wow the Nesta/nessian fandom really is dead. rip
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It Was The End of Everything (Alternative Ending)
The original ending made me cry I'm not ashamed to admit. It was always on my mind to write an alternative ending so here it is.
Original story is Chapter 1 on AO3 and alternative is Chapter 2.
Somewhere in Illyria
They knelt by the absolute black rectangular column which rose twenty feet high with three small black cubes placed in front of the monolith. The black cubes were, like the monolith, cut with precision and smooth across all surfaces, absorbing the light rather than reflecting it. The bottom surface of the cubes could fit into the palm of a large Illyrian but the weight was heavy enough that anything less than a tornado would not be able to move it from where it lay. All four objects were enchanted to push back the ravages of time, leaving them as an unending reminder to what they represented.
They were reminders of those gone.
The monolith was Lady Death herself, the daughter of Time. Illyrians bowed before Death. Always.
The cubes were three people taken by Her, loved by the two who bowed before them now.
The huge Illyrian male was speaking in muted tones, telling the cubes of the stories and events of the past year. The female was an arms length away, unable to speak. Just staring at the final cube in the line. Her body had been unbearably tense for the last thirty minutes, and it finally capitulated to the tidal wave of emotion that swept through it. A wracking sob ripped through her, she buried her face in olive hands and let the tears fall.
Within a moment the male had moved behind her, enfolding her in his warm embrace. “It’s alright. Let the tears fall. Let it all out”, he whispered in her ear. So she did and let the memories come forth.
At five years old, sprinting down the corridor to hide in the linen room under the lowest shelf. Hiding from the inevitable wrath of her mother when she found out her latest prank, whether it was ‘redecorating’ the kitchen with a bag of flour, stealing her favourite lipstick or whatever naughtiness took her fancy. Waiting under the shelf for the door to open and watching for booted or slippered feet to come in. Feeling safe as she was pulled out, lifted up with one arm under her and the other holding her head safe against her mother’s neck. Her own arms wrapped around her tightly.
At eight years old, reading endlessly in the library, discussing and learning about the world and its best stories curled up on a comfortable sofa with her mother. Every question was answered patiently and with love.
At twelve years old, days and hours walking ‘La Passagiera’ in Adriata, holding her mother’s hand. Almost everyone was greeting or smiling at her beautiful parent, it was obvious she was well loved by all. Enjoying the cafes and cakes by the harbour, life was magnificent.
At fourteen years old, studying and training hard in Adriata, Velaris and Windhaven. Her mother being a tough, but fair instructor. She loved and hated her for that, but always understood the why of doing these activities.
At sixteen years old, introducing her first boyfriend. Being impressed that he didn’t piss his pants when examined and assessed by her mother’s steely gaze and icy, precise questions.
At nineteen years old, feeling her mother’s eyes boring into her back when she left home to start training with the mendicant wing of the Court of The Wind*. Always knowing that her mother would never stop loving her.
At twenty one years old, coming home because her mother was seriously ill from a mysterious, magical plague that had killed hundreds in its wake. No one knew where it came from or how it disappeared, but her mother was one of its victims. Brave to the end, she fought it to the last, but slipped away peacefully surrounded by her family. Her mother's last words to her family, “I love you.”
Her mother. Nesta Archeron.
She did not know how long she wept, but understood that she must have stopped as her father whispered in ear, “Alexeya? It will be dark soon and we need to get back before the snow starts falling.” Nodding agreement she rose and addressed the cubes, “Goodbye Grandpa Archeron, Grandma Skye** and Mother. See you again next year.” This was their third annual visit, the pain was undiminished by the short passage of time.
They took flight from the hidden valley near the hot springs. The micro climate allowed longer visits there than Illyrian winters normally permitted, but by the time they arrived back at the cabin near Windhaven they were both chilled to the bone.
Quickly, her father, the great warrior Cassian lit a fire and they huddled round it to get warmth back into their bodies. A clever system of piping ensured the rest of the house was heated at the same time.
His golden gaze turned to her emerald green eyes, “What are you doing tomorrow?” he rumbled, a half smile on his face. Alexeya spoke quietly, “Back to Adriata, spend some time with Hatterius, before hitting the road with the other mendicants. How about you?”
Cassian turned to look at the fire, “Tonight, update the journal. Tomorrow, start renovating the north wing of the cabin. After that, maybe Velaris to see the others.” He shrugged. She knew that he was just trying to keep busy, stop thinking about the loss of his beloved wife even if just for a little while. The cabin wasn’t really a cabin anymore. It was a decent sized house able to house twenty guests easily and was split into four wings mirroring the points on a compass. Alexeya had no idea when he would stop adding sections, if ever.
The journal was where her father wrote down everything that had happened on that day. He updated it for every day he lived, sometimes a few days after if he was busy with other matters. But for every day that he lived he wrote in it, always starting with ‘Dear Nesta’ and ending with ‘Your mate, Cassian’. Alexeya read it sometimes, but the emotions grew too dark if she spent too long perusing its contents.
“I’ll make dinner while you write in the journal,” she offered, “I’ll shout up when it’s ready.”
He nodded and made to leave the room, but halted at the doorway of the main room. “How long will you be in Adriata for? I thought I might come visit and we could go to the harbour cafes that your mother loved so much.”
Alexeya grimaced, “I was hoping to spend a couple of days relaxing with Hatterius, but that should be fine.”
A sound emerged that she heard all too rarely these days. He laughed heartily, “You’re just like your mother and I,” and then walked off. She sprang to her feet and yelled to his retreating form in the hallway “And what do you mean by that?”
“Sex mad,” came the chuckled reply.
Alexeya stood stock still for a second, then sprinted for the front door out into the freezing night. The snow sizzled as it collided with her super heated cheeks that were flaming in embarrassment.
Velaris, Fifty Years Later (Alt ending)
Cassian struggled to be at the House of Wind, the memories still incredibly sharp as the passage of time had failed to dull the pain of Nesta’s passing. Alexeya, her husband and Gundarsson were due in two days time and he wanted to make sure everything was fine. The House itself and him had developed an effective way to remind themselves of happier times, normally initiated by the House dropping its favourite books it shared with Nesta on his lap. Cassian took the time to read them out loud, chuck;ing and flickering lights uniting them in their memories of her.
Cassian, are you there? It was Rhys.
‘Yes, I’m here….at the House.’
Helion and Thesan have arrived at the River House. They want, no need, actually have insisted on speaking with you. Can you come down? Or do you want me to winnow them up?
‘I’ll come down. I just finished reading and my family isn’t due for a couple of days.’
We will expect you soon, brother.
Shortly after Cassian landed on the lawn and proceeded inside the House.
“Greetings Nyx, how are you?” A smile as his nephew met him at the door. “Fine Uncle, always nice to see you. And before you ask,” a slight tension in his voice, “the High Lords have not seen fit to tell me what’s on their mind.” Cassian looked at his nephew, he was around the same height as his father but a more slender build, but possessing of a wiry toughness inherited from his mother. Cassian encouraged Nyx into a better mood with a low laugh and ruffling of his hair, “One day you will be glad for ignorance, sometimes it’s just better not knowing.” With companionable banter they wound their way to Rhys’ study where Nyx bowed to the three High Lords and left the room.
The High Lords were seated but rose to greet Cassian, who inclined his head in a nominal display of deference to their positions. Helion’s eyes could only be described as glittering while Thesan’s were more guarded, Rhys’ just seemed a mixture of perplexment and astonishment. Something was up, something was very up thought Cassian while scanning the room for his High Lady who was noticeably absent.
Rhys opened up, “Feyre isn’t here,” without even needing to read his brother’s thoughts, “we felt it was better to talk to you first.” Cassian sat down after the High Lords had returned to their seats and waited for them to continue. Helion started, “An event has happened, which cannot be explained….yet. But it involves you. And here I need you to trust us in that too many details here and now wouldn't be helpful. I’m asking a lot from you old friend, but this is something that is almost unprecedented as far as I know.”
“And you’ve been around for a long time,” chuckled Cassian before turning serious, “and you’ve always played me fair. But why High Lord Thesan?” The Dawn Lord’s demeanour remained calm as he sat forward, “It’s because it defies what I know of the fae body. Helion asked for my help and right now I don’t have any explanations. It’s frustrating, but this subject needs to be treated with respect and more than a little caution.” The Illyrian turned to Rhys.
“I know nothing except what they have repeated to you. They have come to me purely because I am High Lord here.” He shook his head, “I think ignorance may be bliss, for however long I am left bereft of the facts. Which, if my suspicions are correct, won’t last too long.” Cassian stared at him, weighing his words and the inferences of the other two. “Are you asking me to trust you implicitly with something very serious and you’ll give me no details?” Two nods came back at him. “Assuming I agree to what you’re asking me, which is nothing so far besides just to trust you, what happens next?”
Thesan looked at Helion with a hard expression, which the Day Court’s Lord took as the prod to continue. “What happens next is we go to the Dawn Court where before we leave you will swear to secrecy of what you see, hear, smell, taste and touch until I release you of your oath. It’s really that big my friend.” Rhys frowned at this, but nodded assent when Cassian looked at him questioningly. “Very well,” rumbled Cassian, “I give my oath not to reveal what my senses tell me at High Lord Thesan’s palace until you release me of this oath. When do we leave?”
The High Lords stood, Helion offering his hand, “Now Cassian. Now”. The Illyrian grasped his hand and the three of them winnowed away.
Thesan’s palace was as magnificent as Cassian remembered it, but after arriving they walked lower and deeper than he had ever been. Past the hospital rooms and magical laboratories, below the dungeons and into a large room which glowed white. Not too painful on the eyes, but certainly it took a readjustment to focus properly. After he had done so he found Helion smiling at him, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “Remember the oath, my friend. Remember. And I pray the Mother gives you the serenity and clarity needed.”
Cassian smiled back, still wondering what in the name of the Cauldron this was all about. Thesan moved his hand and whispered words, a glamour in the middle of the room faded and a large bed was revealed with a fae lying on it. The High Lords gestured for Cassian to approach, which he did slowly and with no small amount of trepidation. It was a female, dressed in a sky blue dress, breathing evenly. Then he stopped dead in his tracks, the resemblance to Nesta was uncanny. There were some very small differences, tiny to be honest, which unless you knew his dead mate, even a fae would struggle to identify.
“It is strange is it not?” He hadn’t heard Helion approach, Thesan moved to his other side a few seconds later. “The resemblance, it’s like looking at a mirror. A very very slightly warped mirror, but nonetheless.” Cassian released a breath that he hadn’t realised he was holding. “What is this?” His body was trembling as he spoke in a strained voice, but he couldn’t take his eyes off the sleeping beauty.
Thesan sighed, “A relic of the Koschei War. It appeared that disparate elements in Vallahan hatched a plan to create a duplicate of Nesta Archeron. This female would infiltrate the Valkyries, after assassinating your mate,” a snort of derision from Cassian, “and then kill you.” At this he turned to Thesan, golden eyes burning, “Are you serious?” The Dawn Lord grimaced, “If you remember, everything was very serious in that war. They were losing and needed to do something that could tilt the odds. This was one of their secret weapons. But it appears from…..my sources….that the time taken to create, magically accelerate the growth of the body and train in the ways of Valkyries was too long. The war ended before the plan could be executed. This female was scheduled to be killed but her training was too effective and she escaped to live a quiet life further away where she was unlikely to be recognised.” Thesan put his hand on Cassian’s shoulder, “For all intensive purposes, you are looking at a perfect copy of the body of your mate.”
“What happened? Why is she here beneath your palace sleeping?” Cassian was on edge and his voice came out as a growl.
“She died,” replied Helion simply, “of what we don’t know for sure, but it happened around six months ago. And this is where Thesan became so important. Her body did not decay. The people of her village hailed it as a miracle, so she had lived a valiant life defending them from raiders and all manner of good deeds. She had not taken a male in her life, just seemed content to give as much as she could. They kept the body safe and gave it water and soup after it started growing thinner. Eventually they sent word to the capital of Vallahan where the ruling Lord came to investigate. He recognised Nesta’s visage and listened to the story before contacting Thesan to understand why the body may not have died.”
