Gw*nriels always have the stupidest takes on reddit.
Another post was talking about possible deaths and some of the comments were saying Elain was going to die.
I'm gonna to have so much fun when Acotar 5 is announced.
Gw*nriels always have the stupidest takes on reddit.
Another post was talking about possible deaths and some of the comments were saying Elain was going to die.
I'm gonna to have so much fun when Acotar 5 is announced.
GUYS- I WOULD ✨️PASS AWAY✨️ WITH 💖GLEE💖
My favourite Acotar couple? - Feysand
My favourite Kingdom of Ash couple? - Feysand
My favourite House of sky and breath couple?
Hehehehe it's all about them
Chapters: 59/? Fandom: A Court of Thorns and Roses Series - Sarah J. Maas Rating: Explicit Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings Relationships: Nesta Archeron/Cassian, Nesta Archeron & Cassian, Elain Archeron/Lucien Vanserra, Azriel/Gwyneth Berdara, Emerie/Morrigan (ACoTaR), Feyre Archeron/Rhysand, Elain Archeron & Feyre Archeron & Nesta Archeron, Nesta Archeron & Gwyneth Berdara & Emerie Characters: Nesta Archeron, Cassian (ACoTaR), Elain Archeron, Feyre Archeron, Azriel (ACoTaR), Rhysand (ACoTaR), Morrigan (ACoTaR), Emerie (ACoTaR), Gwyneth Berdara, Amren (ACoTaR), Nyx (ACoTaR), Original Nesta Archeron/Cassian Child(ren), Original Characters, Lucien Vanserra Additional Tags: Pregnancy, Family, Relationship(s), Mating Bond, Romance, Angst, Fluff, Domestic Fluff, Parenthood Summary:
Set two years after the events of A Court of Silver Flames, Nesta and Cassian start their next big journey together. (Please don't read if you don't want to be spoiled for A Court of Silver Flames.)
The first part of my Day Court storyline is now up!!! This chapter was hard to write, but I can’t wait to write the rest and write a bunch of different POV’s with this storyline!!!! I hope everyone enjoys it!!! And as always if you want to be added to my tag list please let me know!!
Okay so I’m reading ACOTAR and like I am about to put down the book because I think Feyre is such a brat. Like it’s honestly annoying. I’m only like 150 pages in and I hope I warm up to her but I have not yet. Does she get better??
That’s how it went right? Hahaha
So I was in a mood where I was mad again that they ruined avotar with acomaf. And acofas...
to the people who thinks az is feeling entitled to elain! that they both are toxic for each other! that they don't fit together or are not giving you forever or long lasting couple vibes!
then is not the same rules applied to gwyn and azriel?
he literally use the training as a distraction to move on from what happened with elain!
he literally never put much effort on training them as it was cassian who was doing all the training stuffs and he was there because he could not tolerate to be around lucien !
again azriel wasn't there with intention to train those priestess ! he was there because it's elucien bond that disturbed him! and he was staying away from them and not because he was willing to train those priestess!
he didn't even bother to give a hand to gwyn or a prize when she qualified the qualification stage of blood rite!
top of that he re-gifted her a necklace that elain returned because he can't just throw the necklace away! and lets just say he felt thankful to gwyn for giving him the distraction! and making his shadows happy! he gave her a necklace that was not even brought for her.
as per your theories he was about to kiss a woman just a night before and now he just gifted another woman his ex's necklace and now sees her smiling face in his heart! on a span of one night! he moved on from one woman to another woman who he used as a distraction to forget about a woman he was about to kiss!
he didn't even bother to go to the blood rite to save her while at the mean time his brother was loosing his mind for his mate! and he just like that did nothing to save them! and just said they will be alright where in reality gwyn ended being injured! and emerie has to drag her to the top and nesta in half dead condition was fighting with the queen! were they really alright??
do u really believe that that's a mate's behaviour??? and that gwyn and azriel's relationship is not even a single bit toxic! where he clearly using her as a distraction and being around her in order to avoid lucien and elucien mating bond and its smells and whatever he sees.
how could you call him toxic after he did everything for elain! from protecting her to making her happy and saving her life by risking his own and while at the same time elain is noticing everything about him, her gifts are not fancy stuffs but shows her concern towards him ! earbuds , headache powder! for what ? to make him feel comfortable! here they are Mutually interested in eachother!
at the same time how could you ignore the fact that he did absolutely nothing for gwyn ( please don't say he saved her life ! he did that for many others and thats as a duty! not because he has any special affection for her! she was a stranger to him ) and he was a replacement for cassian in training , and he was using the training as a distraction while if any of you bother to focus on gwyn's reaction towards him that is since their first meeting she is uncomfortable with azriel's presence ! and even in that pov when azriel met gwyn's eyes the memories of that night comes to her mind! she was smiling at his shadows and not at him and the only conversation she had with him to make things comfortable between them , about his singing azriel dismissed the question and focused on training as he doesn't want to explain himself to her.
how could you people call one relationship toxic over other while the first relationship was build on understanding and the other relationship was just a distraction!
those who says gwyn will remove the toxicity! how? that woman is dealing with her own trauma not the SA but also her sister's death! and the moment lucien leaves azriel will be back to town house! because he is there in the house of wind to avoid him only!
i never hated azriel or will never call him toxic because his priorities are Clear. he cares for the people who are close to his heart. and the rest doesn't matters. he will risk his life for them and do everything for his duty! the question is who actually matters to him!
he never left mor's side in 500 years even after she rejected him, avoided him, used cassian as a third person between them, flinch away from his scared hand! and he tolerated all that and still faught for her, stay by her side and still he received nothing and the moment a person actually accepted his scars and showed affection towards him and he finally started to move on for someone who actually showed affection and concern for him. you started calling that wrong and toxic!!
and the very next moment you start shipping him with someone else right after he was about to kiss someone! and expect him to move on from that woman to another who he doesn't even consider as a friend!
now who is the toxic one here?
Rhiannon Archeron did not spend her life amongst her unfortunate family. After a rather distasteful beginning in life bought on by Mr and Mrs Archeron, she ended up in a land on the other side of the world. Grew up in a city called Gotham as Kamaria Wayne. Years after her original abandonment, right after a most unfortunate war that left her alone once again, Rhian went in search for her birth family, only to stumble across more than she bargained for. Amongst those things, a High Lord who helped heal her broken heart, and whom she just so happened to help heal as well.
Pairing: Rhysand x Archeron!oc
Warnings: Passages from ACOMAF. Mentions of torture.
Word Count: 8345
Chapter 17- The One With the Priestesses and the Amphitheater
That night, Rhys had come into her room around midnight.
He didn’t have to say a word for her to understand, to make her way over to him. She’d let him lead the way to his room, and though they had not created an arrangement of any sort, Rhian had done what she did that first night he’d had a nightmare.
They’d cuddled close, just as they had the night prior.
Neither of them thought it odd, not as she hummed another pleasant tune, as she shared another piece of her past. This time, the tale of her first ballet recital with one of her sisters who’d also trained in the League of Assassins.
Rhys had been able to recover from his nightmare quicker that time around, had talked more than the previous night. He’d explained the ballet she described was much like a dance Fae called something different.
She’d hummed a different song after her tale of the night she’d proven she was more than just a girl in tandem with death. It had also been the first time mom had come to a family event, as dad’s girlfriend at the time.
That morning, the two had woken equally as cuddled as how they’d fallen asleep, they’d eaten breakfast and flown to the House of Wind to oversee Feyre’s training.
After a lunch spent with the court, in which they discussed possible hiding spots for the book in the Summer Court amongst many other things…Rhys had surprised her.
He’d excused them from drinking with the others, taking her arm as he guided her down the complex, and unventured halls of the House of Wind.
Only Mor and Cassian had raised a brow at their leaving, Amren looking unnervingly amused by it. Feyre had shot Rhian a questioning look, which the human answered with a shrug. She really had no idea where they were going, at least not until she dared to ask.
He’d led her down a few flights through a curved stairwell, mentioning they were visiting a library, one that had been around for many years, and served as his family’s personal library for many centuries.
She’d been to bookstores in Velaris before, but hadn’t seen any true libraries, and Rhysand had found it fascinating that humans had free libraries open to anyone.
Down they went, so far that Rhys had to tuck in his wings as the stairs became tighter, the ceiling dropping. Once they reached their desired floor, likely far below the ground floor of the House of Wind and below the mountain itself, he led her down a corridor lit only by bowls of faelight upraised in the hands of beautiful female statues, their forms High Fae and faerie alike.
The air was dry and cool—and heavy. As if it had been trapped inside for ages.
“You're the only one with a library here?” she asked, to which he nodded by her side.
“There were great libraries before the war, full of cranky scholars who could find tomes dating back thousands of years. But humans were not allowed inside-unless they were slaves on errands. But I remember they were closely watched”
As they descended down the last flight of stairs, Rhian let go of their intertwined arms, staring at the hall beyond as she asked, “Why?”
“Because the books were full of magic, and things they wanted to keep humans from knowing.” Rhys explained with a muscle tick of his jaw as they walked the last few steps down a wide passageway of carved red stone and a sealed set of obsidian doors, veins of silver running throughout, when he added, “The scholars and librarians refused to keep slaves of their own—some for personal reasons, but mainly because they didn’t want them accessing the books and archives.”
“What happened to the libraries?” she asked wearily, “You know, after the war. I saw book stores in the human lands, but no libraries”
Rhys frowned, “Most scholars had enough time to evacuate—and were able to winnow the books out. But if they didn’t have the time or the brute power…they burned the libraries. Rather than let the humans access their precious information.”
Rhian dropped the hand that had been holding her dress skirts in place for walking, couldn't help but let both of her arms fall limp to her sides in disappointment as she exclaimed, “Idiots. They’d rather have lost that information forever?”
He nodded, the dim light gilding his blue-black hair. “Prejudices aside, the fear was that the humans would find dangerous spells”
She’d chuckled at that, the only human she knew to use spells out of a book was Doctor Strange, and even he didn’t use many dangerous ones. None of which she suspected came from Fae origins.
“Yet here I am, about to enter a Fae library” she mused, which earned her a playful shove. They walked up to the doors, which opened on a phantom wind, as if the mountain itself lived to serve him.
Rhys slid his fingers through hers then, interlacing their hands as he led her inside his family’s private library.
This place, it was…amazing.
It wasn't like the massive libraries of centuries past back in the human lands, a shining room from fantasies. Yet its beauty was unlike any other, and all the books…the knowledge they must contain! Most if not all of these books must be older than her, older than Rhys.
The library looked as if the base of the mountain had been hollowed out by some massive digging beast, leaving a pit descending into the dark heart of the world. Rhian had scooped up her yellow dress skirts (one of the many gorgeous and comfortable dresses Rhys had gifted her upon her arrival), and made her way towards it, not even noticing she’d left Rhys at the door.
Around that gaping hole, carved into the mountain itself, spiraled level after level of shelves and books and reading areas, leading into the inky black.
From what she could see of the various levels as she drifted toward the carved stone railing overlooking the drop, the stacks shot far into the mountain itself, like the spokes of a mighty wheel. And through it all, fluttering like moth’s wings, the rustle of paper and parchment.
Silent, and yet alive. Awake and humming and restless, some many-limbed beast at constant work.
Rhian peered upward, finding more levels rising toward the House above. And lurking far below…Darkness.
When she’d asked why there wasn’t anything down there, Rhys had joined her at the railing with their shoulders grazing one another, and though he wore the aura of the confident High Lord, he nervously stated, “I once dared Cassian to fly down and see.” bracing his hands on the railing, gazing down into the gloom, he added “And he came back up, faster than I’ve ever seen him fly, white as death. He never told me what he saw. The first few weeks, I thought it was a joke—just to pique my curiosity. But when I finally decided to see for myself a month later, he threatened to tie me to a chair. He said some things were better left unseen and undisturbed. It’s been two hundred years, and he still won’t tell me what he saw. If you even mention it, he goes pale and shaky and won’t talk for a few hours.”
Was it bad that she wanted to see what was down there all the more? Probably. Rhys must’ve read her smirk to a tea, because he sent her a playful warning glare.
Still, her curiosity was quelled when she realized they weren’t the only people in the library. She’d assumed Rhys had brought her here to help with her research, give her access to older books that were not normally available.
But he’d brought her here for a nobler reason, one that sparked that sense of respect and trust that grew when she thought of him.
When Rhian heard steps approaching, she turned back towards the doors only to see a hooded, cloaked figure walking their way, footsteps echoing on the redstone floors.
If it weren't for Rhys's calm demeanor, Rhian might've reached for a weapon, mistaking the female for a threat. Old habits.
Said stranger wore pale robes, a hood crowned with a limpid blue stone, the panel that could be lowered over the eyes.
“This is Clotho,” Rhys said calmly, guiding her toward the awaiting female, “She’s one of the dozens of priestesses who work here.”
Clotho lowered her head in reverence but said nothing.
“Hello” Rhian said lamely and nervously, realizing this female was harmless. That it might be Rhian who was intruding, not the other way around.
She’d never met a priestess before, had only heard of them and assumed they existed if the Fae worshiped the Mother and the Cauldron.
She wondered if this Fae female would find it insulting to have a human woman here amongst their dangerous texts. If perhaps she was old enough to remember those days when her kind were not welcome to places like these.
But this was Velaris. Rhysand's lands which had proven to be anything but prejudiced.
Upon the silence, Rhys added with a wry smile Rhian's way, “The priestesses here …they are special. Unique.”
The female angled her head in what might have been amusement. Her face remained in shadow, despite the golden lights that had flickered to life upon their entering of the library.
Her slim body concealed in those pale, heavy robes. No signs of weapons beneath them, and Rhian didn't get the same assumption of power she could almost feel from beings like Mor, Amren, and Rhys.
So what made them unique?
Rhys smiled warmly at the priestess, gesturing at the human with a hand that was not locked with Rhian's own, introducing her, “This is Rhiannon”
The female lowered her head in a gentle bow Rhian’s way, a gesture the human returned in case it was the polite thing to do.
She only noticed Rhys was grinning when she rose. He pretended not to notice her glare, and instead asked the priestess, “Did you find the texts?”
And it was only when Clotho bobbed her head in a sort of “so-so” motion that Rhiannon finally realized either she could not or would not speak.
Her sister Cassandra had been similar, a mute by choice after her own training under the League. Rhian could see much of her late sister in this female, the way they communicated with their eyes and gestures.
Unsure if sign language was a thing here, she refrained from using it.
Clotho gestured to her left, led them down the sloping walkway with floors of red stone, like the rest of the place, but these were smooth and polished.
Rhian briefly and childishly wondered if any of the priestesses had ever gone sledding down the spiraling path. If her siblings were here, Jason and Duke would’ve already done so for sure.
