Actions

Work Header

Solitude

Chapter Text

It is late. The background of bickering from the library has finally filtered away, and Solas relishes in the solitude, sustained by the pages unread, flicking through the latest requisition of tomes from the University of Orlais. Time filters by with his every inked note on the page, noted only by the time it takes each sentence to dry. But he has revived the veilfire braziers, here, the familiar light burning unerringly over his shoulder, and so it doesn't matter how many hours pass as he sits at his desk. How long he spends pouring over his texts, dry eyed and tired, reading until the crows above wake with the dawn.

He's spent many an evening like this, and will see many more before this ends. It's soothing, in its way - both emptier and fuller than the daylight hours (it's harder to see what's missing when you can avoid the broken pieces entirely) and he does enjoy reading, for all the lifelessness that now lies behind the words.

So he continues like that, bent over manuscript and notebook, long after the great torches of the main hall are extinguished. He continues, scarcely looking up, until a collection of scuffling and scratching sounds from the hall door catch his attention.

He looks up to see Lavellan padding slowly into the rotunda. She rolls the door open with the edge of her foot, bowed over a weighty tray of food - and there is a bottle of wine tucked under her arm, too, he notices, as she successfully worms through, stepping towards him with a smile.

The smell of the apple tarts reach him first. His hunger stirs around his rush of surprise, the day's meals neglected in his concentration on Renalto's interpretation of dream forms (third edition, blacklisted by the chantry) - but it is the surprise that wins out.

This is the third occasion of such generosity in as many months. On the second Wednesday of each month, in fact - the sort of coincidence he long ago learned was far too particular to be the progeny of chance.

He waits for, and even prompts, an explanation from her as she busies herself setting their little table in the corner, humming an unfamiliar tune and batting his hands away when he tries to assist. But as before, she dodges or ignores his hints with ease - drawing him into a discussion about the evolution of runic languages since the fall with such embarrassing success that their meal is complete and she is preparing to leave when he finally realises his mistake.

She is getting to her feet, gathering the dishes back into the tray as she goes, when he moves to stop her. Snags her by the waist, tugs her between his knees and anchors her there, pulling the tray from her hands.

She blinks down at him, unresisting - a question, even interest in the cock of her brow.

"I am... unfamiliar with this," he admits at last, watching her expression. It is not easy to say - her reticence must be catching - and he glimpses the flicker of understanding - guilt? - that crosses her features before they are schooled into polite confusion.

He likes to think he knows her enough, though, to see how far the expression has slipped.

"Unfamiliar with what? Dinner?" she tries, but the effort isn't genuine and he shakes his head with a smile, tries again, trying to tongue away the stiltedness of his words.

"This... gift-giving custom." Another flicker of expression - nerves, this time and he observes her. The fidget of her fingers as they gently pry the tray from his hands again. "I am curious. And find myself at a, disadvantage. I don't know what to give you in return."

She blushes, the blood rosying brown cheeks, but the curve of a grin is breaking across her lips nonetheless. It's a good sign, he thinks.

"You, ignorant?"

Perhaps not.

She sways further away from him, using the plates as a shield. Seated as he is, he is helpless to stop her, although he trails his hand across her hip as she goes. She follows it with a step back, and her teeth flash in the glow of the veil fire.

"I never thought to hear you admit to such a thing, Solas. But no. It is not a Dalish custom."

She tries to leave again, then, twisting on her heel, but he rises and steps with her, companionably accompanying her across the room. His hand presses against her upper back as they walk - he can feel the heat of her skin through the light tunic she dons within the castle, the shift of the muscles in her back as she moves to accommodate him. He will not let this go so easily.

"If not Dalish - then from the city?" She doesn't ask him to stop, even if she won't look at him. There is even another smile playing on her lips and he considers that, tilting his head. "You've spent considerable time among the elves there, I recall. Is it one of their traditions?"

"No, not that either."

