Elriel Month | Day 5: Meet Me In The Silence
WORD COUNT: 2,555
CONTENT WARNING: NONE
SONG SUGGESTION: “EXPERIENCE” - ANGELE DUBEAU
“If I have to steal time with you, I will. I’m not afraid to love you in the shadows until we’re safe to love in the light. I choose you, I will always choose you, Azriel.”
Elain stood outside in the chilly evening air looking up at the stars, her breath curling in the air like wisps of magic. This had been their meeting place for so long now, she had come here so many times and yet after everything it felt so foreign to her now. She’d left the note here for him, she had only seen him once since Solstice but they hadn’t spoken, they had shared a moment a-a dance, but no words, he’d even skipped family dinners lately and without involving anyone else she had no way to reach him. The only indication that he’d even received her note was that it no longer sat where she’d left it.
She clutched her cloak tighter around herself and looked up at the sky, so many wishes and dreams watched over her now, were hers there too? Would they help her now? She took a deep breath, the key he’d given her feeling like a lead weight in her hand now when it had once felt like the key to a beautiful future for her-for the both of them. She unlocked the door with trembling hands and stepped inside, every memory rushing to the forefront of her mind, she couldn’t help but smile even while her heart ached as much as it did. Everywhere she looked she saw him, saw them, together being completely free with one another, completely in love she'd thought.
What if he never wanted to see her again? He already seemed to be avoiding her even at the cost of time with his friends and family. She had to talk to him, had to let him know that he didn’t have to stay away, that she wouldn’t bother him again even if it meant letting their friendship slip away. She hung her head and quickly swiped a tear away, their friendship was likely over, if it had even really been a true friendship to anyone but her.
Azriel knew he shouldn’t go, knew that it was the latest in a series of careless decisions where Elain was concerned, but he still couldn’t stop himself. He landed just outside their place and stood frozen for a moment, she was here already, he could feel her. He took a deep breath, his hand resting just over his heart where he’d tucked her note into his coat pocket, where he always kept her notes. The gentle falling of rain pulled him from his thoughts and he strode for the door, not giving himself another moment to hesitate or talk himself out of it. He stepped inside and closed the door with a soft click, taking a few steps into the room before stopping. Elain was there, her scent of jasmine and honey threatening to both end him and make him feel more alive than he’d ever felt before. She turned to him slowly and the pain in her eyes, even as she gave him a gentle smile made his heart ache. He knew what she saw here, he’d seen those memories too the first time he’d been back here, ghosts of happier times when the game still belonged to just the two of them, before anyone else knew about the secret bridge they’d been building to one another all this time. He said nothing at first, maybe if they didn’t speak they could steal just a little more time together in the silence, just one more moment, one more memory of her before he pushed her to leave him behind for good.
Elain heard the door open and close behind her and slowly turned to face him but said nothing. Maybe they could exist here together for a little while longer, here in the silence. She watched him take a few steps closer before stopping, her eyes pleading with him to come the rest of the way before she forced herself to move to meet him in the center of the room. She looked up into his hazel eyes and she could see the pain there, whatever he felt, she knew, she just knew that he didn’t want this to end any more than she did.
“You shouldn’t be here.” He said quietly, finally breaking the silence and pulling her back from her thoughts. “It’s late and I’m sure no one else knows where you’ve gone.”
“I needed to see you, to talk to you.” She said. “To apologize for what happened on Solstice. I obviously misread the situation and...and I hope you’ll still train me.” The words were like ash in her mouth, but she kept smiling, though it didn’t quite reach her silver-lined eyes.
Azriel looked away, a muscle feathering in his jaw, and Elain knew that things were not going to go well.
“Az?” She pushed, quietly.
“I’ve already told you, Elain, you have nothing to apologize for-”
“Then why do I feel as if I’m being punished?” she asked, her eyes glossy with unshed tears. “Why do you look as if this hurts you just as much as its hurting me?”
“I’m sorry that I hurt you.” He looked at her and the pain and regret were clear in his eyes. Truthfully, he had never regretted anything more in his life. “It was never, ever my intention to hurt you, I made a mistake.” the last part nearly a whisper as he forced himself to say it.
“What part was a mistake?” she asked falteringly, afraid to hear his answer, her hands shaking at her sides, though not from the cold.
Azriel steeled himself before answering. “All of it. The training, the secrets-it was dangerous from the start and I should have known better. Gods, Elain, you could have been killed on that first mission. I should have stopped it then. Let me take you back home. If they find that you’re gone-”
“I knew the risks when we started, nothing has changed.” She said, trying to find a way out of this. “Please tell me the truth.” she whispered. “You’ve never given me any reason not to trust you.”
Azriel clenched his fists at his sides, hating himself as he said, “I’m not just talking about your training, Elain. You have a mate.”
For a moment, her heart fluttered at the confirmation that she hadn’t misread anything, then dread washed over her and settled into her chest at the mention of Lucien. “Don’t.” She stopped him, a lump forming in her throat at the betrayal. “Don’t you bring him up.”
“Its the truth, Elain.” His voice broke as he said the words. He knew how much she hated the bond, how much she hated the control it had over her life, over her heart. A heart that he knew he was dangerously close to damaging when she’d only just repaired if after that boy had tossed it aside so carelessly. He hadn’t been there, but he’d heard how brutal her former fiancé’s words had been and he’d seen how broken she was at the war camp afterward. The same night he’d risked everything to find her and bring her back to her family, to bring her back to him and now he was letting her go, pushing her away.
