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#nessian fic
tragically-broken · an hour ago
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Nessian Librarian/Professor Part4
Ship: Nessian  Type: Librarian/Professor AU  Rating: T Word Count: 1,439
Hey, y'all!! I'm so sorry I haven't updated in so long! I've been working on my own WIP and found it far too difficult to be in multiple worlds in my head at once, so I had to pause on my fic writing. Fortunately, I just finished my skeleton draft of my book and I am now taking a break to let it marinate before I dive into truly editing. This means I get to spend time on my fics again! YAY! Hopefully, I'll finish this full series soon but I won't make any promises. Hope you enjoy <3
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 
AO3
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Nesta was rearranging the study desks in the Quiet Room when Cassian came sauntering in.
“Hey, gorgeous!” He made his way to her, kissing her on the cheek. Nesta blushed and batted him away, eyes darting towards the door.
“Don’t let Amren see you!” She tugged him away to the corner where she knew the security cameras wouldn’t reach, and most importantly, where Amren couldn't see. She checked the doors one last time before she guided him to pin her against the corner wall.
“Someone is eager today,” Cassian smirked, less than an inch from her lips.
“Shut up Cas.” Their moment was heated, electrified, and definitely not library-appropriate.
“I could get used to this,” Cassian muttered against her lips as she smiled up at him.
“What are you doing here anyway? You’re supposed to have one more class.” She reached up to twirl a strand of his hair that must’ve come loose from his bun during the day.
“Keeping tabs on me are you?” She pinched his arm playfully in response.
“Hey, hey!” Cassian laughed. “I canceled my last class since they did so well on their test last week. Their reward is a free day.”
“Lucky me.” Nesta beamed.
“Lucky us.” Cassian dipped down to kiss her again, bunching her skirt in his fists. Desire licked her skin as the fabric of her skirt was roughly dragged against her thighs and his tongue slipped deeper into her mouth. She moaned softly against his lips before remembering where she was. She reluctantly pulled away from him.
“Amren will notice my absence.” She breathed, lips lingering an inch from his.
“Better get going then,” he spoke softly against her lips. She never wanted to leave. She leaned in for another kiss and then backed away quickly, teasing him as she moved back into eyeshot of the security cameras.
“You little minx!” She laughed and made her way to the door when she was met with gold piercing eyes, not at all happy to see her.
“Hi, Amren. I just finished rearranging the desks.” Nesta brushed a stray hair behind her ear.
“So it seems.” She wasn’t looking at Nesta with those deadly eyes, she was looking at Cassian.
“Evening Amren.” Cassian nodded in her direction.
“Yes, how wonderful to know you can tell when the sun is going down.” Amren's face gave way to nothing but pure annoyance as she stared him down.
“Nothing gets past you!” Cassian smiled, completely unaffected by Amren.
“No. It doesn’t.” Amren’s eyes bore into his. Cassian seemed to decide that he preferred to be alive for the time being and leave immediately.
“Well, I’ll get out of your way and let you ladies finish up here.” Nesta could tell he resisted the urge to touch her as he passed but decided against it given their particular audience.
“How kind of you.” Cassian nodded at Amren and snuck behind her to get to the door. Only when he left completely did Amren look at Nesta.
Cassian mouthed “sorry” outside the glass door and then darted for the double door exit.
“Careful with that one. Many have tried, and none have succeeded.” Amren hadn’t moved an inch since she walked in, but somehow she overpowered any energy in the room.
“We’ve only just begun dating.” Netsa stuffed her hands in the pockets of her dress, feeling awkward talking about her personal life to someone she barely knew.
“Yes well, that seems to be where the trouble usually starts.” Was Amren even blinking?
“I appreciate the heads up, but I have everything under control.” Nesta tried to reassure her with a smile.
“Hmmm” Amren hummed to herself, not at all convinced as she eyed Nesta. “You have exceeded even my expectations since you arrived here to take over this position. Seeing as it’s the weekend, why don’t you head out early today. I can finish things up here.” Nesta looked at her in shock. Quite frankly, she had no idea what Amren thought of her. She was all sharp looks, judgmental glances, and blank stares. It was hard to get a read on her.
“Thank you Amren. I’ve enjoyed my job here and hope to continue doing so.”
“Very well.” Amren’s short heels clicked in a steady beat as she walked out before Nesta could wish her a good weekend. Her first instinct was to pull out her phone and text Cassian like a love-sick teenager, but she decided not to read too much into it.
N: Amren set me loose early!!
C: THE FIREDRAKE SET U FREE?! I was half-convinced she’d chain u there forever.
N: She’s more bark than bite.
C: I’ll take your word for it.
Nesta gathered her keys and wallet, shoving them in her purse to get ready to leave.
C: What do u think about staying at my place this weekend?
Nesta stopped in her tracks, staring at his message.
N: All weekend? Like, overnight?
C: Just an idea! Thought it might be fun.
Nesta hadn’t spent the night at a man’s house well, ever actually. Every Time she’d stayed at Thomas’s place, she’d wake up at sunrise and scurry home. She never felt comfortable living in his space. That should have been the first clue that he wasn’t the one for her. She’d made excuses and ignored her gut. Never again. She listened to her instincts now and her gut felt...fine? She found herself a bit nervous about morning breath and her early morning grumpiness, but other than that the idea of spending the weekend with Cassian sounded wonderful and all kinds of sinful if things went the way she thought they would.
C: I promise not to leave the toilet seat up :p
N: You better not.
C: Is that a yes, princess??
N: It’s a yes. Unless of course, I change my mind.
C: Challenge accepted. Not even you can turn down my killer breakfast skills!
N: We’ll see if you can put your money where your mouth is.
C: Oh, I can guarantee my mouth is more than capable. See you tonight ;)
Butterflies fluttered in Nesta’s stomach at the thought of sleeping under the same roof with Cassian let alone in the same bed. Her cheeks heated at the thought. Suddenly, a million thoughts crossed her mind at once about what she should wear, what she should pack, and whether or not it would be considered rude to bring a book with her. Her palms started to sweat as she walked outside and towards her car. Should she bring something sexy to wear or would that be too obvious? Did it matter? Come to think of it, she didn’t think she even had a scrap of lingerie anymore. She burned every memory of Thomas and that included all of her sensual attire. Nesta sighed as she turned the key to crank her car on. There were so many decisions to make that overwhelmed her, but then Cas’s face popped into her head. Suddenly, she realized her desire to know him, to be close to him, outweighed any nervousness she had. She smiled to herself as she started to drive home. The feeling in her chest was so unfamiliar to her. Was she falling in love with him? That couldn’t be true. It had only been a few weeks. Yet, she felt that feeling surge in her chest. And then the panic came.
She didn’t have time to fall in love. She had too many things she wanted to do first, things she wanted to be. She spent too long in her previous relationship putting her life on pause. She wouldn’t do that again. That decided it then. She wouldn’t tell Cas how she felt, she’d try not to get any more attached, and she’d do her best to appreciate the moment for what it was and nothing more. She refused to think about the future, or what could be. She would never again put her life on the back burner for someone else. She pulled up into her driveway, hustled into her house, and packed quickly without putting too much thought into her choices. She looked to her full-length mirror, overnight bag in hand, wearing workout spandex shorts and an oversized crop top. She took a deep breath. She could do this. She could have fun with a sexy professor without getting too attached and ruining her life. Right? She didn’t wait to answer her own question. She got back in her car, typed his address in her phone, and began to drive, hoping she wasn’t making another life-altering mistake.
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Thank you for reading! Feel free to let me know what you think, but please not ACOSF spoilers!!! I know I'm horrible and haven’t read it yet ajdhgkajdfh
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vidalinav · 19 hours ago
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I’ve always wanted to write a fic about Nesta finding the present that Cassian threw in the Sidra, randomly one day. 
In one scenario I imagined, Nesta just sees it stuck on the side, near the rocks, by the water in the river leading to the Sidra and she can’t easily reach it, so she ends up getting stuck trying. She ends up all muddy and wet by the end of it, and maybe she falls in, but she just doesn’t care because she succeeds in getting this little box.  
In another scenario, some creature, nymph, river monster, etc. gives it to her, because I have a weird fascination with Nesta being revered as holy by nature itself and the magical creatures of the world. She’s literally the only one that we know who’s blessed by the mother and that to me means you get bonus points with everything labeled “other,” nature, and the essence of magic, itself. 
In another scenario, she’s just walking on the shore one day, maybe in a more beachy location, maybe not even close to Velaris and it just ends up on the sand like a note in a bottle, as if the sea gifted it to her. Like this was always meant  for you.
But in all scenarios, the box is never wet, it’s been miraculously kept dry, and she takes it and she shows Cassian immediately. Super excited. It’s a treasure that she finds, you know and she opens it and it’s a little book and Nesta just thinks wow, this was meant for me. A gift. Fate. How did the ocean, the Sidra, the creature know that she liked books--that she would want this? She feels special, singled out, dare I say loved--this little shot of “the world maybe is not so bad, because I feel so cherished right now.” 
She’s bright and beaming as she shows Cassian, and Cassian sees that face and he cannot possibly tell her that he’s the one who got that for her and it’s the one he threw away. He doesn’t want to bring up that past, taint the moment with a memory, this miracle with a reality. He just stares at her and smiles so fondly, and she goes on rambling about how she wants to know where it came from, who wrote it, what it says. And Cassian tells her that he’s read something once about people finding these tiny book. That there’s only a few left in the world, written by the most ancient of creatures that could fit in a palm, and these books are the first ever written, the oldest books to survive. He tells her that he thinks she’s found one and Nesta just scoffs because she thinks he’s playing along, lying, poking fun, and Cassian doesn’t tell her he isn’t. He merely memorizes that look as she says that the book is hers now, detailing where she’s going to put it, and if she can find something magnifying enough to see the tiny script because she’s excited that she found it like fate gifted it to her--and Cassian, knowing what he knows, thinks that fate, the mother, or time itself gifted it back to her, because it always belonged to her. Just as he always belonged to her, too. And the entire time Cassian just thinks back on that moment--that they both managed to make it back home--him and the book, because it’s where they belong. To cherish Nesta as much as to be cherished by Nesta.   
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timesconvert · 21 hours ago
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I Kissed You When I Shouldn't Have
It had been a slow morning, culminating in a lunch with the inner circle in the humid dining room that made it feel as if he were dying a slow, painful death.
Azriel loved his family. He did.
That fact did not make it any easier to stomach the sight of Feyre and Rhys wrapped around each other, attempting to swallow the other whole. He was just thankful he wasn’t privy to the filth they were undoubtedly whispering to each other through the bond.
Cassian and Nesta weren’t as obvious, but the way they showed their love was loud, even outside of the bedroom. Cassian was attempting to discover the spots in which Nesta was ticklish and letting out a delighted yelp when he achieved his mission, followed by her shrieks and threats.
As annoying as it was, it made his heart ache. He yearned to be able to show such obvious affection for the person he loved. It was worse, Azriel thought, to be in love with someone and have them love you back but be unable to show it, than it was for that love to be unrequited.
After all, he would know.
He snuck a glance at her, reading quietly in an armchair next to him. Her golden-brown hair twisted into a coil that rested on the back of her neck, various strands escaping and catching the sunlight streaming through the windows; her brown eyes danced across the page and her mouth turning up gently at the corners as she read.
Looking at Elain made his heart ache in a different way. He wanted to hold her, to kiss her, to announce to the world that he loved her and she loved him.
But that wasn’t possible, and Azriel wasn’t sure it ever would be.
Mor looked as exasperated as he felt, twirling strands of her hair through her fingers as she pulled tongues at Rhys, who clocked her from over Feyre’s shoulder and stuck his finger up in return.
“Get a room!” Mor hollered.
Rhys did something that made Feyre make a most unladylike noise, leading her to blush scarlet and push him away from her.
Cassian sniggered. “Steady on, Rhys. I’m sure you don’t want us knowing the kinds of noises Feyre can make.”
Rhys issued forth a growl that sounded suspiciously like a suggestion that Cassian should stop talking if he wished for his tongue to remain in his mouth.
Azriel stood and stretched. “As entertaining as this live sex-show has been, I have a job to do.”
Without thinking, he bent down and kissed Elain gently on the mouth, tilting her chin up with a finger. It was only as he pulled away that he realised what he’d done.
He quickly cycled through the options available to him and arrived at the conclusion that each one ended with him getting his ass kicked.
There was only one thing for it.
He pivoted, and leant towards Mor, whose expression was mixture of curiosity and glee. She accepted his brief kiss, eyes sparkling with mischief.
Cassian made a stunned noise of disbelief, but Azriel knew every set of eyes in the room were on him.
He knew better than to attempt Nesta, for she’d surely gut him like a fish if he even so much as tried to kiss her.
And so Azriel strode towards Feyre, bending down to kiss her gallantly on the cheek. “My lady, I will take my leave now.”
Feyre nodded in stunned silence.
He all but sprinted from the room, leaving behind their whispers of speculation; all he could think of was how close he’d come to ruining everything. If Rhys ever found out, no matter how useful Azriel’s talents were, the only thing between him and oblivion would be Feyre.
That was if she wasn’t leading the charge for his head, though.
A soft giggle brought him out of his reverie, and he looked up to see Elain standing in front of him.
“I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be.” Elain, as always, spoke softly, but with a seriousness that suggested she knew more than anyone else ever would.
“If they find out, Rhys will have my head.”
Her hand rose to cup his cheek; unbidden, he angled his head into her touch.
“My spymaster.” Elain’s voice was musical, calling him home. “So serious.”
Words wouldn’t come; he simply smiled at her.
“They will find out, Azriel.”
He frowned.
No-one had yet figured out the intricate details of Elain’s abilities as a seer, but her warnings of the future had yet to fail to be true.
He chose not to share these concerns.
“I know. But for now-” he bent to kiss her cheek, nuzzling her neck, “you’re mine.”
“I wouldn’t want to be anyone else’s.”
***
I don't know why Azriel's inner monlogue is so rife with angst; this should have been a fluffy piece, and yet it's got angst. I hope you enjoy this little drabble, inspired by @sunlit-elain's post about Az accidentally kissing Elain in front of everyone and making up for it by kissing the rest of the inner circle.
kisses,
Jenn
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simpingfornestaarcheron · 21 hours ago
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A lil Nesta centric one shot with no title because I can’t choose one.
Listen I was in an angsty mood, okay? But not too angsty. Just the right amount of angst, ya know? To all the nessian whores of tumblr: this fic doesn’t feature our favorite bat boi. I am deeply sorry.
anyways as always English isn’t my mother tongue yadda yadda yadda
@sirendeepity my lovely beta
clicks ‘post’ and walks away. (look at me walking instead of running)
When Nesta was young, her mother had her take ballet classes. “Ballet is the foundation of dance”, she said. “If you want to be the best dancer in a ballroom and catch the attention of a potential suitor, you need to be better than the other ladies. Remember Nesta, you’re not dancing for fun, your goal is always to captivate and seduce a wealthy man. And to do so, your movements need to be graceful, elegant, flawless. And mastering ballet allows you to learn all this.” Nesta wasn’t particularly happy about having yet another portion of her free time taken away from her, but she had once heard some of the older girls who lived nearby talk about their ballet classes, and she was excited to finally have the chance to join them. Despite having two younger sisters, Nesta was a very lonely child. Her literature, history, science, music, and embroidery classes were private, and on top of that she also spent an hour a day with her mother to learn how to ‘be a proper lady’, which meant learning how to walk, talk, eat, dress, and a bunch of other things that doing wrong could apparently cause a scandal. Nesta’s favorite thing was learning how to braid her hair, mostly because her mother would sometimes brush it for her and run her hands through the strands. It was one of the rare times when she was allowed to simply be a child enjoying the attentions of her mum, and not a lady in training. But little Nesta wasn’t allowed to take classes with the other girls. Her mother had judged the ballet school they attended beneath her, and she’d hired a private teacher. “Only the best for my little queen.”
