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Her Lover's Hands

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She had dealt with elves before. Sometimes even elfy elves. As a Red Jenny, you had to be at least a little open about who you worked with: fuss only created problems when there were limited participants and no organisational structure, anyway - although she would have explained it more colourfully herself, if prompted. Still, they're weren't some mythical unknown to her. Sera was wary of them, obviously - everyone knew the stories - but she could just about deal with them in the confines of a brief prank. Or murder. Sometimes both. It was just easier to deal with them when they weren't around to be dealt with. Or something. Somewhere far, far away, rolling around in dark forests or twanging their ears like a ruddy lute or whatever they did for fun.

This was different. She was different. For one thing, she wasn't all in your face about it. Not like Solas. EurgghDon't want to think of him, all broody and moaning on about some daft shite from thousands of years ago. We're not thousands of years ago.

She was quiet a lot, too. Thinking, probably. Always thinking. Her head had about twenty different thoughts in it all at the same time, all do this, don't do that, remember all this too, but she was still focused somehow. Was it magic? She was a mage. Maybe some weird head stuff - nope. Nope. Not thinking about weird stuff that makes no sense.

Ultimately, Sera knew very little about the Herald. Nehna was always busy, for one thing, helping people. She always helped people, no matter how trivial the others thought it, and she helped everyone too: big people and little people alike. That was good. Sera loved that. Someone else might have forgotten the people underneath when they got big and powerful, but she didn't. She was special

So she was a good person. That was good, obviously. There weren't many people who weren't selfish... not selfish... was unselfish a word? Eh, who cares. She had a big heart, even if all her advisors tried holding her back about it all the time. Screw them. 

She listened, too, even if she didn't always agree. She had even spoken to Sera a couple of times, and she hadn't minded when she'd started babbling nervously to her. Most people would have said something. She's not most people. Instead, she'd listened politely to every word Sera had said without complaint. She'd even laughed a couple of times.

She had a great smile. It lights up her face, better than those weird tattoos anyway. She had a nice laugh. Even her voice lilted along like a river, or a song, some poetic metaphor or something. Sera wasn't big on that, not much anyway: words that meant things other words could say more easily were kind of pointless, if you thought about it, because you had to really think about what they meant, and if you had to think, it wasn't really enjoyable, was it, because it just got jumbled together after a while and stopped making sense and then you got annoyed because it was just frigging words that didn't make frigging sense and - 

She was here


 

Nehna moved quietly, just like a hunter. It only made it more impressive that she wasn't. She wasn't stalking prey or anything; she was just naturally really damn quiet, like a shadow. She moved like one, too, all graceful and slippery.

Sera wondered if she'd feel slippery if she held her in her arms, and dismissed the thought in a heartbeat.

Wait, what? Nehna was making a bee line straight for her. She was sitting at a table near the back of the Herald's Rest, not drawing any attention to herself (well, she'd burped once or twice and people had turned around to glare, but that was their problem, really), and still Nehna had found her. Must be magic. No.

"How are you, Sera?" she smiled. When she's not giving out orders, she sounds really sweet. Like honey? Does that work as a..a meta-thingy? She laughed, drawing the other elf out of her thoughts abruptly. "I hope I'm not disturbing you. You look like you're concentrating on something."

She made her feel a little nervous, truth be told. Not uncomfortable, just... nervous. Sera didn't know where she stood with her, or even if the other woman liked her. Hopefully, anyway. But maybe she was like one of the other nobles all along, all proud and high up. Does she really care? Is it a mask or something? "Ehh.. not really. I was thinking about... poetry." 

Rats. Nehna was looking puzzled, now. "...Poetry?" 

Eurghh. How could she explain it? "Words are so much easier when they're in your head," she thought aloud, frowning. "It's too confusing. I was thinking you were like a river or something, but I didn't know if that was the right one, and then it all got confusing."

Her companion looked confused now. "The right what?"

Sera groaned. "Does it matter? Leave all that weird stuff to bards and nobles. Makes no sense to the rest of us. Words are meant to make sense." She drummed a finger on the table to emphasise her point. 

"That's true," Nehna laughed. Is she laughing at me? Best to play along. Sera tittered nervously, stopping the second the Herald did. "But I came here for a reason, and nice as it can sometimes be, poetry wasn't it, I'm afraid."

"Well, yeah. Saw you coming, anyway. Figured you were here for a drink, not to talk to me or whatever." She shrugged nonchalantly.

"Why not?" Nehna leaned forwards. "I want to get to know you, Sera."

Red flags dotted up all over her mind. This wasn't a good sign. "Why?" she asked cautiously, moving backwards on her stool away from Nehna's gaze.

