Olympic Dreams Chapter Four
I’ve been posting snippets of this chapter all day, but I finished it early, so... surprise! I know it’s been a while, but I promise I haven’t forgotten about this story! Huge shoutout to @darlinminds for helping me figure out rugby.
A note: I know that rugby in the actual Olympics is rugby sevens, but I needed to change it to rugby league for creative purposes - it allowed me to have all members of the Thirteen on field at the same time.
Summary: Join all of our favorite characters from Throne of Glass as they take on the Olympics. And by everyone, I mean everyone. I literally have 14 main characters to work with. I might be in a little over my head. Watch as out characters experience life and relationships with the Olympic Games as their stage.
Warnings: Just some language I think.
Bending at the waist, Nesryn reached down to touch her toes, stretching out her legs. It was part of her every-morning ritual. Wake up early, stretch, run, and shower - in that order. She found it helped her clear her mind and focus her thoughts. While the Olympics weren’t necessarily a stressor for her, she was definitely starting to feel the pressure, so she needed that clarity more than ever.
Satisfied that she was ready to go, she broke into a jog, the sun on her face and arms making her smile. Even though she’d stopped running track once she started focusing on archery, it still came as easily as breathing. She enjoyed getting to take in the fresh air, especially now that she was getting to do it in such a wonderful setting. This might have been her second Games, but she suspected the thrill of them would never wear off.
She allowed her mind to wander as she wove through the complex, slowly gaining speed and allowing her stride to lengthen as she ate up the distance. Thankfully, she didn’t let her thoughts consume her entirely, because she was just about to round a corner when she noticed the shadow coming toward her. Stopping herself so suddenly she nearly fell over, Nesryn just barely managed to avoid slamming into the man who’d appeared in front of her.
Looking up, her annoyed sigh turned into a huff of laughter. “Sartaq,” she groaned, taking a moment to catch her breath. “I’m starting to think this is personal.”
“Nesryn, hey,” he panted, bending down with his hands on his knees. “We have to stop meeting like this.”
She laughed again, shoving his shoulder gently. “You just need to learn to pay attention to where you’re going!”
“Yeah, yeah.” Standing back up to his full height, he smiled widely at her. “You’re quite impressive,” he started. She raised an eyebrow, and he elaborated with a nervous chuckle. “Your archery skills, I mean. Your performance at ranking was… quite good.”
Nesryn blinked. Ranking had been two days ago, and she’d had no idea he’d been there. “You were there?”
He looked a bit sheepish. “Uh, yeah, well… that was the morning I ran into you -”
“Yes, I remember,” she interjected, laughing as he winced.
“Anyway, you mentioned you had ranking and I thought I’d come watch.” Sartaq ran a hand over his hair, which looked like it was one good shake of his head away from sliding out of the messy bun it was in. “Like I said, I was impressed.”
She nodded. “Yeah, the team is good this year - really good.”
“Seems to be that way, though I’d say you were the real standout,” he said, winking at her before giving her a questioning look. “This is twice now I’ve found out and about on an early run.”
“The morning is the best time of the day for it,” Nesryn replied, arching a brow in confusion. He was out early, too. “You don’t agree?”
He laughed, the sound deep and pure. “No, I do. It just surprised me, is all. It’s been my understanding that people - or at least my siblings - don’t seem to agree.”
“So that’s why you’re always alone?”
“Indeed,” he muttered with a shake of his head. “Although, I could use a runny buddy, if you’re up for it?”
Barely taking a moment to think about it, she nodded in agreement. Something about this man made her feel at ease, and she wanted to get to know him, spend more time with him. “I’d like that.”
The two of them set off at a brisk walk, making their way back to their building. “So,” Nesryn started, “are all of your siblings here? Like, competing, I mean? There’s, what, five of you, if I’m remembering right.” She’d spent a lot of time familiarizing herself with the names of the athletes on the Erilean team so she could keep up with the standings.
“All but one, though my whole family is here for support,” Sartaq answered. “And, yeah, there’s five of us competing, but six altogether. Arghun is the oldest - this is actually his third Games. He’s on the fencing team. Then it’s me, then my sister, Hasar, the captain of the women’s rowing team. Kashin is next - he’s an equestrian jumper. The other one actually competing is Duva. She’s a synchronized swimmer - oh, sorry, the technical term is ‘artistic’ swimmer.”
