“Actually, it’s short for Maximum Lightwood,” said Magnus. “As in the most amount of Lightwood you can have.”
Far below them the world spun by, a patchwork of summer-gold fields, green hills, and luminous, winding rivers of blue and green. It was beautiful, but Julian could not take his eyes off his brother. So this is the Wild Hunt, he thought. This freedom, this expanse, this ferocity of joy. For the first time, he understood how and why Mark’s choice to stay with his family might not be an easy one. For the first time he thought in wonder of how much his brother must love him after all, to consider giving up the sky for his sake.
3. And even odder, when Mark and Kieran had come into the library, Kieran had gone immediately over to Max and picked him up, delighted by his blue skin and his tiny horns.Max had stuck his hand into Kieran’s wavy hair and pulled. Kieran had just laughed. “That’s right, it changes color, little nixie-like warlock,” he said. “Look.” And his hair went from blue-black to blue in an instant. Max giggled.“I didn’t know you could do that on purpose,” said Mark, who had always thought of Kieran’s hair as a reflection of his moods, uncontrollable as the tides.“You don’t know a lot of things about me, Mark Blackthorn,” Kieran said, setting Max down.Alec and Magnus had exchanged a look at that, the sort of look that made Mark feel as if they had reached a silent and agreed-upon consensus …
“You’re going to have to learn to live with it,” Jules said. “Even if it horrifies you, Emma. Even if it makes you sick. Just like I’m going to have to live with whatever other boyfriends you have, because we are forever no matter how, Emma, no matter what you want to call what we have, we will always be us.”
5. They threw their weapons down and hurled themselves toward the row of horses, one after the other — Livvy leapt at Julian, throwing her arms around his neck. Mark flung himself from his horse and landed to find himself being hugged tightly by Dru and Tavvy. Ty came more quietly, but with the same incandescent happiness on his face. He waited for Livvy to be done nearly strangling her brother and then stepped in to take Julian’s hands.And Julian, who Kit had always thought of as an almost frightening model of control and distance, grabbed his brother and yanked him close, his hands twisting in the back of Ty’s shirt. His eyes were shut, and Kit had to look away.He had never had anyone but his father, and he was sure beyond any words that his father had never loved him like that.
6. “Clary, what are you not telling me?”There was a long silence. Clary looked out toward the dark water, biting her lip. Finally, she spoke. “Jace asked me to marry him.”“Oh!” Emma had already begun opening her arms to hug the other girl when she caught sight of Clary’s expression. She froze. “What’s wrong?”
7. There was a long silence. Magnus sighed. “I have to hand it to you,” he said. “I never thought Jace and Clary would be topped by anyone else in terms of insane, self-destructive decisions, but you all are giving them a run for their money.”“I really had nothing to do with this,” Kieran pointed out stiffly.“I think you will find many poor decisions led you here, my friend,” Magnus said. “All right, you — all of you — wait here. And don’t do anything stupid.”He strode out of the room on long, black-clad legs, swearing under his breath.“He’s getting more and more like Gandalf,” said Emma, watching him go. “I mean, a hot, younger-looking Gandalf, but I keep expecting him to start stroking his long white beard and muttering darkly.
8. There was a commotion atop the pavilion, and a single blast from a horn shattered the murmuring quiet in the clearing. The gentry looked up. A tall figure had appeared beside the throne. He was all in white, salt-white, with a doublet of white silk and gauntlets of white bone. White horns curled from either side of his head, startling against the blackness of his hair. A gold band encircled his forehead.Cristina exhaled. “The King.”Emma could see his profile: it was beautiful. Clear, precise, clean like a drawing of something perfect. Emma couldn’t have described the shape of his eyes or cheekbones or the crook of his mouth, and she lacked Jules’ ability to paint it, but she knew it was uncanny and wonderful and that she would remember the face of the King of the Seelie Court for all of her life.He turned, bringing his face into full view. Emma heard Cristina gasp faintly. The King’s face was divided down the middle. The right side was the face of a handsome young man, luminous with youth and beauty. The left side was an inhuman mask, gray skin tight and leathery over bone, eyesocket empty and black, mottled with red scars.Kieran, bound to the tree, looked once at the monstrous face of his father and turned his head away, his chin dropping, tangled dark hair falling to hide his eyes.
