bud told me to draw ket and hiravias in 1A and i decided on these expressions bc you will have to fight me over the idea that once hiravias realizes someone is Legitimately Into him he suffers a few moments of mental dialup noises
I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. I requested a moment from my short piece the future from a winter moon and the result is this absolutely stunning work - look at this gorgeous embrace, this tender holding. “It is a card of change.”
Prompt: Mine: Sunlight withdrawing into its darkest shell of green / coils ring by ring like a yellow snake in a tight burrow. (The Art of Sideways, Claire Potter)
It pushes up from the ground: a single sun-furled trillium jerking side to side. The rain patters the green leaves and the fleshy white triad. It’s grown close enough to the edge; Pangara could reach over and pluck it. The sun slants through the rain and she decides it’s too precious to kill. The frantic down-callings of songbirds in the trees flitter through the canopy.
“Any sign?” He asks from below.
She feels him shift and her balance wobbles for a just a second - a moment of suspended breath and blood before he shifts his grasp on her legs and she can kneel. For extra purchase, she walks her hands down the craggy silt of the exhaust shaft, red caking her hands and knees. But when she is sitting on his shoulders, instead of lowering her further, Solas walks with her away from the hole in the ceiling.
The apostate is lanky, but a broad and tall man. The dark wood beams abandoned to weather in this mine pass close to her head. Pangara snatches down to hold onto his tunic and her toes curl as she laughs. “You gonna let me down?”
She sees him press his lips on the side of her knee. She can feel his chuckle through her feet.
“I thought to take you back to your bedroll. There may be old nails.”
Pangara leans forward and directs a meaningful look straight down.
“I possess enchantments,” his tone is lofty, just a hint of smugness, and in response she digs her thumb to the sensitive point where his ear meets his jaw.
His yelp is anything but dignified.
“Put me down, or I won’t tell you what I did see.”
She is able to pick up the way his sigh is an exaggeration of mournfulness, able now to catch the subtle rise of his brow and the way his lips suggest their mirth as he kneels and she walks off of him. He straightens, she turns. He easily links his fingers into hers when she presses their hands together, and he steps closer when she tugs on him just lightly. He ducks his head near to hers and if it weren’t for the way his eyes look like he’ll die without a taste of her, she might almost think he’s happy. Then his eyes close and he kisses her. As always, it is quicker than she can think; his arms slip around her waist, he palms her ass, he nudges her up around his thigh and when she rocks he makes a noise into her mouth like a man begging.
“Solas,” she says, her bottom lip pulled between his teeth - because he’s acting drunk.
“Vhenan,” he murmurs, and he wants her. She can feel.
She breaks the kiss but holds him close, and he rests his forehead against hers. His lips twitch again. Rueful, this time.
He steps away from her and his arms drop to his sides. His head ducks lazily, watching her. The way he regards her is so loose. She knows he’s hurt himself in their escape, in their desperate retreat from the troll; neither of them had noticed the drop-off in the middle of the clearing. They’d tumbled down into the mine. The way the stone had shaken around them had buzzed her teeth in her skull.
A night of fitful half-rest, interrupted by the occasional stomping and roar of the troll above. Sounds mistaken for the calls of Inquisition scouts, or Cassandra’s shouts. But no one had come. Solas had said the Dreams were too quiet here for him to walk in sleep for reinforcements. He’d rolled root and smoked in the quiet dark.
And this morning, rain mixed with the sun. “Halla’s Breakfast,” she’d said, peering up at the sky and the wrinkled red rock carved up to the surface. The mine isn’t all that deep.
He’s been siphoning mana into his wound to heal it. A subtle set of charms, but she’s felt him draining the ambient magic out of the stone-swallowed air. Some internal break, she is able to guess. But he’d insisted that she save her strength. Refused to let her examine him. Smoked. Insisted this morning that he could lift her to the crest of the shaft to see if the troll slumbered nearby.
She puts her fingers against his chest, trying to make the touch like a seduction - but he senses her intent, and gently guides her hands away.
“And what did you see in the rain above us, then?”
He makes her grin by lifting his hand and twirling her under his arm. His breath does not hitch. He does not flinch.
“Red-winged soldernut, chased off by a pickersjay.” She pulls away and settles onto her bedroll. He leans up against the rock next to her. She pulls his backpack near and opens it as he closes his eyes, and she pretends she does not notice the wavering of the Veil as he weaves a weak spell into his body.
The bag is worn leather, soft to touch and smelling of woods and sharp grasses. Pangara gently pushes aside a soft bundled fur and a small canvas sack that holds his bar of soap. She can smell it like crisp comfort, peppery and herbal. The coarse scrape of a ball of jute meets her touch. She finds the jerky and apples in a tight bundle and unwraps the package, portioning it out evenly between them. He resists his portion of the jerky, though, looking into her eyes and saying softly, “I have no appetite for it, vhenan; but one of us should eat it.”
Why he’s being so damn stoic, when she could help. It’s baffling to her.
