I got up late in the morning and went straight to the kitchen. I made some eggs and bacon, enough for me and William if he planned on eating breakfast at my place. I was pouring orange juice into two glasses when I heard footsteps coming to th kitchen. I turned around to see shirtless, sleepy blonde in his grey sweatpants that he was wearing yesterday. “I smell something amazing.” he said happily, sitting his perfect ass on a kitchen chair. Okay Alina, you should stop thinking about him. I laughed a little, handing him his plate and juice glass. He mumbled quickly thanks before he started to stuff the food to his mouth. I was about to put some food on my own plate when someone rang the doorbell. I quickly set my plate down, turning to William, who had frozen with open mouth, fork full of food on its way to there. “Hide!” I shrieked quietly shooing him up from his chair. He looked at me confused. “If it’s one of our friends they’ll think we did something and I’m not in the mood to listen to their teasing righ now.” I explained, making him nod as to tell that he understood. I guided him to the bathroom, before going to open the door. “Annika and Kappy! What a surprise.” I said sounding way too out of breath, but loud enough for William to hear. Annika shot me a questioning look which I answered by smiling. “Steph and Mitch are taking the stairs.” she told before walking in with Kappy. In no time Steph and Mitch appeared too, Mitch complaining something about the stairs. “So what are you guys doing here?” I asked nervously when they were taking off their jackets. “Just quickly stopping by. We’re on our way to the mall.” Steph said happily. We got in the kitchen where I continued filling my plate. “Umm Alina? From how many plates you eat your breakfast from?” Mitch asked pointing to William’s plate. “Oh damn, I forgot I already took one plate. You guys sort of distracted me.” I explained, and all of them bought it. Kappy and Mitch went to livingroom meanwhile the girls kept me company while I ate. “Why is there pillow and cover on your couch?” Kappy asked from the living room. Well damn. I totally forgot about those. “My bedroom was really hot at night so I slept on the couch.” I explained again, proud that I came up with these lies so quickly. “And you use Axe?” Kappy continued laughing. “Well it’s cheap and I’m a student, so yes.” I once again lied. Steph and Annika stared at me with narrowed eyes, making me nervous. “Is there anything you’d like to share with us?” Steph asked. I shook my head rapidly. “I guess you did download Tinder. That worked fast.” Annika said winking, giving high five to Steph. “I didn’t.” I told, playing with my fingers. They can’t find out that William slept here, they would never let that go. Mitch and Kappy came to the kitchen, Mitch holding a phone in his hands. “This phone is just like Willy’s, even the same background picture.” he said happily. “Maybe because that is Willy’s phone.” Kappy stated the obvious sarcastically. In second they all realized what Kappy just said. Annika and Steph had wicked grins on their faces. “Oh, did he forget it?” I tried to sound shocked, meanwhile trying to stop the blushing. “No, he didn’t, I texted him this morning” Kappy said narrowing his eyes. “So Willy slept over huh? Where is he?” he continued with a smirk. At this point, I was as red as a tomatoe. I didn’t say anything, I just kept quiet. “Did you guys, youÂ know.. Do the naughty?” Mitch asked making me even redder if it was possible. I was about to protest when shirtless William walked to the kitchen turning everyone’s attention to him. “Nevermind. Half naked William gives me good enough answer.” Mitch continued. “Care to explain you two?” Steph asked. “Yes. I slept over because it was late. End of the story.” William said, taking his plate and continuing eating. The guys dragged William to the living room, probably to roast him about sleeping over at boring average Alina’s Place. “So you like our little swede?” Annika asked. “Swede?” I repeated, confused. “Yeah?” Annika said just as confused. “What do you mean by swede?” I asked. “William is Swedish? Like from Sweden, the country in Europe.” Annika explained. “He doesn’t have an accent.” I tried to reason. “He was born in Canada but his mom and dad are Swedish, and he spent his childhood mostly in Sweden, so that makes