*Smuts in chapter six if ya nasty
In’am saw him for the first time when he was moving in.
The rain hammered down on the windowpanes as In’am looked out, sipping on a cup of coffee in the early hours of the morning. Her sphinx cat, Missy, brushed up against her legs and In’am smiled, leaning down and scratching the fur-less feline behind the ears. When she straightened up and peered through the rain again, she saw the tall figure move towards the alley door that she knew Varric, her downstairs neighbor and friend, liked to use. He carried a large backpack over his shoulder, and had the hood to his sweater pulled up, shielding him from the rain, his head bowed. She couldn’t see his face, but quietly took a sip of her coffee, admiring his broad shoulders as he knocked on the door downstairs, unaware he was being watched. In'am curled a piece of her long silver hair around her finger absentmindedly, watching as he disappeared into Varric's apartment.
“You’re not being creepy at all.”
In’am nearly jumped out of her skin, and Missy imitated her owners action, arching up until she saw who it was.
“Dorian, don’t sneak up on me!” In’am said, frowning, shaking her hand off where she’d spilled a few drops of coffee. Dorian smiled as he went for the coffee maker, pulling a black mug from the modern looking white cabinets. He ran a hand through his dark, messy curls as he poured himself a cup. Dorian had been her roommate for years, both of them mostly living together out of necessity; living and working together had become second nature to their pair that they had become dependent but inseparable friends.
“Ah, but it is one of the best parts of my day, darling. Besides, I don’t often see you creeping on Varrics house guests. Did you see his new roommate?” Dorian asked.
“How did I not know about Varic’s new roomie?” In’am asked, incredulous in tone.
“Maybe because you spent the last--” Dorian glanced at the clock on the oven. “thirteen hours at the gallery? Check your phone.”
In’am stroke to the table where her purse sat, discarded from her early morning arrival. She fished out her phone and sure enough, both Varric nd Dorian had been texting her. Exhausted, the words on the screens jumbled together and made her head ache. At the same moment, Dorian smoothly took the coffee from her hand and replaced it with water.
“Dorian I--” In’am began, but was cut off by Dorian shushing her.
“In’am, I love you, but if I have to suffer you for another hour, another minute, even!, in your current state, I am certain I will not survive.” His hand was firm and guiding on the small of her back, pushing her towards the bedrooms at the back of the house. Knowing when she was beat, she pocketed the phone and carried on on her own, mumbling traitorous curses under her breath in elvish. She took the first door to the right, and shuffled into her room.
It was a decently sized room with enough space for a small work space off to the side. A large window took up a good portion of the eastern wall, and the style spoke to her nature; clothes were strewn about with disregard, but her desk was immaculate. More than one pair of heels poked out from beneath her bed, disregarded after long nights, but her books lined up on her bedside stand were organized by author. Controlled chaos, she called it. Dorian liked to call it “a goddamn mess.”
Flopping onto her bed, In’am crawled into the blankets and dreamed of wolves the entire night through.
In’am woke the next morning to the pawing of Missy at her feet, cooing each time In’am moved them. Grumbling, In’am threw a cushion at her, and Missy went running, hyper as every morning. In’am pulled herself up from her bed and shuffled to the bathroom.
Two hours later, In’am rounded the corner to her gallery, juggling keys in one hand and a tray with three coffee’s in the other. A block from her work, she’d managed to find parking, a sign of a good day when she could nab one of the free spots. Her luck tested itself however when she nearly tripped over a dark figure that was stooped on the curb in front of her gallery. She managed to stop in time just to kick his shoe. She quickly backed up, and looked down at him, her keys hanging between pressed lips. Juggling herself with a surprised expression, she nearly spat the keys out.
“--ah! Sorry about that. Uh, here.” She said awkwardly, shuffling a bit more, reaching into her purse, not really looking at the man sitting there. In’am pulled a bill from her bag and handed it to the man.
“Here, i’m sorry it’s all i’ve got-” She began. Momentarily, she saw his eyes, looking at the bill, his face mostly shrouded by the hoodie pulled up over his head. Hazel eyes were locked on it, and he seemed to want to say something, but In’am caught herself, glancing at her watch.
“Sorry, I really got to run, but im so sorry!” She said, hopping off without a further word. She reached the glass door of her gallery and found the door already unlocked, saying a silent blessing for Josephine.
And indeed, pushing the door open, In’am was greeted by the sound of Josephine’s accented tone reverberating off of the high, exposed brick ceilings. In’am let her be, waving to her as she saw Josephine appear momentarily between pillars in the gallery. Josephine waved back, and In’am pointed to the coffee. Josephine seemed not to notice, going into what seemed a heated argument.
“God bless that woman.” Dorian said from above in the loft area where their private offices were held. “Did you bring coffee?”
“Yes. Come down. Who do I have at 9? I almost overslept.” In’am said, sipping at her coffee as Dorian skipped down the stairs, adjusting his sharp outfit; smart tailored black pants accented his long legs, and his colourful tucked in button-down made him all the more presentable. Dorian looked ready to either kill you or kiss you, and you never really knew which one; the look she loved in a talent hunter.
“We all know you almost overslept, darling, its 8:55. You’re scraping.” He said, giving her a dirty look. In’am punched him in the arm. Dorian feigned hurt and rolled his eyes.
“9. Who.” She repeated, glowering up at him.
“Solas Fen’Harel. The restoration worker who's coming to work on the pieces from Arlathan we’re displaying next month. He’ll be working in the basement all month doing prep work.” Dorian said, glancing at Josephine’s open front desk computer.
“He was waiting outside. Did you not see him?”
In’ams stomach sank. Her blue eyes widened, and she looked at Dorian with dread, thinking of only the homeless man she’s seen outside. Who she nearly stepped on. Then handed money to.
“Dorian what does he look like.”
“What? What’s wrong? Oh--here he comes.” Dorian said, confused, but nodding towards the door.
Sure enough, the figure that came through was wearing the same worn looking grey hoodie and dark jeans. He wore sandals, an odd choice, In’am thought, taking his look into consideration, but the leather bag strung over his shoulder screamed money by its stitching alone. He lowered his hoodie and In’am sighed. Of course she knew what he looked like; she’d seen his face plastered on reviews for his restorative works, documented as a great artist in his own right, and the number of thinkpieces on his social character alone were enough to fill a book. He had the sides of his head shaved, but the top was present and gathered into a ponytail at the base of his head, dark and thick locks spilling over his shoulder, stopping at his chest. His features were a bit sunken, like he didn’t eat much, and his pallor matched, fair skinned to In’ams own light brown. His ears were pointed like her own as well, an elf, and his right one had piercings near the tip, simple golden hoops looped through. His nose was broad and distinguished, and his features were sharp, his eyes keen and deep as if they saw too much. He looked in her direction, and his steps echoed off of the walls as he strode towards them.
“Oh i’ve fucked this. Don’t make me talk to him oh fuc--” In’am muttered to Dorian, her back quickly turned from Solas’ direction. He pulled her around though to face Solas as he approached, and instantly she put on a bright smile.
“Hi there! You must be Solas.” In’am said, stretching out her hand towards him in a kind gesture but panicking internally.
“Yes. And this is yours.” He said, placing the bill she’d given him in her hand. In’am flushed, embarrassed as she looked down at it, standing in front of him, unsure of how to proceed.
“Yes, i’m so sorry about that, I don’t normally--”
“Nearly walk over people and then hand them money to make up for the discourtesy?” He asked, raising an eyebrow. In’am was speechless for a moment before scowling.
“It was a mistake.” She said. Solas shrugged.
“Doesn’t particularly bother me. Just thought it should be noted.” He said smugly. The air between them sharpened, and In’am bit her tongue just as Josephine seemed to materialize, bringing tranquility with her.
“Solas! Varric has told me so much about you, please, come in! In’am, your messages are on your desk. I’ll show Mr. Fen’Harel to the restoration room and be in to brief you momentarily.” Josephine said, seeming to take over the show with ease. Solas nodded, adjusting the bag on his shoulder, and In’am nodded.
“Of course. Thank you Josephine.” In’am said curtly, eyes shifting to Solas for one more moment. They stared at one another, and In’am only felt a seething, quiet rage.
As soon as they had disappeared into the stairwell door, heading down to the basement restoration and loading area, Dorian wheeled on In’am, accusatory.
“What in the fuck was that!” He whispered with excitement.
“I thought he was homeless!” In’am spluttered, burying her face in her hands. “I can’t even look at him. How am I going to work with him for the next month!”
“So you’re telling me you almost fell on him, and then gave him money. All without realizing who he was.” Dorian asked, astonished as he put his hand to his mouth, laughing behind it.
“Oh fuck off, I was in a hurry!” In’am said, exhausted already.
“I can’t believe this. Wait till I tell Varric. He’s going to shit.” Dorian said.
“Wait. The Solas from the texts. It’s not the same Solas who lives downstairs now, is it?” In’am asked, pulling her own phone from her purse, looking for a last name in the emails frantically.
“How many Solas’ are there, really? Yes it’s the same! Varric did the review that launched his career! In’am, have you been sleeping for the last five years? Really.” Dorian asked. In’am swore in elvish at him and turned on her heel, heading for the loft stairs with her coffee.
“You can’t hide up there forever!” Dorian shouted behind her. She was the boss. The boss could do as she pleased.
Mortified, In’am hid away for the majority of the day, catching up on emails and correspondence from those who’d attended the gallery party two days earlier. When Josie finally appeared, bringing lunch with her, In’am was curious to see how Solas was adapting.
“He’s...difficult to work with.” Josephine said, taking a bite of the salad. She sat on the other side of In’am’s desk, her brown hair done up in a bun and her blouse slightly askew after rushing in for their lunch together.
