Chapter no 21

A Court of Silver Flames

Nesta’s head went silent as Elain’s words finished sounding in the room. Feyre had twisted in her seat, face white with alarm.

Nesta shot to her feet. “No.”

Elain remained in the doorway, her face pale but her expression harder than Nesta had ever seen it. “You do not decide what I can and cannot do, Nesta.”

“The last time we involved ourselves with the Cauldron, it abducted you,” Nesta countered, fighting her shaking. She found the words, the weapons she sought. “I thought you didn’t have powers anymore.”

Elain pursed her lips. “I thought you didn’t, either.”

Nesta’s spine straightened. No one spoke, but their attention lingered on her like a film on her skin. “You will not go looking for it.”

Amren said coolly, “So you look for it, girl.”

Nesta turned to the small female. “I don’t know how to find anything.” “Like calls to like,” Amren countered. “You were Made by the

Cauldron. You may track other objects Made by it as well, as Briallyn can. And because you are Made by it, you are immune to the influence and power of the Trove. You might use them, yes, but they cannot be used upon you.” A glance to Elain. “Either of you.”

Nesta swallowed. “I can’t.” But to let Elain involve herself, jeopardize her safety—

Amren said, “You tracked the Cauldron—”

“It nearly killed me. It trapped me like a bird in a cage.”

Elain said, “Then I will find it. I might require some time to … reacquaint myself with my powers, but I could start today.”

“Absolutely not,” Nesta spat, fingers curling at her sides. “Absolutely not.

“Why?” Elain demanded. “Shall I tend to my little garden forever?” When Nesta flinched, Elain said, “You can’t have it both ways. You cannot resent my decision to lead a small, quiet life while also refusing to let me do anything greater.”

“Then go off on adventures,” Nesta said. “Go drink and fuck strangers.

But stay away from the Cauldron.”

Feyre said, “It is Elain’s choice, Nesta.”

Nesta whirled on her, ignoring the warning flicker of primal wrath in Rhys’s stare. “Keep out of this,” she hissed at her youngest sister. “I have no doubt you put these thoughts in her head, probably encouraging her to throw herself into harm’s way—”

Elain cut in sharply, “I am not a child to be fought over.”

Nesta’s pulse pounded throughout her body. “Do you not remember the war? What we encountered? Do you not remember the Cauldron kidnapping you, bringing you into the heart of Hybern’s camp?”

“I do,” Elain said coldly. “And I remember Feyre rescuing me.” Roaring erupted in Nesta’s head.

For a heartbeat, it appeared that Elain might say something to soften the words. But Nesta cut her off, seething at the pity about to be thrown her way. “Look who decided to grow claws after all,” she crooned. “Maybe you’ll become interesting at last, Elain.”

Nesta saw the blow land, like a physical impact, in Elain’s face, her posture. No one spoke, though shadows gathered in the corners of the room, like snakes preparing to strike.

Elain’s eyes brightened with pain. Something imploded in Nesta’s chest at that expression. She opened her mouth, as if it could somehow be undone. But Elain said, “I went into the Cauldron, too, you know. And it

captured me. And yet somehow all you think of is what my trauma did to


Nesta blinked, everything inside her hollowing out.

But Elain turned on her heel. “Find me when you wish to begin.” The doors shut behind her.

Every awful word Nesta had spoken hung in the air, echoing.

Feyre said to her, gratingly gentle, “It wasn’t an easy choice for me to ask Elain to endanger herself like this.”

Nesta twisted to Feyre. “Can’t you find the Trove?” She hated each cowardly word, hated the fear in her heart, hated that in merely asking, she’d exposed her preference for Elain. “You’ve got all that magic, and you were Made yourself, even if it wasn’t by the Cauldron. You trained—you are a warrior. Can’t you find it?”

Again, that silence. But a different kind. Like a thunderhead about to break.

“No,” Feyre said quietly. “I can’t.” She looked to Rhys, who nodded, his eyes shining.

