I swear I'm still working on When It All Burns Down, but right now I'm completely obsessed with these two. I read all seven grishaverse books within a month of watching the tv show, and then two seasons of Free Rein just to see more Freddy Carter. I see his grumpy and untalkative stablehand character as kind of like what Kaz would be like in the modern era if his father never died, and he stayed in the countryside and was just really into horses and a girl he couldn't have. But for real, I need season two to happen ASAP. I love that they had Kaz meet the Darkling and Inej actually get him with one of her knives (!) and I need more.

"I love you too," Inej's voice said softly from behind him in Wylan's dimly lit foyer. Kaz had known, as he always did, that she'd followed him from the living room where her parents had long since dozed off on a sofa and where Wylan and Jesper were rather conspicuously not. But awareness of her presence in no way prepared him for the shock of her words.

Kaz had been working on getting her the freedom he'd promised her ever since she told him of her plans to leave. For just as long, Kaz had been scheming up things that would have her want to come back to him, to silently beg her to find him worth it.

He had flatly refused to think about why it was so important to him. Anything but the objective was useless noise, and even now, he had trouble just thinking the word love in association with himself. For years he'd thought of it as something meant for the pigeons. It was rare enough in the Barrel one could put it down to those who partook being softer than the rest of them. It was certainly not for anyone so hardened as the boy they called Dirtyhands. No, what they had was trust, which was far more precious.

But when Kaz had heard her laugh at the harbor that morning, the same unburdened laugh she'd loosed so long ago while she fed the crows, he'd known that's what this feeling was; what it had been since the sun had limned Inej in gold in his window sill like some magical sign saying Her.

Kaz Brekker's world had shifted on its axis when he momentarily believed in magic.

He just hadn't been expecting to hear her say it. Maybe ever. Not even her perfect Saints would think he deserved it.


After her joyful reunion with her parents, they had spent the day together. Thankfully, on the docks, the hugging had been kept between the family. When the tears had finally stopped, and Inej had introduced him, her father put out his hand for him to shake. Kaz panicked for a second, realizing he had been so distracted with straightening his tie to make his best first impression (Ghezen knew he couldn't rely on later ones once they knew what Kaz did for a living) that he'd never put his gloves back on. But he hesitated for only a moment, reaching out to shake her father's hand.

For the wondrous smile on Inej's face, he would have shaken it a hundred times.

For the look that passed between them, he'd have done it a thousand.

They all headed back to the Van Eck mansion after Inej decided to explore The Wraith another day, along with enough of an exploration of Ketterdam to know nothing worth seeing was open. But Inej had seemed to enjoy describing the buildings they passed by their rooftops; which ones had the best views of the city, which had loose bits, which had ornate scrollwork you couldn't see from the street, which ones got slippery in the rain.

After some time holed up with her parents in the dining room, where she had presumably talked more about the time they were separated than the abridged version they'd gotten on the docks, Kaz had endured a quick hug from her mother. Thankfully, they both had long sleeves, and there was no sensation of skin touching skin. He saw Inej cringe a little, but she stayed silent. Despite the discomfort, he smiled, knowing she didn't betray his weakness even to her parents.

"Thank you," her father said in heavily accented Kerch, and when Kaz tried to brush off the thanks, he stopped him. "Not just for getting her out; you had your own reasons for that. For teaching her how to defend herself when you did."

He'd had no idea what to say, so Kaz had just nodded, accepting the thanks. As far as he was concerned, Inej got herself out of the Menagerie when she snuck up on him with bells around her ankles. He didn't deserve gratitude for recognizing her skills for the danger they could pose. She'd had to do a great many things she'd hated in his employ.

But her training was something Kaz was proud of, and while he might have taught her so she could survive the jobs he sent her on, it had been for her benefit, not his. It was the one thing he'd given her that she cherished even more than the bone-handled blade that became Sankta Alina. The night he'd listened to her cry over her first kill, it was the only thing that had convinced Kaz that if Inej tallied up all the good, bad, and horrendous things that had happened to her, he would at least not be in the worst category. She had taken to knives in a way that made it clear she'd needed it. With every technique she mastered, Kaz had seen a bit of the fear drain out of her eyes until the day she actually seemed comfortable in a room full of the Dregs who were not just men but murderers. Her skills gave her confidence in her safety no matter what situation she was in. Kaz Brekker might be a monster, but he'd made the world less monstrous to her.

Inej had always talked about her father's wisdom; he finally understood why.


And now she walked up to him and lifted her hand to his face. "I don't expect you to say the words, but I know," she said, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips as the flats of her nails traced his cheekbone. "You took off your armor," she whispered in the half-light. He searched her eyes, and she gave the barest shrug.

"Some of it," she conceded. "You will need to tell me what happened to you eventually. And I meant what I said on the Ferolind. When I have you, there will be nothing between us. But," she said, as she lowered her hand to the one she'd held that morning, tracing the palm of his glove with her fingers as her heart pounded in her chest. Her fingertips moved along the gloves where his movements had creased and worn down the leather, asking a question she wouldn't put to words. If he was just willing to try… Then his hand closed around hers. She gave a soft sigh of relief, her eyes closing as she reveled in the sensation of him holding her, even in the smallest of ways. A promise. Maybe Kaz would never speak in moments like this; he hadn't on the Ferolind or on the docks-but perhaps he didn't need to.

"If we keep trying," she breathed, intertwining her fingers with his, "maybe the rest will come with practice." She desperately wanted to feel his hand in hers the way she had that morning, but the removal of his gloves would be his choice. She would give him every opportunity to say no, every last one that was denied her. Now that she knew Kaz would work for it, if this was all he could give right now, she would wait for him to get comfortable with it before she asked for more.

She looked back to the room where her parents slumbered on the sofa. "Wait here." She woke them up gently, led them to their guest room upstairs, and then returned to the foyer.

"Let's go home," said Kaz, his voice like rough stone. She stopped in her tracks when she saw his ungloved hand held out to her, then Inej lifted her own and took it.

"Let's go home."

It is so hard to write Kaz. He verbally lashes out at Inej in the books when he can't do something, but here, since she's really not pushing him and he's not pushing himself past too far past his comfort level, I had him mostly stay silent (because now that he's committed to trying and knows she is too, I genuinely don't think he would, at least not as much) and communicate more with action.

Anyway, I might continue this, I'm not sure.