“Are you ready to follow Captain America into the jaws of death?”
The 107th Howling Commandos at Wizard World Philadelphia. It was an amazing moment to get not only the Howling Commandos, but Peggy and Howard Stark to hang out with. Everyone involved gave 110% and I am super lucky to have gotten to be a part of this.
Kind of angsty romantic nonsense fanfic about my precious, precious inquisitor and the bald asshole under the cut. Minor spoilers and hints of larger ones.
Elendriel emerged into a grove dappled with fading light. This was a day on the brink of ending, though she could not quite recall where she had been before now. Skyhold? She recalled the chill of stone, and the deeper chill of an argument left unfinished.
She would have enough time to dwell when she was done. Elendriel proceeded, bare feet on spring moss, the air alive with an energy she could not place. As if some power urged her onwards. Whether her own, or something else, she did not know yet. Curiosity sparked and dimmed as she wondered if she ought to be afraid. There seemed to be no one else here. It was likely paranoia, but she could not shake the feeling of wolves watching her from the shadows.
She did not have her staff, and she was unarmoured, dressed lightly in elven robes. But Elendriel would not need either to defend herself if necessary. With a dance of her fingertips, tiny blue lights sprung to life. They drifted around her like dust motes, casting soft illumination on her surroundings.
Alone then, truly. The quiet grotto stretched invitingly before her beneath a canopy of branches. Trees twined together like lovers, trailing silvered leaves across fresh earth, unspoiled grass and tangled wildflowers. At the centre of the grove, placed on a low altar of stone steps, rising from a pool of still water, was the familiar form of an Eluvian. The strange mirror seemed unbroken, and fully formed. Its power must have remained. She could feel it all around her, heady with the sensation. Magic tingled on her skin.
That must have been how she had come to this place. Turned around by unfamiliarity, perhaps disoriented by travelling the inbetween. And if it had brought her here, it could almost certainly serve as her way back. So long as she could figure out how to use it. Elendriel moved without hesitation. Water pleasantly cool and clean around her ankles. The mirror strange and smooth to the touch. Though, it did not seem to react to her, even when she allowed magic to infuse her explorative touch. More inquisitive than inquisitor. An older woman’s amused tones seemed to lilt in her mind. Was that… the mirror? She had no time to examine that thought.
That voice. Cool and pleasant as the water. How had she not heard his approach? She can feel him there now, at the edge of her perception, and her pulse quickens.
She answers his call with an easy smile. She wants to go to him, be enveloped in his warmth, she was so sure… But she falters when he makes no movement towards her. Instead he stands alone, at the water’s edge.
“…You should be more careful when it comes to touching things you don’t understand. Has anyone ever told you that?” Solas’ tone almost gave a hint of amusement, but when she meets his eyes, she can find no trace of it. There had always been a sadness in him, but she could have sworn they were past this.
“You, probably. And probably more than once.” She tries to keep the worry out of her tone. “Solas? Is something wrong?”
Touching things she didn’t understand. Long hours in his study, fingertips tracing over the graceful figures in his murals. Enraptured questions about pigments and techniques. She craves the ancient knowledge of her past. And he was only too happy to tell. But did he not understand how important this might be for her people, our people? And she cannot know. They would bicker then in elvish and she felt the keen sting of frustration that he used more words than she knew.
The sting would lessen with gentle teaching, and gentler touches.
‘Ar lath ma, vehnan’
Some other time. He had just come to loan her a text, he hadn’t intended to be here so long. But she is so impassioned, so alive when she speaks. He can’t look away.
‘You are studying …Nevarran death magic?’ He sounded particularly unamused.
‘Yes, Necromancy. It’s fascinating! Do you know how secretive the Mortalitasi are?’ she whispered conspiratorially, ‘you should meet my mentor.’ She grinned, waving excitedly at a jewelled skull set atop a mountain of journals. ‘And honestly what other compelling reason could you suppose that I might have for corpse dust on my desk?’
‘It is also on your fingers.’ He pointed out.
She had wandered in absentmindedly from the garden, loose earth staining her knees, and sleeves rolled up to her elbows. Cataloguing the herb garden she said. Savouring textures of the leaves and the scent left on her fingertips. Elfroot. Arbors Blessing. Felandris.She smiles, sun kissed and breathless. The scent of fresh clippings in her hair.
‘Solas… I think the leaves are poisonous.’ She breathed, with the kind of excitement one usually reserves for good news.
He sighs. Reverentially soothes her raw, reddened hands, as she enthuses about the potential application of its properties.
Another day. No bickering, no lectures or accidents. ‘Tell me’ she breathes excitedly.’ He has brought her here, to walk in a dream. To explain. How he felt the world change when he saw her. But the world can change as it wills, what she wants to know is how he felt. And she sees him, and she is so beautiful.
