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Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros | Favorite Quotes Part II

This has never happened to me before, but my review and favorite quotes needed to be split into two posts, because it's that big!

Well, actually I just have THAT many favorite quotes.

So here are my favorite quotes to Part 2 in Iron Flame.


My review, and part 1, should be posted tomorrow afternoon, and then expect my usual holiday reads all the way to Christmas.

Violet: “Good morning.”

I smile, settling my hips over his. My breath catches at the feel of him beneath me, hard and ready.

Xaden: “I could get used to waking up like this.”

He looks at me with a hunger that mirrors my own, and his hand slides from my hip, over the curve of my waist, and up between the peaks of my breasts to cup the side of my neck gently, carefully.

Violet: “Me too.”

Xaden: “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

He tugs at my hair, his breaths coming faster and faster.

Xaden: “You have to stop. Or I’m going to lose it on you.”

His stomach flexes as he lifts his head to watch me.

Xaden: “And I’m not sure I can be gentle.”

Violet: “Lose it.”

Sounds excellent to me.

Violet: I don’t want gentle.”

Xaden: “Mending bones isn’t instant. You’re still heal—”

I suck him deeper. He growls.

Violet: “You really want this?”

Xaden: “I want you feral.”

Violet: “You want me to sleep in here with you?”

I ask once I can form words.

Xaden: “Every night.”

Violet: “Your secret is safe with us.”

Xaden: “So presumptuous.

Woman: “And what do we do with all these cadets?”

Battle-Ax asks wearily, rubbing the bridge of her nose.

Woman: “Gods, you brought us Aetos and scribes. It’s not like we can send them out to battle wyvern and venin.”

Xaden: “I also brought you four professors, and it’s not like you’re without your share of knowledge. I’ve already questioned the scribes. They can be trusted, and Cath vouches for Aetos. As for the other cadets, I suggest you get them back into class.”

Tairn: "Could you not crush our human?

Andarna: “I wasn’t even close,”

Andarna snaps in return with a quick glare his direction as she flares her wings with the same result.

Tairn: “Adolescents. They’re insufferable when hungry.”

Violet: “What else aren’t you telling me?”

There’s no way he’d have cut her out of the conversation unless he was worried about my reaction to the information—or hers.

Tairn: “What she herself has not recognized.”

He lowers his head, his great golden eyes locking with mine.

Tairn: “She’ll fly, but she’ll never bear a rider.”

Violet: “Iron rain mean anything to you?” 

I ask down the bond, closing the notebook on Xaden’s desk and reaching for my pack. I’m going to be late if I don’t hurry.

Tairn: “Should it?

Andarna: “Clearly, or she wouldn’t be asking.”

I can practically feel Andarna’s eyeroll.

Andarna: “Ooh…sheep.”

Tairn: “They will not stay down if you keep stuffing them in like”

—Tairn sighs—

Tairn: that.”

Andarna: “Can you carry a luminary?

Tairn: “That question insults me.”

Andarna: “Can you carry a luminary while insulted?

Tairn growls.

Violet: “Get to the great hall and tell Ridoc Gamlyn that I need ice now!”

I shout at a guard as we pass through the foyer.

Brennan: “I’m fine!”

Brennan manages to say around the handkerchief stanching the river of blood trying to pour down his face. He tests the cartilage and cringes.

Brennan: “Damn it, Mira, I think you broke it!”

Violet: “I heard a distinct crunch.”

Ulices: “You’re sure—”

Brennan: “I can handle my own sister,”

Mira: “Don’t be so sure about that,”

Mira counters, arching an eyebrow as Ulices departs, leaving the doorway empty but guarded outside.

Brennan: “I can’t believe you hit me. Do you know how hard it is to mend myself? You? No problem. Doing it for myself? A giant pain in the ass.”

Mira: “Oh, do cry for me, big brother.”

Mira scrunches her face as she mocks him.

Mira: “You know, the way we cried for you.”

They’re screaming at each other like I’m not even here. Yep, definitely morphed back into the little silent sister.

Mira: “Neither were you! You hid up here like a coward instead of coming home when we needed you!”

She gestures at me.

Mira: “You chose complete strangers over your sisters!"

 Brennan: “I chose the good of the Continent!”

Violet: “Oh for fuck’s sake! Stop it! Mira, he was a brand-new lieutenant, and what’s done is done.”

Pivoting toward Brennan, I shove the ice into his hand.

Violet: “Brennan, put the fucking ice on your face before you stain the floors, you stubborn ass!”

Brennan slowly lifts the ice to his nose, looking at me like he’s never seen me before.

Xaden: “And to think, I used to wish I had siblings,”

Xaden says from the doorway, leaned against the doorframe casually, like he’s been watching us for a hot minute.

Brennan: “Seriously? Right in front of me?”

Mira: “Oh, this is tame for them. Wait until they decide to basically climb each other in a public place. You can’t burn that shit out of your head, trust me.”

Xaden: “So what are the Sorrengail siblings going to do now that you’re all reunited?”

Mira: “We’re going to beat the shit out of our brother,”

Brennan: “Survive,” Brennan chimes in.

