This is my collection of the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas short stories that I've written. These stories have previously been published on my Tumblr, at thelittleloverofbooks.
In this collection, you will find short stories about all of the different Throne of Glass characters including: Celaena Sardothien, Chaol Westfall, Dorian Havilliard, Rowan Whitethorn, Aedion Ashryver, Manon Blackbeak, Fleetfoot, Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, and Lysandra(there will be more, I'm sure, as the series continues.)
These stories have gotten great reviews on my Tumblr, so I decided to share them with a wider audience.
Hope you enjoy them:)
Christmas In Terrasen: Part 1 of 3
Rowan Whitethorn had to admit, it was quite amusing watching his queen bustle about in a frenzy. She was busy ensuring everything was absolutely perfect for tommorow. Tomorrow was, in her words, the most wonderful day of the entire year. Christmas.
“You know,” Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, the Queen of Terrasen stopped to glare at Rowan. Hands set on her hips, lips pursed, tendrils of hair falling out of the braid she had haphazardly put together earlier this morning.
And still, the only thing Rowan could focus on was how gorgeous she looked.
“I really wish you’d stop looking at me like that and actually be of some good use. I’m running myself ragged trying to get everything together for tomorrow and all you’ve been doing is gawking at me. You do realize all of our friends and family are going to be here, right? I’ve never met your family before, you’ve barely even mentioned them but I feel as if I have something to prove to-” Her avalanche of words were stopped abruptly by Rowan’s lips meeting hers.
She half-heartedly attempted to push him away, but when Rowan finally broke the embrace, he knew that his kiss had the intended effect.
“Hey.” He gently lifted her chin and their eyes met. “You don’t have anything to prove to anybody. If I had known this would cause you so much stress I would have put up more of an argument when you insisted they come.” His fingertips trailed up and down along her arms. Aelin let out a heavy sigh and rested her forehead on his chest.
“There’s still so much to do.”
“And I’ll help you. It’ll be the best damn Christmas anyone’s ever had. I promise.” She looked up at him.
“You’re turning too soft on me,” she teased him. “Although I must say I prefer soft Rowan to the Rowan I’d first met back in Wendlyn.”
He inwardly cringed. It still angered him to think about how he had treated Aelin in those first weeks back when he was nothing more than the biggest and most heartless asshole this world’s ever known. How he used to hurt her, both with his body and his words. The things he used to say to her…
Rowan knew he’d spend the rest of his immortal life being a completely different man and striving never to return to the one he used to be. The Rowan he was before he’d met his queen.
“I’m sorry,” Aelin apologized softly. “I didn’t mean it that way.”
He tenderly kissed her forehead. “I know. C’mon, we’d better keep going. Like you said, we have a lot to finish up on.” She nodded.
“I love you.” Rowan smiled at her before she leaned up to kiss him again.
“I love you.”
How the hell were they supposed to get all of this done by tomorrow? Aelin breathed in deeply through her nose, and let the air out slowly. It came out in front of her in a puff of smoke. This was not a time to stress. There were so many things to do.
The music, the decorations, the food, the gifts.
But there was one thing in particular that the Queen of Terrasen was most nervous about. Something big was happening. Something Aelin was not sure how Rowan-and everyone else for the matter- would react upon hearing it. She had been wondering if he knew for quite some time, but he has yet to let on that he’s aware of it, so she’s kept quiet.
Although with Rowan, him keeping quiet could mean any number of things.
“My Queen.” Another servant walked up to her and bowed lowly.
“Yes?” Aelin smiled warmly at him.
“The cook was unsure if you wanted the-”
“Both,” she politely interrupted him. “Tell him both. And also tell him to be sure he gets the sauce just right. Rowan told me that the dish is one of his uncle’s favorites. It’s a special dish that originates from Doranelle so it has to be-”
“Perfect,” the servant finished with a smile. “And it will be, Your Majesty.”
“Thank you, Lyanel.” He bowed again before departing. Aelin sighs, turning her face back up to where more than three-hundred and fifty of her best servants were decorating the palace and grounds. Even more were decorating the inside of her lavish home.
Honestly, Aelin did not think that she would ever get used to this. Being a queen, having to care for her people, living in a place that was hers entirely. Indeed, she has lived here for nearly five years, but the feeling she gets when she takes a moment to step back and realize that she is in Terrasen. That she is home…
Finally deciding that her servants had everything in order and could handle it all without her looking over their shoulders like a doting mother, she left and headed back inside.
Warm air and the enticing smell of baked goods…a chocolate cake by the smell of it, caused Aelin to shiver violently. She hadn’t realized how cold it was outside until her teeth began to chatter.
“Finally realized that you had no need to be outside overseeing every move while also freezing your ass off?” Aedion Ashryver, her cousin whom she loved dearly walked up to her and winked before flashing a smile.
“You know full well that the only reason I’m freaking over all of this is because-”
“Rowan’s family is visiting. I know, cousin. Trust me, I know,” he paused, sipping from a glass of ice cold water. Aedion’s voice dropped so low, Aelin could just barely hear him. “Have you told Rowan yet?”
She swallowed. “I’m planning on telling everybody at dinner tomorrow evening.”
He must have sensed her anxiety, for he slung an arm around her and held her close. His chin rested on the top of her head, where he placed a kiss and then said, “Everything will be okay. Don’t stress about it.”
Aelin sighed and nodded. Aedion kissed her cheek before grinning.
“I’m going to go check things over in the food department. Ya know, make sure they’ve got the menu for tomorrow just right.”
Aelin guffawed. “Translation: You’re going to eat just about everything in there.”
He winked again, turning away. “You know me all too well,” he called before disappearing.
A few hours later, Aelin was counting off a mental checklist.
Guest Rooms? Check.
Gifts for everyone? Check.
Rowan interrupted her by taking her hand and soothingly rubbing the knuckles.
“Relax, Fireheart,” he whispers. Aelin unclenched her fists, gradually relaxing at Rowan’s touch. “All this hard work will be for nothing if you don’t get some sleep.”
“I’m not tired.”
“That’s a gods-damned lie if I’ve ever heard one,” he chuckled, coaxing her to lie down. Aelin rested her head on the vast canvas that was Rowan’s chest and closed her eyes. “You’ve been up since dawn. You must be exhausted.”
As if on cue, Aelin yawned.
“Oh shut it.” She snuggled into him, her head nuzzled into the crook of his neck. Rowan kissed her lightly on the forehead and lips before whispering a good night.
In seconds, the steady thump thump thump of Rowan’s heartbeat lulled Aelin into an easy sleep.
Something’s different about her. Something Rowan can’t quite put his finger on, but he knows that there is something. Something is bothering Aelin and it must be big enough that she hasn’t yet trusted him with it. He won’t try to force it out of her, he knows that when the time is right, she’ll tell him.
And he hopes she tells him soon because he’s going out of his gods-damned mind trying to figure it out.
The following morning, Rowan sneaks out of bed. Leaving behind nothing but a kiss for his queen and a note, should she awake before he returns. Honestly, he expected her to wake as soon as he carefully moved her head from his chest to the pillow, but she stirred only a little before going still once more.
In the middle of all of Rowan’s endeavors, Aedion greets him, coming from the direction of the kitchens.
“What are you doing up this early?” Rowan raises a brow.
“I could ask you the same.” Aedion smiles, nodding.
“Let’s just pretend we didn’t see each other, yeah?” Rowan laughs.
“Agreed.” With that, Aedion heads back for his room. His arms are filled with sweets he’s stolen from the kitchen.
What seems like an eternity later, but is really only a few hours, Rowan goes back up to his and Aelin’s room. The time must be past ten, but all while Rowan was busy she did not interrupt him, so he assumes she has yet to wake up.
It’s just as Rowan steps foot into their bedroom that Aelin begins to stir. Her eyes open fully and he lies back down in the bed, already exhausted and the day was not even halfway through.
“Where were you?” Her voice is still groggy, and she takes Rowan’s hand, lacing the fingers together.
Rowan answers vaguely, “I was just finishing some things up.”
A few moments of silence, a gasp and then,
“What time is it?” Aelin’s eyes widen in panic and she moves to get up, but Rowan’s hand stops her.
“It’s past ten.”
“Rowan! Your family will be arriving any second how could you-”
“I already took care of it.” Skepticism is more obvious in her eyes than if you had written the word in bright pink on her forehead.
“I don’t understand.” He sighs.
“I’ve been up since dawn assuring everything was going to go smoothly for today. No one has arrived yet, but I suspect they will be soon.”
“You…You really did all that? Why?” She was so emotional. Rowan hadn’t anticipated this.
“Because I know how much this means to you. And I also know that you needed to sleep.” He shrugged. “It’s no big deal.”
Her eyes filled with tears of happiness. “It is, though. Thank you, Rowan.” The tips of his ears went pink and he forced himself to look away from her intense gaze.
A knock sounded at their bedroom door, and after a few moments of Rowan assuring his queen was fully covered, he bellowed, “Enter.”
A servant rushed in, a huge smile on her pixie-like face.
“Good morning, Your Majesties and Merry Christmas!”
Aelin smiled warmly. “Thank you. Merry Christmas, Annyleise.”
The girl curtsied before saying in a rush, “King Dorian Havilliard of Adarlan, Lady Lysandra, Lord Chaol Westfall, and Lady Nesryn Faliq have arrived, Your Highness.”
“They have?” Aelin’s face lit up. “Tell them we’ll be right down. Thank you, Annyleise.”
“It’s an honor, My Queen.” She curtsied once more before she disappeared.
Aelin hopped up from her spot beside Rowan, moving to her closets. Rowan sighed. He could already tell this day would be quite a long one.
Just a few moments later, Aelin walked out of the closet, clad in only a shirt.
“Rowan,” she said with hands on her hips. “Will you please get up? There’s a lot to do today.”
“I will, I promise. But first,” he held his hand out to her, beckoning her to come nearer. She placed her hand in his palm and in a quick move, Rowan had her body under his. Their faces were close enough to share breath.
“I’ve got a feeling this may be the only time I have you to myself for today. The thought drives me crazy.” Aelin smirked.
“Oh does it?” She kissed the base of his neck, earning her a growl in the back of his throat. Rowan searched her eyes. “Is something wrong?”
Aelin visibly went pale underneath him and he began to panic. Oh gods. He was right. “Aelin, what is it? Tell me.”
“It’s nothing,” she tried to play it off. “Nothing you need to worry about. Trust me.”
“You’re making me worry. If it’s something serious, I want to know.”
She looked up at him. “I’ll tell you later today, I promise.”
He sighed in defeat and then nodded.
“Thank you,” Aelin whispered, kissing his cheek. She slipped from underneath him, going back to the closets and returning with clothes for him as well.
He put them on, and couldn’t help laughing when he did so.
“Very festive,” he commented. Aelin smiled sheepishly.
“Do you like it?”
“I love it. Will everyone be sporting this fashion?” She nodded and smirked.
“Whether they like it or not.”