“I don’t WANT Lucien, I don’t LOVE Lucien, you know that.” She insisted as she stepped closer needing to be near him, but he stepped back as if being close to her caused him pain. She halted in her tracks, her heart breaking all over again. “Tell me that you think being with Lucien would be best for me. Look me in the eyes and tell me that nobody could love me more than he would.”
He closed his eyes and sighed, his self-control dangerously low. He had his orders and deep down, he knew that Lucien would take care of her if she chose him. He could endure it, if it meant she might be happy and more importantly that she would be safe. Every bit of self control, any scrap of hope he had of talking her out of seeing anything good in him dissolved when he felt her hand on his chest, resting over that note, resting over his heart.
“I can’t.” He said, looking down at her. He had never lied to her and he wouldn’t start now, he couldn’t, if he could keep one pure thing between them, it would be that. He closed his eyes and repeated the lines he’d rehearsed leading up to this meeting. “I cannot in good conscience put you at risk, Elain. If you’d like to continue training, Cassian can-“
“Don’t.” She said, her voice breaking as she began to feel defeated. “Please, don't.” She begged, her heart cracking as she felt a cold wall begin to rise between them. “Don’t do this, don't give me the Spymaster now, Azriel.”
“I am the Spymaster, Elain, its all I am, all I can ever be.” He said, not harshly, but with a coldness that threatened to shatter her further.
“No. You are more than that, it is a part of you but it is not who you are, it is NOT all there is to you. You showed me that, don’t try to hide it from me now. Is this really what you want?” She asked, fingers nervously twisting in the fabric of her cloak.
“What I want doesn’t matter.” He said with such honesty that it broke something inside of her to know that he truly believed that.
“What you want matters, Az.” She whispered through the tears that finally broke free. “It has always mattered to me.” Her hands fisted at her sides as she waited for him to say something, anything. Azriel just looked at her, his eyes full of longing and pain as he fought to force himself to stay where he was, every part of him screaming to be let go, to be free to go to her, touch her, love her.
Pain deeper than he’d ever seen there before reflected in her rich brown eyes as she took his silence as a final dismissal. She took a shuddering breath and took one last look at him before walking out into the rain. The door slammed shut behind her and she finally released the sobs that had been building up inside of her. He had made his choice and it wasn’t her, his loyalty to his court was not to be pushed aside for a mistake.
Azriel’s heart felt as if it were being squeezed in his chest as the door slammed shut behind Elain. It was as if she had taken all of the oxygen in the room with her. This was it, it was now or never. A lifetime of happiness and love or a lifetime of self loathing and doubt. He had never felt as if he truly had a choice before, but this felt so different. The moment was charged with energy, as if the Mother herself were watching his every move and waiting to see what he would do next. As warm tears rolled down his cheeks, Azriel knew that the choice he made now would set him on a path that would change his life forever.
“Elain!” He called out as he threw the door open, his eyes catching on her silhouette through the rain. He rushed toward her, one of his strides matching two of hers until he broke into a run. Elain felt his thundering footsteps behind her and turned to him, his hands immediately moving to cradle her face, the hood of her cloak falling away as his lips crashed into hers.
Elain returned the kiss, one hand fisting in his shirt as the other slid to the back of his neck, a small moan escaping from her lips as they parted for his tongue. Azriel's chest rumbled as their tongues danced, the feeling of her in his arms silencing any doubts in his mind that remained.
“I can’t…” He said breathlessly as he looked down at her, still holding her face in his hands, the rain beginning to soak them both now. “I can’t tell you any of those things, not about Lucien, not about any male.”
“Why not?” she asked, her chest aching, breathing ragged now as she fisted his coat in her trembling hands.
"Because I won’t lie to you, El. He could never love you, no one, not in this life or in the next could ever love you more than I do.” He said, his eyes full of regret for trying to push her away before. “Please forgive me for hurting you, for saying that it was a mistake. For any stupid thing I've ever said or done to hurt you or make you think that I wouldn't give anything just to be near you."
"I do, Azriel, I do." She nodded, the rain masking her tears as her smile lit up and seemed to glow, even in the storm darkened night. She kissed him again softly, once and twice on the lips before a third deeper kiss, her fingers sliding into the hair at the nape of his neck.
They finally broke, his face in her neck, his shuddering breath warm on her skin, arms around her, pressing her into him, both of them shivering.
“You have no idea how much I want this, how long I've wished that we could be together.” he breathed, the agony and fear clear in his voice. She could tell he was crying, even as the rain disguised his tears. “I’ve never wanted anything more in my life. I love you, Elain.”
“Then lets have it.” she whispered, stroking his hair back, that flicker of hope in her chest reigniting. “If I have to steal time with you, I will. I’m not afraid to love you in the shadows until we’re safe to love in the light. I will always choose you, Azriel, I love you.”
He pulled back looking down at her, his hand resting at her neck, his thumb ghosting over her jaw. “Elain, it will be dangerous, more dangerous than you know and we’ll have to hide from everyone, not just outside this court. The Autumn court, Lucien’s ties to our alliances, there is so much I need to tell you, so many ways you could be hurt if this goes wrong.”
Realization lit her eyes and she nodded, a challenge accepted. “Then we will just have to be very careful, won’t we?” She asked, affirming to him that she would not be backing down, not now, not ever.
“Incredibly careful, love.” He nodded, a small smile tugging at the corner of his mouth as he looked down at her, the decision made for both of them now. Elain, the gentle Archeron sister who chose peace over conflict, who followed orders without question-but not this time. This time, for love, they would both defy their family and when the time came, he would fight beside her and for her.
