving in to his pleas. “Okay, but…” she trailed off, chewing on her bottom lip while he watched her intently. “Don’t laugh. Okay?”
“Gwyn, honey, I won’t,” Azriel soothed her, his free hand cupping her face. One day, she would stop worrying that he would judge her for her desires and her curiosity. Until then, he would keep reassuring her as much as she needed. “I promise. I just want to know what you’re curious about. Show me. Please.”
She looked at him for a long moment, then pulled out of his grasp, shaking off the blanket and moving to her knees between his legs while he steadily watched. Then she carefully straddled him, placing her hands gingerly on his shoulders. His hands came to rest on her waist, holding her there but not daring to tug her any closer.
He suddenly realized he had walked himself into a very dangerous corner, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. His mind was a haze of need and desire, the heat of her body going straight to his already hard cock. He didn’t want to stop, but he wasn’t sure how much of this he could take - and this was only the beginning.
“Is this the first position you were curious about?” He asked, his gaze dipping to where their bodies almost met. She had been in his arms like this a few times, but never when she was so openly aroused. It made the moment that much sweeter knowing she was finally becoming comfortable letting him see her like this.
She hesitantly nodded, seeming unsure of herself. “Yes, it seems feasible, but…I was curious how it works. Does the female have to do everything?”
He softly chuckled, brazenly pulling her slightly closer, just enough so he could feel the heat from her core as his length brushed against her. He watched her carefully, searching for signs of fear. Thankfully, she seemed to be enjoying it. She was so warm and pliant in his arms; he wanted more.
“No, the female doesn’t have to do all the work,” he explained, one hand slowly gliding along her side. He wanted to touch her everywhere, to turn her nervousness into pleasure. “But she does have all the control. If she wants things to stop, she can stop them. Or vice versa.”
“Oh, that’s nice,” Gwyn mumbled, her eyes full of heat. He wanted to pull her down tighter, but he held back, unsure if she was ready for that yet.
“Gwyn, are there other positions you’re curious about?” Azriel finally asked when she kept staring at him. He could stay in this exact position all night, but he wanted to know what else she had been thinking about.
“Yes, but I’m not exactly sure if you want me to show you the next one,” she admitted, avoiding his gaze. “I’m also not sure how it would work with your wings.”
“Show me and I’ll worry about my wings,” Azriel smiled, holding her hips firmly. He had a gut feeling he knew where this was going. He could only pray he was right.
“I need you on your back,” she instructed, placing her hands on his chest.
He instantly obeyed, a devilish smirk forming as he shifted away from the tree, his hands still cradling her hips. When he was clear of the tree, he carefully laid back, his wings spread out to his sides. She stared at him for a moment, then began moving.
She crawled over his torso, diligently avoiding his wings. He held back a chuckle, not wanting to make her more nervous than she already was. But he was fairly certain his instincts were correct about where this was headed, and he had never been more aroused in his life.
He dropped his hands to her calves, occasionally stroking them as she continued moving, holding her when she paused halfway up his chest. He gave her an encouraging smile, eagerly anticipating her next move.
With one last look at him, she moved farther up, inching herself over him until she was hovering above his face. He moved his wings, allowing her to straddle him easier, but she held her body rigid so there was a generous amount of space between her core and his mouth. Even with that space, his mind had gone into a frenzy. All he could think about was ripping her clothes off and teaching her exactly how this position worked.
Before he could do something he’d probably regret, she suddenly tried scrambling off him, her face filled with embarrassment. He quickly grasped her thighs, holding her tightly above him. He wasn’t sure why she looked so embarrassed, but there was no way he was going to let her feel any shame for this.
She froze, looking down to meet his gaze, no doubt seeing his unconcealed desire. He knew he needed to say something, but he couldn’t stop his eyes from darting between her face and her core. He wanted to taste her, wanted to hear what sounds she might make as he made her cum on his tongue.
She held perfectly still, her body shaking slightly in his hands. He shook away his fantasy, forcing himself to speak, his voice husky and breathless. “Gwyn, honey, I hate asking this, but what part of this position were you unsure of?”
“Umm, I had never read about it before,” she began, her hands shaking at her sides. “I wasn’t sure if people really did this or if…if it was just something in novels.”
“Oh, people really do this,” Azriel drawled, his eyes darting back to her core for a moment. His tongue darted out to moisten his lips, his skin flushed. He knew he needed to reassure her, but he could barely think. “It’s quite fun. I’m rather fond of this position actually.”
She let out a breathless “Oh” of shock at his confession. He wasn’t sure if that was a good sign or not, which only made his mind even more fuzzy. What the hell was he doing? Gwyn was practically sitting on his face, clearly nervous, and he was…he wasn’t sure what he was. His body was on fire, his cock throbbing almost painfully, and the scent of her arousal was so thick that it was making him dizzy with need.
The lovely bird is shaking, his shadows unexpectedly whispered to him. Oh shit. They were right. Gwyn was trembling, and he had been so distracted that he had no idea if it was from fear or arousal. His gaze snapped to hers, worry filling him. He didn’t bother questioning her. Instead, he flipped her on her back, cradling her head in the grass with one hand while his other arm gently stroked her side, his body hovering next to her.
“Gwyn, are you okay?” He questioned, fear lacing every word. He should have been paying more attention. He shouldn’t have let himself get so caught up in his own desires. “I shouldn’t have said that. Bird, I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have pushed you. We can stop.”
She blinked dazedly, staring up at him through lowered lashes. “No, I’m fine. I was…a little shocked. That’s all. But I want to keep going.”
He froze, unsure if she was serious or not. He didn’t want to push her too far, but he also couldn’t refuse her anything. Yet, at the same time, his restraint was dangerously slipping. He might have better self-control than most, but even he could only last so long. He was torn between wanting to make sure she felt safe and wanting to ravish her until she was moaning his name. He just wanted to feel her, all of her.
“Actually, the next position requires me below you anyway,” she explained, dragging him out of his thoughts. She gently brushed his hair away from his worried face with a soft smile. “Azriel, I’m fine. Can we please keep going?”
He studied her, a muscle in his jaw working furiously, but eventually he nodded, carefully moving his hand away from her head. He gave her a nervous smile, running his fingers through his hair before nodding at her to continue. He could handle this. He just needed to stay focused.
“Um, you have to do most of the work for this one,” she shyly admitted, leaning up on her elbows. “I’m not really sure how to explain it.”
“Is it in the book you were reading?”
“Yes,” she nodded.
“How about you show me the passage it’s in?” He suggested, his voice strained. He just needed to focus, that was all. He could do this.
She reached for the book, quickly flipping through the pages until she found the scene she wanted. When she had located it, she handed the book to him. He quickly scanned the page, instantly realizing he was utterly wrong. There was no way he was going to be able to stay focused while he did this to her. He was in such deep shit.
“Oh, I see,” he mumbled, a slightly nervous smirk teasing his lips. Oh gods, he was so screwed. “Are you sure you want me to show you this position, Gwyn?”
“Yes,” she insisted, ignoring the out he had given her. “I want to know if it’s comfortable or not.”
Oh gods, he was fucked. Utterly, and truly fucked. His cock was already beyond hard, and there was no way he could demonstrate this position without pressing into her. He couldn’t lie, the thought was appealing, but also torturous. Why had he convinced her to do this? He was such an idiot. Maybe Cassian was right. Maybe he was a masochist.
“Okay,” he said simply, resigning himself to his fate. He held her gaze for a moment, then forced himself to move. She rolled onto her side, preparing herself for him. He swallowed, praying he could make it through this without completely losing all sense of self-control. His shadows, the little wretches, just snickered in his ear, enjoying his struggle.
Azriel carefully hooked one of her legs over his right arm, gripping her thigh while he moved to straddle her other leg. He moved painfully slow until he was seated between her legs, her thigh cradled in his hand, but he remained a small distance away, his lower body not quite reaching her core. He couldn’t bring himself to move closer until he knew for sure she wanted this.
“Gwyn, honey, how much farther do you want me to go?” He asked, his voice firm but rough. His body was aching, but he refused to take this any further than she was comfortable with. “I can stop here. Or I can keep going. Tell me what you want.”
He needed to hear her tell him she wanted this. Needed her reassurance before he moved again. A part of him wanted her to say no, to tell him to stop, just so he wouldn’t have to test the limits of his restraint. But he couldn’t deny how much he wanted her to say yes, to let him move closer, to feel her warmth against his throbbing length.
“Keep going,” she demanded, voice shaking slightly. “I want you to show me.”
He knew there was no point arguing; he couldn’t refuse her anything. Besides, he wanted this as badly as she did, even if it was torturous to be so close yet unable to truly feel her, to taste her. After a moment, he slid closer, shifting forward until he was fully pressed against her core, her leg wrapped firmly around him.
She unexpectedly let out a small gasp when his body made contact with her, a hand flying to her mouth as the sound escaped her. His mouth fell open, his eyes darting to hers, his hands shaking.
Oh gods, he couldn’t take this. Every fiber of his being was screaming at him to grind his length against her, to seek the friction their bodies were craving. His control was slipping, and that little sound of pleasure from her was making it even worse. He wanted to see what other sounds he could draw from her.
She slowly uncovered her mouth, looking at him shyly while he sat frozen between her legs. He couldn’t think straight; his body was frozen between need and fear. What had he walked himself into? He forced himself to speak, once again needing to hear her reassurance.
“Gwyneth, are you okay?” Azriel choked out, his voice so low it was almost a growl. “Gwyn? Say something.”
“I’m fine,” she replied slowly, her voice quivering. “I understand how this position works now. Thank you.”
He had no idea if her words were a dismissal or an invitation, but he couldn’t take this position any longer without pressing his hips into hers. He slowly nodded, then moved his body away, careful not to grind his length against her. He set her leg back down and knelt beside her, his mind reeling. She sat up slowly, watching him unsteadily breathing, her own breath coming out ragged.
“Azriel, are you okay?” She timidly asked when she had somewhat caught her breath. He blinked at her, chest heaving while he chewed on his bottom lip. Was he okay? No. He was utterly wrecked. His body burned with desire. He was such an idiot. He had convinced her to do this, and now he was paying the price.
“Of course, Bird,” he assured her, his hands absently running through his hair. Then, like the fool he was, he offered her more, unable to deny her anything even when he knew his self-control was at an all-time low. “Are there…any other things you were curious about?”
She nodded slowly. “Just one. But we can stop if you want.”
“No, I’m fine,” he insisted, brushing his hands off on his thighs. He could handle one more position, he lied to himself, ignoring the amused swirling of his shadows around them. They had split their attention between the estate and Azriel and Gwyn, just as eager as he was to see what Gwyn would do next. “We can keep going as long as you want to. Show me what it is.”
She hesitantly stood, offering him a hand on her way up. He obediently stood with her, both of them brushing themselves off before looking at each other. She tucked a lock of loose hair behind her ears, then shyly met his heat filled gaze.
“Umm, you’ll have to hold me for this one,” she instructed, moving forward to lace her arms around his neck. He obeyed, reaching down to grab her just below her backside.
“Like this?”
“Yes.”
He lifted her without further questions, allowing her to wrap her legs securely around his waist, just like they had when he had taken her to the lake. He waited for more instructions, too lost in the feeling of her soft body against his to say anything else. He wanted to feel her bare skin on his, to explore every inch of her with his tongue. He was such a fool for thinking he could handle this; he was a wreck. A complete wreck.
No female had ever had this effect on him, had ever destroyed his self-control with nothing more than a touch. He was completely at her mercy, spiraling deeper into this dangerous game he had started with her. All she had to was say the word and he would strip her bare right here in these woods and make love to her until the sun rose. His resistance was gone. His ability to think of anything logical had been ruined. He was hers to do with as she liked.
“In the book, he lifts her like this,” she finally whispered, holding his gaze steadily. “They’re in the middle of a room, and he lifts her and then he starts…he starts…well, you know.”
“Fucking her,” Azriel offered when she trailed off. If he was going to be a fool, he might as well go all in. He knew where this was going now, and he had no will left to resist it. She nodded, confirming his suspicions. “Does he lean against anything, or does he stay in the middle of the room?”
“Eventually he moves against something, but he starts…everything while they’re still in the middle of the room,” she explained, her throat bobbing rapidly. “I’m not entirely sure how that works. It seems like our…parts aren’t aligned properly.”
He threw caution to the wind and slowly smiled, his eyes dipping to where her core rested near the base of his stomach. As long as she seemed agreeable, what was the point in fighting this? “You’re right, but it’s still possible. It just takes a little bit of maneuvering to make things…align.”
“How?”
“Let me show you,” he replied, his hands squeezing her backside gently. Gods he loved her ass, and he loved that she let him touch it now. “Loosen your grip on me to where only your palms are on my neck.”
“But…” she began protesting, her nose scrunching in worry.
“Trust me. Just do it,” he firmly but softly commanded, his voice dipping back to that honeyed tone she seemed to like. Her resistance visibly crumbled, her arms moving as he had told her, putting all her trust in him to keep her upright.
Then his hands moved, bringing a small gasp to her lips as they slid across her backside, dropping her body lower, her legs slipping slightly as he dropped her down. Before she could protest again, he stopped, his hands once again firmly holding her. But now their position had changed.
Her body was now slightly angled back, almost like he was going to drop her, but her center was now perfectly aligned with his throbbing cock. He once again questioned his own sanity. This was a terrible idea. Yet it felt perfect, almost too good. All it would take is one small movement and his hips would be grinding into hers, driving them toward the release their bodies were clearly wanting.
