Celaena had been nagging at Chaol about pulling his hair back from his eyes for the past fifteen minutes, and it was starting to grate.
“We’re trying to save the world,” he reminded her.
“Can’t do that with hair all over your face,” she shot back. “Just – tuck it behind your ear, or something!”
Sighing, Chaol leaned back from the maps of Adarlan and pulled his hand over his scalp, trying to push it all over to the side. Wow. Celaena was right – it had gotten kind of long. Maybe he should –
It was then that he noticed Aedion had stopped talking about battle plans and was staring at him.
“What?” Chaol said.
Aedion continued glaring in stony silence, eyes falling from his hand (which was hovering, frozen, above his head), to his hair, to his face.
“Aedion, what is it?” Chaol asked, beginning to feel equal parts bewildered and annoyed.
Chaol blinked, seeing Dorian smother a smile behind his hand out of the corner of his eye. “I beg your pardon?”
Aedion raised his eyes to the heavens, swore under his breath once more, then returned to talking about battle charges like nothing had happened.
So remember in Heir of Fire when Aedion and Chaol are talking and Aedion’s like “yeah there’s no way Aelin’s going to see the battlefield” and Chaol thinks to himself “haha I can’t wait to see that argument”???
Well I have this AU where Aelin is back and they’ve gathered all the loyal nobles from Terrasen and they’re in a war council and they’re planning and Aelin’s just like “yeah I’ll lead the charge on the left flank” or something like that and then Aedion’s like “oh hell no” and Aelin’s like “oh hell yes” and then they argue like that for a while but no one seems to be winning and eventually Aedion says “I’ll fight you for it. You choose the weapons and whoever wins decides where you’ll be during the battle.” And Aelin thinks for a minute and then smirks faintly and just says “no.” And Aedion’s just like “haha you’re scared you can’t beat me” and then Aelin says “no, Aedion, I could whoop your ass in a fight but I’m the Queen and what I say goes. You can sit out of this battle in my place if you want, though.” And then Aelin shuts his mouth and everybody else in the room is thinking “Aelin’s awesome we have the coolest queen in Erilea.” And Chaol’s just like “I knew this argument was going to be entertaining but that was way better than I thought.” And Rowan’s smirking and thinking to himself “that’s my girl.” And then Aelin leads the charge on the left flank and totally kicks ass and Aedion’s like “damn Aelin’s such a badass.”
Chaol lay in the dark, staring up at the ceiling, and regretting almost everything that had happened to lead to this situation.
It had been a relatively normal night so far, with Aedion going to sleep almost an hour earlier than him with a small (and admittedly endearing) snuffle and a soft shifting of his legs. But now? Now was when the problem started.
There was a small groan and a croaked, “what?”
“Move. You’re taking up too much space.”
Aedion’s face emerged from the pillow, blinking sleepily. Yet still, he managed to look incredulous. “I beg your pardon?”
Chaol gestured at the mattress, where he was just half an inch from the edge and Aedion took up the majority of the space. “I’m hanging off the edge here. Please move.”
Aedion didn’t do anything but glare for a couple of seconds, then made a grumbling noise. Chaol yelped, finding his back suddenly squashed against Aedion’s chest.
“Shut up and go to sleep,” Aedion mumbled into Chaol’s hair.
Chaol tried to break free, but Aedion said immediately, “don’t wiggle, or it will be awkward for the both of us.”
Celaena found them in a position she called ‘spooning’ the next morning. Fleetfoot eventually jumped on the bed and woke them up, but not before she had called Dorian to have a look and apparently agreed with him that they would both refer to Chaol and Aedion as nothing but “little spoon” and “big spoon” for the rest of the day.
It began one afternoon while scouring family trees in the library with Dorian.
Aedion’s hair was falling over his face in a soft curtain, swinging rhythmically with every breath. The golden strands would edge into the side of Chaol’s vision, back and forth, back and forth, until eventually his self-control slipped.
“Tie your hair back,” he said quietly.
“Your hair,” said Chaol, “it’s distracting. Tie it back.”
Aedion stared at him for a long moments, then slowly and deliberately moved his head sideways, dragging the ends of his hair across the pages of the book. “No.”
Chaol stubbornly ignored Dorian’s silent distracting, eh?
It turned into an ongoing argument after that. It graduated from terse requests to tie it back, to throwing at him lengths of cord to use as hair ties, to literally grabbing his head and pulling it back every time he walked into the room. Every time Chaol tied it, it would take Aedion only a couple of seconds to shake it loose.
Celaena and Dorian watched them bicker with profound amusement, she attempting to maintain a straight face and Dorian going bright pink from trying not to laugh aloud. Chaol was fairly sure Aedion was playing deadpan to make his cousin laugh.
After several weeks of constant battle, Chaol decided to end it. He issued an ultimatum – either Aedion cut his hair, or Chaol would get Fleetfoot (who was now nearing the weight of a small horse) to sit on him and do it himself.
Aedion came to Chaol’s bedchambers soon enough, with an apology and an immaculate braid courtesy of his cousin.