And so 7-year-old Nesta resigned herself to wear gloves and long-sleeved gowns even in the summer to hide the angry red lines that her new teacher would inevitably leave on her skin. After all, physical pain was the only way for her to learn, or at least that’s what her grandmother said. Surprisingly, her new teacher was nothing like her grandmother. She was still strict and almost never smiled, but she hadn’t hit her once. It’s only a matter of time, Nesta thought. One day I’m going to mess up a combination and she’ll pull out her wooden stick. But she never did, and Nesta kept holding her breath and wait for the day the storm would inevitably hit. And when it did, Nesta would know what to do. It had taken her a while to master this particular skill, but she had learned to split herself in two: the Nesta who was experiencing the pain and holding back her tears, and the Nesta who was far, far away, dancing in a ballroom where she was completely alone, no one to observe her, judge her, examine her pro and cons as if she was an inanimate object, a pretty doll with no thoughts and feelings of her own. And once her grandmother’s lesson was over, the two Nestas would slowly become one again. The pain was still there, she couldn’t avoid it completely, but it was easier this way. More bearable. Years had passed, her teacher still hadn’t pull out the wooden stick, and Nesta had started to believe that maybe the reason why the woman had never hit her was that she didn’t deserve punishment, that she was good at ballet. And as time passed, she started to think of these classes not as a mean to an end, but as a way to express herself. There were still rules and limits, of course, but she found that without the impending threat of physical pain those rules didn’t cage her. Moreover, since ballet wasn’t for ballrooms, she was never going to perform a variation in front of other people, no one was ever going to say I’m not marrying this girl because her turnout isn’t good or because she didn’t lift her leg high enough.  Somehow, Nesta had started dancing not for other people, but for herself. Because she liked it and she wanted to keep doing it. Her choice. Each class started with 45 minutes of barre, then centre. Since barre required staying in the same spot, only switching between left and right, Nesta initially thought that she was going to find it boring, but once she’d managed the basic steps she realized that she actually quite liked it. There was a certain comfort in knowing the sequence of the exercises, first plies, then tendues, jettées… It became a sort of ritual, during which she focused less on her body and more on her breathing. And then there was centre, where she learned the longer, more complex combinations. That was when the real dancing started, when she became one with the music and everything around her faded away, when she wasn’t Nesta Archeron, the prince of merchant’s firstborn, but Nesta, the girl who secretly hoped to live and travel and experience all the things she read about in her dear books. Each time, she hoped the music would never end. But it always did. Then one day, her mother decided to come and watch her dance. Nesta was excited to show her everything she’d learned, and she was already imagining the woman’s proud expression when she would realize that her daughter had mastered the art of ballet. But when the last notes of the song faded away and she lifted her eyes to her mother’s, all she was met with was disappointment and something else that she couldn’t quite read. The next day, when Nesta walked into the room where her lessons usually took place, she found it empty. She sat on the floor and began doing some stretches while she waited. In the distance, she heard footsteps coming towards her. Nesta remained sitting on the floor with her legs stretched in front of her, feet flexed, forehead on her knees, eyes closed. The footsteps grew closer and closer until they stopped right next to her. Nesta knew exactly who they belonged to, so she took a deep breath before slowly lifting her head. And when she did, her grandmother was staring at her. The music had stopped. It always did.    
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moodymelanist · a day ago
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mr. and mrs. archeron chapter 5 sneak peek part 2
sooooo because I moved this weekend I highly doubt I'll be able to post a new update today like I planned, so instead I'll feed y'all with another snippet from that chapter. I'm hoping to be able to post by Wednesday at the latest, but until then, I hope this can hold you over <3
read chapters one through four on ao3 here!
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“Before you ask, yes, the entire building has been evacuated. So have the two closest buildings,” Gwyn added. Nesta nodded at her in confirmation before leaning down to press the on button for the microphone.
“Sweetheart,” she greeted him, deciding to use his pet name for her. He whirled in the elevator, trying pinpoint the sound of the noise, but couldn’t figure out where it was coming from with just one word.
“Baby,” he replied. He finally found the small camera in one of the top corners and faced it with a shit-eating grin. “I missed you.”
“I missed you too,” she said back. “I’d miss you more if you hadn’t tried to kill me, though.”
Cassian rolled his eyes. “I told you it was an accident.”
“Pardon me for finding that difficult to believe,” she retorted. Even though he couldn’t see her, it didn’t stop the two of them from having a tense glaring competition until she cracked first.
“No Rhys and Azriel today?” she asked casually. Gwyn looked over and waggled her copper eyebrows suggestively, and Nesta had to quickly press the off button on the microphone at Emerie’s loud cackle.
“Oh, they’re around,” Cassian replied vaguely. “Azriel wanted me to tell Gwyn he said hello.”
tag list (lmk if you want to be added/removed): @live-the-fangirl-life | @nessiansimp | @bookologist | @simpingfornestaarcheron | @sayosdreams | @dealingdifferentdevils | @rowaelinismyotp | @arinbelle | @swankii-art-teacher | @ladygabrielli1997 | @teagoddess99 | @dontgetsalmonella | @champanheandluxxury | @chloepereyra | @bookstantrash
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callmestarky · a day ago
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The Runaway - 13
Nesta Archeron has earned herself banishment from Velaris and a one-way ticket to Illyria, courtesy of her little sister. Tired of having her agency stripped away, Nesta decides the time has come to strike out on her own and runs from the Night Court without a backwards glance.
Cassian bided his time with Nesta on his High Lady’s behalf. When he realizes that Nesta had set off without him, Cassian decides to take matters into his own hands. He is going to bring Nesta home. He’ll just have to find her first.
For readers 18+
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Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 
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Nesta 
The Cottage
The Autumn Court
  Nesta arose early that morning.
She’d spent the previous evening tossing and turning, but sleep remained elusive and hovered just out of reach. Her body may have desperately craved the sweet respite of slumber, but her mind was still too burdened to allow meaningful rest. Too often, she would replay the events of the evening, speculating on the motivations and machinations of the Illyrian who’d remained doggedly by her side. Cassian had occupied her waking thoughts, and then, even in the dead of night, she was unable to escape him entirely.
So Nesta kicked off the covers and rose to meet the day, well before the sun broke past the horizon. She’d bypassed the dining room entirely, choosing instead to make her way towards the stables to visit her favourite horse: a palomino named Fireheart. 
Eris had gifted Nesta the filly on her last birthday. Despite the somewhat fearsome name, Fireheart was the gentlest creature that she’d ever had the pleasure to know. 
She had passed many a day riding through the surrounding meadows. The Cauldron may not have bestowed Nesta with the gift of wings, but galloping through Autumn's fields was the closest Nesta could come to flying on her own. The wind in her hair, the sun of her face, and the freedom to venture wherever she chose were life-affirming. Nothing brought her as much easy joy as horseback riding.
So naturally, it broke her heart when Eris put a stop to her rides a few months prior. He reasoned that, for as long as the threat of the witches loomed overhead, it was too risky for Nesta to ride out alone. Helion had only warded the main grounds, not the surrounding meadows and trails, so she was potentially vulnerable to the witches' scrying whenever she rode out alone. Nesta relented, albeit begrudgingly, and tried to make do with visiting Fireheart in the stables as often as possible. 
And that was precisely where Eris found her, brushing down Fireheart before the groom took the filly out for morning exercise. 
“I was wondering where you had wandered off to,” Eris called out, the deep timbre of his voice breaking through her musings. “Although when I think on it, I really should have known to check here first.”
Nesta paused in the middle of her self-appointed task, glancing over a shoulder to find Eris leaning against the barn doors, arms folded across his chest while he watched her work. She briefly returned his gaze before returning to her endeavour.
“I wanted to visit Fireheart before her morning run.” She told him curtly. “The stables are within the bounds of Helion’s wards, so it’s safe enough for me out here.” She paused briefly as her slender fingers began to skillfully detangle the horse’s mane. “Unless, of course, you decided that I’m no longer qualified to do even this without appropriate supervision.”
Eris didn’t immediately respond to the snide taunt, and Nesta still refused to meet his gaze, so she continued with the task at hand as if unaffected. Faint footsteps broke the uncomfortable silence, signalling the High Lord’s approach over the straw-covered floor.
“You’re angry with me.” He noted hesitantly.
“Not angry,” She corrected, still not bothering to look up while working on a particularly troublesome knot. “I think annoyed more aptly describes the situation.” Nesta paused then, straightening to look Eris in the eye. “You and the Illyrian feel you have a better gauge of my abilities? That you understand my limitations better? That I can’t be trusted to run a simple job without escorts? Well, I should think you’d be pleased to find me out here, then. Alone and out of the way.”
Eris stilled at the scathing response, not bothering to hide his surprise at the hostile tone. He turned away, unused to her wrath and needing a moment to collect himself. His gaze eventually settled on a pile of haphazardly stacked equipment in the neighbouring tack room, his aristocratic profile highlighted by the grey morning light. 
“It was not my intent to insult you,” he began carefully, measuredly. “Nor is it my desire to control you, Nesta. I simply wish to see you safe.”    
“Am I unable to see to my own safety these days?” She asked caustically.
“Am I  reprehensible for taking steps to ensure your safety?” He answered without compunction, meeting her gaze once again. “I don’t wish to fight with you, not now. Not before we are to part ways, but surely you can understand  why  I’d want to see you with additional protection?” He dragged a hand through his red-gold locks, a rare show of frustration from a male who usually took an effort to mask such displays. “Gods, Nesta. It’s been mere days since Helion’s attack. I  hate the fact that you’re once again forced to leave the safety of Autumn. So hate me if you must, but I will not apologize for taking steps to see to your safety. I won’t do that. Not even for you.”  
Something in Eris’s impassioned speech cracked the ice in her chest, his blunt admission thawing the ice around her heart. In her rage, she did not pause to consider how Eris had been affected. The Autumn High Lord had been her constant companion ever since they were forced into this strange little accord. Their marriage may not be traditional, but she knew he cared for her. Had supported her on every occasion without hesitation or question. Of course, he was worried. 
And she’d been so busy wallowing in resentment that she neglected to consider the feelings of the one male who faithfully remained at her side. Worse than that, she’d allowed him to feel the sting of her tongue, and that certainly wouldn’t do.  
“I’m not angry with you,” She repeated, this time with conviction. “I’m not pleased with the situation, of course, but you’re hardly responsible for the way things worked out. And I’m sorry to make you think I felt otherwise. Truly I am.”  
Eris didn’t offer a reply, but he did give her that familiar grin - the one he seemed to reserve strictly for Nesta - as an implicit acceptance of her apology. Some of her tension eased at the gesture. They were back on familiar ground, and she took a moment to savour the comfortable comradery.   
But her work remained undone, so Nesta laboured quickly and efficiently, striving to complete her task. Eris was never one to sit idly around, and eventually, he wandered over to the tack room to poke through a recent shipment of equipment. He picked up a bridle, running his hands over the supple leather as a contemplative expression crossed his face.
“I know you miss riding. I thought, maybe when you return home, we can slip away to another court?” He offered. “We can hire a couple of horses and spend the day riding? I don’t think we can get into too much trouble if we’re back by nightfall. And we will be far from Autumn, so I’m not too worried about the witches finding you.”
Nesta looked up, quirking a brow at the suggestion.
“You don’t have faith in the grimoire?” She asked, giving the filly a final comb-through.
“It’s not that,” Eris demurred as he strolled back over. “The grimoire might hold the key to the witches’ secrets, but their brand of dark magic is hardly our area of expertise. It will probably take Rhysand’s people several days to decipher the book. Why don’t we use that time to our advantage?” He leaned against the stall door, watching Nesta finished up. “You’ve had little downtime lately. I think you deserve a little treat.”
She didn’t respond immediately; instead, she took time to consider the possible consequences of a last-minute trip. It wasn’t like Eris to shirk responsibilities. At least, not when it came to issues of this magnitude.  
“Admittedly, I should be the last person to question the wisdom of running away,” she confessed with a grin, giving Fireheart an affectionate scratch before gathering up her equipment and making her way out of the stall. “But I feel like one of us should be responsible here. This isn’t the best time to be running off. Do you truly think it’s a good idea?”
“I think it’s worth it,” He told her with a shrug, the weight of his voice at odds with his casual stance. “Spending time together? Just the two of us? That will always be important to me.” 
Nesta frowned as she dropped her equipment off in the tack room. Something in his voice, a trace of longing, made her pause. Eris didn’t often fall prey to fits of melancholy, and she wasn’t sure what brought on this sudden change. Perhaps the Queen’s ultimatum still weighed heavily on his mind. Maybe he still hadn’t reconciled the fallout from Helion’s attack? Either way, this certainly wasn’t the time to dwell on things, so she forced on a smile and attempted to lighten the mood.  
“Well then, a day of riding it is. I can pretend it’s a reward for not murdering the Illyrians.” She joked, strolling over to grab her jacket off of the wall.
“Can’t say that I’d blame you,” He muttered darkly.
The response was so low that she almost missed it, but an undercurrent in his voice made her again take pause. It was a different sort of tension, one that hadn’t been present a moment ago. Eris was angry. The signs were there, there, but subtle. The tightening of his jaw. The nearly imperceptible clenching of a fist. Simply mentioning the Illyrians had invoked his anger.
Her brows knitted together as she contemplated his odd reaction. It wasn’t her intention to upset Eris. It was meant to be a silly joke between friends. Sure, Eris and the Illyrians had an antagonistic relationship- that was nothing new, but the males had gotten along last night. Nesta had all but dismissed that particular issue. 
Clearly, that had been a mistake. 
“Did something happen?” Nesta asked as she slipped on her cloak, straightening the lines with a snap of the lapels.
“No,” he replied a little too quickly.  
And it was also a lie, judging by his brooding demeanour. Nesta turned to face him, hands on hips as she cast Eris an incredulous expression. Their entire relationship may have been built on a foundation of deception and coercion, but they worked hard to undo the sins of his father, making a point to always be honest with another. It wasn’t like him to be moody, and it wasn’t like him to lie. 
At least, not to her.
Eris took one look at the resolve on her face and sighed. “Nothing happened with the Illyrians, okay? I haven’t even seen them today.” He insisted before trailing off, a faraway look in his eyes. “It’s just… I don’t like the way he looks at you.”
Nesta blinked, startled. Whatever had been troubling Eris, she certainly wasn’t expecting that.  She opened her mouth, then closed it again, not quite sure how to respond. 
Eris studied her reaction before glancing away, his expression hardening. “I don’t like the way he looks at you, Nesta. The way he leers at you when he thinks no one else is paying attention. It’s like he…” he paused, swallowing. “It’s like he feels he has a claim on you.”
“Cassian doesn’t have a claim on me,” she blurted out, flustered. “No one has a claim on me. I am my own person.”
“I know that!” Eris snapped, finally returning her gaze. He appeared almost as angry as Nesta was uncomfortable, and she deeply regretted her decision to push the issue. “That bastard is so far below you that he doesn’t deserve to breathe the same air, and yet here he is, accompanying you to Spring.” He exhaled noisily, tearing a hand through his hair in exasperation, disheveling the customarily orderly locks. “The prick couldn’t have arranged it any better. And I have to sit back and allow it to happen because that bastard’s protection is better than none at all. So, no. Maybe I’m not okay, after all.”
Her throat bobbed as she regarded the male before her, unsure of the best way to console him. Not when she was equally troubled by Cassian’s behaviour, albeit for entirely different reasons, and she wasn’t about to start sharing those particular details with the High Lord of Autumn. 
Eris must have sensed her hesitancy as his own expression softened, and he tamped down on his anger once again. 
“He’s a presumptuous ass, but none of that is your fault. Fate has dealt us a rotten hand; you’re forced to accept his guardianship, and I must sit back and allow it.” He sniffed, returning to a semblance of familiarity. “Just take comfort by the fact we’ll be free of him shortly. We’ll send the whole lot of them back to Velaris once this business is over. Until then, I will grin and bear it.” He paused at that, a devilish glint in his eyes. “But I do hope you’ll give him a little hell, if only for my benefit.”
A smile tugged at her lips. 
“I won’t go easy on him, if only for you.” She vowed solemnly as if taking a sacred oath. It was the right thing to say, judging by his lopsided grin. “I was supposed to meet them at mid-morning. Would you care to walk me back?” 
Eris didn’t bother hiding his grimace as he opened up the barn door, allowing the overcast morning light to filter inside. He gestured for Nesta to exit, following close behind.
“I’m running late myself,” he told her ruefully. “I was supposed to head off with Rhysand, but I didn’t want to leave before speaking to you.”
“Oh,” she replied, not bothering to hide her disappointment. Perhaps it was pathetic, but she’d hope to have a familiar face at her side when joining Cassian.    
“Nayirah is down with them, keeping an eye on the Illyrians.” He paused before slyly adding. “I’m sure she’ll manage to keep them in the line.”