Cassian buried his hands in his face and shook his head. This was a lot to take in and he still had no idea where it was going or why they were making him see a sleeping copy of his wife. After a deep shuddering breath he steeled himself and spoke to Thesan, “Please carry on.” Thesan made a sympathetic noise and continued, “There is nothing wrong with the body, it is perfectly healthy and around two hundred years old if I am right. The brain is functioning, but just dreaming. That is when I called in Helion.” He looked across Cassian’s chest to his counterpart from the Day Court.
“I was intrigued when Thesan advised me of this...happening. That was one month ago.” He faltered slightly at the glare Cassian levelled in his direction but carried on without flinching. “I used my magic to determine if there was a soul residing in the body. There is a soul in the body, one which is struggling to adapt and adjust to a new existence. A soul which I had met before. It’s Nesta’s soul.”
Cassian’s mouth went dry, but he managed to rasp out, “Are you telling me that my mate’s soul has been reborn in an almost perfect copy of her body?” Helion didn’t dare shrug, but he nodded, “That is exactly what I think. We suspect that you are the key to finally bring her back here with us. But, only if that is what you wish. We don’t know if she will hold the memories or love that you had before when you were together. So, this is why I asked you to take an oath.”
The Illyrian stilled and let the scent of the female fill his nostrils, it was identical. Whoever had magicked this new body had done it perfectly. Aside from the almost unnoticeable distinguishing marks, this body was the same, and if Helion was right the soul was now Nesta’s. “I am willing to take the risk. I have been without her for too long, Alexeya as well and, by the Cauldron, she’s never met her grandchild. Surely the Mother is not so cruel as to let her return and rip her away from me again? Surely I would have a chance to fall in love with her all over again?” His voice had taken a desperately pleading tone as tears threatened to fall.
Helion and Thesan looked at each other, “We don’t think that the Mother would be so cruel as to allow this to strip it from you. We truly don’t.” Cassian tried to think rationally, but only the emotions came bubbling up. “Tell me what you think I need to do.”
The High Lord of the Day Court spoke carefully, “This is why it has taken me a month to research this and give it my full attention. You will need to seek the bond again, use the siphons to power it because they are keyed to your every essence. I will help you seek and direct the power to the female’s soul, to rekindle the connection. We can but try, my friend.” Cassian nodded and managed to squeeze out, “Let’s do it now. I can’t wait.”
“Summon your power and feel inside for where the bond was. Use your siphons to breathe air on any embers you can find. Once you have found it, and find it you must for this to work, flash your siphons and I will guide the end of the bond into this body, towards its soul.” Cassian closed his eyes and focused inwards, flared his Killing Power in its rawest, purest form and poured the most powerful memories of Nesta he could summon. Their fights, their conversations, their training, their love, all of it, everything inwards to find a bond’s light that had disappeared many years ago. Tumbling and falling into the darkness that had clouded his soul since her death. A drop into sheer darkness off a high cliff, using spiritual wings to fly the currents of his soul.
Down, down, deeper and deeper. So far, that he wondered if he would ever find the bottom, or maybe even find his own way back. Cassian had no idea of the passage of time in the physical world, just his own deep dive within himself. Then he saw a change, the rippling of waves in a vast sea bathed in the red lights of his siphons. This is the end of my soul. Either I turn back and give up, return to Alexeya and Gundarsson, or it ends for me here and now. He sucked in a huge breath, tucked in his wings and hit the water like a spear.
Powerful arms and legs pushed in deeper, the water glowing an eerie red. Things in the water whipped and flashed around him, but always at the edge of his vision, never being able to see them properly. Cassian’s lungs were bursting now and the end was almost upon him. He exhaled, started to take in water and felt his body panic automatically. His consciousness was slipping away. It ends here. Now. Those were his final thoughts as blackness claimed him.
Cassian’s lungs heaved violently expelling water, his spirit was being lifted at a dizzying speed higher and higher. His back was being supported but his arm, legs and head were limp hanging downwards. Opening his eyes he could see gold, he twisted his head and saw his body was being borne aloft but a golden disc with a thread extending down to the water. The bond had caught him and was pushing him back up to the physical world. He lay there utterly exhausted, still no idea of the passage of time. Voices came to him, “He’s gone hasn’t he? We’ve lost him and need to explain this to Rhysand.”
“Patience my boy, not all is as it seems. Patience. Ah! There he is, I feel the power returning. And the bond. Now let me concentrate.”
Cassian’s consciousness felt the power of Helion hovering just above as he was slammed back in place into his physical consciousness. His mind also felt the bond being gently guided to the female’s body and he stayed with it. Close and closer until the bond rippled through her chest and sought the soul it needed to link to.
The soul had settled in the body, that seemed clear, but a tiny tendril of golden light was forlornly moving around. Sadly seeking something, its efforts tiny and weak almost like it had given up. His bond felt it, moved to it with purpose and the presence of Helion’s magic receded swiftly. The female’s bond swelled as it sensed his approach glowing more brightly now. His bond slowed its approach and with a tenderness that was featherlike touched the lonely tendril.
He was flung back into his body wholly as the bond snapped into place and a welter of emotions from both them crossed this shining bridge of light. Cassian rushed to her side, knelt by the bed and held both her hands with his, silently praying to the Mother for Nesta’s return. His eyes didn’t move from her face as he poured all his love and longing down the bond.
The female’s eyes fluttered, then opened fully. As she turned her head her stormy blue eyes met his intense golden gaze. Nothing else in the room mattered now, Helion and Thesan were forgotten. “Cassian….is that really you….or am I dreaming again?” came the soft whisper. The tears fell uncontrollably from him as he whispered back, “It’s me Sweetheart. You’re back with me now. I promise it’s not a dream. I promise on my life.”
Nesta Archeron sat up slowly, pulling her hands from his. She slid from bed on her knees and cupped his face wonderingly. “It is you. I’m not wandering in the dark anymore. Seeing flashes of your life, of our daughter’s. I’m really here with you now.” Both of them had tears streaming down their faces as they embraced, simply lost in the pleasure of touching each other. Cassian drew them to their feet, Nesta grumbled only a little, and turned to face Helion and Thesan, “Thank you for this. I cannot thank you enough, repay you enough…” He stopped as Day’s High Lord held up his hand. “You owe us nothing, it was just friends helping each other. Because that’s what friends do. I release you from your oath. Go in peace and love Nesta and Cassian.” The two High Lords turned and left the room giving them privacy.
“There is so much to tell you, I don’t know where to start,” smiled Cassian to his mate.
She smirked, “You don’t need to. The black cubes did their job wonderfully well. Now I need to meet Alexeya, my grandchild and our daughter’s husband. But after…..” Cassian looked a bit perplexed, but understood soon enough after Nesta tugged him down onto the bed.
“We have a lot of catching up to do.”
* - part of my AU
** - my name for Cassian’s mother
As always, let me know if you want to be added/removed
@moodymelanist @simpingfornestaarcheron @swankii-art-teacher @ladygabrielli1997 @zoyamywife @cassianscool @angelofmusic81 @champanheandluxxury @callmestarky @sannelovesreading @wannawriteyouabook @rainydaysanddustybooks @secretbondsandloveconfessions @my-fan-side @sjmsstuff @sjm-things @vasudharaghavan @audreycressworth @camnesta @talkfantasytome @hikari274
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Personally I really liked how the story of Nesta was told in Silver Flames.
I find it sad that she has treated sex has a way of devalued herself to the point of thinking "losing my virginity doesn't mean anything."
I think that she did that to prove to herself that it didn't matter, that she didn't deserve to be happy.
And that's why she insists on telling Cassian "It's just sex, it can't be anything else." And then with time, it's not just the sex that is unique to Cassian, EVERYTHING is unique to him, and she just can't think of anyone else but him.
But what if the story was different...
What if Nesta was a virgin when she went to the House of the Wind, and then she starts having sex with Cassian to "break the rules", in the same way she had done before, but only with Cassian.
Then as time goes by, in the same way it did in Silver Flames, she wants more from Cassian than just sex.
Do you think it would make a difference?
Because I understand SJM, not wanting Nesta, Elain or Freye to be virgins.
But Nesta's is the older sister, and she was the last one to lose her virginity. To me, is hard to believe that, it didn't matter for her. That it would be something she would do with anyone.
Because if you look at it, having sex in the way that Nesta did, for her, was also a way of "punishing yourself"...
What do you think? I am open to discuss!!
Hi girl! I love this ask. Because I think it touches on things I’ve thought of way too deeply for a long time.
So, pre-ACOFAS I think we all just assumed that with that entire showdown between Nessian and the King of Hybern, and that beautiful confession+Nesta staying with him, that Nessian would become canon in the book after ACoWaR. When I read ACoFaS I think I lost my mind a little bit. Because it was so Oh My God what the hell is going on with Nesta?
And I think SJM did this for two reasons. One, the obvious one, is because she doesn’t like writing losing virginity scenes and doesn’t want the endgame couple to be a “she lost her virginity to him” sort of deal. Second, it shows just how messed up the war has made Nesta. This is a girl who wasn’t comfortable with casual sex (as we saw her telling off Feyre for sleeping with Isaac) or showing off her body (the conservative dresses and disapproval of Mor’s clothing choice). She didn’t sleep with Tomas even though they were kind of together and he wanted to. Now that was obviously a good thing, but, we get the sense that Nesta really does embody the whole “sex only after marriage” kind of thing, which makes sense. If we look at her upbringing, and her mother, that’s exactly what she would have been taught to do.
So, I am torn on the whole sleeping around thing for a myriad of reasons. One, because before ACoFaS I really did think Nesta would sleep with Cassian as her first time. And I might be in the minority, but I was okay with that. I really thought that Cassian would make it a good first time, wouldn’t hurt her, would be patient and understanding, and even if she made it a “just sex” sort of deal, it would have been a lot less trauma inducing. Now, I like the drama of it all, and of course, we love breaking stereotypes and casual sex being illustrated. But...it falls flat for me when we reach ACOSF because it’s not properly laid out or addressed.
Nesta is acting completely out of character. She’s trying to drown out her battle trauma, her sexual assault, her depression, and it’s all a big numbing game between the sex, alcohol, gambling and music. If and I heavily emphasize if, this was all spoken about in ACOSF I would have been like, job well done. We touched upon why she did all of those things, what exactly hypersexuality after a sexual assault can be like, and what depression and PTSD can do to cause an increase in dangerous and risk-taking behaviors. Instead we got a few sentences here and there on how Nesta is ashamed of doing those things and how she doesn’t want to go back to doing all that. It’s all very inner monologue sort of dealing with your own thoughts kind of healing, but she never talks about it with anyone. She deals with her father’s death and that does get closure, but everything else, not so much.
Now onto your what if she were a virgin just a bit more. Yeah I like that idea a lot. But I think fans would have been like, “So he took Mor’s virginity and now Nesta’s too?” Personally, I don’t care for calling it “taking” but that’s just how we have to phrase it. Because that to me implies a loss of something. And I remember watching a doctor (gynecologist) say that she hates how we tell girls it’s a losing of virginity rather than an experience to gain. Because sex can be great! And cool and definitely not something that’s resulting in a loss. But I’ve digressed. Point is, I would have liked that scenario a lot. I think it still could have had the element of push and pull and longing/pining because Nesta would have made it a casual thing but obviously they’re both in love with each other and it would just become more and more apparent with each time.
You said she’s punishing herself. I agree. And actually, Nesta agrees too. On Solstice night, that’s what she tells Cassian. That she was punishing herself to stay away from him by sleeping with everyone else, because, he was too good a person for her. She believes she didn’t deserve him. So I believe it! I think she punished herself for being such a horrible person (she’s not but who’s going to tell her that?) and for having Cassian still love her, so she tried to make herself completely unavailable to him and also to sort of say to herself “you only deserve sleazy one-night stands, you can’t ever deserve someone as great as Cassian” and then she went on with the sex.
