I have been musing on Elucien again (because this is what my life has now become devoted to) and I enjoy the similarity of these two lines:
‘And it was Elain—Elain—who sighed and murmured, “I hope they all burn in hell.”’
“Well, that explains the wings.”’
It’s got exactly the same set-up and sentence structure, same emphasis, same everything. But what I like most of all is that the phrases they spit out that seem unusual for them are 100% things that the other would say?
Elain’s ‘I hope they all burn in hell’ is just, straight up savage Lucien snark. And Lucien’s ‘well, that explains the wings’ is just so 100% Elain’s matter-of-fact, shrugging off chill (See: ‘Nesta did. I just stabbed him.’) Exactly the same tone. So there’s a little bit of the other inside each of them and that’s just beautiful, bless.
I’ve always been fascinated with the fact that according to legends big-old-tall-frightening Ban has a son with Elaine. And I wondered, which got me to thinking, which made get ideas; and my friends know, don’t leave me alone to have IDEAS.
So, here’s what I came up with. Elaine, who will smile but is making sure to keep her brother’s influences from her Lancelot. And Ban, who smiles without needing booze to do it. Merlin once asked him, “how many people could you kill, for you son?” Which confused him, as he bluntly stated, “Who wouldn’t I kill, for him?”
Azriel, still limping, merely nudged Cassian and extended another option.
“This is Truth-Teller,” he told her softly. “I won’t be using it today - so I want you to.”
Elian’s eyes widened at the obsidian-hilted blade in Azriel’s scarred hand. The runes on the black scabbard.
“It has never failed me once,” the shadowsinger said, the midday sun devoured by the black blade. “Some people say it is magic and will always strike true.” He gently took her hand and pressed the hilt of the legendary blade into it. “It will serve you well.”
“I-I don’t know how to use it–”
Cassian gawked at Azriel, and I wondered how often Azriel had lent out that blade -
Never, Rhys said […]. I have never once seen Azriel let another person touch that knife.
Elain looked up at Azriel, their eyes meeting, his hand still lingering on the hilt of the blade.
WHEN ELRIEL SHIP SETS SAIL and ELUCIEN SHIP REMAINS AT THE DOCK.
So this just popped into my head last night when I couldn’t sleep. Set post-ACOWAR and contains nothing but fluff.
“You’re just full of surprises, aren’t you?” Feyre found herself commenting, smiling slightly as she tried not to groan in pleasure under Rhys’ hands.
He chuckled from where he was seated behind her, the sound sending a thrill through her spine, even decades into their relationship. “I should hope so; I have to keep my High Lady entertained somehow. Wouldn’t want her eternity to get boring.”
“Boring? How could I ever get bored with a mate who thinks so much of himself?” She shot back, though its effect was lost when she leaned further into him, her hands running over the legs that were on either side of her. She could feel the delicious heat of his bare chest so close behind her, the thin nightdress she was wearing a poor barrier between them.
Rhys’ fingers continued to comb through her hair, expertly separating it into three equal parts. “I take offense to that.”
Feyre let out an aborted snort. “No, you don’t.”
“No, I don’t,” Rhys agreed, in a blithe voice.
They fell into a comfortable silence then, built on years of learning how to just be together. Neither of them felt the need to always fill the air between them with pointless chatter. Oh, they liked to joke and bicker… but they also knew when to let words fade away and just enjoy each other’s company.
It had been happening more of late, likely because Rhys had refused to leave Feyre’s side for the past few months. He was a constant presence at her side, though he did his best not to hover too much (he knew all too well how she loathed feeling locked in, how it still made her bones lock up in fear, even after all this time). He needn’t have worried; Feyre never, never felt tied down by her mate, never felt confined by him. She knew that even now, when he was so concerned about her, he would give her space if she asked.
(He’d once told her, in a fit of hopeless romanticism, that he would give her the very stars above Velaris if he could. Feyre had believed him, of course, if only because she said she would do the same for him.)
