Not the Type
This is the most fun I've had writing a fic.
I always thought Nesta would be the one who would turn out more possessive and territorial than Cassian.
Summary: Nesta and Cassian are invited to a family dinner for the first time since their mating ceremony. It turns out Cassian wasn't the one they needed to be concerned about.
Nesta had never classified herself as the jealous type. Sure, she had her moments of insecurity, but overall she was able to keep her composure around other females, and the swoon-inducing effect her mate had on them, (and occasionally other males). She didn't anticipate how things would change after the bond, after that golden string between them thickened into a tight rope, solidifying their bodies and souls into one entity. She was his and he hers.
Cassian had shown amazing restraint when his brothers had visited for the first time 2 weeks after their mating ceremony. He still bared his teeth if they ventured too close, snarled and snapped when they addressed her too fondly (it was more of a tactic on Rhys' part to rile him up) and she, in turn, gave him reassuring smiles, soothing the flames of jealousy that licked at his skin.
Rhys had deemed Cassian in command of his emotional responses enough to attend family dinners, the cloud of the mating haze clearing as the days ticked away, which led to them standing outside the river house the next week. Cassian was fidgeting, adjusting his collar and shuffling in front of the doorway in an attempt to disperse the extra energy, "Stop fighting, you'll be fine, you hardly had a reaction when Azriel accidentally brushed my shoulder."
"That was no fucking accident," he grumbled, leaning into her petting as she laced her fingers in his hair.
"You'll be fine," she reassured again for what felt like the thousandth time that afternoon. "I'm impressed actually, I thought you would have started a fight the moment you sented them, but you proved me terribly wrong."
Truth was, underneath Cassian wanted to rip his brother limb from limb, predominantly Azriel, as he had gotten close enough to his mate that he managed to touch her, and that raging beast wailed in his chest. But he forgot all about it as he preened at her touch. If he was a cat, she would be purring.
Elain's smile greeted them from the other side of the threshold as she swung the door open, "You're here!" She announced in surprise. Nesta took no offence, they were freshly mated and it was made clear the invitation was open-ended. Elain clearly had her ideas of Cassian's control.
Her sister ushered her in, lamenting over her garden and her continued work in restoring the ones within Velaris. She was planning on starting a community garden, where anyone from children to the older fae could come and nurture something together, a community goal, something to concentrate on during the continued repairing of shops and emotional bonds, even so long after the war.
Nesta could not concentrate on a single word her sister said as an uncomfortable heat pricked at her skin like needles while she watched Feyre hug Cassian. Him running a hand over her shoulders, the closeness, the laugh that escaped the younger female, it all had Nesta itching her arm at the uncomfortable warmth.
She was never bothered by this before.
She tried to ignore the feeling as they all entered the dining room, Elain setting the table along with the two wraiths that were such an emotional support for her sister, and Nesta tried to force her concentration on Feyre and little Nyx, cooing at her nephew she loved so very much. She felt a little sense of pride that he seemed to have chosen her as his favourite, wishing to be held in her arms over the others, even if all he did was try and pull her hair out of her braided crown.
She almost growled when she spotted Mor linking her arm into Cassian's, rubbing his bicep and looking a little too comfortable around what was hers. Nesta tried to settle the little demon in her chest that was pounding on her ribcage. She never got along with Mor, they didn't click, but she knew Cassian needed the physical touch from those he loved, craved it, but it didn't mean she liked it.
Elain urged them to sit as Nuala placed the last dish onto the table, refusing the invitation for her and her sister to join them, looking a little uncomfortable as she eyed Nesta. Did she know how her blood boiled at the presence of every female in the room?
She hated this feeling, it made her sweat and her skin itch something terrible, and she couldn't stop herself when she almost shoved Mor out of her chair as she tried to take her place beside her mate. Her place, her place was beside him, no one else's. She could sit on the table for all she cared, but the spot beside Cassian would now belong to her, her and her alone.
She tried desperately not to bare her teeth as Mor gave her an offended look and instead sat down beside Feyre at the opposite end of the table. Good.
Dinner was uneventful in its entirety, the group eventually giving up trying to pass things directly to Cassian, Nesta grabbing onto the bowl, plate or condiment passed by the females to her mate. She refused to entertain the thought of their skin brushing against his as they passed things around. She just needed a moment where she didn't have to worry about sinking her teeth into their necks.
Amren gave her an amused smile from beside her and Nesta sent her a nasty one in return. Amren was the only female she trusted to be near her or her mate, as Amren refused physical touch from anyone other than Varien. Yes, she didn't have to worry about Amren.
After dessert and Elain's demands that they clear the table, objecting at the fact that they should not allow Nuala and Cerridwen to clean up their every mess, they retired to the sitting room. The wine was passed around, though she refused, enjoying a cup of coffee instead, as they all lazed around comfortably in front of a low fire. Nesta still found herself inclined towards the seat in the back, as she admired her mate's figure, glowing beautifully by the low light. By the Mother was he lovely.
The itch returned once more when Elain approached him, a hand on his elbow as she talked, and Nesta swallowed thickly to distract herself. This was her sister, she had a mate of her own (though the relationship there was tentative) and she had never shown interest in Cassian before, she needed to settle down before she hurt someone.
The itch turned into a low burn in her breast, a sheen of sweat prickling her skin even feet away from the fire as Cassian continued to speak to the females of the group. The little demon in her chest screaming to rip him from their grasps and claim him, show them who he belonged to, that he was hers. Hers to touch, hers to laugh with, hers to fuck.
She excused herself for a moment, needing a moment of clarity and air, the light breeze cooling her heated skin. What was happening to her, she had never been bothered by the light and friendly touches the females of the group granted him. She knew it was important to him, made him feel loved, cherished, important. But she couldn't stop the raging flames of jealousy that burned brighter, every touch an added log, every look stoking that small spark into a full-blown forest fire.
She took a moment longer than necessary before re-entering the sitting room, feeling confident enough in her control to sit an hour or two more before dragging her mate back to their bed, where she would demand they stay for the next few days.
But her resolve snapped the second her eyes bared witness to the scene before her. Her vision darkened and she clenched her jaw so hard she swore if she wasn't fae her teeth would have shattered from the impact. She knew the others felt it too, the silver leaking into the edges of her view told her whatever was left of her magic was cooling the room, goosebumps peppering her skin.
His wings. She was touching his wings. Her wings.
Mor, who was standing to the right of her mate, so close it was bordering on the offensive, had her fucking hand on his wing. A thumb caressed a tendon and she felt the floodgates open. The demon in her chest ripping and tearing at her heart, fire exploding through her veins and Nesta let out the most inhuman screech that had ever left her lips, and she pounced.
Though the event took place in a matter of seconds, Nesta witnessed it in slow motion. As if having sensed her anger, Cassian turned to her, stepping towards her, angeling his body in front of his friends as Nesta lunged for her, teeth bared and eyes aflame with that silver fire.
Her breath was forced from her lungs painfully as she collided with the hard-muscled chest of her mate, her hands reaching behind him still fighting to cause any sort of harm to the tall blonde, even something as human as digging her nails into her soft skin.
Dismissing the scream of shock from Elain, and the pleading from Feyre, even the compulsion that reeked of Rhysand's powers trying to force her onto the floor and away from his cousin, Nesta continued to thrash. It was when she felt the cool brush of Azriel's shadows circling her waist did she break away, snarling at him.
"It's fine," Cassian reassured, sliding an arm securely around his flailing mate's waist, pressing her much smaller body to his, allowing his wings to fold around her protectively. He knew his family wouldn't hurt her, but those instincts still coursed through his own bloodstream.
"Isn't it usually the males who experience this after mating?" Elain asked innocently.
"Usually, but this is Nesta, the rules don't seem to apply to her," Rhys observed with interest.
"Don't you ever touch what's mine again," she shrieked at Mor, realizing she wasn't going to physically be able to remove herself from Cassian's hold. She grabbed onto his wing with her one hand and bore into with the other female with a threatening gleam, causing Cassian to shiver, "Mine," she hissed.
"I think it would be best if we left," Cassian's suggestion was met with no argument as he backed Nesta up until they reached the door, all the while his mate lashed out bits of magic and threatened anyone, male or female, that came within her eye line.
He immediately lifted them up and into the air in record time the moment they stepped outside the house, his wings working overtime as he surged towards the House of Wind. Nesta began to settle the farther they flew from the city boundaries, body going limp and claws retracted, and he knew Azriel would not return.
"Looks like we spoke too soon for some of us," he teased her, setting her down onto the balcony attached to their shared room.
She didn't laugh, no amused twinkle in her eyes, her expression solidifying into one of a predictor. "Really bothered you, huh, Mor touching my wings."
"Mine " she roared out, stalking towards him.
"She wasn't going to do anything sweetheart," he tried to reassure her, but she was too far gone to reason with.
"I don't care, I can understand your need for touch, she can pet your arm or swing her legs over your thighs, but the wings," she was so close now, even standing on her tiptoes she was still threatening, breath mingling together as she spoke, "The wings are mine."
He leaned forward and placed a kiss on her lips, "All yours."
"Now, I hope you ate enough at dinner because you won't be leaving this bed for the next week."
Cassian didn't complain as his mate rode his cock until morning.
I've added anyone to this list who has asked to be added to my tagged list on any of my fics because it was getting confusing. You will only be tagged on Nessian fics. Let me know if you wish to be removed.
@live-the-fangirl-life @mehx1000 @champanheandluxxury @silvernesta @swankii-art-teacher @a-court-of-valkyries @misswonderflower @snickerdoodlechittybangbang @mis-lil-red @angelic-voice-1997 @bo0kmaster69 @simpingfornestaarcheron
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Fine Print (9)
I hear that Nessian Month is coming up. Here's an (early) treat.
Let us all casually ignore (and forgive) the sudden change in tenses. I've been playing with my writing style some, and it's getting confusing to switch back and forth. I'll also apologize for the abrupt ending. It seemed as good a place to stop as any.
Warnings apply for NSFW content, of course. These two are very naughty.
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Nesta snapped her book shut and sighed. “What?”
Despite her attitude, Cassian continued to watch Nesta, his curiosity open and honest. He never flinched whenever Nesta growled at him, and it bothered her more than she cared to admit. Nesta didn’t like that Cassian was unaffected by her ill-moods, that they seemed to warm him to her more than turn him away. Nesta could hiss and spit at Cassian all she wanted; he would barely do more than blink.
He continued to stare. This was a favorite pastime of Cassian’s, watching Nesta breathe. It was annoying on a normal day, but Nesta found it especially irritating when she was trying to read in peace. She couldn’t concentrate with those hazel eyes of his burning the skin of her forehead.
Nesta huffed at him; he could at least pretend to be embarrassed about being caught staring. But he wasn’t, and he wouldn’t.
“What’re you reading, Nes?” he asked without shame.
His intense gaze flickered to the book in Nesta’s hands before returning to her face. Her hackles rose at his nosey ways, but it was Nesta’s stubbornness that prevailed. She ignored him; Nesta was not about to let Cassian embarrass her.
“Well?” Cassian always was impatient.
Nesta cracked the book open once more, replied in a bored voice, “Porn.”
Cassian barked a laugh, slapping his knee and throwing his head back, but the cocky grin on his face fell off when Nesta did not return the sentiment, when she did not laugh or smirk at her own very clever joke.
His jaw dropped. “Wait! Really?”
Nesta kept her face void of emotion as she displayed the cover for him. A picture of a half-naked man in a ridiculous pose. It was tempting to snicker at the look on Cassian’s face; Nesta was always pleased to catch him off guard. Instead, she stared at him, a bored look plastered on her face.
“Do you really think that this—“ Nesta shook the book in her hands, laughing to herself. “—is the cover a book with real substance?”
Nesta made a show of admiring the shirtless man on the cover, relishing how it made Cassian scowl. Her description of the book was definitely unjust. There was plenty of substantial plot, but Nesta wasn’t about to back down from this standoff to acknowledge the half-truth. No, it was much more fun to scandalize Cassian.
“They fuck every other page,” Nesta said and resumed her reading.
A stunned silence followed. Nesta almost looked up to be sure that Cassian was still breathing, but he spoke before that was necessary.
“Shit,” he breathed.
Nesta bit the inside of her cheek to keep from grinning. Clearly, Cassian was not expecting her to own up to such naughty reading. He should have known better. Nesta wasn’t known for having shame, and she definitely was not about to let anyone make her feel embarrassed for her reading choices.
“Actually,” Cassian drawled, dragging Nesta’s attention back to him. His signature grin had reappeared, lewd and arrogant and incredibly annoying. “That’s kind of really hot.”
Nesta wanted nothing more than to slap the amusement off of his face. The bastard.
She refused to back down from the challenge. “Is it more or less hot than my old lady sweater?” Nesta gestured to her chest; the cobalt blue knit hung from her frame, too big to fit properly. “I bought it just for you, you know.”
Cassian scoffed, a victory of its own. His hazel brown eyes swept across her torso at the reminder—another victory.
The sweater Nesta had arrived in this morning was an ugly thing, but the knit was soft and comfortable. Whether or not it was the first clean thing Nesta found in her apartment was of no consequence, but the thought of teasing Cassian was. Nesta couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
“Sweater wins.” Cassian dragged his teeth over his bottom lip. “No question.”
Nesta huffed, and a wide grin stretched across Cassian’s face. She hated how her body heated at the simple comment.
“Will you come sit with me?” Cassian asked, patting his thigh in invitation.
“Why?” Nesta asked though she could read the heated promise in his eyes. He was up to something; Nesta just didn’t know what his plans were just yet. Not exactly.
“To cuddle.” The thoughts burning in Cassian’s eyes were far less innocent than the offer. Nesta’s pulse quickened. He smiled.
“And… so that I can touch you while you read that dirty book of yours.” Cassian slouched deeper into the sofa, sprawling out his legs to get more comfortable. “I want to find out if reading that book is enough to get you wet.”
“Touch yourself,” Nesta hissed.
“I can if you want me to.” Cassian’s smile was clever and full of promise. “Is that something you’d like to watch, Sweetheart?”
Nesta’s traitorous body reacted to his words. Her breasts tightened, and her skin pebbled as Cassian watched her, a hand sliding indecently down his abdomen. He knew exactly what he was doing. Nesta hated him for it, even as her gaze crawled across his body.
Since her attempt at dying in his apartment a few weeks ago, Cassian had become… distant. The sex was more or less nonexistent, especially as Nesta’s body took its sweet time beating the winter cold that plagued her. When the mood did strike, Cassian was the very definition of vanilla in the bedroom, soft and without fanfare. An itch to be scratched.
If Nesta had known that allowing Cassian to nurse her back to health would kill their sex life, she would have died in private.
Cassian’s hand dropped to his crotch, and Nesta ripped her gaze away, flushing with the realization of where she’d been staring at. Instead, she focused on the book in her lap, struggling to read the words as they blurred together. Nesta ignored the man sitting across from her, pretended not to hear the sound of his zipper coming undone or the dark chuckle that followed.
The resurrection of Cassian’s adventurous side was surprising. And thrilling. Nesta knew there was no way she’d be able to continue reading her book, and Cassian had to know that, as well. The pages blurred together as Nesta’s ears went into overdrive, listening to the soft shuffle of clothing.
Cassian groaned then, loudly and with abandon. Nesta’s gaze snapped to him. Her mouth dried at the sight of him sitting across from her, pants undone and his cock in his hands.
He stroked himself lazily and held Nesta’s gaze, waiting for her reaction.
Without her permission, Nesta’s attention dropped to his cock, watching as it hardened in his hand. She yanked her gaze away just as quickly as it fell and stared at the book in her lap. The words there—what little she could make out in her frazzled state—were not much better than what was happening before her. Nesta bit the inside of her cheek and refused to let her cheeks warm.
Another groan, low and drawn out. Nesta was not sure how she was supposed to ignore him. Ignore what he was doing—the brute. Nesta couldn’t stand him.
Cassian’s next chuckle was hoarse. It tickled down Nesta’s spine, but she refused to look at him, to give Cassian what he wanted. Instead, Nesta stared harder at her book, tried to get a look at Cassian from the corner of her eye.
He noticed. “Do you like what you see, Sweetheart?”
“This is sexual harassment.” Nesta huffed. “Nobody wants to see that.”
And yet, as another groan escaped Cassian, Nesta found her gaze drawn to him once more, to the fingers he had wrapped around himself. Her eyes tracked how his fist moved slowly up and down, up and down.
Nesta soaked in the sight of Cassian’s head, laid back against the couch, the column of his throat exposed, and licked her lips. She felt the need to kiss him there. Nesta wanted to bite him right there on that sensitive spot, to make him moan as she knew he would.
Cassian’s eyes were bright when they met Nesta’s stare. “Kind of seems like you do, Nes.”
“Cauldron, you’re so full of yourself.” Nesta snapped her book shut, looked away from him. She clenched her thighs together and tried to ignore the ache building deep within her.
Cassian ignored the insult.
“C’mere, Nes.” Pat, pat, on the sofa. “Sit with me.”
Nesta cut him a glare. She was madder with herself than Cassian, more upset with her body and how it reacted to his deviant behavior. Yet, Nesta refused to feel shame as she rose from the couch, head held high and chin jutted outward.
Excitement sparkled in Cassian’s eyes as Nesta tossed her book to the side and slunk towards him. His hands kept moving.
“I don’t know,” Nesta cooed, sinking to her knees before him. “It looks like you have things well under control.”
She didn’t allow herself to second-guess her decision; she sunk her teeth into the sensitive skin of his thigh. Cassian choked on a strained laugh, torn between amusement and arousal, and he swore loudly as Nesta bit down harder in the same place once more. Cassian’s hips jerked upward into his hand in reaction.
It was Nesta’s turn to laugh. She flashed him an innocent smile, looking at him from under her lashes. “Is there something wrong?”
“Nope.” The strain in Cassian’s voice filled Nesta with pride. “Everything’s great.”
Nesta smiled. She pressed a kiss over the red mark left behind by her teeth. There was a certain thrill that Nesta found in marking Cassian—in being marked, too. She liked the brief, sharp pain of a lovebite, and Cassian did, as well. He always melted into a puddle when Nesta took her time with him, carefully leaving a mark or two.
A long pause followed as they watched one another. Cassian tried to hide how his muscles trembled in anticipation, but he failed as Nesta’s breath tickled his skin, just shy of where he liked it best.
Her laughter was husky to her own ears. “Yes?”
“Watch me,” Cassian panted. His hand slid down the length of him. Back up.
Nesta raised one brow.
“Sit there—” Cassian’s thumb ran along the slit of his cock, and he groaned, forgetting his words. His eyes fell closed. “—and watch me as I touch myself.”
It was a paltry attempt at dominance, to regain his footing in this precarious situation, but it was enough to fill Nesta’s body with heat. Cassian opened his eyes and met her gaze. Nesta chewed on her lip, made a show of considering his request. Cassian’s hand froze at the base of his cock, refusing to move until Nesta gave him the slightest of nods—her permission to continue this new game of his.
Cassian worked himself hard, and Nesta made herself comfortable, resting a cheek against the inside of his knee as she watched. His heavy-lidded gaze and the sight of his long, thick fingers wrapped around himself made Nesta’s pulse race. She wanted those fingers inside of her, pushing and pulling just right until Nesta was coming around them.
Nesta blinked those thoughts away, ignoring the throbbing between her legs in favor of teasing Cassian. “You’ve thought about this before,” she said. “Haven’t you?”
She pressed another kiss to the inside of his knee, luring Cassian’s attention there.
Pupils blown wide, he swallowed. “Yeah.”
“Do you like having me watch you like this?” Nesta asked. She dragged a finger across his inner thigh, causing the muscle there to tense. “Do you like having me on your knees in front of you? Watching as you get yourself off?”
Cassian jerked his head. An awkward nod.
Nesta ran her palms up the tops of his thighs, savoring how his coarse hair felt under her fingers. Cassian bit back another moan. It was all the encouragement Nesta needed to do it again; she scratched her nails down his legs. Cassian groaned louder.
Nesta laughed, but the sound was breathless. She was having a hard time exuding her usual self-confidence.
Apparently, Nesta was kind of into this, too.
“Yeah. I do,” Cassian rasped at last. “I like the view.”
“Me, too,” Nesta told him with a smile.
In fact, Nesta was tempted to slide a hand into her own leggings, but another idea came to mind, triggered by his words. Nesta pulled her hands away, smiling at how Cassian whimpered at the loss of her touch.
Nesta tugged off the ugly sweater and revealed the bralette she wore underneath. It was a sorry excuse for an undergarment, barely providing any kind of support for Nesta’s ample chest, but it was incredibly comfortable. For Nesta, that was the most important thing.
Cassian’s eyes dropped to her boobs. Nesta grinned. “How about now?”
“It’s okay.” Cassian’s laugh was strained. “Fuck, yeah. It’s way better than okay.” Nesta’s eyes caught on how his grip tightened around himself. He growled, “C’mere.”
Nesta laughed at him and rose to her knees, rubbing her palms up and down his thighs. “Bossy.”
“Fuck!” Cassian tilted his head towards the heavens. “You’re so damn sexy, Nesta.”
Nesta looked away from Cassian’s lap, expecting to find his gaze trained on her cleavage. She was surprised to find him watching her face instead. Her cheeks grew hot. Nesta loosed a breath.
“Don’t forget your balls, baby,” she ordered, attempting to gather herself and regain some control. Her voice is hoarse. Aroused. “I know how much you like it when I play with them.”
Another swear fell from Cassian. “You do know how I like it, don’t you, Sweetheart?”
Nesta hummed a confirmation and cupped her breasts, pushing them together for Cassian. He moaned, approving of the view; his stroking began to increase. Cassian watched, breathing heavily, as Nesta played with her chest. He growled as she ran her thumbs over her nipples, rubbing them through the fabric of her bra. Nesta let her gaze dance back and forth between Cassian’s flushed face and his swollen, hard cock. She dragged her teeth across her lip, pinched her own nipple, and gasped.
“That’s a good girl,” Cassian purred. “Fuck. I love your fucking tits.”
“Yeah?” Nesta was breathless. She pressed the mounds of flesh together and then upward. “Do you wanna fuck ‘em?”
Cassian’s brow rose. “Yeah? You’d let me do that, Sweetheart?”
Nesta nodded; she was excited. This would be something new for them, something interesting, and Nesta was more than ready for Cassian to abandon his game of playing gentle and sweet with her. Nesta was ready for a change.
“Wait,” Cassian said when Nesta started to remove her bra. She paused. “Leave that on.”
“Yeah?” Nesta didn’t fight the smirk. It figured that he’d make such a request.
Cassian groaned in response, and his fingers tightened around his cock. “Didn’t I tell you that I liked the view?”
Nesta hummed. She shifted closer to him, making space for herself between Cassian’s thighs. Her fingers hovered over his cock, and she asked, “May I?”
“Fuck.” Cassian released himself. “Yeah. Totally.”
Nesta flashed him a coy smile and wrapped her fingers around him. Cassian groaned the second her skin touched him, and he watched attentively as Nesta lowered her lips towards his cock. As the heat of him entered her mouth, Cassian’s hips jerked suddenly. He swore again.
Nesta leaned back. It was a struggle for her to contain her laughter. “Well, we won’t get very far like that, will we?”
Cassian’s face told her that he didn’t see the humor. He frowned. “I thought that I was going to fuck your tits.”
“In a second.” Nesta rolled her eyes at Cassian’s pout.
Nesta began to work Cassian. She gathered the saliva in her mouth and spat on his cock. It was a dirty move, but Cassian’s answering groan was deep and low. Like he’d said earlier, Nesta knew what Cassian liked.
Before he could protest a second time, Nesta wrapped her lips around Cassian’s cock. She took her time, working him slowly with her mouth until she was satisfied. There was very little as unpleasant as the chaffing feeling of dry skin rubbing together. Cassian didn’t seem to mind, though, even if he had complained before.
“I love that mouth of yours,” he groaned.
That was no secret. Cassian really enjoyed having his cock in Nesta’s mouth, but she thought it was time to find out if he liked her breasts better.
Nesta pulled away, sucking Cassian’s cock as she went. She stroked him, taking a moment to catch her breath; Cassian’s own chest moved quickly. It made her feel proud; Nesta liked seeing the effect she could have on him. Cassian didn’t let his guard down very often.
“Well?” Nesta pressed her breasts together, emphasizing them in her bra. The thing was never going to survive this, but she thought it’d be worth the loss. “We don’t have all night, do we?”
Cassian stared at her, stunned, but he quickly saw through that haughty attitude of Nesta’s. He barked a laugh, and a smile tugged at his lips.
“Bossy,” he said, echoing Nesta.
She rolled her eyes at him, but Nesta’s pulse quickened as Cassian sat upright, adjusting his position. He caught her by the chin without warning and dragged Nesta in for a dirty kiss; she returned it eagerly.
“You’re always so good to me.” Cassian’s dark eyes dropped to Nesta’s chest, and she caught herself circling her nipples with her fingers as he watched. “My Sweetheart.”
Cassian wasted little time. His hand jerked the length of his cock once, and then Cassian guided himself towards Nesta’s ample cleavage. Both of them moaned as his cock slide underneath the elastic of her bra and in-between Nesta’s boobs. That surprised Nesta; she hadn’t expected that to feel so good. Not for her.
“Cauldron.” Cassian lifted his hips, slow and experimental. “I fucking love your tits, Nesta.”
“Really?” Nesta quipped. “I hadn’t noticed.”
Her attempt at snark failed when Nesta moaned suddenly, turned on by the feel of his hot, hard cock pressed against her chest. Cassian laughed at her, but the sound soon turned into a groan.
He reached for her breasts, asked, “May I?”
Nesta nodded and allowed Cassian to cup her breasts. His palms were large, large enough to nearly fully encompass her breasts. The rough pads of his fingers against the delicate skin of her chest made her moan again.
Cassian’s cock moved faster. She watched as the swollen, red tip of his cock appeared at the tops of her breasts and then disappeared; the sight was enough to make her clench her thighs together. It was a feeble attempt to soothe the ache that was building inside of her.
“Fuck.” Cassian’s eyes were glued to his cock between her tits. “Nesta.”
“You can squeeze harder,” Nesta rasped, her breathing uneven.
Cassian met her gaze. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I don’t mind,” Nesta said, desperate for Cassian to do as she’d asked of him. She craved the friction—and that little bit of delicious pain—as much as she knew Cassian did. “I… I like it.”
“Fuck!” Cassian’s hips stuttered, but he did as Nesta asked. Her moan was loud as his big hands pressed harder against her chest, and she whimpered when one of his thumbs teased roughly against her peaked nipple.
“Always so good to me,” Cassian whispered as he fucked her breasts. Nesta could tell that Cassian was no longer aware of how he rambled, but she wouldn’t hold it against him. Nesta sometimes got carried away in the heat of the moment, too.
And the sight of Cassian’s cock between her breasts was very, very hot.
“Don’t deserve it. You.” Cassian’s hips moved with abandon. “Oh, Sweetheart.”
Nesta rubbed at Cassian’s thighs as he moved. With him in control, there wasn’t much else for Nesta to do. She watched Cassian, savoring the look on his face. The ache within her grew stronger and stronger as Nesta listened to Cassian’s chatter. His groans of praise.
Opening her mouth, Nesta bent her neck downward, attempting to catch the head of Cassian’s cock with her mouth. She wanted a taste of him, and Cassian didn’t mind if the way he groaned was any indication.
The sounds that fell from his lips made Nesta clench her thighs together tightly. She slid a hand towards the waistband of her leggings, underneath them. Cassian was too distracted to notice what Nesta was doing; she knew he’d stop her if he did.
Nesta’s fingers slipped between her legs, rubbing away the ache she felt. Cassian’s cock continued to brush against her lips and tongue, and Nesta hummed at the taste of him. It was a surprise at first, but Nesta rather liked when Cassian took charge like this. But only in the bedroom.
Cassian remained preoccupied. He yanked her face towards his to kiss her roughly, and Nesta moaned into his mouth. She quickened the pace of her fingers.
“Fuck!” Cassian had noticed at last what Nesta was up to. “Are you—“
He cut off with a groan. Cassian’s cock began to throb between her breasts, and Nesta moaned, knowing that meant he was nearly there. It was almost enough to have Nesta coming undone, as well. Almost.
“Your mouth, Nes,” Cassian said and cupped the back of her head. Her eyes shot to his face, the urgency there. “Nesta, gimme your mouth.”
She complied, figuring out what it was that he wanted. Nesta leaned forward and allowed Cassian to fuck between her breasts and into her mouth again. She moaned around him, pressing harder against her clit.
“Sweetheart, I’m gonna—“
Cassian growled as he spilled himself into Nesta’s mouth. At the angle, she struggled to take all of him, but she swallowed what she could. The rest landed against her skin, something equally as sexy as his coming in her mouth.
“Shit.” Cassian panted. “C’mere.”
Suddenly, Nesta’s face was in Cassian’s hands, and before she knew what was happening, his lips crashed messily into hers as he chased the taste of himself in her mouth. Nesta keened and kissed him back eagerly, one hand in his hair and the other in her leggings.
“Come for me, Nes.” Cassian trailed his lips down her neck and towards her breasts. "Sweetheart."
Nesta moaned. She rocked her hips against her hand as Cassian kissed her body. Nesta was close, and the feel of his lips on her and the thought of Cassian tasting himself on her skin was enough to push her over the edge.
"Oh," Nesta gasped, hips jerking. "Cass—"
Their mouths crashed together. Cassian lifted Nesta into his lap without difficulty, and Nesta pressed her face into the crook of his neck as she caught her breath.
Cassian smoothed back her hair, held Nesta as she came down. When she removed her hand from her pants, Cassian caught it and lifted her fingers to his mouth.
Nesta moaned as Cassian sucked her fingers clean. She kissed him and tangled her fingers into his hair; Cassian groaned into her mouth, pulling her closer to his body.
“Fuck.” Cassian peppered her lips with kisses. “You’re so fucking perfect.”
Prompts: Watch me & You've thought about this, haven't you?
Friendly reminder that I will no longer be doing tags. Please follow @noodlecatfics or my AO3 (link above) for updates. You could also just check this blog from time to time. I’ll use “fine print au” for all updates going forward.
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@imasconfusedasyouare 1) your writing is amazing and I love your blog! 2)For the prompts: Nesta is having a bad day with her mental health and during dinner or something the IC make certain comments about how she’s behaving that makes Cassian go into possessive-mate mode and snaps at them… pretty please 🥺
1) Thank you!
2) I took a bit of liberty with this prompt. The gist of it is the same, but I couldn’t have Cassian outright tell the IC off when I feel he is wrong himself. So I made a fic where Nesta has a bad mental health day, they do see the others and they do say things, and Cassian is selfish but ultimately they get through it because love is not.
So… here goes nothing.
Cassian knows Nesta doesn’t feel good. Maybe he knows her well enough by now to sense her tells or some intrinsic part of his soul sings to him of concern. That when she huddles in their bed, grasping the pillow instead of his chest, she reaches for something he can’t offer her and he knows.