9. When Emma came out into her bedroom, wearing sweatpants and a tank top and rubbing her hair dry with a green towel, she found Mark curled up at the foot of her bed, reading a copy of Alice in Wonderland.He was wearing a pair of cotton pajama bottoms that Emma had bought for three dollars from a vendor on the side of the PCH. He was partial to them as being oddly close in their loose, light material to the sort of trousers he’d worn in Faerie.If it bothered him that they also had a pattern of green shamrocks embroidered with the words GET LUCKY on them, he didn’t show it. He sat up when Emma came in, scrubbing his hands through his hair, and smiled at her.Mark had a smile that could break your heart. It seemed to take up his whole face and brighten his eyes, firing the blue and gold from inside.“A strange evening, forsooth,” he said.Emma put her hands on her hips. “Don’t you forsooth me.”
10. “It can’t last,” Emma said, staring at him, because how could it, when they could never keep what they had? “It’ll break our hearts.”He caught her by the wrist, brought her hand to his chest. Splayed her fingers over his heart. It beat against her palm, like a fist punching its way out of his ribcage. “Break my heart,” he said. “Break it in pieces. I give you permission.”
11. “I have always needed you, Kieran,” Mark said. “I have needed you to live. I’ve always needed you so much, I never had a chance to think about whether we were good for each other or not.”Kieran sat up. “That is honest,” he said, finally. “I cannot fault you there.”
12. Cristina spread her hands apart in bewilderment, and winced. Mark’s expression turned to one of concern.“You’re not in pain?” he said.“No,” she said. “Are you?”“You’re near me,” he said. “There is no reason for me to hurt.”
“I know.” Mark brushed his lips across her forehead. Cristina could feel his heart pounding. “We’ll figure it out. We’ll fix it.”
Kieran sat up rather reluctantly. The waves of his hair had lightened to blue; he turned around, and leaned back against Mark, rather as if they were on horseback and Mark was behind.
15. Kieran shook his head. “I cannot do it,” he said.“Kier —“ Mark began angrily, but Kieran had his head down, like a beaten dog. His hair fell, sweat-tangled, into his face, and his shirt and the waist of his breeches were soaked in blood. “You’re bleeding again. I thought you said you were healing?”“I thought I was,” Kieran said softly. “Mark, leave me here —“A hand touched Mark’s shoulder. Cristina. She had put her knife away. She looked at him, levelly. “I’ll help you get him over the wall.”
16. “Not one of my best,” said Magnus, to Kieran. “I apologize — I’m not a big fan of your father’s.”“My father does not have fans.” Kieran leaned against the edge of the table. “He has subjects. And enemies.”“And sons.”“His sons are his enemies,” said Kieran, without inflection.
Have you ever seen lightning make such crazy shapes? This bolt looks like a Tyrannosaurus rex getting ready to chomp a formation at Blue Mesa in Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park. Monsoons usher in summer lightning, so explore safely and be sure to check the weather. Photo by Hallie Larsen, National Park Service.
Title: Fool Character: Ivar the Boneless Summary: You are injured in battle. Word Count: 1.420
Unlike the Saxon army that quivered before you in fear, you were having a hard time containing your excitement. You could barely keep yourself from charging forward by yourself, your body responding to the tension that thickened the air. The short moment before a battle always felt like eternity. You weren’t the only one feeling this way either. The Vikings that surrounded you twitched and shuffled forward little by little, ready to surge forward with the sound of the horn.
You weren’t entirely sure what was taking so long, Björn’s form stalking in front of the army. But, however handsome he was, that wasn’t the brother that caught your attention. Thick dark hair smoothed back, jaw line clenching and his striking eyes glaring at the enemy, Ivar’s hands clenched the reigns. He was always an impatient one, this you knew personally.
As if feeling your gaze, his eyes snapped to yours. Leaning slightly towards you, he let a feral smile tilt his lips before turning away. While you wouldn’t say he loved you, it was clear that he felt something for you. Nights spent together, his harsh touch dragging against your skin and scorching your very being, there was something there. Last night was no different, his arms wrapped around your form all night.
‘Stay close.’ He had ordered, his lips brushing against your neck before leaving that morning.
Looking now, the amount of bodies surrounding you, it would be hard to heed his order. But the Gods know you will try your hardest, there wasn’t anything you wouldn’t attempt for Ivar. While he may not feel the same, you did love the man. Enough to die for his cause and help him achieve his destiny.
With that thought, you tightened your fingers around the handle of your shield and looked forward once again just in time for the horn to sound.
It was something Odin would be proud of as everyone moved forward as one, our voices booming across the field. Time slowed briefly as both sides collided together, the sound almost as loud as Thor’s hammer before everything sped up again.
Ducking and swiping, you couldn’t keep the smile off your face as blood splattered with every downward strike of your ax. Your body jolted with ever block you managed to make but it was almost a pleasurable ache. Even the slight sting when someone had managed to connect with your swift body was exciting.