"Well, you're on my team. You're an ally. I like to know the people I'm working with so I can trust them." She grinned widely. "Besides, I'm hoping we can be friends."

That made her pause. "Friends.... yeah?"

"Of course!" Nehna smiled at her. It made her feel a little... odd, if she had to admit it. At knife point. "If we're friends, then there's trust. If there's trust, we can work better together." She shrugged, mimicking Sera. "And if we're friends, it's an added bonus, really. It means we can get along on and off the battle field." She sighed, looking down at a groove in the table. "Creators know that's hard, sometimes. Everyone always wants something. It feels like I don't have any friends here. Just people who want things from me."

Sera squirmed in her seat. She wasn't good with words that made things better. Still, this was the time to try. "Well, you care about all that stuff, right? Maybe you shouldn't." Nehna looked up, and Sera resisted the urge to blush. She had a very direct gaze for someone with such gentle eyes. "Sure, maybe some people just want things from you. Piss on them. Other people want you for you. And the people who want things from you? Sometimes it's just about getting a little help to get back on their feet, so then they can respect and trust you too." She gulped. Long advice monologues were tricky. "I mean, the thing is you glow, right? You're the Herald of Andraste. People follow you because they believe in you, what you stand for, all that shite. You stand up for the little people, and you give them hope. Maybe not all of them can be your friends, but there are plenty of us around here who can."

She watched the other woman anxiously. Nehna wasn't saying anything, instead mulling it over in her head.

After a long moment, she finally spoke. "You're right. The most important thing is that I can help the people who need it. Any friends I make will be with the people I meet along the way. Maybe I haven't met them all yet, anyway." She laughed, and Sera giggled too.

"See, you get it! Besides, we can be friends too, I guess." She babbled on, suddenly aware of Nehna's gaze: "I mean, it's all good, yeah? I agree with the stuff you do. For now, anyway. You put people in their place and you help the little people stay safe and happy. You don't bother with politics shite. So... if you really want to be friends, I can handle that." She snorted. "Just don't start with that elfy shite, yeah? Shitting in woods and all that? Don't need to hear it, thanks."

Nehna looked hurt. "You mean... me being Dalish? It's a problem for you?"

"Ugh, not you. But if you start saying you're one of the 'true elves' and how you want to marry a halla, then yeah, I guess it might be." She gave a derisive bark of laughter. "They've all got their heads crammed up thousands of years ago, anyway, like Solas. You don't want to be like him, do you? Probably got cobwebs in his breeches. I bet it's dusty down there. The only sex he has is probably when he opens up a book and gets his -"

Nehna waved her hands and groaned. "I definitely don't want that mental image, Sera." Her companion hooted with laughter. "But being Dalish... it is important to me. I'm not saying our way is the right way -" she added quickly, seeing the other woman's face darken, "- or that it's the only way, either. But it is right for me. Right now, anyway."

"Right now?" This was a topic she didn't really enjoy, and Nehna was beginning to sound elfier each second. Not a good sign.

"Well...." She sighed and put her head in her hands. "It's hard to explain."

"What, because I'm stupid or something?" Nehna flinched and met her gaze, anxiety battling a stone-faced audience.

"No, no! I don't think that at all, Sera!" She breathed slowly and resumed. "It's just hard for me to explain because... I guess I haven't given it much thought. It's how I was raised, how I grew up, and, until just a few months ago, the only way of life I've ever known. I didn't ever think about 'ifs' or 'buts' because there was no need."

Sera eyed her warily. "And now?"

"And now I think maybe there are different paths in life. They're all equal, all valid, just different. Maybe I'd be just the same person if I believed in Andraste than if I believed in the Creators, or even nothing at all. Maybe I'd be the same person if I wasn't Dalish. I don't know. I don't think I'll ever know the answer. But I respect these different lifestyles and beliefs. There's so many cultures I barely understood until I came here, and I have so much to learn still." She laughed slightly. "I don't think I'll ever understand Orlesians, though."

Sera seized on the change of topic eagerly, barking laughter in response. "Yeah, tell me about it. They're so puffed up if you tried to make them sit down on a hard bench, their knobs would burst."

Nehna looked stunned for a second, then joined her in giggling. "They're certainly... different."

"Arrogant sods, more like. You know they bathe in perfume every day?"

"I... don't think all of them do, Sera."

"Well, they all stink badly enough with that daft shite they put on their skin, so I think they do."

The conversation devolved into a colourful critique of Orlesian customs. Skin lotions, perfume, makeup, hairstyles, fashion, shoes, houses, accents, dogs ("They're all tiny, aren't they? You could squash them up in your sleeve or something. Just a big ugly rat that bites worse.") - nothing was off the table.


 

One thing they both approved of, though, was the wine.