“Well, he’s insufferable, frankly.” In’am said, settling into her dislike for the man she’d met only hours ago. “He has no manners!”
“But he’s a genius.” Josephine offered, pointing at In’am with her fork pointedly. In’am rolled her eyes.
“Overhyped. Genius is stretching it.” In’am said curtly, taking a bite of her lunch; lime rice with chicken--her favourite, and a dish that Josephine only got her when she was obviously in need of a pick-me-up. Josephine shrugged.
“Dorian told me he lives downstairs with Varric…” Josie offered, looking curious but polite as always. In’am sighed, leaning back in her plush office chair as she kicked her heels off.
“Don’t remind me.” In’am said, exhausted by the prospect of having to see him every time she wanted to visit Varric.
“Well, at least he’s easy on the eyes.” Josephine offered. In’am spluttered, nearly choking on her food, and Josephine giggled in a girlish way, smiling as she took another bite of her lunch.
“Are you kidding me! That hair! He looks like a mess.” In’am said, brushing off Josie’s comment, even though she herself knew it was true; as much as she disliked him thus far, he was heartbreakingly handsome. Not that she’d ever admit it aloud. Josephine smiled a smile that In’am would later reflect on as mocking, but knowing. Playful.
“To each their own.”
Up until now, two days in, she had entirely managed to avoid Solas, both as a neighbor and a fellow worker, and she blessed the old gods for her good graces. But when In’am could no longer hide in her office, avoiding and re-scheduling meetings with Solas, it was Varric who saved her, knocking on her door with a cup of coffee in hand.
He looked handsome, red hair pushed back into a low pony-tail and his square jaw dusted with stubble. He wore a v-neck black sweater under a brown leather riding jacket, and his riding helmet was cradled under his arm. He approached her desk with a familiar ease.
“Hey there kiddo. How ya holdin’ up?” Varric asked, his voice encouraging. She sighed and pushed away from her laptop, gesturing to the chair across her mahogany carved desk. Varric sat down with familiarity, putting the cup on her desk, his black boots clunking against her wood office floors.
“I assume Dorian’s been texting?” In’am asked, looking through her office window trying to spot Dorian, but seeing no one. He’d likely gone out for the day, “searching for new talent”, he’d say. In’am called it “day drinking.”
“Perhaps he mentioned a certain new roommate and coworker.” Varric said sheepishly. "I thought i'd get him out of your hair, take him out for lunch."
“Thank you so much, Varric, but...He’s a nightmare. How are you friends with him?” In’am asked, incredulous. She couldn’t believe someone would willingly spend time with such a rude man, let alone Varric, who worked as a comedian and writer. How could being friends with Solas, who seemed to be the definition of a stick in the mud, bring him any enjoyment?
“He’s better when you spend some time with him, and sharp as a tack. You’ll see in time, I promise. Anyways, I didn’t totally come here for just him--I’m having a party next weekend. Wanted to hand deliver the invitation.” He said with a wide grin, his stubby nose crinkling with his dimples.
“Is this going to be another one of those ‘house parties turn block party turn cop has you in handcuffs’ parties?” In’am asked, looking at him with a frown.
“Fuck yes.” Varric said, grinning. In’am cracked a smile.
“Count me in. I’m going to beat you at wicked grace this time.” She said slyly. Varric chortled.
“In your dreams, kiddo.” He said, grinning.
Varric and In’am looked up from their competitive gaze, and her smile fell immediately upon seeing Solas standing there, his bag over his shoulder. His black hair was braided over his shoulder, tied at the end with a leather strap. His piercing gaze landed on her, and she nodded.
“Chuckles! Ready for lunch?” Varric asked, catching In'am's distracted gaze and looking over his shoulder to Solas. He shoved his helmet at Solas, who gave a small ‘oof’, but nodded. In'am wondered briefly how he had gotten that name, though she supposed it was because of his far-too-serious demeanor.
“At your leisure.” Solas replied. He looked over to In’am, who stayed seated at her desk, watching the two of them play out their friendship with curiosity. In’am couldn’t say she saw any change in either of them, and she supposed that spoke true to Varric’s character; you could be yourself with him as your friend. Solas really was a stoney-faced asshole then, she thought smugly.
“Sorry kiddo, just gonna be Chuckles and I this time around. Roomies only, you know? I didn’t think you’d mind me taking him out early.” Varric teased, looking over his shoulder as he pushed Solas out of the office. Solas looked over his shoulder for a moment, catching In’am’s eye for a second that made her scowl.
“See you later, Varric. Thank’s for the coffee.” She said, avoiding Solas' gaze. Varric gave a wave as they headed down the loft stairs and down to the door, a friendly hand on Solas' back. She watched through the glass windows as their conversation, muffled, made Varric chuckle, and then watched as Solas shoved the helmet into his chest with surprising force. They disappeared through the doors together.
In’am let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding in.
Give me kudos and comments pls they are my life-force thx ilu all thx for reading!!!!!!!!!!
In’am barely saw anyone but Josephine for the next two days. Every so often, she would catch glimpses of Dorian, running in or out of the office, or stumbling home in the middle of the night and fumbling with his key until she got out of bed to let him in. Solas was a rarity to spot; He seemed elusive, only appearing in the afternoons, covered in paint, to prepare a cup of coffee in the mini kitchen they had set up near the back of the gallery for catered parties. He would then promptly disappear into the basement again. She wasn’t even sure if she’d ever seen him eat anything.
For In’am, it was a rush of days, picking up contacts after the last gallery party and getting ready for the upcoming showing on the first of the ancient art Solas seemed to be working on down in that basement. She could never be sure, though. She hadn’t found the time, nor desire, to visit him.
It was when In’am got home that night, and she could smell the oil as soon as she opened her front door, that she knew she was going to be paying Solas a visit after all.
It was the smell of oil paints. She knew it well, having used it in art school herself quite a bit, but it was almost overwhelming now. Immediately, she went to the windows and opened them, letting the autumn breeze into the house. Dorian was still out, it seemed, and she could only hear the pattering of Missy over the floor as she ran to greet In’am.
In’am scooped up Missy and pressed her face into the cats warm body.Missy purred, but In’am still felt that quiet rage in the base of her stomach she knew meant she was going to do something possibly reckless, possibly stupid.
In’am set Missy down and put on her slippers, still dressed in her office clothes, a tight black dress that cinched at the waist and fell in a classy pencil-style with a high neck and no sleeves. She marched out the door, slamming it with purpose, and bobbed down the steps, fists clenched. She walked around the corner of the house to Varric’s door, and knocked.
It wasn’t Varric who opened it, and In’am hadn’t expected it to be. She knew Varric was out doing stand up this time of night. The porch light lit up, and the door swung open.
In’am immediately hated the way he looked down at her. With her heels, and relatively avoiding him at work, In’am hadn’t had to feel so short in a while, but in only her slippers, she realized now that she had put on in a rush of anger, embarrassingly enough. Still though, she masked her insecurity, and held her head high, hands on her hips.
“Are you trying to kill my cat?” In’am demanded.
Solas blinked, wiping his hands on a rag that he threw over his shoulder. It was stained with oil paints, and she realized he was dressed in an apron tied around his waist and a black v-neck t-shirt. He was shoeless, and had headphones wired down his side, tangled in with his long black hair that was loose around his face. He raised a curious eyebrow, leaning on the doorframe as she crossed her arms over her chest.
“I assume you’re referring to the smell? I have fans on and the windows are open.” Solas said with a shrug.
“You have a studio!” In’am said. “Use it!”
She looked up at him, exasperated, angry about her cat, but likely more tired than anything considering she’d just been at the gallery for 10 hours. Solas scowled and crossed his fit bare arms over his chest.
“Not all painting can be done in a workspace.” He said, brow furrowed.
“Well, I have a cat. You can’t paint here.” In’am said, raising her chin and staring at him in a way she hoped was intimidating.
“Well, I’m painting a wall. I’m not going to stop halfway through.” Solas said.
“Listen, I barely know you, but i’m saying this as your neighbour, not your boss--you don’t have to be such an asshole about this.” She said sourly. Solas laughed aloud, short and mocking.
“You’re not my boss. Now get out of my doorway.” He said, glaring. In’am turned on her heel and cursed him in muttered elvish just before she heard the door slam behind her. She hoped he heard her.
To say tensions were high at work the next day was an understatement.
Dorian had walked with In’am to the front door of the gallery the next morning, only to see Solas waiting outside, smoking a cigarette, his hoodie pulled up over his head. His hair was pulled back into a bun, and he’d changed the jewellery in his ear to small studs. In’am felt overdressed, but remembered it was her own gallery she was entering; Her
“Morning, Solas.” Dorian said politely. Solas nodded, stepping aside as he threw his cigarette butt towards the sidewalk with a flick of his finger. In’am didn’t bother to look at him directly, instead slipping ahead to unlock the doors with her jingling keys. In’am tried her hardest to stick to her routine; unlock the door, let the others in, do a walk around the building. Three steps, which should have been easy, were interrupted.
“In’am. May I speak with you a moment?”
The day hadn’t even started and it was already going downhill. The last thing she wanted to do was be alone with him even for a minute, finding him far too frustrating to be around. In’am held back a breath, but nodded.
“Of course.” She replied curtly. She looked over to Dorian, who had already taken the hint.
“I’ll meet you inside.” Dorian said, nodding to her. In’am was sorry to see him go, watching the door close behind him, the tinted windows hiding him from view. Dorian’s courage was infectious, and she sorely needed some now. She felt she simply didn’t have the energy to continue dealing with Solas.