“What about the one who isn’t competing?”
“Oh that’s Tumelun,” Sartaq chuckled. “Trust me, it’s not for lack of trying that she’s not on the track and field team. She’s only sixteen, but there’s already talk that she’ll be at the next Games. She’s one hell of a pole vaulter.”
Nesryn nodded at his words. He certainly came from an athletic family. “That’s quite the impressive line-up, and yet none of them want to run with you?”
“Arghun, Duva, and Kashin aren’t big on running, and when Kashin decides he does want to go for one, he goes with his boyfriend, Rolfe.”
“That’s right!” Nesryn enthused. “Rolfe told me who was dating, I don’t know why I didn’t put two and two together.” Rolfe was the captain of this year’s sailing team, and she’d become fast friends with the rather sarcastic man at the Games four years ago.
Sartaq huffed a chuckle “Yes, they’re very love and very much not out of their honeymoon stage.” Though he rolled his eyes, she could see happiness in them. “Hasar also usually doesn’t run, though she will if her girlfriend, Renia, who happens to be a synchronized diver, asks her to. The only one who would join me is Tumelun, so instead I’m always alone.”
“Well, I’m happy to be of service,” she replied, bumping her shoulder against his bicep. “I’ll gladly keep you company on your daily runs. When we get back, remind me to give you my number.”
“I look forward to it,” he murmured in reply, tipping his chin toward the sidewalk ahead of them.
Picking up his signal, she broke into a run, Sartaq by her side. This was certainly an unexpected twist to her routine, but one she was looking forward to.
“You know your jobs,” Manon said, looking around the room and meeting the gazes of her twelve closest friends. “So go out there and do them. Do your jobs the way you’ve always done, and nothing and no one can touch us.” She nodded to the blonde at her right, and Asterin stuck her hand into the circle.
“Who are we?” she shouted, bumping her hip against Manon’s as she did.
The answering cry echoed off the walls. “We are the Thirteen!”
“From now,” Manon told them, placing her hand on the top of her teammates’. “Until the Darkness claims us.”
The room was filled with the shouts of her team, and it was all she could do to bite back her grin. It was game time - she needed to be focused. As the circle broke around her, Manon took a moment to collect her thoughts. It was the first game of the rugby pool - and the first game of the Olympics, and she knew her team was ready. She knew she was ready.
This was their moment. They were the best ranked women’s rugby team - not just in Erilea, but across the world - and it was time to prove, once again, that they’d earned that title.
Lifting her eyes, she watched her team fall into their standard two lines. They’d entered every game in the same order, and it was a tradition she knew they’d never break. As the captain, she stood alone behind the two lines, bringing up the rear and anchoring her team.
As she settled into position and waited for their coach to motion them out onto the pitch, her cousin turned to face her, a curious look in her eyes.
“Dorian coming today?” Asterin wanted to know. Though Manon had often preferred to prepare in silence, her cousin found small talk more helpful, so she often indulged her need for conversation as they waited.
“Nah.” Manon shook her head. “He has his first volleyball preliminary this morning, but he’s coming tonight.” They’d gotten lucky in their games during the pool - one in the morning and one in the evening, which gave them plenty of time to rest. “What about Fenrys?”
Asterin nodded, a smile settling over her face. “Yeah, they only have a short practice in the afternoon, so he’ll be here for both games.”
“That’s good.” The words barely left her lips before their coach was nodding, the signal for Imogen and Ghislaine to lead them out on the field.
It was time.
Finally. The whistle sounded for halftime, and Manon heaved a groan as she sprinted for the sidelines. The rest of her team dove for their water bottles, but she dropped into the chair next to Yrene, who was serving the medic for their games today. “Can you wrap some ice around my knee?” she asked, motioning down to her right leg. She’d taken a hard hit early in the game, and while she knew her body well enough to know that there was nothing seriously wrong, she figured it wouldn’t hurt to keep the bruising down.
Yrene nodded, quickly getting to work and wrapping her knee efficiently. Manon could see her examining her leg as she did, and internally heaved a sigh of relief when she gave her the thumbs up, letting her know that she’d been right and it was nothing she needed to worry about.
“Manon,” her coach called, motioning to her from her seat halfway down the sideline. “I need a word with you.”