Brennan: “Missive arrived today. He wants us to come to his aid when called. The seaside drifts are to be armed first, and he says he’ll let us bring the luminary back to Aretia—”

Xaden: “He won’t,”

Brennan: “—if he can see Vi wield,”

Xaden: “Looks like we need to seek another luminary, because he’ll meet Malek before Violet,”

Violet: “Go away,”

Brennan: “With that look on your face? I don’t think so.”

Violet: “What look?”

I shoot a glare in his direction, even though I know this isn’t his fault.

Brennan: “The same one you had at eight years old, when you stared Mom down over a plate of squash for twelve straight hours.” Violet: “I’m sorry?”

Rocks crunch underfoot as we make our way down the path to Riorson House.

Brennan: “Twelve. Hours.”

He nods.

Brennan: “Dad said to let you go to bed, that you weren’t going to eat them, and Mom said you weren’t going to sleep until you did.”

Violet: “What’s your point?”

Brennan: “When I got up the next morning, Mom and Dad were both asleep at the table, and you were snacking on bread and cheese. I know that face, Violet. When you dig in about something, you’re more tenacious than all of us put together, so no, I won’t be going away.

Violet: “I’m not powerful just because he loves me.”

The bitter taste of fear fills my mouth a heartbeat before power breaks free, cracking through me like a whip, but lightning doesn’t flash. At least not in the sky.

I blink at the glowing orb, then marvel at the string of lightning that runs from where my forefinger rests against the metal strip to the alloy pendant inside. The bolt vanishes a breath later.

Felix: “No. You’re powerful and he loves you, which is even worse.

Violet: “No.”

I glance between them. Have they always bickered like this?

Violet: “We’re not fighting the entire way there, and we sure as hell can’t fight once we get there. This is dangerous enough as it is. Pull yourselves together and quit squabbling.”

Mira: “Yes, Mom,”

Violet: “Stop intimidating them.

The last thing we need is an incident before we can even ask Tecarus for the luminary.

Tairn: “I can’t help their inferiority.

Violet: “I’m here to wield lightning in return for asking your viscount for help.”

May as well start us out. He cocks his head to the side, then nods, glancing toward Brennan.

 Brennan: “I’m here to broker a deal for your luminary in return for weaponry,”

 The flier nods and looks at Mira.


She sighs.

Mira: “Make one wrong move toward my sister, and I’ll gut you like a fish. That goes for everyone in this city. How is that for honest?”

My mouth opens slightly as I glance sideways at my sister.

Brennan: “Damn it, Mira,”

The flier’s mouth curves into a toothy smile.

Flyer: “I can respect that.”

His jaw flexes, his hands curl at his sides, and his beautiful face… Well, he hasn’t looked at me with that much anger since discovering my last name at Parapet, back when he wanted to kill me. Guess I should be careful what I ask for, because I’m so fucked.

Xaden: “You aren’t where I left you, Violence.”

Violet: “Where you left me?”

I whisper under my breath at Xaden as we walk across the guarded lawn, passing by a half dozen more fliers on our way to a row of open doors made entirely of glass. How utterly impractical and sublimely gorgeous.

Violet: “Like I’m some kind of pet who should stay curled up on your bed because you said so?”

Fuck him.

Xaden: “The thought isn’t entirely unpleasant,”

Violet: “You never would have pulled this bullshit last year. You never held me back, never caged me in the name of protecting me. You were the one telling me to find another way on the Gauntlet, watching me fight off other cadets at Threshing—”

Xaden: “I wasn’t in love with you then.

His hand grasps the nape of my neck, and his thumb skates over the pulse in my throat.

Xaden: During Gauntlet, Threshing…I had no idea what you would become to me.”

And he couldn’t kill me thanks to the deal he made with Mom—the deal he still hasn’t trusted me with.

Xaden: “I sure as hell hadn’t sat by your bedside for three days, knowing my life—if it even existed beyond yours—would mean nothing without you in it.”

Xaden: "Let’s get one thing straight. If I ever see a way to keep you safe? I’ll take it.”

The fuck he will.

Violet: “Do you know who you sound like right now?”

Xaden: “Please, enlighten me.”

He folds his arms across his chest.

Violet: “Dain.”

I shut the door in his face.

Mira: “I was going to remind you that it’s probably bad manners to stab our hostess, but you know what?”

She shrugs.

Mira: “Fuck it. We don’t need a luminary.”

I’ve had enough.

Tairn: “It would be a pity to kill her now. I’m hunting ten minutes away and I’d miss the show,

Xaden: “That dress…

His gaze sweeps over me and heats with an intensity that makes my cheeks flush, my pulse race.

Xaden: “You’re playing dirty, Violence.

Violet: “I’m still really damned angry with you.”

I lift my chin, just as furious with myself for getting into this position, for feeling whatever all this bullshit is.

Xaden: “Feeling is mutual.

He slides one hand into my hair, then sucks a breath through his teeth when his fingers meet skin at the base of my spine.

Xaden: But it’s possible to be angry while still madly, wildly, uncontrollably in love with me.