With the both of them finally dressed and somewhat presentable to greet their friends, Rowan and Aelin exited their room.
“As I’ll ever be.”
Christmas In Terrasen: Part 2 of 3
Rowan could feel Aelin’s anxiety rolling off her like tidal waves. He’d never seen her so nervous for something in all the years they’d known each other. He squeezed her hand once in reassurance and she visibly began to relax.
They get to the bottom of the stairs and only a split second passes before Aelin breathes, “Dorian.” She’s running to him and they meet halfway, both of them crying tears of joy. It’s been quite a while since they’ve all seen each other.
Chaol walks over to Rowan, Nesryn tucked in close to his side. Rowan smiles at the pair of them.
“It’s good to see the two of you again,” Rowan greets, embracing Chaol in a brotherly hug. Nesryn, not being one to show public affection to anyone besides Chaol, just nods in his direction in greeting. A small smile is also adorning her face though, so he knows that there must not be any ill feelings between the two of them.
“We’re glad we could make it. It’s been too long.” Rowan glances over at Aelin to find her talking animatedly with Dorian and Lysandra. A smile brighter than the sun itself shines on her face. He finds himself smiling as a result.
Rowan knew that Aelin had missed her friends, so close she considered them family. They’ve all been so busy with their lives that they’ve hardly gotten a moment to catch up. He knows that she’s happy here with him and Aedion, but even still...she can get lonely sometimes. Of course, Aelin has made other friends within her kingdom but they don’t hold the same special place in her heart as the ones she’s known for years now. It makes him happy to see her happy.
“I’m so happy everyone could make it.” Aelin beams.
“Elmira sends her apologies,” says Dorian. “She wasn’t quite feeling well enough for the long trip.”
“Well, then the only solution is for us to eventually take a trip up to see her! I’ve been dying to meet the future Queen of Adarlan.” Dorian blushed.
“We should be expecting my family soon as well, so if you all would like to go up to your rooms and get settled... I know it’s been a long trip for all of you.” Aelin returned to Rowan’s side, perfectly encasing his hand in hers.
“You two are so perfect together. It makes me sick,” Lysandra laughs.
Aelin winks and says, “Yes. We can show you all to your rooms. The servants will bring up your belongings.”
“Have you any idea how much longer it should take for your family to arrive?” Aelin bites down on her lip out of nervous habit.
“It shouldn’t be much longer.” He holds her closer. No sooner than the words leave his lips does he see in the distance five large carriages making their way to the front gate.
A feeling Rowan can’t explain fills his chest at the reality of the situation. His family, whom he hasn’t seen in years, is arriving right as his front door. The people who share his blood...
Aelin’s ears perk up and she looks out of the window, sensing his family’s arrival. She holds onto him tighter, burying her face into his chest and taking slow, steady breaths.
“Are you nervous at all?” She looks up at him. Rowan decides to be completely honest with her.
“I’m not sure,” he mutters absently. “I know this is my family, but they’re also people I haven’t seen in a long, long time. What if...What if they’re not what I think they’ll be?” He pauses, thinking. “Or worse...What if I’m nothing more than a disappointment to them? What if, after everything I’ve done, everything that’s happened...They still see me as a coward for my actions?”
Rowan thinks back to a night that seemed like just yesterday but was really a few years ago. When Rowan had divulged to his queen how he had also left his family in their village when Maeve had attacked. He had meant to save them, to distract Maeve’s soldiers long enough for his family to escape and run to safety. He had fought as long and hard as he could, but being younger and much more inexperienced, he had finally been forced to surrender. The soldiers took his family into captivity, not allowing him to ever see them, to explain why he had just run. That he wasn’t running from them but for them.
Aelin’s silent for a few seconds, but the silence seems to stretch on for an eternity. Finally, she says, with so much conviction in her voice, “Rowan, that is your family out there. Yes, they may be people you have not seen in years but out there, making their way towards us are people who I’m sure still care about you deeply.” She reaches up, stroking the side of his face that is still decorated with the fierce tattoo that tells the story of his past. “You may be a lot of things, Rowan. One of them being the ultimate pain in my ass,” she smiles briefly. “But you most certainly are not a coward.”
He sighs, a small smile spreading across his face and brightening his features. Rowan raises his queen’s hands up to his lips.
“What would I ever do without you, Fireheart?” Aelin’s eyes are alight with mischievousness.
“Probably go out of your ruddy mind due to utter boredom.”
Rowan’s mouth opens to dish out his own sarcastic retort, but closes it when he hears footsteps approaching the door. Aelin must hear it as well because she smiles up at him--so much courage and unwavering faith in that smile-- and says, “Let’s go meet the family.”
Aelin keeps fussing over her attire; a simple pair of pants and a Christmas-themed jumper matching to Rowan’s. Perhaps she should have worn something a bit more regal-like when meeting Rowan’s family for the first time.
He squeezes her hand once. “You look fine,” he reassures. She nods, breathing in and out. She’s not usually like this. All jumpy and jittery and nervous for something as simple as meeting Rowan’s family.
The door opens. She takes in another breath and holds it.
And then releases it when at least six screaming children race into their home. Aelin blinks in astonishment.
Next enters a couple. The woman is...gorgeous to put into simple words. Hair the same startlingly white-blond as Rowan’s. Her facial features are soft and feminine, but her eyes, a deeper green than than Rowan’s speak of a type of fierceness that makes Aelin inwardly smile.
Someone she would love to become friends with.
The man is tall, lean, and muscular. His face is all sharp lines and angles, and his chin is peppered with hair the same beautiful red shade as the hair that adorns his head. His skin color is a enviously flawless deep olive tone. His eyes, a brown so light they’re almost gold, shine with happiness and friendliness.
“My sister and her husband,” Rowan silently informs her. The couple walks up to them, all stealth and grace.
Aelin looks them both over with calculating eyes almost out of habit. She knows this is Rowan’s family, but she can’t help but wonder if any of them have any preconceived ill feelings towards her or her country.
“Welcome,” she greets with a warm smile. “We’re happy you could make it.” The woman looks her up and down, analyzing her in all of three seconds.
“So,” she says with a small smirk. Up close, Aelin is surprised with how deeply Rowan and this woman resemble each other. “You must be the woman my useless brother’s apparently batshit over. I’ve been waiting for this moment for quite some time, Queen of Terrasen.” She bows ever so slightly. “I’m Baylei. This is my husband, Arik.”
Arik clamps a hand on Rowan’s back and grins. “Not too shabby a place you’ve got here, Rowan!” His voice is deep and jovial and inviting. “I’m glad we finally got to make it up here to see you.” His eyes suddenly turn to take in Aelin.
“And who might we have here? The famous Queen of Terrasen I’ve heard so many rumours about?”
Aelin smiles. “Good rumours, I hope.”
He grins, taking her hand in his and pressing a kiss to the back of it. He bows. “Arik Vislight. A pleasure to meet you, Your Majesty.”
“I’m happy to say the same.” He clasps her hands in between his.
“I have faith my brother has been treating you well?”
Aelin responds, “Indeed he has.”
“Excellent! No need to rough him up a bit, then!”
“You know as well as I that you’re all bark and no bite, Arik.” Rowan smirks devilishly.
“I take that as a challenge! You’ll be regretting those words, boy.”
Rowan laughs once. “We’ll see about that.”
Baylei calls out a name, and one of the six children running about the foyer stops, a guilty expression clear as day on his face.
He defends himself before Baylei even accuses him.“I didn’t do it!”
“Excuse me while I go deal with them.” She smiles hesitantly and is gone.
The rest of the greetings seem to go by in about the same fashion. Aelin is introduced to Rowan’s blood uncle, a man whom Rowan refers to as uncle but is really an old family friend, three of his aunt’s, what seemed like a dozen cousins, and his one niece and five nephews. With each person that passes through the door, she feels both herself and Rowan relax.
“Our servants will show you all to your rooms,” Rowan informs them.
“Thank the gods,” says his Aunt Keria. She’s a short woman with long dark waves of hair and pale blue eyes. Rowan explained that she’s always been a bit of a mystery in the family since no one else has hair that dark or eyes that blue. At least, no one he’s been alive long enough to know. “That was a hell of a long trip and I could use a bath.”
The rest of Rowan’s family murmur their agreement.
“Your belongings should be up in your rooms. If you need anything else, don’t be afraid to ask. Make yourselves at home.” Aelin smiles at them. Nearly every face is smiling back.
All except one.
Rowan’s other aunt. His Aunt Meira. She’s absolutely breathtaking. A woman who looks very much like how Aelin expects Rowan’s mother would look like if she were still alive. Tall, lean, muscled but not to the degree the other men are. No. Meira has the body of a rigorous swimmer or runner. Long legs and arms, sharp facial features, piercing pine-green eyes the same shade as her nephews. Unlike Rowan’s eyes though, her eyes are cold, cool, constantly calculating.
When Aelin was introduced to her, she did nothing more than nod almost imperceptibly in her direction before swishing right past them.
“What is she about?” She had asked Rowan.
“After my mother was murdered, Aunt Meira was never the same. She’s...been through a lot. Each event has turned her heart that much more impenetrable.”
Aelin admitted that Meira most certainly rubbed her the wrong way and that she’d have to watch her back a bit more closely with her around. There was something about the way her eyes stared straight into Aelin that was...disconcerting. Like a challenge.
Like a threat.
Aelin comes to this conclusion with stunning clarity. Almost immediately, she wants to shut the idea down. This is Rowan’s family we’re talking about. No one here would hurt her.or him. Right?
Still, she makes a mental note to tell Rowan about it once everyone goes to bed tonight.
Rowan is currently getting dressed in an extremely extravagant ensemble. Somehow, the seamstresses had managed to incorporate both the color of Terrasen and of Doranelle as well.
Aelin burst into the room, slightly flushed and flustered but otherwise smiling and seemingly happy. She stopped to admire him.
“You know, in that getup you could almost pass for a civilized being and not a barbaric pain in my ass.”
Rowan smirked. “Looks can be deceiving, princess. You know that as well as I.”
She walked over to him. He captured her hands in his as she kissed his left brow. Rowan could sense that she was no longer as anxious as she was before, but there was still something...Something that wasn’t quite right. Something that was different.
“So now that you’ve met all of them, what do you think of my family?” Aelin paused to think.
“It’s too early to say,” she admitted. “I don’t get any ill feelings about any of them. Besides your Aunt Meira, of course.”
“That’s nothing to be worried about. She’s a bit standoffish to just about everyone these days.”
After some discussion about what time they all would have dinner and open the gifts, Aelin rushes off to go get dressed. Anticipating that it would take quite a while, Rowan decides to go visit a certain family member.
He’d like to get a second opinion on Aelin’s behavior lately.
Meeting Rowan’s family had gone...differently than Aelin had expected it would. She definitely would not complain. Most of his family did indeed seem quite nice and welcoming. Some were a bit wary, although that was to be expected.
A million thoughts were running a marathon in her head as her ladies-in-waiting aided her in getting ready for the night’s festivities.
