They come back to Skyhold incredibly tired. They’re all still wearing the formal attire they wore at the Winter Palace. Cassandra doesn’t even say goodbye before storming off to her own quarters, already taking off parts of the outfit.
Arwyn chuckles to himself watching her go. There’s a fond look in his eyes.
“Maker, you’ve got it bad, Scribbles,” says Varric. Arwyn looks down at him and simply shrugs. The dwarf laughs. “Really don’t know how you do it.”
Varric doesn’t let him finish, starting to walk towards the castle. Arwyn looks up at the sky as everyone that was at the Winter Palace enters the fortress. They’re not a small number – counting the advisors, Arwyn’s inner circle, and Cullen’s and Lelian’s agents, they must surely be up to a hundred. Arwyn stays next to the gates, watching over everyone. He doesn’t know all the names, of course, but he does know all the faces. He wants to make sure everyone’s made it.
(It’s not like he already checked about 30 minutes ago. But hey, you can never be too careful.)
Leliana notices what he is doing (of course she does) and she gives him a warm smile in recognition. He returns it.
The last people of their small entourage are Dorian and Iron Bull. They’re entering, the gates already closing, when one of their agents approaches Arwyn.
Arwyn startles. He looks at her in confusion. “What is the problem?”
“There… is…” starts the agent, but she seems to be out of breath because of the running it took her to get here. Arwyn puts a hand up to stop her, signals her to relax and breathe deeply first. She does so and then continues: “There are poeple waiting for you.”
Arwyn raises a questioning eyebrow. “Aren’t there always?”
“Well yes,” the agent agrees. “But they say they are family, my lord.”
His eyes are widened in shock and for the first time in forever he seems to be speechless.
“I think that’s the longest you’ve gone without speaking,” quips Dorian. Arwyn sends a glare in his direction and the mage simply laughs.
“Damion and Elena Trevelyan, sir.”
“Maker’s breath,” he gasps. “Where are they?”
There’s an urgency in his voice now and the agent notices. She nods for him to follow her and he does as told. The way towards the main hall is silent; it is late at night and most people are sleeping but Arwyn, as exhausted as he had been before, is now wide awake.
What are Damion and Elena doing here, so far from home? He knows the circle at Ostwick suffered the rebellion, but he always thought they’d go back home. The name Trevelyan does carry weight there; Elena wouldn’t have had any problems. Especially with Damion by her side.
His thoughts are interrupted when they finally enter the hall and he sees them. They seem to be arguing about something – of course – and he allows himself a moment to observe. Elena is laying on the wall, rolling her eyes. Her hair, red like his, is longer than he remembers: it goes down to her shoulders now. Damion seems to be lecturing her about something but she looks like she doesn’t want to hear it. Damion’s head is entirely shaved, that hasn’t changed, but he’s got a bit of a stubble, which lets Arwyn know they’ve been travelling for a while and hadn’t had time to truly rest. Damion never has a stubble.
Elena is the first of the twins to notice him. When their gazes meet, she smiles impossibly wide and runs towards the Inquisitor. Arwyn can’t help but smile himself. He catches her in his arms and squeezes her. He closes his eyes at the sensation. He didn’t realise how much he’d actually missed his family until now.
They break apart, but are still touching. Arwyn looks down at her; she only goes up to his shoulders. There’s still a smile in her face, but her eyes are watery.
“Brother,” she says. “I can’t believe it’s you.” He sees her eyes run through his face, and the smile turns into a frown. “What is this?” She asks, touching the scar on his left eye.
“Oh,” he breathes out. “Well, some battles cannot only be remembered by memories alone.”
Elena smiles sadly. “Oh, Arwyn.”
Someone clears their throat next to them and Arwyn looks to the side to see Damion holding out a hand. “Arwyn. It is good to see you.”