"Tastes good, yeah? Much better than this piss. Still, it's got poncy names, sounds all weird."

Nehna agreed. "I grew up in the Free Marches, so Orlesian wasn't that unfamiliar but... it's hard to pronounce."

"Yeah? Sounds like a parrot being strangled. Or treading on a cat's tail and it yelps at you." She launched into a hearty rendition of a famous Orlesian song, complete with mispronunciation so thorough it sounded almost more horrific than comical, all the while affecting the expression of a haughty noblewoman. To top it off, she gave her a mocking bow. "There, that's Orlesians for you."

Nehna was giggling thoroughly by the end of it. "Sera, you nearly split my sides!"

Sera laughed herself, just a little bit. "You know, maybe you're not so bad after all. You're one of us, not some puffed up noble who can't see the woods for the trees."

"Well, I grew up in the woods mostly," she teased. 

"Yeah, probably talking to daisies or something," Sera snorted derisively.

"Only on Wednesdays."

"...What, really?" 

"Nope. We do that on Fridays, actually. Wednesdays are for painting halla with rainbows."

Sera sighed. "Eurggh, you've having me on. All you elfy elves and your elf shite. Can't even make jokes that are funny."

Nehna shrugged. "Humour's not my strong point, I guess. At least I have other talents." She paused to remember them all. "Magic, I guess -" Sera flinched, "storytelling, but not like Varric.... hmm. I'm not actually that bad at hunting," she adding sheepishly, "but I'm nowhere near as good with a bow as you are."

Sera sat up straighter and puffed out her chest, looking proud. "Yeah? Well, most people aren't. They get all focused on stuff that doesn't matter. It just... comes to you, and if you get all fussed about what goes where and how to hold it and that then you don't get anywhere." She gestured to the rest of the tavern guests, waving her hand dismissively. "This lot couldn't aim at a board with a stream of their own piss."

Nehna nearly choked. "I... don't think I could, either."

"Never tried, have you?" Sera shrugged, fixing her with a lopsided grin. "Would be way more fun than those meetings and shite. All that talk. Just go and fire a few arrows, kill stuff, solve problems. Too much talking, not enough action." 

"You know, I agree. I mean, diplomacy is key, but I'm not Josephine. Half the time I have no idea what she's actually talking about. I just nod and smile."

Sera hooted. "Knew it!"

Nehna gave her a teasing swat that she easily missed. "Well, you try and listen to Lord Such-and-such talking about how this land is technically his, but - and get this - he's 'tolerating' us because we act in the interests of the Divine."

Her companion snorted. "That's nobles for you. Quibbling over land when the sky has a bloody hole in it."

The pair laughed, and Sera felt decidedly more at ease with the other woman than she had up until now. Sure, maybe she was a bit elfy, but she definitely wasn't going on about elven glory every five seconds. Not like someone she could mention. And she was funny. She listened to everything Sera said, no mocking, just banter between friends.


 

Friends. It made her feel glad. Nehna was good. She was on the right side, doing the right thing. Plus, she looked pretty great doing it. She has great curves. I bet her arse sounds good when you slap it. Those tits were just meant to be squeezed.

With great effort, she drew her eyes up from Nehna's cleavage and laughed, hoping the other elf had just made a joke. She smiled back at her, but Sera noticed there was a rosy flush to her cheeks now. Thinking naughty thoughts, are we?

"It was really nice to see you, Sera," she said shyly. She looked so pretty when she blushed; it brought out her eyes. It brought out her everything. "We should definitely meet up together more often."

"Can't argue with that, can I?" She gave Nehna a roguish grin, smirking slightly when the elf's blush deepened. "You're good company."

"So are you." They sat there like that for a moment longer, each staring at the other.

"I probably have to go back soon," Nehna said sadly, breaking the silence. 

 "Yeah," Sera agreed, looking glum. "Herald stuff."

There was another brief silence until Nehna smiled at her and started speaking again. "I'll come back soon, I promise! Now I've got someone to come back to."

It was Sera's turn to blush a little, but she wouldn't be uncomfortable now. "Yeah, damn right you do." Her grin made Nehna feel weak. "I'll be waiting, won't I?" 

"Maybe you could even come on journeys with me this time."

"Sure thing. Anything that needs arrows will get a face full of them."

"I'd like that." Nehna felt her face probably looked like a tomato at this point, but Sera didn't seem to care.

"It's all good, innit? You and me." She cleared her throat, gesturing to the door. "Best go then before Josie comes and drags you to a meeting."

"I think she actually would."

The two giggled. "I'll see you around, Sera," Nehna said, soft as a whisper.

"Go on." Sera prodded her. "Time to get back to work. Fun stuff later." She gave her a wink, and took no end of satisfaction in how Nehna squeaked and ran out the door.