Even so, he lays a palm on her forehead searching for heat and when she shrugs him off, he doesn’t let the feeling make a home in his lungs. He will not yell or chastise or run away with stupid words.
Nesta doesn’t feel good.
Be patient, the voice in his head tells him. Be slow.
Nesta eats less that morning, eats slower, and she stares into space as if she’s asking it questions. He rambles on and she doesn’t listen. She’s waiting for the space to answer, he tells himself.
They go to training. Cassian thinks maybe the routine will keep her grounded, will remind her that she’s capable. That she’s carried more weight than a sword. He asks her if she’s ready and Nesta merely lifts her hands. Fists hit but they don’t hurt. Fists hit but they don’t rage. Fists hit and Cassian thinks something must be terribly wrong. Fists hit and Cassian only wants to hold her close.
He asks Gwyn and Emerie if they notice something off, and they shrug as if they know but don’t want to tell him. Perhaps they know and they just can’t explain. Cassian doesn’t think he could understand if they did.
You can understand, that little voice speaks. You just have to wait.
So Cassian waits. Cassian sits. Cassian listens, and Nesta walks around the house, trailing room to empty room. Nesta doesn’t even turn on the symphonia. He keeps waiting for music, but the egg shaped disk stays closed and Nesta shuts her eyes. Maybe she hears music that he doesn’t.
You offered her time, the voice reminds him. A lifetime of time. What is a few hours? A few days?
But Cassian doesn’t want to wait. Cassian doesn’t want Nesta to feel anything like this–where she looks out the window with that blank expression and she keeps to herself and she sneaks up so quietly she might as well be ghost. Cassian doesn’t want a ghost for a mate.
He can’t wait any longer. Cassian has to do something now, before time slips between his fingers and the floor drops from right under their feet. So, he moves. He makes plans.
Nesta doesn’t argue when he drags her to the city. Nesta doesn’t argue when they go to the streets thrumming with sound. Fill her with noise and laughter, he thinks. Fill her with something I can’t.
But the voice in his head only chastises him. You need to wait.
Cassian can’t wait. Cassian is running out of time.
So he takes her to the only place that will make a difference.
He knows they’re having dinner, and he knows they’ll be together and perhaps they can fill her with the life he can’t.
He takes her to his family. To her family.
But they’re not really her family are they?
Feyre is and so she’s happily surprised to see them, but when she tries to give Nesta a hug, she lays as still as a statue. Feyre notices. Cassian notices. Rhysand notices. Still, they go the dining room where the rest are waiting. Waiting less patiently than him.
That’s when he hears that voice.
Are they really her family?
Cassian wants to think yes, but they laugh with each other and Nesta gets handed a plate. Nesta spoons little handfuls of green beans and mash potatoes and Mor laughs at an inside joke that Cassian knows well and Amren wants to discuss a meeting that Nesta doesn’t attend. Nesta doesn’t know anything about any of the topics they want to discuss. Nesta sits in a tower on a normal Tuesday and gazes wistfully out the window, and sitting here at the table reminds him of that stare.
It reminds him of that stare years ago. On a snowy night in December.
“You’re quiet,” Feyre says after a while. Nesta doesn’t even notice she’s being talked to until Cassian elbows her lightly.
“I’m always quiet,” she says at last, looking to her plate. Cassian watches as a noodle forms a question mark and all he can think about it why, why, why.
“You’re not usually so…”
She looks up at her sister with that blank expression, blinking slow.
“Are you okay?” Feyre asks, concern in her voice.
Nesta doesn’t even think as she says, “I’m fine.”
But he can already see it. The distasteful looks that they hide with a snort. That awkward, you are ruining something look. That you didn’t bring enough smiles for this house. And Cassian knows that they will go home tonight, and something will have gone backwards. That they’ll remember what Nesta’s done, but the Nesta they see will be the first Nesta they think about, and their memory will not be filled with heroic deeds like nighttime fairytales. It won’t even be of a courageous young female who only yearns for her sister to live. They will see this Nesta.
This perfectly good Nesta.
This perfectly, acceptable Nesta. Quiet somber songs or not.
Cassian feels himself moving before he realizes what he’s doing. He can feel himself reaching for her and Nesta looks up as if his movement surprises her. It surprises him, too, but it’s the right choice he knows.
“Let’s go home,” he breathes.
Cassian tries not to let the guilt sink in his chest at her look of relief. The way she sets the fork down as if it’s a great, heavy sword. Cassian won’t let it pierce his heart. His heart is her, and Nesta is going to be okay tomorrow.
Today, she will watch the sky and listen to nothing and pace back and forth and she’ll feel that restlessness settle in her chest until it settles down quietly. He will protect her ability to grieve. For whatever she grieves. That layer of herself she peels off like paper.
“You’re going home already?” Mor asks, a look of astonishment on her face.
“Nesta doesn’t feel good,” he says. Some part of him wants to say that it was a mistake bringing her here, but he can’t do that. That only makes Cassian a hypocrite and he’s already selfish. He knows who they are. They’re not Nesta’s family…
And this is his fault, not theirs. Not only because it’s the last place Nesta wants to be, but because if he has a hard time understanding her, they don’t even have a chance and Cassian won’t let them make Nesta feel ashamed.
Cassian doesn’t want to make Nesta feel ashamed.
All day he has. When they go to the market, when they walk through the city, when they stop by restaurants and booths and people. When they go to this house and eat with his family, he wants to shame the bad day out of her.
Nothing about Nesta is shameful.
Nothing about Nesta can make him feel ashamed.
“Home?” He repeats and Nesta grabs his outstretched hand. She says a goodbye to Feyre who raises her hand with a small tainted, tilt of her lip. They’re there for a mere thirty minutes before they’re gone.
And when they get home, she goes to the library. Nesta huddles up on the sofa with her favorite book, and sometimes she stares out the window in between pages.
Cassian sets a blanket on her shoulders, careful not to touch her unless she asks. He wants to hold her, but it isn’t about what he wants. So he covers her in I’m here cotton, keeps her warm in I love you wool. He will set his I’m thinking of you tea beside her table, and he will wait and wait and wait. Wait until the night grows dim and he does.
And at some point in the night, he falls asleep on the large chair across from her. At some point in the night he feels her climb in, her body huddled close. Nesta takes the blanket with her and she covers them both. He only needs her, Cassian thinks. He only wants her, but the blanket lays on top of them like a shield. It’ll protect them both in its embrace.
Nesta tucks her head in his neck, he can feel her cold nose on his skin, and she burrows into him, her hands rummaging beneath his shirt. The touch sings as much as it burns, but he falls asleep to the sweet smell of lavender and the soft sound of her breathing.
It’s the most wonderful music he’s ever heard.
In the morning, Cassian wakes up to the symphonia playing and Nesta’s smile is the sun.
Tagged: @my-fan-side, @sophilightwood, @nestaarcher0n, @duskandstarlight, @soitsgorgeous, @ekaterinakostrova @swankii-art-teacher, @lordof-bloodshed, @arinbelle, @thewhelk, @daisy-in-danger @highqueenevankhell, @lovelynesta, @sirendeepity, @champanheandluxxury, @ladynestaarcheron, @moodymelanist, @teagoddess99, @spoilersteph, @drielecarla, @angelicvoice19, @bo0kmaster69, @generalnesta
Don’t know where these fics keep coming from, but doubt it will last so I’m enjoying the ride.
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Embers & Light (Chapter 42)
Notes: Hey everyone, I know I wasn't scheduled to post until next weekend, but I got my writing mojo on and I managed to turn things around quicker than usual. And I also wanted to say thank you to you all for bearing with me whilst I was too busy to get you regular updates. So, I hope you enjoy this one and you'll also get an update next week, too. We're taking a turn into angst-ville, which is going to build over the next few chapters, so strap yourselves in for a turbulent ride.
This is one of my favourite in the whole of E&L and I've had it in my mind for a long time. I really hope you enjoy it. Please let me know what you think and know that every comment makes my day <3
If you enjoy my writing, I'd really appreciate it if you could reblog my work so more people can discover my fic--thanks so much!
Their silence was a stolid thing. If Nesta had fetched one of Cassian’s fighting knives, she could have cut a big, fat wedge out of it. The only problem was that she didn’t know what she’d find if she removed that slice. Would it carve a path for her to speak with Cassian about what he’d just revealed, or would it only reveal a mammoth, cavernous emptiness?
“So what lesson are you about to teach me?” Nesta asked, crossing her arms firmly across her chest as they stepped out into a surprisingly empty camp. Her voice felt scratchy and unused. It irritated her throat.
Cassian ignored her, closing the door firmly behind him. He was wearing his best scaled leathers, his hair pulled back so tightly into a topknot that his features appeared even more impenetrable and severe.
“Sala’s far away,” Nesta said into the stony silence, when Cassian finally turned to look at her, “so, you’ll have to carry me. Do you think you can stand it?”
A huffed grunt was Cassian’s only reply. There was no wry grin. No glint in those hazel eyes as he flared his ruby siphons to create a protective bubble against the battering wind.
Sala was out there somewhere, Nesta could feel it. But she didn’t want to summon the manticore. She couldn’t fathom the thought of not being near Cassian. His confession had panic lodged in her chest and terror eating at her insides. Because she was terrified he was going to leave her. Because she was awful. He had seen those images and he had been forced to watch—
The horror had Nesta clamping down on her thoughts, but then they were back, barraging into her from every direction. How much had he seen? If it had been the other way around… No, Nesta couldn’t bare it. She couldn’t bare it.
Tears rose within her but she bit them down.
“I have to attend a ceremony,” Cassian announced tightly without looking at her. “I’d like your company.”
Nesta blinked. Stared at him. It was not what she’d expected. A thousand questions itched at her. Nesta wanted to tell Cassian that she was sorry, that she was naive to think she could control the bond between them to spite the Cauldron, but she only ended up frowning as she asked, “You’d like or you need?”
“Aren’t they the same thing?”
“No,” Nesta retorted shortly. But she couldn’t help but ask, “What’s the ceremony?”
“Today is Kharon. It’s a day Illyrians say goodbye to the dead so they can rest in peace in the afterlife.”
Nesta frowned. She had thought the camp was quieter than usual, but had been too preoccupied with clearing out the shop to have asked questions. “The festival is in the camp?”
Cassian’s jaw flexed. “No, it’s always in Empyr.”
“Empyr?” Nesta repeated, but Cassian didn’t provide her with a further answer. The red light of Cassian’s star ruby siphon shone again and a sword appeared in his hand. “Take this.”
Nesta frowned, but she took the glowing sword, surprised when the magic didn’t shrink from the blade. Instead, it turned from ruby to a soft, silver glow as she sheathed it in the scabbard that was strapped to the back of her spine.“We need to be armed?”
“A warrior should always carry steel as well as magic. It will be crowded. You’ll need to call Sala and have her meet us there.”
Nesta’s eyes widened. “You’re telling me this now?”
“I was going to tell you before you got in the bath with me, but then things went in another direction,” Cassian admitted without a hint of embarrassment. The muscles in his cheeks worked as he ground his teeth. As if he was regretting what they’d done earlier. As if he regretted her. “Empyr is neutral ground—blood has never been spilled there—but I don’t trust Illyrians. A sword is better suited than your bow given the close proximity.”
“Will you come?” he added after she remained silent. For a split second, Cassian’s mask slipped to reveal the trepidation underneath. He looked away from her as if he knew what he’d done. “A lot of families will be saying goodbye to the warriors that were lost against Hybern. I need to be present.”
Realisation hit Nesta square in the face. Nightmares still plagued Cassian and Nesta had sleepily crawled into his arms to console him too many times to count. She knew he was haunted with the death of the soldiers that turned to ash when he did not. That had been Nesta’s fault. She’d screamed his name and Cassian had followed the sound blindly. Had heard her across the clash of battle, the screams of the dying…
Nesta could loathe the Cauldron for what it had done to those males, but in that moment, she couldn’t hate the bond it had granted them. It had meant Cassian had remained alive and breathing. Safe. Until they’d nearly died again.
She still couldn’t think of that final confrontation against the King of Hybern. Couldn’t stand to think that Cassian might have been taken from her. And her father… there had been such truth in his apology to her before he died. He had finally tried and the world compensated him with death.
I loved you from the moment I first held you in my arms.
Something uncomfortable thickened in Nesta’s throat like fat, grown vines. Usually she pushed away all thoughts of her father, but today she didn’t let those thoughts imprison her. Instead, she leant into the sadness and resentment that gripped her. Sadness that her father had acted too late. Resentment because, by that point, Nesta’s hatred for him had been embedded too deep for her to forgive him.
But today Nesta didn’t feel conflicted. She only thought of the way her father's hair had been lifted by the wind as he stood at the helm of the Nesta. Of how his blue eyes—identical to hers and Feyre’s—had shone with love before his neck was snapped and the life had flickered out of him.
The wind rustled a lazy arm through the forest, making it seem as if the trees exhaled before they took in a gasping breath. The sound shook Nesta out of her thoughts.
Cassian was observing her carefully, but his gaze was still shaded—wounded, actually.
It was that look that had her stepping closer to him. Panic began to rule her heart until it ran riot. She was desperate to touch him. To make things right again between them. She wanted that flinty expression to lighten, for him to drop his guard down—something she’d noticed he only did around the bungalow. Around her.
When Nesta wound her arms around his neck in reply, Cassian allowed it. She’d hoped that despite the fact that they were in public that he might stoop to brush his mouth over hers. But Cassian only scooped her up in his arms and looked straight ahead.
In seconds they were airborne.
Empyr turned out to be the most beautiful place Nesta had ever seen.
It was a long, wide valley shaped like a horseshoe where nature reigned supreme. Water cascaded over the forest green of the mountain walls in streams, but it was at the rounded edge of the valley, dead in the centre, where a huge waterfall cascaded over its bend. To Nesta it was the river’s blood, its waters plummeting to the bottom in froths of white before it plateaued into something calmer, stretching out like a blue, serene blanket to form the River Styx, which flowed through the valley’s centre like an artery. Islands of valley floor were made up of lush green grass and connected with makeshift stone bridges which arched over from one island of land to another, thanks to the veins of water created by the smaller waterfalls.
A stony silence had been their only companion for the journey. But as they approached, Cassian began to feed Nesta information about Kharon and the surrounding landscape. At first his voice was iron-clad and clipped—a general reporting military strategy to their troops before battle—but slowly it fell into something slightly more malleable, as if the scenery softened his reproach.
Nesta didn’t care that Cassian wouldn’t look at her. Only cared that his voice halted the distance that had been stretching out impossibly between them. A sliver of hope fluttered through her that things might return to normal as Cassian began to inform her that Rhys had ordered his attendance at the festival. Thankfully, his duties didn’t extend beyond showing his face—to quietly participate—which wasn’t a problem given that Cassian was the only one out of his brothers to attend the festival year-in and year-out.
As Cassian hung a hard right, casting his wings out wide to ride the wind, Empyr spread out gloriously before them. And Nesta almost wanted to gasp at the ravaging beauty of it. The colours were sparkling and vivid, and for once, the Illyrians below weren’t imposing but… merely crowds of fae. Finally, for one evening, a united people rather than divided by clans.
Cassian continued to talk as they began their descent. He weaved his wings through the air traffic, heading towards the thick woodland bracketing the mouth of the valley. According to him, a hanging mist usually took up residence over the valley, only lifting once a year for the celebration. And true enough, a canvas of stars sparkled like jewels above them even though the sky was only purple with dusk. They were so bright that Nesta had no issues finding the ring of pareho, the blue and yellow stars so vivid that Nesta almost believed she could reach her fingers up and touch them.
And interwoven with the stars… fireflies—a gift from Oya, the Goddess of Death and Rebirth—an integral part of the ceremony. The winged beetles were black with a yellow stripe down their back—the exact shade of the goddess’ star. For one evening only, Illyrians would set it upon themselves to catch a firefly for themselves and place it in a lantern. Each firefly signified a life taken from Illyria, a soul yet to reach the heavens, lost and drifting in the in-between. By placing it into the water at the top of the mountain and sending it over the waterfall, Illyrians believed they were granting a soul a peaceful passage into the afterlife. The current would allow the soul passage as the lantern was ferried down the River Styx and into the thicket of woodland at the other end of the valley.
Cassian’s voice fell into something hushed as he explained the ceremony, and Nesta couldn’t help it—she craned her neck to look up at him. His expression had slackened with mourning but it was not overcome with it. As if, somehow, this festival which was centred around saying goodbye to the fallen, was not only a celebration of granting a restless soul peace, but a method of closure for the living.
How many times had Cassian said goodbye to friends and family here, Nesta wondered? Had Cassian found it in himself to set his mother’s soul down the River Styx? Had it done anything to alleviate the grief and anger Nesta had witnessed first-hand?
The forest floor was a carpet of moss and pine needles as Cassian touched down by a wide river that stretched its way through the woodland. Nesta looked around as Cassian set her down. Through the tree trunks quite a way ahead, Nesta spied green grass and the mauve of the night sky—heard the sounds of crowds and the wafting music that came from plucked strings.
Cassian cleared his throat. “That’s the River Styx,” he explained coarsely, nodding to their left, where water travelled serenely past them. Nesta got the distinct impression that he was talking because he couldn’t endure the silence rather than wanting to converse with her. He still hadn’t met her eye. “It flows from the waterfall at the top of the valley all the way through the forest. They haven’t started sending down lanterns just yet—we wait until it’s dark.”
Nesta dipped her chin to indicate that she’d heard him, because she wasn’t sure what else to say. Everything that was left unvoiced between them was as far-reaching as the flowing river. Now they weren’t travelling through the skies, the tension from their earlier disagreement was even more palpable: a pulsing, sad energy. A deflated heart. “Where do the lanterns of fireflies go?” she asked eventually, when her curiosity got the better of her.
“Into the afterlife,” Cassian replied simply.
“You truly believe that?” Nesta asked. Her voice wasn’t derisive but curiously pleading. She needed to keep him talking. Needed him to engage with her.
You promised things wouldn’t be cold between us, she thought desperately.
But still Cassian didn’t look at Nesta. Instead, he nodded stiffly. “There’s an even larger waterfall at the other end of the forest. The lanterns are never found after they fall. There’s no debris—they just vanish. I choose to believe that is proof that they go somewhere. But even if they don't, it’s the ritual that is significant. It’s a way of saying goodbye. Of being able to breathe again after the weight of grief. If you don’t let go, it consumes you.”
The words hit home like a punch to the stomach. It wasn’t that they were deliberately pointed at her, rather that they made sense. The grief that still ate Nesta alive when it came to her father was a numb and quiet vat until it decided to bubble up, spilling like boiling water cascading over the lip of a pan.
Pine needles crunched underfoot as she shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other, but all Nesta heard was the snap of her father’s neck and Cassian’s screams echoing in her ears as his wings were broken one by one.
Sharply, Cassian twisted around, but this time it was Nesta who deliberately avoided his gaze. She wrapped her arms around her body, forming her own tight embrace. What if her father was drifting in this world because she hadn't let go of the hate in her heart? Elain and Feyre had visited his grave, but Nesta had refused--couldn't stomach the thought of him, let alone visiting his resting place.
Suddenly, Nesta wanted to cry—to sob actually—but she couldn’t let herself. Instead, she stared at the grooves in the bark of a pine tree—beyond that, to the river and the peaceful passing of water. “You said goodbye to your mother here?”
Tears burned Nesta’s eyes. “And did it help?”
“Honestly?” In the corner of her eye, Nesta saw Cassian claw a hand through the strands of his hair that had come loose during their flight. “She’ll always be with me. But not knowing where she fell? Where she was discarded? Illyrian funerals are two-fold. We burn bodies on the pyre—it releases the soul into the atmosphere—but then we must find it at Kharon. To my knowledge, my mother’s body wasn’t burnt, so I think I will always worry that I have not found her. That she’s still here somewhere, lost and unable to find rest.”
The desire to touch Cassian was overwhelming. The devastation in his voice had Nesta turning despite herself. He looked so immeasurably sad that his grief didn't just needle her stomach—it wrangled through her—catching on organs and tugging with a sharp, curved claw.
For a moment, they stared at one another—cloudy hazel on stormy blue.
“What happens to the females who can’t fly?” Nesta asked, knowing somehow, that Cassian needed to talk about something else. Nesta wondered if Cassian would catch a firefly for his mother anyway—in the hope that if he did it every year, she might find peace.
Cassian blinked, clearly surprised by Nesta’s question. “They are carried or left at home,” he replied frankly after a moment of consideration. “They usually hold their own ceremonies.”
Nesta thought of the tiny flickering fireflies that the widows caught and stored in jars in place of faelight in their own camp. Was it also a symbol of the loved ones that they had lost? Nesta had never thought to ask. She’d just thought it was a method of illumination against the chilling dark.
Silence blanketed over them like freshly fallen snow. Nesta furled and unfurled her fists, her nails creating tiny moon shapes of pain in the heart of her palm. She wanted to say something else—to penetrate the awful weight between them that was all her fault. Everything was always her fault.
She inhaled sharply, opened her mouth to say something, but Cassian had already turned, walking towards the noise that crept through the trees.
A panic thrust Nesta into action. She was gripping Cassian’s large hand before she could think, her fingers snagging on his rough, weathered skin. There was an uncloaked terror to the movement, something that coated her voice and skin, scratched up her throat. “Cassian.”
Nesta didn’t imagine the sound Cassian teeth made as they ground together. “What.”
“I don’t want to fight.”
He didn’t face her. Apparently, he didn’t deem her worthy. “We aren’t fighting.”
“You barely looking at me counts as fighting. I thought this was neutral ground. If we’re going to be out in public, we can’t act like we hate each other.”
Nesta threaded her finger through his and this time, Cassian was a little more pliant. He stared down at their hands, turned his body towards hers. Nesta knew what he was thinking—that others would see. That they were supposed to be promised to one another.
“You want to pretend?” Cassian asked eventually. A muscle worked in his jaw and his eyes flickered before they shut down completely. “Fine. We’re good at that.”
It took everything in Nesta not to snarl. She took a deep breath, quietening the magic which had leapt furiously in her veins at the temper rising inside of her. “That’s not what I said. I’m not—”
I’m not pretending. I can’t.
As usual, words were too hard. So, Nesta tried to show him instead. Propped herself up onto tiptoes and pressed her mouth to his. Cassian didn't kiss her back but Nesta felt him soften beneath her lips. After a beat too long, a hand reluctantly curled into the tangle of her unbound hair. She’d been in too much of a hurry to tie it back earlier.
When Nesta pulled away, she only did so slightly. She waited until their eyes connected and that lock that always seemed to exist began to turn inside of her—revolving to a deeper level. Cassian’s eyes blossomed into a cloudy confusion of green and brown, like petals unfurling. They were mesmerising, drawing her in as everything she had wanted to say earlier finally blurted forth, “I didn’t know. I didn’t know and I’m sorry.”
The hurt and anger that had been rippling across Cassian’s face dropped to a simmer, but tension still bracketed his jaw. Clearly, this wasn’t something he could just forget. Nesta didn’t blame him. She’d rather die than see him with someone else. “It’s fine.”
“It’s not fine,” Nesta snapped. Irritation bit at her like gnashing teeth, but she managed to reign it in. Fae would hear their discussion and talk if she didn’t master her voice, but it still picked up speed like a stone rolling down a hill. “I’m sorry for being an awful person. I’m sorry that you saw those… things. I didn’t know that was happening. I can be cruel but I’m not that cruel—”
Cassian’s lips were a warm, abrupt end to her speech. The kiss was hard and urgent and free of desire—different to their other kisses. It was not affectionate but fierce and painful in its making, the salt of her tears a sad burst on their tongues.
“I know you’re not,” Cassian rasped when he pulled away. He ran a thumb over her cheek to brush away the tears that had wet her cheeks, but the touch was too quick. He lifted her chin and although his expression was still hard, sincerity brought life to his next words, “I could never hate you, Nesta. I don’t blame you, I just— It was hard to see.”
Cassian trailed off. He bit down on his jaw, as if he was moderating his words. “I don’t like to think about it. I acted out. I’m sorry.”
All composure had left Nesta from the moment he’d told her about the bond--her lack of control—and she practically gaped at him. “You should hate me.”
“You were free to bed who you wished. I can't hate you for that.”
But whilst that was true, Nesta knew how she'd feel if she had been in his place: tortured and sick with longing. Taunted by images of something she could not have.
An awful, rueful smile tugged at one corner of Cassian's mouth. His next words weren't consoling like they were meant to be. “Not possible,” he countered, but devastation festered in his voice.
That ruin hung between them, but Nesta pushed it away. Didn’t want to face it. “I want us to go back to normal.”
That tiny half-smile flickered, like a dying star. “And what’s normal?”
“Before,” Nesta clarified. “I want things to be easy between us.”
But even as Nesta spoke, she knew her denial of the bond was wrecked. Cassian had said Nesta could dictate how things could go, but she’d always known that they couldn’t ignore what was between them forever. She’d been the one to bring up the mating bond—she’d given it a voice, a corporeal presence and she’d doomed them.
They were existing on borrowed time. They always had been.
“I see,” Cassian mused with forced lightness, but his voice was too rough, too coarse, “you just want to exploit my skills in the bedroom.”
That wasn’t it, but Nesta made herself snort. She didn’t want to think about what she’d done to him. What she'd allowed him to see. “Whatever helps you sleep easier at night.”
“You help me sleep easier at night.”
One simple sentence—the painful, scorching truth of it made everything heavy. Inhaling a shaky breath, Nesta set her shoulders. She just had to keep pretending everything was fine until everything was fine. She could do that. She could. Because she couldn’t accept something Cauldron given, not when it had torn her apart from the inside out. She couldn’t let it win. “I walked into that.”
An easy grin transformed Cassian’s face. It was real this time—for the most part—as if he knew they had to act that everything was ok until they both believed it. “You did.”
Together, they reached the edge of the clearing. Empyr stretched out before them in all its stunning glory. Fireflies hung in the sky, tiny specks of hovering light the exact colour of Oya’s star. Nesta’s power turned over in her veins, whispering excitedly, as if it, too, could feel the ancient power that clearly ran through the river.
She clutched tightly onto Cassian’s hand as they stepped into the crowds. Cassian curled his fingers around the back of her palm in response, his wings curving around her shoulder like a shield.
Nesta leant into his embrace, couldn’t help but shelter herself in his warmth. “Where now?”
Cassian nodded towards the vendors that had taken up residence across all the pockets of land. “We’re early. Let’s eat.”
Cassian led Nesta over bridge after bridge. Azure water ran beneath the wooden platforms, fed by the smaller waterfalls that ran to meet the River Styx. Lanterns bobbed down the centre of the valley, their chambers filled with soft yellow light as they travelled downstream towards the line of trees Nesta and Cassian had emerged from. And amidst it all, the voices of market vendors ran clear as they tried to persuade visitors to buy their wares. Some sold traditional Illyrian food, whilst others allowed visitors to purchase lanterns and nets to catch their firefly at the top of the Empyr mountain.
The bustling crowds and the arresting colours of Empyr made it easier for Nesta to push her and Cassian's disagreement to the back of her mind. It still lingered like an unwanted shadow, bristling in Nesta's stomach with every breath. But as time passed, it became easier to ignore.
Together, they ate triangular shaped pastries filled with spiced potatoes and peas, licking the grease from their fingers as they walked through the many stalls. Later, Cassian paused at a stall laden with desserts. He conversed with the vendor for a few moments in rapid Illyrian, before he returned with a box of milk-based sweets dotted through with nuts. The sugar rush was instant and Nesta almost moaned as she devoured the fudgey sweet in a few quick bites. Cassian just cocked a soft smile at her again. Tenderly touched her mouth with his thumb to brush away the crumbs before offering her another one.
When lanterns obscured the river’s depths, Cassian scooped Nesta into his arms and flew them to the top left-hand plateau of the mountain. There, fireflies gathered in such large clusters the grass glowed aflame—dancing and bobbing with buttery, inviting light.
It turned out that Nesta didn’t need a net.
“Your fire must call to theirs,” Cassian mused. Awe scratched at his voice as fireflies crowded atop Nesta’s palm and floated down to coat Sala’s fur.
The manticore had been waiting at the mountain’s peak, as if the beast had known that Nesta was about to appear. Sala had slunk out of the copse of trees, a predator amongst a race who were used to being the hunters rather than the hunted. The wariness in the Illyrians eyes had quickly dissolved into a mixture of awe and jealousy as Sala knocked her head against Nesta and Cassian’s midriffs in hello.
But Nesta had only given the manticore a half-hearted rub behind the ears. She’d been too preoccupied by the way that her power had began to vibrate in her blood like a buzz of swarming bees.
Within minutes, they were surrounded in a thicket of the beetles—circled specks of heavenly light.
When Nesta offered Cassian one of the glowing beetles, he merely shook his head. “I have to do it myself.”
He caught a firefly between his cupped palms and tilted it gently into the lantern. Nesta followed suit, struggling to tip just one into the lantern when so many crowded her palm—her skin.
She felt the raking gaze of the Illyrians—watchful eyes—even though she couldn’t see past the fireflies. Suddenly, she felt anxious and out of place in this holy setting. Like she shouldn’t have the privilege of participating in an event when she had so much hate in her heart.
But she made herself take stock. Banishing the lancing thoughts, she asked softly, “Do I have to give the soul a name?”
Cassian glanced sideways at her. He frowned at the look on her face—the stark uncertainty that she couldn’t hide in time. His spine straightened, his eyes scanning their surroundings. Somehow, Nesta knew that he felt the Illyrians looking at them, too. “It can be symbolic if you like. Or you don’t have to do it at all.”
But Nesta thought of all the floating souls around them. She didn’t know what she believed, but she respected the tradition enough to partake in it. She couldn’t deny freeing a trapped soul into the afterlife, even if she wasn’t sure whether she’d be of any help. Nesta supposed that was instilling faith that something might be true, rather than cutting it down as nonsense. Choosing to believe that there might be something more, until proven otherwise.
Something soothing washed through her as Cassian took her hand again. He led her to the melting snow at the mountain’s flat peak, where the River Styx plummeted down to the valley below. The crowds were heavy but orderly here, and despite Cassian’s warning that he did not trust the other clans, there were no derisive comments. Even when they spied Ironcrest lordlings and Illyrians wearing the rebellion’s crest on their leathers, there were only stiff grimaces and the odd crack of knuckles. Because Empyr was a respected, sacred spare for honouring the dead. It was not a place for feuds to run rife.
Instead, everyone queued solemnly, their voices hushed and swallowed by the roar of the water. Nesta and Cassian queued in silence, waiting their turn to reach the river’s edge. He did not let go of her hand. Did not remove the wing that cloaked her back. A thumb ran absent-mindedly over the side of hers, the hard worn skin not abrasive, but comforting. Eyes still clung to them and undecipherable whispers wound their way across to them on the wind. But there were also respectful nods interwoven with begrudging respect. Some younglings even dared to approach Sala before mothers caught their hands, a blush blossoming on the females’ tan cheeks as they steered their children away to whispered scolding. Sala didn’t bat an eyelid, only leant heavily against Nesta’s legs in affection, her eyelids slitted and heavy, as Nesta played with her ears.