“It seems like a lot of work for the male,” she breathlessly laughed, sending a fresh wave of heat flooding to his pants. Cauldron he was so fucking hard. “Holding up the female, I mean. While also doing…you know.”
He let out a sound that was somewhere between a laugh and groan, his hands gripping her tighter. He was such a fool. A complete and utter fool. She felt impossibly good pressed against him like this. It was tortuous and wonderful at the same time. “It can be a lot of work, yes. That’s why I prefer being against a wall or something. It takes some of the strain off.”
“Show me,” she murmured, shocking him so much that he almost dropped her. She couldn’t be serious. There was no way she wanted him to show her that.
He blinked, searching her face for signs of hesitation, but there wasn’t a single one. Oh fuck. What was he doing? Why had he convinced her to do this when he should have been working? He was beyond screwed at this point, so he simply gave in to it, not even bothering to resist anymore. If he was going to be wrecked so completely by her, he might as well enjoy it.
When he was satisfied she wasn’t going to take back her command, he slowly moved toward the large tree he had previously sat against. He hoisted her slightly higher, causing her core to drag against his hardness. He bit back a groan, his cock twitching from the sudden jolt of friction. It felt so good, but he needed more.
He carefully pinned her against the oak, then, because apparently he really was a masochist, he leaned into her, pressing her core firmly into his aching cock. A burst of pleasure shot through him, leaving him temporarily frozen in shock. Fuck. He was going to burst. If she so much as barely rocked her hips, he was going to cum in his pants. He had never been this close to the edge from so little stimulation.
She seemed to be feeling something similar because a loud moan left her mouth, her body trembling in his arms. That sound went straight to his cock, urging his body to move, to grind into her, to seek release.
He instantly froze, his eyes widening with worry even while his body trembled with need. He didn’t want to push her, but if he didn’t do something soon, he was going to end up ripping her clothes off and fucking her in the middle of these woods. Every second was a battle not to grip her hips harder and let her ride him against this tree. He didn’t even care if they were fully clothed anymore, he just wanted to make her cum, to find out if she would make more of those delicious sounds.
She gripped his shoulders, her eyes fluttering shut as his cock pressed into her covered core. He was so fucked. He didn’t know what to do. He was completely lost in her, in the sinful feeling of her body pressed into his. He shouldn’t have done this. He shouldn’t have ever convinced her to show him what she was curious about. But dammit, he liked it. He liked learning what that beautiful mind of hers was thinking.
But now he was stuck, caught between wanting to ravish her against this tree and not wanting to take things too far. And she was doing absolutely nothing to help him. She was utterly pliant in his arms, her face as dazed and pleasure filled as he was sure his was. Gods he wanted to taste her, to feel her coming undone in his arms. He couldn’t think. Couldn’t breathe.
His head dropped involuntarily, his eyes darting to her lips while he fought his own instincts, lost in her desire filled gaze. This couldn’t be happening. Yet it was. Oh gods. Was he really about to pleasure her for the first time in the middle of the woods? Did she even want him to? He needed to think, but her hold on him was unbreakable. He couldn’t pull away even if he wanted to.
While he was still locked in an internal battle, she apparently decided to make the decision for him. She buried her hands in the hair at the nape of his neck, tugging him down, their lips hovering a breath apart, eliciting a groan from him. Oh gods, this was really happening. She wanted this. Right here, right now, she wanted this. How did he ever get so lucky to have this incredible female want him?
Before he could lower his mouth to hers and begin showing her all the wicked things he could do to her, his shadows whispered in his ear, their tone urgent. Someone is moving. They exited the house. Hurry.
His head shot up, centuries of training kicking in even while his body ached in protest. Later, he would have to continue this later. Right now, he had a job to do.
“Someone’s moving,” he informed Gwyn, quickly kissing her forehead before setting her gently on her feet, leaving his body feeling hollow and cold. He was going to kill whoever had just caused this interruption.
He pulled her to the edge of their little outcropping, tucking her to his side so she was half shielded by his large body. He spotted the person his shadows had alerted him to a moment later, their cloaked figure striding quickly through the garden toward the road that led away from the estate. From this distance, he couldn’t tell if it was male or female. As they disappeared into the trees, hiding them from view, Azriel turned to Gwyn, softly cupping her face.
“Gwyn, there is another spy waiting along that road. I need to go speak with them,” he explained, speaking in a firm voice that left no room for argument. “I don’t want to leave you here, but if I take you down there, then I need you to follow my every command. No arguments. Okay?”
“Okay, I can do that,” she quickly agreed. “Do you think something is going to go wrong?”
“No, it should be fine,” he promised her, his thumb stroking her cheek. “But I’d rather not take chances. So, please just follow my lead this time.”
She nodded, holding his burning gaze. He didn’t allow himself to question her before he took her hand in his, tucking her against his side again as he quickly winnowed them. They appeared in a new patch of trees a moment later, his shadows shielding them from view. Azriel paused, taking in his surroundings, then guided her forward.
Despite the urgency in which he was moving, he couldn’t help but feel a burst of pride. She was moving as quietly as the best of his spies, deftly following his footsteps with little trouble. It only made her adore her even more. That was his Gwyn. Driving him crazy with desire one moment and proving just how capable she was at just about anything the next moment. She was a wonder.
Azriel approached the other spy, whose face was almost entirely concealed by the hood of his cloak, and began whispering, holding Gwyn’s hand firmly the whole time. They quickly discussed their plan, Azriel instructing the other spy to follow the mysterious figure as far as possible. Meanwhile, he would remain at the estate until the morning, ensuring no one else left the building. When they were finished talking, his spy nodded to him, bowed to Gwyn, then disappeared into the night.
Azriel turned to Gwyn once his spy faded into nothing, cupping her face with his free hand. “Gwyn, you heard enough of that to understand what’s happening, right?”
She nodded, her face set with determination. He smiled softly, in awe of her strength and bravery.
“Good, then I don’t need to explain,” Azriel sighed, stroking her face softly. “It’s up to you what you want to do, Bird. I can quickly take you home, or you can stay with me for the night. I’m not leaving until sunrise though.”
“I want to stay with you,” she instantly responded, not a trace of hesitation or fear.
“Okay,” he conceded, not bothering to question her. He wrapped his arms around her, winnowing them back to their hidden spot on the hill. Without a word, Azriel settled back against the large oak tree, on high alert. She obediently settled between his legs once more, wrapping the blanket around them both and leaning back against his chest.
They both watched the estate carefully while he informed her that his shadows would watch the perimeters while they surveyed the back of the house. They only spoke occasionally for the rest of the night, focusing their attention on their duties. When the sky began to lighten, Azriel quietly urged her to her feet, taking her in his arms and winnowing them home, their job complete for the night.
***************************************************
Tags:  @chloepereyra | @lovelyladymayyy | @erisvanserrarailmepls | @valkygwyn | @remellarome | @inejjg | @azrielsgirl | @gisellefigue08 | @acourtofmidnightsnacks | @67impalagirl13 | @illyrian-valkyrie | @arinbelle | @amandapearls | @bittermuire | @cauldron-blessedarcheron1 | @starbornsinger | @princessofmerchants | @allygug | @zooni92802 | @molinden | @tallyovie | @siyeoncruella | @thelittlebookishcorner | @zerxfaithinhumanity | @words-are-what-i-hide-behind | @vasudharaghavan | @gwynkyrie | @niytavia | @fairytamy | @madie2200 | @icarusave | @spookylightkidranch | @mirubyai | @gwynsazriel | @live-the-fangirl-life | @bookprofessor | @ddsworldofbooks | @positivewitch | @cursebreaker29 | @zullyluly | @violentdelightshaveviolentends12 | @faithisilliterate | @b00kishwh0re | @spookyfreakturtlefire | @inejbrekkxr | @whereisvaughan | @aelingalathyniusrailme  | @secretlovelybeauty | @gwynrielsupremacist | @bookologist | @unpopularcharacterstan | @moodymelanist | @discorrdiia | @generalnesta | @flora-shadowshine | @amaranthas-whore | @georgialeighc13 | @sia-r | @gpxxx | @annikaschwietz | @rewiue
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faithisilliterate · 2 months ago
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Gwynriel One Shot Based Off Of This Ask @bookofmirth Posted Earlier Today No I Don’t Have Title Cause I Didn’t Plan This Out
Gwyn had lovely hands. Azriel tracked their movements from the opposite end of the room as Gwyn rummaged around her desk. His eyes stayed focused on those slender, pale, and elegant fingers ruffling through papers and twirling her pen, writing down notes on occasion. Whenever she caught his eyes, he’d smile back to her, return to his own papers, and will himself to focus on his work no matter how much he wished to keep gazing at her. 
There were freckles that dotted the tops of her knuckles. Although the words of a page were in front of him and although he had seen them nearly a hundred times over at this point, he couldn’t help himself from picturing how he would trace his thumb over those little strawberry colored dots. He would place his lips to them before doing the same to the freckles on her face and her neck and then farther down on her collarbones...
It had only been a number of months since they had gotten together. They had gone farther than kissing, going only at a pace that Gwyn wished, but for all that intimacy, it was the light touch of Gwyn’s hands against his that always sent the greatest thrill through him. It was like her palm pressed into his was a match against flint, and the initially spark that was set in his chest caused a pleasant lightness to flow his body in a way that surprised but elated him at once.
He felt a slight flush on his neck as his thoughts began to wander, and repositioned himself in his seat mostly to remind himself that he did, in fact, have work to do. Eventually, a bell chimed to signal seven o’clock. Gwyn, knocked out of her intense concentration, had dropped the pen from her hand, and the startled expression on her face made Azriel chuckle.
“You okay?” he asked, teasingly.
“Wonderful,” Gwyn returned, swiftly organizing her papers. Again, Azriel’s attention returned to those hands, quick and neat. Again, the itch of his palm wanting to feel hers.
He put out a hand as Gwyn put away the last of her papers, and she took it easily. His hand, much wider and rougher from his scars, encapsulated her much smaller and softer one which had fingertips calloused only by pens and swords. The sight of them interlocked would have made him cringe once, to think that he could hold something so apparently light, but he felt none of that now. It looked as natural and calming as a mid-spring rainfall, and perhaps that was because he knew her hands and the secret strength they held. They were the hands that held the dagger, eager to cut the Valkyrie ribbon. They were the hands that saved her and her friends from death in the Blood Rite. They were the hands that scribbled furtively in journals and books, trying to keep up with the speed of her thoughts. They were hands that Azriel had become accustomed to reaching towards, for comfort and to comfort. It was as if Gwyn was his anchor to this new feeling of peace and safety, and it was with her hands clasped in his that he was certain that he was the same for her.
“Ready for dinner? I’m hungry,” Gwyn said. 
Azriel’s shadows twined around their interlocked fingers, and then trailed up to her hair, playing with the coppery strands. He kissed her nose, then her knuckles and guided her out of the room. 
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tealnymph24 · 4 months ago
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A Song of Shadows: Chapter 8
Title: Library Chats and Naps
Gwyn and Azriel spend an afternoon in the library, complete with flirting, napping and an accidental interruption.
Thank you @inejjg for the prompt for part of this! You always make me laugh with your awesome tags, so it was a pleasure bringing this to life. Here’s the original prompt.
This scene is a little different. The first half is from Gwyn’s perspective, and the second half is from someone else. It will make sense when you read it though.
Read on AO3
Azriel X Gwyn
Warnings: Mostly fluff, but has a little steam.
Word Count: 3, 638
Single POV (No Az pov, sorry)
Masterlist
If you would like to be tagged in updates, please let me know.
Tags: @chloepereyra | @lovelyladymayyy | @azrielsshadowsdanceforgwyn | @corrdolium | @ayshasn | @remellarome | @inejjg | @azrielsgirl | @gisellefigue08 | @acourtofmidnightsnacks | @bookishgeekygirl | @ddsworldofbooks | @67impalagirl13 | @illyrian-valkyrie | @arinbelle | @amandapearls | @bittermuire | @cauldron-blessedarcheron1 | @theloraxx | @princessofmerchants | @allygug | @zooni92802 | @molinden | @tallyovie | @siyeoncruella | @thelittlebookishcorner | @zerxfaithinhumanity | @words-are-what-i-hide-behind | @vasudharaghavan | @gwynkyrie | @niytavia | @fairytamy 
Gwyn scratched out another sentence of her work in frustration. She had made so many errors writing down various bits of research that the paper was covered with scribbles. Merrill would never accept it.
She sighed, annoyed with herself. She was too distracted to get any more work done. At least it was late in the afternoon; she could almost call it quits for the day. At her sigh, Azriel poked his head up from his book, concern in his hazel eyes.
They were sitting deep within the library, her at a work desk and him on a sofa adjacent to her. She had sprawled out in the cozy nook to work on her research because it was secluded and located near the section she needed.
Azriel had found her a few hours ago, research for Rhys a thin excuse for his visit. He was now sprawled on the sofa reading “Theories of the Universe and Stars.” So much for his research. She didn't mind though. She enjoyed when he came and spent time with her in the library.
"That's about the 10th time you've sighed in less than an hour," Azriel remarked. "Care to tell me what's wrong?"
"Nothing is wrong," she insisted, knowing he would see right through her lie. She was beyond anxious, her thoughts a jumbled mess of indecision.
It had been three weeks since the training session that now held a special place in her heart. That day had turned out to be the happiest of accidents; but she had also made a bet that day. And while she may have won, she had promised she would consider Azriel’s side of the bet.