She had warmed up to Rhys enough to whisper her ridiculous inquiry, and had to clamp a hand on her mouth to keep laughter at bay when he leaned down to whisper, "Mor and I tried once when we were children. My mother caught us on our third level down, and we were sent to bed without supper”
“Shi-” Rhian clamped down on her insult, in case the priestess found them unacceptable, and instead muttered, “It was that bad?”
With a feline smirk, Rhys added, “It was when we’d oiled up the floor, and the scholars were falling on their faces”
Rhian had to cough to cover her amusement, even with Clotho a few steps ahead.
In that moment, Rhiannon was certain the Inner Circle would’ve gotten along beautifully with her family. The thought was not painful for once, but almost felt like a relief. Because then, maybe that meant her family would be happy and accepting of her being here…working with them.
Not that she needed her family's approval to do things, but given their deaths, it would be nice to know they agreed Rhian was once again trying to do the right thing with the right people.
Still following the priestess hand in hand, they passed by stacks of books and parchment, the shelves either built into the stone itself or made of dark, solid wood. Hallways lined with both vanished into the mountain itself, and every few minutes, a little reading area popped up, full of tidy tables, low-burning glass lamps, and deep-cushioned chairs and couches.
Ancient woven rugs adorned the floors beneath them, usually set before fireplaces that had been carved into the rock and kept well away from any shelves, their grates fine-meshed enough to retain any wandering embers.
Cozy, despite the size of the space; warm, despite the unknown terror lurking below.
Making their way down to the next floor, Rhys whispered, “If the others piss me off too much, I like to come down here for some peace and quiet” to which Rhian grinned.
“Don’t they know by now that they can find you down here?”
“Of course. But I never go to the same spot twice in a row, so it usually takes them so long to find me that they don’t bother. Plus, they know that if I’m here, it’s because I want to be alone”
“So dramatic” Rhian teased, and upon his exaggerated gasp of offense, she added, “Will you come hide from me here if I piss you off? Because I’ll end up sledding down the paths until you either come stop me, or the priestesses throw me out”
Rhysand made a show of bumping her side with his hip, which would’ve sent her tumbling into a passing bookshelf had it not been for their intertwined hands. Which for some reason, remained so.
Rhian could have sworn Clotho’s shoulders shook with laughter then.
The gentle priestess led them into a reading area about three levels down, the massive worktable laden with fat, ancient books bound in various dark leathers. A neat stack of paper was set to one side, along with an assortment of quills, and the reading lamps were at full glow, merry and sparkling in the gloom.
A silver tea service gleamed on a low-lying table between the two leather couches before the grumbling fireplace, steam curling from the arched spout of the kettle. Biscuits and little sandwiches filled the platter beside it, along with a fat pile of napkins that subtly hinted they use them before touching the books.
“Thank you,” Rhys told the priestess, who only pulled a book off the pile she’d undoubtedly gathered and opened it to a marked page. The ancient velvet ribbon was the color of old blood—but it was her hand that struck Rhian as it met the golden light of the lamps.
It was an effort to keep from reacting, to keep her heartbeat steady.
Clotho fingers were crooked. Bent and twisted at such angles that she would have thought the priestess might've been born with them were it not for the scarring. Just like she’d figured out Az’s injuries had not been a birth defect, she knew the female’s hands were nothing but a cruel injury.
The effort it must have taken Clotho to move everything into place with those gnarled hands…
She gestured with a finger that was bent in two different directions to the page she’d selected, then to the book. They depicted records of Rask’s ruthless leaders, the legal disputes they often found themselves in throughout the years.
Rhys inclined his head. “We’ll give a shout if we need anything.”
Clotho bowed her head again and began striding away, careful and silent. Before she could disappear, Rhian shouted after her, “Thank you!”
The priestess paused, looking back, and bowed her head, hood swaying. Within seconds, she was gone.
Rhian stared after her, even as Rhys slid into one of the two chairs before the piles of books. Stared until she had disappeared past the dozens of bookshelves and past the dim lighting of the halls.
Stared. Wondered if there was something she could do to help. Maybe a surgery of sorts, or perhaps she could ask Feyre to heal the hands the way she'd healed her own injuries after her spar with Cassian.
“A long time ago, Clotho was hurt very badly by a group of males,” Rhys said quietly, “They cut out her tongue so she couldn’t tell anyone who had hurt her. And smashed her hands so she couldn’t write it.”
Every word was more clipped than the last, and darkness snarled through the small space.
Her stomach turned. “Why not kill her?”
“Because it was more entertaining for them that way. That is, until Mor found her. And brought her to me.”
When he’d undoubtedly looked into her mind and had seen their faces with those telepathic powers of his.
“I let Mor hunt them.”, his wings tucked in tightly, “And when she finished, she stayed down here for a month. Helping Clotho heal as best as could be expected, but also…wiping away the stain of them.”
Rhysand frowned, his gaze distant as he whispered, “That's her story to tell. Just know she grew up in a very bad place, the Court of Nightmares. She refused the path laid out for her, and she was punished. After dealing with those kinds of males, Mor wanted help when no one had been there to save her”
Mor, who was all smiles and joy. Beauty without bounds, laughter that echoed…
The world was a cruel place, and it seemed no one from the Inner Circle might’ve been spared from its wickedness after all. Yet, they’d remained good people.
“The males were…healing Clotho as they hurt her. Making the injuries permanent. When Mor found her, the damage had been set. They hadn’t finished her hands, so we were able to salvage them, give her some use, but…to heal her, the wounds would have needed to be ripped open again. I offered to take the pain away while it was done, but …she could not endure it—what having the wounds open again would trigger in her mind. Her heart. She has lived down here since then—with others like her. Her magic helps with her mobility.”
Rhian, who’d been in the process of sitting beside him, stopped and asked, “Are…all the priestesses in this library like her?”
When Rhian sat down, staring at the many levels above and beyond them for any trace of more priestesses, she noticed Rhys was tracing the tattoo in her arm, one visible thanks to the thin straps of her dress.
No one had seen it up at the House of Wind thanks to the lazy shawl she'd had on, but she briefly wondered if they would’ve said anything upon noticing it.
Feyre had a tattoo along her arm, which she knew came from a deal to heal her from Rhys (thanks to Spring for divulging the dots she'd connected the night she got her own tattoo).
Rhiannon wondered if he’d made a deal with Clotho and the others, if this place truly was more special than she’d originally thought.
To prove her suspicions, Rhys added, “I made this library into a refuge for them. Some come to heal, work as acolytes, and then leave; some take the oaths to the Cauldron and Mother to become priestesses and remain here forever. But it belongs to them whether they stay a week or a lifetime. Outsiders are allowed to use the library for research, but only if the priestesses approve. And only if they take binding oaths to do no harm while they visit. This library belongs to them.”
“How come you didn’t ask me to take an oath?”
Rhys smiled, hand closing around her shoulder, above the tattoo.
“Because I know you won’t. I asked them for permission to bring you and they all agreed. They know your skillset, but they wouldn’t have let you in if they thought you were a threat” he said.
Rhian wondered just what Rhys had said to convince them of such a thing. Most people wouldn’t let ex-killers into their safe space.
“Who was even here before them?” she asked, turning to face the table and the pulled-out texts, wondering just what Clotho had deemed important to bring her.
Rhys shrugged, pulling a few books closer to his side of the table as he mused, “A few cranky old scholars who cursed me soundly when I relocated them to other book shops in the city. They still get access, but when and where is always approved by the priestesses.”
The books before him forgotten, Rhys moved his hand towards her own, catching her attention.
Her eyes drifted from the books to his own gaze, noticed he was already staring intently at her when he added, “I came here a great deal in those weeks after Under the Mountain.”
Because…he was like them, like the priestesses.
Now Rhian understood why she was brought here. He could've asked for the books to be delivered for sure, they could've remained upstairs with the others, but he'd wanted her to see this. Just the two of them, because only they would understand the significance.
Clutching his hand tighter in her own, she whispered, “Thank you for sharing this place with me.”
“It belongs to you, too, now. Not just because you are from my court or my friend, but it belongs to you in the ways it belongs to the other females here. Females who endured so much and survived” he added.
Rhian realized that what she’d shared about the Infinity War had to have remained in his mind after the words were spoken, her situation with Eros, and all the wars before and after that.
He’d listened, remembered, and brought her here because just as much as Rhys could relate to the priestesses, she could too.
Rhys knew that, and wanted to give her a safe space.
Maybe that's why the priestesses had allowed her in.
“Some of them have been hurt the way we have, haven't they?” she asked nervously, and when Rhys let out a solemn nod, she dared to ask, “Have they worked past it?”
Rhys turned his attention to the books before him.
“They’ve told me it never leaves, but it does get better” he admitted.
Rhiannon kept their hands interlocked, but used her other to flip through her first book. In a whisper, unable to look him in the eye, she said, “Then, I hope we get better”
She could’ve sworn then that she heard Rhys reply, “We will”
After they’d gathered some information in their respective research, they’d bid goodbye to any passing priestess.
Many had been kind, welcoming towards Rhian as if she truly were one of their own. The woman had decided then that she would come back soon enough, maybe bringing them some pastries from town to get to know them better if they wished.
One of them would certainly take the time to speak with her, seeing as she had seemed very excited to see a human with her own eyes. That priestess with a thirst of knowledge had even asked Rhian to stop by if she could, to compare stuff about humans in texts with reality.
Rhys had beamed when she’d agreed at the harmless invitation.
She had a feeling that the library would become one of her favorite places in the city. And she was so thankful to Rhys for showing it to her, couldn’t even describe how much that kindness meant to her.
To her surprise, Rhysand didn’t fly them back down to the townhouse afterwards. He’d flown them to the city, where they'd landed in front of the Rainbow.
Proving he’d been listening to her tale last night, Rhys offered to take her to see the Fae version of ballet that afternoon.
He’d found out there was a recital in the main amphitheater by the sea cliffs. When she’d agreed, Rhys gladly led the way down the crowded streets where people greeted them by name. No one was surprised to see her with Rhys this time around, no one seemed to treat her human aspect with a second glance.
In fact, when Rhian had found familiar faces in the crowd, like the snake-skinned male from her favorite bakery, or the cluster of children that often played by her street, she almost teared up at the closeness of it all.
Rhysand had smiled with each small interaction for some reason. She figured he might be glad to see humans and Fae getting along after all these centuries.
Though Rhys had asked everyone in the Inner Circle if they’d wanted to join in, most claimed to be too busy, and as she came to learn that afternoon, Feyre didn’t really care for strolling around Velaris often…unless it was with Mor or for a group meal.
Rhys didn’t appear too bothered by it, didn’t seem to mind spending more time alone with her despite the fact that they’d shared one another’s company since before the sun rose.
They’d walked at a leisurely place, arm in arm towards the sea cliffs where a large amphitheater stood, made of marble and emerald, large enough to possibly fit over four hundred people.
In her days as a singer, she’d adapted the useless ability to tell how many people fit in a stadium, given how many she'd performed in.
She was confident in her guess.
The inside was lavish, with red carpeted floors and dark oak wood stairs. She was surprised to see so many people making their way in, even more so when she and Rhys were led to a private box on the second floor.
It was cozy, comfortable, and the two chairs before the balcony were of the softest leather, like thrones made for royalty (Rhys’s made to accommodate for his wings).
A petite female with vermillion eyes and a snake-like nose brought them a few appetizers, which Rhian was convinced she wouldn’t eat given the tea and biscuits she’d devoured at the library.
Still, they thanked the kind lady and waited till everyone below had found their seats before the stage became shrouded in large red curtains that obscured the view behind it.
Beside her, Rhys didn’t look the least bit annoyed to be here.
In fact, he was contently telling her facts about the place as they waited. Like how it had been founded by his grandfather over a thousand years ago, and despite its enormity in size, it was the smallest amphitheater in the city.
When asked if he visited often, Rhysand shook his head.
“I used to come here with my mom and sister when time allowed it” he said, “Nowadays when I do have free time…I don’t think I’ve ever thought to stop by”
Nitpicking at the small white jeweled patterns that ran down her dress skirts, she quipped, “No wonder every worker here started panicking when they saw us. At first I thought it was a ‘me being a human’ thing, but they must be shitting themselves at the thought of having their High Lord view their performance”
Rhys rolled his eyes, leaning back on his seat with his head lazily tilted her way, “I’m sure the performance will be fantastic, but if it falls short of your human expectations, maybe you could go down there and show us your human ballet skills”
Placing her tired feet on the little foot rest before her, Rhiannon groaned at the thought.
“I haven’t danced in months. Never mind that the dancing I have done the past few years is far from ballet, but dances by the world’s strictest choreographers that probably loved to push me to new limits. It would probably end up being a very poor performance” she admitted with a grin, “Besides, my sister Cass always was the more graceful out of the two of us”
Amused, her friend gasped at her dramatics, but their attention was taken away by the suddenness in which the candles all around the amphitheater became mellower in their glow, done by magic no doubt.
The curtains below slowly opened, revealing a large stage of hardwood flooring, delicate faelights scattered on the wall in a way that they looked like stars against the black backdrop. At the growing quiet of the crowd, five figures stepped on stage from the side entrances hidden from sight.
They were Fae of different races, some taller that Rhys, others likely as tall as her waist. Their steps were so damn graceful they almost looked like they were floating their way over to the center stage.
Dressed in ankle length dresses of varying shades of dark blues, the dancers bowed to the crowd…then to her surprise, bowed specifically up at their box, to their High Lord.
If they were nervous to perform before him, none of them looked it.
Rhian recognized that look in their eyes as something beyond confidence in their own abilities. It was the joy and pleasure of doing something they were passionate about. A feeling she hadn't indulged in a very long time.
As soon as the first sounds of fiddles filled the echoing space, Rhiannon became instantly mesmerized by the dance itself. The dancers…they appeared like they moved underwater, or floated up in the air. Their moves WERE ballet-like, but had an additional intricacy of acrobatics along with their steps that kept her hooked, almost in a trance, until the intermission arrived.
Like a spell broken, Rhiannon suddenly realized she was leaning forward in her seat, tears pooling in her eyes, mouth open wide in shock and admiration. When she turned to face Rhys, his eyes were on her, not the stage. Yet, he didn’t look bored.
Rhian couldn’t say a word, just gaped and smiled.
She hadn’t seen such a beautiful display in such a long time, didn’t think the joy she felt in that moment could be attainable after the losses she’d suffered. More than that, even after all Rhys had told her he’d gone through and all he’d yet to say, his large grin that made his eyes smile seemed like even more of a miracle.
Alone in that lavish booth of gold accents and expensive velvet, Rhiannon could only see him, the stars in his eyes that she could’ve sworn were shining brighter than the first time they met.
“I take it you find the performance interesting?” Rhys teased breathlessly, leaning his elbow on the armrest of his throne-like chair, resting his head atop his palm, curiously cocking his head at her.