I believe deep down Nesta did care that she slept with a random guy instead of the man she was in love with. I believe, well, I know that Nesta is a romantic at heart. We’ve seen it with her books and her love and silent care. So I think she is one of those girls who, despite everything she’s said in the past, really wants a magical first time. I think she blocked those feelings out when she slept with that random dude and just told herself “it’s just sex, it isn’t that big a deal,” to convince herself that she wasn’t hurting as much as she was when doing so.
So very long story short, I agree with everything you said. And I added a bunch more to it because I can’t help it. I also did really like Nesta’s story in ACOSF and how it was told, I just think it needed to be longer and cleaned up/better fleshed out in the end, because that’s where it feels rushed and falls apart.
Thank you for the ask! I’m sorry it’s such a long response.
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Cassian's brow furrowed as he slowly pointed out, "But, we are sleeping together."
Nesta took a step back, taking in a small breath before she admitted the truth to him. "Yes and that's all it'll ever be for you-which isn't fair to me, or you."
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🌹 🌹 🌹 🌹 🌹
Nesta Archeron, the Kingslayer. Now a Queenslayer too. Nesta Archeron, who to most people’s knowledge, like Amren, still had an unholy amount of power that could level entire fields. Nesta Archeron who had participated in the Blood Rite, survived, and reached Mount Ramiel. Even without reaching the peak no child in Illyria remained unaware of how Nesta had sacrificed her safety to let her friends carry on, holding the line at Enalius’ pass and surviving to tell the tale.
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Stans still defending the decision to send Nesta to the House Wind: “she wouldn’t listen, they HAD to show her tough love, they had good intentions. What else could they have done??”
You know what else could have been done??
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I recently thought about my opinion on Cassian again, because normally men that are cocky, funny and confident are totally my type. And so I was wondering why I didn’t like him…
And I‘ve clearly found the problem. I value boundaries a lot, so if someone oversteps them with me, they‘ve basically fucked up. But in Cassian‘s scenes with Nesta, we see him disregard HER boundaries, like in the bonus chapter Wings and Embers. And things like that are the reason I dislike him so much. Boundaries are pretty important to me, so when I see someone disrespect the boundaries of any person, it instantly makes me mad. Mutual respect and trust are two of my most important criteria for relationships, and if someone oversteps my boundaries, it means to me that they didn’t respect me and the boundaries I specifically set.
And what was even worse, Cassian and Nesta still ended up together. Despite him not respecting her or her boundaries.
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EWG: An Extended Negotiation
In the Vortex Nesta saw a world very similar, yet very different to her own. Her interest was piqued….
Erilea, 103 Years after Erawan's Defeat
The dark blonde witch banked her wyvern to the left, starting the descent to the plain below on the Eastern edge of the Wastes. The sun was past its zenith, but it was still a few hours until it set below the horizon. She could see that the Fae Emissary from Doranellle was already there. His tent pitched, table and two chairs set in the negotiating circle.
Hellfire and Night! He's big. Enormous. Probably, no, almost definitely a lethal killer. Why me for this round of treaty discussions?
The reestablished Witch Realm of Crochans and Ironteeth had been moving along quite well, but Doranellle had persuaded them into a Treaty which was reconfirmed and renegotiated every five years. The Fae from further East had desired to strengthen a connection to their 'distant cousins' without human intervention. The legendary courtship of Manon and Dorian had shown that it was possible to retain amicable - well that was one word for it - relations with other peoples.
Junkata landed, sending up wind and dust towards the Fae. He didn't move a muscle, just stood there, hands near his scabbarded long sword and parrying dagger. Not quite a fighting stance, but certainly ready for action. She dismounted and pulled a canvas sack from behind her saddle which contained her tent and other effects. Then the saddle was removed and a command whispered into the wyvern's ear to hunt and enjoy the sky unencumbered. With a screech the mighty beast took off and headed south.
With the dust swirling around, the witch took advantage to approach the Fae partly obscured. She was about five yards away from him when she stopped.
"Greetings Emissary," He growled out, a voice which was an octave lower than expected, "I am Cassyan, Emissary of Doranelle. Pleased to make your acquaintance." His grin was wide, canines clearly showing, but eyes cloaked in mystery. If he wanted to be a strutting peacock, let the idiot act like one was her thought.
"I am Nestia of the Witch Realm of Crochans and Ironteeth. Pleased to meet you too." The second sentence was a total lie. With her black armour, sword and navy blue cloak she cut an impressive figure, but the armoured giant in front of her certainly had no fear of her. "I'll set up my tent and then we can discuss the order of negotiation for tomorrow. In the meantime don't bother me and keep your hands to yourself." Nestia spun with her own deadly grace and walked back to her canvas sack. "Well, this will be fun I'm sure," came a sardonic sounding voice to her ears, "you'll be fun as well my blue blooded witchling." She didn't bother to stop the snarl that came out.
Around thirty minutes later, her tent had been set up with a cot bed, chair and desk settled on a large rug. Nestia walked outside and didn't see the Fae. Cassyan must have scented her because he walked out of his own tent wearing that same idiotic expression that she had first seen. Their tents were pitched opposite each other with the stone table and chairs providing a natural obstacle to the direct route between them.
She moved to the left giving the negotiating circle a wide berth. The fae mirrored her and soon they were facing each other. Seizing the initiative Nestia started, "I suggest we start with the trade agreements tomorrow and then move onto the financing of the annual exchange of scholars, musicians and such like. Agreed?" Cassyan didn't reply immediately. This female is firing my blood. But it's time to see what she's made of.
"No issue here Nessy,'' pausing to enjoy the look of outrage that flashed across her face, "but I would like to invoke the Negotiating Challenge, unless you're afraid to face me?" Nestia was breathing a bit harder, trying not to lose her composure. He was trying to rattle her, gain an advantage from the off. But there was no way she could back down to a mere male. "I accept the challenge. Now?" The sun still would give a couple more hours of suitable daylight, even if both of their night vision was superb. But no point in risking tripping when focusing on combat.
The Negotiating Challenge and subsequent Duel (if the Challenge was accepted) had become part of the agreed activities of the five day Treaty discussion set up by a particularly fiery pair one meeting. It was to first blood and the winner could demand one condition the next day. It could not involve hurt or harm to either of them and it had to be done equally to both negotiators. Doubtless he's already thought of something suitably crass. So I had better win.
They moved apart and began their warm-up exercises. After ten minutes they were both ready. He drew his two blades and she her custom made sword. They circled each other and at the first clash of steel the Duel began. Cautiously they felt each other out before the fighting became ferocious.
Nestia was faster and lighter. Not that much faster, but enough that Cassyan couldn't become over confident. He had to block and parry more strikes than normal. She knew this would tire him out faster. On the other hand the weight of his strikes was putting significantly more pressure on her arms compared to other combat experiences. It was a good match, outcome uncertain.
After one hour Nestia still had no idea who would win, but whoever got sloppy or impatient would definitely lose. Cassyan stepped back, sheathed his parrying weapon and established a two handed grip on his long sword. This is it. Only one weapon to worry about and a two handed grip for tiring arms.
Nestia whipped in at lightning speed, then eyes widened in shock. Cassyan's sword was now in his left hand instead of the right hand he had fought her with, the flat of the blade snaking out above her sword's line while her weight was hurtling forward.
Fu…. was her last thought as everything went black.
There was a pounding in her head. Sheer pain. Nestia forced open an eye and saw stars. Not the stars after a crack on the skull, but real stars in the sky. It was night time, how long had she been unconscious?
"Awake Sweetheart? I thought you might sleep through the night." rumbled a voice. She opened her mouth to speak to the fae but all that came out was, "...ck."
"Woah there. Sit up slowly and there is some water next to you." He sounded close, but not too near. Nestia moved up slowly, noticing her sword near to her hand, she was still where the knockout blow was delivered. "Why didn't you put me in my tent you unchivalrous bastard?" She had now struggled into a sitting position, fighting down nauseous waves in her head.
"You told me not to. Remember?" The depth of his voice sent reverberations through her. He must have gotten closer.
He's right. I did tell him to keep his hands to himself. That was a bit short sighted.
Nestia could now see the clay cup full of water and drank deeply. "Thank you," she said quietly. A chuckle first followed by an equally quiet, "You're welcome." Rolling to her knees she could now see him sitting close to her. Behind him, her wyvern watched the big fae like a hawk. Cassyan stood and walked a few yards to where he had already built a small fire, sitting down again on the far side from her. Another barrier.
Dizziness assaulted Nestia as she stood, but she was able to walk to the fire while gritting her teeth. When she sat down opposite the fae she could have sworn that the flames danced in his eyes. "What is the condition?" her steely blue gaze had locked onto him. Lesser males had wet themselves over the decades under that stare, but he seemed unconcerned. He has just bested me in the Duel. Perhaps he's earned the right not to be that worried about my capabilities. Arrogant male. But not without cause.
"Are you sure you can take it tonight? Your head seems a bit fuzzy," he was smiling but not in a taunting way. "I can. I'm not some simpering weakling. Give it to me straight," she bit back. And then wished she hadn't been quite so forceful as a small explosion erupted behind her left eyeball.
Cassyan tilted his head to the side, oh he was enjoying every second of this. She was arrogant, utterly convinced of her superiority but he had beaten her with a deft manoeuvre one which he had trained for, but never had to use until now in a Duel or any other combat situation.
He let the seconds drag out, watching her struggle to remain composed and calm, almost indifferent. Cassyan drawled out, "Tomorrow we will conduct negotiations naked."
Nestia's mind couldn't immediately process the words. Then her brain finally caught up with the condition. Naked in front of this savage. She was no stranger to the pleasures of flesh, and had learned of his sheer strength and power from the Duel. Her mouth tightened but one soft word emerged, "Understood."
She got up and made her way back to the tent, halting when she heard footsteps behind her. Turning, Cassyan's eyes froze her in place. Gods damn him. His eyes are actually glowing in the dark. Why does my blood feel icy hot and boiling cold at the same time?
No, that's not right. Get a grip of yourself.
The predatory expression on his face was otherworldly. His eyes trailed to below her hips and she realised with horror that Cassyan was scenting her. The arousal that wound its way like a fiery serpent through her core.
"I will certainly enjoy giving it to you straight," his mocking echo of her previous words taunting her ears mercilessly.
6 Days Later, Nova Witch City
Nestia strode into the study of the Martial Mistress and bowed in respect to her superior. The ride back had done nothing to help the aches and bruises, both internal and external, after the last five days. She noted that Marallana’s red cloak hung on a stand near the doorway; her superior was a skilled and deadly warrior, the ability to use magic as well a clear advantage over those of Ironteeth descent.
“Greetings Martial Mistress, you asked to see upon my return?” speaking in formal tones. All she wanted was a bath and time to remember the previous five days.
Five days of straddling Cassyan on his negotiating chair, being bent over her chair, in their tents, the table, anywhere really. Junkata had huffed amusement on the first morning, but had quickly tired of their sexual athletics, flying off to hunt or whatever he chose to do with his time. That final evening had been the best, the fae warrior had led her to a wild cornflower meadow close to their campsite. Nestia had been impatient because she knew their time together was coming to an end, had been standing there rubbing her thighs together and resisting the urge to use her own hand.
Cassyan had been kneeling down, doing something which she couldn’t quite see. She had respected the distance but wanted to know why time was being wasted. After a short while he turned around, presenting her with a crown made of cornflowers. He walked up to her and placed it on her head. “Now you are my queen on this final evening. And I can think of nothing better than your queenly core to milk me dry,” he was growling dangerously, eyes glowing, “what do you think about that, Queen Nestia?”
