#a court of silver flames
dippedinmelancholy · 2 days
When I first read the hints of Nessian, I was feral for them. Every small interaction and touch, I obsessed over. I cried for them. I did not want them to be mates. I believed the whole line of "mates are rare" because I read ToG first, and while there are a great many love stories (all beautiful imo), there's only one mate story. I wanted Nessian to choose each other. I wanted them to fall in love with each other despite the initial fire and anger. I wanted them to choose each other. I dreamed of them both recognizing that the other wore masks, playing a part they thought could protect themselves the most. Savage, intimate, romantic lovers who only revealed their true selves together. The entire IC confused, including Feyre, for why these two chose one another, time and time again. Instead I got ACOSF. Cassian is a gym bro, with literally no emotional maturity. It's a miracle he can talk with Rhysand's dick so far down his throat. Nesta has more emotional connection with Azriel. I think she might have more emotional connection with a wall. They hate fuck each other. Nesta never thinks she is worthy of love. Cassian never cares to tell her that he loves her. He just breaks her down until she conforms to his shit family. He pushes her until she literally passes out. Doesn't care that she is suicidal and broken. Doesn't care how his family treats her.
It's all so disappointing and sad. The mate bond doesn't mean shit unless you're Feysand.
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Azriel, to Nyx: First rule of battle, little one... don't ever let them know where you are.
Azriel: Of course, there are other schools of thought.
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dawneternal · 2 days
The Benevolent | Eight
☁︎ Eris x Healer OC
☁︎ Notes: okay. This is kind of a big one 👀 pls let me know what you think, if the descriptions make sense, etc. I'm really hoping the concept for Aya's powers is actually interesting and not dumb but here we go
I've gotten a lot of notes from new readers lately and I wanna say thanks so much for the love and comments!! 💛💛
☁︎ Warnings: battle/war, injuries, blood, death, grief (it's not that graphic I just wanna make sure I get all the tags needed)
☁︎ Word Count: 3.5k
☁︎ AO3 Link / Masterlist
☁︎ Latest Artwork
☁︎ Taglist (let me know if you want on or off) : @cauldronblssd @teddyhoneybear @tele86 @mybestfriendmademe @imma-too-many-fandoms @allyjoe755 @milswrites @shadowdaddies @zenkindoflove @landofpetrichor @secret-third-thing @bookwormysblog @mal-adaptive-dreams @daycourtofficial
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The secret behind Aya’s power was the extra eye in her mind. Whether they were simply visions or she had some connection to another place, she did not know. But either way, she was born seeing things that no one else could.
Aya had discovered another world, visible only with closed eyes or when she let her vision go hazy. It was a place where wards and spells were visible things, overlayed on top of reality. She could see the building blocks of the universe, the materials that made up the world. And she could reach out and touch them. They were hers to fix and break and manipulate how she pleased.
After years of observing people and the things that they were made of, she came to understand that they could be sorted into three categories. Sewn things, woven things, and things to be fired in a kiln. The first three people Aya had known were one of each. The first memories to exist in her mind were ingrained with their imagery. Her mother, a tapestry. Her aunt, a quilt. And Thesan, a vase.
It took nearly a decade of life for Aya to understand that no one else saw things the way she did. No one else had another realm materialize when they closed their eyes. No one else healed by patching those quilts, stitching down loose threads, or filling cracks in pottery with veins of shimmering gold.
There were many, many times when she wished that she had never spoken about it to anyone. She could have learned sooner to close her eyes and not let anyone see the golden light that shone when she used her power. She could have taken less time to understand that she was different. Or maybe she could have been born knowing that she was not the same as everyone around her.
But it was too late for any of that. Her life had already been molded by her differences.
In truth, using her power was easy. So easy that it scared her. Sometimes an extensive injury or a complicated spell would draw a sweat from her brow, but even then she could go for days if she wanted to. The store of energy within her seemed endless. She had never experienced burnout, or ever been close.
There were so many terrifying truths lying underneath the lid she kept on herself. Her morbid curiosity, the things she could do, how much she was capable of. She never dug too deep, never once in her life testing the limits or possibilities. She could not bring herself to. She would not let herself become a thing that destroyed.
The fear that others carried around her was tangible. Whispers of witchcraft followed her everywhere - apparently her mother hailing from the continent was suspicious, with less known about the origins of their magic. And Aya's own tapestry was stained with the echoes of her mother calling her a liar, holding deep grudges over the discrimination that Aya had brought upon her family. There was no shortage of things that had made this existence difficult.
But on days like this, no matter how much she hated it, Aya thrived.
⋆。˚ ☁︎ ˚。⋆。˚☽˚。⋆
The battle had seemed so endless. The shouting, screaming, and clashing of weapons were a constant song, and Aya did her best to tune it out as she ran from bed to bed, cleaning, bandaging, and healing wounds. Her ears rang, desperate for a moment not filled with terrible noise. Her muscles ached, begging for her to take a break. But there were always more buckets to haul, more soldiers to drag to safety, more wounded to heal. She ignored every protest of her tired mind and aching body as she splashed through the mud, dodging arrows and swords, zeroed in on whoever needed helping.
She also ignored the magic within her that sang, thrilled to be used and stretched and tested. It pushed her body to keep going long after she had reached her physical limits, always restless and desperate to be let loose. But she would only ever release as much power as she needed to do her job well. Never any more.
Even still, Aya was always the last standing, the glow of her healing still going steady when all the others had used their last sparks. In class, this earned her jealous looks and accusations of cheating or witchcraft. But of course today, there was nothing but murmured thanks and praise. Aya ignored those, too.
At last, dusk fell like a funeral shroud, covering the silhouettes of broken bodies littering the battlefield. All of the gore blissfully hidden in the darkness. The sky could not, however, hide the sound of suffering and grieving of those who still lived, reaching toward the heavens in desperate tones.
Now, it was an effort to keep her head upright as she sat beside the High Lord of Night, her hand hovering over the gash in his arm. Rhysand, even with his weary eyes and the grime caked into the lines of his skin, watched her heal with a keen interest. If it was a different time, and her heart felt a little lighter, Aya may have asked him about it. Maybe he knew something that she didn’t. But right now it was taking too much focus just to stay awake.
When she closed her eyes Aya was stitching silver stars into a quilt, each block made from a different shade of night. Slightly darker shapes made up the subtle outline of a city, constellations hiding in same-colored thread here and there. It was lovely work, the stars twinkling and shimmering, the night sky velvety soft beneath her fingertips. It did not take long for his arm to be healed. With eyes glittering like the thread she had just held between her fingers, Rhysand thanked her and swaggered off to find his mate.
Truthfully, Aya liked him. Often, she came away from a healing session feeling as though she had read the person's soul front to back like a book. And in Rhysand, she liked what she learned. He was deeply kind, very clever, and generous. She knew without a doubt that his story of Under the Mountain was true. She could see the scars within him, like rips and tears in the quilt that he had tried to fix himself. Some were smoother, aided in their mending by his loved ones. He did not know how lucky he was to have them.
Of course, there were dark patterns in the fabric of his being. Shadows much deeper than others seemed to carry. But that seemed to be a burden bestowed upon all of the High Lords.
Aya liked the Night Court general, too. She had healed Cassian many times over. At first she thought it was recklessness and it was an effort to bite back on her lecture about looking after himself. But she learned, upon closing her eyes, that it was all deliberate. Calculated. It was not carelessness, but devotion. He would take shots and blows for others as often as he could, his shouts and commands ringing out louder than the din of battle. In his mind, he had not done his best unless he was nearly falling apart.
Healing Cassian was like knitting homespun wool yarn. Each stitch snug and precise, marled grey and white like the Illyrian mountains. The colors were so solemn, the material so practical, but the finished product warm and comforting. That seemed to sum him up. He always had a grin and a wink for her, always a genuine thank you and some absurd compliment. He was consistent, always, like the woven pattern of his being.
Over the course of the battle, Aya collected those images, like a scrapbook of the people around her. She mended seams, knit and wove, spun thread, molded clay. Every once in a while, she was too late. The knitting had too many missed stitches, too many loops had come loose and it all unraveled beneath her hands. Every time, she mourned with her whole heart. Grieved until it hurt.
If she kept her eyes closed, tuned into that other realm, she could watch the soul depart this world. Always drifting toward the sky like a wisp of smoke. The first handful of times she had witnessed it she had not been able to look away, frozen in place by some terrifying curiosity. Or perhaps it was the desire to see them off, on the chance that her guidance could provide one last comfort.
But she did not like to watch it anymore. It would show up in her dreams that night without fail, always with her hands reaching and that soul slipping through her fingers despite her efforts. Today, she did not need to give her nightmares any more material to work with.
⋆。˚ ☁︎ ˚。⋆。˚☽˚。⋆
Aya did not see Eris until the battle was over. The possibility of seeing him here, of seeing the worst, had haunted her every moment since she had arrived with the rest of the healers. She never had the heart to scan the lifeless bodies for his pale, freckled face, but she also feared that she would be the last to know if something had happened to him. There was a long list of people who would take priority first.
It was a strange thing, the aftermath of battle. The air was thick, relief and mourning twining together into something heavy and difficult to breathe. Celebratory laughter and singing clashed with the solemn sounds of funeral rites and grieving songs. Metal clanged as armor and weapons were moved and cleaned, soldiers lay resting wherever they could before the journey home.
Among the chaos, a glint of red captured Aya's attention and she turned to see Eris striding across the field, armor glittering in the sun and that crimson cape billowing behind him. Her breath caught in her throat as he pivoted and his russet eyes locked on hers. The relief was immense, almost painful as she drowned in it.
Even so, she was prepared to see him turn the other way and pretend he hadn't seen her, as he had done at the High Lord's meeting. And she would be content, just knowing he had lived. But he did not look away. Eyes growing wild, he turned on his heel and rushed toward her. He pulled off his gauntlets and let them thump to the ground, hands reaching for her face the moment he was close enough.
"Sparrow," He murmured, turning her head back and forth to look for injuries. He took in her tired eyes, swiping a thumb over the purple bags and lines of dirt. "I was afraid I'd find you here. I'm so glad you're alright."
Aya was speechless, staring up at him with her lips parted as she searched for words. She was still confused, her thoughts snapping back and forth between lingering anger and relief to see him. Her skin burned under his touch, under the eyes of those that watched them as she could practically hear the gossip forming on their tongues.
"I never got to apologize," He said in a rush, his voice hoarse. He paused, tongue darting out to wet his chapped lips.
Aya’s head throbbed. She did not have room for this in her mind, today. Not for the memories of their last conversation or for whatever game he was playing now, looking at her like she was the sun when anyone could see and overhear his pet names.
Her mind was still reeling from these last days, trying to process everything she had seen and heard and felt. There had been no room for hesitation and no place for her fear, all anxiety barred from her body so as not to weigh her down. Now the fear and pain rushed back in, like predators reclaiming their territory and she was nothing but a vessel for the conflict, barely holding herself together.
So, Aya let her gaze drop from his eyes and fall to the grass, breathing deeply in an attempt to placate the beasts threatening to tear her apart.
Eris watched, and she missed the understanding dawning on his face as he studied her trembling form. He swallowed the dozens of things he wished to say and put aside his desire to extinguish the nightmare that had haunted him since the High Lord's meeting. Later. He could say it all later.
As her eyes trailed back upwards, they snagged on Eris’s hurt knee, blood dripping between the plates of armor on his leg.
"You're hurt," She said, unable to resist despite her tiredness, "Let me heal you."
"Alright," He was still for a moment as he considered protesting. But right now he'd do anything to lift even a fraction of her burden, so he picked up the gauntlets and followed after her.
She led him to a quiet tent, only a few others inside, resting or bandaging fellow healers. A few heads turned at the Autumn heir, tall and regal. And then their stares flickered to Aya, the black sheep of the Dawn Court leading the way for him. She ignored them, as she was developing quite the talent for.
"Sit," She murmured, scurrying to find a clean rag.
Eris obeyed, sitting on the edge of a cot and removing the armor from his leg to reveal his bloody knee. He watched her trembling hands, chest aching as he imagined what she may have been through. The memories of his first battle had stayed sharp through the centuries, the desolation still so heavy after all this time.
"Aya," He said when she’d returned, keeping his voice soft.