Nesta coughed, a vain attempt to cover her sudden bark of laughter. Not many had the constitution to face down the famed Illyrians of the Inner Circle, but Nayirah was one of the few who could hold her own. And last night, Nayirah had made it extremely clear that Cassian’s rakish charm did not sway her. Cassian may have played Nesta flawlessly, but she took heart that Nayirah’s handling of the Illyrian would offer a measure of recompense.
Nesta needn’t bother to cover her laughter. A glance to Eris confirmed he made no efforts to conceal his own amusement.  
“I should probably be on my way then,” She offered wryly. “If I tarry too long, your mother will completely eviscerate them. And while that’s tempting, I will also lose my protection.”
She made to leave towards the meeting place in the gardens when a warm hand on her wrist stopped her momentum.  
All traces of amusement had fled his face, replaced once again by sobering discontentment. Nesta lifted a brow, about to ask about the sudden change in demeanour, when he hastily pulled her into his arms.
“Just… come back to me,” he whispered into her hair.
She stayed there, frozen in his embrace. It wasn’t like him to offer physical comfort; he was more of a taciturn type of male. But Eris was also her staunch and steadfast friend, so she relaxed her muscles and eased into his embrace. Nesta closed her eyes and laid her head against his chest, listening to the steady beating of his heart.  
He’s right, Nesta thought despondently. Fate had indeed dealt us a bad hand. 
Eris seemed to realize he was holding her longer than was considered proper and quickly withdrew, dropping his hands as if burnt. Which was more than a little ironic, an irreverent part of her brain noted. He flushed slightly, running a hand through his hair as he cleared his throat.  
“Right, then.” He said collectively. As if the last thirty seconds never took place. “You should be off, then.”
He gave her a final, lingering perusal, his mask firmly back in place. And then he vanished without another word.
~
The sky was a bleak and sullen grey, coincidentally paralleling Nesta’s overall mood. Thick, ominous clouds began to gather on the horizon, the vague promise of an oncoming storm. The tempest was emerging from the south, the general direction of Spring borders, and Nesta would lay good odds that her small group was about to venture directly into the eye of the storm.  
Lovely, she thought with a grimace.  Just lovely. 
She stifled a sigh, mustered her resolve, and began heading towards the assembly point, determined to get the whole damn thing over with. While she wasn’t looking forward to dealing with Cassian, too much was at stake to allow one moody Illyrian to distract her, so she hefted her valise and followed the cobblestone path towards the waiting group.
She spotted the Illyrians first, huddled together with heads bent in hushed discourse. Lady Nayirah stood several paces away, arms crossed over her thin chest, making no efforts to hide her disapproving sneer while surveying the males. Something must have occurred for Nayirah to seethe so openly, and Nesta could easily guess the root cause of the problem. 
Namely, the hulking Illyrian who’d haunted her dreams far more often than she’d like to admit. 
The quiet murmur of conversation paused when they heard her approach. Three heads swivelled in her direction, tracking her movement as Nesta lifted her skirts and stepped onto the dewy morning grass.   
“I’m here,” Nesta belatedly announced, if only to break the awkward silence.
Cassian broke into a grin, and she felt the heat of his gaze as it swept over her. Knowing they were playing the part of road-weary travellers, Nesta had dressed in a simple linen blouse and skirt, her attire more in line with a travelling merchant’s daughter than that of a High Lord’s wife. But despite the modest clothing, Cassian’s gaze was no less reverent than the night before, when Nesta wore a gown of spun gold.
Her cheeks heated under his lingering gaze, and she cursed herself for responding to the male. Cassian had the temerity to meet her eyes, giving her that crooked grin as if sensing the direction of her thoughts.  
Nesta’s heart skipped a beat at his smile, and she cursed herself for that, too.
“Darling, you’ve finally arrived.” Lady Nayirah intoned, breaking through the strange thrall that Cassian held over her. 
Nesta blinked, quickly turning her attention to her mother-in-law. Nayirah's tone was airy and light, directly opposing the expression she wore before Nesta's arrival. Apparently, she'd been correct in assuming the Illyrians were the source of Nayirah's displeasure.  Huh.
"I hate the thought of you out there," Nayriah continued on. "I do wish you would reconsider this whole scheme. It is destined to fail."
"How so?" asked Cassian. 
"I would think a pair of Illyrians guards would be quite conspicuous." Nayriah maintained airily, pinning him with a frosty glare. "Your presence will only draw attention to my sweet girl, all but beckoning the Spring Court sentries to take a closer look. After all, Illyrians are widely known for their loyalty towards the Night Court. Since when does your kind take on mercenary roles?"   
“Illyrians are loyal to  Illyria.” Azriel corrected, his expression as unfathomable as his shadows. “It just happens to lie within the boundaries of the Night Court.” 
“As for mercenaries?” Cassian continued on seamlessly, “it might not be commonplace, but it does happen. The younger ones - the males who rail against the fetters of tradition - sometimes strike out on their own to seek fortune or glory outside of the legions. The war has shepherded plenty of young males away from their homes. What are two more?”
Lady Nayriah did not deign to respond; she’d merely glared at Cassian before shifting her gaze back to Nesta. The older female leaned forward to pluck a stray piece of straw off Nesta’s cloak, a pretense that closed the distance and ensured the following soft-spoken words would remain between them. 
“If for whatever reason you feel it’s imperative to slip their guard, come forthwith to Forest House. I will make a place for you among my ladies, keeping you hidden within plain sight and out of their grasp,” Nayriah whispered. She paused for a moment, making a show of smoothing down a few loose hairs in Nesta’s plait before issuing a final warning. “Do not trust the Illyrians, lamb.”
Nesta pulled back, frowning. Despite their sordid past with Eris, the dowager had never voiced misgivings about the Inner Circle.     If she genuinely mistrusted the Night Court - if she truly believed they would betray Autumn - Nayriah would have immediately put a stop to the whole endeavour. So why is she adamant that I separate myself from the Illyrians? What brought about this sudden change of opinion?
Before Nesta could follow up with a question, Nayriah withdrew and gave the Illyrians a final, icy glare. “Your priority is Lady Nesta’s safety. See that nothing happens to her.” 
It took substantial control not to wince at the admonishment. Lady Nayirah may be a member of the aristocracy, but that did not entitle her the right to order around high-ranking members of a neighbouring court. It was bad form and completely inappropriate. Both males were fierce warriors in their own right, not underlings to be ordered around. 
Thankfully, a stolen glance to the Illyrians confirmed that they took no insult to Nayirah’s behaviour. Both males schooled their faces into a sombre expression and gave the Lady an assenting nod. Nayirah held their gaze for a moment and then, apparently content with their reaction, and left without another word.  
The three of them remained quiet until Nayirah disappeared from sight. Nesta blew out a breath and then focused her attention on the waiting males. Azriel’s face remained an enigma, but that crafty smile was inching its way back across Cassian’s face. 
With Nayriah gone, there was no longer any reason to delay their departure. It was time to face off with Cassian, and there was little to be done about it. Her stomach flipped in anticipation, so Nesta stiffened her spine and attempted to bluff away her nervousness. When in doubt, fake confidence. 
“Sorry I’m late,” she offered in a tone that brokered no apology. “Something urgent came up that required my supervision.”
“Really?” asked Cassian, brows lifted in surprise. 
“No,” she responded flatly as she stepped to Azriel’s side.
Cassian blinked, momentarily nonplussed by her flippant remark. But, unfortunately, her icy comment did little to deter the male; if anything, he seemed to interpret it as the issue of a challenge. He gave her a sly, lazy grin. The type of grin guaranteed to bury itself under her skin. The kind of grin that made her want to scream. 
“I love it when you tease me.” He purred with astounding audacity. 
“Only in your dreams.” She volleyed back, unwilling to rise to the bait.   Refusing to. 
“Ahh, Sweetheart, any dreams featuring you usually involve a completely  different sort of teasing.” That wicked grin widened, and he leaned into her personal space to mummer. “We don’t often do a lot of talking in those types of dreams. Your mouth is usually otherwise occupied...” 
“Sounds more like a nightmare to me,” Nesta snapped, attempting to cut him off before he painted a picture for all of Autumn. 
He gave her a lingering perusal, one entirely inappropriate in mixed-company. “Are you sure about that? Back on Helion’s estate, I seem to recall you had an entirely different opinion on that matter.”
And with that cavalier statement, Nesta froze. The reality of his words sinking in. 
Oh. 
My. 
Gods. 
Nesta gasped at the sinful innuendo, eyes widening in offence. Blood rushed to her cheeks, and Nesta was wholly shocked that Cassian dared allude to such things in public. She sputtered, desperately searching for a way to refute his comment in a manner that didn’t also confirm her involvement in said transgression. 
Was it true? Well, yes. 
But there was no need to validate Cassian’s statement in front of witnesses. 
Fortunately, the Shawdowsinger - either taking pity on Nesta or sensing Cassian’s immediate demise - took advantage of her stunned silence to clasp both of their hands, thereby halting the incoming blow up.
“I think, perhaps, it’s best to head to the Spring Court now,” Azriel announced to no one in particular. 
He paused as if waiting for someone to object. It was all for naught; Nesta still hadn’t pulled herself together, and Cassian’s two remaining brain cells must have deduced that now was not the time for further comment as he finally shut his mouth.   
Satisfied that he made the correct call, the Spymaster gave himself a slight nod and then redoubled his grip on her hand. Nesta managed one last inhalation before Azriel’s shadows swirled forth and obscured her vision. 
And then, with no further fanfare, the trio departed for Spring.  
~
Just as Nesta had predicted, the oncoming storm was beginning to whip itself into a frenzy by the time their small group winnowed into the Spring Court. The rain had yet to break, but the gushing winds foreshadowed the arrival of a great, rising storm. Nesta tightened her grip on her valise - less the gusts pry it from her grasp - and took in their surroundings. 
Azriel had winnowed them to the outskirts of town, onto a beaten-down dirt road, surrounded by open meadows. There were no other fae in sight; she’d lay good odds that everyone already made their way indoors to seek shelter from the coming storm. A smattering of squat buildings stood waiting a short distance down the road.   
“The Inn just up ahead,” Cassian said, raising his voice to be heard over the mounting gales. “The plan is to rent a couple of rooms and then finalize our strategy.”
Nesta nodded in acknowledgement, elongating her strides to keep up with the Illyrian warriors. She’d barely taken three steps when Cassian reached out to retrieve her valise, and she threw him a frown in response. 
“I’ve got it. I don’t need you to carry my things.”
His eyes glimmered in amusement. “Oh, I’m more than aware of your capabilities, but we’re here as your servant, remember Mistress Tajana?” Cassian responded, putting extra emphasis on her chosen pseudonym. 
She rewarded him with a glare, still not over his little performance in Autumn.  
“Does that mean you’ll listen to directions for the first time in history?” She asked in a faux-astonishment. “Will wonders never cease.”
Azriel may have snickered at that, but it was hard to tell over the gusting winds. Cassian merely grinned, unfazed by her sarcasm, so Nesta relinquished the valise into his waiting hands.  
They walked in silence for the next few moments, slowly making their way to the tiny village, which consisted of a dozen weather-worn stone buildings. The little community was probably picturesque on fairer days, but presently the grey stone buildings blended almost seamlessly into the darkening sky, painting an overall depressing picture. The dirt road slowly transitioned into gravel, signalling their unofficial arrival into town.
From that point on, it wasn’t difficult to locate their destination. The Spymaster simply headed towards the most prominent building, where a battered sign proudly announced their arrival at the Jaded Pike Inn.  
Not a moment too soon, Nesta thought as heavy raindrops finally began to fall. It was little more than a mere sprinkling at present, but she had little doubt that a heavy deluge would quickly follow.     
Azriel pulled open the heavy wooden door, and she followed him inside, grateful to finally be out of the punishing wind.  
“Can I be of any service?” A friendly voice beckoned from her right. 
The three turned in unison towards the voice, finding its owner sitting behind the proprietor’s counter. The High Fae in question appeared to be middle age, displaying deep laugh lines which crinkled as he smiled up at them. The male’s eyes lingered on the Illyrian armour for a moment, but other than that, he seemed genuinely unbothered by her companion’s looming presence.  
Showtime, Nesta thought as she took a step forward.
“Yes, I require two rooms.” She requested, recalling the mannerisms of her youth. It had been decided that Nesta would play the part of a wealthy merchants’ daughter. Hardly a stretch of the imagination, but the alias would allow them freedom of movement without inviting too many questions. “Your best room for myself and a second for my men.” 
“You’re in luck! My daughter has just finished preparing our best rooms as we speak.” The proprietor said as he gave her small group an assessing gaze. “Are you or your companions hungry?  My wife is preparing lamb stew.  Her recipe is known throughout the land. Fae have travelled far and wide from all corners of Prythian to simply claim a taste.  Why don’t you come down to the dining room after settling in and see for yourself?
“That will be lovely,” Nesta said with feigned enthusiasm.
Satisfied no guest would go hungry under his watch, the Innkeeper began the process of registering two rooms for their use. Nesta signed in with a fake name and paid three nights' accommodations in advance.  If all went according to plan, they would've smuggled out the grimoire out of Spring long before dawn, but she was happy to spend extra coins if it helped mislead outsiders of their true purpose. The more the details of their visit were muddled, the better.  
After checking in, the Innkeeper directed them towards their assigned lodgings up on the second floor, the first two rooms on the right.  Nesta gave him a tight nod and headed over, expecting her companions to follow suit. But, instead, she made it about as far as the bottom of the narrow staircase before realizing she was alone.
A glance over her shoulder revealed the Illyrians stopped by the front entrance. No words were being spoken aloud, yet an entire silent conversation seemed to pass between the lifelong friends. Nesta furrowed her brows, confused about the sudden holdup. She was about to ask about the delay when Azriel straightened his shoulders and opened the door, unceremoniously heading back outside into the howling wind and rain.     
"What's that about?"
The easy-going grin resurfaced as Cassian sauntered up to her side. "Let's get settled." He deflected, placing a hand on the small of her back and gently guiding her back towards the staircase.
Her nervousness returned as she began to climb the staircase,  Cassian trailing closely behind.  She remained quiet until they reached the landing, and a glance down the hall confirmed that they were alone. 
"Is there something I need to be aware of?" She asked, her question punctuated by the roar of thunder.
"Nothing you need to worry about. Az is taking point on security at the moment." 
Which didn't answer her original question. Her frown deepened as she glanced towards the window, taking note of the rain beginning to slant against the window panes. They'd only just arrived in Spring; no one knew they were coming, and the witches needed more time to track her down. "Right now? In this weather?" 
"Yes, but you don't need to be concerned. He’s just following standard practice." Cassian said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "A little rain isn't enough to deter him."  
Cassian didn't seem overly concerned about imminent danger, so she tried to let it go. Of course, patrolling in the middle of a heavy rainstorm wasn't her idea of a good time, but she was hardly the expert. Still, it was awfully convenient for Azriel to leave on surveillance as soon they had a little downtime. That, coupled with Cassian's apparent dismissal of external threats, had Nesta eyeing him suspiciously. 
"I thought our priority was going over the plan for tonight's mission?" She reminded him, suddenly tired of these games.  
Cassian's cryptic gaze flew up to meet her. They regarded each other for a long moment, his eyes seemingly analyzing every minute detail of her expression. And then, finally, that damn grin slid off his face.
"It is, but all of that can wait." He told her, fixing her with a heavy stare. "We have unfinished business to take care of. You and I are going to talk." 
     ~~~~~~
Cassian
The Jaded Pike Inn
The Spring Court
If Cassian had thought Nesta Archeron was tense before he spoke, that had been nothing compared to now. She'd been a bundle of nervous energy since their initial meetup, and her tension had only increased as the day progressed. 
A small part of him couldn't help but feel responsible. It had been foolish to rile her up. He knew he was acting like an ass, yet he couldn't seem to stop himself. Nesta's flippant remarks had set him ablaze, and the sad truth of the matter was Cassian would rather feel the heat of her tongue instead of nothing at all. He was no better than a schoolboy, tugging on a girl's ponytail in a desperate bid for attention. 
But this was a different type of battle, and Nesta seemed to be steeling herself for a different kind of war. He cursed himself for putting her on the defensive once more. It had not been his intention; Cassian's impulsiveness was yet again working against his own best interest. 
Nesta's reaction was instantaneous; her stormy eyes became even more guarded, her expression fit for the gallows. His little mate was buttressing herself defensively, and Cassian had no one to blame but himself. The realization nettled, so the famed Illyrian warrior did the one thing that would lower her defences—the one thing she wouldn't expect.  
"I'm sorry," Cassian said, layering the truth of his conviction into every syllable. 
