"We need a plan of action," she says.
Solas' hand stills inside her shirt and suddenly he looks very awkward, cupping her breast while simultaneously sporting an impressive frown. She likes how it deepens that elusive scar between his eyebrows and leans in to brush her lips against it.
A brief little lick. There is something enchanting about the taste of skin; a silly intimacy and foolish indulgence tasting of salt and sweat and something so unique it bears no name.
"Pardon me?" Solas says.
She swipes a hand from her hip to her flank. "We're planning this out," she says again.
"Ah," Solas says, nodding uncertainly. "May I ask why?"
"You may," she acquiesces, stepping back.
He does not answer right away. His impatient fingers resume their previous dance, pulling loose the ties of her shirt and working it down her shoulder. His mouth drifts lower, along her throat and over the valley between her breasts before settling on her stomach.
She rubs the tip of his ear between index and forefinger and it causes him to shudder. Then she's shooing him off.
"All right," she says, climbing on top of him. "Let's discuss this."
"This hardly seems romantic," Solas comments, and now he is panting a little as she makes herself comfortable.
Comfortable being the key word.
It would be more comfortable to roll off and stretch at his side but wriggling atop him with straining thighs and weak knees while he steadily grows hard beneath her is comfortable just enough. Just enough is good. She can work with that.
He grabs her hips when she rolls them and when next she repeats the gesture he adds some of his strength to it. Well fine, she supposes they could get through the conversation while rubbing against each other.
"You know what's definitely not romantic?" she says.
"Indulge me," he answers, sounding only mildly interest, his entire focus shifting toward the blush slowly blossoming along the exposed curve of her breasts. One hand abandons its post to thieve beneath her shirt. She lets him pull the garment up and away. He lazily palms one breast before moving over to the other.
"Elfroot," she says.
"I see," he says, stilling. "You have a point."
"Yes," she says. "I will fight you—eyes up here—Solas, I will physically fight you next time you decide to discuss some Fade theory or the merits of elfroot while we're having sex."
"That happened twice, vhenan."
"That's two times too many."
"I understand your concern."
"And it is duly noted?" she quips back. "Could you sound any more like a Chantry scholar dealing with petty problems of rowdy children right now?"
There it is, not quite an eye roll because he is too dignified for that, but a little manifestation of affectionate exasperation. He grows a little red in the cheeks as he always does whenever reminded of his less than stellar moments.
Then she's mapping his face with kisses and he's rolling them. For a while he does nothing, nestled pleasantly between her thighs while absently placing kisses to her throat. Here, there, to her jaw, behind her ear. She likes him like this; a little undone and slightly winded. Sometimes he looks at her with a curious expression, as if he can't quite believe she is truly touching him. She caresses his back and he leans into it, nose tracing a tender line up her cheek, before sliding down her body.
His fingers find their way beneath her leggings just as he presses his mouth to her stomach in a quick, wet kiss.
"You are beautiful," he whispers against her skin.
"No discussing elfroot, broken locks, jammed doors or Varric's chest hair," she warns him. Does she really sound that breathless? Have her pants disappeared without her notice?
He looks up at her with wounded eyes, cheek resting on her hip. "This hardly seems like the time to mention any of them."
"And yet it has happened in the past."
"I am simply saying there are better opportunities—"
"Oh?" she questions teasingly, beginning to sit up. "Would you rather we stop? I can fetch that Brother Genitivi's weapon of a tome and perhaps we could discuss that instead."
Strong hands are quick to hold her down. She can feel his breath waft against the very core of her and strokes his ears in encouragement.
"No," Solas says. "This is...preferable."
"Preferable? How mild."
He gives the inside of her thigh a chastising nip. "Wrong wording, perhaps. Infinitely more preferable. Desirable. Enticing." Each word punctuated by a lingering kiss, a puff of hot air onto her skin.
"There he goes talking again," she murmurs, smiling too hard, too wide.
"Hush," he says and then his mouth is on her.
And she is wriggling and writhing, but the walls are thick here so it doesn't matter, it just doesn't matter. Before long she's pulling him up and he comes eagerly, and his lips are still wet with her but it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter, nothing does. She feels him against her thigh, hard and hot, and angles her hips to help him slide in.
"Oh," she says, smiling up at him when he stills for the duration of a heartbeat to catch his breath, "hello there."
He kisses her nose in response and rolls his hips.