Taking the supplies from her hands and setting them aside, he reached out and took her shaking fingers in his, gently pulling her in to stand between his knees. He rubbed his thumbs over her icy knuckles, grimacing at the dried blood under her fingernails. His power was nearing the dregs, but he still willed a bit of heat to the surface to warm her skin.
She looked up at him, such sorrow in her grey eyes, and when her chin wobbled, it broke him. Aya was strong and brave and could do whatever she put her mind to. But he would still choose to keep her away from this place, too full of death and hurt and blood.
"You did well, today," He whispered.
They stayed like that for a long moment, Aya standing in the shelter of his body, absorbing his heat and all the comfort he tried to emanate. This time as she closed her eyes and took deep breaths, Eris's warmth began to wash away the terrible things she had seen. The ways she had failed. The lives that had slipped into the afterlife while she had no choice but to watch.
The burlap tent dimmed the sunshine, beams of light sneaking through ripped holes in the fabric to dapple Eris’s skin. Between those golden spots and his whiskey-brown-sugar scent, Aya could almost pretend they were somewhere else, under the canopy of the Autumn forest.
"Thank you," She murmured. Her eyes fluttered open and Eris let out a breath, relieved at the return of the steadiness he'd grown used to.
Heaving a deep sigh, Aya grabbed a cloth and began to wipe the blood from his skin. With the tender moment passed, the silence between them was heavy, charged with unsaid things. It did not help that the air was filled with the tang of blood and the cries of the injured.
Aya tossed the bloody rag into a bucket and closed her eyes once more.
Through the darkness, shapes began to emerge, that other world coming into view. Searching for his essence, she found the woven texture of Eris's tapestry. It appeared before her in all its loveliness - a gorgeous scene of Autumn woods, adorned with thread that shone like rubies. She had seen it a dozen times by now, but she was always captivated by it's beauty. By the secrets hiding between the threads.
She desperately wished to know the meaning of all of them. The hounds and the maple leaves were clear enough, but what of the birds and the chess pieces and the interlocking pattern cleverly hidden in the leaves of the trees? There were stories in all of them, pieces that made Eris who he was. Her hunger to know them had never lessened, and she was beginning to wonder if it ever would.
The section that needed fixing was interlaced with gold, and Aya found herself already equipped with a length of gold thread, wrapped around her forefinger like it was a spool.
She went to work, filling the gaps in the images and stitching down loose threads. Her magic eagerly rushed to the surface, still energized and ready. Its endlessness reminded her of the time of daily faebane doses to keep her powers from being revealed to Amarantha. The memory was bitter on her tongue, the horrid taste of faebane like a vengeful ghost.
At least now, she did not have to rush. There were no rows of beds waiting for her help. It was just Eris, patient and calm and not in any danger.
There was just enough golden thread around her finger to finish the job. But as she tried to find the end of the spool and tie off her work, she found it had wrapped in a loop in the exact place her golden band should be. Pulling on the string revealed it to be as unmoving as Edana's ring, as if it were attached to her skin. Aya tugged her hand back but the thread pulled tight, attaching her to Eris’s tapestry.
Again, she pulled, but it did not budge. A pulse traveled back down it, sending a tingling feeling through her hand, as if the tapestry had tugged back.
What was this? This was like no healing she’d ever experienced. Once more, Aya yanked as hard as she could, and heard Eris make a choking sound in front of her.
Her eyes snapped open. She was met with the image of Eris, his brows furrowed in confusion, a hand resting on his armored chest. Aya's heart stuttered, her throat closing with her rising panic. Time seemed to slow to a stop, and through the blood rushing in her ears, she heard his heartbeat. Her own echoed, calling back like a songbird.
"What's wrong?" she whispered, afraid of the answer.
"A chest pain," He said, and he shook his head, any suspicion clearing from his mind. He was oblivious.
Aya could not breathe. She closed her eyes again, willing her lungs to fill with air, and she could still see that golden thread, bridging their tapestries. She dared not pull it again, not with Eris right in front of her.
Had she done that? Had she made it herself? Was she that powerful, that she could forge a bond with her own hands?
"Are you alright?" Eris asked, eyes flicking back and forth between hers.
She ignored him, thoughts whirling faster and faster. She couldn't look at him anymore. His gaze burned, burned like fire and it hurt. The space between them was painful and her body was crying out for her to close the gap, to weave every thread of herself together with his and become one.
“I need you to go,” Aya swallowed hard. Eris opened his mouth to protest but she cut him off with an unconvincing smile and added, “I just need to lie down.”
He stared at her for a long moment, anxiety written so clearly in his eyes. It took all of the strength Aya had left not to tear away from his gaze, not to let tears rise to the surface and his hands wipe them away. The magnetic draw pulling her towards him only aided in confirming her suspicions and furthering her panic.
Finally, his lips drew into a tight line and he nodded.
“Please take care of yourself,” He said, slotting the armor back into place. At the entrance to the tent, he gave her one last glance before returning to the field.
Aya managed to wait until he had left to let the tears fall, dropping slowly to her knees and bending to let her forehead rest on the edge of the cot. What had she done?
She hadn't meant to do it. She had only been trying to heal him. Oh gods, had she trapped him, by accident?
All at once, everything that she was not flooded her mind. He deserved someone better. Someone less strange, someone people weren't afraid of. Someone smart and gorgeous with a mind for politics. Someone from Autumn, who Edana would love and welcome.
Trapped trapped trapped hammered against her skull in a steady rhythm. What had she done? Selfish selfish selfish.
She cursed her power over and over. It was not possible. It could not be possible.
And yet, she felt empty, her body acutely aware of his absence. The thread itched, begging her to chase after him and be closer. She had dreamt of a mating bond before, in the way that most young people did.
But this did not feel like a rose-tinted daydream come to life. This was another nightmare.
p.s. there is a metaphor in here that was especially fun to write if you can find it I'll give you a prize 👀
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She stared at him for a long moment, feet entirely still even as his own shifted against the gravelly rocks beneath them. For a second, silver flashed a perfect circle around her irises and then she blinked and it was gone. Gaze once again the colour of the pre-storm sky above them. Cassian loved her eyes, didn't think he would ever get tired of that stare. Not a cloudless summer sky blue, but something deeper, sharper. Like the thin sheen of grey mist that so often hung over Illyria. Even as a boy, Cassian had always loved flying through that mist, continuing higher than anyone deemed safe until he was alone in the freezing blue above the world. Quiet, Nesta had once whispered when he wrapped a wing around her shoulder. It helped the world feel quiet. The silence of battle. The silence of the sky above the clouds. The silence of staring into her eyes.
"Who wouldn't be afraid when death is constantly knocking."
Cassian shrugged, "Just don't let it in." 
She made a choked sound somewhere low in her throat, perhaps the first time she had ever shown surprise in front of him.
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bldhrry · 2 days
A Court of Passion and Daydream
Chapter Eight | Who's Afraid of Little Old Me? Azriel x OC!Reader Masterlist
word count: 8.7k
warnings: cursing, blood, violence, attempted sa
author's note: kind of a filler chapter that explores Celestia's background, but it does shed Some light on the situation between her and Azriel. sorry if anyone finds it boring; i like to make sure my writing has sustenance and it's not just action all the time if that makes sense. i promise the rest will be more focused on moving the plot along. thanks so much for the likes, reblogs, and comments! lmk what you think :)
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The next morning, Cassian, Celestia, Azriel, and Rhysand met Devlon and his seconds at the House of Wind.  Celestia and Azriel kept their distance from not only Devlon and the other Illyrians but also from each other.  Cassian and Rhysand greeted the Camp Commander with tense hand shakes as they led them to the balcony to watch the trials.
Cassian, Celestia, Azriel, and Rhysand made their way to the ring, walking down the spiral stone steps.  Cassian and Rhysand acted as a buffer between the other two and let Celestia lead the way and Azriel and his shadows trailing behind them.  He wished he was in the front.  Every second they spent in the tiny, dark staircase was agonizing.  He kept watching as she stepped down, her hand on the railing letting it drag and feel the cool stone’s ridges and cuts.  Her scent was overwhelming and he wanted nothing more than to lay at her feet and confess his feelings and the truth of the bond and beg her to come back to him.  He did none of that though.  Instead he just took what he could: memorizing her backside, scent, and the way that she walked.
The trio made it to the ring to see Nesta, Emorie, and Gwyn already stretching.  Cassian made his way to the group, instructing them on how the trial would go and what exactly it was for and what it would mean if they won.
“The most important thing to know when trying to beat this is that you have to work together,” he emphasized.  The trio of females nodded.
Azriel and Celestia and Rhysand watched from the outskirts of the ring letting the General handle it; they all figured it would be best given the company they had upstairs.
“I don’t think they will take us that seriously if the Lieutenant General, who is a female, is leading the trial and not the General; we need to show force and keep to the ranks.”  Rhysand had said hours prior.  Celestia just rolled her eyes.
The trials began and Nesta, Emorie, and Gwyn breezed through the first quarter and then began to struggle.  Celestia glanced up at Devlon and he had a smirked spread across his lips and she growled.  Fucking asshole.
The females recovered, seeming to remember Cassian’s one and only advice.  It took them an hour and a half, but they completed the trial with a whoop and a group hug.  Now it was Celestia who smirked and Devlon who growled.  As she watched the Commander, he leaned towards his seconds and they began to whisper and nod their heads.  They were too far for Celestia to hear what they were saying, so she broke her one moral code: she entered Devlon’s mind and listened in to the conversation.
“They completed the trials which means they’re qualified for the Blood Rite.”  Devlon said.
“They’re not Illyrians,” said the short, stocky soldier.
“Who gives a shit?  Someone needs to show Rhysand he can’t fuck with our lifestyle.  We put these females in and they die, which they will, he’ll stop with the whole ‘females need to train’ bullshit.”  Now it was the leaner, fair haired soldier who spoke.
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“They’re going to put them in the Blood Rite!”  Celestia screamed.  Nobody was listening to her and she was growing more frustrated as the minutes passed.
“No, they are not,” Cassian growled.  “I told you; this was just to piss them off.”
“I saw it.  I heard him say it.  They are going to do it.”
“What do you mean you saw it?”  Rhysand crossed his arms.
“I looked.”  Celestia raised her head with pride.  “You don’t get to show these bastards that females are as capable as them and for them to not want to ruin that and show how much stronger they are.  I’m sorry you three are blind to the true nature of males, but I am not.”  All three males flinched.
“They are going to throw them in there like they did me and who knows what they’ll do to them.”  She let out a deep breath and looked at the ceiling.
She turned and looked at Cassian.  “They fear Nesta and they’ll crush her by any means necessary.  Trust me, I know.”  
Cassian had a troubled look in his eyes and he sat on Rhysand’s desk, gripping the edge until his knuckles turned white.  “We can’t do anything if they put them in the Rite.”
Everyone nodded their heads.
“They’ll kill us all if we try to stop them.”
Everyone nodded their heads again.
“So, what do we do?”  Rhysand asked.
“We prepare them.  Train more and make it more aggressive.”  Celestia had her arms crossed and started to pace the room.  She hadn’t noticed how close she had gotten to Azriel until she was in front of him and his presence wrapped around her.  She stopped and her wings twitched and flexed, spreading out just an inch.  She rolled her head and kept walking.
“If I did it and won by myself, then they can do it with the three of them together.  We need to show them my Blood Rite.”  She looked up at everyone, a determined look set in her violet eyes.
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They had been able to coax Gwyn to leave the library and come to the Manor with the promise that nobody but Celestia, Azriel, Cassian, Rhysand, Feyre, Nesta, and Emorie were there.  It also helped that Nesta promised to have another sleepover.
Celestia didn’t like Gwyn for obvious reasons.  Her need to be around Azriel made her have to continuously roll and crack her neck to relieve the tension building in her neck and shoulders.  But she wasn’t about to let her die.
“How are we going to see her Blood Rite?”  Emorie asked, accepting a cup of tea.
“We’re all going to hold hands and I’ll send it to your minds,” Celestia explained through a mouthful of cheese; it was the only thing that she found would stay down when she was around Azriel.
Azriel stood at the back of the room, next to the doorway with his hands in his pockets.  He surveyed the room but never let Celestia out of his sight.  She wore an oversized sweater and leggings with her house shoes and she sat crisscrossed on an armchair, a plate of cheese in her lap.  She looked relaxed and comfortable to the naked eye, but he noticed her rigid posture and the way her hands trembled slightly.