When Nesta set her father’s soul into the water, she did it for him and herself. She did it to let go of her regrets and his. To finally say goodbye to the horrors and the fury and the bitterness. She did it with the hope that it would help her move forward rather than back. So her father could finally rest in peace, despite his faults and failures. Because he had tried in the end and Nesta was trying now.
Nesta did it without hate in her heart and without shedding a tear. But as the lantern tumbled over the waterfall, that suffocating iron band snapped inside of her.
It was freeing.
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A Favor: Part Twenty-One
Nessian Modern AU
a/n: as someone who is physically incapable of reading fics and other long tumblr posts line by line and word for word, i think it’s so fucking cool that a bunch of you regularly, excitedly read what i post. i would not blame you at all for skim reading. thank you.
The majority of Cassian’s life was spent battling with the fact of his own existence. First he was fatherless, then motherless, then homeless. Being taken in by Rhys’s parents, who bought him nice clothes and nicer gifts, was like putting a bandaid over a stab wound. It couldn’t change the questions that made up Cassian at his core: was he equal to everyone else in this world, or had he been born inherently inferior? Did he deserve the same happinesses that his friends so carelessly reaped, or should he step back and know his place?
The older he grew, the more he grappled with those questions—until the night he learned who his father was, and the truth behind his existence. That he was likely a product of rape. Nearly driving himself drunk off a mountainside in Monte Carlo was enough to make him realize with a startling clarity: he couldn’t keep asking himself the same questions for the rest of his life. At some point, he was going to have to buck the fuck up and make his peace with the world, whether he believed he deserved to be in it or not. And though it might have taken him a while to reach that conclusion, Cassian can proudly say he did it. Not long into his post-college years, Cassian finally grew up.
By twenty-seven, he was secure enough in himself and his place in the world to not have to deal with those doubtful voices every waking minute. His life was figured out, and his ego was unshakeable. Until Nesta Archeron entered the story.
Now at twenty-eight, Cassian is again unsecured—this time in a less tragic but more confusing way. Because everything he thinks he knows about himself, about life, she insists on proving wrong.
Including the issue of celebrating his birthday.
“I feel like I should have asked this earlier,” Cassian mutters to Nesta as they stand in the cozy resort lobby, “but why is Az here?”
Nesta looks both humiliated and resigned when she mutters back, “He wouldn’t pay for the resort unless I let him come with us.”
“At that point you should’ve just let me pay, babe.” He watches Azriel’s back as he chats up the lady at the front desk while getting their room keys.
“On your own birthday? It would have ruined the point,” Nesta says.
Cassian doesn’t retort that having his brother present at their couple’s retreat also ruins the point. He’s sure she already knows.
Nesta’s reaction when Cassian told her that he didn’t celebrate his birthday was unforgettable.
“No one in our inner circle really cares about birthdays,” he had shrugged. “Feyre’s birthday is the exception because she’s sort of the outsider, and Rhys will find any excuse to worship at her feet. But the rest of us? I don’t know, it was never a big deal.”
As someone who’s never skipped a birthday once in her life, even when she was isolated and ignoring her family’s phone calls, Nesta took this as a personal offense. “I need to get you out of this cabin,” she stated.
Which brings them here, to Colorado’s finest ski resort situated high in the Rocky Mountains. The lobby is littered with overstuffed armchairs and a crackling fireplace, and huge windows look out over the blinding white mountains.
Az starts heading their way, key cards in hand, when Cassian suddenly turns to Nesta. “We need to find him a woman,” he whispers.
“We can’t let him third wheel with us for the whole weekend. We’ll never get time alone.” Cassian is set on this new plan, already scanning the lobby for women around Azriel’s age.
“I agree, but—”
Azriel reaches the two of them, tossing a room card to Nesta. “You can stop talking about me now. I’ll be spending most of my time hitting the slopes.”
Cassian and Nesta mumble a halfhearted, “We weren’t talking about you.”
He narrows his eyes at them. “Uh-huh. Just remember whose credit card this is going on.” Picking up his ski gear and duffel bag, he turns for the elevator.
Nesta frowns up at Cassian once Az is gone, more adorably than she probably intends. “Do you think he’s upset?”
He scoffs. “We should be upset at him.” He doesn’t want to have to worry about his brother while he’s on vacation, and Az definitely wouldn’t want him to worry either, but it isn’t something that can be helped.
Despite his irritation, he might go skiing with Az later this afternoon. Just to keep him company.
Nesta will give it to Azriel—he’s a man of fine taste, and also generous with his spending. She originally wanted a normal room for her and Cassian, preferably the cheapest one, but Az went behind her back and upgraded them to a fully decked out penthouse suite.
“This is too much for just a weekend,” she tells him over the phone while Cassian is in the bathroom. “How am I supposed to pay you back for this?”
“Why would you pay me back?” he says dismissively. “I’m rich.”
When Nesta tries arguing with him, he only replies, “I don’t take money from poor people,” and hangs up on her.
Which leaves Nesta to enjoy the four-spray shower and heated bathroom tiles free of charge. By the time she comes out of the shower, Cassian has already left with Azriel to hit some slopes before dinner, though not before leaving her a note promising to teach her how to ski tomorrow.
Nesta doesn’t even get to unwrap her towel from her body before realizing her phone is ringing incessantly, all the way from the other side of the suite. Jogging over to the living area, Nesta answers Emerie’s call. “What’s up?”
“Where are you?” Emerie greets without introduction.
“At the ski lodge?” Nesta answers, confused. “I already told you, for Cassian’s birthday.”
“I know that,” Emerie hisses. “I mean what room are you in? This place is huge.”
“Wait—you’re here?” Nesta looks quickly around herself, as if Emerie will pop up from behind the couch.
“Not just me. So is Gwyn.” Nesta hears rustling on the other side of the line, and then Emerie saying from a distance, “Answer for your crimes, Gwyneth. Say hi.”
A new, clearer voice comes over the phone. “Hiii, Nesta.” Gwyn sounds weak, like she is not having fun at all.
“What the hell do you two think you’re doing?” Nesta demands.
“Well, it’s a long story and I need to see you first. Also, I have to pee. Where is your room?”
Five minutes later, Gwyn and Emerie are sitting obediently before the roaring fireplace in Nesta and Cassian’s suite.
Now fully dressed, Nesta stabs a finger at Emerie. “Explain.”
“I didn’t do anything,” Emerie says indignantly. “Gwyn barged into my place at eight in the morning and dragged me all the way here—”
“It was an emergency!” Gwyn tosses her hands in the air. “It still is an emergency. That’s why we’re here.”
“I’m here because Gwyn is scared of traveling alone,” Emerie interjects. “And driving on highways.”
“Guys!” Nesta snaps.
Gwyn makes a whining sound of defeat and drops her head into her hands. After a long moment, she speaks. “He asked if we could go to dinner together. Like, right to my face. And I panicked and said yes, because I couldn’t think of a reason to say no, but obviously I can’t do that. So this morning I cashed in my sick days and told him I was going on vacation for a whole week.” Gwyn looks up at Nesta with pleading teal eyes. “Please can we stay here the whole week?”
Nesta stares at Gwyn, feeling like her brain was just sucked dry. “First of all, who’s ‘he’?”
“Max!” She stands in her outburst. “The love of my life. The man who works on the fourth floor of the library. Do you pay attention to the groupchat at all?”
Oh yeah, that guy. “You came all the way here,” Nesta drawls out slowly, “so you wouldn’t have to have dinner with your crush?”
“It wasn’t just any dinner.” Gwyn flops back onto the couch. “It was a date. I can’t go on a date with him. First dates lead to second dates, and second dates lead to—sex.” She whispers the last word.
“Really?” Emerie frowns, not missing a beat at the mention of Gwyn’s deepest fear. “What kind of dates have you been having?”
“I haven’t been having any dates,” Gwyn says. “Why, how long do you usually see someone before doing it?”
“First date, at most,” Emerie shrugs.
“No,” Nesta steps in, sending Emerie a bewildered look. “Gwyn, you’ve known this guy for a while now. If he’s half as decent as you think he is, he won’t expect sex by the second date. And even if he does—”
“What does it matter?” Gwyn wails. “It’ll come up eventually. And when it does, he’ll think I’m a freak.”
“He won’t get a chance to think anything before I kill him,” Emerie says, eyes darkening.
Nesta says nothing, knowing this is something she can’t advise Gwyn about. Whether or not Gwyn chooses to share her past and unresolved trauma with another man, and whether or not that man reacts in an unshitty way isn’t something Nesta can determine. So she just states for the record, “You’re not a freak.”
“But it’s what he’ll think.”
“Then you shouldn’t be with him in the first place,” Nesta says firmly. Even though she knows better than anyone that it isn’t always that simple.
Proving her point, Gwyn scoffs and looks away. “You don’t get it.”
“What I really don’t get,” Nesta says, “is why you took your lie so literally. Why did you come all the way out here instead of hiding out at home for the week?”
“Merrill sees and knows everything. I can’t lie to her.” Gwyn cringes. “If I stayed at home, she would sniff me out as soon as she got me on the phone, and then I’d really be screwed.”
Nesta cocks her head at Gwyn, squinting her eyes in something akin to fascination.
“I had the same reaction,” Emerie pipes up. She shakes her head at Gwyn. “I’ve never met a more melodramatic idiot, truly.”
Gwyn curls into herself on the couch, looking ashamed.
Nesta sighs sharply, then whips out a hand. “Give me your wallets. I’ll go downstairs right now and see if I can book a room last minute.”
Emerie sits up at that. “Uh… I’m not sure I can afford a place like this.”
“Neither can I,” Nesta says. “That’s why Azriel paid for all of us.”
Gwyn’s eyes go comically round. “Azriel’s here?”
“Unfortunately.” She snaps her fingers at both girls. “Credit or debit, now.”
“So… I’m assuming we can’t just share this huge suite with you guys, huh?” Gwyn says hesitantly.
There might be actual flames in Nesta’s eyes. This is Cassian’s birthday, goddammit. Cassian, who hasn’t celebrated a birthday since he was eleven. “Please don’t push me.”
Gwyn and Emerie, very reluctantly, hand their cards over to Nesta. Emerie hands over two, just in case.
In the end, Nesta doesn’t use any of their money, but charges the new room to her own account. She’ll work it off by putting extra hours into Night Court, she tells herself.
When she returns to the penthouse suite, she spies tracks outlined in melted snow at the doorway. Shit. She barges inside to find Cassian and Azriel standing in the middle of the living area, with Emerie looking awkward on the couch.
“Uh, we just got back—” Cassian starts.
“I can explain,” Nesta interrupts.
A faucet turns off in the distance, and Gwyn peeks her head out of the bathroom door.
“Oh, shit,” Azriel says in delight. “Freckles is here too?”
Gwyn looks like she’s about to turn right back around to the bathroom. Nesta and Cassian both throw Az a baffled look, but Nesta says, “I can fix this. I’ve already fixed it.” She goes over to Emerie and hands her a key card. “You and Gwyn are going to stay on the first floor, and you won’t bother me or Cassian for the duration of our stay. It’ll be like you’re not even here.” She whips toward Gwyn, who still hovers near the bathroom doorway. “And at the end of this weekend, you’re going back to work like the adult you are and taking care of your shit.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Gwyn says quietly, lowering her head.
Cassian comes over to Nesta, whispering, “So, you didn’t invite them to keep Az company or anything, right?”
“I can hear you,” Azriel says.
“Of course not,” Nesta whispers back. “That’s a terrible idea.”
“Really? Because I thought it was kind of convenient—”
“I can still hear you,” Az repeats.
“So can I,” Emerie nods.
“Shut up,” Nesta hisses at the both of them. Grabbing Cassian’s still-gloved hand, she drags him upstairs and away to their bedroom. When the door shuts behind them, she turns to him and blurts, “I’m so sorry.”
Cassian only laughs, taking his ski jacket off and brushing away the wet snow from the back. “I’m not.” He tosses his jacket and gloves over a chair and approaches Nesta, tugging her closer by her oversized turtleneck. “And what did I tell you about wasting your apologies?”
Nesta doesn’t care. “I ruined your birthday.”
“My birthday’s not until tomorrow,” he says with a straight face. “But honestly, I like this a lot more than just you, me, and Az. At least he can’t third wheel anymore, right?”
She shakes her head insistently, frustration boiling in her blood. “Everything’s going wrong.”
“But you solved our problems.” He finds Nesta’s clenched fists and unfurls them with gentle hands. “You got the girls their own room, and now Az can be distracted with those two. We can still be alone. We win.”
Nesta purses her lips, unconvinced, when Cassian adds, “But seriously, though—what the fuck are they doing here?”
She exhales deeply, letting her head drop forward onto Cassian’s chest. “I don’t know,” she mutters. “Gwyn panicked about some personal stuff and thought it was a good idea to come to me. I don’t want to make her leave, though.” Gwyn is being stupid right now, without a doubt, but Nesta won’t abandon her. Neither will Emerie.
God, having friends sucks.
Cassian threads a hand through her loose hair and hums. “Gwyn was smart for coming to you.”
Dinner is held outside in the snow and cold, but everyone bundles up and sits down at a table that surrounds one of the multiple fire pits in the courtyard. Cassian convinced Nesta to let Gwyn and Emerie hang out with them for the weekend, because what else are those poor girls supposed to do, and now the women babble over each other as they decide what to drink.
Cassian sits back and takes it in, the sight feeling heartwarmingly familiar and strangely brand new at the same time. Nesta ends up being the one to order everybody’s drinks, and once the waiter scampers back inside, Gwyn releases a terse breath. “Sometimes I still get scared of that tone.”
“I’m always scared of it,” Az mutters, eyeing Nesta from the corner of his eye.
“What tone?” Cassian laughs. He knows Nesta is still a little wound up from her plans going off the rails, but she hasn’t done anything scary.
“I’m used to it,” Emerie says through a mouthful of fries, “but I think that waiter almost cried.”
“That’s how I sound all the time.” Nesta shrugs, sitting back.
“What tone?” Cassian repeats.
Nesta clicks her tongue impatiently. “You know how I talk. I’m straightforward.”
“And harsh,” Azriel adds. “Even aggressive.”
“Watch it.” Gwyn turns stern eyes onto him over the fire pit.
“I have no idea what you all are talking about,” Cassian says. He turns to Nesta. “You sound perfectly normal to me.”
She narrows her perfect brows at him, and Emerie laughs, “I don’t know if that’s romantic or ignorant.”
But now that they’re discussing it, Cassian does distinctly remember Nesta having a sharp edge to her words while they were getting to know each other. Did it disappear over time, or has he really stopped noticing it?
He doesn’t get to think about it before their drinks arrive, followed soon by a dinner of fancy sandwiches.
Cassian cuts his beef sandwich in half and gives the other half to Nesta, and she does the same with her turkey sandwich. They eat and drink around the crackling fire, laughing and talking about tomorrow’s plans (“It’s not your birthday, Azriel,” Nesta says. “Stop asking about gifts.”). Cassian and Emerie talk idly about video games over wine, and even though it isn’t really his thing, he can see her excitement over it and gladly indulges it.
Once everyone is finished eating and is slightly drunk, Gwyn pulls a small sleeve of crackers out of her puffy jacket, followed by a fun-sized Hershey’s bar and a handful of mini marshmallows.
“What are you doing?” Nesta says.
“Making dessert.” Gwyn builds a mini s’more and places it carefully on her fork so she can toast it over the fire pit. When it’s done, she leans forward even more to try to put it on Nesta’s plate. “For you. Thank you for letting me and Emerie stay.”
Nesta jumps, catching the s’more with her plate and batting Gwyn away from the fire pit at the same time. “You’ll set your hair on fire,” she hisses.
Gwyn’s hair remains safe, but now Cassian catches his brother watching Gwyn amusedly from the corner of his eye. “Can I have one?” Az says.
“I’m all out.” Gwyn says while building another s’more, refusing to meet his eyes.
Cassian and Nesta share a look, a hundred words thrown back and forth between them in that glance. She scoots her chair closer to him to slip her cold hands into his warm ones, but while the conversation carries on around the table, she leans in and whispers, “I’m not a busybody but…”
“I am,” he whispers back. “Az is being weird, weirder than usual.”
Nesta nods. “I’ve never seen him so—outgoing.”
Neither has Cassian, but before he can mention anything else, he looks up to find that Gwyn and Azriel’s seats at the table are empty. “How much did those two drink?” he breathes.
Nesta follows his gaze, seeing what he’s seeing: Azriel and Gwyn wandering clumsily around the snowy courtyard. Or rather, Az is trying to chase Gwyn down for a s’more, while she clutches her mini marshmallows to her chest and vehemently yells, “They’re mine!”
Meanwhile, Emerie is half asleep at the table.
Cassian watches as Gwyn nears the towering fir tree at the center of the courtyard and slips. Az shoots out a hand to catch her, but not before her ass hits the stone, hard. He pulls her back up, no longer fooling around, and Gwyn rubs her butt in pain.
Cassian suddenly feels Nesta squeezing the life out of his hands, and he looks over to find fury written across her face. For a heartbeat, he feels worried for Az.
“Go deal with him,” Nesta says lowly. “Before I do.”
Not needing any more words to understand, he stands out of his seat and heads out into the courtyard. He doesn’t know why Nesta thinks Gwyn needs protecting, but it makes him feel protective himself. Approaching the duo, he sees that Azriel finally acquired the leftover s’more ingredients from Gwyn.
“There’s only like half a cracker left,” Az mutters to himself, shaking the baggie.
“Is he bothering you?” Cassian asks Gwyn, who still looks grumpy over losing their skirmish.
Whipping her head to Cassian like he’s her savior, Gwyn nods furiously. “Please make him stop.”
Cassian turns to Azriel with rage in his eyes, a clear What the fuck do you think you’re doing?
But Az shakes his head in denial. “It’s not like that. Look, she’s smirking at me!” He points over Cassian’s shoulder.
When Cassian looks, Gwyn is already walking back to the fire pit, holding her bruised ass.
Az starts, “What a fake little—”
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Cassian interrupts. “Yesterday you’re crying over Elain and today you’re flirting with Nesta’s friend?”
Azriel goes serious, his face turning colder than the night air. “How do you know about Elain?” he says gruffly.
“Everyone knows, Azriel.” Cassian stares down his brother, wondering if he’ll finally get him to get his head screwed on straight after these past weeks of secretive bullshit.
Azriel sets his jaw, but a muscle there ticks.
“Will you finally at least tell me what’s going on in your head?” Cassian pleads. “Because I can’t keep guessing.”
Azriel glances toward the dinner table, as if checking to see that no one is paying attention to them. Looking back, he inhales a breath. “You want to know why I left Velaris?”
Like Nesta, Azriel is not one to quickly make himself vulnerable. So there’s no blatant emotion in his voice when he says, “I started seeing her at the end of summer, not long after she broke up with her ex. And it was so…nice after every other relationship I’ve been in has gone wrong. We kept it quiet, and because of that, it was peaceful.” Azriel’s eyes meet Cassian’s twin ones, and he smirks without humor. “But you already know what that’s like, don’t you?”
He does. Cassian crosses his arms, waiting for Az to continue.
“Anyway, we had a good run. For a long time, it was mostly just sex, but I liked her. I liked her a lot.” Az kicks at the snow-dusted cobblestones. “Then Christmas came around, and Rhys found out.” His face darkens as he remembers, and Cassian stiffens, knowing what’s next isn’t good. Sometimes Rhys forgets the boundary between boss and brother.
“He didn’t say anything about it to Elain, of course,” Azriel says. “But he dragged my ass aside and gave me this huge lecture about us using each other as rebounds. Said ‘Feyre’s sister’ deserves better or some shit. I told him there was more to it than that, but he wouldn’t listen. Instead he brought Vanserra & Co. into it, like his business matters had anything to do with me and Elain.” Azriel’s eyes crinkle at the corners in a puzzled way. “So I got to thinking, ‘why would he bring the Vanserras up?’ He made it seem like such a big deal.” The toe of his boot digs a hole into the ground.
Sympathy churns alongside anger in Cassian’s chest for Azriel’s situation, anger at Rhysand for crossing that line between brothers. He’s only momentarily grateful that Rhys never tried doing something similar to him and Nesta.
“I thought she was over that other guy, Lucien,” Az continues. “But maybe she’s not, if Rhys is so concerned about what Lucien’s stepfather thinks. Anyway, that’s why I ran. Because I knew she liked me, but I also knew she didn’t love me. I didn’t want us to cause all that trouble with Rhys just to end up backed into a corner one day, having nowhere else to go because she loves someone else and I’m just a rebound. It would be awkward for everyone involved.” He scratches the back of his neck. “It’s mostly my fault, for always chasing after women I can’t have.” He finally looks up at Cassian. “When you talk to Elain, does it sound like she hates me?” The question is quiet, straightforward.
“No,” Cassian answers, voice rough. Even if Azriel wants to hide his feelings, Cassian won’t. “She doesn’t seem like she hates you. I don’t even think she’s mad at you.” Concerned, anxious, upset—that’s Elain as far as he knows.
“She should hate me,” Azriel says. “She should get pissed, burn my old clothes, and swear to never talk to me again. That’s the only way she can move on.” Maybe even move back to Lucien, is what goes unsaid.
Cassian isn’t so sure about that. Even as he feels for Az, he thinks both of his brothers should get slapped upside the head for how they’ve been acting lately. He won’t be the one to do it, but he might get Nesta to relay a message to Elain. It’ll be the same thing. “I’m sorry,” he tells Az instead. “I know I’ve been hard on you lately. When we get home, I’ll start doing better.” He claps Az on the shoulder and squeezes.
Azriel surprises him by scoffing, looking away in disbelief. “Wow, being compassionate is really a full time job for you, huh?” He claps Cassian’s shoulder back, pulling him into a sudden hug. “You’ve already done more than enough,” he says into Cassian’s ear. “Go to your girlfriend and take a rest.”
Taken aback, Cassian nods and pulls away. He’s about to turn around and leave when Az says, “By the way, I wasn’t flirting with Gwyn.”
Cassian raises a brow. “You were definitely doing something.”
Az rolls his eyes. “I’m not giving her anything she can’t handle. But in case you haven’t noticed, I have no interest in other women right now.” He makes a face. “Especially not her.”
Cassian chuckles. “I believe you. It’s Nesta you need to worry about.”
“Whatever. I’m not scared of her.”
That makes Cassian laugh even harder, but he turns around, ready to go back to said girlfriend. As he nears the fire pit, though, he finds that Gwyn is already there and cuddled up to Nesta. On Nesta’s other side, Emerie now sits in Cassian’s chair, asleep on her friend’s shoulder. He stops in his tracks.
Cassian wasn’t lying when he told Nesta that he was happy about their changed vacation plans—he believes the more the merrier, and he loves these people. Yet he can’t help but wish the two of them could be alone for just one day. Only one.
God, sometimes having friends sucks.
a/n: this is a two parter so next chapter we’ll finally be getting more nessian alone time
tagging: @hellasblessed @sjm-things @thewayshedreamed @drielecarla @valkyriewarriors @superspiritfestival @aliveahaahahafuck @cupcakey00 @sayosdreams @rainbowcheetah512 @claralady @thebluemartini @nessiantho @missing-merlin @duskandstarlight @lucy617 @sleeping-and-books @everything-that-i-love @cassianscool @swankii-art-teacher @wannawriteyouabook @awesomelena555 @julemmaes @wickedqueenoffantasy @poisonous-bloom @observationanxioustheorist @gisellefigue08 @courtofjurdan @theoverlyenthusiasticwriter @wolfiixxx @cass-nes @seashade @royaltykxx @illyrianundercover @queenestarcheron @monstrousloves-explodinggalaxies @humanexile @that-golden-lyre @agentsofsheilds @mercy-is-alive @cassiansbigwingspan @laylaameer01 @verypaleninja @maastrash @bow-dawn @perseusannabeth @dead-on-the-inside666 @jlinez @hungryreadingaddict @anidealiveson @planet-faerie @shallowhighwaters @ghostlyrose2 @chosenfamily-valkyriequeens @rarephloxes @readiajin @nessiantrashh @live-the-fangirl-life @ifinallygavein @xoblivisci @sjmships @jungtaekwoonie-is-life @lysandra-tiara @lanyjoy-13 @frosted-crackers @post-it-notes33 @loosingdreams @fromthelibraryofemilyj @18moneytoad @dontgetsalmonella @champanheandluxxury @togreblog @arinbelle @ladygabrielli1997 @meridainthedisneyland
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Where You Go
Nessian Bodyguard AU
Another prompt for the Nessian bodyguard universe! More to come 💕
- "When's the last time you ate? Or even slept?" for the Nessian bodyguard au and I'd like this to be told by Nesta cause Cassian has been a lot more "mother hening" than usual... @julemmaes
- ‘I thought I saw someone outside but it was just a tree and now I’ve almost driven myself into a panic attack so could you just fucking hold me’ @letstakethedawn
I like that y’alls prompts are the two that brought this one to life. Your love keeps on giving
Warnings for strong language, smut, and mention of physical threat. NSFW.
Transport had been relatively smooth. Azriel orchestrated a sophisticated transfer involving the security SUV equivalent of musical chairs, rotating numerous vehicles at the apartment and sending each of them to various locations. It was to disorient any onlookers, he’d said. If they were staking out Nesta’s place, whoever they were, they were probably few in numbers. Even if they successfully tracked which vehicle Nesta was loaded in, they wouldn’t have the man power on hand to track them to the assigned safe house.
That theory seemed sound three days later when nothing noteworthy had occurred; no suspicious vehicles passing the law firm, nothing out of the ordinary at Nesta’s actual apartment, no odd communications. Nothing.
For some reason, the absence of a threat made Nesta more anxious than the alternative. She wasn’t sure what that said about her, nor was she interested in finding out.
The case against Beron Vanserra was building rapidly. Some leads were more productive than others considering the connections the man had, but the sheer volume of evidence left room for a bit of error.
Evidence aplenty was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it provided ample foundation for a robust case against Vanserra. On another, it was a mountain of paperwork and other media that Prythian’s persecutor had to weave into a cohesive narrative to present to a jury.
And to think, Nesta had aspired her entire life to be that person; the lawyer drowning in photographic evidence, witness testimonies, and suspicious correspondence. Folders and free documents were scattered across every surface of her office. It likely appeared as if she had no system whatsoever, but Nesta knew exactly where everything was when she had need of it. It was her own organized chaos, so delicately balanced that a misdirected whoosh of air would have it crumbling around her.
Nesta didn’t really have much of a system.
Her eyes snagged on a quote in a witness statement. The words were familiar to her somehow despite having never read that particular one, which led her to believe it aligned with another statement she’d already reviewed. She started patting around the desk for her highlighter and sticky tabs to be sure to revisit it, letting out a growl of frustration when she came up empty handed.
“Highlighter?” Cassian’s gruff voice asked. He never looked up from his laptop, and something about it prickled at Nesta’s exhausted nerves. “Take your pick. Pink behind your ear, yellow tucked into your braid.”
Nesta huffed an annoyed breath through her nose rather than offer her thanks to the cocky bastard. She dared to glance up from her file to get a read on him, only to see that he was focused intently on whatever took residence on his laptop screen. The sensible part of her brain appreciated his proclivity for noticing details. The louder part of her brain wanted to call him a show-off.
Once the section of interest was properly tabbed and highlighted, Nesta pushed herself back in her office chair. The clock read just after 8:00 PM. She groaned at the ache that was now obvious in her bones, a product of hunching over her oak desk for hours.
Nesta glanced up to see a look of genuine concern on her bodyguard’s face. Cassian’s own exhaustion must have eliminated his ability to keep a neutral expression, and something sparked in her at the thought. He had been on high alert since moving to the safe house, more so than before at her apartment, and Nesta realized she hadn’t even seen him sit still long enough to eat a full meal.
“Yeah,” she replied with a dismissive shake of her head. “Just drowning in information over here and trying to get my head on straight. I think I’ve been staring at it too long.”
He nodded, shifting his laptop over to the side and leaning his elbows on his desk. Nesta noticed that he rolled up his sleeves earlier in the evening and pointedly ignored her mouth going dry.
“Anything I can do to help?”
“You’re already on the clock. I can’t really have you examining evidence on top of that,” she joked.
He chuckled as he pushed himself to his feet and pulled his chair behind her desk. Dropping heavily into the seat, he clapped his hands on his thighs and offered a positive smile.
“Show me your system.”
“I’m not doing that. I’ve got it.”
Cassian leveled a glare her way. She glared right back.
“I have to be here anyway, Nes. Let me help.”
“Don’t call me that,” she bit. “And what do you think you’re going to be able to help me with exactly?”
“I don’t know. You haven’t shown me the lay of the land yet. I’ll be able to answer your question once I know that.”
Sensing that Cassian’s resolve was triple her own, she loosed a heavy breath and sat forward to wake her sleeping computer. While it hummed to life, she started explaining her paperwork.
“Anything that seems to be of relevance, I highlight. Things I think could be related across testimonies are color coded with tabs. Once I get them tabbed, I type up that information in a document together so that I can cross examine.” She paused to open a series of folders on her laptop. “I save them here with a note of the tab color.”
He watched her with undivided attention, taking in the intricacies of her process. Once she finished, he leaned back with his hands flattened against the chair arms and loosed a breath.
“Not bad, Archeron.”
“Did you think I was making flash cards or something?”
That earned a laugh, and Nesta felt an odd sense of pride at the sound.
“No...no. Nothing like that.” Cassian trailed off, leaving her with the sneaking suspicion that he had more to add.
All he offered was an infuriating shake of his head, the corners of his mouth turned down in a gesture of surrender. When she didn’t budge, he allowed himself a smirk and sat forward.
He cleared his throat. “Have you considered a database? Something informal within a spreadsheet maybe?”
“What?” Apparently that was her buzzword for the evening.
“I’ll show you. May I?” Cassian asked, his hand hovering over the desk for permission before grabbing her computer.
Nesta nodded her head if only to satisfy her curiosity. He reached over to pull the laptop closer to him, bathing her in his scent. There was something so distinct about it that it made her head spin, thinking of the situations that familiarized her with it in the first place. She shook it off to better attend to his spur of the moment tutorial.
“So, what variables are you considering when you comb through these documents? Do you have keywords? Dates?”
She walked him through her typical analysis and what made information relevant in all the white noise. Once she finished, he asked her about what factors she considered in tabbing information as related. As she spoke, his fingers flew across the keyboard. Nesta watched as he quickly created the skeleton of an information database within seconds, silently chastising herself for how often she glanced at his profile in the process.
His blessed genetics weren’t the only reasons she found her attention flickering in his direction. There was something about his eyes, how they were a darker hazel than usual. The brown seemed to drown out the the greens and golds and soft bruising dusted the skin beneath as if he hadn’t slept for days.
“You may want to make changes to this or hate it altogether, but this is what I was thinking.”
He oriented the screen toward her a bit more. Nesta’s eyes snagged on the movement of his fingers across the trackpad and his fluid transitions between mouse gestures. She was going to have to shift her focus very quickly to gain an ounce of information. The fact that his hands absolutely dwarfed the keyboard of her laptop did nothing to help matters.