Violet: “Loosen your grip on his throat. He can’t answer questions if he’s dead.”

Two lines appear between Xaden’s dark brows, and his grip eases. Moving to his side, I make sure that my shoulder brushes his arm, that he can feel me physically as well as mentally.

Violet: “You’re lucky you’re not dead,”

I say up at Tecarus’s blotchy face.

Violet: “If you’d put Xaden in that kind of danger, I’m not sure I would have been as merciful.”

Tecarus: “You call this mercy?”

Tecarus asks through gasped breaths, still kicking for the ground.

Xaden: “Yes,”

Violet: “I wouldn’t risk either of you.”

Tairn: “Of course you wouldn’t. Why would you, when I’m quite capable of carrying you all over the world?”

I can feel his eyes roll.

Tairn: “You did not bond the inferiority that are gryphons. You bonded dragons. Take them for a walk and let them prove themselves.”

Violet: “The way the fliers look at us is more like they expect us to prove ourselves.”

Tairn: “You were chosen by dragons. That is enough.”

Violet: “Put my shoulder back in.”

My voice croaks as I glance at Dain.

Dain: “Shit. Are you serious?”

He lifts his brows.

Violet: “Do it. Just like when I was fourteen.”

Dain: “And seventeen,”

Violet: “You’re faster than they are, right?”

Fear licks down my spine.

Tairn: “Don’t insult me when we’re headed into battle.”

Violet: “I know we’re not supposed to question dragons—

Tairn: “Then don’t.”

Violet: “You could have crushed someone,

Tairn: “Could have, but alas, they moved.

Violet: “Aren’t you going to tell me how brilliant that idea was?”

Tairn scoffs.

Tairn: I chose you last year for that brilliance, and now you’d like to be congratulated like it’s something new? How odd.

Violet: “You’re impossible to impress.

Tairn: “I’m a dragon, a Black Morningstartail. The descendent of—”

Violet: “Yeah, yeah.”

Andarna: “Civil is overrated. I’ve never tasted gryphon—

Tairn: “We do not eat our allies. Find another snack.”

Ridoc: “The little Mini-Tairn is becoming ferocious, isn’t she—”

Andarna: “I am no one’s miniature.

Andarna’s head darts toward him, and she snaps her teeth less than a foot in front of his face.

My heart bolts.

Violet: “Andarna!”

I shout, turning quickly to put myself between her and Ridoc as she withdraws.

Ridoc: “Damn!”

Ridoc throws his hands up, his hair blowing back from the force of what can only be described as the frustrated huff of Tairn’s…sigh.

Ridoc: “Big. Meant to say big.”

Violet: “No more spending time with Sgaeyl.”

I point at her, stopping short of tapping her chin before looking up at Tairn, who’s lowered his head over her like he might actually put her between his teeth and yank her off the field like a puppy.

Violet: I mean it. She’s rubbing off on you.

Andarna: “I could only be so lucky.

Andarna lifts her head, preening, and Tairn grumbles something in his own language.

Maren: “Holy shit,”

Violet: “Sorry about that. Adolescents.”

Violet: “You’re baring your teeth, aren’t you?”

I don’t bother hiding my smile.

Andarna: “I don’t trust them,. Especially the one in the center who looks to be plotting your death.”

Violet: “Don’t let her bother you.”

Cat’s eyes are indeed narrowed on me as usual.

Andarna: “She bothers you.”

Andarna takes a single step forward, putting her chest scales just over my head.

Tairn: “And she’ll get used to it, or she’ll kill her,”

Tairn answers from behind us where the other three—no, four—dragons wait now that Feirge has arrived.

Tairn: “Either is acceptable.

Ridoc: “You made that way more painful than it had to be. For fuck’s sake, it was like you were leading up to asking her out or something.”

He visibly shudders.

Violet: “What if he had been?”

Ridoc: “Then I’d be stuck cleaning little pieces of him off our shared floor when Riorson ripped him to shreds.”

Ridoc shakes his head.

Ridoc: “So messy.”

Ridoc: “I’m not fluent enough to make a good teacher, apparently.”

Ridoc rolls his eyes.

Sawyer: “You’d teach me the sign for sex and tell me it was hello, just to see what happened when I used it,”

Ridoc: “What? I’m not a total dick.”

A smile curves Ridoc’s mouth.

Ridoc: “I would have waited until you asked about the word for dinner—that way, when you asked her if she wanted to grab a bite with you—”

Violet: “Advice?

Tairn: “Don’t blow anything up.”

Tairn shifts his weight behind me.

Andarna: “At least blowing something up would be interesting,

Emetterio: “Without killing your opponent,”

Emetterio continues, talking directly at Aaric before moving on,

Emetterio: “for the next six hours, every request—between cadets of the same year—for challenge will be granted. You will address your grievances once on these mats, and then you will put them behind you.”

Ridoc: “They’re going to let us beat the shit out of them?”

Sloane: “I think so,”

Imogen: “It’s going to be a phenomenal afternoon.”

Imogen grins, cracking her knuckles.

