Aww thank you, that’s such a lovely thing to hear. Only a day to wait now for the next chapter. I hope you enjoy it!
A Court of Fever and Frustration
Cassian, ever the stubborn ass, falls ill. That’s literally it. That’s the description.
Nesta returned from the palace of Jewels and Thread to find the High Lord and his spymaster hovering outside of her door. Az sat on the porch steps, shadows twining around him, while Rhys paced, wings gone, set in his formal attire.
Nesta instantly grew tense. “What do you want.” There was a stink of magic in the air— a scent she still didn’t like, despite living with it everywhere.
Rhys looked up from his pacing, a look of relief crossing his overly perfect features. “We need your help—”
She snorted, unable to help herself.
Rhys sighed sharply, as if trying to hide his frustration. “It’s Cassian.”
“What’s wrong with him?” she asked, a spike of concern shooting up her spine. He’d been fine when she left this morning, begging her to take the day off as usual.
“He’s sick,” Az said. “And badly at that if it hasn’t already gone away.”
“What do you mean, he is sick?” More importantly, how did they know and not her?
“He came up to the House to train this morning and nearly hit the balcony flying in. Then he passed out when Az hit him too hard in the gut.”
Azriel dutifully ignored the black look she shot him.
Rhys went on, “I winnowed him back and now he’s running a fever. The stubborn bastard won’t stay in bed, though. We had to put wards up to keep him in the house, but he needs rest, Nesta. Not to be prowling around like he likely is right now, waiting to be let out.”
Her jaw ticked at the thought of her mate being caged, but the thought of him being so stupid made her somehow angrier. “Let me in. I’ll handle it.”
They both blew out breaths, stepping aside to let her in. She shattered the shield around the house with half a thought, earning another sign from Rhys, and let herself inside.
Cassian was indeed pacing, his long legs eating up the rug before the door. He looked up when she entered and Nesta instantly understood.
This is a little ficlet similar to the one about Nesta’s Love. I’m just obsessed with the idea of Cassian studying and noticing little things about Nesta.
Nesta showed happiness with her teeth.
While this might have been a weird thing to observe, it fascinated Cassian to no end. He didn’t notice it at first, but it came gradually as he studied her.
The first time he noticed was while she was reading, so engrossed in a book she probably didn’t even notice him enter. And as she flipped the last page, she bit down on her thumb, those bright eyes scanning the words faster than anyone should be able to.
He filed the look under one to give a name to later, sure he would see it again, and he did.
The first time she knocked him on his ass while training, he caught it again. She bit down on her fist, as if hiding a grin.
Cassian blinked, startled to see it in the training ring of all places, but he quickly filed the image away for research.
It was a while before he saw it again. The Illyrians broke into civil war just as winter came, dousing the camps in white. It was the coldest it had been in centuries, but at the peak of January, when Cassian held Nesta close for the first time after his own nightmare had woken her, he spotted those teeth, biting a pillow when he pulled her just a bit closer.
He didn’t figure out what it meant until the frozen winter finally melted and the war lords finally agreed on something.
It was when he kissed her for the second time and there was no battle raging around them, no blood on her hands, no death anywhere near. Just this. Just life.
He pulled away, hating to, but he needed to see her face. Needed to see her closed eyes.
And there it was.
That lower lip that he had just tasted was pulled between her perfect teeth, defying its plushness in favor for a look that made his mouth water.
He couldn’t help it. He leaned forward again and he was gone.
Later that night, moaning at the first thrust into her, he felt her teeth on his shoulder and quickly lifted his head from her neck.
“Are you alright? Am I hurting you?” he asked quickly.
She’d let go of his shoulder to bite her palm, looking at him through impossibly thick lashes. “I just… I’ve wanted this for so long. I’m just…”
And it struck him. She was happy.
He had made her happy.
“Bite me all you want,” he whispered onto her mouth.
And earned himself a little nip to his lip.
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Does anyone ever feel like Feysand forcing Cassian to be the caretaker to the woman who broke his heart is just as toxic as forcing their sister with severe ptsd from war to a war camp?
Me: I’m gonna write a sweet fluffy chapter with Nesta and Cassian finally having some good old fashioned domesticity between them and they remember how much they love each other even without saying it.
Also me: No you’re not. What you’re going to do is make them suffer. And cry. Perhaps both.
Okay, so like I got a little carried away with my obsession with Nesta but I can’t with myself, so here you go!
How I made this:
I literally searched up dress up games a long time ago and this Lord of The Rings thing came up and I’m like “Hey this is cool” so yeah
Anyway, this my throught process of Nesta’s character throughout acosf
Starting from far left:
1) This is Nesta when she first comes to the Illyrian Camp. Obviously not happy to be there. She wears modest closthing because she is closed off and is threatened
2) Our girl Nesta has now been at the Camp for a while, she made some friends (like Emerie and like maybe ?Kallon?) but she is still not fully comfortable. Her and Cassian still get on eachothers nerves lol
3) It’s been a number of months. Nesta is now embracing the Illyrians and herself, she starts to feel that belonging. She wears training gear (obviously not this colour or make but just use your imagination) because she will never again would she be weak and at someone’s mercy and plus she kinda likes beating the shit out of people
4) Because NESSIANNN. Nesta and Cassian’s relationship is like so beautiful I can’t! She lets down her hair and is wearing the colour red. She wears red because she is almost (but not fully) healed with her trauma and shows Cassian that she is strong and independant and not afraid of letting him and other people in
The next two are kinda from my personal hc, so if you want to, you can read or ignore it lol
5) One of Nesta’s friends die. (probably Emerie but idk why or how though, havent thought that far ahead) Anyway, Nesta is in mourning and goes back to being closed off and depressed. But, she doesn’t block out Cassian
6) Nesta’s out for revenge of who or what killed her friend hehehe
7) Nesta becomes a godslaying QUEEN and literally has one of the best character developments of all time (second to Zuko from ATLA)
Thanks for reading :))
Hello lovely readers,
Long Cassian Chapter. I honestly could not stop adding stuff and I went back to take stuff out and then I was like Noooo that’s what we want. Spice and zest and sad boi Cassian hours. I realized while rereading and proofing, I never put warnings in about language. And sexual themes. Like I have an..interesting mind so when I write Cassian his train of thought gets a lil ahem…shmexy. And I drop F-bombs like it’s my day job, so if you don’t like that, that’s a warning.