“I don’t know who to go to about these matters, but your art stock is running low on a few materials.” Solas said simply, hands hidden in his pockets. In’am blinked, a bit surprised at the casual tone considering last night’s row.
“That’s it?” She asked, her voice heavy with disbelief.
“Did you expect me to comment on last night? I thought I was rather clear.” Solas said, a blank stare on his angular face. His brows furrowed just slightly, giving him away, and In’am felt anger bubble into her throat.
She barely had control, but she took one look at her business, staring at her. She had started the gallery with Dorian and Josephine at her side, supported by a small community of artists in the local scene. She couldn’t let it be ruined by one smug artist who may just pull in the biggest business she’d seen in her life.
In’am took a deep breath.
“Of course. Provide me with a list, and I’ll order whatever we’re low on. Is that all?” She asked with a sickly sweet smile. In’am clenched her fists beneath her crossed arms. Solas looked at her with a measured stare, but nodded.
“Thank you.” He replied. “I’ll bring it to you later.”
In’am wanted to literally punch him in the face, but she resisted, keeping her smile plastered on her rouged lips.
“Of course. Later then.” She nodded, pulling the gallery door open and disappearing inside. She walked quickly to her office, and found Dorian waiting there for her. He stood up from her own chair where he’d been spinning, and looked at her with a concerned expression.
“If you’d like me to fuck off, just say.” Dorian said.
“No. Just get out of my chair.” She replied, already feeling a headache coming on. Dorian moved aside, and she sat down on the plush leather seat, her shoulders sinking into it. Dorian sat down on the sofa she had pushed against one of the walls, an elegant painting of scenic ancient architecture she’d bought from a friend years ago hanging just above it. In’am tried to relax, but she just felt mentally exhausted.
“He asked for art supplies! He didn’t even apologize about Missy!” She finally said, her voice clearly upset in pitch as she threw her arms in the air. She had stayed relatively quiet last night when Dorian had come in, and she knew he knew that meant something had upset her. Simply saying “Solas.” had been enough for Dorian to nod and get her a cup of hot tea and let her be.
“For painting while she was in the house? Yes, I do recall the smell of the oils last night when I came in. What happened?” Dorian asked. In’am explained, and Dorian, always with an ear for gossip, listened intently. At the end of it, he frowned.
“Well, he’s an asshole. An artistic genius, but an idiot. I wonder what he’s painting down there…” Dorian said, curiosity in his voice. In’am rolled her eyes and leaned back in her chair.
“Varric’s having his party on Friday, and if I have to see him there, I might be too drunk to stop myself from punching his smug face.” In’am said, muttering a few extra curses under her breath. Dorian chuckled.
“Darling, there’s nothing i’d love more than to see you punch that asshole in the face, but if he leaves the show before the opening night…” Dorian cautioned. In’am waved a hand.
“I know, I know. It’s not like I could actually fight him.”
In’am did not realize then just how wrong she was.
fist fights and flirtations???????? aka In'am is drunk and there were too many characters to write for this it took so long so thanks for waiting!!!!!!!!
In’am could already hear the music downstairs, bass thumping through the thin ceiling and she could see the guests, some of which she recognized and others she didn’t, spilling out onto the street, smoking on corners in the light of the open doors. Varric had, yet again, lucked out and chosen a warmer autumn weekend for his soiree, meaning she could wear the tight black dress she’d gotten weeks ago, but had yet to wear out. It had a plunging neckline and a criss-crossed back, and with her heels she managed to look a good bit taller than before. Looking out the window at the people smoking joints or cigarettes on the corner outside of Varric’s place, the music pouring into the street, she knew she’d fit in for the evening with it.
“Dorian! Are you almost ready?! I don’t want to go down alone, Varric said he’d be there.” In’am shouted from her bedroom on the other side of the house. Dorian seemed to appear as if on cue, holding two shot glasses full of what looked like straight vodka.
“We’ll be ready as soon as you down these.” Dorian said with a smile. He was smartly dressed, making her feel more comfortable already in her tight black number; he wore a skinny black suit with no tie, the top buttons of his purple dress-shirt undone. He’d combed and twirled his mustache, and his dark curls had been pushed back; he looked like he was on the hunt for a good artist as much as she was, she knew, looking for someone to go home with. In’am shifted her gaze and looked at the drinks, and knew already how badly she needed to let loose--working with Solas for even a single week had been hell. She wanted to forget the last week and about having to work with him again come Monday. Truthfully, she was going to be polite, say hello to Varric, then hopefully escape to Liliana's before she could even lay eyes on Solas. That was the plan at least.
“What number are you on? I don’t want to out pace you.” In’am smirked, walking to her doorway and grabbing one of the shot glasses. She threw it back as Dorian spoke.
“If I told you what number I was already on, I think you’d call me depraved, or some version of that.” Dorian said smartly. In’am winced at the feeling of the harsh liquor move down her throat, but she immediately reached for the second shot, pounding it back without trouble. She handed him the empty glass.
“Mothers Mercy.” She finally sighed, breathing out. Dorian looked pleased, and disappeared a moment, putting the glasses in the sink in the kitchen as In’am took one last look in the mirror, adjusting her long silver hair so it fell in a clean line down her back now that she’d straightened it; before it had been a curly mess. Her blue eyes were accented by dark makeup, and her traditional tattoos were subtle across her forehead and cheekbones, a light white colour. Her pointed ears poked out from her long hair, and accented her pointed features.
“Alright, let’s go. I’ve been eyeing Liliana's new roommate and I need you to be my wingwoman on this because once you see him, you will understand everything.” Dorian said, leaning in her doorway. In’am smirked. She’d already spotted him the other day.
“The Iron Bull, right? He seemed…nice.” In’am said with intentional hesitation, looking at Dorian pointedly. Dorian shrugged as he moved to let her through so they could leave.
“We’ll see how nice he is when he’s --” Dorian began, but In’am laughed and waved a hand.
“Nonono! I don’t want to hear it. Let’s go, you dog.” In’am joked. Dorian punched her lightly on the arm.
“Oh, don’t act so innocent. I saw you with that shop owner down the street that night. What was his name? Rutherford? Anyways, perhaps heard you is a better word. I think the whole neighbourho--” Dorian began, but In’am punched him in the arm as they descended down the front steps to Varric’s. A few people nodded as they passed by the corner where people lingered, smoking. In’am smiled, but hissed at Dorian.
“Do not mention that. He’s Varric’s friend and he might be here tonight. I’d rather you don’t embarrass me about all that.” In’am said, thinking of the handsome tall blonde shop owner who’s caught her eye when he’d bought the corner store and moved into the neighborhood. Cullen Rutherford, a handsome veteran who looked a bit overworked, but radiated a gentleness nonetheless. The relationship had been an entanglement that In’am hadn’t had time to focus on; running a gallery was difficult enough without having to worry about any romances. Cullen, however, had been polite about it, though the look of disappointment haunted her. She hadn’t meant to hurt him, and truthfully, she still felt for the man a deep love that she’d set aside for her career.
Dorian lifted an eyebrow, as he entered Varric’s house, squeezing by people who crowded the doorway. It was crowded all the way through, and the music was loud now, the air heavy with the smell of pot and cigarettes. It always made her laugh; the art kids being heavy smokers. What a trope.
“Do you still have a thing for him?” Dorian asked, curious.
“No! But...he’s too good, Dorian. You understand, yeah? He’s too goddamn nice. It’s frustrating.” In’am said over the music, eyes scanning the crowd on purpose to avoid his gaze, lest he catch her in her lie. Dorian suddenly led her, hand on her elbow.
“Come on, here.” He said. He steered her through the kitchen, and they side-stepped a couple making out in an adjacent hallway, bodies entwined against the wall. It wasn’t even midnight yet.
Through the crowd, they had managed to find Leliana, Varric, the hulking new Qunari roommate who In’am had assumed was The Iron Bull, and Cullen, all sitting with drinks in hand on Varric’s old brown cord couch. Leliana, Bull and Varric were passing back and forth a join that looked fatter than she was used to seeing them smoke. In’am purposefully avoided Cullen’s gaze, who noticed their lingering figures first, and instead looked to Leliana.
Leliana caught sight of them and stood up, shuffling around the coffee table which had too many types of drugs and liquor strewn across it, with people shuffling to sample every few moments or refill a cup. Others just lounged around drinking in the crowded house, shuffling to the music or checking out the art on Varric’s walls.
When she leaned in to In’am, she could smell the scent of weed on her, subtle, but pungent, clinging to her deep purple hoodie. She wore black jeans with a corded belt, and she looked quite at ease in the crowd.
“Hello darling.” She said, kissing both cheeks.
“Where have you been?! I haven’t seen you two for weeks!” In’am said over the music as Dorian thrust a drink into her hand. She sipped, and the familiar taste of orange juice and vodka warmed her; Her favorite drink, of course. Dorian meanwhile sipped on some sort of dry cocktail with an olive in the glass he held with perhaps too much precision. Who the fuck goes and drinks cocktails enough to develop that familiarity with holding different glasses, she thought vaguely, a little tipsy already and feeling more uncoordinated than ever.
“Went camping. Had to go down south to get a few things. You know how it is.” She said, smiling gently, her short red hair cut with a precision that framed her freckled face. In’am understood the context; She wasn’t fool enough to pick up on what her friend and neighbor did for a living.
“Were you safe?” In’am asked. That was truly all she cared about.
“Of course. Thank you for asking.” She said simply with a smile. Bull slapped her back and she lurched forward with a cough, which only made Bull laugh more.
“I was watching out for her.” Bull said with a wink. She didn’t know how he managed to wink with one eye, but he did, and he did it towards Dorian, she noted.