Something so inconsequential made her body heat, reminded her of what those large hands felt like splayed across her waist and lower back. She could almost feel his rough callouses scraping across her soft skin. Before she realized how deeply she had wandered into her imagination, goose flesh erupted over her skin in anticipation of a phantom touch. She cursed herself silently for allowing the distraction.
“Across the top, I added columns for witness’ name, date of reported event, time of reported event, highlighted information, document page reference, individuals mentioned and so on. We can add columns if you want, but I thought this could start you off.”
“Yeah,” Nesta croaked, crossing her arms across her chest to ease the chilled sensation on her skin. “This is great.”
Cassian regarded her skeptically out of the corner of his eye, scanning her up and down for any signs of sarcasm or mirth. He found none— because there was none, Nesta thought— and turned his attention back to the task at hand.
“I’ve added filters so that you can isolate dates, dates & times, pull only certain individuals or whatever. That way you can look for inconsistencies in the reported times or compare witness statements of similar events quickly without having to search through...” he paused, eyes scanning over the mess of her office, “your very sophisticated system.”
The smirk pulling at the corners of his mouth was undeniable, and it sent a bolt of frustration straight through Nesta’s chest. She rolled her eyes as he looked at her, glanced back to the computer, and continued his explanation.
“I’ll add a column for color. You can fill the cells with ones that match your tabs.”
“Would you stop criticizing my method? I seem to remember telling you I didn’t want to show you in the first place,” Nesta snapped, pulling her laptop roughly in front of her.
Cassian raised his hands in mock surrender, using his feet to rotate his chair and face her. “I didn’t mean to offend you, sweetheart. Really. I only meant to help.”
Nesta tried to remain stoic, to ignore his apology altogether, but the sincerity in his eyes thawed her determination. She leaned against the high back of her office chair and lazily turned her head in his direction. The light of her office gleamed in his eyes, reawakening the patterns of greens and golds she’d missed moments before. Before she could say a word, Cassian used his knee to catch her chair arm and turn her toward him.
“You don’t have to use this, you know. It works for me, but if it’s not for you that’s fine.”
In some distant dimension she heard his words, but her attention snagged heavily on his hands gripping her softly behind the knees and rolling her closer. Her skin burned beneath the fabric of her slacks, and those damned goosebumps coated her legs. His face was softer, his eyes heavy-lidded, as his gaze tracked over the length of her and landed on her eyes. Her pulse shook her from her reverie, and Nesta found herself gripping desperately to the worthless leash she had secured to her self-control all those weeks ago. Too often, it slipped through her fingers.
“I would hate to waste your valuable time,” she jested. “Wait— you’re using these? Regularly?”
She worried that her confusion would offend him, but Cassian’s smile only widened at the clear doubt in her voice. “How else do you think I keep my assignments straight? The information I track is different, but I still have a lot to keep in one place. My assigned charge, persons of interest, any known past or present threats... things like that.”
Nesta remained silent. She had nothing worthwhile to say, anyway.
“Although,” he rasped, his hands gliding to rest on top of her knees and squeezing in a way that left her dizzy, “I’m flattered that you assumed I keep it on ready recall.”
Swallowing through the knot in her throat, Nesta relaxed her muscles beneath his grip and rested her hands on each of the chair arms.
“I didn’t realize you needed to do so much homework to be someone’s personal security.”
She blinked heavily, drunk on the soft ministrations of his hands. Without her consent, her knees eased infinitesimally apart as the tension left her muscles entirely. Cassian tracked the movement, easing his hands up her thighs to continue his affections.
His laugh was rough, low. “I’m sure there are people who rely on brute force alone, but I’d rather know my opponent.” His eyes danced with amusement, but his hands continued their subtle assault on her senses. Leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees, he slid his hands up until they rested at the juncture of her hips and thighs. “Whether my opponent is my charge or the person who threatens them.” He finished the statement with a quick wink.
Nesta rolled her eyes heavily and felt a surge of forbidden satisfaction when Cassian’s darkened in response. His grip twitched against her hips, earning a swift exhale through her nose. Her eyes were glued to his face, so much closer than it had been earlier on, and she cursed herself for not noticing how quickly they gravitated toward one another during the conversation. The universe was hellbent on push, push, pushing them toward each other. Perhaps it would have been much easier to lean into the pressure, to allow whatever force it was to fuse them together until they imploded.
The heat his hands seared into her hips was killing her. Slowly. Painfully. Draining her will and her life in a kind of sweet torture. Her lip pinched bitterly between her teeth, but only the tang of blood may have been enough to capture her attention. She wasn’t wholly convinced that even that was enough.
Cassian huffed a laugh, shaking his head back and forth subtly. His grip loosened on her hips, and what she thought was torture before was nothing compared to the way her skin cried out in fear of losing his warmth. For reasons far beyond her, Nesta leaned forward in her chair and took his face gently between her hands. She traced the circles beneath each of his perfectly almond eyes, admiring how dark and full his lashes were.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, his eyes dancing as if the answer was written somewhere on her face.
Nesta hated how he assumed foul play on the basis that she dared to touch his skin. Affection wasn’t exactly her strong suit, nor would it be appropriate for him to readily expect it from her. But she wasn’t a monster, for the gods’ sake.
“Nothing,” she breathed, repeating the back and forth motions of her thumbs.
His grip tightened on her again, sending her blood singing as if his touch kept it pumping in the first place. Encouraged by his reception, she slid to the edge of her chair, slotting herself between his thighs. Her pulse thumped against the skin of her neck, and she swore he marked the movement with the intensity of his stare. The bob of his throat revealed his heightened nerves at her proximity, and something about it tightened her chest.
“When's the last time you ate? Or even slept?”
The question confused her in equal measure to the incredulous expression on Cassian’s brutally handsome face. Nesta wasn’t a heartless person; in fact, she felt her emotions and the emotions of everyone else almost too keenly most days. What shocked her was how his state haunted her, how she couldn’t stop thinking about how it all boiled down to her.
His head dipped forward before he glanced back up into her face. The husky quality of his voice skittered over her entire body, causing her core to heat despite the heavier content of the conversation.
“Don’t tell me you’re worrying about me now, Nes.”
His smile was as devastating as ever, and Nesta marveled at the rough perfection of his features. She dropped one of her hands to the side of his neck, earning a hum of pleasure in the back of his throat. His deflection wasn’t so easily effective under her scrutiny, but the urge to press closer to him was a beast of its own. The battles occurred in tandem, leaving Nesta wanting and conflicted. It was as close to madness as she cared to be.
“The only food I’ve seen you eat has been hand-held and half-eaten. You’ve been on high alert since we arrived at the new place, and here I am keeping you at the office so late. Why didn’t you say anything?”
His eyelids fluttered wildly as he blinked against her question. It was as if her care disoriented him entirely, but in seconds, he recovered. As if compelled in a similar way as she was, his hand slid beneath the hem of her blouse to rest against the skin of her waist. Her breath hitched, turned ragged, at the rush of sensation she had only experienced at his touch.
She hated it. Maybe that was a lie; rather, it terrified her. It was what kept her up at night despite the very real threats to her safety. Nothing had ever engulfed her so thoroughly, had set her entire body on fire the way he did.
The universe had a sick sense of humor.
“It comes with the territory. I go where you go.”
“Are you not allowed to have your own limits?”
He laughed humorlessly, his eyes locked on hers. “No, not really. Not while I’m on assignment. If I needed it, I could call Azriel to relieve me for a while, but—“
The way he ended his sentence so abruptly clanged through her like a bell. She knew all too well what it sounded like when someone slammed the door on their words to avoid saying too much. Everything in her wanted to press him on it, to drag the answer out of him my force. She decided ultimately that she would refrain considering she rarely, if ever, appreciated others doing it to her.
Instead, she slid off the edge of her chair and rose into a standing position. His grip didn’t falter— something she was incredibly grateful for— as she stood and guided his face up to look at her. Although she stood to her full height, she wasn’t much taller than him sitting down, and the reality of it grated her nerves.
He was so infuriatingly perfect that she could scream.
Cassian flexed his grip on her before sliding his other hand beneath her shirt to rest on her lower back. He pulled her forward until her knees hit the edge of his chair, sending her body into overdrive with the simplest of actions. Dragging his nose across the bit of exposed skin beneath her collarbone, he let out a guttural moan at her nearness.
“Tell me to stop,” he breathed, although his voice sounded pained saying such an outlandish thing. “I barely think straight around you on a good day, but it’s late. And I’m tired.” He placed a kiss to her skin, and her hands pulled his head as close to her as possible. It was never enough; especially when his fingers dug into her skin as they were. “But I want you. So bad, Nesta.”
Again, his lips against her skin. Searing a path from her chest to her collarbone, to the hollow of her throat. Nesta could only lean into him as he worked his way across her neck until finally managing the only words she could muster.
A pained groan sounded from deep in Cassian’s chest. She whimpered as the pressure of his lips intensified, and his fingers walked a mind-numbing path up her back. The world around them faded into nothing but white noise, the static of a TV, the monotonous dial tone of an old phone. Nesta’s core clenched around nothing as she slid her hands into his hair and pulled his mouth from her neck.
She kicked her shoes to the side, to the gods only knew where, as she descended her mouth on his. There was nothing gentle or compassionate in the kiss, a stark contrast to their prior conversation. What it lacked was made up in intensity, their mouths moving against the other’s with intention and focus. It was a mix of tongue and teeth, the swallowing of all the addictive sounds the other emitted. A claiming.
Nesta’s fingers left Cassian’s hair to grip the hem of her top and rip it swiftly over her head. He growled his approval as his large hands explored all of her exposed skin, his fingers finally closing over her breasts. Nesta mewled and pulled his face impossibly closer. She was writhing for the pressure, for the desperate grip of his hands and mouth all over her.
Maybe Cassian wanted her, but her own experience was along the lines of unadulterated need.
They wasted little time in working together to shed Nesta of her slacks, sharing a quick exchange on whether either of them had a condom. Cassian’s shoulders nearly crumpled when she mentioned being on the pill, fueling his urgency to remove any layers that separated them. She stood before him in nothing but her bra and the small scrap of lace she called her underwear. His eyes raked over her appreciatively as he leaned forward and gripped her bare cheeks, muttering a curse at the realization.
His husky voice was more growl than anything else. “You really might fucking kill me.”
Nesta pressed his shoulders to prompt him to lean back against the chair. His hair was disheveled from her less-than-gentle ministrations, his lips shiny and swollen from the intensity of their kisses. The sight of him laid back, looking rough for wear, made her core heat to nearly unbearable levels.
With shaky hands, she reached forward to work the buttons of his shirt. For the love of the Mother, could the man invest in a single shirt that didn’t feel like a damned obstacle course to remove? The thought that he should dress to her preferences slammed a lid on those desires, and she pretended it had never occurred to her.
Cassian helped her by starting from the bottom and meeting her at the middle button. Control was relinquished to him entirely in favor of focusing her efforts on his belt buckle and the button on his khaki pants. The sight of his bare torso in front of her sent tendrils of smoke through her body, and she wondered if they were to blame for the lack of structural integrity in her legs.
Her fingers touched delicately at the sculpted muscles of his chest, trailing down to his abdomen and toward the dusting of dark hair below his navel. It was at that point that his self-control seemed to leave the building entirely. With a quick lift of his hips, he shoved his pants toward his knees and settled into the chair. A quiet squeal flew out of Nesta’s mouth when his arm wrapped roughly around her waist to pull her into his lap. Cassian gently covered her mouth with his free hand, chuckling darkly into the crook of her neck.
“You’re really terrible at this,” he joked, releasing her mouth to grip her thigh tightly.
Nesta’s eyes flared in challenge as she sat back, silently cursing her luck that she had yet to see Cassian without his clothes entirely. It was always like this; open shirt, pants low. But where exactly did those tattoos begin and end? Were the muscles of his shoulders as incredible as they looked flexing beneath his shirt? Were they lightly dusted with deep freckles from days in the sun?
Shaking her head almost imperceptibly to shake the visual, she ran a possessive hand down his front once more. Cassian’s pupils engulfed his irises entirely as he hummed his approval at her touch. Nesta was thrumming with anticipation, completely unwilling to wait any longer for their joining. When he meant to shift the lace away from her center in order to touch her, she shook her head violently.
“No,” she rasped, her voice dripping with lust. “I can’t wait.”
She pressed her body against his warmth as he tightened his hold around her waist. “Nesta,” he groaned, the second syllable turning into a near whine. He held the lace to the side to line himself up with her entrance, his knuckles nearly white as he gripped her rib cage and moved his other hand back to her thigh. Nesta relaxed the tension in her posture to ease herself onto him in one slow stroke, her chin turning up toward the ceiling as she wrapped her arm tightly around his neck.
There was no kissing after that; no gentle, teasing touches. She set a bruising pace as she rode him, clinging tightly in anticipation of her quickly approaching release. Cassian allowed her full control of their motions and never lost his strong grip on her skin. The closer they got to release, the more he buried his face into her neck to stifle his grunts and hissed curses as if tattooing them to her flesh.
Her legs trembled as pleasure threatened to overwhelm her entirely. He must have noticed how she struggled because he slid his hand from her thigh to grip her ass, helping her to maintain the rhythm up and down his length. Under different circumstances, Nesta may have been embarrassed to need the help. The only thing she felt was gratitude.
That familiar ache, deep and teetering so very close to the edge, throbbed through her core. Nesta took his shoulder between her teeth, trying hard not to bite down too firmly as she choked down a loud moan. He hissed when her teeth made contact, but he bucked his hips into her as if she had set his blood aflame.
Her eyes squeezed shut as her jaw relaxed. Release was there, so close that it felt like cruel torture to be denied, and she tucked her face into his neck as her hips rocked desperately over him. Her fingers slid into his hair to hold his head close to hers for stability, crying out against his throat as her climax shattered her consciousness. Cassian’s hand left her ass to wrap his other arm just as tightly around her waist, pulling her roughly onto him in order to bury his cock as deeply as possible through his own release. The jerking of his hips was merciless in extending the sensations in her core, leaving Nesta heaving for breath and whimpering against him.
Cassian moaned against her, his forehead resting on her shoulder as he rocked them. As they came down, he littered in her name and words of praise, whispering them in a way that made her shiver. The gruff sounds of his moans unraveled her just as much— if not more— than their other couplings, and she wondered if she would ever get used to them. Then, she wondered if she should at all.
They weren’t supposed to be doing this anymore.
That made her sit back and remove herself from his lap, separating their bodies with a low hiss from both of them. She grabbed her clothes from the floor and redressed, pointedly ignoring how he did the same. It was best if they didn’t settle into any type of casual intimacy. She had been riding her pleasure high that day in her apartment, but the following days of Cassian’s fussing over her safety had sobered her quickly. No more holding each other. No more tracing his painfully adorable dimples. No more talking as if they had all the time in the world.
And in true traitorous fashion, Cassian leaned forward to sweep her up around he waist. With a curled finger, he tilted her chin up to press a bone-warming kiss to her mouth. He released her just as quickly, leaving her swaying on her feet a bit. Luckily, he didn’t seem to notice as he gathered the rest of his things.
“You bringing any work back? I’ll help you pack up.”
Nesta shook her head to dissolve her overthinking before looking up to address him as naturally as possible.
“No. I think it’s probably best for me to get some sleep.”
The ride to the safe house seemed more tense than usual, but it was probably in Nesta’s head. When she couldn’t stand the silence any longer, she decided awkward conversation was superior to the prolonged quiet.
“So, back to the database thing... you really have one of those for everybody?”
A cocky smirk from her bodyguard. “I do.”
He offered her a flirtatious wink, the bastard. “Especially you.”
Nesta’s eyes grew to twice their usual size at the implication. “What?!”
“Don’t worry, sweetheart,” he drawled, offering a soft tap to her knee, “all the fun stuff is strictly up here.” He pointed to his temple for emphasis before turning his attention back toward the road.
That was when Nesta decided that silence was the safer option.
She wasted no time in getting ready for bed and easing between the sheets. After her and Cassian’s joining in her office, the adrenaline had given way to fatigue, and she hoped to ride that wave into the bliss of deep sleep. Some of the deepest sleep of her life pulled her under almost immediately, and had she been conscious, she would have sent a thanks to the Mother for the blessing.
A loud, sudden thud had Nesta’s eyes flying open at an ungodly hour. She eased herself up on her elbows, scanning around the room for the culprit. Her scrutiny was fruitless until a shadow shifted behind her gauzy curtains, the figure backlit by the street lamps outside. A name erupted from her throat before she could think better of her volume.
Without waiting for his reply, she sat straight up and started scrambling with the sheets. Narrowly avoiding her foot getting caught and falling, she hadn’t yet taken a step before she heard his reply.
“Nesta? Nesta!” His heavy footfalls sounded shortly after, and she took off toward the sound.
She couldn’t see in the deep darkness of the hallway, sending her careening face first into a broad chest. Reason told her it was only Cassian, but her nerves won out, causing her to shriek in terror until his familiar hands gripped her upper arms.
“Shh!” he interrupted loudly, pulling her against his chest to suppress the volume of her scream. “Are you okay? Are you hurt?” His hands wandered as he leaned away to assess her for injury.
Her voice was cold, almost robotic, as he took her face in his hands. Her eyes had finally adjusted to the dark to land on his face, brows pinched together in concern as she told him what she experienced.
“I need to call Azriel to do a sweep of the perimeter of the house. He’s on duty outside, and I want to know if he’s seen anything. I’ll check out your room first and work through the apartment, yeah?”
Nesta nodded as he stepped around her and walked toward her bedroom door. In her fear, she had neglected to notice that he was wearing only a pair of sweatpants, and upon further investigation, she noticed a gun tucked into the back of his waistband. The reality of it send a chill through her. The deep rumble of his voice shook her from her thoughts.
“...do a sweep outside. Az, I know you would have seen something, but—“ A second passed, and Nesta wondered how many people got away with blatantly interrupting Cassian on duty. Her guess was one. “Would you just make a fucking lap and call me back?”
She cringed at the bark of his voice, but she found herself drawing toward the doorway of her room. Her fried nerves made her unwilling to be too far away from Cassian while he worked.
“Clear,” he announced, turning around to make his way out of her bedroom. He stopped abruptly when passing her at the threshold of the door. “Nesta. You’re shaking.”
Indeed she was. How had she not noticed the aggressive trembling through her body until he pointed it out?
“Hey,” he murmured, pulling her into his chest again. “No signs of attempted entry in your room, okay? You’re safe.”
Nesta could only nod; didn’t even have the energy to return his embrace.
“I’m going to make a pass through the apartment while I wait on Az to call me. Come with me?”
Cassian gripped her fingers in his large hand as he guided her down the hall. Something about it comforted her, whether it was the fact that she doubted he would walk with her if he truly worried there was a threat or the physical contact itself. There was no point in hashing it all out.
They walked that way as he scanned every nook and cranny of their safe house. When his phone rang loudly in his pocket, Nesta startled dramatically, earning a look of regret from Cassian.
“Hey, Az.” Nesta watched as his brow furrowed in concentration, his intense focus falling on an empty wall ahead. “From Nesta’s room? Alright— on my way.”
He held the phone to his ear as he walked silently toward her bedroom, his hand still wrapped tightly around hers. Once they entered the room, he made sure to relay the message to Azriel, but Nesta’s attention snapped immediately to a loud, ominous thud. Her back hit the wall as she steadied the instant spike in her anxiety, and as much as she wanted to close her eyes, they were glued near the window.
“Fuck,” she whispered, seeing the same shadow from before. She was almost fully panicked when she heard Cassian’s voice carry through the room.
“Ah, I see. Let me ask her.” He turned toward her, noting the dire expression on her face immediately. “Yeah, I think that’s the one, Az. Thanks for checking on it— no, I know. You’re right, I shouldn’t have doubted you. Alright— look, I’m hanging up.”
Without another word, he did just that and turned toward Nesta. Her face was probably a ghostly shade of white, and that damned trembling had returned tenfold. She cursed her body for betraying her in such a way.
“It’s a fallen limb that got caught on the way down. The wind is knocking it into your window every now and then, so that’s the loud sound you’re hearing. Az and I can take care of it in the morning.”
His thumb made soothing passes across her knuckles several times before she mustered the energy to respond.
“Okay,” she squeaked. His face crumpled at the sound. “Um, I think I’ll— I think I’ll sleep on the couch. I’m not sure I’ll be able to sleep in here if it’s likely to happen again.”
Cassian nodded softly before walking over to her bed and grabbing one of her pillows. He looked like he loathed to release her hand, but he did so to grab a blanket from the end of the bed. With a tilt of his head, he prompted her to follow him into the living room and helped her ease onto the long sofa. He made a show of fluffing her pillow and placing it beneath her head. Shakes racked through her still, causing her broken voice to bubble out of her without consent.
“Will you sit for a while maybe? You don’t have to if you don’t want to, but I would rather not be alone right now.”
He blinked down at her, and a flush of embarrassment creeped across her chest and up to her face. The only light in the room was the glow of the small fixture above the kitchen sink, casting a soft stream of light across the living area. It made it hard to get a read on Cassian’s reaction to her words, and she nearly opened her mouth to stumble through a dismissal.
“You want me to stay?” he rasped, his face fairly unreadable.
She nodded, pretending not to notice how his shoulders sagged in something like relief. Her flush receded as he eased his large frame onto the couch next to her and pulled her across his chest. With a swiftness she would have assumed impossible, sleep was sweeping her under. She was somewhere between consciousness and her dreams when a deep chuckle brought her quickly to the present. To her horror, she realized she must have uttered the private thoughts of her mind in her dream-like state.
“What?” Cassian whispered through his laughter, his fingers trailing back and forth over her arm.
Her cheeks burned, but she didn’t have the energy to lie to him after the events of the evening.
“I said... you do have a lot of freckles.”
The sound of his laugh rumbling beneath her head chased her into sleep.
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Nessian Week: Day 2 @nessianweek
Summary: Cassian has a surprise for his favorite bookworm. Fluffy & adorable Nessian.
Cassian knew that Nesta was a voracious reader. She devoured books hastily and greedily. Thankfully, there was no shortage of books when their House literally dropped books out of thin air. Then, there were the girls. One best friend was the foremost expert in smut and romance while the other one lived in a library. Naturally, piles and piles of books adorned their bedroom.
There were several things that needed to be tolerated when dating a bookworm as fierce as Nesta. When Nesta read a particularly spectacular novel she was entranced. It looked as if she was under a spell. No shouting or neck kissing could break her out (most of the time, at least). Arguments had been waged on numerous occasions regarding the proper organization of bookshelves, what was considered a horrible ending, and the absolute madness of certain pairings. Losing her place in a novel was comparable to torture. If he was the cause, well, he tended to suffer.
Nesta had a habit of using whatever was around to mark her spot in a book. She used scraps of paper, hairpins, playing cards and sometimes leaves. She had even started to tuck his leather hair ties into the pages.
"Why don't you just fold the corner of the page?" he innocently asked one night.
There were many looks that Nesta gave Cassian that he cataloged to memory. There were several "murder Cassian" glares. In that moment, the look she gave him at the mere suggestion of what he later learned was called "dog-earing" was enough to scare him into being a devoted and dutiful mate for the rest of the day.
But the "kill your mate" stare often resulted in some of Cassian's best ideas to make her smile.
After a long day, both of them had retreated to their bedroom. Nesta was dressing for bed while Cassian was shirtless on an armchair going over a training schedule. Once finished changing, Nesta moved to their bed. She shifted and shuffled around the mattress until she found herself in the perfect reading position. Cassian sneaked a glance at what was soon becoming the sight he looked forward to every day. She was wearing his shirt. Her hair was unbound and fanned around her face like a goddess. Her face was calm with a small smile full of eagerness to dive into her book.
She grabbed her current novel from the stack on her bedside table. He knew this one was about a steamy love triangle set in a kingdom at war. She was at the part where the heroine was now falling for the dashing young son of the family trying to hijack her throne.
He heard a gasp and knew it wasn't because of the smut. Nesta's eyes were staring incredulously at the object in her hand.
In her hands was a gift: a bookmark. However, it was not just any ordinary bookmark. It was a paper-thin plate of silver filigree with swirls that resembled Illyrian markings. At the top was a smooth leather strip with a small jeweled charm at the end: an eight-pointed star, their bargain mark.
It was both strong and elegant.
"Oh that. I figured you needed a proper bookmark," he said nonchalantly. As if he hadn't spent hours thinking up the perfect design. As if he wasn't filled with smug satisfaction at her reaction. As if his smile didn't widen at the thought of her marking the thousands upon thousands of pages she would devour in her lifetime with his gift.
"You were stealing my leather ties, so I thought I'd turn one into a bookmark. I found a smith in Windhaven to make it. It's made of Illyrian steel so it's going to last a long time."
"Cassian... it's beautiful," she was in awe. Her hand traced the intricate designs carved into the metal. She spun a finger around the leather and held the charm close to her chest. She looked up at him with his favorite expression of all. It was the look that took his breath away, made his heart race, and brought him to his knees. The look that filled his heart with adoration and love.
She dropped the book and gift on the bed and rushed over to him. She climbed on top of him and ran her hands through his hair as she pulled him into a deep kiss. She pulled away lifting his chin up to meet her gaze.
"What can I possibly give you in return that could compare?" she ask with adoration in her eyes.
Cassian's hands stroked her hips and a devilish grin transformed his features. "I can think of a few things..." he said dropping his head to catch her lips.
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Nessian Week: AU Day
I work well with deadlines so even though this is just a run-of-the-mill Modern!AU, I thought I’d post this drabble that’s been knocking around in my head for a few weeks today! It has a little part two that I’m hoping to post later tonight :)
Cassian could tell something was on Nesta’s mind all through dinner. He could tell as soon as he got home from work, really. It wasn’t about him, he didn’t think, since she’d kissed him welcome home and let him squeeze her ass. No, there was just…something. Something that made her eyes a little vacant and her words a little quiet. But during dinner she just let him talk about work, nodding and answering, and if there was one thing Cassian had learned about Nesta, it was to give her space. He would give it a little longer, and then he would ask.
After dinner they watched an episode of the Netflix show they were working their way through and then got ready for bed. Even though it was only eight thirty, their rigid commitment to mornings at the gym meant they were always early to bed, early to rise.
As they crawled under the covers, Cassian finally poked Nesta’s side and said, “Hey. Something you want to talk about?”
He had long since learned that “what’s wrong” and “talk to me” didn’t work on Nesta. He had learned to just ask if she wanted to talk, and that sometimes, the answer was no. That was okay. He had also often assured her that one of the reasons he kept his chest so big was for ample cuddle room, if that was all she wanted instead.
But tonight, Nesta sighed and looked at the ceiling, gathering her thoughts. Cassian propped himself up on one elbow, waiting.
“I’ve been thinking about trying for law school again,” Nesta said at last.
“Oh,” Cassian said, surprised but not unpleasantly so. When everything had gone to shit and their father had died, Nesta had withdrawn what Cassian was told was a very promising and competitive law school application. That had been over two years ago now, and Cassian had found himself wondering more than once if she missed no longer being on that path, or if it was something she had ever wanted for herself at all.
“Yeah,” she agreed, then continued, “I just don’t think the sugar baby lifestyle suits me as well as it suits Feyre, you know?” Cassian laughed. “Seriously! She just lives in a big house and paints all day and is going to give Rhys as many babies as he wants, and I’m really happy for her.”
“He really loves her,” Cassian said, feeling a need to defend his brother. It was maybe undeniable that Rhysand technically qualified as Feyre’s sugar daddy given their age gap, but the implication that he just wanted her for baby making, even though Cassian knew Nesta didn’t mean it like that, riled him just a little.
“I know,” Nesta said, unfazed. “I said I was happy for her. I just don’t know that that’s for me, you know? I want to do something. I want to have a career and something that I am outside of just us.” If Cassian was not used to Nesta’s bluntness, he might have been offended. But she turned to look at him with her crystal-blue eyes unusually wide and vulnerable, and he knew this was really something that had been weighing on her for a while.
“Okay, hell yeah,” Cassian said. “My Nesta, girlbossing it up. I’m all for it, whatever you want to do. Law school, business mogul, dean—you’ll kick ass no matter what.”
Nesta rolled her eyes, but Cassian could see her cheeks had turned slightly pink. “Don’t ever call me girlboss again.”
Nesta rolled her eyes again, and Cassian grinned wider. For a moment, Nesta picked at a loose thread on her sleeve, and then she said, “Or if none of them work out, I guess I could lean into the sugar baby lifestyle and start an OnlyFans.”
Cassian suppressed a groan, imagining Nesta’s OnlyFans. The amount of money he would have paid for that if she wasn’t his…. “And I’d be your top supporter,” he promised.
She gave him an exasperated look. “Anything I’d post on OnlyFans you get for free.”
“But I’m going to support your endeavors, no matter what they are,” Cassian said. “You could try a new career every year for the rest of our lives and I’d be right there by your side. You’ll be the best at whatever you do, baby, you and I both know that.”
“That’s actually a good point,” she said, pointing at him. “If I get in you’re not allowed to pay my tuition. And neither is Rhysand.”
“What?” Cassian exclaimed. “Of course I am!”
“You are not,” Nesta said, her voice leaving no room for argument. “This is my career, my path. I’ll get myself through and pay off the loans on my own.”
It was a shame there was no talking Nesta into taking charity. If she had decided it would wound her pride to have Cassian pay her tuition, there would be no changing her mind. But he understood—if she wanted this to be something that was hers, it didn’t make sense to have him tied to it so intrinsically. He could accept that. Sort of.
“Fine,” he said. “But I’m still paying rent and buying groceries and bringing you really big, sugary coffees when you have a hard day of studying. No argument.”
That earned him another eye roll, but this time with a small smile. “Fine.” She scooted closer so she could snuggle against his chest, and he wrapped his arms around her to pull her close.
Something in him relaxed just having her so close, but there was still tension in her arms, in her fingers on his back, so he just stroked her hair and waited. Finally, she whispered, “Did you mean it?”
“About the sugary coffees? Of course. I know we try to eat right, but—”
“No,” Nesta interrupted. “About…every year, for the rest of our lives. You being by my side.” She tightened her arms and fingers like she was clinging to him.
For the first time tonight, Cassian was totally taken aback. That was what had thrown her? Wasn’t it obvious? Wasn’t it…what she wanted? “Yeah,” he said, ignoring a cold wash of fear in his stomach. “You don’t think I’m going anywhere, do you? Like I could ever even look at another woman now that I’ve loved you? This is it for me, Ness. Honestly you couldn’t get rid of me if you tried.”
He half expected her to shoot back about stalking or restraining orders or the like, but instead she squeezed him so tight even he almost had the wind knocked out of him. She moved her face from his chest to bury it against his neck, and though he didn’t feel the wet heat of tears, her ragged breaths sounded like she was trying not to cry. “Nesta,” he whispered softly. “Don’t tell me you want a career because you think I might leave you. I’m not going anywhere.”