Tag list: ( I went through my old chapters and looked through all the comments this is everyone that has asked to be on the tag list. I’m sorry for missing some of you last chapter)
Warnings: Mature for language, PTSD, Triggers, Sexual innuendo?
Cassian flapped his wings one final time before landing down none too gently on the grounds in front of his cabin. He was exhausted to say the least. Azriel had briefed him about the situation with the queens and he was not pleased with the news. He’d have to fill Nesta in at dinner tonight, and already dread began creeping into his gut. He wondered where she was briefly, because she clearly wasn’t home considering no lights were on in the house. She might have been with Cilla as he had asked her to watch over Nesta during trainings. He longed to train her himself, one-on-one, but if Nesta had wanted to train with him she would have done so a long time ago. He had asked her for weeks, relentlessly, since she had been turned, and her outright refusal never wavered once. If he couldn’t train her himself, the least that could be done was to have her work with Devlon and Cilla. Cilla had been trained by him personally, and so he knew she was in capable hands. Devlon was just as good, even though he knew the war-lord likely hadn’t interfered with her much, too superstitious for his own good.
As he set down his weapons to the side of the door and began moving up the stairs, he came to realize just how tired he really felt. Flying to Velaris, having meeting after meeting with Azriel and some war-lords from the mountains, and then joining in to lead training for the Blood Rite’s newest recruits this year, had all left him ragged. The Blood Rite was the last thing on his mind amongst all the other growing problems, but he would need to be a part of it. The Commander of the legions had always been involved in the Blood Rite’s preparations, from the minute it began to the weeks of feasts and revelry after it was long over. It was an unspoken rule, and so even though Cassian wished he could just hand off the responsibility to someone else for a few days, he wouldn’t. He knew his duties, his oaths, and he never once failed to rise up and meet them.
He needed a bath. Or a shower. He smelled of sweat and leathers and desperately wanted to wash off the stickiness from his skin. As he grabbed a towel from the linen closet, he decided on a bath, to soothe his overworked muscles. The shower in his bedroom was always available for quick rinses, but right now Cassian needed to soak for a while. His wings ached sometimes in phantom pain after they had been shredded, and through trial and error, he had learned that a warm bath or a blistering hot shower was the only fix. As he wrenched open the door to the bathroom, he faintly registered that he wasn’t alone, but the fogginess of his mind didn’t help him stop and leave before it was too late.
He heard her scream first before his eyes realized what they were seeing. Creamy pale skin. Gorgeous long legs. Curves that she hastily covered with a towel that had apparently dropped as he had opened the door. If she wasn’t screaming so loudly, Cassian would have said the Gods were in his favor.
“What the hell are you doing? Get out!,” Nesta snarled at him.
He couldn’t move, couldn’t even think properly as he took in her agitated form. She was breathtaking in her fury and it took a solid half a minute for him to break away from her lethal gaze. The towel she clutched around her was pushing her breasts together in a delicious way that- wait what?
“Fuck, sorry,” Cassian shouted out, realizing his mistake in staring too long. He whirled quickly on his heel to look away and-
He collided headfirst into bathroom door. He gripped his forehead as pain bloomed across his temple, his legs almost giving out underneath him. Cassian let out a low groan and heard a ringing in his ears. For a while he massaged the sore part of his head and Nesta, thankfully, had stopped yelling.
When the throb in his skull lessened to a dull ache, he straightened back up, tucking in his wings tight and turned his head slightly to address her, without actually looking at her.
“I didn’t mean to come in like this. I didn’t know you were here. You weren’t making any noise so I…I’m sorry,” he cringed inwardly at his apology. It didn’t seem sincere even to his own ears, but he had meant it. He wanted her, that much was true, but never like this. He wanted her willing to show him her body, grant him permission to pleasure her, not force it to happen just as almost everything in her life occurred.
She didn’t speak for some time, and Cassian was sure he had been holding his breath for longer than was safe. When she finally did speak though, her voice didn’t hold the threat of a verbal lashing anymore.
“It’s alright. Are you hurt?”
Oh hell yes. If you didn’t also live here, I’d take the door off of its hinges first thing tomorrow morning.
He settled instead on, “Fine. I’m fine.”
He was aware of how small his bathroom was just then, if two people were in it. The proximity was not as welcome as Cassian imagined it might have been. This was too awkward to stand, even for him. He told her, “Yes. I’ll um, I’ll leave you to your bath then.”
“Oh I’m not-,” she began, but then quickly stopped.