“Yes yes, very valiant.” Leliana said sarcastically. Everyone, Bull seemingly included, knew that Leliana was the last person who needed any assistance protecting herself. Bull smiled and put his hand out to In’am.
“The Iron Bull. But you can just call me Bull. Leliana’s new roommate and musician.” Bull said. In’am put her tiny hand in his large one and gave the best shake she could against a person so massive. He politely nodded, and did the same with Dorian. Their handshake, however, lasted a moment longer than In’am’s and his had, and she wasn’t blind to the way Bull’s fingers brushed the inside of Dorian’s wrist. She nearly blushed for them.
“Come and sit down before someone else slides in here. I claimed this couch so I could get stoned and share stories all night, not for some random art hippy to come on in here!” Varric said, receiving several glares from around the crowded living room area.
“No offense!” He chimed. They looked away and In’am slid around the table. He held the joint out to her and she took it gratefully.
“How ya doin Kiddo?” He asked. She smiled and breathed out a cloud of grey-white smoke.
“Great. Except your new roommate is an asshole.” She said matter-of-factually. Varric chuckled and took the joint back.
“Chuckle’s is a friend, and besides, once you get to know him he’s not all that bad.” Varric said, ever the reasonable voice. Leliana chimed in, sitting down beside her.
“Oh yes, i’ve spoken with him at length. He grows on you.” Leliana said. In’am wondered if she could learn Leliana’s level of patience through association. She certainly hoped so if she had to deal with Solas for the next month. It’d only been a week for fucks sake.
“Where is he anyways?” In’am asked, looking around, hoping she wouldn’t see him.
“Last saw him talking with Cassandra.” Varric shrugged. Cassandra was the property manager, and far too caring about their personal lives to enforce any rules with them. She had been Varric’s long time friend, and no matter how much Varric had offered her over the years for the building ownership(he had some weird attachment to it after all,) she’d refused; it seemed to keep them together at this point.
“Tattling?” In’am joked before taking a sip from her too-heavily-spiked orange juice.
In’am looked up and hovering over the other side of the table was Solas. His dark hair was pulled back in a low pony-tail and he held onto a brown bottle, though she wondered if it was his first by the way his cheeks had a pink tinge. She narrowed her eyes, displeased to see him; she’d been hoping for a Solas-free party.
“Chuckles! Stay a while. Where’s the Seeker?” Varric asked.
“Had to run.” He replied, looking away from In’am, whose gaze looked for someone more comforting, but apparently both Dorian and Bull had disappeared at the same time. Varric seemed to forget about her, engaged now with Solas, and she took it as an opportunity to distract herself with the man that sat next to her. Truly, she had missed him.
“Nice to see you again, Cullen.” She said, looking over at him. He nearly jumped out of his skin, but looked over at her, rubbing the back of his neck in that nervous way he always did she found both charming and frustratingly adorable.
“In’am! I didn’t want to interrupt anything--” He started, but In’am waved her hand in dismissal.
“Don’t worry about it. How are you?” She asked with a genuine smile. She considered him a friend, despite the awkwardness that seemed to follow their relationship at times.
“Good. Shop’s been busy. Cole said to tell you ‘go with your feelings’, by the way, whatever that means.” Cullen said, shaking his head. In’am chuckled.
“How’s the gallery? Solas is working with you now, Varric mentioned?” Cullen asked. She knew he meant it in a polite way, but she felt that gnaw of annoyance towards Solas again, and glanced briefly in his direction. Of all the times to catch his eye, she did, and they both looked surprised to be looking at one another mid-conversation, and hurriedly turned back to their conversation partners.
“He’s difficult to work with, truthfully, and living above him doesn’t help.” In’am said with a shrug. “But it will be good for the gallery.”
“Well, if you ever need a break, take a walk to the store.” Cullen offered. “I do tend to get a bit bored alone in there when it’s not busy.”
“Are you asking for my company, commander?” She asked slyly. Cullen blushed, and faltered a moment before In’am burst into laughter, laying a gentle hand on his arm. She had far too many drinks in her by now to care. Cullen looked handsome in a white button-down and black dress pants, blonde hair pushed back behind his rounded human ears, and a light blush was present across his cheeks.
“I’m--i wasn’t--” He stammered, and In’am lifted her hand from his arm, giving him some breathing space. She just gave him a gentle smile and set her drink down before standing up.
“I’m going for a smoke. Meet me out back in ten minutes.” She said, fixing her dress and stepping past him. She needed to relax, and if bringing back a bit of emotional baggage helped her do that, she didn’t mind. In’am needed a few minutes to prepare herself for dealing with her possibly bad decision, but she already felt better reaching into her purse for her cigarettes and emerging outside.
Knowing the area, she stepped out into the alley, and rounded the corner. Fewer people lingered there, and she lit up a cigarette, giving a polite nod to some familiar faces. She found a spot against the wall of her house, and leaned there, taking a drag on the lit cigarette, blending into the art crowd that lingered around.
A moment later, a familiar figure paused, emerging from the corner and looking directly at her. Solas Fen’Harel lingered, and finally decided to take the step forward towards her, something she was desperately wishing he hadn’t done. He too though, pulled a pack of cigarettes from his back jean pocket.
“Evening.” He said politely. They hadn’t addressed one another inside, and she had nearly escaped the evening without having to talk to him at all. And yet, it was she who launched into an aggressive conversation, prompted by the alcohol in her system.
“So what’s your deal anyways?” In’am asked in an accusatory tone.
“Excuse me?” He asked, raising a dark eyebrow.
“You’re an asshole. You nearly kill my cat, and don’t even apologize. I try to be nice, and despite apologizing, you have no interest in any sort of reconciliation.” In’am spilled her feelings in old elvish, a language she didn’t think anyone but her clan and a few others could understand from her home area. And yet, Solas scowled, and replied fluently in Elvish.
“What does it matter to you? You’re just another snobbish art director and i’m just another exhibit for you.” He replied. In’am was taken aback, not because of being called snobbish, but by the language that came so smoothly from his lips. She’d read nothing about this in his bio.
“Fine. You don’t want to bother with me. I can deal with that. But I can’t deal with you being a condescending asshole.” In’am said, flicking her cigarette into the street and stepping towards him, invading his personal space despite being a head shorter than him. He looked down and scowled.
“Fuck you. You’re just another pretentious art gallery owner who has sold their soul for cash.” Solas said. She could smell the alcohol on his breath, and she should have taken that as her cue to stop, but through her own drunken haze, she couldn’t think to do anything else. That was the moment that In’am finally lost her patience.
In’am held out her arms and shoved him, putting her weight into it. She heard the gasps around them at the sudden, aggressive movement, and Solas shoved back a second later, gaining his footing. Then all was lost in a drunken fueled rage between the two.
Fists flew, and she finally felt her hand connect with his jaw. His head bobbed, and he punched back, gripping at the back of her dress and pulling her into his fist, punching her gut. She was nearly winded, but tugged at his hair while shouting.
“You nearly killed my cat!” She cried, struggling with him. She landed another punch before he grabbed her left wrist and twisted while punching her. She could feel her lip swell immediately, and she could taste the blood in her mouth.
“You’re an insufferable judgemental simpleton!” He insulted back as she struggled against his large hands. “How you came to run a gallery I’ll never know!”
She was nearly ready to lean over and bite him when a strong pair of arms wrapped around her waist and pulled back at the same time that another pair pulled Solas back. She realized that a crowded circle had formed around them, and when she settled down a moment, she could see Dorian dragging her off while Solas was also taken away by Varric, who despite his short dwarven stature, had arms like a tree trunk, and could lift the scrawny elven artist any time.
“In’am! What are you doing? I’m away for twenty minutes and you’re brawling?” Dorian asked. In’am, finally starting to feel the pain in her gut and mouth, spat out blood at her doorstep while Dorian led her upstairs. She noticed Leliana follow, and Cullen hesitate outside their front door.
“He called me soulless!” In’am said in distress, and she realized briefly how drunk she sounded. It was lost though when Leliana pulled up a kitchen chair for her and Cullen pushed an ice pack into her hand wrapped in a tea towel.
“I can’t believe he hit you. I’m going to--” Cullen said, looking furious, but Dorian cut him off.
“You will do no such thing. Do you know how hard I worked getting him to come to our Gallery?” Dorian asked, looking angrily at In’am while he applied a wet cloth to her lip, soaking away the blood. Leliana set a glass of water on the table.
“I don’t careeeee.” In’am whined, her head throbbing. She just wanted to lie down.
“You do, you’re just drunk.” Dorian said with a sigh. Cullen paced in the background, his bright eyes flashing towards her every now and again.
“I’m sorry. But i’m not sorry for kicking his ass.” In’am said slyly.
“Apology accepted. And I certainly hope you’re not. He looked a lot worse than you do.” Dorian said. Despite quite assuredly fucking up one of the biggest art deals in her career for both herself and Dorian, he was still on her side. She felt a swell of affection for him.
“Drink. You need to hydrate.” Leliana said, ever the watchful mother-figure. Stoned or not, she could always take care of In’am better than she could herself.
“Thanks. I’m just going to stay in.” In’am said. Dorian laughed.
“I wasn’t going to let you leave anyways.”
“Yes, please, no more brawling in the street.” Cullen said, rubbing his forehead. In’am felt embarassed that he was here, hovering over her bruised form, looking too caring. She felt miserable, being around him, having led him on.
“I need to lie down.” In’am said suddenly. Dorian looked at her carefully, but seemed to decide that she looked well enough that she wouldn’t puke. He helped her to her feet and led her down the hall to her room just as she heard Leliana taking a sigh and lighting a joint.
“What really happened out there?” Dorian finally asked now that they were alone. He pushed the door to her room ajar and strode across the dark dalish patterned rug to her bed, setting her there. He sat beside her as she reached for the glass of water she’d left there last night.