They eat in comfortable silence. The sun shifts slowly over the ragged opening to the world above. He nibbles the small, lumpy apples - eats them cores and all - and above them rises the chorus of birds in flight, and their songs at nest. The rain has made a small rivulet that dribbles down the shaft and into the mine.
“We could probably risk it,” she murmurs between bites of jerky.
“Mm,” he agrees, but neither of them stirs.
It’s a peculiar feeling: sitting under, looking up. The ground around her feels oppressive as ever - but the opening up into the world, beyond the unexpected cloister of this dark and hidden den, feels suddenly like a rift into a world where she will spiral. Where she will be called on and needed. The varied songs of birds wanting to nest, to mate, to warn, to build, to share, to summon, and to greet whisk a cloud of sound beyond that portal.
He has taken her hand in his hand and he rubs across her knuckles with his thumb. The red silt on her hands comes off on his fingers.
“Lovely pigment,” he says when he notices.
A soldernut alights on the edge of the opening and calls out. Pangara whistles a sharp, short whoop then three high notes in return. Solas laughs.
“That’s very good!”
“We have soldernuts up north, too,” she grins. And then she mouths through a series of songs and calls, sometimes bringing her hands to cup her chin, or putting her fingers to her lips. He watches her sideways and tries to hide a smile when he recognizes a call - and she’s not a little proud of how she can pull the phrases from memory, recalling long-ago mornings spent competing against her uncle to match the squeaks and rolls, the throaty whoops.
And then, after Solas takes another apple from the backpack and bites it, swallows, and clears his throat, she realizes he’s decided that it’s his turn.
Chatter, curlews, and impossible trills and krees, smoothly folding into soft and uncanny tu-whus and back up into the high registers. His mouth barely opens, though his cheeks pinch back, and each song is reproduced rapidly, precisely, and loud.
Pangara feels herself recoil. She seizes up, cusses, and pulls back. Because how is he that loud? It rings off the damp rock walls, buzzes and trills and the soldernut above replies in alarm before winging frantically away.
“How are you doing that?” She presses over the wall of song, and he only grins and shifts away as she pulls at his sleeve. He is done now with all the calls she knew and is moving on, whistles yipping and chirruping in songs more elegant than she’s ever heard, songs that say greetings in deep forests and territorial warnings on the banks of long-forgotten rivers filled with snowmelt. The songs he weaves - they are beautiful.
But this man is never loud, and this? Solas may be a woodsman, and she knows this about him, and he may have developed skill in birdsong and calls… but this volume? She covers her ears, begging him with her eyes to stop. And his eyes have gone sly. And they’re still a little unfocused as he smirks at her. Unless he is using the very thin magic remaining in this shallow hollow in the earth…
Pangara narrows her gaze and he shifts away from her again, pure mischief in his eyes.
“What have you got?” She says loud over the cacophony, and when he scoots another handswidth away from her, still whistling, she lunges at him, catches his side and pulls herself close, scrambling over him, then his songs falter around his laughter as she wrestles with him and tries to get him to open his mouth. “What have you got!” She repeats, pressing against his chest, knowing there’s a trick, and he refuses to part his lips and only grins at her, taking the chance to nuzzle at her neck and then when she pries her fingers into his mouth he suckles on them, dirt and all. She shakes her head, trying hard not to be infected with the dopey, ridiculous grin he’s got twisting his lips around her fingers, and she roots around in his mouth until her fingertips touch the device.
They come to a brief stalemate in which she glares at him and he tries to look both unaffected and dignified with her hand stuffed in his mouth.
Flat on his back, he releases her fingers with a chuckled snort and she pulls out a remarkably simple little instrument covered in his saliva. A flat of apple bitten into a bean-shape, with a small sheet of apple skin adhered to the surface by a very simple spell.
She holds it up. “You could have just swallowed this?”
His grin drops a little and he seems a little stunned as he considers that. “I… suppose.” And then she notices his hands cupped on her backside, shifting her forward a little on his lap, and his eyes crinkle at the corners as he traces his touch up her back; her chest is pressed against his, and his gaze flicks down from her eyes.
Pangara feels herself redden when Cole says, “Found you.”
“He’s got a broken rib, and he’s been keeping the pain down,” she says as she staggers off and away from Solas, who sobers at once and nods pleasantly to Cole, lifting himself on one elbow.
“Cole, thank you for locating us. Has the danger been cleared above?”
“Yes, the trees shook and shook and all the woods hurt but where were you? Everyone asked but there is so little… ” Cole’s hands spread, and Solas nods.
“Spirits would have difficulty navigating to us here, you did well. We’re grateful.”
Pangara links the belts on the bedrolls and Cole snaps out of existence - and the refinement drops out of Solas’ eyes the instant they are alone… leaving the heat.
She says, warning, “Whatever your game, it let me find what you were hiding.”
“A worthwhile sacrifice,” he admits, and he manages, when the rope ladder drops to them some time later, to pull himself out of the ground.