him Swedish.” Annika explained again. “Does he speak swedish?" "Obiviously he does honey." "Oh well..” I felt like someone hit me on the head with a hammer. So perfect Canadian guy didn’t exist, but the perfect Swedish guy sure did. No wonder why he’s so different from every Canadian guy I know. But the question is, how does Swedish guy end up in Canada? “Are Kappy, Mitch and Auston Swedish too?” I asked unsure where the rest of them are from. “No. Mitch is Canadian, Auston is American and Kappy is Finnish.” Steph said, biting an apple she had found in my kitchen. “Fin- what?” I asked loudly, what is Finnish? “Kappy will kill you for not knowing Finland, he’s more patriotic than any other Finn I’ve met.” William said with no emotion as he came back to kitchen, Mitch and Kappy right behind him. “Where is this Finland country?” I asked him as he once again continued eating his food. “North Europe, right next to Sweden.” he said sounding annoyed. “So Mitch is the only Canadian. That’s a shock.” I said. “And why is that?” Mitch asked sounding offended. “I mean. You seem the most European to me.” “Alina dear. As you can see European guys are freaking perfect. Mitch is not. Which equals non-European Mitch.” Kappy said laughing. “Can we drop this? I just wanna know why Alina and William are hiding the fact that they went all the way last night.” Mitch changed the subject making everyone remember that they caught William shirtless in my apartment. “We didn’t go all the way.” William said, completely calm meanwhile I’m here almost panicking. “More like, we went no way.” he continued with a disgusted look on his face and for some reason, those words hurt me. He sounded a bit rude like I was some disease to him. Did he really see me that disgusting. “Do you wanna join us? We can give you a ride back home.” Kappy asked William, looking at him knowingly. It’s like William said something to them when they were in the living room, which had something to do with me. “That would be great.” William said, got up to find his shirt and in the second he was back to the kitchen, wearing a shirt. All of them said their goodbyes except William. He just walked out, without thanking me for letting him sleepover or without saying goodbye. He was completely normal when there were only the two of us, but when the rest of our friends came, he changed into this rude and arrogant William.
Please, nikolina for the opening shift at 5:30 am? I'm predictable...
She hates every single thing about him. His stupid haircut. His ironed shirt. The watch on his wrist that she’s sure is expensive even though she knows nothing about watches.
She hates that it’s 5:38 in the morning and this fucker has the audacity to order decaf.
“The usual?” She asks in the voice of death, already keying it in. Already hitting cash out. Already counting out change for the crisp $20 he always pays with. Already writing his name on a cup.
“…I don’t know whether to be offended or not,” he says as he watches her move like a robot.
She’s not a morning person. “What?”
“That I’m so predictable.”
She gives him his change. He numbly gives her a twenty. She starts to pour the decaf in the cup.
“Not a fan of mornings, I take it?”
She doesn’t even hear the question. Which leads to Nikolai clearing his throat. Which she doesn’t hear either. Some coffee hits her hand-
“Motherfucker!” She waves it, bringing her hand to her lips.
“Not you.” She turns, sliding his cup across the bar. “Here.”
“Are you alright?”
Alina looks him dead in the eyes. The sun starts to rise in the window behind him, its orange light catching on his hair and making it look like he just stepped out of a Renaissance painting and saints she hates him.
“Who orders decaf?” She shouldn’t ask him that. Because protocol or whatever. But her hand is blistering from coffee that has no real value to it.
He smiles. “Someone who doesn’t drink coffee.”
“Then why are you here?”
He takes his cup, letting his fingers brush hers just so, and winks.
Alina blinks back. “What?”
Nikolai, who she is quickly deciding is actually her nemesis, lets out a little laugh–a private, decaffienated joke she can’t be let in on– and salutes her with his stupid drink before he heads out to whatever glamorous job it must be that he goes to.
Alina shoves the twenty in the drawer, oblivious to the phone number scrawled in the corner.