Slouching on her own chair, hand covering her wide smile, Rhiannon replied happily, “What do you think? I don’t gawk at boring things”
The mischief in his eyes lit up like a lantern, he was quick to reply, “Seeing as though your gorgeous eyes have stayed on mine for the past few minutes, I’ll take the compliment”
With a groan, Rhian reached towards the small side table nearby and hurled a cluster of grapes his way. Grapes which he MISTED with a smirk just before they could hit him square in the nose.
To her surprise, he then asked with heartbreaking gentleness, “Do you miss it? Dancing?”
An unexpected question.
Rhiannon did miss it some days, more so the aspect of sharing a hobby with her sister than the actual ballet. It was a demanding discipline, painful to the feet but liberating to the soul. But she missed music more, the singing and performing…the difference it made in people’s lives.
After watching these dancers and listening to their music, Rhian was reminded of the reason she fell in love with music all those years ago.
Music was a universal language. It didn’t matter what country you came from, what language you spoke, or what species you were…if one heard a sad song, the message was received by all, and a crowd of opposite views could be moved to tears as one. If a joyous song was in the midst of many varying crowds, they’d dance together without a care for what made them alike or different.
Music was a translation of raw emotions.
“Maybe I’ll find my old ballet shoes once our…schedules clear up” she pondered, “My sister would be saddened if she knew I’d stored them away. She would’ve wanted me to keep her memory alive that way”
“Maybe I’ll come back here more often once our schedules clear up” Rhys said with equal quiet, “My sister would’ve also been very upset if she found out I stopped coming here because this was a place she loved”
Rhiannon paused, suddenly feeling awful for being the reason they were here in the first palace. What kind of memories had this place brought back? Rhys, that self-sacrificing bastard WOULD bring her here despite his own hesitations…
But, he didn’t look upset. Even now with the mention of his loved one, Rhysand’s smile remained as he nodded her way.
Nodded in thanks she realized, for bringing him back here.
For the rest of the performance, Rhian was once again enthralled by its beauty, but oftentimes tore her gaze away from the show to make sure Rhysand was doing alright. Every time she’d turned, he’d looked just as mesmerized as she was, and the smiles he set her way when he noticed her stares…they were breathtaking.
In the next few days, the two fell into a routine of sorts. One that, by the end of the week, seemed like a permanent and unspoken arrangement.
Given the closeness to the next stage of their plans for the Book of Breathings, Rhysand was busy planning security measures with Az and Cassian most days, while Rhian was preoccupied not only learning as much as she could about the world of the Fae, but planning security measures of her own.
Mor would stop by most days in the afternoon to take Rhiannon out of the house for something to eat, and the two would spend an hour or so getting to know one another or just having a good laugh about the silliest of things.
Rhiannon had yet to ask Mor about the past Rhys had hinted at in their stay at the library, but she’d wait however long it took for Mor to feel comfortable sharing it.
Speaking of the library, when Cassian stopped by to wisk her up to the House of Wind (with the excuse that he wanted a challenge during his training that day, one neither of his brothers could provide) she’d sneak downstairs afterward to the family library.
Rhian didn’t do it to get more books, but with the intention to check on the females. She’d had tea with Clotho a few times, taught her the basics of human sign language in hopes that it might be useful to her.
The two priestesses who had shown an interest in learning more about humanity were just as kind to her, always greeting her with genuine smiles, and after the third visit, embraces.
What was perhaps quite saddening was the fact that both of those priestesses had no names. They’d had names growing up, but had given them up along with all the bad things that had happened to them.
Somehow, it had never occurred to them to think of new ones, but when Rhiannon suggested a few, the two females had beamed with tears in their eyes.
For the High Fae, a blonde female with straw colored eyes, Rhian had suggested the name Atropos. As for the dark skinned female with round human ears and bright green eyes, she’d suggested the name Lachesis.
Both females had quickly fallen in love with their new identities, especially when Rhian explained both names had been inspired by Clotho’s own namesake. This way, they could be named after the Three Fates or Moirai who spin the thread of human life (in accordance to Greek Mythology that is).
Rhiannon had never asked Aunt Diana if the fates were real or not, but at least now there would be three strong females with incredible brains and immortality to carry that human tale in these lands.
The priestesses had become good companions these past few days, and seeing them smile more and more each visit, having them greet her at the door upon arrival as if they were excited to see her again…it made the darkness of the past vanish all the more.
It was also nice that they’d taken a liking to Titus during a few of his visits, in which her dog had almost bitten Cassian’s arm off during take off a few times during those mornings they'd been flown over to the House of Wind for training.
To say Titus had warmed up to Cassian the way he had with Rhys was…a lie. He’d even stopped growling at Mor during their lunch outings, but Cass LOVED to rile up the Great Dane, which didn’t help their relationship in the least.
During those days up at the House training, Rhiannon never really got to see her twin. From what she was told, Feyre was busy training her powers with Amren most mornings for their upcoming mission. Nevertheless, Feyre sent a few letters when she could, explaining the things she’d learned about the other High Lords and their magic, or asking Rhian to tell Rhys he was a prick for one reason or another.
Once both her and Rhys came back to the house after a long day, the two shared their late afternoons fin the comfort of the sitting room, food they prepared before them, a roaring fire keeping them warm, and since a few days ago, human music playing in the background of their relaxing conversations.
Rhys would never admit it, but he’d taken a liking to Britney Spears and ABBA. She could tell.
To her relief, despite their busy schedules, their progress in friendship had never lessened, only grown.
Rhys was no longer hesitant to ask for help, which she considered a win. He would come into her room after a gentle knock on the door, usually when the moon was still high in the night sky. She didn’t need him to say anything, explain his intrusion, she’d just walk him back to his room, and the two would lay down as they had nights prior, seeking comfort in their embraces.
Though she still hummed songs to him, he now knew enough human melodies to request one or two. Rhiannon had always relented, because having him speak after a nightmare was a relief in its own.
What was even better, was that a few nights ago, after she’d shared a tale to ease his nerves, Rhysand had begun offering tales of his own. He’d share tales of the Fae just as she had those of her own culture.
The story of Nephelle became one of her favorites, a real-life event from the first war that always brought tears to her eyes.
In turn, his favorite tale of hers became that of the Kings and Queens of Narnia. Though it was not a real-life recounting, it was the tale he requested the most, barely beating the tale of her first birthday in Gotham when she’d snuffed down her cake candles with a katana (much to the horror of her dad).
It got to the point that waking up in his large bed and embrace was normal, that the days he wasn’t plagued by nightmares, she’d find herself missing his warmth in the mornings.
On the days they shared his bed, Titus would come join them. When they didn’t, Titus had taken to alternating between both beds during the night, which Rhys often praised with extra bacon in the mornings.
As for her nightmares, maybe it was the fact that the days were busier, leaving little time for her mind to linger on things, because her nightmares HAD lessened. That wasn’t to say they were gone, but she’d yet to waken Rhys at the expense of her bad dreams, even if she had debated it more than once, standing with a hand reaching for her door handle.
She’d always be there to help him, but something about having him helping Rhian made her pause.
Because, well, she wasn’t used to asking for help.
Rhian had already trusted Rhysand with many memories, had managed to relax around him, but there were still many things he did not know. Pains she kept close.
Though she had a feeling Rhys WAS aware of the nights she had nightmares, because when he came in to seek her on those instances under the guise of his own bad dreams, those nights he’d hold her closer, almost as if he wanted to comfort her as well.
They did that routine for the week and a half it took to set everything up for the Summer Court visit.
The night before, Rhys had called a family dinner at the House of Wind, but it wasn’t until the meal was finished that he got down to business.
Seated beside her, Rhysand set down his wine, smiling at his family as he announced, “Tomorrow Tarquin is expecting us by sunrise. Feyre, Amren, Rhian, and I will go tomorrow.”
Only the four of them? Across the table, Cassian seemed to have the same thought, his wings rustling as he crossed his arms and faced Rhys. “The Summer Court is full of hot-headed fools and arrogant pricks,” he warned, “I should join you.”
“You’d fit right in,” Amren crooned from her seat beside him, “Too bad you still aren’t going.”
Cassian pointed a finger at her. “Watch it, Amren.”
She bared her teeth in a wicked smile. “Believe me, I’d prefer not to go, either.”
Rhiannon had to clamp her lips shut to keep from smiling or grimacing, of which she wasn’t sure.
Rhian and Amren had become good acquaintances recently, likely thanks to the foreign jewelry she kept giving the greedy firedrake.
She’d also come to appreciate Cassian’s boldness, even found him funny most of the time, even if he’d taken to treating her like a younger sibling, which was a lot to process in itself. She supposed it was good they ended up beating each other up every day during training. A balance of sorts.
Beside Rhiannon, the High Lord rubbed his temples, “Cassian, considering the fact that the last time you visited, it didn’t end well—”
“I wrecked one building—” Cass defended, which almost made Rhian spill her water all over the table. He’d done wha…actually, that wasn’t as surprising as she’d originally thought.
“And,” Rhys cut him off. “Considering the fact that they are utterly terrified of sweet Amren, she is the wiser choice. Not to mention Rhiannon is additional backup when it comes to safety”
Honestly, she had not expected to be invited to go…but the more she thought about it, it would be a chance to make sure Amren, her sibling, and good friend were safe.
Amren likely didn’t need the help though, she’d come to realize that perhaps everyone outside of these lands would (and should) be scared of her.
“It could easily be a trap,” Cassian pushed, “Who’s to say the delay in replying wasn’t because they’re contacting our enemies to ambush you?”
“That is also why Amren and Rhian are coming,” Rhys said simply.
Across the table, Amren was frowning—bored and annoyed.
Maybe that's why Rhys said too casually, “There is also a great deal of treasure to be found in the Summer Court. If the Book is hidden, Amren, you might find other objects to your liking.”
“Shit,” Mor said from her spot beside Amren, throwing up her hands in protest, “Really, Rhys? It’s bad enough we’re stealing from them, but robbing them blind—”
“Rhysand does have a point,” Amren interrupted, “Their High Lord is young and untested. I doubt he’s had much time to catalog his inherited hoard since he was appointed Under the Mountain. I doubt he’ll know anything is missing. Very well, Rhysand—I’m in.”
No better than a firedrake guarding its trove indeed. The thought was amusing enough she must’ve smiled, enough so for Mor to shoot her a secret, subtle look that conveyed the same thing.
Rhian had to swallow a chuckle over a spoonful of soup.
Cassian started to object again, but Rhys said quietly, “I will need you—not Amren—in the human realm. The Summer Court has banned you for eternity, and though your presence would be a good distraction while Feyre does what she has to, it could lead to more trouble than it’s worth.”
On Rhian’s other side, she saw Feyre stiffen, likely from nerves. Tracking down that Book of Breathings and stealing it was a big leap from going to the Weaver’s cottage.
But she wouldn’t have to do it alone, which is why Rhiannon placed her hand on her sister’s under the table for reassurance.
Feyre seemed to appreciate her weak attempt at comfort at least.
“Just cool your heels, Cassian,” Amren said, eyes a bit glazed—as she no doubt imagined the treasure she might steal from the Summer Court, “We’ll be fine without your swaggering and growling at everyone. Their High Lord owes Rhys a favor for saving his life Under the Mountain—and keeping his secrets.”
Cassian’s wings twitched, but Mor chimed in, “And the High Lord also probably wants to figure out where we stand in regard to any upcoming conflict.”
The general's wings settled again. He jerked his chin at both Rhian and Feyre, adding, “Feyre, though. It’s one thing to have her here—even when everyone knows it. It’s another to bring her to a different court, and introduce her as a member of our own. And bringing her human sister as one of our own as well…a human, Rhys!”
The message it’d send to the other courts, to Feyre’s previous court...it could very well be political chaos if they didn't play it right.
Rhys turned to face Rhian, eyes kind and sincere as he explained, “Having a human emissary will speak volumes of where we stand in this upcoming conflict, plus-”
Rhiannon cut him off with a smirk, knowing full well what he was planning.
“Plus having a human will be a great distraction. Aside from Feyre, the Summer Court individuals have never seen a human in five hundred years. Me being there, distracting the court and throwing them off with my unexpected presence might just give my sister more liberties to search for the book without interference or suspicion. I can buy us time if need be, not to mention, with me being human, I’ll have to convince them my species is worth saving for them to get involved in this war. I’ll have to charm them, correct?”
Rhysand smirked widely, nodding with pride as if he were glad she’d figured it out.
He always looked at her like that, as if she were something unexpected…it always made her reciprocate his smiles, even when she was unaware she'd done it.
Azriel then spoke up for the first time since the meal began, voice cold and calculating. And though he did not look her way, the spymaster said, “It will be a good chance to wage if Rhiannon’s nonlethal skills can be put to good use as well”
Rhiannon wasn’t sure if he’d said so to offend her in a backhanded sort of way. He always spoke so seriously it was hard to tell when he was stoic, or if that was just how he always was.
He’d been busy with the plans across the continent to be around too much lately. In fact, this was probably only the second time she’d seen him these past few days.
Though, she did not doubt some of his adorable little shadows remained behind to spy on her when he was away. Cerridwen and Nuala had never hinted as such, and though they were nothing but friendly when they helped Rhian fit into her dresses and drew up baths, she never failed to wonder if they reported back to Az on her movements.
But his words now, they COULD be meant to offend her, but she didn’t take them as such.
In fact, she smiled and replied, “Thank you, Azriel. I believe this mission is something I can do well, especially considering they know little of humanity and I know little of the Fae of that court. I can play my role well, make sure to keep the appearance of the Night Court while I’m at it. I always had a knack for politics anyways”
When it seemed no one had any objections, even Feyre, they all turned in for an early night. After hugs from Cass and Mor, them wishing her luck, she and Rhys flew back down to the townhouse.
Rhian knew that while they ate, the wraith twins had finished packing both hers and Feyre’s stuff (Rhys had said as much on their flight back when she’d groaned about still having to pack). Given that their time there had no real deadline until they found the book, she wondered what the twins had deemed worth taking and how much.
All she knew is that they’d packed a few Night Court dresses, which she’d grown to love and favor more and more each day. On that front, Mor was still upset Rhys refused to disclose which shop he got them from, a never-ending form of amusement for Rhian.
Still, once they landed on the rooftop, Rhiannon explained she wanted to pack a few human things just in case. She was taking her presence there seriously, and would be prepared for anything that came their way.
To her surprise, Rhys had asked to join her while she did so, saying he was too full to go to sleep just yet.
Titus seemed all the happier for the company.
Seated on the chair of her desk, Titus by his side, Rhysand watched as Rhian un-shrunk a few essentials from her handbag with amusement in his eyes.
As he lazily turned over a pencil sharpener with curiosity, Rhys asked, “Are you sure you want to go? You know you can say no if you don't want to”
Rhiannon re-shrunk a few tasers, setting them on the cozy bed with her back to Rhys.
