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Mala Suledin Nadas

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-

The girl – and it is so hard to think of her as anything other than the girl, even when the palm of her hand glows like poison and her lips part over small, sharp little teeth – rocks on her heels, digging her toes into the damp and warm soil as they set up camp.

"Do not stray far." Cassandra says, snapping orders at the elf-girl like she is a wayward child and Cassandra is her stern governess. "Do not wander off chasing nugs or foxes or rams. If you see trouble come back here immediately. And in the name of Andraste, stop trying to approach bears. You know better."

"Yes, Cassandra." Lavellan says, complacent and quiet-shy-sweet like sunlight – already distracted by the thought of glades and grass, a Dalish through and through - as she slides over grass and dirt and steep cliffs. Cassandra lets out a huff-groan of annoyance as the Herald slides down a hill and scrambles over rocks.

She signals a few scouts to follow after her – "Do not let her get hurt."

Sera goes after her – "For an elf she ain't that bad. She doesn't rub the what's-it-about-elf-things in my face like a certain baldy does."

"She's a gentle girl." Solas says as he watches Sera trail after the Herald. "But she is strong. She can and will handle herself, Seeker Cassandra."

"I know." Cassandra says after a moment, double-checking their map, occasionally glancing towards the direction the Inquisitor wandered off. "That is why I am concerned. She is too gentle. Too soft. It will hurt her. We cannot afford that."

"She is no soldier."

"That much is clear." Cassandra snorts.

"Perhaps we do not need soldiers." Solas muses, earning an irritated glare. "There are plenty of soldiers to fight. What we need is a guide. A light. Someone without ties, without pride, without motive. And that is her."

-

"You aren't like the other ones, are ya?" Sera says as she follows the Herald – Andraste's tits, how Lavellan can make her way over rocks and trees and puddles without shoes is beyond her. As fun as it is to get dirty and stomp around the mud, climbing rocks and trees and shit seems rather much.

"What do you mean?"

The Inquisitor has a nice voice. A careful one – kind of low and musical. Pretty. Sera kind of wonders what she sounds like pissed off. What she sounds like when she swears. Does she even know any curse words in the common tongue?

Note to self: get the Chargers to help her figure that one out next time they kidnap her from the blond brooding captain for drinks.

"Most other Dalish, you know, they get all up in your face about gods and tradition and elven roots and shite. You aren't like that."

Lavellan shrugs, smiles, as she crouches to inspect some wild flowers, "The Keeper always said I was somewhat lack-luster. No ambition. No real drive. I think that is why she sent me to the conclave. So I could watch and understand the danger the world was in. So I would know why I had to be a strong Keeper."

"And now you're leading the Inquisition." Sera says. "Not how she hoped it'd turn out, huh? Bet she wasn't expectin' that, was she?"

The Inquisitor turns and raises an eyebrow at Sera.

"No one expects the Inquisition, Sera." The Inquisitor tilts her head, kind of like a dog or something, and smiles. She points to a tree behind Sera, "Look, Sera, tits."

-

"You'll never guess what we found." Sera says. Solas glances over and he can already sense Cassandra praying to the Maker for patience.

"What?"

"Tell'm, your Holiness." Sera says, turning to Lavellan – Solas risks a glance down at her feet, and sees her covered in mud and grass stains from knee-down. The people who do her laundry must either want to wring her neck or shove her into boots and chain her in them.

"Tits." Lavellan says, placid and calm like a spring pool. "We saw tits."

A nearby scout chokes on a laugh. Solas spares a moment to be glad that no one else in their party is here with them.

Bull and Dorian might break something laughing.

Sera's smile looks like it could split her face clean in half.

"You what." Cassandra deadpans.

Lavellan tilts her head and makes a round shape with her hand. "You know, tits. We saw tits. In the trees."

"Birds." Solas clarifies before anyone can say anything further, and before the Seeker quite possibly bursts a vein and before Sera can say anything to make the situation worse than it is, "They are a type of bird, calm yourself Cassandra, before you injure yourself. Lavellan, here they are called chickadees, not tits."

"Chickadees." Lavellan repeats sounding out the word with careful consideration, drawing out the last syllable. She pauses, blinks, smiles at him, laughter dancing in her face. "A long name for such a small bird, hahren."

Solas thinks he is going to have to take Lavellan aside and warn her about the somewhat – juvenile attitudes of some of the members of their group.

"Come with me da'len," Solas sighs ushering her away towards a nearby brook, "And wash your feet."

-

"She is unaware of the affect she has on people." Dorian says to the world at large when he finds her at the stables after half an hour of wandering Skyhold.

"My dear," He turns to the Herald who's dozing, half in a pile of hay, half hanging over the lower rung of a wooden fence. "You have absolutely no idea about the things you do to people."

"I scare people because I am an elf and I have magic and I am a heretic." Lavellan mumbles, still half-asleep, slithering down until she is on the dirt, sprawling out in the sunlight. Her bare toes wiggle as she shimmies around until she is comfortable, like a cat.

"You have a reputation to uphold, darling." Vivienne says, "Do attempt to control yourself."

"Sorry." Lavellan mumbles, "The horses don't mind, though."

"Dear, the horses probably think you are a strange infestation that is hoarding their hay." Vivienne sighs, shaking her head. "I despair of whoever is going to attempt to teach you court etiquette."

