Ribbons of Flame - Chapter One
A/N: I’m so unbelievably excited to finally be putting up chapter one of my very first ACOTAR fic for you all. I’ve had this idea for quite a bit and finally started writing it a few months ago. I’ve got four chapters written already, so if you want more please let me know.
I basically thrive off comments and words of encouragement so if you want to read more or liked any part of this please let me know in anyway you can.
I’m tagging: @crazybookladythings @high-lady-of-perranth @foxboy-lucien @revogybrad @night-and-stars-eternal @mayhemories @escapingtheconstrictingboxes @little-witchling-of-velaris @theoptomisticwolfgirl @writtenbyourstruly @highladyfxyre @it-el @purpleboybunny @ilikebigbooks-and-icannotlie
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Description: Lucien has a little sister but no one knows of her except her loving mother, cruel father and other older brothers and members of the hellish Autumn Court. Eleanor “Ella” Vanserra has grown up in the Autumn Court under the cruel hand of her father and High Lord Beron. Once a bright and happy young girl she’s become a shell of who she once was. When Lucien discovers this new family will he and the inner circle be able to rescue her from the cruel fate the Mother gave her.
Trigger Warning: Physical and emotional abuse
Ella’s knees hit the soft plush rug in her sleeping chambers. Her hands shook as she clutched the silken fabric of what remained of her burgundy gown, trying desperately to calm herself. She closed her eyes and her nose scrunched up, with her brows furrowing as pain shot threw her bruising wrist and burnt skin. She refused to cry, even in the safety of the four walls of her chambers. She could never truly be safe anywhere in the Autumn Court.
Her four remaining brothers had cornered her in the halls and she hadn’t known what to do. Flames had danced around her fingers when Eris had meant to grab her, burning his hand terribly before he could fight back with his own fire. She didn’t know how she had created that burning flames, she couldn’t summon it on her own. She had never been properly trained, and had never been allowed to explore the depths of her own powers. Ella had received a harsh slap from her eldest brother, and fire far worse than her own danced on her own pale skin. The bruises on her wrist had been from her three other brothers’ hands as they kept her from thrashing. Her shoulders and arms ached most from the burns, her throat sore from her screaming but her face remained unharmed besides the forming bruise from the first blow.
“Stupid, useless flames. Only coming to cause me trouble instead of true protection,” she muttered, her voice laced with anger as she studied her frail hands, speaking as if her powers were a living being.
Maybe she was going insane. Her eyes immediately shot up as the chimes of the clock struck noon. She had a dancing lesson in only ten minutes, and her instructor would not be happy if she was late. She examined the injuries scattered across her skin once more and decided she would have to take care of them later. The flushed pink silk of her dance wear was cool against her burning skin and its skirts caressed her thighs with a gentle touch. She placed her feet into her worn dancing slippers, and leaped up as she wrapped a dark colored cloak around her.
“To keep warm in the cold halls,” she would say softly if anyone noticed her.
She was ready for an escape, even though it was only for a few hours. Dancing was the one thing that kept the burning light deep in her core lit through the years of her life she had spent living in the cruel manor. The one thing that brought her joy beyond measure. She knew only her mother would understand and gladly accept that it wasn’t a waste of time, or a useless activity. Oh, the Cauldron knew her father, especially, would not agree. She refused to ever think about what he would do if he found out. Her father would be more than happy to ruin the one thing left that kept the fire in her heart alive simply out of spite, knowing how much it would destroy her. As Ella made her way through the long and winding halls, a fond smile grew upon her lips at the memory of when she first started dancing.
She was young when her mother brought up the topic of dancing lessons. Ella had always been a bubbly and spirited girl, who could never stand still for more than a moment. She was always humming a gentle tune, her small feet gracefully moving on the marble floors. Ella often danced around her mother, with the skirts of her dress swirling around, soft giggles falling from her lips and an innocent smile on her face. She always had such grand beauty in her, not simply in her looks, but the very essence in her made so many stop and stare in awe and wonder. Nothing could dampen the spirits of young Ella, for she had not fully experienced the harsh reality of the world yet. That day her mother swept the dancing girl into her thin arms, like she so often did, placing a tender kiss onto her forehead.
“Oh, my bright dancing light, how I love you,” her mother had whispered softly with a joyous smile. “How about we put all that wild spirit and dancing to good use, little one?” She turned her head to kiss the small hand now pressed softly against her cheek. “I’ll find you the greatest instructor in all of Prythian for you my love, and you’ll be able to dance for hours on end, and truly learn the art.” The Lady of the Autumn Court had seen that passion growing inside of Ella for a long while, and she would risk anything to let it grow in the young girl. Even though her husband would never approve.
“You can do that mommy?” The little girl asked, eyes brightening as she hugged her mother tightly with pure joy glowing on her face.
“I’d do anything for you my beautiful girl,” she whispered in Ella’s ear, peppering soft kisses around her rosy cheeks.