Squads are sacred. Squads are family. Squads are born after Parapet and forged through the Gauntlet, Threshing, and War Games. Squads aren’t merged unless they’re dissolved due to deaths—and we’re the Iron Squad.

We do not bend. And we definitely do not blend.

Andarna: “Scratch her eyes out. Really. The eyes are the softest tissue. Just jab your thumbs in there—”

Tairn: “Andarna! Use some common sense. The kneecaps are a much easier target.”

Violet: “Quiet time, now.

I’m going to fucking kill her. How dare she come after me, like I had a choice in Luella’s fall? Like I had anything to do with Xaden’s choice to leave her? Fuck that. How dare she come after what’s mine. He isn’t a crown. He isn’t a stepping stool for power. He isn’t a tool to elevate her standing. He’s everything.

Xaden: “Look at how beautiful you are, Violet, coming for me on Tyrrendor’s throne.”

Violet: “I felt how much you need me.”

I shift forward to the edge of the chair—throne—whatever.

Violet: “You want me over the side of the throne, right? Grasping onto the arm so my nails scar it.”

Xaden: “Fuck.”

The table groans under his grip.

Xaden: “I should not have done that.”

Violet: “Oh, you definitely should have. It was quite possibly the hottest moment of my entire life. You ever want to bring me to my knees or win an argument? That’s a sure bet.”

Violet: “Would that have been unforgivable to you?”

He finishes tying my boot, then lets go of my foot.

Xaden: “Nothing you could ever do would be unforgivable to me.”

Xaden: “You don’t have to like someone to fuck them.”

He shrugs. My jaw slackens, considering what we just did. His head tilts as he watches me.

Xaden: “As I recall, you didn’t exactly like me the first time—”

Violet: “Do not finish that sentence.”

I jab my finger in his direction.

Xaden: “On the other hand, I was already in love with you.”

Violet: “Digging? She made me jealous!”

The word is bitter on my tongue.

Xaden: “She didn’t make you anything.”

Felix won’t miss the conduit if I throw it at Xaden’s head, will he?

Violet: “Oh really? You heard what she said. How would you feel if one of my previous lovers had you on the mat for a challenge, then told you that he knows how I taste?”

He tenses.

Violet: “How I feel on top of him?”

I lower my tone, letting sex slide over every single word.

Violet: “How he had me first and insinuates that he plans on having me last, too?”

His jaw flexes, and shadows curl around the legs of the table.

Xaden: “She wasn’t my first by a long shot.”

Violet: “Not the point. You want me to ask more questions? Then don’t avoid them.”

Xaden: “Fine. None of your previous lovers are riders, unless there’s history I’m unaware of when it comes to Aetos, so they’d never have me on the mat. I’m guessing infantry, but again, I don’t want to know, so I don’t ask.”

Violet: “I didn’t sleep with Dain.”

But he’s ridiculously on the mark with the infantry guess.

Xaden: “I knew that the second he kissed you after Threshing. It looked awkward as fuck.”

He shoves his hand through his still-mussed hair.

Xaden: “And to answer the question, I’d feel jealous, which is something you have a unique ability to bring out in me. And then I’d kick his ass, partially because that’s what I do when someone challenges me, and more importantly for implying there’s any other future besides the one where you and I are endgame.”

Violet: “I think I liked you better before you decided that feelings were something we need to discuss.”

Xaden: “Sorry to inconvenience you, but this year the role of Violet Sorrengail”

—he points to me—

Xaden: “will be played by Xaden Riorson”

—he taps his chest—

Xaden: “who will drag her, kicking and screaming if he has to, into a real relationship with real discussions, because he refuses to lose her again. If I have to evolve, you do, too.”

He folds his arms across his chest.

Violet: “Is he done talking in third person?”

Xaden: “Violet, you were just in my thoughts. You know I think you’re perfect, even when you frustrate the shit out of me. Now tell me about the insecurity. I thought we handled that last year.”

Violet: “Sure, before I knew you were leading a revolution, and before you declared you’d always keep secrets, and way before some beautiful aristocrat who you used to be betrothed to but conveniently was never mentioned appeared with her big brown doe eyes and sharp-ass claws at our bedroom door half naked—”

Xaden: “She what?”

His eyebrows rise.

Violet: “—and then has the nerve to tell me I’m not special just because you like to fuck me.”

Xaden: “I do like to fuck you.”

A slow smile curves his mouth.

Xaden: “I love it, actually.”

Violet: “Don’t side with her!”

Xaden: “You raged today because you were angry.”

He strokes his thumbs over my pulse.

Xaden: “You got jealous because you were jealous. You grappled with inferiority because for some reason I can’t understand, you feel inferior. And you lashed out with insecurity because I think both of us are just figuring this out as we go. Own your feelings like you did last year and be honest with me. Cat can’t plant emotions, warp them, or even sway them unless you are already headed that way. Cat can only amplify what you’re already feeling.”

I swallow, but the lump forms in my throat anyway. It’s all…me.

Xaden: “Yeah, it’s a shitty realization. I’ve been there.”

He laces his fingers with mine.