Her mind had been wiped like chalk off slate, her blue eyes as soft as some of the cornflowers that sat atop her brow. She did the only thing possible. Nestia hooked her ankle behind his calf, seized his arms and toppled him onto his back. Then she made sure every drop was milked from the huge fae, but it wasn’t enough. Nestia wanted more of the big fae beyond their five days together, so much that it physically hurt when they parted ways on the sixth. She was sure the pain was equally felt by Cassyan, given how he had been so gentle with his touches in the hours before their departure.
“Yes, Nestia,” the voice of the Martial Mistress summoned her mind back to the present, “The report from the Palace says that nothing was changed in the Treaty. That is unprecedented. Care to explain why?” The tone was not disapproving, just curious. She was still on guard as Marallana was the witch who had started the Negotiation Challenge and Duel, apparently after three days of sheer frustration with her counterpart. That had been seventy years ago.
“It seemed all was in order, Mistress,” was all that she hedged while suppressing, not quite successfully, a wince of pain. That wasn’t missed at all. “Sit down child,” came the instruction which she complied with immediately. More surprising was the fact that Marallana poured them both a goblet of spiced wine, which they both sipped appreciatively. “You know that part of the reason I wanted to challenge him is because I wanted to feel his body on mine,” murmured the Martial Mistress almost to herself, “The Duel allowed me that. And on the final nights it became more than that. But, it was just sex. That’s all. But three faced mother blessed damn good sex.”
Nestia wasn’t sure where this was going, so just kept sipping at the wine. “Doranelle has asked for a marriage to solidify our better relations.” The sentence absolutely got Nestia’s attention. “One of the Heirs? We’ve come that far in such a short time?” It was waved off quickly by Marallana, “Of course not. It’s far too early for that. A marriage of an important, but lower rank to start with. Maybe in a few more centuries it will occur at a higher level.”
“Then what? Why are you telling me this?” Nestia was genuinely curious. “It was decided about, oh about fifty years ago, that if the Treaty came back unchanged then that pair may be suitable for marriage. Because they were either tough enough to stand up to each other for five days. Or...they would be screwing like wild rabbits because the attraction was too strong to resist each other.” The look directed to Nestia was direct and unrelenting, she felt her cheeks blushing blue.
Could this be? We did spend a lot of time talking as well as pleasuring ourselves. Understanding who and what we are. We did have a common vision, which surprised both of us. We were unhappy when we left. Could we do this? Not just for duty….but for us as well. Do I want there to be an us? Yes, I think so.
Nestia was aware that the Martial Mistress was watching her intently, but not threateningly, just waiting for a response. She gulped a large amount of wine, “Yes, I will consider marriage with Cassyan. My only condition is that we have a three month courtship to ensure it’s absolutely right. Either party can walk away after that period with no personal recriminations or Treaty ramifications.” Then she finished her wine. Marallana smiled broadly, “It shall be so daughter.” Nestia was then dismissed and stumbled towards the communal bathroom with many, many thoughts swirling around her head. And her loins if truth be told.
In the Vortex Nesta saw three months later in Nova Witch City the wedding bells toll signifying the joining of Nestia and Cassyan.
She frowned as the next Nesta was living a much more precarious existence. And that troubled her.
As always, let me know if you want to be added/removed
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Maybe unpopular opinion but I don’t have an issue W nesta calling Rhys her brother. Like at the end of the day, it is a book of limited pages and whilst it seemed rushed once the blood rite started, I would rather we have so much time focused on her initial healing and focus less on plot. I think at some point, one day, she would’ve called him brother anyways, and even if the passage of time wasn’t realistic for her reconciliation W rhys, I would prefer the way it is written now rather than her losing even one line of her healing journey, especially in the first 2 parts
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How do you feel about Elain packing Nesta’s stuff up during her intervention? I know lots of people were upset with Elain for that, but to me Elain was probably the best choice? I can’t imagine Nesta would have reacted well if she found out Mor or someone else was going through her things.
This is a super interesting question and I'm sorry it took me a few days to get to it!
My issue isn't really with Elain packing Nesta's stuff up because I don't think that Nesta probably has that much stuff, and if she does then she doesn't really care about it. I can't imagine that she treated that townhouse as anything more than a place to sleep and bring home lovers. No matter what, someone needed to go, I guess. Probably Nuala and Cerridwen would have been the best choice, but that's because Elain should have been at the intervention. Whoever packed up Nesta's things, she would have gotten mad about being there because that's just the place she was in - she was going to argue and be combative and angry at the whole situation, no matter how it was handled.
My real issue with Elain being at Nesta's and packing her stuff up is that she wasn't at the intervention. This is one of the most important and upsetting things that Nesta has gone through and Elain wasn't there to either 1) support her sister, or 2) show that she, along with Feyre, agreed that Nesta needed to change her behavior.
I am definitely not an expert on interventions, but it strikes me as being important for the people we care about the most to be there? For the people we love and trust above all others to be the ones saying, "we are worried about you, you need to do something about your behavior"?
I'm not sure of Elain's motives for going to the townhouse instead of being at the intervention. Feyre was barely able to keep it together during that scene, and I'm sure that Elain would feel the same. Perhaps she didn't want to be the target of Nesta's inevitable insults? Perhaps she didn't feel like she could be strong enough to stand with Feyre? Perhaps she would have ended up on Nesta's "side", as she usually is? Perhaps she has things to say to Nesta that she didn't want to make public?
Whatever her reasoning, Elain really failed by not being at the intervention, imho. That, more than any snarky or bitchy thing that Elain may have said to Nesta in acofas-acosf, feels like it would cause the deepest rift between them (at least in terms of what Elain has done - Nesta has done her share of alienating her sisters). Words can hurt, but actions can have more meaning. So Elain not being there is more hurtful, to me, than anything she has said to Nesta.
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Me after reblogging ten pro nesta posts and one anti feyre then disappearing for five weeks;
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Songs i associate with each ship - ACOTAR
•Single - The Neighbourhood (hear me out-replace the word word 'baby' with trauma/issues i don't fucking know but still.)
•Another Love - Tom Odell (I'm sorry but all these lyrics scream Azriel and 'i sang them all to another heart' p-leaseeee this would definitely be Gwynriel.)
•IDK you yet - Alexander 23 (Azriel not realising his mate is right in front of him- uhhh this song.)
•Someone to Stay - Vancouver Sleep Clinic (Azriel being really insecure that she'd realise he's broken and him being insecure 😩😩 this would be perfect for them.)￼
•His Hands - Blegh (Nesta's POV of Cassian before they admit their feelings.)
•Wish i Never loved you - Bolshiee (Big Nesta vibes.)
•False Art - Ben Kessler, Lizzy McAlpine
•Sad Sex - Ängie, Tail Whip (Self explanatory)
•Under My Sleeve - One Hope (Cassian being a big ass simp.)
•No Shame - 5SOS ('i love the way you scream out my name' - Cassian vibes 😭)
•Always been you - Shawn Mendes
•Crazy in Love - Eden Project
•Fear of the Water - SYML (i feel like this could be super poetic as if the water represents the mating bond in which Elain fears, idk but it gives me them vibes.)
•Too Sad - Ex:Re (Reminds me of how much trauma Lucien actually has and how he'd have to open up to Elain about that.)
•Slow dancing in the dark - soar.wav (imagine Lucien knowing about Elain's feelings for Azriel but letting them happen anyway cause he doesn't feel good enough -> 😭😭)
•Softcore - The Neighbourhood
•Hurt - Sasha Sloan
•A soulmate who wasn't meant to be - Jess Benkon (This one makes me sad as fuck.)
•I Meant to hurt you - D.I.D (Reminds me of the cauldron scene where Amren basically admits she loves him but proceeds to give up her fae form anyway lmao.)
•The Few things - JP Saxe, Charlotte Lawrence (Varian being the first person she's loved 😍 MY HEART BRO, i just know that he's supper sappy with her when they are alone and she doesn't know how to respond because she doesn't know how to express emotions 😩😩)
•School Nights - Chappell Roans
•Lover of Mine - 5SOS (Gives me major Rhys and his love for Feyre vibes)
•Mystery of Love - Sufjan Steven's ( ACOMAF vibes!! Their whole falling in love progression)
•Let's hurt tonight - OneRepublic
•Die Alone - FINNEAS
•Two queens in a king size bed - Girl in Red (ummm hello, lesbian queen herself. Also Mor and Emerie are two queens in their own right so yeah.)
•Candles - Daughter (It just gives me their vibe)￼
E/riel: (this is me hating them)
•Affection - Between Friends ( 'Oh, I'm looking for affection in all the wrong places and we'll keep falling on each other to fill the empty spaces' this lyric is them)
•Washing Machine Heart - Mitski ( 'I know who you pretend i am' Girl we both know they don't love eachother and are just trying to find convenient love.)
•It's not love - Lontalius (Speaks for itself.)
•Tear in my Heart - Twenty one Pilots (The bat boys being simps lmao)
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i love it when a nesta stan comes into your comments spreading their hate, then saying i left this fandom bc of ppl like you. like okay bitch really? you “left this fandom” ? when you legit are arguing over acotar characters and your page is full with reblogs of acotar posts. hunny you didn’t leave the fandom lmao you’re still stuck here with the rest of us. dont kid yourself into thinking that telling me you “left” the fandom makes you more superior. it doesn’t. makes you a liar.
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I’m sorry, but I’m ranty now.
Another thing that irks me is the way people can only see SJM narrative manipulation where N/esta is involved, but not with R/hysand. All of a sudden, it’s N/esta that has a biased narrative, who isn’t consistent.
Now the argument of “a tragic past doesn’t justify abusive behavior”
BUT not with R/hys huh?? That’s where you draw the line???
So it’s okay with R/hys but god forbid someone else has a tragic backstory. Oh, but N/esta can’t move past being a shitty sister, BUT R/HYSAND can be redeemed (without doing shit to earn it) for s*xual assault?? Being a Tyrant?? And oppressor???
But N/esta is where you draw the line. Like my mind cannot quite grasp the leaps and holes and mental olympics employed when discussing R/hys and F/eyre. So F/eyre’s tragic backstory justifies her destroying a court? Invading several innocent people’s mind? But N/esta can’t be forgiven — oh god she’s the worst. But not you favs, huh??
So L/ucien is a bad person for being a victim too, so L/ucien deserved to be paid dust by F/eyre? For risking everything for F/eyre despite the fact that T/amlin abused him to?? But F/eyre is the only victim. Not the citizens, not the sentries. Nope, just F/eyre.
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Hi! So I was thinking about why so many people hate Nesta yet continue to defend someone like Rhy, and it got me thinking about how female characters that are known to be bitchy or harsh are always attacked by people. They’re never accepted until they change and become this kind caring person - far from who they are. I honestly think that acosf wasn’t about Nesta healing but changing into what her abusers want. No one ever tries to legitimately help her or stop her from thinking that she’s pathetic and worthless. Instead they encourage it and encourage her to change to fit their agenda. It infuriates me to no end because I don’t want Nesta to change. I want her to be the same bitter anti hero she’s always been. I don’t want her to suddenly be a “good person”. I want her to be flawed and still be accepted. If we’re being honest here if Nesta was a male character people would probably eat that shit up. They’d love it. But because she’s a female and doesn’t fall into the sterotypes of how females should be she gets hate - even from the fucking author. Nesta should be allowed to be unnecessarily unkind and a bitch because that’s just who she is. If you don’t like it then leave because she shouldn’t have to change for anyone around her. No one in the series have a shit about Nesta. Even Cassian didn’t care for her the way she deserved until the end. And even then he continued to defend Rhys. Like get off his fucking dick and do something to stand up for your mate instead of attacking her for her validated feelings against Rhys. If I’m being honest I probably would’ve liked Rhys if he stayed as a villain instead of always glorified into this hero. With the way he acts he could’ve been a so much more likable and in depth villain. Same with Nesta. There was no need to make her part of the inner circle or some “hero”. She would’ve been a better anti hero who only helps those around her when she feels like it.