It was silently agreed upon that this was to be a quick affair before they headed up to her quarters. Being the middle of the day and all, but not this quick. For the first time, she's the one who picks up the approaching footsteps and freezes. She pushes back at Solas and he allows her—somewhat grudgingly—to take lead.
He watches with rapt fascination as she lowers herself onto him once more and grasps her hips, dictating the rhythm. She moves once, twice, still listening but unwilling to alert him just yet. He pulls her in so she is trapped against his chest and his tongue delves into her mouth.
There's a loud banging against the door.
"Inquisitor," Josephine calls out, "I apologize for disturbing you, but a very important visitor has come to see you."
Josephine will one day win an award for ruining their sex life.
Beneath her, Solas is staring with wide eyes. She can almost hear the gears of his mind rotating. He wants to speak up, send the Ambassador away, but is unwilling to break the silence—ah, well, if her promise to fight him worked then she won't complain.
"Must we do this now?" she answers, unable to keep the growl out of her voice.
Josephine shuffles outside her door. "I—ah—yes. This is a...surprise?" She sounds unsure.
"Oh, just open the damned thing," Dorian's exasperated voice chimes in.
It's a miracle.
It's a miracle that Solas already has his pants on though they do little for his obvious, well, expression of love. It's a miracle she manages to get her shirt and breeches on.
It's a miracle Solas stumbles and succeeds in hiding behind the massive desk she never uses. He collapses into the plush chair.
"Look who we found," Dorian announces. "The Dalish send their thanks for our intervention in Wycome, and would you look at who is leading the delegation!"
"Papae?" Ellana gasps.
Dorian is all but draped over her father, one arm around his shoulders, the other traveling up and down as he presents the sight in front of them. Josephine is a nervous shadow at his side, teeth worrying at her lips.
And her father.
Well her father is fidgeting.
Dorian is going to eat him alive.
"Oh Ainlwen, where were you ten years ago when I was young and naive," Dorian says, giving him a pat on the back forcefully enough to cause his knees to fold. "We could have had so much fun together. Ellana! You didn't tell me your father was so delightful"—Dorian's wink is the lewdest thing in all of Thedas—"and handsome."
Her father looks so out of place, smiling timidly at the loud human who's got his hands all over him. He is thin, where Dorian is not. His daughter's exact height, where the Tevinter towers over him. Josephine has dressed him in noble clothing and he appears afraid to make a wrong move lest he tears the bright silk and velvet.
"Ellana, da'len," he exclaims, disentangling himself from Dorian and taking her into his arms.
And this would be nice if her smalls weren't in a bunch at the foot of her bed and her lover wasn't sitting behind the desk with an erection.
She wants to die.
"Papae, what are you doing here?" she asks. "Deshanna sent you?"
"She sent some of our best hallas as thanks," Ainlwen says, drawing back to look at her. He kisses her forehead. "I had to come to keep them calm."
"Oh," she says, "of course. Let me give you a tour."
The Inquisition doesn't need fucking hallas and her father doesn't need to see her like this.
What. The. Fuck.
"Yes," Josephine chimes in, "Master Lavellan, come with us."
Ainlwen can't stifle a giggle. "Master Lavellan—do you hear this, da'len?" He waves his hand dismissively at Josephine. "Your are too kind, but there is no need for titles."
He thinks it's a title. This is almost cute. Almost. Then she remembers the dull ache between her legs and it's all replaced by embarrassment.
"Solas, won't you introduce yourself?" Dorian says rather loudly.
She is going to kill him so hard. By the looks of it, so will Solas. The two men glare at each other, but ultimately Dorian wins because Ainlwen gasps and brings his palm to his forehead as if smacking himself for his forgetfulness.
"Of course," he says, shaking his head, "of course. Ellana, da'len, forgive my manners. It has been a long journey. I've read all of your letters. Would you...?" he asks, motioning between himself and a rather flustered Solas.
She grabs him by the elbow. She makes herself a wall of flesh and bone between the two. "Solas, that's my father. Papae, that's Solas. Come now, let me show you the stables. We have some harts here."
"A pleasure," Solas says. If sincerity was water, the whole of Thedas would keel over from thirst for he has none to spare.
"Inquisitor," Josephine squeals.
Before she knows it, Josephine is pulling her aside—and that's enough time for Ainlwen to slink off and settle into the chair opposite of Solas. Her fingers spasm, still remembering the fabric of his doublet; she was so close, so very close, one more second and she would have dragged him out.