It could have been hours or even minutes, the battle seeming to make time go faster. It was clear who the winners of this battle would be as your brothers and sisters outnumbered the others. Turning around, you could see Ivar’s chariot fly by, his once white horse dripping crimson and his body painted in red. Your body suddenly felt hotter as you watched his muscled frame flex, his movements swift and precise.
A glimmer of something silver had caught your attention from the far side of the field. A Saxon soldier cowardly pointing his weapon from a distance. Following the path his arrow would take; it was clear he had his eyes on killing the Prince- your Prince.
Without even thinking about it, you placed yourself between the archer and Ivar. You had lost your shield a while ago but you stood unafraid. Ivar’s blue eyes lightened with pride, perhaps thinking the battle was truly over as he slowed his chariot to a stop. Your name escaped Ivar’s lips as you turned away from him and released your ax from your hand.
You smiled as your ax stayed true and hit dead center, even as you wheezed in a shaky breath. You had felt the arrow connect with a dull ‘thunk’ that sent shockwaves through your body. Your hand flew to the arrow as you sank to your knees.
Your eyelids felt heavy as you struggled to keep them open. Ivar was suddenly in front of you, his hands shaking as they pushed your hands away and replaced them with his own. You grunted softly as he pressed his hands firmly to your wound to stop the blood.
“No, no, no, no,” Ivar murmured over and over through his teeth as he dragged himself closer to you.
“You’re safe,” you managed to say, your hand brushing softly against his cheek.
“Stop talking,” He hissed.
You knew he was trying to remain strong but the desperation that lingered beneath his hard stare was clear. You could feel yourself slipping, your body feeling so heavy and every movement beginning to seem impossible to do.
“It’s okay,” you slowly dragged your hand over his. “You can let go, Ivar.”
“Don’t be stupid,” Ivar growled, his eyes starting to glisten. “If I let go- “
His voice cracked, not being able to finish the sentence.
You didn’t want him to be sad, “We’ll meet again in Valhalla.”
“Stop talking!” Ivar roared, his face cracking as he let his emotions show. “Please don’t go. Stay with me.”
His voice was more of a whisper now. He sounded so far away but still, even as you were dying, you wanted to please him.
“I love you, Ivar,” you muttered, you needed him to know.
You could barely feel the pressure of his lips against yours as he roughly kissed you.
“Don’t close your eyes,” Ivar pulled away, deep blue filling your vision.
“I can’t- I can’t- “Your lips just couldn’t form words, your voice sounding jumbled.
“You can’t disobey me,” Ivar growled out, “You must do as I say!”
Try as you might, your eyes slid close against your wishes.
‘I love you. Don’t go.’
Your chest hurt with every shallow breath you took. Slowly, you opened your eyes, squinting as the top of the tent came into focus. Your felt stiff but alive. You were alone in the tent but it was clear someone had been there earlier if the blankets on the ground next to you were anything to go by.
Slowly and painfully, you managed to sit up. Your body protested but you refused to remain in the cot. With a grunt, you rose to your feet and walked to the entrance. Flinching slightly as the bright sun hit your eyes, you were surprised when your name was suddenly shouted.
Watching as Helga waved at you, your eyes landed on the figured hunched on the ground beside her. Ivar stared at you, his blue eyes wide as he took you in before a scowl took over his features. As quick as he could, he dragged himself to you.
“What are you doing up?” He snapped, pushing your leg with his hand once he was in reach. “Lay back down you, fool.”
Rolling your eyes, you let him herd you back into the tent and to the cot. “I have rested enough, Ivar.”
“No,” he shook his head, “you are not ready.”
“Ivar,” you sighed, ready to argue.
“No,” He said louder. “You have been shot with an arrow, you could have died. You need to rest. I need you to be okay. I can’t- I can’t do that again.”
It was then that you realized just how tired and worn down Ivar looked. Before, you didn’t think he could love you but now you knew he did.
“Oh Ivar,” you smiled softly, shifting so that you could hold him close to you. “I am sorry you had to go through that.”
“It was foolish,” He pushed away from you, his anger causing his blue eyes to spark. “How dare you take an arrow for me, how dare you almost die!”
“I had- “you started but was cut off.
“No you didn’t have to do anything,” Ivar snarled. “I’d rather die than have you die for me. I love you, woman. Why can’t you see that?”
His confession sent shivers down your spine and straight to your heart. “I love you too, Ivar. But if I could go back, I’d do it all over again.”
“I know you would, you daft woman. A complete fool for wanting to die for me,” He muttered softly, heaving himself onto the cot so that he could sit beside you. “For loving me.”
“If I’m a fool for loving you,” you whispered, wrapping your arms around him, “then so be it.”