“Are you excited for tonight, Your Majesty?” Aelin met the gaze of the young girl with the flaming red hair and dancing green eyes.
She replied, “I am. But enough about me. What are you two planning to do for the days off I’ve given you?”
The other woman, who was in her early thirties and sported a head of thick brown waves said, “I’m planning on going home to my family back in Perranth. My younger sister’s having her wedding there.”
“You remember the day of your ceremony, Your Majesty?” The first woman, whose name was Rebekah, smiled warmly in remembrance.
“She was so rutting excited and nervous it was ridiculous.” Aelin smiles at the new presence in the room. Lysandra enters, looking more gorgeous than ever in a black floor-length gown decorated in the national colors of Terrasen. “It took me to slap some sense into her.”
Aelin knew she couldn’t argue. She had been nervous. And eager. Everything about that day and those leading up to it seemed to come back at her in vivid pictures.
How Rowan had proposed. Out of the blue and all of a sudden. She hadn’t been expecting it at all. He hadn’t acted out of the ordinary. He hadn’t been nervous or jittery around her. He didn’t even plan some big, extravagant way to ask her for her hand. It was simple, personal, heartfelt.
The wedding had to be much more exorbitant, for the Queen of Terrasen was being betrothed to the King of Doranelle. The two massive countries were going to be united forever more. There had been millions--literally millions of people who had wanted to catch even the slightest glimpse of the people who held the future of the two kingdoms in the palms of their hands.
“Yes,” agreed Aelin. “But was it necessary to smack me that hard?” Lysandra grinned.
“I should have smacked you harder.” The two laughed.
“Okay, Your Majesty. I believe you’re ready!”
Aelin glanced up at herself in the massive mirror and gasped. Her ladies had truly outdone themselves this time.
Her hair has been curled, the blond waves looking full and bouncy and healthy. Certain pieces were being held together by silver and green pins and gems the national colors of Doranelle. Her eyelids were colored with silver and lined with black coal, making her famous Ashryver eyes stand out more than they did on a regular day. Her cheeks had a light pink blush, ever so slight.
The makeup and hair wasn’t what made everyone in the room audibly gasp. It was the dress.
It was floor-length, and clung quite nicely to her figure. One shoulder was bared while the other was covered by a sleeve that extended down past her wrist and was held in place by a feminine green ring that adorned her pointer finger. The dress was embellished with the colors of her kingdom. At first, it appeared to do nothing more than sparkle even in the dim lighting, but when it caught the light, you discovered that the word ‘Terrasen’ had been made out of the seemingly random silver embellishments.
“Oh! One more thing.” The other woman, Adelaide, rushed into Aelin’s closets, returning a moment later with her crown.
By the Wyrd...
“You look...” Rebekah just shook her head. After a few seconds, Lysandra piped up.
“Damn, you look hot!”
The four women laughed until their sides hurt. Any remaining nerves Aelin might have had were squashed like a bug beneath her boot and left to die in the wind.
“You ready?” Lysandra’s eyes lit up.
Aelin took a deep, calming breath and nodded.
I am Aelin Galathynius, she told herself. And I will not be afraid.
Rowan’s assumptions were most certainly right. It took Aelin a full hour and a half to get ready. He was currently waiting for her in their bedroom, silently pacing back and forth.
When he went to go visit Aedion earlier, the prince had insisted that he hadn’t noticed anything odd about Aelin’s recent behavior.
“This is my cousin we’re talking about,” he had said. “When isn’t she a bit off her rocker?”
Yes, but this was different.
Rowan, in the middle of his puzzling thoughts, heard the door to Aelin’s chambers open. He turned, tongue ready to lash out a sarcastic retort.
But once again, his words failed him when his eyes took in the sight of her. She was absolutely radiant. It was a different look than she usually sported nowadays. Aelin rarely ever put on makeup now unless she was making a formal public appearance.
Her hair, the slight makeup along her eyelids, and... By the gods.
Sometimes, due to the fact that Rowan knew Aelin before she officially took her rightful place at the throne, he forgot that she really was the Queen of Terrasen. To him, she was still the bratty, pain in the ass of a woman he had met all those years ago in Wendlyn. The woman whom he’d taken the blood oath too, swearing his life to her for as long as she was breathing and beyond that.
But right here in this moment, she looks so much like a Queen that it hits him like a punch to the face and renders him stupid.
She smiles as she saunters over to him.
“I’d say we clean up pretty well.” She takes his hand, kissing the knuckles. He just smiles at her and chuckles.
“You look absolutely gorgeous.” A blush that is not at all from the makeup rises on Aelin’s cheeks at the way Rowan gazes at her.
“You definitely don’t look too bad yourself, my King.” She holds her arm out for him to take. “I don’t know about you, but I’m starving.”
He loops his arm through hers. Instinctively, she draws nearer to his side.
“Well that’s not anything new.”
With brief farewells and thanks to Aelin’s ladies, the King and Queen of Terrasen and Doranelle exited their bedroom and made their way to where the rest of their friends and families were waiting.
Together, the two of them looked like a mighty force that was not to be reckoned with.
“So just as I was about to slash off ‘is head, Baylei comes out of nowhere and finishes the bloody job for me!”
Rowan’s brother Arik is in the middle of another one of his unbelievable tales. However outrageous,Dorian Havilliard must admit that he has a way of telling stories that has everyone leaning in closer, ears hungry for another anecdote.
“The thing had you pinned to the ground. It’s canines were two inches from your throat--ready to tear it out without another. What else would you rather had me do? Sit by with some sweets and watch like it was some rutting play?”
Arik waves a hand of dismissal. “I coulda taken him. I was just letting him think he had won. All about strategy sweetheart.” He winks flirtatiously at his wife, who sticks a tongue out childishly at him as a retort.
Dorian glances around the room, which is filled with chatter. Aelin is discussing animatedly with one of Rowan’s cousins, a small girl of about eighteen with an astonishingly large personality.There’s something about her expressions that remind Dorian of Aelin when she was younger. Back when her name was Celaena and she had wanted nothing other than her freedom.
He notices the way Rowan repeatedly throws quick glances in her direction; never becoming too engrossed in a conversation because some part of his attention is always on her.
Dorian finds himself admiring the way the two truly work together as a pair. How they seem to watch each other’s backs, trust the other wholeheartedly.
He smiles when he remembers that he has a woman back in Adarlan, whom he loves very dearly and is anticipating his arrival back home.
Aedion wishes she’d just get on with it.
If it were him, he’d just blurt it out and not bother with the theatrics. Better to get it out in the open than keep it bottled up inside.
He does understand why she’s so wary to tell everybody. It most definitely is not a tiny, insignificant piece of news. Even Aedion himself isn’t sure how everyone will take it.
For a moment, he thinks about telling everyone himself, but then catches himself.
No, he says to himself. This is something she’s got to do all on her own.
So for now, he sits back, continues trivial conversations with one of Rowan’s little nephews and waits.
Aelin glances over at Rowan, who is talking with his little niece. She’s a fierce one, having grown up being the only girl in a group of children her age.
Right now, his niece is telling him a story while taking over a job that’s usually Aelin’s. The little girl’s small, chubby fingers move swiftly through Rowan’s startlingly white hair.
She’s beginning to get nervous again. The dinner is beginning to come to a close, and she knows that this is as good a time as any to announce what’s been on her mind for weeks now.
With a deep breath and shaking hands, Aelin Ashryver Galathynius rises--if not a bit unsteadily-- to her feet.
It’s in the middle of a conversation Rowan is currently in with his only little niece, Imara that Aelin rises from her chair.
She smiles, although it doesn’t quite reach her eyes.
“I’d just like to say how happy and grateful I am to be surrounded by possibly the most wonderful people to ever grace this planet,” she addresses them all. “It wasn’t too long ago that I was alone. That I didn’t have anyone there to hold me and tell me it would be alright. That everything would eventually be okay.
My life has not been easy. But it’s with a heart full of love that I say I would gladly go through it all again if it meant ensuring that I’d meet and become close with the people that I met along the way.”
She swallows, and Rowan can see her imperceptibly quivering.
“But that is not all that I have come before you this night to tell you. You see, there’s a bit of news I’ve been withholding and I don’t think I can keep it from you all any longer.”
Rowan catches her look over at Aedion. He nods his head, offering up a small smile in encouragement.
So he did know.
Aelin stood, wringing her hands together in anxiety. This was it; she was finally going to tell everyone what the hell has been bothering her for so long now.
Rowan’s heart is beating about a thousand miles a minute.
If something is wrong with her, the thought runs through his mind. I’ll go crazy.
He looks over at her. And stops dead in his tracks.
There. Right there, in the center of her, comes a slight sound. Rowan closes his eyes and fixates his hearing.
One second passes. Two. Three. And then--
Thump thump. Thump thump.
He can’t believe what he’s hearing. He can feel his face blanch, draining of all color. No. He’s just imagining things. But...
That explains it. Explains everything. Why Aelin had been behaving so differently all these weeks.
“Pregnant.” Rowan whispers the word, but he knows everyone’s heard him. There’s a collective gasp and all eyes turn towards them.
Aelin looks over at him, her eyes filled with worry and astonishment.
Rowan swallows, but his mouth is as dry as the Red Desert . “You’re with child.”
For an eternity the two just sit there, staring at each other with wholly unreadable expressions. And then Rowan is getting up from his chair and is making a beeline for somewhere that is anywhere but here.
He’s so out of his element he doesn’t even hear Aelin follow him out of the dining room.
“Why?” He’s gasping, panicking, unable to catch his breath. A million different pictures fly behind his closed eyes at a dizzying speed.
Lyria. Her laugh. The way she had kissed him, held him close. How she had been pregnant. How she had begged him not to go. How he had gone anyway. How she had been brutally murdered...Both his mate and his child.
Rowan had finally made it home after two months of being both physically and emotionally drained from fighting and battling nearly nonstop in Amaroth. He longed for nothing more than to return to his home. To be encircled in the warmth that was his mate.
He loved Lyria more than life itself. Unfortunately, his love for her cost him his Queen Maeve’s favor. He wished he could say that it didn’t matter to him, even in the slightest. That his love for Lyria was all he cared about.
But to say that would be a lie. Something deep inside of him still yearned to be the favorite. Maeve’s favorite. Her right hand and most trusted warrior.
Lyria ran out to greet him, nearly knocking him off his feet due to catching him by surprise. He picked her up in his arms, kissing her lips, her cheeks, her brows, every part of her he could reach. By the time they broke their embrace, a wide smile adorned her lovely face.
“How are you?” She took his hand, leading him into their home.
“I’m well. Better, now that I’m back here with you.”
They entered their home. A tiny, cozy little cottage at the top of the mountains. With Lyria selling flowers in Doranelle, she brought home any extra ones they didn’t sell and planted them in a small spot of land that Rowan had prepared for her. It quickly began to grow and before they knew it, their entire home was filled and surrounded by flowers of all colors, sizes, and scents.