“I don’t just want it because of that,” she managed, voice choked. “But you can’t know. You can’t know you won’t get sick of me.”
“How could I possibly get sick of you? You have ruined me for all other women, Ness, I mean that. And I don’t just mean about sex, though the sex I have with you is absolutely the best sex I’ve ever had in my life, no contest.” She let out a choked laugh against his chest. He could feel her tears now. “I am genuinely excited to see you chase your dreams, Nesta. I’m excited to bring you sugary coffees, and take you out for nice dinners after your big exams, and watch you kick the ass of every other attorney who is unfortunate enough to go up against you. You’re my everything. I don’t want you to spend any more time doubting that.”
“I know,” Nesta whispered. “I know. You’re my everything too. I’ve never cared about anything as much as I care about you. That’s what’s so scary.”
Cassian had known almost from the moment he met her that she was the woman he was going to marry. In his mind, however, it was such an inevitability that he hadn’t felt the need to rush. He thought of them as the type to just be together until one day they’d look at each other and say “hey, we should probably get married, huh?” But sometimes he forgot that there was a lot of insecurity under Nesta’s kickass physique and haughty stares. Maybe she needed that promise set in stone (a very expensive, very shiny stone) more than he had realized. He didn’t think she was hounding for a rock, but if she was worried that his lack of commitment was because he was leaving himself a doorway out, he needed to show her that she couldn’t be more wrong.
As she rolled onto her back and invited him to have some of that life-changing sex, he thought to himself that maybe it was time he went and got a ring.
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I know I know, it’s been ages since I’ve written any fics. And I also know that I said I wouldn’t do anymore, but as we’ve established I am a contradiction to myself. And I missed Cade, Soren and Bella too much so sue me 💀(don’t actually)
Anyway enjoy this fluff filled fic in the universe of Nessian children.
The sound of raindrops tapped away at the roof panels. Nesta had just finished putting the children to bed when Cassian arrived home.
“You’re home late.” Nesta said walking into their bedroom in her nightgown. She padded over to where he stood, a little dirty from a long day's work.
“I had to wait until some of the rain calmed before flying home.” He said,heeling off his boots and placing a sweet kiss on his wife’s forehead.
“How was Soren today?” He asked, moving into the bathroom that was adjoined to their room and turned on the shower.
Their youngest son had been ill for the past few days. Nothing too serious, just a case of the sniffles.
“Better than before, I guess that’s the perk of being a child, getting over colds quickly.” She said pulling back the covers of the bed and sliding in. “ The other two helped me take care of him. It was a very easy day today.”
He was glad that the day wasn’t too stressful for his wife and children. Though he couldn’t say the same for himself. He had spent all day in the pouring rain preparing some for the up and coming blood rite, along with overseeing the female trainees practice.
His clothes were damp and dirty. He peeled off the wet garments and stepped into the warm shower. He washed away the remains of the day, cleaning the dirt off his body.
Turning off the shower and wrapping a towel around his waist he stepped back out into his room.
Nesta sat up in the bed resting her back against the headboard and her knees up. A melodic tune softly played from a small silver orb on the side table, a solstice gift she had treasured from the moment he gave it to her. The rain outside had started getting heavier, and a flash of lightning peeked through the crack in the curtain.
Even through the midst of the storm outside she looked so at peace, with her eyes shut and a slight smile playing on her lips. Cassian couldn’t help but smile too, it had taken her a long time to look so peaceful and he was grateful that he got to experience her peace alongside her.
He pulled on his sleeping pants and tied some of his hair into a bun on top of his head. He walked back into the bathroom one last time, putting his dirty clothes in the basket by the sink.Thunder cracked and shook the walls of the room, and with that the sound of two pairs of little feet came tumbling into the room next door.
“Mama, mama.” A coarse little voice said, terror laced in the words he spoke.
The music stopped and only the sound of the rain remained. “It’s okay Renny, it’s just a little thunder.” He heard Nesta speak. “You’re going to be fine, Bells. Come here my brave girl.”
“The thunder hurts my ears.”Soren croaked. A mixture of tiredness and the remains of a cold hinted in his voice.
Cassian walked back out into the bedroom, closing the bathroom door behind him. He made his way over to the bed where a teary eyed Bella had cocooned herself on top of his pillows.
“Come here Bells.” Cassian scooped up his daughter in his arms, and sat on the bed next to his son. Another flash of lighting showed itself. And with that Cade showed up at the door.
“I can’t sleep.” He said coolly, though his eyes showed otherwise.”Can I stay in here for a while?”
Nesta chuckled ever so slightly and made room for Cade.All five of them were piled on the bed, both Nesta and Cassian soothing their children from the terror of the storm.
“Mama, can you read us a story?” Bella piqued up.
“What story do you want to hear?” She asked, stroking Soren’s arm for comfort.
“The one you told me, you know? The one about the boy who didn’t want to grow up?” Cade said, lying on his stomach and his head propped up on his hands.
“I’ve never heard of that one before.” Cassian said. Since having met Nesta he’d read more books than he had in his entire life. From erotica to romance, from romance to myths and fairytales. Along with many, many stories meant for children.
“Oh, Peter Pan?”
“Yes that one.”
Nesta smiled, slipping off the bed and grabbing a sage green book from the shelf in the corner. She slid back into bed next to Soren and cracked open the book.
“The children are sleeping and dreaming. Suddenly the window opens. A small ball of light enters the nursery and flies around.” Nesta spoke softly, turning the pages between her fingers.She focused on the page in front of her still comforting Soren who’d snuggled up into the crook of her right arm.
Cassian listened as she read aloud. Her voice changing to suit the character’s that spoke. He looked around as his children eagerly listened.
Cassian smiled to himself, watching his children in complete awe of their mother was a sight he’d never get tired of seeing. He loved seeing Nesta’s softer side when it came to their little family. With each word she spoke the sound of the rain became nothing more than a distant patter. He was entranced with the story, with her.
Cassian had slowly zoned out from the story, examining his wife’s face. She had looked tired, slight circles under her eyes were proof of that, her lips were a light shade of pink and loose strands of her hair were tucked behind her ear.
Even if Nesta felt tired she still managed to hide it enough and find the energy within her to be there when their children needed her. She truly was amazing.
Coming back to reality Cassian found himself looking at three sleeping Illyrian babies and one very tired looking Nesta. Her eyes were closed as she tilted her head against the headboard.
“Are they asleep?” She lifted one eye to look.
Nesta sighed and rested her head on Cassian’s shoulder. “With all the excitement I never got to ask how your day was.” She yawned.
“Don’t worry about it, we can talk in the morning.” He pulled her closer to him, careful not to wake Soren who was snoring softly.
“You can rest now, I’ve got it from here.” He kissed the crown of her head and traced small circles on her back.
He’d stay up just a little longer, to watch over his family. “Thank you.” Nesta whispered, and with that she had drifted off.
Tags 🏷 @bookstantrash @silvernesta @nesta-stan @nestable @arinbelle @julemmaes @queenestarcheron @thalia-2-rose @lanyjoy-13 @ribhinnog @perseusannabeth @swankii-art-teacher @my-fan-side @sayosdreams
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In this modern au, Nesta is a model, running late on one of her shoots, so Cassian goes to pick her up.
Also, this was an uneditted and quick fanfic. I hope you guys enjoy. I know I haven’t posted in a while, but school is kicking my ass.
Waring: Contains content not suitable for some readers, read at your own risk.
Cassian shoved his hands into his pockets as he made his way to the studio, worried when Nesta hadn’t answered his texts. She was supposed to be done an hour ago, and while he knew she probably wouldn’t want him in her work place, he just needed to make sure she hadn’t been kidnapped.
The lady at the desk smiled when he entered. “Are you here for a shoot?”
Cassian blushed. “No--well. I’m here for my girlfriend. Nesta Archeron.”
“Oh.” She perked up, her smile widening into a grin. “She’s right this way.”
He tensed. He’d been allowed to pick her up from the lobby, but never been offered to see her while she worked. He followed the woman to a plain white door, walking past her when she opened it for him.
The first thing he saw were the cameras. Posed around the room, some even on the ceiling. Three photographers walked around the scene, snapping pictures and chatting animatedly.
Then his eyes fell on the bed.
Nesta lay there, her face serene, wearing a tangle of dusty pink lingerie, a transparent sheet draped over her body. She tilted her chin up, moving at the photographers’ commands, her back arched in a way that shot blood straight to his groin.
“That’s it. Good. Remember, tongue behind your teeth. Yes. Just like that.” A photographer moved in front of Cassian, blocking his view. “Alright, sit up for me, doll. One leg down. Perfect. Stunning.”
As she moved into position, Nesta’s eyes caught Cassian’s and widened. “Cass!”
He offered a weak smile as all eyes turned to him, waving awkwardly. “The front desk lady told me to come in here.”
Nesta blushed madly beneath her makeup, holding the sheet to her chest. “Fucking Clare.”
“Do you want us to kick him out?” one of the photographers asked, a short, stout woman Cassian recognized as Nesta’s friend, Emerie.
“No, I mean— What time is it?”
“Quarter after six,” Cassian answered, shoving his hands into his pockets. “You didn’t tell me you were doing boudoir photos.” He slowly grinned. “Is this my valentine's present?”
“Good, god, no. The other model was sick and offered me the shoot. Stop. Stop smiling like that. I should have texted you.”
The other two photographers were studying him now, whispered to each other. Cassian ignored them. “I don’t mind this outcome. You look absolutely breathtaking, sweetheart.”
She looked away, twisting the sheet in her hands. “I— I should be done soon. Right, Simon?”
Simon, presumably, glanced between them. “Actually, you’ve got quite a fine specimen here. We could do some couples pictures too. We have outfits that would fit him.”
“What?” Nesta snapped at the same time Cassian answered, “Sure.”
She glared at him and he blew her a kiss.
Simon said, “It would be significantly less awkward with him than with a stranger. Plus, that extra chemistry shows up on camera. You know we already had a shoot planned, so why not now?”
Nesta worked her jaw in a way Cassian immediately recognized. She was thinking. Perhaps a little too hard. “I mean… if he’s okay with it.”
Cassian grinned and in an instant, he was ushered out and filed into a dressing room by Simon. A bundle of clothes were shoved into his hands. “Put these on. Nothing else.”
After he was gone, Cassian stripped down, discovering the finest pair of silk boxers he’d ever seen. With that was a pair of black slacks and suspenders.
He shouldn’t have been surprised, but he was.
It took only a half an hour to do his makeup and hair before he rejoined Nesta. She’d changed too— into a deep red version of what she’d been wearing before. It stole the air from his lungs.
So it began.
Cassian stood at the foot of the bed, crossing his arms while she looked up at him, her hair in perfect waves around her shoulders.
“Do what comes naturally,” Simon said as the cameras started snapping.
Cassian put a knee on the mattress, leaning forward as she crawled towards him. Rising up on her knees, she put a hand on his chest, drawing him in, close enough for a kiss.
“Are you comfortable?” she asked, her breath a warm rush across his lips.
He nodded as that hand trailed down, gripping his belt. He fell forward at her tug, bracing his arms on either side of her head. Leaning in, he brushed his mouth across hers, running a hand over her thigh to tug it around his waist.
“Perfect. Yes.” A camera clicked as he shifted, kissing her throat in the way he knew she loved.
Her gasp came too soft for anyone else to hear, for his ears alone.
He lowered himself onto an elbow, brushing a stray hair from her face. “I love you so much.”
She smiled, showing off those dazzling teeth. “I love you too.”
He took her mouth, quickly forgetting that anyone else was in the room until one of the photographers hissed.
“Too much tongue. Die it down.”
Cassian lifted his head, tempted to snarl, but Nesta pulled him back down. “Act a little rougher.”
She nodded, eyes wide.
“What the fuck is this even for?” he muttered, but obeyed.
Gripping her hair, he forced her body to mold more into his, kissing the junction between neck and shoulder.
“Get into his lap. I want some upright shots,” Simon ordered.
Cassian slid back to his knees and Nesta moved gracefully to straddle him. “Hand in my hair again,” she whispered onto his throat.
His hand gliding back into those caramel locks he loved so much. He twisted the bulk of her hair around a fist, pulling her head back so he could look into those storm eyes. He gripped her ass in his other hand, tugging her closer so their centers lined up. Silently, he was grateful for the sleeve the dresser had given him, otherwise he supposed she’d get an inkling on how much he really would have prefered to be alone.
“Good. Good. Brilliant.”
And so it went.
Cassian scrubbed his face as he sat at his desk, trying and failing to focus on the screen before him. He blew out a breath, leaning his chair on the back two legs.
“Nesta?” he called, lifting his head when he heard the door to his apartment open. He felt vaguely like a dog as he rose to go find her, but he’d take anything at this point to get him away from his desk.
He found her standing just inside the apartment, pushing the door shut with her heel as she flipped through a manilla folder.
“What’s that?” he asked innocently, doing his best not to peer over her shoulder.
She snapped the folder shut and grinned at him. It took the breath straight from his lungs. “It’s your Valentine’s present.”
“Valentine’s isn’t for a few more days.” Fuck, or was he wrong? Had he really lost track of the days?
“I know.” She walked past him into the kitchen. “But it came early. Unless you want to wait…?”
“Hell, no.” He quickly caught up to her, catching her around the waist. Pressing a kiss to her neck, he asked innocently, “Can I see?”
She nodded, handing the folder over to him. “Sit down first.”
He obeyed, plopping on the worn couch. Opening the folder, he almost dropped it.
It was from the photo shoot they’d done a few weeks ago. He’d thought it was for a magazine, but… “You little terror.”
Her grin widened and he only got a flash of it before he returned to the photos. Flipping through them, he tried to keep his breathing even. Here was the first one. A shot of Nesta crawling across the bed to him, her ass a perfect curve against the white curtains in the background.
Another with her draped out beneath him, their mouths locked together.
One of her on her knees before him, a hand on his thigh. Her lashes were swept up, lips parted slightly.
“Do you like them?” Nesta asked, drawing his eyes to her. She was biting her lip, almost… nervous?
Cassian couldn’t breathe. “I love them.” He turned to the next one. Nesta was forward on his lap, her head tilted back thanks to his hand on her throat. His other hand was between her thighs, the moment almost too indecent to be caught on camera. If only she had known how painfully hard he’d been then.
“Sweetheart, these are… I don’t have words.” He set the folder aside.
“There are more—” Nesta started to say.
“Come here.” He tugged on her waist, pulling her into his lap. Cupping her face, he couldn’t help the grin tugging at his lips. “You had this planned all along, didn’t you?”
She nodded, blush high on her cheek bones. “A few of them were for the magazine, but most were for you.”
“Show me your favorite.” He handed the folder to her.
She blushed harder as she took it, chewing on that damned lip. After a few moments, she plucked a photo. “Here.”
He looked at the photo. It was more innocent than the rest, just a shot of their hands, fingers entwined against the sheet with a hint on her hair in the background.
“Beautiful,” he whispered, kissing the back of her hand as he once again set the pictures aside.
He lifted her, marching them to the bedroom.
She let out a laugh. “Aren’t you going to look at the rest?”
“Later. For now, I have other plans.”
Her lips parted in a silent O.
Tags: @a-trifling-matter @vanilla28 @texas-shaped-waffle-maker @illyrianwitchling13 @feyrheart @sarahjmaasslave @h-a-p-p-i-e-s @sadb1tch3000 @samuelcasera-blog @wanderlustlastsforever @catita09 @ @madie-max @gendryaforthemasses @nestaarxheron @imlumpingamazingstuff @silver-flames @awesomelena555 @ribhinnog @sannelovesreading @over300books @sayosdreams @illyrian-bookworm @perseusannabeth @ireallyshouldsleeprn @thalia-2-rose @my-fan-side @skychild29 @superspiritfestival @nahthanks @duskandstarlight @julemmaes @darkshadowqueensrule
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Little Things - Nessian
Nesta Archeron x Cassian oneshot
#nessianmonth prompt: adventures in babysitting Nyx // @illyrianet
Nesta was not used to fighting on the same side of the battle as Cassian.
From the moment she laid eyes on him in her father’s estate, her mission had always been to rile him up and push his buttons. And oh, she’d been good at it. She had honed it into an art form. And when he’d started training her at the House of Wind, she’d tried to learn his weak spots over those first few months. Kicked and punched at him in the training ring as he egged her on. It became a dance of theirs, to taunt and sneer and jab even as they grew closer to one another.
Even now, after they’d been mated for a year, she found herself opposite of Cassian more often than not. They spent each morning training and sparring, their scowls turning into smirks. Their lovemaking always started as flirting and taunting each other until the other caved. Yes, she loved Cassian, and she loved having him as her adversary.
But when they found themselves staring down the most mischievous baby in all of Prythian, dropped off at their doorstep only moments ago, Nesta knew she was going to need Cassian by her side.
“It’s only for one night,” Rhys had said. “We will be back before Nyx even notices we’re gone.”
Nesta was wondering if Rhysand himself had been dropped on his head as a child. The moment Feyre and Rhys had kissed his little baby cheeks and flown off to the Summer Court, Nyx had started wailing. At a year old, he had never spent the night away from his parents. And it seemed he wasn’t excited about this new development.
She turned to face Cassian, who was holding Nyx at arms length with a terrified expression on his face. They had both spent countless hours at the River House with their nephew, but never alone. Feyre and Rhys had always been there to whisk the baby away as soon as the first cry escaped him. Elain or Mor were usually there to help entertain Nyx for hours on end. Now, it was up to Cassian and her to keep the little guy alive until morning.
Nyx continued to scream as he dangled in the air. Nesta rolled her eyes and took the baby from her mate. Nyx immediately stopped crying and stared up at her, his eyes wide. He reached out to put a chubby hand on her cheek and started babbling away. She smiled down at him, pleased with her victory.
“How did you do that?” She looked up to find Cassian’s expression the same as Nyx, eyes wide in wonder. She snorted as she took in their identical faces.
“He always behaves when I hold him. Feyre thinks we have a connection.”
Nesta wasn’t ready to admit that she agreed. From the moment she first held that baby in her arms, she felt a pull towards him, and she knew it had to do with what she’d been willing to give back to the Cauldron that day. Perhaps it was the Mother’s own way of acknowledging her sacrifice.
She shrugged. “Maybe this won’t be too bad. We just need to make it to bedtime.”
Nyx started wiggling in her arms and reaching towards the ground. Nesta hastily placed him at her feet before he could start fussing and watched as he stumbled between Cassian’s legs into the House behind him.
They followed the sound of Nyx’s babbling as it echoed down the hall. As soon as Nyx made his way into the sitting room, he paused abruptly, looking around the room.
There was a moment of complete silence. As she sucked in a breath, Nesta couldn’t help but feel like she was standing on a battlefield, waiting for her opponent to make his first move. She knew Cassian was holding his breath beside her, and even the living energy of the House seemed to halt.
All of a sudden, there was a cascade of commotion around them. The lights in the House started to flicker slightly and the air around them picked up speed, as if they were outside on a windy day. The curtains began to ruffle and Nesta could feel the energy in the House, and she realized it was excited. Nyx’s high-pitched squeal pierced the air only a moment later and he took off toddling around the room again.
“Like calls to like.”
Nesta whipped her head around to Cassian, who was standing there with his mouth wide open. “What?”
“Like calls to like,” he repeated, taking a step into the room. “Whether you meant to or not, you Made the House when you first moved in here. And you Made our nephew the day he was born, too.” The House seemed to agree with Cassian’s words, the lights flickering one more time before returning to normal.
Nesta could practically feel the energy in the room intensify, making the hair on her arms stand up. It would make sense if the House recognized the child, both of them Made by Nesta’s own doing. And Nyx seemed just as excited to be there, talking gibberish as he ran around the room.
Cassian and Nesta plopped down onto armchairs, facing each other. Nesta leaned forward, her elbows resting on her knees and she kept an eye on the baby roaming around. “We need to come up with a game plan.”
The Commander of the Night Court gave her one quick nod. “You’re right. We’ll play until dinner time, eat, and then send him to bed. We just gotta wear him out.”
Nesta shook her head at him. “We can't just send him to bed. He needs to be put to bed. You know, bath time, story time, bed time. And you’re on bath duty.”
“As long as you’re the one putting him to bed. If he needs a lullaby, I’m not the man for the job.”
Just as Nesta was about to strike that deal with Cassian, she saw something move out of the corner of her eye. Shrieking with laughter, Nyx was running past them stark naked, with his diaper in his hand. Cassian and Nesta shot out of their chairs and chased after him, entirely unprepared for the afternoon ahead of them.
As it turned out, Nyx was not exactly outnumbered by Cassian and Nesta. The House was quick to pledge its allegiance to the toddler, and they found themselves trying to stay one step ahead of their mischief for the rest of the day.
The House’s first order of business was to turn the floor into a trampoline, sending Nyx skyrocketing for the ceiling as soon as Cassian stumbled forward. A flustered Nesta only just managed to catch Nyx as he came crashing back down, endlessly amused. Until the House decided to give them their hardwood floors back, they sat on either side of Nyx and bounced him up in the air.
With the return of their floors also came an assortment of animals. A flock of flamingos stood proudly on one leg throughout the room, and Nyx tried to copy their one-legged stance until he toppled over. Hanging from the rafters were little bats, with their wings wrapped around themselves when they weren’t flying overhead. Nyx immediately started pointing at Cassian’s wings, waiting until he puffed out his chest and extended his wings as far as they’d go. Nyx gave a little show of his own, his brow furrowed in concentration until his own wings gave a little wiggle. Nesta wasn’t sure she’d ever heard Cassian laugh so hard.
Nesta then asked the House to play music for Nyx, and he was quick to pull himself up and start shaking his butt to the beat. The House seemed pleased with itself, turning up the volume as Cassian and Nesta started to dance with him. Nesta almost laughed herself hoarse when she saw Nyx looking up at Cassian and copying his dance moves. Or, she realized, perhaps Cassian was copying Nyx’s moves - it was impossible to tell.
As the sun started to set, Nesta scooped up Nyx and brought him to the kitchen. The House had found a seat tall enough for a baby, accommodated with a little tray table piled high with mashed foods. Nyx started clapping and smacking his lips as soon as Nesta plopped him into the high chair.
Nesta and Cassian sat down on either side of Nyx, grateful for a moment’s rest.
“You know, I never envied Azriel’s shadows until today,” Cassian mused as he shoveled food into his mouth. “It’s like a built-in toy for babies. Never has to worry about running out of entertainment.”
It was true. Azriel had been so nervous to hold Nyx for the first time, never having let his shadows so close to a child before. It had been all of a few minutes before the shadows were swirling around Nyx’s chubby little legs and feet, tickling him until he was shrieking with laughter in Azriel’s arms. Ever since, Azriel was first in line for babysitting duty.
As Nesta opened her mouth to reply, she felt something cold and sticky slam into the side of her face. She reeled back as she heard Cassian’s fork drop onto his plate with a clang. She turned her head slowly to look at Nyx, whose mouth formed an o as he watched his dinner coast down the side of his aunt’s face. He let out a little giggle.
At that small noise, Cassian burst out laughing, and Nyx appeared satisfied with himself. More food magically appeared on his high table, and Nesta cursed the House for aiding and abetting this little terror.
Cassian took a deep breath and steeled himself for battle. The siphons on his hands glowed, sensing his anticipation. “You can do this,” he muttered to himself. “It’s one bath. You can handle this.” He briefly contemplated putting on his fighting leathers.
Cassian waited for the bathtub to fill with water as he helped Nyx wiggle out of his food-covered clothes. Once Cassian was sure the water wasn’t too hot, dipping his own wings in to test the temperature, he stuck Nyx in the tub and looked around for some soap. Gods knew this kid would need extra soap.
By the time he turned back around, the House had managed to already fill the bathtub with a ridiculous amount of bubbles. Every time Nyx’s little fists splashed in the water, the House doubled the amount of bubbles in the tub.
“No no no no, please,” Cassian moaned. “Enough with the bubbles. I’m begging.”
Nesta appeared in the doorway, having finished cleaning up from dinner. The House chose this exact moment to give Cassian a long, fluffy beard made out of bubbles, much to Nesta’s delight. He turned back to show Nyx, who was rapidly disappearing under the growing pile of bubbles. Nyx gave one small giggle before Nesta fished him out, declaring bath time over.
Nesta couldn’t deny that she was ready for bedtime. Nyx, having finally worn himself down, was curled up against her side as she rocked him in his chair. The House had left them a small light and a pile of books to read. Nesta flipped through the selection as Nyx rubbed his eyes, yawning as he nuzzled into her neck. He lasted all of two pages before his eyes became too heavy and he let out a tiny snore.
Sneaking quietly out of the makeshift nursery, Nesta walked into her bedroom to find Cassian passed out on top of the covers, lights still on. Groaning, Nesta shut the lights off and climbed into bed beside him in defeat.
Cassian woke up before his mate, still in his clothes from yesterday. He hadn’t even managed to get his shoes off before sleep overtook him. He stretched and stumbled down the hallway, reaching the room the House had prepared for Nyx.
“NESTA. WAKE UP. NOW.”
Cassian was frozen in place as Nesta came rushing out of their bedroom with one eye open and a tangled mess of hair atop her head. When she peered around him to look in the bedroom, wondering what Nyx could possibly have gotten himself into, her eyes focused on his crib.
His empty crib.
Nesta immediately began barking out orders. “You go left, I go right. Check behind all the furniture. Check inside all of the furniture. That kid could be anywhere, and Rhys and Feyre will be here any minute.”
Cassian and Nesta scrambled down the hallway, preparing to divide and conquer. The House was still a mess from yesterday’s mischief, and it made searching for Nyx more difficult. Every time Nesta heard a giggle up ahead, the sound was gone by the time she reached the room. She was too frazzled to figure out how he was moving so fast. They both heard a loud crash, drawing them back to the center of the House. Just as Nesta and Cassian narrowly avoided colliding in the entryway, there was a knock at the front door.
“You tell him, he’s your brother.”
“Absolutely not. Feyre is going to freak out that we lost her kid. You tell them.”
Before they could finish bickering, Rhys strolled through the front door with Feyre close on his heels. They took in the sight of Nesta and Cassian, wide-eyed and disheveled and frantic. Before Rhys could come to any conclusions, they heard a peal of laughter fast approaching. Everyone turned just as Nyx came flying down the hallway, his little wings flapping as fast as they could go, and barreled right into Feyre’s outstretched arms.
They all stood there with mouths wide open. The House had apparently managed to get Nyx up in the air with a little extra wind and gave him flying lessons all morning. Rhys and Feyre cooed over their son, praising him for his first flight, and said their goodbyes.
Nesta and Cassian waved to them from the doorway, and Nyx waved his chubby little hand back at them. As soon as they were out of sight, Cassian slammed the door and Nesta slumped to the ground in exhaustion.
They took one look at each other before declaring in unison, “never again.”
The last day of Nessian month is tomorrow and I felt obligated to give it a send off. Thanks everyone for reading!! This will be up on my AO3 soon!
Also, the font I chose for the image header is called “Nixie” and I hope someone appreciates that as much as I do.
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A Favor: Part Twenty-Two
Nessian Modern AU
content warnings: secondhand embarrassment, i dont know how skiing works, poor editing, NSFW 🔥
To Nesta’s horror, Cassian was serious when he said he’d teach her how to ski. Nevermind the fact that it’s his birthday, and they should be having a lazy morning together filled with cuddles and breakfast in bed. Instead, they’ve been up since six in the morning without food or drink, just to shuffle around in the snow while Cassian repeats the same instructions over and over. By late morning, the rest of their group has gotten up and joined them at the beginner’s trail to be firsthand witnesses to Nesta’s humiliation.
She stares down at the blinding white slope before her and inhales a breath of frigid mountain air, trying to steel her nerves before she has to push off the ground and take flight.
Cassian sees her hesitation and sighs. “Come on, Nesta,” he urges. “It’s thirty feet to the bottom of the hill.”
“Why is it so steep?” she demands, even though she knows this is a practice hill. Toddlers in skis are shuffling around them, hand in hand with their parents.
“You’re not falling to the bottom,” Cassian says, growing impatient. “You’re gliding.”
He’s already shown her how to maneuver with skis a dozen times already, and Nesta can see that he doesn’t have another dozen times left in him. Unfortunately for him, Nesta’s own patience was used up hours ago. Her stomach pangs with hunger, and she has a pounding headache from the cold and lack of sleep.
“Oh, come on, Nesta,” Gwyn calls from behind her. She hops up and down in her snow boots like a cheerleader. “You can do it!”
Nesta does not want to do it. She looks down at the hill, then back at Cassian with pleading eyes—eyes that he can’t see under her ski goggles anyway.
“I can’t take this anymore,” Azriel mutters from somewhere. He picks up his ski poles and points to Emerie. “Ski lift?”
“Sure—” she starts to say, and then remembers that she’s here to support Nesta. “Not now,” she amends.
“Just go,” Cassian turns to tell them. “At least some of us will be having fun.” Nesta watches as he goes over to Emerie and Az to give advice on the trails, the same frustration from last night building in her chest.
Stupid ski trip. Stupid uninvited guests. Stupid birthday that Cassian isn’t even treating like a birthday.
Gritting her teeth, Nesta jabs her ski poles into the ground. She’ll conquer this hill, and then she’ll conquer the rest of the trail, and then she’ll take her skis and set them on fire.
With everyone briefly preoccupied and no eyes on her, Nesta pushes herself downhill. Her skis slip a little as she takes off but she readjusts her feet the way Cassian showed her, regaining control. She takes a deep breath, realizing the height isn’t as scary as she thought it would be. Testingly, she bends her knees and pushes herself farther, gaining speed.
“Oh, oh, look!” she hears Gwyn say from behind her. “She’s doing it!”
The voice breaks Nesta out of her precarious concentration, and she almost misses the kid right in front of her skiing at the pace of a turtle. Gasping, Nesta swerves at the last second to avoid running him over.
Her skis clack into each other and she feels her ankle twist, and then she’s down. Hard. Her face meets snow and her ski gear jabs into her body as she tumbles down the rest of the hill, until she finally meets flat ground and rolls to a painful stop.
Nesta only hears a dull roar in her ears as she slowly pushes herself upright. Ignoring alarmed looks from stray skiers around her, she reaches forward and unstraps one ski from her foot, then the other. Her goggles fall to the ground next. Once free, she stands up and walks away, ignoring the calls of her friends from the hilltop.
She walks until she loses sight of the trail and then the resort, until the flattened and trampled snow piles up into powdery mounds untouched by human presence. A cropping of towering evergreens appears before her, and she heads straight for the thicket without pausing.
Once safely entombed by the dark tree trunks and frosted branches, Nesta releases a breath and screams. Screams until the frustration and anger within her bluntens just a little.
The forest absorbs her fire and answers with silence.
“Better now?” Cassian’s voice comes from behind her.
Nesta whirls, ready to fling her next scream at him for having the nerve to follow her, but she only restrains herself because it’s his birthday. Guilt and humiliation nips at her; she shouldn’t be doing this on his birthday. “Leave me alone.” Her voice is raw from shrieking.
