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The Shadows Come to Light

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Cassian was the second one to find out about Lucien and Azriel, but the first one to find out by accident. They had had a meeting planned. It wasn’t very formal - he had just asked Az yesterday “Hey we need to talk about the Court of Nightmares. Do you or your spies have any new information?”Az had frowned slightly.

“Yes. I have plans for the rest of today though. They can’t be moved. Tomorrow morning at the townhouse? Seven?”

Casian had nodded. His brother often was meeting spies working on tight schedules, or meeting he couldn’t move. Also, Azriel had never been one to talk when he didn't want to. Cassian knew if Az didn;t want to specifically tell him what he had planned for that night, he wasn’t going to find out.

He still didn’t question it. Az almost never disclosed specific plans, unless the directly related to the Inner Circle. Nothing about their conversation had made him suspicious. Even after knowing Az almost five hundred years, he couldn’t read him most of the time. If he couldn’t read him during that conversation, it was nothing uncommon.
What was uncommon, and downright suspicious, was when he showed up a few minutes after seven and Az wasn’t already there. Azriel almost always showsed up early, and he hadn’t mentioned he was leaving Velaris, so he had no reason to be late.

Cassian waited until half past seven. He was proud of himself for being so patient, and not storming down to Azriel’s apartment half an hour ago, but even that wa overshadowed by fear. He couldn’t recall a time when Az simple hadn’t shown up to something. The few time he had been lat, he had sent ahead he was going to be. Never in Cassian’s memory had this happened. No note, no Azriel.

So he jumped up, running to his bedroom in the townhouse, and grabbed the small key that had an address written on it. About two hundred years ago, when Azriel had purchased his apartment, he had given Mor, Cassian, Rhys and Amren copies of his key. He had told them if they ever use dit in a non-emergency situation, he would cut off the person’s hand.

Cassian didn’t doubt him, but this qualified as an emergency.

So he grabbed the key, and ran through the townhouse, taking off from the front step. He soared through the sky, a few minutes later landing in the designated street. “55.” he murmured to himself. “55, 55,” he looked around, and seeing the house number, “Danm. 33, 37, 43,” He murmured, counting up as he passed the houses, until he stood on a small front porch of a nondescript apartment.

The bottom level was 55, the whole complex claiming numbers 55 - 60. He clenches his jaw, then drew his sword. If Azriel had been attacked, the people who attacked him might still be here. Pulling the door open, and wincing as it squeaked, he entered a small hallway that forced him to pull his wings tighter against his back. There was a bathroom on the left, a small closet on the right. Soon it ended, and he entered a wide living space, with a few windows, but a kitchen. It had a little furniture, and was mostly done in shades of blue, gray, and white. No sign of anyone else, not yet, but here was another hallway at the end of the kitchen. It had three doors, one that lead to the outside straight across, and one to the right and one to the left. He choose the one on the right first, and entered finding the room with a bed and a lamp, but empty of any person. He strode out, and went straight across the hallway and took a deep breath, preparing himself, and swung open the door. The first thing he took in was the window, it’s blinds open, with sunlight falling on two people in a bed, centered on the wall adjacent to Cassian. One of them was Azriel, and he opened his mouth to yell, to warn him about the second person, before he realized that Az was holding the second person. Az was on his side, still sleeping, one wing splayed out, the other around the person, and the person had their face turned into his chest.

His jaw, previously open from starting to warn Azriel, dropped. The sheets were pulled up to halfway across both of their torso’s, and Az had both his arm and his wing wrapped around the other person. Azriel, dare he think it, looked relaxed in his sleep. He looked less battle-worn and weary.

He turned his attention to the other person. He couldn’t see much - just some red hair, with a braid running down the side of the person’s head, the rest of their hair loose. It looked oddly familiar. Why? His eyes fell to a sword propped up against the bedpost on the side the stranger was on. Why would a lady have a sword? That was - despite the number of strong warrior woman he worked with - still pretty uncommon; his eyes fell again on the red hair and everything clicked into place.

He dropped his outstretched sword.