“Of course I’ll go, not just because its my job as part of the court, but because I want to help in any way I can”
He paused, and after some shuffling of her pencil sharpener being put back in its palace, she heard him whisper, “I told you that others outside the court see me differently. They just see me as a confident, overly flirtatious, dangerously powerful, and wicked male. I will have to say and do things, and I don’t want that to change this…your perception of me”
She paused her movements.
Oh, that's what had him so nervous…
“You do realize I get it right?” she inquired, turning back to face him, walking up to sit on the desk table beside him. Titus had welcomed her closeness, standing on his hind legs to paw at the skirts of her violet dress.
To further her point, she offered, “I’ve played the wicked creature before, kept a mask on that made others think I was something I’m not. If you’re expecting judgment from anyone, it will never come from me. Do what you have to do, say what you have to say, I’ll back you up and play along”
When he finally let out a relieved breath, Rhian tapped her shoulder where the tattoo was, then reached out to tap the fabric of Rhys's shoulder where his near-identical tattoo rested.
“Friends got one another’s backs, remember?”
Rhysand chucked at last, moved his fingers to trace her arm once he noticed the approach of his hand did not spook her in any way. Gentle, he was always so careful when touching her, when caressing her scars at night as he dozed into slumber.
“You’ll need to be careful” he mused, “I know you can and will defend yourself, but whatever happens, you need to be safe”
Rhian grinned, placing her hand atop his on her shoulder, then joked, “I’m offended you think a bunch of royals can best me when I wrecked the Weaver’s day and lived to tell the tale. You wound me my friend, enough so that I might just perish from the pain of this betrayal”
Something rippled in his eyes that Rhian couldn’t place, but then he flicked her nose—gentle enough that she playfully hissed and batted his hand away.
“I can’t wait to see what that sharp tongue of yours can do at the Summer Court,” he said, gaze fixed on her mouth, and then without a warning, he vanished into shadow back to his room.
When she cursed him, Rhian heard his chuckle resonate along the hall.
She went to bed that night thinking of the way his beautiful violet eyes had locked on her lips, which made her feel a little foolish since it was likely nothing. Nothing…well…nothing more than the gaze of a friend to another.
Tomorrow would be a new challenge, a chance to see more of Prythian, and hopefully by the end of their mission, they’d be a step closer to nullifying the cauldron.
There was no room for error, no chance to falter when all of Pyrthian and the Human Lands were at risk. She'd play whatever role got them that book, do whatever was necessary.
She'd keep her companions safe, and most of all, trust Feyre had made enough progress with her magic these past few days to do her vital part of the mission.
No big deal, right?
Rhiannon Archeron did not spend her life amongst her unfortunate family. After a rather distasteful beginning in life bought on by Mr and Mrs Archeron, she ended up in a land on the other side of the world. Grew up in a city called Gotham as Kamaria Wayne. Years after her original abandonment, right after a most unfortunate war that left her alone once again, Rhian went in search for her birth family, only to stumble across more than she bargained for. Amongst those things, a High Lord who helped heal her broken heart, and whom she just so happened to help heal as well.
Pairing: Rhysand x Archeron!oc
Warnings: Nightmares? Mentions of rape. Passages from ACOMAF.
Word Count: 6650
Chapter 16- The One With Rhysand's Nightmare
It had to be around midnight when she was startled awake, not by a nightmare for once, but a feeling. When she looked at the digital hologram hovering on her bedside, she noticed it was in fact two in the morning.
With a tired chuckle, Rhiannon had been ready to try and drift off again when the house let out a groan. Titus was still asleep at the end of the bed, so she moved carefully so as to not disturb him, sitting up on her bed against the array of fluffy pillows.
Like the wood itself was being warped, the house began to moan and shudder, the colored glass lights in my room tinkling. Rhian finally jolted upright, pushing back her exhaustion to go to the open window.
Pulling back the thick curtains, she only saw clear skies, nothing amiss.
Turning back to bed in hopes of getting some sleep, she finally noticed what the true problem was. There was darkness leaking into her room from the hall door. Actual darkness.
It rushed in from the cracks of the door like a flood. When the house shuddered again, Rhian vaulted from her spot in the middle of the room, yanking the door open and letting darkness sweep past her on a phantom wind, full of stars and flapping wings and—pain.
It was almost like she could feel what the darkness carried, So much pain, despair, guilt, and fear.
She hurtled barefoot into the hall, utterly blind in the impenetrable dark. It was dark. So dark it almost felt like she was…it felt like she was back in space.
The thought hit her like a truck, fastened her breathing, but even so she couldn’t seem to get air into her lungs. Because she could almost feel it, like she was drifting in the darkness of space. War, such a brutal war around her…gods, it was like she could hear their screams again.
Rhian didn’t even notice when she ended up sinking to her knees, gasping for air, shaking her head, pulling at the loose strands of her short brown hair. She likely would’ve had a full-blown panic attack, something that she hadn’t let herself feel in such a long time, that is, if it wasn’t for the fact that a stronger thought barreled through the frantic memories.
She could tell the darkness was coming from his room, that it was somehow connected to him. The thought of those kind and cunning violet eyes, the sound of his laughter as they soared through the clear skies, and those strong and gentle hands that had held her own on more than one occasion like an anchor that kept her grounded…they brought her back.
Rhys was in the house too. In the direction of the darkness.
Rhian quickly felt around for the wall, picked herself up, determined to go to him. It didn’t matter how the darkness made her feel, she’d walk right through if it meant getting to her friend.
And when she did, somehow, the trepidation became secondary.
Rhian HAD to get to him, even if she had no clue where she was going. But there was a thread, an instinct which she followed, trusting to guide her to where she knew his room was in her panic.
After fumbling for the handle, once she managed to open the door, more night and stars and wind poured out, her shoulder-length hair whipping around her.
Rhiannon lifted an arm to shield her face as she edged into the room, worried something awful had happened right under her nose.
They’d just been sharing jokes during dinner, her laughing freely as Rhys tried his first cup of coffee, the sacrifice of limited caffeine well worth it when she saw his eyes bulge.
What could’ve gone wrong…
No response. In her sudden panic, she scrambled along the dark room she’d never ventured, arms stretched out until her shins banged into what had to be his bed.
“Rhysand,” she said over the wind and dark.
The house shook again, the floorboards clattering under her feet. Rhian cursed herself for not bringing her phone as a flashlight, but it was too late to go back, she could only go forward.
Tentatively, she patted the bed, feeling sheets and blankets and down, and then—
Then a hard, taut male body. But the bed was enormous, and she couldn’t get a grip on him.
“Rhysand!” she screamed this time, panic seeping through her voice.
Around and around the darkness swirled, the beginning and end of the world.
She wasn't even sure if they were alone in here, if there was a danger attacking him. Rhian had no clue what was going on, only that Rhys had to be here, had to be ok. Right?
Rhian didn’t waste any more time, she scrambled onto the bed, lunging for him, feeling what was his arm, then his stomach, then his shoulders. His skin was freezing as Rhian gripped his shoulders and shouted his name.
For the first time in months, Rhiannon felt cold panic overtake her, actual fear take root in her heart as she slid a hand up his neck, to his mouth—to make sure he was still breathing, that this wasn’t his power floating away from him.
Icy breath hit her palm, but despite her mental relief, she braced herself, rose up on her knees, aiming blindly, and slapped him. Rhian’s palm stung with the contact—but he didn’t move.
Desperately, she hit him again, shouting his name like a lifeline. Because she couldn't lose him, wouldn’t lose him.
A crack in the dark suddenly startled her. And then his hands were on Rhian, flipping her, pinning her with expert skill to the mattress, a taloned hand at her throat.
Rhian went perfectly still.
“Rhysand.” she breathed.
The dark shuddered.
She still couldn’t see him, but if he’d risen up like that…it might’ve just been a nightmare. This might just be his magic.
Unsure how to soothe him, Rhian hummed a song for a few seconds, one her mom had hummed when she’d come back after a particularly bad day at school or a patrol gone wrong.
The melody was simple, kind and gentle. Unsure if it helped or not, Rhian didn't care, not when the house stop groaning.
It wasn’t until then that she said to the darkness, “It was a dream,” his hand, cold around her neck, made her repeat slowly “It was a dream.”
Again, the dark paused. And for a heartbeat, the inky blackness cleared enough that she saw his face above her. Drawn, lips pale, violet eyes wide—scanning.
“Rhiannon,” she said soothingly, “I’m Rhian.”
His breathing was jagged, uneven. She gripped the wrist that held her throat—held, but still didn’t hurt. She added, “You were dreaming. Its just us here”
Then, like snow shaken from a tree, his darkness fell away. Moonlight poured in—and the sounds of the city once again reminded them both of the peaceful city they were surrounded by.
His room was similar to hers, Rhiannon noted absentmindedly, but the bed so big it must have been built to accommodate wings, all tastefully, comfortably appointed.
And...he was naked above her—utterly naked.
Rhiannon didn’t dare look lower than the tattooed panes of his chest out of respect.
“Rhian,” he said, his voice hoarse. As if he’d been screaming.
“Yes,” she whispered, still cautious of not startling him further.
He studied her face—the taloned hand at her throat. And released Rhian immediately. She laid there, staring up at where he now knelt on the bed, rubbing his hands over his face.
Now wasn’t the time to be an idiot, but her traitorous eyes indeed dared to look lower than his chest—but her attention snagged on the twin tattoos on each of his knees: a towering mountain crowned by three stars. Just like the one on her shoulder.
Beautiful—but brutal, somehow.
“You were having a nightmare,” she said again, easing into a sitting position before him. She noted his hands still ended in long, black talons—and his feet…they ended in claws, too. The wings were out, slumped down behind him. She wondered why, how-
Rhys lowered his hands, talons fading into fingers.
“You know I don’t mind” she replied softly, “I told you you could count on me for this kind of stuff, remember?”
“I normally keep it contained to my room. I’m sorry it woke you.” he said regardless. It was confirmation enough that during her stay here, Rhys had chosen not to seek her out for help.
He’d kept suffering alone.
Rhian fisted her hands on her lap to keep from touching him. But she dared to ask, “How often does it happen?”
Rhys’ violet eyes met hers, both knew the answer before he said, “As often as you.”
She swallowed hard, tracing the softness of his covers as she asked, “What did you dream of tonight?”
He shook his head, looking toward the window—to where snow had dusted the nearby rooftops.
“There are memories from Under the Mountain that are best left unshared, Rhian. Even with you.”
That had to be beyond nightmares, then. Memories were always worse, no wonder he’d reacted how he did.
Moving closer, she slowly put a hand on his elbow, naked body and all. She couldn't help but whisper, “When you want to talk, let me know. You know I won’t tell the others, that I'm here for you. Always”
Thinking he was still too stunned by the nightmare, Rhian made to slither off the bed, willing to leave him to recover if that's what he wished. Sometimes silence was the best way to deal with such things.
But then he'd grabbed her hand, keeping it against his arm.
“Thank you.” he whispered.
Rhian turned, sitting back on the bed, studying his hand, the ravaged face. Such pain lingered there—and exhaustion. The face he never let anyone see.
Rhys still knelt, wings drooping across the white sheets, head bowed, his tattoos stark against his golden skin.
A dark, fallen prince.
In that moment, she knew leaving him alone was not even a possibility she was willing to ponder.
She helped Rhys to lean against the headboard of his bed, made sure to keep her eyes on respectable places as she helped the stunned High Lord place the silky covers across his lap. Rhian took the space beside him, and though she kept the covers off her body, she remained by his side.
She stayed because…how many nights these past few months had she wanted someone to do the same for her?
Even if that wasn't the case, she would've done it because it was Rhys. Her friend. One that needed her.
Unsure what to do to help, Rhiannon started by easing off the bed. When she noticed his widened eyes, almost as if he was worried she’d leave without a word, Rhian clarified, “I’m just going to get you some water, ok? It will help your throat. I’ll be right back”
He’d nodded. And when she returned, he was still as she left him, only she could see the band of sleeping pants peeking from the covers on his lap, meaning he’d likely used magic to make some appear.
She handed over the glass, rushed back to his side and watched as he finished and set it aside. Still silent, Rhian urged her friend to lay down, and she took care to tuck him in comfortably, to brush strands of dark hair out of his face.
In the silence, hoping it would pull him out of the memories he clearly struggled with, Rhian asked, “Honesty bubble?”
Rhys looked up her way, simply nodding, but at least he wasn’t mindlessly staring at the sheer blue canopy of the bed anymore.
“Ok. Well, when I was little, around ten or eleven, I used to have nightmares that Ra’s would come back from the dead, that he would come for me and take me away…back to the pain, the ruthless tests, the killing. My eldest brother would come into my room, he’d bring me a glass of water, then cuddle into bed with me, telling me stories of his youth” she said, then paused nervously, unsure if she should even offer…
But Rhys was a selfless male, he would not ask her to stay if he had it in his head that it was a bother, that he was keeping her up or just a nuisance to deal with. She realized that in order to help someone like him, she had to be the one to hand over an olive branch.
Knew because, perhaps she was like the High Lord in that sense.
So Rhian swallowed her worries, determined to help out a friend as she added, “I’ve never been great at helping the grieving, clearly, I can’t even help myself. But…only if you’d like, I can stay for a while, help get your mind off things the way my brother used to”
Rhysand’s face was illuminated by the moonlight coming through the window before them. She could see all his pain, still fresh after whatever he had re-lived.
In fact, her empathy was so strong that she almost felt it.
The High Lord appeared shocked by her offer, and his response came in the form of actions rather than words. One of his hands moved to hold her own she kept atop her lap, his cold fingers shaking slightly, but there was no sign of the talons from earlier.
She quickly got comfortable, leaning slightly so her back rested amongst the plush pillows. Rhian beckoned Rhys to come forth, let him rest his head on her stomach, wind his muscled arms around her waist as his wings stretched out behind him on the large bed.
Rhiannon found she did not find the close position odd or uncomfortable, she was quickly able to relax, run soothing strokes along his hair, her other hand tracing the swirls and loops of the black tattoos along his upper back.
Despite the open window, the winter chill was not uncomfortable, the snow beyond like a soothing grace. Even dressed in a simple pair of shorts and an old tank top with the Superman symbol gleaming against the moonlight, the cold felt like an assurance that she was awake, safe in this lovely city, next to a trusted friend.
Once she registered Rhysand’s breathing had slowed, that his shaking had lessened and their legs had somehow intertwined after the High Lord silently insisted for her to shield from the chill under his sheets, she began to hum.
It occurred to her that she hadn’t really dared to hear herself sing or hum from the heart in a long time. She'd used the buffer of earphones before, a way to keep herself from hearing the voice that had once brought her such joy. She didn't have that buffer right now, something to keep the memories at bay should they come at the sound of her voice. But she’d done it to soothe him earlier, and it hadn’t made her sick, nor had memories of the past barreled into her.