Whatever Nesta had been anticipating, it certainly hadn't been that. Surprise rippled across her beautiful face, her brows furrowing in disbelief. "And what, exactly, do you feel the need to apologize?" Nesta asked warily. Suspiciously.  
The thud of footsteps one level below momentarily drew his attention, a stark reminder that a public hallway was the last place they should be holding this conversation. 
"Let's get you inside." He said instead, taking the room key in his free hand and unlocking the door. 
Cassian let himself in first, his battle-honed instincts driving him to assess the space, to ensure the safety and security of his mate.  The room was spacious, substantially grander than he would expect from a sleepy village inn, with fresh-cut flowers scenting the air.  
He dropped Nesta's valise on the end of the enormous bed, taking a moment to run his hand over the soft white linens.  A small writing desk and chair sat beside the unlit hearth, completing the picture of a cozy room.  
It was, in all honesty, a charming little room. Under changed circumstances, Nesta would probably enjoy it here. Not his usual type of haunt, but he could make an exception for his mate. It was the sort of place Cassian could picture whisking Nesta away to. He would court her during the day - maybe take her dancing - then spend the night worshiping her body between those crisp linen sheets.  
It’s too bad that they’ll never allow us back once the proof of our thievery comes to light, he thought.  
“Don’t make yourself at home,” Nesta’s frosty voice intoned, breaking through his musings. He turned to find her staring him down from the opposite side of the room, arms crossed protectively over her chest. “You were about to offer an apology. I suggest you do so and then get out.”
Cassian met her gaze head-on, sitting down on the edge of the bed -if only to stop himself from going to her. “I said I owed you an apology, and I meant it. I said some things in anger. Things that I didn’t mean. Things that I’ve regretted from the moment I opened my mouth.”   
Nesta lifted her chin, unmoved. “Ahh, so you don’t consider me a faithless, hedonistic tart? Good to know.” She nodded towards the door. “Get out. 
He frowned. You knew it wouldn’t be easy. Knew you weren’t deserving of quick redemption. Cassian needed to go slow. Make her see that he wasn’t the enemy.
“I was angry, Nesta. I made a mistake.”
“A mistake, was it? Is that the Illyrian phrase for acting like an asshole?” She scoffed.
Cassian had the brief impulse to argue with her then. To explain the reasoning behind his actions, to remind her why he’d felt so humiliated and betrayed. But then he recalled the hurt in her eyes, and Cassian held his tongue. He’d cut her to the quick that night, and it would take much more than a half-assed apology before things would be made right between them. 
So he stood to full height and met her vicious gaze head-on. If she wanted to rage and rail at him, so be it. After all, it was simply payback for the injury he’d carelessly doled out. It was the least of what he deserved.  
“You were callous,” she said.
“Yes, I was.” He admitted, taking a step forward. 
“You were cruel.”
“Yes,” he agreed, another step forward. “I was.” 
Nesta pinched her lips together as she stared up at him, vexation simmering within those stormy eyes. Those plush lips thinned as she regarded him, seemingly taking his measure and weighing his words.  She held his gaze for a moment, then blew out a breath in exasperation.
“What are you playing at? I don’t understand your game here.” 
“This is no game,” Cassian said without artifice, taking the final step to bridge the gap between them. “There is no ploy or strategy. Not here. Not now.”
Something flashed in her eyes, dark and dubious, and she took a step back. “And what brought about this sudden change from two nights ago?” Nesta asked in a poor pantomime of indifference.
Dismay welled inside of him. He had done this.  He had been the one to upset his mate; the instinct to soothe her was near overwhelming. It took every ounce of control not to wrap his hand around Nesta’s dainty nape and pull her into his arms. 
So instead, he said: “I didn’t understand how things were back then.”
She raised a derisive brow. “And much has changed in such a short amount of time?”
Much had changed. His dreams had been both dashed and renewed. First, he’d found Nesta and then lost her in the space of a day. Then, just when doom seemed inevitable, his family had swooped in and pointed out the logical fallacies of the situation. Without their assistance, Nesta may have slipped through his fingers entirely. He owed them a vast debt of gratitude, but he needed to put things right with Nesta first.  
“Yes.” He said simply.
“Care to elaborate?” She asked, undaunted.  
"I was angry. I was… I was jealous." Though Cassian hated admitting to any vulnerability when it came to that ginger fuck, now was the time for honesty.  
"You were jealous?" She echoed, giving him a thoughtful gaze as she took a leisurely step to the side. He reflexively drew nearer, and they began circling each other. "But now your not?"
"No, I'm not jealous," Cassian confirmed, "because now I know the truth."
"And what is the truth?' She asked breathlessly.
“The truth that it’s a marriage of convenience,” Cassian said. His heart was in his throat now the hypothesis had finally been voiced, but he pushed down his hesitation and uncertainty and pressed forward. “And while you may have married Vanserra for political reasons, your heart doesn’t belong to him.”
Nesta stilled at that, her expression inscrutable. “You presume to know a lot about my marriage.” She said, confirming nothing. Revealing nothing.  
“I know enough,” he hedged. “I know that you do not share his bed. I know that you don’t actually yearn for that ginger fucker.”
And that was the wrong thing to say, judging the way her eyes shuttered at the insult. 
"You don't get to call him that," Nesta warned icily, her expression foreboding. 
Thunder rolled outside as if the cauldron itself was underscoring the unspoken threat, and Cassian raised a hand in defence.
"You're right, of course. This isn't about Eris," he backtracked. The less he thought about the ginger prick, the better. "This is about us." 
“Us? There is no us, Cassian.” She protested, her anger receding as quickly as it appeared, giving way to something else.  “What are we to each other? Adversaries, at the very least. I would hardly call us allies. Certainly not friends.” 
The tinge in her voice - a bit of longing, a bit of regret - cracked something deep within himself. Tell her. Tell her, you fool. 
“But we can be,” he prodded, easing in a little closer. Unwilling to frighten her away. “We can be very good together, you and I. If we only give ourselves a chance.” 
That gave her pause. Nesta fretted her lower lip, biting back against a surge of emotions that threatened to spill out of her. Threatened to overwhelm her. She didn’t speak, but a fissure seemed to appear—a crack in her icy facade, giving Cassian the first stirrings of hope. 
Encouraged, he pressed on. “We only have to take that step.”
“I… I don’t know.” Nesta said, but her voice was more hesitant than hopeless. 
“We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.” He insisted, moving until they were close enough to touch. Until he was nearly overcome by her enchanting scent. He took her small hand within his own, marvelling at the soft skin underneath his calloused fingertips.  
Nesta didn’t argue, appearing wholly transfixed on their joined hands. The slightest of creases emerged between her brows. “There is a lot to lose.” She said softly, almost to herself. 
“Then we have to fight for it. Fight for us,” Cassian said roughly, meaning every word. 
This was the heart of the matter. The very essence of his purpose here. Nesta Archeron had been born for him, and he, her. He’d impatiently awaited the arrival of his mate for over five centuries; he wouldn’t let her go without a fight.  
Daring everything, he cautiously placed his free hand on the swell of her hip. He paused long enough for her to protest or pull back. To signal that she didn’t want this, want him, but Nesta stayed in his arms. Willingly, purposefully stayed in his embrace. So he released her hand and lightly traced his fingers up her arm around her back, and she shivered in response. 
A private struggle seemed to play out upon her lovely face before she nodded to herself, near imperceptible. As if granting herself permission to feel, to need, to want. 
Heartened by her responsiveness, He gripped the linen of her dress and pulled her flush against him. She looked up to meet his gaze, eyes wide and guileless, and the last remaining dregs of hesitancy faded away. And then she let it all go, releasing herself from her self-imposed inhibitions, allowing herself to become lost in sensation. 
Nesta arched into him with a breathy inhalation, and Cassian could have wept from relief. He tightened his grip, the supple fabric of her dress ruching under his grasp, finally cradling the female he coveted above all else. 
He dipped his head to nuzzle the delicate skin of her throat, her pulse thrumming wildly beneath his lips. The lightest of touches had Nesta sucking in a shaky breath, had her pupils blown wide with desire.
“This feels right,” he said. His mantra. His promise.
Nesta’s response was nothing more than the breathiest of moans, but that little keening sound sent all comprehension flying out of his brain, and Cassian could think of nothing else but want and need and her, her, her.
They stumbled back into the wall, his trailing kisses becoming more demanding, more urgent. He stepped between her thighs and greedily nipped at the sensitive skin of her throat, eager to mark and aching to claim. He drew back to survey her; taking note of her flushed skin, her heaving breasts with a measure of male satisfaction. 
Nesta’s head fell against the wall with a soft thud, baring her neck in a wordless command to continue. After a small taste of this entanglement between them, she warned more, demanded more. He huffed a dark laugh and dropped a kiss onto the hollow of her throat, drawing out a little whine from her.  
“Patience, love,” he chided. 
As if he wasn’t as equally addled by desire. 
As if he wasn’t altogether desperate for her touch and taste.  
But Nesta, his devious little mate, disregarded his instructions entirely. Too impatient to wait for his returning caress, her eager hands set out to explore his body, learning the dips and planes of his torso. Even over his Illyrian leathers, her soft strokes were nearly enough to send him to his knees. In a moment of unexpected acumen, Cassian had the troubling realization that he would do pretty much anything if it meant Nesta would continue to touch him like that. 
Cauldron damn him, those clever hands were going to be the source of his undoing. Her sweeping explorations were enough to bring him to attention, straining against the laces of his trousers. And she knew it, too, judging by the wicked grin tugging at her lips. 
Oh, but if her gentle touches were enough to damn him to sweet perdition, he was dragging Nesta down with him.  
“Ahh, Sweetheart,” he admonished with a level of control that he absolutely did not possess, “don’t you want to be good for me?”
She tilted her head up at him, stormy eyes blinking in lust-addled bewilderment. “What do you mean- oh!”
Want barreled through him. Compelling him to be nearer, to get closer, closer, closer, so Cassian snarred Nesta around the waist and swept her up his body. Instinctively, she wrapped her legs around his waist, skirts falling around them, her unguarded face awash in sinful pleasure.
The knowledge that only the thinnest scrap of fabric separated him from her sex was the sweetest torment. He aligned his little female in his arms, ensuring she was comfortably braced against the wall, and then began rocking his hardness against her silk-covered sex. 
Nesta's question was quickly forgotten in a whirlwind of lust. She laced her hands around his neck, eyes fluttering closed as she became lost to everything but blissful gratification. 
"Be good for me, love. Be good, and I'll bring you such pleasure." He groaned, punctuating every sentence with a hard roll of his hips. 
Beyond words, nearly beyond intelligent thought, Nesta could do little more than arch into him. Ground herself against him as she chased after release.  
"Oh," she breathed, her throaty voice near unrecognizable. 
Her eyes were closed, cheeks flushed and feverish, and he knew without question that his female was as equally ensorcelled by Cassian as he was by her. Nothing felt more right than their connection. This was no fluke, no mistake; it was a gravitational force, unceasingly pulling them together. Just as they were always supposed to be.   
He slipped a hand under her skirts, between her thighs, and Cassian brushed the lightest of strokes against her silk panties. She cried out, tangling her hands within his hair as she frantically undulated against him, seeking out further friction. 
“Don’t stop,” she pleaded hoarsely. “Please don’t stop.”
That wanton, throaty plea went straight to his cock. Inexplicably, Cassian hardened even further, now boarding on the point of pain.  But his little mate was needy, and that wouldn’t do, so he redoubled his effort to ease her, increasing the pressure of his fingertips over dampening silk.  
Nesta tossed her head back, breasts rising and falling with every jagged breath, eyes squeezed shut as if enduring the sweetest pain.  She was well on the way to becoming undone, and Cassian drank in every blissful second. He could live another thousand years and never forget this expression on her face.   
“This is right,” he repeated against her neck. A reminder. A promise.  
Lost in ecstasy, Nesta could do little more than offer a shaky nod of confirmation. That singular gesture nearly made Cassian roar in triumph.  After so long, my mate finally sees the right of things. 
He shifted Nesta within his grip, hooking his fingers through the band of her panties. She’ll come on his fingers and then on his tongue. He’ll wring multiple orgasms out of her before finally feeling her come on his cock.  
“Gods, I can’t wait to taste you,” he rasped, dropping a kiss into the alluring dip of her shoulder. 
Nesta whimpered so sweetly, rose up to meet his fingers so eagerly that Cassian felt close to bursting. Embolden by her lustful writhing, he began sliding the silk panties down and off her long, shapely legs. He hungered to feast his eyes upon her, naked and waiting. Desire was driving him mad, making him whisper filthy things against her sweat-soaked skin. 
“The things I plan on doing to you. You belong here, Sweetheart; in my arms, on my cock. This... thing  ...between us makes sense.  We make sense.” He told her, near mindless with want. “You know I’m right. You feel this, too. It could only be us. You’ll never have this with Eris...”
His brain caught up with his mouth half a second after the words were uttered, but it was still a full second too late.  
Nesta’s eyes snapped open, and it was clear his reckless utterance had sliced right through her haze. They both stood frozen, rooted in place, as time seemed to come to a standstill. This single, terrible moment stretched out for eternity. The room stilled with a deafening silence, broken only by the sounds of their ragged breathing and the rain hitting the window panes.   
Fuck, fuck, fuck. How could he be so stupid? 
Their relationship was tenuous at best; its fledgling foundation had little more stability than house a card. There was no room for Vanserra between the two of them, so why did he foolishly,  gloatingly bring up the prick’s name?  
And how can he make things right, now? 
Unfortunately, the answer was not forthcoming, so he simply stared blankly at Nesta while trying to rack his brain. 
Thunder crashed outside the window, shattering the strange thrall between them, and then everything came crashing down. 
“Get off me!” Nesta hissed, giving him a push for good measure. “Get off!”
He stumbled back several feet, his last remaining wisps of ardour guttering out. Cassian threw his hands up defensively. Showing that he meant no harm. Showing that he wouldn’t hurt her. 
Or, at least, hurt her once more. 
“Nes,” he began, shame and anguish lacing his voice. 
“You don’t get to call me that. You’re not allowed to call me pet names in one breath, then spit in my face the next.” She snarled.
After stepping away to broaden the gap between them, Nesta began frantically setting her clothes to rights. Her actions were frenzied, as if performing the act could also obliterate every trace of their dalliance.
Shame roiled in his belly, sharp and biting. He was about to protest, explain that he’d never intended to throw that ill-begotten marriage in her face when a baleful glare from Nesta sent all arguments scattering to the wind. 
He had hurt her. His thoughtlessness had hurt her, and he’d only had himself to blame. So instead of protesting or offering weak explanations, Cassian gave Nesta what she deserved. 
“I’m sorry,” he said.
Nesta turned away from him as if she could no longer bear his sight. 
“I know; you’ve been saying that quite a lot lately,” she said, but the heat was receding from her voice. Replaced by something apathetic, replaced by something worse. “You should leave.”
“I know I said the wrong thing. I know I fucked up.” Cassian said, scrubbing a palm over his face.“Can we talk about it?”
“Just leave, Cassian.” 
He silently regarded her; his instinct propelled him to pull her into his arms, to kiss away the tears that threatened to fall. But Cassian had dismissed her wishes one too many times of late. It would be a fool’s errand to push her further. 
He made it as far as the door before pausing, unable to force himself past that final threshold. He knew it was better to keep his mouth shut. Knew he should respect Nesta’s wishes and walk away. 
But there was something he had to ask, first. 
“Do you know what it means? This connection between us?” He asked with dread. With hope.
Nesta didn’t turn to face him. Didn’t even acknowledge that he’d spoken a word. And then, just as he was about to leave, she spoke. 
“It means nothing, Cassian.”
“It’s not nothing,” he said softly. “This thing between us? It’s not nothing.”
She let out a laugh, low and dark and wet. 
“It doesn’t matter what this is. Or what you think this is. You believe it’s fate? I think it was just another cruel trick of the cauldron. It’s finale little  fuck you  when it cursed me into this life.” She said, sounding suspiciously close to tears. 
And though he’d been struck down multiple times in the heat of battle, none of that pain would ever compare to this. 
“But at the end of the day, it’s all the same. We are ill-fated and so mismatched, it’s almost laughable. It’s a mistake. This is nothing more than a mistake.” Her shoulders slumped, and then, listlessly, she added. “Please leave Cassian.”
And, this time, he listened.  
Tag lists: Please let me know if you wished to be added or removed. My original list crashed, so forgive me if I’ve missed posting you. 
