A/N: I am posting this for a friend who does not have an account on here. You can find her on Ao3 under HighLadySolo if you would like to follow her. Everything below the a/n is directly from her.
Notes: We will earn the rating next chapter, but for now enjoy the fun shopping montage and female friendship.
~These characters belong to Sarah J. Maas, no infringement intended.
Choose my Chains
Aelin Ashryver Whitethorn Galathynius wandered aimlessly throughout the streets of Velaris, buying snacks and trinkets. And the occasional pair of shoes.
Everyone else was off doing other things, so Aelin was out enjoying the day. She'd found an apologetic note on the pillow beside her when she woke well into the morning. Rowan, it seemed, had gone off into the mountains to hunt with the Illyrians. And given the lack of noise in the house, Manon and Dorian were off doing the gods-knew-what, and Aelin wasn't particularly interested in what that might be.
And since she'd been alone on waking for the first time in what felt like an age, Aelin had remained in bed, trying to satisfy herself with snacks and the stack of books she'd stashed inside her wyrdmarked leather bag. Unfortunately, she had been too restless to be still for long, so after a quick trip to the bathing room, and a slightly longer one searching through her closet, she had found herself out on the streets of Velaris.
As she walked through the streets of the Rainbow, she took in the beautiful city, taking notes for additions she'd like to make to Orynth. The colors and scents wrapped around her, and a blissful lack of bowing and scraping made the city one of her new favorite places. Terrasen was her home, and she loved her home and her people, but Velaris was just so different and lovely and freeing. If anyone here saw her, they either didn't know or didn't care who she was, and if anyone had asked, she would have vehemently denied how happy it made her to just be away for a while.
On the occasions that she remembered how long she'd avoided her home and her throne, a sharp flash of guilt shot through her, made even worse when she felt that she needed to escape.
But Rowan and Lysandra and Aedion, and everyone else, had insisted there was no shame in needing a vacation, so here they were.
And here she was, nursing a bottle of wine, and wandering through one of the most beautiful places she'd ever seen.
And there were Mor and Lysandra, arms linked and giggling as they ducked into a small shop with richly curtained windows and a small golden sign that read La Belle Fleur. Intrigued, Aelin followed the pair inside.
What she found inside was not what she expected.
Though, if she thought about it, it really should have been.
The light inside the shop was bright and warm, with a small crystal chandelier casting tiny rainbows over the jewel toned fabrics draped over the walls and windows. Fabrics in every hue and texture she could imagine hung before her. Aelin grinned wickedly.
The shop sold lingerie.
Oh, Rowan was going to kill her.
But he might die first.
Where to begin?
Aelin could hear Mor and Lysandra, so she went to where they were eying racks of blood red and emerald green pieces that had been brought out by the pretty shop assistant. After she listened to them praise the work for a moment, she decided to butt in.
"Those are nice, but I think gold is really my color," Aelin interjected, and tossed her long golden hair over a shoulder as she sauntered forward, slipping her fingers over the exquisite fabrics.
Lysandra rolled her eyes, and Mor laughed, then gestured at the shop girl who nodded.
"Gold is so… royal," Mor scoffed. She considered Aelin for a moment, spinning the glass of sparkling pink wine in her fingers. "Have you considered black?"
"No black," Aelin and Lysandra said together. The women looked at each other and grimaced, then laughed.
The other faerie queen had worn black. So, just, no.
"Ah, yes," Mor paled a bit under her tan, but brightened again almost instantly. "Well, what about turquoise to go with your eyes? Or maybe amethyst?"
The shop employee returned pushing with one hand another rack, this one filled with varying shades of gold and as many fabrics and styles. In her other hand, the young woman carried another glass of the sparkling pink wine that both Mor and Lysandra sipped.
"My name is Vix, my ladies, and I am here for you. Would you like to try the other colors as well?" Vix nodded toward Aelin as she handed her the wine.
"She'll try them all!" Mor demanded and drained her glass.
Vix shuffled the three women back to their own dressing rooms, as they each had an armload of outfits to try on. Apparently, while they were struggling their way into their first ridiculous numbers, Vix had brought around a new bottle of the fabulous wine, filling each glass and dropped in a few berries for color. Aelin discovered her new drink on exiting the velvet-curtained dressing room, and took a sip while she spun on the slight platform in front of the full-length mirror.
Mor came up behind her with her own glass in hand. She leaned forward, resting her chin on Aelin's shoulder, and reached around to clink their glasses. Mor took in what Aelin wore for a moment.
"Hmm. It's lovely, but not…" Mor started, but trailed off.
"It's not strong enough," Lysandra finished for her, exiting her own dressing room.
Aelin looked down at herself, and rubbed her fingers over the long, silky hem of the deep blue nightgown. She spun again, enjoying the twirl of the nightgown, but agreeing with Lysandra. She needed something with more of a statement.
Mor took her own spin before the mirror wearing something wine-colored with more straps than should exist on clothing that wasn't armored, and Aelin had no idea how she'd gotten herself into the outfit without help. But the effect it had on Mor was… striking. Both Aelin and Lysandra nodded appreciatively at her when she raised a questioning eyebrow at them.