And her mother did just that. She found the greatest instructor she could. He had come from the Spring Court, and together they had honed her skills, sharpening them like a steel blade. Despite the risk, he had stayed, and Ella would forever be in debt to him. She would forever be grateful for the years he had put into her, helping her grow. Forever grateful for the haven he gave her in the world she knew, that felt like a hell.
“You’re late,” was all that her instructor said when she entered the secluded room on the other side of the manor, far enough away that anyone of importance could not see or hear them. He was never one for many words, but she could hear the slight concern in his tone. She had never been late before. Ever.
“My deepest apologies, Mr. Soarven, it won’t happen again,” she said quickly, removing her cloak as she took her spot in the middle of the room. She stared for a moment at the glass covered wall, taking in her reflection. She didn’t bother with any excuses, knowing they were all lies anyway, and he would see right through them. He took a step towards her, nodding his understanding and gestured for Ella to begin. Ella quickly started her regular routine, loosening her muscles for the work she was about to do. As she studied her dance instructor, his tall frame leaning over the musician’s shoulder at the piano bench, questions began brewing in her mind. She watched as they shuffled through many sheets of music, deciding on which songs would be played.
“Mr. Soarven, can I ask you a question?” Her voice fell into a soft whisper, suddenly feeling nervous about what she was going to ask. She didn’t mean to pry or get personal, she was only curious.
“Well you just did, dear, but you may ask another,” he chuckled softly as he straightened and turned to face her. Though he was straightforward, and often stern when he was teaching her, she knew he loved teasing and joking. A small smile stretched across her lips, as she continued her routine.
“Why do you stay here? I’m sure you had a life in the Spring Court, why put so much at risk living here, teaching only me?” Her nerves began bubbling up as she saw the shift in his features. There was a moment of pause before he finally answered.
“Your mother pays me a great deal you know.” He turned back to the sheets of music, flicking through them once again.
Ella let out a small, “Oh,” her dancing slippers becoming much more interesting than before. It was not like she didn’t know that already. Yet the comment still stung.
“But that is not the only reason I stay, as I can get payed anywhere else.” He turned to face her, “I can’t explain it Ella, but I stay because of you. There’s something deep in you that is so bright and powerful, and I can’t let that die out.” She began chewing the inside of her cheek, darting her gaze away from his again. “Nor did I have much of a life in my court, it was simply falling apart. The arts were hardly on anyone’s mind, let alone teaching them.”
The rest of her questions died away, as she nodded at his words, not having much else to reply with. Her warmups were done, and Mr. Soarven gave the cue for the music to start playing. Her eyes fluttered shut, and she lost herself in the melody, letting her legs and arms move to the gentle beat. Everything fell away except the notes filling her ears, the occasional correction from her instructor, and the steps her feet took across the room. The dance she had learned long ago, but would never forget. It was one of her favorites, and one that could pull her out of any darkness, and any despair. After many moments, the music stopped and her eyes opened. Only then did she realize that tears had welled in her golden eyes, overflowing onto her cheeks.
Ella’s heart beat raced in her chest as she dashed down the halls to the secluded dance room. No one had ever laid a hand on her like that before, she had never seen anyone so angry either.
She had just wanted her mother. She had awoken from a terrifying dream where everything was burning. There were screams, and cries of pain and terror, but she could stop nothing because the flames had surrounded her, licking at her smooth skin. She could have sworn that the flames released a cackling laugh. She shook her head violently, not wanting to remember any more of the horrid nightmare. After she had tossed and turned, she knew the only thing that could comfort her was her mother’s arms. Her small feet padded against the cool floor of the halls to where she knew her mother slept. Her white nightgown that fell past her knees swayed with her swift movements. As she got closer to her mother’s room, the unmissable sounds of screaming reached her ears. She grew more frightened by the loud noises as she got closer. Was something wrong with mommy? The shouting only increased when she reached the door and pushed it open slowly.
“How am I supposed to know you’re not being some gods damned whore, having affairs when you sneak out so many damn nights. Don’t you dare lie to me, I am not a fool!” Her father’s shouts made her flinch back, and she saw her mother pressed against the wall.
“Don’t speak to me like that,” The Lady of the Autumn Court spat, her hands on his chest ready to push back.
“I am your husband, and I can speak to you how ever I very damn well please!” Beron’s voice only got louder with every threatening word.
“Maybe if you treated me like a decent high fae, I wouldn’t feel the need sneak around and run off!” Ella had never heard her mother yell before. She knew her father was capable of such things, but never her soft gentle mother. Why was he treating her like this? She squeezed her eyes shut tightly and wanted to cry out when the loud crack of a hand against skin reached her ears.
“Mommy,” her soft voice spoke, barely loud enough for even fae ears to hear, but her mother did. Her mother would always hear her voice.
Suddenly the screaming died down and her heart beat quickened. Her mother had tears streaming down her face as she started walking towards her child, but large, cold hands pulled her back roughly. Ella’s eyes widened, flickering between her sobbing mother, and quickly approaching father.
“Beron, I swear to the Cauldron if you lay a hand on my daughter I’ll-” her mother chocked out, not even finishing her sentence before long fingers curled around Ella’s chin, forcing her to meet her father’s gaze.