Xaden: “She can take you from irritation to full-on rage in the span of a minute or two. And yes, she’s really fucking powerful, but so are you. But the only weapons she wields are the ones you hand her.

Xaden: “You have to find your center again, Violet. I can’t do it for you.”

He holds my gaze, letting his words sink in, before adding,

Xaden: “You are a creature of logic and facts, and everything you know got turned upside down and shaken. You’ll never know how truly sorry I am for that. But you can’t just sit there and hope. You want it to change, then you have to figure it out, just like Gauntlet. You’re the only one who can.”

Xaden: “Do me a favor?”

Violet: “Anything.”

Xaden: “Come to bed early tonight.”

Violet: “Oh! And one more thing.”

I lower my voice just slightly, well aware of every head within our squad that turns our direction.

Cat: “What?”

Violet: “That trick you mentioned? You know, with the fingers?”

A slow smile spreads across my face.

Violet: "Thanks.”

Cat’s eyes bulge. Imogen laughs so hard she snorts as I walk back to Rhiannon.

Rhiannon: “Damn. Just…damn.”

Rhi claps a few times.

Ridoc: “I fucking love you.”

Ridoc throws his arm around my shoulders.

Violet: “We can’t kill her. She’s our squadmate.”

Wait, is that really the only ethical line there?

Sawyer: “You sure? Say the word and we’ll bury a body. We still have a couple of hours before we’re due in Battle Brief.”

Andarna: “Good idea. I could use a snack.”

Andarna’s tone is indecently excited.

Tairn: We do not eat our allies,”

Andarna: “You never let me have any fun.”

Dain: “You asked to see me?”

Dain folds his arms across his chest.

Dain: “Of your own volition? No orders or anything?”

For a second, I hesitate. Then I remember that he stabbed Varrish, he called the formation to split the quadrant, and when the truth came to light, he chose exile with a group of people who despise him because it was the right thing to do.

Violet: “I need your help.”

Dain: “All right.”

He nods without waiting for an explanation. And just like that, I remember why he used to be one of my favorite people on the Continent.

Dain: “Are you in love with him?”

he asks, his voice breaking on the last word as he pivots to face me fully.

Dain: “Because Garrick and I heard the end of what he said in the interrogation chamber, and trust me, I might be in love with him after that declaration, but are you? Really and truly?”

Violet: “Yes.”

I hold his stare long enough that he knows I mean what I say.

Violet: “And that’s never going to change.” Dain’s jaw flexes and he nods once.

Dain: “Then I’ll trust him as much as you do.”

Felix: “You almost hit it that time.”

I clench the energy-warmed conduit in my hand.

Violet: “I did hit it.”

I sway on my feet and shake off my exhaustion. Too many late nights have been spent translating Warrick’s journal from the beginning, too many lunches have been eaten in that cold wardstone chamber, and I’ve definitely spent too much time with Dain. I’d almost forgotten how good he really is with languages, how quickly he catches on.

Felix: “No.”

Felix shakes his head, then plucks another grape from the bunch. How are those things not frozen? The ground has accumulated about six inches of snow in the hour we’ve been out here.

Felix: “If you’d hit it, the rocks wouldn’t be there anymore.”

Violet: “You said to use less power, remember? Smaller strikes. More control.”

I shake the orb in his direction.

Violet: “What would you call that?”

Felix: “Missing the target.”

Tairn: “I chose you, and dragons make no mistakes.”

Violet: “What’s it like to go through life so self-assured?”

Tairn: “It’s…life.”

Violet: “It’s already snowing up the pass. I bet we get seven inches tonight.”

Xaden: “Maybe more if you’re good.”

A corner of his mouth lifts as he cuts into the cake with the fork.

Violet: “You’re making dick jokes?”

I brace my hands on the top edge of the wall.

Xaden: “You’re talking about the weather.”

Xaden: “I do. I know. And through the anger and the horror of watching all those civilians flee, watching them die, I realized she treated me like every marked one has treated you since Threshing. Like you’re just a vulnerable extension of me.”

Violet: “I don’t think anyone would ever mistake you for vulnerable.”

I reach for his hand and lace our fingers.

Violet: “But yes.”

He finds my gaze and closes his hand around mine.

Xaden: “I’m sorry.”

Violet: “Thank you, but as annoying as it is, I get it. We’re tethered.”

I shrug. He kisses me quiet, hard, and quick.

Xaden: “For the rest of our lives.”

Looking over my mug, into the connected living room of the townhouse, I smile at the sight of Sawyer sitting with Jesinia on a blanket near the fire, an intense look of concentration on his face as he signs—

Shit, he might have just told her that he thinks her turtle is blue, but I’m not getting in the middle of that.

Cat: “You brought a dragon.”

Cat gestures wide, motioning toward Andarna.

Violet: “She can’t breathe fire yet.”

I offer Andarna a smile.

Violet: “But she will.”

Andarna: Remind her that I can sever her head with one bite,”

Andarna growls, the sound higher than Tairn’s menacing rumble.

Violet: “I will not. What does Tairn tell us?”

Andarna: “We don’t eat our allies,”

Violet: “Take it,”

Sloane: “I’d rather live.”