Lysandra's outfit was not what Aelin would have expected from the former courtesan. The entire outfit was made of…
"Chains," Lyandra said, nodding and gesturing to the delicate golden chains that barely covered her lithe form. "I decided a long time ago that I wouldn't let the memories of… before take over. My body is mine now, and I choose this," she said fiercely. Aelin and Mor both jumped on the platform with her and wrapped her in a hug. "Besides," Lysandra continued wickedly, "I can't wait to see Aedion's reaction."
Aelin pretended to gag, but she was so happy for her friend and cousin finding each other that she felt her heart might burst. Until she actually did picture Aedion's reaction. Then she did gag.
After trying on a few more pieces without any success, Lysandra, in her expert knowledge, took over the choosing process. For Mor, she chose softer, more feminine pieces in varying shades of red. Mor agreed that, although the strappy bits had been exciting, she hadn't enjoyed the process of getting in and out of it, and she decided that she rather liked separate pieces more than the gown style that Aelin seemed to favor. For Aelin, Lysandra sorted through varying colors, though Aelin still favored gold. Aelin giggled as she regaled the two other women with Rowan's reaction to her borrowing Lysandra's golden nightgown.
"I still haven't gotten that back," Lysandra griped, giving Aelin a sideways glance.
"And you probably won't," Aelin responded, shrugging, "not that you need it." She flung a similar piece over Lysandra's face, and laughed at the shriek that emanated from beneath the fabric, clinking glasses with Mor as they watched the shifter extricate herself from the garment.
Lysandra's expertise was helpful, but in the end, it was Mor who convinced Aelin to try something out of her comfort zone. Mor had gone in search of food and had returned instead with her arms draped with shimmering gold. The gold thread looked ready to fall apart at the slightest touch, but maybe that was the point. Shoving Aelin in her dressing room with the gown, because it was at least shaped like a gown, even if it didn't function as one, Mor said that Aelin should let her know if she needed help because this one was different. In her dressing room, Aelin found herself with the gown dangling from her fingertips, turning it this way and that, trying to figure out what the hell to do with the damned thing. She couldn't tell which way was up or down. Carefully, she turned the piece until she recognized two pieces that resembled straps, and she slowly pulled the mesh and gold over her head, struggling to fit her arms through the awkwardly placed straps.
"I'm not sure about this," she said as she ducked through the curtain of her dressing room. Mor emerged from her own room, and Lysandra poked her head out of hers to watch while she changed.
The front of the gown was too wide and Aelin was certain that if she looked closely, she would see that the width of the deep vee of the gown covered absolutely no part of her breasts at all, and the plunge was so deep that she was fairly certain the faint dusting of golden hair between her legs was visible. Perhaps some people would enjoy this look, but she certainly felt awkward and uncovered.
A snort sounded behind her.
"I'm sorry," Mor said. "I should have come in to help you. It's, ah, backwards." Despite her snort, Mor didn't laugh at her, instead looking at her rather concernedly. Mor marched over, slid her hands beneath the thin strips holding the gown on Aelin's shoulder, and pushed down, so the mesh fabric beneath the main bodice of the gown pooled over her hips. Aelin grimaced, but allowed Mor to briskly twist the fabric around so the vee was on her back then helped pull the fabric up over her torso and arms.
Now the neckline came much higher and was much less awkward. Mor went behind Aelin and rested her chin on Aelin's shoulder, taking it in.
"Yes!" she said. "But your breasts are all wrong." She unceremoniously reached under Aelin's arms to scoop Aelin's breasts higher into the support of the garment.
"That's better," Lysandra called, head still sticking out between the velvet curtains. "Do you see how that balanced out your silhouette?"
Aelin did see, and she felt like a golden goddess. Mor's adjustment had allowed the swell of her breasts and hips to show off the narrowness of her waist. She felt beautiful and sensual without feeling lewd or uncovered like she had when she'd worn it incorrectly. Sashaying her hips a bit brought out the shimmer of the fabric, and…
Rowan was going to die.
Lysandra finally came out, clad in an emerald silk slip, and joined Aelin before the mirror, together they danced and spun, until Mor joined them too. There wasn't room for the three of them, but they didn't care and danced together anyway, spinning and laughing, and then swearing when the wine nearly spilled.
Between the three of them, Aelin, Lysandra, and Mor, tried on a veritable mountain of lingerie and bought at least half of it. All of them agreed that it was nice to try things on with feedback that didn't end in the lingerie being either ripped off, or just ripped.
Aelin felt pleasantly buzzed from the fun and the wine as she signed the bill and wrote down delivery instructions for her purchases; they would be delivered later that afternoon. So, she exited the shop with Mor and Lysandra, and the three went their separate ways. Lysandra headed back to the art district to check on Evangeline, and Mor headed toward Rita's. Aelin felt content to simply wander about, making a few more minor purchases here and there, and stopping frequently for more food and wine.