The Inquisitor raises an eyebrow. He looks to the hand, to Elena, to Damion, and back to the hand. He takes it but pulls his brother into him, hugging him. As expected, Damian stiffens and doesn’t hug back. He hears Elena’s laugh.
“You haven’t seen him in almost a year, Damion!”
Arwyn feels Damion sigh. His arms slowly wrap around him and he pats his back awkwardly. He laughs, pulling away, deciding he’s tortured his brother enough.
“It’s so good to see both of you,” Arwyn says, smile impossibly wide.
As much as he’d made Skyhold his home, he has always been a family man. He didn’t spend much time at home before, that is true, being the ambassador – but he never spent more than a month without seeing his parents or siblings. He misses the smell of her mother’s cooking. She always insisted to cook herself, despite having servants capable of doing so. Usually she did get help from them, but she was always in the kitchen. He misses Tristan, his partner in crime in everything since they were little. Dorian reminds him of his brother. He supposes that is why he and the mage get along so well. He even misses Arthur and Evelyn, even if the only thing they ever did was lecture him.
Elena and Damion… they were the ones Arwyn didn’t get to see much. Elena was taken to the Circle at a young age, and Damion became a templar as soon as he could to follow her. Being a Trevelyan carried enough weight so that Elena was able to leave the Circle, but not that often. Maybe once a year. But now, here they both were. Standing in front of him and alive.
“Come, let’s go to my quarters and catch up,” he offers. The twins nod.
Arwyn thanks the Inquisition agent, who leaves with a bow. Elena raises a teasing eyebrow at that and Arwyn simply shrugs, smirking. Damion doesn’t smile, but the corner of his mouth is slightly turned upwards.
When Arwyn opens the door to his room, Elena actually squeals.
“Maker, this is huge! Much bigger than your room back home,” she says, immediately running past him and almost making Damion fall over.
Arwyn snorts. “Of course it is, my room was the smallest one! Mother and Father didn’t plan for me. So of course, give the youngest the attic, small room…”
“You loved that room,” Damion says, entering the room himself, much less enthusiastically than her twin sister.
“I suppose it was useful when I wanted to be alone,” Arwyn admits.
“Look at this view!”, shouts Elena. She’s opened the balcony doors and is now looking onto the mountains. “It’s beautiful.”
There’s an excitedness about her that is contagious. This isn’t the Elena Arwyn remembers from her time at the Circle. This is the Elena of before, the overexcited, curious child with a special glint in her eyes. Whenever she visited home, he would notice that light slowly fading out. He is so glad to see it back. He looks back towards Damion, who’s looking at Elena with a fond, barely there smile. He seems to be happier, too. He isn’t wearing the Templar armor anymore, and even though he looks tense, always on alert, Arwyn can feel the weight on his shoulders is not as heavy.
Arwyn joins Elena outside. “It is beautiful. This is my favorite place in all of Skyhold, I think.”
Damion silently joins them, staning next to Elena’s other side.
“I can’t believe my little brother has an entire fortress to himself,” Elena says.
“Well – “
“And he commands armies! And spies!” Elena continues, ignoring Arwyn. The Inquisitor chuckles.
“How did that happen, brother?” asks Damion.
Arwyn takes off his gloves and shows them the mark on his hand. It gives a faint glow. Damion frowns, but Elena takes his hand and inspects it, a look of wonder on her face.
“Because of this,” he explains. “I’m the only one who can close the Fade rifts. So it made sense that I be the one to lead the Inquisition.”
“It looks… dangerous,” says Damion, clearly weary of the glowing mark.
Arwyn shrugs. “It doesn’t hurt as much.”
“People don’t join the Inquisition because of your mark though, Arwyn.” Damion is looking at him intensely and Arwyn looks back at him, confused. “They join because of you. You were always good with people, you were always good giving hope. That is not something this mark has given you.”
Elena has finally dropped his hand and she nods, agreeing with Damion’s words. “That is true. You’ve always been a leader… so convincing.”