Her words are amused, directed pointedly forward, and then- they are already at the other end of the rotunda. The door is open before them, cracked ajar, but when they reach the threshold she hesitates, her hands fidgeting again with the tray in her grip.

He waits, with a patience born of ages.

With a sigh she appears to relent, swivelling to face him. Her expression is fondly exasperated, though, if still burning with her blush - the freckles around her nose are more recognisable this way, he notes.

"Accept it for what it is, vhenan," she insists lightly. "A gift."

He raises an eyebrow, his light touch on her back ghosting downwards, thumb catching the ridge of her spine. She shivers, and then scowls at him, but he only blinks, expectant. He is not above such tactics.

"Proffered every month?"

She stares stubbornly back, lips pursing.

"If that is when it occurs."

They hold each other's gazes for a long moment at that, ignoring raised eyebrows, the tap of his thumb against her tunic.

It is he that relents.

Breaking the contact, he draws his grip away, allowing space between them once more. If she will not tell him, then- she won't. Not yet, at least. He will just have to be content to wait.

She steps backwards, expression fonder if possible, but also relieved, and then she escapes into the hall.

He watches her go, nudging the door closed only after she disappears towards her quarters.

The aviaries' chained cages creak and rustles with feathers above him when he turns back to face his room, accompanied only by the soundless flicker of the veilfire, the faceless parade of his unfinished mural.

He returns to his desk. Looks over his books, the manuscripts - the latest an Avaar 'Wilderling' mage's descriptions of his hold's clutch of ancestor-spirits, the functional relationships that could still be formulated between the realms... but his mind is wandering.

Her first gift lays tucked into his hip purse. A wyvern's tooth, delicately engraved with a weave of vines - the work of one of the Iron Bull's chargers, if he was not mistaken.

He takes it out now. Sits. Places it on the least cluttered portion of his desk, and tips it gently to-and-fro, examining it in the torch light.

Chapter Text

She slumbers in kaleidoscopes of dreams and childhoods and sometimes, briefly, during the weeks of rough travel that follow the sealing of the Breach, she dreams of Solas too.

She sees him as she knew him at Haven. Before the fall and the beginning of their retreat through the mountain passes - the memory of him when he sat perched on the low wall outside of his cabin, gazing at the distant breach, his lightly-clothed form stark against the formlessness of the snow.

She sees him, but rarely, rarely, does she approach. Haven is broken and gone, she knows, flotsam and jetsome and the debris of a hundred unmarked graves and so she turns away. Finds better dreams to lose herself within: sunny days, the squirrels of the warm forests of her youth, Gryff giggling at her side.

This time, though, she is tired. A new blizzard howls outside their ragged host’s tents, steadily burying the outcropping they’ve huddled beneath, and amongst its moans she swear she hears the wolves, howling still.

So she sleeps and she doesn’t turn away, this time. So she sleeps and he is there.

The wall, the breach. The rise of his eyebrows when he spots her- and he smiles as he half-turns to watch her approach.

She strides before him, standing closer than she had at the time, and settles herself there to examine him. Her image of him: this figment her sleeping mind has concocted, as he would say - and he would enjoy this, she thinks: seeing how he manifests in another’s dream, the impressions he leaves in his wake. They are more significant than he allows, so she would be embarrassed, were he really here. But he’s not.

He considers her in turn. Stands straight, in the fade-light and the stilted silence of the snow, and the curve of a smile smooths his pinked lips.

“Herald,” he greets her.

His voice rings against the murmur of distant voices, a more docile wind, and no avalanches come. 

She wants to bite that mouth.

Lethallan, herald, inquisitor, friend - he never says her name, and she doesn’t understand it, or him. She suspects she never will.

She wants to fix her hands around the sharp edges of his jaw and drag him closer, tug his lower lip between her teeth, scrape that word from his tongue.

She steps forward, and her hands reach out to settle against his sides. They ghost from his ribs to his shoulder blades, nails trailing, catching on the fabric beneath her touch and she feels him shiver.