Rowan breathed in deeply. She was cooking his favorite dish as a welcome back. It felt so good to be home again.
Just a few short minutes later, the two were sat at their small table, eating dinner. Lyria clutched Rowan’s hand in hers so tightly, it was as if she thought that if she let go he would spontaneously disappear.
They sat and talked, the conversation light and coming easily. Although neither brought up where Rowan had been. How he had fought in Amaroth. Of the men he must have killed while up there.
That night, the two of them lay down in bed. The candles had long since flickered and burned out. The moon was high in the sky. Neither of them said a word for a long, long time.
“I love you, Rowan Whitethorn.” Lyria’s soft voice cuts through the darkness. He holds her tighter in response.
He should have told her that he loved her. Should have muttered those words. But instead, he stays silent. Soon, his mate’s breathing evens out and lulls him to sleep.
He’s happy. Eager, even. He just hopes Lyria sees the situation in the same light that he does.
Rowan enters into his home, Lyria apparently just making it there herself as she steps cautiously out of her shoes. Her brown eyes light up at the sight of him.
“I have something to tell you.”
“As do I.” She takes his hand.
“Then let’s go for a walk.”
Rowan knows that he hasn’t got much time. That in less than two hours, he has to be ready to head out with the rest of his squadron and head out for the war. He’s got to make this quick.
“So what is it you have to tell me?” Lyria bit down on her lower lip, and smiled faintly at him.
“No, you go first.” He sighed, seeing that she wouldn’t budge and sent a silent prayer up to the gods.
“So, Queen Maeve’s just given me news.” Lyria’s brows furrow.
“What sort of news?”
He takes a deep breath, steeling himself.
“They need me and the rest of my squadron to head out to the war.”
Her face contorts in anger.
“And what was your reply?”
“You know I can’t go against her-”
“You could if you really wanted to. Tell me, Rowan. Did she order you,” she pauses, searching his eyes. “Or did you ask? Did you ask to be sent away?”
He should have known he would not be able to get this detail past her. Lyria was smart. Smarter than he was, surely. How could he think she wouldn’t figure it out?
He decided to dodge the question. “Maeve has been even harder on me lately. She believes I’m being foolish. I have to prove to her that I can be more. That I am more. They need me out there, Lyria.”
She turned away from him, but not before he saw the furious tears pooling in her eyes.
“And what about here? I need you. You’re my mate.”
“We can’t afford to be selfish.”
“I don’t care.” She turns back to him. “You are mine, Rowan. You are not Maeve’s and you know I don’t give half a horse’s ass what she says! Her opinion should mean nothing to you. She will treat you like dirt beneath her feet weather you go or not! Why can’t you see that?”
Rowan could feel his temper rising. He was doing this for them. Not just him and Lyria but everyone. They needed him out there. Besides, it wouldn’t do any harm to stay on Her Majesty’s good side. If she even possessed one.
But he stayed quiet, letting her calm herself down. Finally, after a few minutes of silence, she speaks.
So soft he barely catches is, she asks, “When do you leave?”
He hesitates. She will find out soon anyway.
“In just a few hours.”
She closes her eyes, tears running a race down her cheeks and dripping off her chin.
“Then you’d better just go now, Rowan.”
He reaches out to touch her, but she twists out of his reach.
“Go. Apparently Maeve’s opinion of you means more than mine ever will. So go.”
He stands there in silence, the cool wind whipping at his face and causing hairs to fly free from the braid Lyria had done for him just this morning.
After a few moments, he reaches for her again. This time, she allows him. No sooner than his arms circle around her waist does she let out the sob she had been trying to hold in. Her tears stain his shirt.
“Don’t leave me. Please.” He kisses the top of her head.
“I’ll return. I promise.” Rowan lifts her chin and kisses her tenderly.
“I love you.”
He swallows back tears before whispering, “I love you.”
He shouldn’t have gone. He should have listened to her. It shouldn’t have mattered to him what Maeve thought. Lyria was the only one who truly mattered.
But he didn’t listen. And when he returned to Doranelle, he’d discover that she had been with his child. That she had been brutally murdered and then burned as their house burned around her.
He would never know that the entire time they tortured her, her only thoughts were of him. How she had a feeling that the baby was a boy. That she had planned to name him after his father. That she wished she could have seen him one last time before she breathed her last breath.
That she died with the promise of her love for him on her lips.
All of this tragedy a result of his foolishness.
His legs no longer able to hold him up, Rowan fell to his knees, still trying to grasp onto any piece of sanity he can possibly find. Distantly, he felt Aelin walk over to him, felt her take his hand in hers.
“Rowan I...I’m sorry,” she whispers. “I didn’t..I-” Her voice catches and fails her in the middle of whatever she was going to say.
He can tell that she’s crying now. Silent sobs racking her body.
“I’m so sorry.”
And then she leaves him.
He reaches out a hand to stop her, but as with Lyria, he is too late.
Christmas In Terrasen: Part 3 of 3
Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, the Queen of the lands of Terrasen and Doranelle, the Heir of Fire, was currently sitting in her study. She was surrounded by nothing other than the thousands upon thousands of books and deafening roar of silence.
She was sat at her grandiose piano, a present Rowan had given her a few years back. Her thumb absently rubbed across the ring that tied her to him. Her eyes, long since run out of tears, were turned to the window, watching snowflakes fall and gather on the lawn outside.
Aelin takes in a deep, shuddering breath to steady herself.
She knew, given Rowan’s past, that his reaction to the news of her having his child would strike a chord. How could it not when his first mate had been murdered while pregnant. And Rowan blamed himself. His own foolish disregard for Lyria as he strived to win Maeve’s favor once more.
Rowan just needed time to process all of this. She shouldn’t have blurt it out at a Christmas dinner. She should have told him privately. This is her fault. All her fault.
Aelin closes her eyes to fight back more tears.
No. This is not her fault. It takes two to tango. You don’t make a baby by yourself and Rowan’s as much to blame as she is.
When she found out, she couldn’t really believe it. She had waited another month before she was sure. She hadn’t expected to feel this way, but Aelin had been happy once it was confirmed. Still, beneath that happiness was a worry and fear that threatened to overtake her.
Aelin hadn’t been raised or grown up in the most...ideal way. Half of her life had been spent working for none other than Arobynn Hamel, The King of Assassins, in Rifthold. She had spent years killing in his name, wreaking havoc while also living a life of luxury while under his command. After Sam Cortland’s death, Aelin--at the time known as Celaena-- was sent to the Salt Mines of Endovier where she endured being whipped and beaten everyday for a year until she was chosen by Dorian, who was at the time still the Crown Prince, to compete in a competition for the King of Adarlan.
How in the hell am I going to do this?
She didn’t know. She didn’t know anything.
And that, more than anything, was what frightened her.
For moments after Rowan and Aelin leave, the dining table is completely silent. Everyone is wide-eyed and still struck with surprise at the bomb Aelin had dropped just a few minutes ago.
“I’m going to go check on-”
Chaol interrupted whomever was speaking by abruptly standing up and shaking his head. “No. I’ll go.” Without another word, he leaves the dining room in a haste.
It’s only when he leaves that he hears Aedion mutter something. Chaol is so focused, however, that he doesn’t catch what he says.
Aelin hears footsteps, but doesn’t bother turning around.
A few seconds pass, and the form of a man comes into her line of sight. She can tell immediately that it’s not Rowan and feels both relief and disappointment.
Chaol sits beside her, saying nothing for a while. And then,
“You remember the first time we met, Aelin?” It was a rhetorical question, she knew. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.” He shook his head at the memory.
“You were dirty and filthy...I suppose if you could have looked at my heart back then it would have looked much the same. But your eyes. They were filled with all things defiant. At the time it angered me. Eventually, though, it intrigued me. You intrigued me.”
He turns towards her now, and although her eyes continue to stare out the window, she can feel his eyes on her.
“Every day since I’ve known you you have proven to be the strongest person. You’ve conquered and been through so much. You will make it through this, too.” Chaol took her hands in his. She finally turned her eyes to him.
“I, for one, am quite excited at your news. I have the utmost faith that both you and Rowan will make wonderful parents.” Aelin’s eyes filled with tears.
Finally, she speaks. “I’m scared, Chaol,” she confesses.
“As you should be. Parenthood isn’t something to be taken lightly. In just a few short months, the two of you will be responsible for caring for a life.”
She laughed weakly. “If this is a pep talk, it’s not making me feel much better at the moment.”
Chaol smiled sympathetically. “I know what’s really bothering you, Aelin, and that’s Rowan’s reaction.”
She paused and then hesitantly whispered, “I just wanted him to be happy when I told him.”
“I don’t think Rowan was unhappy so much as surprised. You know better than I do about his past. I’m sure his reaction was a result of some deep psychological traumatic event.”
Aelin isn’t sure how to respond, so she stays quiet.
Chaol raised her hands to his lips. “Everything will be okay. I know it will.” She offered up a small smile.
Chaol and Aelin had not always been this close. Their relationship was a series of ups and downs. Right now, the fact that Chaol came to her and knew just what to say touches something deep inside her.
No more words pass between the former Captain of the Guard and the former Notorious Assassin. Chaol wrapped an arm around her and pulled her into his side. A few years back, Aelin may have punched him and cursed his name to the pits.
But now, she leans closer into his side and thanks the gods for him.
“You need to get your shit together.”
Lysandra is stood, hands crossed over her chest with an unreadable expression in her eyes. Her posture, however, is easy to read. And judging by it, she is certainly not happy.
It took Rowan a good three minutes for him to calm down long enough for her to help him over to a chair to sit. At first, she was sympathetic.
Now, she’s just pissed.
“You don’t know shit about me, Lys.” She shrugged, not arguing.
“Maybe,” she answered. “But I do know Aelin. And I know exactly what’s running through her mind every second you’re sitting here on your ass.”
The look on his face told her that he knew she was right. Lysandra took a chair and sits in front of him. She leans back comfortably, making unwavering eye contact.
“I may not know the details, but I know you’ve been through some pretty rough crap.” She sighed, eyes softening the slightest bit. “But what you need to remember is that so has Aelin.”
“I know that she-”
“Will you shut your mouth for five seconds and let me talk?” Rowan closed his mouth, but glares at her. Lysandra’s gaze doesn’t waver. “Thanks. Just in case you need some reminding, the woman you just let go is Aelin Ashryver Galathynius. Queen of both Terrasen and Doranelle. Your wife. Your carranam. And more recently, the mother of your child.”
Rowan closed his eyes as if to shut out the words.
“And she loves you like hell. Gods know I don’t understand why, but she does. And you’re more stupid than the left cheek of a donkey’s ass if you don’t get up and go to her.” When he doesn’t respond, she goes on. “You wanna know what Aelin’s thinking right now?”
“I have a feeling you’re going to tell me either way.”