i know the tgt fandom’s hottest topic is always the darkling and the similarities between him and alina or the infamous Discourse about r&r but i’d like to talk about smth that’s entirely alina’s and it’s literally never noted or mentioned… and that’s the fact that she’s an orphan with extremely low self-esteem who’s been mocked and lied to and humiliated and put down and tossed around like a goddamn puppet and she still manages to be tender and kind? she’s never had ANY sort of parental figure and i don’t think ana kuya should count bc she wasn’t the Best tbqh and viewing her as ‘the closest thing alina had to a mother’ is even more damaging imo but my point is… alina was never shown any love or tenderness and no one ever taught her to be soft and gentle and patient but she still was?? and all the credit goes to her bc no that’s not smth she picked up along the way, that’s not smth she inherited or ~copied~ from genya or nadia or marie or any of the other girls and she definitely didn’t see it very much growing up. but she still did it. and she still managed to be feisty and extra but also gentle and sweet at the same time, and forgiving and sensitive and G O O D
what will be the first meme of shakira's hips: [recites entire Bee movie script] 👌👀👌👀 good shit go౦ԁ sHit👌 thats ✔ some good👌👌shit right👌👌th 👌 ere time to Netflix and Chill and put that untoasted slice of white bread in the toaster 😊 😊 😊 😊 since TED CRUZ IS THE ZODIAC KILLER and the rarest of pepes welcomes you to nandos im always a slut for dank memes and *reads smudged writing on hand* dick cheney TL;DR: anyway, here's wonderwall
I maybe have to take back some of my words. You see, Madelaine’s boyfriend Auston was actually a really nice guy. I’m really hoping that Steph’s and Annika’s boyfriends turn out to be just as nice as Auston. He asked me some basic questions like where I’m from and what do I study which was nice of him. You know, not ignoring me like I wasn’t in the backseat of his car. Actually noticing me as a human being and talking to me. Of course I can’t be sure if Madelaine told him to talk to me, but it made me feel welcome. So maybe all hockey players are not arrogant and selfish, but I still believe most of them are.
“So how many people are gonna be there?” I asked mainly from Madelaine, but instead got an answer from Auston.
“Well some guys from our team and their girlfriends - if they have one.” Instead of saying anything, I nodded. More hockey players coming I guess. I felt kind of nervous, since Steph, Annika and Madelaine are all so gorgeous and I’m your average plain schoolgirl. Most likely the other girls are also gonna look like models, so I think I have every right to be nervous right now.
“But you know, there are going to be some single guys.” Auston said smirking, making Madelaine giggle and me -well blush. Yea right, like any of those guys would even notice me. Auston parked his black Audi close to a house I assumed was Steph’s place. All three of us got out, making our way to the house. We went in to a nice white house that was beautifully decorated. There was motivational and positive quotes framed on the walls and some plants giving a little nature vibe to the house. I liked it, it was totally beautiful.
“Auston you beast! Two girls?” A male voice shouted making a lot of people laugh. Crap, I guess their hockey team is large?
“Chill Kappy, she’s a friend of our girls.” Auston said sending me encouraging smile. Fun, Mads probably told him that I was nervous to meet all of these people. I sent a death-glare at Mads, making her shrug and smile. I just stood there, watching maybe more than twenty people stare at me. I waved to them, smiling shyly.
“Aren’t you gonna tell your name?” one guy asked bluntly getting a slap on his arm from a girl. Probably his girlfriend.
“I’m Alina.” I said trying to spot a free place to sit on. The whole situation was getting uncomfortable for me but thank god Steph came from somewhere just in time.
“Alina! Great to see you again.” she said excited, giving me a warm hug. Soon Annika followed her, doing the exact same thing.
“Everyone! Food is in the backyard!” Steph yelled shooing everyone away. All of the guys practically ran outside, probably hungry. We went also to the backyard where everyone was taking food, talking and basically just chilling. So far this seemed nice, and no one had been exactly mean to me. That one guy was kinda blunt, but I won’t let that bother me. I made my way to Madelaine, who was sitting with Auston, Annika and two guys I didn’t regonize.
“Alina. This is my boyfriend Kasperi, and Steph’s boyfriend Mitchell.” Annika introduced.
“Mitch.” the other boy corrected extending his hand towards me. I shook his hand saying my name once again. Annika’s boyfriend also shook my hand before focusing on his food. Soon Steph joined us so I was being seventh wheel. Wow, never have I ever been this single.
“Oh look, the Nylander himself arrived beautifully late.” Auston said pointing to the backyard door, making everyone throw some kind of comment about this Nylander guy. I wasn’t really interested on who he was so I didn’t turn around to see him, instead I kept eating my food. The guys went to the pool after they ate so it left just us girls.
“Alina, have your eyes caught any potential hubby material?” Annika said teasingly, drinking her coconut water. I shook my head blushing. I should really work on this whole blushing thing.