@rhysandsdarlingfeyre
@inyourmindeye
@swankii-art-teacher
@laylaameer01
@wannawriteyouabook
@poisonous-bloom
@cupcakey00
@queenestarcheron
@wanderlustlastforever
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@caotica-e-quieta
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@romaisamaria
@perseusannabeth
@allilal
@cookiemonsterwholovesbooks
@the-state-of-insanity
@revinir-11
@darkshadowqueensrule
@hatemecozuaintme 
@queenestarcheron
@agentsofsheilds
 @amelie775
@allilalli
@inyourmindeye
@aesthetics-11
@bri-loves-sunflowers 
@trixdoc
@highladyofdreamcourt
@planet-faerie 
@superspiritfestival 
@erisisdaddy
@sv0430
@dealingdifferentdevils
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Here’s a short and sweet update of the post acosf nessian smut+fluff fic I posted last week. As always this is purely self indulgent, which means there’s 0 plot and 100% smuff(???)  😁 
Beware of the chaperone!
--
When Cassian awoke, the first thing he noticed was that the covers felt unusually heavy. He peered down at his chest and smiled at what he saw. Nesta was practically on top of him, still asleep, with her head on his chest and one of her legs thrown over his body. His arms were wrapped around her, holding her close. Cassian looked out the window and saw that the sun was already high in the sky, and he immediately regretted not setting up an alarm to avoid sleeping through the morning. Usually he was an early riser, but his body must have needed the extra sleep after the events of the past week. Cassian was planning on spending the entire morning with Nesta, making her breakfast in bed and worshiping her body, taking his time to taste every inch of her skin the way he had wanted to do on Solstice morning. If it wasn’t for his duties as General he wouldn’t leave the House for an entire week, but it was the day after the blood rite, and he was supposed to go to Illyria to check on things. He also needed to tell his people what had happened with Bryallin, and he wanted to know who exactly had kidnapped his mate and her friends in the middle of the night and thrown them in the forest. The thought of some males barging into Emeries’s house, grabbing three women from their beds and forcing them to participate in what was basically a fight to the death, made his blood boil. He wanted to hurt those males, them and everyone else who had tried to hurt his Nesta during the past week. Nesta must have felt the shift in his mood, because she started to stir and her breathing changed slightly. Her eyes were still closed, and he took the opportunity to admire her beautiful face. Cauldron, she was stunning. What had he done to deserve someone like her? He fought the urge to use his fingers to trace the slope of her nose, her cheekbones, her full lips. He wanted to know what she was thinking about in her sleep, if she was maybe dreaming about something, so he closed his eyes and tried to reach that golden thread that bounded their souls for eternity. He could see it, feel it, and on the other side of it, there she was. His mate.
When he opened his eyes, Nesta was looking at him. Their gazes locked, and he suddenly felt overwhelmed by his feelings for her. Never in his life had someone made him feel like the woman in his arms, this amazing, smart, brave, powerful, stubborn female who was now looking at him as if she knew the secrets of his soul. There was nothing he could do to stop the words coming out of his mouth. “I love you”, he rasped, his morning voice rendered even rougher by the tears threatening to spill from his eyes. Her answering smile was brighter than anything he’d ever seen, and he’d flown pretty close to the sun once. But Nesta wasn’t the sun. She was the moon, beautiful and mysterious, magical and unearthly, her silvery light and gravitational force pulling the strings of his heart.
“Took you long enough to say it back.”
Cassian was taken aback by her answer. Had he really never told her before? How could he have been so stupid? He’d loved Nesta since the first time he saw her, and the fact that he’d never told her how he felt made him want to punch himself. “Nesta, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry it took me this long to say it. I love you. I have loved you since the first moment I set eyes on you, and I never stopped.”
“Never? Not even when I was mean to you and pushed you away?”
“Not even then. And I’m not blameless, I’ve said and done my fair share of bad things to you.”
Nesta lifted a hand and placed it on his cheek, and he closed his eyes and leaned into her touch. “I forgive you”, she said. Cassian turned his head and kissed her palm, then took her hand in his and brought it to his mouth to kiss her knuckles and the tips of her fingers. There were no more words after that, they simply held each other close, Nesta’s fingers tracing the swirls of his tattoos, and his trailing up and down along her spine. This was different than the last time they had woken up together. This time there was no more uncertainty, no more fear, only the knowledge that they were made for each other, two puzzle pieces fitting together perfectly. “My mate”, she said, and he couldn’t help but smile and reach down to kiss her. “My mate”, he repeated, before deepening the kiss and rolling her underneath his body, careful of not crushing her. She responded eagerly, hands roaming his back and finding purchase in his hair. He pulled away slightly and smiled down at her. “I love you” , he said, before placing a kiss on her forehead. “I love you,”  a kiss on her nose. “I love you”, her cheek. “I love you”,  her jaw. “I love you”, the hollow of her throat, her collarbones, then each of her breasts, her stomach. “I love you”, he breathed on her skin, and then, eyes locked onto hers, he lowered his head between her thighs and started worshipping her.
 ---
Nesta had felt Cassian reach for the golden thread that bounded her soul to his. When she’d opened her eyes, she’d realized that she was sprawled on top of him, but he was so warm and so comfortable that the thought of moving was unbearable. Then Cassian’s eyes had met hers. Nesta had never known what her favorite color was. She liked blue and silver, and lately she’d developed a liking for the darkest shades of red, but that morning, staring into Cassian’s eyes, she suddenly knew with absolute certainty what her favorite color was.
When he’d finally said those three little words, it was like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She hadn’t realized that she had been waiting for him to say it back. It had felt natural then, to call him mate like she had done the day before, on Ramiel. Cassian’s answering smile had made her wonder if it was possible to die of happiness. For the longest time, Nesta thought she wasn’t made to receive the kind of love she read about in her novels, that no one would want to be with someone like her, someone twisted and broken and so incredibly different from brave Feyre and gentle Elain. But Cassian did. He wanted her, Nesta Archeron. It had taken her a long time to accept it, to stop pushing him away and allow him to get close to her. And now that she had, she never wanted to let him go.
 ---
 Cassian still hadn’t changed his mind: watching Nesta climax was like a religious experience. He had tasted her over and over during the past year, and now he wondered how he had made it for more than 500 years without her. He couldn’t get enough of her body, of the smoothness of her skin under his hands, the sweet sounds that came out of her beautiful mouth, the blush that spread over her chest and cheeks when he worshipped her body. But it was so much more than that. Her voice was a melody he wanted to listen to for the rest of his days, her brain a beautiful mystery to uncover. He was a starving man, and she was his life source.
After making her come twice on his tongue and fingers, he traced a path of kisses up her body until his face was level with hers. She grabbed his face between her hands and kissed him long and hard and hungry, then rolled them so she was straddling his hips.
“Yesterday you told me that you’d let me ride you on every surface of the House. Let’s start with this bed.”
She kissed him again, taking his lower lip between her teeth. Her hands were roaming his chest, and when she grazed one of his nipples his hips jerked involuntarily. Nesta tightened her legs on each side of his body to hold him still. “Patience, love”, she whispered in his ear, then started kissing his neck, biting and sucking at the sensitive skin. She kissed his collarbones, then his chest. She traced the outline of his right nipple with her tongue, then let her teeth graze it slightly, and he thought he might die if he had to wait much longer to be inside her. She kept kissing down his body until she reached his abs and Cauldron damn him, the look in her eyes was almost enough to make him come before she’d even touched him.
“Nesta, please I need-“ He couldn’t finish his sentence because her mouth was suddenly on him and he lost the ability to formulate any coherent thought. She took the tip in her mouth and swirled her tongue around it, then took more and more of him until he felt the flutter of her throat around his tip. His hands flew to her hair, guiding her movements but making sure she could stop whenever she wanted. She worked him the way she knew he liked, using her hand to reach what her mouth couldn’t. After a couple of minutes of her sweet torture, he couldn’t help but start moving his hips, chasing his pleasure. “I want to be inside you”, he said. She seemed to read the desperation in his tone, or maybe she craved to be joined with him as much as he did, because she released him from her mouth and straddled his hips again. Cassian buried his hands in her hair, bringing her face down to his and kissing her long and hard, tasting himself on her tongue. Nesta took him in her hand and aligned him with her entrance-
A knock sounded on the door. 
“Rhys asked me to remind you of your duties as General.”
“Fuck.”
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Author: how do i explain this plot line with a good scene.. i should remember to show, not tell
SJM: *Rhysand's 15 pages dissertation on how he knew about the mating bond and combing through everything he did since book 1 that now has to have a benevolent hidden motive so he can explain away everything that made his character problematic, now downright turning him into Saint Rhys, patron of star-flecked nights*
SJM: what do you mean.. show?
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ladynestaarcheron · 4 days ago
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Fears All the Way Down - Chapter Five
ao3 - masterpost
hello, my dears. here's chapter five, without too much fanfare. enjoy<3
---
The morning of her first self-defense lesson with Cassian, Nesta awakes to a cool breeze blowing in the scent of roses from her open window.
"Good morning," Nesta says, smiling slightly. "I guess you liked my gift."
She had finished it yesterday, in the jewelry-making session. It had taken her the better part of the day. A sort of cover for the cracked, broken part of the walls the Illyrians had destroyed. Golden and gleaming and prettier than the beige paint around it, but complementing all the same.
And now the House, apparently, is showing her affection for it: a new rose bush outside of her room, fat flowers dangling down over the top of her window. A very pretty frame for her already spectacular view of the city.
The House gives her different clothes today, too. A fitted shirt, and a knee-length loose skirt, with leggings underneath. As close to pants as she'll wear. By Cassian's slight approving nod when she meets him after breakfast, he approves.
"We'll be starting on the roof," he says, in lieu of a greeting.
She nods once. She remembers hearing him, back in that awful first week here-goodness, but it's not yet been a full month since then, and it feels so long ago-hearing him up there, throwing knives around or whatever it was he did. She guesses she'll soon find out.
The crispness of the morning mountain air hits her in full force, but Cassian doesn't act like it fazes him at all. In fact, judging by the way his wings spread slightly wider, he likes it.
"All right," he says. "Let's begin."
The hour ticks by, slowing and speeding up depending on moments when Cassian touches her. There's none of his usual chatter or teasing; he's serious and unsmiling. The training ring is probably sacred to him.
Serious and unsmiling, but not discouraging. He's generous with his praise when she achieves his simple tasks-too generous, she thinks, but perhaps he has some ulterior motive.
Or perhaps, a small voice inside her head says, he's relieved you'll finally know how to defend yourself, and he means it.
It's not as daunting as it had seemed at first, this self defense. He's good for their agreement; this isn't training. He takes all her weaknesses and her proposed attacker's strengths into consideration and shows her how to maneuver past it all. How to cause an assailant-even one as big and strong as he is-to let her go when they grab her arms tightly in front, how to move her legs when she's caught in a chokehold, and how to break free when someone grabs her from behind.
"I guess no one will be able to pull onto your hair, though," he muses, more to himself than to her. "Keep your arms at your sides; you don't want them to get in the way of this one," he adds, mercifully changing the subject too quickly before he can notice her expression.
No one can pull on her hair now, that's the whole point. But they had, they had, rough enough that strands came out and she had no way to escape. What if she had known these tricks then? Would she have had a prayer? Would she still be human? Elain? And what of Father, would he still be alive? Or would it not have mattered; only delayed her certain torture and death, because she had been human, and they had been Fae, and in the end, that was all-
"Arms like this, Nesta," Cassian says, switching from mock-assailant to instructor as he gently tucks her arms against her sides, and drawing her out of her head to the sound of his voice and the feel of his hands on hers, his body behind her. His wings block out the wind, and she can feel the warmth radiating from him to her core. "Because you don't want them to get in the way of when you break out...and why else?"
"So I don't use them to hurt myself," she says, repeating his words from earlier.
"Right...good. Let's do this one again. One last time."
She takes a deep breath.
"Ready?"
"Yes." She doesn't hesitate. She doesn't need to. He doesn't let her feel trapped.
"All right, I'm grabbing you now-good!"
For she is ready for him, this time. He wraps his arms around her from behind, his arms trapping hers at her elbows, and she instantly draws them in like he instructed. Without waiting for his prompting, she gathers her strength and throws her head upwards and backwards, like he had shown her, and then leaps away as his arms fly open.
"Good, Nesta!" he says, eyes shining as she turns around. He isn't hurt; he keeps moving away for this one so she doesn't do any real damage. "You would've hit his neck there...normally, I'd say go for the chin, but neck's really good...at that speed, with that force, really good..." He grins broadly at her, his first smile of the morning, and after an hour of being in instructor-Cassian's presence, she blinks at the easy switch.
"You did really well," he says, after handing her a glass of water. "Did you...how was it for you?"
She shrugs slightly. "All right." It wasn't fun. But it was hardly suffering. And the movements, following Cassian's instructions...a good way to keep herself focused.
"Would you...do you want to continue?" His voice is casual, but from the careful way he does not meet her eyes, she can tell he is tense.
"Yes," she says, trying to keep her voice casual too.
He brightens, and something inside her dims automatically. His...elation, relief, whatever this spark is, at seeing her agree to do this...it feels, somehow, as though she is doing something wrong. She is cheating or lying. She does not deserve this, is not worthy of his joy. Of him.
"It's not healthy to do workouts every day," he says, "especially...when you're in recovery."
When you're weak, he means. When one is ill and emaciated-even if she is getting better, and trying, it's not going to be enough-never enough-
"So I think...Mondays and Tuesdays...and Thursdays and Fridays? If you'd like to do this long term, I mean."
Nesta blinks. "How long-term?"
He shrugs. "Till you want to stop, I guess."
She purses her lips slightly. "Don't you have...I mean, will you be able to do this four times a week, indefinitely? Don't you have..." An occupation, she wants to say. Running the strongest military on their island, maybe one of the strongest in the world. "You don't have the time," she decides on instead.
He does it again. His deep hazel eyes latch onto hers and don't let her go. She doesn't have a prayer of looking away until he lets her. There's not enough self-defense lessons in the world for her to be strong enough to fight this off.
"I always have time for you, Nesta."
She shivers, and it doesn't have anything to do with the crisp wind under the weak October sun.
He moves his head, and lets her go.
"So tomorrow, then," he says.
"Tomorrow," she echoes. She doesn't stay to watch him fly off.
---
Nesta had done incredibly well. Spectacularly. And she had looked even better.
He had stayed up half the night before, wondering if she was going to show up in pants. She hadn't, but the skirt she had worn had gone only to her knees. The shortest he'd seen her in by far. And her black top...like a second skin. A healthier skin, almost normal. Not translucent any longer. Covering a softer body. More curves, like she used to have. Bones not protruding so much. Golden hair shining in the dim light, coiled and braided like a princess', like a queen's. She even has it up when she goes to sleep, he'd learned during her first week here. Does she ever wear it down? Only to bathe, probably. And what does she look like then, with this slight new weight, this perfect skin, this beautiful hair reaching he doesn't even know how far down...He'd only allowed himself a few moments of ogling her before violently shoving out all thoughts anywhere near the realm of lust from his mind. The training ring was not for this.
Feyre and Elain are beside themselves with happiness, as he knew they would be, when he tells them how it went.
"She agreed to more lessons," Feyre says in wonderment.
"It can only be a good thing," Elain says, tugging on a stray lock of hair.
"Yes," Feyre agrees. "But...maybe, considering...you know. Your history." She shoots him an apologetic look. "Maybe it'd be best if..."
Cassian's heart rate picks up. "You think someone else should teach her?" No, his instincts tell him. She had asked him. She wants him to do it.
But he knows he'll give in. If her sisters think it would be better...because it's her that matters. Not what he wants. What matters is her getting better.
Oh, but he knows he can be the person to help her. Or one of the people, at least. If she just lets him.
Mercifully, Feyre says, "No, no, not that. Just...maybe you could do with a chaperone? Azriel or-well, no, not Rhys. But maybe it would be good for Az to drop by occasionally...what do you think?"
"That's not a bad idea," he admits. A buffer. He could do with one.
"So, what are you teaching her, exactly?" Elain asks.
"Just some self defense. Breaking away from an assailant, today." But maybe, in time, he can convince her to do more. More general exercise, maybe even some offensive techniques. "There was something at the House," he adds. "On the wall where the Illyrians attacked."
"What?"
"This gold...thing. Covering the damage the Illyrians did to it." He clenches his jaw at the memory.
"I thought the House was magic now," Elain says. "Couldn't it have fixed itself up."