She puts her hands up.

Violet: “If I thought it was going to kill you, I’d hand it to Cat.”

I hold the conduit out to her.

He stalks forward, then bends down into my space and kisses me, soft and slow.

Xaden: “You’re alive,”

he whispers against my lips.

Violet: “So my heartbeat says.”

Xaden: “Good.”

He stands, folding his arms.

Xaden: “Now we can fight. What the fuck were you thinking, saving Cat?”

I blink.

Violet: “I’m sorry, you’re mad at me? I fight my way out of a cave against a dragon, and you’re mad at me? For saving a woman in the line of succession to the throne of Poromiel?”

He reels backward, horror flashing into his eyes a second before anger swamps them.

Xaden: “You saved Cat because she’s third in line?”

Violet: “First, I would have fought to save anyone—”

Xaden: “You selfless, reckless—”

he accuses, backing away slowly.

Violet: “And second, her death would have triggered yours, so hell yes I saved her!”

My feet hit the ground and my head swims for a heartbeat, but my pulse steadies as I breathe deeply.

Violet: “Tecarus would have had you executed if she’d died under your care.”

Xaden: “Un-fucking-believable.”

He laces his hands on the top of his head.

Xaden: “You hate her, and yet you refuse to raise the wards, no doubt so her power won’t be stripped away, and then you put your life in front of hers—”

Violet: “For you!”

Xaden: “All I want is you!”

He flicks his hands, and shadows shut the door a little harder than necessary, sealing us in behind the sound shield.

Xaden: “If she dies, then I’ll take the consequences. If they can’t channel, I’ll take those consequences, too. But not you. Never you. Gods, Violet. "

Xaden: “Love, you’re the smartest person I know. If you actually wanted the answers, you’d ask the right questions.”

His voice softens as his thumb sweeps along my jawline.

Xaden: “You knew about the deal. Maybe the question you need to be asking is why you didn’t confront me about it.”

Violet: “Because I love you!”

My voice breaks into a mortifying whisper that’s almost half as embarrassing as the thoughts I can’t keep from spinning in my brain. The thoughts that I’ve fought to hold at bay ever since my mother told me about the deal she made with him. Heat flushes my cheeks as he holds my stare, and frustration curls my hands into fists.

Violet: “Because I want to think you kept me alive those first few months before Threshing because you were intrigued or impressed by me or attracted to me like I was to you, and not because you made a deal with my mother. Because it’s horrifying to think that the only reason you fell in love with me is because of her. Because maybe you’re right and I didn’t want that particular truth, since I know there’s a thin line between devotion and obsession, between cowardice and self-preservation, and I’m walking it when it comes to you. I love you so fucking much that I ignored every warning signal last year, and now half the time I don’t know what side of that line I’m standing on because I’m too busy looking at you to watch my own feet!”

Violet: “Let’s put your theory to the test. You want me to demand the truth? To ask you something real?”

I hold his gaze and steel my heart.

Xaden: “Please, do,”

Violet: “What’s your second signet?”

His eyes widen, and the blood drains from his face as his hand falls away. For the first time, I think I’ve actually managed to shock Xaden Riorson.

Violet: “I know you have one,”

I whisper as the pounding continues.

Violet: “You told me that Sgaeyl was bonded to your grandfather, which makes you a direct descendant. If a dragon bonds a family member, it can strengthen a signet, but a direct descendant will either produce a second signet…or madness, and you seem pretty sane to me.”

He inhales sharply and forces his features into a mask. I shake my head and scoff.

Violet: “So much for asking. I just can’t figure out why Sgaeyl was allowed to choose you, how she got away with it. How you both did.”

It doesn’t escape my notice that Sgaeyl stands between Teine and Fann, Ulices’s cantankerous Green Swordtail, not next to Tairn, which either explains or is a result of his surly mood this morning.

Mom and Dad are fighting, and everyone knows it.

Death would be preferable to the embarrassment that accompanies that revelation.

Tairn:I could torch him if you would like. But you do seem attached.”

Mira: “You ready for this?”

Mira asks, crossing in front of Xaden to stand beside me.

Violet: “No. Are you?”

Mira: “No.”

She rests her hand on the pommel of the shortsword sheathed at her hip.

Mira: “But she’ll never know that.”

Violet: “I want to be you when I grow up.”

A smile tugs at my lips despite the anxiety quickening my breaths.

Mira: “You’ll be better than me,”

Mom: “You have the heart of a rider but the mind of a scribe, Violet. I’m trusting you not only to protect yourself, but to protect Mira and”

—she swallows hard—

Mom: “Brennan.”

Violet: “I’m not sparring with you.”

Xaden: “Why?”

His brow knits in confusion.

Xaden: “You have a better teacher? I have heard that Emetterio is teaching you a variety of new techniques, since venin adapt to our fighting styles so quickly.”

Violet: “He is. But I’m not sparring with you because I really want to kick your ass.”

Xaden: “You’re capable of hurting me in ways I’m not sure you’ve even begun to fathom, Violet. I might be skilled enough to land a death blow, but you alone have the power to fucking destroy me.”

