This is the property of Sarah J. Maas and Bloomsbury Publishing.
This scene takes place in A Court of Silver Flames from Azriel’s perspective and can be read after Chapter 58.
The river house had finally fallen quiet after the raucous Winter Solstice party, the faelights dimming to cast little pools of gold amid the deep shadow of the longest night of the year.
Amren, Mor, and Varian had finally gone to bed, but Azriel found himself lingering downstairs.
He knew he should get some sleep. He’d need it come dawn, for the snowball battle up at the cabin. Cassian had mentioned no less than six times tonight that he had a secret plan regarding his so-called impending victory. Az had let his brother boast. Especially since Azriel had been planning his own victory for a year now.
Cassian wouldn’t know what was coming for him. And Az fully planned on capitalizing on the fact that Nesta likely wouldn’t let Cassian sleep much tonight.
Az snickered to himself, to the listening shadows around him.
Sleep, they seemed to whisper in his ear. Sleep.
I wish I could, he answered silently. But sleep so rarely found him these days.
Too many razor-sharp thoughts sliced him any time he grew still long enough for them to strike. Too many wants and needs left his skin overheated and pulling taut across his bones. So he slept only when his body gave out, and even then only for a few hours.
Azriel surveyed the empty family room, presents and ribbons littering the furniture. Cassian and Nesta hadn’t reappeared downstairs, though that came as no surprise. He was elated for his brother, and yet…
Azriel couldn’t stop it. The envy in his chest. Of Cassian, and Rhys.
He knew he’d be swallowed by it if he went up to his bedroom, so he’d remained down here by the dying light of the fire.
But even the silence weighed too heavily, and though the shadows kept him company, as they always had, as they always would, he found himself leaving the room. Entering the foyer.
Soft steps padded from under the stair archway, and there she was.
The faelights gilded Elain’s unbound hair, making her glow like the sun at dawn. She halted, her breath catching in her throat.
“I…” He watched her swallow. She clutched a small gift in her hands. “I was coming to leave this on your pile of presents. I meant to give it to you earlier.”