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There had been two months now.

Cassandra didn’t look at anyone in the eye anymore, and she didn’t speak either, not unless she could answer with ‘kill it’ or ‘leave’.

Solas had disappeared, almost completely. He spent most of his time in the Fade, and the scarce hours he was forced to be awake, he would be locked inside his study.

Dorian had devoted himself completely to his studies of temporal magic, and never visited the library Skyhold held again, haunted by the memories of the kind and curious elf that helped him rearrange it.

Cole left, no one knew where or when, only remembering the faint absence of a kind soul and the broken explanation about escaping their pain and his own.

Vivienne still smiled and danced and regally paraded herself about Farelden and Orlais. Only that now, her smiles were empty, her elegance forced, and her happiness a façade.

About Blackwall all the Inquisition knew was that he returned to the Hinterlands, and later on traveled to Crestwood, returning to his life recruiting villagers and showing them to be as brave and truthful as she was, and as he could never be.

Varric remained by Hawke’s side after the events at Adamant, and though pledged his crossbow and his life to the Inquisition, should it require them, he left Skyhold with the Champion, looking for a place not so ridden with the one tragedy he once had told Lavellan he could not stand to write.

Bull and his Chargers took on a quest through the Western Approach, helping the people she was trying to before the events at Adamant, and pretending her laugh could still be heard in that lifeless place.

Sera hid herself among the shadows of Skyhold, too hurt to stay completely but too devoted to Adaeze Lavellan to leave.

So now here she was, perched at a balcony with her legs hanging from the edge, and, while eavesdropping the Commander’s conversation with the mysterious man that looked amazingly alike the Warden a few weeks ago stepped out of the Fade, Alistair, and pretended to ignore the hitch on her breath and the stab of pain on her heart –well, curse your noble arse, Adaeze, I am feeling empathy and all now, see?- at the former Templar’s hunched stance and haunted eyes.

“Oh, fuck you, Alistair.” Cullen growled, and Sera could practically feel her ears perching. The Commander turned away from the I-swear-I’m-not-the-fucking-Warden and ran a hand through his hair.

“I warned you about this, about…about the possible outcomes. You chose to ignore it.” Alistair pressed, walking towards him. When Cullen turned around, Sera almost smiled. It was probably Adaeze’s doing if Sera was witnessing the moment Knight-Commander Cullen Rutherford punched great Warden Alistair on the face.  

“I gave you a similar advice almost ten years ago. Tell me, did you follow it?”

“No, and I live with the pain, Cullen. I tried to warn you, I told you that…”

“That you knew of heroes, and that their stories never ended well, I know! But she wasn’t a fucking hero, Alistair, she was a Miracle, or…she was supposed to be.”

“She was mortal, Cullen.”

“Who are you speaking of now, Warden?” The Commander spat, “Because I can’t help to think about how good you must feel now, Alistair, proving me wrong, making me suffer like you did, like you do.”

“I did not kill Adaeze, Cullen.” The man barked, and took a step forward. Though Cullen didn’t back down, and looked positively ready to fist-fight the Warden, which, Sera thought, would have been way more interesting if the tiny Dalish elf would have been there to break them up and then bicker about ‘acting like a gods-damned child, Cullen, Creators preserve me’; Alistair seemed to make an effort to calm himself, and continued in a quieter voice, “Maker knows that I would have done anything to change what happened to Inthae, I would have given my crown, my blood, my life for her. I do not wish the pain I have suffered for almost ten years on any man, my friend, least of all you.”

Cullen ran a hand trough his hair and turned his back to the King.

“If I had been there with her, s-she wouldn’t have…she would be…I should have…”

“Don’t do that to yourself. I…I was there and…there was nothing you could have done,” Alistair ran a hand trough his ash blonde stubble, and let out an almost growl. “I wanted to stay, instead of her. I begged of her to let me die instead. I told her my love had died years ago, and I…and that whatever happiness I could achieve lay beyond the Veil, with… with I-Inthae. But she ignored me. She just smiled that damned gentle smile of hers and nodded at us as a goodbye. She…she looked like she was in peace, at least. That’s…that’s all I can give you, Cullen.”