“I asked him why he was such an asshole, and he took it the wrong way. What a surprise.” She smiled sarcastically and rolled her eyes, then immediately regretted it as her world spun before her eyes. She closed them and laid down, hugging a pillow to her chest.
“Well, how about next time you don’t go punching guys twice your size while i’m not around to back you up, hm?” Dorian said with a laugh. In’am chuckled, and went quiet.
“Thanks, Dorian.” She said.
“Anything for you, darling.”
a very short conversation and a very short chapter
In’am didn’t see him for three days. And it was a sigh of relief not to, but every thankful moment was followed by the anxiety of when.
She nursed a hangover on Saturday, visited with Leliana and Bull on Sunday with Dorian, and on Monday, she knew he was in the gallery by his jean jacket hung on the coat rack by the door, but either she was too busy or he was too inconspicuous, because their paths didn’t cross that day.
On Tuesday though, In’am had waited as long as she could.
Dorian and Josephine had left hours ago, and she had of course stayed behind to do some work, but also to wait for Solas, who seemed to absorbed in whatever he was working on (In’am was too hesitant to go check), to even come up from the basement, and so now at eight, well past the working day, she was still there. She couldn’t exactly close up shop without Solas leaving, unless she locked him in the basement, which to be frank, she had considered. She’d meant to get a new key cut for him, but between the hangover and the cut lip he’d left her with, it wasn't exactly on the top of her list.
Finally mustering the courage to face her own embarrassment, she rose from her chair and left her office, taking her bag from the corner and putting it over her shoulder. Walking down the loft stairs, however, she saw Solas’ figure, standing in the gallery, hands folded behind his back and looking at a painting that hung on the largest western wall. He did not move at the sound of her heels on the steps, staying still, and In’am took the moment walking to him to see the subtle differences in him since arriving.
Paint was all over his pants, which he’d evidently changed to a pair of black ripped jeans, as well as on his hands. Hues of blue and green stretched up his toned arms where his sleeves were rolled up, stained from his work. A paintbrush was tucked behind one pointed ear, and when she stopped a few steps away, she saw his head turn slightly in acknowledgement. His jaw was bruised with yellow, but it looked considerably better than the blotchy purple she knew came before yellow.
“Do you curate the pieces?” Solas asked aloud, his voice smooth. He had no intention, it seemed, of mentioning the fight that had left him with a long cut on his cheek from her nails and a bruised jaw. In’am was grateful he went straight to work conversations.
“Some, but it’s mostly Dorian. Do you like this one?” In’am asked, nearly automatic; She just had to get through this conversation, and she could go home. It was a gigantic piece, stretching up towards the ceiling. It was abstract, hues of red and brown and gold strewn together to create a piece of vibrancy and life. She liked it, but it’s size made it hard to sell.
“No. It’s juvenile.” Solas said simply. In’am felt slight annoyance, but went with it. Art conversations were her job. This, at least, she could keep up with and not appear a speechless mess.
“Perhaps that’s the point.” In’am said, closing the distance between them and coming shoulder to shoulder with him, a foot apart. His height was intimidating, towering over her 5’3’’ frame. At least her heels gave her a few extra inches. Not as pathetic as it could be.
“Perhaps. Her other pieces are more mature. That one.” He said, pointing to the left. In’am turned and looked at the piece; a little less abstract, utilizing shapes and faded faces against a blue and black canvas to create a painting of loneliness. In’am tilted her head, crossing her arms over her chest as she approached it, getting a bit closer.
“This one is much better.” Solas insisted. In’am considered it carefully, then looked back to the red one. It’s sheer intimidating spoke to her in it’s colour and height. She preferred it.
“I prefer the red. I don’t think it’s as juvenile as you think--you’re looking at the colour because you’re an artist, not at the piece as a whole. Look at the size. It’s childish in colour and form, but it’s more informed in it’s presentation. Childlike wonderment and intimidation rolled into one. That one,” she said, pointing at the blue painting he liked, “that one is too obvious.”
Solas looked at her directly, ignoring the paintings. His hazel eyes pierced her, and she stared back, unafraid and unwilling to back down or hide this time. She was tired and annoyed by his know-it-all attitude, and as much as she was an expert on the paintings in her own gallery, she wanted to rest.
“Anyways, i’m leaving for the night. We don’t have a key cut for you yet, so…” In’am said, waving a dismissive hand.
“Ah, yes. Let me gather my things.” Solas said, tearing his gaze from her and striding towards the basement. In’am stared at his back until he disappeared, then let out a sigh. The way he had looked at her had made her jump; he had started with furrowed brows and an intensity that would be intimidating if not for her own surety. She didn’t regret punching him one bit, and he seemed to respect that.
She’d hurried with the door when he reappeared, wanting to be rid of him as soon as possible and the thought that perhaps she could respect this man, who wore his wounds with pride and took her interpretations seriously. The fight, it seemed, had knocked some sense into him, and at the moment she was still loathe to find out if she could actually be on decent terms with him. When she turned to see if he was lingering, she could see his figure already walking down the street in the direction of their home.
A single conversation was a start, at least.
WELCOME TO THE SMUT !!!!!1111!!1! ;) ;) ;)
ok for real tho nsfw ahead yall u have been warned also this is a two in one scene chapter so double trouble yall welcome
Looking for Missy at 2AM was not exactly In’am’s idea of a peaceful evening. Having opened the door only for a moment to step out for a cigarette, Missy had decided runnin into the chilly autumn evening would be a fun idea, and with Dorian out (Likely next door at Bull’s, she assumed), she was alone on the search.
In’am took a drag on her cigarette, and briefly considered asking Varric for help, seeing the lights on in their basement apartment, but the idea of seeing Solas didn’t appeal to her when she was already exhausted. Sleepless nights were common for her, and she didn’t want to aggravate her stress with more work-related accompaniment, even though she admitted silently that things had been better as of late. Three weeks in, and Solas seemed...civil, if not considerate. And while she still felt a certain amount of annoyance to his prideful attitude, she appreciated the small efforts he had made in recent days. A “hello” here and there had gone a long way, but she still stuck to herself, padding around the cold alley in an oversized sweater and her slippers.
“Missyyyyy!” She called out lightly; not so loud that her neighbours would be bothered, but loud enough that if she were near, she would come running. She took another drag on her cigarette and sighed, not hearing the patter of little feet. In’am tried whistling as a few cars passed by on the main road, and she silently hoped the mischievous cat hadn’t run towards them.
“Is this the cat I almost killed?”
In’am nearly jumped out of her skin and turned to look who addressed her. Solas stood there in sandals and grey sweatpants with no shirt, apparently immune to the cold, holding Missy in his bare arms to his chest. She seemed content there, purring loudly, and In’am threw her cigarette away, moving towards him, trying not to stare at his fit form.
“Missy!” She exclaimed, excited to see her cat safe and sound.
“She came in my window.” Solas said, handing her over to her. In’am held her, and Missy struggled a moment, but calmed when In’am pet her behind her hairless ears.
“Sorry about that.” In’am said, staring up at him and taking a step back, realizing how close she was to him. “She’s done that to Varric before too…”
“It’s fine. She might have some paint on her paws, but it’s non-toxic.” Solas said. In’am looked at her paws, and sure enough, a little bit of blue was there between her claws, though apparently he had wiped away most.
“Ah, thanks. About the paint, I mean.” In’am said. He nodded, and dug in his pants pocket a moment, producing a cigarette and a lighter.
“What are you still doing up anyways?” He asked casually. In’am thought it unusual, but hoped it pointed towards a more civil relationship between the two. She stood there and shifted Missy to her other arm, the sphynx cat quite content against her owners warm sweater.
“Getting ready for your showing next week. You’re keeping me up.” In’am said with a smirk. Solas smiled lightly, and In’am faltered, a momentary thought of how handsome he was when he smiled crossing her mind.
“I would apologize, but i’m obviously still at work as well. Will you be in the office tomorrow evening?” He asked, taking a drag on his lit cigarette. Suddenly, he held it out to In’am in a polite way, and she took it with a nod, breathing in the relaxing tobacco.
“Yes. I’ll probably be staying there the next few nights. If you’d like to stay late to work, you’re more than welcome.” She said, handing the cigarette back to him. He took it and his fingers lightly brushed hers before he put it to his lips.
“Thanks. I do have some larger pieces to finish up.” He said. She nodded.
“Well, thanks for the smoke...and finding my cat.” She said with a kind smile. Perhaps she could actually get along with him.
“No problem. See you tomorrow.” He said. She gave a small wave, and hurried around the corner of the house to her steps, letting herself back into her warm home, leaving her to reflect on the handsome man in the alley who seemed entirely different than the man she’d met just weeks before. Perhaps Leliana was right. Maybe Solas was growing on her.
Solas’ charm apparently wore off by the end of the week when In’am had finally taken it upon herself to see the workspace Solas had set up in the basement; though not out of choice. Solas had interrupted a meeting with a client in the gallery simply to talk shop on art, and he’d nearly convinced the couple to not buy the piece they’d come all the way from Antiva for. In’am had managed to save the moment thanks to Josephine having the tact to call for Solas’ help with something she’d made up, but the backtracking she’d had to do had left her tired and annoyed.
Josephine was out hashing out details with the Antivan clients on delivery, and Dorian was in his office, in a meeting with another client, when In’am barged into the basement area. If she was going to murder the moody artist, now was her chance with the others two floors above, and she was certainly considering it.
“Mr. Fen’Harel!” She shouted as she descended the metal steps carefully, her heels slowing her. She looked over the banister, and found Solas high up on a ladder with his paintbrush in one hand and mixing board in another, working on a painting as high as the ceiling. He looked over at the voice, and when he saw her, he frowned and went back to his painting. That just made In’am more angry.
