Renee, Queen of writing as if it takes nothing, Queen of making me love characters more, Queen of...well everything, I have a prompt: Vassa x Azriel
Shadows of the Flame
song: i cant breathe - bea miller
Helion, Thesan, and Feyre have been working together for months now, trying to see if they can break Vassa’s curse. Vassa still goes back to the dark-lord, to the lake, but Feyre has offered to take her people into Velaris.
Vassa comes every night with new hope. Just before the sun sinks below the horizon, if you have a good eye, you can see a firebird flying through the skies. And just before dawn comes again, the firebird flies away. Everyone knows what this means - Queen Vassa’s curse has not yet been broken.
But she has become a signal of hope amongst the people of Prythian - High Fae, lesser fae, faeries, humans, all of the above. They will look to the sky and see if they can spot the firebird, who has undying hope.
Every time Vassa arrives at Prythian, she likes to go to the Day Court. She says she can almost feel the sun on her face, even in the dead of night. When she arrives, Azriel is always there. The first time, Feyre sent him out to retrieve Vassa, since they had no idea where she would land.
Azriel finds her mid-shift (I’m taking this straight out of the “werewolfing for dummies” book). He can hear her bones cracking, wings turning into arms, talons into toes, beak into nose, spine reshaping itself. She’d huddled, her knees in her chest, spine pressing against her back, arms wrapped around her shins and the Shadowsinger drapes a blanket over her shoulders and hands her clothes.
Vassa comes enough times that she knows where to land now, where clothes will be waiting, food and water, but for some reason the Shadowsinger is always there, handing her the said blanket and clothes. And when he’s not, he is where he dwells most: the shadows. Watching over her.
Every night, when she can, Vassa sits before the two High Lords and the High Lady, always having hope. It’s one thing that can not be broken, can not be taken. The hope that these three High Fae can help her, break her curse.
Until the three that gave her the most hope she’s felt in a long time, take it away. Thesan and Helion have had their best people working on it, Feyre has had the Priestesses in the library reading, scouring, hoping to find something that can help this Queen. Anything.
But Vassa can see it in their eyes. Eyes that hold sorrow. The curve of the creases in their foreheads, the harsh rubbing of their fingers against their temples. But she still comes, still lands in the Day Court. The Shadowsinger still comes, as well. She has to believe - believe that if a curse can be made, then it can be broken.
So where does this hope go? How does she lose it. Because Azriel is waiting, waiting for the firebird to fly through the skies; the people are waiting, waiting to see those glorious red and orange wings that are made of fire, the yellow beak, soaring through the night. So why does she not come? Why does she not come if she is the one person in all of Prythian, in all the islands and continents; of fae and human; of day and night, that has the most hope.
Azriel decides to have enough hope for her when her hope as sputtered out. He decides that if she has stopped hoping, then its time he starts hoping more. His shadows look for, he looks for her, he doesn’t know why. Not yet. Why he’s so insistent on seeing this woman, this girl, the human, this queen finally be free.
He realizes it, when it comes to the lake, guarded by the dark-lord. Vassa is trapped in a cell of fire, where as he had been trapped in a cell of darkness. Trapped in light or trapped in darkness, both of these people were trapped none of the less. He got free and he is determined to see her freed.
So just as the sun curves over the sky, swims and dips beneath the horizon, Azriel stands in front of the firebird. And he wordless holds out a blanket, wordless watches as Vassa’s bones break; as her spine cracks, as a beak turns to a nose once more, as talons turn to toes yet again, as wings shift and turn, becoming sun kissed brown arms. “Let them try again,” Is all he says and Vassa looks up at him, beneath a hood of golden-red hair. She takes the blanket, she takes the clothes.
She takes the hope the Shadowsinger is offering her.
And she takes his hand, allowing him to pull her into the darkness that is his realm, his kingdom, his salvation (and what was almost his demise). She travels through these shadows, her hand never leaving his.
She lets Helion, Thesan, and Feyre try again. Even though she is drained of hope, the Shadowsinger standing in the corner, watching, eyebrows pinched, gives her enough hope to go through this again.
“Come with me,” Is all the Shadowsinger says when the two High Lords and the High Lady say they’ve tried everything they can. Vassa takes his hand again and finds herself on the top of the tallest building in the Day Court, so close to the stars that maybe, just maybe she can touch them.
She has no desire to touch the stars, not yet.
And then she sees the sun slowly rising above the horizon. And she turns to the Shadowsinger and Azriel just places his fingers by hers, then turns his palm up. Her fingers slide over his, her palm brushing against his, with those callouses and scars caused by burns from long ago.
Azriel holds her hand and he doesn’t let go, he grips tight, hoping, praying, wishing, dreaming, that she will not turn into a firebird once more. Vassa squeezes his hand back, her shoulders shaking from tears she won’t let fall.
She watches the sun rise. And rise more and more and more until her face and her body is bathed in sunlight. And she arches her back and finally those tears fall. She’s sobbing, tears curving over her cheeks, down her neck, as the sun warms her face - her human face.
Azriel’s own shadows disappear, his wings tucked harshly behind his back, and he soaks in the sun with the queen, letting it warm him; his hand still in hers, a death grip returning her own.
His thumb curves down her cheek, wiping a single tear.
Then Vassa is hugging him, sobbing into his shoulder. Without a second thought she had jumped on him, sought out his comforting touch, cool and warm at the same time.
And Azriel - Azriel he wraps an arm around her back, his shadows nowhere to be seen. Because Queen Vassa has had enough shadows for now, he wishes he could put the sun on a leash and bring it down to her, put it in his palm and hand it over as a present.
“Thank you,” She whispers, because had Azriel not found her, had he not traveled far and wide, had he not told her to cling to just one more slither of hope, she would be a bird once more.
They stay on that rooftop all day, lying there, Vassa tracking the sun with her finger. She smiles, a smile that Azriel had decided is much brighter than the sun, even by Day Court standards, and she starts talking. And Azriel listens.
She talks about what it was like, to be the firebird. To have her soul trapped in that body, but to also have her body become that of a bird. How she had to navigate it, when she finally came to terms with her curse, but never gave up hope.
Did their hands ever let go? Or had one of them taken the other’s hand once again as Azriel began to talk as well, tell his own story. How he had been trapped in the dark, far below ground, and Vassa listens. How his body had not been his own, how he had not even seen his fingers when he held them in front of his face.
“Why do you find comfort in shadows?” She asks. In her time on this roof, she has found comfort in the sunlight, but it is different than the flame. The flame locked her in, made it so she could not breathe, and her only relief was the night, the stars.
“I was too afraid to let them scare me,” Azriel whispers back, as if this is a secret he has kept a long time. Because it is. “I was too afraid to be afraid of them anymore. So when I realized that they were mine, the shadows were mine and I was not theirs, I began to find comfort in them”
“The flame can be yours, too, Vassa”
She is almost certain this is the first time he has said her name. It sends shivers down her spine. “The flames will be mine, Azriel”
Is this the first time she has said his name? Because it sends sparks down his own spine. He stares at her, those molten brown eyes, that seem as if fire burns within, a fire of gold. And she looks into his own hazel eyes, where the shadows swim.
And they both look back up at the sky, at the sun which seemed to smile down at them. The Shadows of the Flame. The Flame within the Shadows.
Tagging some people who I want to drag into this trash bin: @fuckyeahazriel @hermajestymanon @propshophannah @sparkleywonderful @elains. Tag others, please? Share your thoughts. Leave comments, please. I need validation to survive.