“Like I said, I’m unlucky in love.” “Well you’re not alone. Willy is also very much unlucky when it comes to girls and love.” Annika said laughing.
“How is he unlucky?” I asked curiously, not even knowing who this Willy is. “He’s just.. I guess every girl thinks he is this super masculine man, kind of a badboy you know. Then they get dissapointed when they find out that Willy is this soft guy who actually shows his emotions.” Annika explained laughing. What kind of a girl wouldn’t want a soft guy like him?
“Also.. Some say his humor is weird and that he is weird. Every girl always falls for his looks and charm, but not his personality.” Annika continued, not laughing anymore.
“Well he isn’t as unlucky as I am. I can’t get anyone to fall for my looks or my personality.” I said ironically.
“That’s not true girl! You’re drop dead gorgeous and you have the kindest soul in this world.” Madelaine said. I gave her a smile before letting my eyes wonder around Steph’s huge backyard. There were way too many shirtless guys, who actually had really toned bodies and way too many girls in bikini also having toned and tanned bodies. Some were still eating, some were just talking, couple guys played badminton, the blunt guy was being all cuddly with his girlfriend and some were at the pool. Sunbathing, having waterfight or swimming. Then my eyes locked on to one guy. He was absolutely most gorgeous guy I had ever seen. His skin was tanned, he had those thick tights and great abs. His fluffy blonde hair was all over his handsome face. He looked exactly how you would imagine prince charming to look like.
“Uh oh, I see Alina checking out somone.” Steph said bringing me out of my daydream. “Who’s that blonde guy?” I asked shyly pointing at the prince charming. “That one? It’s Willy.” Annika said, shrugging and continuing her eating. “The unlucky Willy?” “Exactly. Why, were you checking him out?” Annika asked wiggling her perfectly trimmed eyebrows. I shook my head fast. I couldn’t be checking out the unlucky Willy, that would be a disaster.
“Aww, she was checking out our Willy. Isnt’ that cute?” Annika said smiling, making me obiviously blush.
“Oh please, I was certainly not checking him out.” I told the girls as I got up to get more food on my now empty plate. I filled my plate with some salad and chicken after making my way back to the girls. To my surprise four guys had joined these three girls. One of them being the prince charming. I sat between Madelaine and Annika who where chatting about some clothes they had bought. Slowly I started emptying my plate, trying to look classy and girly, rather than a hungry pig, because the prince charming was sitting right opposite me.
“So William, how’s your love life?” Auston asked clearly teasing the poor boy. “Not that you have one.” Kasperi added, making all of the guys laugh, including the prince charming.
“Hey guys stop teasing him! Not funny.” Annika said making Kasperi shut his mouth immediately. “Everyone isn’t that lucky here, so stop making fun of it before anyone hurts their feelings.” She continued, taking a quick glance at my way, but not quick enough.
“Oh, so Alina. Love life doesn’t treat you well either?” Mitch asked earning a slap on his arm from Steph. I just quickly shook my head and continued eating, trying to avoid this very subject.
“Well then that makes the two of us.” the prince charming said. Finally I looked at him, and oh boy I shouldn’t have, because that smile and those blue eyes would be the death of me.
This is a fan fic based on this post on @azrielsiphons‘s blog. It is a Bryaxis fan fic from ACOTAR/MAF/WAR book series. There are slight (very slight) spoilers for ACOWAR, but nothing that will ruin the plot for the book. Please enjoy! I almost started crying while I was writing it, so I hope y’all enjoy it too! Also, please listen to the playlist included! It’ll enhance your experience! If you want more fan fiction requests, please feel free to drop me a DM or an ask box response! Enjoy!
The creature Bryaxis only ever wanted love and company. A creature of shadow and nightmares who keeps mostly to himself within the winding caverns in the Library of Velaris. The nightmare spends his time aimlessly wandering the dark hallways, looking up every so often to see the soft glows of the lights from the library nuns. He had lived a lonely life. No one knew he even existed anymore, and if they did know, they were terrified. Much like the Commander of Armies, the High Lord of the Night Court kept, they all ran away screaming with terror. Except for one. He didn’t know if he should call her stupid or brave, the High Lady of the Night Court had willingly made a bargain and still fulfilled it.