Now she was a week away from Mor’s birthday party and more nervous about it than ever. She wanted to go, but it scared her for more reasons than one. She had never been to a party like that before, let alone one with Azriel’s family. What if she panicked? What if everyone thought it was strange that she was with Azriel? She knew Nesta wouldn’t care, but she wasn’t so sure about everyone else.
“Gwyneth, are you ignoring me now?” Azriel asked, tearing her away from her worries.
“I am not ignoring you,” she protested, annoyed at how relaxed he looked. He had no reason to worry about this ridiculous party. He was free to peacefully lounge on his sofa looking far more handsome than should be allowed. It was infuriating.
“You’re in quite the mood today, Berdara,” he said, closing his book, eyes dancing. The shadows that had settled near her playfully twirled around her, echoing their master’s mood. Despite her annoyance, she smiled slightly.
“I am not in a mood,” she shot back, giving into his efforts to get her talking. “I am merely contemplating my future decisions and you interrupted.”
“Do these future decisions involve me?” He questioned, standing up and stretching luxuriously before walking over to her desk. He sat on the edge, waiting for an answer. She contemplated ignoring him but decided playing nice would earn her better rewards.
“Yes, the plans do involve you,” she told him with a sweet smile. His eyes dropped to her lips, as she knew they would. “But since you’re forcing me to confess my secrets, shouldn’t I get something in return.”
“Of course, my lady,” he flirted back, catching onto her game. “What would you like?”
She closed her eyes in response, tilting her head up toward him. To her pleasure, he understood almost immediately. His hands cupped her face, drawing her closer. Then his lips were on hers, leisurely exploring her mouth and instantly making her forget all her worries.
She could do this all day. In the two weeks since he had first kissed her, they had spent as much time as possible together. Training in the mornings, lunches when they both had time, spy training at night and stolen kisses anytime they could fit them in. Lots and lots of kisses.
She could lose herself in Azriel’s kiss. He was thorough and gentle in a way that made her toes curl. She constantly wanted more, much like right now. But to her dismay, he pulled away just as the kiss was about to turn more heated.
“Was that the reward you were looking for, Berdara,” he asked, breathing heavily. “Or was there something else you wanted?”
Oh yes, there was definitely something else she wanted, but she knew he wouldn’t give it to her yet. His kisses were perfect, but he was always so careful. Never putting his hands anywhere that was not respectful and never drawing out the kiss long enough to lose control. It was driving her mad. She knew he was only trying to be conscious of her boundaries, but a part of her wanted him to lose a small amount of his unbreakable self-control. Cauldron knows she did with him.
“No, you delivered perfectly,” she assured him, blushing slightly at her own thoughts.
“Good,” he responded with a self-satisfied smirk. It should have annoyed her, but it only made her want to kiss him more. “So, will you tell me what’s bothering you now?”
She should tell him. He would listen to her no matter how silly he thought she was being. She met his stare and huffed a sigh before speaking.
“I’ll tell you, but you can’t laugh at me.”
“I promise I will not laugh,” he swore, crossing his heart in mock seriousness. “I will remain entirely silent until you’re finished.”
“Fine,” she conceded, feeling anxious again. “Do you remember our bet from a few weeks ago, the one we made the day you took me to dinner?”
He nodded, keeping his promise of silence.
“Well, I know I won the bet, so I don’t have to go to Mor’s birthday, but I want to. Except, I’m scared. I’ve been thinking about it for days and I still can’t decide if I should go or not.”
He raised his eyebrows as she paused, silently asking her for more information. She hesitated. Now that she was saying everything, it all seemed so ridiculous. But it was too late now, so she trudged forward.
“I’m scared to go to the party because I’m worried I’ll panic and ruin it. But I’m also scared because your whole family will be there. What if they don’t like me? We haven’t told anyone we’re together. What if they don’t approve?”
By the time she was finished, her voice had become impossibly small. Azriel had gotten progressively more still as she spoke, barely even breathing it seemed. She looked down at the desk in embarrassment.
“Am I allowed to speak now?” he quietly asked, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. She nodded but didn’t look up.
“Okay, you said a lot of different things, so bear with me as I address them,” he gently said, taking her hand in his. “First, I know you’re scared. I’ve taken you to Velaris before. This would be no different. If you want to come home, I will take you home. Okay?”
“Yes, but –”
“But nothing,” he cut her off, lifting her chin with a finger. “Second, everyone already loves you. That won’t change just because we’re together now. And third, I don’t care if anyone approves of you or not. Their opinion has no impact on my feelings for you.”
She opened her mouth to respond, but he stopped her again, anticipating her rebuttal.
“Gwyn, I’m serious, you have nothing to worry about in regard to my family,” he insisted, steadily holding her gaze. “This relationship is between us, not anyone else. Besides, they already adore you almost as much as I do. It will be fine. Okay?”
She reluctantly nodded, pouting slightly. Everything he had said made perfect sense, which made her feel even sillier. Here she was worrying herself sick over Mor’s party and he had no concerns at all about it. It wasn’t fair.
“You’re probably right, but I don’t understand how you’re so calm about this,” she finally said, irrationally annoyed with his steady demeanor. “How are you not worried at all?”
He chuckled at her obvious irritation, but didn’t comment on it, instead continuing his efforts to soothe her.
“For starters, I have been to all of Mor's birthdays for five centuries, they don't worry me,” he patiently explained, a smile teasing the corners of his mouth. “Second, I've been to Rita's gods know how many times. And third, because I'm not worried about anyone seeing me with you. I know they'll love you because they already do.”
“But what if they think it's odd that I'm with you?” She pushed, refusing to accept his very logical answers. “What if they find it strange that we’re together, as more than friends?”
“Gwyn, I promise you they won't,” he responded, slight exasperation showing. “They might be shocked, but that's all.”
She huffed and abruptly stood, grabbing a stack of books from the desk in the process. She stormed off, returning her books as she went. Azriel was right, she knew he was, but that didn’t stop her from being irritated. It wasn’t that she was actually mad at him for being right, she just wanted to be annoyed for a moment.
She heard him catch up with her just as she tried returning her last book to its home, except the shelf was slightly too high. She was about to get a ladder, when Azriel came up behind her, grabbing the book from her hands. He easily returned it to its spot on the shelf. She couldn’t help but laugh; he was so tall.
“That's annoying you know,” she told him teasingly, all aggravation fading.
“What? It's not my fault you're short,” he joked back, so close she could feel his warmth on her back. Her heart started beating faster.
“I am not short,” she insisted, enjoying their banter. He could always make her smile, even when she didn’t want to.
“You may be taller than most females but compared to me – you're short.”
She turned her head enough to stick her tongue out at him. “That's only because you're an overgrown bat.”
He jokingly put a hand to his heart, feigning hurt. “Hey, that's mean!”
“You started it!”
“Fine, you’re not short.”
“I don't believe you.”
“You are not short,” he pressed, hesitantly wrapping his arms around her waist from behind. She leaned into him, welcoming his touch. She felt him relax behind her.
“Then what am I?” she replied, his warmth soothing her.
He rested his chin on her head as he said, “The perfect size for me to do this.”
“I suppose that's acceptable,” she allowed, pressing herself tighter against him. Gods it felt good being so close. “But I would like further proof that I'm not short.”
“Now you're just fishing for compliments,” he said, his voice dropping to a low rumble. It gave her goosebumps.
“Perhaps.”
She could feel him suppressing laughter as he leaned his face into the crook of her neck. Her head was swimming. If they stood like this any longer, she might faint.
“If you were short then I wouldn't stare at your legs so much,” he mumbled into her, sending another round of goosebumps across her skin.
“And how much do you stare at them?” she asked, trying to sound unfazed, but her shaking voice betrayed her. Did he have any idea what he was doing to her?
"Constantly,” he drawled in her ear, his deep voice resonating in her bones.  “I can't stop thinking about having your long, gorgeous legs wrapped around me.”
She couldn’t think straight. That was his plan, she was sure of it. And it was working. Warmth was pooling below her stomach, and a flush had crept up her neck. Thoughts of him that she had never thought she would be capable of were swirling through her head. Only with him did she ever react like this. He was the only male she felt safe enough to allow this kind of reaction.
"You're just trying to distract me now," she breathlessly replied, knowing it was impossible to hide her body’s reaction. He was too close to her; he would sense everything.
“Is it working?”
“Yes, and I'm very angry with you for it,” she said, attempting to put some force behind her words. She didn’t want to look too weak, even if she was enjoying this.
She felt him smile against her skin.  “Your scent is saying something wildly different than your mouth, Berdara.”
Annoyance flooded her, overriding her previous thoughts. He was perfectly calm and controlled again while she could barely form coherent thoughts. It wasn’t fair. She was going to figure out how to get under his skin if it killed her. Maybe she would ask Nesta for advice, or Mor.
She pulled out of his arms and glared at him. “I can smell your scent too, so bite me.”
“Gladly, if my lady requests it,” he roguishly replied, laughing.
She stalked back to her desk, refusing to grace him with a response. He obediently followed, plopping down on his sofa when they reached their nook.
“You're infuriating,” she scolded him, furiously stacking papers on the desk.
“Maybe,” he conceded, a small smile on his lips. “But my plan worked.”
“I'm still mad at you,” she replied, although her annoyance was already fading, a smile tugging at her mouth. She could never stay mad at him for long.
“As long as you’re still smiling, then I'll take it,” he said, going back to his book.
She let herself fully smile as she returned to her work, carefully organizing her research into neat piles. But eventually thoughts of Mor’s party returned, distracting her once again.
“Azriel?”
“Yes?”
“I really am nervous,” she admitted. “I've never gone to a party like this.”
“I know,” he closed his book, studying her face before opening his arms for her. “Come here.”
She obediently walked over to him and let him pull her onto the sofa next to him. He tucked her into his side, wrapping his arms comfortingly around her.
“I know you're scared,” he assured her, placing a gentle kiss to her forehead. “But I promise I will not leave your side. If you want to come home at any point, I will take you.”
“Okay,” she quietly conceded against his chest, nuzzling deeper into his strong body. “But this means I need to go shopping for Mor’s birthday present.”
“I haven’t gone shopping either,” he confessed, lightly running a hand through her hair. “How about we go tomorrow evening. We can make it a date?”
“I’d like that,” she replied, unable to stop her eyes from beginning to flutter. She was so tired, and he was so warm.
“Do you mind if I read?” He softly asked, grazing her cheek with his knuckles. She gently took his hand, holding it close to her. She nodded against him, too far gone to form words.
He began reading his book out loud, his low voice washing over her. She idly started tracing the scars on his hand, letting her eyes close. Before she completely drifted off, she felt the book fall gently against her hip as Azriel’s voice faded.
His heart rate slowed against her, telling her he had fallen asleep. His wings softly wrapped around them, cocooning them in a warm embrace. She placed a whisper of a kiss to his knuckles before allowing herself to be swept away by the soothing caress of his shadows and steady sound of his breathing.
Nesta POV
“They have to be somewhere down here,” Nesta assured Cassian, Mor and Rhys as she led them down into the library. They were looking for Azriel and Gwyn because they were both late for their evening plans; Azriel for poker with the boys, and Gwyn for a girls’ night in.
“Are you sure they’ll even be in the same place?” Rhys questioned.
“Yes, because they’re just friends,” Cassian answered, making air quotes as he spoke. Nesta allowed herself a small smile. Gwyn and Azriel hadn’t said anything to either of them, but Cassian and she were positive something was going on.
They had started taking bets a few weeks ago about when Az and Gwyn would admit to it. Now almost everyone except Azriel and Gwyn were involved. Even Lucien had joined the betting pool and he hadn’t even seen them together.
Nesta wanted to win, so she was selfishly hoping Az and Gwyn would tell them in the next few days. If anything happened now, she would win. Everyone else had either already lost or was betting it would take much longer.
But whether she won or lost, Nesta just hoped Gwyn was happy, and Az too. They were perfect for each other; she hoped they wouldn’t throw it away. Gwyn challenged Azriel and saw through his cold exterior; something Nesta had never seen anyone else do. And Azriel never treated Gwyn with pity, only admiration and soft humor, something Nesta knew helped Gwyn become more confident in herself. Azriel would be a fool if he let Gwyn get away.
“I have wine, chocolate and Emerie waiting for me upstairs,” Mor remarked as they descended another level, breaking Nesta from her musings. “They better be down here, or I’ll riot.”
“They’ll be down here, I promise,” Nesta consoled her, a slight smile at the mention of Emerie.
Nesta had already known about Mor and Emerie, but Mor had unexpectedly confessed to everyone two weeks ago. Nesta knew Mor had been terrified, so she was proud she had found the courage to be open with everyone. Mor had become her friend just as much as Emerie was. She wanted them both to be happy.
“As long as we find them soon, I don’t care where they are,” Cassian grumbled. “I just want dinner.”
Nesta threw a long-suffering look at her mate as they rounded another corner, close to where she thought the couple in question might be. Rhys and Mor just laughed, used to Cassian’s antics.
They walked around one more row of bookshelves before the reading nook Nesta had been leading them to finally appeared. All four of them froze, a stunned silence falling over them. Even Nesta had not expected the sight that greeted her.
Directly in front of them, sprawled on a sofa sleeping, were Gwyn and Azriel. Gwyn was practically lying on top of Azriel, a book abandoned on her hip just below where one of Azriel’s hands rested on her waist. His wings were cocooning the two of them, with his shadows wrapping protectively around them. Azriel’s free hand was tucked close to Gwyn’s lips, almost like she had fallen asleep just after kissing his hand. And they both looked utterly peaceful, gently breathing in tandem.