"Nesta made it," he says. "She told it she was going to fix it, so..."
The wall had been as fine as any other in the House, in any one of Rhys' homes, before the attack. Painted well, a warm beige, and decorated with any number of ornate pictures and mirrors and shelves for vases and whatnot. But now, the wall was white and bare but for the swirling metal covering the cracks and craters.
Cassian understands. If Nesta had made something for him, he'd want it to be the only thing people saw when they looked at him.
"She made something?" Feyre asks, eyes widening slightly.
"She did say she had that jewelery thing...she said she liked it."
"I never thought of Nesta as an artist before," Feyre says, quieter. "She never had any patience for painting when I showed her."
"Well, I'm sure she doesn't think of herself as an artist...I got the impression she liked it as a way to calm herself down."
"Do you think? What does she need calming down from? Is she-is she angry, do you think?"
Feyre and Elain continue to discuss Nesta and guess at her thoughts and motives while Cassian sits and desperately wishes he could only ask her.
---
Thalia asks to see her as soon as she's available, so Nesta tells Gwyn she'll see her after lunch and heads down to her office.
"Good morning," Thalia says, smiling up at her from her couch.
Nesta sits opposite her. "Hello."
"You're looking refreshed."
"I started...some self-defense. Just a little. With, um, Cassian." Does she know Cassian, Nesta wonders. Probably. He's the kind of person everyone knows.
"Really?" Thalia says, sounding impressed. "How wonderful!"
Nesta shrugs a little.
"Well, I think that comes at a perfect time, actually."
Nesta's eyes shoot up. "Why?" she asks, wary.
"I think I've settled on an idea to help you tackle your goals. I wanted to know what you think."
"All right," Nesta says, after a beat. "What is it?"
Thalia tilts her head back slightly, chin set. Oh, this should be good. "What do you think about keeping a log and schedule of trying new things?"
She sucks in her bottom lip before saying, "Trying new things? How does that help me with my goals?" It seems like Thalia is trying to push her own agenda over actually helping Nesta achieve hers.
"It'll get you in the habit of doing things you aren't used to," Thalia says, patient. "It'll keep you focused on something. It might bring new joys or interests into your life, perhaps personally, or perhaps by bonding with others. And it'll greatly increase your confidence and self-esteem."
Nesta blinks. "That's not one of my goals."
"I know, dear. It's one of mine."
Nesta looks down. "It's..." She forces herself to say the words she would normally just drown in inside her own mind. "Just hard to remember sometimes."
"What's hard to remember?" Gentle, not prodding.
She swallows hard. It sounds so stupid inside her head. How will it sound out loud? "That I'm actually supposed to...get better. Sometimes it feels like that's the wrong thing to do." She bites her tongue-she hadn't meant for that part to come out.
But Thalia never acts like what she's saying is pathetic, even if it is.
"How does it feel wrong?"
Nesta sighs. Not out of irritation over the question, just because she isn't quite sure how to answer. "It's...I don't know. Sometimes one just knows a thing is wrong."
"Hm," Thalia says. Considering, thoughtful. "Well, at any rate, your self-defense lesson today can count as your new thing for the day."
"Well-wait, for the day? You want me to do one new thing per day?"
Thalia's lip quirk. "How often did you think I was asking you?"
"I don't know. A week, maybe."
"I don't think so. Once a day, please. Don't forget to track them all. Write them down. Run along, now, Nesta, and if you could take these books with you? Thank you."
Gwyn finds her putting Thalia's books back on the fifth level. "So, how did it go with Thalia? And with your training session with Lord Cassian?"
Lord Cassian. She'll never get used to that. "News travels fast, I see," she says primly.
"You know it does. How did it go?"
"It went...all right."
"Which one?" Gwyn takes a book from Nesta's hands and puts it on a shelf over her head.
"Both of them. Actually, I think the lesson with Cassian went better," she says in surprise, after reflecting. "And it wasn't training. It was just some self-defense."
"Same difference. What happened with Thalia?"
"She's making me try one new thing a day."
"One per day? Every day?" Gwyn shudders. "I can't believe you go along with everything she says. All her meetings and exercises and now this self-defense...You must be four times as brave as I am, at least."
Nesta winces.
"What are you going to do?" Gwyn continues, either not noticing Nesta's discomfort or respectfully ignoring it. "For your new things, I mean."
"I don't know," Nesta says, weighing two books, as if debating between her options for tomorrow and all the tomorrows after. "I guess...try every fruit I haven't?" Gwyn laughs. "I don't know what she expects me to do."
"I'm sure you'll think of things. You're...you'll do better than the rest of us. You do better than the rest of us. It's so obvious, how much you want to live." She says it confidently, assuredly, her teal eyes set.
Nesta bites her lip. "I did really want to live," she says quietly. That night in Hybern. She had fought with everything she had. The whole way to the Cauldron, and even after, inside it. She hadn't stopped. "I...can't..."
"I know," Gwyn says, voice soft as Nesta's. "You can't remember why. It's all right. You will. I can tell."
Nesta blinks rapidly. She's not about to cry. She's not. She just...she doesn't know what she is.
"I can't believe it's not even noon," she mumbles.
Gwyn chuckles. "Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your day's hardly going to be a quiet one. Calliope wants you all afternoon."
She likes Calliope, generally, so that's not so awful. "For what?"
Gwyn shrugs. "Sorting through her papers, probably. Maybe she wants you as an assistant."
If Nesta gets assigned to a High Priestess, than she doesn't have to do these menial tasks anymore. Of course, there's no promise that the priestess she'll be assisting won't have her own miserable things for her to do...Merrill, Gwyn's priestess, is a royal pain, Nesta knows...
"So I guess I'll see you tomorrow, then," Gwyn says. "Wearing your dress backwards or eating starfruit."
"Ha," Nesta says flatly.
Gwyn laughs once more before going, unbound copper hair flowing behind her.
She's wrong, Nesta knows, about her being braver than anyone else. About her being brave at all. All she's doing now is what other people are telling her. Go see Calliope in her office, Nesta. Come sit with Thalia on the third level, Nesta. Tell Clotho if you liked Daphne's lecture, Nesta. Simple motions, simple movements. Nothing brave about it.
"Now again on the left, Nesta. Good. Good."
It's Thursday morning, and Cassian is the one ordering her about. Sometimes she thinks he sounds like any one of the priestess, with how he talks to her in these lessons, which makes her feel...she isn't sure. It's odd, certainly. Considering all the ways they used to talk to each other. Barbed insults, right in the House, to the other end of the spectrum. The words that cycle in her head some nights, the newest among them being I always have time for you, Nesta...and, of course, intermittent praises from when she does well.
"Excellent. Keep your torso just like that...now with your arms just as I-yes!"
There's really not any bravery required, Nesta decides. Not when the priestesses are all eager to do anything that encourages the girls to, well, do anything, and not when Cassian is...himself. Even now that Azriel, the member of her sister's circle Nesta is wont to consider her favorite if only because he never talks to her, has started showing up for a few minutes every session. Even he, with his face more closed off than Amren's (back when they were on speaking terms), and those dark shadows of his...even he does not discourage her.
Their hour ends, and he watches her drink two glasses of water-discreetly, drinking some himself, too-before turning to leave.
"Um," she says, voice slightly louder than it needs to be.
He pauses. Turns. Waits.
She can't look away again-his eyes-but she has to say something, doesn't she? What was it she was going to say?
"I seem to be doing well," she blurts out. Then flushes crimson.
He grins. "You're doing very well, Nesta."
She smooths her skirt, as if that'll somehow help her regain composure. "What I mean is," she says, voice hopefully not wobbly, "these...lessons...seem to be doing me good."
His grin gets smaller, but his eyes grow soft. "I...am very glad to hear that."
"I mean they help me feel...better. I feel better. Stronger. And I don't get so distracted all the time. And I...don't think about drinking so much." That's true, she realizes. In fact, she hasn't wanted a drink since...Monday? Sunday? She can't even be sure.
Cassian inhales sharply. "Good," he says, rather faint. "That's...that's so good, Nesta."
"So I was wondering if maybe you thought that...because I thought...well, I-I don't know, but maybe..." Stammering, tripping over her own words, it's just-
I have never in my life thought you were pathetic.
She nearly gasps, the words playing in her mind so clear in his eyes it's almost as though she can hear him saying them aloud.
"I thought maybe some other girls would like to join. If you don't mind. Having some more of us."
Cassian blinks. "I...I don't. I don't mind at all. I think that's a great idea, actually."
"Well, I also thought," Nesta starts, encouraged, "that since, you know, you've wanted that female Illyrian legion for so long-" he blinks again, evidently unaware that she knows that-"maybe you could also see if some Illyrian girls wanted to join. Just to see if they have a taste for...any of this."
Cassian's mouth falls open slightly and his hand goes to his forehead. "I...can't believe I never thought of this myself, actually," he admits. "Self-defense as a sort of gateway...that's actually really fucking brilliant, Nesta."
She huffs a sound of amusement at his swearing; it's been so long since she's heard any curse, as the priestesses are all so pious and proper. He starts at the sound.
"Well," she says, ducking her head to busy herself with her skirt so he doesn't see her color again. "I have to go bathe and..."
"Oh, yeah. All right. Well...so Monday? With some other girls?"
"If they want," Nesta says. "I don't know if anyone will want..."
"Well, you just let them know. Maybe ask Clotho..."
"I will. And...will you go to that camp? Windhaven?"
"Windhaven?" he asks.
"I met a shopkeeper..."
"Emerie?"
"Oh," she says. "You know her."
"She's the only female shopkeeper," he says. "We've met."
"I talked to her a little. I think she might be interested. I think she has some friends who might like it, too."
"Oh," he says, surprised. "I didn't know...I assumed-well, never mind. All right, Nesta. Goodbye, then. And great idea, really. And..." he trails off. She looks up to see him smiling. "You did really well. I mean it."
She nods, just once. But then she says, "Thank you."
She can't quite believe she said that. But judging by the way his grin widens enough to show all his teeth, it's something he's been waiting a while to hear.
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nehemikkele · 5 days ago
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EWG: A Starlit Encounter
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Inspiration for this goes to @callmestarky when throwing ideas around one day. It's not the idea we talked about, but this one works I hope!
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In the Vortex Nesta saw how mortals had been able to leave their worlds with advanced machinery. To fly through the very void in which she was sitting.
******************************
Imperial Remnant Space
Captain Nesta Archeron strode around the bridge of the midsize cruiser, black boots clacking on the polished floor. No bridge officer dared look her way unless they had a very good reason to do so. And with good reason, Captain Archeron was the most effective and ruthless captain of the Imperial Remnant.
“Captain Archeron! A moment of your time if you will.” The voice came from behind her, she was instantly irritated but withheld the scowl from her face, settling on an expression of glacial disdain.
“You may speak,” she ordered coldly.
A member of the Imperial Intelligence Division walked forward and gave a short bow. “We have captured a Rebel fighter pilot,” he was speaking in terms of deep contempt. The New Galactic Republic was always referred to as rebels, hatred after the death of the Emperor still ran deep among some officers.
“Oh, really?” she drawled, “and why is this important to me? Throw him in the brig and you can take him for interrogation when we reach the next suitable facility.” Nesta started walking away, but the Intelligence Officer persisted, “I thought you might take more interest in this one. It’s one of their Aces, Cassian Thunderhell.” This did bring her to a stop.
That Ace had been responsible for the near destruction of her cruiser on more than one occasion. This was personal. The Intelligence Officer waited patiently. “Perhaps you were right to bring this to my attention. Throw him in the brig anyway.” He nodded but carried on, an evil look lighting up his face, “There have been concerns that sometimes rebels have become martyrs while ...ah… guests of our re-education facilities. Perhaps it might be safer to keep him on the move, away from prying eyes?”
This time Nesta did lock on his gaze, “Are you suggesting that he remain an indefinite guest, fate unknown and unseen, on ‘The Archimandrite’?” The officer stiffened, “Of course not, however, my vessel will rendezvous with yours in two hours. If the required administration is not completed then who am I to contravene a ship’s Captain?”
“Indeed,” she mused half to herself, “Indeed, who might insist all the way out here. You’ll understand if I don’t see you off when your ship arrives?”
“Of course Captain Archeron. With your permission?” She turned away, signalling the officer to remove himself from the bridge. A few minutes later Nesta summoned her security chief and ordered the captured pilot to be taken to the hold after the Intelligence operative had left and a scan grid be sent there as well.
****************
3 Months Later
“For fuck’s sake Cassian, I thought you were an Ace fighter!” she all but shouted at him. “This, Sweetheart, is a rust bucket freighter, not a modern, advanced fighting machine. What did you expect?” They were flying through a lesser known hyperspace route to get to New Republic space, avoiding the hunters that were chasing them.
“Another eight hours to get to the nearest New Republic sector and then I can get us better transport back to a proper world.” He sagged back in the pilot’s seat, turning to face his passenger. Nesta Archeron, until six days ago an Imperial Remnant captain, now his star crossed lover as he liked to think of it. Nesta also relaxed, the last week had been hell, since springing Cassian from the brig. He had been weakened by three months of roving imprisonment, but during the final month she had been sneaking him extra food and nutrients to secretly build up this strength ahead of the escape.
His voice jerked from her thoughts. “OK, you promised me an explanation about that.” He was smiling but it definitely hadn’t reached his eyes. Nesta summoned moisture into her mouth which had just gone as dry as a bantha’s foot. He wasn’t referring to their secret lovemaking or conversations about a better galaxy over the previous nine weeks. Cassian was talking about the first three weeks of non-stop torture that she had inflicted on him.
Nesta inhaled deeply and started, “I was angry at your multiple attempts to end my life and my crew’s by destroying my ship. I wanted to hurt you, a lot. But, when I saw you strapped there with your cocky smile and eyes that weren’t afraid of anything, something inside me changed. Do you know what it’s like serving in a navy full of backstabbers, informants and totally unhinged officers? It destroys your mind and soul. Seeing you made me realise what I had been thinking for a very long time. I needed to get out.” She stopped and scanned his face for some sort of reaction, but got nothing.
“I hatched a plan within seconds of seeing your face. I hated it. But there was no other choice. None at all. I was going to torture you for weeks and record the sounds. Then make sure I was the only one who saw you after that, hence your horrific isolation cell. I mixed the different sounds of different days so that anyone listening would think you were being hurt when I came to your cell. Then I could sit with you, talk to you, heal you, gain your trust so we could get out together. I just didn’t expect to fall in love with you.” The last words drew a visible reaction of shock from Cassian. “I just love you,” she said quietly looking down, “I don’t know how or why, but I do.”
A broad calloused hand lifted her chin, making her look at him. “I love you too Sweetheart,” he rasped, then kissed her and pulled her body against his.
******************
3 Days Later, New Republic Space
“You do realise that she’ll have to go through deprogramming protocols?” clipped the New Republic colonel, “That is Captain Archeron we’re talking about.” Cassian shrugged. They were all sitting in the colonel’s office after a lengthy, but without every detail revealed, conversation about how he was captured and where he had been.
“Formerly Captain Archeron,” stated Cassian, “and she’s aware that the New Republic has its policies and procedures.” He turned to look at Nesta who bobbed her head in acknowledgement. “Oh and another matter if I might?” asked Cassian. The colonel looked slightly annoyed but sighed his agreement for the Ace Pilot to continue. “I’m going to need a pay increase, well an increase for my living allowance.” He buffed his nails against his military jacket. “And why might this be?” snarled the colonel. He gestured again to the lady sitting next to him, “It’s for my wife and I.”
Ting!
“Cassian Thunderhell, you just did not do that!” hissed Nesta to him. He shot his trademark grin back to her. “But, I’ve always wanted to hear the sound of a pin dropping when I’ve stunned someone into silence.” She swatted his arm.
“Anything else?” whispered the now ashen senior officer. Nesta leant over to murmur something in her husband’s ear. His grin, if it was even possible, got wider. “Yes there is actually, how are the prenatal facilities in the deprogramming centre?”
***************
In the vortex Nesta couldn’t stop herself from laughing. How so very typical of them.
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featherymalignancy · 6 days ago
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Omertà—A Nessian Mob Story
Summary: When Cassian Şahin—a member of a successful organized crime syndicate—goes into Italy on a fact-finding mission for his friend and boss brother Rhysand Javed, there is only one rule: speak to no one and do not interfere. However, when Cassian’s mission brings him into contact with the devasting and powerful Nesta Archeron, daughter of the most powerful crime lord in Italy, he finds his mission (and his good sense) quickly blown off course. When circumstance forces Nesta and Cassian into close quarters, the line between hatred and desire begins to blur, leaving both of them to question whether their loyalties truly lie....