“You’re a daemati, right?”  Gwyn spoke up and a flash of annoyance crossed Celestia’s face but it quickly went away and she nodded.
She plopped another cube of cheese in her mouth and smirked.  “Don’t piss me off and I won’t peek in that head of your’s.”
Gwyn’s face paled and Rhysand sucked at his teeth.  “Celestia,” he warned.
“I’m kidding!”  She raised her hands in self defense.  “I don’t do that…” she trailed off, “sometimes.”
“But that’s how you figured out Devlon’s plan.”  Nesta now spoke, a glass of cider in her hands and Cassian behind her, his hands secured on her shoulders.
“Yes.  It’s invasive so I try not to, but I knew he was planning something.  He’s a fucking dick and the last thing that needed to happen is you guys going in there unprepared.  I grew up Illyrian so I had an idea of what I was facing but you guys, minus Emorie,” she gestured to the females, “don’t.”
Everyone nodded and Azriel crossed his arms.  The movement made Celestia look up at him and he froze.  Her gaze gingerly looked him over and he felt exposed under her violet stare.  Her eyes were lighter than Rhysand’s, but he hadn’t seen their shine since the day he left her.  Guilt forced his eyes to break away from her’s.
She felt defeated as he looked at the floor, moving the threads of the rug around with his shoe.  She sighed and cleared her throat.  “Alright,” she clapped her hands, “shall we begin?”
Everyone pulled up their chairs and linked hands.  With a nod to everyone in the circle, Celestia let out a breath and slumped into the chair, her mind branching out to everyone, allowing them access to the memory of the Blood Rite.
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Her mother had gone to Velaris to visit her mate, Rhysand’s father.  The four were sound asleep in their respective rooms; Celestia in the room she shared with her mother, Rhysand in his own room, and Cassian and Azriel in their shared room.  She had completed the Blood Rite trials months prior, but was informed because she was a female, she would not be allowed to participate.
“You’re lucky we even let you do this in the first place, girl.”  The Camp Commander at the time sneered.  She felt defeated, but Rhysand had said it was for the best; she would remain safe and she had the knowledge that she was just as good, maybe even a better fighter, than her Illyrian counterparts.
The night before the Rite, she was dead asleep in her bed when the sound of a thud woke her up.  She groggily opened her eyes and looked around her dark room.  As she looked to her right, she saw a dark figure in the shape of a male, frozen in place leaning over the bed with something in his hands.
She let out a scream and jumped out of the bed, dodging the figure as he lunged for her.  She bolted through the bedroom door and made her way downstairs; despite her mother being an Illyrian, she never allowed weapons in the room, keeping them in a closet near the front door.  That’s where she needed to go.
She heard a crash and the figure, no, a male, came out of the room and tried to grab her but she jumped over the last few steps and rolled, bouncing to her feet.  She turned to go to the closet, when hands grabbed her and she screamed, thrashing and jabbing her elbow in the face of whoever held her.  They stumbled backwards and yelled out.  It was Cassian.
“What the fuck?”  He growled and held his nose.
“There’s somebody in the house; he’s trying to get me.”  As she explained, the male bounded down the stairs and halted, eyeing her and Cassian.  By then Rhysand and Azriel had rushed out of their rooms, weapons in hand, with only their sleeping shorts on.  
For a few moments, everyone eyed each other, crouching slightly in anticipation gauging who was going to strike first.  It was Azriel.  
Before anyone could process what was happening, he darted to the assailant and tackled him.  Celestia made a break for the closet, swinging it open and grabbing her dagger.  She turned around to see Rhysand and Cassian moving towards Azriel who, to her shock, was raining punches down on the male.  The male held his ground as he fought back, punching him so hard everyone heard a crack and Azriel stumbled, letting the male overtake him.
It was no use because Cassian and Rhysand pulled him off of Azriel and pinned him to the floor.  She tossed Rhysand her dagger and he held it to his throat.
“What do you-” he stopped and studied the face that lay underneath him.  He knew him.  He was one of the seconds for the Camp Commander and he had participated in the Blood Rite with Rhysand.  Realization washed over Rhysand's face and he looked at Celestia in shock.
The door swung open and a male, bigger than the one laying on the floor and the Camp Commander walked in.  “Enough with the theatrics, boy.  Let him go.”  The Commander said and Rhysand did just that
The bigger male that walked in with the Commander made his way towards Celestia and even though she fought and tried to get away, he locked her arms behind her back, preventing her from moving.
“You said she couldn’t do it,” Rhysand snarled.  Azriel and Cassian moved behind Rhysand, flanking his sides.
“We changed our minds.”  The Commander said casually.  “I didn’t think it was fair to exclude someone who clearly beat the trial fair and square, female or male.”  He shrugged.
“You piece of shit,”  Cassian said through gritted teeth.
The Commander simply put his hand up.  “I’m done with this.  You’re lucky I’m feeling merciful tonight and not going to kill you three for intervening.”
“We didn’t know.”  Azriel panting.  His face was lopsided and it looked like his jaw was broken and he looked at her with an exasperated look in his eyes.
“I know,” he said plainly, “which is why I’m letting it slide this one time.”
She had begun to cry.  She was going to the Rite completely unprepared.  She had no shoes and was wearing shorts and a shirt.
“At least let her dress properly.”  Azriel pleaded, gesturing to her current state.  “She wasn’t allowed the time to get ready.”
Rhysand shot him a look of pure warning.
“Fair enough.  One of you, go and grab her something, but after that we’re taking her.”
Rhysand nodded and headed towards the stairs.  He took his time going up, gripping the railing.  As he looked through her wardrobe, he fought back tears.  She was going to be killed and if she wasn’t immediately killed…he didn’t want to think about it.  He grabbed her a sweater, a thermal long sleeve, boots, a hat, and thermal leggings.
The entire time he was gone, Celestia kept looking between Azriel and Cassian, begging for them to do something but they didn’t.  Instead Cassian looked at her with pity and Azriel looked at her with rage.  He wasn’t mad at her, no, he was mad at the males standing in front of him for taking her away.
Rhysand came back and the male holding Celestia pushed her forward and she silently took the clothes and went into the bathroom to change.  None of the males spoke when she was gone, simply exchanging threatening looks. 
She found a sense of confidence as she looked in the mirror and dressed.  She was powerful and a good fighter, beating every male that challenged her.  The camp feared her when she walked through the camp with her fighting leathers on and sword strapped down the middle of her back.  She will do this and she will win.  
She exited the bathroom, her head high.  She nodded to her brother, Cassian, and Azriel and they nodded back understanding her nonverbal farewell.  She walked back to the male that had restrained her and looked him in the eyes.  He seemed to cower slightly under her stare.
He placed a cloth over her nose and mouth and she collapsed.
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She woke up wet.  Confused, she opened her eyes and saw white all around her.  Snow.  There were bodies around, all winged males.  Illyrians.
She was in the Blood Rite.  The memories from the previous night came flooding back to her and she shakily got up, trying not to make any noise, but the snow crunching under her feet started to rouse the soon to be warriors.  Before she could be noticed, she started running away, towards Ramiel.
She headed towards the thick forest to her side.  She knew everyone else would start heading towards the mountain, but if she stayed behind then she could trail after everyone, hopefully unnoticed.  She scaled a tree and sat on the highest branch that could support her weight and looked towards the mountain.  They had been placed far and she couldn’t imagine reaching it in a week; it looked like it would take a month especially in the current weather conditions.  She could see a mass of bodies spread out in the fields and trees below her and her stomach churned wondering how she was going to win this undetected.  She knew she wouldn’t, but one can hope.
As night fell, she climbed down and keeping the mountain to her left, began walking, gripping the makeshift bow she had made tightly.  She knew fae monsters would be lurking the woods but she would gladly take them on than a male so she kept her eyes peeled and ears alert for growls and footsteps.  Thankfully, she heard none.
A few hours passed, and she found a small cave.  After scouting for anybody inside or around, she made her way in, covering her tracks and the entrance with sticks, leaves, and moss.  She lit a fire and cooked the rabbit she had gotten.  Silently she ate and cried; she didn’t want to die.  After she ate, she put the fire out and covered the embers and ashes with dirt.  Then, facing the entrance of the cave with a wooden knife, she fell asleep.
She woke the next morning with the sun hitting her face through the gaps of the entrance.  She rubbed her eyes and sat up, studying the position of the sun; it was early morning.  She gathered her supplies and continued on her way to the mountain.
She didn’t see anyone and she began to grow suspicious.  There was no way they had all gotten ahead of her.  There were hundreds of males in these woods and not a single soul was around.  Yet, she kept going, stopping every new and then to stop by a stream to drink.  Night came again and with no cave in sight, she climbed a tree and sat there, looking up at the sky.
The constellations were gleaming brightly and she named each one in her mind as she looked up.  The sky was so wide and never ending and it made her feel so small.  She thought about her mother and the way she also loved the skies.  She believed that it would tell you things if you looked close enough.  She was superstitious in that sense; she claims she knew she was pregnant before the healer because she saw the shape of a hand and belly in the sky.  That’s when she decided to name her Celestia if she was a female.  A tear fell at the thought, the fact told to her throughout her childhood; a constant reminder that she was loved dearly by her mother despite what she had done.
She fell asleep to the thought of her mother and if she was cheering her on from where she rested.
Morning came and the sun didn’t wake her, but voices did.  She peeked down and could see a group of males, seven of them, were speaking in hushed, but excited voices, boasting about the males they had killed thus far.
“My father said they put Rhysand’s sister in here.  Stupid bitch thought she could show off and we wouldn’t teach her a lesson.”  She leaned over the branch and could see the one speaking.  It was the Camp Commander’s son, Stanis.
The males around him were other Lord’s sons.  She knew them all; they were cruel and brutal in the ring and made it a point to challenge her and beat her down every chance they got.  As she got stronger and better they became more aggressive.
“You think we’ll catch her?”  Another male spoke, this time it was Burke, another Lord’s son.
“She can’t hide for long.  Everyone is going to be looking for her.  She has nowhere to hide.”  Stanis replied.
“We’ll kill her?”  A soft, high pitched voice asked.  She looked at him and recognized him as the butcher’s son.  His name was Tym.  He was only 14.
“Fuck no,” smirked Stanis and the group laughed.  Tym’s face went as white as the snow.
Celestia leaned back into the tree and stared ahead.  She needed to get out of here.
She waited until the group had left and she couldn’t hear their wretched voices, or laughter, or footsteps before she climbed down the tree.  She looked around and sensing no one, she went West towards the side of the mountain.
By the time nightfall came, she was too exhausted to find a cave, so she scaled a tree and passed out.
She marched on the next morning with no incident and no sign of the group from earlier.  Night fell once more and she sighed in relief when she found a cave and without thinking, from pure exhaustion, she entered.
“Don’t move,” said a deep voice.  She held her hands up and looked around the cave.  She couldn’t see the person.
“Who are you?”  The voice echoed through the round cave and she cringed and looked behind her.  She hoped nobody could hear.
“Celestia,” she said quietly.  
The person hummed and she could hear him move.  He was to her right.  As his footsteps got closer, she edged towards her left, keeping the wall behind her.
The male stood in front of the entrance and the moonlight washed over his face, revealing his features.  It was Kristoff, the welder’s son.  She relaxed; he was kind and the only person who tolerated her in the ring.  She couldn’t say he wouldn’t kill her right now, but she could say that he would hesitate before he did it.
“I was just looking for a place to camp for the night.  I’ll leave and if anyone asks if I saw you I won’t say a word.”  She earnestly promised.
He pondered for a moment, glancing outside and looking up at the sky,
“You won’t kill me and steal my stuff?”  He looked at her.
“No.  Will you?”
She reached out her hand and he took it, giving her a firm shake.
They decided not to light a fire.  They were closer to the mountain now and there were going to be more Illyrians than before.  They talked about what they had seen so far.  He was placed with the majority of the fighters and everyone woke up at the same time and a bloodbath ensued.  He was able to get away, hiding in the bushes outside of the clearing.  Since then he found body after body and it only got worse as the days passed.  She told him she hadn’t seen or heard anyone since yesterday morning.  He shook his head when she told him of what Stanis had said.
“I’m not surprised.  He’s had it out for you since day one.  Even when you started you were still better than him.  That and he’s just a pig.”  Stanis chuckled and Celestia couldn’t help but laugh through her nose.
They slept on other ends of the cave that night, both holding their daggers to their chest.  Just in case.