“Foolish,” he whispered against your neck, pressing a kiss against your pulse. “If you dare to try to leave me again and I swear to the Gods I will drag you back.”
His trapped your eyes in a fierce gaze before crashing his lips to yours.
So, I’ve already made a post about how Viktor finally got mad in the final episode, but there’s something else that I haven’t read about and really wanted to discuss.
I’ve seen many posts about how the duet in the next-to-final scene was choregraphed to illustrate the lyrics, and how the lightening was put in place to show how it all changed for Yuuri when Viktor came into his life. I’ve also seen some good analysis on how the lyrics represented Viktor and Yuri’s relationship. But I think there’s more. And I’ve decided to try and tell you about it. It’s going to be a bit long but I hope you’ll get interested enough to read throug the whole thing.
How the duet in YOI final sums up Yuuri’s and Viktor’s relationship.
Maybe even the whole show (I’m still debating with myself about this one, inputs are welcome !)
Now that I’ve been watching it several times (haven’t we all ?) it seems so clear to me, so please bear with me as I’ll try and explain it to you as well as I can.
First of all, it starts with Yuuri, alone. So alone, that the blue lightening here makes it look like even the audience’s not there for him.
So here he skates, alone, tries his best, alone, jumps, alone.
I also have a theory that,if you consider that this piece sums up the whole show, the jumps might be a representation of his athletics
performances at some infamous banquet ( :p ). Why ? Well, because, who comes in right after them ?
Yup. Viktor. And he comes rushing, might I add. At this point, lightening changes, and see how Yuuri immediately welcomes him, but then turns away ?
That must be reminding you of how Viktor tried and tried again to get close to him in the firsts episodes with so little success. And then Viktor proceeds to drag Yuri along. Until, finally, Yuri accepts him and then, what happens ?
Viktor lifts him up. I mean, he LITERALLY. LIFTS. HIM. UP. And not only does he lifts him up, you might notice that he also prevents Yuri from falling down. Yuri’s falling to the ice, and Viktor just goes “Nope, my beloved katsudon, not on my watch. Get up.”
And now that Yuri’s seen that Viktor not only lifts him up, but also will protect him from falling down (wich also happens in the show with that beautiful scene where Viktor makes Yuri cry), he gives in, and we get some lovely close skating with hugs and loving eyes, and sweet strokes on the cheek. Their relationship starts building up, strong and steady.
And then, another lift, because, yeah, Viktor will ALWAYS lift him up. Notice the strong pose that Yuri takes in that lift. Legs wide open, arms open, confident, taking all of the space that Viktor think he deserves, and at that point I believe he also thinks he deserves it.
And now, well, now they’re on the same page, and how better to show it than with some synchronised dancing ?
After that we get the most intimate passage of the song - and, I dare say, of thei relationship. Symbolized, of course, with that part showing their hands and matching engagement rings.
Then, they keep dancing together, and this time they are both leading the way, supporting each other. Viktor’s not dragging Yuri anymore. They walk at the same time on the same path.
I’ll just mention before finishing one of the last images where we see Yuri behind Viktor, now being the supportive one. If you think about it regarding their relationship, you can think of it as representation of Yuri’s decision to retire to let Viktor go back to the ice. And frome the whole show’s point of view … Well, we know what decisions were made.
Speaking of last image … How come we didn’t get the final pose of that duet ? The end ? The finish ? As much as I would have loved to see them in their final pose together (and you all know how important those poses are at the end of a program, and that’s a thing we’ve always been shown so far, in every program from every character), we can see the fact that there isn’t one here as something telling us … Well, there’s no end to that story yet.
“Who’s going to be there?” Nesta sat on the couch next to Cassian, tucking her feet underneath her, eyes on Willow as the kitten batted around a little ball that had mysteriously appeared in the apartment a few days prior.
“The usual suspects. Your sisters, my brothers, Fox Boy, Amren, obviously Mor. Oh, and Sabine and Brisa.”
“And I have to go.”
One side of his mouth pulled up into his crooked smile as he glanced sideways at her. “No, you don’t have to go, but your presence would be appreciated. Besides,” he put an arm over her shoulders and pulled her closer, “we might find something fun to do on the way there. Or home.”
She rolled her eyes, but he did have a point. There were lots of shadowy corners and solitary gardens in Velaris where they could sneak away for a little excitement. “Okay, fine. But I’ll have to go to the townhouse, I don’t have the right dress here. And don’t expect me to dance.”