"Solas."

Her figment watches her. Expression controlled, save for the way his lips part, smile gone as she focuses her gaze there.

She leans closer and breathes a voiceless confession over that mouth. Looks up to catch his gaze, smiling around her words.

This close she can see the bloom of violet around his pupils. The way those eyes seem to burn as they track over her features, brow wrinkling just slightly, stance as rigid and unmoving as it would be in life.

It shouldn’t disappoint her. This controlled distance is all that she knows of him, after all - of course her dreams would find a way to replicate it.

Except she’s wrong.

His hands find her waist, firm pressure smoothing to her hips, slowly, and her breath leaves her as he sways closer, melting under her touch, his body curving into her own.

The warmth of his palms press through her shift. His breath, wisped in a sigh, and then he leans into her, the bridge of his nose tracing the line of hers. It’s a deliberate move, slow, lingering. Her eyelids flutter shut. Her grip on his tunic loosens.

She feels his inhale. His lips, soft and warm when they press against hers – and it’s gentle, and restrained, but she feels the heat behind the simple kiss, the potential that curls in the hint of teeth.

His hands find hers. Extracts them unresistingly from his tunic and pulls them away, leaving them open palmed at her sides.

She wakes.

She stares at ceiling of her tent. Breathes, as her heart pounds and a blush burns her cheeks, and then curses, tugging a hand in her hair, both embarrassed and inexpressively frustrated at her interrupted dream.

But a sleepy mumble reminds her of the companions she shares her tent with and so she quietens. Rolls onto her side, huddling into the blankets and tries to direct her thoughts to safer, more banal topics, painfully aware of the proximity of her erstwhile paramour and their friends.

The blizzard continues to howl outside, unabated, mocking.

They find Skyhold a week later.

Chapter Text

Solas’ mouth is hot on hers. Gentle, deliberate, as deliberate as the hands smoothing down her sides and she melts into the touch, pulse a lazy, heavy thing in her ears. She loves the way he loves her. As if they have all the time in the world, as if that still isn’t enough.

They stand in her room. Caught in the light streaming through the balcony doors, and when he draws her closer she feels the warmth of the sun rolling across her back, sliding into the absences his hands leave behind.

He arcs back when she reaches for him in turn, though.

“Solas,” she says, gripping the front of his tunic in warning. She’s spent the last two weeks in Orlais making appearances for the nobility - without him, on his behest - and her patience has worn thin - too thin for the game she can feel him concocting. “What are you-”

He kisses her before she can finish her sentence though. Sweeps a hand up her side and into her hair and she loses the thread of her thoughts.

“-doing,” she manages at last, when he releases her, and he only laughs, pressing his forehead against hers.

“I’ve missed you,” he says simply.

There is something achingly fond in his expression. Tender, and oh so welcome, after the frustrations of diplomatic doublespeak and negotiation, and when he tilts forward to place another kiss on her lips, she sighs. There’s a lingering taste of sweetness there, she finds, one that speaks of sweets snuck from the kitchens.

But when she steps forward he steps back, this time. Breaks the kiss and places his hands back on her hips, retreating for each step she takes towards him.

“If you’ve missed me, vhenan,” she informs him, raising a brow, “you have an odd way of showing it.”

He laughs again, that wonderful, light sound, and dips to swipe his tongue across her lips.

“Perhaps,” he says, and takes another step backwards.

“’Perhaps’? That’s not really an answ-”

He cuts her off with another kiss – a technique that will grow old, certainly, but for the moment she can’t deny it’s working, and they move across the room like that, feet scuffing from stone flooring to rug. A butterfly kiss, for each failed attempt to pull him close.

“You’re being childish, vhenan,” she chides at last, tugging fruitlessly on his tunic (she most certainly doesn’t pout). She almost catches him when he backs into the bedpost - pressing closer for a single, glorious second - but he thwarts her with a sidestep. She laughs despite herself.