He got his window in the library, allowing him to gaze at the stars that sparkled in the sky, to feel the rain on his skin as it pelted against his skin, and to fell the sun’s rays for the first time. She offered him company, coming down every week to talk to him about the wonders of the world that they lived in, of the rolling seas that crashed against the beaches and cliffs of Velaris, and even the roaring winds Feyre so favorably loved to ride. She did not scream with terror, she did not run away; she showed kindness and companionship. Yet a part of him was not satisfied with the weekly visits. He had been so used to being alone, that now he had experienced friendship, he craved more.
Yet here he was, under the moonlight in his cavern, staring up at the stars that sparkled in the sky. The brightest of them all stare back down at him, directly over the creature. It was strange to him, the star was always there and was always unlike all of its siblings in the sky. Yet it was beautiful, its light shone bright but always softly graced his presence in the dark caverns. The light was warm as it curled itself in the air around him, holding him close. Bryaxis briefly closed his eyes, revealing in the feeling.
This happened every night, night after night he talked to the star as its light held him and comforted him. The creature would even go as far and say that he actually felt a desire to leave the library. He wanted to climb the mountain and sit at the top, to be closer to the star he had grown to love. It didn’t judge him, it didn’t scream at his nightmarish features; at the claws that clicked on the stone floor, the sharp teeth that could break bone in two, the tail with sharp quills that could cut through metal, and the wiry fur that exaggerated his gangly body and narrow face. The lycanthrope-looking creature that looked more ghoulish then alive always stared back at his star with black eyes, dreaming and hoping for more.
Until one night, he decided to climb. He yearned for the closer embrace of the light of his star and so he climbed. Bryaxis left his caverns and crawled out of the library. He gripped each stone as he ascended the mountain side, yet his star seemed to be urging him on as it twinkled brighter in the sky. Each step bringing him closer until he reached the top. The creature stood there, his eyes gazing at his star and at the night sky that surrounded it. The stars seemed to multiply, hundreds of thousands of millions of stars, just like his, danced in the sky to the silent melody that only nature seemed to hear. Yet here he was, staring with awe as a single tear fell down his cheek at the beauty in front of him. The wind blew his fur gently and all was quiet. No one screamed, no one cried, no one ran away.
His eyes trained on his star, he felt more tears fall down his face as he fell to his knees. Yet something strange began to happen. His star seemed to grow brighter and larger, as he realized it was moving towards him. Bryaxis’ black eyes widened as the star fell towards him slowly until it hovered before him. It was so bright that he had to shield his eyes, he had to look away from a brief second. And as the light died down, he heard a voice.
Hello Byraxis, it spoke. The creature froze, unable to move himself. He didn’t want his star to see him, to truly see what he looked like. Do not fear, dear Bryaxis, I do not fear you. It spoke once more as light seemed to flood out and wrap around the creature of nightmares. The lycanthrope-like creature turned his head slowly, only to find the most beautiful looking spirit standing before him. A spirit made of pure light, her eyes were solid white as her bare skin shone with different hues of the rainbow, like the many different colors of stars there were out there in the night sky. She wore no clothes, but her white hair floated all around her. She offered him a star filled smile as she took small steps towards Bryaxis.
You’re real, the shadow creature breathed back as his star neared him, bringing a hand to his face.
As real as you are, my dear, his star smiled back.
What do they call you? He asked, still scared to bring his clawed hands near her. His star noticed and frowned slightly. She reached a glowing hand for his, bringing his palm to her face for her to kiss gently.
Alina, she whispered against his hand before lowering it back down again. Bryaxis couldn’t stop the tears the welled up in his eyes and streamed down his face as his star, Alina, looked at him with warm and loving eyes. You have told me many stories, Bryaxis. About who you are, where you come from, your hopes and your dreams. You have never known me, yet you chose me to be your companion in the dark. You chose to love one you did not know. You took the first steps out of your cage and into the light. The star spirit placed her hands on both sides of his face as she brought her face closer to his. She rested her forehead against his, I do not fear you for what you look like, for I know what lies inside. A creature who is lonely and just longs for love. Alina pulled back slightly to look him straight in his eyes. Now it’s my turn to return the stories, for you to know who I am, for you to know that you are loved.
