FANFIC * NESSIAN * PART TWO
Nessian Part Two by L.J. Lafleur
Glasses and goblets clinked, bursting laughter filled my ears. I shook my head to rid the noise, at first it worked but then it only grew louder. A gurgling growl erupted from my stomach, an acidic churn twisted around my insides. Instinctively, my hands braced myself against the bed post. It wasn’t my power, just hunger. The laughter grew louder, knives cutting against vegetables and porcelain. A distant headache formed in the back of my head.
My stomach growled again, this time louder than I had ever heard before. “Curse you,” I muttered to myself, staring down at my stomach, covered in a jade chiffon dress. My sleeves came down to my wrists, trimmed with embroidered golden leaves. It was my first time wearing a color other than black-since the war. Since everything changed…again.
I tilted my head trying to remember when I last time ate. It’s not that I didn’t eat anymore, I just didn’t eat with company. I raised my chin, straightening my back and headed towards the dining room. They were all there, all enjoying one another’s company-even Azriel had simpered as he passed a plate of what looked like green beans to Elain.
The room hushed, even Elain silenced herself when I trudged closer. I hadn’t seen some of them for weeks… including Mor, not that I wanted to see her any sooner than necessary.
Rhysand, with an unwavering smile, gestured towards the empty seat saved for me. “Nesta, I’m so pleased you could join us.”
I froze in place when my eyes caught sight of him. The darker than night hair, the devious curve of his lips and his unnaturally beautiful hazel eyes.
“Did you get bored spending all that time alone?” Cassian asked in a silvery tone, the corner of his lips twitching as he held back all his saved-up insults. He lifted an engraved silver goblet to his full lips.
“Loneliness is far better company than you,” I retorted, edging to my seat between Azriel and Feyre. I sat down as graciously as I could, feeling all eyes bouncing between me and Cassian.
“Let the games begin,” Amren announced before sipping her crimson drink.
My eyes shifted towards Amren’s glass. The acid in my stomach burned but I kept my composure.
Amren pulled the glass away from her scarlet lips, “don’t look so startled, it’s only red wine.”
I didn’t acknowledge anyone, not even my sisters, in fear it might bring forth another unwanted memory. The empty plate in front of me magically filled with all the items on the table. While they were taking turns on healthy seconds, I could feel my mouth water as I breathed in scents that didn’t belong in my world, my old one that is. The conversations continued as I picked at my food, attempting to not look too eager.
“Not eating?” Feyre asked in a hushed tone, making sure only she and I could hear. I looked at her and then at Elain, both sitting quietly, neither touching their food as they waited for my reply. I was happy they looked so well, considering the circumstances.
“No,” I took my knife and fork, cutting into a roasted potato first. I ignored conversation and thankfully, no one asked what I had been up to the last several weeks. My eyes flickered up to him, catching the glowing hazel across from me.
Cassian hadn’t looked away from me since I entered the room, both of us in quiet conversation of stabbing insults. I ignored the opening and shutting of his lips. My hands wrapped tightly around my fork and knife, aiming for the steak. I punctured and sliced the marbled meat. Blood oozed out onto the cream porcelain, staining and drowning the remaining vegetables on my plate.
I closed my eyes as the images of Hybern took away my breath. Blood drip from his neck as I twisted the blade farther-deeper until there was nothing but neck and gushing crimson. My hands shook, heat rising to my fingertips until I set down my utensils.
Rhysand’s voice penetrated my nightmare, my memory, “any word from the queens?”
“Must we discuss business during our first family dinner since the war?” Feyre threw a dirty glare at him.
I tuned them out once again, their banter continued for several minutes as I tried to clear the images of battle from my vision. I gathered my knife and fork again, taking a small breath as I focused cutting the meat. More blood spewed, more blood. My hands tightened around the silverware as I swallowed hard, my once watering mouth drying out like a distant desert from the books I once I read. Slowly I dropped my knife, my slightly shaking hand raising to the water, avoiding the red wine completely.
“Is the food not to your liking, Princess Ness? I worked on tonight’s menu myself.” Cassian shot at me, his hands crossed against his chest as he leaned back to watch me.
I could feel the blood swiftly draining from my face, he caught me. I set down my crystal glass, giving myself time to recover, “perhaps you should stick to battlefields and brothels.” A sliver of silence edged its way across the table, other conversations fading as they watched Cassian and me.
Mor’s hand moved towards Cassian’s knee, a faint blush rising across his cheeks. “Cassian doesn’t need a brothel to find company,” she interjected. Her tone sweetened as she looked from me to Cassian, “isn’t that, right?”
“Good to know he can always find a whore at this table,” I snapped before I could catch myself. My aggression as swift as the blade Elain shoved into Hybern.
“Excuse me?” Mor seethed, She released her hand from Cassian as she stood up, making the table between them disappear.
“Yes?” I asked tightly, still seated. I hadn’t realized not everything disappeared with the table. My fingers adjusted the knife in my hand.
“Ladies, it’s just Cassian. He isn’t that good looking to start a war over,” Rhysand purred, receiving no comment from Cassian, Mor or myself.