You are being impatient,” he returns, but whether in acquiescence or not, he does finally stop, then.

She presses into him before he can change his mind. He smiles at her, that silly smile from before, and that should worry her - but he is letting her closer, finally and so she bites at his lower lip; groans when he knots his hand in her hair and yes, this, this is what she’d been looking for.

Much better, she thinks, her heart beating to match his. She begins to pull away to say so – but then suddenly the two of them are tipping sideways.

Solas drags her down onto the bed.

She blinks. Lets out an unattractive grunt as he shifts and settles himself on top of her.

When he smiles, it is unmistakeably smug.

His trap is sprung.

“Vhenan,” she starts to say, wriggling in an attempt to free her arms – but as he dips to nuzzle the curve of her neck, she supposes she can live with this, for the time being.

A deft hand reaches to unbutton the top of her shirt and her breath catches.

“I missed you, vhenan,” he says again after a moment. After he’s tongued over a fresh lovebite, pulling away from her skin to glance up at her with red lips and shallowed breath and there is a heat there as he catches her eye, smouldering like the desire that tingles across her skin.

She can see the mischievousness there too, though. The satisfaction, intent that warns of more to come, and she stirs herself to struggle.

“Vhenan,” she tries. She is still tired, for all that she’s missed him – she'd wanted to bathe, to curl up before the fire with a book in hand and her head in his lap...

But he’s returned to her blouse again, claiming each stretch of skin he reveals with a sear of a kiss, and she finds that her thoughts are once again escaping her.

“Vhenan,” she says, but it’s more of a sigh this time, catching in her chest as she arcs beneath the heat of his mouth, and he hums.

Her restraining hand twists in his tunic. Guides him back to her lips, rough, demanding and she no longer tries to speak, only breathes, only catches his gaze when he finally looks up.

This time, he obeys.

Chapter Text

Her hands tug at the hem of his tunic, drawing it up, and he releases her to shrug it away. They are kneeling in her room, on her bed, their meal discarded at her desk and his breath is wine warm in the candlelight. She laughs and it is loose, free. The evening is humming, a buzz in his ears and he shivers as her fingertips trace the revealed skin.

He gives an entirely undignified snort, though, when her hands fall to his side and begin to dig.

“Vhenan-”

He wrenches himself free of his tunic.

The Inquisitor, the blessed Herald of Andraste, Banisher of the Wardens and Protector of the Mages is chasing him.

“Aha-!” she cackles, cold hands devilish, and she presses closer to exploit her advantage, tickling until he at last captures her hands in his own.

“Vhenan,” he says again, attempting to admonish, but she only grins at him.

“Ticklish, ma’lath?”

He snorts, refusing to deign that with a response - but she twists then, somehow managing to break through his grip and push him into the sheets, and his choked laughter is all the answer she needs.

He resorts to magic this time - a weak barrier, primed to sting but little more - and she withdraws at last, placing her hands on the (relatively) neutral ground of his shoulders.

“Ahhh. That bad, then?”

He fights to keep his expression mild, although he twitches instinctively every time she shifts.

“Merely a defensive measure, I assure you.”

“Mmm, I’m sure.”

He does laugh at that, at her knowing grin, silly and utterly un-fooled- and when his attempt to rise is thwarted by gentle hands, he prepares himself for the next onslaught.

“Vhenan,” he begins warily, pleadingly, and tries to seek her eye.

But her gaze has wandered, he sees - it trails down the arch of his neck and across his chest, a hand shifting to trace after it, and suddenly very different preoccupations rise to mind.

“I suppose,” she says after a moment and then she is moving, settling herself more firmly astride his hips. Her knees are tucked against his sides. He experiences the strange urge to both flinch and shiver. “I could find other ways to amuse myself. This time.”

“This time,” he finds himself agreeing, very agreeably, and then they don’t talk much again, after that.