“Well, well, well,” Cassian drawled, the first to recover himself enough to speak. “So, this is what it looks like to be just friends with someone.”
His words brought Nesta out of her shock, a slow smile working its way onto her features. She had been right. There was no denying that something was going on with Gwyn and Azriel now. A flood of happiness and pride washed over her.
“I never thought I would ever see Azriel so…soft,” Rhys slowly said, appearing to struggle with words. Nesta couldn’t blame him. She was thrilled, but it was somewhat unexpected. Gwyn and Azriel had been friends for months without admitting to anything. She had begun to worry they never would, but clearly, they had.
“Oh. My. Goodness,” Mor squealed, her face twisting into a look of pure delight. The sound startled Azriel and Gwyn enough to rouse them, both slowly opening their eyes and taking in their surroundings. They abruptly sat up straight, eyes wide, as they realized they weren’t alone.
“Soooo, just friends, huh?” Cassian teased them, a wicked grin on his face. Nesta and Rhys burst into laughter as Gwyn and Az instantly went a deep shade of crimson. “When did this happen?”
“A while ago,” Azriel sheepishly admitted, rubbing the back of his neck. Gwyn nodded shyly in agreement, looking everywhere but at anyone’s face. Nesta couldn’t help but feel a burst of joy. Her friends were happy, just as she’d hoped.
“Well, now you have to come to my birthday party,” Mor said ecstatically, bouncing on her heels. “You owe me for keeping this a secret.”
Azriel huffed a laugh, clearly lost for words. Gwyn just blushed deeper as Mor bounded over to them, placing a pat on Azriel’s head and pulling Gwyn up from the sofa. Gwyn looked to Az for help, but he shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “there’s nothing I can do.”
“You’re coming with me,” Mor announced, dragging Gwyn behind her. “You’re late for girls’ night and I need details.”
Nesta watched Mor pull Gwyn with her as she began ascending up the library, then she turned back to the males in front of her. Cassian and Rhys were looking at Azriel with nothing short of utter mischief on their faces. Az was going to be interrogated just as thoroughly as Gwyn was tonight. Nesta couldn’t help but laugh a little at the thought.
“Have fun boys,” Nesta told them, turning to leave. “But don’t spend all your money tonight. You all owe me.”
All three of the males turned to her in indignation, looks of horror replacing their mirth. She smiled coyly at them, confident in their defeat.
“We had a bet,” she reminded them. “And I just won.”
She left them standing in shock, too amused to wait for their response. She slowly followed Mor and Gwyn up to the main house, excited to spend an evening with her best friends.
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tealnymph-writes · 18 days ago
Text
A Song of Shadows: Chapter 22
Title: Azriel POV - Family Dinner
Azriel takes Gwyn to family dinner for the first time.
Note: I'm back! Sorry for the unexpected hiatus. I was working out some changes and taking some time to figure out some future story stuff. I am hoping to start posting on a regular schedule now, starting this week. Most Fridays, it will be an update to this fic, other weeks it will be one shots and things. I'm hoping this will relieve stress for me, and make it easier to stay updated for my readers. Also, I will be introducing a new style of chapter soon, so stay tuned! Thanks for your support!
If you would like to be tagged in updates, please let me know!
Read on AO3
Azriel x Gwyn
Warnings: Fluff
Word Count: 6,297
Masterlist
“Gwyn, honey, relax,” Azriel patiently chided as he guided Gwyn toward the front door of the River Estate, both of their heads lowered to shield from the unexpected rain. Autumn had set in early, the past week turning from warm to chilly in the blink of an eye. Azriel and Gwyn, along with Nesta and Cassian, were both bundled in rain jackets to keep dry in the relentless downpour.
“I am relaxed,” she insisted, despite the proof to the contrary. She was clinging to him so tightly his knuckles had turned white. He didn’t complain though or push her further. He knew she was anxious, so he kept his mouth shut, quietly following Nesta and Cassian into the house.
He watched Gwyn blink in the bright entryway, his worry increasing as the onslaught of voices, light and color greeted them. Mor and Emerie immediately pounced on them, drawing Gwyn in for hugs while he continued holding her hand. Then it was Feyre who came over, introducing Gwyn to Nyx, who was squealing and flapping his wings happily.
He noticed Rhys about to greet them a moment later, and he quickly intervened, wanting to give Gwyn a moment to breathe. He steered her toward the coat closet, quietly taking her jacket and giving her a kiss to the forehead before taking her hand again. He studied her face closely but remained silent, worried she was going to get overwhelmed. Before he led her back out, she gave him a small smile, then followed him back to the rest of the group.
He spotted Lucien speaking to Rhys and was about to steer her in their direction when they were intercepted by Feyre again, followed closely by Elain. Rhys caught his eye across the room, sending a grim look at Elain.
Is something wrong? Azriel asked Rhys silently, knowing his brother would be paying attention with his powers. Rhys tucked his hands in his pockets, then glanced between Elain and Gwyn, watching Feyre introduce them.
Elain has been in an odd mood the past few days. I just don’t want her to be rude to Gwyn. Rhys replied, his words causing a flutter of fear in Azriel’s chest. Fuck. He should have told Gwyn about his history with Elain before bringing her here, but there was nothing he could do right now. That conversation would have to wait until later.
Do you have reason to believe she might be rude? He asked Rhys.
His brother nodded slightly before responding. Yes, she’s been having outbursts toward Feyre and Nesta, and even Mor on occasion lately. It’s been strange. I’ve been wanting to discuss it with you, but I know you have a lot on your plate.
You could have told me, especially if you thought I had something to do with it. Azriel silently huffed, a slight frown forming on his lips.
I know you have nothing to do with it, you’ve been too busy. Rhys replied with a smile. I don’t know what’s causing it. Neither does Feyre. That’s why I wanted to discuss it with you, but we can talk more later.
Azriel nodded, turning his attention to Gwyn. His silent conversation only lasted a few seconds, but it was enough for Azriel to decide Gwyn would be better off around Lucien. The irony of that thought was not missed by him. Not even a year ago he would never have believed something like that, but now, he trusted Lucien more than he would have thought possible.
Azriel softy coughed, bringing Gwyn’s attention to him. “Gwyn, Lucien is here. I’m sure he’d like to say hello. Shall we?”
She eagerly nodded, letting him lead her across the hall to Lucien and Rhys who were engaged in a lively discussion. They both turned to Gwyn as Azriel guided her over, their faces breaking into matching grins.
“Gwyn, it’s wonderful to see you again,” Lucien greeted her, bending his head in a bow.
“Agreed,” Rhys echoed, smiling fondly at her. “I was beginning to worry you were scared off by our superior poker skills.”
She laughed, the sound vibrating through Azriel’s body. He could feel her finally start to relax next to him, giving him a small sense of relief.
He continued watching her, quietly listening as she teased Rhys and Lucien. “I remember beating all of you at cards. Repeatedly. So, if losing equals superior, then yes, I am quite scared of your skills.”
He laughed with Rhys and Lucien, pride swelling in his chest at Gwyn’s unflinching bravery. Even with two males twice her size, she never backed down from anything. The group fell into easy conversation, Azriel only adding the occasional comment. He was still too worried from earlier to add much to the discussion. He had spent almost thirty minutes in his room with Gwyn before they left, convincing her that coming to dinner was no different than going to Mor’s party.
He had invited her to family dinner a few days ago and Gwyn had agreed with little hesitation. It had seemed natural to invite her, after all, just in the week since he had returned from his mission, they had spent every minute possible with each other. And even Emerie had begun attending with Mor recently, so he thought it was the right time to bring Gwyn. But by the time the night had arrived, Gwyn had become a nervous wreck, anxiously pacing his room.
He had patiently listened to her, holding her in his arms until she had calmed down and promising her they could leave whenever she wanted. He had carefully tried hiding his own anxiety, not wanting to make her more nervous. He wanted her to enjoy herself, to feel comfortable here.
As Rhys led them into the dining room, Gwyn turned her attention to Azriel, meeting his worried gaze with a soft smile.
“Az, I’m okay,” she whispered, squeezing his hand gently. He squeezed back, his eyes searching her face. “You don’t need to worry so much.”
“I’m not,” he lied, knowing she would see right through it. He pulled out a chair for her as everyone filed in, biting back a laugh as she rolled her eyes. “Maybe a little. But only because I want you to enjoy yourself.”
“I will,” she insisted, letting him scoot her chair in for her. He squeezed her leg under the table as he settled in next to her, running his fingers along the spot where her leggings met her sweater, then moving back down her thigh. He leaned in to softly kiss her temple, forcing himself to finally relax.
As she turned her attention back to the group, he continued stroking her leg, letting the feeling of her soft body soothe him. She was seated on his left with Rhys on her other side, Feyre on the end of the table next to Rhys. Elain was on the other corner next to Feyre, with Nesta and Cassian directly across from Gwyn, and Lucien on Cassian’s other side. Mor sat on the opposite end from Feyre, with Emerie sitting on Azriel’s right side.
He continued watching Gwyn as food began being passed around, silently praying she was less anxious than she had been. Despite his promises to the contrary, he knew this dinner must feel different than Mor’s party. It was more intimate, more personal.
He forced himself to engage in the conversation next to him, adding in occasional comments, but he was mostly paying attention to Gwyn. He listened as Rhys began speaking with her, his interest piqued when the subject turned to her poker skills.
“I’ve been wondering, how did you learn to play poker?” Rhys asked Gwyn, drawing Azriel’s attention to them as Gwyn let out a giggle. “I don’t think I’ve lost that badly to anyone, except Azriel.”
“Well, he taught me,” she confessed. Azriel turned his head, noting the pretty blush coloring her cheeks.
“Rhys, she’s being modest,” he remarked, brushing Gwyn’s hair back softly as his chest once again swelled with pride. “I only taught her the basics. She figured out the rest on her own. She can even give me a run for my money now.”
Rhys chuckled, flashing his trademark smile. “Is that so?”
Gwyn nodded, her blush deepening as she ducked her head. Azriel squeezed her thigh before he continued speaking, her delightful blush urging him on.
“Yes, and she’s good at chess too,” Azriel told Rhys, giving Gwyn a crooked grin. “We started playing together a few months ago, and she’s only improved since.”
“Well, I’ll have to test that sometime,” Rhys replied, looking at Gwyn again. “Anytime you’d like, you’re welcome to come over and we can play a match or two.”
Gwyn timidly nodded, “I’d like that.”
“I also heard from Nesta that you’re interested in astronomy,” Rhys noted, holding Gwyn’s gaze. Azriel smiled, satisfied Gwyn was beginning to relax. He turned his attention back to his end of the table as Rhys and Gwyn continued talking, falling into comfortable conversation.
“Lucien, how have things been in the Mortal Lands?” Mor asked, the conversation having shifted from fashion to their regular lives. Azriel’s eyes darted to Lucien, noting how the other male subtly looked down the table toward his mate before answering.
“Things are fine, I suppose,” Lucien replied, a muscle ticking in his jaw.
Azriel stole a glance to his left, looking at Gwyn but noticing Elain gazing toward them. He wasn’t sure if she was looking at Gwyn or him. Either way, it was odd. Elain had been perfectly cordial since last solstice, so it would make no sense for her to suddenly be bothered by his involvement with Gwyn. He shook away the concern; it couldn’t be investigated now.
Mor glanced at Azriel, then continued speaking, holding Emerie’s hand under the table while she spoke to Lucien. “Have you been able to work out anything with the mortals there?”
“I’m afraid not,” Lucien admitted, his jaw muscle working again. Lucien turned to Azriel, seeming to weigh his words before continuing. “Actually, I was hoping to speak with you about that, Azriel.”
Azriel raised an eyebrow, silently encouraging Lucien to go on.
“We have noticed something…” Lucien trailed off, casting an odd glance toward Elain again before dropping his voice. “Something strange. I suspect foul play, perhaps involving the Mortal Queens.”
Azriel nodded, keeping his voice equally low as he responded. “If you’d like, I can come take a look. Perhaps set up patrols.”
“Could it be connected to Vallahan?” Mor suggested, her voice barely a whisper as Emerie’s eyes darted between them. Azriel nodded, his jaw clenching. Mor frowned. “I’d like to go with you then.”
“I would be grateful for both of your help,” Lucien graciously bowed his head, painting a placid expression on his face despite the tone of the conversation.
“We’ll plan to come as soon as we can,” Azriel promised, frustration with himself sinking in as Mor carefully changed the conversation again to avoid suspicion from the rest of the table, allowing Azriel to sink into a brooding silence.
He was missing something; he could feel it. He kept hitting dead ends in Vallahan, and now this. He would wager anything the two situations were connected, but he couldn’t figure out how. He remained quiet as dinner continued, his jaw set, barely hearing the conversations around him.
He looked at Gwyn again when she suddenly leaned into him, concern in her teal eyes. He gave her a tight smile as he took her hand under the table, setting their joined hands on his leg. His shadows flitted between them, ignoring him as they tugged the hem of her sweater, their agitation obvious.
When the group finally rose to go into the living area, Gwyn tightly held onto his hand under the table, a silent request to stay. He remained in his seat, urging Mor and Emerie, who were waiting, to go ahead.
“Is everything all right?” He whispered, holding her gaze as the rest of the group filed out. His shadows calmed slightly, softly twirling around her hair.