“She’s probably thinking something along the lines of ‘This is all my fault’ because she sometimes has the tendency to be a self-sacrificial bad-ass bitch. She’s probably scared, although she won’t admit it. You know better than I do that she didn’t grow up with a rainbows and butterflies childhood. She’s probably thinking, ‘How will I raise a child when I have no clue how to?’ And the scariest thought of all is, ‘What if Rowan doesn’t want to stay with me because of this child? What if he leaves, unable to handle all the bad memories you’d relive when looking at your little son or daughter?’ . She’s afraid of losing you, Rowan.”
His jaw tightened. “I would never do that. I could never leave her.”
“Good,” Lysandra retorts. “Because if you did I’d kick your sorry ass all the way back to Doranelle.” She paused. “Go to her, Rowan. She needs you. Don’t let all of those dangerous thoughts begin to take root and grow in her mind. If they do, it’ll be a very long process killing them.”
Rowan offered up a small smile. “You may be more of a pain in the ass than she is, but Aelin is lucky to have you, Lysandra.”
She shrugged nonchalantly, but a smile tugged at the corners of her lips. “Just get out of here you lazy bastard.”
Rowan rises. He placed a swift, unexpected kiss to Lysandra’s forehead as a thank you and then leaves.
She sits there in silence, a bitter sadness slowly creeping over her. She was happy for her best friend, truly she is. But...
When will I ever find someone who loves me?
For years, Lysandra’s body was used to please men. They did not love her, although sometimes she would let her mind wander and imagine what it would be like if one of them, just one, saw her for more than just a gorgeous woman to sleep with for a night at an exorbitant price.
Tears began to gather like an army in her eyes, and although she tried to keep them in check, she could not contain the ever present loneliness that hovered over her like a grim reaper and the tears spill over, racing angrily down her cheeks and dripping off her chin.
She was so enveloped in her own feelings that she doesn’t hear the sound of boots entering the room.
Boots that belonged to a man who maybe, just maybe, could be the antidote to the poisonous thoughts festering in her mind.
She was right. Gods, he would admit that Lysandra had been right. How could he be so foolish? This situation was wholly different from when Lyria had been pregnant. Rowan would not leave Aelin. Could not leave her. Just the thought brought an unbearable aching to his chest.
So he raced, looking in each room until he could find her. He searched everywhere, and when he stopped and asked Dorian if he had seen where she went, he said he had no clue.
Rowan would not give up. He had searched nearly everywhere. Just when he thought all hope was lost, he heard something. A piano, he realized after a few seconds. Someone was playing it.
The closer he got to the sound, the more he recognized where he had heard the woefully beautiful song. It was the piece Aelin had played for him years ago in that abandoned theater. The piece that brought tears to her eyes every time she played it.
When he finally gets to the source of the music, he recognizes it to be coming from Aelin’s personal library. Of course. How did he not think to go there first?
Taking a deep breath, Rowan steps into the room.
And nearly falls apart at the scene before him.
Chaol left some time ago, leaving Aelin to her own devices. She had to admit that him being there for her had left her feeling a little better. However, not even he could stop the feelings of anguish in her heart.
For a few moments after he had left, she just sat there, feeling everything and nothing at the same time. But eventually, the beautiful instrument in front of her seemed to be calling her, pleading with her to play it. To let out any feelings that she could and could not describe and put into words.
For a while, she resisted. But when she could resist no longer, she caressed the black and white keys of the piano like an old lover and began to play.
At first, it started out slow and tame, and then the music overtook her and she let the music convey everything. Before she realized it, she was playing that one piece she had tried to teach Rowan all those years ago, but after a few hours he had decided that he simply did not have the talent for it and would much rather watch her play.
The music overwhelmed her, wrapped around her like the arms of a lover, promising to protect her. It filled her to her all the way to soul. At once she does not feel as if she is in her body, she is the music and the music is her. They are one whole thing, one whole being.
She’s so entrapped by it that she does not hear nor sense Rowan stepping into the room.
She is so wholly ensnared by her playing that she does not notice him standing there for the entirety of the song. It is only when she is finished, tears flowing down her face in a steady stream that she gives any indication of being aware of his presence.
It is slight, but her ears twitch in his direction. She knows he’s here.
Suddenly, Rowan is overcome with a tsunami of emotions. Tears threatened to spill. He couldn’t think clearly with how much he needed her to be close to him in that moment.
He walked over to her, taking a seat next to her on the piano stool. Her eyes were closed, tears still running steady down her cheeks.
Tentatively, one of his hands captured hers, the other resting lightly on her left cheek. His thumb wiped away her tears, rubbing back and forth across the smooth, damp skin.
Finally, he whispered, “Aelin.” Her eyes opened as if on command. If Rowan was not sitting down, he’d be on his knees right now at the sight of her eyes. She’s been crying, and judging by the redness in them, she’s been crying a lot.
Because of him.
He swallowed, a lump forming in his throat.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispered. “I shouldn’t have left like that. I’m sorry.” Her bottom lip quivered. “Forgive me.” He kisses her forehead, her cheeks, her hands, each of her fingers, every inch of skin exposed to him.
He’s crying now, tears slowly pooling in his eyes and then racing down his cheeks. “Forgive me,” he kept repeating, his voice heavy with emotion.
Rowan gently rested his brow against hers. A moment passed, and then he felt her lean into him.
“Aelin,” he breathed once she was trapped in his arms. He kissed the top of her head before meeting her eyes. It was there that his eyes conveyed every feeling he couldn’t seem to put into words. How much he truly was sorry for how he’d hurt her. For being the cause of her tears.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. I should have told you as soon as I suspected that I was pregnant.” Rowan shook his head at her words.
“I admit it would have been nice if you’d told me before, but that’s still no reason for me to have reacted the way that I did.”
“It’s okay, Rowan. I understand.”
“No, it’s not. I will not continue to allow my past to dictate my future. As much as I wish it weren’t true, Lyria is dead. And she has been for a long, long time.” His voice cracks mid sentence. “Things are different now. I’m just as scared as you are about raising a child. But the more I think about it, the more...excited I get. This is a new chapter for the both of us, Fireheart. And I’m ready to begin it with you.”
She says quietly, “You mean that?” He nodded. Again, he honed his hearing to Aelin’s stomach. And again,he heard a strong but quiet thump thump, thump thump, thump thump. The sound of their child’s heart beating.
“Any ideas on what you think the gender is?” She smiled slightly at him before answering.
“I want it to be a boy.”
Rowan’s smile is dazzling as he says, “I think it’s a girl.”
“Oh really?” Aelin chuckled. “And what makes you think that?” He shrugged, resting his hand over her stomach.
“I can sense you in her. That unwavering strength. Snappy retorts and bravery. The fire that stirs deep within you. ” Aelin finally smiled, a grin that snatched the breath right out of his lungs. “She’s going to be just like her mother. Gods, help me.”
“I think we’ll need the god’s help regardless of if it’s a boy or a girl. Either one is sure to be a handful.”
He looked her in the eyes, his voice strong and steady as he said, “I really am sorry, Aelin. And I love you. I don’t want you to ever think otherwise.” She rested her hand on top of his.
“I love you.” Aelin leaned up and pressed her lips to his in a hungry kiss.
It was true that the both of them had endured a lot, both while separate and together. Raising a child, they knew, would be no easy task. But as Rowan said, it was a new chapter of their lives.
And they’d live it together.
In the days that followed, all of Rowan and Aelin’s family and friends began to leave, journeying back to their own countries and homes and promising to come visit them again soon. Hopefully before the baby arrived.
Dorian looked upon his friends, eyes shining with happiness for the two of them. “Thank you, again for inviting me. It was good to see you both again.”
“You know you’re always welcome here, Dorian.” He smiled.
“And the same goes for Adarlan. You two should come visit soon.”
Aelin enveloped him in a hug. “We will. I promise.”
Dorian kissed her on the cheek in farewell. “Take care, Aelin.” Rowan claps him on the back and the two men firmly shake hands. And then Dorian is in his carriage and on his way back to Adarlan.
Goodbyes go very much in the same fashion for the rest of their friends. Nesryn and Chaol too promise to visit again. And a few tears are shed when Lysandra bids them both farewell.
There is a new kind of understanding and appreciation between she and Rowan now. Something that has brought them closer. He considers her a closer companion, a loyal friend to both him and Aelin.
“Uncle Ro!” Rowan’s niece, Imara, comes barreling toward him. She leaps into his arms, throwing her tiny arms around his neck. “I’m going to miss you, Uncle Ro.”
“I’m going to miss you too, Mare. Promise me you’ll be good until I see you again?”
She pulls back, a mischievous glint in her eyes. “If I do, can I stay with you and Aunt Aelin in the spring?”
“As long as it’s okay with your mother you can come and stay whenever you want.” He smiles at her, kissing her rosy little cheeks before setting her down. Imara runs to Aelin, who scoops her up into her arms, whispering things in her ear that makes her nod feverishly.
“Pinkie promise?” Imara sticks out her pinkie. Aelin smiles, wrapping her own around the little girl’s.
It takes a good fifteen minutes to say goodbye to all of Rowan’s family. They bid them both good luck and congratulations on the baby news.
The Queen of Terrasen and the King of Doranelle stand side by side. His arm is wrapped around her middle, clutching her close to him. They watch in silence as the last of the carriages leaves the Terrasen gates.
Rowan bent down, his lips to her ear. She can feel his smile as he says, “You know what they say about when a woman gets pregnant.”
“I’m afraid not.”
“They say that there’s something that causes them to be even more irresistible.”
Aelin smiled. “And you bring this up because...”
“Just because you’re pregnant now doesn’t mean that I’ll be able to keep my hands off you.”
Her grin widens. “So you’re saying you’ll still want me even once you cannot tell the difference between me and a walrus?” Rowan presses a tender kiss beneath her ear.
“Especially then.” She laughed.
With one last glance, the two head back inside and up the stairs to their cozy bedroom.
The door barely closes before Aelin’s lips attach themselves to Rowan’s.
All was well.
The Fae Prince's Birthday: Part 1 of 2
The Queen of Terrasen growled in frustration. This had been the fifth time since early this morning that she had attempted to make a cake for a certain overly protective, constant pain in her ass’s birthday.
Rowan Whitethorn was now out with Aedion Ashryver who was, on any normal day, her cousin. However today, he was her lifesaver. Aelin did not particularly want to know what the two men were up to, but she had a feeling it involved many kegs of strong ale and scantily-dressed women.
A knock sounded, and moments later, Lysandra flounced into the kitchen. She was dressed in a simple tunic and pants, something that Aelin, a few years ago, never would have imagined seeing her in. She also never would have imagined that the woman who, with a simple glance in a man’s direction, could make him spontaneously combust right there on the spot, would become one of her closest friends.
And not to mention, a part of her royal court as well.
“Holy gods,” she exclaimed, eyeing the mess around her. “It looks like the aftermath of a war in here!”
Aelin placed her hands on her hips, facing the beautiful courtesan. “It’s good to see you too, Lysandra.”
