Okay, so maybe you heard our episodes covering chapters 29 through 33 of “A Court of Wings and Ruin”, where we briefly talked about our made-up Alternate (Alt.) Bonds (i.e. alt. pairings for you fan fiction readers and writers), or maybe you didn’t. 

If you did, you know how we got here. If you didn’t, here’s the short version… 

Kim and I don’t feel that we 100% understand the rules around “bonding” in the ACOTAR universe. So let’s start there.

Here’s what we know, directly from the words on the pages: 

  • Mates are basically extreme soul mates in the ACOTAR universe. And while not all fae have mates, many marry the person they love. However, those who do have mates find marriage insignificant by comparison. – ACOTAR page 175
  • Sharing food is a whole thing for mated pairs. When the female offers food to her male mate, she is showing that she formally accepts the bond. This is because of some long-ago beast traditions or something. (What this means for same-sex mated pairs, and who offers whom food, I couldn’t begin to tell you.) – ACOMAF page 517 
  • Mates are sometimes just “mates”, sometimes “husband and wife”, and rarely, if ever before Rhys and Feyre, High Lord and High Lady. – ACOMAF page 536
  • The whole mating bond thing causes a lot of territorial issues, specifically for the males involved, causing not only a sexual attraction frenzy of sorts but also a frenzy of territorial violence. As seen all over the place, but primarily in Lucien’s reaction to his mating bond and sudden territorial defense of Elain in ACOMAF on page 616.  
  • Despite what we know to this point, Rhys teaches us that at its base level, mates are chosen by the Cauldron to produce useful offspring. Not necessarily to find you your true love. – ACOWAR page 258
  • Mates don’t always work out. Sometimes, you don’t actually like your mate. Which… sucks. And kind of goes against the initial explanation of mates we get in ACOTAR. Examples of poorly chosen mates can be seen in both Rhysand’s parents and Tamlin’s parents. We also learn that you don’t actually have to accept your mating bond, though rejecting it will not remove the “tug” or invisible connection between mated partners. And sometimes, this rejection can drive one of the partners (usually the male) to madness. – ACOWAR page 258

Here’s what we know from books 1-5 of the series: 

  • We know that Rhys felt the tug of the bond long before Feyre did. We don’t know if it is typically the male who feels it first, or if usually it’s felt at the same time. Or if there is a “usually” to discuss at all. 
  • While we know that one CAN reject a mating bond, we do not know of any that have actually done it – Yet. 
  • We know that in theory, fae can be mated to humans. At least, former humans. One could argue that Rhys felt that bond to Feyre before ever meeting her and that Cassian felt it with Nesta while she was still human. But we don’t have concrete words on paper for this. 

So why am I bringing all of this up? Because it just backs up that at the end of the day, we have no idea how this thing works, or how this is going to shake out for any of the characters involved with the series. And that’s okay! We are excited to see what SJM comes up with next! But it also means that there’s a lot of room to speculate and play with the concept. 

And that’s exactly what we started to do at the end of Episode 8 (of season 3) of the podcast. 

While we know that the OTP’s (i.e.“one true pairing”) of the series have been established… what if they weren’t?! What alt. pairings (or alt. bonds in this case) do you find fascinating to consider? Personally, I am here to defend three alt. bonds I’d love to see some fanfics for. 


This is the one I’m most proud of. Why? Because I think it would have actually made a hell of a lot of sense. 

The way I see it, if bonds function on a combined “soulmate” and “perfect off-spring” mentality, then they probably follow the pretty common “opposites attract” line of thinking. And boyyyy are Nesta and Azriel opposites! 

While Nesta and Az both have what I call “lone wolf” tendencies, they have developed them for different reasons. 

Azriel began his life alone, coming to the Illyrian camp later in life than the others. And though he was adopted into his found family, he didn’t start out life that way. 

Nesta was raised, more or less, in an opposite fashion. Though raised in a family, she more or less adopted a “lone wolf” persona as a coping mechanism. 

A shortlist of their opposite traits can basically be summed up as: she is a short-tempered loudmouth who can’t shut the fuck up… and he’s an even-tempered introvert who barely says 10 words for two books. 