So Feyre was quiet, letting Rhys gently braid her hair as if he’d done it hundreds of times before. She’d been utterly surprised when he’d offered to do it for her earlier, after he’d heard her curse in front of the mirror while she struggled with trying to tame her wild locks into something more manageable. Feyre was so tired these days and sore too, the heavier she got. And she was constantly hot then cold, her hair always in the way and, Cauldron, she didn’t care for it much now and all the work it took to keep it neat, not when she was already so uncomfortable. She’d been beyond tempted to just chop it all off, had Rhys not stepped in when he did with his innocuous offer.
At first she tried to deny the existence of a problem but she really couldn’t hide anything from Rhys; he knew her too well, felt her struggles through their mating bond and tried to ease her discomfort as much as he could. (Rightly so, Feyre sometimes thought when she particularly annoyed with how limited she was lately, considering he’s the one that put me into this situation in the first place.)
So here they were, Rhys’s gentle hands working wonders on Feyre’s nerves, his fingers softly tugging at her hair as he built the braid into something spectacular; Feyre herself was usually no slouch when it came her hair (at least when she wasn’t so cranky), but she had the feeling that Rhys was even better. So many hidden talents, this mate of mine.
“Where’d you learn to do this?” she finally asked, curiosity getting the better of her. She’d felt his hesitancy when he first offered, that pang of grief that he’d been unable to conceal from her.
“My sister,” Rhys said after a long pause. His voice had lost that light-hearted edge from earlier, filled instead with wistful regret. “She’d come to me when our mother was too busy for it. She could have asked the servants, of course… but she liked to spend a few moments with me, I think. She continued to ask even long after she could do it by herself. I never had the heart to say no.”
Feyre’s own heart ached for her mate, for the family he’d lost so long ago. He rarely spoke of the little sister she’d never meet, even less so than his mother. From what she’d gleaned over the years, his sister had been quite a bit younger than him, had looked up to him in a way no one else ever had. Feyre couldn’t even imagine what it had been like for him to have to bury her broken body.
She rubbed her thumbs comfortingly over the sides of his knees. I’m sorry, she sent softly to him through their bond. I’m sorry.
Rhys’ mind caressed hers. Me too.
Feyre kept running her hands soothingly over him, tempted to turn around and pull him to her, wrap her arms around those broad shoulders of his. She didn’t though; the act of braiding seemed to calm him… like coming home to something he’d thought he’d long forgotten. (Still, she wished she could protect him from all the pain he endured… but that same pain had made him into the wonderful male he was today.)
When he was finally done, she saw his finished work briefly through his eyes, the image flashing through her mind.
“It’s beautiful,” Feyre said with a smile, reaching up to run her fingers over the intricate pattern he’d managed to weave her hair into. “Thank you.”
Rhys’ strong arms around wrapped around her body, finally pulling her back to rest against his chest. “I figured it was about time I got some practice,” he whispered in her ear as he moved one hand to cover her rounded belly. “I wouldn’t want our poor daughter to be left with an inept father.”
Feyre tangled her fingers with Rhys’, holding them over her stomach, where their unborn baby was slowly growing. “You could never be an inept father, Rhys,” she told him softly. Rhys only pressed kiss under her jaw in response, though she could feel his quiet gratitude for her faith in him. “Besides, how do you know it’ll be a girl?” Feyre continued, turning her head so she could arch an eyebrow at him.
Mischief lit his violet eyes. “Perhaps I asked Elain.”
Feyre leveled a look at him. “Elain would never tell you, even if she knew.” Her sister had become quite the responsible seer over the years, never revealing more than was necessary. (Well, that and Feyre had wanted it to be a surprise, telling Elain in no uncertain terms not to let Rhys charm the answer out of her.)
“Then let’s call it a father’s intuition,” Rhys replied now, unable to stop his grin.
Feyre laughed, leaning her head against the edge of his jaw. “She’s going to have you wrapped around her little finger, isn’t she?”
“Of course,” he kissed her forehead, his happiness a near tangible thing. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Feyre could only cuddle in closer. She looked at where their joined hands were resting on her belly. Don’t worry, baby, she thought, we love you already, no what you turn out to be.
(A few years later, when their daughter runs up to Feyre, her hair braided in a crown around her head, little flowers carefully tucked in the midnight blue strands, she doesn’t need to ask who did it. Rhys’ proud smile is answer enough.)
He gets nothing but avoided eye contact and silent sips of coffee in return.
“I am completely serious. Someone has to say something and it really shouldn’t be me.”