Her heart sang at his words and she kissed him, her heart seeming to glow and warm her as if it were on fire. “Us against the world then?”
“They don’t stand a chance.” He answered, kissing her back, the shadows pulling them out of the rain and back into the safety of their secret place where their game could continue though it had changed again.
89 notes · View notes
Elriel Month | Day 2: Your Lips On My Scars
Word Count: 1458
Content Warning: None
Theme: Fluffy & Sweet
Song Suggestion: SUN (INSTRUMENTAL) - SLEEPING AT LAST
“I spent so much time trapped in the darkest place, and every time it felt as if the darkness would swallow me whole, it was your hands that always reached out to guide me back into the light.” She said, looking up at him.
Elain sat on the kitchen counter, her legs swinging as she hummed and took a bite of one of the leftover fruit tarts she had prepared for dinner that night. Everyone else had continued family dinner night at Rita’s for drinks and dancing except for her. Rita’s was fun once in a while, but she definitely preferred having a quiet night in if she were being honest. She froze when she heard the side door open and Azriel walked in, freezing in place when he saw her as well.
“I can expwain.” She said as she blushed, her hand covering her mouth which was full of dessert.
“So this is what you do when you stay home on family night, huh? I certainly see the appeal now.” He laughed as he slowly made his way over to her, brows raised.
“Only when there’s leftover dessert.” She clarified, narrowing her eyes at him. “What can I do to buy your silence, Spymaster?”
Azriel sucked air in between his teeth as he shook his head. “I’m not sure you can afford my silence, Seer. Cassian might never forgive me, y’know he’s been taking the blame for all of the desserts you’ve been sneaking.”
Elain squeaked with indignation. “It usually is Cassian, just how many tarts do you think I can eat?”
Azriel considered for moment before nodding. “Fair enough. Just what are you offering for my silence?” he asked in a serious tone, fighting the smile that tugged at the corners of his mouth.
She hummed as if considering before she offered. “Will a tart buy your silence?” she asked, holding a picture perfect tart up for him.
Azriel slowly stepped closer to Elain, pretending to examine the sugary confection in her hand before his eyes locked on her. Her brown hair was braided and draped over one shoulder, tied off with a lilac ribbon, wavy tendrils framing her face. Her eyes sparkled more than usual in the dim fae light of the kitchen, and her lips, that full bottom lip held between her teeth. A blush colored Azriel’s cheeks as he realized that he was staring and his eyes immediately moved back to assessing the tart. Elain held her breath as he stepped closer, her eyes not leaving his handsome face as he gave the tart a once over, a blush coloring her cheeks as his gaze turned to her. It took everything in her not to turn away from him, she was sure that he could hear her heart race from a steady beat to the thundering of a dozen horses.
“Well, Spymaster? Will we be sharing a secret or not?” she asked with a playful quirk of her eyebrow, her eyes trained on his as she held the tart up to his mouth. Azriel leaned in, his eyes not leaving hers until he took a bite and they fluttered closed. His chest rumbled with a satisfied moan and Elain suddenly felt as if her very soul was sparkling like a thousand stars. Elain’s senses screamed as he moved to lift her unfinished tart to her lips for another bite. She took the bite, her eyes not leaving his, not even as he chuckled softly, his thumb swiping the smallest bit of whipped cream from the corner of her mouth. Any excuse to touch her, Azriel thought as electricity shot through his body at the tiny bit of contact. Elain’s gaze shifted, her attention drawn to the cobalt siphon atop his hand, she had always thought it was so beautiful. She started as he seemed to notice where her attention had turned and his hand tensed slightly, his other hand already pulled behind his back in shame.
“I’m sorry. The scars, they can be upsetting.” He murmured, moving to pull his hand back when Elain reached out to take his hand between hers, her touch was feather light, as if she thought she might hurt him. Azriel froze at her touch, her hands cradling his but not holding or forcing him to expose the source of so much of his pain and insecurity. He could have slid his hand away at any time, but his heart leapt at her touch and he couldn’t bring himself to pull away.
“Your scars don’t upset me, Azriel, the thought of you in pain upsets me.” She said quietly, as if speaking any louder might break this spell and send him retreating.
Elain turned his hand over, her fingers gently tracing along his scars, her eyes drifting up to his as she spoke. “These hands have planted some of the most beautiful flowers in Velaris, wielded swords to defend all of Prythian and the human lands, these hands pulled me from the center of hell and carried me back to my family.” Her voice softened to a whisper at the memory and Azriel’s hands were holding hers now too.
“I spent so much time trapped in the darkest place, and every time it felt as if the darkness would swallow me whole, it was your hand that always reached out to guide me back into the light.” She said, looking up at him.
His breath caught as she lifted his hand, placing a gentle kiss just below the spot where his siphon rested before turning his hand over and placing another kiss on his scarred palm. She didn’t move as he pulled his hand from hers and brought it up to gently cup her face as his thumb stroked over her cheek before he blushed and straightened with a nervous smile. “Thank you, Elain. You have a gift for seeing beauty in everything and everyone.”
Elain smiled up at him, his touch and that velvety voice making her heart flutter. “It isn't difficult to see the beauty in you, Azriel. You are filled with it, and I will take every opportunity to remind you so that you never forget it.”
Azriel ducked his head, smiling shyly as a slight blush colored his cheeks. He hoped she didn't notice in the dim fae lighting. “If you’re done trying to distract me with your honeyed words, I believe you still owe me for my silence.” He said, playfully.
