When a blind woman was named Inquisitor, none of her inner circle expected the task before her to be easy. Neither did any of them expect her to face it alone. Each of them has their own task, a duty they have assigned themselves to make Elera Lavellan’s life just a little easier, a role they carry out with stubborn dedication. None of them say it, but they all know that every one of them would rather die than see someone else take their place.
Solas walks with her in the Fade, drawing her into his memories, conjuring up images of the places they’ve been. Only her body is blind, and in the Fade, she can see the echoes he creates for her. They stroll the ramparts of Skyhold together, a smile flickering around her mouth as she looks out on the rolling mountains, and he helps her memorise every staircase and passageway so that she might navigate them more easily in her sightless waking world. He shows her the Emerald Graves, so that she can stand beneath the trees and gaze at the million different shades of green the sunlight creates as it falls through the leaves. He shows her, despite his scorn, the Dalish camp they visited in the Exalted Plains, so that she can remember her own clan and feel, for a time, at home. They walk the paths of his memories together, he her hahren, and she, a student and friend he is proud to teach.
Varric does what an author does best - he puts the world around them into words. When they reach the top of a slope and let out gasps of awe at a view that Elera can’t see, he steps up to describe it to her, painting every detail with the best words he can think of until she smiles and whispers, I can picture it. He does the same with the people they meet, telling her everything from the colour of their hair to how high she has to look to meet their eyes. Leave it to the others to do the basics, helping her to make it through the world. Varric’s duty is to make that world beautiful.
Sera is the one who climbs. Up the piles of rocks, balancing on beams and narrow ledges, clambering onto rooftops and jumping between gaps. She hates those creepy shards, but Elera says they’re important, and Sera’s damned if she’s letting a blind woman go hauling herself up those frigging rock piles to reach them. Elera would do it if someone else didn’t, stupid stubborn woman, and Sera doesn’t want to see her fall and get herself killed. Because even though she’s an elf, an elfy elf, a really elfy elf who wants those pissing elfy shards to open that elfy temple… somehow, they ended up as friends. Real good friends. And Sera was never one to let her friends get hurt.
Vivienne picks out her wardrobe, not only for all those soirees and balls that the Inquisitor is obliged to make an appearance at, but for day to day wear. Just because practicality is Elera’s greatest concern - finding something with few buttons she needs to fumble at and few fastenings to struggle with - doesn’t mean she should be forced to sacrifice fashion. Vivienne seeks out fine silk and velvet for her, fabrics that a Dalish elf could never have heard of or touched before. She finds tunics in rich turquoise to match her vallaslin, and, for special occasions, a ballgown in pale silvery-blue, so unearthly against her pale skin that she almost seems to be wearing moonlight.
Dorian reads to her. It starts with him making some remark about a book on spirit magic he’s been browsing through. That sounds interesting, she says, could you read that passage to me? And before long it’s a tradition. She comes to the library, he finds a book, they sit in chairs facing each other and Dorian reads. At first it’s mostly tomes on magical theory, but soon, he’s narrating a new chapter of Hard In Hightown every evening, and a little circle gathers around them to listen, all of them catching their breath in unison over the dramatic parts and groaning whenever Varric ends things with yet another cliffhanger.
Cassandra has always been at home on the battlefield, and right from the start, she appoints herself the task of making sure that Elera can feel at home there too. Two rage demons, approaching from the right, and three wraiths, she roars, as the rift splits open and pours the Fade’s denizens forward. One Red Templar in heavy armour, one archer. Just the simplest things, the things that tell Elera where to stand and what spell to use. There’s nothing she can do to make the bellowing of demons and the clashing of weapons less chaotic - but she can try to bring some kind of order out of the chaos. That’s what she does best, after all.
Bull takes it upon himself to make sure she can indulge in all the things the others won’t let her. Honestly, they treat her like she’s made of glass sometimes, and he knows it infuriates her, knows that she doesn’t want to be coddled. She’s blind, not a child. So he’s the one who makes sure she drops into the Herald’s Rest like all the others, the one who buys her a drink and lets her vent. She rarely has more than one or two, but all the same, he walks with her back to her room afterwards. Leaders have as much right to let themselves go as anyone from time to time. The fact that this leader can’t see doesn’t make the damnedest bit of difference to that.
Cole helps. He appears from thin air to guide her up staircases and through passageways when she needs it - but only when she needs it, because he knows she wants to stand alone as much as she can. And since she can’t see the curl of another man’s lip or the twitch of his brow while she speaks to him, Cole reads people for her, telling her the things she can’t pick up from their words and their tone. To him, her lack of eyesight means nothing. She’s a person, like all the others, and her thoughts are the same as everyone else’s.
And Blackwall stands beside her. Where he’s meant to be. He’s the shield between her and everything that could ever possibly hurt her, the hand that flashes out to catch her when she stumbles and the weapon that cuts down the enemy who dared to get close. He’s the arm she rests her hand on as they go about their travels, the voice that tells her the path’s getting steeper or take it slow, there’s a sharp drop to the right. At first it’s an obligation, the duty of a soldier who’s seen men suffer a thousand different wounds from war, losing eyesight and limbs and sanity and Maker knows what else. He knows how to help someone whose body isn’t quite whole.
But it becomes more than that, so much more. She is so strong, so capable, so determined to face all the trials thrown at her by a world she can’t see - but she can’t protect herself from everything. Just as he has needed her, needed her calm kindness and her dauntless faith in him, so she needs him to be her first and last line of defence. He knows, as the rest don’t (all right, Cole probably does, but all the normal rest don’t) that the one thing Elera Lavellan fears is oblivion. Being lost and alone with nothing to guide her.
She won’t have to face oblivion while he’s still breathing. She will always be able to reach out for him and find him there, to hear him tell her, I’m here, my lady. To which she responds with a smile and a murmur - I know, vhenan. Thank you.
She is his fortress, he is her shield, and nothing in the world can touch them.