“How can I help you, Ms. Lavellan?” He asked innocently, not bothering to come down from his ladder or stop his work.
“You interrupted me with a client and nearly lost me a sale because of your personal taste! Thank the gods they didn’t walk out!” In’am said, striding across the large room, her voice echoing off of high ceilings.
The basement was huge, with cement floors that had been splattered with paint from some of the world’s most famous artists, and tall shelves filled with art for upcoming exhibits. The pieces that Solas currently worked on, ancient ones, had been brought out to the work area, which housed several tables with stone carved pieces atop them, in-process of restoration. Solas currently worked on the largest, most intimidating piece; a large painting that had been worn away by time, depicting a dark wolf amidst a bright flame, figures of hooded elves standing at the sides. He had taken care in his work, she observed amidst her anger; bowls of paint laid across one of the work tables, prepared in a traditional elven fashion using plants and berries for the tinting colour. It would not last as long as an oil paint, but it would be true to its form and elvish fashion; restoration was as much a part of their culture as creation was.
Solas sighed audibly, and stopped painting, shifting his brush to his other hand before sliding down the ladder with a familiar ease. In’am didn’t let up.
“You absolutely cannot antagonize my clients!” She said, standing with her hands on her hips. She smoothed out her blue pencil dress and watched as he set his paint tools on the table, picking up a rag as he walked over. She sized him up, wondering if he was ready for another fight.
He just looked tired, if she was honest. His jaw was no longer bruised, but she bet it was as tender as her lip felt, and his black hair was braided and gathered at the nape of his neck. He pushed a few pieces away from his face, tucking it behind his pointed ears, and put the rag he wiped his hands on over his shoulder. He was covered in paint, from the jeans to the v-neck tee, and had splatters up his arms and even on his face. She hated to admit it made him look less intimidating, charming, even.
“If by ‘antagonize’ you mean making aware their terrible taste, I see no problem. We were simply having a conversation.” He said. He stopped a few feet away, but In’am huffed and ran a hand through her silver hair.
“They came all the way from Antiva to see that piece.” She said stubbornly, taking a step closer with her chin raised. She watched him with sharp blue eyes, and his green ones followed, but gave no hint to his thoughts.
“I am not to blame for their poor decisions.” Solas said indignantly. “Nor yours.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” She replied. She looked him up and down, and he did the same with a shrug.
“That you chose a bad piece to display.” Solas said, moving to meet her step. They were nearly toe-to-toe now, and even with her heels, she was still shorter than him.
“You don’t get to decide that.” She answered, scowling. She was so close to him she could smell his cologne through the smell of paint on him, and see the flecks of paint in his braided black hair.
Solas studied her, mirroring her expression until he reached out with paint-stained hands and cradled her face, bringing his lips to meet hers in a smooth motion. Stunned for a moment, In’am made no attempt to move, frozen in place as she pieced together what was happening. And when, in the pit of her stomach, she felt the same hunger he had looked at her with just before, she kissed back.
It was an all consuming kiss that made her tender bottom lip ache, but she fell into it with ease, letting him move his hands from her face to her neck, stepping into her. She rested her hands against his chest, and felt his heart hammering beneath his thin t-shirt as a chill went down her spine at his touch. They both took eager breaths between kisses, and In’am felt her stomach do flips as her arms wrapped around his neck, pulling him closer.
She loathed him. He was annoying, prideful, unrelenting and stubborn. But he was also fiercely intelligent and cunning, a quiet study, and a brilliant artist with a hidden kindness to him. She admired him, and hated him. She hated to admit it, but she’d been drawn to him the moment she’d spotted him through the rainy evening she’d seen him from the window.
Solas seemed to sense her hesitation, because he swept an arm around her waist and lifted her, his tongue brushing the bottom of her lip and she was lost in the moment again. She wrapped her legs around him and he held her weight up with seeming ease as he walked the few steps with her to the table. He set her there and paint went everywhere, hues of purple and blue mixed on her dress, and the hand she set out to steady her was quickly covered in bright yellow. Solas’ hands went to her legs, and she put her paint-covered hands around him again, pulling him close, paint everywhere at this point as their kisses became more urgent. His tongue was in her mouth when he pushed her dress up, hands finding her thighs as she pulled at his shirt. He broke the kiss to take it off, and she took the opportunity to let her lips find his neck.
He let out a low sigh as her lips worked up his neck to his ear, and he mirrored the action, kissing her neck. The sound of his pleasure just drove her further, and she moved her hips to the edge of the table, hooking her legs around his knees and feeling him against her pelvis, her bare paint covered hands trailing down his chest to his belt buckle. He nipped at her ear and she moaned, searching for his lips again as she undid his belt in hurried motions, both of them clumsy but wanting.
It was when his hands, pushing her dress up to her waist, found her warmth that she let out an audible gasp. It had been an embarrassingly long time since In’am had let herself have any sort of fun, and her sensitivity made Solas chuckle against her lips.
“Don’t laugh.” She breathed against his lips, betraying herself and smiling. Solas separated from her and looked at her with fire in his eyes before he pushed on her chest. She took the hint and lied back on the table, paint and brushes clattering to the floor without a care as his long fingers pushed her panties to the side.
“Just enjoy yourself.” He said, leaning over her and In’am couldn’t help but let a blush pass over her cheeks as his lips first kissed her legs while a finger slipped over her clit. Her hands fluttered to his back and her nails dug into his shoulders with the surprising touch. He let out a low growl and slipped his fingers inside her while he dragged his lips over her legs. She couldn’t help but let her breaths come out in short bursts, the waves of pleasure, as his tongue found her clit, overwhelming with the sensation of his fingers moving with her hips. His free hand clutched at her thigh, his fingers digging pleasurably into her skin with soft attention.
“...Solas…” She mumbled, hands working through his thick black locks. She tugged at his hair to get his attention, and he pulled his lips and hands away from her, licking his lips as he did to look up at her with a satisfied expression.
“Finished already?” He asked with a smile. Her heart hammered.
“Hardly.” She said, tugging his hair again, this time more forcefully. He gave a hiss, but it only seemed to make him want more because he grabbed her hips and tugged her down to meet his as he stood up. She hooked her legs around him, wet and wanting as he removed his pants, her hands unable to reach him but wanting his touch. In’am wasn’t disappointed when she looked him up and down, and she pulled him close with her legs, raising her hips at his touch. His hands went from her body to her hands, his fingers lacing with hers to pull her up against him as he guided himself inside her with ease.
In’am let out a gasp and her hands fluttered to his chest, scraping her nails against him as he sighed longingly, settling against her. His black hair had come out of his loose clip and it framed his pale, sharp features. She admired the feeling of his callused hands, rough from years of working with art tools, against her back, trailing down her spine in a gentle way. She blushed again as he looked down at her before reaching her lips again, the kiss slow and sweet as he moved his hips against her. She moaned into his lips and let her arms wrap around him, feeling the muscles in his back move with them. The sounds seemed to please Solas because he mumbled her name against her lips like he was in a daze, black locks falling around them like a curtain, mixing with her silver hair in a brilliant cascade. The words poured out of him then as he realized the effect her name on his lips had; she had moved against him with force, wanting more of him. He spoke in murmured Elvish, the shared language reaching out to her heart as he called her beautiful and sighed her name in-between swear words.
It was a sight, then, the two of them fucking on his art table in a work basement, covered in paint and sweat, holding one another like they were the last beings on earth while their moans echoed off the high ceiling. Moments ago she had been furious with him, yelling at him, wishing she cold drunkenly fight him again, and now he moved inside her, with her, whispering sweet nothings into her lips. The heat between her legs was almost too much to bare when Solas’s lips went to her neck again, quieting his voice as he made to leave a mark, sucking and biting at the crook of her neck. She felt herself hit her peak, and she clutched at him in desperation as he kept up the pace, riding her through it until he came with her. She could feel his body tense as she felt him release inside her, and she gripped at his hair as he did. His lips left her neck and he breathed deeply into her shoulder, holding her there against him.
In’am’s legs, exhausted, lowered and he pulled away, brushing his dark hair back to see properly. He started to chuckle as he laid eyes on her, pointing at her, and she leaned back on one hand, looking at herself. She was covered in paint, and she looked to him--he was just as much a mess as he was, and their shared laughter echoed off the ceiling as she collapsed back into the paint-covered table. She could hear Solas’ belt buckle as he lifted his pants, and felt his hand on her knee as she shielded the bright lights overhead from her eyes.
“What the hell have we done?” She said, laughter still in her voice. Solas’ chuckles quieted as his thumb ran over her knee.
“Made a mess. Of more than the paint.”
Just another short dialogue chapter. I'm hammering this shit out almost every night after work so hope y'all are enjoying pls comment its my life blood also yall are inspiring xoxox
In’am had left in a hurry then through the fire escape hallway, exiting out the back of the building to her car, paint still in her hair and on her dress. They’d managed to get it off their arms and legs, but everything else was covered in it. Solas’ paint could be explained away, but In’am’s, not so much without raising suspicion. So she’d hurried out of the basement, partially so she could go clean up at home, but partially so she could save herself the embarrassment of having to chat with Solas about the completely unprofessional things she’d just done to him.
She slipped into her apartment, and prayed Varric wasn’t home in the middle of the day, hearing her sneak in at an uncharacteristic time. In’am showered, fed Missy, and relaxed into the chair on her porch with a cigarette and wet hair to look at her phone. Two messages from Josephine, three texts from Dorian, and a single one from Varric.
You up there, kiddo?