"It will probably be you." Dorian points out, "No one here is as good at the game as the infamous Madam de Fer."

"Flattery, in this case, will get no one anywhere. Inquisitor you will soil your clothing."

"I'm wearing the ones you don't like. It shouldn't matter. I'll change afterwards, I promise." Lavellan says, glumly sitting up and picking at her hair. "I miss grass."

Dorian laughs. "Shouldn't have made your headquarters in the middle of the mountains then."

"I didn't choose it." Lavellan mutters. "I didn't choose any of it."

"No, it chose you." Vivienne says, face softening for a moment. "Oh, come here." Vivienne sighs, leaning over the fence to deftly pick things out of the girl's hair, then neatly arranging it into something respectable. "I know that you are going to be ruining this the moment my back is turned, dear, but you could at least make an attempt at being less of a wild thing. It won't do if the world thinks the Herald of Andraste is a rambunctious child with absolutely no self control or attention span. It would ruin my reputation."

-

"The Inquisitor is hiding underneath your desk, isn't she?" Cullen says with a sigh when he comes back from scouring Skyhold for the second time, searching out for a sign of their Herald.

Josephine hums, "What ever gives you that idea?"

"Because it is quite possibly the one place she could fit and hide where no one would ever look."

"There's Madame de Fer's quarters."

"Yes, but no one would risk it. The Inquisitor is young and untested and occasionally reckless, not suicidal."

Josephine looks at him for a long moment, lips twitching up before she pushes away from her desk and looks down, "I'm afraid the jig is up, my dear."

"What jig? Were we dancing? I'm not good at dancing, Vivienne has been trying to teach me though. She says I've shown great improvement." Lavellan's voice is slightly muffled but he can almost hear her wide eyes and her cocked head. Lavellan comes crawling around the side of the desk, swiftly rising to her feet, head ducked under Cullen's gaze. He can see the crumbles of the cookies Joesphine and various other women keep forcing into the girl's hands -

She's so skinny, the quartermaster hisses, look at her, Commander. I feel absolutely terrible looking at her. Skin and bones and grass and she has to save the world?

"It's an expression." Cullen says, "Why were you hiding from me?"

Lavellan kicks her heel against the stone floor, shrugging, "I thought you were coming to yell at me."

Cullen blinks. "Why would I be coming to yell at you?"

Lavellan's cheeks are high spots of color that make her marks fade out a little, "I thought you were mad at me. I didn't know what Sera was going to do with the powder, I swear. We just got to talking and then she asked me to show her how to make it and I didn't want to tell her no. She's very nice and it's nice talking with her, she's very bold, you know? And well - She didn't tell me she was going to use it on you – "

"You're the one who made the itching powder?" Cullen raises his eyebrows. "Wait, no. That's not why I'm looking for you. And if I'm going to yell about it to anyone it's Sera – I'm here because a letter came from your clan for you."

"Oh." The Inquisitor blinks, bird-like and ethereal in her own way. "Well why didn't you say so?"

"I would have." Cullen says, dry as he hands her the letter, "But you've been hiding all morning. I was considering having one of the girls wait for you in the privy."

-

"I've lost the Inquisitor." The scout says. Cassandra closes her eyes.

The Inquisitor does have something of a habit of wandering off when no one is looking, before creeping back during the ensuing chaos and sliding into place like she was never gone at all.

Varric thinks that the Rivaini would get a kick out of her. It's a shame that Lavellan isn't a thief. She has the light fingers and the gait of a cat.

"Cool it, Seeker. I know where she is." Varric says."She just needs some time alone."

"Is she in any danger, Varric?"

"Nah. She's fine." Varric says, scratching at his chin. "Just needs to be alone."

Hawke always disappeared, especially towards the end. Disappeared to be alone and to scream and rant and deal with the world bearing down on her shoulders. Varric always knew where she went, of course. Watched over her a couple of times to make sure no one interrupted her precious time.

The Herald is tucked away in the back of the Skyhold – where the repair efforts haven't quite reached it yet, obscured by fallen and rotting wood  - , curled up small and near-invisible in the shadows.

"It hurts. Halani, Keeper. Halani." She whispers, curled over her right hand. He can see the green light escaping the bindings she's wrapped around her mark in faint wisps.

Poor kid.

She reminds him of Merrill in so many ways. Both of them so young, so optimistic. Untried and unversed in the ways of the world outside of the forests and fields of the Dalish.

"You'll be alright, Poppy." He says. She startles, despite how far away he is, looking up at him with sharp,, wide and wet eyes. She quickly swipes her hand over her eyes, sniffing, shoving the hand with her mark behind her back.

"Who is poppy, Varric? Are they hurt?"

"It's a nickname, kid." Varric says, walking over. "Like how I call Dorian Sparkles and the Bull Tiny. You're Poppy. Like the flower."

"I like poppies. They're very pretty." She says, blinking. "I saw a field of them once, like a sea of red. II took some with me. I pressed them between the pages of your book."

"Pretty, just like you." Varric agrees, pulling out a handkerchief and handing to her. "So smile like the poppies, kid. You'll be fine, just like they are."

Lavellan sniffs, dabbing at her eyes before focusing on him again.

"Ma serannas, ma'falon." She says. And for a moment, Varric sees a little of the woman she might be if she grows up. A feeling that pricks the back of his neck like when he first met Hawke. Heroes.

"Anytime, Poppy, anytime."