Even now, the pull of a distant song kept her humming, and by some miracle, Rhys seemed to relax further at the noise.
The melody was familiar, soothing. It was a song of love that started out sweet and innocent. Then it changed pace, into something sadder, a construct of pain and loss, of a love sacrificed. But she knew it ended with renewed hope and strength, and perhaps that is why her mind had chosen it specifically. Because he needed it.
Rhys did not need something loud and flamboyant, something funny or overly joyous. He needed something mellow, something to give him hope, to pull him back from the shadows and up to the shining sky.
It must've worked, because at the last dregs of the melody, she could already tell his taught muscles had relaxed, if only slightly.
To further help him relax, RHian pondered what story she could tell him, what could help pull him out of the shadows further. The thing was, the only things with meaning she could think of were…difficult to speak of. She could tell him tales of human history but he’d likely end up bored to death. Seeing as though he’d dreamt of Under the Mountain, she had to be careful to keep her tales from too much suffering or war.
Maybe…she could share something special instead.
Yeah, she could share a piece of herself, rip off a poorly placed bandaid for the sake of a friend. So Rhian steeled her nerves once again, dug deep into the reserves of good memories she’d locked away months ago.
As her hands continued their soothing strokes on his hair, she whispered, “The place I grew up in as a child was mountainous, too high up to see anything but the sleeping giants around us and the clouds. So when I moved to Gotham, my home, dad decided one day that me and Damian, a brother that had spent his youth in the same place as me, should see the beach for the first time”
She felt Rhysand’s head tilt up ever so slightly, and though it remained nuzzled atop her stomach, it seemed he was paying attention.
“My eldest brother, Dick, was so excited that day. I remember he came into our room before the sun had risen just because he was that happy to go with us. And even when Damian swung a sword at his head, he still dragged us out of bed” she said with a chuckle.
“Dad wanted to rent out the beach for ourselves, but Dick convinced him not to, said that if we saw the beach for the first time, it had to be in its natural state, full of people and life. It turned out to be one of the most fun disasters of my life” she added, smiling up at the canopy that swayed with the intrusive winds that made their way into the bedroom.
Rhiannon continued to smile as she spoke of the way Rhiannon had immediately got lost from the group as soon as they made it to the overcrowded beach, enough so that in an effort to keep from losing any more children, dad had bought a cluster of suit ties, fashioning them around hers and Damian’s waists like a leash.
While dad set up their towels and supplies, the three siblings had stated an augment of sorts, all because Dick had sworn sand got its name because it stood between the sea and land. S depicting the sea. AND was well…land.
That part of the tale had finally drawn a weak chuckle from Rhys, which she considered a small win, something that helped fuel her with motivation to continue the story.
So she told him of how the skies had filled with clouds, how their first attempts at surfing (something that according to Rhys's head shakes, Pryhtian did not have) ended up with such quick success from the twins that Dick had pouted about his long learning curve on the matter.
She and Damian had surfed along the waves with ease, earning dirty looks from young inexperienced kids, and even silent beckons of challenges from teens and adults. After beating everyone in the water, they’d made enough enemies that dad made them get out of before they killed someone.
Rhiannon recounted the sandcastle building contest that ended up with dad buried neck-deep in the sand. The way Dick had somersaulted away from a group of teens who he’d accidentally spilled his ice cream on. She told the Fae holding onto her like a lifeline about the way she and Damian had ended up sunburnt for days after, but had eaten so many frozen treats and accidentally swallowed so much salty beach water that they ended up bedridden for days anyways.
Her and Damian had always brought up that day after hard missions, let themselves laugh at their vacationary misfortunes when times were bleak.
It was with a genuine smile, one paired with a few stray tears that Rhiannon ended her tale with, “Every time we got a new adopted sibling, we’d make a trip to that same beach. We weren’t Waynes or vigilantes then, just a family of civilians. It became a tradition of sorts”
She was surprised when Rhys asked, voice soft as a whisper, “Do you dream about them?”
Settling more comfortably against the pillows, Rhian paused the running of her hand through his hair. She didn’t know why she hadn’t noticed it earlier, likely because the place was as dark as space itself, but there was a portrait on the adjacent wall, tall and elegant, like a painting kings and queens of old would have in their castles.
It was Rhys’ family. A family that was no longer here for whatever reason.
As she beheld the painting, eyes locked on the woman Rhysand had spoken so much praise of, the little sister he’d barely brought himself mention, that she admitted with a slight crack of her voice, “All the time. They were my world, and now I feel…sluggish and broken without them most days”
“You will feel that way every day for the rest of your life,” Rhysand whispered, not tauntingly or menacingly. He just sounded like he'd lived it, knew the pain personally.
“I have felt that way every day since my mother and sister were slaughtered and I had to bury them myself, and even retribution didn’t fix it.”
Rhian couldn't bring herself to behold the painting again, not as she painfully agreed, “Retribution didn’t fix it for me either”
Not all the blood she had spilled, the villains she hunted down, blowing up hundreds of enemy ships had only made her feel disgusted. Dad had always told her to seek justice not vengeance, and she’d broken that rule upon his death…
Her fingers resumed their soothing path along the silky tendrils of his hair, and neither one of them spoke as she began humming another gentle song. Rhys’s relaxed demeanor, his closing eyes, they kept her going, and though she still couldn’t bring herself to add in the lyrics, she hummed and hummed.
Still, the lyrics came to her in her mind, such a stark contrast to the song of the Weaver in every way. A song not of cruel deaths, but of innocent goodbyes.
And if you have a minute why don’t we go Talk about it somewhere only we know This could be the end of everything So why don't we go, somewhere only we know?
Though she had originally intended to go back to her room when Rhys had calmed down, she’d ended up falling asleep alongside him.
In the early hours of the morning, when she opened her sleepy eyes, spurred by the unfamiliar feeling of comfort and warmth, Rhian was met with quite an unbelievable sight.
Rhys remained sleeping with his head comfortably on her lap, arms wound around her waist. Their legs had remained intertwined, and her hands had come to rest on his back, almost like she was beckoning his warm body closer.
The covers were still neatly placed over their laps, but someone else had joined the bed at some point in the night. Titus lay at the end of the bed, curled comfortably by their feet with that mangled Joker plushie around his paws.
Rhiannon was surprised to find she was not bothered by this, so much so that she easily went back to sleep, not a nightmare to wake her for the rest of the night. The next time she’d woken up, the large bed was empty, and she laid in the middle of it almost comically, like a small doll in a normal-sized bed.
She’d worried Rhysand had woken up and found their arrangement wrong, unprofessional, or just a closeness he didn’t want after the bad dream he suffered. But when she’d made her way downstairs, listening to the distant chirping morning birds and the now familiar bells from the temples across the city…she found the High Lord busy in the kitchen.
Titus was diligently standing by his side, likely just begging for bacon (spoiled thing). Rhys was still clad in his sleeping trousers, but his wings no longer dropped in defeat. It was like some semblance of life had returned to him.
Likely already having heard her steps since she descended, he greeted her once she stepped into the kitchen.
There was tea on the counter, hot off the pot. Their makeshift toast recipe was served on two plates, already lathered in the various jams she and Rhys had deemed a signature delicacy given their poor cooking skills.
She knew Nuela and Cerridwen were available to come in today, that they weren’t off running errands for Azriel or busy helping Feyre in the morning since her twin had started training early from now on after the Weaver.
With them available, Rhian figured Rhys would be happy to be rid of their poor cooking attempts for something more worthy of a High Lord's meal. How odd.
Titus quickly rushed to her side to greet her, though he didn’t linger long, not when Rhys had bacon in hand for him, which is what he’d been busy cooking when she’d arrived.
Rhian slowly made to stand by his side, and Rhysand surprised her further with a bright smile, not a trace of yesterday’s pain in it.
She didn’t want to bring up last night in case he was…uncomfortable by it. In fact, she’d debated apologizing for falling asleep by his side. Rhys actually halted her poorly structured mental apologies when he said, “Thank you—for last night”
After a sip of her berry flavored tea, Rhiannon leaned on the counter to face him, smiling as she asked something that would acknowledge last night, but perhaps not make him feel bad. A safe question after the emotional revelations they’d shared.
“Speaking of last night, why do you have the Night Court symbol tattooed on your knees?”
After a casual sip of his own tea, he replied, “They mean that I will bow before no one and nothing but my crown”
Rhiannon smiled at that, grabbing her mug and clinked it against his own in respect. Smirking at the action, Rhys then revealed that the covered plate before them had some additional delicacy food to offer, likely why the kitchen smelled like burnt food.
Sure enough, Rhian chuckled when she saw the plate full of slightly burnt eggs, two strips of bacon (one for each), likely because Titus had demanded all others, and Rhys seemed to be wrapped around his paws when it came to food already.
She’d thanked him, piled some eggs next to her toast, and dug in, not at all expecting anything else from last night to be brought up.
Again, not that she minded.
Rhian was halfway through her lone piece of bacon when Rhys suddenly said beside her, “I have two kinds of nightmares: the ones where I’m again Amarantha’s whore or my friends are…and the ones where I hear Feyre’s neck snap and see the light leave her eyes”
She paused her next bite, slowly setting down her fork.
Is that what he’d been unable to share last night, one of those three scenarios? He’d mentioned it had been a memory, and as far as she knew, aside from Rhys, no one else from the Court had been Under the Mountain.
But, Amarantha’s whore…
Many things clicked into place then that it almost made her head spin. Things she hadn't had the time to work out before.
Rhys had been Under the Mountain, his people here hidden and protected since he mentioned the city has not been breached in thousands of years.
Tamlin had mentioned Amarantha tortured and killed for fun down there…a place Rhys had to live with for fifty years.
Rhys didn’t strike her as the kind to do nothing like Tamlin had, and if he was as selfless as Mor described, he likely would’ve taken a lot of shit for the safety of his court…of his people.
Rhysand had done what Rhian had once suggested Tamlin should’ve done, play along to Amarantha’s feelings to keep her distracted and the people safe. But he hadn’t called himself her lover…he’d said whore the way he said bastard and half-breed . Like insults from others’ mouths.
This selfless man in front of her had let himself get raped for the sake of his people for fifty long years. He'd been away from his family, locked under a mountain when he was a being that loved to fly.
Like a bird in a cage.
Her heart broke for him, made her wonder if that's why he’d gotten out of bed without waking her. Had Rhian made a mistake cuddling him close. He could very well not be comfortable with that kind of contact after Amarantha, which was completely understandable.
It also shattered her heart that out of all other things for them to have in common, this was another.
She’d played that risky game too when she’d been captured long ago, had bid her time, all for the sake of those she loved.
She’d blocked that out long ago, focused more on the war aspect of that period of time, the war her people came to know as the Infinity War.
But she’d only had to do that for three months…not fifty years. Then the war had continued, another following in its wake, and she’d never had time to process it. Just as Rhys was not able to now that this war with Hybern was imminent.
When their eyes met, even if she hadn’t said a word, she could tell that somehow…somehow Rhys knew they had that in common. She could see it in the devastation in his eyes, which was no doubt a reflection of her own towards him.
Rhian couldn’t help but close her hand around his and say, “I’m sorry I couldn’t find a way to spare you from what happened Under the Mountain. That kind of suffering…it’s not something that goes away easily”
Rhys seemed reluctant, but still asked a simple yet obvious question.
He’d shared his truth about Amarantha…she could share her own, the words she hadn’t even had with her own family after the war.
Because he’d listen, he’d get it.
“Remember how I told you about those stones that sparked creation?”
“An Eternal got his hands on them, planned to kill half of life in the universe with them. Long story short, I was captured when I tried to kill him after an…unsuccessful ambush on our part” she explained, gazing down at Titus, who whimpered painfully as if he knew what she spoke of.
Calmly she added, “Thanos tortured me for weeks, tried to break me into joining his forces. Eventually, I decided that I was no use to the war effort dead, so I played a dangerous game. To keep him from going to our planet, from looking towards my family too long, I pretended to break, to want vengeance for those still alive that complained over their lives when so many of my own had been killed. I became one of his generals”
“Was it him that…”
Rhiannon shook her head vigorously. Now that was a nightmare of an image.
“Hell no,” she sputtered, “when he made me a general, many of those in his inner circle became…confident in their future success, bored with the ease in which they conquered the Universe. In their boredom, many wondered what it would be like to…lay with a human woman”
Rhys was visibly shaking with unrestrained anger at this point, not at her, but at her tale. She could feel it in their intertwined hands. Rhian could tell his eyes lingered on her bare back, likely wondering what injuries might have resulted from this story.
“I likely would’ve been passed around had it not been for a clever plan on my part, one with the help of another Eternal who wanted nothing to do with Thanos’ shit but had to remain by his side. You see, Thanos had a brother named Eros, a being with the ability to make anyone…sexually attracted to him”
“The one you told Amren she could speak to should she wish to reconcile with her species?”
“He knew what others planned to do, that Thanos might allow it. So he and I devised a deal. He’d claim me, and in return I’d get him out of Thanos’ fleet to safety. He knew I was playing games, that I was biding my time to strike and kill all of Thanos’ army, rid him of the Infinity Stones, even if it got me killed. He wanted out, even if he was the rightful Prince of his people” she explained.
With a tired sigh, she added, “Because everyone needed to…relax given the stress of the war, our coupling was made public amongst them. Eros was a womanizer, his behavior was expected so no one bat an eyelash when he claimed me as one of his whores. I’m sure he thought he was doing me a favor by not using his powers on me, but having him do all that to me when he was…rough and unrelenting as was expected of him…it made it worse. But because I was doing my job to ‘destroy rebellious civilizations’ and was Eros’ plaything, no one suspected betrayal from me after a time”
Pushing back memories of those days, Rhiannon finished her tale with faked ease, “We did end up getting out. I blew up all of Thanos’ army, but he escaped with the stones, which is part of what kept the war going. But without his millions of soldiers and ships full of weapons that could take out civilizations…it was worth it I guess. I suppose both your plan and mine worked, we kept our loved ones safe at a heavy price”
“Did you not…tell anyone?” Rhys inquired.
She couldn’t help but chuckle.
“No need really. In some of the further parts of space, far from this planet and our allies, most would only know me as Eros’ whore. In time that information would have reached humanity, and I suppose it did. The lives of public figures can’t be private…but I never told anyone. We were at war”
Rhysand ran his calloused hand through his hair a few times, looking out the small window atop the counter they stood in front of, where his people were already making their way down the street, some in groups of friends, others in families, some lonesome but joyful.
Though she’d willed ice coldness to take over her emotions to repress the past, it seemed Rhys was unable to. His eyes looked glossy, the hand now intertwined with her own atop the counter tightened comfortably, with Rhys running his thumb along the skin of her lower palm.
She wasn’t really much better.
