Category: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Mrs Pettyfer
Title: A Court of Claws and Dreams
Pairing(s): Briar/Tamlin (Of course there will be other pairings as well. This is just the focus.)
A/N: I have been a huge fan of ACOTAR since it's release. Though surprisingly, I have only written one fanfic for it-a short one-shot, no less. I didn't really plan on writing too much for this series, but I couldn't get this idea out of my head. The biggest surprise of all: I'm not writing about my favorites Rhys and Feyre, though they will be in it. I wanted to challenge myself and write a redemption story for a character everyone hates, a character I myself was never a huge fan of. I've always been impressed when authors can do that: make you see a character you hated in a different light. So here I am. To my ATLA readers, no worries. This will not postpone TPQ. It's just that this story has been pouring out of me and I'm the type of writer that needs to feed my muse when it calls. :) I have no idea if anyone will read this story, as there aren't many ACOTAR fics on here and well, Tamlin is not so popular haha. But I hope you give it a shot. Thank you!
Oh, and there are some ties to Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.
Disclaimer: The ACOTAR world and characters belongs to Sarah J Maas.
Briar Snow had believed in the Word of the Blessed, believed in the good and purity of the Fae, that Prythian was a land of peace and plenty.
But now…she did not know what she believed anymore.
It had been months since the battle in Prythian, yet Briar could still hear the screams. Could still her own screams as she and her sisters had been chained to that rack for the entertainment of the Hybern soldiers. Only some deep rooted, primal instinct kept her alive. Kept her heart beating. The scars still lingered on her pale body—down her back, across her stomach, around her arms. Her wounds had been so severe that even the Fae healer could not completely heal them.
She had not known such cruelty, such violence. The Word of the Blessed did not reveal the this nature of the Fae. The wickedness and power and brutality.
No, perhaps that was not entirely true. The female—the High Lady. Her winged friend and the young girl that clung to him. The roaring beast. The human soldier. They had all played a role in saving her life. A debt she could never possibly repay. And the Lady of the Winter Court…Viviane, she had called herself, had given her a tent. Clothed and bathed her, and gave her a tonic that put her to sleep.
Briar did not see the battle. She had woken with a jolt, in a foreign bed, surrounded by a healer and two guards. The healer—Katya—had calmly explained that they were in the Winter Court, safe, that her wounds had been tended to, and the battle was over. They had won.
Had they? Briar thought of the night she had been ripped from her bed, when her caravan had been burned to the ground and she and her sisters taken. Of the way the soldiers leered at her, stripped away her dignity and pride. Beaten her and how they had laughed.
A victory, perhaps, but not without a cost.
When the Lady of the Winter Court had visited her here, she had asked what part of the mortal lands Briar was from—where they should take her.
She had spent years traveling the mortal towns and villages with her Sisters. She had never really had a home, not really. But it had felt like it sometimes, when they gathered around the fire at night and huddled together in the caravan. There was nothing left of that now.
Briar had told her she had no one. Nowhere to go.
She did not think they knew what to do with her. So she would stay here, for now. A distant dream, to be permitted to enter the prospering lands of Prythian and live amongst the Fae. It was all she had ever wanted.
Once. Before everything had changed.
The world was reshaping, rebuilding, and Briar was the least of the High Lord of Winter's concern. She did not wish to return to the mortal lands, not if rumor was to be believed. She could not wander into the mountains and forests in the Winter Court, else she could freeze or get lost or encounter creatures that were less than friendly to humans.
So for the time being, she was given a small cottage near the border of the Summer and Winter Courts. The cottage was stocked with books, clothes, and some light food. Three meals magically arrived on her doorstep every day, and there was a ward on the cottage to keep out unwanted visitors. Katya examined her once a week, and after a month Briar had asked for the meals to be baskets of ingredients instead. Not that the meals prepared for her were poor—in fact they were delicious—but Briar needed something to keep her mind from traveling back to those torturous days she had spent chained to that rack. She had little desire to leave the cottage, not at all feeling trapped, but…she needed something. Cooking had always soothed her, the way flavors and ingredients came together—how food brought people together.
Briar leaned over the stove, smelling the rich, savory stew of cooked rabbit and vegetables.
"You know, I could have made that in a blink," said Katya. Like most Fae of the Winter Court, Katya was pale as moonlight with long, gleaming silver hair. She was idly braiding it into a loose plait while watching Briar with a frown.
"Yes, but where is the satisfaction in that? You won't have put any heart or effort into it."
Katya just shook her head. "You mortals are so very strange."
Briar stirred the stew one last time before ladling it into a bowl. It smelled divine, steaming and hot. "Will you try it?" she asked, turning to Katya.
Katya wrinkled her thin nose. "I would rather not."
"Suit yourself." Briar shrugged and carried her bowl to the table. She took a spoonful and blew before taking a bite. It was so hot she cringed. "What news of the wall and the mortal lands?"
"Not much, I'm afraid," said Katya. A lie, most likely. Briar was a mere human, not trusted with Fae politics. "The High Lord is focused on the upcoming Winter Solstice. Trying to bring some normalcy and joy back to our people, I suspect."
Briar had learned of the celebrations amongst the Prythian courts from Sister Margery. She had learned a great deal from the old woman. But Sister Margery had never set foot in Prythian, and now that Briar had, she was finding so many of those stories to be fabrications.
So she asked, "What is the Winter Solstice?"
"It marks midwinter, when our magic regenerates across our lands. Festivities last for a week. All the High Lord's and their retinues are invited. A first since…" She let the word drop and suddenly looked uncomfortable. She shook her head and went on, "There is a ball, and a festival, and a parade with polar bears the size of small castles, and endless dancing and drinking."
"That sounds wonderful."
Katya turned to her, her light grey eyes now focusing and her face shifting into what Briar thought of as her "healer" face. "How are you, Briar? When I examined you earlier, I could see your improvement of strength. But…"
"I'm…still healing. I think. But the nightmares are less frequent now." Briar forced a smile. Katya did not look convinced, but Briar added, "Will you attend the festivities?"
"As much as I can. There are still so many soldiers that require attention. The war was not kind to our people."
Briar nodded and looked down at her stew. The color reminded her of the mud she had trekked through at the war camp. The memories started to return to her and she felt herself tensing and locking up.
Smile for me, you pretty little mortal whore. Scream for me.
"Speaking of such," said Katya, standing up, "I ought to return to the infirmary." She strode for the door and paused with her hand on the knob. "Would you like to attend the Winter Solstice, Briar? Not all of it, of course. But perhaps see the parade?"
Briar blinked. She glanced at the door and felt as if she could see through the thick oak. See the vast mountains and valleys and world that went on and on. A world she had wanted to see so dearly. But she felt a sudden pang of uncertainty, of what waited beyond the protective wards. This cottage…she was safe here. There was no screaming here.
"Perhaps," she offered.
Katya smiled, only a tinge of sadness to her eyes, and told her she'd see her again next week.
Briar just nodded. She caught a glimpse of the snowy wood as the door closed and wondered if she could be brave enough to see for herself if polar bears could truly grow to the size of small castles.
A/N: Thank you for reading! So we don't know too much, canon wise, about Briar. I believe she was introduced (and named) to us readers for a reason, and so I'm going to roll with it. Her characterization is based on the limited info we know. Once again, thank you for reading.