Arwyn is frowning. “I’ve always been a good dipomat. It's different.”
“Isn’t that what we need right now?” Damion asks. “Everyone is talking about you, Arwyn. It started because of the mark, yes, but that is barely mentioned now."
Arwyn avoids their gazes, feeling uncomfortable under the scrutiny and the sincerity in his brother’s eyes.
“Sometimes it’s too much,” he whispers. His siblings know he’s not talking about the mark. “But… I do like it most of the time. It feels… natural. It’s a lot of responsibility, but I’m doing good. I have good people by my side. Good advisors who keep me in check. And you…” he looks back to them, a faint smile on his face. “You have reminded me what I fight for. If I don’t do this, who will? If I don’t do this, that hole in the sky will swallow us whole.”
Elena takes his hands. She looks at him warmly. “We’re so proud of you, Arwyn. Everyone back home is. Father can’t stop bragging about his son, the Inquisitor!”
Elena laughs and Damion shakes his head amusedly. Arwyn closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. That is such a relief. He thought… he didn’t know what he thought. That maybe Father would be ashamed. That he wouldn’t approve, that he’d think Arwyn should be home, working for the their family name, doing his duty. Hearing that he was proud almost makes him tear up.
“And that is why we want to join you.”
Arwyn opens his eyes quickly at Damion’s words. He looks at him. He looks completely serious – but of course he does, it’s Damion.
“You – what?”
“You heard him,” Elena joins in. “You have the rebel mages as allies here, don’t you?”
“Rebel mages? Is that what you are?”
Elena raises an eyebrow. “I’m a mage outside the circle, Arwyn.”
“Well, yes, but Vivienne-“
Elena scoffs and doesn’t let him go on. “The leader of the so called loyalists mages? Please, brother. The Circles need to change.” Arwyn frowns. The playfulness from before is completey gone from Elena’s face. “It didn’t feel like a prison to me because I was lucky enough to have the name Trevelyan. But it was so awful for so many of my fellow mages, Arwyn. We need to learn to control our magic, but we are not monsters. How are people supposed to not fear us if we’re hidden, like some kind of animals?”
She steps inside the room, and both men follow her. “The things some of my friends had to endure…” she visibly shivers, and Damion puts hand on her shoulder in silent comfort.
"As I was saying,” continues Damion, interrupting his sister's dark thoughts. “We want to join and help your cause. We cannot sit by at home.”
“Very well,” Arwyn agrees. “You can talk to Fiona, Elena; she’ll tell you more about how you can help.” He turns to look at Damion. “I think you’ll be most useful to Cullen, Damion. I’ll show both of you around tomorrow, okay?”
Elena hugs him tightly. “Thank you.”
Arwyn laughs, hugging her back. “For what? I’m not in a position to turn away the help. And I know you’re both very capable." His expression suddenly turns serious. "Just be careful.”
Elena looks up at him and nods. She caresses the scar on his face. “Only if you are, too.”
“I will. I never go out alone,” he responds. He smiles, remembering his companions and friends. He can’t wait to introduce them to the twins.
“So where do we sleep?” Damion asks.
“Oh, you can sleep here,” replies Arwyn. “The bed is big enough for both of you.”
His sister raises a questioning eyebrow. “And where will you sleep?”
Arwyn suddenly feels his face heat up. He scratches the back of his neck awkwardly.
“Well, has our brother found someone?” comes Elena’s teasing voice.
The Inquisitor clears his throat. “Um, yes, I’ll tell you tomorrow, alright?”
He turns to leave, bidding them a muttered ‘goodnight’. Elena’s laugh follows him. “You better,” he hears before he finally closes the door.
He walks to Cassandra’s room in sort of a daze. He can’t stop smiling. He greets people with a giddiness that hand’t been there before. They look at him weirdly – hadn’t they just come back from the Winter Palace? But he can’t help himself.
Sure, Skyhold was nice, and comfortable, but now? Now it truly felt like home.