“I think we need some milk first.” She said, taking the hand he offered and hopping down off of the counter to grab some glasses. Azriel released a slow breath, trying to get himself back under control when Cassian burst in the side door.
“Az! I wondered where you’d snuck off t-you ate all of the tarts?!” he whined.
Elain chose that very moment to pop up on the opposite side of the kitchen as if she’d just walked in. “Oh, Azriel...” She scolded with a sigh, shaking her head as she crossed her arms.
Azriel’s jaw dropped as Cassian shoved him aside. “I knew I wasn’t the only one sneaking extra desserts. I told you it wasn’t just me, Ellie!”
The spymaster’s eyes narrowed as Elain clamped a hand over her mouth, fighting the fit of giggles that threatened to expose her. She collected herself before nodding. “You did, Cassian, you did, and I’m sorry that I doubted you. I’ll make you an extra dessert next week.” She said, smiling sweetly and sticking her tongue out at Azriel as Cassian pulled her into a hug.
“You’re the best.” Cassian smiled then grumbled at Azriel. “If you’re done ransacking the kitchen, we should head back before Nesta orders the house to lock us out.”
“Right…“us”.” Azriel snickered, stuffing the rest of his tart into his mouth and giving Cassian a satisfied smirk before cleaning up and clapping his hands. “Alright, I’m ready. Oh! Almost forgot, I wouldn’t want a single bite to go to waste.” He said, keeping his eyes on Elain’s as he popped the very last bite of the very last tart-her tart into his mouth with a devilish grin. “Sweet dreams, Elain.”
Elain’s eyes lit with fire as she put on her sweetest smile. “Safe flight, Cassian!” she called out before teasingly grumbling to Azriel, eyes narrowed. “Don’t hit any trees on the way home.”
“Goodnight, Elain.” Azriel said with a chuckle as he turned to give her a smile and a wave before spreading his wings and shooting off into the sparkling sky. He wondered if anyone had ever told her how funny she was, if anyone had ever told her anything other than how beautiful she was. He dared one last glance back at her, watching as she disappeared back into the house, his hand still tingling where her soft lips met his scarred hand.
“Goodnight, Az. Sweet dreams.” she whispered, closing the door and heading off to bed, her soul sparkling, smile glowing and heart hopeful for the future.
90 notes · View notes
Elriel Month | Day 9: Adoption
WORD COUNT: 5086 (I know...but I fell in love and didn't want to let them go either.)
CONTENT WARNING: EMOTIONAL ABUSE
SONG SUGGESTION: “I GET TO BE THE ONE” - JJ HELLER & “LITTLE WONDERS” - ROB THOMAS
“I saw, it was wonderful!” Elain said through her tears, holding him so tightly, she feared she may never be able to let him go. She met Azriel’s silver lined eyes as he made his way over and knew that they finally needed to have the conversation they had been dancing around for weeks.
Elain walked with Nesta, her blue cloak clutched tightly around her. Elain rarely visited the Illyrian camps and was nowhere near prepared for just how cold it would be. Azriel himself rarely spent time here if he could help it, however, this time he had been asked to stay for an extended period of time, and the thought of being parted for so long pushed both of them to opt for an extended trip together.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Nesta asked, looking to her sister, worry creasing her brow. Nesta was much more familiar with the ways of the camp, she feared her sister wouldn't adapt well to the treatment she would receive for not only being an outsider, but Azriel's mate as well.
“I’d like to help if I can. With Azriel here for so long, I don’t want to just sit around all day, I want to be useful.”
Nesta nodded. “Well, Madja will find plenty to keep you busy. She’ll be happy to see you doing so well.”
Elain nodded, thinking back on how lost she must have seemed to the healer before, when she had no leash on her own abilities and the visions controlled her. So much had changed since then, since the war, since the breaking of her bond with Lucien, since her mating and marriage to Azriel. She smiled to herself and Nesta nudged her with a smile of her own as she led her inside. “You’re thinking about him again, you always get that same look on your face when you’re thinking about him.” Nesta teased.
Elain laughed, blushing. “You think of Cassian all the time, we all just pretend not to notice. I can’t help thinking about Az. I love him.” She said, the words warming her.
“And he loves you.” Nesta said, taking her sister’s hand, so happy that she had found someone who truly appreciated and deserved Elain’s gentle and loving heart. The sisters were met by a flustered Madja as she was making her way out. “Something wrong?” Nesta asked, noticing the look of worry on her face.
“The scouts have found children on the outskirts of camp. A young boy and a babe, likely orphaned. I’m on my way to see to them now.”
Elain felt her heart sink at the healers words and offered. “I’ve come to help, is there anything I could do?”
Madja took her hand and began walking again, Nesta giving her a wave goodbye as she was led away. “We’ll manage just fine the two of us.” Madja said, as they made their way out, Elain sending a goodbye wave back to Nesta.
“Do you find many orphaned children around here?” Elain asked, the sadness clear in her voice.
“No, the elements are not kind to those unable to care for themselves." Madja said as she walked with her, to the farthest end of the camp. A group of hulking Illyrian warriors waited, parting only as the two women approached. At the center of the group stood a young Illyrian male, to Elain he appeared to be no older than 7 and in his arms he held a small, fussing baby.
Madja looked to the leader of this group, nodding to him. “We can take them from here.” The male shifted his gaze to Elain, as if considering. Elain met his gaze and waited for him to look away as Nesta had taught her, he didn't have to know that her heart was pounding in her chest and her fists were clenched under her cloak. The male shifted his gaze back to Madja and nodded speaking words in Illyrian to the other males before they all followed him away.