Cassian only takes a step closer to Nesta, eyeing her up and down. “You’re not hurt, right? ’Cause that would be embarrassing for you.”
Any edge that was taken off starts to build up again, and Nesta really doesn’t want to look at him right now. “Cassian—”
“Your face is turning red,” he suddenly gasps, pointing. “You should try yelling again, babe. I don’t think the entire resort heard you last time.”
Done with her boyfriend’s shit, Nesta releases a growl and rushes at him. He’s a lot closer than she realized, and in a blink she slams right into his broad chest and shoves him with all her might.
Cassian laughs, short and blunt, and pushes her right back. Her back hits hard-packed snow and then he’s on top of her, pinning her wrists loosely beside her head. Icy wetness seeps past the neck of her jacket.
“Do you want me to fucking bite you?” Nesta snarls, getting in Cassian’s face.
“Always,” he says without hesitation, pressing closer to her. “But first you gotta take a breather.”
“Don’t tell me what to do,” she seethes back. At this rate, she really might bite him. She wants to see his smug face drop when he realizes he pushed her too far.
“You might have an aneurysm at this rate with your anger issues.” He pouts prettily. “Imagine how sad that would make me.”
“I DON’T HAVE ANGER ISSUES!” she shrieks.
Cassian barely blinks. Nesta breathes heavily in the ensuing silence, realizing how embarrassing this is for her. Yet she doesn’t know how to stop.
Closing her eyes, she drops her head to the ground and turns away. Wishing she could sink into the ground and vanish for a few minutes, at least until she gets herself under control again.
After a moment of quiet, she feels the back of Cassian’s fingers brush her neck. “I wondered where that spitfire girl went,” he says lowly. “She didn’t die. You just hid her very well.”
Nesta’s body doesn’t know whether to feel soothed or incited by the touch, the words. “Does it make you happy?” she breathes, her eyes still closed. “That she’s still there?”
“It would be murder if you ever got rid of her. Don’t you dare,” he threatens.
Nesta huffs a derisive laugh. It’s easy for him to say, when he isn’t the one that has to live with it. “I bet you’re enjoying this.”
“Only if you are.” He sounds completely genuine, and Nesta feels him pluck something out of her hair—likely a snowflake.
Realizing Cassian has long since released her wrists, she opens her eyes and stares at the column of his neck. She doesn’t see the regret and concern on his face when he says, “I ruined today, didn’t I?” She watches him swallow before he adds, “I’m sorry, Nes.”
“It’s your birthday,” she mutters, looking away. “You can do whatever you want.” Even if it’s spending the whole day skiing.
“You’re right about that.” His warm breath hits her nose, and now that Nesta’s head is somewhat clear, she can feel every place where his body settles into hers.
Before she can betray herself and forget how upset she was at him only a few minutes ago, Cassian pushes up and off of her. Frigid air replaces where he was just sprawled, and then he’s holding out a hand to Nesta. “We’re going back to our room,” he says, watching Nesta’s feet closely as he helps her stand. “You can ride on my back.”
“Why?” Nesta grumbles, brushing herself off. “I can walk fine.”
“You twisted your right ankle on the way down that hill, and you started limping as soon as you thought you were out of sight.” Cassian turns around and points at his back. “Get on while I’m being nice.”
That makes Nesta scoff, because he’s always nice, but she has little fight left today. She tries to reach up to wrap her arms around his neck, but Cassian grabs her legs and hitches her up onto his back before she can struggle.
She responds with a scowl, clasping her hands across his chest and getting comfortable. “You noticed I was hurt but didn’t have a problem with tackling me to the ground?”
Cassian squeezes her thighs and holds her closer, tossing a blinding smile over his shoulder. “Sorry if I wasn’t expecting you to try to jump me with an injured foot. You took me by surprise.”
“Bullshit,” Nesta says as they start walking out of the trees. “You did it on purpose.”
“Do you like starting fights, Archeron?”
“Do you?” she retorts.
They bicker back and forth like that until they reach the resort, and even once they’re inside the lobby, Cassian doesn’t put Nesta down. The exhaustion of the day has settled over the both of them by then, and the elevator ride up to the penthouse is peacefully quiet.
Back at the empty suite, Cassian carefully lowers Nesta to her feet. “Take your clothes off,” is all he says before heading for the bathroom, shedding his heavy outer jacket as he goes. Nesta has no problem listening; she’s all too happy to take her snow-drenched gear off and breathe air-conditioned air again.
She only realizes as she’s removing her boots that her overwrought emotions must have dulled the real pain of her fall. Her entire body aches down to the bone, and her twisted ankle has it the worst. Inspecting the swollen skin around her foot, she wonders if Cassian will make her see a doctor when the sound of a running faucet pulls her attention. Still dressed in her thermal underwear, Nesta pads over to the bathroom.
Inside, the room is dim, and the only light comes in from the single window panel at the far end of the room. Cassian sits on the rim of the clawfoot tub as it fills with heated water, already naked.
Nesta coughs, caught off guard. The sight is far from unfamiliar to her, and yet she hates to admit that she’ll never not react to it.
Cassian looks up at her, meeting her eyes head on, and a giggle almost escapes her.
“What’s that dumb look on your face?” he says with high brows. “Take your clothes off and get in.”
Nesta firmly schools her face into obedience. Is she a grown woman or a schoolgirl? she chides herself as she strips naked. But as soon as she’s free of her top and leggings, Cassian stops her. “Turn around,” he says.
Is this a sex thing? She hopes it’s a sex thing. She does as she’s told, and hears Cassian hiss in a breath. Glancing at the mirror over the sink, Nesta winces when she realizes what he sees. “Damn.” Her back is peppered with still-forming bruises from her fall, along with her legs and ribs.
Getting up, Cassian approaches her and cautiously runs his fingers over a reddened spot on her ribs. “I think a ski pole stabbed me there,” Nesta says, frowning down at the bruise. She looks like shit, and not at all in a desirable way.
“How’s your ankle?” Cassian kneels to check for himself, handling her like a porcelain doll. He presses gently above the bone where she twisted it. “Does that hurt?”
Nesta considers saying yes, just so he can keep fussing over her like this, but she shakes her head. “I’m fine. Just a little achy.”
A sudden chaste kiss between her legs makes her yelp, and she twists to find Cassian still on his knees, grinning sheepishly up at her. “You know what can help with those aches?”
Nesta blanks as Cassian runs a calloused hand up her inner leg. “Uh…really good dick?”
Cassian is visibly trying not to smile when he says, “A bath.” He stands and turns the faucet off, before going to help Nesta into the tub.
Steaming hot water just beneath the point of being uncomfortable hits Nesta’s calves, then her hips and chest. She might moan in relief as she sinks into the bath.
Cassian settles in across from her, taking up most of the tub space as Nesta twists her ponytail into a bun. He takes her ankle onto his lap and starts massaging above the injury. He notes, “We haven’t been alone like this in ages.”
“I remember when it was my job to be the chill guy,” he continues, rubbing circles into her leg. “I was the one doing stupid shit, and now I have to tell other people to knock it off when they do stupid shit. Since when did Azriel take my role?” he mutters to himself.
Nesta tilts her head against the lip of the tub and watches Cassian, taking in the barely visible lines of weariness on his face. She was once in a similar boat, too, where she had no one to answer to but herself. “Do you miss it?” she asks hesitantly. “Life before we got to know each other?” A life spent in the company of his friends, meeting different women every other week and being as free as possible.
“No,” he says easily. “I miss life before we had to share each other with other people.” He meets her eyes and smirks. “Who knew monogamy could be so exciting?”
Nesta’s stomach curls at his honesty, and she doesn’t know what to say. In the silence, Cassian reaches for a washcloth and lathers it with a bar of pine scented soap. But before he can reach for Nesta, she snatches the washcloth from him and pulls herself forward into the cradle of his limbs. What she can’t say, she’ll just have to show.
She starts soaping up his arms, granting extra attention to his tattooed biceps.
“You’re hurt—” he tries to protest.
“Shut up.” She runs the washcloth over his shoulders, across his collarbones.
When Nesta reaches his chest, she starts, “Earlier in the woods...I lost control.”
Cassian looks wary, but she goes on, “I don’t know why I did that. I thought I didn’t do that anymore.”
“I know why,” he says simply. “You were having a bad day. It was overwhelming.” He shrugs.
“But I’m better than that,” she insists. “You might think it's cute or funny when I—lose it, but I spent years training myself not to fall apart at the slightest inconvenience.” She takes in a breath, her movements slowing. “I learned how to escape reality, remember? I climbed into books and TV and songs, and at one point my entire life passed me by because I refused to participate in it. If I didn't participate, I couldn't be hurt.” She wrings out the washcloth, and Cassian carefully pries it out of her grip.
Nesta places her empty hands on her thighs, avoiding his touch, his eyes. “I think you were one of the only people who ever made me want to come back to real life,” she offers awkwardly. “That's why you made me uncomfortable at first. There were times I would look at you and think, He's better than anyone from the books. If I start living on the same plane as him, I can have him. Does that make sense?”
Cassian swallows visibly, but nods.
“It seemed like an impossible thing to do at the time—participate in the real world, make real friends. But have you noticed? I don’t read as many romance novels anymore.” Not because she doesn’t love them, but because she no longer needs them to remind herself she's alive.
She looks up at him, searching for his thoughts and opinions. Cassian looks like he's doing the same with her face, but then he says, “If you need to scream, even if it’s at me, tell me. I’ll take you somewhere far away, or I’ll let you have it out right in front of everyone. Whatever the hell you want, as long as you tell me. Please.”
Nesta starts to shake her head, adamant, but he stops her with the most pitiful look he's ever given her. “There’s nothing I hate seeing more than you trying to swallow down your rough edges. Even in the woods, you were about to tame yourself before I provoked you.” Cassian holds out a pinky, completely serious. “Consider it my birthday gift. Don’t do that shit anymore.”
Nesta stares at him, his plea warring with years of conditioned self-restraint. “I already got you a birthday gift,” she finally grumbles, but hooks his pinky with hers.
He seems satisfied, but doesn't let go of her pinky. With surprising strength, he uses their hooked fingers to pull Nesta into him, and she just barely catches herself on his chest before he brings her head down and kisses her deep.
Nesta already has her legs adjusted around his waist and his cock pressed against her stomach before she can pull away far enough to choke, “What’s this for?”
He leans up and catches her lips with his again, dipping his tongue just far enough inside to flick the roof of her mouth before retreating. “For existing. And for those aches.” He presses down lightly on a bruise at her back and runs a soothing thumb over it right after. Between her thighs, she feels him growing hard.
Nesta huffs a distracted laugh, the steam from the water sending a red flush up her chest and neck. It's suddenly very hot, and she unconsciously squirms in his lap. “I just realized I’ve never had sex in the bath before,” she says out of nowhere, rubbing her chest and quickly dropping her arms. She’s babbling, she knows. Contrary to popular media, being a seductress is harder than it looks. Half the time she has no idea what to say, and she considers herself lucky that Cassian is driven wild by it anyway.
Cassian entertains her, nodding along while his fingers slip past her ass, brushing her folds. “That sounds like something that should be amended, don’t you think?”
“Well, in terms of comfort I’m not sure if it’ll be better than the shower—” She’s cut off by a finger teasing at her entrance, making her jerk. “Yes,” she says quickly. “Yes, it should be amended.”
He hums thoughtfully, leaning in to nibble and suck at her neck. Her hardened nipples brush against his chest, and Nesta pushes closer into Cassian’s embrace. She’s half-rocking against him when she rasps, “How do you give head in the bath? Do I, like, have to hold my breath underwater?”
“You don’t need to know how,” he mutters, grasping her by the hips and tugging her up so that he’s eye level with her chest. He starts leaving a trail of openmouthed kisses across her breasts. “You’re not doing anything I don’t tell you to do today.”
“What do you mean?” Nesta’s grip on Cassian’s shoulders tightens when he brings a pink nipple into his mouth, sucking hard and pulling off with a flick of his tongue. She can’t move her hips for fear of climaxing at the slightest touch. “It’s your birthday,” she manages to get out. “And I like seeing what I can do to you.”
“Then save it for your birthday.” He pulls her back down firmly into his lap, making her thighs clench with restraint. “Because I like seeing what I do to you more.”
To prove his point, he parts her legs and slips one finger inside her. The smug pride on his face at what he finds makes Nesta move to grip the rim of the tub. Having a pretty boyfriend might have been a mistake, she thinks. That kind of face will get away with anything. Right now, for example.
“Tell me what you want, then,” she pleads.
Cassian leans back, pretending to think. “Sit on my cock,” he finally says.
An easy enough order, one Nesta is all too excited to carry out in only a few movements. It takes a minute to adjust to the fullness and the stretch, and the water doesn’t help in dousing the fire in her veins at all. With heat pounding deep in her core, Nesta releases a terse breath. Her tongue darts out to wet her lower lip, and Cassian watches.
“Now don’t move,” he orders.
“What?” Nesta’s knees involuntarily clench around his hips, her body already craving the feel of moving against him, on top of him.
He levels her with a look. “No clenching, no rocking, no touching.” He hisses in a thoughtful breath, combing a wet hand through his hair. “Actually, that isn’t very fair, is it?”
Nesta is about to nod furiously when he says, “You still need to wash yourself.” He hands her the washcloth she used on him earlier and leans his elbow on the rim of the tub. “Be quick about it. No games.”
Nesta’s eyes widen, looking at the washcloth, then back up at Cassian. Excitement tingles in her fingers and toes, and she doesn’t want to argue with him.
Gulping tightly, she soaps up the washcloth, then smooths the lather over her arms. It’s hard to focus on what she’s doing when there’s a pounding pressure between her legs, and the only thing that keeps her going is that she’ll be rewarded when she’s done. Cassian doesn’t bother watching her, instead tipping his head back against the tub and closing his eyes. From this angle, the tendons in his neck stand out clearly, and the hard line of his jaw looks tense. Nothing on his calm face reveals that Nesta is the reason for his tension, though.
Bringing the soapy cloth over her breasts, Nesta looks up to see if Cassian is secretly peeking at her through his lashes. His eyes remain shut, the perfect portrait of a man at rest.
Suddenly, his hips shift beneath hers, and Nesta nearly drops the washcloth. Straightening up, she has to use herculean strength to force her inner walls to relax around him. “You moved,” she accuses him.
“I was getting comfortable,” he says, still not opening his eyes.
“Why can you move but I can’t?”
That gets him to look at her. His eyes are hooded and lazy when he says, “You’re still talking?”
“Maybe if you had clearly explained the rules—” Nesta starts to grumble, but shuts up when he quirks a brow at her. She won’t lose this game, not for anything—even if she’s split at the seams with Cassian inside her and is one thread away from completely snapping.
Now fully alert, Cassian watches Nesta finish washing up. He hasn’t touched her once since he pulled her onto his cock, and now Nesta tries to make up for the aching lack by pretending her roaming hands are his.
It’s not until the washcloth reaches her tummy that Nesta pauses, her hand frozen over her lower abdomen. Because there, even past the cloth, she can feel him. The skin just slightly bulges, and she looks down at herself with her lips slightly fallen apart. She didn’t realize he was nestled so deep in her, but now she swallows past a lump in her throat. “Cassian…” she starts weakly. Every last muscle is trembling with the effort to stay still. Can he really be unaffected by all of this? Is she really the only one dying right now?
Without intending to, her hand drops the cloth, slipping toward her clit. She can only brush the sensitive nub before Cassian says quietly, “Don’t.”
So this is against the rules, too. She can’t even bring herself to look at him, she’s strung so tight. Taking a shallow breath, she grabs the pitcher from the shelf by the tub and fills it with water, using it to rinse off the suds. When she’s done, with water droplets running down every inch of her, she dares to look at Cassian again. Her anxiousness to get this over with must be written all over her face, and yet.
“Good,” Cassian says, voice just a little grated.
Nesta’s heart rate picks up a beat. She’s finally getting her reward.
“Now sit still and pretty while I rest,” he says, sinking even lower into the tub—and causing his cock to dig even deeper into Nesta. “This is a bath, not a splash pad.”
Nesta chokes. “What—I thought—”
She presses her lips together tightly, refusing to protest. He can’t make her warm his cock like this forever, can he? Soon enough he’ll crack.
Four minutes in, and he doesn’t crack. While Nesta gets closer to crying by the second, she has yet to find evidence that he’s even aware of her presence. Her only proof is the fact that he’s still rock hard, occasionally twitching against the depths of her walls.
At five minutes in, Nesta can’t help it. She breaks, and her inner muscles clamp around Cassian with a viselike grip. She half-sobs in pain and relief, and her hips jerk of their own accord.
Cassian’s eyes fly open at that, the pupils blown wide, and Nesta has to catch herself on his chest to keep from crumbling. If she had half a working brain left, she would have noticed the trembling restraint that lines Cassian’s limbs, or the way his eyes burn with welling desire and even sympathy. Instead, she turns her face into his chest and begs weakly, “Pleasepleaseplease.” Her thighs keep shifting, rubbing back and forth to create friction, but she can’t give herself permission to move the way she truly needs until Cassian gives her permission.
Nesta feels Cassian’s broad hand come up to carefully brush her back. She nearly weeps with relief at the touch, but he doesn’t go any further. “What do you want, baby?” he says roughly.
“You,” she forces out. She doesn’t care if this is losing.
“Me, what?” He sounds like he’s about to lose, too.
“I want you to fuck me.” She’s nearly whimpering, trying not to squirm on his lap.
Cassian, the horrible bastard, has the nerve to snicker in her ear, though he sounds more than a little wrecked when he says, “Well, why didn’t you just say so?”
In a flash, he has Nesta pinned against the porcelain tub. And before she can decide whether to laugh or moan or cry at the turn of events, Cassian covers her mouth with his and thrusts into her, giving her everything she wants.
Hours later, after they’ve sated themselves on sex and food and Cassian is napping sprawled out across Nesta’s back, she receives a text from Azriel telling her he won’t be there to celebrate the rest of Cassian’s birthday.
Az: You two deserve the alone time. Also I didn’t get him a present.
Another text pops up before Nesta can reply.
Az: I did order a cake to be sent up to your room, though. Don’t worry, there’s not a picture of your boobs on it.
Nesta’s eyes widen at that, not knowing why—or how—that would be an option. But she completely forgot about getting cake in all the unexpected hassle of their vacation, and not for the first time is she grateful that Azriel came along with them on their trip.
Typing back a quick thank you, Nesta clicks her phone off and curls further into Cassian’s warmth. He shifts on top of her, hugging her closer, and a moment later she feels his nose poking at the crook of her neck. “Good morning,” he murmurs thickly, sleep coating his voice.
“It’s six p.m,” she snickers. The sun slipped behind the mountains just a few minutes ago, leaving the room a blue dark.
Cassian responds by slipping his hands under her oversized tee, rubbing the muscles along her back. “Where’s everyone else?” They haven’t seen Gwyn, Emerie, or Az in hours.
Nesta turns around in Cassian’s arms to face him. “Consider them gone. We’re by ourselves for the rest of the night.”
He perks up at that. “Really?”
A knock sounds from the penthouse door, and Nesta remembers Azriel’s text. She squirms out from under Cassian’s weight with some difficulty and stands off the bed. She points a stern finger at him. “Don’t move from here,” she orders. “I’ll be back.”
Cassian leans back, looking questioning and amused, but Nesta has already jammed her feet into slippers and left the room by then.
She accepts the covered platter from room service at the door and leaves a tip, before carrying the cake over to the coffee table in the living area and setting it down. Within ten minutes, she has an entire setup arranged: the fireplace is up and roaring, the fur throw she stole from Cassian’s couch to bring on vacation is spread out before it, and the cake candles are lit. The Italian dinner that she ordered earlier also arrives by then, and once everything is laid out, she calls for Cassian to come downstairs.
He’s fully dressed in a sweater and jeans when he appears at the top of the short set of stairs, and he looks so excited to see her that he doesn’t notice the cake or the dinner until he’s only a few steps away from her. Very slowly, his smile freezes. “What’s all this?”
“It’s your birthday,” Nesta says. “Duh.”
“But I thought we already celebrated,” he stumbles, looking around. “With the skiing, and the bathtub—”
Nesta makes a face. “You thought that was celebrating?” She shakes her head and beckons Cassian over to the fur throw, right before the table decked out with food.
He sits down beside Nesta, looking over her in nothing but her thin white shirt. “Are you cold? Do you want my sweater?”
She rolls her eyes as far back as they can go. “No, I want you to focus and make a wish before 6:27.”
“How do you know my birth time?”
“Will you do it or not?” she threatens. The candle wax is melting onto the cake.
Cassian stares at her for a moment longer before finally facing the cake. Closing his eyes, he mouths something unintelligible and blows the candles out.
Nesta claps softly. “Happy two years away from thirty. What did you wish for?” She leans closer.
He leans away. “It doesn’t come true if you go around announcing it.”
Nesta’s shoulders drop. “Wishes aren’t real, Cassian.”
“That’s what you say.” He swipes a dollop of chocolate frosting off the cake with his finger and holds it out to Nesta.
Smiling, she wraps her lips around his finger, scraping the chocolate off with her teeth and licking it clean. He sucks on the same finger when she’s done, chasing after her taste and the lingering frosting. “What do you want first?” he asks. “Dinner or dessert?”
“This.” Nesta pulls out a small box from under the table, placing it in front of Cassian. She didn’t have time to find wrapping paper or a bag, but she’s a bit proud of herself anyway.
Cassian once again looks taken by surprise. “You didn’t have to…” He trails off as he reaches for the box. It’s already obvious what it is, but he still opens it carefully, hesitantly.
He stares at the silver watch for a little while and then looks back up at Nesta. “I…” He clears his throat.
“What do you think?” In all honesty, Nesta already knows. But she needs to hear it from him.
He meets her eyes. “It’s so…normal. Do you know what I mean?”
It’s the type of gift that Nesta’s mother would have given to her father, the type of gift that wives would give to their husbands. Not necessarily original or thoughtful, but domestic.
“Since you like to spend your time thinking about taxes and minivans and stuff,” Nesta says, remembering their last conversation about the future, “I thought you’d like something normal.”
Cassian laughs at that. He takes the watch out of the box and turns it over in the firelight, still a little dumbstruck. “I love it,” he says roughly.
Nesta kicks him in the knee. “It’s a watch, not an engagement ring.”
But he doesn’t hear a word, already clasping it onto his wrist.
Their last day at the resort starts early with Gwyn, Emerie, and Az banging on the suite door at five in the morning. Though Cassian is already up by then, Nesta snarls and snaps like a bitch at being dragged out of bed to watch the sunrise.
With everyone’s bags packed and waiting at the door, they all gather on the balcony connected to the suite in content silence. Azriel nurses a thermos of coffee that he refuses to share with Cassian, and Nesta is wrapped up in that fur throw she loves, half-asleep against Emerie.
When the sky starts lightening, Cassian pulls Nesta away from Emerie and into his body. “You’re gonna miss it,” he murmurs onto the top of her head.
She blinks awake, looking out at the sky slowly being streaked with a dozen colors. From here, the view over the mountains and the quiet town some miles beneath the resort is breathtaking. Easily better than any sunrise Cassian could have shared with Nesta back home.
It’s beautiful, and in that moment he decides he wants to see even more beautiful places than this with Nesta. Someday.
“Pretty,” she yawns, tilting her head back against his chest. Cassian feels guilty for keeping her up so late the night before, but he’s not ashamed of how she rests in his arms right now.
After the sun climbs past the lowest peak, the group of them slowly but surely come more alive. Emerie asks Az to go inside with her and do a final check before they leave, and Nesta shakes both the blanket and Cassian’s arms off herself.
“Some coffee will wake you up,” he promises her, leaving her outside in the dewy morning air with a kiss on the temple.
When Cassian returns to the balcony with two freshly brewed cups, he finds Gwyn and Nesta in deep conversation. “I never apologized for crashing your weekend,” Gwyn is saying.
“You don’t need to,” Nesta responds, watching the world wake up below her.
“Still,” Gwyn says, chewing on the inside of her cheek. “I acted out of character, didn’t I?”
Nesta turns to her then, the sun haloing her face, and the look of understanding she wears makes Cassian take a step back inside.
“He does that to me,” Gwyn goes on, looking lost as ever. “I don’t know why he does that to me.”
“First love will do that to anyone,” Nesta says.
This isn’t a conversation Cassian should be overhearing, he realizes. Turning around with his coffees, he goes to find Emerie and Azriel instead.
In the living area, Emerie realizes at the last minute that she’s missing her phone charger. By the time she finds it, Nesta and Gwyn have rejoined the group.
Cassian hands Nesta her still-warm coffee with a warmer smile. “You ready to get out of here?”
“Hell yes, baby.” She slings an arm around his waist.
They barely make it to the resort lobby before Azriel and Gwyn start arguing over which route to take home.
“Why would you add an extra hour to your trip for no reason?” Azriel is saying.
“It’s none of your business!” Gwyn retorts.
“She’s scared of highways,” Emerie inserts.
While they bicker on the way to check out, Cassian finds Nesta’s hand and runs a finger down her palm. “Hey, Nes?”
“Hm?” She looks up at him.
He curls his fingers around hers. “Thank you for doing this.”
a/n: i cant keep posting chapters right before i sit down to cry in front of kdramas
tagging: @hellasblessed @sjm-things @thewayshedreamed @drielecarla @valkyriewarriors @superspiritfestival @aliveahaahahafuck @cupcakey00 @sayosdreams @rainbowcheetah512 @claralady @thebluemartini @nessiantho @missing-merlin @duskandstarlight @lucy617 @sleeping-and-books @everything-that-i-love @cassianscool @swankii-art-teacher @wannawriteyouabook @awesomelena555 @julemmaes @wickedqueenoffantasy @poisonous-bloom @observationanxioustheorist @gisellefigue08 @courtofjurdan @theoverlyenthusiasticwriter @wolfiixxx @cass-nes @seashade @royaltykxx @illyrianundercover @queenestarcheron @monstrousloves-explodinggalaxies @humanexile @that-golden-lyre @agentsofsheilds @mercy-is-alive @cassiansbigwingspan @laylaameer01 @verypaleninja @maastrash @bow-dawn @perseusannabeth @dead-on-the-inside666 @jlinez @hungryreadingaddict @anidealiveson @planet-faerie @shallowhighwaters @ghostlyrose2 @chosenfamily-valkyriequeens @rarephloxes @readiajin @nessiantrashh @live-the-fangirl-life @ifinallygavein @xoblivisci @sjmships @jungtaekwoonie-is-life @lysandra-tiara @lanyjoy-13 @frosted-crackers @post-it-notes33 @loosingdreams @fromthelibraryofemilyj @18moneytoad @dontgetsalmonella @champanheandluxxury @togreblog @arinbelle @ladygabrielli1997 @meridainthedisneyland @moodymelanist @pixieelea
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Somewhere, Part 15
Over a month since the last update 🤭 -- I'm sorry, y'all! I will say this chapter is full of fluff and domesticity, so hopefully it was worth the wait at least!
Warnings for strong language, VERY brief mention of past trauma, and sexual content. NSFW.
A faint tickling against his nose chased Cassian out of sleep, making him huff a loud breath in annoyance. The last time he had been so content in bed was... well, it was the last time Nesta had been in Velaris. Damn, he was predictable.
The culprit was the woman herself. More specifically, rogue strands of her hair were dancing through the breeze from his ceiling fan and creating a delicate assault on his face. With the gentlest touch he could manage, he reached up to smooth her hair back over the pillow. Nesta didn’t so much as stir.
He was partially at fault for the bittersweet wake-up call. During their nap he had rolled from his back to curl around Nesta’s body, her head beneath his chin and face tucked into his chest. One of her arms was tucked tightly between them with the other slung over his waist.
Contentment settled into his bone marrow; until the idea that they hadn’t woken up that way every day since the first time seemed ridiculous. For the years since Nesta left, he had been wandering aimlessly through his life, searching for the feeling expanding within his rib cage in all the wrong places. It took finding the way to realize just how lost he was.
Cassian dared to shift a hand down her body to rest on her hip, his thumb swiping back and forth over the thin cotton of his t-shirt she wore. He wished he was above the simple, male satisfaction at seeing her in his clothes.
Unable to resist, he dipped his chin to place a long kiss to the part of her hair. Nesta stirred against his affections, tucking her face tightly into the hollow of his throat. The sound from her was no more than a breathy whimper, but it sent Cassian’s blood roaring. It was too familiar, too reminiscent of the inebriant sounds he had been blessed to hear during their nights together.
He squeezed his eyes shut, took a steadying breath. The last thing he wanted was to risk the integrity of his words from the night before by trying to sleep with Nesta the second he got her alone. Heart-to-heart conversation aside, things were still fresh. Telling her that he wasn’t sure he would ever get the chance to love her again had been the whole truth, and he wouldn’t ruin it.
There was no coming back from that pain again.
Nesta pulled her body tightly to his and threw a fair, long leg over his hip. The Cauldron was testing him, he thought bitterly. The timing was too divine.
Just like the woman in his bed, whose steel blue eyes alone could bring him to his knees. She was the closest thing to godliness Cassian could ever claim to be. Every instinct he possessed was imploring him to worship her.
His self-control had seen better days.
A loud, sustained rumbling jarred his attention. It was hours beyond when he usually ate breakfast, and his stomach was not at all impressed with the change in routine. He could be be thankful that one of his bodily functions seemed inclined to help.
Nesta’s delicate laugh from beneath his chin had his mouth tugging at the corners.
“Someone’s hungry.” She leaned back to look at him, a troublesome smile on her face.
Cassian flicked her nose softly. “I have someone holding me hostage in bed today. I’ve usually eaten twice by now, I’ll have you know.”
“Your sacrifice is noted and appreciated,” she rasped, her voice rough from sleep. The sound of it did nothing to cool his blood.
He used the backs of his fingers to push her long hair away from her neck and over her shoulder. "What can I make you?"
"A full breakfast sounds nice," she answered. "I'm thinking scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes maybe."
There was no resisting pressing his mouth to hers, not when she looked at him the way she was. Like waking up in his apartment was exactly where she needed to be, too. He rolled over her, resting his weight on his forearms to press kisses to her cheeks. It didn't take long for his lips to pass over her jaw and down to her neck.
"Nevermind. Let's stay here." Her slender fingers slid into his hair, scratching against his scalp and making his skin pebble.
"Nah," he teased, smile stretching against her collarbone. "You mentioned pancakes."
With a teasing glance, he hauled himself off of her to grab a t-shirt from his dresser. When he turned around, her full attention was fixed on his movements. Each of her curves paved painful temptation beneath his over-large tee, and her heavy-lidded stare wasn't helping. Nesta offered a bit of relief when she rolled roughly onto her stomach, shoving her face into his pillow in a show of defiance.
"I'm not ready to get up," she lamented dramatically. It was adorable.
Cassian chuckled as he traveled across the room. He rested his hand on the small of her back and bent down to nip her ear. Her reward was an indignant whine that threatened to make him laugh even harder.