Okay so I know it’s not an update on any of my OTHER ongoing projects and I’m sorry! All I can say for myself is that this idea has been bubbling in my head for a few weeks and for the first time in a long time I sat down today and I wrote and this is what came out.
Some quick things before we jump in.
1. this was partially inspired by @tswaney17’s Elriel fic I Do Bad Things With You, if you haven’t read it, go do it now!
2. Despite a name which looks like it came from a over-eager wannabe fantasy novelist, the ‘Ndrangheta is a very real organized crime syndicate in Italy similar to the Sicilian mob. Most of the details about 'Ndrangheta are based in truth, if only very loosely.
3. I literally have not edited this at all yet so it’s full of typos and I’m sorry but just consider me posting this a form of therapy and pretend you‘re my therapist by ignoring the typos. I will eventually fix them, I swear.
4. TRIGGER WARNING FOR BRIEF GRAPHIC VIOLENCE
So yeah, let’s get into it!
Omertà, Part I
Under any other circumstances, Cassian Şahin would have dreaded the order to go to Cosenza.
It wasn’t that he didn’t find the city beautiful, because he did. Nestled in the valley of the Crati river and surrounded by rolling hills, it was idyllic and beguiling in that classic Italian way, and unlike the bland shit they ate in Lazio and Tuscany, the cuisine this far South was spicy, hearty fare that reminded Cassian of the types of dishes his Venezuelan grandmother used to make.
Still, none of that mattered. Not really, anyway. Cosenza was still ‘Ndrangheta territory, and for a man like Cassian who made his living outside the law, it was enough to know he was trespassing in enemy territory.
Besides, the city wasn’t run by some two-bit Sicilian cosche —it was run by the Archerons.
Originally hailing from Bari on Italy’s Western coast, it was rumored that the Archeron family descended from an illegitimate branch of the powerful and savage Sforzas, who ruled Milan and later Pesaro with iron fist throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Having heard stories about Calogero Archeron, Cassian didn’t find it difficult to imagine the Archerons were pedigreed in both warfare and violence.
Not only were the Archerons the most influential of Calabria’s ‘ndrine, they were famous the criminal world over for their cunning, their resourcefulness, and their power.
It was why—on any other night—Cassian would have begged Rhys not to send him to Cosenza. After all, their business wasn’t one which often had dealings with the likes of Archerons
As Rhys was so fond of pointing out, “we aren’t that type of criminals.”
Where the old-school outfits like ‘Ndrangheta and Cosa Nostra still made their money off of racketeering, extortion, and smuggling, Rhys was far more interested in making his billions the modern way: through technology. From online gambling to wire fraud, Rhys wasn’t interested in anything as pedestrian drug smuggling or gun-running.
In Rhys’s mind, this meant that he had no quarrel with the Italian crime syndicates. Unfortunately, the ‘Ndrangheta— and the Archeron ‘ndrina in particular— didn’t seem to agree. Archeron capos had been nosing around Rhys’s Swiss accounts for months, and one poor bastard had even been stupid enough to attempt to blackmail Azriel in order to get to secure a cut of Rhys’s lucrative dealings.
Though Rhys had limited his punishment to breaking the would-be extornist’s wrists and Calogero Archeron—old-school, honors-bound mafiosi that he was—had chosen not to retaliate, they’d known for months that it wasn’t the last they’d heard of the Archerons. When the Archeron outfit found leverage over Rhysand—as they’d done with so many others before him—they’d be back to demand their cut.
It was why—up until tonight—Cassian and Azriel had been ordered to give the entire peninsula a wide berth.
“I don’t want either of you in Italy,” Rhys had said in that voice that always reminded Cassian of Rhys’s father.
“Until when?” Azriel had asked.
Though he claimed to hate the food, Azriel had always had staunch bias for Italian tailors, and—more importantly—a weakness for Italian women.
“Until I can be sure that Calogero Archeron won’t cut off your head and feed your body to the pigs in order to hide the evidence,” Rhys had said.
Cassian, for his part, settled into the declaration with relative ease, quickly finding peace with the knowledge that he may be an old man before he ever set foot in Italy again. This in mind, he’d never imagined himself being ordered back to Cosenza, of all places, within six months.
Then again, he’d also never imagined a man as powerful as Calogero Archeron could die of something as mundane as a heart attack. And yet he had, so here they were.
It had been Cassian’s idea, actually, to go to Cosenza once they’d heard of Calogero’s death.  The Archerons—he’d argued to Rhys—would be vulnerable while they worked to fill the void Calogero had left. It was the best chance they’d get to get intel on the Archeron ‘ndrina .
As Rhys’s head of security, Azriel had insisted it was too much of a risk for Rhys himself to go, and the stakes were too high to send any of the more junior captains. So in the end it was only he and Cassian who’d gone to Italy, their directive clear.
They were to gather information and they were not to be seen, not to interact with anyone, even seeming civilians and—above all—not to interfere in any way.
“Whatever the Calabrians are going to do,” Rhys had said. “Let them do it. I don’t need a war because one of you decides to try your hand at being a diplomat.”
“Yes sir,” they’d both said.
And so here they were, both dressed in funeral black and doing their best to blend in with the crowd at L’Opera, a swanky nightclub at the heart of the old city which served as the Archerons’ unofficial seat of power.
“You’re full of shit, you know.”
Azriel’s voice—smooth and cold—echoed in the earpiece Cassian wore. Despite his slight accent, Az still spoke Italian like a poet. Cassian had been told he spoke it like a peasant. Or worse, a tourist.
Cassian fought the instinct to touch his ear. Normally it would have been suicide to come wired into an Archeron club, but once look at the security on the way in earlier had told them that no one within the Archeron outfit would be looking for spies tonight.
“Excuse me?” He said instead.
“You don’t give a fuck about gathering information,” Azriel said. “You’re normally garabage on intelligence missions. You just think tonight might be your chance to finally see her .”
“Che?” Cassian said,  speaking softly to avoid looking as if he were talking to himself.
“Don’t play dumb with me,” Azriel said. “You know exactly who.”
“As a connoisseur of Italian beauty, I don’t know how you aren’t more curious as well.”
“Next time you want to know what Nesta Archeron looks like, just google her instead of putting both our necks on the line.”
“We’re gangsters, Az; ‘necks on the line’ comes with the territory.”
Azriel, whose father had been a high-ranking shateigashira for one of the most powerful Yakuza in Kyoto, let out a soft snarl at the word. Despite what they did for a living, Azriel refused to acknowledge that—like his abusive father—he’d ended up in organized crime.
“Speak for yourself,” he snapped
“I’m sorry,” Cassian said. “I didn’t mean to—”
“Just keep your head on a swivel and stop thinking with your cock,” Azriel said, the bite gone from his tone.
“This isn’t about my cock,” Cassian said, and for the most part, that was true. “This is about seeing whether the Calogero’s chain of command really is strong enough to outlive him.
Nesta Archeron—Calogero’s eldest daughter and his heir apparent—was due at the club at 11 for a meeting with her family’s second in command, a man known only by the nickname “ Il Barone ”, which—more often than not over the years—had been shortened to more colloquial iteration of Beron.
Beron had taken over as acting-leader of the Archeron ‘ndrina, and the few rumors they’d managed to collect suggested there was tension between Il Barone and the eldest Archeron, and that though her father had named her his successor in his will, Beron was apprehensive about put the ‘ndrina in Nesta’s hands.
At 29, Beron likely wasn’t the only one within the organization who deemed Nesta too young and too female to take over the ‘ndrina now that her father was dead. However, Cassian had been watching Nesta’s work within the organization the last few years, and he’d frankly been impressed with what he’d seen.
Far from the sex workers and smack her grandfather Anselmo built his empire on, Nesta’s vision for the family was far more advanced—and far less exploitative of the poor and desperate who made up the majority of Calabria’s population.
Nesta had a masters in economics from Oxford and a MBA from Harvard, and—much like Rhys—her criminal ideology was centered in the money markets. Insider trading, exchanges fraud—it was still messy work, but it also tended to end with far less bullets to the head.
If Nesta did, in fact, attend the meeting with Beron, the outcome would be telling either way.
And yes, if Cassian was being totally honest with himself, he was... curious about Nesta Archeron, enemy though she was. Despite Az’s flippant suggestion earlier, Cassian had caved to boredom once or twice and googled Nesta, though information had been scarce and photos even scarcer. Still, the one he had managed to find had been taken of her during days on the rowing team at Oxford, and even in a shapeless kit with her hair scraped back into a braid, she’d been mesmerizing.
And that had been ten years ago. Cassian couldn’t deny he was eager to see how time had changed her. Az could call it what he liked, but the way Cassian saw it, gorgeous women were a perk of the job.
“There’s chatter at the door,” Azriel said, breaking Cassina’s reverie. “She’s on her way, five minutes.”
“And Il Barone ?”
“He’s already here, Private VIP lounge upstairs. Don’t even think about trying to sneak up there, Cassian.”
Cassian didn’t heed his friend, already on the move up the stairs.
“We need eyes and ears or this is all for nothing,” Cassian said. “I’m going to send a little friend up there.”
He unpocketed the discreet recording device—which had been designed to resemble a drink straw, and began the ascent, carefully to watch his step to avoid making uncessary noise.
He needn’t have been so cautious.
Il Barone was on the phone, speaking in what Cassian was surprised to realize was Dutch. The ‘Ndrangheta, like their Sicilian counterparts, were generally unwelcoming of outsiders.
Then again, Vito Corleone’s consigliere had been German-Irish, so what did Cassian really know about any of this Italian mafioso business?
From what Cassian could pick up from Beron’s conversation, he was assuring the person on the other end of the line that he and Nesta would work out their differences and everything would be fine.
Cassian wondered—as he gently tossed the recording device onto the semi-private landing and watched into roll into place—what Nesta Archeron would make of the fact Beron had just promised to “handle her with care”.
If he had to bet, she’d probably be pissed.
“Cassian, get out of there,” Azriel said, voice barely above a whisper over the commas. “Archeron just walked in and she’d heading straight to you.”
Cassian soundlessly slunk back down the stairs before melting into the shadow closest to the stairs and asking, “What’s she wearing?”
Azriel’s groan was more audible than below.
“You can’t miss her.”
“What—”
Cassian didn’t bother with the rest as he glanced up to watch the most gorgeous woman he’d frankly ever seen striding towards him. As Az had suggested, it was obvious—even beyond her beauty—that this was the famed Nesta Archeron.
However,  where Cassian had imagined lush curves poured into a slinky cocktail dress, he was met instead with a woman who—perhaps somewhat fittingly—looked prepared to execute a hostile corporate takeover.
Though she was dressed in a black sheath, it was neither short nor overly tight, though it did hug her slender frame in a way that told Cassian it had obviously been made for her. A large mink coat sat over her shoulders, make her look like a mix between Tony Montana and Cruella DeVille.
And her eyes—
Given that her father was Calabrian and her mother Corsican, Cassian had lamely assumed that her eyes would be brown. Instead they were a scalding artic blue, so bright and cold Cassian was sure one glance from her would be enough to burn.
Oh fuck, she was gorgeous. Cassian felt his heart rate kicking up as she neared him, even as he melted farther into the shadows, knowing he couldn’t be seen.
But goddamn, what he wouldn’t give for even more look from that woman, burn hazard or not.
“Focus,” came Azriel’s voice. “I can practically hear you panting from across the room.”
“Relax,” Cassian breathed, risking a glance around the corner to watch Nesta Archeron and that gorgeous, heart-shaped ass ascending the stairs before drawing out his phone to check the feed from the recording device. “I’m a wraith.
As luck would have it, it had fallen into what would be a perfect viewing angle once Nesta sat down, which she did a moment later.
Beron was only partially in frame, but Cassian caught a decent enough glimps of his face as he leaned across the table to brush a lingering kiss on Nesta’s cheek.
“That’s enough, Vanserra,” she snapped, her accent a mix of Italian lilt and posh British-English. “Just because my father is gone doesn’t mean I’m suddenly yours to slather over.”
Vanserra.
That name alone would be worth the trip to Consenza, assuming that Cassian and Azriel both made it out of L’Opera alive.
Beron only chuckled.
“You misunderstand my affliction, bambina. You’re young enough to be my own daughter, younger even than my own sons.”
Nesta’s lips—which had been painted a sinister crimson—curled into a sneer.
“Don’t speak to me like I’m a child, yours or otherwise. And you may tell those sons—” at this her eyes flicked up, presumably to the person standing guard over Beron’s shoulder. “—that I am not their prize to covet, either.”
Another soft chuckle.
“I would never presume the right to covet a beauty like yours, Nesta,” a new voice answered.
“Then keep your eyes off my neckline, Eris,” she shot back.
“Now, now, children,” Beron cut in, Nesta’s eyes flashing even hotter at the deliberate jibe. “We’re not here to fight.”
“No,” Nesta agreed. “I’m here for my father’s ring. Give it to me and I’ll be on my way.”
“So soon?” Beron asked. “But you’ve only just arrived.”
“I don’t have time for your games or stalling tactics. That ring is my birthright, and my father left it and the ‘ndrina to me.”
Though the camera was angled too far away to catch all of Beron Vanserra, his hands at least were visible, as was the heavy gold signet ring he twirled around a finger.
“Perhaps,” Beron said. “But one could argue that he wasn’t his right to give this ‘ndrina away without the approval of the council. We aren’t Sicilians, Nesta; it’s not for one man to choose his successor.”
“I see,” Nesta said, and Cassian could see the cold ire limning her every muscle. “And I suppose this is the part where you tell me you think perhaps you would be a better fit for the role.”
“Perhaps I think I would be. Age before beauty, m’donna. I have critical experience you lack.”
“You’re also not Calabrian, which means the council will never accept you.”
“Except...they already have,” Beron said. “That is, the ones who are still alive. The others, obviously, had to be replaced before we could reach an equitable consensus.”
Cassian watched as the rage melted to something colder on Nesta’s face, his own heart rate inexplicably picking up in response.
“You think it’s that easy?” Nesta asked, but Cassian could hear the growing apprehension in her voice. “To just steal my family’s dynasty?”
Beron only laughed.
“I know it is, because I’ve already done it.”
Nesta reached for her phone, making Beron laugh harder.
“Go ahead and check for yourself, if you like. Ruggieri, Lanzano, Perratta, all your most ardent defenders—all dead. All that remains now is for you to submit. Your days as capo are over, of course, but I think we might still find some position for you to continue to provide value. On your back, perhaps.”
“I was going to suggest on her knees,” Eris cut in.
“Get fucked,” Nesta snarled.
“You first,” Eris shot back.
“I’d rather die,” Nesta said, smoothly unholstering a gun from the belt of  one of the two bodyguards she’d brought with her.
However, she was never given the opportunity to fire. No sooner had she raised the gun than the very same guard produced a garotte, stringing isn’t expertly around her neck.
“Fuck,” Cassian breathed, watching and Nesta kicked her legs, fighting viciously around the vice at her throat.. “They are going to kill her.”
“Tough shit,” Azriel said. “You know our orders.”
“Az, they are seriously going to kill her!”
“Then that’s her fault for not bringing better guards. Stand down, Cassian!”
For a split second, Cassian did actually consider following the order. But when he remembered what it was Nesta Archeron represented, and what she was being sacrificed to uphold, his decision was made.
Bounding up the stairs and unholstering the gun he’d snuck past the metal detectors earlier, he immediately fired at the man currently choking Nesta,  hitting him twice in the chest. He went down with a thud, but before the other guards—or the Vanserras could react—there was a loud bang and a shattering of glass below, followed by screams as one of the massive crystal chandeliers smashed on the floor.
Azriel.
Taking advantage of the momentary distraction, Cassian fired at the next two guards hitting one in the chest and one between the eyes. Beron and Eris, clearly not willing to become Cassian’s next victims, both dove for the balcony, preparing to use the crowd below to cushion their fall.
Just as the famed Il Barone turned to flee, he pointed a finger at Cassian in menace.
“Whoever you are, you are dead. You both are.”
Cassian’s only response was to fire his final bullet at Beron, which grazed his shoulder just as he and Eris escaped.
“If by some miracle we make it out of here alive,” came Azriel’s voice as Cassian crawled towards where Nesta lay, still unmoving, on the ground. “Please know that your days are still numbered. I am literally going to kill you for this.”