I’m just angry how they made a strong and powerful woman feel like she was nothing and called it healing. Throughout the book Nesta was just gaslit and demonized. She didn’t need “fixing” she just needed someone to be there for her. Instead they forced her to be this character that’s “in debt” and submissive to the night court. None of them cared for her, they just wanted to use her and her powers. It’s heartbreaking to see a king, not a queen, fall from her throne. And the message of the book just builds into internalized misogyny - that women need to be good, kind, and caring to be accepting. No women can be deceitful, unkind, rude, cruel, and can still be accepted for who they are. Having bad traits doesn’t automatically make you a bad person.
Also can we acknowledge that the times Nesta’s free choice were taken away before were all at the hands of her abusers. Her mother groomed her into this doll and Thomas tried to make her feel like she shouldn’t say no. No wonder she reacted so badly to the inner circle doing it and why she values free choice so much. Sad the sjm didn’t have anyone acknowledge that in the book. Especially in her world where women are given very little choice. And it just shows that Nesta only has a choice as long as it appeases Rhys - a man. Ngl I do think sjm has some internalized misogyny and is projecting it on all her characters.
Hell yess!!! This post said everything!!!
I think the main problem I have with N/esta in SF is that she has to be like F/eyre in order to garner any sympathy. She can't just be -- a morally grey person. The same actually goes for E/lain. What if they are more interested in their self-perseverance? N/esta was a perfect character just because she was a little more realistic, and often not put on a pedestal. NO, they're not heroes, not looking out for anyone but themselves, but usually, that's what happens when you grow up in the system they did.
N/esta doesn't hunt because she knows that F/eyre will. No matter what, she knows that F/eyre will go out there and hunt for herself, so she doesn't bother. It's a crappy thing, yeah, but pretty realistic for the type of system she's used to. She acknowledges something similar in WAR. She doesn't want to be a warrior, to kill people, just because she knows that people will do it for her. It's just self-preservation. And it's okay to dislike someone like her, but to hate her for seeing her options and doing what she can to survive? I can't really fault her for it. She's willing to do anything that fits her, like doing the menial tasks F/eyre asks of her, but she recognized that she wasn't a hunter, and just relied on F/eyre, who was the hunter.
The problem with R/hys and the entirety of the IC is that their hypocrites. For over fifty years, they left the world out to dry, left their own court out to dry, to save themselves. Overall else, they valued preserving themselves of the people. They were unnecessarily mean and unkind to their citizens, to the world, for over four hundred years. They did exactly what N/esta, only they weren't trying to survive. N/esta did help F/eyre, she just didn't enjoy doing it, nor did she really like F/eyre. That's not even morally grey, that's just siblings. And like I said in my post about whether or not to categorize her behavior as abuse -- we don't know. It's hard to say that when the text is too unreliable. And it's hard to tie your own personal opinions because it's too broad a spectrum. Some people can argue like N/esta and F/eyre and still love and care for each other, some don't. We can't tie their experiences to our own because there isn't a reliable narrative. We get one day with them, out of four years. We get F/eyre saying how much N/esta loves her in TAR, and then when F/eyre needs sympathy, N/esta gets retconned. So, I'm not going to say N/esta is abusive because SJM didn't properly flesh out their relationship. It's not like T/amlin or R/hysand, where the abuse is quite clear even when the narrative denies it. After TAR, N/esta anger towards F/eyre is usually valid, whether it's anger at being implanted in the war or F/eyre's failure to protect her sisters after she promised them she would. It's not N/esta being mean, it's her being angry.
And even if N/esta was so raging bitch, so what? Didn't F/eyre literally take out her anger on innocent people in both the Summer and Spring Court? On B/eron, E/ris and Lady of the Autumn Court when they rightfully question R/hysand's actions? On L/ucien, literally being the reason he can't return to Spring? She's literally a villain if your remove the rose-colored narrative voice. And N/esta isn't allowed to mean??? People literally love R/hysand being cruel. That's all I see on here -- "he's so hot when he assaulted K/eir", "he's so hot when he verbally, s*xually and, mentally assaulted F/eyre" " he's so hot when he was cruel to T/am, L/ucien, and F/eyre in TAR,"
And I'm supposed to hate N/esta for being mean?? Yeah, no.
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i saw someone on twitter showing a few interesting arguments over how SJM twisted every single thing in acotar universe to apologize Nesta actions in acosf, and i want to talk about it.
as for example, when Nesta points Feyre didn't paint her, as if Feyre had to have done it when Nesta always made very clear her hate towards Feyre, judging her and treated her poorly even living by her expense.
Feyre never said anything to feed that rivalry that Nesta painted. Feyre didn't even argue against Nesta, so where does that narrative cames from? As my dear friend, @dreamingofvelaris said once, Feyre saying she was as bad as Nesta is a clear sign of abusive since Feyre is trying justify Nesta's behavior with her, once we never saw Feyre treating Nesta the same way Nesta treats her.
Nesta never tried to help Feyre and never even thought about it. She helps in the war not to save Feyre's ass, and she said she would go to the streets specifically to save Elain. Nesta let us to understand she would rather let Feyre dies than Elain more than once. So why does SJM want us to believe she did great when she saves Feyre when it's not that big deal?
when you say that everything is painted that way because is Nesta point of view, it's just you saying Sarah created a character who doesn't have sense of reality. it's a completely different narrative than the one Sarah showed us before.
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I honestly feel like the reason I have to keep reiterating the same points about characters like N/esta is because there is just a lot of hypocrisy involved in her character and a lot of assumptions that just kind of get tossed out about her. She’s similar to T/amlin and even E/lain in that regard, where the narrative around them is not reliable, and what’s said about them through F/eyre’s point of view is often skewed to fit any given narrative. Needless to say, I have yet another rant about N/esta.
It’s not even that she’s the greatest character ever, or that I would even consider myself a full on N/esta “stan.” But, like many of my rants, her character is usually representative of bigger, overarching problems in SJM’s writing. It’s always relevant to include other characters in this series in any analysis, because the problem is that the villainization of N/esta, or E/lain, or T/amlin, or L/ucien is always dependent on the framing of others. F/eyre is always integral in discussing N/esta because it is through F/eyre that N/esta is foiled. Even a character like R/hysand is worth discussing because, again, the standard of good and bad is always centered back to him.
This post is positioned around the “abuse” category assigned to N/esta. The argument between “stans” and “antis” alike is whether or not N/esta and E/lain are “abusive sisters.” And when this argument comes up, there is always the deployment of personal experiences, articles, sources about abuse, etc., -- which is great, and reiterates an understanding of the importance of these topics. The problem is the unreliable narrative voice and the distinction between what is said and what is done. Because when the narrative needs us to feel sympathy for F/eyre, N/esta’s is antagonized, but the actions of N/esta throughout all of the books either jar with it, or completely negate it. Simply put, there is not really enough evidence to classify their relationship as anything. We don’t know. The story isn’t written reliably enough to confirm of negate that. There isn’t. And even the bits of information we do get via F/eyre are often conflicting. Because F/eyre hates N/esta and says she can hear her voice, but then admits that N/esta would have gone Under the Mountain for her, and as we saw with N/esta’s actions, this actually fits exactly in line with that sentiment. The same even goes for E/lain, who sacrifices her marriage and social status to help aid the Night Court when they needed a human emissary. So, can we honestly, truly understand their relationship? Nope. I don’t even think SJM knew, because either she realized just how ridiculous their dynamic was, or she just forgot. In five books, SJM still does not know how to classify their relationship. Because there really isn’t one. And depending on how you read these books, either side is culpable. There wouldn’t be this big a divide if these books were written clearly enough to confirm. And it’s hard when people attach their personal experience to a story not a complete enough to actually back it up. It’s not like we’re reading a story that realistically covers like abuse and trauma. If that were the case, there wouldn’t be a story, because both R/hys and T/amlin would be defined correctly as ugly abusers, there wouldn’t be the need to explain away R/hys’s behavior. There wouldn’t be an argument about either F/eyre was abusive in FAS or SF if this story actually cared about the topics beyond glorifying F/eyre and antagonizing literally everyone else. So yeah, I know this was already a lot, but expect that rant cause it’s totally brewing.
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Tempus Fugit: NACF, Chapter 8 - Prodigal
Court of the Wind HQ, Adriata
Cassian’s return was quiet, which was just the way he wanted it. Only the triumvirate knew he was due to arrive, Rhys and Feyre had winnowed directly into a part of the HQ reserved solely for Nesta, Emerie and Gwyn. There the five of them waited, not much conversation happening as they focused on the return of their loved ones.
The shadows appeared, and there they were. Azriel hadn’t let go of Cassian as Rhys leapt across the room to embrace his lost brother. Nesta scooted out of the way to press a kiss on Feyre’s cheek and then hugged her Valkyrie sisters. Her younger sister joined the group of females as they watched the three males weep, shout and clutch each other as though nobody else could see them. The ladies could feel silver gathering at the rim of their eyes as the sheer joy and emotions radiated from the three brothers, reunited after ten years.
Rhys looked ready to get Cassian back to Velaris as swiftly as possible, but the giant Illyrian called a halt to this. "We have a lot to discuss and little time to do it. I think as the Valkyries are now involved right here, right now is the best place. My mate gave me some details on the walk from the baara but there's more I need to know." He looked over to Nesta who nodded her agreement. "Let's sit down and talk. Now." His tone left nobody uncertain that the discussion was going to happen here and now.
They sat down at the round table in the room. Nesta and Cassian together, with Feyre to his left. He managed to give Feyre a quick, but powerful hug with a whispered promise to tell her, all of them, more about his adventures later.
Emerie opened up as she had been on the front lines, “It’s at a standstill. A sheer, bloody stalemate with warriors falling left and right. At this rate there will be no Illyrian Army left to fight another war for fifty years. The Confederation,” the contempt and horror of the situation was evident in her voice, “are sending boys to the front.” All eyes swivelled to Cassian as he absorbed the information. “Not surprising,” he surmised, “all they have to do is prevent a Loyalist victory to win. Such a strategy has worked in past wars. Do you need more forces or a change in strategy?”
“More soldiers would mean a victory, but the price is too high. The Valkyries are adapting to combat in Illyrian terrain, but it’s difficult without flight to cover large distances quickly.” Emerie’s frustration was starting to show.
“Az, who is directing their efforts?” Cassian folded his arms and focused across the table with serious intent at his brother. “Jofgan out of Dark Skull Camp. Plus a few other Camp Lords who are close to his area.” Silence hung in the room as the former Commander General put the links together. “I think I understand,” looking up at the ceiling, “He’s lost a lot and was a loyal warrior in the past. He’s hit his breaking point and wanted, no needed, a change.”
The symbolism of that statement was not lost on anyone present. “What does he really want? Independence or a return to tradition or both?”
“Both,” responded Rhys, “But the traditions he wants to go back to are extreme. He spouts freedom but enslaves his own people. It’s a big lie.” Again Cassian fell to silence as he considered it all. “Freedom from the Night Court and the right to rule themselves as they wish. It’s a powerful mix, even if the practise is widely different from the theory.”
Nesta hadn’t said a word, was content to listen and form her own opinions and let her mate take charge of the situation. His people were fighting and dying for old and unjust ideas, she would be there supporting him whatever he decided to do. She could do that. Also, Nesta was aware that Gwyn and Emerie really wanted to speak to her about everything that had happened and not just the juicy parts. And she needed to check in on the siblings. The list of things to do was mounting up rapidly.
Rhys broke the silence, “It’s a Cauldron sent fortune that you’ve come back,” before stuttering off at the icy glares levelled at him by the four females in the room. And Azriel. “Let me rephrase that,” ever the urbane courtier, “without your mate, we would probably have never seen you again. Nesta’s actions have been the only thing of any importance in getting you back.” The temperature in the room rose again. “And it’s fortunate that the Night Court has you on their side as well,” added Rhys.