The Commander didn’t turn back to the would-be-King –yes, Sera knew. She was little, but she still was…around during the Blight-, but he covered his face with one gloved hand and signaled at Alistair to leave with the other.

The Warden sighed, and began the slow walk back towards the main hall. Sera shook her head, and decided to meet the once mighty companions of the Inquisitor once again, while all –or most- of them where there and whole.

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“She glowed, ya’ know, like…the real thing.” Sera whispered, and though Iron Bull met her words with a confused expression on his face, Cassandra and Solas smiled slightly, remembering their first meeting with the archer city elf, and her odd encounter with their former Inquisitor.

They never agreed, Adaeze and Sera. On anything. One of them was a Dalish, merciful and selfless. The other was a city elf with a smart mouth but a crazy mind.

Still, they bonded, and before the…attack, they were almost like sisters. So Cassandra placed a firm hand on the elf’s small shoulder, and when Sera’s big eyes met hers, she smiled gently, with a bit of joy from the memories but also a lot of grief from the absence.

“It’s just that…shit like that isn’t supposed to happen, ya’ know? Not to people like her,” Sera looked down at her hands once again. “I mean, she never got off my back about the ‘remembering the old traditions’ and shit, and she was as stiff as the blondie with the furry cape sometimes, but…she was good, ya’ know? She…she didn’t deserve that.”

It had been two months now. Today it was the date of Adaeze’s fall, two months ago. The Inquisition was still standing, using its former hero as a martyr now, but its people…they were fading.

Cassandra’s eyes met Josie’s from across the small room, and a silent conversation flew between them. A question repeated over and over among the advisors, among the Inquisitior’s friends, among the soldiers.

Where is Cullen?

Josephine shook her head slightly, a sorrowful answer about their Commander’s state.

“Have you sent word to her Clan?” Solas interrupted. Cassandra shook her head, and Sera stood up.

“I want to go.”

“What?”

“She said her marks; the…things on her cheekbones, that they meant something like…protection or shit. I want to learn about them,” The girl with the short blond hair showed a small smile, and looked hopefully at the Seeker. “I want to do what she says for once.”

Cassandra nodded, and the girl smiled her gratitude with tearful eyes.

Before anyone had the chance to speak again, the door burst open, and an agitated Leliana ran to them.

“Find Cullen, and Dorian. Meet me at the War Room in ten minutes.”

And with that, she was gone, as fast as a shadow.

The remaining agents of the Inquisition looked swiftly between one another, searching an answer in the confused faces or their brothers and sisters in arms.

Leliana had been the only one whose grief could be compared to Cullen’s or Dorian’s. She had lost the closest friend she had had in a long time, and the symbol of hope that the world was not as dark as it seemed to be since Inthae’s death, almost ten years ago.

She had not left the tower where she worked in days, and probably had not eaten or slept in the same amount of time.

But then, when she ran into Josephine’s study…she was beaming.

Chapter Text

Cassandra limped inside the War Room, still healing from the vicious attack that had taken Adaeze’s life; with Sera, Solas, Josie and Iron Bull at her tail.

“We didn’t find Cullen nor Dorian, but I am sure that by…” Cassandra started,  but stopped dead on her tracks when a familiar smile greeted her on the other side of the table in the middle of the room.

“That by…” Adaeze prompted, smiling brightly at them. Cassandra stuttered, and shook her head. The apparition before her just waved her hand and approached them. “Well, hello.”

“You’re here!” Sera screeched, and tripped over a tearful Josephine and a dumbstruck Solas on her way to the Herald; almost tackling her in her embrace once she was under Sera’s reach. “And that’s crazy as shit, but Maker’s asshole, you’re here!”

Adaeze’s face scrunched at the babbling curses the archer let out, but still smiled and hugged the girl she had learned to call sister tightly.