“I’m fine, I was worried about you,” she responded unexpectedly. He grazed his knuckles along her cheek, satisfaction filling him when she leaned into his touch. “You seem tense. Do you want to talk about it?”
He shook his head slowly, trying to conceal his frustration. “Not yet. I shouldn’t be thinking about work.”
“Azriel, it’s okay,” she soothed him, running her hand along his arm. “How about you show me the gardens before we go in with everyone else?”
He raised his eyebrows at her quizzically. “It’s raining.”
“So? We can stay near the house.”
He chuckled, knowing it was no use arguing when she had set her mind to something. “Okay, I’ll show you the gardens.”
He pushed back his chair, then pulled her chair out, taking her hand again as he guided her towards the back of the house, tightly holding her hand as they walked out. It was chilly outside, and the rain was still pouring, but the patio offered a nice vantage point of the gardens. Gwyn’s face was filled with awe as he led her out, stopping not far from the doors under the edge of the roof that overhung the large patio.
Azriel pulled her into his arms, wrapping her in his embrace, his shadows finally settling down around them. He closed his eyes, letting her look out at the gardens while he held her tightly, the steady rain the only sound as she tucked her head against his chest.
“Gwyn, thank you,” Azriel murmured, leaning his head down to rest his cheek against her hair. He could stay like this forever.
“For what?”
“For being incredibly perceptive,” he smiled, his worries slowly fading the longer he held her.
“I noticed you seemed tense during dinner. I thought you might need a minute away from everyone.”
“I did. Thank you for noticing.”
“Of course,” she assured him, squeezing him a little tighter. “Are you okay though?”
He let out a sigh, allowing himself to sink into her presence, softly kissing her temple before he spoke.
“Yes, I’m fine,” he began, tightening his grip on her. “I just feel like I’m missing something, and I hate it.”
“What do you mean?”
He fell silent, mulling over his thoughts. He didn’t want to worry her, but he knew she wouldn’t rest until he told her. After a few minutes, he decided to explain.
“We’ve been investigating some issues in Vallahan for months now, but nothing has turned up even though I know something is off. And now, I found out from Lucien that he suspects something is going on in the Mortal Lands. It all feels connected somehow, but I don’t know how. I’m missing something. I know it.”
With each word, his brow furrowed a little deeper. Gwyn pulled her head back when he went silent, studying his face. She gently brushed her fingers across his forehead, smoothing the worry lines furrowing his brow, sending a rush of heat across his skin. He remained silent, watching her as she leaned up and softly kissed his cheek before tucking her face against his chest again.
“It will be okay, Az,” she promised, wrapping her arms back around him. “We’ll figure it out. Okay?”
“Okay,” he agreed, resting his cheek against her head once more, her words ringing through his head, his heart melting. We’ll figure it out. Not you’ll figure it out. She might not realize it, but that one simple word meant more than he could explain. He wasn’t alone; he didn’t have to solve everything by himself.
He tugged her a bit closer, both falling silent, holding each other tightly while the rain continued pouring down in the garden. He slowly relaxed into her, closing his eyes and simply breathing her in, the tightness in his body eventually easing. He would never get over how much her mere presence soothed him. How she calmed him with just a touch.
He lost track of time, not caring if everyone else was missing them. He only cared about the female in his arms. About the steady beating of her heart, the way her soft body molded to his. She let him hold her for as long as he needed, not letting go until he pulled back with a soft smile on his face.
“Ready to go back in?” He quietly asked.
“I am if you are,” she replied, threading their hands together. He kissed her on the forehead, then tugged her to the door, leading her to the large sitting room in the house. Everyone else was already gathered, comfortably lounging and talking. Gwyn sat next to Nesta on the sofa, so he stood behind her, leaning against the back of the sofa so he could gently play with her hair.
He paid absolutely no regard to the rest of the room, barely noticing as Gwyn watched Cassian dramatically recount some war story. He was too caught up in her to care about anyone else. He felt her shiver when his fingers found the bare skin of her neck, his hand gliding along her skin beneath the cover of her silky hair.
He knew he should probably pull his hand away, but her skin was so soft that he couldn’t bring himself to stop touching her. He let his fingers press a little harder, slowly rubbing gentle circles across her skin. He could feel knots in her neck, so he increased his efforts, massaging her while she listened to everyone talk.
He bit his lip, hiding the satisfied smile that formed when he noticed how glazed her eyes had become the longer he continued his ministrations. His mind instantly wandered, curiosity flooding him. How would she react if they were alone? Better yet, how would she react if he was massaging more than just her neck? Perhaps he’d find out soon, if she felt comfortable with it. He made a mental note to ask her sometime.
He was dragged out of his musings when Feyre approached them with Nyx in her arms, a somewhat harried look on her face. He snatched his hand away, tucking it behind his back while Gwyn hurriedly readjusted herself on the sofa.
“Azriel, would you mind holding Nyx?” Feyre asked, a pleading note in her voice. His stomach flipped, nervousness mixing with pride. He timidly held out his arms, his brow furrowing. “He keeps trying to crawl over to you. I think he wants your shadows.”
“Oh. Of course, I’ll hold him,” Azriel promised, gently taking the squirming baby. Feyre squeezed his arm, then returned to Rhys, leaving him with his nephew. His shadows instantly swooped in, creating patterns in the air around Nyx, but the baby seemed far more interested in watching Gwyn. Azriel carefully situated Nyx in his arms and started bouncing back and forth, as he had seen Cassian and Rhys do before.
Gwyn turned in her seat to watch them, and he flashed her a small smile, although it didn’t quite erase the worry on his face. He adored his nephew, but he always felt nervous holding him. He couldn’t help the fear that crept in that people might flinch away, or that he might not be gentle enough, especially with Nyx.
He watched a blush creep up Gwyn’s neck, the image bringing him out of his worries. He continued rocking Nyx back and forth, trying to remind himself of how Gwyn saw him. How she felt about his hands. The thought helped him relax, allowing him to simply enjoy holding his nephew. Nyx’s little wings fluttered as he stared at Gwyn, watching her as intently as he was.
A more genuine smile teased his lips as he swayed with Nyx, admiring Gwyn’s beautiful face. She grinned at him, quietly laughing when Nyx dove forward in his arms, squealing with delight as he stretched his arms toward her. The laugh caught Lucien’s attention, the male shifting toward the tiny baby who was eagerly trying to grab Gwyn’s hair while Azriel continued rocking him.
“I think he likes you,” Azriel murmured to Gwyn, chuckling at Nyx’s continued efforts to reach Gwyn.
“Maybe,” Gwyn agreed, that delightful blush deepening. “He likes you too.”
Azriel shrugged, feigning nonchalance despite the burst of pride he felt. Gwyn laughed again before turning her attention to the baby, starting a game of peek-a-boo. Nyx squealed in delight again, reaching for her eagerly, his eyes happily darting between her and Lucien, the latter having joined the game of peek-a-boo. The two of them took turns entertaining Nyx while Azriel swayed in place, Nyx’s tiny wings fluttering as he watched Lucien and Gwyn.
Azriel was so caught up in watching Gwyn play with his nephew that he almost missed Nesta nudging her. Gwyn turned to Nesta, leaving him and Lucien to occupy Nyx. He continued bouncing, watching as Gwyn agreed to whatever plan Nesta had concocted.
Nesta pulled Gwyn into the middle of the room, with Cassian following a moment later. Cassian handed Gwyn three apples, which Gwyn seemed to take as her cue to begin her demonstration. She began flipping the apples in the air, juggling them with ease. Cassian and Nesta cheered her on while everyone looked on in awe, even Lucien had paused the game of peek-a-book with Nyx to watch.
Azriel couldn’t rip his eyes away from Gwyn while he continued bouncing Nyx. She looked so happy and full of joy, her eyes dancing with glee as her face spread into a broad smile. He couldn’t help but smile back at her, even if she wasn’t looking at him. She was so damn gorgeous.
His nephew seemed to agree with his sentiments, mirroring his gaze and watching Gwyn with wide eyes. Azriel was so entranced by Gwyn that, for once, he didn’t care that everyone in the room had suddenly turned to look at him, their satisfied smirks barely registering.
The apples fell to the ground as Gwyn met his gaze, her face instantly going red as she took in Azriel and Nyx. He was still holding his nephew, but his focus was on Gwyn, grinning just as much as the baby. His shadows sat silently on his shoulders, equally captivated by her display. Nyx was clapping his hands, his eyes still wide as he squirmed in Azriel’s arms.
Azriel held Gwyn’s gaze as Rhys said something to the group, the words not registering. He watched her walk toward him, abandoning her spot on the sofa to stand by him. He never broke his focus on her, his eyes holding her gaze the entire time, even as Nyx squirmed harder in an attempt to reach Gwyn.
Gwyn quietly brushed back Nyx’s full head of hair as she reached them, the baby softly leaning into her touch with an awed expression. She smiled but ducked her head, no doubt avoiding Azriel’s heated gaze. He couldn’t help the desire he felt for her, the need. She was everything, and he was utterly in awe of how incredible she was. If he wasn’t holding his nephew, he would have kissed her right then and there.
They stood together, quietly playing with Nyx as the party died down. It wasn’t until Lucien came over to them, a knowing smile on his face, that either of them moved. Gwyn gave Lucien a broad grin, seeming happy to see the other male.
“I’m heading out,” Lucien informed them, ruffling Nyx’s hair. The baby giggled, diving for Lucien with what little wiggle room Azriel was allowing. They all laughed, the sound of Gwyn’s musical laughter mixing with the deep rumbles of the two males. “It was good to see you again, Gwyn. You as well, Azriel.”
“You too, “Azriel sincerely agreed, giving Lucien a small smile. The male was growing on him. “I’ll come to the Mortal Lands as soon as I can.”
“Thank you, I’ll look forward to your visit,” Lucien replied, stealing a furtive glance toward his mate who stood by the doorway. “Gwyn, I hope we see each other again soon.”
Gwyn quietly agreed, smiling broadly as he bowed and left. She watched Lucien go, her brow furrowing slightly. Azriel studied her, unsure why she suddenly looked worried. He was about to ask when Feyre and Rhys approached.
“Azriel, before you go, would you mind helping me put Nyx down?” Feyre asked, staring expectantly at him as Rhys hid a smile behind his hand.
“I…of course,” Azriel stuttered, caught off guard. He looked between Rhys and Gwyn for help, but they both ignored him, seeming amused by his obvious discomfort.
“Perfect, we’ll be back in a few minutes then,” Feyre clapped, turning toward the door, leaving Azriel no choice but to follow. He threw an apologetic glance at Gwyn, then hurried after Feyre, leaving Gwyn with Rhys and the rest of the group.
Azriel followed Feyre to the nursery, his long legs allowing him to easily keep pace with her. Nyx was already beginning to calm in his arms, his shadows having begun gently soothing him.
“Here, let me change him and then we can put him in his bed,” Feyre whispered, taking Nyx to a small changing table. Azriel hovered, unsure why Feyre wanted his help. He didn’t mind though; he adored his nephew more than anything.
“All right, how about you tuck him in?” Feyre suggested, bringing Nyx back to him. Azriel nodded, taking Nyx and walking to the crib.
Nyx went down without a fuss, falling asleep within a few minutes, his fingers slowly loosening their hold around Azriel’s much larger ones. Azriel quietly stepped back, moving toward the door where Feyre now stood. She smiled at him, then cast a fond gaze at her child before leading him into the hallway.
“Thank you, Az,” Feyre squeezed his arm, slowly walking down the hallway. “He loves you. I hope you know that.”
Azriel blushed, at a loss for words, unable to hide the smile Feyre’s words brought him. She grinned, then unexpectedly turned down a different hall, leading him away from the stairs. “Feyre, where are you going?”
Feyre glanced back at him, gesturing for him to continue following her. “I have something for you.”
He gave her a quizzical look but didn’t question her as Feyre led him into her study. He hovered by the door, watching her grab something from her desk, pulling out a small package, no bigger than the mini portrait of Feyre Rhys kept on his desk. He watched her walk back to him, his brow furrowing when she held out the package for him.
“This is for you,” Feyre stated, pushing the item into his hands. “Open it.”
He silently obeyed, pulling open the wrapping while Feyre stood by him, anxiously twisting her hands. He couldn’t fathom what she would be nervous about.
He continued unwrapping his gift, unveiling what looked like a small, simple wooden box, not quite a foot tall and maybe half a foot wide. It seemed too thin to be a box, but it had a small latch on the side. He was about to reach for it when a thought struck him.
He realized the box was identical to the odd frame Rhys had with Feyre’s portrait in it, the one he had thought of earlier. In fact, he was fairly certain Feyre had given Cassian a similar one with a portrait of Nesta in it. The frames were designed so they could be closed like a box, one half of them solid wood with the other half containing the portrait of their mates, able to be taken with them easily on long trips.
He forced himself to open the latch, his heart suddenly pounding as he understood what must be contained in the wooden frame. Sure enough, when he flicked it open, his breath caught, his eyes finding a pair of familiar teal ones staring back at him. The likeness was uncanny, the portrait perfectly capturing Gwyn’s smiling face, her eyes full of mischief and joy.
“Feyre, I…I don’t know what to say,” Azriel choked out, his eyes darting between the small portrait of Gwyn and his sister-in-law.
“You don’t have to say anything,” Feyre said, giving him a shy smile. “I just wanted you to have this. I thought you could put it on your desk maybe. Unless you don’t want to.”