“Does it?” came the sharp response. Now everyone stilled. “The Confederation is promising freedom for Illyria. If they had come up with a plan which ensured that everyone would be treated equally, who’s to say that I wouldn’t be fighting on their side?” He was aware that Nesta’s slender had slid into his, her cool fingers reducing the temperature inside his body fractionally. “Nesta told me about Ves Dizeros and the effect that it’s having. That is always what we wanted. So my loyalty is bound to that ideal and outcome. My loyalty to you and your ideas about the reformation of Illyria does have strong roots. But any tree can be ripped down by a storm. And it sounds like you have a mighty one blowing around Illyria right now. Don’t take my loyalty for granted anymore. All of you.”
The silence in the room was profound. This was definitely a changed Cassian, still showing his emotions for all to see, but a new sense of purpose to the fore. Nesta realised that this different Cassian was only known to her, the one that had left ten years ago was no longer blindly loyal and hiding his feelings. Now everyone knew. “Except you,” he smiled down to his mate. “So,” he continued, “Because Balthazar is doing the right thing I will fight on the side of the Night Court.”
Rhys had blanched at his last statements, but quickly recovered, “Thank you brother. That will mean a lot to the soldiers. On both sides of the conflict. There remains the sensitive issue of the command structure…” Cassian had fixed him with a glare stopping him dead in his tracks. “There is no issue. Balthazar is Commander General, I resigned my position remember? I have no wish to be reintegrated into the Armies of the Night Court.”
“What do you want, Cassian?” asked Feyre. Her eyes were bright and wide at seeing this version of her big brother. “Time with Nesta. Here in Adriata or in the House of Wind. Right now I want nothing more than that. But, after matters are settled in Illyria.”
Nesta didn’t do big displays of open affection and she wasn’t starting now. No matter how much she wanted to leap out of her chair and kiss his big face silly. She settled for a quiet, but firm, “That’s what matters to me most as well.” This drew alarmed looks from Emerie and Gwyn now, as the implications of the running of The Court of The Wind began to run riot in their minds. “We’ll talk later my sisters,” she reassured them, “it’s not going to hell in a handcart.” A slight look of relief passed over their faces, but she could see their concerns were definitely not fully allayed.
Cassian was on a roll now, "Using me as a strategic asset can go one of two acceptable ways. I am already removing the possibility of being a figurehead at the back. That's not the Illyrian way. I can either do a big bang intervention in combat, preferably coming in unseen by winnowing or shadowing for maximum impact. Or I can be a ghost, picking off their soldiers and sending a creeping fear into their hearts. Ultimately I will need to discuss and agree this with Balthazar. It's not up for debate."
Feyre was the first to react,"I know you're one of the foremost tacticians and strategists in Prythian but you need the agreement of your High Lord and High Lady! This conflict is in the Night Court!"
"Take it or leave it," came back the blunt answer, "I left the Night Court, remember? And I haven't officially returned yet." At Rhys' protective growl he softened his tone. "Look little sister, I want to make a difference but it's got to be the right military decision. You've been good at letting Balthazar run the war and get my mate's Court to help you. But now it has to be the endgame or Illyria is finished." He reached out to cover her hand, "This can't be the end of Illyria, not if I have anything to do with it."
Feyre and Rhys switched to daemati mode, which no one objected to. This was the future of the Night Court, their single largest responsibility, which was at stake. Rhys stood and held out his hand, "We agree to your terms. Go save our people."
Nesta turned to her mate, "Go spend some time catching up with your brothers. I need to speak to Emerie and Gwyn. I'll see you back in our quarters later." She stood and gave a final warning to the group, "It's highly unlikely that Cassian’s return will remain secret for long, so we need to move quickly. Secondly, I will not allow my mate's life to be thrown away for a lost cause." She turned her gaze to Cassian, "Come back to me this time." Then she swept out of the room with Emerie and Gwyn following before the tears fell uncontrollably.
A short while later the three brothers were acting like children. Darting along hallways trying not to be spotted as they made their way to a secluded garden to discuss what happened. All of them knew that Cassian’s return was unlikely to remain a secret for long. Feyre had decided to go back to Nyx and winnowed away with a promise to catch up with Cassian in Velaris. Cassian mused to Rhys, “You know that Balthazar needs to be General, not just for this war? There is no way the Loyalist soldiers will choose me over him. He’s been setting up the new Camps and fighting, it sounds like he’s won their respect. I’ve been missing in action for ten years, perhaps my time as an Army General is done.”
Rhys grew pale again, but Cassian continued breezily, “We’ll always be brothers. But, we’ve been doing this same dance for hundreds of years. You’re raising the next ruler of the Night Court, Azriel has also got a family. Everything is changing, has already changed….why try to fight our way back to the past?”
A snort from Rhys, “And when did you become so wise?”
“Ten years of living alone, precariously, gives a male time for thought. And that is what has been missing for far too long. When did we ever give ourselves the chance to heal properly? Not just respite, but real healing? I can’t remember a time.” Cassian gazed at the beauty of the garden. “Too much conflict, followed by too much….well you remember how we were. We’re different now and all of us want more. No point in holding back the tide, brother.”
Rhys grunted, Azriel laid a hand on Cassian’s shoulder. “I like the new Cassian. It suits you.” The three rose and continued their walk and talk through the large property. A few minutes later a shape caused Cassian to freeze. Eris Vanserra was waiting for him, his face an unreadable mask, back leaning and one leg bent at an angle against a buttressed pillar, arms folded. The warrior nodded to his brothers to stay back and approached Autumn's High Lord. "Eris. What a surprise to see you here. Still sniffing around my mate?" he said in a light, teasing tone. No point in beating around the bush.
"You survived and you're back I see." His tones were clipped and cold. "Ever the master of the obvious I see. Glad that hasn't changed at least,” batted back Cassian, his arms were folded, feet a shoulder's width apart. No threat, but ready just in case.
Eris sniffed the air, his mask dropping for just an instant while he scented Nesta's aroma on Cassian. Then his shoulders sagged, defeated. The Illyrian approached and laid a gentle hand on Eris' upper arm. "I said many years ago that I thought you could become a decent male. From what Nesta’s told me you've changed your Court beyond all recognition. So I'm glad my prediction was right!" He flashed a quick grin but then grew serious, dropping his voice so his brothers couldn't hear. "If I had died, you should know that after her mourning, I wouldn't have been unhappy if she shared some of her life with you. This new Eris I could grow to respect." He stepped back to give the other male some room.
"That doesn't make it any easier, but I feel the tiniest bit better. Never let go of that glorious female of yours. She's one of a kind." Cassian nodded and let Eris retreat.
Nesta meanwhile had been swept into Gwyn's study and sandwiched into the corner of the L shaped sofa between her sisters. Almost immediately after Merkedian had stumbled through the door, tears ran down his beautiful face. Uncaring of protocol he dropped to his knees whispering endless thanks to the Mother for bringing his High Lady home. Nesta reached to squeeze his shoulders and merely said, "Thank you and mission accomplished." His face lit up, "I knew you could do it, only you," Merkedian rose, bowed deeply from the waist. "I will ensure that all is in readiness for you."
Nesta's face showed confusion, "Ready for what?" He straightened and smiled, "Pretty much anything! You should know that Lord Cassian has met and spoken with High Lord Eris. Autumn has now left the building." He offered a small bow and backed out of the room with a practised polish. "Well, there is a fae who loves you and would hate to see you leave the Court…" Gwyn left her thought hanging in the air.
"I'm not going anywhere," protested Nesta vehemently, "This Court is too important to me. It's important to Cassian as well, more so than I gave him credit for." She sighed, "But I have to balance our time together more, when this insurrection has been ended. I don't like the idea of him going away to fight, but I can't keep him here. It would drive him mad, and I can't have him running away again."
Emerie quirked an eyebrow, "Do you really think he would? I mean you spent all that time on the other side of the world. Not all of it would have been training." The quirk had become a sly smirk. Nesta ignored the verbal jab. "No, I don't think he would leave again. But he's not a prisoner or a patient. He's an Illyrian warrior who sees his people in pain. Same as you do Em."
The dark Valkyrie's face looked bleak. "The clans have always warred with each other, but this…..this is on a scale I have only ever read about before they were conquered by the Night Court. It makes me face the unpleasant truth that maybe, just maybe, we need an outside hand stopping us from being the worst version of ourselves. Illyria needs a unifying figure and right now Rhysand and Feyre are the best we have. Unless of course… "
Nesta's hand was up in a flash, "No. No way is Cassian becoming Lord Protector or High Chief or whatever existed in antiquity." Emerie looked contrite, "It would put you two back to where all this mess started wouldn't it?"
A silence hovered over them, until Gwyn said brightly, “So tell us about the Mating Ceremony?” Nesta laughed long and hard.
Cassian waited for his mate in their bedchambers. His armour was off and he was just wearing a sleeveless tunic and shorts which reached his knees. At that point in time, he was catching up on missed reading which was occupying his full attention. He grinned through one of Nesta’s romance novels which looked like it had been published during his long sojourn away. What a load of old twaddle, that’s not quite physically impossible but sounds as uncomfortable as hell, he thought as he read through one of the steamier sections. A second thought occurred to him. When all this is over, perhaps I should become an author? I’d have to write under a false name...but with all the experience I have, the story would be hotter than….actually I’ll leave that thought unfinished for now. No point in peaking too early.
A discreet knock came at the door. Obviously not Nesta, she would have come right in. “Come in!” he called out, not bothering to move from the large, but elegant chaise longue by the wall. Merkedian walked in, a few tears rolling from his eyes. Immediately Cassian rose and embraced the fae, as Nesta’s faithful companion sobbed his eyes out. “I d-d-did my best, Lord Cassian. To keep her safe and p-protected. You m-m-must believe me!” he stammered out. The Illyrian just held him for a few seconds before stepping back, keeping his hands on Merkedian’s shoulders. “I know Merkedian, you were as brave as the mightiest Illyrian warrior. More intelligent too,” he added in a chuckle, “come and sit down and tell me all about it.” He guided the fae to a table which had two chairs and just let him speak about everything that had happened over the years.
“Look, we’ll work it out. Once Cassian plays his part in finishing the civil war he can come back here and I’ll give him time to work out what he wants to do next.” Nesta’s tone was firm, but not icy or impolite. Emerie rubbed her temples thoughtfully, “He could help training the Valkyries or Auxiliary Guard,” she started slowly, “but of course only if he wants that.” She finished rather quickly after the glare she received from Nesta.
“I really need to stop people seeing Cassian as a tool or weapon to be wielded,” she said, half to herself, “his entire existence has been moulded to the purposes of others.” Nesta sat in silence for a while, her sisters giving her time to process. “I can’t think of a single time when he did something good for himself which didn’t involve putting his body in danger.” Gwyn reached out to grasp her hand, “He courted you, didn’t he? And no,” she hurried on as Nesta opened her mouth, “forget about the Cauldron’s mating bond and you weren’t physically lethal back then. You said he wanted you for the moment he laid eyes on you. The single biggest thing in his existence, he did it because he wanted to. Everything that follows now will be smaller, but you’re right he has to get used to having a choice. You fought the mate bond, he never did, because he’s fae and we don’t normally oppose this.”
“I’ll speak to him, offer it as a suggestion. The Mother only knows how prickly he can get. But I think he’ll insist that he has to pass the Valkyrie training programme first,” she stated carefully, “It would be an asset to the Court.” Nesta was resting her forearms on her thighs, chewing a lower lip. “Plus, there is the matter of Karona and Onethron. They would want to spend a lot of time with him.”
Merkedian roused himself from the chaise longue. When he had fallen asleep and how long he had been out for he had no idea, but dusk was giving way to night. His sharp hearing picked up two voices speaking in low volumes and he turned his head in that direction. His Lady and her consort were sitting at the table drinking tea together, both with happy smiles on their faces. At his movement they turned to him, and he jumped up gabbling a mixture of an apology and an excuse, somewhat incoherently. They walked towards him, still smiling.