Despite having buried her own pain within, her heart still ached for him. Eros had ACTED cruel and rough with her…but Rhys had been stuck with a despicable being that brought Prythian to its knees. Amarantha hadn't faked her cruelty, and Rhys hadn't had an ally in her either. He'd been alone, subjected to true torture at the hands of his enemy.
And it had been so long…such a long time he'd suffered, and yet he’d mentioned once that he’d continued to stare up at the stars, wishing for a better future.
She’d done that too.
In the hours after her times with Eros, she’d have a little time left alone, undisturbed, before someone came looking for her. Rhian recalled standing before that large round window in her room on the ship, the one that made her feel like she was in a fish tank. She’d looked out towards space, and though she hadn’t dared to make wishes towards the stars…they had been her only companions.
Rhian could almost see it, four years ago, both her and Rhys staring up at the night sky on a lonely night after the horrors. She knew it was impossible, a cruel stretch of her mind and guilt, but she wished she could’ve reached out to him then somehow…to let him know he wasn’t alone.
“You were so young” Rhys whispered, likely more to himself than her.
With a pained smile, Rhian countered, “It’s in the past. But if you ever need to talk about it, about Amarantha, please come to me. I get that it's best sometimes to ignore it...but I really get it. Maybe not exactly as it happened to you, but I know the scar it leaves”
Rhysand had nodded, and the two had finished their breakfast in comfortable silence, watching the people of Velaris stroll past the house till their duties tore them away from the kitchen.
Though they had not been able to see one another till dinner time thanks to their separate preparations for war and the upcoming visit to the Summer court, Rhysand had taken to doing something quite interesting throughout the day.
He’d somehow used his magic to make a piece of parchment paper appear out of nowhere while she was in her room. She’d almost had a heart attack! She’d been reading, listening to the merry chatter of the toasty birch fire across the room, and just as she turned the page of her book, it appeared!
Rhian had taken one look at the cream stationery and the handwriting and somehow knew it was from Rhysand. It had been neatly folded, followed by the apparition of a quill which she ignored in favor of a pen.
She wondered if he’d bothered to speak to her like this because he couldn’t do so mind to mind like with the others. The fact that he’d looked for an alternative was strangely endearing in itself.
The note had been scribbled in elegant penmanship, but its message was short. Likely because she knew for a fact he had gone to the Illyrian mountains with Cass and was probably in a meeting of sorts.
Rhiannon had smiled, amused by the absurdity that lack of phones provided, yet she pushed back a few scattered papers so she could write back;
The paper vanished. It was gone for a while—far longer than it should have taken to write the few words that appeared on the paper when it returned
I haven’t had such a peaceful sleep in a long time. Are you sure your humming doesn’t have magical properties?
Rhian clamped my lips shut to keep from smiling when Nuala stopped by with a cup of tea. After thanking the wraith, Rhian pulled out the note from where she’d hidden it under her books and wrote,
So what if I was magic? That wouldn’t be nearly as flamboyant as summoning darkness. Or maybe I should try to score points with Azriel by telling him his shadows are cooler?
The paper vanished before she’d even completed the final mark. It appeared back a while later, his writing smaller to fit in the small parchment.
It almost felt like she was passing notes in class…
You wound me, dear human. I thought WE were friends?
Rhiannon, who was now leaning back on her chair, merely chuckled at the words. She was forced to write on the other side of the paper for her response;
Go lick your wounds and leave me be. I’m busy plotting a way to spread some nasty rumors in distant lands.
His reply was a long time coming. Then,
So ruthless. But, I’d much rather you licked my wounds for me
She had to read the letter a few times, wondering if she’d interpreted it wrong. But his playful banter, even if it was borderline flirting, made her heart pound faster and faster, and a strange sort of rush went through her veins as she read the sentence again and again.
She’d accept the challenge.
Lick you where, exactly?
Again, the reply was a long time coming, enough so that she’d turned back to her work on researching everything about past conflicts between Vallahan, Montesere, and Rask to add fuel to the rumors. She’d been in the midst of writing down a few notes in what she had dubbed The Burn Book of Prythian, when the paper appeared back atop her book.
The words made her pause.
Wherever you want to lick me, Rhian. I’d like to start with “Everywhere,” but I can choose, if necessary.
She’d chuckled and thrown the paper to the burning fire, and when Rhys had returned to the house, the two had laughed themselves hoarse when the conversation came up as they ate some of the bread Rhian had brought back from a nearby bakery, along with legumes and steak from a different store.
A surprise Rhys had very much appreciated after a long day away.
It had started because Rhys had insisted he could whip up some more jelly for their bread, and when Titus had suddenly jumped on the counter to snatch a piece of steak like a hawk, the High Lord had almost tumbled down ungracefully to the floor.
Amidst her uncontrollable laughter, Rhian had muttered, “Remember our joke about licking wounds. I’d lick your pride right now, but that's impossible considering it's gone with that display of grace, my lord”
Rhys had gotten back at her by spreading jam all over her cheek, which started a jam war that resulted in the two being covered in the red substance. What was worse is that amidst their laughter, they’d failed to note Amren had come in, arms crossed at the entrance of the kitchen.
When they DID notice her, the laughter died, and they watched as her unnerving silver eyes judged them, like two kids getting caught sneaking into the cookie jar. The Eternal hadn’t asked for an explanation, only dropped off a few documents and left, almost looking as if she were fighting a smile she refused to relent in their presence.
That had only made them laugh harder.
Hours later, after the two had showered separately, they’d gone to bed with relaxed goodnights exchanged before entering their respective bedroom doors.
Rhian hadn’t admitted it out loud, but she hadn’t felt lighter in years…
chapter eleven: we pick ourselves undone
No real trees grow down in the darkness of the Hewn City, but several centuries ago, it had become all the rage to carve stalagmites into crude imitations of the real thing. The tree in front of Keir’s mansion, a particularly tall specimen with the faux branches carved into sharp, cruel points, even has something approximating wood grain etched into it.
But there is no way to appreciate the craftsmanship without first taking in the bodies hanging from it.
Azriel is still trembling from the panic attack, cold sweat still clinging to him in places, as he stands beside Rhys. The stench hurts his nose, unsettling his stomach even more.
High Lord of the Night Court | ACOTAR
Lord of Bloodshed | ACOTAR
I find it comical how many Elain stans hate Gwyn and reduce her to an unimportant side character, but Gwyn's going to become a main character before Elain does 😂
Helion x LoA as Cupid and Psyche
Let Our Hearts, Like Doors, Open Wide: Part Thirteen
A/N: Happy long weekend to those who celebrate! Funny to think this was the OG epilogue, but we are getting closer and closer to the end... but anywho! Hope everyone enjoys this extra fluffy chapter :)
Chapter Masterlist // Previous Part // Next Part
Nesta can hear Mellie’s excited screaming before she sees the little girl as she follows the front walkway up to Cassian’s house. Three bright purple balloons have been tied to the mailbox outside, the afternoon sun glinting off them as they bump together in the breeze. Nesta raises her hand and knocks, less than a second passing before the door is being pulled open. Mellie greets Nesta with a wide smile, dimples out in full force. She clad in a striped bathing suit with ruffles, her curly hair a bit unruly around her face like it hasn’t yet been brushed since she woke up.
“Nesta! Nesta! It’s my birthday!” Mellie announces, practically jumping in her excitement.
“I know,” Nesta tells her, crouching down to her level. “How does it feel being seven now?”
Mellie’s face scrunches up adorably, lips pouting out and eyebrows dipping down low, as she tilts her head in confusion. “Am I supposed to feel something?”
“It’s okay if you still feel the same as before, sweetie.”
Mellie at least seems satisfied with that answer. Her face morphs back into a smile, and then she’s peeling off with another high pitched squeal, leaving Nesta to step inside and close the door. She sets her things down and finds Cassian stood at the kitchen island. He has a bag of bright pink icing in his hands, his concentrated face so similar to his daughter’s, as he meticulously tops each cupcake in front of him. He has his hair down, and Nesta reaches a hand up, brushing the curls back and behind his ear to keep it out of his eyes. At the gesture, Cassian’s attention snaps to her, a wide grin pulling across his face.
“What can I do to help?” Nesta asks, offering a smile of her own.
“Wrangle the birthday monster?”
“I can do that.”
Nesta goes to step back and grab Mellie, but Cassian’s hand catches around her wrist. Nesta turns back to him, raising an eyebrow in silent question, but Cassian’s arm just slides around her waist. He tugs her close, dipping his head down to press a sweet kiss against her lips.
“Hi,” Cassian breathes when he pulls away.
Cassian continues to grin down at Nesta, a softness to his hazel eyes as they glint under the kitchen lights. He still has the bag of icing poised in his free hand, but the half completed cupcakes seem long forgotten. Cassian opens his mouth as if to say something more, but another squeal from the living room draws their attention. He releases his hold on Nesta, and she turns to step up to where Mellie is jumping up and down on the sofa, catching the little girl under the arms and setting her back on the ground.
“It’s my birthday,” Mellie tells her again.
“It is,” Nesta assures her. “Would you like me to do your hair for the party?”
“Yes! Yes, please!”
Nesta laughs softly as Mellie grabs her hand, tugging her toward the bedrooms. Nesta has Mellie sit on the floor in front of her mirror while she grabs Mellie’s basket of hair accessories and settles in behind her. She runs a brush through Mellie’s hair first, being careful not to tug too hard through the knots. Mellie chatters away the whole time, telling Nesta about who all from her class will be attending the party later, from Alexandra and her ghost that Mellie is hoping will attend too, to Mackenzie who lives down the street. Nesta nods along while she creates three braids that run down toward the lower right side of Mellie’s head, tying them off using one of Mellie’s scrunchies that has a big, white bow and settling the curly ends of Mellie’s hair so the stands drape over her shoulder.
“There,” Nesta declares, giving Mellie’s arms a soft squeeze. “All finished.”
Mellie jumps up excitedly, running closer to the mirror and turning her head to try and better see the back of her head. She lets out a soft gasp and turns back to Nesta with a wide smile. Before Nesta knows what’s happening, Mellie rushes forward, practically tackling Nesta back against the floor with the force of her hug.
“Thank you thank you thank you,” Mellie tells her.
“You’re very welcome,” Nesta answers, pulling back from the hug and booping her finger against Mellie’s nose. “Now, you’re all ready for your party.”
“I can’t wait for it to start! Especially for the presents.”
“You can open my gift right now if you’d like.”
Mellie’s eyes widen at the suggestion, her voice dropping down to a whisper. “Is that allowed?”
“I say it is,” Nesta decides, standing back up.
They head out of Mellie’s room and back into the living room, Mellie skipping beside Nesta with their hands clasped together. Nesta leads them to where she set down her bag, digging out the gift wrapped in balloon covered paper. She can feel Cassian’s eyes on her as she hands the gift to Mellie, and when she looks up and meets his gaze, he tilts his head in silent question. Nesta merely settles him with a challenging look, daring him to say something. That response has Cassian laughing, Mellie looking over in confusion.
“Come on,” Nesta offers, drawing back Mellie’s attention. “Let’s open up your gift.”
Mellie doesn’t need to be told twice. She jumps up onto the sofa, happily tearing at the wrapping paper. Her face scrunches up as she takes in the book in her hands, the paper cover yellowed from age, slight tears around the edges. Her fingers trail along the illustration of the girl and pig before her eyes snap to Nesta’s.
“This was my copy of Charlotte’s Web from when I was your age,” Nesta explains. “But I want you to have it now.”
Mellie’s eyes widen as she gazes back down at the book. Nesta reaches forward, opening up the book so Mellie can see the inscription written on the first page.
Mellie, I hope you never lose your love for reading and that your dreams stay as big as the stories!
Mellie looks back up at Nesta, her eyes lined with tears, her bottom lip beginning to wobble. Nesta is worried that perhaps she doesn’t like the gift and is about to say something, but then Mellie is clambering into her lap, her arms flinging around her neck. Nesta can feel her own eyes getting misty as she holds the little girl close, rubbing a hand up and down her back.
“Do you like it?” Nesta asks quietly.
Mellie doesn’t say anything, just nods her head where it’s tucked against Nesta’s neck. She stays like that for a few moments longer, and then she’s pulling back, grabbing her new book and running into the kitchen, brandishing the gift.
“Papa! Papa, look!”
"That's a very nice birthday present. Did you tell Nesta thank you?"
Mellie's face morphs into horror at that realization, and she whirls around to face Nesta again. "I'm sorry. Thank you, Nesta."
"Of course," Nesta assures her.
"Now, go put your gift in your room," Cassian tells his daughter, giving her shoulders a gentle knock in encouragement with his hand. "Your friends will be arriving soon."
~ * * * ~
The sounds of high pitched shouts echoes in his ears and clangs through his mind until Cassian is barely swallowing down a wince. At least Mellie is having a good time. That’s all that really matters, and despite the headache threatening to bloom, Cassian smiles as he watches his daughter with her friends. Mellie has her hands clasped together with Mackenzie and Avery, the three girls waiting until the spray of the sprinkler begins to tilt back toward them before running through the wave of water with a scream. Then they’re turning around and waiting to run through again.
With a fond shake of his head, Cassian turns and heads back toward the house. He finds Nesta pouring a glass of lemonade each for Alexandra and Georgie, both girls clutching their plastic cups tightly between their hands before running off to join the sprinkler fun. Cassian sidles up behind Nesta, slipping his arms around her waist and letting his forehead drop down against her shoulder. He can feel Nesta lean back slightly against him, and it has him biting back a wide grin.
“Is it too early to break out the alcohol?” Cassian mutters against the fabric of her shirt.
“At a children’s birthday party?” Nesta teases, patting his arm consolingly. “Definitely.”
Cassian groans, but a knock at the front door echoing out from inside the house draws his attention. It takes a moment, but Cassian untangles himself from Nesta, stepping inside and to the front door. He takes the pizza boxes from the delivery boy and sets them down on the kitchen island before calling out to the backyard. While Cassian grabs paper plates out of the cabinet, he hears the patter of five pairs of wet, excited feet running inside, followed by more excited squealing. With a soft sigh, he throws open the first box and starts to divvy up pizza slices.
“What kind of pizza would you like?”
“Cheese please,” Avery tells him, sniffling softly and rubbing her nose against the towel draped over her shoulders.
Cassian grabs a slice of plain, cheese pizza from the box, setting it on the plate Avery is holding. Avery shouts out a ‘thank you’, and then the little girl is running to join where her friends are sitting in the grass of the backyard to eat.
“I’ll take a slice of pepperoni.”
Cassian looks up and settles Rhys with an unimpressed look. “You can get your own pizza.”
“What kind of host are you?”
Cassian shoots Rhys his most innocent smile as he reaches toward the box of pepperoni pizza. He grabs one of the slices, taking a bite before dropping it onto Rhys’ plate. Rhys’ lips sneer as he stares down at the slice of pizza, his gaze slowly rising to meet Cassian’s.