“Get in line,” Cassian said, tentatively reaching to check Nesta’s pulse. “ IL Barone just promised the same.”
Just as Cassian’s fingers brushed the soft, delicate skin of Nesta Archeron’s neck, she flipped over, eyes bloodshot but still full of alacrity as she broke twisted his hand with a hard jerk, snapping two of his fingers.
“Fuck!” He said, but she didn’t stop, using his pain as a means of distraction before ripping the baseball cap he’d been wearing off his head and staring dead into his eyes.
“Whatever it is you think you want from me,” she snarled, eyes continuing to devour him. “You can’t .”
Cassian only bucked her off of him, breaking her grip on his wrist and—broken fingers be damned—flipped her onto her stomach, jabbing her in the soft part of the hip with a fast-acting sedative he kept on him for an emergency that—until now—he hadn’t really understood was possible. In less than a minute her struggling ceased, and a quick check of his wrist told him that she was alive but unconscious. Not that it mattered; the damage was already done.
She’d seen his face.
“Are you clear?” Came Azriel’s voice. “Back door, five minutes. Naz is already waiting in the alley with a car.”
“I can’t,” Cassian said, surprised to find his voice cracking with emotion. “Archeron made me.”
“She what ?”
“She got the jump on me and saw my face. I’m not going to go with you and risk blowing your and Naz’s cover.”
“I’m not leaving you,” Azriel said, voice stern.
“You don’t have a choice. When she comes to—”
“Fine, then just shoot her before she does.”
“If I kill her, what was any of this for?”
“Then I’ll shoot her—”
“Just go, Az! I’ll lay low here for a while and when I’m sure the heat has died down and it’s safe to come home, I’ll call you.”
There was a long-suffering sigh before—
“Bring her.”
Cassian, despite everything, felt the absurd need to laugh.
“Excuse me?”
“Bag her and let’s go. We’ve been here too long already.”
“Our orders were not to get involved. What do you think the boss is going to say when we come home with an Archeron as a hostage?”
“If you don’t bring her, then you might as well shoot her,” Azriel said. “Because when Il Barone finds her, he’s going to kill her.”
He had a point there.
Glancing around for a suitable blindfold and finding none, Cassian ripped the hem of Nesta’s dress and tied it around her eyes.
If she didn’t hate him already, she was definitely going to hate him now. Kissing the archangel medallion hanging around his neck, Cassian heaved a still-unconscious Nesta over his shoulder and took off down the stairs, marveling at the chaos that Azriel had managed to created and then escape as he jogged to the back door.
His friend was already there waiting for him, his normally glossy black hair damp with sweat and his eyes teaming with high emotion.
“Az, I—”
“No time,” Azriel said, kicking the door opened with a booted foot and all but shoving Cassian through into and into a waiting SUV. No sooner had Azriel leapt in behind him and shot the door then bullets began pinging off the armored side panels.
“Drive, Nazaret!” Azriel demanded, and the Land Rover peeled out down the alley and into the narrow streets of Cosenza. It took  25 minutes of elusive drinking, but eventually Naz was able to lose their tale, guiding the car to a secluded helipad where a chopper was already waiting to take them to where Rhys’s jet was standing by to take them across the Adriatic to his summer hideout in Croatia.
All told, the journey took about four hours, and with Azriel refusing to speak to or even look at him, Cassian had nothing to do but debate his sins.
He’d gotten in the middle of a ‘Ndrangheta dispute, killed Italian made-men, and kidnapped mafiaso royalty—all offenses the ‘Ndrangheta would never let go unpunished. And Christ, that was to say nothing of Nesta Archeron.
His fingers still throbbing from where she snapped them. Good God, was she going to be furious when she woke up.
And what about her sisters? Though both younger and—by all the intelligence Rhys had managed to gather on the Archerons—less involved in ‘ndrina business than Nesta had been, they were still ‘Ndrangheta by blood and birthright. Cassian seriously doubted they’d be taking the abduction of their sister sitting down, which meant that they’d have to be dealt with as well, and soon.
But before all that, he’d have to deal with Rhys.
Cassian had (rather stupidly) hoped that perhaps Az would pity him enough to delay telling Rhys what had happened in Cosenza. However, he knew it had been wishful thinking when the plane touched down on the small runway which abutted Rhys’s villa and the man himself was standing on the tarmac, arms crossed and dark hair whipping across his forehead from the engine.
Glancing at Nesta’s form to assure she was properly attended, Cassian didn’t waste him dowdelling. He trotting down the steps, he opened his mouth to begin explaining himself before his friend held up an imperious hand to demand silence before gritting out, pearly teeth bared in a snarl,
“What the fuck have you done?”
Tagging some random parties: @tswaney17 @keshavomit @live-the-fangirl-life @katexrenee @mightymorphingayagenda @justgiu12 @vasudharaghavan @sayosdreams @123moiaussi @readingismyonlyhobby @jungleslang @nikethestatue @empress-ofbloodshed
If you don’t want to be tagged or you do, let me know!
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duskandstarlight · 7 days ago
Happy Sunday!
I went back and reread all of Embers and Light searching for my favorite parts to share!
I love all the characters in your story, they are probably my favorite parts. Frawley, Lorrian, Mas, Roksana, and Sala ❤. I like the way all the characters we had already met in the series seem to act more like the characters we knew from the first four books.
I really enjoy the whole story you've created, so I picked just three parts to mention that were so much fun to read!
In chapter 30, you wrote, Dusk was well and truly descending and starlight already dusted the sky. I really did read this sentence more than once because I was so entertained by you putting duskandstarlight IN THE SAME SENTENCE! It made my day, even if it wasn't intentional 😄
I had to reread chapter 34 when Nesta deliberately sits by Cassian in the front of the inner circle and he lightly brushes her neck! 🥵 All the YES there!!!
Nesta giving Cassian his gift in Chapter 36 🥰 She's so nervous and scared he won't like it and he just loves the gift (and her!) You just want to hug them both!
Thanks, again, for writing this and sharing it. 😃
Awww thank you for this @rabbitlover1027, it made my entire day! I'm so, so happy you love my OC's. I'm also very fond of them. Mas has my heart and I love writing Frawley because she's so badass!
I did not notice I included my username in that paragraph but I vividly remember writing it--how funny! <3 ARGHHH that neck brushing scene is legitimately one of my favourite moments in E&L.
The gift. I SOB. I'm glad you loved that moment. I had it planned for such a long time and it was so hard keeping it a secret, because so many of you were hypothesising whether Nesta would be searching for the lullaby (and how she'd present it to Cassian!)
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duskandstarlight · 7 days ago
Will this next chapter have fluff? They make me weak 🥺
*racks brains* There's a lot of plot next chapter! But there's some nice insights into Nesta's head that could be seen as fluffy.
TBH there's a lot of sexually charged conversation in the lead up to heading back to the bungalow. Is that better?!
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duskandstarlight · 7 days ago
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Embers & Light (Chapter 37 teaser)
Notes: Sorry it's taking me so long to bring you guys the next E&L chapter--life is hectic atm! But here is one of my favourite moments in this chapter (and it's extra long!). The next update is most likely going to be next Sunday
I hope you guys like it! Drop me a comment, reblog or an ask if you'd like :) I always love to hear from you <3
“Ladies,” Cassian greeted breezily, pausing in the doorway to say hello to Sala who had padded over from her spot by the window.
Rising on her hind legs, the manticore climbed her front paws up Cassian’s torso until they were resting on his shoulders.
Cassian absent-mindedly ruffled Sala’s fur, his focus steadfast on the two females at the table. “It seems you have both risen early this morning. Tell me we’re about to eat breakfast and aren't partaking in a book club. I’ve not read whatever risqué romance is on the agenda.”
“Are you suggesting that Maya indulges in smut?” Nesta asked crisply.
Maya choked on a laugh.
Heat flooded Cassian’s tan cheeks and Nesta bit down hard on her lip to stop her icy facade from cracking: Cassian had a habit of speaking without thinking and this was a prime example.
“Apologies,” he told Maya with a rustle of his wings.
But Maya only shook her head. Stifled the smile that was halfway to her lips. Her hazel eyes sparkled with amusement. It made them take on a quality close to Cassian’s—the shards of amber in them glinting to gold.
Scratching the back of his neck like an admonished youngling, Cassian admitted, “That was assuming of me. It’s all Nesta reads.”
A hiss dragged itself from between Nesta’s teeth and heat swirled beneath her skin, but Nesta wasn’t sure it was from anger. Rather it was the way Cassian looked at her—that overfamiliar, beautiful gaze that made the back of her neck prickle.
A slash of a smile crept across Cassian’s face, as if he had dissected the thorny mask she was wearing and had seen what lay beneath it.
He opened his mouth to speak, but Maya cut in before silver began to mist from Nesta’s fingertips. “I was not permitted to read anything romantic at the Ironcrest residence,” she replied, taking a deliberate sip of tea.
The twin observed Cassian over the rim, her Illyrian eyes still twinkling like stars. “Perhaps I’ll have to start.”
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talkfantasytome · 7 days ago
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Velaris State Chronicles - Sneak Peak
As promised, Costume Changes will not be the only short story about our favorite band of characters currently attending Velaris State.
I have been working on the next piece of the collection, which can be a stand alone as well, but also picks up where the first left off. I'm hoping to get it completed this week, but as a bit of a treat and proof I am working on it, I thought I'd share a quick preview:
His tongue gently trailed across her lower lip, and Nesta couldn't stop herself from opening to him, her arms now sliding up to wrap around his neck, her hands plunging into his hair just as his tongue found hers.
It was a dance. A messy, wet dance that only made Nesta want more. But all too soon Cassian was pulling away, just enough so she could look into those hazel eyes and melt.
"Come to dinner tomorrow night," he breathed onto her lips. Not entirely a question, not entirely a command.
Of course he would bring up the stupid dinner he and his brothers were putting on. She was still a bit upset with Mor about that, inviting herself, Emerie, and Nesta to go to their house for the dinner Rhys had invited Gwyn to. A chance for them to get to know the new... 'special friend' of their brother's.
"No," she whispered back, a small smirk spreading across her lips.
He groaned, letting his head fall into her shoulder, and then grazing his nose up her neck. "Why not?" he asked when between kisses beneath her ear.
"I'm busy," she said, trying not to moan when he tugged softly on her lobe with his teeth.
He let out a deep exhale and pulled his body away a bit further. "You could come if you wanted to."
Nesta shrugged. "Then I guess you have your answer."
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duskandstarlight · 8 days ago
I love E&L so much and am so appreciative of you sharing your talents and this story with us. Like others I am excited for the next update but also please take care of yourself first and don't feel any pressure :)
Thank you so much! You are wonderful for dropping into my ask box with this lovely message <3 I'm hoping you will get an update soon. Maybe by Sunday. Definitely the Sunday after that. The chapter has four parts and most of it is written, it's just filling bits in and fleshing it out. Saying that, it's already 8000 words :)
I can't wait for you guys to read it! I've also written a bit of the next chapter, which is where Nesta and Cassian go back to the bungalow. I was hoping the smut would be in the next chapter but I had to put in some important plot and moments between the sisters that couldn't be left out, so... you guys will have to wait a little longer. Please do not harass me about it--I promise you I feel really bad--but it just didn't work out <3
I will definitely be posting a teaser on Wednesday, though. Keep an eye out :)
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thewayshedreamed · 8 days ago
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Not Even at All - masterlist
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Nessian high school AU Inspired by 10 Things I Hate About You
Summary: Nesta Archeron is embarking on her final year at Velaris High School and looking forward to leaving her life behind to study on the opposite side of the country. She’s moody, cut-throat and generally unimpressed, fueled by her will to survive this last stretch of Hell— everyone’s opinions be damned.
Cassian Enalius has a mysterious background, making him rather notorious across the Velaris High School campus. He’s handsome, charming and cares least about the reputation that precedes him, which somehow makes others all the more interested in him. Things come to a head when he’s approached by Tamlin Spring with a seemingly straight-forward arrangement, although Cassian should have known better.
The problem is that the arrangement involves Nesta Archeron. Cassian learns quickly that nothing about Nesta is straight-forward, and Tamlin’s expectations prove to be a bit more difficult than he originally thought. He is at a loss until he’s approached by Rhysand and Azriel, who offer their help in eroding Nesta’s carefully built walls.
All he has to do is take Nesta on a date or two. What could possibly go wrong?
Warning(s) for strong language, mature themes, past trauma, and some underage drinking.
See full synopsis and additional notes on this au here.
> acotar masterlist                            >fanfic masterlist
Chapters:
> ao3
Part 1 • POVs: Nesta, Rhysand, Cassian
Her darkly painted nails nicked the brick wall as she gripped the center of the poster and pulled it down unceremoniously. She shoved it roughly into the nearby trashcan— its rightful home, if you asked her— and stalked inside.
Only 90 more days.
Part 2 • coming soon! 
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Nessian & Zoyalai, because I'm a basic bitch
Yayyyy my babies🤩
who falls asleep on the couch.
nessian: Nesta sometimes falls asleep while reading a book and Cassian picks her un and carries her to the bed💓 but sometimes it‘s Cassian who falls asleep with his head on her lap while she strokes his hair💓
zoyalai: Nikolai because his sleep schedule is fucked up. He falls asleep on the couch but as soon as he gets into bed he gets an idea for a new invention and he can’t sleep anymore.
makes friends with the neighbors.
nessian: they don‘t really have neighbors? but if they did it would be Cassian.
zoyalai: Nikolai for sure.
is the adventurous eater.
nessian: surprisingly, Nesta. At first she’s a bit of a picky eater but when she starts traveling to other courts/continents she wants to try all the local dishes no matter how weird they are.
zoyalai: Nikolai.
hogs the covers ar night.
nessian: none because most of the time they practically sleep on top of each other with Cassian’s wings draped over their bodies, so they’re almost never cold.
zoyalai: Zoya. After years spent sleeping chained to the bed, Nikolai moves very little while he sleeps. Zoya, on the other hand, remembers her childhood, when the winters were cold and the thin blanket she had wasn’t enough to keep her warm, so now she takes full advantage of the thick, soft covers and always hogs them, especially when she has nightmares. Of course, Nikolai notices and he wraps his arms around her and kisses her forehead untile she calms down.
forgets to do the dishes.
Nessian: the House does the dishes for them lol but if we’re talking modern AU’s I’d say both.
zoyalai: the kitchen staff does the dishes. In modern AU’s Zoya pretends to forget because she doesn’t want to do them lol. (Eventually she does)
tries to surprise their partner more often.
nessian: Cassian! He tries to recreate romantic gestures from Nesta’s favorite books!
zoyalai: Nikolai! he spoils her, especially while he’s “courting her”.
leaves dirty laundry on the floor.
nessian: Cassian.
Zoyalai: Nikolai.
stays up till 2 am reading.
nessian: is this even a question?
zoyalai: Nikolai
sings in the shower.
nessian: Cassian lol
zoyalai: Surprisingly, Zoya! (It’s more a humming to herself than real singing)
Nikolai doesn’t sing but he talks, A lot. 
takes the selfies.
nessian: Cassian.
zoyalai: Nikolai. Both Cassian and Nikolai take a thousand pictures of their wives a day. They’re obsessed with them. (who isn’t?)
plans date night.
nessian: both.
zoyalai: both. 
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duskandstarlight · 10 days ago
I've been dying for a Cassian pov of when Nesta tells him that she doesn't deserve him, pls help me find one!!
Do you mean in ACOSF at Solstice? God that scene had me bawling. I’m not sure one exists? Anybody?
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darklove9314-blog · 10 days ago
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Chapters: 21/? Fandom: A Court of Thorns and Roses Series - Sarah J. Maas Rating: Mature Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings Relationships: Nesta Archeron/Cassian, Nesta Archeron & Cassian Characters: Nesta Archeron, Cassian (ACoTaR) Additional Tags: Pregnancy, Family, Relationship(s) Summary:
Set two years after the events of A Court of Silver Flames, Nesta and Cassian start their next big journey together. (Please don't read if you don't want to be spoiled for A Court of Silver Flames.)
Finally finished chapter 21 and the first chapter in my new storyline for this Fic. I’m excited for part 2 to commence and to see your thoughts on it. The part will mainly be set in Windhaven, but will be set in other places as well. :) 
As always if you want to be added to my tag list please let me know and thank you all for your comments on my last chapter. I loved it so much and I also have a lot of love for the newest storyline (Even though I think part 4 of this fanfic is going to be my absolute favorite) 
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