He pressed a kiss to her cheek, then her jaw. “That’s fine, we can fly up there and head to the restaurant with the rest of the group.” Willow zipped by and he snagged her with one hand, lifting her high above his head. She looked down at him, waved her little paws, and squeaked in protest, and he chuckled and brought her down to eye level. “What, tiny one?” The kitten planted a foot on his lips, and he kissed the little pink pads before setting her back on the ground. She arched her back, pounced on his toes, then scampered off through the kitchen.
The sun was beginning its descent as they landed in front of the townhouse, earning open-mouthed looks from the kids playing on the street. Before they could even make it through the gate, they were swarmed by children, all clamoring for Commander Cassian to take them for a flight. He grabbed one and tossed him in the air, catching him easily before setting him on his feet again. Nesta headed up the walk while the rest of the kids started climbing Cassian’s legs, turning back in the doorway to watch him spinning and tossing each child, then slowly extend his wings so they could admire them. The door opened behind her, and Mor’s voice said, “He does that on purpose, you know. Lands in the street instead of the roof so that the kids will come over.”
Nesta didn’t reply, keeping her eyes on the warrior while he held his arms out, two children swinging off each arm, and she heard Mor’s exasperated huff as she retreated into the house. He looked up to catch her watching and grinned, pure joy lighting his face, and she turned and walked into the entrance hall. She could hear voices in the family room so headed quietly up the stairs to her room. It had only been five days since Cassian found Willow and she unofficially moved in, but her room already felt vacant. It even smelled different. She sat on the bed for a minute savoring the silence before taking a deep breath and crossing to the armoire. There was a specific dress she thought would work, perhaps a little plain compared to what the others would wear but something easy to walk in and nicer than what she usually wore. Yanking the doors open, she stopped and stared. A glorious dress in a blue so light it was almost white - like thick ice - hung there. It was cut perfectly for dancing, though more daring than her usual choices, and small crystals lined the broad shoulder straps, the neckline, and the bottom of the flared skirt in a pattern that looked like mountains. She stripped quickly and slipped it on. The back was bare almost to the waist, the neckline deep and square, and the dress clung to her body until just below her hips, where it flared out to float above her knees. In her mortal life, she never would have left the house in this dress, but here… There was a gentle knock on her door and she opened it to reveal Nuala, who slipped in to arrange her hair. When the wraith was done, Nesta dug through her armoire and pulled out the only pair of shoes that could possibly work with this dress, then left without a glance at the mirror.
There were more voices in the family room, she realized as she walked slowly down the stairs. She paused in the doorway and scanned the full room, cataloguing the occupants. Rhys. Feyre. Elain. Lucien. Amren. Mor. Those two Illyrian females. Her heart began to pound. The shadowsinger. Another male and female she didn’t recognize. Before she could turn into the dining room instead, her sister spotted her. “Nesta!” Feyre over, grabbed her wrist, and dragged her through the room to where she had been standing with Elain. “That dress is incredible, where did you find it?”
“In my armoire. I thought you got it for me.”
“No,” Feyre said, with a look over her shoulder, “Rhys’s dressmaker strikes again, I guess.”
The High Lord just grinned from where he stood by the bar. Nesta scanned her sisters. Both were also dressed to the nines, Feyre in a truly daring midnight blue dress, that lightened to the bluish-gray color of dawn at the hemline, Elain in a slightly more modestly-cut creamy concoction with red and orange flowers embroidered over the soft fabric of the full skirt. More importantly, both were glowing with happiness. Elain’s brown eyes were clear and calm, centered in a way she had never seen before, even in the mortal lands.
“Where have you been?” Feyre demanded. Nesta retreated a little at her tone. “I was starting to get worried! Cassian said you were hanging out at his place, but for all I knew he had, I don’t know, murdered you and dumped your body in the Sidra.”
Lucien snorted from over Elain’s shoulder. “Well, that got dark in a hurry,” he said drily, mouth quirked. Feyre glared at him while Elain smiled. “Come on, now, it’s a big leap from ‘he asked her to move in’ to ‘he dumped her body in the river.’” Feyre shot a fist of flame at him that he easily blocked while shielding his mate. “Now play nice. Let’s not ruin Mor’s birthday with a fire fight.”
“Seriously, though, did you move in with Cassian?” She could feel everyone’s eyes on her, waiting for her answer, and her skin started to crawl. Ignoring her pulse beginning to race, the bile rising in her throat at the pressure from so many stares, she lifted her chin, willing the ice that had always saved her to sculpt her mask.
“She adopted a kitten,” came that familiar rough voice. Cassian stepped up behind her, not quite touching her, but his huge body blocked her from the view of everyone except her sisters and their mates. Did he know? She didn’t even care as long as she could breathe easily again.