Everyone watched Feyre now. But Feyre’s attention remained fixed upon Nesta. “I can’t risk it.”

“Why?” Nesta snapped. “Because I’m pregnant.”

Silence fell. Silence, and then Cassian let out a whoop of such joy that it shattered the fraught silence into smithereens, leaping from his chair to tackle Rhys.

They went down in a tangle of wings and dark hair, and then Amren was saying to Feyre, light dancing in her eyes, “Congratulations, girl.”

Azriel stooped to press a kiss to Feyre’s head—or an inch from it.

“I knew that stupid shield wasn’t just to practice something Helion taught you,” Cassian was saying, giving Rhys a smacking kiss on the cheek before turning to Feyre and grabbing her to him. Rhysand relented on the shield enough that Cassian could wrap his arms around her, still laughing.

And as Rhys dropped the shield, Feyre’s scent filled the room.

It was Feyre’s usual scent, only—only something new. A smaller, softer scent, like a budding rose, lay within it.

Cassian laughed. “No wonder you’ve been a moody bastard, Rhys. I suppose we’re about to learn a whole new level of overprotective.”

Feyre glowered at him, then up at her mate. “We’ve already had discussions about this. The shield is a compromise.”

Amren smiled broadly. “What was his starting offer?”

Feyre scowled. “That he never leave my side for the next ten months.” The Fae took longer to grow children, Nesta had learned from poring over the books in the House’s library during her initial weeks here. A month longer than a human pregnancy.

“How far along are you?” Azriel asked, gazing at Feyre’s still-flat stomach.

She slid her fingers over it, as if anyone’s attention there made her wish to protect the child inside. “Two months.”

Cassian pivoted toward Rhys. “You’ve been hiding this for two


Rhys threw him an arrogant smile. “We thought you’d all guess it by now, to be honest.”

Cassian laughed again. “How can we guess when you’ve got her bundled in that shield?”

“Moody bastard, remember?”

Cassian grinned, and said to Azriel, “We’re going to be uncles.” Feyre groaned. “Mother help this child.”

Azriel’s own grin bloomed at that, but Feyre’s gaze slid to Nesta. Nesta said quietly to her sister, “Congratulations.”

For she’d said nothing, had only been able to stand and watch them all, their joy and closeness, as if she were looking in through a window.

But Feyre offered her a tentative smile. “Thank you. You’ll be an aunt, you know.”

“Gods help this child indeed,” Cassian muttered, and Nesta glared at him.

She turned to Rhys and Feyre and found the former watching her carefully, the epitome of ease with his arm around his mate’s shoulders— the gleam in his eye one of pure threat.

Nesta let him see it then. That she bore no ill will toward Feyre or the babe. Some primal part of her understood that Rhys was not only male, but a Fae male, and he would eliminate any threats to his mate and child. That he’d do it slowly and painfully and then walk away from her shredded corpse without an ounce of regret.

It was self-preservation, perhaps some new Fae instinct of her own, that had Nesta bowing her chin slightly, letting him see she meant no harm, would never hurt them.

Rhys’s own chin dipped, and that was that. Nesta said to Feyre, “Did you tell Elain?”

Before Feyre could reply, Azriel said, “What about Mor?”

Feyre smiled. “Elain was the only one who guessed. She caught me vomiting two mornings in a row.” She nodded toward Azriel. “I think she’s got you beat for secret-keeping.”

“I’ll tell Mor when she returns from Vallahan,” Rhys said. “Given your reaction, Cass, I don’t trust that she can keep her excitement to herself if I tell her while she’s there, even if she doesn’t say anything to them. And I don’t want a potential enemy knowing. Not yet.”

“Varian?” Amren asked. Nesta had never learned the story of how the female and the Summer Court’s Prince of Adriata had become entwined. She supposed now she never would.

“Not yet,” Rhys repeated, shaking his head. “Not until Feyre’s farther along.”