“You are so lucky there’s a bunch of children here so I can’t say what I really want to,” Rhys warns him before slinking off toward the back door with his food.
“Just ignore him,” Feyre cuts in, reaching to grab her own slice of pizza.
“Oh, I’ve been trying to,” Cassian assures her, unable to keep his face serious, the corners of his lips twitching with a grin. “For years and years at this point.”
Rhys turns around just in front of the sliding glass doors, flipping Cassian off for good measure at that remark. Cassian rolls his eyes at the reaction, but he can’t help but chuckle as he grabs his own slice of pizza. A pair of hands slip under the hem of Cassian’s tee, sliding across his skin and sending sparks ricocheting. He glances down to find Nesta now tucked under his arm, a sly smile pulling across her face.
“Is that for me?” Nesta asks, her eyes dipping down to the pizza before meeting Cassian’s gaze again.
“It is now,” Cassian tells her, holding out the plate for her to take.
Nesta merely hums, but she takes the plate from him, stepping back and away. She heads out into the backyard, and Cassian can’t help but track the way her hips sway with each step she takes. Already, his mind is brimming with ideas for later.
“Really? At a children’s birthday party? Disgusting.”
Cassian’s gaze snaps to his left, finding Emerie leaning against the kitchen island with a knowing smirk. Cresseida looks almost scandalized where she’s standing behind her girlfriend; although, Cassian isn’t sure if it’s at him or Emerie’s teasing. Meanwhile, Gwyn has a hand pressed against her mouth, trying and failing to hold in a laugh, teal eyes bright. Cassian just settles Emerie with a smirk of his own, throwing in an unabashed wink for good measure, causing the brunette to laugh in response. He finally grabs a slice of pizza for himself, retreating from the kitchen and leaving the remaining adults to get their own food.
After everyone has had their fill of pizza, Cassian grabs the tray of cupcakes. He places a large seven candle in the center one, carefully lighting it before stepping back into the backyard. Everyone begins to sing ‘Happy Birthday’, Mellie clapping her hands excitedly as he sets the cupcakes down in front of her. When the song finishes, she closes her eyes, only needing a few seconds before she’s leaning forward and blowing out the flame.
“What did you wish for?” Cassian asks, removing the candle and handing the cupcake to Mellie.
A slap against his arm draws Cassian’s attention, and he turns to mock glare at Nesta even as she takes the tray of cupcakes to help pass them out.
“Don’t ask her that,” Nesta chastises. “Everyone knows if you tell your wish, it won’t come true.”
“I wished for a puppy,” Mellie declares, unperturbed by Nesta’s warning.
The statement takes Cassian by such surprise that he doesn’t have time to school his features. Judging by the quiet snort from Nesta, his expression must be entertaining enough. He should’ve known Mellie was now at the age to start begging for a puppy. Doesn’t she know their house is crazy enough with just her running around? And she wants to add a puppy into that mix?
“Bet you’re wishing you hadn’t asked now,” Nesta mutters.
“Puppies are a lot of responsibility,” Cassian explains to Mellie gently.
“But puppies are so so cute,” Mellie protests, pulling out her best pout. “Right, Nesta?”
“Actually, I’m more of a cat person.”
Mellie’s face scrunches up in confusion at that, but then the determined expression returns. “I want a kitty.”
~ * * * ~
Cassian places the remaining slices of pizza in the refrigerator, adding the now empty boxes to the recycling and wiping down the kitchen island. The house is all quiet now, mostly dark too, but he can still hear the lively chatter carrying in from the backyard. All of Mellie’s friends have been picked up by a parent, but his family still remains, lapping up a perfect, early summer evening and the wine they’ve decided to break out.
When Cassian steps back outside, it's Mor and Feyre that grab his attention first, their heads bowed close together but both failing to hold in their loud, peels of laughter. Rhys, Azriel, and Gwyn are stood nearby, their conversation clearly much more civilized, but it's when he finds who he's really looking for that a wide grin pulls across his face.
Nesta is chatting with Emerie and Cresseida, Nesta having stolen and pulled on one of his hoodies to fight off the cooler air now that the sun has set. Mellie is pressed against her side, little hands curled around Nesta's forearm. From the way his daughter is practically slumped against Nesta, Cassian can tell all the excitement of her friends and spending hours running through a sprinkler has clearly tired Mellie out. At least she’ll sleep well tonight.
Cassian almost doesn't want to interrupt, doesn't want to walk over and shatter the moment. He'd much rather continue to stand there and commit it all to memory, etch it firmly on his heart, in his bones. Gods, wasn't it just six months ago when he told himself he could never have this? And now here Nesta is, in his house, in his clothes, more than happy to let Mellie cling to her while she chats with her friends. And Mellie. Mellie seems more than comfortable enough to fall asleep standing up against Nesta, favorite uncles and aunt be damned. With a soft sigh, Cassian steps over to the little group, crouching down to scoop Mellie up into his arms.
"I think it's someone's bedtime," Cassian declares.
"No," Mellie whines in protest, even as she rests her head against Cassian's shoulder. "I'm not tired."
"Sorry, birthday girl. Did you at least have fun at your party?" Cassian asks, rubbing a hand up and down Mellie's back. Mellie doesn't say anything, but she nods her head, and Cassian turns to press a kiss to her hair. "Good. Now, who would you like to read you your bedtime story?"
"Cresseida," Mellie answers quietly.
"Yes!" Cresseida cheers, pumping her fist in victory, much to Emerie’s clear offensive over not being chosen.
Cassian sets Mellie back down on her feet, Cresseida taking the little girl’s hand and leading her back inside. Emerie trails behind them, her bright voice trying to convince Mellie to let her read the bedtime story instead. Finally alone, Cassian slips both his arms around Nesta’s waist, stepping closer until Nesta has to tip her chin to keep his gaze.
“How does it feel to be chopped liver now too?” Cassian asks, offering a teasing smirk.
“How does it feel knowing you have to get a cat now?” Nesta shoots back.
“You love it.”
“I love you.”
Cassian lifts one of his hands, sliding his palm along Nesta’s cheek. Even in the low light of the backyard, her blue gray eyes seem to shine, something about them always drawing him in, willing him to drown in them. His own eyes dance down to her lips, and he doesn’t miss the way she imperceptibly leans that little bit closer. It’s all the encouragement he needs. He closes the distance with ease, fingers digging into the hoodie fabric at her waist as he kisses her.
“Ew. Get a room.”
Cassian pulls away, turning to glare at Mor. “You’re in my house.”
“Too true,” Mor concedes, holding up her glass of wine in silent salute. “Clearly a sign to leave. Come on, Rhysie! You’re my ride home.”
Mor, Rhys, and Feyre are the first to leave, but everyone else is not long behind them. Cassian sees Azriel and Gwyn out, the last of the party, and closes the front door with a quiet snick. He turns to find Nesta standing at the kitchen sink, washing wine glasses and setting them aside to dry. Cassian steps up behind her, hands slipping under the hem of his hoodie to rest on her hips and dipping his head.
“You don’t have to do that, you know,” Cassian mumbles, pressing kisses along her neck until he finds that spot behind her ear that always has her shuddering.
“Just trying to help,” Nesta tells him, even as she tilts her head and presses back more firmly against him.
Cassian hums, nipping at her skin until Nesta gasps. “Stay the night.”
“Are you asking?”
Taglist (let me know if you would like to be added or removed): @moodymelanist @hellogoodbye14 @nestaspegasus @nesquik-arccheron @sv0430 @lady-winter-sunrise @talkfantasytome @secretlovelybeauty @dontgetsalmonella @swankii-art-teacher @mis-lil-red @bookstantrash @vinylcryes @sleeping-and-books @wonderland--memories @theoverlyenthusiasticwriter @sayosdreams @ubigaia @cannellefawn @duskandstarlight @live-the-fangirl-life @chosenfamily-valkyriequeens @fromthelibraryofemilyj @luivagr-blog @autumnbabylon @xstarlightsupremex @lifeisntafantasy @deedz-thrillerkilller16 @superspiritfestival
Azriel set the potatoes in the center of the table, Cassian diving right in. Or he tried to.
One moment, his hand was spearing toward the serving spoon. The next, it was stopped, Azriel's scarred fingers wrapped around his wrist. "Wait," Azriel said, nothing but command in his voice.
Mor gaped wide enough that I was certain the half-chewed green beans in her mouth were going to tumble onto her plate. Amren just smirked over the rim of her wineglass.
Cassian gawked at him. "Wait for what? Gravy?"
Azriel didn't let go. "Wait until everyone is seated before eating."
The reason why I love this scene so much is because the reactions of the other characters suggest that Azriel never does this sort of thing. That usually, he doesn't care whether or not everyone is at the table before someone starts eating. But he made them wait for Elain. I just adore it when dark and broody men turn into complete simps and gentlemen for their women🥲
read it on the AO3 at https://ift.tt/NVfBuIa
The scent that greeted Azriel as he made his way into the Townhouse made his mouth water. Blueberries and bananas mixed with a sugary undertone, Elain’s signature muffins no doubt baking in the oven. His shadows informed her that his beloved wasn’t alone, the two half-shades fluttering about the kitchen and assisting her with her baking.
Words: 420, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English
Series: Part 28 of Elriel Month 2022
Fandoms: A Court of Thorns and Roses Series - Sarah J. Maas
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Elain Archeron, Azriel (ACoTaR), Nuala (ACoTaR), Cerridwen (ACoTaR)
Relationships: Elain Archeron/Azriel
Additional Tags: Elriel Month 2022, Fluff, Romance, Cheesy pick-up lines
read it on the AO3 at https://ift.tt/NVfBuIa
ooh maybe for the single parents au, rhys helping feyre with a panic attack? and maybe she snaps at him, or maybe it's soft and sweet, but it's up to you babe!
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So. back in january I had an idea. And then I laughed it off. Now here we are. January was a miserable month for me, so that’s the only explanation I have for this…so yeah in case you were wondering, I am a liar. There will be some more angst through this fic, but not super heavy. I promise. That’s not how I originally saw this fic as being and not what I introduced it as in the beginning (unless you want me unleash the pain, I can...but ya know I will restrain haha!). Prompts are always welcome for this fic otherwise I will lose motivation. I know me. warnings: angst, panic attack, allusions to abuse, ~3.8k words
Of the Burdens We Share
It was strange, Feyre realized, to trust someone.
For the longest time Feyre had kept her trust locked up tight within her where no one had access. And yet somehow, Rhysand Avitas had wormed his way through all of her defenses. It certainly helped that Seren had taken a liking to him.
When Saturday approached, Feyre had sent Seren off with Nesta for the day. If Rhysand and his brother were going to get any sort of work done, having an almost two-year-old running afoot would not help matters. And Nesta had finally managed to take some time off her busy schedule to come up for the weekend.
Feyre decided to also keep the shop closed figuring it would be better to keep customers in the clear and construction and clean up. And since sales had been holding steady, one day off wouldn’t hurt.
As a pot of coffee brewed in the breakroom, Feyre gathered everything she thought she'd need for the day. Her toolbox was a pathetic excuse of a thing with only a hammer and single screwdriver. Hopefully Rhys had more to work with.
A soft knock on the front door drew her attention. She waved to Rhys through the door and hurried over to let him in.
"Hey Feyre," he greeted.
"Good morning," she said.
Feyre stepped aside to let him into the shop. Behind him she noticed another man, a few inches taller than Rhys with broad shoulders, brown hair that curled slightly as it fell to his shoulders, and bright, humorous brown eyes.
"This is Cassian," Rhys said, "my brother."
"It's nice to meet you," Feyre said. “Thanks for coming and helping me out.”
The two men were dressed down in jeans and t-shirts both looking ready to work. And gratefully, Cassian had a large toolbox in hand.
“Anything to take a break from campaigning,” Cassian said happily. He shoved Rhys on the shoulder. “Besides, I’ve heard plenty about you, it’s nice to put a face to the name.”
The look Rhys shot his brother was hard to miss, but Feyre was too busy trying to hide her own flush of embarrassment to even try and make a comment on them. What had Rhys said about her? That was a rabbit hole she definitely should not go down.
“All good things, I’m sure,” Feyre laughed. She turned toward the mess of light fixtures and the dented wall from her failed attempts at moving a ladder and trying to hang one of her paintings. It was a terrible sight, almost as embarrassing as the flush on her cheeks.
“Cassian’s a gossip,” Rhys said loudly as he walked through the shop, “and a flirt. Honestly, you could probably just ignore most of what he says.”
“Rude!” Cassian bellowed. “I’m your security manager, you can’t ignore me.”
Rhys gave an exaggerated sigh and cast a long-suffering look at Feyre. “Try as I might.”
And just like that, whatever strange tension had entered the room was gone. Both Rhys and Cassian set to work after a brief overview by Feyre of what needed to happen. The ceiling of the shop had all the old piping exposed and she wanted to keep the rustic nature of that intact, even with the slight modernity of the new light fixture. While the two worked, she did her best to clean and prep the wall for spackling. She wondered if she could just find a stud point just a few inches over the giant hole she’d created and hang a painting without actually having to fix anything.
“I noticed we’re one helper short?” Rhysand spoke up after a while. He was spattered in dust and paint chippings as he and Cassian screwed in bolts for the light fixture. Cassian had brought a ladder that was now set up. Though the thing looked even more unsteady than Feyre did after leg day at the gym.
Feyre let out a laugh. “Seren would be too much of a distraction. She likes stealing things as well as throwing them, believe me this would take a lot longer if she were here.”
She glanced up to find Rhys grinning.
“My sister, Nesta, not Elain, is in town,” Feyre added. “She and her friends are babysitting for me. Nesta helps run a women's shelter down in Prythian and it can be hard for her to get away sometimes.”
“Nesta?” Cassian spoke up. He paused in his work and looked down from his perch on the ladder. “That’s right, I remember her from High School. You were a few years younger than the rest of us.”
“Yeah,” Feyre said, “I was a freshman when she and the rest of you were seniors, I think.”
“Huh,” was all Cassian said.
Feyre stepped away and pretended to look at the wall she was supposed to be repairing. High School was not a good memory for her. All through those years the family was trying to adjust to the death of Mom. Feyre’d had to find a job, Nesta nearly got expelled (twice), and Elain had grown as distant as ever. Those were the years where she’d felt utterly alone. And the years that had led her to Tamlin.
Unconsciously, she rubbed a spot on the inside of her wrist over and over. It was a habit she’d developed back then, one she thought she’d overcome. But of course not. She would always be dragged back to where she had been, wouldn’t she?
Feyre took a long, slow breath and tried to keep her pain under wraps. Everything was fine.
She grabbed her phone from where it rested on a chair.
“I’ll be right back,” she said absently to Rhys and Cassian and then hurried to the break room, shutting the door behind her. Immediately she video called Nesta.
Within seconds the bright, smiling face of Seren filled up the screen.