“I am positively sure that somewhere a cleric is blushing.” Adaeze muttered. When the tiny elf let her go, she opened her eyes and faced the remaining three of her friends, who were now paralyzed by fear and hope in equal parts.

“I’m…I’m glad you are back, Lethellan,” Solas said, and the elf nodded at him in acknowledgment. “I…we have missed you.”

The Inquisitor nodded again, now with tears forming in her green eyes; and before anyone could notice, she was embracing her friend tightly, lifting her feet of the ground as Solas’ arms wrapped around her and brought her even closer.

Ma dareth. Ma dareth.” Solas whispered against her hair, and the girl let out a faint sob against the linen shirt over his shoulder.

Ir souveri, mir fen.

Solas froze for an instant, but after a breath his hold on her was stronger, and his eyes were again closed.

Hamin sahlin, Lethellan. Ma dar vhenas.

Adaeze nodded against his shoulder, and for the first time in days, the trembling stopped.

__

“Is no one going to talk about the freaking hooded lady that came with her?” Iron Bull frowned, ignoring the Dalish in front of him but still smiling when she gestured at him. “I mean, Cole is weird enough, we don’t need more demon-spirit-shit kids running around.”

“She is…probably human, but she…doesn’t like attention,” Adaeze answered, and watched as Leliana walked down the stairs and went to the silent woman by the balcony. “She has had enough of it, trust me.”

“I…I saw you die.” Cassandra whispered, interrupting their talk. Adaeze could only nod, wrapping her lithe fingers around the cup of tea Josie prepared. Yes, Josephine Montelyet had actually brewed tea.

“I know.”

“But you…didn’t.”

“I…I almost did. I found a way back.”

“What? H-How…?”

“I…met someone.” The elf frowned at her tea, and tried to ignore the horrible taste of it.

“I would say blondie could get jealous, but I don’t think that is what you mean,” Sera chipped in, legs thrown over the back of the couch, her head hanging down from it. Her big eyes flew through the room quickly, “Where is he, by the way?”

“Yeah, you just came back from the grave, wouldn’t your lovely husband-to-be like to know about that?”

Adaeze rolled her eyes at Iron Bull’s comment, her big green eyes still betraying her joy at seeing her friends again.

“I found him before I reached Skyhold. He…he is delayed.”

“Doing what?”

“Tracking down Alistair.” The elf shrugged, stealing a glance towards her hooded friend, who was now speaking animatedly with Leliana by a balcony.

“Why?” Solas asked. Adaeze bit her lip, considering her answer, but Inthae beat her to it.

“It is kind of an important event when the Herald of Andraste and the Hero of Ferelden are brought back to life on the same day. I would like to let him know about such events, considering…everything.”

Adaeze stole a glance to the approaching woman, and smiled gently.

“I actually didn’t die. You are weirder than I am.”

“And older, little mage. Respect your elders.” The Hero jabbed back, sitting in the armrest of Adaeze’s seat. The mage rolled her eyes.

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As Adaeze opened her mouth to respond to Inthae’s comment, another voice joined the group at the now empty gardens.

“Very well, little bird, you have sent your annoying little couriers and tremendously loud crows after me. Here I am. Was there any sort of announcement or you just missed me so…?”

“Well, I have missed you, my friend.” Adaeze stood, and smiling at Dorian she stepped forward. The tevinter mage stared blankly at her for a short instant, and then cocked his head to the side and raised an eyebrow.

“You truly have a thing for great entrances, don’t you?”

Adaeze continued smiling at him, and didn’t lose her gentle expression as she waited for Dorian to drop the act, to stop pretending to be disconnected from everything and everyone.

It was something that almost no one understood, the friendship between Lavellan and Dorian. Before…the attack, the second place, after the Commander’s tower, where someone would go looking for the Inquisitor would be at the library, hidden in some corner with her feet over Dorian’s lap and a book on their hands.

They were…true synergy when together. When they trained, when they fought, even when they lay together reading in silence; they would move with synchronicity, as if an invisible string was binding them together.