Lysandra’s full lips quirked up in a slight devilish smirk.
“So why is it that this kitchen looks like it’s gone to hell?”
Aelin replied, “Today’s Rowan’s birthday. I was...trying to make him something but gods, it’s a lot more difficult than it sounds.”
Lysandra’s twinkling laugh filled the expansive kitchen at the look of utter hopelessness on Aelin’s face. “Only you would bother an attempt at baking a cake in the middle of all this shit that’s happening.”
It was true. No more than four and a half months ago, Aelin was fighting a battle where the odds were stacked so high up against her, she was certain she wouldn’t make it out alive. Memories of that day still haunted her when the sun acquiesced to the moon and she’d wake up panting and sweating until strong arms coaxed her back to sleep.
“Have you got anything else special planned for the prince today?” Lysandra wiggled her eyebrows suggestively and Aelin was forced to hold back a grin. Instead, she decided to busy herself with attempt number six.
“I’m don’t know,” she strived for nonchalance as she shrugged noncommittally, “I’m not sure when Rowan and Aedion will return.”
“Oh come on, Aelin,” Lysandra says as she takes a seat at a bar stool, “We both know I know you better than that. Come on, divulge all of your little sinful desires you’re planning to unfold upon the Fae Prince tonight.”
Aelin hesitated. The reason was not that she did not trust Lysandra. In fact, as far as Aelin’s trust was concerned, very few people had the privilege of having gained it. The reason was this: she simply was not entirely certain that Rowan wanted her...in that way.
Yes, a few months previous Rowan had indeed claimed that when the time was right, they would share that moment of intimacy together. However, since that night, very little contact has come between the two. Rowan was simply always busy doing something-or-other, as was Aelin. The two barely had enough time to take a piss let alone explore their deeply-rooted affection for one another.
And in the time span of nearly half a year, a person’s feelings can change.
Apparently, Lysandra read all of this in Aelin’s face, for she guffawed loudly. And when Aelin glanced up to give her a glare so intense it could curdle milk, it only resulted in the courtesan laughing harder.
“I’m pleased my insecurities amuse you,” Aelin said with as much coldness as she could muster. Seeing that the subject was bothering her friend more than she originally presumed, Lysandra placed a gentle and reassuring hand over Aelin’s.
“Hey,” she said softly, coaxing Aelin to look her in the eyes. “Rowan may be a prince who just so happens to be hundreds of years old, but he is still a man, Aelin. You may not see it, but the man can hardly think straight when just your name is mentioned in a leisurely conversation. And the look in his eyes...,” she trails off, shaking her head. “Trust me, my dear. You needn’t worry about Rowan’s dwindling affections for you. I can assure they’re as strong as the power of the mighty gods themselves.”
Aelin chuckled. “I’m not so sure about his affections for me being on the ‘gods’ power’ level, but thank you, Lys.”
“You’re absolutely welcome,” she smiled warmly. “And to help you further, let’s get this damned cake finished.” Lysandra hopped down from her comfortable spot and walked behind the counter to aid Aelin in her baking endeavors.
The queen stared with open disbelief.
“You know how to bake?” Lysandra waved a hand of dismissal.
“It’s one of my many passions, yes. There are many things you have yet to learn about me, queen.” Lysandra spoke with a sort of mischievous gleam in her eyes.
Many things indeed.
It wasn’t until late that night that Rowan and Aedion returned. To her utter surprise, only one of the two men were slightly stumbling. But all in all, the two Fae men seemed to have more wits about them than none.
“So, I needn’t ask how your night was,” Aelin said with hands on her hips.
“Oh it was absolutely dreadful,” Aedion answered, his words paired with only a meager slur.
“I’m sure it was,” Aelin glanced over at Rowan to find that he was making a clear effort to avoid making eye contact with her.
She felt a deep twinge of hurt, and for a second it shone bright as the sun on her face, but then she is in control of her emotions once more, and it is gone.
“Well, I’m going to go up to bed. Try not to stay up too late you two,” Aedion winked at Aelin and clapped a brotherly hand on Rowan's shoulder before disappearing with only the faintest of sounds.
With just the two of them, Aelin was suddenly -for one of the few times in her life- unsure of what to do.
“Is something wrong,” she finally asked. When Rowan looked up at her, she's convinced that all of her worst fears will be confirmed. Lysandra was wrong. Rowan's feelings for her have---
“How could you even think that?” His voice deep and husky.
“How could I not,” Aelin replied. “Rowan, it's been nearly half a year and---” He cut her off there by taking one predatory step towards her.
“Don’t even think about finishing that thought,” he continued his steady advance towards her. “I know we haven’t been able to. . .spend as much time together as we might have liked during these past few months. But if only a few months with minimal physical contact is enough to make you question my feelings for you. . .” Rowan paused for a moment as he comes to stand a hairsbreadth away from her. And as Aelin met his gaze full-on, she read with starting clarity the words in his eyes that he didn't speak aloud. His scent, that head-dizzying scent of pine and snow -of home- hit her, along with something else. “...then I must not have done a very thorough job in expressing them in the first place.”
“Rowan,” she breathed.
“I guess you’re just going to have to allow me to fully communicate just exactly what my feelings for you are. It may take some time, but I am going to obliterate every uncertainty you have about this...about us, Aelin,” he slithered one arm around her waist, capturing her in his arms and pulling her close enough to share breath.
His eyes darted back and forth between her mouth and her eyes and the full force of Rowan’s want hit her like a tidal wave.
“All night. I’ve been thinking of you all night,” he informs her. “I couldn’t seem to get you out of my head. I wanted so badly to do nothing but return home. To be with you. That’s all I could really ever ask for for my birthday, but Aedion insisted we stay out.”
“And now that you’re here?” Rowan’s gaze is unflinching, unyielding as he says, “I think it’s about time I fulfill that promise to you, Aelin.”
The guttural tones in his voice filled Aelin from the very top of her head all the way down to every last toe and reverberated in her core.
He leaned in closer, his lips at her ear.
“So which one will it be, Fireheart,” he asked in a throaty whisper, “Words? Or my tongue and teeth?”
The Fae Prince's Birthday: Part 2 of 2
Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, the Queen of Terrasen and possibly the world’s worst baker in all of history was most certainly at a loss for words. How could she not be when Rowan Whitethorn was gazing at her in the same manner a black hole might look at the last remaining star in the sky?
“So which one will it be, Fireheart,” he had whispered. “Words? Or my tongue and teeth?” The words repeated over and over and over in her head, tossing and turning like the rolling waves of the ocean.
“You bastard,” she said and Rowan grinned.
“I’m going to take that as an undecided. I suppose I can give you a taste of both.”
“What’s gotten into you tonight? You’re awfully...outgoing.” He raised his left hand to her cheek and his thumb rubbed back and forth across the soft skin.
“I’m happy, Aelin,” he said simply and he needn’t say anything more, for Aelin knew the impossibly heavy weight of his words. It seemed as though it was a lifetime ago that Rowan and Aelin were back in Wendlyn and he had divulged to her every detail of his annihilative past. How for centuries he did nothing but exist, barely making it day by day while under the barbaric rule of her masochistic aunt.
They were stood in the foyer of Aelin’s grand temporary home, in plain sight to anyone who just might happen to stumble upon them; but that seemed to be the least of Rowan’s worries as he lowered his head to her neck. He breathed deeply, involuntarily drawing her in closer to him.
“I want to learn...every inch of you, Aelin Galathynius.” Aelin arched her neck ever so slightly. Rowan’s lips were instantly upon the newly exposed skin.
The feeling of his breath on her shoulder, his nose skimming along her neck as he breathed in the scent of her was mind-numbing.
“I want to know everything.”
An agonizingly slow kiss is placed right behind her right ear.
“Everything that makes your heart race.”
Another kiss to the base of her throat.
“What will make your fingers grip the bedsheets in desperation.”
Rowan moved so quickly, even Aelin, in her less guarded state, didn’t realize that they were at the top of the stairs until she was stood there for a good ten seconds.
“Anything else you’re just dying to learn about me?” She asked, a bit breathless. Rowan’s answering grin is primitive.
“Well, I am an immortal. So when I say I’ve got all the time in the world ...,” He looked her square in the eye. “I want to remember every second, every breath, every word shared,” his voice dropped lower, eyes transforming into an impossibly paler shade of green, “...when we shed that last brick wall. Together.”
Aelin smirked, running her hand up and down the hard muscle of his bicep. “And just who said that that’s what I want?” Her fingernails dug into him, red lines raising to the surface of his perfectly tanned skin as she marked him.
Rowan had spent plenty of time outside since their arrival to Terrasen. Although they may not have spent much time together, whenever Rowan had five seconds to breathe, he was outside. He felt cooped up, very much like a bird in a cage if he stayed inside for too long.
Rowan lowly growled.
Aelin smiled up at him and the wind was snatched straight out of his lungs. Every time. Every gods-damned time she smiled at him like that he wondered what on earth he had done to possibly deserve it. The fact that this smile was reserved for him and only him humbled him more than anything else ever could.
And suddenly, everything in the air changed. There was no more playfulness. No more joking. Rowan’s gaze was matched by Aelin’s and not a split second passed before his lips were at her throat.
Her eyes fluttered closed but her hands claimed his as they walked into their bedroom. Each step she took was harmonized perfectly with one that he took as well. Moving fluidly, gracefully in an unrehearsed yet perfectly synchronized dance.
As soon as they both were inside, simultaneously a mighty wind snapped the door shut while every candle in the room burst to life, bathing them in a soft glow.
Aelin’s back hit the plush mattress and Rowan still had not yet come up for breath. His lips were still devouring every inch of skin he could possibly reach at her neck. One hand reached down, the other still grasping Aelin’s as he thoroughly caressed her long, bare legs. He continued his exploration to find that Aelin was indeed not wearing any underthings.
He growled once more and Aelin could feel it reverberate through her entirety and pool straight to her core. The scent of her need for him filled his nostrils and he breathed in deeply.
Gods he could get drunk off the aura of her.
She sat up, and Rowan pulled her so close she was sure they had become one person entirely. Her legs wrapped themselves around his torso as his lips came once again to her ears.
He whispered things to her in the old language. Some of them sweet. Some of them downright dirty. All of them filled with a promise Aelin knew without a shadow of a doubt he intended to keep.
If this is what his words are like..., Aelin found she couldn’t finish the thought. It definitely wouldn’t end in not wanting to know what sinful things his teeth and tongue could do, for she was more than ready to find that out.
“I want...,” she began. The massive expanse of Rowan’s hand reached up and gently coaxed her to open her eyes. They were at eye level to one another when they sat like this, and she could see the very thing that tethered them together. That enigmatic connection the two of them shared.
Rowan rolled his hips slowly, sensuously, and Aelin had to clamp down on her bottom lip to hold in a sound she wasn’t sure would have come out as a moan or a mewl or a plea.
“No,” his deep voice rumbled, “I want to hear you, Aelin.”