It clattered loudly to the ground, and he knew there was now no backing out, and pretending he hadn’t seen them. Az and Lucien both woke with a start, but Azriel was slightly faster, shifting his body over Lucien’s - gods, Lucien’s - and his shadows ran out, fluttering over his skin and the room as fast as they could move, Lucien was reaching down for his sword, Az pulled a knife from somewhere - “Cassian?” said Azriel, his voice visibly surprised and Lucien froze, still mostly obscured from Cassian’s vision.

He probably could have handled it better, but what he ended up doing was pointing in vague, dumbfounded surprise towards the bed. “Lu-Lucien?”

Azriel sighed, and ran hand through his hair. Cassian saw Lucien’s hand warp around his waist comfortingly. “Can you wait in the living room? We’ll be out in a minute.”

“Living room?” he asked, still trying to process.

Az shot him a glare so cold it could freeze something.

“Right.” He said awkwardly, moving out, and closing the door behind him. From behind him, he heard Azriel murmur softly, “Are you ok, love? I didn’t mean to -”

“Did you just call him love?” Cassian interjected loudly from outside the door.

“Cassian.” Azriel’s words were a growl.

“Right, right, i’m moving -” He said as he continued forward. He had a feeling that if he could see them right now, it would be some kind of lovey-dovey scene. Ugh, he thought, propelling him forward faster.

He could still hear them talking quietly from the bedroom as he sat down. He just caught phrases, but he could hear drawers clattering, and a sink running, so Az mut have an attached bathroom, he realized dumbly.

A few minutes later, they both came out, now thankfully fully clothed, standing close together.

They shared a look, before coming to sit on the couch opposite of him. Az was in a defensive position, and Lucien had a hand on the hilt of his sword, though Cassian thought that might be more for his own comfort than protection.

“What do you want to know?” Az asked, breaking the silence.

“How long?’ He asked.

Lucien looked at Az before he answered. Something in Azriel’s face must've clued him in, however blank Az looked to Cassian, before he turned to look straight into Cassian’s eyes as he said “6 months.”

“What about Elain?”

Azriel answered this time. “She knows. She approves.” His face was steeled into the hard mask, that even after hundreds of years, Cassian couldn’t read.
“Who else knows?”

“Just Elain.” Az said.

“I’m sorry, brother,” He started, putting his hands up, “But, really? Lucien? I mean - Lucien?”

Azriel growled at him, his eyes flashing dangerously. Cassian was slightly terrified - that was the look that broke Rhysand's enemies. That was one of the most powerful Villains in history, with his full attention and anger focused on Cassian. He started to stand, but was stopped by a hand on his arm.

Lucien held him, and leaned up to whisper in his ear. Cassian strained, leaning forward and caught “Not worth it. But you should talk without me here, I think. I love you.”
Lucien pulled back, and even Cassian could see something in his gaze soften. Lucien gently took one of his scarred hands, and squeezed it softly, before standing up and saying, “You two need to talk without me here. I’ll be in my apartment,” he said, turning to look at Az, before slipping out the front door.

As soon as he left, Azriel bared his teeth. “Don’t talk about him like that.”

“ Do you know what he’s done? What he did to Feyre? And maybe she’s forgiven him, but Rhys - Rhys hasn’t and he won’t. You know he won’t.”

“First,” Azriel said, “I know what he’s done. I also know, more than any if you, what was done to him. He never hurt Feyre. It is true, he didn’t stop what happened to her - be he never hurt her. Second, I know what Rhys and Feyre think of him, but, believe it or not, my opinion of him is the one that matters in his and my relationship.” Azriel was still in a defensive position.

Cassian sighed. “What about Mor?”

Azriel’s gaze turned sharper. “Mor and I never had any relationship. My relationship with Lucien will not affect her.”

“Does he make you happy, brother?”

Az softened a tiny bit. “He does.”

Cassian smiled. “Then I support you too, and I won’t tell anyone else. You and Lucien should decide that.”

“Thank you, brother.”

Cassian rolled his eyes. “Come’ere.” He opened his arms, and pulled Azriel into a bear hug before he had time to object. He could feel Azriel’s disdain but resigned expression as he tentatively hugged back. Smiling to himself, he pulled back.