They were mistaken for a couple, multiple times on their travels. That is, of course, until Dorian opened his mouth. But still.

In fact, there’s still jokes around the Inquisitor’s circle of friends about how Cullen thought, for two straight weeks, that she was leaving him for Dorian, but was too kind to just tell him that whatever was between them had to end.

“Well, a great departure demands an even greater return, right?” The elf asked lightly, trying to somehow dissipate the heavy atmosphere that now surrounded them.

“Every return will be great if it involves you, my dear,” The tevinter mage whispered, and approached her silently. A strong and firm kiss was placed on her forehead, and without completely separating his lips from her skin, Dorian added, “I have missed you more than words can express.”

“I sure understand, my friend,” Adaeze snickered, taking a step back and reaching for his slightly darker hand, “After all, I was trapped in the Fade without your fascinating comments to make the journey easier.”

Dorian laughed, and used the hand still in hers to attract the lithe elf to his body, hugging her tightly with one arm.

“You will have to explain your strange escape with our afternoon tea, little one. I’m afraid you have missed a few.”

Chapter Text

After being practically tackled down by Hawke, who managed to arrive at Skyhold even before Cullen did, Adaeze met Fenris. The elf stiffly nodded his greetings at the Inquisitor, and she smiled back and responded with a delicate bow.

“Welcome to Skyhold, Fenris. I…I am pleased to see Hawke at peace for once.”

He merely narrowed his green eyes at her, not saying anything.

“Broody is glad to meet you too, he’s just…” Varric started, looking up at the elf with lyrium brands, but Fenris quickly stopped him.

“Why did you save her?” He growled, and Adaeze had to blink a couple of times to give sense to what the elf said.

“Why did I save…Hawke, you are asking?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I’m glad to see you are alive and well too, love.” Diana Hawke muttered with a crooked smile, that the elf promptly ignored. Still eyeing the elven mage with distrust and barely concealed hatred, he hissed:

“She owes you nothing; she will not die for your Inquisition, even if you saved her life. You will not have her.”

I will not lose her.

Lavellan was actually scared by the elf’s fierceness, and did not miss the way his hand clenched a little tighter around Hawke’s. Not for the first time, she wondered what had happened to Fenris, what had he endured to be so…broken.

Fenris would have killed himself to protect me, I didn’t want to give him that chance.

“I didn’t stay behind in Hawke’s place to have her on debt to the Inquisition, Fenris.”

“Then why?” He demanded, making Lavellan think sadly about the consequences of a life without kindness.

“Because she is my friend, because I did not want her to be lost to the Nightmare. I could escape, and I knew that. She could not.”

His green eyes kept studying her own, to then finally be put to rest in their anger and distrust. Fenris nodded again, and brought Hawke slightly closer to himself.

“Then…you have my thanks, Inquisitor.”

“Everything’s fine. Everyone’s fine. No worries. We even got a plus one with us!” Hawke dismissed, and put an arm over Adaeze’s shoulders affectionately and said, “I’m…really not good with words, but I’m glad you’re back, little one.”

“I know.” Lavellan muttered, feeling the Champion press a kiss to her hair affectively.

“Inquisitor! The Commander is back!” A soldier yelled, interrupting them. The big smile in the soldier’s face told her once more of the enthusiastic approval of the forces over her and Cullen’s relationship.

Adaeze slipped out of Hawke’s embrace and jogged to the doors. As the horses approached, the beating of her heart pounded louder and louder in her ears, her hands fidgeted with one another nervously, and her lips curved in a huge smile without her own consent.  

She heard footsteps approaching from behind her, too light to be those of a male and too delicate to be Sera or Hawke’s. Adaeze turned her head to see Inthae standing beside her, a cloak over her shoulders and a hood hiding her face from the public, but in such attire that could be dismissed as the attitude of an outsider, not used to Skyhold’s cold. Well, in all honesty, she could walk around dragging the head of the archdemon and no one would still believe her to be the Hero of Ferelden, but still.