“It’s fine Merkedian,” said Nesta, “Cassian told me you had a lot to say and how proud he was of you. Go and rest in your own quarters and I will see you for business as usual in the morning.” He backed away, this time without his usual fluidity and banged his backside into the door which raised an amused chuckle from the Illyrian. As he fumbled at the latch to disappear a rumble followed him, “Proud of you Merkedian. You’ve been a fine soldier.” He blushed, closed the door behind him but caught the edges of “And what do you mean by that?” in an octave higher than normal.
Nesta was cackling. Involuntarily, but she was giggling uncontrollably. In lieu of an answer to her high pitched question, with a look of massive indignation on her face, he had decided to tickle her. Ribs and arms were under continued assault as she struggled to breathe. Her blue eyes were watering, losing the ability to maintain contact with a devilishly naughty golden gaze. Eventually he let up as she found herself on her back in their bed with a giant Illyrian straddling her, pinning her wrists to the bed with one strong hand. “Now mate,” in the cockiest voice he could muster, “much as that laughter was the loveliest thing I’ve heard in years. Well, almost the loveliest,” the smirk was unbound and she rolled her eyes, “I think it’s time we became reacquainted with our bed.” The answering grin was vicious, he bent down to kiss her and much, much more for the rest of the night.
The next morning they had gathered in Emerie’s study. Nesta’s study wasn’t designed for hosting multiple people comfortably, it was arranged to intimidate people. Besides, the couch layout for Illyrians was the single most accommodating thing for Cassian and the female Illyrian. The three Valkyries were not quite facing off against him, but he sensed something important was in the offing. The reforged Cassian had learnt the art of patience and waiting for events to come to him. Nesta was aware of this but Gwyn and Emerie were having to react to this new demeanour quickly.
“Well, we wanted to discuss with you a matter of some importance,” Gwyn’s eyes were darting backwards and forwards to Cassian and Nesta, “In terms of your future.” A knowing cough from Nesta, “I mean the possibilities of your future.” The High Lady made a non committal gesture and said nothing. Thanks Nesta! Gwyn’s eyes shot to her.
Emerie stepped in, “When Illyria is brought back to normal, how would you like to be Commander of this Court’s armed wing? The Valkyries and the Auxiliary Guard. It’s entirely up to you, but you’ve supported us since the start and it seemed…..right.” He frowned, glancing at his mate, obvious for all to see that this matter had not been discussed between them.
“Why me? Apart from the obvious, I’m a supreme warrior. No, make that the supreme warrior.” A large grin was now plastered across his face.
It was a simple question which left them floundering. “What sort of question is that?” hissed Emerie, “You, as you admit, are a supreme warrior, you’re an Illyrian so it’s in your blood. Literally. You want to stay close to Nesta, you’re not the leader of the Night Court armies anymore, you’re…..” Cassian’s raised hand had stopped her mid-sentence. “Nothing you say is incorrect, but you’ve had a lot of years to sort this out. Who leads at the moment?”
“We just share it out depending on what is happening,” replied Gwyn more confidently now, “We need a permanent leader. An inspirational figure. That is you. You inspire fear or awe, sometimes equally. And despite Emerie’s poetic words,” weathering an icy glare from the female, “we don’t want a repeat of your departure. It seemed to make sense. Assuming this is what you want from your life.” Cassian had lapsed into silence again, but the atmosphere wasn’t uncomfortable. Far from it, the old mentor sitting with his three best protegées considering a plan of action was a scene familiar to them all.
He looked at Nesta who met his eyes before looking down, “It’s your choice Cassian. Sometimes I wonder if you realise how many choices and opportunities were denied to you over the centuries. And not just the obvious ones.” She was quiet but firm, making clear it was his decision alone.
He grunted, “I agree that we should talk about it after matters in Illyria are settled once and for all. Another condition would be that I must complete the Valkyrie Training Programme, because they will not accept me regardless of my history unless I show them I still have what it takes.” Glances were exchanged between the females, an entire conversation being held just by their eyes. Finally Nesta turned to her mate, “We agree to talk about this on your victorious return, and the condition of completion of Selection and Continuation.”
Cassian stood and stretched, “Excellent! Feyre will be here soon so she can winnow us to see the children again. Then onto Illyria.” The room turned quiet again.
The House of Wind, Velaris
It was a joyous reunion, mixed with a lot of tears by Karona and Onethron after they walked into the Library where the children were receiving lessons. Initially they had been taught in the private library but their need to interact with more fae had seen them go down to Clotho’s Library. The vast majority of the priestesses had loved their youthful exuberance and eagerness to learn, resulting in a win-win situation for all concerned. Azriel had joined them at the House to brief Cassian about the situation in Illyria, but that could wait until later in the day.
As the four of them clustered around each other Azriel showed one of his rare smiles, seeing a new family ending born, much like he, Cassian and Rhys came together over five hundred years ago. The same as Nesta, Gwyn and Emerie, built of love, rather than blood.
"Are you coming back to live here? This house is lovely and gives us treats and there are lots of books to read and the beds are soooo comfortable and…" Onethron's tumbling speech was stopped short by Cassian’s belly laugh. The children gaped at the first time they had ever heard it. Nesta smiled down at them,"We need to divide our time between here and our other home in Adriata. Let's go up to our private library to discuss what happens next." They trooped up the stairs holding hands, the children particularly amazed at the change in Cassian from the almost catatonic figure they had met over a year ago. This laughing, joking and confident version was the stuff of their dreams and they couldn't wait to see more.
When the quartet were cosily ensconced in the smaller library Nesta took a more serious but still friendly tone, "Do you still want to live with us? We feel, especially Cassian, a lot of responsibility for you, but if you decide you want to try living with another family then we will do our best to find a happy place for you." It wasn't until she had actually said the words that Nesta realised how much it pained her, the thought of them leaving. She'd known only a very short time, but had already developed a protective feeling for them. One that she suspected could grow over time. They lived in a dangerous world, where safety was at best an illusion and strength the most effective way to look after your own self and those that you cared for.
Karona answered for them both, "We want to stay with you. You and Cassian were only the ones to help us after we lost our parents. We really like our life here, we feel safe here. Can we stay with you please?" The look on the siblings’ faces was pleading mixed in with desperate hope. Nesta looked to Cassian, he really needed to say something now and he didn't disappoint.
“You can stay with us for as long as you like. We want to have you in our lives, be the people in your lives that have been so cruelly stripped away. There can be a four of us.” He was smiling gently down at them, kneeling only when the siblings ran at him crying with happiness. Thank you whispered Nesta down the bond, something solid clicking firmly into place inside her. Later that evening, a boisterous dinner In the dining room was held with Azriel, Cresseida, their children, with Rhys, Feyre and Nyx joining them. Elain was away with Lucien, but there would be other times for the Archeron sisters and Night Court brothers to unite their families. This had to be the future.
The morning came all too soon as Nesta awoke to see Cassian dressed for war. Uncaring of her nakedness, but an alert ear listening for any children bursting in, she faced her mate who drew her into a hug. She let tears fall on his armour while he whispered hope to her, that he would be coming back to all of them. “Don’t worry Sweetheart, I’ll be back before you know it. You know me, everything goes well when I’m involved.” The last was said with dark, but loving humour. “Don’t get yourself killed, you big ridiculously brave bat! I’ve just got you back in my life and I don’t want to wait until the next realm to see you again. Now go before I change my mind and tie you to the bed!” He unwound her arms from his back, far slower than he liked but far faster than she wanted. Tilted her chin upwards and kissed her with slow passion tasting her tears on her lips; Nesta hummed into the kiss.
Then Cassian was gone, having leapt out of the window and joined Azriel high above the House of Wind for the shadowing to Illyria. Nesta got dressed, had breakfast with the children and waited for Feyre to winnow them back to Adriata. After she had arrived Nesta approached her sister, "Feyre, can you teach me to winnow? I think I really need the ability to fetch these two hither and thither from now on." Her youngest sister smiled broadly, "Of course, Nesta!"
The Front Lines, Illyria
The arrival of Cassian and Azriel in Balthazar’s command tent mid-briefing caused a bit of a stir. More like a riot as Illyrians shouted their approval, stamped feet and smashed anything to hand against tables to create an almighty ruckus. The former general put on a show with his widest grin and flashed all seven siphons in a display designed to drive the assembled commanders into a greater frenzy. The noise got so loud and chaotic that guards came sprinting in to see who or what was attacking their leaders, only to stop in awe and amazement and then joined in by clashing swords against their shields. Within minutes the camp was in uproar as the news spread like wildfire that the Lord of Bloodshed was back.
He strode out through the camp, after steering Balthazar to his side, arms raised and eyes afire. The soldiers whose morale had long been suffering needed to see one of the most powerful Illyrians ever to walk Prythian in their midst.
At the centre of the camp he stood on the Covening Block, a hewn black stone from where Balthazar called meetings to issue edicts. “Silence!” came the roar from the armoured giant, after a few seconds the camp was completely still. “I come to you today not as your leader, but just another Illyrian fighting for the future of our people. It tears my heart to see our proud kindred laid low by the greedy bastards to the north.Those who have lied to our people. A quick death is too good for them.” He drew his sword and pointed down to Balthazar, “Here stands one of the heroes of Illyria, a male that I would have fought and died for if circumstances were different. A leader whose vision all of Illyria can follow.” He changed his tone slightly, a bit more jocular, “Now everyone here knows that I don’t like talking very much,” plenty of mirth among the older warriors was heard, “but it seems to me that I need to have a very personal conversation with Lord Jofgan.” More than a few snarls and curses filled the air. “Now, I go to seek Commander Balthazar’s counsel on precisely how this happens. Breathe and fly the free air, fellow Illyrians!” With that he jumped down to renewed cries of encouragement and walked back to the command tent, Balthazar following quickly after.
"Welcome back General… I mean Lord Cassian. And thanks for dropping me on it," the last finishing in an angry snarl, "are you trying to give me more responsibility? What do I know about leading Illyria? I saw what you did!" Cassian's initial response was nothing except a big grin, but then he spoke in low tones, "Who else can be trusted with guiding our people? Look at what you've inspired here." He finished with a sweep of his arm gesturing to what lay beyond the tent’s canvas wall. Before Balthazar could respond, Cassian saw a slim, but powerful female slip into the tent. "He's right Commander, you know he is." The former general remained silent, taking in and assessing the short haired warrior in front of him.
"Not now Caerwenna. This isn't the time!" pleaded Balthazar, eyes unmoving from the war hero.
Cassian was enjoying himself, another male stuck like a butterfly on a pin by a formidable female. “Who are you? And when did you learn to speak such wisdom?” He was openly grinning now at the female. “I’m Caerwenna, a soldier for the Loyalists. I didn’t fight in the Koschei War, but I’m fighting now for this vision of Illyria.”
“That was always my goal, even if I didn’t make it happen,'' quiet words came from Cassian with a penetrating look at Caerwenna. “You lit the torch… now he carries it for us.'' She was equally serious in tone, matching his.
“Anybody aware that I’m still in the tent?” came Balthazar’s exasperated words.
“We are,” rumbled Cassian, “and you know you’re the best person for the role. To unify Illyria after this is over. Mother and Cauldron! If we cannot unite after this civil war, then what is the future for us? You’ve shown the way at Ves Dizeros, Skywing and Mother’s Blessing. This I failed to do at Windhaven and the other camps. I am not the best Illyrian for this task. You are. And by the looks of it, you won’t be alone.” His chest was heaving and passion glowed in his golden eyes as he stared down Balthazar. Cassian's humour returned in an instant as he flicked his eyes between Caerwenna and the Commander, "You're fucked in more ways than one, I think." Balthazar groaned, while the female grinned from ear to ear.