“I am Madja, a healer here, and this is Elain. We’re here to help you. What is your name, and where is your family?” Madja asked, to the point but with a tone that seemed to put him at ease.
“I am Valen and my family is here.” He said, lifting the baby slightly. “Her ama and my apa are with The Mother now. When the bad men came to the village, I took Mavi and ran.”
Madja nodded, it was not uncommon for children to be orphaned when smaller groups clashed and there were casualties. “Come, you will be safe here, we'll take you someplace warm, and get you something to eat. You are far too scrawny.”
The boy eyed them both warily before nodding, looking down at the fussy bundle in his arms.
“What have you been feeding the babe? Mavi, was it?” Madja asked.
“Milk, from the goats that cover the mountainside.” He answered, proudly.
“That’s very clever of you.” Elain said softly, as she knelt in the snow, removing her cloak and offering it to the boy. “You must be freezing, may I put this on for you?”
Valen hesitated for a moment, perhaps assessing Elain’s threat level before nodding. Elain smiled and draped her cloak over his shoulders, gently fastening it and pulling the warm fabric in to wrap over the baby. “There now, that’s better.” Elain stood and Madja motioned for Valen to follow, the small group making their way back. Elain’s heart clenched in her chest as she imagined the small boy beside her on his own, out in the cold and caring for the tiny baby in his arms. Without her cloak she was already freezing, clenching her jaw so her companions wouldn't hear her teeth chattering.
When they made it back to Madja’s, Elain watched as the healer negotiated with Valen until at last, he agreed to allow Elain to hold his baby sister while Madja examined him.
“Careful of her head.” He instructed as he passed Mavi to Elain’s arms. Elain nodded and did as he instructed, taking a seat next to him to keep the children as near to one another as possible. Madja looked the boy over as Elain looked down at the baby who was now sleeping peacefully, tiny wings just peeking out over her shoulders.
“She’s beautiful.” Elain said softly, looking over at Valen. “She is very lucky to have a brother like you to watch over her.”
Valen nodded, tucking his wings in as Madja tried to get a look at them. “Not my wings, they are fine.” Madja lifted a brow, but nodded. “If they are fine, then nothing is amiss. You are in excellent health, boy, you need only to eat…scrawny thing. May I examine your sister as well?” Madja asked.
Valen nodded and Elain handed the baby over to Madja’s waiting arms. Valen stretched and angled his neck as he tried to see what Madja was doing.
“Valen? Would you like to come with me to get something to eat?” Elain asked.
“Mavi will be well with me, she can have some milk while you enjoy some stew and then we will find a place for you to stay tonight, hmm?” Madja offered.
Valen considered for a long moment before finally nodding slowly. “She will be here when I return?”
Madja nodded. “She will be here, young warrior, do not worry.” Valen smiled, his chin lifting proudly as he followed Elain and they sat together to enjoy their stew.
“You’re very brave, Valen, and very smart to have taken care of yourself and Mavi out there in the cold.” Elain said, her heart aching at the thought of it.
Valen nodded, mouth full of stew as he said, “Of course, a good male must care for his family.”
Elain nodded and hummed, thoughtfully. “We’ll find some warmer clothes for you once I’ve taken you back to Mavi, hmm?” Valen nodded and after inhaling two bowls of stew, he was ready to see his sister again.
“Where will they go?” Elain asked Madja quietly as Valen sat with Mavi cradled in his arms once more, speaking softly to her in words that Elain didn’t understand.
“They will stay here for tonight, tomorrow we will find space for them with the widows, though the babe may need to stay here for a while longer yet.” She explained.
Elain bit her lip, looking back at the children. “And then?” she asked, her fingers tapping on the counter until Madja’s hand rested over hers, a soft smile gracing her lips.
“Might you have another suggestion to share with me, Elain?” Madja asked.
Elain blushed slightly as she nodded. “They could stay with us, Azriel and I. We have plenty of room and…and they could stay together.”
Madja patted her hand. “Caring for two children is no easy thing, Elain, especially a babe this young. Perhaps you should think on it a while.”
Elain knew she was right, that it was the sensible thing to do, that she should at the very least discuss this with Azriel first, but when she looked back at them again, she just knew. “It will be fine, until you find somewhere for them to go together.”
Madja nodded, brow raised. “Right…alright. I’ll pack some things for the babe and some fresh clothes for the boy...and it appears that you have a visitor.” She smirked, watching as Azriel walked in, scanning the room before spotting Elain and approaching. Elain made her way over to meet him, nerves building slightly as she thought of how exactly she would ask him about the children staying with them.
“Hello, my lovely wife.” He said, smiling and leaning down to kiss her.
Elain kissed him back, blushing, her heart fluttering every time he called her his wife. “Mmmhello, my handsome husband. Azriel, I-I need to talk to you, to ask you something.”
“Alright, ask away.” He said, sliding his coat off and draping it over her shoulders, rubbing his hands over her arms to warm her.
“Well, the thing is…that is to say-” she sighed, shaking her head and feeling flustered. She took Azriel’s hand before starting again. “There were some children found just outside the camp, they need a place to stay, just for a bit.”
“And you want them to stay with us.” Azriel finished, looking down at her.
Elain nodded. “I do, if its alright with you.”
Azriel looked down at her and smiled softly. “Elain, I can think of no better use of our home than to help those who need it.”