Violet: “I love you. You could throw my entire world into upheaval, and I would still love you. You could keep secrets, run a revolution, frustrate the shit out of me, probably ruin me, and I would still love you. I can’t make it stop. I don’t want to. You’re my gravity. Nothing in my world works without you.”

Xaden: “Gravity,”

he whispers, a slow, beautiful smile curving his mouth.

Violet: “The one force we can never escape,”

Cat: “Is anyone going to tell us why we just walked out of Battle Brief?”

Cat asks, a few steps behind me.

Rhiannon: “Violet has a look in her eyes,”

Rhiannon explains, keeping up at my side.

Sawyer: “The same one she had before the Squad Battle last year,”

Rhiannon: “She’s onto something, and from our experience, you just roll with it,”

Andarna: “Perhaps I will be the eldest of my own den.”

Andarna arches her neck, tracking a flock of birds in the sky. I follow her line of sight, then quickly look away when the brightness of the sun stings my eyes, burning into my vision for a second and making her scales look a shiny, sky blue before I blink the spots away.

Tairn: “I’m still in my middling years. You’ll be waiting awhile.”

Andarna: “Really?”

She shimmies the harness into a more comfortable position.

Andarna: “I figured you were decades into your elder era. You certainly act like it.”

Tairn turns his head slowly, his eyes narrowing on Andarna.

Violet: “You don’t act a day over a hundred,”

I reassure Tairn, then offer a smile to Maren as she approaches with Cat

Violet: “Who do you want to be? The general who saves Basgiath, or the one who loses it to the very cadets who rejected your lies?”

I lift my chin.

Mom: “Black really does suit you, Violet.”

It might be the nicest thing she’s ever said to me.

Ridoc: We get both of you?”

Ridoc offers a quick smile.

Ridoc: “Maybe we have a shot of lasting an hour.”

Sawyer: “My money’s on two,”

Sawyer chimes in with a nod.

Imogen: “Both of you shut up before I knock your heads together,”

Imogen warns from a seat behind us.

Imogen: “Anything less than four hours is unacceptable.”

Mom" “Why is it that only my daughters speak out of turn?”

Mira: “We get it from our mother,”

Mira snipes in a dry tone, and that lethal look pivots to her.

Violet: “We can’t.”

Regret saturates the words, and yet I can’t stop myself from winding my arms around his neck.

Violet: “No matter how much I would rather lock the door and let the rest of the world burn around us.”

Xaden: “We can.”

He lifts a hand to the back of my neck and tugs me closer, until our bodies meet from thigh to breast.

Xaden: “Say the word, and we’ll fly.”

I stare up into his eyes, marking each fleck of gold just in case I won’t get another chance to.

Violet: “You could never live with yourself if we abandoned our friends.”

Xaden: “Maybe.”

His brow knits for less than a second, so quick I almost miss it as he leans into my space.

Xaden: “But I know I can’t live without you, so trust me when I say there’s a very real, very loud part of me screaming to carry you out of here and fly for Aretia.”

Violet: “We’ll be quick,”

I promise between soul-consuming kisses, flicking open the first button.

Xaden: “Quick,”

he repeats, sliding a hand down my stomach and into my pants,

Xaden: “isn’t usually what you beg me for.”

Rhiannon: “I know you’re in there!”

Rhiannon barks through the door, and the knock changes to a pound.

Rhiannon: “Stop ignoring me before this becomes the most awkward situation known to Navarre.”

Violet: “Five minutes,”

I beg as Xaden’s mouth slides down my neck.

Brennan: “Now,”

a deep, familiar voice demands, and Xaden puts a step between us, muttering a curse under his breath. There’s no way. Is there? But just in case there is, my hands fall from Xaden’s pants and quickly redo the button on mine before I hop off the desk and rush to the door, sparing a second to check that Xaden’s clothes are in place, too.

Brennan: “Disengage your body parts or whatever you’re doing—”

Violet: “How are you feeling?”

Ridoc: “So scared I’m pretty sure either my heart’s going to give out or I’m about to shit myself,”

Rhiannon: “I was going to say horrifyingly scared, but sure, that works, too.” Rhiannon nods.

Violet: "Marbh is below you, keeping watch over Brennan. If the tide of the battle turns, he’ll watch after you, but you have to go. Promise me.”

Andarna: “I will stand. I will keep watch. But I will not leave you this time.

She huffs a breath that scents lightly of sulfur, and my heart sinks. She’s seen too much for someone her age.

Violet: “It was easier when you were a juvenile.”

I give her one last scratch. Every dragon in our squad knows to take care of her if Tairn and I fall. But only she can make the choice to let go.

Andarna: “I didn’t listen then, either.

Violet: “Good point.”

He reaches for me, his warm hand cupping the back of my neck.

Xaden: “I love you. The world does not exist for me beyond you.”

Leaning down, he rests his forehead against mine.

Xaden: “I couldn’t tell you that the last time we flew into a fight, and I should have.”

Violet: “You reckless, irresponsible—”

Rhiannon: “You’re welcome!”

Cat: “You look like shit.”