Three weeks later Cassian was at the front lines; two armies faced each at the bottom of a valley. The return of the Lord of Bloodshed had finally forced the Confederation to react rather than set the pace. Many days of Cassian ruthlessly ambushing their skirmishers had been the decisive factor. The rebel lords had panicked and put pressure on Jofgan to end this by defeating the Loyalist army decisively and take Cassian out of the picture before he could truly demoralise their soldiers.
Jofgan hated being backed into a corner, but couldn’t deny that a final battle had to be fought. Is this a blessing or a curse? To defeat those who follow false teachings and the Prince of Bastards, but at great risk. It is as the Dark Mother wills it. To the victor, the spoils!
Two warriors strode from the Loyalist front lines, one bearing a stick with a white flag, and stopped at the midpoint between the armies. “The enemy offers a parley,” mused Jofgan, “let’s see what can be done. Lord Haldane, accompany me to ensure parity.” The other rebel lords stiffened at being excluded, but the chosen lord nodded, “Parity in numbers, almost the same in siphons,” pointing out their own combined nine siphons to the ten of Cassian and Balthazar. A fair reflection now the bastard has returned from Dark Mother knows where doing Cauldron only knows what. He’s tipped the odds. Haldane hoisted a swiftly improvised parley flag and they went out to meet their counterparts.
“Hail and well met,” ground out Balthazar, glaring at the rebel lords. Jofgan and Haldane, who had caused so much of Illyria to be watered with the blood of the brave. He hated them with more intensity that he could have thought was possible. “Hail and well met, Balthazar. Have you come to offer terms or perhaps an acceptance of the Confederation.” Jofgan hadn’t bothered looking at Cassian, only Commander to Commander.
“I have come to offer terms. Lay down your arms, return to the authority of the Night Court and High Lord Rhysand agrees to look at your grievances. They will be addressed with full sympathy unless they impinge on the freedom of Illyrians. Furthermore, you and the rebel lords will submit to my custody and will be incarcerated for fifty years and stripped of your titles. While it grieves me to say this, all other Illyrians fighting for you will be granted amnesty regardless of what they may have done. There has been too much blood spilt already. What is your answer?” Balthazar surprised himself at the even tone with which he had delivered the terms. Cassian had said nothing, not even moved a muscle, was just observing every facial and body expression from Jofgan and Haldane.
“I cannot agree to those terms,” came the gruff response, “our freedom for all can only come from the old ways. This can only be settled by combat, I suggest we return to our own armies. We will attack once we have returned our lines.” Jofgan gave him one last glare and began to turn.
“Yes, combat. But why should many die for competing visions pushed by two males?” asked Balthazar. “What are you suggesting?” replied the rebel lord as he faced his opponent again. “Single combat, a fight to the death. No quarter asked for or given. The winner’s terms are accepted fully. I assume your conditions remain unchanged, Independence for the Confederation?” Jofgan’s face was still as he considered. Victory means we keep our armies strong, ready for future campaigns. Failure means I won’t be here to see my vision fail, be reunited with my lost ones. “I agree. Our champions will meet here in one hour to settle this once and for all.” With that he returned to his forces and gave the order to stand down from battle readiness.
Balthazar called an emergency meeting of his sub commanders after also telling his troops that an engagement was not immediately in the offing. Caerwenna was now a respected sub commander and known to have the ear (and that only so far) of Balthazar, so it wasn’t surprising that she spoke first after the group was informed of the challenge. “Better that than so many soldiers slaughtered in yet more senseless killing. Jofgan will fight himself, that’s for sure, he’s got the most amount of siphons on his side. But can we risk you? I don’t think so. If he wins and we leave them alone, you need to carry on the work of the reformation of Illyria.”
The commander shrugged, “I should fight, if not our people will think me a coward to let someone else bleed for my idea of single combat.” Caerwenna’s eyes automatically looked over to Cassian as the other sub commanders debated the merits and disadvantages of Balthazar fighting. Cassian wasn’t part of the command group and therefore was not in this discussion. He was laughing and joking with the soldiers, moving from group to group, but always in sight of the enemy. Not much laughter coming from across the middle of the valley, they looked tired with too many old males and younger fighters. The idea of cutting them down didn’t fill her with the savage joy of combat which she had expected.
After the initial set of discussions had died down she looked across to Balthazar, “How about Lord Cassian as our champion?” Silence greeted this suggestion, but Caerwenna could see that they all agreed with it. “He’s not officially part of the army, therefore…” Balthazar started but he was cut off. “He agreed to fight by coming to an arrangement with the High Lord and High Lady. Isn’t that enough to bring him into the army? He has no rank, no command, but he’s a soldier. He loves Illyria, hates what the Confederation is trying to do. It should be him.” Caerwenna could be forceful in presenting her opinions regardless of protocol. Balthazar sighed, “I can’t deny the truth. Are we agreed that we should ask him to be Champion?” Caerwenna broke in again, “You can command him to be, it’s not as if he would say no.”
“That’s not how I want Illyria to be, males and females sent to their deaths at the whim of a ruler. No, I will request him to be our Champion. If he declines, I will respect that and go into battle myself.” His tone and stance showed he would brook no further dissent, and stalked off to talk to his former General.
“Lord Cassian, a word in private,” he had to stop himself from adding if you might? “Concerning the challenge.” The giant Illyrian nodded and they made their way to the treeline further up the valley. “You know what I’m going to ask you?” stated Balthazar looking him directly in the eyes. “You want me to be the Champion.” arms folded, feet a shoulder’s width part, perfectly in balance. “Yes, but it’s a request not an order.” A chuckle from the Lord of Bloodshed, “You’re so polite. The future of Illyria is in good hands I believe. I accept the request and will fight their champion.” Balthazar was shocked as relief hit him like a physical wave, in all honesty he hadn’t relished going up against Jofgan, a secret part of him feared that he would lose and that all their progress would be set back. He saw that Cassian was grinning viciously, that this in all likelihood would be his last act in a very long play to redefine Illyrian society and Cauldron scald him if he wasn’t looking forward to it. “Alright, go kill the bastard and get this over and done with.”
Around thirty minutes later Cassian and Jofgan faced each other.
“Jofgan, it’s been a while.” The Loyalist Champion showed no sign of his usual playfulness, didn’t even try to unsettle or irk his opponent. That would have been a waste of time. “Cassian, that it has. You look well, all things considered.” He wasn’t trying to rile him either, just focused on the mental and physical battle ahead of them. “You know, you could have joined us. At least you had the sense to leave that Night Court filth ten years ago. But, here we are and one of us will die this day.”
Cassian took it all in, “I know your family losses have been heavy for you to bear. But pushing our people back to our most basic, most unfair is wrong. What can this do for them? No, don’t answer that. You’ve already justified it to yourself and I have no stomach to hear it. Let us do what we must.”
Jofgan hefted his weapon, “The final straw was your mate and the other females winning the Blood Rite. Not that they won it, but that it was all a ruse of that bitch Queen Briallyn sacrificing Illyrians again for the purposes of outsiders. I don’t care if you believe my vision of society is better, but you can’t disagree that our blood is constantly spilled fighting for others. When we should be fighting for ourselves. If you win, at least take that to our future. Victory or Death!”
“Victory or Death!” Cassian’s tone was sepulchral as he drew his sword.
The fight was watched by thousands of soldiers, its tale of swordsmanship and warrior spirit by both fighters would be whispered around campfires for hundreds of years to come. It was finally finished hours later as the sun was setting when Cassian, bleeding from many wounds, finally buried his sword in Jofgan’s heart. He gently held then laid his defeated opponent’s body on the ground. “Victory,” he whispered and bowed to Lady Death.
In the months that followed Balthazar’s life was turned upside down as he was made Lord Protector of Illyria and married Caerwenna. The appointment was ratified by a particularly rowdy conclave of camp lords, most of whom took it as an opportunity for an impromptu stag night for their new chief. Illyria’s future looked brighter than it had been in centuries.
The House of Wind, Velaris
Cassian’s convalescence had taken a short while but he was fighting fit again. In the training ring above their home his body and sword wove a deadly dance as he practised early one morning. He drew his routine to a close as he scented Nesta, Karona and Onethron approaching. They approached him with broad smiles on their faces as he towelled off his sweat before pulling on a tunic.
He swung a large arm to rest lightly around Nesta’s shoulders and took Onethron’s with his free hand, Nesta repeating the action with Karona. They turned to watch the sun climb through the sky, lost in the perfect moment. Cassian chuckled, “You know Sweetheart, I could quite happily do this for a very long time.” Nesta smiled, “Me too,” before leaning up to kiss his lips gently.
“Ewwwwww,” came from two voices on either side of them, before all four laughed heartily.
It's been a journey and I've loved and hated it. A lot of fanfics want Cassian to pay or be hurt for his conflicted loyalties. I wanted to write about a more mature Nesta and Cassian, but with him still struggling with what he did and didn't do in the past, which led to his collapse.
Nesta's brilliance and glory was played out in the formation of a new Court based on the Valkyries storyline, but even she realised that she didn't want to do this alone. Not that she was unable, but she chose to fully share her life.
Like almost all fanfic writers I wrote this to just express how I felt, but if a few people along the way liked it then that makes me happy.
Good fortune to you all.
As always, let me know if you want to be added/removed
@moodymelanist @simpingfornestaarcheron @swankii-art-teacher @ladygabrielli1997 @sapphomoony @cassianscool @angelofmusic81 @champanheandluxxury @callmestarky @sannelovesreading @wannawriteyouabook @rainydaysanddustybooks @secretbondsandloveconfessions @my-fan-side @sjmsstuff @sjm-things @vasudharaghavan @audreycressworth @camnesta @talkfantasytome @hikari274
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EWG: Under a Blood Moon (teaser)
Another story from idk where it came from. Probably coming in a three weeks or so. Many thanks to you-know-who-you-are for making sure the representation is respectful; may your ancestors rest in peace.
Southern Alberta, Canada, 1875
The First Nation rider looked terrifying. The largest dark brown leather boots she had ever seen were wedged in the stirrups. The beast that he rode was sixteen hands high and reminded her of a destrier from old history books, an evil look on its black face. Worn, tan trousers led up to his waist. Mother of all things, how powerful is that man? A hugely muscled frame was barely covered by a dark blue pinstripe waistcoat, arms coming down from huge shoulders with leather torques around the biceps. Tattoos marked his whole upper body and arms telling their own stories. A black wide brimmed hat sat atop jet black hair that fell to his shoulders, the top of the hat itself rising high before curving into a gentle dome, rather than the harder angles preferred by European settlers. A Spencer carbine repeating rifle was in its case tied to the saddle with two revolvers and an ammunition belt slung low around his waist. But it was the eyes, that golden gaze unwavering, looking directly at her that unnerved Nesta the most. Stripped her bare of all armour and shielding. He knew exactly who and what he was looking at, saw it all and it didn’t frighten him one iota. Quite the opposite it seemed.
Her ancient flintlock didn’t waver for a millisecond, even though her insides were jumping around like a box of pain maddened raccoons. “You stay where you are Mister!” she repeated loudly, but this time only talking to him.
to be continued....
@moodymelanist @simpingfornestaarcheron @swankii-art-teacher @ladygabrielli1997 @sapphomoony @cassianscool @angelofmusic81 @champanheandluxxury @callmestarky @sannelovesreading @wannawriteyouabook @rainydaysanddustybooks @secretbondsandloveconfessions @my-fan-side @sjmsstuff @sjm-things @vasudharaghavan @audreycressworth @camnesta
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Lucien took away Elain's choice. They're not even true mates.
Lucien and/or Elain have no purpose in ACOTAR. They're so boring and are going to die, or end up alone.
Elain is healed and is clearly the next MC.
Lucien makes Elain uncomfortable. They're dead as a couple for good.
Gwyn's story is finished.
Azriel is Elain's one true mate.
SEE. THAT'S FORESHADOWING.
BUT Nesta and/or Cassian - **insert generic hate that's outdated by 2021**
And that's my opinion on those statements. Have a nice day.
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