“A kitten!” Feyre exclaimed, at the same time Elain cooed, “Oh, a kitten! When can we meet him?”
“Her,” Cassian corrected automatically. Nesta’s mouth twitched up involuntarily.
“Maybe next week I can bring her over. We need to get her used to flying anyway.”
Feyre shook her head. “I can’t picture how you ended up with a cat, but you’ll have to tell me on the way. We should get moving.”
Indeed, everyone else was shuffling towards the door. It was a warm evening, but Feyre draped a shawl over her shoulders so Nesta and Elain followed suit. As they walked down the street in small groups, Nesta told her sisters how Cassian had found the kitten soaking in the storm the previous week and had brought her home, intending to find her somewhere else to live. How she had decided that they were obligated to keep her, having saved her life, and how they now spent what seemed like all of their time figuring out what toys she liked best and laughing at her antics. Elain chatted about the work she was doing with Azriel, trying to call in visions at will instead of them springing on her involuntarily.
“I keep getting this one of a glacier splitting apart, a huge chunk of ice falling into the sea, and a sense of something, some…creature springing free,” she said. “We can’t figure out what it means. He contacted Kallias to let him know, in case that means something to him, but he said it didn’t trigger anything concerning his Court.” She shrugged. “It’s probably nothing.”
“None of your other visions were nothing,” Nesta said, her voice a little sharp.
Feyre nodded in agreement. “Just because you don’t know what it is doesn’t mean it’s not important. Maybe it’ll, I don’t know, expand?”
Elain just shrugged.
They reached the restaurant. It was tiny, and Rhys had reserved the entire thing for this party. The dark female who scurried over at their arrival greeted Rhys, Feyre, Mor, and Amren as old friends. The food was brought over as they all took their seats, and pretty soon the restaurant was full of a pleasant cacophony of voices talking over one another, laughter, and clinking glasses. Nesta let it all wash over her, not trying to follow the conversation as she savored the rich, complex food. One set of dishes was cleared and another was brought as presents appeared on the table. Mor gave a little squeal and started unwrapping immediately. A set of novels by a favored author, a fancy wineglass set, a beautifully woven wrap that she immediately threw around her shoulders. She plucked Nesta’s small box off the table and unwrapped it, then let it fall on the table, staring at it, stunned. “By the Cauldron,” she whispered, “it’s beautiful.” She swallowed hard. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Where did you find it?”
Nesta cleared her own throat. “Just a jeweler. Not far from here, actually.” She didn’t mentioned that she’d commissioned it specifically, choosing the jewels to match the colors Mor usually favored.
Mor reverently lifted the necklace so everyone could see it, and there were gasps around the table. It was a delicately woven web of yellow and white gold, narrow at the clasp but widening to about two inches where it would fall below her collarbones. The widest point was set with tiny rubies and diamonds arranged like flames; the movement of the necklace made it look like the flames were flickering. Mor vanished the pendant she had been wearing and Azriel stood to help put the new one on, then she dipped her chin at Nesta. “Thank you. I…Thank you.”
Once again everyone was staring at her and she straightened herself as she drew slightly back into her chair, nodding and murmuring, “You’re welcome.” Cassian leaned forward, calling for the next present to be opened while pouring himself another glass of wine, and as everyone’s attention turned back to Mor he reached down and squeezed her hand. She brushed her knee against his thigh in response then withdrew her hand. Presents were finished with and dessert had been served when Amren turned to her.
“What have you been working on while I’ve been away?” The tiny female’s silver eyes may have now been full Fae, but they were still shrewd as if she knew the answer already.
Amren snorted. “Nothing?”
“I still can’t access any power. I can feel it there, but since that battle, since the Cauldron was reformed it’s…there’s something blocking it.”
Amren shook her head, wrinkling her nose in disgust. She seemed about to reply when Mor stood up and announced, “We’re all heading up to Rita’s for some dancing!” Everyone stood and made their way to the door. Amren and Sabine headed uptown, while the rest of them turned up the hill towards the lounge. Mor, Cassian and Azriel were joking about something with the unfamiliar male, Lucien and Elain were meandering hand in hand, Rhys and Feyre were doing that silent communication thing that they thought nobody noticed, so Brisa and Nesta found themselves at the back of the pack. Thankfully the Illyrian seemed no more inclined for casual conversation than she was.