Hauling herself to her feet, she made her way down the line carefully, not wanting the ice to slide off her knee. “Yes?” she grunted, heaving herself into the open chair.
“Your performance that first half,” the woman started, giving her the cold, calculating look she was so well-known for, “was disappointing. Both as a captain and a granddaughter.”
Manon narrowed her eyes, the statement stinging more than she wanted to admit. She was surprised the Matron had admitted that they were related. It was mostly for convenience - she didn’t want anyone assuming favoritism had a hand in anything - but there was no love lost between the two of them. As a coach, she was tough but respected. However, as far as Manon was concerned, she’d always been seriously lacking as a grandmother. “Excuse me?” she finally ground out.
“Allowing a hit like that? Coming off the field and taking ice after your first half of the Games? I trained you to be better than that,” her grandmother spat, fire burning in her eyes. “It makes us look weak, soft-hearted. It makes you look replaceable.”
Manon just gaped at her. ‘You’re mad because I’m taking care of myself?”
Barely sparing her a glance, the Matron went back to scribbling on her clipboard. “I know that hit didn’t do any serious damage. You don’t need that ice. Now, get over there to your team and stop making me look bad.”
Biting her tongue to keep her anger from spilling over, Manon just pushed out of the chair and joined her teammates where they were huddled up. “Everything okay?” Vesta asked, sliding over to make room for her to join the circle.
“All good,” she replied, though by the look Asterin shot her way, she could tell her cousin didn’t buy it. “Let’s talk strategy for the second half.”
They started spouting ideas quickly, something Manon was grateful for. Thinking about the game was the perfect distraction as she attempted to shake off everything her grandmother had said.
That didn’t matter now. She had a game to win.
Sweat dripping down his temples, Chaol knocked gloves with his opponent before returning to his corner of the ring, slowly pulling his gloves off. Brullo, his coach, climbed under the ropes and held a towel out to him as the noise of the crowd finally reached his ears. Whenever he was boxing, everything around him faded away until it was just him, his opponent, and the ring.
Letting the sounds filter in around him, he sank into the stool Brullo had set up for him, taking the towel as he pulled his mouth guard out and put it back in its case. “That went well,” he said, wiping his face before running the towel over his short hair.
“Better than well, I’d say,” his coach muttered in reply. “You just won your first boxing match of the Games. That’s impressive.”
“It was just a preliminary fight.” Chaol busied himself with pulling off his hand wraps and stuffing them in the bag Brullo had dropped as his feet. “We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves.”
“How many times do we need to go through this?” Dropping to a squat in front of him, Brullo shook his head at him. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the title fight or just one for practice - a victory is a victory and it’s something to be celebrated.”
Chaol nodded, a small smile slipping over his lips. He’d always been too focused, always wanting to make sure that he didn’t lose sight of his goals or get distracted. He tended to overlook victories that he’d deemed unimportant, but his coach was constantly reminding him that every fight mattered. “You’re right, coach,” he replied. “Thanks.”
Standing, Brullo just grabbed his bag and headed for the locker room. “Yeah, yeah,” he grumbled, waving a hand in the direction of the front row of the stands. “Looks like you’ve got some fans. Come find me when you’re done - we can go over this match.”
He nodded and looked to where his coach gestured, spotting Yrene, Dorian, Nesryn, and Ress (Dorian’s beach volleyball partner). Pulling his t-shirt over his head and shoving his feet into his sneakers, Chaol climbed over the ropes and jogged toward his friends.
“Way to go, man!” Dorian yelled, holding his hand out for a high five. “I’ll hug you when you’re not dripping sweat.”
Chaol just laughed, letting his best friend clap him on the shoulder. Turning, he accepted the high fives from Ress and Nesryn. The latter surprised him a little - he and Nesryn had dated briefly, twice, and he was never quite sure where they stood. Judging by the grin on her face and the tiny nod she offered him, he supposed they were friends again.
“I don’t care if you’re sweaty,” Yrene cried, practically launching herself into his arms. “I’m so proud of you, baby.” Sliding her arms around his waist, she slipped her hands under his shirt and traced her fingers over the skin of his back.
He wrapped his arms around her, burying his nose in her hair and breathing in the floral scent that always seemed to cling to her. Every victory was sweeter when he was in her arms, and every loss was more bearable, too. “Thank you, love,” he breathed, kissing her forehead, his lips lingering against her skin. “I didn’t think you’d make it today - don’t you have to be with the rugby team?”