Mor challenged my glare until clicking her tongue against the top of her mouth, a smile curling, “better a whore with a warm bed, then a lonely prude with a cold heart.”
I didn’t expect it to hurt, none of her comments ever hurt this much before. Why would I care what any of them thought of me-especially her? My grip tightened around the intricate mountain designed knife, my knuckles turning white.
“Alright, stop it.” Cassian’s voice boomed while standing in between us. His back to me as he looked at Mor, I felt his hand reach for the knife in mine. I released it as he tugged on it. “That’s enough, Morrigan.”
“You’re defending her?” She fumed, her eyes turning to slits of wrath.
Cassian slid the knife in the back of his belt, “yes.” He spoke calmly, “neither you nor Ness are the enemy.”
“Don’t call me that,” I spat, infuriated by the name my mother once called me. I couldn’t understand why he insisted on calling me that, why he insisted on torturing me with my past.
Cassian stepped out of the middle, a snap from Rhysand’s long fingers and the table appeared again. Cassian smiled gallantly, “let’s go back to eating my well-prepared meal, shall we?” pretending that another battle wasn’t about to be had.
“You didn’t even cook it,” Amren scoffed, receiving an animalistic glare from Cassian.
“Yes, but she didn’t know that,” he pointed to me and then shook his head laughing. Mor and Cassian sunk back into their seats, while the other’s finished consuming what was left on their plates.
“I’ve lost my appetite.” Before anyone could object, I turned on my heels and walked back towards my room. My fingertips were glowing, lighting the hallway around me. I pressed them together, sparks shot upwards and out like waterfalls of fire. “What am I?” I mumbled to myself as I shut my bedroom door with my gaunt elbow. Another press of my fingers and this time flames flickered along my fingers, entangling itself between them before dancing against my palms.
“She’s a bitch,” Mor seethed.
I shot my head up towards the door, they sounded so close. Did they think I wouldn’t hear?
“Mor,” Cassian warned.
“What’s your problem, Cass? Last I checked, you hated her just as much as I did,” her voice only a growl by the end.
“Hate and love-there’s a very fine line,” Amren interrupted them, shrugging her shoulders as they glared at her.
My ears felt like they were on fire but I closed my eyes to focus before their words could escape me.
“You’re wrong,” Cassian’s voice lowered, gruff and unstartled as he pulled my dinner knife from the back of his belt and set it on the table.
“To which statement?” Amren questioned, the corner of her lips tugged.
“I could never…” Cassian paused to take a sip of his wine, he wiped his lips with the back of his hand. “I could never love someone filled with as much spite and ice as her.” He set the glass back down, swallowing hard as the room fell silent.
“Snow melts with time, with sun, with fire.” Elain replied quietly before standing up from the table. “Time, sun, fire,” she repeated while leaving the room, her footsteps faded as she made her way towards the garden.
“We’re all family. We made it through this war but we might not in the next.” Azriel spoke with more power than I had ever heard him convey before, his steps going unheard as he disappeared into the waiting shadows. Even the shadows made noises to me, like wind drifting above the sea.
“They’re right,” Feyre shifted in her seat, I could hear the strands of her hair fall from behind her ear. “You all are my sisters, Mor.”
“Sisters?” Mor protested, “the one that abandoned you? That selfishly took your youth? The one who never defended you, never bothered with you until it somehow effected Elain? That my dear, isn’t a sister.”
“Mor, your words can cause more damage than your sword,” Rhysand spoke before Feyre could respond.
“I’d put my money on Nesta,” Amren contributed.
The fire, glow-whatever it is-started up again. Their words slicing through me triggered it, the anger and guilt that never disappeared. I watched as fire danced from my palms, wrapping itself around my wrist. I focused on getting rid of the heat, but nothing. Panic ensued, spreading through me, I attempted to touch the doorknob but it heated the metal to a bright carnelian color. “Damn it,” I wiped the sweat from my brow.
I looked throughout my emerald bedroom, water-I had to get water. I hit the bathing door open, adding more force than necessary as it slammed against the wall. Several framed pieces of artwork crashed on the floor, splitting the glass into shards across the marble. A bucket full of water from this morning was still sitting near the tub, my knees crashed against the flooring as I dunked my hands in. A cloud of steam rose through the air, spiraling upwards to block my view.
The sweat off my brow dissipated as my cheeks heated. “How could I be such a fool?” I asked to the heavens, the mother-whoever we’re supposed to worship now that I’m fae.
My ears twisted with ache as I heard them talking, they were still in the townhouse.
“What’s going on between you two?” Mor’s sweet voice had darkened, her chest puffed out.
“What do you mean?” Cassian questioned, I could hear his wings tucking behind him. The gradual shifting noise they made as he walked beside her.
“I can see that look in your eyes.” Her voice turned to silk and ash-sweet and deadly.
“And which look would that be?” He taunted, rustling his wings before tucking them in again.
Mor rubbed her fingers through her hair, her sultry voice encasing them, “the same one you gave me that night in the Illyrian training camp.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Too much wine, again?” His wiggling eyebrows stopped as she pulled him to a stop.