He soon left, as he could tell Az wanted to leave as well. Probably to go tell Lucien what had happened. Also, he wanted to keep both of his hands.

As he flew over Velaris, one thought surfaced. Lucien and Azriel were a weird pairing, yes; but they still had nothing on Amren and Varian.

*****
Amren found out second. The Inner Circle, which, as of Lucien’ appointment of Emmisay, didn’t include him, but it didn’t not include him. He was an afterthought every time, usually Feyre remembering to invite him.

Amren herself was disappointed in him. Compared to the stories, the fox seemed less sharp and witty than she had expected, not that she’d expected much.
She studied the scene in front of her. Lucien, Cassian, and Azriel stood talking in one corner. Nesta and Elain were in the other. Elain was talking, Nesta not so much, just drinking her wine maybe faster than appropriate. Rhysand and Feyre were on the couch sitting a little to close, staring deeply at each other, Feyre with a small smile on her lips.

Morrigan had left to get more wine a few minutes ago.

Something drew her back to the two Iryllians and the Emissary. The group was slightly off, Cassian looking slightly congested, like he really wanted to say something but was biting his tongue.

Unusual behaviour from him, she scoffed to herself.

Azriel and Lucien were standing close together. Azriel had his body shifted slightly, backing Lucien into the wall, his own body a barrier between Lucien and everyone else in the room.

Oddly protective behavior.

And Cassian looked like he’d rather be anywhere else than talking to the pair of them. Maybe it wasn’t something personal about one of them, but rather the fact there was a pair of them.

Hmm.

She brought her glass to her lips, the blood-red wine matching the color she had painted onto her fingernails almost perfectly. She took a long drink, the bittersweet flavor filling her mouth. Morrigan passed, raising her eyebrows as she did so, and something in Amren’s expression, or lack of, must've tipped her off, because she tipped the new wine bottle, refilling Amren’s glass.

She continued on, stopping to talk to Rhysand and Feyre, giving Amren time to continue to observe.

Cassian was pointedly not looking at Lucien or Azriel, and Azriel’s expression was annoyed, but bordering on murederous.

She moved discreetly over as he started speaking, hearing Ariel say, “For cauldrons’ sake, Cassian, just act normal. Nothing’s changed.”

“How can I act normal when -”

It was Lucien, this time, that cut his off with a hiss. “I thought you had agreed to respect our wishes?”

“I agreed to respect Az’s, not yours-”

“Well they aline.” Snapped Azriel.

“Fine, fine.” Cassian threw his hands in the air, muttering “I need some more wine.” As he walked off.

Amren smiled to herself, her suspicions all but confirmed.

“A toast!” Rhysand called from the other room.

Everyone shuffled into the adjacent room, some complaining under their breath, Amren herself the last to join in the room where Rhysand was raising his glass. “To family, new,” he looked at Feyre, “And old.” He glanced over at Cassian and Azriel.

“Hear, hear.” Said Cassian, drinking deeply.

Amren had slid behind Lucien and Azriel, still standing close together, drinks in hand.

“And to new, ah, partnerships,” Amren murmured, already sliding over to talk to the sisters, but triumphed in her success as Azriel stiffened, just enough to be noticed, enough to tell her that her intuition was right.

And when he meet her eyes, she smirked, and took a small sip of her red wine.

*****

Morrigan found out third. She had returned from the Winter Court, a day early. She and Vivienne had plans, but getting ready to be coronated as the High Lady didn’t come without work and her visit had to be cut short.

She hadn’t expected anyone to be in Velaris; Az, Cassian, Feyre and Rhysand had, to her knowledge been in one of the Iryllian war camps.

But as she walked the streets of Velaris, there was a Iryllian male that had scarred hands walking quickly up the street. Only one such man existed - which meant that either Azriel had to change his plans, and didn’t tell her, or he had lied about where he was going to be tonight.

Who was Mor not to find out the truth? She was known for the truth.

That decided, she followed him as he walked down the street, and stopped in front of the theater. A classic piece was going to be played tonight, by a group of professional musicians, according to the sign.