When she touches him, it is different than when she touches anything else. Measured, careful. This is not idle curiosity. Her eyes are intent, and her fingers trail feather light along the line of his jaw. Then his hands are in her hair, and they are shaking. She kisses him. When he returns it with a fervour he did not expect to possess, it is at her request. But that does not mean it is not an abuse for him to do so.
‘You change… everything.’
Elendriel can see her reflection in the still waters, and she knows that it is wrong. Large blue eyes, and dark, shoulder length waves of hair as it should be. But her face is clear and unmarked. She can recall with perfect clarity the needling sting of her clan’s keeper applying the tattoos to her face. Her vallaslin. She had been so proud of the intricate markings of her heritage. Though she had still felt very much the child when she had cried alone with the pain.
When she looks up, startled by her own reflection, his eyes are knowing. Of course. Weren’t they always?
‘I can take them away. You deserve more than what those cruel marks mean.’
Coldness gathered in the pit of her stomach. She had offered him her soul, and he had offered her the truth. They were slave markings, one more mistake of her people that he had felt compelled to correct. And she had allowed him. Permitting him to take the markings from her face was an act of intimacy beyond any other she could offer with her body, and then he had left. She ached as she remembered that last time he held her.
She could have tried to stop him. Told him she loved him, begged him to stay. Gods, she had never told him she loved him.
Or raged, let him feel the force of her utter contempt. Let him tell her then that he didn’t care, and she could call him whatever filthy name came to mind and move on.
She hated the broken uncertainty that was whatever she had actually said. Solas all apologies and cool concern as she crumbled. She can remember only the slightest break in his cool as he whispers urgently.
‘I need you to know, whatever happens next, that all we had between us was real.’
Now unmarked by the vallaslin, she had allowed herself to be marked forever by him.
“This is not real.” She says with an abrupt certainty that takes him completely unaware. He cannot stand the hollow resignation in her voice, knowing it’s his doing. “You are gone. I remember. What is this, are we in the Fade? You’re haunting me now?” She snaps. Whether she is more hurt or angry he can’t tell. But when she reaches him, it is as if she has breathed all the anger from her body. She leans her forehead to rest gently against his shoulder, and when her fingers brush against his own, he clasps them instinctively. If the strength of his hands can bring her any comfort, then he must.
Her voice is quiet when she says, “Whatever happens, I am still glad to see you.”
He knows then with utter certainty that this was selfish, and he despises himself all over again. He knows what he is, but she changed everything. The words won’t form and he just allows himself to stand there, revelling in the light pressure of her body against his. He raises a tentative hand to the back of her neck, and when she does not pull away, he winds his fingers gently into the softness of her hair. It is only the most earnest desire not to hurt her that prevents him from gripping too tightly.
“You haven’t answered any of my questions, Solas. Is this the Fade? What are you?”
He keeps his voice calm. And it is not an easy task.
“This is not the Fade. A simple dream, vehnan. You will wake soon.” He will be strong enough that he will not invade her dreams like this.
“You are not a dream.”
“Oh?” if anyone could make such deductions, it would be this brilliant, inexplicable woman. He feels her heartbeat flutter wildly against his chest, echoing his own.
“If this were a dream, you would have kissed me already.” She jokes weakly.
It is too much to bear. He hopes that his hands are not trembling as he tilts her face up towards his own, fingers cool against the sudden flush beneath her skin. Her voice catches. Foreheads touch as he bends to meet her, and he can feel her breath faltering. She opens her eyes, and she is pressed so close to him that her lashes brush against his skin as she does so. He tenses as she meets his gaze. Her lips part in invitation.
Solas kisses her desperately. Lips crushing against her own as his hand travels down the curve of her spine. When it finds the small of her back, his grasp tightens, and she is pulled taut against his chest, lean and firm against her softness. Gods. The last of the breath she was holding is expelled in a quiet moan against his lips. She gasps, and he answers by ravaging her harder, lowering the attention of his mouth to the smooth line of her neck. A light grazing of teeth sends his name spilling from her lips, and her fingers wind tightly into his clothes as she tries to pull him closer.
She can scarcely stand, tremulous at the force of his response. “Ma vehnan.” Breathless, he raises a hand to her cheek, the gentle caress at odds with the fervour of his kisses. Usually so calm, so reserved. Now, she feels him burn.
He tastes the word as much as hears it.
Her gaze is locked on his as she takes his hand. Guiding it slowly along the curve of her waist, down to her hips. It takes only the most gentle of suggestions to bring him to his knees.
When she lies back in the grass, hair wreathed with dew and wildflowers, he follows. And she needs him. Needs to let him know, that for this moment, she doesn’t care what’s real anymore. Her fingers trace the hard lines of his face for what might be the last time. Her voice is low, husky in his ear, as she describes to him exactly how she wants to remember this night.