Cassian didn’t dare turn around, in case she began yelling again. Not that she was in anyway indecent. The towel was large enough to wrap around him and his wings, so he knew she was upset by the idea of it all and not her physical state of undress. He didn’t blame her. For a female whose body had been violated one too many times, he understood how deep that struggle to keep her autonomy likely went. And Cassian in her space like this, looking at her like some lovestruck teenager who had never seen a female before- he expected her to lash out harsher than she actually had.
“Were you not about to get into the tub?” he asked her.
She replied in a low voice, "I was. But now I’m not. You can have it.”
No further explanation was given before he heard her rush forward, moving to leave the bathroom. Except he was blocking the doorway. Something was wrong. He could just tell, even without seeing her face properly, or reading the stance her body was in, she was upset. He sniffed the air as quietly as possible and his suspicions were confirmed.
The scent of it was still there and it took all of his control to not take her into his arms and assuage her terror. He decided then that he could let her leave and let whatever new horror she was facing push her further down. Or he could try to help. But she would have to decide if that was something she wanted. He wasn’t going to force her into it, even if it wasn’t in her best interests to let whatever she wasn’t telling him about stew further-and worsen.
“May I turn around?,” he implored gently, focusing on keeping his tone measured and even. Calm.
She sniffed softly before muttering that he could, under her breath.
He was careful now too. When he came to face her, he only saw the top of her head, her golden-brown hair pulled into a knot. He could tell she was forcing her eyes to stay trained fastidiously on the floor between them.
“Nesta,” he sighed, unsure of how to continue. He decided that being blunt was the only way to go about it at this point. She didn’t like to talk in circles and she didn’t appreciate it happening to her either.
“What’s wrong? I can smell your fear-” he stopped abruptly as her gaze snapped up and fastened onto him. A predator through and through. He took a step back, perhaps to calm her down. Perhaps to show himself as less of a threat.
Then he tried again, “I know something’s wrong. You were about to bathe when I came in. Is it because of me? Nesta I am sorry about that. It was a mistake.”
“I know it was a mistake you don’t need to keep saying that.”
“Then what is it?” He was begging for anything at this point. He needed to know, needed to help or at least convince her to trust him enough to tell him.
She pursed her lips before telling him in a rush of words that he didn’t comprehend right away, "I put cold water in the tub.”
“Oh…um, why did you- why did you do that?” He had no idea where this was going but he knew that wasn’t the answer he had been expecting.
“Because Cilla said I’d be too sore tomorrow if I used hot water.”
“She’s right, it helps with the muscles. If you use hot you’ll be hurting more tomorrow,” he told her, still not quite sure what the crux of the matter was. But he could be patient and try to coax an answer out of her.
“I can’t,” she breathed out, looking away from him now. Her arms were crossed tight over her chest and her breathing had turned shallow. He needed to hurry up.
“What can’t you do sweetheart?”
She closed her eyes at the question and he wondered if he had pushed too far. If perhaps he had overstepped some boundary she had been drawing, that he had missed or-
She blew out a breath she seemed to have been holding in for too long and then with more clarity and coolness in her voice, than he had witnessed since this entire debacle began, she replied.
“I can’t get into the tub.”
Not the most explanatory response but he could try to work with it. Perhaps it was about her training today.
“You’re too sore to get into the tub? I can lift you in if that’s the problem. I won’t look-”
“No,” she ground out and cut his rambling off.
He waited for her to continue, taking a selfish sweep over her body again. She had lost weight, he had known that. He had seen her slowly reducing figure each time they saw each other at Feyre’s parties, or forced appearances on Nesta’s part. But now without her coat and skirts, he could see just how small she had become. Not that she had been large to begin with-the most slender of the Archeron sisters, but also perhaps with the most curves. It had been a tempting combination to him the first time he had seen her, even as a human. He didn’t find her any less beautiful now, but that desire…he pushed it down. It wasn’t about him. She needed to heal her body. Bring back it’s health, it’s strength that he had felt a handful of times when she shoved him hard enough to force him back a few steps. And that had been without training. Gods what she could do if she let herself unleash properly.
He guiltily met her eyes but she didn’t seem to register what he had been secretly appraising. Maybe he should ask again about what-
“It’s too similar to the Cauldron. I can’t…the water…it’s just…I…I can’t,” she choked out finally. Silver began lining the bottom of her eyes and his fingers twitched at his side, forced to stay there instead of reaching out and catching any stray tears that might fall.
He had had no idea. Sure he had his own list of things that he avoided after particularly traumatic events, whether it was from wars, torture, or even the killings he himself handed out. His whole family had them- even Amren, although she didn’t share too much about what haunted her. But he never thought about the Cauldron in that context. He had assumed it was a painful transformation, immortality not being the blissful balm it was so rumored to be, but he didn’t realize what that could translate to later on. For Nesta. For Elain. He was a gods-damned idiot for not asking sooner. But now he knew. Now he could try and do something about it.
“I have a shower in my room. You can use that,” he told her firmly. He wouldn’t budge on this. She didn’t need to get over this fear today. He would help her with it when she was ready. Maybe another female if she didn’t want him. He didn’t care as long as she was alright. But for now, he could do this much for her.
“But won’t you-”
“No I don’t mind Nesta. Come on.” He moved out of her way and into the hallway, leading her to his room. To his surprise, she didn’t bother to argue further as she trailed behind him silently. He led her into his bedroom, cursing inwardly at the state of disarray he had left it in during the morning in his hurry. Not that she said anything about it. As he turned on the light and showed her the knobs for hot or cold water, he noted that she looked more at ease than she had been not two minutes ago.