“Mama!” Seren chirped, her face getting too close to the camera. “Mama!”
“Hi baby,” Feyre laughed. Seren had a little mustache that looked suspiciously like ice cream. But her blue eyes were bright and her smile large enough to show off her four little teeth.
“Hey, Feyre,” came Nesta’s voice from somewhere behind the baby. “How’s it going?”
“Good, just checking in,” Feyre said, a bit breathless. Her panic eased just slightly and she watched as Seren leaned back into Nesta’s lap, putting her sister in view. It looked like they were seated at a diner table, and indeed had ice cream before them.
“Hi Feyre!” Gwyn and Emerie’s voices echoed off screen.
Feyre didn’t answer and only watched as Seren beat a plastic spoon against the table and occasionally tried to scoop ice cream from the cup before her.
“Do you want us to come back now?” Nesta asked. She grabbed her phone and brought it closer to her face.
Feyre could see the worry in Nesta’s eyes even if the rest of her face remained impassive and strong.
“No,” Feyre said and she swiped a hand beneath her eyes. The tears had been sudden and quick and unavoidable, but she still hated shedding them. “No. It’s fine, just come back at three like we planned. I just wanted to see her.”
Nesta didn’t look convinced. But she said nothing and only adjusted the phone so it gave a clear head shot of Seren.
“Say bye-bye Momma,” Nesta prompted. “See you soon!”
“Mamamamama,” Seren said. And the screen went black.
Feyre sank down in the chair at the small break table. She was fine and Seren was fine. There was nothing to worry about. Nothing at all.
Outside the break room she heard the front door open followed by the sound of voices. Someone must have seen Rhys and Cassian in the shop and thought it was open. Shaking off the cobwebs in her mind, Feyre stood and stuffed her phone in her pocket. The boys were almost done and then Seren would be back in her arms.
Feyre stepped out of the break room to address the customer and froze. Because she knew that person. Knew that face. She knew everything about them. From the designer shoes to the shoulder length blonde hair and beautiful and proud face. He had handed her dreams for two years.
Tamlin Doyle was pointing a finger into Rhysand’s chest, his voice a low snarl.
“You’re not going to take control of this city again, Avitas,” Tamlin was saying. “And you can’t keep hiding from me.”
Rhys let out a slow, mirthless chuckle. Beside him, Cassian had come down the ladder steps and was now leaning casually against the metal frame--well almost casually. The large man seemed to be tightly coiled as he stood there, eyes trained on Tamlin.
But Feyre couldn’t really focus on any of that. Not on the conversation. Not on the fact that a full out brawl could spark at any moment. All she could really focus on was the fact that Tamlin was here. He had found her. Whether he had actually been looking for her or not--Feyre wouldn’t know. But it was painfully obvious that there was no turning back now. Not as he looked away from Rhysand and saw her.
His green eyes sparked with recognition and satisfaction. Oh hell. Oh, hell.
“Feyre,” Tamlin drawled. “Good. I was hoping to see you today. And where’s my daughter? I think it’s about time I meet her.”
Rhysand Avitas had been known for his temper. Through high school and college, he’d found his way into a fight or two. He’d blackened a few noses and received plenty of bruises in return. He’d done a great deal of growing and learning though. And the only fights he got into nowadays were the comfortable matches with Cassian or Azriel at Tarquin’s gym.
Yet nothing he’d felt before compared to the rage burning inside of him now. All it took was a single glance at Feyre’s face and he knew. The blood had drained from her already pale skin and her eyes lost the light he’d come so used to. And that glee spreading across Tamlin--Rhys felt sick.
And then his words. My daughter. My daughter.
“She’s not here,” Feyre said, her voice steadier than Rhys would have expected given the circumstance. Still, he couldn’t help the bit of pride that wrestled through him as she stood her ground. “And you need to leave.”
Tamlin took a step toward her, but Rhys and Cassian moved together. Rhys put out a hand to stop Tamlin and Cass took a step back towards Feyre. It was natural, almost imperceptible the way these actions came.
Tamlin swatted Rhys’ hand away and scowled. “She’s my daughter.”
“You don’t know that,” Feyre replied almost immediately. But this was where her voice wobbled, and even Rhys knew the truth. Besides, he’d seen Seren enough times to notice the subtleties. While the girl took after her mother in almost every way, Rhys could now see the resemblance between Tamlin and the girl.
“Don’t I?” Tamlin asked. He smirked and Rhys felt another wave of anger flood through him. There had always been something predatory about Tamlin. And though the two didn’t know each other very well, Rhys had met him a few times in classes at business school. He’d turned down parties at his loft on more than one occasion mostly because he couldn’t stand the man.
“Feyre asked you to leave,” Rhys said. “I suggest you listen to her.”
With a lazy tilt of his head, Tamlin backed up a step. His gaze went to Feyre.
“I’ll be in touch,” Tamlin said. And then he headed back to the door of the shop.
All it took was a single look from Rhys and Cassian was following Tamlin out of the shop and to his car.
Rhys turned in time to see Feyre standing there in the center of the shop. She’d brought one hand up to the neckline of her shirt, tugging on the hem as though she couldn’t breathe properly. Her entire body trembled as she stared at him. Her impossibly blue eyes were wide, terrified, as she took him in.
“Feyre,” Rhys said, his voice soft and careful. “Feyre, are you alright?”
She spun on her heel and dashed for the break room without answering. Rhys followed after. There was no way he would leave her alone, not after that. And hell, he might not have known her that well, might even be a pain in her ass, but that look--that heartbroken, horrified, stricken look--it pierced him to his soul.
In the break room, Feyre collapsed in the closest chair, her breath coming in short, quick staccatos.
“Damn, damn, damn,” she was whispering between her sharp inhales. But eventually those stopped as her body shook and her breaths turned to gasps.
Rhys didn’t think as he knelt on the ground before her. He rested his hands lightly on her knees just so she knew he was there. Her eyes were squeezed shut and she kept one clutched against her chest as though she were holding herself together.
He knew this place she was in. He’d been beaten down so low that he didn’t know if he’d ever get back up. He knew what it was like to have the air pulled from your lungs. Knew what the hot grip of panic did to your mind. It was ugly and cruel. And he wished more than anything that he could take it away from her.
“Feyre,” he whispered, “Feyre, you’re safe. He’s gone.”
She shook her head, tendrils falling from her braid and sticking to the tracks of tears running down her cheeks.
“I can’t, I can’t,” she stuttered around a sob, “I can’t breathe, it hurts.”
“Where does it hurt?” he asked, though he knew the answer, he knew far too intimately what panic like this could do.
He gave her knees a squeeze of comfort, hoping the sensation would help ground her. “Alright, that's alright. Just keep breathing for me.”
Eventually her breaths slowed and evened out. Her body stopped trembling and her incoherent murmurings ebbed away.
“Just keep breathing,” Rhys repeated after a while. It took a little longer before it all had passed and Feyre was left sitting before him sniffling and trying to wipe her eyes.
Rhys reached across the table next to them a tissue box that was lying out. She gratefully accepted a few and wiped her eyes and nose. He noticed that she still wouldn’t look at him. A deep flush burned across her skin and another sob rolled through her body. Feyre swallowed it back and shook her head.
“Feyre,” he said, then paused. Don’t hold anything back, he wanted to say, let it all out. But he didn’t. Maybe he couldn’t or something else, but a part of him knew not to push her.
“I’m fine,” she whispered. Her voice was gravelly and low, even with the conviction with which she spoke. “I’m fine.”
He only nodded and rocked back on his heels, still crouched before her. The distance broke the physical contact between them and Rhys felt it like a cord being snapped. Immediately he wanted to reach out, pull her into his arms. Again, he restrained.
Because no matter how attracted to her that he was--they barely knew each other. Even a brief reminiscence of high school days wouldn’t change anything. And he’d seen the way she reacted to that brief discussion. No. That had upset her.
Hell. He had no idea what he was doing. This woman was smart, capable, stronger than just about anyone he knew. And even in so brief a time being around her, talking to her, helping her, he had become enthralled. Smitten, as Mor would say. Corrupted, according to Cassian.
Outside of the break room he heard the door of the shop open and he could make out Cassian’s familiar footsteps as he began packing up tools and collecting gear.
“I’m sorry,” Feyre said after another pause. She brushed her hair out of her face and cleared her throat. “That was awkward and embarrassing. You shouldn’t have seen any of that.”
“Don’t apologize,” Rhys said. “He was looking for me. He wouldn’t have found or talked to you if I hadn’t been here. I’m sorry.”
Finally, finally, Feyre looked at him. Her eyes were red-rimmed and puffy but no less beautiful to him. She blinked a few times before shaking her head.
“He would have found me eventually,” she said, then bit her lip as though that would take the words back. “I didn’t even know he was in Velaris. I thought he was still in Prythian.”
Rhys had to fight back all the things that were racing through his mind. He wanted to ask what had happened, why she’d left, was she even safe, how long it had been since she’d seen Tamlin. Though, by that brief, sickening discussion, Rhys deduced that Feyre had left without even telling Tamlin about being pregnant.
“Is there anything I can do for you?” he asked instead.
Her mouth opened and shut. She shook her head and reached one hand out to grasp his. She squeezed it tight, her fingers were clammy and cold.
“Thank-you,” she said, “for telling him to leave. And staying. You didn’t have to--”
“I did have to,” he cut her off, unable to help it. If she tried to apologize again for what happened he didn’t know if he could take it. “I don’t know what happened or why…damn it. I just mean that you should feel safe and I wanted to help you.”
Feyre looked though she were going to say something else when outside that small little bubble they’d created the door of the shop opened with a clatter.
In an instant, Feyre was out of her chair and dashing across the room. She threw the door open and laughed.
Seren’s bright, cheerful laugh echoed through every inch of the shop.
Slowly, Rhys followed Feyre’s steps out of the break room. The first thing he saw was Feyre on the ground clutching Seren to her chest. The little girl didn’t seem to know what to do with her mother’s desperate hug as she kept trying to pull away and jabber on about something or another.
At the door of the shop was a young woman who had her arms folded tightly across her chest and an icy look in her eyes. Off to the side next to their equipment was Cassian. His brother met his eyes and nodded. Tamlin was officially out of the area.
“Mama!” Seren said again. She smacked both hands on Feyre’s cheeks. “Hi!”
“Hi, sweet love,” Feyre laughed. “Did you have fun with Auntie Nesta?”
“Nessa!” Seren repeated. She nodded emphatically and said something else incomprehensible.
“And we ate plenty of ice cream,” the other woman announced.
Rhys glanced at the woman who still stood in the doorway of the shop. She was tall and lean. Her golden-brown hair was a shade darker than Feyre’s, but she had similar features, and stone-cold blue eyes. She watched Rhysand much in the same way as he did her.
Her expression remained neutral as she walked across the shop. “I figured we’d come back early and see if we can help out. Emerie and Gwyn are parking the car.”
“It’s fine, Nesta,” Feyre said as she stood with Seren in her arms. “Cassian and Rhys were helping me out. And it’s all basically done.”
“Rhys!” Seren’s little voice chirped as she finally seemed to notice him. “Hi!”
“Hello Seren,” Rhys said as he walked across the room.
Seren waved emphatically and tried to wiggle out of Feyre’s arms, but Feyre held tight. Not that Rhys could blame her. The afternoon had been full of tension and, Rhys imagined, some of Feyre’s worst nightmares coming alive.
Seren said something else that Rhys, for the life of him, could not understand. But her big blue eyes stared at him eagerly.
“Uh.” Rhys looked to Feyre for help.
Trying and failing to hold back a smile, Feyre cleared her throat. “She wants you to stay.”
Rhys wanted nothing more than to say he would stick around, but he and Cassian had finished the light fixture. And the wall that needed to be re-spackled was nearly done--Feyre was more than capable of finishing it herself. Besides, he was sure Feyre needed a break and time to talk with someone who actually knew about her past.
“Sorry, little one,” he said, shaking Seren’s foot, “maybe next time.”
The little girl pouted.
“Say bye-bye, love,” Feyre prompted. Seren continued to pout and her chin wobbled heavily. “Oh, we’ve got a meltdown coming. I’d get out while your eardrums are intact, gentlemen.”
“It was nice meeting you, Feyre!” Cassian called from the front of the shop, tool box in hand. He’d already dragged the ladder out by himself apparently.
“You too!” Feyre waved with her free hand and turned to Rhys. “Thanks for the help.”
He knew she meant for more than just the light fixture.
“Anytime,” he said honestly. He wanted to say more, but he could feel Nesta’s sharp gaze on him hindering anything else he might want to say. Rhys left the shop.
Down the sidewalk a little ways he met Cassian outside, his brother grinning like a lunatic.
“Dude,” Cassian said. His stupid grin spoke volumes.
Cassian only let out a loud laugh and headed to his truck loaded with all their supplies. He dropped the tool box in the bed of the truck and turned back to Rhys.
“I thought she was just a friend,” Cassian said.
Rhys flipped him off. He knew that his brother would tease him relentlessly for this.
“She is,” Rhys insisted before his voice grew serious. “How far did you tail Tamlin?”
The humor left Cassian’s face immediately. “Just to the highway turn off. I called Azriel and passed along the information. He should have more details.”
“About the election,” Rhysand clarified. “He’d better not go digging into Feyre’s life.”
They got in the truck and Cassian gave Rhys a look before starting up the truck.
“I saw what happened in that shop, Rhys,” Cassian said, “if that girl’s tangled up in Tamlin Doyle, there’s more we need to know.”
“No,” Rhys said, knowing his voice held enough bite to nip this in the bud. “She doesn’t need strangers digging into her life.”
Cassian only muttered his agreement and the conversation dropped off. Still, Rhys couldn’t help but feel a sense of unease brewing in his gut. The re-election for mayor wasn’t going to go smoothly, especially not if Tamlin were here to stay. And just the thought of that made the unease beat a deeper rhythm as all he could think about was the panicked look in Feyre’s eyes.
thanks for reading!
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𓆩♡𓆪M a s t e r l i s t𓆩♡𓆪
High Lord Descriptions
Feyre: The over achieving middle child with a gazillion amount of hobbies. Her parents never gave her the time of day which is why she's into so many diverse things. Is also low-key academically stupid but she makes up for it with her sarcastic attitude and artistic skills. Wants to move to New York when she's older.
Nesta: Literally is the raging/mentally unstable, teen, bisexual girl who reads wattpad/Tumblr smut. She lives off of the Monster energy drinks and 100% is a hard-core feminist. If you call her a bitch, she'll take it as a compliment. Likes Mitski and Halsey.
Elain: Her life is literally a Lana Del Rey song, specifically from the Born to Die album. LDR is her personality trait as well as being a tease and passive aggressive, but she blames that on her daddy issues. Is also a "love and light" crystal gal. She definitely donates to wildlife organizations and makes sure to pick up litter and recycle trash.