She woke up, but kept her eyes closed.  Through her eyelids, she could tell it was still dark out, but she felt a dark presence looming over her.  Behind her, she could hear gurgling and she shot up and turned around.  Someone was crouching over Kristoff and she caught the gleam of a knife, a real knife.  Clutching her wooden dagger, she pounced on whoever it was and he let out a startled scream that was cut short as she dug the knife into the side of his neck.  He continued to grab at her arms that were around his shoulders, but she didn’t let go of her grip, deciding to push the blade deeper.  As he started to fall backwards, she leaped off and stepped to the side, letting the body hit the ground.  It was Burke.
She heard the gurgling sound again and rushed to Kristoff.  His throat had been slashed open and he was bleeding out.  She covered his neck with her hands, eyes brimming with tears.
“No, no, no,” she cried.  She tried keeping pressure, but the more pressure she placed, the more he couldn’t breathe.  She couldn’t save him, he was going to die.
“I’m so sorry,” she said over and over and he just looked at her.  He reached his free hand up and she let go of his throat and wrapped her hands around his, kissing his knuckles,
He looked at her, blood spilling out his mouth and she sobbed.  It wasn’t long after that he stopped choking on his blood and his head rolled to the side, eyes wide open.
She sat next to him, staring at him, then the blood on his body, and then the blood on her hands.
She got up and started to gather both of their belongings, apologizing to his dead body for taking his things.  She was focused on putting the supplies together and processing Burke’s attack and Kristoff’s death that she didn’t hear the footsteps approaching the entrance of the cave or the person that grabbed her and slammed her head into the wall.  The only thing she saw was darkness
She was being dragged.  She could feel her arms on either side of her head and the snow coating the back of her sweater.  It was smooth as she glided on top of the ground and when she opened her eyes she saw she was surrounded by trees and two males were holding her ankles as they walked forward.  In the distance she could see a fire and smoke flowing to the sky and unintelligible voices.  She closed her eyes and darkness took her once more.
She roused again to voices; they were closer and louder now and some were laughing.  She was on her stomach, her head to the side and her face burned.  She moaned and tried lifting it, but it felt heavy and she plopped it back down.  It was snow that was making her face burn; frostbite was getting to her.
The voices stopped as she tried to move around and a few announced that she had “finally” woken up.  Someone shushed them and they walked to her, kicking her side and rolling her over.  She whined in protest.  Her head was throbbing.
“About time you woke up sweetheart.”  It was Stanis.
They were in a small clearing, surrounded by forest and a few boulders that the males were using as seats.  They set her up against the trunk of a tree and tied her hands behind her with rope.  Real rope.  The males looked at her with wonder, like they had never seen a female before.
Probably haven’t even touched one either, Celestia thought.
Then the beating began.  Sat on the ground and bound, Celestia had no choice but to accept every kick Stanis threw at her; her stomach, chest, and face were plummeted by his boots and she began to cry.  The males around her encouraged his crusade of violence, saying that she deserved it and someone needed to teach her a lesson, that she was a female and would never have a place in the legion.  This was all things she heard before and it just pissed her off.  Soon after she didn’t even feel the kicks and she began to focus on the rope around her hands.  The knot was done poorly and she started to move her wrist around, making the knot unstable and loose
Stanis took a break, his chest heaving with the exertion.  With a grin he kicked snow in her face and she relished in the coolness.  Her face and head were so hot.
With the knot unstable, she silently worked on getting her hands free.  She played asleep, as the males drank and ate.  These motherfuckers had ale.  She was growing more angry.  They were hunting her, they killed her friend, they had beaten her, and they were cheating.  And for what?  For being female and daring to be part of her people?  She didn’t want to be like the other females in the camp who did chores all day, watching the festivities from their windows.  She wanted to be a fighter; she wanted to be important.
The more angry she got, the heavier her breathing became until the males noticed.
“I think she wants more,” one of the males said, laughing.
Stanis laughed and he got up and made his way over, standing in front of her.  He crouched and leaned close to her, his breath, stinking with ale, fanning her face.  
He put his mouth next to her ear, brushing it with his lips and smiled.  “You think that big bastard Cassian can fuck you good?  I’m going to show you a real good time.”
She rolled her eyes; again with the Cassian allegations.
And that’s when she bit his ear off.
Stanis screeched as she latched onto his ear.  He fell backwards and she went with him until the bottom of his ear detached and it was dangling in her mouth.  She chuckled and spit it out, leaping on top of him, punching him over and over.  She was reaching for the second wooden dagger she had in her pants when she was picked up and carried over to one of the boulders.
“Let me go!  Get the fuck off of me!”  She screamed and kicked at the two males holding her.  She spit Stanis’ blood onto them and they flinched, flinging her against the boulder.
Stanis was still screaming, clutching the side of his head looking at Celestia in horror.  All she did was give him a bloody grin.
The two males that had dragged Celestia away still stood next to her, holding her arms so she laid flat against the front of the rock.  Some of the males went to help Stanis, covering his ear with snow and bandages.  The rest sat in shocked silence, wide eyes moving between Stanis and Celestia.
After a few minutes, Stanis pushed the males surrounding him away and stalked towards her.  He slapped her and when she started to laugh he slapped her again and again and again.  She could barely feel it, she was laughing too hard.
“You fucking bitch,” he snarled, grabbing her by the throat and pulling her towards him.  
Her only response was to spit blood in his face.
That set him off.  With a look to the males standing on either side of her they let her go and he spun her around, pushing her into the rock.  She collided with it, her feet giving way under her.
“Grab her,” he commanded.
With their arms, they held her arms and shoulders down.  She struggled against them, throwing insults and threats to everyone around, but the sound of a belt unbuckling made her stop and the realization set in.
She looked over her shoulder and Stanis had his belt hanging loose and the buttons of his pants undone; she looked up at him, terror in her eyes and he just smirked.
He placed his forearm on the small of her back and with his other hand he jutted her hips out.  Celestia started to scream in protest, the sound echoing through the trees making birds caw and fly away.
“Please,” she begged.  Tears, blood and snot were covering her face and she began to hyperventilate.  She couldn't move and she felt pressure on every inch of her body; she was trapped and had nowhere to go.  He was going to defile her and she had no chance of escaping.
But still, she writhed in their grasps, screaming, pleading, and begging.
“I’ll do anything.  Please don’t do this.  I’m begging you.”  She kept crying and for some reason she thought about Azriel. 
The day she completed the trial he had pulled her to the side, his scarred hands were warm against her sweaty, wet face.
“If you get sent to the Rite,” he began, “horrible things might happen to you.”  He held her face tighter and his hazel eyes were ablaze with something she couldn’t name.  “But, that doesn’t diminish you.  You have done great things and will do great things.  Whatever happens to you does not define you.”  He let go of her face and kept looking at her, his expression unreadable.  
She just nodded, lost in his eyes.
The cold air against her bare ass shocked her and she came back to reality.  Stanis had been able to pull her pants down slightly but as he began to lower them more, she kicked backwards hitting his shin.  He yelped and grabbed her hair, yanking her head backwards.
“I’ve always wanted to do this, but you’ve always had your dogs around you.  Tell me sweetheart: what do you do in that house alone with all those males?  How many ways and times have they taken you?”  He purred in her ear.  He had his face next to her temple and she was able to swing her head to the side, slamming into his head.  
He howled in pain and held his head in his hands.  But before he could continue his assault, something plucked the male on her right up in the air and he was thrown across their makeshift camp, into a tree.  His back collided with a crack and when he fell to the ground he didn’t get up.
Everyone began screaming as the offender made themselves known, jumping from the top of the boulder.  It was a Suriel.
The Suriel went for the male on the left next who hadn’t moved and with a swipe of its bony hand, his entire neck fell out.  The male had no time to react.  Stanis was the first to run, but the Suriel ignored him, aiming for the rest of the group to its left.  The Suriel moved quickly, almost like it was winnowing to male to male, slashing throats and guts until none remained standing.
At this point Celestia had gotten dressed again and was cowering against the boulder.  She couldn’t run or hide; the Suriel would get her no matter what.  In a brave attempt, Celestia, with shaky hands, grabbed her belongings near the tree she woke up by and sneaked her way in the opposite direction of the Suriel, avoiding all the dead bodies.  The only one she looked at was Tym; the poor boy.
Before she could exit the clearing, she heard footsteps behind her.  Accepting her fate she turned around and was face to face with the Suriel.  She lifted her eyes to the Suriel whose bony teeth were now upturned into a smile.  It nodded its head.
Celestia nodded back in appreciation.  It had saved her life and was now letting her go.  With a deep breath she turned around towards Ramiel.
“Girl,” the Suriel called out to her, its voice raspy.  
Celestia stopped and turned around slowly.
“Listen to the shadows and hear their songs.  They will sing for you for the rest of your life.”  And then the Suriel vanished.
She ran through the night, only stopping once to eat and sleep.  She refused to think about what had happened and what could still happen.  She was lucky to be alive and she couldn’t even wrap her head around what the Suriel had done.  She didn’t even know they were capable of that.  The only thing she thought about was what it had said to her: listen to the shadows and hear their songs.  They will sing for you for the rest of your life.  She wasn’t sure what it meant.  She had shadows, but only when her powers weren’t suppressed.  Did the Suriel want her to express her powers all the time?  Did she have other powers she wasn’t aware of?  
She shook the questions away.  If she didn’t stop thinking she would be stuck here forever or get the courage to trap it and ask what it meant.  No, she couldn’t do that.  She needed to reach the peak so she could go home.
Night became day and she continued towards the Pass.  It was around three o’clock when she saw the bridge that connected the forest to Ramiel.  She sighed in relief, leaning her head up to the sky; thank the gods.
The unfortunate part of the bridge was its location.  There were no trees or brush to cover its location, so if she were to make her way to it she would be out in the open.  It was early afternoon which meant that the warriors had already been making their way to the mountain and most had to be close or already on it.  The Pass was the least taken route for it was difficult to climb and had no real, established path upwards.  Cassian, Azriel, and Rhysand had taken it and told her the best way to climb it.  She gripped her bow and set for the bridge.
She walked as quietly as she could, keeping her head on a swivel checking in all directions for enemies.  Even though she saw none, she was still cautious.  Her encounter with Stanis and his group were enough to never feel safe in these woods again and maybe even for the rest of her life.
No, she shook the thought away.  Azriel said it wouldn’t define her so she wasn’t going to let it.  It was a thing that happened and it was something that she survived.  She was going to win and she was going to be fine.
She reached the bridge and looked behind her at the treeline, scanning for movement.  Seeing none she turned back around and gingerly placed her foot on the bridge; it held.  So, she walked, holding both rails.  She was halfway across the bridge when an arrow whizzed past her head.  She ducked, hitting the bridge and she could hear shouting behind her.  She turned her head and saw Stanis and three males; they must’ve survived the attack.  
She scrambled up and started running across the bridge, still holding on to the rails as the bridge swayed back and forth.  Their voices were getting closer and more arrows were flying at her, but she kept running.  If she stopped, then it would be over.
She had gotten to the other side when she got hit.  She screamed as she fell forward, hitting the rocky ground.  It was embedded in her shoulder.  She got up and sat on her knees, peering behind her.  It was jutting out and blood was beginning to trickle down her back and when she tried lifting her arm but it stung so bad she dropped it immediately.  She looked at the males and they had stopped at the other side of the bridge and were watching her, grinning evilly.  They were enjoying this.  
She grunted as she snapped the bow, alleviating some of the pressure and got up.  Giving them a vulgar gesture, she started up the mountain.  
She knew they were following her and it scared her, but she didn’t stop.  There were four of them and one of her, so the odds weren’t really in her favor but she couldn't think about it.  The only advantage she had on her side was her size, but at the same time that was her biggest disadvantage.  Again, she didn’t think about it.  She was smaller than them and was a better climber, probably.  
When she couldn't hear them anymore, she wedged herself into the side of the mountain and took a deep breath, leaning her head against the rock.  She closed her eyes and swallowed.  She let herself sit there for a minute, gathering her thoughts, feelings, and strength.  She looked at her wound and blood was oozing out, but it was slow; that was good.  She had time to reach the peak and go home without the risk of losing too much blood or getting an infection; she hoped at least.