As he moved to leave she turned to him and said, “I left my clothes in the other bathroom.”
“I’ll get them and leave them on my bed. I won’t come in until you’re out. Just get dressed in my bedroom. I’ll make some dinner after I take a quick bath, alright?”
She looked at him wide eyed, in surprise or some other emotion he couldn’t place, but finally gave him a small nod. He left her then, closing the bathroom door as he exited. When he came back with her clothes, he set them on the bed and left, the sound of the running water in the adjoining room following him all the way down the hall.
Once he was bathed and dressed, he set to work on dinner. He wanted this to be a good one because she was dining with him now. Or at least he assumed she would, all things considered. He wasn’t sure about what her stomach could handle just yet, but going off of his own experiences, he decided to make a simple stew of vegetables and chicken with some Illyrian spices. The dish was close to his heart- it was the first thing he had learned to cook from Rhys’ mother. The only one of the three boys to even take to cooking, and to do it well. He carved a few slices from a loaf he had bought a few days ago, and toasted it with butter. If Nesta was going to put on the lost weight, he would need to be more generous in some ingredients to help it along.
She didn’t make much noise as she joined him in the kitchen, silently padding over to the counter in the middle and seating herself. Her confession had cut him deeply inside. How had he missed it? How could he have never asked? Another part of her admission had him questioning something very obvious.
“How did you bathe before?” he blurted out, inwardly cringing at his lack of tact.
She wasn’t fazed though and he shouldn’t have been surprised- he had already learned by now that getting to the point was what Nesta preferred best. For a few seconds he thought she may not give a response as she instead busied her hands with pouring herself a cup of water. After a few small sips, she cleared her throat and replied, “I used buckets before. And it’s not…”
Her voice hard turned sharp and hard at the end, and he wondered what was wrong. He stopped his chopping and focused on her completely, letting her take her time to finish what she was saying.
“It hasn’t been like that for a while,” she finished in low voice, turning back to her water glass and tracing the rim with her finger.
“What do you mean? The fear or the-”
“I am not afraid!,” she screeched at him, all attention to her glass left forgotten.
He took a sharp breath in, feeling his heart caving further and further. She was hurting that much was clear. There was so much anguish there on her face and he didn’t blame her for lashing out. Nobody liked to be told what they were afraid of, Cassian included. What he would give to have her permission to tuck her into his chest and wipe away the tears that were once again gathering in the corners of her eyes. She seemed to realize how much she had shown him- the sheer vulnerability- and she blinked furiously before pushing out of her seat and turning to leave.
Not so fast.
He caught her by the wrist, gently but firmly. She began squirming and hissing at him to let her go.
“You need to eat. You can’t use your anger at me as an excuse to starve yourself. I made dinner.”
“I don’t want your fucking food Cassian. Let me go,” she shouted at him. He was unfazed though, her anger reviving a beast inside him that he hadn’t let out to play in a while. She wanted to be mean? She didn’t want his help? Fine. He didn’t have to be nice about it either.
He let go of her wrist, but whirled his body around so that the doorway to the stairs was blocked, crossing his arms and cocking a hip against the frame. She’d go ballistic at his stance, the cockiness- the ease- and he would need it this time. Anger, it seemed, was her only solid emotion. And angry was better than nothing at all.
He forced his voice to lower, summoning the Commander’s mask he had perfected so long ago when cocky recruits couldn’t be bothered to listen to a bastard born nobody. It was one of his strengths. They may have hated him, but he made a damn good leader, and they followed his strength even if they could follow nothing else.
“Sit back down. I don’t want to hear it Nesta. You trained today-you’ll eat. I’ll tell you about the queens like I promised you I would, and then you can go. If you leave when I move out of your way, if you go back to your room, Mother above help me, I will force this food down your throat like a child. I don’t give a shit,” he finished with snarl.
He wouldn’t actually do that. He didn’t think he could ever physically violate her like that without reducing both of them to tears. But she needed to eat, and if the threat forced her to do this one good thing, then fine, he could be the villain for the day. It wasn’t like she didn’t already see him that way.
The fury simmering on her face was radiant- a fully living entity of its own volition. If it hadn’t been aimed at him, he would have rejoiced at the progress. He hadn’t seen her look like this in a long time. He had pushed too far, he knew he had, but he also always thought she looked gorgeous when she was seconds from flaying him alive.
Then suddenly it was chaos all around them. Glass shards went flying everywhere, and he heard her scream in terror, or perhaps rage, as it cut them both. It took him two steps to reach her and four to haul them out of the kitchen completely, without, to his relief, cutting either of their feet on the broken glass littering the kitchen floor.
He left her in the sitting room to survey the damage left behind. Glass was everywhere. His counters. The floor. The fucking sink had been loaded with unwashed dishes- those too now sat in broken jagged mess in the tub of the sink. He really had pushed too far. Nesta had caused every single glass object in view to explode. He saw that anything inside his cabinet was still intact, thank the Gods. He didn’t have time to go out and shop for his own necessities, let alone kitchen utensils and plates.
