Lavellan headed towards the battlements, heading up the stairs two at a time, holding a battered, but beautifully stained wooden box. On it was vine-like design which had reminded her of the Highever sigil that she had seen from the letters from Teryn Cousland and inside it held an antique looking pipe. Ellana had seen it on the corner of alleyway stall, sold for cheap and now that she was so close to her destination, Lavellan wondered if this was a bad gift.
When Ellana saw it and held it in her hands she could suddenly picture Elissa with the set, the elegantly shaped pipe hanging from her lips as she sat at her usual spot in the library, doing her research. The Inquisitor hardly haggled for it and the vendor herself seemed to be pleased just to get the thing off of her shelf.
Upon the cold battlements, stood Warden Cousland, back towards the Inquisitor as she looked out towards the mountains, dark cloak waving gently in the wind. Ellana approached slowly, moving the box behind her back, waiting to see if the warden would greet her first. As expected, Elissa turned, pulling away her own pipe to smile at the elf.
“Inquisitor, welcome back, I hope your campaign through Orlais was successful.”
Lavellan shrugged, “It was good enough, all we were doing was tying up loose ends and recontacting contacts in Val Royeaux.” Elissa moved closer and squared her shoulders, hoping it would make her feel more confident. “P-personally I feel like we could have made more progress if I had stayed here.” By your side, she wanted to add but she was fooling herself if she thought she’d be able to say that.
“Ah Val Royeaux, I’m sure we’ll be seeing Dorian flaunting some new robes sometime soon then.” Lavellan nodded, not trusting herself to say more. Elissa chuckled, emptying the contents of her pipe over the battlements, observed that Lavellan was holding something. “Did you get something for yourself as well? No need to hold back with the Inquisition’s coffers filled to the brim, yes?”
The Herald chuckled shakily, her palms sweating a little. The warden took it a sign of chill and held one side of her cloak up for the elf to find warm haven in, who took it gladly. She darted in and was enclosed gently, the swordsman’s strong arm holding her close. But before anyone could get too distracted, Ellana revealed the box and slowly lifted it for the warden to examine.
She reacted slowly, first looking at the box offered to her before a hand came up to run her fingers over the leafy design on the top. The arm that had been around Ellana’s arm moved to take the box and Ellana quietly watched the warden’s reaction.
The way Elissa’s fingertips ran over the grooves of the box was reverent and her eyes seemed distant, as if watching something else somewhere far away. Her lips parted slightly in awe of what was before her but pressed together as she quickly undid the intricate latch that had taken Ellana a few minutes to figure out. When the box opened, Elissa let out a breath of relief as she saw the old pipe sitting in its satin-lined spot.
“Have you seen this before?” Ellana whispered quietly, afraid to break the other woman’s reverie.
“Yes...I thought...I had accepted that I would never see this again,” Elissa answered. Her voice was thick with emotion and disbelief. “And you found this in Val Royeaux?” The warden looked at her, eyes wide and wet, Ellana nodded and thought that perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to reveal the shop’s specific location.
“This was my father’s pipe, he used to smoke it after dinner in the study. My family would gather there to unwind, Father and Fergus bonding over which new blends that had recently came in were best.” If she closed her eyes, she could picture everyone and the study. Her father and brother debating in soft voices, her sister-in-law and Mother sewing, and Oren in his auntie's lap begging for another story as his head slowly bobbed. But the scene quickly erased as it was replaced with a charred and empty room, her hands covered in soot. Shortly after her recovery, she and Fergus made the grim ride back to Highever. Elissa had searched futilely for it and other semblance of their old life, mainly out of guilt for her brother. I swore you that I would protect them with my life yet here I am, knee deep in the ashes of our friends and family.
Elissa pulled herself out of her memories and looked down at the Inquisitor who was watching her carefully. Gratitude filled her once she looked into the elf’s green eyes. She had brought this gift, exact origins unknown but had brought closure regardless. The warden leaned forward and kissed Lavellan’s forehead.
The shorter woman gasped when soft lips pressed against her forehead and flushed when one of Elissa’s arm circled her waist and held Ellana close. Hands darted up and braced themselves against the warden’s chestpiece. She thought she might faint with the heat radiating between them
“This gift means so much to me, you have my eternal gratitude,” Elissa said against the tattooed forehead. The tone was somber and heavy with emotion, Ellana sobered once she heard it. “Anything I can do for you, only ask.”
Ellana shook her head and leaned closer, “It was gift, your companionship already means so much to me-”
“Inquisitor, the ambassador has asked you to come to the War Room at once,” a messenger interrupted. Lavellan sighed, annoyed with his timing. When she moved to pull away, Elissa was looking down at her with gentle eyes melting Ellana’s core.
“I hate to keep you from your duties, Herald, but I am grateful that you made the time to see me.” Elissa brushed some hairs away from Ellana’s face and sent her off, watching the young woman fall back into her Inquisitorial identity.
It was hard to watch her walk away, the elf had pushed herself into a corner of the warden’s heart. Elissa had tried to keep their relationship entirely professional, but bit by bit she could feel herself being drawn into Lavellan’s magnetism.
Elissa rubbed her thumb over the wooden box, chuckling darkly. With this, she thought, this is the final nail on the coffin, I can’t ignore her now. Sighing, she turned to leave, there were letters that needed to be written, she wouldn’t be able to get them done if she just stood there lovestruck.