Elain smiled and threw her arms around him. “Thank you, Az, I knew you would say yes, I just knew it.”
Azriel held her in his arms and sighed contented. “There is nothing I would deny you, petal. Cassian is waiting to see you outside, he can help fly them over. Now, introduce me to our new roommates then.” He teased, taking her hand and heading over with her.
Madja smiled and offered Elain a basket with supplies for the children, giving Azriel a nod in greeting. “I had thought it might be another negotiation, but Valen is quite eager to get settled.”
Valen puffed his chest out as Azriel took a knee in front of him and gave him a nod, putting his hand out. “Valen? I’m Azriel.” Azriel cringed inwardly as the boy gasped at the sight of his hand, the shame draining from him as Valen touched his Siphon in awe, eyes wide in wonderment.
“Seven Siphons…” he whispered to himself before looking back up at Azriel’s flushed face. “You are a great warrior.”
“I-thank you.” Azriel said, his cheeks pink, especially as he saw Elain, one hand over her mouth and the other over her heart, giving away how adorable she found this moment to be. “We should leave soon, there is already a chill in the air.” Azriel said, rising to his feet, Elain offering her hand to Valen and the four of them making their way out. Madja watched, arms crossed, a knowing smile on her face.
“Ellie!” Cassian called, picking Elain up in a great hug. Azriel placed a hand on Valen’s shoulder, shaking his head subtly to signal that there was no need for him to destroy Cassian right this second.
Elain laughed, hugging him back. “I’m so glad you’re here, we actually need a favor.”
Cassian nodded. “Name it.”
“We need you to help fly all of us to the house.” Azriel said, his tone letting Cassian know to tread lightly as he nodded to the children.
Cassian, taking the hint, nodded. “Sure, who am I taking?”
“Me.” Valen volunteered, handing Mavi over to Elain, trusting that they would be safe with Azriel. This new male, he could certainly handle him if he needed to.
Cassian smirked down at him, seeing the fire in his eyes. “Alright, ready to fly, little warrior?”
“Valen. My name is Valen.” He said, giving Cassian a nod. “I’m ready.”
Cassian gave Azriel a nod, waiting as he took Elain into his arms, before lifting Valen, the boys arms going around his neck and holding tightly as the two warriors took flight, precious cargo safe in their arms. Thankfully their destination wasn’t too far from the camp and soon they were all filing inside the house after the short flight.
“I’m going to get the kids settled in, thank you, Cassian, it was so good to see you, we have to have you and Nesta over soon.” She said, hugging Cassian with her free arm before leading Valen up to the room he would share with Mavi.
“Its just temporary, until Madja finds a place for them.” Azriel said before Cassian could open his mouth.
Cassian nodded, patting him on the shoulder. “You don’t have to explain it to me, Az, I get it.”
Azriel nodded, knowing that his brother did understand because they had both been those children in their own ways, abandoned, fighting for their survival until Rhysand’s mother had taken them under her wing.
Once Cassian left, Azriel made his way upstairs, checking in on Elain and Valen, the boy washed up and changed into some clean night clothes, courtesy of Madja and settling into bed.
“Will you stay? Until we sleep?” Valen asked Elain. “Mind if I keep you company for a bit?” Azriel asked, stepping into the room.
“Would that be alright? I’ll come back after I wash up.” Elain asked, smiling as Valen nodded. She mouthed her thanks to Azriel and kissed him on the cheek before going to take a hot shower. When she emerged, she found Azriel and Valen snoring on either side of the bed, Mavi a sleeping little bundle between them. Elain smiled, unfolding a blanket and draping it over the three of them, curling up in the comfy chair sat by the bed, the symphony of snoring eventually lulling her to sleep.
The next few days went by in a flurry for Elain. Mavi, thank the Mother slept through the night on most nights and Madja continued to send milk for her with Azriel everyday. Valen, though reserved at first had eventually become more comfortable with Elain and Azriel caring for his sister, instructing them and watching them diligently until he was sure he had taught them well enough to care for her and hold her on their own. Elain smiled, watching as Azriel’s new shadow followed him around, eager to help with any task that needed to be done, Azriel always managing to find something “very important” for him to do. Days turned into a week, then into two until no one cared to keep counting anymore.
Azriel bit his lip, fighting to keep a chuckle inside as Valen puffed up as he saw Cassian approaching, a smirk appearing on the General’s face when he saw the boy with Azriel.
“Permission to approach.” He said, chuckling as Valen glanced up at Azriel who gave a curt nod, Valen then looking to Cassian, giving him the same nod.
Cassian shook his head and hugged Azriel, clapping him on the back. “I thought we’d have a quick fly around while the women folk are oohing and ahhing over the baby. Expect to see Nesta more, by the way, she’s in love.”
Azriel chuckled. “Sounds good, Valen, care to join us?”
Valen’s eyes lit up for a moment, before he shook his head with a small smile. “No, I’ll stay with the females while you’re away.”
Azriel nodded, watching him scurry back to the house before turning to Cassian, the both of them having noticed the same thing about the boy.
“Do you think they’re injured?” Cassian asked. “You should take him to Madja, or bring her here. If anyone can fix it, she can.”
Azriel nodded. “Elain wants to speak to him first, she’s noticed it too.” They had all noticed how Valen would avoid the subject of flying, always finding an excuse to stay behind with Elain.
Cassian nodded. “So, how much longer is this…arrangement going on? You’re always itching to get back home as soon as you can, so, just curious.”