"What are you doing?" she hisses at Josephine. Because this can't be happening. It can't. She has to get them away from each other.
Her father is too eager to please—and Solas is, well, not at all. This is going to end in catastrophe.
"Hold still," Josephine hisses back. "You're sporting quite the impressive hickey. I have some powder; I said hold still, if you want me to fix it."
She deflates, allowing her to work her magic.
Dorian is all smiles, the metaphorical cat by the stove with a predatory grin and a free show—entertainment for hours to come if someone doesn't break these two apart soon. He leans against the wall and watches unabashedly as Ainlwen attempts to make conversation with Solas.
"What clan do you hail from?" Ainlwen asks. He rests his chin on his fist as his thumb absently traces a curved line of Dirthamen's vallaslin.
"None," Solas says. His eyes seek out hers. He couldn't possibly sound more disinterested.
Ainlwen wrenches his hand away from his markings as if burned, settling it in his lap.
"Oh. I meant no offense, of course," her father says and fidgets some more. He wrings his hands. Smiles a hesitant smile. "I do admire city elves, you know. I can't begin to imagine the hardships—"
"I am not from an alienage."
"Oh." He chews on the inside of his cheek. "A Circle mage, then?"
Solas shifts. He tries crossing his legs and when that proves futile just sort of leans forward. It's painfully unnatural and he looks like he's scowling.
But he's trying, she supposes.
"You are your clan's Halla Keeper?" he says.
"Yes." Ainlwen 's head will fly right off if he continues nodding this vigorously. "Such noble creatures. Do you know much about halla?"
...no, absolutely not, he's not even trying a little.
"Oh. Well, we brought a few..."
Ainlwen stares at his feet.
Solas stares at her.
"At any rate," Ainlwen tries anew, "a handshake is customary in any culture."
And that is when she is seized with unprecedented terror. She thanks whatever gods are listening that he father sits with his back to her, because her gesturing to Solas grows frantic and wild. She's almost hopping up and down at this point.
He looks dazed and confused at the sight of Ainlwen's waiting palm. He almost reaches out to meet him—almost—
She makes a gesture of slicing her own throat with an fictitious knife.
Solas' hand drops; as does Ainlwen's face. This is the man who once apologized to a halla for bumping into it while deep in thought. He is absolutely crestfallen.
But still, this little hurt hardly matters.
That hand was busy between her legs mere moments ago; she is not letting him touch her father in any capacity.
Loud snickering erupts from the hallway. She takes a few steps back to discover Iron Bull, Varric and Sera huddled in a dark corner.
"Seriously?" she asks. "All of you?"
"Get back in," Bull says, "this is getting good."
She tries hitting him in the chest but only ends up hurting herself and cradles her pained wrist. "Morons," she growls, "all of you. Morons."
"Solas is going to make him cry," Varric remarks and promptly scribbles something down.
Ellana makes a mental note of burning his notes—but later.
"Go away, shoo," she orders, narrowing her eyes at every single one of the conspirators.
"Nah," says Sera, proceeding to flip her the bird.
Varric is right about one thing, though. Ainlwen is about to go grey. He stutters after every word.
Oh Gods, oh Gods, oh Gods.
Her father isn't cut out for this. He is quiet and shy and not equipped to deal with Solas' passive-aggressiveness.
Dorian is still against the wall, his arms crossed. "This is so painful to watch," he says. "I love it."
He got grapes from somewhere and is now eating them, popping one into his mouth after every agonizing exchange.
"I hate you," she says.
Ahead of them, Ainlwen tries a different approach. He is still all smiles and kind words and Dorian is right, this is making her eyes bleed.
"My daughter tells me you are a Fade expert," he says, eyes scanning the desk for books but finding none.
"Yes," Solas says, gaze shifting toward the balcony.
He looks as if he's contemplating jumping right off. She'll probably join him if it comes to it.
Ainlwen hesitates for a single heartbeat. "I am just a Halla Keeper myself, but isn't the Fade accessible only through dreams?"
Apparently, Solas' vocabulary shrank down considerably overnight.
"So you...sleep to study it?"
"That is a way to put it."
"It must be fascinating," Ainlwen says. "And relaxing!"
His jest earns him an impressive silence. This is literally watching a joke die, she realizes.
Dorian snickers a third time. "Bless his heart. He is trying so hard to win that dweeb of yours over."