Azriel was waiting for someone - that much was clear. He was dressed up, in something other than his Iryllian leathers, and as far as Mor knew, he had never shown interest in music before, which meant someone was going with him.

Her questions were answered soon as Lucien Vanserra walked up, smiling at him. They stood a little too close together; Azriel’s smile was a little too soft.

They walked in together before Mor’s thoughts caught up with her. They were together. There was no other explanation for his clothing, the music, the smile on Lucien’s face.
She leaned against a light pole for support. Azriel liked both men and women, Azriel obviously wasn’t in love with her anymore, Azriel was in love and if she’d judged right, in a relationship with Lucien.

She was hit with a torrent of questions. Was this a reflection of her? Was Az happy with him? Why Lucien Vanserra, of all faeries?

But overall, she had a warm feeling. Az had finally found a relationship with someone who could be with him.

She probably shouldn’t have, but she waited until they came out of the theater. When they came out, they were both smiling and laughing. And Azriel took Lucien’s hand as they began to walk down the street, towards the Sidra, and toward her.

Azriel’s eyes fell on her. Lucien’s followed a moment later. Lucien removed his hand from Az’s grasp, and they looked at each other quickly before walking towards Mor.
They stopped a few feet in front of her, Azriel, maybe unconsciously, taking a fighting stance.

She hugged him before he could say anything.

“I’m happy for you, Az.”

He smiled tentatively. “Thank you, Mor.” She grinned. Now the fun part could begin. “So when did you guys get together? How did you guys get together? And…..” She wiggled her eyebrows, “How is it?”

Azriel’s cheeks went slightly pink. Lucien grinned.

“Excellent -” He started.

“We are not talking about this.” Said Azriel firmly.

“Party pooper.” Mor said as she rolled her eyes, linking arms with Azriel and leading him down the street, Lucien on Az’s other side. “But I need all the details, first date, everything….”

*****

Rhysand always thought these little family dinners were delightful. Even more so when accompanied by people he didn’t even really know. Somehow, Lucien Vanserra was still sitting at his table next to Elain.

Nesta was there as well. Cassian was pointedly not looking at her. She seemed to be upturning her nose to everything. As Feyre’s family, she was at least more entitled.
Varian was also there. Amren was sitting by him smirking.

Azriel broke through the quiet chatter as he stood up. “Could I have everyone’s attention?”

Lucien, Cassian and Rhys himself looked over at him. Amen and Varian kept talking, as did Feyre, Mor, and Elain. Nesta still stared at the opposite wall.
“Everyone!” Cassian boomed. “Azriel wants to say something.!”

Feyre looked over. “Azriel wants to say something?” Her voice was doubtful.

“Thank you, Cassian,” said Azriel amusedly. “Yes I do.” The room finally fell quiet.

“Some of you already know this. Actually most of you do. But for those who don’t we felt it was time to tell you. Lucien and I,” Lucien stood up next to him, “Are in a romantic relationship. We have been for several months, and we not felt it appropriate to inform you.”

Rhysand looked towards his mate. Feyre looked as shocked as he felt. Gods, even Nesta looked surprised.

But as he looked around, not everyone did. Mor looked ecstatic, Amren looked like cackling, and Cassian had slapped Azriel on the back.
Feyre, however, still looked shocked. “I - what?”

Rhys felt pretty much the same way.

Lucien answered. “We’re in a romantic relationship.”

Rhysand butted in. “Like...dating romantic? Romantic romantic?”

Az’s eyebrows furled together in annoyance.“No, unromantic romantic.”

Az also looked defensive - his jaw was set, his wings folded tightly across his body. His face unreadable as ever, but his body was shielding Lucien.
Az was being defensive of Lucien Vanserra.

Lucien, who had hurt his mate so much. He could barely tolerate him sometimes. But Azriel… if he saw something in him. They were in a ‘romantic’ relationship.
He couldn’t bring himself to say anything, but tipped his glass to them in acceptance before swallowing all the contents.

As the alcohol burned his throat, he thought that as long as Az was happy, as he deserved to be, he would be ok with it.