She got up and resumed her expedition.  The sun was starting to set and the wind on the mountain was picking up, bringing cold and snow.  She had begun to slow down, exhaustion starting to take over.  Her eyes were heavy and she kept stumbling, but she didn’t stop.  She couldn’t stop, really.  The four males weren’t far behind her; every now and then she could hear one of them laugh or groan at the exertion.  If she stopped to rest they would surely find her and finish what Stanis had started.  She shuddered at the thought.
Night fell and she could barely see.  The sky was covered with big, thick clouds and she could barely see the moon.  She stopped and closed her eyes, listening.  She heard nothing, not even the crunch of snow or rocks being shifted, just the wind blowing around her face.  Despite the cold, she was hot, sweating dripping down her face, sticking her thermal long sleeve to her back.  It was then she made the decision to camp for the night.
She woke again to the sun on her face.  This time it was just peeking over the horizon and she was grateful she woke up early.  She hoped the fools down below would sleep in.  But she would be wrong.
A few hours later she could hear murmurs and pants and she silently cursed, turning around.  A couple hundred feet away were Stanis and his puppets trying to figure out how to scale the small mountain wall that led to where she was.  She became frantic; they must’ve walked through the night while she was asleep.  She silently cursed herself again.  She should've kept walking.  She would’ve made it to the Pass by now and a few more hours would be the summit and onyx monolith: her ticket home.  She began to jog, careful to avoid rocks and boulders hidden under the snow.  They heard her footsteps and Stanis called out to her, promising to make her pay for what she did to his men.
She didn’t care if they could hear her.  She just needed to get to the Pass.  
Her jog came to a stop when she was faced with a mountain wall.  She groaned and looked up; it was at least 50 feet tall.  She turned around at the sound of feet stomping and saw the heads of the males as they made their way up the slope.  She had no time to lose.
Moving her weapons around, she grabbed onto a ledge and then found her footing on another and started her climb.  The ledges were small and brittle and she kept slipping and almost falling.  Her nails were cracked and her hands were bleeding, but luckily she was halfway up the wall.  The unlucky part was that the males had caught up to her and were beginning their ascendant.  They kept calling out to her, throwing insults and threats like before, but she ignored them, keeping her focus on finding the right rock to grab.
One of the males was a better climber and as she neared the top he reached up and grabbed her ankle in an attempt to yank her down.  She screeched and kicked him, trying to shake him off.  He held on and continued trying to get her to slip her grip on the rock.  She refused.  She was fed up being hunted by these bloodthirsty idiots.  With a swift kick, she hit him in his nose.  He cursed and grabbed his nose, but the blood coating his hand loosened his grip and he fell.  He fell 40 feet down, past Stanis and the remaining two males and hit a jagged rock.  Celestia cringed, but kept moving.
She reached the top and whooped, pulling herself over.  She laid in the snow for a moment, catching her breath and crying.  She was so fucking tired.  She rolled over and peered over the edge; Stanis and the three males were at least 15 feet away.  She checked her arrow supply and found she only had one, so she knocked it into her bow and sat up on her knees, leaning over the edge.
She called out and the closest male looked up and caught an arrow in the eye.  He fell 35 feet down.  
Stanis and the remaining male roared in anger and began to climb faster.  Celestia’s only response was to laugh.
She never liked killing like the other males in training, but she was saving her life.  It needed to be done.  She would grieve and reflect on her sins later.
It was late afternoon at this point and the sun was beginning to set.  She only had a few more hours to reach the peak.  She was so close.
As she kept going, she faced no more climbing adventures and she was glad for it.  The gap between Stanis and the other male was close but she tried not to let it bother her.  She was ahead and that was all that mattered.
By the time she reached the Pass the sun had set and it had begun to snow.  Her hands were numb and they were beginning to burn with frostbite.  She turned around and the males were still at her heels.  
If the sun had just set, she thought, then that would make it around 6 o’clock which means I have 6 more hours to reach the summit.  If I move fast with nobody following me I could make it in 5.
So, she pulled out her wooden dagger, and waited for Stanis and his friend.
They arrived in thirty minutes which meant Celestia had thirty minutes to kill them both and make it to the summit.
They looked winded when they saw her.  She had time to relax and set her mind to what she wanted to do, but they were surprised to see her, waiting like a predator.  
“Hello boys.”  She smiled, waving her dagger.
They exchanged a look and then they attacked her.
She knew they would be hot headed.  She either killed their friends or had them killed, so when they attacked she easily stepped to the side and took the male she didn’t know by the arm and threw him against a boulder.  He yelled in pain but dropped to the floor.  She moved quickly to push the knife into his throat  Then, she turned to face Stanis who held his metal dagger in his hand.
“You didn't think I’d come prepared did you?”  He said to her surprised expression at seeing a real weapon.
“I always knew you were a fucking cheat.”  Then she went for him.  They fought in tandem using their dagger and fists to fight one another.  The only advantage she had on him was that she used her entire body to fight, not just her hands.  She kicked and swiped at him, causing him to stumble every now and then.  She started to tire.  They had been fighting for too long and if this didn’t end soon she wasn’t going to make it to the peak.
She made the mistake of looking over her shoulder at the moon, trying to gauge what time it was, but Stanis punched her square in her jaw and she fell to the floor, the dagger sliding across the snow and over the edge of the mountain.
He pounced on her and began to hit her over and over; her face, stomach, and chest were his target practice.  The arrow was digging into her shoulder more and she yelled in pain.  
She fought back though, holding off his attacks and scratching at his face.  With one hand she grabbed his wrist, keeping his arm suspended in the air and with the other she pushed her thumb into his eye until he bellowed and fell backwards, holding his eye.
“You’re a fucking freak just like your family!”  He screamed, scooting backwards.  He kept moving until his back hit a rock and his body stiffened and he went pale in the moonlight.  By that point she had gotten up and retrieved the dagger he had dropped.  She stalked towards him, her prey, and smiled, dropping to her knees so she could straddle him, their chests touching.
“Wanna know what I think a real good time looks like?”  She purred, her lips grazing his remaining ear.
Stanis didn’t reply.  He just looked at her wide eyed, terror filling his eyes like hers had and she just smirked at him like he had.
“This,” she grunted and drove the knife into his neck and dragged it across, nearly decapitating him.
He gasped and tried to grab at his throat, but she held his arms back.  She watched as he bled to death, suffocating on his own blood.  She got up and admired her work, cleaning the blade off with her sweater before stuffing it into her pants.  
She spat on his body.  “That’s for Kristoff you piece of shit.”
It was almost 8 o’clock by the time she resumed her trek up the mountain, the Pass and her victims behind her.  She guessed she would reach the summit in the knick of time, but she was wrong.  She would reach it with an hour to spare, setting the record for not just the fastest summit on Ramiel, but the first female to do so.
She was winnowed into the Commander’s tent at Windhaven.  He was asleep when she got there, and his seconds, the ones who grabbed her a week ago, were also asleep.  She cleared her throat and they woke up, their expressions turning into one of surprise when they saw her there, beaten, bloody, bruised, with an arrow sticking out of her shoulder.
They all looked at her for a few minutes, but she kept her eyes on the Commander.  “This was your son’s.  You’ll find him at the Pass of Enalius with his neck cut open.  He put up a good fight.  You should be proud, Commander.”  Then she threw the dagger on the table and walked out of the tent to her house.
When she got back to the house, she found Rhysand, her mother, her uncle, Cassian, and Azriel passed out on the couch, the armchair, and the floor in the living room.  They jumped up at the sound of the door closing and her kicking the snow off her boots.
“Oh my sweet girl,” her mother called out and ran to her, wrapping her arms around her.  Even though the arrowhead was tearing further into her shoulder, she didn’t move.  Her mother’s embrace was warm and comforting and she smelled like home.  And as she rocked her back and forth, she began to cry.
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Celestia woke up with a start, pushing her chair back and hitting the hearth behind her.  She didn’t know where she was and she couldn't recognize the people around her.  Everyone was looking at her, some were crying, but all had the same look in their eyes: fear, despair, pity, and sympathy.
She jumped when she connected with the hearth and pulled her dagger out from her leg pointing it at everyone.  “What-” she began, but Rhysand grabbed her arm.
“It’s just us.  You’re safe.  You are not there.”  His voice was calm and soft, like velvet.  Like the blanket her mother had given her for her 12th birthday.
She looked at him, her eyes were crazed and her violet irises had been reduced to black pupils.  She kept looking at him then around the room, panting.  She was having a panic attack.
Rhysand repeated himself, trying to pull her towards him but she whimpered and shook her head, pulling back.
“Stop.  Don’t touch me,” she was crying.  “I have to go.  Please,” she was sobbing now.
He let go and she made a break for the door, bumping into the couch and side table and then Azriel, who caught her by her elbows.
They locked eyes and his gaze was unlike the ones around her.  It was soft and loving and there were hints of yearning.  She could only gape up at him, tears streaking her cheeks.
“Do you need me?”  He asked.  His voice was hushed, but sincere.  
He searched her eyes for an answer, but she gave him none.  Instead she ran out of the room and up the stairs to her bedroom, slamming the door.  
She clutched her chest and the panic continued to build.  Her room was dark with a fire lit in the hearth and all she could think about was the night with Stanis in his camp and how it looked the same: dark with a fire.
She ran to the bathroom and threw up until it was just bile and then she sobbed, wishing she was in her mother’s embrace where she was warm and safe and happy.
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yaralulu · 2 days
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This is cassian to nesta i fear.
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thatacotargirl · 3 days
Flower of the Dawn Court
Please enjoy this little oneshot 🌼🌸
Summary: It is Thesan's wedding day and all of Prythian seems to have been invited. His daughter's, y/n and Dalia, have played wedding planners ahead of their father's big day; but nothing ever goes to plan when the 7 High Lords come together.
This oneshot is set at the beginning of A Court of Mist and Fury.
Reader's POV
It was a beautiful, warm morning in Dawn Court. The sun had slowly started to rise over the horizon, the birds were singing their love songs quietly, the tune carried by the breeze. You were stood on the balcony of your bedroom, a coffee in hand, enjoying the peacefulness of nature before the day fully erupted.
Today was your father's wedding day. After his experiences under the mountain, he hadn't waited a single second before letting the Captain know his true feelings and the pair agreed to marry as soon as feasibly possible. The wedding was the first to take place since Amarantha was slain and it felt like all of Prythian had been invited to Dawn, including the remaining 6 High Lords.
A door opens to my left and I turn to see Dalia, my sister, appear with a steaming cup of coffee to join me. Dalia and I were adopted by Thesan as babies when we were left on his doorstep. Dalia arrived a few months before I did, but Thesan treated us like we were his own flesh and blood; raising us in Dawn amongst the greats. Rumour had it that Dalia was even next in line to inherit the title of High Lady of Dawn, despite not being a blood relation. I grin at my sister as she reaches out an arm to embrace me.
"I can't believe the day is finally here", she says, pulling me closer into her side.
"He deserves this, every bit of happiness the world can offer him and more". Dalia nods her head in agreement as we gaze out over the gardens, watching the staff begin to set up the arch and the seats for the ceremony.
Turning the my wardrobe, I pull out the dress that was custom made for today. A beautiful shade of deep crimson with golds heels and jewellery to match. Dalia was to wear similar, only hers was a deep shade of blood orange. We looked magnificent.
"Time to get ready", I grin to my sister, as she rushes forward to pull her dress from the hanger.
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Several hours later and both Dalia and I were dressed and ready, our hair and make-up perfect. We watched with tears in our eyes as Thesan and the Captain shared their first moment of seeing each other dressed for their wedding, and took more photos than there were stars in the sky as our newfound family of 4. We could hear the hustle and bustle of guests arriving and taking their seats, and soon the bell called to let us know it was time for the ceremony to begin.
"I love you girls with all my heart", my father said, pulling Dalia and I in for a hug. When we finally let him go, he walked to the entranceway and began his walk up the aisle.
Dalia and I were next. Our heritage remained unknown, with neither of us caring too much to know more about the family that had abandoned us, but it was clear from which court's we heralded. Dalia was without a doubt a descendant of the Day Court, her power to wield sunbeams could rival even the most talented magic in her native lands. I, however, was born of Spring; and beheld the power to command flowers. Dalia used to tease me that I had the 'flower power' when we were children, especially when our father was teaching us how to manage our powers and I accidentally caused flowers to bloom from every wall, floor, and ceiling of the Dawn Court palace. One time I even bloomed a flower from the top of my head and couldn't quite grasp my magic enough to make it vanish - leaving me with a real-life flower crown for several days. Thankfully, Dalia and I had mastered our powers eventually, and could put them to good use today.