And with that, Alina gently pulled him into a seated position, her sitting against him as she told him about the wonders of the sky and the adventures of the star spirits that danced every night at balls of colors and celebration. She spoke about how the Moon King ruled their nightly sky court and how he loved the High Fae court Bryaxis resided in so much that he graced the Night Court with be most beautiful nights in all of Prythian. As the sun began to rise on the horizon, Alina began to fade back towards the sky.
Will I see you again? Bryaxis called out desperately as Alina turned towards him.
His star smiled brightly as she began to ascend to the heavens, Every night you shall see me, my dear Bryaxis. And every night I shall be with you and wrap my warmth around you. Do not fear, my dear wolf, for I am always watching and I will always come to you. For the first time, her words struck a cord in Bryaxis’ heart and a smile fell onto his lips. Although his teeth were long and sharp and dangerous, Alina instantly light up as a tear fell down her cheek. She was happy to see her wolf smile so happily at her.
Until the next night, my Star, Bryaxis called out to her as she faded away to the sky.
- there are two windows on each side of the bed and his blinds are always down - alina: ‘um why don’t you let some light in it’s a nice sunny day ou-’ aleksander: [laughs in that pretentious way of his like he’s been carrying the weight of the world for centuries] oh, alina, my dear alina, alina, alina… i’m ancient, alina……….. also, (alina,) it’s very aesthetically pleasing - Old Married CoupleTM - speaking of, they never actually marry but he tells her she has his heart and alina rolls her eyes in quiet acceptance and that’s kind of the same thing - black sheets, dark gray curtains, glow in the dark stars on the ceiling - he makes alina roll her eyes so much she actually develops a rare muscle tick no doctor can explain - alina: i have this headache- aleksander: *walks in* alina: there it is - they really want a pet but ofc they have to fight on this too so they end up with two: a white cat that’s the same colour as alina’s hair and a black pomeranian that literally looks like a ball of fluffy shadows - nutella pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner - alina has a perpetual frown and aleksander has a resting bitch face so you can bet there’s always a free seat for them on the train/subway - he has nightmares too and they’re actually very violent and draining so alina just wraps her arms around him and presses her nose against his shoulder until he stops shaking and then she starts drawing lazy circles of light (warm and soothing by definition) over his naked skin to calm him down - he’s the tall and brooding one but she’s the one people should look out for - valentino dresses and armani suits - aleksander praises himself on his newfound self-control and composure - that is, until he sees alina with nothing but his shirt on and deadass forgets how to function - sometimes he literally has to hook a finger into alina’s collar to hold her back bc yes she’s usually very quiet and patient and kind but the moment someone drives her over the edge she’s throwing hands and flip-flops (if necessary) - everyone treats them like a married couple too?? even tho they’re not?? - shadow play!!!!!! - snow angels - he freckles in the sun and alina always makes fun of him - + moles!! he’ll get like five new moles everytime he goes out so he has to walk with those giant ass rich widow hats (not all year round tho, july-august are probably the worst bc it’s just unbearably hot and sunny) - he’s still very closed off and distant (especially in public) in front of other people but the minute he’s alone with his sunshine? he melts like an ice-cream cone on a hot summer day - they never really say “i love you” but they just. know. - she knows in the way he brushes her messy pixie haircut behind her ear and his hand lingers a moment too long, almost like he’s awestruck and he knows in the way she smiles at the shadows sometimes, like they remind her of him /they do/ and the extra spoon of sugar she puts in his coffee bc she knows him so well - sometimes if alina is too tired from work she’ll make him read her fairytales bc he has a very soothing voice, simultaneously lulling her to sleep and making her acutely aware of his presence - lush who?? they can make their own bathbombs using their grisha powers - he can make cool swirling shadows and alina can make the water look like liquid starlight - and then they take a nice relaxing bath. together. - he makes her shadow puppets when she’s sick (or upset/grumpy) and tells her stories his mom used to tell him when he was a kid - alina: “*yanks curtains open* rise and shine you lazy ass it’s a beautiful day!! aleksander: it’s literally -15 degrees and the sun’s nowhere to be seen alina: ?? i’m here?? - (both) probably very into lana del rey
Blurb: Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a sea of impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. It must be destroyed if Ravka is to survive. When Alina Starkov’s army regiment is attacked in the Fold, she accidentally reveals a dormant power that could push back the darkness. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained in magic by the mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. Can she trust the Darkling? Can she trust her own heart?