It took only several seconds for Celaena to notice.
“Why is your tunic so big?”
Chaol felt his face heat up, self-consciously brushing a hand over said tunic. It was definitely a little big, the collar revealing too much undershirt and one shoulder almost slipping off. The belt he’d cinched it in with was doing as much as it could – which wasn’t a lot.
Dorian looked up at the question, and joined the assassin in scrutinizing him. “Have you been eating properly?” the prince said after a moment.
“Yes,” Chaol grumbled.
Dorian’s eyes scrunched up and he tilted his head to the side in a manner reminiscent of Fleetfoot. Celaena copied him without realizing it.
Chaol shifted under their gaze, snapping when they both began to twist their heads in the other direction.
“It’s just a big tunic!” he said sharply.
They both raised their hands in gestures of surrender, Celaena giving an exaggerated shrug.
The rest of the day passed relatively normally, although occasionally Chaol would turn and catch one – or sometimes both – of his friends eyeing the tunic thoughtfully. The mystery (for them, at least) was solved when Aedion strode in around dinner time from a day spent hunting, immediately spotted Chaol, and said unnecessarily loudly, “you should wear my clothes more often.”
Celaena snorted into her drink.
Dorian fell off his chair.
For some reason, Chaol felt like he was both invisible and drowning at the same time. Everyone was rushing around him, swerving like he was a cold spot – or like they were a hurricane and he was the eye of the storm. A tight feeling had settled in his chest, as if he was underwater and running out of air.
“Where’s Aedion?” he repeated, louder. He could see Dorian and Celaena tending to one another’s wounds a little way off, thankfully not seriously injured – split lips and bruises and Dorian was limping slightly, but nothing life-threatening.
Aedion, however, had disappeared during the fight and had not been seen since. Panic was beginning to set in.
“Where’s Aedion?” he said once more, silently begging someone, anyone, to take notice.
Chaol whipped round, internally thanking the gods. A tall, imposing young woman with long, pale hair, a red cloak, and intimidating eyes was standing there, looking at him intently, wiping scarlet blood on her cloak off the end of –
Chaol blinked, swallowing dryly. Iron nails. An ironteeth witch.
“I,” he began, coughed, swallowed again, and said, “yes. Aedion Ashryver – do you know where he is?”
The witch jerked her chin in Celaena and Dorian’s direction. “Her cousin?”
“I saw him getting carried off,” she said, and Chaol felt like his stomach had just dropped out of his feet. “Wound in the side. Looked deep. Bad, but I don’t think it will be fatal.”
Chaol croaked, “where?”
She tilted her head to the right. “Third sickroom on the left.”
Chaol made a mental note to thank her later, and ran.
The room stank of copper and sweat and a horrible rotten smell that reminded him of vomit was coming from the corner, but Chaol only had eyes for the body on the bed. The massive Ashryver was sprawled on the thin mattress, a light sheen of perspiration covering his skin, armour off and shirt ripped at the side. A bloody bandage formed a lump against Aedion’s side, and his hair was swirling in slender golden threads across the folded tunic acting as a pillow.
Chaol kneeled by the side of the bed and touched Aedion’s forehead hesitantly. “Aedion?”
There was a tense moment when nothing happened, then his eyelids peeled themselves apart and he groaned quietly. “Chaol?”
Chaol felt a lump rise in his throat as his hand moved in a comforting movement , Aedion leaning deliriously into the touch. He’d never seen the Wolf of the North look so vulnerable before. This was Aedion in an almost childlike state, something completely unfamiliar to both Chaol and, he suspected, almost everyone Aedion knew. “Shhh. Don’t strain yourself.”
Aedion made an unintelligible murmur, eyes half-open, and reached an arm up. He took Chaol’s hand – gently, so gently, had Aedion ever handled anything without his signature brute strength, was this the first time in years? – and held it.
“I told you to be careful,” Chaol whispered, unable to help himself. “Now look at you.”
Aedion finally managed to focus his eyes, and if he’d had the strength to roll them, Chaol suspected he would have. He twined their fingers together. “Shut up and hold my hand, captain.”
Chaol was wondering, yet again, why he had agreed to marry Aedion Ashryver.
It happened in under three seconds, and it took him another two seconds to register it – Aedion shaking the hand of a very important army general from Eyllwe, saying, “hello. I’m Chaol Westfall’s husband, Aedion.”
It had obviously taken both Dorian and Celaena shorter amounts of time to gather what had happened, as there was a sudden duet of snorting and Chaol knew that if he turned around he’d see the both of them with their arms wrapped around their midriffs, blue in the face from trying not to laugh.
Chaol could feel the blush rising on his neck, so he tapped Aedion on the elbow and hissed, “that’s really not necessary”, all the while acutely aware of the general’s amused expression.
Aedion raised an eyebrow at his husband, and offered his hand again to the general. “I must apologize,” he said smoothly, without missing a beat. “I am the captain of the guard’s husband, Aedion.”
Chaol flashed an obscene gesture behind his back at Dorian and Celaena.