He tiptoed around until he reached the broom he kept in a adjoined supply closet, filled with cleaning supplies he never had much reason to use. Sure the house accumulated dust just like any other home, and Cassian could be bothered to touch it up every few months. But messes like this weren’t at all common. As he swept, he realized it was her powers. Finally, after so long, they had made an appearance. He mused over whether it was the training, her complete lack of alcohol, or his words. Maybe it was all three. He should have been terrified that she could have seriously injured the both of them in her anger, but he was just too curious. Amren never had figured out what Nesta had stolen from the cauldron. He had seen the damage she was capable of when she had decimated legions after aiming and missing at Hybern. He knew the potential. But she was raw. Too raw. It reminded him of when his Illyrian powers had begun manifesting in him-the damage he had done, the mistakes he couldn’t take back. The Siphons helped of course, but it wasn’t enough to have them and be unaware of how to control the killing power.
He needed to train her. She may not want to learn combat training from him just yet, and that was fine…for now. But with her powers, no one else would even have an inkling of where to start. Neither did he if he was being honest with himself, but he was the closest shot Nesta had.
He was so lost in his thoughts, figuring out how to approach her training, figure out how to even convince her to come train with him, that he didn’t hear her come in behind him. She had grabbed a spare broom from the closet he had left ajar, and was methodically sweeping the glass towards the front of the kitchen. He didn’t say anything, content to let her be, and she seemed to agree with their silence. The kitchen was clean within the hour-all evidence of Nesta’s gifts had been eradicated. The food had thankfully all been covered so at the very least, they would have dinner. She would have dinner, and at that thought Cassian felt a little lighter.
“You’re bleeding,” Nesta said softly next to him,. He turned towards her and saw her gaze fixated on his bicep. Indeed there was a small gash there from where the flying glass had hit him. He had barely registered it in his panic to get Nesta away from all the chaos around them.
“It’s already healing.” Then he halted and looked at her again, surveying every inch as quick as possible so as to not upset her with his staring. She had a barely visible cut on her left cheek, the thin red line a stark contrast to her porcelain skin. Other than that though, she was fine too, and he let out a sigh of relief, averting his eyes now that he knew she was okay.
She didn’t respond to the assessment of his new injury, preferring to continue sweeping the now clean floor. He carefully walked up to her and gently took the broom from her hands, which he saw were shaking in small tremors.
“Wash your hands, come to the living room. We’ll eat there.”
She opened her mouth to maybe protest, and he stopped her before they could have another replay of what had just happened.
“Please. I don’t want to fight with you, contrary to whatever you may believe. Just come eat. You don’t have to talk to me.”
She seemed to struggle with letting it go but finally relented and pattered over to the sink to clean up.
They ate in silence-stifling, oppressive silence.
He hated it.
Talk to me damn it.
She didn’t though. Nesta was content to keep her gaze pointedly fixated on the plate in her lap, her feet tucked under her knees on the sofa across from him. He had taken residence in the armchair closest to the fireplace, which was now empty of its flames. He had forgotten to light it when he came home in all the excitement of earlier, and he felt the chill in the air start to creep into his bones. He spared a quick glance to Nesta and saw that she too was slightly shivering. Well that settled it then. He set his plate onto the oak table in between them and moved to light the logs in the hearth.
“What are you doing?” she asked, just as he had struck the match to the emberstone he kept next to the fireplace. He chanced a look behind him and saw the alarm on her face. Strange. He didn’t know what he had done now.
“It’s cold, I’m lighting the fireplace. I can hear your teeth chattering all the way here so don’t tell me not to light it. I know you won’t light the fire in your own room- “
She opened her mouth again to speak, this time an indignant look of contempt preluding it, and he knew she was about to argue so he beat her to it again. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to hear her speak, or even fight back with him, but to upset her again so soon after her outburst could lead to an ever more devastating release of her powers. Curious as Cassian was about the damage he knew she could do, he had no interest in being the sole target of it in such close quarters.
“Yes, I’ve noticed sweetheart,” he crooned, unable to stop himself from messing with her just a little bit, “I’m not that dumb. I get that you like to punish yourself and see just how far you can push your body’s limits, but this isn’t the place. Illyria is in the mountains. It’s not Velaris. You’ll freeze yourself to death and we don’t have any healers close enough to treat you if you get sick or hypothermic.”
He turned back to the hearth, lighting the now extinguished match again when he heard her sharp inhale. Was she really going to argue with him about this? He didn’t think he had it in him anymore after the day he had to keep up. He had to give it to her she-
“Please don’t,” she whispered and Cassian stopped cold. He scented her terror in the air for the second time that day and it sent his heart galloping frantically in rage. He blew out the match and stood, this time going to where she was sitting on the couch, and stopping a foot in front of her. She looked horrified. And afraid. Had he done something? He wasn’t sure what it could be. Earlier it had been the tub, the reminder of the Cauldron triggering some old trauma that she had perhaps gotten over. But what-
Fire. She’s afraid of the fire.
It hit him like a boulder from the Steppes and the brutal truth nearly had him falling to his knees. Of course, he mused inwardly. Something about it had to be jarring for her, likely triggering another horrid memory for her. Had it been the Cauldron? Was immortality granted to her in the form of flames?
No it wasn’t that. He had sat with her at the hearth in the House of Wind’s library many times, and she had always sat close to the fire, burrowing into the side of the couch that had warmed from the proximity to the heat.
“It’s the fire isn’t it?” his voice rasped to her.
She looked up at him with widened eyes before giving a tiny nod, confirming his suspicions. He debated about it for a few seconds, and then he was moving to sit next to her. She didn’t push him away, or leave, so that was a good sign. At least he hoped it was.