"Stop being a brat," he ordered lowly, nipping her ear once more. He offered a swift tap on the ass for good measure. "I need you to help me if you want pancakes."
Nesta lifted her head to snap her teeth in his direction, but he was successful in dodging her with a laugh. His chest hadn't felt so light in months.
"I'll pull you out of this bed and carry you."
One blue eye glared at him from her spot on the pillow, daring him to follow through. He gave one more warning.
"Call Claire and ask her if I'm good for that promise. I think you know the answer."
Nesta turned her face into the pillow, groaning something that sounded like "stubborn brute." He'd been called worse, by Nesta especially. After an excessive amount of time, she finally pushed herself into a slumped, slightly pathetic kneeling position in the center of his bed.
"I'll still carry you if you want," he murmured, his mulish motivation shifting to a desire to care for her.
"I can walk." Her voice lacked its usual bite in favor of sleepy petulance. The smile on his face had the potential to freeze there forever at that rate. "Can I borrow a hair tie? Mine is somewhere in these sheets probably."
Cassian shifted into action, grabbing an elastic from atop his dresser and handing it off. Nesta stood clumsily from the bed to toss her hair into a high bun, and before he realized he'd reached for her, he had an arm wrapped around her waist to pull her against him. His thumb traced her bottom lip gently until she looked up to meet his gaze.
Her breath hitched, and her eyes searched his face as if waiting for the punchline. He hated anyone who ever made her skeptical of her truth.
"Thanks," she croaked.
Cassian dipped his head to press a lingering kiss to her lips before forcing himself to walk toward the kitchen. True to her word, Nesta followed. It impressed him that he didn't have to go searching for her once he turned his back. He half-expected to find her curled beneath his comforter once more.
Cassian blinked at her, struggling to land on her meaning. Once his lust addled brain caught up, he moved to grab the necessary cookware. "Yeah, that works. I'll do eggs and bacon, you do pancakes?"
"I think that's best if we want to be able to salvage the first few."
He stood to his full height, flicking his wrist to rotate the skillet handle in his palm. Point the pan in her direction, he said, "Don't be a snob or you'll cook your own eggs."
Nesta let out a sound of mock indignation before moving to the refrigerator to grab all the necessary food. "But you know I burn them!"
He couldn't help but trail his gaze over the long lines of her legs. His breath hitched when they landed on the hem of his shirt, balancing precariously at the edge of her ass. His free hand rubbed roughly down his face as he fought to focus on the task at hand.
A chaotic rattle against the his countertop recruited his attention. He found Nesta on tiptoe, trying to delicately deposit the many items she had balanced in her arms from the fridge. He placed the skillet on the burner to pre-heat quickly to shift over and help her.
"I would have helped you, you hardheaded woman."
"I know, but I had it. Want to get me a mixing bowl?"
Cassian moved to retrieve any items she needed to mix the pancake batter. Once she was settled, he got started on frying the bacon in contented silence. Nesta hummed to herself as she measured the dry ingredients of her batter, and it was the only sound in the kitchen aside from the sound of sizzling bacon.
He was lost deep in thought as he flipped the strips. Nesta's arms slid around his waist, making him startle a bit. He hadn't noticed that she finished the batter at the counter nearby, nor had he heard her approach. Amused laughter ghosted between his shoulder blades as she squeezed him tightly.
"I didn't mean to scare you," she laughed, placing a long kiss his back.
The feel of her lips, even with a layer of cotton between them and his skin, nearly unraveled him. He slid his free arm over where hers were crossed, shielding her from any potential grease spatter from the pan.
"You're really close to the pan, Nes." He dragged his fingers back and forth lazily near her elbow. "You'll get burnt."
"I should have known you would fuss over something."
Cassian finished his flipping and dropped the fork he used into the dish nearby. He turned within her grip to look down at the lighthearted provocation in her expression. "This is no laughing matter, Nesta." His tone was laced with humor even though his message was indeed a serious one. "I learned the hard way when I cooked bacon without a shirt on."
Her laugh was loud; her head thrown back and exposing her throat. His tongue darted out to wet his bottom lip despite himself.
"I'm serious. I have a scar on my stomach to prove it."
That sobered her expression quickly.
"I promise you, I'm not. Toward the left, a couple of inches away from my belly button. There was a little too much grease in the pan, and it popped me. Burned the shit out of me and took forever to heal."
Her eyes were large as she scanned him for any hint that he was kidding. When she found none, her jaw slackened in disbelief. "Show me."
Before his hand managed to reach for the hem of his t-shirt, Nesta shoved it up his torso. She scanned his exposed skin with rapt attention, ghosting the fingers of her other hand over the muscles of his stomach. She was trying to kill him.
"Oh my gods, is this it?" she demanded, running her thumb more firmly over the textured skin that was a shade too light. It was no larger than a dime, but it existed. That was enough to prove his case.
"That's the one."
Another soft laugh. "Poor baby," she cooed, placing a warm kiss over the scar.
An involuntary hiss left him, his hand lifting to cup her cheek of its own accord. Her mouth against the sensitive skin of his stomach sent his desire roiling with renewed vigor. Nesta's pupils dilated as she straightened to her full height, doing nothing to help matters.
With a rough clearing of his throat, he turned back toward the task at hand to allow Nesta to get started on pancakes. She hadn't been totally off base in her criticisms of his pancake-cooking abilities. The first few were always trial and error; some overdone, some not done enough, some the victims of a flipping disaster. He usually made a little more batter than necessary to accommodate his weak technique.
Nesta, on the other hand, was a seasoned pro. He supposed it was her methodical nature and the inherent patience that came along with it that made her so competent. Whatever it was, he hadn't bothered with pancakes since they broke up. His never compared.
They worked side-by-side through the rest of meal prep. Nesta poured each of them some juice before grabbing plates and utensils for them to serve themselves. They moved pretty effortlessly around the other as they worked. It made Cassian wonder if he was settling into the domesticity a little too quickly.
Both were ravenous by the time they sat at the table. Rather than sit across from one another, they sat bracketing one of the corners to eliminate any unnecessary space between them. Nesta wrapped her toned calves around his legs, offering a joyful, tightlipped smile around a mouthful of pancakes.
He loved nothing more than more than those moments, the vulnerability she dared. Maybe it seemed small to most, but Cassian knew her guard was down in immeasurable ways. He didn't dare take it for granted.
Seconds passed with Cassian nearly gawking at her before he cleared his throat. He took a long swig of juice before angling himself back, his elbow propped against the back of his chair. Something by his door caught his eye, and upon further inspection, he realized it was Nesta's suitcase from the hotel. She really had come straight from dropping Claire at the airport, and the thought made him smile.
"What's that look for?"
"What look? I don't have a look," he deflected, turning his full attention toward her again.
"You're looking at my stuff. Don't get weird about it. I just didn't want to stop by Feyre's on my way here and have to field any questions."
Cassian swallowed, eyeing her incredulously. Weird about it? The last thing he felt was weird about it.
He slid a hand in hers to tug her into his lap. Nesta was happy to shift over and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. With a steady hand, he pet the stray baby hairs away from her face.
"I really like seeing your stuff around. Nothing weird, I promise."
"So when I visit, I can stay here instead of with Feyre or Elain?" Her voice was full of jest, but her eyes flickered with a bit of concern, too.
"Is that a real question?" He leaned down to place a kiss just beneath her jaw, pretending the thought of her leaving didn't make him nauseous.
Her only response was that damned breathy whimper that had haunted him since they woke up. The temptation to slant his mouth roughly over hers was suffocating. Instead, he continued littering her neck with soft kisses and ran his fingers up and down her spine teasingly. The line he flirted was so thin, but all of his reason was leaving at an alarming rate.
Wordlessly, Nesta rose from his lap and took her intoxicating warmth with her. She offered her hands as she took steps backward, and the growing distance nearly hurt. He accepted her hands, dwarfing them in his larger ones. Nesta pulled them around to the small of her back and rested hers on each of his biceps. They paused their casual sway toward his bedroom in favor of tasting each other.
Cassian groaned against her mouth, fisting the t-shirt she wore to pull her flush against him. The back of her nails left goose bumps along the length of his shoulders before her fingers found their home threaded into his hair.
Their truth had caught up to them yet again, and for the first time in far too long, neither of them was running from it. Their mouths moved in languid affection as their footfalls began once more, carrying them closer and closer to his bed. Despite their progress, it still felt a world away. Cassian wrapped a long arm around her waist and used his other hand to brace the wall as he eased her against it. Nesta lifted her chin perfectly for him, easing her mouth open in silent invitation.
All thought emptied from his mind as he met the cruel warmth of her. He pinned his hips against hers in search of the friction they both craved, but what nearly unraveled him was her sharp, sudden tug on his hair. The risk that Nesta discounted his promises was increasingly tempting, but the consideration made him pull away and rest his forehead against hers.
"What's wrong?" Her hands moved to his shoulders, tracing his collarbones with her thumbs in a familiar gesture of comfort.
Cassian looked at her beneath his lowered brow, a soft smile tugging the corner of his mouth. "Nothing at all."
Conflict flashed across her face, and his heart stuttered. The bricks were being stacked to form her wall of defense. He could feel it.
"I mean, I understood you pulling away from me in the car last night. We were in public. And this morning we had things to talk about, but..." she trailed off, and her self-consciousness was a fist around his heart.
He wished his chest wasn't already heaving. "Nesta..."
"If you're not ready for this... especially with everything I've been through lately, I get it. Just tell me."
The misunderstanding shouldn't have been a surprise, but he was caught unaware anyway. Had he thought Nesta and he would have a couple of solid conversations and all their wounds would heal over with fresh, elastic skin? Healing was a process; he knew that, but he guessed deep down he had hoped. Hoped that something clicked, hoped maybe things could be easier for them now, hoped they had done their time in relationship purgatory.
His eyes scanned her face a second too long, and rigidity spread through her entire body. She was a snake coiled to strike or flee, and his odds to turn things around felt fewer and fewer. Unwilling to snowball down that mountain for the hundredth time, he cupped her face gently in his hands and waited until she finally looked at him.
If they were fated for relationship purgatory, he would take it forever over hell.
"Sweetheart, I have been ready for you— for us— since I met you," he assured her, willing every ounce of sincerity into his voice. He hadn't intended for it to drop to a whisper. "Please, just—I needed a second to get my thoughts together."
Her eyes danced, two tumultuous pools of blue, as she processed his words. Some of the stiffness left her body, easing Cassian's breathing closer and closer to a normal rate. Sliding his hands into her bound hair, he got to work on letting the strands loose.
"Well— I don't think I can say I was ready necessarily*."* Nesta huffed an ironic laugh, and the grip around his heart pulsed as if it may let go. *"*I had shit to figure out, but I've always wanted this."
He offered her a full smile and hoped it chased any of her lingering doubt away. Her expression gave nothing, so he dared to lower his head and press his lips to hers once more. Something in Nesta snapped then, her hands wrapping tightly in his shirt as she rose to press her mouth firmly to his.
Cassian twisted them, and somehow they stumbled the rest of the way to his room without any mishaps. Shedding their clothes happened so automatically that it was more of an afterthought. He eased her back on the mattress, crawling over to reclaim her mouth thoroughly. Nesta arched sharply into his body as his hands explored the smooth expanse of skin, keening as his callouses scraped over her breasts.
Fuck— those sounds.
He reached to cup her face in his hands once more, losing himself in kissing her senseless. She breathed her pleasure into his lungs with each shaky exhale, leaving him with the suspicion that oxygen alone would always feel inadequate.
His hands felt restless and insatiable. He needed to touch her, to maximize every sensory experience of their joining. It was never enough.
With one of his arms wrapped around her, he shifted his weight to lean on his elbow. His other hand was free to wander from its home on her cheek, and with one last sweep of his thumb along her cheekbone, he mindlessly ran his hand downward.
His thumb traced her jaw, pausing to tilt her chin up even closer to him, until his palm found its home against the side of her neck. His fingers had only just flexed to create a supportive arch along the very top of her spine, his thumb rubbing soothing circles along her soft skin, when he felt her flinch almost imperceptibly.
How could he be such an godsdamned idiot?
"Gods, Nes," he hissed. "I'm so sorry."
He made to lean back and take the offending hand with him, but she gripped his forearm firmly before he could retract it. "I'm okay."
"I wasn't thinking. I can't believe I—"
Nesta's voice was quiet, barely laced with the rasp of emotion. "I'm more than okay. I was surprised; that's all. I promise." She reached up to tuck a rogue piece of hair behind his ear, and he leaned heavily into her palm. "Those sins aren't yours. You don't have it in you on any level."
Cassian swallowed against the lump in his throat, marveling at the difference in this woman and the one who had shown up at his apartment all those weeks ago. He didn't trust himself to speak and chose instead to place a kiss to her palm.
"Plus," she whispered, her expression softening a bit more, "you love me too much."
There was so much— too much— that he could have said. Instead, he squeezed his eyes shut against his emotions before meeting her gaze. He smiled down at her, a little unsure of the divine intervention that brought her back to him. With the arm around her waist, he rolled them slowly and held her against his body.
"You love me, too."
She nodded vigorously, kissing him with matched intensity. With a shaky hand, she reached between them to guide him toward her entrance. It seemed neither of them were prepared to wait much longer.
Her eyes fluttered open as she pulled back from their kiss. She braced her hands against his chest to help her into a kneeling position, easing slowly onto his length. He felt his brow come together at the warm tension around his cock. There was nothing else, no one else, that could snag his attention from the sensation.
Cassian loosed a labored breath as she settled her hips into the cradle of his own. His hips rocked up into her, settling himself even deeper, but she placed a steadying hand against his lower abdomen.
A nod was all he could manage. There was very little she couldn't convince him to do while buried inside her, especially with so much affection written across her face. Fuck, she was so tight. She was perfect, frankly.
He groaned through the pleasure of her starting to move over him, her body rolling in a rhythm that spoke to some slumbering part of his soul. It was almost unbearable to not meet her movements with thrusts of his own, but the possibility that she stopped altogether gave him enough pause to see reason. Her hands gripped each of his tightly as she rode him, using his hold as an anchor with each pass of her hips.
"Can I touch you, sweetheart?" Gods, he was already struggling to breathe evenly. His emotions were an ambush, and he needed to feel her soft skin against his hands.
Nesta nodded, but she only released one of his hands. Her grip tightened on the other, her knuckles turning white in sharper contrast to his dark skin. He flexed his grip in return so that she knew he was there with her, just as wrecked as she was, and had no intention of letting her go.
His heart beat wildly, savagely. Raw longing and love came together to wreak havoc on his system, but he would trade it for nothing. Her cheek was warm in his palm as he held her stare, his attention fixed on the subtle gleam in her eyes. Before he realized the implication, a tear escaped to travel across her cheek. His thumb was quick to whisk it away.
She recovered quickly with newfound resolve in chasing their pleasure. The rhythm of her hips slowed as she dragged out each of her movements over his length, pulling the most indecent moan from deep in her chest. That sound alone had him twitching inside her.
"Cassian," she cried, her head rolling back as she lost herself in the feel of him. She moved his hand again to rest below her collarbone; her prompt to touch wherever he deemed fit. "Please."
The last word was more of a whimper, earning a barked curse from deep in his chest. With her head thrown back, her long hair brushed over his thighs and sheer willpower kept him from coming at the soft caress against his skin. He brushed his hand down her body in exploration; squeezing her breast softly, rolling her peaked nipple between his fingers, teasing her with the pads of his fingers against the curve of her waist. When he gripped her hip, her rhythm faltered the barest amount. The flood of sensations was wearing on her quickly.
That rhythm had been the only thing that kept him from exploding; his ability to anticipate her movements keeping him grounded. His hips jerked involuntarily, but he quickly settled down when her hips started to move in earnest. His eyes rolled beneath heavy lids, and if she kept working him that way, he didn't stand a chance.
Sex with Nesta was a blessing and a curse rolled into one. They had always been so in tune with the other as if reading each others' bodies as sheet music. Somehow they always found their timing, played their part in compliment to the other. The only downside was that even the most beautiful music came to an end eventually, and Cassian always loathed to separate from her when it did.
He forced his eyes open, otherwise he risked missing the moment she shattered. He had never seen anything as beautiful or intoxicating as Nesta Archeron coming in all his years. The possibility of his eyes being closed when it happened was abhorrent.
Nesta's head snapped up, and he noticed a slight sheen of sweat along her temples and across her chest. Her eyelids were heavy as looked down at him, her jaw relaxed as she approached release. The look and feel of her was divine.
"Baby," she cried out, her fingers digging into his forearm and the back of his palm.
He barked a soft curse as he threw his head back. If the term of endearment hadn't been threat enough, he felt her walls tightening like a vise around him. The next thing he heard snapped his attention back to the present.
"Baby," she moaned again. That time it was urgent, desperate. Her fingers twitched against his skin, and he knew she was close.
Her overwhelm spurred him into action, every one of his instincts burning to hold her through her pleasure. He pulled her gently against him, securing her to his body with his arm wrapped firmly around her waist. Nesta whimpered into the crook of his neck, and he threaded his other hand into her hair to hold her tightly. Her skin was warm, so warm, against his as she quickened her pace. Her hips jerked in anticipation of her climax, sharpened by Cassian tilting his hips slightly to keep them as flush as possible.
It was such a shame not to bear witness when she finally fell apart for him, but he didn't have it in him to complain.
Tucking his face into her neck, he whispered his praises against her skin. She held out as long as she could before her movements turned erratic, her sounds frenzied. Cassian started rolling his hips to meet her stroke for stroke, teetering so close to the edge that he could erupt any moment. At the feel of his pelvic bone grazing her clit, she cried out.
"Cass, I'm sorry. I'm going to—"
"It's okay," he assured her in a husky whisper. "I'm coming with you."
They hurdled over the edge together, clutching each other through each wave of pleasure. Cassian tightened his hold on her, angling his hips to slow their movements as they eased each other down.
Nesta's moans faded to soft whimpers as she gasped for breath. He pulled his hand free of her hair to brush it away from her face and neck, but he couldn't stomach loosening his grip around her waist. Not yet.
"Oh my god," she mumbled, pressing a kiss to his neck.
Cassian hummed his agreement, smoothing her hair still. If only she knew how thoroughly she had wrecked him.
After only the Mother knew how long, he settled his hands around her hips to lift her gently off of him with a sharp hiss from them both. Nesta's body was still heavy, pliant against him, so he eased her back down and wrapped his arms around her.
"Sweetheart," he murmured, pressing a kiss to the shell of her ear that made her shiver. "We should probably clean up."
Only a whimper from Nesta against the skin of his shoulder, making him chuckle quietly. "You want to go first? Or I can lay you down and bring a washcloth back."
Her silence spanned seconds, enough to make him glance at the ceiling as he considered whether or not she had fallen asleep.
A begrudged groan left her throat. "No, I'll go," she complained, pushing weakly into a sitting position over his hips. "Otherwise, I'm just giving you another reason to fuss over me."
Cassian shot an incredulous glare in her general direction until she climbed off of him and hauled her legs over the edge of the bed. Before she padded to the bathroom, she turned to look at him over her shoulder with a satisfied smirk. She always loved getting under his skin, whether that be on his nerves or in the biblical sense.
His voice was gravelly when he replied, unwilling to allow her the upper hand for long. "You didn't seem to mind me caring for you a few minutes ago."
"Oh, fuck off."
The loud bark of a laugh that left his mouth was a surprise even to him, but he caught the small smile she fought to hide as she walked toward his bathroom. Always so quick to prickle, his Nesta.
When she returned, he sat up only to catch her stealing his warmth and pulling the sheet up to her chest. She smiled up at him from her spot on the pillow, all annoyance clearly forgotten, and it took an aggressive internal pep talk to make his legs carry him to the bathroom. When he returned she was laying in the same spot, face soft and hair splayed around her like a golden crown. He leaned against the door frame with his arm crossed to take his time admiring the sight.
"I'm going to get spoiled to seeing you in my bed in no time."
Her eyelids fluttered open, angel kisses even to her own cheeks, he thought, and clutched the sheet delicately against her chest with one hand. With the other, she reached for him and offered a sated, sleepy smile. He grew inexplicably shy under her attention, looking down at the carpet before making his way over.
Rather than accept her outstretched hand, he planted his arms on the mattress to successfully haul himself over her. Nesta huffed a laugh as his weight jostled them and lended her help when he propped his head on a fist and pulled her flush to him. With a gentleness that rattled something in his ribcage, she eased the sheet over his lower half before settling into the warmth of his body.
Cassian lowered his head to press a lingering kiss to her forehead, her nose, and finally, her mouth. He meant to pull away and ease himself to the pillow next to her until Nesta reached up to thread her fingers into his tousled hair. The glide of them against his scalp sent a jolt of electricity down his spine.
His grip on her waist tightened, flexed, tightened again. Desire fought to hijack any sliver of his executive functioning with alarming ease, and rather than fight back, he led it carry him under. His vice moaned against his mouth, sending him tumbling, headfirst and willingly, into everything she was.
Her thigh slotted between his, providing an almost indecent friction to his stiffening length. His hips moved against her of their own volition as he bent his head even lower to deepen the kiss. Not a quarter hour had passed since he had her, but his hunger kindled as if months had passed. Maybe he was conditioned, to a certain degree, to respond to her affection readily. It would make sense after years of seeking as much of it as he could in the little time they could spend together.
He slid his hand beneath the sheet to feel every inch of her skin, tracing teasing patterns across her stomach. She was always so sensitive, so beautifully responsive when he payed it special attention. Any restraint to which she clung evaporated as she turned to press her body flush to his own.
With one simple motion she was something holy and everything sinful all at once.
A sudden noise, shrill and unwelcome, made them pull away sharply. Nesta's gasp roused his protective instincts, but he kept his expression even. The last thing he needed was another argument in her favor about his fussing tendencies.
"Fuck," he breathed, his shoulders relaxing when he realized the sound. His damned phone. "Ignore it. I'll get it later."
She was happy to oblige, picking up right where they left off until silence greeted them again. Her hand moved from his hair to drag her nails down his shoulder, and he was gone. Unaware of anything beyond her person, the sensations every part of her elicited from him, the sweet sounds she—
His phone rang again, somehow seeming louder that time. He resisted the urge to lunge for it and spike it against the floor. It had Nesta to thank for its salvation.
"Just answer it," she breathed, her forehead lowering to press against his chest.
With irritation only rivaled by a petulant toddler, Cassian leaned over to snatch the offender roughly from the bedside table.
"Hello?" He cringed at the tone of his voice, a razor's edge away from a full-on bark.
Nesta huffed a laugh against his skin, and the small action brought him back to earth. Granted, not by much.
"Hey." Surely his brother hadn't called him twice in a row for casual chit chat. "Are you bleeding?"
Confused silence was all that met him for a couple of seconds. "Am I bleeding? Why would I be bleeding?"
Nesta leaned back to look at him and mouthed an instruction to be nice. He could be be nice. It could be really nice to get off the fucking phone, too.
"You called me twice." A deep breath. The realization that he'd been particularly hard on Rhys as of late flooded him, and he felt a twinge of guilt.
The prick had the nerve to laugh casually. "Oh. No, I'm fine. I was checking in on you. I sent you a couple of texts after the wedding last night and a couple this morning, but I hadn't heard back. Feyre convinced me to call just in case. You're on speaker, by the way."
By the Mother, these Archeron women. Nesta's eyes grew large at the hint of her sister's voice she heard through the phone. Clearly neither of them wanted to deal with that conversation quite yet. In truth, he had no will to talk to Feyre at all with how hard he was beneath the damned sheet.
"Hey, Fey," he replied with a forced softness. Saying her name aloud put a hard reset on his senses, thank the gods.
"See? He's fine, Feyre Darling. I told you he probably hadn't checked his phone."
He had definitely been too hard on Rhys, he decided. Feyre rallied on nonetheless, and if he didn't love her to death, he would have throttled her.
"While I have you, do you know when Claire's flight was supposed to leave today?"
Genuine alarm flooded Nesta's face at her sister's question. His answer did nothing to help.
"Uhh— no. Claire didn't mention a specific time at the wedding. That's a better question for Nesta."
Said woman blinked up at him, frustration turning her eyes an even brighter blue. It was a little tragic how beautiful she was when she was mad at him. With a swiftness that left him without defense, she reached up to pinch the sensitive skin of his chest, only a couple of inches above his nipple.
Ow, he mouthed silently, glaring down at her.
Guilt made no pass over her features. Without a thought, he snatched her hand away and brought it to his mouth to offer a gentle bite to her knuckles. It was all a lot to navigate while trying to offer his attention to Feyre at the same time.
"That's what I thought, but she hasn't come home or answered her phone today. I didn't know if maybe she hadn't dropped Claire off yet."
Nesta glared at him with the promise of violence at the small hurt. He quickly shifted to press small, comforting kisses over where he'd bitten her.
I'm sorry, he mouthed. To his surprise, she relented pretty readily with an amused smile and rolled in search of her phone.
"Hmm," he responded, trying to buy time to process Feyre's worries. The youngest Archeron saved him from himself, much to his relief.
"Anyway— sorry. Not your problem. I just knew you walked them to their room last night and wasn't sure if they mentioned their plans."
"No need to apologize." He felt like such a dick for his deception.
"I'll check in with Elain. Maybe she's heard from her."
"Yeah, do that. Call me back if you need anything, okay?"
Feyre offered her thanks, and the call ended pretty soon after. Nesta had flopped back onto her back with a bit of space between them, staring at her phone with quite a few missed calls. She dropped the phone unceremoniously to the bed in a show of protest before covering her face with both of her hands.
A laugh, high-pitched and a little manic bubbled out of her. Despite the expansion in his chest at hearing the melodic, beautiful sound, he had to admit he struggled with the context. She dropped her hands and rolled toward him, her eyes sparkling.
"I've been so worried about how things would go when I finally told you how I felt," she explained, scooting back into his embrace. He really wanted to relax, but he wasn't sure of her direction. "I hadn't considered that we're going to have to drop that bomb on our families."
Cassian smiled in relief and affection, content to know she wasn't pulling away from the true reality of their conversation the previous night. Nesta's expression sobered, and he didn't resist his urge to cup her cheek in his large palm. Her gaze dipped to his chest.
"I mean, that's if you want to," she rambled. "And if so, only when we're both ready because—"
He tipped her head back and pressed a firm kiss to her mouth to stop the ridiculous sting of words pouring out of her.
"Shh," he chided, rolling over her to kiss her with more intention.
She whimpered into his mouth, a mix of want and relief that made his blood heat. He pulled back to look into the eyes that had centered his best dreams and chased away any of his nightmares. The eyes of the love of his life.
"Of course I want to," he murmured, running his nose along hers and bracing his hips between her legs. "Later."
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A Kinder Sea: Prologue
Summary: After the IC give Nesta an ultimatum Nesta chooses instead to support herself, cutting herself off from them completely and so begins Nesta’s journey of finding a job and falling in love with everyday life (Slice of Life/Fix-it Fic)
Masterlist, Chapter List
“I no longer know if I wish to drown myself in love, vodka, or the sea.” Franz Kafka
Nesta walked away from the estate with little more than her pride and her ale sodden shoes. Gods knew she didn’t leave with her sanity. In fact, sanity had not been present as she told her sister to sod off. Her youngest sister, who said she’d cared, but who wasn’t exactly convincing. To her other sister who Nesta supposed was supposed to be there but wasn’t even there in the room. To the others who judged so… blatantly for people who claimed to not be judging at all.
Hypocrites! She wanted to call them—probably did though she couldn’t remember the exact words she’d said. Her anger had roared louder than her thoughts and Nesta thought she might have covered her ears. Her rage like a mother comforting her child, yelling the bullies and the bold adults away. The one’s who’d forgotten who they’d been speaking to.
Nesta had not forgotten who she was.
So, she had given them an ultimatum.
They could keep their money and they’d leave her alone, or… they would never see her again. That was the other option, wasn’t it? The human lands. Well, she preferred to be hated in closer proximity, she’d told them. What did it matter if she was here or there? Without their money she was free.
They were under no obligation to give it to her, and she was under no obligation to sit there and endure the conversation. And it wasn’t hard to negotiate that when they were empty threats at best. They were counting on her approval, her agreement because she’d been drunk the night before, wasted and wasting a life, and there were four of them who sat so tall and powerful talking down to her, deciding for her what she could and could not do—what she could or could not feel.
Well, Nesta felt it all and she felt it clearly and most days she hoped to feel it again, because some nights she couldn’t feel anything at all. But somewhere in that heart of hers, she’d felt betrayed. Exposed. And a heart exposed was an easy target. She’d learn that when she was young and learned it well.
Maybe they wanted to never see her again. She often felt that way too.
Either way, she’d had enough of them… tired of them and of so many things, and she wasn’t going to be a dog on a leash, happily submitting to its owner after she was finished being trained and broken in. They should’ve known she wouldn’t submit.
But Nesta supposed they didn’t know her at all and now… they wouldn’t have the chance.
Good riddance, she told herself as she walked back to her apartment on the other side of town. She cursed them all for bringing her here as she laid a hand above her eyes, the sun shining too brightly. Her body already hurt from the trek, and Nesta cursed the cauldron for making her without wings among other things. But Nesta cursed life, itself, for the headache already beginning to form.
She’d have to… clean her apartment, probably. Look presentable. Look for a job. Try to stay upright and moving. Nesta doubted she’d have much of a chance when she was already exhausted, and she’d only made it down a few winding streets.
But she was on her own, and Nesta clung to that thought, as if she might hug the words enough to bring her comfort.
She was on her own and…
What else could she do?
@my-fan-side, @sophilightwood, @nestaarcher0n, @duskandstarlight, @soitsgorgeous, @ekaterinakostrova @swankii-art-teacher, @lordof-bloodshed, @arinbelle, @thewhelk,
I don’t know I just prefer Nesta angrier and more stubborn, and I suppose Nesta being angry would have actually made sense if she’d not been already at rock, rock bottom, where she’d stopped fighting. Because that’s what made the difference, one would think. But honestly, Nesta lost a lot of agency in her weakened mind frame in this book that I started thinking that wow her anger must have been a protection. A seemingly good one for how often she was used without it. I didn’t like that and I didn’t like acosf as you all know. So I’m keeping the aspects I like and dumping the rest.
This is my comfort fic now.
This eventually will get happier but I had to get this ugly part out of the way, which is why it’s super short and maybe not the most complicated thing I’ve ever written. Alas. I almost re-read the first six chapters, and omg I got angry like it was the first time. Had to stop that shit immediately. Never doing that again. So I wrote this and we move.
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Broken trust [angst]
Nessian week Day 1 - Promises
Summary: Angsty missing scene that takes place a month after the ending of ACOWAR
Tagging: @bookstantrash @zoyaslai @champanheandluxxury @pataytayo @nessiantrashh @nessianweek @dustjacketmusings @quinlars @saltydreamcollector @generalnesta @simpingfornestaarcheron @confusedfandomslut @arinbelle @a-court-of-valkyries @azrielsgirl @silvernesta @swoopingoccamy
A/N: I promise this is my last fic set during the books, I’m moving on starting now
Nesta had eternity before her. Infinite time at her disposal. Yet that entire month she spent waiting for him, still felt like a waste of her time.