One thing’s for sure, Leigh Bardugo definitely leveled up between writing this book and writing Six of Crows. I did like this book, of course! But it’s not quite as good. Straighter and less diverse, which I was warned about, and a bit slower (not a big problem for me because I don’t mind slow fantasy books as long as the worldbuilding and characters are enjoyable, but Six of Crows managed the perfect balance of fast-paced and tactfully introducing the setting and characters all at once and S&B doesn’t exactly have that).
I really liked Alina and her grumpiness and sense of humor, even when she was being sort of naive. And I liked the range of characters at the Little Palace. But I don’t quite get the fascination with the Darkling in the fandom, thought I do think he’s an interesting character. I’m just not really impressed with either love interest here. The romance is ok but it’s nothing that really touches me. I barely even have an opinion on Mal. While I did sort of get the feeling of his and Alina’s deep friendship eventually, it wasn’t written well enough to hit me the way the Crow Crew’s bond did. (I know it’s not fair to keep comparing the two series but it’s just so automatic!)
It’s super cool to get more about Grisha magic, also! Leigh’s descriptions are always so wonderful. Just reading about Alina and Genya getting ready for the ball makes me feel excited too. I love Leigh’s writing and plot twists (less dramatic than Six of Crows’s plot twist endings, especially because I wish Alina was more proactive in figuring out how to solve the problem, but still great!)
I really enjoyed this. It may not be Six of Crows level amazing, but it was so easy to get through because I was always excited to come back to it whenever I had time to read!
I just feel like her being with Mal weakened Alina instead of making her stronger. With him I felt like she never fully embodied who she was because she was scared of what might happen if she did. I felt like she was always holding back in a way? I just didn't like how every time she was with Mal she was always reduced to hiding who she was. Am I making any sense? sorry if I'm not I'm new to the grisha fandom
You are making sense! And I can see where you can come to that conclusion, like Mal has some supremely shitty moments across the series (especially in book two), but i’m gonna break it down a little further, because i do think there is a more…fully rounded interpretation of what goes down between Mal and Alina, especially when taking Ruin and Rising into account
(also welcome to grisha fandom! your asks will not usually get greeted with massive amounts of meta i promise, you have just hit one of my favourite things to talk about when it comes to these books haha)
SO book 1 opens, Alina is suppressing the shit out of her powers because she doesn’t want to be separated from Mal (which is slowly happening anyway because Mal is oblivious and Alina is passive as fuck). This, honestly, is in no way Mal’s doing, and is only really tangentially related to him. Like I love ALina to bits and pieces, but she is hella a Nice Guy in the beginning of the books. Mal has no clue that she is Grisha or that she’s suppressing her power because of him (and neither does Alina tbf). So this is the starting point in the journey of Mal and Alina and Alina’s power.
I’d say the next pertinent point is when they meet up again after the fete and Mal is a HUGE DOUCHE. They’re both kind of dicks at their reunion, but Mal absolutely takes the dick cake. He was afraid for Alina, he did all this shit for her, yeah yeah Mal but Alina didn’t know about any of that, and the fact that he’s mad that she isn’t being horribly tortured (although obviously he doesn’t WANT that for her) is bullshit. 0/10 Mal try harder.
Which he does! Bam, turns out the Darkling only wants Alina for her mad sun summoning skills, Alina runs away, Mal deserts the army for her sake (which is an executable offence. Again, not something she asked him to do and she owes him nothing for it, but it does show just how far Mal is willing to go for Alina).
And this is where we hit a really important part in Mal’s relationship with Alina’s power. Because it’s Mal’s idea to go after the stag. He says to her that she shouldn’t have listened to Baghra, that it’s inevitable that the Darkling will find and collar her at some point. And then this happens:
“You can’t spend the rest of your life running, Alina. You said the stag could make you powerful. Powerful enough to fight him?” “Maybe.” “Then we have to do it.” “If he catches us, he’ll kill you.” “I know.”