She elbows him in the stomach and he doubles over with a hmmmph.
"Pardon my curiosity, Solas, but how old are you?"
At this, Solas grows considerably paler. She has half a mind of dragging her father away by the collar. She sees Dorian open his mouth in her peripheral and stomps down on his foot.
Solas' answers couldn't be more clipped.
"Forty-five," he mutters.
"Age is just a number," Dorian declares. "Some things just get better with the passing of seasons. Like experience, for example."
She tastes bile rise at the back of her throat. "I will roast you, Dorian."
If Solas' admission wasn't enough, Dorian's cutting in just did it. Her poor father leans back into his chair, intent on becoming one with it.
"Oh," he says yet again. "Well, you and I are only a few years apart. It is...not a bad thing....experience." And by his tone it is more than clear that he means a few years in Solas' favor, not in his, and the aura of mortification about the room grows thicker still.
Solas wears the expression of one ready to shred his own throat to bloody ribbons.
"So how about that tour?" she all but screams.
The Dalish are—handsy.
Perhaps not handsy because that sounds bad. Physical is a better term, she supposes.
It's still bad though, because Ainlwen is very Dalish and Solas very private.
"Yes, yes, that sounds wonderful," Ainlwen says, rising. "Will you join us, Solas? We could talk some more. Come, stand up."
When he tries to reach across the desk to pat his hand in invitation, the situation goes from bad to worse. Or rather, it just turns into a disaster. Solas nearly slaps him away all while struggling to remain concealed by the desk.
Iron Bull lets out a low whistle in the hallway.
"Wow," he says. "So smooth."
Ainlwen appears positively dejected. He looks down at his hands as if trying to figure out whether he caught the plague on the way to Skyhold without noticing.
"Ah, another time," Solas murmurs. He shifts uncomfortably in his chair. "I would rather remain here for now."
"Are you quite sure?"
"YES," she answers in unison with Solas. They make a fine chorus of stupidity.
She kicks her underwear under her bed before her father turns around.
"Very well," Ainlwen murmurs back. "I bid you good day...hahren."
"Ma serannas, hahren."
They blink at each other.
Dorian has been around her long enough to pick up some elven. He looks like a stuffed pheasant, barely containing his laughter.
"This is the pinnacle of awkwardness," he leans down to whisper in her ear. "Now you have two hahrens for the price of one."
"Shut up," she groans.
"I want to wrap your father in a blanket and feed him honey."
"Shut up," she says again. "He is just shy, not an invalid."
"Yes, and Solas is just an asshole."
In this particular instant he's not exactly wrong.
Varric, Sera, and Bull make a show of ascending the stairs as if they just happened by. What jolly, convenient happenstance indeed. She showers them with death glares. Bull throws his arms wide open with Ainlwen has the opportunity to step around him.
"Don't worry," his booming voice announces, "we'll give you a fine tour of the place on our own."
"Yeah," says Varric. "First stop the tavern."
Dorian makes a wet popping sound with his mouth. Slowly, very slowly, he makes a little circle with his index and thumb and sticks a finger through.
Her knees feel like cotton. The edges of her vision go crimson. This whole place is going to go up in flames if she doesn't keep herself in check.
"Don't you try to get my father laid," she warns him. Lightning is already gathering in her palm while fire dances in the other. She will burn his mustache right off.
He only waggles his eyebrows in response. She goes to smack him again, but he waltzes out of her way.
Ainlwen pulls her aside and he looks so clumsy and small in those oversized shemlen clothes that she wants to laugh and cry at the same time. While he's talking, she takes it upon herself to rearrange his collar.
"Did I embarrass you?" he whispers. He takes her hands and holds them like precious little things.
She gives him a warm smile. "No, papae."
"I do hope I didn't make a bad impression."
"...you didn't. Trust me, you're not at fault here."
She is a horrible daughter.
She is a horrible daughter because once everyone is gone she hastily claws at Solas' pants so they may finish what was started earlier.
And Solas is a horrible person too because mere hours after he's taken her in that plush chair, he escapes to Crestwood without a word.
She develops an eye twitch.
"Did he not like me?" Ainlwen wonders, poking at an Orlesian dish with his fork later at dinner. He's very sad, his mouth a frown.
And grows even sadder when he fails to comprehend what exactly rests on his plate and how to eat it.
"He's just not talkative," she mutters, reaching over to cut his food for him.
Oh, the irony.
She is going to stab Solas upon his return.