Rita’s was packed as it always was. Males and females, High Fae and other species, all dancing in a mob. Cassian managed to find a booth that was empty (or he emptied one) and slid into it with Nesta, Brisa, Lucien, and Elain while the others all hit the dance floor. Cassian took everyone’s drink order and went up to the bar. Lucien tried to keep a conversation going, but it was almost impossible over the music. Elain convinced Lucien to join her in the fray, and dragged him off just as Cassian returned. Nesta sat with the two Illyrians watching the dancers, interrupted by the waiter coming over and distributing their drinks. He eyed Nesta appreciatively, then blanched and scurried away when Cassian snarled. She elbowed him. “Don’t be an overbearing Illyrian bastard,” she snapped.
He just looked at her, eyebrows raised. “But that’s literally what I am.”
Brisa laughed, and Nesta’s eyes narrowed. “Fair enough. Don’t be an asshole.”
He shrugged and grinned. “Wanna dance?”
“I already told you I wouldn’t.”
“I know, just figured I’d double check.” They sat, sipping their drinks, watching the chaos around them. His eyes kept straying to the his friends, she noticed. Mor, Azriel, Rhys, and Feyre were dancing together, Elain and Lucien nearby.
“You go ahead and join them,” she told him. “I’m going to use the restroom.”
“Do you want me to come too?” Brisa asked, but Nesta just shook her head.
“No need, I’ll just be a minute.”
Cassian pointed her to the back corner and watched her edge around the dancing bodies to reach it. She turned back just before entering to see him rise and cross to the others, wings tucked in tight, body moving instinctively with the beat as he avoided the dancers. Brisa was still sitting in the booth, ankle on knee, foot twitching in time.
The restroom was surprisingly clean. A cluster of females stood at the sinks, adjusting themselves in the mirrors. She emerged from using the facilities as they finished their last tweaks and left, laughing at some private joke. While she washed her hands another female appeared and joined her at the row of sinks, leaning over to check herself in the mirror before turning to Nesta.
“You came here with Morrigan’s friends, didn’t you?” the female asked. Nesta stiffened and nodded. “Oh, I’m so jealous, I’ve always wanted to meet her. I’ve heard she’s a regular but I’ve been coming almost every night for weeks and this is the first time I’ve seen her here. You’re the High Lady’s sister, aren’t you?”
“One of them.”
“Do you think you could introduce me?”
“No,” she laughed, “I mean, sure, the High Lady’s a legend, I’d love to meet her, but she’s also, like, obviously taken. Do you think you could introduce me to Mor?”
Nesta’s voice was flat. “No.”
The other female was taken aback. “What do you mean, ‘no?’” she asked, a little aggressively.
“Mor is the friendliest person in the city. You want to meet her, go introduce yourself.” The female stared at her, green eyes narrowed, before flicking her dark hair over her shoulder and leaving. Nesta followed more slowly, pausing on the edge of the floor.
Feyre and Rhys were still dancing together, oblivious to the crush of bodies around them. Elain and her mate were doing the same, Lucien’s hands on her waist, her arms above her head, eyes closed as she swayed against him. The other three were still dancing together, laughing, moving in synchrony without thought. Five centuries, Nesta realized. They had been doing this exact thing for five centuries - twenty times her own span of years. Cassian’s face was open, relaxed, that little slight tension around the eyes that he always showed with her totally absent. This wasn’t just friendship. This was family, this was something she could never quite be a part of, something that had evolved through pain and trial and having each others’ backs again and again. He wasn’t even looking for her, hadn’t even noticed she was still gone. She started to edge around towards the door, needing to get out, away from the heat and the noise and the smell, but her progress was impeded by the fact that she couldn’t take her eyes off of them. Mor scooted out of the group for a second and reappeared with Brisa, who joined right in, that lithe dancer’s body finding the rhythm easily. Cassian and Azriel shifted to include her, and at that Nesta pulled herself together and slipped through the door. She stood just outside for a minute, gulping the fresh air, pushing against that feeling of…of loss. She had been deluding herself, she realized. For how could you lose something you never really had?
She gathered the shawl around her shoulders, grateful for it now that the night had cooled enough for the air to have a little bite, and headed down the hill. After a couple of blocks she felt him behind her. “You should have stayed with your friends,” she said.
“I wanted to be with you.”
She shook her head, letting out a breath. Suddenly wings wrapped around her, not touching her but blocking her path. She stopped abruptly, Cassian so close behind her she could feel the heat emanating from him. Neither of them spoke for a moment.
“Did you know I’ve never lived with someone?” he said, his voice quiet. “I mean, I’ve had roommates, shared living quarters with other warriors, but I’ve never asked a lover to stay with me.” He laughed, a quiet huff of breath with little mirth. “Hell, I usually couldn’t wait for them to leave. My brothers have each lived with lovers, sometimes for decades. Mor too, though not for as long. But not me. Five hundred years since the war ended, and not once have I wanted to share my life. Until now.”