He had thought that all nine of them of them taking a weekend together in the cabin would be fun–and it had been, until he’d been kept up very late by the half-muffled sounds coming from Elain and Lucien’s room. Not of sex, per say; the cabin provides what soundproofing it can, and it should be enough for all the couples to enjoy themselves without bothering each other, but Elain and Lucien had been doing something… loud. Repeatedly.
Cassian is grinning like a maniac, amused beyond all reason. “Okay, I know Rhys is uncomfortable because he’s never done anything that actually qualifies as kinky, but does anyone else think this is hilarious?”
“I object to that profiling of my sex life, Cassian.”
“You’ve never done anything weirder with Feyre than a blindfold,” Cassian says, eyebrows raised, “I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, I’m just saying.”
“A blindfold is very kinky,” Rhys asserts, affronted. Mor snorts and he ignores it, focused on Cassian. “What have you two done that’s so much more exciting?”
Nesta, sitting straight as a queen, speaks before Cassian can. “If you answer that question in front of all our friends, Cas, you will never get to do any of those things ever again.”
“We’re off topic,” Feyre announces, setting down her mug of tea decisively. “The question at hand here is who is going to tell Elain and Lucien that spanking is off-limits during their time here.” Silence. She shrugs. “I think it should be Nesta.”
“I’ll do it if you want, but it won’t go well,” Nesta replies flatly. “I have a hard time not slapping the smirk off Lucien’s face on a good day.”
Cassian brandishes a spoonful of oatmeal. “Well, apparently he’s into that, so–”
“Why not Cassian?” Rhys says pointedly, “Since, as he tells us, he’s so knowledgeable about the whole area.”
“That would mortify Elain,” Feyre says, keeping them firmly on track. “It should probably be one of the girls.” Amren, in the corner, lowers her mug of blood to look less than enthused. “It should be Mor or I,” Feyre amends.
Mor gives an casual little shrug. “The noise didn’t bother me, to be honest.”
Rhys frowns in disbelief. “Surely you heard it.”
She does not elaborate, and Rhys suddenly finds it suspicious how quiet Azriel’s been, and how he’s not making eye contact. Cassian seems to have the same thought as he glances between the two of them.
“Mother’s tits,” Cassian says, gaping. “You guys got off on it, didn’t you?”
They don’t respond, but Mor reddens incriminatingly. Cassian’s eyes go wide and he throws his head back in a howl of laugher, over Nesta’s protestations.
Amren is surveying all of them with disdain. “I have been present for some truly insipid conversations between the lot of you but I must say, this one is exceptionally awful.”
“Now THAT’S what I mean by kinky, Rhys” Cassian proclaims, wiping tears from his eyes. “Fucking to the sounds of another couple’s pain play. Cauldron. I’m so proud.”
Rhys looks long-suffering as he turns to Feyre, takes her hand, and kisses it sweetly. “I’m so sorry, darling,” he intones dramatically. “I’ve exposed you to a nest of perverts.”
“Who’s a pervert?” Elain asks with a giggle, choosing this moment to sweep into the kitchen, bright-eyed and with a sated-looking Lucien in her wake. “Are we talking about Cassian again?”
But the whole room has gone silent. Elain falters, looking from one awkward face to the next. “What’s wrong?”
When no one answers, it’s Amren who gets up and says baldly to the two of them, “Everyone from here to Velaris could hear whatever it was you were doing last night. It made these fools uncomfortable, largely. Do with that information what you will.” In the shocked silence following, she puts her empty mug in the sink, unhurried, and heads for the door. “I’m going for a walk far away from this nonsense. If anyone needs me, you are encouraged to reconsider.”
Azriel + Elain. I ship it. Hear me out (ACOWAR spoilers).
I have a theory that Azriel and Elain are ultimately going to end up together. I hated myself for it at first because I was kind of pulling for Lucien (poor Lucien), but now that I’ve put together the below evidence, I am 100% on board.
We all know that SJM is the queen of foreshadowing. She plants hints books in advance, and we don’t realize it was foreshadowing until after the truth has been revealed and you’re like duh this was SO OBVIOUS BECAUSE SHE BASICALLY TOLD US WITHOUT TELLING US (a few examples: Feyre being Rhys’ mate, Rowan being Aelin’s).