She looked at the time stamp. Fifteen minutes ago, about when she’d gotten home. She took a drag on her cigarette.
Yeah. Come on up. I’m out back.
A moment later, she heard Varric’s door open, and the dwarf waved, walking over to the porch steps. He hopped up and sat down in one of the chairs set around a small coffee table. Varric looked relaxed, wearing some sort of sports jersey and a pair of black sweatpants and grey slippers. His red hair was down, out of his ponytail, and his reading glasses were hanging on his shirt collar.
“What are you doing at home at this time? Usually it’s just me and my writing.” Varric asked, looking over at her curiously.
“Nothing. Decided to come home early.” In’am said, trying her best to sound casual.
“...You’ve never taken an early day in your life, and I only see you miss work when you’re on your deathbed. I’m one of your best friends. You can’t fib to me.” Varric said. In’am laughed. She should know better than to try and lie to Varric, a mastermind of emotion.
“I may have just ruined my career.” In’am said with a half-hearted laugh. Varric raised an eyebrow, egging her on.
“I...well I didn’t mean...it wasn’t supposed to go that far bu--” In’am stammered, at a loss, flustered. A blush came over her cheeks as she remembered Solas’s body against hers, hard and hot, and the colours of paint that mixed on them.
“Spit it out, Kiddo.” He said, leaning forward in his chair.
“I fucked your roommate!” She said at last, a bit too loudly. She hoped the neighbours didn’t hear.
“You WHAT?” Varric asked loudly, sincerely surprised.
“Solas and I! We-!” She made some hand motions and took another drag on her cigarette while Varric proceeded to laugh his head off. When he calmed down, wiping a tear from the corner of his eye, he was still smiling.
“Well, fuck. You punched him in the face! I mean...I didn’t see that comin’.” Varric said.
“The punching or the fucking, because I didn't see either. We were fighting again and then we just…” She smacked her hands together and Varric chuckled.
“Well, I hope it was worth it.” Varric said. In’am sighed, finishing her cigarette.
“Well, if he goes public with it, there’s my career down the drain.” In’am said, a bit more gravely.
“Solas isn’t one to be blabbing in public. I don’t even think he has any social media accounts...” Varric said, pondering to himself. “But you didn’t talk about it after?”
“I kind of...got outta there as quick as I could…” In’am said sheepishly. Varric gave a huff.
“Loose strings, Kiddo. You know how I feel about those.” He said, giving her a pointed look. Varric was a writer; he liked everything in near ends, and whenever he heard of In’am’s flight mode, it drove him mad.
“Yeah yeah. I don’t know though. I don’t know what I want, I don’t know what he wants…” In’am said, folding her arms over her chest, playing with the soft material of her house coat.
“Well, you don’t know until you talk. You have to at one point or another.” Varric said. In’am groaned, knowing he was right.
“I will. I’m just gonna take the day though.” In’am said. Varric raised an eyebrow, but waved a hand as he stood up, leaving her with parting words that haunted her for the rest of the afternoon.
“You’re a woman of action, In’am. I’ve never seen you hesitate, and I admire you for that. You’re headstrong, and know what you want. And I know if you hesitate now, you’ll regret it.”
In’am took her time, but eventually went back to the office. With too much to do before the showing, she couldn’t afford to keep away from her work, and Dorian and Josephine didn’t look at her too oddly when she came in freshly showered.
“Where have you been? Don’t you look at your phone?” Dorian asked, leaning on Josephine’s desk. Josephine kept her head to her work, but In’am noticed her raise her eyebrows, interested and listening.
“I went home and crashed after yelling at Solas.” In’am said, rolling her eyes, playing cool. Dorian narrowed his eyes, but shrugged after a moment.
“Well, we need to go over the VIP area setup. Josephine had some ideas, and I also got a call from the DJ, he’ll be available but he needs to bring his gear for testing the night before.” Dorian said. In’am added it to the growing list of things she needed to do, nodding as she sipped at the cup of coffee in her hand.
She felt slightly guilty as she became absorbed in her work, the feeling gnawing at her all day. Only once did she glance Solas, who seemed quite absorbed in his own work, rushing about with what looked like an arm-full of rolled canvas and some paintbrushes. It made her feel better, seeming him preoccupied as she; at least she wasn’t the only busy one. She wasn’t ignoring what had happened between them...she was just...busy.
When she finally found time to talk to him, it was a day later, and she had stepped out to the alley with a lit cigarette and her over-sized sweater hanging off her small frame complimented her light messy hair. She spotted Solas, crouched low to the ground, petting a stray cat a few feet down the alley. It was a bright orange thing with matted hair, but it purred beneath his hand, brushing against his knee. He had a smile on his face, and In’am felt a small flutter in her stomach as she approached. She would be lying to herself if she hadn't thought constantly about them together.
He looked up at the sound of her footsteps, and the cat stared warily at her, but calmed down when Solas too relaxed.
“In’am.” He said with a nod, standing up. The cat stayed nearby like a familiar, sitting on it’s haunches and licking it’s front paws.
“Solas. You’re a cat lover now, hm?” In’am asked with a light smirk. Solas smiled as he breathed out a cloud of white smoke. The glow of the streetlamp made his dark eyes seem warm and full of amusement.
“They’ve grown on me.” He said simply, flicking the butt of his cigarette away. In’am took another drag on hers.
“Good. Liking things is beneficial to your health, you know.” She said sarcastically. Solas chuckled, tucking his arms into himself, pulling his jean jacket tight. A plaid shirt poked out beneath, and she could see the paint on his hands.
“So, how are you doing with the work?” She asked, nodding to his hands. “Will you be ready?”
“I don’t think i’ve slept in 48 hours, but I always am. And this is a personal project.” He said, picking at the yellow flakes of dried paint on his jacket.
“May I see?” She asked, curious. She wanted to know what kind of things he didn’t show to the public. She wanted to know the true Solas. He, however, did not seem so sure.
“I’m not sure...if this is the sort of work you expect from me.” He said, considering it. He looked down at her with that piercing gaze, but she stayed steady with him, unrelenting, matching him always. It was he who spoke first.
“Come, then.” He said, conceding with a bow of his head, moving towards the stairs to the basement suite. In’am followed, hot on his heels, sincerely interested in the kind of work he didn’t show to the public; that was often when she saw the most interesting work of artists of her own age. The things they tried to throw away were often the most revealing and truthful.
And as soon as they entered the house to the kitchen area, she could already see the sketches laid out on the table, piled on top of each other like an architect's papers. And there to the left of the island counter was his work, propped up on an easel. It was a traditional looking piece of elvish art, utilizing shapes over form to show a woman’s neck, barren and seen from the back, with a long string of laurels and flowers formed around her neck, flowing over her shoulders. She was set against a yellow backdrop so bright she wondered how such a yellow could exist with other happy tones of green and purple. It was a work of classical art, and the style sung to her heart in a way that made her ache for home.
Her eyes studied it further as she silently stepped forward in the small space, hands behind her back out of habit. It really was exquisite, and she appreciated the classically dark hair the woman had, tied up in a braided bun, a tattoo running down her spine full of ancient runes.
“It’s beautiful.” In’am said after a quiet moment, Solas hovering behind her.
“I’ve been struggling with it. It finally came together. I’m fairly pleased with it.” Solas said.
“Why don’t you do this mainstream? Show our heritage?” She asked, turning to look at him.
“Heritage doesn’t sell. You curate a gallery, you know how people are. Always wanting what’s trendy.” He said with a shrug.
“Put together a portfolio and show it to me next season.” In’am said immediately. She wouldn’t miss a chance to see more of her heritage brought to life on canvas; she craved it, in fact. She wanted to see her people, glorious and bright, set against gold backgrounds and full of life.
“You don’t leave me with much of a choice when you say it as such...but...If you’d like.” He said with a nervous laugh, brushing a hand through his hair. She smiled and reached out to his hand, squeezing it lightly, feeling a connection to him of kinship. Solas seemed to feel the moment at the same time she did, because his lips found hers, kissing gently as his hand cradled her face in a tender way. She stepped towards him, wrapping her arms around him, and he followed suit, hands tucking her hair behind her pointed ears, and moving with fleeting touches down her back to her waist.
In’am had gone out for a cigarette, and here she was again, in his arms. She enjoyed his embrace, the way his hands moved over her back as he deepened the kiss, his tongue finding hers. She reached up and let her arms rest on his chest, pushing back after a moment.
“Hold on…” She said between kisses. Solas hesitated, and rested his forehead against hers, giving a throaty ‘hm’ in return, eyes lingering too long on her lips.
“We should...probably not be doing this...” In’am said, gesturing between them. Solas, seemed to come into reality, looking at her now as he straightened up, but kept his hands around her waist.
“Is there something wrong?” Solas asked, concern in his voice.
“No. I mean, besides breaking some ethics codes, nothing too major.” She said a bit sarcastically, giving a bitter laugh. “This, us, could be interpreted as...me taking advantage of you.”
“Do you really care about what others say?” He asked, raising an eyebrow.
“You have to when your business runs on connections.” In’am said with a sigh, thinking about how many artists who would be talking if she started sleeping with a client. Their mocking, unrealistic voices reverberated in her skull, haunting her. Everything she had worked for and built up in the last years could be destroyed in an instant if they were found out. Dorian and Josephine would lose their jobs. Her gallery would be sold off. She’d never work in the art industry again. Her stomach clenched.
He slipped out of Solas’ arms, and he looked hurt for a moment before steeling, looking down at her. She held onto his hands, her dark skin contrasting with his as her thumbs moved over the back of his hands.
“I want to but...not now. I could lose everything, and my career...If it was any other time...” She said, studying his long paint-stained fingers. He squeezed her hand back, then raised her hand to his lips. She watched as he brushed her knuckles with a kiss.