Arms linked, we walked down the aisle, smiling around to our many guests. Dalia commanded the sunlight to shine down and spotlight our father, with wisps of sunbeams dancing around the garden to the tune of the choir. With soft gestures of my arms, I yielded flowers from my fingertips, allowing them to fall from the sky amongst the seats and along the aisle. As we rounded off to the alter, kissing our father's cheeks as we went, we watched as the Captain appeared at the entrance of the walkway.
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The ceremony was nothing short of jaw-droppingly beautiful, and the crowd roared with delight as our father and the Captain were pronounced married. The 4 of us embraced at the altar and we walked hand in hand back down the aisle towards the evening celebrations.
On arrival at the reception, with a glass of champagne in hand, Dalia and I made our way around the guests to welcome them to Dawn. The High Lords had all agreed to attend and many were staying in rooms at the palace tonight, allowing them to indulge in the festivities to their heart's content. Only Kallias of Winter and Beron of Autumn were leaving tonight; Kallias to return home with his heavily pregnant wife, and Beron because - well - he's Beron.
A brief disagreement caught our attention as we turned in the direction of the Night Court table. Rhysand and his Inner Circle were all present for the wedding, as was Rhysand's plus one - Feyre Cursebreaker. It was made public soon after what happened under the mountain that Rhysand and Feyre had made a bargain that she stay at the Night Court for a week per month, and it looked like Rhysand had decided to take that week now, stealing Feyre as his guest to the wedding so that Tamlin wasn't able to. Dalia chuckled, clearly enjoying the drama of it all. Honestly, Prythian was slowly turning into a real-life drama production these days.
We approached their table to greet them, bowing to Rhysand and offering our hand to the Inner Circle members.
"Thank you for attending the wedding, High Lord", Dalia offered, her head still bowed as she addressed Rhysand.
"It was our pleasure, Dalia, thank you for inviting us. The ceremony was wonderful", he replied.
As you made your way around the table, greeting each member, you reached out a hand to greet Feyre. Although she sat with a frown on her face, her body caved inwards and away from Rhysand, she offered out her hand to shake yours.
"Thank you for coming, Feyre", you offered gently. You felt her hand untense in yours as you addressed her personally, and she relaxed her posture slightly.
"It was a beautiful day. Your's and your sister's powers are really something else, I know my sister Elain would love to be able to create flowers at her whim".
You smile as you withdraw your hand and Feyre looks up to meet your eyes. You see her's widen and she quietly gasps. Not quietly enough, however, to evade the notice of everyone sat at the table, who turn to look at you with confusion.
"Is everything ok, Feyre?" you ask with concern, taking a step backwards in case you startled her.
"I'd know those eyes anywhere".
You look at her your face laced with confusion, as you turn to look at Dalia for assistance. She offers you a shrug as you both turn to Rhysand, hoping for an explanation. He, too, however, looks completely at a loss.
"Feyre?", he asks, reaching out a hand to touch her shoulder. The entire table is silent, waiting for Feyre to respond, but her eyes remain frozen on yours.
"Feyre?", you try, crouching down to be in front of her seat.
"I'd know those eyes anywhere", she repeats. "I fell in love with them".
The entire table exchanges confused glances, now becoming concerned that Feyre is speaking in tongues and not making any sense. You stand and turn to Rhysand, about to offer to get Thesan in case Feyre needed a healer, when Amren, Rhysand's second in command, also gasps.
"By the Cauldron", is all she could get out, looking past your shoulder to the crowd behind you.
You turn, trying to find the source of Amren's shock, only to lock eyes with a pair of matching emerald ones that were staring back at you, widened in surprise. Eyes that mirrored yours in every way. Eyes that could belong to no one other than your biological father.
The High Lord of Spring.
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olenvasynyt · 1 day
I can hear your heart beating through the stone….
So there's a whole debate about the part during Elain's conversation with Lucien where she says this:
Chapter 24 of ACOWAR: “When I sleep,” she murmured, “I can hear your heart beating through the stone.”  She angled her head, as if the city view held some answer.  “Can you hear mine?” He wasn’t sure if she truly meant to address him, but he said, “No lady.  I cannot.”
Some people say she is hearing Lucien’s heart, and some say she’s actually hearing Azriel’s heart.  I know some people say she hears Koschei’s heart, or Tamlin’s heart.  But am I the only one who doesn't think this quote is about the shipwars or a future romance or the future villain? Because I actually think this quote has been resolved already.
I think Elain was seeing a vision of Nesta making the House.  Because we have this quote in SF:
Chapter 18 of ACOSF: Nesta closed her eyes and leaned her brow into the cool stone to her right, bringing up an arm to rest against it, as if she were clinging to a lover.  She could have sworn a heartbeat thumped within the stone as surely as if it beat within a chest beneath her ears. It was her own pounding blood, she told herself.  Even as she clung to the wall, that heartbeat. She let her breathing saw in and out of her.  Let the trembling of her body ease. The heartbeat in the stone faded.  The wall turned icy beneath her flushed cheek.
The House was not a sentient thing in ACOWAR.  Amren explains that Nesta Made the House when she first arrived.  
Chapter 61 of ACOSF: “The House sings.  I can hear it in the stone.  And when I spoke to it, it answered…you caused this House to come alive, girl.” — “You Made the House.  When you first arrived here, what did you wish for the most?” “A friend.  Deep down, I wanted a friend.” “So you Made one.  Your power brought the House to life with a silent wish born from loneliness and desperate need.” — “The darkness in the pit of the library—it’s the heart of the House.”
Nesta wished for a friend when she was locked up in the House, so she Made one with her magic.  And in that moment when she was going down the stairs, she needed comfort and support, something that she got from a friend or a lover, so she leaned up against the stone and the House was there for her until her body eased.  
So I don’t think that quote was about the shipwars or a future villain or anything like that, I think Elain was hearing the future heartbeat of the house.  
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nariko-senpai · 2 days
Being in the Acotar fandom on Tumblr is so hilarious, because I see one post which shits on elucien and the next is shitting on elriel. And of course the pro tamlin and pro rhysand posts being one after the other, and im just liking all of it because, heck, YOU ALL MAKE VERY GOOD POINTS.
And of course the pro Feyre, pro Elain and pro Nesta posts that bash the other sisters is hilarious.
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rainingriversofyou · 2 months
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Starborn, Fireheart & Lady Death - CC, TOG & ACOTAR
Artist: renata_watsonn
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nessiandaily · 2 months
Lady Death🖤 by xohikka [twitter]
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podemechamardek · 2 months
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@nestaarcheronweek | Day Four: Lover
A swift shadow passed overhead, followed by a whisper of wings, and Nesta didn’t need to look to know who sailed high above, making sure all was safe. That she was safe.
Busybody. [...]
Her mate. Her love. Her friend. The light within her chest brightened to a radiant sun. – A Court of Silver Flames, Chapter 80
For today I wanted an illustration of Nesta and Cassian enjoying the tranquility of the House. This was, in fact, the first illustration that I commissioned with Pablo and when I saw how it turned out, I was unable to correctly order the words because of how impacted I was by the beauty of the illustration.
Art by: Pablo Souza (pablochmn)
Commissioned by: @podemechamardek
🚫 Please do not repost.
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Nesta, walking in: I hate men.
Helion, not looking up from his report: Good, more for me.
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acomaflove · 2 months
Azriel: *sneezes and shadows come out of his nose*
Nesta: ………So we are all just going to ignore that?
Cassian: Oh my bad; bless you, Azriel.
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unhealthyfanobsession · 10 hours
WIP Wednesday
Here's a sneak peak at something I'm working on for Cassian Week
Cassian knew that Nesta belonged to him within moments of meeting her, and it hurt. It fucking hurt, to know that. To understand, with a lightning bolt of grey eyes to his chest, that mates were perhaps not so rare as they thought. This mythic bond was perhaps common as dirt and a human heartbeat.
Cassian knew and Cassian ached in the same breath. Struggled to forget. To overcome. To breathe.
And then she was turned and his body betrayed him. That was the betrayal he feared Nesta would hold against him. Not that his feeble body twitched towards her without being able to stop what happened to her, but that his twisted soul screamed to stay still even if he might have been able to help.
It was the worst kind of betrayal. Horrible and selfish, but how could he truly feel guilty about it? How could Cassian ever force himself to regret any evil that let him keep her forever?
Because Mother, did he want to keep her.
He wanted her.
Cassian’s fundamental flaw from the second he set eyes on Nesta Archeron was that he wanted her. Ached for her. For a single glance, he would tear himself apart. Had torn himself apart. Would continue to tear himself apart.
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assriels · 2 months
lessons in touch
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pairing: azriel x f!reader
summary: azriel’s curiosity and penchant for spying reveals exactly why you’ve been more…enthusiastic in bed lately
word count: 5.8k :0
warnings: smut (not super detailed)!! 18+ mdni pls, az being nosy
a/n: this is one of my faves so far :’) i have this persistent silly headcanon that az is the biggest busybody of them all and that’s why he’s so good at his job
banners by @/cafekitsune <3
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Sex between you and Azriel was far from boring. It was a well known secret that Azriel had a predilection towards kink and experimentation, so your adventures with him between the sheets never left either of you dissatisfied. Far from it, actually.
Being with him was always pleasurable, wonderful, and unrivaled by any you’d had before him. During girls night, you had always attested to his prowess, said that his skills of observation extended past the battlefield and very much into the bedroom. And his wingspan…you would neither confirm nor deny whether the theory around Illyrian males and their wingspan was true, much to their chagrin, but the mischievous smirk that curled your lips was all they needed to confirm their suspicions.
Azriel was a skilled lover; he knew your ins and outs, understood almost innately how to coax pleasure from you with a simple, well placed brush of his fingers. More often than not, Azriel had you in a puddle on the floor before he could even take his pants off. Which, ordinarily, was a more than welcome skill — you loved how well he knew you, adored how he loved you so much that his brain was like a file cabinet of information about things you liked.
But you’d grown frustrated lately, more and more desiring to reduce Azriel to the same pleasure filled putty that he so often did with you. His composure was infuriatingly ironclad; you knew he felt the same primal, overwhelming desire that you did — such was the nature of the mating bond — but he was much better at masking it.
In short, you wanted to know what made him tick, what made him beg and whimper and plead with you to touch him. You’d been mated for a year now, and while his desire for you never waned, you had yet to find the one thing that made him sink to his knees and beg the way he so easily coaxed you to do for him.
It was no secret that your mate had a bold competitive streak. But your own stubbornness rivaled his own, leading to long, long card game nights and sparring matches — much to everyone else’s entertainment.
Though you knew you had no reason to feel such competitiveness when matters of the bedroom were concerned, you couldn’t help but feel a twinge of annoyance that Azriel had so easily figured out how to make you squirm in a multitude of ways — with all your cards on the table — while you were still somewhat in the dark about his most favored bedroom inclinations. Azriel kept the secrets of his hand close to his chest.
So you vowed to yourself that you’d figure it out, test his composure to see how exactly to make that beautiful, calm countenance crack. It was like a game, but one you were more than willing to play and even more determined to win.
Ever the observer however, Azriel caught on to the changes in your excitement beneath the sheets, amusement and adoration coursing through his veins as he reveled in your sudden vigor, never shying away from a challenge.
You had been more experimental in your bedroom endeavors as of late, asking him to bend you this way and that, introducing things that he never thought you’d be interested in — not that he was complaining in the slightest. Though your differences were strikingly obvious, Azriel would be lying if he said he wasn’t curious about where your sudden interest in various sexual niches had sprung from.
Initially, it was all fun and games; if you wanted to explore then so be it — he’d match you stroke for stroke every time. But eventually, his nosiness had wedged its way deep into each crevice of his mind until he was all-consumed, curiosity devolving into a burgeoning anxiety.
Was something wrong?
Azriel was positive that if you were bored you would tell him. Had you heard something from one of the others that spurred you to want to explore more? Had you felt as though you had to introduce novelty every time to please him?
You had to have known that was far from the truth; no matter your state, Azriel had always made it clear to you that you were the most exquisite creature he’d ever had the privilege of knowing, let alone laying with. He didn’t think there was anything wrong…at least not for him. Maybe you felt like something was missing.
“Penny for your thoughts, brother?”