He looked at her then, really looked at her. How she had coiled into herself, likely to preserve any warmth she could find. How she hadn’t said a word about how cold she was all these weeks, refusing to light the fire in her room. And he had been an ass thinking she was doing it to spite him. Selfish. That’s what he was, assuming all her actions harped on being cruel to him Why he never saw things her way first he didn’t know? But he would need to start fixing that, starting now.
“Will you tell me about it? If you can. Tell me about the bathtub. Tell me about the fire. If you can talk through it, sometimes it helps. I want to help you sweetheart. Talk to me. Please.”
She moved those steely blue eyes away for a moment, and he was left feeling lost without them grounding him. But she only moved her plate off of her thigh before turning her body to face him properly. She clasped her hands in her now empty lap, picking at the nail beds every so often. For a moment he thought she may not answer- may not be ready to answer. But she did then. And he listened- for the first time in a long time, Cassian listened to Nesta, and he heard her this time too.
She told him about the tub. How she had forced herself to get over her fear of it, day after day of painful submergence until she didn’t pass out from the sheer terror of it all. How she had gotten over it, but the water she used today had been so cold, just like the Cauldron’s, and it had sent all her progress hurtling backwards.
If his heart wasn’t already shattered at the admission, at his callousness at not asking sooner, it was annihilated when she revealed the truth about the fire. How to her ears, it sounded like snapping bone each time the flames licked over a particularly dry spot on the wood, sending out that burst of noise that so terrified her. She didn’t tell him who’s breaking bones it sounded like-she didn’t need to. He knew that one day or another, the death of her father was something she would need to face head on, and properly grieve him. But it didn’t have to be today. He didn’t want it to be today for her anyways. She had enough to deal with right now.
“Is there anything else I should know about in this house that could cause this to happen again.”
“No. That’s all.”
She tucked a stray hair behind her ear, swallowing lightly and picking at an invisible piece of lint on her dress. He had never seen her look so small before- so dejected. It was alarming to witness. Even when she cried, she cried with rage, with a fury from within at the injustice of it all. Right now, she was just…small. He didn’t know what to do with that, with her like this.
She was cold though, so he left her then to go to the linen closet in the back of the house where he kept spare blankets. He piled on three heavy fur blankets that he saved for when snow piled up to the knees in Illyria, and cold was all that existed in the world. Just cold and snow. And misery if you weren’t properly equipped to deal with it. It was coming, maybe in a month, maybe two, but that famous Illyrian winter would soon be here, and he’d be damned if Nesta suffered through it just because of her aversion to fire. He got halfway back to where he had left her before turning around and grabbing a fourth blanket, just to be safe.
The only reaction he got from her when she saw the mountain of cloth coiled in his arms were raised eyebrows. But from Nesta, it said a lot. She was surprised for one thing, but thankfully, not upset at his attempts to help her. He set them down on his armchair, grabbed the thinner one, if any of them could even be called thin, and tucked it around her.
“I’m going to go put the rest of these in your room, alright? You can leave the one you have on the couch for when you want to sit here.”
“Alright,” she answered.
When he returned, she had wrapped the blanket closer to her and her plate of food was empty.
“Do you want more?,” he asked, softly as he could muster with all the power still thrumming in his veins at all she had revealed to him.
She shook her head, still not meeting his eyes, and he took her plate from the table into the kitchen.
He felt her enter the kitchen behind him a few minutes after he began washing their dishes.
“I can help,” she said faintly.
“No thank you. I’m almost done,” he replied as cheerfully. It was forced but if it helped her mood right now, he could do it. “If you want to help me, you can finish up some of the bread pieces left over on that plate over there. I won’t have to pack it then.”
She saw right through him. “I’m not going to eat more just because you want me to,” she replied testily.
He turned off the running water and dried his hands. “So what will make you eat? Is there something else I can cook for you?”
“I’m not your pet that you need to keep tabs on my eating habits,” she said coldly.
No you aren’t my anything. And you just love to rub it in don’t you sweetheart?
He tried not to show how much her words had hit him but he had never been as good at masking his emotions as she was. Instead he faced away from her, like a coward, and fixated on cleaning the barren countertop that no one had used to eat at.
She cleared her throat and said, “You were going to tell me about the queens. You said you would at dinner.”
So he had. He was surprised she remembered given everything else that had happened, but really, he shouldn’t have been. Nothing got past Nesta.
“Yes,” he began sharply, her earlier words still ringing in his ears. He cleared his throat too while turning to face her, and tried again, “I met with Azriel and a few of the war-lords from the other camps. It’s not very clear from the reports, but we think the Queens have approached a few of the Illyrian camps with their emissaries. Statements of peace and uniting against a common enemy. The same bullshit.”
Her eyes instantly sharpened as she honed in on what he had revealed to her. It was almost like he could see her mind racing with what it could all mean. He had done the same thing not even a couple hours ago.
“Have the Illyrians agreed?,” she asked carefully, weighing her words and almost anxiously awaiting the answer.
He was unable to stop the cruel laugh that escaped his lips, “Some of them probably have but the pricks will never admit it. There’s this one whelp, Kallon. He’s the son of a Lord and he’s been stirring up trouble for months since the war. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is talking to the Queens and requesting aid.”
“Aid for what exactly?”
He contemplated it for a moment before replying, “One can only guess but I would say, to overthrow Rhys. The Illyrians…” he sighed. How to say this without picking a side. “They don’t like Rhys.”
Nesta let out a trilling sound, a mocking laugh of her own. “So they’ve met him. I don’t blame them.”