“Thank you, then, for the time you could give.” He said. She felt the finality in it, and she felt her heart break looking up at him.
“Thank you, Solas. If it was a different time…” She said, trying to make this sound better than it felt.
“I’m sure our paths will cross again after all this.” Solas said, encouraging, but she could see the hurt in his dark eyes. She looked away, and slipped away from his hand.
“Goodnight, Vhenan.” He said. The elvish endearment made her heart ache as she left the basement apartment, turning her back on the most intense love she’d ever felt.
In’am was nearly pulling her hair out with frustration as she was pulling together last minute plans for the showing. Dorian’s guest list had been confirmed, Josephine had confirmed with the caterers, but still, the meeting’s and phone calls didn’t seem to stop, keeping In’am confined to her office. She hadn’t seen Solas all day, but when she’d come in, the pieces he’d been working on had already been placed, and the set of keys she’d given him had been left on the front desk. He was gone, and she didn’t need to ask Dorian or Josephine to confirm it. They’d said their goodbyes last night, and she felt it in the pit of her stomach, the haunting loneliness that his absence brought.
When she did find a moment to escape from the gallery for a smoke, her feet brought her to the familiar corner store down the road from the gallery. She felt drawn to him, who she knew was always waiting, always faithful. In that stressed moment, she knew she needed to see his reassuring face.
Fresh flowers grew outside the door which had it’s door swung open, a sandwich board advertising the days deals written in a strong hand. She instantly felt a swell of calm come over her as a large hound stood from it’s sleeping spot and padded over to her. The brown Mabari was huge, coming up to In’am’s waist in height, and wore a black collar with a tag that jingled as she walked over to greet In’am.
“Hey there, Dharlin. Where’s Cullen, hm?” She asked quietly, scratching the brown dog’s head. The pup just panted happily, tail wagging, entirely familiar with her presence. In’am could remember when Cullen had gotten the pup after moving to the neighbourhood. She’d even been the one to name her.
In’am looked up, and Cullen was standing in the doorway, arms full of fresh cut flowers, looking surprised. He had a handsome charm about him, blonde hair awry from work, and soil covered his hands and white smock. The corner store had everything, but In’am always felt she knew Cullen’s true passion lie in the flowers and plants he stocked with care.
“Hello, Cullen.” In’am said with a gentle smile, looking up from Dharlin who meandered over to Cullen.
“Go lie down, girl. Go on. In’am, come in, please! What can I do for you today?” Cullen asked as he set down the flowers in a bucket of water. In’am smiled at the retired commander’s outfit; he was covered in dirt and dust, apparently taking care of the shops cleaning in a customer lull. He looked a bit nervous, and In’am couldn’t help but notice as she followed him to the counter area how he moved a book off the counter a bit too quickly.
“What are you reading?” She asked, inquiring in a friendly manner. Cullen blushed instantly, scratching the back of his neck.
“Nothing! It’s...ah...just a hobby interest.” Cullen said. In’am raised an eyebrow.
“Come on now. Show me.” she teased. Cullen’s blush deepened, and she couldn’t help but think about that night they’d spent together, and the way he’d blushed when she’d kissed him for the first time.
He reluctantly pulled out the book from the hiding place, and she too blushed when she read the title, but her smile was genuine and excited.
“You’re learning elvish?!” She exclaimed, excited. Cullen laughed as she grabbed the book, flipping through the pages.
“Ah...Ame esayal?” He said. In’am laughed, but clapped, feeling the most joy she’d felt in days.
“On!! On on on.” She said, congratulating him, passing the book back, switching back to common. “You should have told me! I’d be happy to help you learn.”
“I...well, I was learning as a sort of surprise. For you.” Cullen said shyly. “Maker’s blessings, this is just embarrassing.”
In’am laughed in a gentle way and reached out to touch his arm. She looked up at him over the counter that separated them.
“I appreciate it. Truly. Thank you, Cullen.” She said. Cullen softened and let his hand touch hers. Her heart ached at the familiar touch of his broad, callused hands.
“This may seem forward and last minute, but do you have anyone accompanying you to the opening tomorrow night? I didn’t get a chance to ask you at the party…” Cullen said in an unsure tone. She chuckled.
“Certainly not. What a mess that was…” she said. “But no, I do not have a date, if that is what you are asking.”
“It doesn’t have to be a date! Maybe just as friends? Oh I--” Cullen began, nervous as always. Dharlin barked at him, catching them both by surprise.
“A date. Meet me at the doors at 7.” In’am said, cutting him off. “And it’s black tie.”
Cullen beamed, and his happiness was as infectious as always.
“Ma nuvenin.” Cullen replied. In’am let the smallest of blushes warm her as she waved goodbye, leaving the safety of the familiar shop with nothing but a redeeming hope from the day’s exhausting work.
In’am looked at herself in the mirror in her office. She wore a flowing dark green dress and nude heels that boosted her height by a few inches. Her silver hair was pulled up into a bun, and she wore only a pair of earring’s she’d received from Vivienne, a mentor and friend in Val Royeaux, which glittered in the low light. Dark lipstick and shadowed eyes turned her into an appealing vision of beauty, her freckles lightly displayed against her dark skin.
“Cullen’s arrived, and if you weren’t dating him, I certainly would be trying to.” Dorian said, grabbing her attention from the doorway. She looked at her watch, then down to the crowd that lingered downstairs already. She spotted Cullen immediately, dressed in his bright red officer's uniform, his blonde hair slicked back in a tight style. Medals decorated his outfit, and she could see the way people looked at him curiously as they passed by; it only seemed to make him look more uncomfortable in the large crowd.
The crowd itself made In’am’s nerves swell, but she felt excitement. Crowds meant opportunity, and this was a career move she was not going to waste. If she could put her Gallery on the small list of the best in Ferelden by the end of the season, she would be pleased. The pressure felt immense, but she was certain of her path now. He felt the resolve beneath her skin.
“Play nice.” In’am warned Dorian, who chuckled, looking at himself in her mirror. His dark curls had been brushed back from his handsome face.
“I’m preoccupied anyways. Bull is waiting downstairs for me.” Dorian said with a smirk.
“Is he wearing a shirt this time?” In’am asked.
“He won’t be for long.” Dorian mumbled. In’am laughed and hit him on the shoulder.
“Come on. We have clients to impress.”
They took the stairs together, her arm wrapped around Dorian’s, until she spotted Cullen waiting at the foot of the stairs. She smiled towards him, and reached out to him. He took her other arm, and she slipped away from Dorian, who gave her a quick peck on the cheek before going and seeking out his own date.
In’am looked up at Cullen. He seemed proud looking, in his uniform. She’d never seen it on him before, and she took the moment to appreciate how the cut suit made his shoulders look broad. She picked a piece of fluff off his lapel.
“Thank you for coming.” In’am said kindly. Cullen smiled gently, leaning down and placing a kiss on her cheek.
“You look lovely.” He replied. In’am blushed at the sudden gesture and confident words. Solas was forgotten as In'am was swept off her feet.
“Thank you. Shall we?”
Chapter 10: Epilogue
The last chapter! Thanks for reading!
Ferelden was just as In’am remembered; the smells of earth and rain flowed over waves of fog, winding between looming and ancient trees. It was her homeland.
The car wove around the winding mountain road with ease, and In’am drove slowly on the curves, her wipers on in the fading light of the day. She tucked a piece of silver hair behind her pointed ear and looked at her GPS mounted on her dash. She was there.
A clearing made way around the bend, and she could see fields of apple trees, spread out over farmlands. Cows were being herded by an old man who leaned on a crooked cane, his dog companion doing most of the work for him. She breathed in, letting her shoulders relax as she drove up the dirt road. She hadn’t been this far out from the cities in what felt like a decade. But the letter, written in a familiar cursive, had beckoned, and her old tired heart made way.
In’am stopped her car when there was no more road to drive on. The roaded ended abruptly, shrouded by trees and foliage, but a footpath lay not too far from the road. She slipped out from the car and headed down the path. Her feet followed in an almost automatic way, like she could feel the pull from deep within the forest. She brushed her hands against familiar tree trunks and enjoyed the way the sun glittered through the branches above. Getting away from the busy gallery was sometimes necessary.
The footpath gave way to a small cottage, built not far from a brook. Smoke rose from a simple chimney, and it was certainly not the type of place In’am was known to frequent. But it was where her heart led her. She walked the three small steps and knocked on the door before letting herself in.
Solas, long since shaved his head, turned to look at her from beside the fireplace where he sat in his wingback chair, sketching furiously into a nugskin notebook. His surprised expression softened, and he closed his book, rising to greet her.
“Ma Vhenan.” He said, and she was lost, the city and the duties she’d left behind vanishing away.
She had shared a life in the city. She had lived with humans for as long as her heart could bare, which aligned somewhere with Cullen’s death a decade ago. She had slowed in aging, as her kind did, and he did not, as his kind did. Her heart had broken, after years of marriage and companionship, she had to deal with the fact that she would outlive all of her human friends. It was destroying her.
And when she had taken to travel to ease her griefs, selling her gallery that no longer meant anything to her without the friends to fill it, she had seen him, sitting on the street corner bench, drawing passersbys in the middle of a busy Tevinter market. His hair was gone, but the defined nose and pointed ears with sharp eyes judging people as they passed by in a blink gave him away immediately.
Her lonely heart had found refuge once more. A century after Cullen, after Dorian and Josephine and every other human who had touched her heart had died, her mind could rest. She had him. She always had him.
In’am embraced Solas, hands wrapping around his warm frame, and he pressed a kiss into her silver hair.
The rest was forgotten.