This is not the last instance in which Mal tells Alina to go after power at the potential expense of his own life. It’s the beginning of a theme that begins in book 1, and culminates at the end of R&R. I do think that at this point, Mal doesn’t have any idea of what Alina gaining power is going to do to them and their relationship, but that’s why we have all of book 2, to explore that. The point is, Mal doesn’t want Alina to be weak. He wants her to be strong, for her own sake. The above quote is a direct follow on from his (dickishly expressed, but still genuine) concern that the Darkling is going to collar and enslave her.
Which is an important contrast, because the Darkling is often given credit for wanting Alina to embrace her power. Which is straight up bullshit. The Darkling wants Alina to be powerful for his sake. He wants to control her. He’s willing to enslave her and her power, to kill everyone she loves and ruin everything that is important to her, in order to have it. That’s not mutually exclusive with his feelings for her - the man is very much caught up in manfeels for Alina - but he doesn’t want her to be free. He is the very definition of holding her back. When he is pleased at her power increases, he’s pleased about what that means for him and his goals. He’s glad she’s powerful, because that means he won’t have to spend eternity alone. He wants to bind her to his side, regardless of her own wishes and goals.
AND I’M GOING TO PUT A LINE BREAK HERE LMAO BECAUSE THIS IS LONG. IT’S SO LONG YOU GUYS I’M SORRY.
- comes from old money (that’s an understatement lmao) and lives in a mansion - but only bc that allows him to adopt a humble total of two dogs, three tabby cats and an actual literal fox - alina laughs when he first tells her about the fox but then realization dawns on her and she knows he’s not joking - names the fox sobachka bc he’s extra like that (also don’t worry all his pets get along!!) - has his own boating business - probably hires david to work for him bc if these two combined their brilliant minds together?? REVOLUTIONARY STUFF - has a very expensive but refined taste and you’ll NEVER see or hear him boast about his finances but you can tell he has $$ in the way he carries himself - LOVES EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING WITH PIRATES IN IT - black sails is probably his favourite tv show ever and no one can convince me otherwise - carries the goddamn lantsov emerald everywhere with him JUST IN CASE alina has an epiphany and says yes lmao - which she never does bc she’s not the marrying type but they remain really good friends (after they date for awhile bc let’s be real that’s bound to happen) - starts a lot of food discourses - *calls alina at 3am* ‘would you rather eat a plate of herring or drink an entire bottle of kvas on an empty stomach?? also what do you think about the pineapple on pizza discourse’ - has a custom ringtone for all his friends - has a lot of acquaintances but prefers to spend his birthdays with his closest friends a.k.a the grisha squad - once, genya gave him a simple navy blue sweater with a hand-stitched crown embroidery on the front and it’s one of his most treasured clothing items ever - probably spends a LOT of time on twitter/tumblr - MEME KING - develops a strong distaste for birthday cake but doesn’t mind regular sweets although he prefers salty snacks - BUSINESS PARTNERS WITH INEJ ANYONE????? AND kaz bc let’s be real kaz couldn’t possibly turn a blind eye to a good bargainTM (or a company transaction) and they’re all up in each other’s business - sobachka sleeps next to him like a plush toy while the dogs guard his door - GREAT with animals in general - claims he’s too busy for relationships and prefers casual hookups but one time he meets this handsome soft boy at a bar and alina literally starts crying when he tells her bc she’s so happy he’s finally found someone - gives (a lot of) money to charity - supports social clubs if they stand for something he believes in (so like feminist clubs/groups, anything that stands for class and gender equality) - subscribed to ever gossip site out there bc a) D R A M A but also bc he likes to be informed - king of throwing shade at people (esp if they’re ignorant and/or close-minded) - probably invented call out culture - slowly starts referring to kaz as ‘his son’ - sometimes, when he’s alone in his big ass mansion and no one’s watching, he puts on his old crown and takes out his dad’s old king cloak and dances in his underwear to ‘the show must go on’
the darkling: alina starkov??? nah what a jerk what a— [trips] [hundreds of thousands of photos of alina spill out of jacket] w-what a fucking asshole i these arent mine im just [gathering them up frantically sweating] listen i just listen fuck [thousands of pictures of alina scatter across the floor] shit fuck im holding them for a friend just listen