So, Azriel and Elain. Yes, I know Elain has a mate. Yes, I know that at the end of ACOWAR, all signs were pointing towards Elain giving him a chance. But I think that’s all it’s going to be. A chance.
Now let’s dig into the evidence. After finishing ACOWAR, I (obviously) had to re-read the whole series, now that I knew how it all turned out.
In ACOMAF, I came across the following passage on p. 487:
Nesta. I painted flames for her. She was always angry, always burning. I think that she and Amren would be fast friends. I think she would like Velaris, despite herself. And I think Elain - Elain would like it, too. Though she’d probably cling to Azriel, just to have some peace and quiet. I smiled at the thought - at how handsome they would be together. If the warrior ever stopped quietly loving Mor.
After having read ACOWAR, we know that Nesta and Amren became fast friends. We know that despite herself, she definitely likes Velaris. And we know that Elain clings to Azriel - that he was gentle with her, and kind. All of that passage came true. What struck me weirdly about it was that next sentence - I smiled at the thought - at how handsome they would be together. If the warrior ever stopped quietly loving Mor. Knowing what we know now about Mor, I think it’s safe to assume that in the near future, Mor will tell Azriel the truth. And when that happens…he’ll (hopefully) eventually open up his heart to someone else.
Once those sentences had grabbed my attention, when I was re-reading ACOWAR, all of the Azriel/Elain scenes just…made sense. He’s kind to her. Gentle. He sits with her when she’s in the garden. He walks with her arm wrapped around his. He carries her when she’s too weak to walk herself. There’s a fair amount of evidence that I could pull together, but to spare you from this post being absurdly long, I’m just asking you to trust me on the little moments.
Two more scenes that I do want to dissect, however. The first one being when Rhys explains how you can reject a mating bond - it’s a long passage, so I’m only going to include the highlights (p.257):
“You said your mother and father were wrong for each other; Tamlin said his own parents were wrong for each other….so it can’t be a perfect system of matching. What if -” I jerked my chin toward the window, to my sister and the shadowsinger in the garden - “that is what she needs? Is there no free will? What if Lucien wishes the union but she doesn’t?”
“Sometimes, the bond is nothing more than some…preordained guesswork at who will provide the strongest offspring. At its basest level, it’s perhaps only that….Only years later will they realize that perhaps the pairing was not ideal in spirit.”
Rhys goes on to explain how you can reject the bond but it can drive the male mad. At this point, my brain was screaming !!!!!!!!! at me. 1) because SJM is the queen of foreshadowing and if she included this discussion, she included it for a reason and 2) Feyre literally is like ummmm hi, I think Azriel could be a better match.
Finally, the last piece of evidence I will include, is the scene where Azriel hands Elain truth-teller. This scene is so important, so pivotal, that is even included in the A Court of Thorns and Roses coloring book. If you own the coloring book, you know that the scenes in there have huge significance to the story. Again this scene is a bit long to include, but highlights below, after he gently presses her hand into the hilt of the legendary blade (p.610):
“Cassian gawked at Azriel, and I wondered how often Azriel had lent out that blade -
Never, Rhys said from where he finished buckling on his own weapons against the side of the wagon. I have never once seen Azriel let another person touch that knife.
Elain looked up at Azriel, their eyes meeting, his hand still lingering on the hilt of the blade. I saw the painting in the mind: the lovely fawn, blooming spring vibrant behind her. Standing before Death, shadows and terrors lurking over his shoulder. Light and dark, the space between their bodies a blend of the two. The only bridge of connection…that knife.”
I don’t think there’s much to say other than OH MY GOD THAT PASSAGE I SHIP IT.
IN CONCLUSION (I’m sorry this post was so long but I needed to include evidence to back up this kind of crazy theory), I think that Elain and/or Lucien will end up rejecting the bond. If I had to make a really crazy guess, I’m going to predict that Lucien ends up being Helion’s heir (and therefore moving to his court), and because he is decent, he realizes that Elain will want to stay with her sister’s in the Night Court. Because he recognizes that maybe they aren’t a true match in spirit, he will let her go. And then boom, that leaves the door open for Azriel + Elain. The end.