Azriel just shook his head. “Not sure, just enjoying my time here for now.” He tried to sound casual, but Cassian knew that he was asking himself the same question. What would happen when they finally decided to return home to Velaris?
Nesta was busy fawning over Mavi when Elain found Valen sitting out front. She plunked herself down to sit next to him and gave him a little nudge, smiling down at him. “I thought for sure you would want to fly with Azriel and Cassian.”
Valen shrugged. “I wanted to stay and watch over you.”
Elain smiled. “You don’t have to watch over us, Valen, we’re here to watch over you. You should go flying next time, flying with Azriel is one of my favorite things to do.”
Valen looked down, poking at the grass with a stick. “I wish I had no wings, like you.”
“Why?” Elain asked. “I think your wings are wonderful.”
“They don’t work.” He said, his small voice breaking as he said it.
Elain was panicking inside, she wished that Azriel were still there, as wings were definitely NOT her area of expertise. “Would you let Madja look at them?” she asked, gently. “You trust her, don’t you?”
Valen nodded. “Will it hurt?”
“I don’t think so, but Madja will be very gentle, maybe you’d like Az to be there with you?” She asked and again Valen nodded. “Alright, we’ll figure it out together, hmm?” Valen nodded and scooted closer to Elain, cuddling into her side. She tried her very best not to cry as she put her arm around him, holding him closer to her side, her heart spinning and flipping inside of her chest. Elain was in so much trouble, and she knew it. She had felt this way once before, the feeling that someone was meant to be in her life, feeling as if losing them would be like losing part of her own heart. She couldn’t think about it now, not as she felt Valen’s tiny arms squeeze her tighter. She wrapped her arms around him and pressed a kiss to the top of his head. “All will be well, Valen.” She promised. “No matter what happens, all will be well.”
The next day, Nesta stayed home with baby Mavi while the rest of the family flew in to see Madja, Elain also needing more supplies for Mavi.
Madja smiled as she saw the group approaching. “Look at these proud Illyrian warriors. What a well protected Lady you are.” Madja teased Elain before looking down at Valen. “Ready to have those wings looked at?”
He nodded, a bit hesitant until Azriel nodded and motioned for him to follow, going with him.
Elain sighed, watching them go, hoping that they would have positive news about Valen’s wings. Cassian draped an arm over her shoulders. “Don’t worry Ellie, it’ll be fine. Whatever she says, it’ll be fine.”
Elain wanted to believe that Cassian was right, and so she nodded and they waited until Azriel and Valen both sulked out. The flight home was quiet, Elain flying with Cassian and Azriel with Valen, a quiet conversation happening between two of them the entire way.
“I wish I were a daemati right now.” Elain said, making Cassian chuckle. “Hey, if anyone can get him to talk, its Az and I can’t think of anyone better to help him get back into the sky.”
“You’re right.” Elain conceded, watching them, her heart aching slightly. “There is no one better.”
They all made it home safely, Nesta begrudgingly leaving Mavi behind and heading back home with Cassian. Elain and Az put the kids to bed, Elain nuzzling her nose into Mavi’s chubby cheek as she hummed softly. “She is so sweet.” She whispered, feeling Azriel at her back, his arms slowly sliding around her, his chin resting atop her head. “She is, turning Nesta Archeron into putty in your hands is no small feat.” Elain smiled and put Mavi to bed and followed her husband, taking one last look at the children before shutting the door.
“NOTHING?” Elain repeated, sure that she had heard him wrong, but Azriel shook his head, laying back with a sigh.
“Madja says there isn’t anything wrong with them. He says he hurt them flying when he was younger and now he can’t.”
“Do you think he’s just afraid?” she asked, sliding into bed and snuggling into his side.
Azriel pulled his arm closer around her, his thumb lazily stroking her arm. “I’m sure that’s all it is, he’s agreed to try again at least so that’s something.”
Elain hummed in agreement before smiling up at him. “Is that what you were negotiating on the way home?”
Azriel’s expression darkened slightly, his eyes were sad as he was taken back to his conversation with Valen. “We spoke about our fathers…and their expectations. He fears being seen as broken or a coward.”
“After everything he’s been through?” she frowned.
“It is what we’re brought up to believe, Elain. It isn’t easily left behind, not when you know they all see you as a broken bastard.” He said softy, thinking back to the many times he’d doubted himself for not living up to those Illyrian standards that had always seemed to work against him, against his brothers, no matter how much they sweat and bled for their people.
Elain threaded her fingers through his, bringing his hand to her lips and kissing the back of it before resting their hands on his chest. “I love you, Az.”
“I love you too, El.” He said quietly, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. “Valen will be alright, because we’ll make sure that he is, whether he flies or not.”
Elain nodded, drifting off to sleep, Azriel’s thumb still rubbing her arm and soothing her until her eyes finally closed. “We’ll make sure…”
The next morning, Elain fed Mavi as Azriel and Valen discussed the plan for their flying lesson.
Valen huffed, stuffing fruit in his mouth. “What if I can’t do it?”
“All I want you to do is try.” Azriel asserted. “If you meet the challenge and try then we count it as a victory.”
Elain smiled, watching the corner of Azriel’s lips curl into a knowing smirk. He knew how such a challenge would motivate Valen, he saw so much of Cassian in the little warrior, it was little wonder that they’d grown so close in such a short time. Kindred spirits that Azriel felt blessed to have in his life.
Valen nodded. “I will try, but you will see.”
“We will see.” Azriel agreed as they finished their breakfast. Before the duo could make it out the door, Elain was kneeling in front of Valen to see that his coat was buttoned properly before wrapping a scarf around his neck. Azriel stifled a chuckle as Valen looked to him for help from the fussing.