“Last time I checked, she was my daughter as well and I can do what I want with her.” His quiet, stern voice was a stark contrast from his screaming, but it scared her just as much. “Eleanor, you know you are not to leave your chambers at night, and you are never to come down these halls.” His fingers squeezed tighter with each venomous word. She cringed at the use of her real name and his touch. “I ought to give you a punishment for all this wild misbehavior lately.” His quiet anger radiated from his skin. She was shaking, tears falling as she tried to step away from him. A sharp pain shot through her face. He grabbed her wrist with an iron grip to keep her in place.
“She’s not misbehaving, she’s only being the child she is, Beron!” Her mother shouted as she stepped closer to them both, but some force held her back.
“She’s out of control, and I will not tolerate her behavior in my court and in my manor.” His icy fingers uncurled from her chin, but that small throbbing pain stayed. “This is a warning Eleanor, I can do far worse things if I feel that it is necessary, I promise you that,” Beron sneered and finally let go of her wrist that was surely to bruise from his hold.
She knew that was her cue to run. She wasn’t going to miss her chance to leave her father’s terrifying presence. She took one last glance at her frightened and screaming mother before her bare feet hit the ice-cold marble and she took off down the hall. She didn’t know where to go. It was clear she could not run to her mother’s arms, and she refused to go back to her dark and lonely room. That left the dancing room, which seemed like a far better option than any of the others. So, there she was, shaking against the bare walls, not noticing her dance instructor sitting at the piano until he had rushed to her side. Her small hands were immediately enveloped in his much larger ones, as he bent down on his knees so he was eye level with Ella. She didn’t know what to do, her body shook violently and the cascade of tears continued. Her small frame fell against his own, her arms on instinct going around the older’s neck. His long arms wrapped around her waist, giving her the embrace she was longing for. He was much too afraid to ask what had put her in that state. A million possibilities had raced through his mind, and none of them were good. They stayed like that for some time. The only sound was their breathing and an occasional mumble of ‘I’m afraid’ from the small girl.
“Let’s dance, little one, we’ll take your mind off everything,” he pulled back as he spoke and held her at an arm’s length. His thumb wiping away the tears falling on her skin. “I’ll even teach you a new piece I’ve been working on just for you. Especially since you’ve mastered your current dance so well these last few months.” His smile was bright as he tapped her nose playfully. Ella’s brows furrowed, bringing a bunched hand to rub at her eyes.
“B-but I don’t have my dancing slippers,” she managed to stutter out, looking down at her bare feet as if only just noticing them.
“We’ll practice with them tomorrow, for now I’ll just teach you the basics.” She was still a little hesitant, but maybe dancing would tire her out, making sleep easier. Her fingers curled around her nightgown tightly as her eyes followed the lean frame of her dance instructor as he stood on his feet again. She listened to his instructions closely, getting in position in the middle of the room as always. She let him guide her through every beat, every step, every twirl. First with a simple four beat count, and when he no longer counted he hummed a sweet melody, like honey to her ears. He continued to lead her steps, as the tune fell from his lips. Dancing long into the earlier hours of the morning.
They had worked on that piece every night that she awoke in a sweat, no longer able to sleep. Her nightmares being plagued with fire and shadows, and her own father. They practiced that piece every time that shining light inside of her seemed to flicker. She didn’t know how, or why, but he always knew when she needed it most. As the shadows only grew, and the darkness that her mother so desperately tried to keep away from her flooded in, she no longer needed his guidance with the steps.
He would sit at the piano playing that melody, so much sweeter than the one that came from his mouth. From time to time when she needed a stronger distraction from those dark hours, they would add a new step making it more and more intricate. It was her own special dance, crafted just for her and it worked every time. She always left the room feeling a little lighter, shining a little more brightly.
She continued to catch her breath, looking at the glass covered wall. She refused to look at the bruise forming on her flesh. So much like the one her mother wore all those years ago, the one that her father had given her pressed against that wall. It had been so long since she had last heard that melody, and danced those steps. And like he always did, he knew when she needed it the most.
Every muscle under Ella’s skin ached when they finally stopped their lesson. Her injuries only made the pain increasingly worse, but she would never complain about that. Especially not to her instructor.
She had safely made it back to her room. The cloak wrapped around her shoulders had been shrugged to the floor on the way to the bathing room and she drew a much-needed bath. She made sure her injuries were taken care of once she was done, and dressed in a simple gown of burgundy once more. She tugged at the plain sleeves and made sure her burns and bruises were covered. For what reason, she did not know. It wasn’t like anyone would question them. Maybe she was simply afraid of her father’s curiosity of her burnt skin, and Eris revealing the use of her power. No matter how intentional or unintentional it was. She quickly turned to face the door as a servant rushed in.
“The High Lord has requested your presence for supper, Ma’am,” she spoke softly, and leaned into a curtsy. Ella’s stomach immediately dropped, and her heart began beating thousands of miles faster. She only nodded in reply, words escaping her as she watched the young girl turn and walk away. Another delightful family dinner this evening, she was sure of it.