His head shot up, his eyes blazing. “No, I want to. I love it, Feyre. It’s…it’s perfect. How did you even do this? You only just met Gwyn a few weeks ago.”
“Yes, and I could see how much you care for her,” Feyre shrugged, blushing slightly. “I know you haven’t been together long, but I can see the way you look at her, Az. We all do. I wanted you to know how happy I am for you, and this was a way for me to do that. I asked Nesta to help me. She showed me memories of Gwyn, and I did the rest.”
He smiled, giving the portrait one last look before tucking it into a pocket of shadows, then he swept Feyre into a tight hug. He had no words for what this gift meant, but he knew he would cherish it forever. The portrait would stay on his desk when he was home, and when he had to leave Gwyn for missions, he would take it with him.
“Thank you, Feyre,” He whispered, grinning broadly as he pulled away. She smiled back at him, then led him back toward the stairs, heading toward their respective partners.
Just as they made it to the bottom of the stairs, his shadows alerted him of Elain’s presence. He met her gaze, his happiness faltering, his shadows skittering away.
“Azriel, can I speak to you for a moment?” Elain softly asked, a small frown forming. He quickly called out to Rhys mentally, hoping his brother was paying attention.
“Of course,” Azriel agreed, pausing at the base of the stairs as Feyre continued toward the sitting room. Yes? Rhys mentally responded, filling Azriel with relief.
Elain wants to speak with me. I was hoping you might listen in. He responded to Rhys, grateful when Rhys silently agreed to keep an ear open to the conversation. After what Rhys had said earlier, Azriel didn’t feel like he could completely trust Elain for some reason. Perhaps he was over thinking, but he’d rather not take any chances.
“Azriel, I…” Elain started, casting anxious glances toward the doorway where Feyre had just disappeared. “I just wanted to say that you and Gwyn make a lovely couple. I like her. I’m happy for you.”
Azriel’s eyes went wide, taken by surprise. Maybe he was misjudging Elain. “Thank you,” he replied, guilt washing over him. “Gwyn is wonderful.”
Elain nodded but didn’t say anything else. He took that as a sign she had no more to say, so he moved towards the sitting room, pausing when the guilt in his heart increased.
“Elain,” he called, turning toward her again. “I’m sorry. For everything. I hope you find happiness.”
She gave him a sad smile, “Thank you, Azriel. I’m sorry too.”
He nodded, looking at her for a moment before he turned away again. There was nothing left to say, and Gwyn was waiting for him. He quickly grabbed Gwyn’s coat on his way to the sitting room, then walked in to find his favorite priestess, leaving Elain hovering in the hallway.
He met Rhys’ gaze as he entered, his brother giving him an almost imperceptible nod of approval. He gave Rhys a knowing look, relief flooding him. All he had to do now was tell Gwyn and everything would be completely left in the past.
He looked at Gwyn, meeting her happy face with a grin of his own, the thought of Feyre’s gift filling him with joy and pride again.
“Ready?” Azriel asked, holding his arms out as Gwyn walked over. He helped her put on her jacket, then threaded their hands together, tugging her in close. She willingly leaned into him as his shadows twirled in her hair.
They said their goodbyes, then turned to leave, but Elain suddenly stopped them in the hallway.
“Gwyn!” Elain called, her face full of sadness and what looked like fear. “It was nice to meet you. I’m glad you came.”
“Thank you,” Gwyn replied while Azriel watched. “It was nice meeting you as well.”
With that, Azriel ushered her through the door, drawing a wing above her as they stepped out into the pouring rain. He moved to take her in his arms to winnow, but she held up a hand, giving him a strange look he couldn't quite decipher.
“Azriel, why was Elain looking at me like that?” Gwyn bluntly inquired. Azriel’s heart immediately dropped, his face falling. “She looked almost scared. Is there something I should know?”
Azriel sighed, closing his eyes for a moment to gather his thoughts before answering. He knew he needed to have this conversation with Gwyn, but he wasn’t expecting it to happen now. He was filled with terror as he finally spoke.
“I think Elain was just worried that you might not like her.”
“Why?”
He heaved a sigh again, his brow furrowing. It was best to just say it, to get it over with. There was nothing else he could do now to soften the blow.
“Because Elain and I…we sort of…we had a crush on each other at one point. But that was it. There’s nothing between us now. There never really was.”
With each word, the pit in his stomach deepened. He hated that anything had ever happened with Elain, even if it was nothing. He wished he could take it back, but he knew he couldn’t. He just prayed he wouldn’t lose Gwyn; he wouldn’t be able to bear the loss of his lovely bird.
As he waited for her response, he grew more and more worried, dread filling his heart as he watched her process his words. He couldn’t take it; he knew what she was thinking. He grabbed her chin, forcing her to look at him.
“Gwyn, stop,” Azriel pushed, fury and determination lacing every syllable. His heart was slowly shattering at the sadness in her eyes. “I can see where your head is going, and I won’t allow it. I only told you that so you understood what happened, not so you could start worrying about my involvement with her. There is nothing between us. I am with you, and I only want you. Please don’t doubt that. Please don’t doubt how much I want you. How much I need you. Bird, please.”
His voice cracked on the last word, fear and self-loathing overwhelming him. He had hurt Gwyn. He had hurt the only person who mattered. The only person who knew him, all of him. He needed her, more than anything, and now he might lose her. But before he could dwell on his fears too much, he suddenly had a female in his arms, hugging him fiercely.
Gwyn held onto him, her arms thrown around his neck, the sadness in her face gone. Relief replaced all his worries, allowing him to relax into her. He leaned his head down to rest against hers, his wings still shielding them from the rain.
“I’m sorry for not telling you sooner,” he whispered, his voice rough. “I’m sorry, Bird. I was just scared of losing you.”
“It’s okay, I understand,” she promised him, pulling back to look at his face. He was still worried, a tight frown on his lips, but at least she was touching him. “Azriel, I believe you. I trust you.”
He slowly started to nod, but she cut off anything he might have said when she gripped the hair at the nape of his neck and pulled him down, crashing her lips into his. He responded immediately, gripping her tighter and pulling her off her feet, his mouth moving in perfect harmony with hers. He didn’t care if anyone was watching, he only cared that Gwyn was kissing him. He unconsciously dropped his wings, barely noticing the rain soaking them as he continued kissing Gwyn. He hadn’t lost her, that was the only thing that mattered.
She kissed him with a passion that took his breath away, both of them trying to convey what they felt for each other into the kiss. He enthusiastically returned her passion, exploring her until he could feel nothing but heat and need and desire for her. She was all he wanted, all he needed.
When they finally pulled apart, Azriel leaned his forehead against hers, his chest heaving. The rain was drenching them, but neither of them seemed to care as they stared into each other’s eyes, his heart flooded with emotions he wasn’t ready to think about yet.
“Gwyn, thank you for believing me,” Azriel whispered, his voice raw with emotion.
“Thank you for telling me,” she quietly replied, kissing his cheek softly.
He smiled, his hands still gripping her waist. He wasn’t ready to let her go. “Stay with me tonight. Please.”
“Of course,” she promised, pressing herself tighter against him. He let out a relieved sigh, then lifted her again so he could winnow.
Within a moment, he had swept Gwyn into his shadows, holding her tightly as they winnowed home, a calming peace settling over both of them. His confession was already a distant memory, her trust in him filling him with pride and joy and other emotions he would address another day. For now, he was content she was still with him, still his.
**********************************************
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tealnymph24 · 5 months ago
Text
A Song of Shadows: Chapter 4
Title: Questions and Answers
A very romantic, and slightly steamy, dinner date between Azriel and Gwyn.
Read on AO3
Azriel X Gwyn
Warnings: Mostly fluff, but has a little bit of steam
Word Count: 4,719
Masterlist
If you would like to be tagged in updates, please let me know
Tags: @chloepereyra | @lovelyladymayyy | @azrielsshadowsdanceforgwyn | @corrdolium | @ayshasn | @remellarome | @inejjg | @azrielsgirl | @gisellefigue08 | @acourtofmidnightsnacks | @bookishgeekygirl | @ddsworldofbooks | @67impalagirl13 | @illyrian-valkyrie | @arinbelle | @bittermuire | @cauldron-blessedarcheron1 
After two hours of Mor and Nesta poking and prodding her, Gwyn was finally ready to meet Azriel for dinner.
The two females had ambushed her on her way out of the library a few hours ago, Nesta having told Mor about Gwyn's dinner plans. They had then proceeded to coerce her into letting them get her ready. She had initially been against the idea but was now in awe of their handy work.
They had dressed her in a midnight blue dress made of the softest silk imaginable. It was tightly fitted throughout the bodice before floating out from her waist to just below her knees; with thin straps over her shoulders to hold everything in place. Simple, but elegant.
Then they had worked their magic on her normally pin straight hair, somehow coaxing it into curls that fell softly around her shoulders. They had finished her off with a dusting of cosmetics that brought out her eyes and made her mouth look even fuller.
Seeing herself in the mirror had made her blush. She was so used to her priestess robes and training leathers that she almost had not recognized herself. As she made her way to the balcony at the House of Wind, she silently worried Azriel might think she had overdressed.
She was so nervous about tonight. Ever since training this morning, she couldn’t shake the butterflies in her stomach. But she would not let herself think of that now. She wanted to be fully in the present, enjoying every second.
She took one last deep breath before walking out to the balcony where Azriel was waiting. He was standing by the edge, dressed elegantly in a black tunic and matching pants. He looked breathtakingly handsome.
He turned at the sound of her approach, but quickly stopped. She watched his throat bob once, then twice.
"Hello, Azriel," she greeted him shyly, not sure why her hands were shaking.
"Good evening," he quietly responded, sounding breathless. It made her knees tremble. "You look beautiful, Gwyn."
"Thank you," she blushed. The fluttering in her stomach returned as his shadows made their way over to her, softly greeting her with a graze to her cheek before settling around her hair.
"Shall we?" He asked, eyes sparkling. He held out his arms, preparing to winnow them to the restaurant.
She nodded, silently allowing him to lift her into his arms so he could fly just past the house's wards before winnowing. Within a few moments, she was back on her feet, standing outside of the restaurant.
It was a lovely little seaside style building with a large patio seating area tucked by the banks of the Sidra. Its location offered the perfect spot to watch the river flowing into the sea while enjoying the most perfect chocolate torte and wine she had ever tasted. And to top it all off, a live band was stationed by the doors that led between the patio area and the inside dining.
As the gentle music from the band greeted her, Azriel led her onto the patio to a table in the corner. It was the same place they had sat last time. With the sea to their back, the river on one side, the band to the other and Velaris sprawling out before them; it was the ideal vantage point.
Azriel held her chair out for her just as the owner of the restaurant came over to greet them. He had explained to her last time that he had become friends with the owner over the years due to his frequent visits to this place.
Because of this, Azriel apparently never ordered, instead letting the owner decide what they wanted him to try. His favorite table was also always left open, awaiting his next visit. It had shocked her the first time, but now she was happy to just go with it.
As Azriel took his seat, they fell into an easy conversation. It was always like this with him. Everything always felt natural. He always made her feel comfortable and safe. Even when they were sparring, she never worried that he would hurt her. She still struggled to be around most other males, but never him.
She knew she should just admit to herself that she was starting to have feelings for him beyond friendship, but she was scared to ruin the peaceful harmony between them. Too terrified of losing his friendship. The thought was unbearable.
And it would only make things complicated if she tried explaining her confusing emotions to him. He had become her best friend; she did not want to risk that. Besides, just because she was drawn to him in ways she didn’t understand, he might not feel the same.
The food and wine began flowing out of the kitchen then, distracting her from her thoughts and pausing the debate they were having about chess strategies.
As the evening continued, they ate and laughed and talked; too lost in each other to even notice the time passing. The music of the restaurant making even silent moments perfect. She had never felt so wonderful, so alive. She wanted this night to go on forever.
As they finished the last of their chocolate torte, the owner remembering her fondness for it, she sat back in her chair and sighed happily.
"What?" Azriel asked with a smile at her contented sigh, watching her intently.
He had scooted close enough throughout dinner that she could now see the gold flecks in his eyes. Their legs occasionally grazing each other under the table. They were almost on the same side of the table now, sitting much closer then was entirely appropriate for friends. She probably should have moved away, but she simply did not want to.
"Nothing," she smiled back. "I'm just happy. That's all."
"Good," he replied as the waiter arrived to refill their wine glasses and clear the plates.
They both turned silent for a while, content to just sit and listen to the music. He turned away from her to watch the musicians, but casually draped an arm across the back of her chair. She leaned into it, unable to stop herself. It felt so natural. So right.
Instead of watching the band, she took the opportunity to study him. He looked so peaceful. It took her breath away.
It was rare to see him this relaxed. He was normally utterly controlled, never letting people truly see him. But she had learned to understand the subtle indicators of his emotions, his little tells. And tonight, she knew he was happy, as happy as she was. Her heart swelled.
She continued watching him as he slowly lost himself in the music. His eyes were almost glazed as he silently observed the musicians, his free hand quietly tapping on the table. He was perfectly in time with the tune. She knew he could sing; she had asked him months ago, but now she wondered if he could play too.
Without thinking, she reached out and gently took his hand in both of hers. He suddenly gripped her wrist, his face whipping toward her. She froze, worried she had crossed a line.
He stared at her for a long moment, eyes blazing, before softening again. She waited a second longer before he slowly released his grasp and laid his hand in hers.
"I'm sorry," he apologized in a low voice, a blush staining his cheeks. "I didn't mean to hurt you."