He started to growl at the threat, the insinuation, before stopping himself cold. Was she wrong in her dislike of Rhys, when all Rhys did was give her coldness and sharp retorts to her own prickly nature? Rhys wasn’t in his mid-twenties like Nesta. There wasn’t an excuse for his behavior. He couldn’t blame her for the dislike, he realized. He had a few issues of his own with his brother when it came to Nesta-but that wasn’t the topic right now.
He tried explaining it again, clarifying his cryptic words, “They dislike what he is. He’s half Illyrian, yes. But his father was High Fae. And specifically a High Fae who’s ancestors were responsible for enslaving the Illyrians long, long ago. They haven’t been able to forgive where he comes from. What he is a part of. He is us, but then he is also not, yet he has power over the Illyrians and they can’t stomach it.”
Her voice remained toneless when she said, “Like I said, I don’t blame them.”
“Is that all then? About the queens.”
“Expecting more? Maybe next time I go to these meetings, you come with me. That way, you won’t have to rely on me to keep you updated.” He’d like her to come with him. Nesta reminded him of freshly forged steel when she looked down on those who had no business judging her. Even those who did couldn’t help but back up a little when she stiffened her spine and readied to cut them down. A childish part of him wanted her to go head to head with the war-lords, use that lovely silver tongue to whip them into common sense. He didn’t have time to deal with traitors siding with the Mortal Queens, the Blood Rite, the clippings, and Nesta’s training. Her training…
“How was training with Cilla today? I didn’t have a chance to ask.” Because you blew up my kitchen.
She sniffed, this time in contempt. He found it amazing sometimes how quickly she could shut herself off from him, from anyone really, when she didn’t like where a conversation was going. Not even a couple minutes ago, she had been vulnerable to him about her fears. And here she was now, clamming up, wall after wall just rising up against the outside world.
“It was alright,” she spoke under her breath.
“I know you don’t want to train with me with the fighting and the weapons. But your powers…”
“Do you? Because I don’t think you do Nesta. Today it was a little bit of glass, and we were fine. Tomorrow, it may be something bigger, something deadlier, and someone incapable of surviving those injuries might be hit. We have children here too, you know. They run around all the time, all day and night. It could-”
“I know, alright?” she ground out. “I get it. I…I’m sorry about the kitchen and the glass and your arm. I didn’t mean to…” she stopped her words that had begun to jumble together in worry. She was upset again and he had caused it. Damn him and his stupid temper.
He sighed, perhaps for the hundredth time that day, before telling her. “Nesta, I don’t give a fuck about the kitchen. Or the damned glass. I care that the glass could have cut you. You could have been gravely injured. What if one of the pieces cut your throat? Stupid way to die if you ask me,” he told her with a grin.
The look of irritation on her face wasn’t new, but he hadn’t seen it in a while. It thrilled him to know she was still in there somewhere. Amidst the mask, the pain, the rage, the suffering-Nesta, his Nesta, was still there, somewhere.
“You can help me with them? My powers?” she asked him, hope or something like it lighting up her eyes.
He could, he would, undoubtedly. But there were a few things he needed to make clear. “Of course I can. But I need you to do this with me Nesta. You and I, we have our disagreements.” She snorted at that and he glared at her until she schooled her expression back into cool disinterest.
“Like I was saying, we have our moments. It’s fine, it keeps me young if anything. But when I’m training with you, don’t fight with me for fun. I’ve worked with my powers for over five centuries. I know some of what it’s like even if we have vastly different gifts. I will not cause you harm. I will not push you farther than you can go. If you’re uncomfortable, you need to tell me. Don’t lash out at me. Not because I can’t take it, but because from what I’ve seen, your power is still too raw. Piss yourself off for no good reason and you’ll end up hurting yourself.” And him, but he didn’t add that.
She didn’t deign him with a reply, not right away. She just stared at him, unflinching, in that tantalizing way of hers that had something deep in his chest purring for more. At long last she pushed off from the counter she had been leaning on and grabbed the plate of bread he hadn’t packed up yet. He couldn’t tell if she took it to eat it or just to mock him for his earlier jab.
She reached the doorway when she paused, turning back to look at him. She spoke in a low voice laced with fury, “It’s not a gift.”
“What do you mean?”
The bread? The bread’s not a gift? What does that even mean?
“You said we have different gifts. But we don’t. You have a gift. I have a curse. There is nothing giving or kind about my power. You should understand that before we start.”
Then she was gone, walking quickly up the stairs and over to her bedroom. The last he heard of her that night was the soft click of the door shutting in her room. To Cassian, it may as well have been a war cannon, signaling his defeat.
Call Me Maybe
WORD COUNT: 850
PROMPT: My family is picking out a tree, but I’m so cold I’m just waiting by the warm doors and you came to stand next to me because you have no desire to hear your siblings argue over the right tree to buy.
If there was one thing Nesta hated more than Christmas, it was the cold. Feyre had been persistent that the three Archeron sisters picked out their Christmas tree that year, driving to the closest garden centre that sold them. The Christmas tree section was outside, and as much as Nesta wanted to make Feyre and Elain happy, she was also far too cold. Alas, she now stood beside the automatic doors, feeling the warmth of the shop behind her as she watched her sisters browse. There was a group of young men browsing too, all with golden skin and dark hair. Nesta pulled her phone out of her cardigan when it sounded, a text from Clare awaiting her.
“Don’t fancy tree picking?”