“There will be cookies waiting when you’re finished, to celebrate your victory.” Elain added with a nod and Valen smiled and nodded back, not bothering to stifle his laugh when Elain turned to Azriel and made sure that his coat was buttoned up properly as well.
Azriel humored her and gave her a peck on the lips before heading out front with Valen for their training. Elain had promised to give them privacy, but she found herself passing the front window more than usual today, Mavi cooing and kicking. Elain kissed her head and sent a prayer to the Mother that whatever happened, flight or no, Valen would be alright when it was done.
Valen sighed, kicking at the snow at his feet after over an hour of instruction and failed attempts to fly. “I told you. I’m broken, I have no courage...”
Azriel shook his head, trying to shake off the sadness that spiked in him. He had heard those words before, but to hear them from a child who believed it to be true about himself was like a knife in his chest. “Valen, your wings need work, it won’t happen right away. They’re moving and that’s the most important thing. They need to build strength if you haven’t used them in years, you are NOT broken, and you have the courage of a great warrior with the heart to match it.”
“You wouldn’t understand, you fly as easy as breathing.” The boy said with a huff.
Azriel sat on the front step and sighed. “Come sit.”
Valen sat sulkily and looked up at him, the defeated look in his eyes breaking Azriel’s heart.
“When I was a boy, when I was your age, I had never flown.” Azriel confessed.
Valen’s eyes widened. “But why? Were you broken too?”
Azriel shook his head. “I…was not allowed. I was much older than you when I was finally allowed to learn and I wanted to be in the sky right away, but I couldn’t. I needed to gain strength, and even then, even when I could get myself off the ground, I fell and crashed more times than I can remember.”
“Did you hurt your wings?” Valen asked, his eyes moving over Azriel’s enormous wings.
“Sometimes.” He nodded. “But I wanted to fly so badly, I couldn’t quit. Eventually, it got easier and I had my brothers there to help me.
"You have brothers?" he looked up at him.
Azriel nodded. "Cassian and Rhysand, we're not family by blood, but they are my family. We care for one another, as family should." He chuckled, thinking about Rhys and Cass helping him back then. "I think they just got bored of watching me crash into the same trees.” He added with a small smile. “You can fly, Valen, if you want it, you can fly and I’ll help you.”
“I do.” Valen nodded. “I want to touch the sky like you and Cass.”
Azriel smiled and nodded, standing. “Once more, and then inside for your victory cookies then.”
Valen nodded and jumped up, facing Azriel as he widened his stance and stretched his wings out. His wings moved slowly at first, feeling the breeze before gaining speed and flapping furiously enough to lift him off of the ground, higher and higher until he felt Azriel’s hand take his, holding him steady. Valen’s eyes blew wide open as he continued to flap his wings, straining a bit to stay level. Elain, fighting tears, stood at the door with Mavi who squealed at the sight of her brother.
“I did it!” Valen cried, dropping back to his feet, his wings already tired.
Azriel dropped to one knee, his smile radiating with pride as Valen threw himself into his arms, hugging him tightly. “I did it, Az!” Azriel didn’t have a second to process the hug before Valen ran to Elain next. She dropped to her knees, clinging to him with one arm, Mavi still cheering from the other. “Did you see, Ama! Did you see me flying?!”
“I saw, it was wonderful!” Elain said through her tears, holding him so tightly, she feared she may never be able to let him go. She met Azriel’s silver lined eyes as he made his way over and she knew that they finally needed to have the conversation they had been dancing around for weeks.
As the days passed, Azriel and Valen trained every single day without fail, his wings strengthening faster than either of them had expected. He had taken his first flight out with Cassian and Azriel that day while Elain spoke with Madja about Valen and Mavi.
That evening, Elain tucked Valen into bed as Azriel softly sang an Illyrian lullaby to Mavi, her eyes slowly closing as she drifted off, her tiny hand clutching his finger.
“You seem sad tonight.” Elain said, stroking Valen’s hair back and out of his face.
Valen glanced to where Azriel stood, cradling Mavi. “I wish that Mavi could know how it feels to fly…but they’ll take her wings away.” He said sadly.
“No.” Elain said, shaking her head. “Mavi will fly one day too, you can help show her how when she’s ready.”
“I could think of no better teacher than a natural like you.” Azriel added quietly, so as not to wake the baby.
Valen beamed with pride before his face fell again. “What if Mavi and I are separated? How will I watch over her if I’m training to be a warrior?”
Azriel exchanged a look with Elain who wrung her hands slightly in anxiousness. “Valen, if you could stay here with us, Azriel and I and Mavi too, all of us together, would you like that?”
Valen nodded. “I wish Mavi and I could stay with you forever.”
“Nothing would make us happier than to have you with us forever.” Elain said, tears in her eyes.
“Mavi and I? With you and Az always? Like a family?” Valen asked as he sat up, holding his pinky out to Elain.
Elain nodded, linking her pinky with his as tears spilled over her cheeks. “Yes, we’ll be a family, all of us together.”
Valen threw his arms around her, both of them crying now as he buried his face in her neck. “Ama.”
Elain held him tightly. “I would be honored to be your Ama.”
“Apa.” Valen sniffled, his arm snaking around Azriel’s neck too as Azriel took them both in his arms, baby Mavi snoring through it all.
Azriel held the whole world in his arms at that moment, as he held his family. “Our family, forever.”
71 notes · View notes