"You didn't," she assured him. "I should have asked first. I didn't mean to shock you."
He ducked his head, not meeting her gaze.
"It's fine. I'm just not used to anyone grabbing my hands like that."
"Are you comfortable with me touching your hands?" She asked, seeking his consent. She knew he would do the same for her. "It's okay if you're not."
"No, it's fine," he quickly responded, his blush deepening. "Really, Gwyn. I don't mind."
Turning back to their now tangled hands, she gently ran her fingers along his. She felt him shudder at her touch. He seemed so nervous.
"Do you play? She asked him, studying his long fingers. "Piano, I mean. Do you play the piano?"
"Yes," he responded, sounding surprisingly unsure of himself. She wasn't used to seeing this soft, hesitant side of him. It made her stomach flutter, her own cheeks now tinged with pink.
"Hmmm," she murmured, continuing her slow examination. He had such beautiful hands. "How come I've never heard you playing at the House of Wind? There are several pianos."
"I never use the pianos in the common areas, only the one in the back of the house," he explained, the words coming out clipped. "And I usually have my shadows muffle the sound. So it doesn't bother anyone."
His answer caught her off guard. She had always thought of him as confident in everything, yet he seemed reluctant to even discuss this with her.
"Why would anyone be bothered?" She blurted, confused. "I'm sure you play beautifully."
At his silence, she looked at him, pausing her exploration of his hand. He was looking at the table, avoiding her gaze.
"Azriel, I'm just curious," she said, unsure why he would not look at her. "Why would anyone be bothered by your music?"
He still did not move. So she continued, unable to stop herself from trying to understand him.
"I'm sure Cassian and Nesta wouldn't mind. Nesta loves music, she would probably enjoy hearing you play. I know I would."
He let out an exasperated sigh, meeting her stare at last. Shockingly, he left his hand in hers as he finally spoke.
"I don't let people hear me play because I don't want them to judge how good or bad I am," he said, his voice unsteady and his shadows deepening. "Music is a haven, a place where I don't have to put on a mask. I can poor my thoughts and feelings into a song instead of constantly hiding them. I just don't want someone judging me for what they hear."
Now it was her turn to stare at the table. Shame and guilt washed over her. She dropped his hand as her face turned red. Her own hands fell limply on the table.
She should not have pushed him. She should have known better. She wasn't comfortable singing around most people either. The flutter in her stomach she had felt earlier was now a pit.
She felt him move his arm away from the back of her chair. He was going to pull away, she knew it. She had pushed him too far.
Just when she had decided she had ruined the evening; she felt a scarred hand gently tuck her hair behind her ear. She lifted her head in shock and almost collided with his face. He had leaned close enough that their breaths almost mingled.
"Gwyn, I'm sorry," he softly apologized, sincerity etched on his features. "I didn't mean to sound rude. I'm just not used to someone asking me things like that."
"It's my fault," she argued as his shadows danced around her. "I ask too many questions."
"No, don't say that," he insisted, reaching out to gently take her hands in his, holding her there. "I like your questions. You just shock me sometimes, that's all. I'm not used to talking about myself."
She granted him a small smile. Her mind going fuzzy as he began caressing the backs of her hands with his thumbs.
"I'm not good at discussing myself either," she confessed, lost in the feeling of his lazy strokes across her skin. How could such a simple touch make her lose focus so easily?
He chuckled, bringing her back to the conversation. "We've discussed every topic imaginable, yet we don't really talk about ourselves. Do we?"
"No, we really don't," she agreed, an idea forming. "But maybe we could change that."
"Oh?"
"We could make it a game of sorts."
He raised an eyebrow. "Go on."
"Okay, what if we turn personal questions - questions that we're too scared to ask normally - into a game? We could take turns. It would be a question for a question."
"Hmmm, I like that idea," he said, offering her a crooked smile. "But there needs to be other rules. What if one of us doesn't want to answer?
"Then that person doesn't get to ask a question until they do."
"That's fair."
"And if we want to make sure the other one knows it's part of the game, we can just say 'that was a question' after we ask something."
"You've clearly thought this through" he said with a hint of amusement, his shadows floating between then like smoke.
"Yes, I have," she confirmed, happy he seemed open to her idea. "And it's subtle enough that no one would notice if we asked a question around other people."
"Clever. I like it."
"Thank you," she grinned at his compliment, excitement building. "So, do you agree to the game then?"
He nodded, still looking at her with admiration. She couldn't stop herself from blushing again.
"Okay, it's your turn then," she instructed him, nervous now. "We can count my question about your music as my first turn."
"Are you sure?"
She nodded. It was only fair.
"I can ask anything, right? And you have to answer, or you don't get another turn?"
She nodded once more, confirming the rules.
"Okay, what's your favorite color?"
"Blue," she laughed at his ridiculous question. "But that is hardly a personal question, Az. I want this to be fair. Ask something else."
He laughed, but quickly turned serious.
"I have a question I want to ask, but I think it will make you uncomfortable."
"That is kind of the point," she pushed, steeling herself for whatever he was going to ask. "We're supposed to be asking uncomfortable questions."
"Are you sure?" He pressed, his brow furrowing. "You won't be mad?"
"I'm sure," she confidently replied. "I won't be mad. Ask me anything."
"Okay," he accepted her response, his face turning unreadable.
Then he quirked his head, studying her. She held his gaze, trying not to focus on his hands still firmly holding hers. But then he unexpectedly started chewing on his bottom lip. The sight made her heart race. He was completely distracting her again and he wasn't even shirtless this time. She was in so much trouble. Deep, deep trouble.
He was silent for a moment longer, but finally asked, "What distracted you so much in training today?"
Gwyn instantly turned a deep shade of crimson at Azriel’s question. He couldn't possibly know what she had been thinking about this morning. Could he? His face revealed nothing, but the question was too specific. Too pointed. It brought all her memories from today rushing to the surface.
At the vivid images dancing through her head, she turned hot all over. Now was not the time to be thinking of his firm body between her legs. Not when he was still looking at her, a small smirk appearing on his lips. She couldn't answer the question. She could barely think.
Had his shadows told him what had been on her mind. Had her scent changed? She had been so caught up in her thoughts this morning that she hadn't even considered it.
"Gwyn,” He drawled, dragging out the sound of her name. His voice positively dripping with mirth. “Are you going to answer my question or not?"
Oh he knew, she was sure of it. He was just teasing her now. Probably payback for pushing him so much earlier. But if he knew what had happened in training, why was he clearly enjoying himself so much? It wasn't like him to tease her about something so personal. Was she missing something?
She turned away from him again, fear and embarrassment beginning to set in. Was he going to make a joke about this? She couldn't bear the thought.
"I'm not answering," she forced herself to say.
This ridiculous game was a mistake. He was just using it to laugh at her. She tried to pull her hands away from his, but he would not budge. He just continued making lazy circles with his thumbs.
"Why not?" He prodded.
"Because it's too embarrassing."
"I'm sure it's not that bad."
"It will make you uncomfortable."
"No, it won't," he insisted, refusing to let it drop.
Why was he pushing this question so much? Could he really be so cruel? There had to be something she was missing, but she couldn’t see past her increasing irritation.
"Then you'll probably make fun of me," she said forcefully, anger building.
"No, I won't, Gwyn," he promised, his voice soft but firm.
She only huffed in response.
He brazenly removed a hand from hers and placed it on her knee. She allowed the touch but refused to look at him.
"Gwyn, I would never make fun of you," he quietly promised, trying to catch her eyes. She turned her head farther away.
He began gently running his thumb across her bare knee. It made her shiver, despite her anger still festering.
"You can tell me anything, Gwyn."
His smooth, honeyed voice combined with his continued stroking of her hands and knee destroyed her willpower, crushing her anger in the process. She gave in.
"I was distracted by you," she confessed, her voice small, her blush somehow deepening impossibly more.
"Could you possibly elaborate?" He calmly asked. Any hint of amusement was gone, replaced by a soothing steadiness.
"I was distracted by…by your chest," she managed to say, shame now replacing the anger. What if he never looked at her the same way again?
Before she had time to think about what she had just admitted to, his mouth was at her ear. She could feel his nose barely grazing her hair, his breath tickling her skin. Her heart started pounding, making her head spin.
"I was distracted too," he whispered, sounding breathless. "I'm always distracted in training."
Her words sent her mind into a frenzy. What was he saying? Was this real? No, it couldn't be. It was not possible.
"Why?" She forced out the question, almost choking on the single word. She was terrified of his answer. What if this was all just some elaborate joke?
His response was instant, no sign of hesitation or embarrassment.
"You, Gwyn," he breathed against her hair, sending tingles down her spine. "I'm always distracted by you, but especially today."
She thought she might faint. This had to be a dream. It was not possible. She couldn't breathe. Her head was spinning. Even though she knew it would just distract her, she tried to focus on the hand still caressing her knee. It was the only thing tethering her.
"What do you mean?" She gasped out, her breathing ragged. "Why were you more distracted today?"
"Your scent changed," he explained, still at her ear. "It was… intoxicating. I couldn't think straight because of it."
She finally turned to look at him, forcing him to pull away slightly. She needed to see his face to confirm this was real. She felt dizzy. Her ability to think reasonably had failed, sending her plunging forward into whatever insanity he had led her into.
To her surprise, he was blushing too. And despite his confident hands still tracing maddening circles on her skin, he looked nervous. Scared almost. Seeing him so unusually ruffled gave her the confidence to speak.
"I didn't realize my scent had changed," she admitted, the words coming out shaky and slow. "I didn't mean for it to happen. I'm sorry."
She didn't think he was seeking an apology, but she offered it anyway. She had no idea what was happening. He looked so unsure of himself, yet his hands were still calmly touching her. She couldn't stop the heat that began flowing through her at the image.
"Gwyn, it's okay," he softly responded, so quietly she almost couldn’t hear him over the rushing in her head. "You have nothing to apologize for. I told you, I was distracted by you too. If you hadn't been so caught up in your own thoughts, you might have noticed my scent change as well."
His words were almost enough to make her lose all touch with reality. She felt like she might spontaneously combust. As it was, her body felt like it was burning. She was sure her scent had probably shifted again. She involuntarily pressed her thighs together, trying to hide the growing ache in her core.
She had not thought it would ever be possible to feel like this. Not after what had happened to her. Yet here she was, desperately trying to keep her body from showing him what his words were doing to her.
That's when she realized - it was him. Azriel was the reason she was feeling like this. And not just because she was attracted to him. No. It was because he had made her feel safe. Safe enough to actually let her body react to him. Safe enough that she did not flinch away from his touch.
His patience and steadiness had worked their way past her defenses. She wasn't sure if she should laugh or cry. She was terrified and giddy and nervous all at the same time.
"Gwyn?" He asked, her name on his lips drawing her back to him. "Gwyn, say something, please."
She finally realized he had been waiting for a response. She wasn't sure how long she had been lost in thought. She tried to find words.
"Azriel, I don't know what to say. I think I'm in shock. I'm not sure what's happening."
She felt lightheaded, like she might float away at any moment. This couldn't be real, but his deep hazel eyes patiently staring at her told her it had to be.
"Well, I think we just admitted that we're attracted to each other," he said, giving her a hesitant smile. "Unless you have a different interpretation."
"No....I just. I'm not sure what that means. For us."
Her stomach was in knots. She was scared it meant his comforting friendship would disappear. Would he just want sex now? She wasn't ready for that.
"It's up to you what it means for us, Gwyn."
Nervousness returned to his features as he looked down at the table again. She watched as he took a deep breath before continuing, the words rushing out of him all at once. Like he needed to say everything all at one time or he wouldn’t be able to get it out at all.
"I have feelings for you, Gwyn. I've had them for a while now. I'm not sure exactly when they started. And I haven't told you because I didn't want to scare you. I didn't want to lose your friendship. It means too much to me. But I can’t help wanting more, wanting you. All of you. And today, when I realized what you were thinking about, I... I don't know. I... I just needed you to know how I felt."
Seeing him so flustered made her strangely calm. The fear she had had earlier about losing his friendship was gone. He was afraid of the same thing. And he had feelings for her. For her. He didn’t just want sex, he wanted her. All of her. Her heart felt like it might burst out of her chest.
"Azriel, I'm not sure what this is," she steadily responded, unafraid now. "But I know that I'm drawn to you. I don't know why, but I am. And I have feelings for you too. I don't know what I'm doing and I'm scared, but I want to figure this out, whatever this is, with you."
He looked up at her, his face completely open for once. She couldn't help but marvel at how beautiful he was. He moved the hand from her knee, hesitantly moving to lightly cup her face instead. She let herself lean slightly into his touch, never breaking his gaze.
"Are you sure, Gwyn?" He slowly asked, taking his time with each word. "If you don't want whatever this is between us, then we don't have to do anything about it. I won't force you into anything. Ever."
"I want this," she assured him, any lingering doubts fading. "I'm terrified of losing you as a friend, Az. But I trust you. I want this."
"Okay," he nodded after a few seconds, seeming to search her face for anything that might contradict her words. "But you have to promise me that you will tell me if I ever do anything that makes you uncomfortable."
"You won't."
"Promise me, Gwyn."
"I will," she conceded. "But I trust you."
"Thank you...for trusting me."
He ducked his head briefly, then smiled widely at her, joy radiating from him. She couldn't believe this was happening. She wanted to sing from the mountaintops. But there was one thing she needed to get out first.
"Azriel, before we move any further, I need to make sure we're clear about something."
"Anything, Gwyn."