Lavellan took a deep breath, a big smile forming on her face from the anticipation of seeing Cullen again after almost two weeks apart, and also from the childish enthusiasm for the awaited return of Inthae Cousland to the arms of her beloved.

The horses were dismounted and the Commander of the Inquisition was hurrying through the field towards the lithe elf that awaited him, Warden Alistair a few feet behind him, smiling slightly but, if Lavellan was correct, with a hint of sadness in his face and stance.

He didn’t know, then? Did Cullen only tell him of her return but not the Warden’s?

“Alistair doesn’t know, does he?” Adaeze Lavellan asked, turning towards the Hero of Ferelden, who shook her head in response, not taking her eyes away from the incoming party.

“I asked them not to reveal my…survival.”

And then she took a step back, raising a hand to secure the hood closer to her face, hiding it from the rest of the world.

No, don’t do it.

“Inthae…”

The Warden shook her head, retreating.

“I can’t do it. I cannot return, please forgive me.”

The Inquisitor had the impression Inthae’s words were not for her, but had no chance to stop her from disappearing before Cullen’s arms were around her, and Alistair’s eyes on hers, relieved, happy and yet sad at the same time.

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“You are an adorable idiot, a level Anders kind of adorable idiot.” Hawke muttered, narrowing her icy-blue eyes at the Warden.

“I know. I just…I am afraid. I hope my absence didn’t change things the way I fear, and I don’t want to see if they did.”

“If you are worried about his feelings for you, know that…” Lavellan started.

“It’s…not that,” Inthae interrupted, standing up and ranking a hand through her almost white locks. “Alistair, he…we met when we were nothing but kids, out on a world that was…perishing. But…we were still kids, you know? We still joked around and laughed and were awkward around each other and…and we dreamed of forever.

“Maker, I…I tricked him, on the last fight. I knew he wouldn’t let me deliver the final blow so…” She growled and turned her head away from the Inquisitor, and continued, frustrated with herself, “Zevran and I had a deal. He would drive Alistair away from me and the archdemon, he would block his view of the battle so that Alistair wouldn’t sacrifice himself for me. So he wouldn’t try to save me.”

“That’s…something I would kill someone I love for doing.” The Inquisitor said, at the beginning trying to sound comforting, but finally letting the truth come through, and Inthae nodded.

“I know, I-I would too. He must hate me, Adaeze. He must hate me so much…”

“He loved you, Inthae, and he loves you still.”

“I promised him forever, and fooled him into believing it was going to be okay, only to die on his arms in that blasted place.”

“Hey, we more than anyone understand what is like to love during the war, Inthae,” Hawke stated, standing up and placing a hand on the Warden’s shoulder. “There are no promises that we are certain we can keep.”

“But that he hates you –however unlikely that is- is not what troubles you, is it?” Lavellan asked, cocking her head to the side, her big cerulean eyes searching those of the Hero of Ferelden. “You worry he has changed from the boy you once knew and loved, due to your actions during the final fight.”

“Wouldn’t you? I saw what these ten years have done to Leliana, Adaeze, I know how pain changes people.”

A smooth voice interrupted their talk, and the three legends turned to see Solas entering the garden.

“I don’t mean to sound callous…”

“Oh, really?” Lavellan taunted, smiling at her friend, to which he responded with a smile of his own, though a much more concealed one.

“I am sorry to disappoint, lethallin, but I am not as insensible as you believe me to be.”

“What was it you meant to say, Solas?” The Hero prompted. The elf nodded his appreciation and stated,

“The world will not wait for your lives to settle. Whoever -whatever- brought you both back must want something in return.”

“So you are saying we should ready ourselves for…what? War?”

“War has existed since before Arlathan, lethallin. It has never stopped, it just became silent for times,” Solas explained, smiling at Adaeze with warmth, “No, I say you ready yourselves for a reckoning. A reckoning that needed both the Inquisitor and the Hero of Ferelden –and would-be-Queen- to take place.”