Nesta swallowed hard at the vulnerability in his voice. “Feyre said…she told me you were Mor’s first.”
“Yes.” There was so much pain in that word.
“She also told me why. What you risked, for her. What Rhys did afterward.” He was silent. “Do you regret it?”
“Even though you two never…”
He put his hands on her arms and stepped closer behind her, her back brushing his chest. She was totally enveloped by him, his heat, his scent, as he spoke low in her ear. “What Mor and I did, it saved her from being sold into a lifetime of misery. If it hadn’t been Eris, it would’ve been somebody else. I will never regret being a part of that, though I do regret not being able to save her from her family afterwards. But we were never meant to be together. I’m not what she wants.” An image of the girl in the bathroom rose to Nesta’s mind, unbidden. “And she’s not what I want. It’s been several centuries since she became nothing but a sister to me.” She didn’t know what to say in response to this, whether to tell him that she remembered every cold look from Mor, every time he pulled away when his so-called sister approached. So she said nothing, just stood there, encased in his wings, then his arms as he wrapped them around her. “Should we go back to the dance?”
Her body locked up. “I don’t know how to dance,” she admitted, “not like that.” She could dance a reel with the best of them, the impersonal precision of it, but what she had seen in that hall…
“I can teach you,” he murmured. Then, “What is it about people looking at you that makes you so uncomfortable?”
How had he known what it was? She wasn’t surprised he had noticed how she felt, he was uncommonly good at feeling changes in the tenor of emotions. A talent that served him well when commanding legions. But that he had pinpointed it so exactly… “I don’t like being judged,” she whispered.
“But what if they’re not judging you?” He pressed a gentle kiss to her neck. “What if they’re noticing how beautiful you are?”
“It’s still a judgment.” He pulled back just a little, not releasing her, but still putting distance between them. She turned her head to look at him, unsure of what she would see on his face. He was studying her, head cocked to the side, expression contemplative.
“I never thought of it that way.”
“No one ever does.”
He smiled at that, not his usual cocky grin but the soft smile that he reserved for her, and kissed her temple. “Come on. Let me teach you to dance.” He turned her to face him then slid one arm around her back and the other under her buttocks, lifting her to his chest, before sweeping back his wings and sending them skyward. In just a few powerful beats they were on the roof at Rita’s. The music was pounding out the open windows and doors and she could hear the movement of the people below her feet but they were alone up there. He placed himself behind her, hands on her sides, and bent his head so his mouth was level with her ear. “All music tells a story. Sometimes, like that symphony last week, it’s such a good story that you need nothing else to feel what the composer is trying to say. Other music relies on the people listening to complete it.” She looked sideways at him in surprise; she had never pegged him for being so educated on the nuances of music. It was so easy to underestimate him. He went on, her look unnoticed or ignored. “This type of music is meant to have a lot of people dancing to it, and that’s part of its story. Close your eyes.” When she had obeyed, he went on. “Feel the beat.” His fingers tapped lightly against her ribs, matching it exactly. “Now, listen to the melody over the top of it. What does it say to you?” She opened her mouth to speak, but felt him shake his head. “Don’t tell me, just…feel it.”
At first, it sounded harsh, oppressive. She felt pushed by it, wanted to push back, to resist. Behind her, Cassian began moving, a little sway without moving his feet, the warrior’s body graceful despite his bulk. He had told her once that fighting was just a dance with bloodshed. She caught that thought, followed it, opening her mind to the story the music and the people below her were telling. The song was one of loss and rediscovery, she realized. Of losing your sense of self, and finding it again in the people around you. A song of war and recovery. She started to move, and it was easy. Easy to surrender to the music, to the male behind her who felt her movement and matched it, then deftly took over, carrying her rhythm as their feet began to move. He spun her to face him and she opened her eyes. His hair was coming out of its tie, brushing against his cheekbone, and he held her gaze as he ran his hands down her body, over her hips, up her bare back, down her arms. She didn’t know how long they danced, lost in the energy pulsing through them from below their feet. Finally she was spent and panting, and he took her in his arms and they just swayed gently back and forth as he kissed her lips, her forehead, her temples, below her ear, down her neck. He stilled them finally, closing his eyes, and just breathed in the scent of her, his lips resting at the junction of her neck and shoulder. She was distantly aware that she was sweaty, that her hair had half come down and was sticking to her neck, that she should be stepping away, spooling herself back in but she just couldn’t. Couldn’t even find the part of her that wanted to. Without a word he swept her into his arms and vaulted into the sky, following the path of the river up the city, a dark ribbon between all the lights, drawing them towards home.