"I want you," she slowly began explaining. "But I'm not ready to be with you. Physically, I mean. I wish I was but -"
"Gwyn, stop," he firmly interrupted her, gently taking her face in both of his hands. "You don't have to explain this to me. I understand. I know that you need time. And I know there's a chance you might never be comfortable exploring the physical side of things with me, but I am fine with that. You never have to be afraid of me. Okay?"
She only nodded, unable to speak around the sudden lump in her throat. His words had made all her walls crumble. She had worried that he wouldn't understand. That she wouldn't be able to offer him what he wanted. But he did understand. And he wouldn't push her. He would be patient. She could trust him.
They just sat there for a long moment, gazing at each other. Both basking in the glow of the other. Too lost in each other – this new thing burning between them – to care about anyone around them. After what seemed like forever or maybe only a second, Azriel spoke.
"I should get you home, it's late."
His sentence shocked her. It felt like they had only just gotten here. But he was right - it was late. The sun had set without her even noticing. The restaurant was almost empty.
"You're right," she reluctantly agreed, not wanting the moment to end. "We should probably go."
They both stood slowly, neither one really wanting to leave. She watched as Azriel walked away for a moment to pay the bill, promising the owner they would return soon. When he returned to her, he hesitantly reached his hand out, a question in his eyes.
She didn't allow him time to ask it, already knowing what he wanted. She grabbed his hand in hers, granting his silent request.
As he led her out of the restaurant, pulling her closely behind him, she decided she wasn't quite ready for this night to end. She stopped walking, forcing Azriel to halt as well.
"Azriel?"
"Yes?"
"Do we have to winnow?"
"Not if you don't want to," he said with a crooked smile that made her heart stutter. "Are you asking if I can fly us back?"
"Yes," she eagerly nodded, already excited at the thought of being so close to him. She could finally let herself revel in it.
He didn't respond, simply holding his arms out instead. She stepped into them, putting her arms around his neck. He gently put one arm around her waist, the other going behind her knees to lift her. Cradling her to his chest, he took off into the night sky. And then they were flying. Slowly soaring high above Velaris as the stars began making their appearance above them.
She let herself drift, falling into the soothing warmth of Azriel's strong body holding her, his shadows wrapping around them. She felt safe and happy. For once, she knew that it would not be nightmares from the past that kept her from sleeping tonight – but dreams of tomorrow.
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littlefishbigsea · 20 days ago
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Gwynriel Small Scene
The Necklace
A note: This is a snippet from a larger story I’ve been building upon. The goal is to eventually publish chapters via a side blog and ao3. I hope you enjoy. 🖤
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She pushed him away, the palms of her hands flat against his firm chest. He stumbled back, caught off guard by her rejection. Chest heaving he leveled her with with his patina gaze.
“You don’t get to kiss me,” Gwyn sneered, drawing the back her hand across her mouth as if to wipe away his transgression.
“Oh?” He challenged. Back straightening, the shadowsinger rose to his full height and squared his shoulders.
“You’re a liar.”
“So are you,” he growled.
“What are we doing, shadowsinger?”
“Sparring,” he smirked. “Obviously.”
He sprung. Using his expansive wing span to bear down on her in a fraction of time, Gwyn barely had enough space to bring up her dagger and block his oncoming attack. She slid to the left, reversed her blade and aimed for his side.
Azriel smacked the blunt end of her dagger with the back of his forearm, knocking it off course. Grabbing her wrist, she chouldn’t stop her shriek as he slammed a thigh into her stomach, knocking her flat onto her ass.
She rolled and kicked out at the same time, ramming her foot into his ankle. He wouldn’t fall though. She knew that. So, she brought her leg up to kick him again, this time his inner thigh.
He went down. She was vaguely aware of the pain in her own limbs but she kept at him, throwing herself onto him. He grabbed her wrist before she could snatch his dagger away. They froze like that, staring each other down as Gwyn bared her teeth and strained against his superior strength. Azriel’s lips twitched upward at one corner and she growled in frustration.
Yanking up a leg in a feat of feminine flexibility, she hooked her leg through his elbow, wrenching his arm down with her full weight. Her wrist screamed, near breaking when he didn’t let go. His back arched just before his hips thrust up, flipping her off and over him. Using the momentum, she rolled before he could pin her. She scrambled after her dagger.
Gwyn skidded across the ground sending dirt into the air and grasped the weapon at the edge of the ring. She’d just straightened when Azriel lept up in a single graceful move and landed before her. Her mouth twisted and he glared back.
Both breathing hard, she gripped her dagger and sank into a ready stance. Az smirked, copying her movements. Gwyn swallowed. This no longer felt like sparring, but rather something personal leaking into what should have been simple, routine dagger practice.
They attacked at once. Gwyn’s legs ached but she managed to dance away from his first strike. She stabbed. He blocked. She kicked, ducked, and tried to jab him in the kidney but he blocked again. Jumping back she let loose a volley of offensive moves. Azriel was impossibly fast, blocking every one - then his dagger shot out, the handle knocking into her shoulder, sending her spinning backward.
She moved with the spin, turning her body so that she wouldn’t fall and kicked out at him again, attempting to plant a booted foot in his belly. Yet, he managed to twist away and caught her leg. She punched at his knee with the handle of her dagger and he dropped her.
Gwyn scrambled back, spinning to face him. He tensed, not attacking. The arrogant smirk is gone and now he just looks frustrated. She gives him a ‘what the fuck is your problem’ look. What was he waiting for? She inhaled sharply. How could she best him? It was like he knew her movements before she did. Damn it. She didn’t know how to beat him. Brute strength wouldn’t work, and her strategies were getting her nowhere.
Azriel sprung. Her time to think was up.
The attacks he unleashed were swift. Gwyn blocked and dodged. She didn’t catch everything and though it burned her pride, she knew he wasn’t using the full scope of his abilities. There was no matching him. Not yet. The shadowsinger was just that good. When his third strike caught her in the diaphragm she dropped to her knees at his feet, clutching her belly, unable to breathe. She trembled, exhausted. He started to take a step back to give her time to recover.
Before she could gasp a single breath, Gwyn shot up and tackled him, shoulder to stomach. He staggered, wings flaring, catching him before he fell. Her strength gave out and all she could do to keep from falling was grip handfuls of his shirt. A loud rip sounded as the side seam tore. She dragged herself to her feet, bouncing away from him on the balls of her feet.
Azriel pulled his torn shirt off and chucked it in a single sweep of his arm. Gwyn could only stare. The tattoos that curled over his shoulders wound down his chest, a curl over his heart. She licked her lips and pushed her shoulders back. With her chin lifted, she gestured for Azriel to come for her. His answering grin was a dark, wild thing. He stepped forward in a slow prowl. Then lunged. She leapt at the last second to meet him. Crashing into her, he grabbed her at the same time she grabbed onto him.
Their combined momentum was so powerful that they both slammed hard into the ground, Azriel above her. He managed to cup the back of her head to cushion the impact of their fall. His other hand was fisted in her shirt, holding her still. Both of her legs wrapped tight around his middle, her hands pressed into his chest.
Time slowed. Noise disappeared. Azriel was pressed hard against her, his bare chest hot, slick with sweat. He breathed deep, chest rising and falling. The hand at the back of her head closed slowly, pulling her hair into his fist. He pulled her head back until their eyes met.
Gwyn grabbed the shadowsinger’s head and yanked his mouth down to hers.
It wasn’t a gentle kiss. Not like what they’d shared in the past. Azriel’s mouth met hers with raging heat. She arched into him as he shoved her further into the ground, mouth moving, fierce, carnal, and demanding. His strength was all around her, holding her, pinning her helplessly. Her hands rose and she sank her fingers into the hair at the back of his head, pulling him closer still, demanding. Always wanting more. His hand tightened in her hair, angling her further, deepening their kiss into something wilder. She felt undone.
Eventually, Azriel pulled back with one last nipping bite to her lip. Molten warmth spread, pouring through her. Faces inches apart, both panting, eyes fierce, they held. Gwyn wasn’t sure if she should unwind her legs from around him. She wasn’t sure she wanted to.
He pulled away, her legs untangling from his waist. With a single push, Azriel was on his feet. His hand reached out and she slid her palm against his. He pulled. She found herself standing against him, hand still holding hers.
Fingers brushed the underside of her chin, tipping her head back. She stared at him uncertainly, his mask back in place. The shadowsinger was unreadable, even with his fingertips still resting against her chin. The sudden desire to pull his mouth back to hers warred within.
“Gwyn-“
“Are you in love with Elain, Azriel?”
His breath caught. She didn’t often call him by his name, preferring the title. It was what he was, who he was - but the intimacy of hearing his name on her lips gave him pause.
“Do you love Balthazar,” he tossed back.
“Why? Jealous?”
A wolffish smile spread his lips into a unkind grin. “If I thought even for a second that boy was competition, perhaps I would be.”
Her eyes widened, growing frustrated, no longer distracted by his lips or their sparring, Gwyn reached beneath her shirt. With a strong yank, she pulled the infamous necklace free of her neck, tossing it the ground where it landed at his feet.
“Don’t do that.” Azriel’s voice was low, threaded with shadow.
“I wasn’t the one you intended to give this to,” Gwyn accused. “So, I’m giving it back.”
“It’s yours, Gwyn, I gave it-“
“To Elain!” She shouted, hands fisting at her side. “Or was it meant for Mor first, I’m confused.”
So, was he. He sighed, defeat settling in him. His wings dropped, though not hitting the ground, and he leveled her with a look.
“You’re right,” he said. His voice was ice-cold silk that slid under Gwyn’s skin and down into her bones. “I did give it to Elain. She didn’t want it,” he confessed. Gwyn’s lips parted in surprise.
“Why give it to me, then?” Her voice was quiet, soft.
He shakes his head, a wrinkle in his forehead appearing. His shadows surfaced around him, wrapping him in darkness.
“Don’t you dare hide from me,” she hissed, watching as the shadowsinger all but disappeared from her sight.
“I gave the necklace-“ He stopped, shadows trembling around him as if they waited expectantly for him to continue. “After Elain returned it, I gave the necklace to Clotho. She suggested I give it to you. She thought… I thought you might like it.”
She wasn’t sure what she’d been expecting but it hadn’t been that. Not exactly.
“Why me, Azriel?”
He stared at her, shadows coiling and unraveling. A blushing glow bloomed high in his cheeks.
“I thought… I don’t know what things have been like for you after - I thought, with all the ugly things dealt you…” He pushes a scarred hand through his hair, scattering the dark strands into chaos. “It’s an uncomplicated design and if you hold it the right way it catches light. I thought you might wear it and look at it from time to time, find comfort in its beauty. To bring something lovely to your life that… It was stupid-“
“You thought I’d find it beautiful. The way you did.” She hadn’t meant to interrupt. The thought had slipped, the confusion and disbelief in her voice thick.
He looked at her, brow furrowed. “Yes.”
She focused on the small pendant at his feet. It’s chain coiled elegantly, catching in the moonlight. Lovely in its simplicity. Gwyn couldn’t quite take a breath. Just a necklace - something beautiful he’d wanted to share. With her, even if it had not been his first intention. A gift that wasn’t meant to be but had turned into something meaningful they both treasured.
Except that he had convinced himself she wouldn’t want it if she’d known the truth. She watched him, no longer guarded, his raw vulnerability darkening his eyes. He’d expected rejection.
It took everything he had to hold still, to keep his hands at his sides, to resist the urge to reach for her. Azriel didn’t know what he’d do if he touched her. It wasn’t out of a desire for pleasure, hers or his. He wanted to touch her because something hot and pulling tightened in his chest and it hurt to breathe. Without conscious thought, his hand rose toward her as though drawn up by an invisible string. As if she wielded her nymph magic and he was caught in her spell. Ready to drown in the pool of her eyes.
Scarred fingers brushed across her soft cheek, her skin warm, flushed. His touch trailed lightly across the side of her face and his hand curled around the back of her neck. Running his thumb along her jaw and to the corner of her mouth, Gwyn knew he was going to kiss her again.
Before he leaned in, before he could capture her lips with his, a cold thrill ran down his spine and splintered into shards of ice. He stiffened, knowing who he’d find watching them. His instincts screamed. They weren’t alone.
He caught movement over Gwyn’s shoulder. Not hidden, but in plain view. Watching. Waiting. Stamping her foot against the rings dirt floor, sending little puffs of dust cloud into the air. That silhouette was unmistakable, as was the arctic chill that ran down his spine.
Nesta Archeron.
With Azriel’s attention fixed on her, the female arched a single brow. Silver flames danced within the depths of those eyes. Her gaze moved from his to where his hand still lingered at Gwyn’s face.
Shit.
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daevastanner · 4 days ago
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Alright! I’m working on a “one bed” one shot! Here’s a little preview for ya!
Azriel had never in five hundred years blushed this hard.
Gwyneth Berdara was in absolute stitches, bracing her arm on the wall of their cramped room here at the inn, the index finger of her free hand pointing to the single bed they were meant to share.
“Truly, I-I asked for one room, not one bed—“
Gwyn’s wheezing laughter cut him off and his cheeks flushed an even deeper shade of scarlet.
How or why she found this funny he couldn’t understand. Less than two months ago they’d confessed their feelings for one another on the banks of the Sidra, agreeing to take things slow.
And now here they were, on an assignment together in the mountains forced to share a bed.
So much for taking our time…
“This is… this is…” Gwyn snickered, “this is right out of one of Sellyn Drake’s books.”
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