“They’re off this afternoon,” his girlfriend replied. “I have to go back for their last game, but it’s not until tonight.”
“Well, I’m very glad you’re here.” Spinning her around in his arms, he kept one arm wrapped around her shoulders as they faced their friends. “I’m glad all of you are here.”
“Of course,” Ress replied. “We’re your friends, it’s what we do.”
Nesryn nodded. “Yeah, see, we come to your events and you come to ours. It’s how this whole thing works.”
“Yes, haha, very funny,” Chaol grumbled, smiling slightly when Yrene leaned up to kiss his jaw. “But still, it’s nice to know my friends are cheering me on.”
Dorian nodded, and Chaol knew that he understood. It made the pressures of the Olympics so much easier when your friends - your family - were there with you. “And we’ll keep cheering you on, as long as you keep winning,” his best friend joked. “Hell, we might even cheer for you if you lose.”
Rolling his eyes as Ress smacked Dorian in the back of the head and Nesryn yelled something about “don’t jinx him, you moron,” Chaol just pulled Yrene into his arms again, enjoying this moment with her, with all of them. He realized then how right his coach had been - every victory needed to be celebrated.
He was just glad these were the people he got to do it with.
Breathing deeply, letting the air fill her lungs and ground her, Asterin jogged into position on the field. The second half of their second game of the day had started fifteen minutes ago, and she was starting to feel it. They’d won the first one, she was in her element and she was thriving, but she was also feeling it. As the scrum-half, she was always in the thick of things, constantly passing or running and making decisions when it fell to her.
It’s why Manon had made her the co-captain. As the five-eighth, Manon was the ultimate playmaker, but Asterin’s skills with tactical decision-making were unparalleled.
Shutting her thoughts off when the whistle blew for the start of the half, she quickly lost herself in the game, not even aware that time was passing. Being in the moment with every play kept her on her toes, kept her alert, and she found herself surprised when they signaled the end of the game. Looking up at the scoreboard, she couldn’t help the little scream that broke from her throat - they’d won! That made them two for two.
Walking to the center of the pitch, she shook hands with their opponents before joining the celebratory huddle of her teammates. The joy on their faces just made her grin even bigger. Yes, it was only the pool, and they still had many games to go, but that didn’t matter.
The thirteen of them were here, together, doing what they loved and doing it amazingly - that was all that mattered.
Their circle erupted into cheers as they stuck their hands into the center, shouting their victory to the skies and the Three-Faced Mother as she watched over them. Eventually, they broke and made for the sidelines, though she could still see little pockets of celebration everywhere she looked.
Imogen and Ghislaine had flopped on their backs on the sidelines, side by side as they took in their victory. Edda and Briar had been waylaid by Faline and Fallon, and the four of them were dancing and laughing. Thea and Kaya were walking slowly toward their bags, hands clasped tightly and swinging between them. As she watched, Thea leaned in to kiss her girlfriend sweetly, causing Kaya’s smile to grow. Lin, Sorrel, and Vesta had found the other half of their crazy group of friends - Connall, Gavriel, and Vaughan, in the stands. Likewise, Manon had made her way to Dorian’s side, and the two of them were talking softly, arms wrapped around one another as they stood far too close to continue selling their “just friends” story.
Making a mental note to bug Manon about that later, Asterin scanned the crowd, breaking into a run when she found the head of golden hair she was looking for. She vaulted over the wall, grabbing the railing and hauling herself into the stands and, more importantly, into the arms of her best friend.
Nothing felt better than the feeling of celebrating a victory with a hug from her favorite person in the world.
“We did it!” she cried, jumping in place and causing him to jump with her. “We won! We won! Twice in one day!”
Fenrys chuckled, pulling her against him even tighter and forcing her to stand still. “I know, I saw - both times!” He kissed the top of her head, and she just smiled into his chest. “I’m so proud of you, Rin.”
Nodding against him, she had to laugh when she realized she had tears in her yes. She pulled back to see him giving her a questioning look. “I don’t know why I’m crying - we’ve won plenty of games before.”
He just hugged her again. “It’s different at the Games - the stakes always seem bigger. It can be overwhelming. This is your first day of games, it’s a big moment - that’s why you’re crying.”