But the real reason I’m here for this pairing? Simply because I think Nesta brings a “dom” energy that can really only be put in her place by the ultimate undercover dom of the series, Azriel. 

*mic drop* 


If I am going to continue down the concept of opposites attract, then we HAVE to consider Elain and Cassian. 

Elain represents such a sweet, feminine, introverted energy that I could just imagine would blossom under the warmth of our lovable, boisterous, masculine, himbo, Cassian. 

I truly think that Cassian would bring out a smile in Elain, simply by being the big goofball that he is. And I do think his larger frame and build that is evidence of his intense training would be a comfort to Elain, who likely would appreciate a fierce protector. 


Here’s the thing, you all have heard me on the podcast (or if you haven’t, you should take a listen and you will definitely hear me…) talk ad nauseam about how I think there’s something wild just below the surface between Feyre and Lucien, that SJM constantly alludes to but never defines. 

So I’m going to roll with it here. 

I think in an alternate universe, Feyre comes to the Spring Court, initially falls for Tam, follows the general series of events of ACOTAR, BUT when we get UTM (which means Under the Mountain for anyone who doesn’t read ACTOR posts all day every day…) Lucien SUPER steps up, and ultimately saves Feyre in ways that we actually see Rhys do in the book. 

I’m sure someone out there already wrote this as fanfiction, and I’d love to read it, but the point is, I think they’d make a pretty sick pair, and here’s why: 

  • Feyre more or less represents our typical youthful female savior. And as we know, she acted as the provider for her family and nearly became a martyr for the Spring Court.  
  • Lucien, to me anyway, represents a man on the run. One who wanted to do the right thing. The one who wants to be the protagonist, but never gets the chance. The one looking for a home. 
  • I think that Feyre and Lucien have had enough similar experiences as the hunters or providers… the workers… the ones looking out for everyone else, that they could find a mutual understanding, and build a safe space for each other. 

I truly love these two characters, and have a terrible time ignoring the attraction they seem to have for one another, and could go on for a week about it! But I won’t. I’ll simply sum it up with a statement I’ve made at least once on the podcast because I think it drives my point home. 

I believe Lucien is a fan favorite when new readers check out ACTOR for the first time because his character is presented as the Rhysand we don’t have yet. 

Hear me out. 

When we meet Rhys, he’s still the “big bad.” But that Rhys we come to love in ACOMAF? The one who has layers like an onion? Lucien easily could have been that character with more development in ACOTAR. And he definitely scratched the “frenemies to lovers” itch for those of us who immediately disliked Tamlin and wanted Feyre to show interest in Lucien during our first read. Therefore… he is… the Rhysand of book one. Making him a reasonable alternative match for Feyre. 

I will end all of this by saying, I pretty staunchly prefer the OTPs to my alt. pairs, but this was still fun. And I’m still toying with a Feyre/Tarquin end-game argument in my head… so keep an eye out for that! 

One thought on “KELSEY’S ALT. BONDS

  1. Okay so here me out I have a wild Elucien theory. So of the mates we’ve seen in the SJM universe stretching beyond ACOTAR to TOG and CC the prominent mates that have ended up happily together are: Feysand, Nessian, Vallais, Rowaelin, Brynt. In all of these the mating bond wasn’t immediately voiced, like it wasn’t necessarily hidden, but it wasn’t officially declared until the pairs had the foundation of their relationships built. Now let’s look at one of the few other mating bonds we know the start and result of and see if it looks familiar. Rhys’ parents. His father took one look as his mother (who was in a moment of distress) and the mating bond snapped into place and “knew what she was”(ACOMAF pg169) his father brought her back to the Night Court that night and married her so we can assume he told her what she was to him. In the next page Rhys talks more about them and says that “my mother and father, despite being mates, we’re wrong for each other” (ACOMAF pg170). Okay let’s look at Elucien. “Dark brown eyes met one eye of russet and one of metal” (ACOMAF pg608) there’s our one look (while she is in a moment of distress). “his voice broke as he whispered to Elain, “You’re my mate.” (ACOMAF pg609) there is our bond snapping into place and making it known. I wonder if maybe SJM made the start to Elucien similar to the start of Rhys’ parents for more than the obvious reasons. If maybe it was a hint that despite them being mates, they’re wrong for each other.

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