Rhys’s voice snapped him out of his anxious musings. Azriel hadn’t realized that he was pacing so furiously he could have worn a hole through the floor. Both Rhysand and Cassian had been watching with amusement glinting in their eyes. After all, it was a rare sight to see their ordinarily calm and stoic shadowsinger so worked up.
The same poker face Azriel had worn to win countless games of cards against his brothers masked his features now, but the twitch in his brow and the near missable ruffling of his wings were tells that Cassian and Rhysand were well acquainted with.
The shadowsinger had never perfected his stone faced indifference when he was thinking of you.
Cassian ventured a guess, “Have you upset Y/N?”
Cassian had meant to tease, but the way Azriel stayed silent had his eyebrow arching in question. Azriel ignored the curious glance from his brother as his mind ran in circles once more.
Had he upset you? Was your sudden experimentation in bed some roundabout way of telling him that he had done something to hurt you? No, no…that didn’t make sense, he was being illogical.
Or…Had he somehow missed picking up on something that you liked?
Your sudden interest in sexual exploration was far from a problem, but he got the niggling sense that you were up to something, playing a game that he wasn’t privy to. And he wanted in.
Azriel was private by nature, never revealing more of his relationship with you than absolutely necessary to his brothers, not wanting to overshare in fear that he’d fall victim to their incessant teasing. But this…maybe it would be useful to get their opinions about your sudden change in interests? Cassian and Rhys were both mated males afterall, and maybe there was something Azriel was missing. He would never admit it to anyone but himself, but he fell victim to his crippling neuroticism more times than he’d like to. Curiosity and anxiety were two sides of the same coin.
So he indulged and told his brothers of your sudden vigor in bed, enthusiasm to try something new every single time. You’d been insatiable as of late and he didn’t know why; nothing had changed that he knew of and it was concerning him, he couldn’t stand not knowing.
“So,” Rhys started tentatively, narrowing his eyes in confusion, not quite grasping the issue that Azriel was so hesitant to endorse. “Y/N is trying new things in bed.”
And elsewhere, Azriel thought with a ghost of a smile on his lips. He’d leave that part out, though; Rhys probably wouldn’t appreciate knowing the details about the going-ons in the dining room of the townhouse. And the gardens. And the hallways.
“And you’re complaining?” Cassian asked, incredulous, similarly at a loss for his brother’s concern.
“I’m not complaining, Cass,” Azriel groaned and slumped unceremoniously into a chair (much like an irritated school child who’d been caught doing something they weren’t supposed to), immediately regretting his poorly thought out decision to confide in his brothers. “I’m just confused. I don’t know what she wants.”
“Have you considered asking her?” Rhys inquired, infuriatingly teasing smile curving his lips.
Azriel deadpanned and clicked his tongue, not believing that Rhys would assume he was so inept at communicating with his lover, “Of course I’ve asked. She just says nothing’s changed. I believe her, but it’s still bothering me and I don’t know why.”
Both Cassian and Rhys resisted the urge to laugh, mentally conversing about how Azriel’s affections for you often reduced him to an adolescent-like lovesickness, begging and willing to please. Az had been this way since they were children; fiercely competitive and subsequently pouty if he didn’t have the upper hand, always wanting to know and learn everything he could.
This side of the shadowsinger was one that did not make an appearance often, reserving itself until he was around the few he trusted wholeheartedly.
The past couple of centuries saw even less of this endearingly childish and competitive Azriel – even around his closest friends – as Night Court duties and his identity as Spymaster overshadowed most opportunities to be vulnerable in his relationships.
But when you came around, light began to spark beneath the shadowy depths of Azriel’s countenance as you slowly coaxed him to trust and love as fiercely as everyone knew he was capable of, with the reckless abandon that his childhood self so easily embodied.
“Maybe check her nightstand,” Cassian teased with a wink, only half joking, as a quiet happiness bubbled within him at the small glimpses of Azriel’s vulnerability. “Some of Nesta’s best kept secrets are hidden there.”
Before Azriel could furrow his brow and chastise his brother for snooping through his mate’s belongings, a realization hit him.
You had been spending an awfully large amount of time with the eldest Archeron sister in the library lately, choosing to hole up there in lieu of your other hobbies when you weren’t training or engaging in your various other Night Court duties.
But Nesta would be a dead end. There was no way he could approach her without tipping you off to his secret sleuthing. Though he and Nesta were friends, her loyalties laid with you; there was an unexplainable female camaraderie between you – a chosen sisterhood, if you will – and if he asked if she knew anything about what was going on, she’d go running to you, mischievous twinkle in her eyes.
The conversation with his brothers was about as helpful as he initially thought it would be, and he let himself succumb to their jokes about how wrapped around your finger he was. Azriel had endured it graciously, knowing better than anyone that they were right, that he was indeed wrapped so tightly around your little finger that he was unsure of where he ended and you began. That he would gratefully stay in the palm of your hand for as long as you would allow.
But that night, after you had told him not to wait up for you because you’d be having drinks with Feyre and Mor, Cassian’s voice reverberated insistently in his mind.
Check her nightstand…best kept secrets…
Azriel resisted the urge to snoop for all of ten minutes before his inherent nosiness clouded his judgment and got the better of him; afterall, his love for secrets is what made him such an effective spymaster. Before he knew it, he was rolling onto your side of the bed, inquisitive hands pulling open your bedside drawer.
Hidden among the small stack of books he had given you was a thick novel with a cover he recognized, but gave no second thought.
It was a book you said Nesta had lent you. When he asked if you liked it you said it was “only okay” and that you’d let him know if he should read it when you were finished. Despite your lukewarm review, however, it had never left your side, and he had found you on more than one occasion cozied up with it in your hands, cheeks dusted with a heat he knew all too well.
Azriel was well aware of the content of the books Nesta favored, often lending a reluctant ear to a whiny Cassian whenever she paid more attention to her books than him.
But there was no way your sudden excitement for novelty in the bedroom could be inspired by Nesta’s smutty recommendations…right? He leafed through, assessing hazel eyes quickly skimming the paragraphs, catching glimpses of the prose that had you so enraptured.
Azriel felt the back of his neck heat.
It was smut, as he assumed. But this was truly…filth. Pure, unadulterated, filthy smut.
Azriel was a lover of all books, never having been one to categorize or judge them by popular opinion. And, to be completely fair, he had read a decent amount of books filled with sex and romance.
But…he was sure that the acts detailed in this one would make even the Court of Nightmares’s debauchery look saintly. Even Azriel, who had been correctly assumed to be the kinkiest of the Inner Circle, felt tame in comparison to the words flickering across the pages of your book. How did you read this with such impassivity on your face?
Azriel snapped the book shut with such force the pages blew a cool, gentle breeze onto his heating face. He tried – and failed – to not picture you in the position the main character in your book was described in, unintentionally sending a soft hum of his burgeoning arousal down your bond. He was beginning to understand your desire to replicate the more salacious scenes detailed in your novels.
Having fun without me, Az? Came your teasing inquiry in his mind, as he meticulously replaced all of your belongings into your nightstand.
Don’t be nosy, he quipped back, extremely aware of the irony of his statement. And then after a beat he added, answering your question with a sincerity that never failed to grip your heart, Never without you, love.
You left him waiting for a response a little bit longer than you normally would as you attempted to control the thundering beat of your heart in your chest. You were convinced that no amount of time could ever diminish the effects that Azriel’s blatant display of love had on your composure. As much as he was wrapped around your little finger, you were just as tightly wrapped around his.
I take back what I said earlier, wait up for me.
Azriel smirked to himself, feeling a flare of triumph, It’s a date, then. Maybe I’ll find something interesting to read in the meantime.
If you caught on to his sly insinuation, you did not let on, just continued bantering with him for a few moments before returning your full attention to your friends, who were no doubt attempting to extract morsels of information from your obviously lascivious exchange with your lover.
But that night – even after Azriel had promptly fucked you into a blissful oblivion – had yielded no more information about your recent proclivity for finding a new kink, so Azriel did what he did best and spied.
He kept a watchful eye on the books you read, and tracked the times you asked him to try something new. He spent more time in the library than necessary under the guise that Rhys had put him up to some research.
Which was only half of a lie. He was in there to do reconnaissance, yes, just not for Rhys.
Azriel scanned the bookshelves for anything that seemed like it had been recently replaced, pages still clinging to the sweet scent of your skin. A title he recognized caught his eye and he slotted it out of place, flipping through the pages to confirm his suspicions.
This book was shorter than the others he’d seen you carry around, but certainly no less obscene. A smirk pulled at Azriel’s lips as he read a dog eared chapter that you had clearly marked for inspiration, recollections of your most recent tryst in his office flooding his awareness.
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You had sauntered into his small, private study at the House of Wind, short dress skimming the curves of your thighs as you bent to greet him with a kiss to his cheek. He’d been distracted at the time — surveying maps and cross referencing with ancient textbooks — and barely tore his attention away from his work long enough to squeeze your hand in greeting.
But you didn’t seem to mind, opting to make yourself comfortable and purveying the books neatly organized on his shelves. When you’d found a book you thought would be interesting enough — though probably not quite as interesting as the one you’d just finished, per Nesta’s recommendation — you settled into the armchair across Azriel’s desk, shoulders against one armrest as your legs draped over the other.
Azriel looked up at you then, soft smile curving his lips. He loved when you kept him company while he worked; somehow, whenever you were around, work never seemed nearly as daunting or overwhelming.
You met his gaze with your own grin, silently communicating your support of him in the way that only mates could, tugging gently on the bond before winking at him and resettling your attention back to the book in your lap.
The both of you worked in that wonderfully comfortable silence for a while before Azriel caught you fidgeting out of the corner of his eye. The sun had begun its routine descent below the horizon, cool breeze stirring the sheer curtains framing his windows. Though summer had plagued the days with heat and humidity, the nights were still cool as the last dregs of spring eked away.
He looked up, intending on asking if you needed anything — a blanket, maybe — but the words died swiftly in his throat when he eyed a flash of bare skin as you swung your legs to stand, showcasing just enough for him to clue in to the fact that you were indeed not wearing underwear. Or anything else under your dress, if the peak of your nipples beneath the silk was anything to go by.
Selfishly, for a brief moment, Azriel decided that maybe keeping the windows open wouldn’t be so bad.
He pried his eyes away from your form making its way back to his bookcase, and instead attempted to tamp down the raging lust stirring in his belly so he could focus. But the mental picture of what he knew lay beneath the barely there fabric of your dress coupled with your scent made the lines on the map he was studying blur into nonsense.
Though intelligent and compassionate at heart, Azriel often found himself a slave to his baser male instincts when it came to you. There was little – if anything – you could do to quell the raging need to touch you, kiss you, be near you at all hours of the day; his desire for you was a constant hum belying his daily routine. He had not one iota of self control when you were involved, much to his simultaneous thrill and chagrin.
Inwardly, he cursed himself as he stole another glance at you as you stretched onto your toes to reach a book on the top shelf.
Beauty incarnate, truly, he thought. Azriel’s eyes tracked each slope and valley of the lines of your body, taking his time to commit each curve to memory, the way he should have been doing with the maps sitting now uselessly on his desk.
You looked at him over your shoulder, small pout on your lips, “Az, can you help me? I can’t reach.”
Azriel’s heart leapt. It’s like you were doing it on purpose, and in hindsight you definitely were. But despite the gnawing adoration encouraging him to fall to his knees and worship at your feet, he stood with the cool grace of someone unperturbed by their mate’s subtle seduction.
Azriel obliged you, coming up behind you, one hand curling around your hip to steady himself as the other reached easily to the top shelf to grab the book your fingertips skimmed. As he leaned forward, you could feel the hard planes of his chest against your back and you wanted to abandon all your plans to slowly seduce Azriel into a puddle on the floor, but you remained steadfast in your decision. Nesta had pushed a book into your hands and said she tried this once with Cassian and that the resulting hours were pure heaven, and you wanted to test the theory, curiosity rivaling that of your mate’s.
You barely registered Azriel putting the book in your hands, too lost in the warmth of his familiar touch. But you composed yourself quickly, leaning back into him to kiss him in thanks, not so subtly pushing your ass back into his hips. A feeling of revelry settled in your chest when you felt him already half hard beneath his pants, his fingers curling tighter around your hip.
Oh so reluctantly, you pulled away, perfect picture of obliviousness as you plopped back down on the armchair you were occupying previously.