Nesta looked up, a man stood before her with a smirk. His long hair was tied into a bun, apart from the few strands that framed his face. He wore blue jeans and boots, a black long-sleeved shirt topped with a leather jacket that hung from his wide, muscular shoulders. Nesta blinked, slipping her phone back into her pocket. Clare would have to wait.
“Not really,” she admitted, “Though, I’m mainly just cold.”
The man emitted a laugh that made Nesta’s core tighten. He loomed over her, far taller than she was used to. His hand slipped into the pocket of his jacket casually, “Well you’re just in a cardigan and leggings. I would be surprised if you weren’t cold.”
He was right, and that annoyed her. Nesta narrowed her eyes, “And what are you doing here?”
“I thought I’d join you. I have absolutely no desire to hear my siblings argue over fucking Christmas trees.” He shrugged, big, brown eyes staring intently into her own.
Nesta snorted, “Grinch.”
He bit down on his bottom lip, shooting a look over his shoulder. Nesta followed his gaze to see that both of their siblings had met, Feyre talking to one of the brothers while the other stood behind with a sweet but shy smile. Turning back, the man offered Nesta his hand, “Cassian.”
Nesta slipped her hand into his, his palm was callused and rough but she didn’t mind, “Nesta.”
Cassian smiled, a wide teasing smile that had Nesta pulling her hand back and tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “How old are you?” He asked, tilting his head as though he could read her.
Cassian bobbed his head slowly, thinking. “Let me take you out for a drink.”
If he had been anyone else, she would have told him to fuck off. But there was something about Cassian that made Nesta want to know more. Want to know what that tattoo peeking out from his shirt was, how her fingers felt gripping his hair…
Nesta chuckled, “You’re not my type.”
Rolling his eyes, Cassian pulled his phone out, opening it up and showing it to Nesta. “Put your phone number in, bet I can change your mind.”
Nesta hummed, pressing her lips together as she took the phone. At first, she debated putting in a fake number, but she really did want to see Cassian again. Reluctantly, Nesta put in her number, passing the phone back to Cassian as soon as she was done. Cassian held it in his large hand, tapping a button and waiting a moment. Nesta’s phone started to ring and she didn’t have to check it to know who was calling.
Ending the call, Cassian stuffed his phone back into his jeans. “And now you have my number, do with it what you want.” He smiled, tongue flicking out to lick his bottom lip.
“Sure you weren’t just checking to see if I gave you a fake?” She teased, crossing her arms over her chest, knowing how the movement pushed up her breasts within her top.
His eyes did not drop to her cleavage as he looked to her, “You wouldn’t, I’m far too pretty.”
Nesta bit down on her cheek, suppressing a laugh that would only boost his ego. Before she could reply, one of Cassian’s brothers called him, pointing at a tree with a wide grin. “Cass, help me carry this one!”
Cassian’s other brother was still talking to Feyre, her sister blushing as she spoke to the mysterious man. Cassian sighed, shoving his hands in his pockets and rocking back on his boots, “I’ll guess I’ll see you soon?”
Nesta nodded against her own advice, “I’m free Saturday. Do with that information what you will.”
Cassian smirked, nodding, and turned without another word. Nesta checked her phone, at last, a miscall from a number she didn’t have saved and an unread text from Clare.
CLARE: girls night this weekend?
Nesta smiled to herself, looking over at Cassian who was now lifting a Christmas tree on his shoulder with the help of his brother. She typed out her message and pressed send before pocketing her phone and moving to meet her sisters once more.
NESTA: can’t, i’m busy.
* * *
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I just want to see nessian happy in acosf
I think it is obvious to everyone that decision had nothing to do with Nesta’s mental health and more about forcing her to conform and assimilate. The inner-circle has this very toxic mindset that if everyone just pretends to be okay, then everything is fine. Which is why they hate Nesta. She isn’t going to put on a fake smile for someone else’s sake. The inner-circle makes hiding your pain seem righteous and Nesta is in the wrong for expressing her negative emotion but not just Nesta. Mor and Elain don’t do it as often as Nesta does but the few times they have they are framed as being too “unreasonable” as well. Like Mor getting angry at Rhys for taking away her safe space and Mor getting angry at Feyre for not telling Mor her whereabouts, then forcing her to come out and ridiculing her for it. Elain is so sweet and literally asks for nothing from Feyre through Acomaf and so on, but still gets framed as being irrational for saying no to Lucien. The ongoing theme seems to be to suck it up and do what makes others happy instead of taking care of yourself and the universe just might reward you.
I completely agree. So many other people have already pointed out the parallels. To how Tamlin is criticized for not trying to save Feyre’s life but Feyre does nothing to help her sisters; To Feyre’s internalized panic attack at her wedding and Nesta’s at the townhouse; both sisters losing a significant amount of weight, both sisters were hostile during their worst stages (i.e Feyre threw a shoe at Rhys and didn’t even smile for months. She even has a scene where she apologizes to Mor for how she first treated her and Mor responded with compassion but and told her everybody has bad days but refuses to extend the same courtesy to Nesta.). Tamlin is criticized for trying to control Feyre but when Feyre forces Nesta into the Illyrian mountains that’s not trying to control her.
Cassian, decorating a tree: Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree-
Cassian: [drops to the floor]
Cassian, while laughing: It’s so funny, me, decorating a tree for solstice, while saying it’s a Christmas tree-
Nesta: And you find this amusing how?
Cassian: I’m losing brain cells from laughing so hard-