It had all been palaver, promises made at the gates of death with no actual meaning behind them. And like the fool she was, Nesta had believed them.
I will find you in the next world —the next life. And we will have that time. I promise, he had said.
Perhaps, like a bargain, the trick was hidden in the wording. Maybe if they had died, Cassian and her would have had a chance.
Nesta cursed her own name for falling into his net with such ease. Cassian had never promised love of a long-lasting life together. He swore they would have time, and that was exactly what Nesta had wanted. Just a chance to know if the heat he ignited in her could become something bigger.
It didn’t matter now, because whatever that string pulling her towards Cassian was, it slowly faded into the ghost of an instinct inside her.
Nesta forced it to do so.
And Cassian wasn’t there to stop her.
It was knowing how easy she could have fallen for him had he kept any of his promises what hurt like an open wound. How weak she had become for a male she had talked to on counted occasions.
His words, whispered with what had felt like his last breath, had seeped between the cracks of her armor. She resented him for that, but in the end, Nesta only blamed herself.
She deserved it. The hurt, the shame and the solitude. She had earned every one of those things, and Cassian had let her know, back in the mortal lands when they first met.
Imprudently, Nesta let herself think his opinion on her could have changed, and the illyrian General had seen something in her he thought was worth discovering.
Naively, Nesta saw truth in what was only the lament of a dying male.
Stupidly, she had kissed him, momentarily forgetting that she was too awful to really be wanted like that.
Cassian had meant his words in the literal sense. In the next life, he would find her. In this one, Nesta was the least of his concerns.
Alone in the town house, Nesta found a suitcase in the empty room next to hers. It wasn’t particularly big, but it would do. It would have to, because she was not coming back once she crossed the threshold. Nesta carried it to her bed, and began packing.
With a little more violence than the dress deserved, Nesta shoved it inside. She pressed it down to the bottom, so the pile of barely folded clothing she had yet to put inside would fit.
The only idea that made her a little more indulgent with herself was to think that his decision to stay away was fuelled by regret.
Of course Cassian regretted his words. He never meant them.
She regretted believing him as well.
Then why did her crushed heart insist on remaining broken? Why wasn’t it healed, if she didn’t want him anymore?
No matter how many nights she spent awake trying to gain back control over her emotions, they flung free and without direction, hurting when they clashed against the walls of her chest. Indifferent to what she wanted, they couldn’t be contained nor digested.
There was no blocking this things away, because new questions without answer kept popping up. Nesta was out of her own control, just like everything else in life. Nesta hated her own weakness, she was bitter, and angry with herself. Nesta allowed that rage to consume her, burn whatever crossed its path, good or bad.
Because despite the brokenness of her heart, Nesta still found ways to excuse his betrayal, and that was too much for her to permit it. In her hatred for the loneliness, Nesta unwittingly found ways to justify his absence.
The experience of imminent death approaching wasn’t unfamiliar to her. She understood the level of dizziness one’s brain reached when everything seemed lost. Maybe it had been the adrenaline speaking. Perhaps Cassian, like many others, had allowed his mind to grapple at any thought to keep himself sane, and Nesta had been right in front of him to hang on onto.
Now Cassian was home, relatively safe, surrounded by people who actually had a place in his life. His absence in those spaces Nesta frequented made sense. She would avoid herself as well if she could.
Nesta still appreciated her sanity enough to understand what she needed: distance. At that point, there was nothing to do except accept that Cassian had made choices for the two of them, and whatever they could have shared, was not a possibility anymore.
She ought to leave and try her best to learn how to forget him as well. Now that one entire month had passed since the battle, Nesta didn’t find in herself the strength to shed a tear. She did what had always done, and locked everything he once meant in a corner where it couldn’t be found. One by one, Nesta picked each feeling that remotely resembled that sort of despair and tossed it into a pile of things to burn.
The good night of sleep she had when she was done, served as validation for her plan.
When she woke up that morning, Nesta realized she did no longer feel. She was empty. And with the memory of how being alive once felt, Cassian’s confession lost its meaning as well.
The last of her dresses was packed into the suitcase. Nesta gave herself a moment to consider what she was about to do. When she asked herself if abandoning her sister’s home was the right thing to do, nothing inside her was awake to answer.
It didn’t shock her at all to find only silence. Her sisters hadn’t come to her either after the war, for whatever reason.
It was sad, being forced to see her misery in this way: everything she owned —and she only owned it because it had been given to her— fitted in one bag.
From behind the veranda on the second floor, Nesta could see the entrance of the town house. She went for the stairs just as Cassian came through the front door. Wind followed him inside, shaking his shoulder-length hair.
Their eyes locked. Hazel irises followed her every step down the stairs until Nesta was only a few feet away. Cassian marked the suitcase in her hand and understood what it meant. As his fingers were still wrapped on the door knob, he tried to close the door.
“Keep it open” Nesta demanded. She didn’t bother saying “please”. It was not like he expected or deserved any kind of politeness from her anyway.
Frozen halfway through his movement, Cassian held the door for her, his burning gaze now fixed on her when she walked by his side and past him.
“Nesta...” he started to say something, but she didn’t look back to the male behind her.
Nesta only walked away from him, and everything he represented.
His hand grabbed her by the arm, and Nesta could feel the icy fingers through her thin jacket.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
Forced to stop, Nesta freed her arm with a tug and turned to face him, angry at the audacity. “That’s none of your business.”
“Where are you going?” he repeated. His blank expression was a reflection of hers. She still didn’t answer, “Nes, where— ”
“I’m leaving. I thought even a brute like you would be able to read the signs.” Nesta cocked her head, pointing at the suitcase in her hand.
The first hint of what was crossing Cassian’s mind became patent in his features. He straightened his back, towering over her with an angry expression that meant nothing to her.
“Just like that?” No heads-ups, no goodbyes?”
If he meant goodbyes to him or everyone in general, Nesta didn’t know, nor did she care enough to ask.
Her free hand became a fist. Nesta hated how easily he could get under her skin. Despite her best efforts to keep her tangle of feelings at bay, the ghost of a memory fought its way up from the back of her head, where it had been so carefully place and locked.
It didn’t spark doubts, it burned them down like a wildfire. It only made her more determine to get out of there and away from him.
“You didn’t come to–”
“Next time, Emissary, I’ll come say hello.”
Cassian had left to Adriata without giving her a chance to see him before. There had been nothing between them, anyway...
She had wanted to say goodbye. But that didn’t matter then, and didn’t matter now. History repeated itself, as Nesta put aside memories of both times when exchanges of words supposed to be departures, became promises for the future. A future he then abandoned, leaving Nesta to be the only passenger of a sinking boat.
“You would have had to be here for me to warn you about it” she spat the words at him. Instead of taking the blow and showing at least regret, Cassian frowned even more, eyes almost black.
“I thought you needed space.” the way he said it, it sounded like an accusation.
Her anger rose to meet his, insulted by how little care he had for her, and what she wanted for herself. Nesta had never said such thing, Cassian had drawn his own conclusions without checking. Not meeting his expectations was, apparently, her fault as well.
“Next time, come and ask me what I want.”
There was no way for her to keep living in a house sometimes so empty she had no alternative but to listen to the roaring of her own thoughts, darker every day.
When people filled the halls and rooms with life and laughter, it was almost worse. Nesta couldn’t deal with their happiness and how much of a distant concept it had become to her. Nesta had almost reached it, brushing her fingertips against the bright idea of a future to enjoy... to then lose it in the void her insides had become.
Cassian didn’t care enough to understand her to get that. He didn’t care enough to put his own bliss aside and take a moment to think how he and his friends looked in her eyes. Cassian cared too much for too many people already, and Nesta wasn’t enough of a reason for him to look inwards and see that their view of the world was not the only one.
Some people couldn’t get joy from being alive and remember with kind nostalgia what they had lost on the way. Some people, like Nesta, were still looking for a way to cope.
An entire month had passed, and Cassian hadn’t come to her. Not to say goodbye, much less to say hello. The realization hit her right then and there, that Cassian had been waiting for her to get out of her bubble on her own and join the lifestyle he already had. He would be waiting for her in the other side, but he expected her to use that time he was so generously gifting her without her asking for it, and make the way all on her own.
And that, Nesta couldn’t do. Not yet. Looking at him, framed by his tucked-in wings, Nesta didn’t think she even wanted to accept such a challenge only to someday in the future fit in the inflexibility of his world.
So if he wasn’t going to join her, there was no point to keep waiting for him to do so.
In the end, it had to be her. Putting on a mask of hatred that fitted too well for him to see it was pain what actually covered her face, Nesta took on her shoulders the responsibility of helping the two of them. He would be waiting forever, and she didn’t have the endurance to see Cassian realize his expectations for her would never become reality. She still loved herself enough to try not becoming a disappointment for one more person in her life.
She owed that little dignity to herself.
Cassian wouldn’t go away just because she asked him to. He didn’t respect people’s boundaries. He had to be, once again, the one who made the choice for both of them. He had to leave her, convinced that Nesta wasn’t worth the effort.
“Next time, come and ask me, and I’ll be happy to tell you that it is definitely not a low-born illyrian what I want.”
Nesta could read on his face that the insult hit home.
Giving a step back, he went inside the house again. Cassian didn’t look at her as he said his parting words “Then good fucking luck out there.”
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F*CK IT, NESTA ARCHERON WOULD BE SUCH A GOOD AUNT.
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paper rings [a nessian one-shot]
a/n: hey besties!! here’s some fluff for this fine saturday. i wrote this for my mate, my besta @vanserrasvalkyrie bc i love her to death and she deserves everything. i wrote this based on paper rings by taylor swift. enjoy!
acotar masterlist || masterlist of masterlists
When the sunlight hit his face, Cassian stretched with a groan and reached for his girlfriend. Girlfriend. Three years and he was still shocked that was the title he could call Nesta Archeron. When they met all those years ago, he could have sworn she hated him. He thought it might have been his high clouding his mind but no.
Nesta gave him the cold shoulder every time they hung out, though he never failed to sense her eyes on him when they were out with his friends. There was something about Nesta that always drew him to her. Some sort of gravitational pull that made her irresistible--even as she pushed him away.
Cassian frowned when he found that the other side of the bed was cold, his girlfriend long gone for the day. Blinking slowly, he wondered if she told him what she was up to today. Not that she needs to, but she usually gives him a heads up. His thoughts were pulled away when his phone chimed.
A single text message from Nesta read, Morning, babe. I’m out running errands with Feyre today. I’ll see you later. Xx
Cassian couldn’t help the grin that formed on his lips at her use of the word babe, and he used that energy to get out of bed and prepare for the day. The day that he hopes will bring him one step closer to calling Nesta his wife.
He dialed Rhys, putting the phone to his ear as he fastened his watch around his wrist. He smiled fondly at it, remembering the day Nesta gave it to him saying, “Your old watch is too loud. Use this.”
Rhys answered on the last ring with a labored, “Hello?” followed by a female yelp and giggle. His brother shushed her, but Cassian’s brows furrowed.
“Is that Feyre?”
Rhys cleared his throat, “Yeah, of course, why?”
“I just thought…” He trailed off. “Nevermind, brother. Is everything still set for tonight?”
He could practically hear Rhys rolling his eyes when he replied, “Yes, brother, we’ve been over it a thousand times. It’s going to be great.”
“Okay, okay. I’ll leave you two to… whatever I interrupted.” Cassian almost gagged hearing Rhys’ stifled groan of a goodbye as he hung up, patting his jacket pocket to feel for the ring one more time. He was about to grab his keys when he noticed a note on their side table, the elegant script telling him who left it. Smiling, he picked it up and read.
Do you remember the night we first met? I remember it vividly, probably because I wasn’t as stoned as you. But what I haven’t told you is that I went home and stalked you on the internet. Full on FBI mode. If you tell anyone, I will not hesitate to kill you. Sometimes I think about how I tried so hard to learn every detail I could about you without actually talking to you, but now I feel like I know more than I should.
We’ve shared a lot these past three years, and I have to say that one of my favorite hobbies to share with you is reading. The days we spend wasting away in bed reading side by side are the days I hope we will continue to share for the foreseeable future. While they aren’t my favorite, I do enjoy the war novels and thrillers you keep beside your bed. I think I’ve read all of them by now.
I skimmed Catch 22 this morning and was particularly intrigued by page 143.
It wasn’t signed, but Nesta’s perfume lingered on the page, igniting Cassian’s senses. The memories she wrote of came to the forefront of his mind. She was shy at first, not wanting him to know the sort of books she enjoyed reading with her friends. But one night he snuck one off her nightstand. Needless to say, they’ve had their fair share of experimentation based on a few of her novels. And when she read his books and talked excitedly with him, he thought he’d propose on the spot.
Cassian rushed to his bedside table and, sure enough, Catch 22 is on top. He flipped to the page she mentioned. Another note fell out along with a blue paint swatch. The color looked familiar, but he couldn’t figure out where he knew it from. Shrugging, he read the note.
Do you remember when Azriel made us all help him paint his room? My favorite memory of that day was the fact that there was more paint on us and our friends than there was on the walls. You, of course, had the brilliant idea of jumping into the pool of Az’s apartment complex. At 8PM. On a January evening. No one wanted to join you, for obvious reasons. I still think you’re an idiot for suggesting it. I still think you’re an idiot for actually doing it.
But then again, I followed. You may have jumped first, but I went in, too. I will always follow you, Cass, to the ends of the earth.
Will you follow me, too?
Yes. One hundred percent, yes. Cassian would follow Nesta to the ends of the earth and back. He’d slay dragons for her or just sit back while she conquered them herself. He couldn’t think of a time when his world didn’t revolve around Nesta. While they played games of cat and mouse when they first met, it was always Nesta. For him, he would always follow Nesta.
Will you follow me, too? He absolutely would. There were no other directions on the note, but Cassian knew exactly where he needed to go. Carefully folding the notes, he placed them in his pocket next to the ring. Giving the pocket another pat, he grabbed the keys to his truck and made his way through town. Azriel moved out long ago to live with his girlfriend, but Cassian still knew how to get to his old apartment complex.
That night was one of the best nights of Cassian’s life, but not for the reasons Nesta might be thinking. It was fun, definitely, swimming in that freezing pool, alcohol the only reason they didn’t feel the icy bite of the water. But that was the first night Nesta laughed and smiled with only him. Sure, before then, he had seen her radiant smile and heard her mesmerizing laugh with their friends. But with no one else around them in the pool, Cassian had relished in the fact that he was the reason for her happiness. It was the first time he had dared to hope for something more.
The apartment complex wasn’t gated, so Cassian drove right in, straight to the clubhouse pool. He hopped out of his truck, leaving it running idle, as he searched the area. He searched the chaise lounge chairs and tables but only saw a towel and duffel bag that someone left behind. He walked the perimeter of the pool itself. Still nothing. Did he get it wrong? Was he supposed to go somewhere else? Confused and frustrated, Cassian was about to give up when something at the bottom of the pool caught his eye: a ziploc bag anchored by a can of paint.
“You have got to be kidding me, Nes,” he mumbled to himself. Cassian went back to inspect the duffel bag, cursing his cruel girlfriend the whole way. When he unzipped the bag, a note was on top. Have fun getting wet, was all it said. Underneath was a pair of Cassian’s swim trunks and an extra pair of clothes. Accepting his fate, he changed in the restroom, and dove into the pool.
Pulling the paint can--the same color they painted Az’s room--to the surface was harder than he thought it would be, but eventually he was sitting on the edge of the pool, feet dangling in the water that was a lot warmer than it was that night. Shaking the moisture from the bag and his hands, he took out the note, slightly shorter than the rest. Nesta knows he’d be impatient and nearly irritable by now, and he loved her even more for thinking about that detail.
Nice day for a swim, right? I wish I could have been there to see it, but don’t worry, I’ll have you wet and shirtless in no time later. But in all seriousness, I had a lot of fun that night. Getting to know you better in the pool is one of the highlights of our relationship and it’s something I will never forget.
But let’s go back to the beginning. Meet me in the place it all began. I’ll always be waiting for you.
Cassian grinned and pushed himself up to dry off and change. He grabbed the clothes Nesta packed for him, pleased to know she knew his style, and meticulously transferred the small box from his jacket pocket to the front of his jeans.
Knowing exactly where to go, Cassian made his way to meet his future wife.
Nesta waited nervously on the dock of a lake just outside of Velaris. She clutched the final envelope in her hands, reminding herself every few minutes not to ruin it. She sat on a blanket, a basket filled with Cassian’s favorite foods. She tried to push doubt from snaking its way into her brain, but she couldn’t help it.
She had been dropping hints to Cassian for months now but to no avail. After Rhys proposed to Feyre six months ago, Nesta felt that tug in her heart that told her she was ready. She practically told Cassian as much. She made it a point to talk about Feyre’s wedding prep every day, asking what he would want if he was in their position. She even went as far as showing him rings.
But Cassian hasn’t made a single move. Nesta knows he loves her, but does he not see her as wife material? Does he only love her for now? Nesta didn’t think so, and she didn’t let herself believe that, but the seed of doubt is still there, waiting to grow. To counteract the doubt, she decided to take things into her own hands.
Hence the basket and the notes.
Her phone chimed with a text from Az telling her that Cassian just jumped into the pool. He got it on video. She laughed and asked him to let her know when Cassian left the apartment complex. While all of their friends were in on the event, Azriel was the only one she trusted to trail Cassian without being caught. Everyone else was tasked to decorate their apartment for a party after Cassian left on her scavenger hunt.
Nesta stood as she heard the sound of tires on gravel and braced herself as she watched Cassian step out of his truck and make his way towards her. Much to her amusement, she realized his hair was still a little damp from his impromptu swim, but he was also wearing the jeans and button down shirt she had packed for him as well. Nesta still counted herself lucky, praying to the Cauldron every day that this was the man that crashed into her life all those years ago.
Cassian stopped in front of her, surveying her from head to toe. His gaze sent shivers down her spine, but she stayed still as he scanned her set up on the dock, a smile gracing his lips as he most likely remembered what they’ve done out here. Multiple times.
Finally, he turned back to her and greeted her, “Hi, Nes.”
“Hey,” she said, voice low.
“What is all this?” He started to move towards her, but she held up her hand, nerves getting the best of her.
“I-- uh, we’ll get to that. But first,” she held up the note she held in her hand. “Last one.”
This time, he did step closer to her, but didn’t touch her yet. Ever observant, he knew she needed her space right now while her nerves went haywire. He stopped just in front of her, though, and asked, “Will you read it to me?”
Nesta’s eyes went wide, scanning the hazel ones she’d come to love so much. She saw only love and a hint of amusement staring back at her, so she whispered, “Okay,” and opened the envelope. With a few deep breaths, she began to read.
“Cassian. My best friend, my love. The biggest brute on the planet.
I don’t know how else to put this, but when I think about who I was when we first met, I can’t help but feel that I fell in love with you by accident. Don’t get me wrong, I am so glad that I did. But you know me, I hate accidents. I hate when things don’t go the way I want them to. And that’s you in a nutshell. I never know what’s going to happen, but I’m here for it, along for the ride for the rest of my life.
You know my past better than anyone else, even my sisters. All of the things that happened with Tomas… if none of that had happened, I wouldn’t have found you. I can even say I’m thankful for your past girlfriends, knowing that you wouldn’t be the man I know without them. We may fight, we may not be perfect, but that doesn’t stop me from loving you and hoping you love me in return.
Because I want it all, Cassian. I want you and all the complications you may come with. I want to kiss you randomly just because I can. I want to brighten your dreary Mondays, for you to wrap your arms around me while I cook, and everything in between.
You’re the one I want, Cass, in any way you’ll have me. Picture frames, dirty dreams, you name it.”
Nesta paused, steadying herself for the next part. She wiped the tears that started to fall from her eyes as she read. When she looked at Cassian, she could see the silver lining his own eyes as he gave her a watery smile. The smile she can’t imagine living without ever again. Steeling herself, she asked, “Are you going to make me do the knee thing?”
The corner of Cassian’s mouth turned up higher at that, decorating his face with that smirk that’s gotten him into so much trouble in the past. “You know how I like to see you on your knees in front of me, Nes,” he teased, making Nesta’s heart stutter.
“Brute,” she mumbled. “Fine.” Nesta adjusted her dress as she got down on one knee, holding the note in her palms. “I know this isn’t a shiny ring or anything fancy, but I don’t need any of that. I only need you, Cass. You’re the one I want until we’re taken to the next life and every moment after that as well. Will you marry me?”
Cassian hesitated for only a split second before he was on his knees in front of her, her face in his hands. “You stole my thunder,” he accused, his voice playful. When Nesta only stared at him with a cocked brow, he chuckled. She watched as he reached into his jean pocket and pulled out a small velvet, black box. Nesta couldn’t contain her gasp as he opened it to reveal a perfectly cut ruby set on a simple silver band. “You’re the only one for me, Nes. You’ve always been the only one for me.”
Nesta stared at the ring. “Cass…” she whispered.
“Are you sure you don’t want the shiny things? I can return this…”
“Don’t you dare,” she snapped. “Ring me.” Nesta stuck her left hand in Cassian’s face. He laughed but removed the ring from the box to slip it onto her ring finger.
They both watched in silence, the air buzzing with anticipation, as Cassian pushed the ring past her first knuckle then the second. Until it metaphorically clicked into place at the bottom of her finger.
A perfect fit.
Nesta launched herself at Cassian, tackling him to the deck with a searing kiss. Her heart thundered wildly, their tongues tangling as the words engaged, fiance, and future husband played on repeat in her mind like her favorite song. She pulled back to look down at her best friend, her everything, his eyes shining right back at her.
“I love you, Nes,” he said, voice low but thick with emotion.
“Until the end of time,” she replied with another kiss.
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Why Are You Hiding?
Warning: Contains content not suitable for some readers. Read at you own risk.
At the beginning of their relationship, a few of Nesta’s insecurities are revealed and while Cassian may not be able to fix what she sees in the mirror, but he can give her a nudge in the right direction.
It was the second time that they had sex that Cassian realized it— somehow, after everything they had been through, she was still self-conscious. It would have been endearing had Cassian been stupid.
He waited patiently at the door for her to return home, feeling more like a dog than anything. When she did come in, he pretended he hadn’t been pacing and gave her a grin. “How was it?”
She sighed, walking passed him, not seeing the way he reached for her. “It was good. The kids were great.” She had started a school for Illyrian children, whose parents hadn’t been able to afford to educate them. All ages were allowed, though the adult classes would be taught different days of the week. “You’d be amazed at how few of them even knew the alphabet.”
Cassian’s smile flickered. There had been a time when he hadn’t known the alphabet.
Nesta turned to him and caught the look before he could hide it. “You know, you could come in. Read to them. Show them all your shiny stuff.”
“Shiny stuff? You mean weapons?”
She laughed lightly, drifting into his arms. “Whatever you call it.”
He held her tight, breathing in the scent of her conditioner still clinging to her hair. “I missed you. You never left my mind while you were gone.”
She blushed, tucking her head just below his chin. “That doesn’t sound very productive.”
“Actually, I’ll have you know it was very productive.” He ran a hand down her arm to bring her fingers to his lips. “I couldn’t stop thinking about all the things I want to do to you.”
“Yes.” He lifted her chin between thumb and forefinger to kiss her lightly on the lips. “If you will let me.”
His kiss turned savage. He split open her tongue with his lips, delving into her mouth with the thirst of a man in a desert.
But he pulled back sooner than he was ready, overwhelmed with the thought of taking her to his room. Of taking her. Lifting her effortlessly, he earned himself a little gasp of surprise. He carried her up the stairs, his lips not once leaving her neck even to kick open the door.
Then he threw her on the bed.
Nesta laughed, propping herself on her elbows to watch him shed his shirt. He grinned at her, yanking her by the ankles to the edge of the bed. She sat up to kiss him properly, hands moving over his bare chest.
He, however, was more focused on her pants. “What the fuck is up with these buttons?” he growled before giving up and peeling them as well as her underwear from her.
Then he dipped his head to that glistening center of hers, pulling her legs around his shoulders. Last time, he hadn’t gotten to properly appreciate what a work of art she was, and he wasn’t proud of it. But now…
Nesta tugged on his hair, closing her legs before he could begin. “Just fuck me,” she breathed onto his mouth, fumbling with his trousers.
“I was getting to that,” he snarled softly, but let her nudge them down with her heels.
She gripped him, earning a soft moan. Then she whispered the words that undid him. “I need you inside me.”
“Fuck.” He slid his fingers into her wet heat, mouth on her neck. “Already so wet for me. My good girl.”
She groaned as he pumped his fingers in and out of her, preparing her for him. “Please,” she whined, pulling him forward. “Please, just fuck me.”
Cassian hummed, his body thrumming with a need to see her pleasure before he began on his. But… if that’s what she wanted.
Rolling onto his back, he brought Nesta with him, earning a hiss of displeasure.
‘What are you doing?” she growled.
He gripped the hem of her shirt, guiding it over her head. “I’ve had a long day. I want you on top tonight.”
Her eyes widened. “Cassian, I don’t know how….”
“I’ll teach you,” he murmured, sitting up to capture her mouth in his. “But tonight, I want to see you move.”
Her cheeks were crimson, so he kissed those too. But when he made to lay back down, she gripped his shoulders, lifting herself up to line up her entrance with him. They both moaned as she sank down to the hilt, her body trembling slightly. Gods, she was so tight like this. So fucking tight and warm. He thought he was going to combust.
Hands on her hips, he guided her into a simple rhythm. “That’s it. Just like that.” He kissed her throat as she groaned quietly. “Good girl.”
With that, he lay back down to watch the view, but Nesta stopped, covering her chest with her arms as she looked anywhere but his eyes.
“What is it?” he asked, shifting his hips slightly. “What’s wrong?”
“I just…” She didn’t answer, holding herself tighter.
Cassian propped himself on an elbow, studying her for a moment before he realized it. “Sweetheart, why are you hiding?”
She shook her head, biting down on the plushness of her lip.
Cassian, who had never seen her be anything other than confident, was shocked. So he took a different approach. Gripping her wrists, he guided her arms away from her chest, revealing those stunning breasts to him. She shuddered, nipples pebbling.
“Look at you,” he whispered, leaning in to take one in his mouth. “Absolutely stunning. Don’t you ever hide yourself from me. I want to see you.”
She pulled her arms away from him, covering her chest again. “It’s best that you don’t.”
“I’m not… I thought it would be easier if you didn’t have to look at all my imperfections.”
And there it was. Cassian cursed himself a fool. Last time had been quick— too quick. He’d been too focused on being inside of her, on making her understand. They hadn’t even full shed their clothes. He’d simply yanked down her pants and bent her over the counter, pausing only to prepare her for his entrance. Fuck.
“Get up,” Cassian said, lifting her off of him. “I want to show you something.”
Nesta slid from the bed, taking a sheet with her. Cassian sat on the edge, tugging on said sheet until she let go and it fluttered to the ground.
“Show me these ‘imperfections,’” he ordered, staring her down.
“Show me. I want to see what you’re talking about.”
Her lower lip wobbled a bit, but she brushed her thumbs under the swell of each breast. “There are stretch marks here and—” Her hands slid over her hips. “Here. And a scar from when I went after Feyre in the woods.” Down her ribs, it was barely visible. She clutched her stomach. “There’s too much extra fat. I don’t have the waist I once did. And my hips are too long. My breasts aren’t the same size. My thighs are too vein-ey”
Cassian took it all in, eyes following every detail she pointed out. He kept his face carefully neutral until she was finished. Then he pulled her closer. Leaning down, he pressed a kiss to that scar on her ribs. “This means you are an incredible sister. It means you fought.” He kissed the underside of each breast, hands sliding over her hips. “These mean that you are so incredible, your skin struggled to contain it. They are a reflection of how much soul is trapped inside.” He traced a stretch mark across her the back of her thigh in wonder. Then he went up to her stomach, where she had gripped it so hard that there were fading red fingerprints. “This means you’re finally healthy after struggling for so long.” A kiss to her hip. “These long hips and uneven breasts— not even noticeable. But they make you human. Seeing your imperfections makes you human and makes you perfect.” He ran his finger across the vein of one thigh. “And these show me that there is blood in there, pumping from a heart that could crush mountains. Nothing about you was made for you to be ashamed of.”
At the sound of a soft sniffle, he lifted his gaze to hers.
Tears were streaming down her cheeks. “I have my mother’s eyes.” Those words were enough for him to understand. He had heard of her mother from Feyre— the cold hearted woman who left behind three girls that would never get to know the proper embrace of a parent.
Cassian wiped away those tears, even if they kept coming. “No. You have eyes like silver flames. You have eyes that could swallow me whole. You have Nesta’s eyes.”
She brought her hands up, but not to cover herself this time. Those elegant fingers wrapped around his wrists, not to pull them away, but just to hold.
He tugged her closer, wrapping his arms around her to rest his head over that beating heart. Her body trembled slightly in his embrace, but for only a moment before her arms came around his head.
“I know you don’t fully believe me,” he said, pulling back, “but I hope you will in time.”
“For now, however, you will let me worship you properly.”
Tags: @a-trifling-matter @vanilla28 @texas-shaped-waffle-maker @illyrianwitchling13 @feyrheart @sarahjmaasslave @h-a-p-p-i-e-s @sadb1tch3000 @samuelcasera-blog @wanderlustlastsforever @catita09 @ @madie-max @gendryaforthemasses @nestaarxheron @imlumpingamazingstuff @silver-flames @awesomelena555 @ribhinnog @sannelovesreading @over300books @sayosdreams @illyrian-bookworm @perseusannabeth @ireallyshouldsleeprn @thalia-2-rose @my-fan-side @skychild29 @superspiritfestival
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Road Trip from Hell - pt 3
So, I'm not entirely happy with this chapter, and it makes me sad. I feel like my ADHD really shows in my writing and I hate it. But, I hope you enjoy anyway. Constructive criticism is always welcome.
Check AO3 link for TW.
Chapter 3 - What can go wrong...
Nesta blushes. Caussian stares. A fight ensues.
And what can go wrong, will.
She stared back at him, but he wouldn't step down, no matter how stupid that decision was. "At least I know how to stay on the right side of the road, boy."
He just waved her off, "Psychologists say it’s not healthy to obsess about stuff that happened ages ago, let it go."
No one laughed. Cassian frowned.
"Not funny, man"
"Yeah, that shit was scary."
"You're a really bad driver."
Nesta couldn't hold back her snort.
Read in AO3
Tag list: please let me know if you want to be added/removed.
@live-the-fangirl-life @mehx1000 @champanheandluxxury @silvernesta @swankii-art-teacher @a-court-of-valkyries @misswonderflower @snickerdoodlechittybangbang
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I'm thinking of doing a New Girl x Friends modern au fic with Nesta and her squad. I literally just started planning this so idk if I'll actually go through with it, but let me know if you'd be interested. It'll also be anti ic so no emorie (sorry I just can't stand mor), but it will have Lucien and Balthazar as well! I've never done a fic before but I'll do the best I can
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