Sometimes she forgot that he’d been to the Olympics four years ago, but moments like these reminded her. She was glad, once again, that he was her best friend. He’d been a part of so many big moments of her life, and this was just another one he would get to not only witness, but help her through. “I’m really glad you’re here,” she told him, pulling back so she could meet his gaze.
“I’m glad I’m here too,” Fenrys replied, smiling at her and squeezing her sides just enough that she giggled. “I can’t wait to be a part of your Olympic journey.”
Asterin couldn’t wait either.
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Nestaq College AU fic pt. 2
I spent the next three weeks studying more, taking tests and overall exhausting my brain. I got to the point - just after midterms - where I had to skip a few classes to catch up on some sleep. Of course, that caused me an amount of stress later on, but it was easier to deal with than it would have been.
I haven’t seen Sartaq in that time period - not that I know him well enough to have a reason to - but I haven’t had much time to care, either.
It’s been a a week and a half since midterms, and now I’ve been dumped in a new class - some sort of first aid class so I can learn how to deal with injured students. It’s not specifically designed for my major - it’s open to people with different majors, which means I have to interact with people I’ve spent no time with and don’t have a common subject to talk about.
The start time for the class is strange - not on a day-to-day basis, but rather the day the class actually started - since the professor had some problem that delayed the start of the class, and, even originally, the class only started after midterms. On the other hand, I don’t have time to ponder what the reason was - midterms might be over, but I’m still too busy.
The hallways are stiff and formal, designed for practical use instead of aesthetic, since this building is a newer addition to the school. The rest of the campus was built with interesting and detailed architecture that was a lot more fun to look at than these walls.
I’m still staring at the walls, bored by the lack of detail but unwilling to look away just yet - well, what I’m really doing is zoning out as I walk down the hallway - when I run into something tough and soft at the same time, with a surprising amount of warmth emanating from it.
“Oh- sorry,” says the person, and I look up to see Sartaq, standing apologetically, his fingers twitching slightly for some unknown reason.
I blink. “It’s fine. I wasn’t paying attention,” I say, trying once again not to stare too long or sound too harsh. Of course, I’m not trying to sound friendly either - I’ve got work to do, and my past friendships - and romantic relationships - haven’t helped me get that done.
I glance to my left, toward the door I know is next to me. I look through the small window set in the wood, seeing several students sitting in seats, some of them talking a little bit, most of them opening laptops and textbooks or drinking their coffees. I check the door number as well - 104A. The first aid lecture hall, for everything but practical assignments, since those supposedly need more floor space.
“This is my classroom,” I say, gesturing to the door and trying to end the conversation by implying I have places to be. I don’t usually bother mincing my words, choosing instead to say things outright, but something about this situation makes me pause.
After a moment, I realize what it is - aircraft operations majors classes aren’t usually on this side of campus - what’s he doing over here?
He seems to realize I’m slightly confused, so he says, “I’m supposed to take a first aid class over here, since apparently that’s required - everyone else in my classes took one some other time and only has to renew some sort of license they already got.” He shakes his hands out as if he’s trying to stop them from twitching. “It’s not a class offered by the school, right? They’re just letting someone host basic and advanced first aid courses in the building?”
So, apparently I missed an email or poster or something, because I’ve never heard this in my life. “Yup,” I say, turning and walking into the room, effectively ending the conversation.
A few people look up as I enter, but I don’t pay attention to them - they’re not looking at me for any specific reason, just wondering who walked through the door - and I see that of the few seats located in this room, only two are left.
And they’re right next to each other.
Sartaq and I are just sitting down when the professor walks in and says, “I know you guys haven’t done this since high school, but I need you to sit in the same seats each class - we need to be doing a lot of partner work for certain things and it’s easier for me if I know who’s working with who each time, without having to re-learn as the pairings change.
Only practice keeps me from audibly sighing, but I’m cringing on the inside. I don’t have anything against Sartaq specifically, but people are a waste of my time, and I hate working with them.
This is going to be a long seven weeks.
Hi! If you got this far, thank you for reading! It’s been a little while since I posted the first part, so sorry for any random inconsistencies (or grammar mistakes, who has time to proofread?).
Obviously I don’t have much of a list thing but if anyone wants to be added (or removed) let me know!
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