Nesta angled her head at her sister. “So you can’t do magic while pregnant?”

Feyre winced. “I can, but given my unusual set of gifts, I’m not sure how it might impact the baby. Winnowing is fine, but some other powers, when we’re still so early in the pregnancy, could strain my body dangerously.” Rhys’s hand tightened on her shoulder. “It’s a pain in the ass.” Feyre flicked at the hand gripping her arm. “As much of a pain in the ass as he’s become.”

Rhys winked at her. Feyre rolled her eyes. But then she said to Nesta, “Elain will need time to dust off her powers to try to See the Trove. But you, Nesta … You could scry again.”

Rhys added, “As swiftly as possible. Time is not our ally.” Nesta asked Amren, “You’re not Made?”

“Not as you were,” Amren said. She gave Nesta a wicked grin. “Afraid?”

Nesta ignored the taunt. Even Cassian’s bright happiness had faded. “What choice do I have?” Nesta asked.

If it was between her and Elain, there was no choice at all. She would always go first if it meant keeping Elain from harm. Even if she’d just hurt her sister more than she could stomach.

“You do have a choice,” Rhys said firmly. “You will always have a choice here.”

Nesta threw him a cool look. “I’ll search for it.” She glanced at her sister’s stomach, the hand idly resting atop it. “Of course I’ll search for it.”



Cassian wanted to have a word with Rhys about the Illyrian legions, so Nesta found herself walking to the front entry of the river house alone.

She’d made it halfway down the hall when Feyre called her name, and Nesta paused, right in front of the painting of Ramiel.

Feyre’s smile was tentative. “I’ll wait with you until he’s done.”

Don’t bother, Nesta almost said, but reined it in. They walked in silence to the main entry, all those paintings and portraits of everyone but her and their mother watching them.

The quiet tightened, becoming nearly unbearable as they halted in the sprawling foyer. Nesta could think of nothing to say, nothing to do with herself.

Until Feyre said, “It’s a boy.”

Nesta whipped her head toward her sister. “The baby?”

Feyre smiled. “I wanted you to know first. I told Rhys to wait until I’d told you, but …” Feyre chuckled as renewed shouts of joy echoed down the hall. “I suppose he’s telling Az and Cassian now.”

But Nesta needed a breath to sort through it: the offering of kindness Feyre had extended, what she had revealed—“How can you possibly know its sex?”

The smile faded from Feyre’s face. “During the conflict with Hybern, the Bone Carver showed me a vision of the child I’d have with Rhys.”

“How did he know?”

“I don’t know,” Feyre admitted, her hand again drifting to her stomach. “But I didn’t realize how much I wanted a boy until I knew I’d bear one.”

“Likely because having sisters was so horrible for you.” Feyre sighed. “That’s not what I meant.”

Nesta shrugged. Feyre might say that, but the feeling was no doubt there. Everything that had just happened with Elain—

Feyre seemed to sense the direction of her thoughts. “Elain was right. We’ve become so focused on how her trauma impacted us that we forget she was the one who experienced it.”

“It was directed at me, not you.”

“I’ve been guilty of the same things, Nesta.” Sorrow dimmed Feyre’s eyes. “It was unfair for Elain to level that truth only at you.”

Nesta didn’t have an answer to that, didn’t know where to start. “Why not tell Elain about the baby’s sex first?”

“She discovered the pregnancy. I wanted you to know this part before anyone else.”

“I hadn’t realized you were keeping score.”

Feyre gave her an exasperated look. “I’m not, Nesta. I just … Do I need an excuse to share things with you? You’re my sister. I wanted to tell you before anyone else. That’s it.”

Nesta didn’t have an answer to that, either. Thankfully, Cassian’s voice filled the hallway as he bid his farewell to Rhys.

“Good luck,” Feyre said softly before rushing to meet a jubilant Cassian, and Nesta knew her sister didn’t only mean with the Dread Trove.

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