Cat crouches in front of me, her braid as sodden as mine as she looks me over.

Cat: “I heard what you did up there. Well, Kira saw, and she told me. That took guts.”

Violet: “You would have done the same.”

Exhaustion sweeps in, my shoulders drooping as adrenaline fades.

Cat: “I would have run faster.”

Mom: “As you can see, it’s too late for wards now.”

Violet: “It’s not!”

Mom: “Cadet—”

Violet: “I can get them up,”

I promise, putting myself in her way when she tries to sidestep me. Violet: “If they can hold power, then I can get the wards up!”

Mom: “Cadet,”

Mom snaps, her cheeks turning ruddy.

Violet: “At least see if the stone can hold power before you sentence all of us to death!”

Mom: “Violet!”

Violet: “Listen to me! For once in your life, listen to what I’m telling you!”

She draws her head back. I forge on.

Violet: “For once in my life, trust me. Have faith in me. I can get the wards up.”

You’re going to love Violet. She’s smart and stubborn. Reminds me a lot of you, actually. You just have to remember when you meet her: she’s not her mother.

Recovered Correspondence of Cadet Liam Mairi to Sloane Mairi

Xaden: “You ward wherever you are, which is here.”

Violet: “But your home…”

It’s softer than a whisper.

Xaden:You are my home. And if we all die here today, then the knowledge dies with us anyway. Ward Basgiath.”

Xaden: “You and I both know you can’t raise the wards and stay to fight. When we were in Resson, I held them back while you fought. I trusted you to handle yourself. Now trust me to handle myself while you get the wards up before more people die. End this.”

He kisses me hard and quick, then looks at me like this will be the last time he ever sees me.

Xaden: “I love you.”

Oh…gods. No. I refuse to accept the goodbye in his tone.

Violet: “You will stay alive,”

I order Xaden, then glance to the waiting horde, the figure of the Sage who is nearly to the ground, taking his time as if this is all a game he’s already won, and finally to Tairn.

Violet: “Stay with him.”

Tairn growls, raising his lip over his fangs.

Violet: “Stay with him for me. Don’t you dare let him die!”

Andarna: “Say it. Don’t just guess,”

Even a slow breath won’t calm my racing heart.

Violet: “Your scales aren’t really black.”

Andarna: “No.”

Even now, her scales are changing, taking on the grayish hue of the stone around us.

Andarna: “But he is, and I so badly want to be just like him.”

Violet: “Tairn.”

Andarna: “I waited six hundred and fifty years to hatch. Waited until your eighteenth summer, when I heard our elders talk of the weakling daughter of their general, the girl forecasted to become the head of the scribes, and I knew. You would have the mind of a scribe and the heart of a rider. You would be mine.”

She leans into my hand.

Andarna: “You are as unique as I am. We want the same things.”

Violet: “You couldn’t have known I would be a rider.

Andarna: “And yet, here we are.”

Mom: “Nice to see you, Cam. Your father’s been looking for you.”

I hear Mom’s voice from the other side of the stone.

Aaric: “I’m a bonded rider. There’s nothing he can—”

Mom: “Don’t really care. It holds power?”

Tairn: “You will cease!”

Violet: “I’m so sorry.

The muscles in my arm lock from exhaustion. Finally. Now I won’t have to hold it in place. I’m entering the final stages of burnout, just like I had on top of the mountain with Varrish.

Violet:You shouldn’t have to lose two riders this way.”

Forcing my eyes open, I stare at the pattern of rock beneath my fingers, and I get it. I finally understand why someone would turn to stealing magic. All of the power in the world is beneath my fingertips, and if I channel, if I take from the earth instead of from Tairn, I’ll have enough power to save—

Tairn: “You must save yourself. I chose you not as my next, but as my last, and should you fall, then I will follow.

Mom: “You’re everything we dreamed you would be,”

Mom says quietly, her skin paling even as Sloane’s flushes scarlet.

Mom: “All three of you.”

She looks down at Brennan.

Mom: “And I’ll get to see him soon.”

Our father. My eyes flare as I struggle to break free from Aaric.

Brennan: “Don’t,”

Brennan begs, shaking his head.

Brennan: “Don’t do this.”

He staggers to his feet, stumbling her direction, but doesn’t get far before falling.

Mom: “Live well.”

Most generals dream of dying in service to their kingdom. But you know me better than that, my love. When I fall, it will be for one reason only: to protect our children.

—Recovered, Unsent Correspondence of General Lilith Sorrengail

Violet: “Are you going to let me pass?”

I ask her, keeping my eyes on hers and not the blood beard she’s sporting.

Sgaeyl: “You fought well today.”

Violet: “Thank you.”

A reluctant smile tugs at my lips.

Violet: “You did, too.”

Sgaeyl: “Yes, well, I’m expected to.”

She shifts her forelegs, revealing Xaden standing at the edge of the ravine, his back turned toward me.

Sgaeyl: “Be careful of your words.”

Violet: “That’s ironic coming from you,”

There’s something beneath me. A steady flow of unmistakable…power.

Sgaeyl: You cannot! I chose you!”

But Violet chose me, too.

I reach.


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