Azriel thought he would collapse in on himself when you went to sit back down. You had him so tightly ensnared it was like he was still in the midst of the initial mating frenzy. He briefly wondered if the mind-boggling need for you would ever go away, though part of him knew hoped it never would.
He took a moment to compose himself — if that was even possible when one’s mate was clearly playing a dangerous game of seduction — bracing himself with one arm steady against the bookshelf.
Despite how much Azriel so greatly wanted to shirk his responsibilities to bend you over his desk, he wouldn’t. Not yet anyway. The work day wasn’t quite over, and the plans he was making for you would surely last too long to finish his research afterwards. So he steeled himself and took a deep, steadying breath, willing his blood to fill his head again so he could think with some semblance of clarity.
Though at baseline, he always found it difficult to think rationally when you were around.
While Azriel was trying — and failing — to regain his composure, you were feigning extreme interest in the book you had selected at random: The History and Systems of Fae War Treaties.
If Azriel had been paying any attention to what you were reaching for, he’d have caught on to your ploy, but luckily for you the mere sight of you was enough to render him at least somewhat incapacitated.
You took a peek at him over the back of the chair, triumphant satisfaction crooking your lips into a mischievous smile. Maybe this would be the day he finally cracks, you think to yourself.
But as the sun dipped lower beneath the skyline of Velaris below, and as Azriel stubbornly worked away at his desk, you felt the tiredness of the day settle into your bones, pull you deeper into the plush leather of Azriel’s loveseat. Cassian had run you ragged with training this morning, and Rhys and Amren had your mind working tirelessly as the three of you attempted to draft a peace treaty in a meager four hours.
But you wouldn’t sleep, not yet, not until you had reduced Azriel to a beautiful, orgasmic mess in his chair. Not until the hazel of his eyes were blown dark with desire and pleading as you straddled his hips.
The next hour was a fight to stay awake as the words on the pages in your lap began to blur into obscurity, mind muddling with theories and questions — though the book was an off handed choice, you couldn’t deny that the information was coincidentally incredibly pertinent to the discussion you were having with Rhys and Amren earlier in the day.
The telltale sigh of a day’s work completed pulled your attention away from your book, gaze settling on your mate. His hair was mused in a way that told you he had spent the last however long skating his fingers through it, but as always it fell perfectly across his forehead in defiance of the tiredness creeping up his neck.
Azriel’s eyes met yours and apparently your coy seduction earlier still held his body in a vice, evident in the way he stood and stalked to you. There was a cool, domineering edge to his movements and you knew your plan had worked to a degree, but the determination you had to break him down had leeched out of you the same way the night had stolen the day’s heat.
You hummed in satisfaction as he leaned down to kiss you, the pressure gentle and so, so sweet. A stark contrast to the dark and tempting storm of desire Azriel flooded your senses with down the bond.
Never once breaking the contact of your kiss, he’d wedged a knee between your legs as one hand braced against the arm of the loveseat while the other danced at the hem of your dress, endearingly asking for permission.
Your mouth curved against his and you guided his hand up to your hip, gasping delightedly when his hand tracked further up your waist, bringing the hem of your dress up with it as he slotted your hips more comfortably against his leg.
His lips traced a scalding trail of open mouthed kisses against your jaw, your neck, a chuckle rumbling deep in his chest that had your hips rolling against him.
“So bold for me,” he said, his hand skating across your unclothed skin while he urged your hips to grind a little harder against his thigh. You gasped, the pressure so wonderfully perfect against your cunt.
Though your initial intention was to get Azriel all hot and bothered, you couldn’t deny that the game you had set yourself up in had the same effect on you; the lingering, almost lazy path his eyes swept over your body every time you shifted across from him left heat singing between your legs, untamed longing for you dancing down the golden thread between you.
“Az…” you rasped, arching your hips up to meet his still clothed body, the top of your dress pushed languidly down to your waist as Azriel played slow music on the skin of your breasts. The loveseat was a cramped fit at best, but Azriel’s surprising flexibility and dexterity made it work despite the general largeness of his wings and frame. He’d made even the smallest corners of the House work for your sexual escapades.
The memories of all the scandalous little happenings you two have been partaking in the past few months flitted across your mind’s eye like an erotic slideshow, and you groaned. Legs tightening around his in desperate search for more friction, more contact, more of him. His name on your lips again was a wanton plea, a sound so wonderfully obscene Azriel almost came in his pants.
“Hmm?” He hummed, closing his lips around your nipple, teeth gently tugging before his tongue was quick to soothe the ache. The way your hips were grinding so shamelessly against him had his head spinning with a swirling mix of lust and love, and he clung to the last shreds of self discipline he had. It was all he could do to not tear both of your clothes off and sink himself deep into your brilliant warmth.
Azriel had always been patient, mastery over his desire was a skill he’d honed meticulously over the past few centuries — though you had a way of quickly unraveling his self control with one flutter of your eyelashes. But he wanted to make this last for you, wanted to draw out your pleasure for as long as possible. So he pressed his thigh more firmly between your legs, his own hips slotting against the side of your body.
You gasped at the feel of him, of how hard he was against your hip, and you tried to reach him, tried to get him to release some of the tension you knew coiled in his belly. He groaned deep and breathless when you pressed insistently against him, his eyes fluttering shut for a moment before he continued his ministrations on your body.
Azriel’s hands were everywhere, trailing paths around your breasts, up your neck, into your hair, and between your legs the way he no doubt was doing with the maps on his desk earlier.
It was infuriating how close you were already, how swiftly the tables had turned (though you half blamed the sudden onset of your fatigue the day had cursed you with), how with one well placed touch you were on the brink of collapse at Azriel’s mercy yet again.
He was urging your hips faster now, his fingers and lips making quick work of all the places he knew would have you keening. And before you could even register that he was still fully clothed, hard cock still straining against the confines of his pants, you were falling, breathless and dizzy with release.
The night had been far from over. You came twice more in that godsdamned loveseat – once with his fingers buried inside you and another time with his head between your legs – before he whisked you away to your bedroom where you finally, finally felt the delicious stretch of him inside you.
By the time the sun was making its appearance over the horizon once more, you had lost count of how many times Azriel had you begging.
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Though your spicy little rendezvous in his office – and encore in the bedroom – wasn’t quite an exact replica of what played out in the book you had apparently just read, Azriel had thought your coy seduction had its intended effect. He’d been so fucking desperate for you that he couldn’t wait until you were out of his study to have you coming for him.
But, as he skimmed the pages of the chapter you marked, he couldn’t help but think that maybe he wouldn’t mind being fully at the mercy of your whims, wouldn’t mind submitting to the pleasure that you so easily coaxed from him. He was already always so eager to please you, so willing to crawl to the ends of the earth for you if you had so much as suggested you wanted him to.
“Azriel?” Nesta’s voice dripped with wicked amusement, effectively pulling him from his erotic reverie. “I never thought I’d see you in this section of the library.”
He hadn’t anticipated that he’d run into Nesta, a severely idiotic oversight on his part considering the House’s library was something akin to her own personal sanctuary. Azriel turned slowly on his heels to face her, mind working in overdrive to come up with a viable excuse for him being there.
“Nesta,” was all he came up with. Pathetic.
Her smirk turned deadly when she realized he was floundering. Arms crossed over her chest, chin tilted ever so slightly upwards, she looked the very portrait of smug amusement; he would expect nothing less of his friend who moonlighted as Lady Death.
Nesta’s eyes dropped to the book he forgot he was holding, and her eyebrows shot up in understanding, “Ah, I just recommended that one to Y/N. She gave it a hefty five stars. Said it was…intriguing.”
Nesta’s sly comments were enough to confirm Azriel’s suspicions that you were taking bedroom inspiration from the arsenal of smutty books the House stocked. And, with the way Nesta was biting her tongue, he could tell that she knew exactly why he was there.
Cassian, that fucking mouthy bastard.
Before Azriel could open his mouth to tell her that it wasn’t what it looked like – even though they both knew it was exactly what it looked like – Nesta stalked past him, pulling books off the shelf with striking precision. With a stack of five books balanced on one hand, she took the one Azriel was holding and reshelved it.
“These are Y/N’s favorite,” she said, this time with a little bit more softness and understanding as she placed them gingerly in his arms. “I’m sure she’d love if you read them.”
Azriel scanned each cover, a fond smile working to tilt the corners of his lips. You did love these; he had been familiar with these covers long before you were even mated, always keeping a lovingly watchful eye on the things you enjoyed, filing the knowledge away in his mind for later.
“Thanks, Nesta,” he said sincerely, adoration for you filling his chest with warmth as he remembered the excitement lighting your eyes while you read these books, cute flush radiating off your cheeks.
Nesta only nodded, giving his shoulder an encouraging few pats as she stalked off to another aisle, no doubt scouring the shelves for a new read.
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Azriel told himself that he’d only read a few chapters — for research — but he hadn’t realized that he’d spent the better half of his day off lounging on the loveseat in his study.
Despite his previous reservations around the smutty books you’d so lovingly treasured, he found he was enjoying them — and not just for the well written, detailed sex scenes that you were pulling ideas from. He was two-thirds of the way through the second book, in the midst of the big climax, when you snuck up on him.
“It seems you’ve discovered my dirty little secret,” you said coyly, arms coming up behind him to snake around his shoulders.
Azriel jumped at your sudden appearance, inwardly cursing himself for teaching you how to sneak up on someone so effectively. He closed the book swiftly, feeling a flustered blush creep up his neck.
You pouted and rested your chin on his shoulder, “Aw, you were just getting to the best part! Don’t stop reading on my account.”
Azriel groaned but gave in, leaning back into your touch, “Don’t tease me.”
“I would never tease you, my love,” you said mockingly before kissing his cheek. “It is really the best part, though. The paint scene—“
Before you could regale the details of the main characters’ sexual escapades, Azriel took your chin in his fingers and slotted his lips over yours in a silent plea to stop your innocent tormenting. He reveled in the way you kissed him back without pause; he didn’t think he’d ever get used to the way you loved him as eagerly as he did you.
“Dirty little secret, huh?” He quipped, lips brushing yours as a bemused smirk lifted the corners of his mouth. You rolled your eyes as you made your way around the back of the chair, gesturing for him to uncross his legs so you could settle yourself on his lap.
Your weight was a welcome comfort as he continued prodding you, “Is this why you’ve been so…eager lately?”
“I didn’t think you’d notice,” you admitted, winding your arms around his neck as he scoffed in mock disbelief.
“Give me some credit love, I notice everything when it comes to you.” Came his quick response.
You pursed your lips, half in childish dissatisfaction that your little game was over, “I just wanted to know how to get you to beg for me. I needed ideas.”
Your nonchalance belied the wicked sensuality of your words and he chuckled, wrapping his wings around you both before mapping a scathing trail of kisses up your neck. The pillowy feel of his lips brushing your ear made you shudder, his teeth nibbling playfully at your earlobe as he hummed deep in his chest, “We have a lifetime together, there’s no rush. But since you want it so badly, shall I show you how well I can beg for you?”
Azriel’s offer sent an exhilarating shiver down your spine, and you so desperately wanted to give in, wanted to watch him come undone beneath you as he pleaded with you to touch him. But you shook your head despite yourself, competitive stubbornness the only barrier between you and what you wanted.
“I want to earn it, make you want me so bad you can’t help yourself.”
Your words were a breathy murmur that nearly had Azriel flipping you over right there on the too small lounge chair, but he resisted, prioritizing his assurances that you were the only thing he wanted every second of every day.
“That’s the thing, beloved,” he whispered in your ear, deep voice doused in honey reverberating in your bones as your desire flared so wildly it made you lightheaded. His hand, calloused palms rough against your skin, skated beneath the hem of your dress to grab hold of your hip and move you so you were straddling him.
This was the image you played over and over in your mind. The unbridled, unrestrained look of pleading in his eyes that blew his pupils wide, that had his hips shifting against yours in a display of just how much he wanted you.
“I always want you,” he continued. “I’d beg for you like I am dying of dehydration and you are my oasis. Just ask, and I’ll do exactly as you say.”
You were mesmerized, finger tracing the sharp contours of his jawline before ending at his chin, tilting his gaze up with the same practiced dominance you’d seen him slip into countless times before. You savored the way he shuddered at your touch, pretty lips parting as his chest heaved.
The corner of your mouth quirked, your breath a ghost over his lips, “Show me, then.”
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