Both of their breathing had become so deep, labored and yet Rowan and Aelin felt as if they could not inhale enough oxygen. But they realized that at this point even oxygen was not necessary in order to survive. The two of them were enough.
His hips rolled again, this time even more leisurely.
And this time, Aelin could not hold in the sound that had been begging to escape her.
It was beautiful. She was beautiful. Rowan felt as if he had waited for centuries for that sound to reach his ears.
Aelin’s hands, anything but dainty after months and months of laborious work lifted up his shirt and promptly rid him of it.
She was everywhere.
Her lips left kisses on every square inch of his now naked torso. She worked her way up, starting at the spot where his v-lines disappeared beneath his pants. She had looked up to gauge his reaction and found that he, too had struggled to hold in a growl.
Once she made it to Rowan’s throat, her slightly-elongated canines slipped out. She licked a long, bold stripe on his neck and an animal-like sound reverberated in the back of his throat.
Aelin, too whispered wanton things to him in the language that had once been used by their ancestors. She got the response she had been craving when Rowan let out a sound so animalistic and so full of a promise it made her toes curl.
Rowan laid her back on the mattress, him still sat up straight. Aelin’s legs parted ever so slightly in answer, already anticipating what was to come.
“A bit eager are we, princess?” He teased her.
“Oh shut up you overgrown buzzard,” she replied. “You’re ruining the moment.”
Which they both knew was a lie. Nothing could kill this moment. Especially not their playful banter which they always enjoyed, although both were too stubborn to voice it.
Rowan moved to lie down on his stomach, and Aelin could feel his breath on her legs. His hands wrapped around her ankles, tethering her to the mattress.
He started out just teasing, slowly working up her legs and leaving kisses in his wake. It was once he got above the knee that Aelin truly understood why she needed to be tethered to the bed.
Rowan’s tongue and mouth and teeth were omnipresent. His canines clamped down on skin, mouth sucking just harsh enough to ensure Aelin would not be wearing anything other than long pants and dresses for a long while. She didn’t need to look to know that her thighs would be decorated with purple spots.
His pace was unhurried. Aelin found her mind was simply unable to conjure up a single thought as he finally made it to her most intimate place.
At this angle, Rowan could inhale the full magnitude of Aelin’s sexual desire. It was enough to drive any man crazy but with their heightened Fae senses, it nearly drove Rowan to irrefutable insanity.
Pale green eyes connected with turquoise ones ringed with gold. Rowan knew that they had come this far, but he had to be sure. Had to be absolutely sure that this was what she wanted.
One of her hands clenched the bedsheets, the other, his startlingly silver hair.
That was all the reassurance he needed.
He breathed against her and felt her hand tighten in his hair in response. His nose flicked against her, breathing her in fully and Rowan was more than pleased when Aelin’s eyes had to screw shut. Her legs wanted to move so badly, but he merely tightened his grip on her ankles, assuring she was adhered to the bed.
He tested her once. Twice. Before his tongue flicked out and began devouring her.
Too much. This was nearly too much. Aelin’s body had endured so much. The most brutal of training. Fighting and battles that had nearly killed her. Almost two years ago when Rowan beat the shit out of her in training. Every. Single. Day. Yes, she had endured it but at the time, she was sure he would be the cause of her death. She was certain of the same thing now, but the circumstances and situation were so vastly different, Aelin would laugh if she could.
Rowan was struck stupid once again at how utterly dazzling she was. The candles, he realized, burned and dimmed the same way she did. She was controlling the flames and she wasn’t even aware of it. They bathed her in an almost angelic glow.
His tongue and teeth stopped just as he was sure Aelin was going to shatter beneath him. She could practically feel her hatred.
“You bastard,” she said breathlessly and Rowan chuckled, leaving a few more kisses and purple markings along her thighs.
Aelin reached down and once again claimed his massive hands. Their fingers entwined and when Rowan looked up at her, he found her eyes alight with a new sort of happiness.
His mouth kissed up her body until his body was covering hers. But of course, that wouldn’t do for the Queen of Terrasen for she slipped out from underneath him. Her quick, agile body was on top of his in a split second and she wasted no time in returning the favor of marking every inch of exposed skin she had access to.
Deep purple and red spots blossomed along his torso like flowers. Rowan certainly wouldn’t be going around shirtless for a while.
“Tell me we aren’t being selfish,” she said once she came up for a breath. Rowan couldn’t deny that the same feeling had been nagging at him like a dog would the heels of its master from the back of his mind.
He gently squeezed her hands once, causing a small smile to make an appearance.
“I think if anyone is deserving of indulging in themselves for one night, it’s us, Aelin.”
“And you’re sure about this,” she bit down on her lower lip and Rowan found he could not, for the life of him, stop staring at it. He began to lean up.
“Absolutely sure?” She was teasing him now.
“One hundred-” He shut her up by attaching his lips to hers. She smiled into the kiss, but it soon became anything other than playful.
Her hands were there, ridding him of his pants at the same time his were relieving her of the shirt that had previously belonged to him. It was nondescript, just a plain white longsleeve with buttons, which is what baffled him. She wore it so much now that he no longer considered it his.
They were both completely, shamelessly bare before one another.
Rowan and Aelin had both fantasized this moment for what felt like a lifetime, but none of their imaginations could live up to the real thing.
He openly gawked in admiration at her body, for it surpassed each and every one of his fantasies. Aelin, too, found that she could not stop admiring the sheer beauty and size of him.
This is it, she thought. This is actually happening.
Both Rowan and Aelin were no strangers to intimacy or sex. But this was something wholly disparate.
Slowly, Rowan switched their positions. His body hovered over hers and for a few moments, they did nothing but gaze into eachother's eyes, for it was there that they could gauge the other’s reaction to the reality of the situation.
In his eyes, Aelin read something along the lines of, “I want this time to be slow. I want us to take our time.” But she also read. “I can’t promise the same for any time after this.”
And in Aelin’s eyes he saw, “I wouldn’t want you to.”
He lowered himself carefully, as if he was still afraid to touch her.
“Aelin,” he said and his voice shook with a thousand emotions. “You must know, I haven’t made love to any other woman since...” Rowan needn’t finish. Aelin knew exactly what his unspoken words were meant to convey.
A hand reached up, and she caressed the tattoos that decorated the side of his face. The story of his heart- breaking past. Her lips left a gentle kiss to his forehead and Aelin realized this was the first time she had actually seen Rowan shed tears.
“It’s alright, Rowan. It’s alright.”
He leaned down and kissed her tenderly. A kiss so sweet it made her insides turn to jelly.
“You have made my immortal life worth living.” It wasn’t until Rowan reached up and wiped away her tears that Aelin realized she too was crying.
Rowan slithered his arms around her, holding her impossibly close. Aelin’s arms slipped around his muscled back.
Agonizingly slowly, Rowan connected their bodies in the way they had both been anticipating for what seemed like forever.
He filled her. Gods, did he fill her. All she could see, hear, sense, taste was Rowan. Nothing else existed save for him.
Her nails raked down his back and he roared.
Aelin moved her hips to meet his and moaned into his mouth. She bit down harshly on his lower lip, causing blood to rise on its surface.
Carefully. He moved ever so carefully. Not because he was afraid to hurt her. He could never do that.
They were a tangle of limbs and teeth and hair and tongue and there was not an inch on their bodies that had not been marked by the other in some way.
When the time came for both of them to let go, they peered into each other’s eyes and roared together.
Rowan indeed kept his promise. The first time was slow, sweet. A type of intimacy not many shared in their lifetime.
The second time that night, however, both Aelin and Rowan allowed their predatory instincts to take over. Nothing was held back.
The sun had begun to rose when they two were finally so exhausted, they could hardly keep their eyes open. They were both lain, Aelin’s head resting in the crook of the Fae Prince’s neck. His arms enveloped her body and held her close.
“Do you think Aedion heard any of that?”
Rowan’s deep laughed rumbled in his chest. Aelin grinned and looked up at him.
“Oh, Aedion definitely heard at least some of it. You were so loud-”
“Oh don’t pretend that I’m the only cause of Aedion possibly being scarred for the rest of his life. You were just as loud. If not louder...”
“Perhaps we should have advised him to stay the night somewhere else.” He caressed her cheek.
“I’m sure he’s probably out now looking for an apartment.”
“And if he can’t find one?”
“He’ll build one.”
“That’s wise of him. After last night, I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep my thoughts or hands to myself.”
Aelin felt a hand slide up her bare thigh, but she grasped it in her own to stop Rowan’s exploring.
“We really ought to get some rest.” She suggested.
“My how the roles have changed.”
A wind blew out all the candles in the room at once, and they were once more bathed in darkness.
He kissed her forehead.
A Morning With The Queen of Terrasen: Part 1 of 1
Aelin Ashryver Galathynius had never seen anything quite as amusing as Rowan Whitethorn bustling about her small apartment. It added to her delight that he was indeed shirtless, the rock hard planes of his chest and his solid biceps on display as if he were a piece of art at a show.
Thinking about it now, he was a piece of art. A broken, insufferable, pain in the ass piece of art, but art nonetheless.
“Shouldn’t you be getting dressed as well?” Rowan practically growled as he continued to search through her drawers. Aelin stretched lazily from the bed and released a yawn in answer.
Rowan turned and glared.
And then he stopped.
He was not expecting Aelin to be draped in nothing but a nightgown that was little more than a see-through scrap of fine fabric. This time, it was midnight black adorned with blood red accents. A sinful, daring little number that contrasted beautifully with her pale skin and infamous Ashryver eyes.
He was a fool. After all these months he should know better than let his guard down with her. Still, he found that no matter how high up his guard was, how desperately he tried to expect anything Aelin could possibly throw at him, she would throw him a curveball and he’d be rendered utterly dumbfounded.
The most devilish of smirks crossed her full lips and Rowan was almost undone at just that. A smirk that promised everything evil and nothing good.
Each time-every gods-damned time- she pushed him further, stretched his patience to its limits. Played with it like a cat would a ball of yarn.
“Aelin..” Rowan wasn’t entirely sure what he was going to attach to the end of her name. He just felt as if he should say something considering the amount of time he’d spent just ogling at her.
He dared a step forward, but stopped as she shook her head. Again, she was toying with him. He was the yarn and she was the cat. The one in control.
“You’re damned right,” Aelin answered aloud. Rowan growled, something that was not entirely of this world. It reverberated through her entirety. The scent of her washed over him in a mighty wave, quickly drowning him. Aelin was all that seemed to exist in that moment.
She was slowly driving him to insanity.
“We have somewhere we need to be right now,” He spoke silently.
She lifted an arched brow.
A sigh. “Shame to let all of this go to waste...”
“Tempting, isn’t it?”
“One of these days I will get you back for being the biggest pain in the ass all the world has ever known,” Rowan promised.
Aelin’s smile turned into a full-on grin.
“I look forward to it, Rowan Whitethorn. Then maybe finally you can put all of my many wonders to rest.”
