He’s reminded of her question from all those weeks ago. When did he start calling her Inquisitor? It’s the only one name he has for her that fits. Everything else is too familiar, belonging to a different time when things between them were not as they are now. Few people call her by her name, and if he’d once had the privilege of calling her by it, he certainly doesn’t now.
Elgara is looking better, though that’s not saying too much. She’d looked close to death all those weeks ago, and she’s doing better, if only marginally. She’s not as sickly pale as she used to be, colour returning to her golden eyes, and her long, curly hair is not tied up and braided as it usually is, and falls in elegant curls down her back.
And when the light shifts just right, the gold in her silver eyes shine, and he’s reminded why they were torn apart in the first place.
A part of him wants for things to go back to the way they were, even if he knows it isn’t possible. They aren’t the same as they once were, so how can they go back?
She approaches him slowly, like he’s a stranger to her, rather than someone she had once trusted. Like he’s not someone she’d once loved. (A part of her still loves him. It’s not been long enough for her to forget how she’d once cared for him, but if there’s one thing they have to spare, it’s time.
If he can save her, that is.)
“Solas.” He almost grimaces at the way she says his name—the way her tongue curls around the soft syllables like one of her whispered prayers that have become so few and far between as of late, and the reverence that still makes its way into her voice even if she should be as angry as she was that day in Crestwood.
She has the right to hate him, and yet… And yet, she is calm, still, like the eye of a storm; chaos rages all around her while she stands there, as untouched as ever. (He can see it in her eyes, though. He can see that she is not untouched, and she had lost much of herself since she’d first stumbled out of the Fade.)
“Can I… Are you…?” She never used to struggle for words around him. Neither of them are particularly romantic—not that they ever could be, what with the entire world watching her every move—and he has never seen her so flustered by his presence. “Am I interrupting something?”
“I always have time for you, Inquisitor.” There’s a deeper meaning behind his words. For her, he’d give up anything, but even then, the words come out stilted, far too formal for all that they had shared. “What can I help you with?”
“I…” She grimaces, making a face. “The voices of the Well speak of an altar, hidden deep within the Arbour Wilds. They say there we will find what we need to defeat Corypheus once and for all. Would you… Would you accompany me? We do not leave for several days yet, but—”
“You would have me accompany you, even after…?” He doesn’t need to finish his sentence.
“You were with me from the start,” she says. “I would have you with me to see its end.”
He has no words to say. His heart simply aches in his chest, longing for a future that will never come to pass.
“And besides,” she continues after a moment’s pause. “You owe me answers.”’
Solas’ eyes close, unable to bear the sight of her. Yes, he says to himself. Yes I do. It is the least you deserve. “We have to focus on what matters.”
“I used to matter.” You still do. “What of when we are finished with this? With Corypheus? Will you tell me then?”
“If we are both still alive afterward,” if you survive the fate you have been destined for, “then I promise you, everything will be made clear.” He shouldn’t be making promises. He has done nothing but lie to her time and time again, and there are so many factors beyond just their survival at play here. “Will that suffice, Inquisitor?”
“Fenedhis, Soals,” she bites at him, sounding more exasperated than angry as she runs her hand over her face. “You really don’t let anybody see under that polite mask you wear, do you?”
You saw more than most.
But those words, like so many others, go unsaid. “Let me know if I can be of any further help, Inquisitor,” he says, hating how cold he sounds. Does she know that he still cares for her? (No, of course she doesn’t. He had done his best to ensure that she would not discover why he had made the choices he had.
Better off with her not knowing. She does not need to fear a future that may never come to pass. She has enough to worry about without you adding to her problems. Would you rather not lose her like this than lose her forever?
Yes, he says. But that doesn’t mean it hurts any less.