“You know exactly what I’m talking about, Cass. There isn’t enough wine to make me blind and oblivious to what I saw that night.”
“Which is?” Cassian quipped.
Mor shoved him softly, “for cauldron sakes, you’re really going to answer my questions with a question?”
“What do you mean?” Cassian chuckled as Mor rolled her eyes.
I couldn’t listen to them any longer, the distant headache was now pounding against my head. Crippling my curiosity-my heart and leaving nothing but a hollow feeling inside me. My vision turned to amber then crimson, a dark red so violent and malicious, I needed to leave, to get out of these enclosing emerald walls.
Their conversation continued, I could feel the sickening honeyed voice of Mor float around me, snapping at my toes but my racing heart blocked it out. I waited several minutes before I headed out, making sure that no one was in the hallway. That Cassian and Mor had left the hallway or maybe the townhome altogether. My feet moved promptly through the city, I couldn’t rid my eyes and ears of their words. It was like every letter held their ground around me, forcing me to relive them over and over.
It wasn’t until my leather flats touched the sea that I realized where I was. Salt water soaking through instantly. How I got here so quickly, I don’t know. I raised my hands, more flickering fire spread to my wrists, circling around me like bangles. The heat within me raised, like I had stepped into a searing hot bath after a night stranded in wet snow.
I leaned down, letting the hem of my skirts soak into the water. Pressing my palms into the sea of ice, after the steam cleared, I saw my fingertips had formed into razor sharp talons. I lifted them from the water, horrified by my changing hands, “no, no…go away.” I begged as the flames started again. I shoved my hands into the water, steam interrupted my widened stare, “how is this possible?” I muttered to myself, “I thought my power was gone. I was empty.”
“Cooling off? Or skinny dipping? Either way, I think I can be of assistance,” Cassian sneered from behind me.
My back stiffened with invisible armor, my heart thundered as I raised my body from the water to face him. “Cooling off? No, because ice only melts with time, with sun, with fire.” I repeated Elain’s cryptic words as I hid my hands behind my back, feeling the flames simmer down, claws retracting.
Cassian’s eyes didn’t give anything away this time, no recognition, he was nothing but stone. “What happened earlier?” He asked bluntly, filing in next to me. The crunch of pebbles beneath his boots bounced off the walls behind us and back towards the ocean.
“Nothing.” I pursed my lips, testing my fingertips against one another. No sparks, no dancing flames-I dropped my hands to my side. I forced my eyes to watch the crashing waves, the hem of my skirt soaking upwards towards my ankles.
“It wasn’t nothing,” he sighed, “I saw you strangle your knife until your knuckles went white. So, tell me. What’s wrong?” Cassian raised his chin towards me, waiting.
“You saw nothing.” I said sharply, my face contorting into hardened steel.
“Fine. Don’t talk about it with me, but make sure you talk to someone.” His wings flapped open, “it’s a bigger wingspan than Rhys,” he said coyly as he noticed my wandering eyes.
“Hm. I could have sworn it was the smallest wing span I saw on the battlefield.” I claimed before picking up the sides of my dress to retreat towards the city. Flashes of him spreading his wings as he played with children in the street, heated my cheeks briefly. Even more so, when I remembered Amren snapping at me to focus.
Cassian stepped closer, not entirely blocking my way but enough that I wouldn’t be able to move without bumping into him. He wrapped his wings around us, cloaking us in darkness and his scent. Mother of all, his scent enraptured me. His voice making my heart beat erratically as the space between us disappeared, “should we do a comparison to see?”
I licked my lips as I edged on my tip toes, “it might entice me in a way you might like.” I raised my brow while biting my lower lip.
“Really?” His husky voice asked as his knuckle stroked my cheek, a shudder rushing through me. I wanted it, his lips, his touch, his calloused hands running all over me…stop, stop thinking this way.
My hands touched his chest, feeling his heart pound against me. The heat exchanging between us felt like raging fire, an ancient fire that had never gone out. Mindlessly, my bony hands drifted upwards, first caressing his dark wavy hair and then sneaking to the back of his warm neck. My lips reached up towards him and parted, “no.” I whispered, my knee ramming into him. His onyx wings spread open as he released me, the fading sunlight illuminating his bewildered face.
Cassian’s cursing was louder than the last time. He held himself-his knee down, crushing the small pebbles that made up the beach. “Damn it, Nesta!” he yelled while trying to catch his breath, “damn you,” he seethed.
I stood strong, my arms crossed in front of me as I scowled down at him, “with time, with sun and with fire-I guess if you figure out the riddle then maybe I’ll stop kicking you there.”
He stood up, leaving barely any space between us, his narrowed eyes burying themselves into me. Cassian’s honeyed voice came out raspy with a heavy breath, “remember, practice is tomorrow morning.” He breathed in deeply through his nose before turning his head slightly like someone called his name, “I’ve never been so excited to kick a female’s ass before.” Cassian’s wings spread open again, before I could respond he shot into the air with a grunt.
“Bastard!” I replied, staring at my damp hem, still unable to look up at the sky.