Without another word, she rose from the bed. Rowan forced himself to screw his eyes closed and hold back another wild, animalistic sound.
So close. He was so close to giving in...
He felt something brush up against him and his eyes popped open to watch as Aelin swished past, walking sensuously to the drawers.
“What in the gods names are you doing?” Rowan asked. She answered without looking at him.
“Helping you, you miserable oaf. What else would I be doing?” She picked up a shirt, held it up to eye it for a second, and then walked back over to him. “I think this’ll look quite nice on you. Here, hold it.”
She shoved the shirt in his hands and walked back over to the drawers. Aelin searched for a few moments more before returning victorious with a pair of trousers for him.
Something about it felt oddly intimate. Her picking out his clothes.
“Go put them on,” she instructed with her hands on her full hips. Rowan was disoriented enough that he went into the bathroom and stripped of his clothing.
He changed into the clothes Aelin had picked out for him.
Aelin whistled once he emerged from the bathroom. “Now I’m no stylist, but I must say I did a damn good job.”
Rowan rolled his eyes.
“Why don’t we focus on you getting dressed? We’re already late as it is and you know how long it takes you to get ready.”
She waved her hand in dismissal and then turned to her closet.
“Now for shoes. I was thinking the ones with...” And then a moment later, “Aha! Here they are.” Aelin handed the shoes to Rowan as well and when he didn’t reply with a snarky retort, she hesitated.
“Is something wrong?” She looked up at him, holding his gaze and piercing his soul.
Gods, this woman drove him crazy.
He couldn’t help the little upturn of his lips. Aelin gasped.
“By the gods! Was that a smile?” Aelin exclaimed. “I’ve done it! I’ve made the Insufferable Pain-In-The-Ass Prince smile!”
“It was hardly more than a smirk, Aelin,” He flicked her nose. “Now go on. Go get dressed.”
Aelin held back a snarl. “You know I hate it when you rush me.”
“You know I hate it when you waste half the morning attempting to seduce me.”
At that, Aelin had to laugh.
“I don’t attempt to do anything, Prince. I always succeed in my endeavors.” She gave him a long look. Her head cocked to the side. “Although...some do take longer than others.”
Rowan grinned, causing Aelin to smile.
“Your hair’s grown out again,” she mused and reached a hand up to touch the startlingly white locks Rowan sported. “You really ought to let me braid it.” Her fingers gently combed through it, lightly scratching his scalp in some places.
He held back something that would resemble a pur. He’d never admit how pleasant her fingers felt running through his hair.
“Aelin...” he warned. She sighed dramatically.
“Alright, alright,” she finally surrendered. “I’m going.” She backed away from him.
“And just where do you think you’re going?” Rowan asked when he realized Aelin was headed towards the bathroom.
She shut the door behind her before answering. “I’m just going to take a bath...”
He groaned. “Really, Aelin? You took one last night.”
Aelin was more than aware that she truly didn’t need to take another bath. But she did so just to spite him.
“You can never be too clean,” was her excuse. “Besides, not all of us prefer to roam the countryside smelling the back end of a donkey.”
Rowan walked over to the bed and lay down, propping his head up with his arms.
“You’re a prissy little thing, you know that?”
Aelin used a stream of very unladylike words underneath her breath, but his Fae ears caught every syllable.
The Queen of Terrasen may be one of the most difficult people he’s ever been fated to meet. She was stubborn and a complete and total mystery.
But Rowan Whitethorn knew full well that there was no other place he’d rather be than by her side.
No Business of Theirs: Part 1 of 2
The tub slowly filled with warm water, the bubbles rising to the top. Rowan Whitethorn was in much need of a soothing bath and could think of nothing better than hopping into the massive tub and sitting in there until he turned into a giant prune.
The day had been filled with any number of duties that Rowan could no longer put off. It was his duty as King to take care of certain things and as much as he wished that he could have spent the day doing nothing more than just lying in his bed, listening to Aelin weave stories as easily as she did snarky retorts, his day had been busy from the moment he woke up.
It surprised him to admit that being King wore him out even more than being the most feared Fae Warrior in all the realms had been. Being a warrior was physically taxing. All those years building his strength and endurance had left him unsurpassable. Being King, however…now that was an entirely different thing.
Being King was emotionally taxing. Draining his brain so much after talking about politics, alliances, the peoples of Terrasen and Doranelle, the irrigation systems, potential threats, and most recently…Aelin producing an heir.
The two had been married for nearly three years and in that span of time, the amount of questions they’d gotten about their intimate life was absolutely absurd. Quite frankly, it wore down on every single one of Rowan’s nerves. It was no business of anyone else what he and Aelin decided to do behind closed doors.
Finally, when the water and bubbles were nearly about to spill over onto the floor, Rowan stripped of his clothing and slowly lowered himself into the water. A soft sigh escaped him, his eyes closing.
It was only but a few minutes before Rowan felt a shift in the air. A hint of a scent, the tiniest indication of movement. He opened his eyes to confirm his suspicions.
Aelin Ashryver Galathynius-Whitethorn was stood, leaning up against the wall. Her arms were crossed in front of her chest, her bare legs in clear sight as the only article of clothing she was currently sporting was one of his shirts. Her hair was in a messy up-do, and a hint of a smile tugged at the corners of her lips. Turquoise eyes rimmed in gold sparkled with that ever present glint of devilry.
“Need I ask how your day was?”
Rowan chuckled once, inviting her to sit on the edge of the tub. She slowly advanced towards him, gracefully taking her place beside him. It did not escape his notice how the shirt rose, exposing more of her legs to him and he could not for the life of him decide if she had done this on purpose or not.
“It was…tiring, to say the least.” Aelin nodded in understanding and Rowan could tell, if only by the slight slump in her shoulders, that her day had gone much the same.
A devilish smirk crossed Rowan’s lips as he held his hand out to her. She took it, lacing the fingers together and squeezing it once. “You know, this bath helps quite a bit. The warm water and everything,” he paused and Aelin’s expression matched his own. He knew that she knew exactly what he was suggesting, but she let him say the words aloud regardless. “I reckon it could help you too.”
Aelin said nothing, only smiled and shook her head. Letting go of Rowan’s hand, she rose to her feet and swiftly rid herself of her clothing. He watched, completely mesmerized as he always was at the sheer beauty that was his wife. His queen.
She dipped one toe in the water and, after finding it to be warm enough for her liking, slowly lowered herself into the bath.
Aelin placed herself comfortably between Rowan’s legs, her back to him. She leaned her head back, resting it on his broad chest and lighting every candle in the bathroom in a mighty sweep. He could feel her body relax against him as he left a kiss to the left side of her throat.
He took her hands beneath the water, threading their fingers together and resting them on his bare thigh. They were calm, but the air tinged with an undercurrent of electricity at their naked closeness.
For a few moments, they did nothing but sit there. Their breathing matched in the same, steady rhythm.
“What all did you discuss in the meetings today? I’m sorry I couldn’t be there. I had to go into town to meet with a Minister of Fenharrow. He would only be here for today and refused to reschedule,” Aelin said quietly.
Rowan hesitated. He really did not want to rehash the topic that had come up in every single one of the meetings he attended today.
Apparently, Aelin could sense this because she squeezed his hands gently, encouraging him to go on. He sighed.
“Well,” he started, “There were the usual, mundane things like the incoming shipments of goods from Adarlan, the potential threat of a clan of warriors from The Black Dunes.”
“What else?” Aelin already knew, of course, but she wanted to hear him say it.
“And your producing an heir,” he took a steadying breath. “It came up in every one of the meetings.”
She shrugged. “It doesn’t surprise me. I’ve been getting the question more often than not lately as well. People are just curious, I suppose.”
Rowan growled. “No,” he said sharply. “People need to mind their own gods-damned business is what it is.”
“Aelin, do not even think about telling me that it doesn’t bother you as much as it bothers me.”
She sighed, “Of course it bothers me. One man I passed on the street asked if I was pregnant. When I said no, he replied with, ‘With a gorgeous woman like you, it’s a wonder the King can keep his hands off. It must be something he’s doing wrong, then.’ And before I could correct him, he hobbled off.”
It was not a secret to Rowan and Aelin that some of their people had taken to choosing sides when it came to the question of why Aelin had not yet become pregnant. It was not uncommon to hear that someone in Terrasen blamed it all on Rowan, saying that he must not be making love to his queen frequently enough, or that he had bad genes or some other insane notion.
In reverse, some people of Doranelle blamed it on Aelin. They said that she must be unable to have children, that the bloodline would begin and end with her. She would not produce an heir and their land would be doomed. They said that she must be frequently resisting Rowan, denying him the type of intimacy that the two would have to share in order for her to become pregnant.
That, more than anything, is what angered Rowan.
“I suppose this is what we get for going against tradition. Some think we aren’t having sex at all. That we’re purposely holding out because we do not want an heir to our throne.”
The tradition Aelin was referring to was allowing certain ministers, people of their court, etcetera, witness them make love the night of their wedding. It was an old tradition, one that had been used for centuries to ensure that the queen would produce an heir.
However, both Rowan and Aelin agreed that they did not want people peeking in, watching their intimacy. Just the thought of someone else seeing his queen in her undergarments made Rowan’s chest fill with rage. Aelin simply did not believe it to be anyone else’s business but their own and found it a immensely uncomfortable. That it was something that only she and Rowan should know about.
“You’re not wishing we had gone with tradition after all, are you?” Aelin looked up at him before answering.
“Of course not. The people will just have to deal with it. I just have to be careful to not let it stress me out.”
Rowan could see now, though, that it already was. The constant questions, the ticking clock. If something were to happen to her right now, gods forbid, she’d never produce an heir.
Honestly, having a son or daughter to take the crown after he and Aelin was not at the top of the list regarding things that had to be done. Of course…maybe…one day that part of their lives would be ready for them. For now, though, it just made Rowan’s chest feel tight with anxiety.
He kissed her forehead. “Let’s not talk about it anymore, please.”
Rowan slowly slid their intertwined fingers up her bare thigh. He felt her tense against him. All the blood in his body gathered and pooled in one place and he was finding it increasingly difficult to hide exactly what he wanted to do to Aelin in that moment.
He could smell the scent of desire enveloping her as his lips lowered to her shoulder. A shiver crawled up her spine, a breathy sigh escaping her parted lips. Her fingers clutched his desperately.
Rowan didn’t need to talk, his thoughts painted in vivid colors the possibilities of this moment. He smiled when he realized that Aelin’s thoughts matched his own, her fantasies unreeling in his mind like a play.
He turned her so that she was now facing him. Their eyes made unflinching contact, gazing, not turning away.
It was Aelin’s turn to pepper kisses along his naked body, her hips moving in the most tantalizing way it nearly drove Rowan mad.
It was impossible to hide how much he wanted her now.
Aelin chuckled before whispering sensuously, “Show me. Remind me again why I did not wish for anyone to witness our wedding night.”
A predatory growl reverberated in the back of his throat.
She was certainly driving him crazy.