“Tell me why exactly we’re here again?” Evelyn groans, fastening her staff behind her back while her husband merely rolls his eyes for the thousandth time.
“Peace, Ara’asha. Who are we to deny a chance to end this war?” Mahanon reminds her with a fond smile, smoothing a stray lock of his unruly, auburn hair behind his ear.
She sighs, a shiver running down her spine at the sound of Elvhen from his soft voice. Without even thinking, she reaches for his hand and squeezes. Mahanon gives her a sad look and reluctantly pushes her hand away.
“We’re in a crowd, sa’lath,” he scolds and this time Evelyn doesn’t even bother to hide her scowl.
“Let them look for all I care. You’re my husband.” His dark eyes scan across the busy temple and flick back to her as if to say, “I told you so” when a pair of humans openly grimace at their innocent public display of affection.
“We can be alone soon,” he promises, surprising her with a quick peck to the corner of her mouth. Evelyn immediately perks up, eyes sparkling up at the man she loves. “Come, we are to meet the others.”
“Help!” An ethereal voice seems to echo across the hall but none seem to notice except Evelyn. She pauses in her steps, watching her husband walk ahead of her back towards the entrance. The sight of his retreating figure sends a shiver of alarm up her spine.
“Mal, did you not hear?” Evelyn calls for him but he is lost to the crowd. She lets out an unsteady breath, a pit of worry beginning to form in her stomach as she turns back to the hallway in search of the voice.
Evelyn runs in the direction of the distressed voice, bursting through a pair of wide doors to look upon something she couldn’t even begin to understand. All hell breaks loose.
The ground is hard and cold beneath her cheek. A film of grogginess mars her eyesight as she tries to take in her bearings before an insistent pain in her hand flares. All at once she is in agony, twisting and turning, feet scraping against the cobbles beneath her feet, chains rattling as she tries to contain the scream that threatens to bubble through her throat.
“Who are you?!”
She cannot answer. Where is Mahanon? Her heart pounds in her chest at the mere thought. She couldn’t answer anything without her husband.
“Please, what’s going on?” Evelyn manages to squeak out between pained breaths.
“Everyone at the Conclave is dead except you! Speak, mage!”
Dead. Everyone at the Conclave is dead. Not her. No, no, no. Her hands are shaking.
“Dead?” She registers that the word comes from her mouth but her surroundings are gone. She is alone. Alone. All alone.
“Cassandra, it’s obvious she does not know.”
“Then let us show her!”
Evelyn is numb. She does not hear the woman interrogating her, does not feel the release of the chains surrounding her limbs, does not register the sudden cold on her face as she is led outside of the dungeons. Following Cassandra comes automatically, the jeering from the crowd is ignored.
How? She had just seen him, was it not moments ago? He was moving towards the other rebel mages, she turned back for some reason. Why did she not take him with her? Her fault, her fault. No. No. No.
A shock of pain in her hand again makes her falter in her steps, suddenly jilted back into reality as Cassandra continues to tug her up to the mountain, towards the ruins of the Temple of Sacred Ashes. There are demons littering the path and Evelyn does not hesitate to reach for a fallen staff and cast as best as she can. She can’t think of it. No. No. No.
Words are spoken about the dangers of her having a weapon and she argues with the woman she now realizes is a Seeker. The conversation is forgotten. Her heart is beating far too fast, her head is spinning, her hand is throbbing, she is going to break. Mahanon, where is he?
Evelyn casts fire and ice beneath a strange tear in the sky, a jagged circle of green that seems to spit demons. Her spells are weak at best and her concentration is shattered. An elf makes a beeline for her and she lets him grab her hand. “Quick, before more come through!”
The green scar on her hand connects with the strange rift in the sky and her eyes roll back from the pain. She sees Mahanon smiling at her, his vhenan, she feels his fingers on her hand. When the pain stops it is decidedly not her husband grasping her hands and she rips the appendage away from the stranger, clutching it to her chest defensively.
“What did you do?” Evelyn demands, her voice brittle and worn. She wants to scream. She wants to break. She’s still shaking.
“I did nothing. The credit is all yours. The mark on your hand is capable of closing rifts,” the older elf speaks, his tone steady and polite. She wants to spit at him. How can he be so calm?
“The name is Varric Tethras,” a dwarf cuts in with a beaming smile and she wants to scream at him too. How dare he smile at her when she feels this? Her world is gone.
“I am Solas if there are to be introductions,” the elf adds, clasping his hands behind his back. Mahanon does that. She looks away.
“I am Evelyn,” she introduces herself and does not bothering saying anything else as they follow Cassandra further up the mountain.
They turn to her for guidance and she does not understand why. She’s itching to reach the temple as fast as she can. Maybe Mahanon is there, just as confused and lost as she. She opts to take the mountain path and ends up closing another rift. A spark of hope in her belly leads her feet to the temple. She cannot believe him to be gone. She can’t. He will be there, he will laugh at her for being so silly as to think he could so easily leave her. They will continue for Rivain, as they had planned, where they would settle down, maybe even start a family. All would be right.
She runs to the temple and freezes at the sound of a booming voice. She hears her own voice, full of confusion. There is terror surrounding her, blighted lyrium sprouting from the snow. Bodies scattered across the path.
There is a dark green cloak on the ground just mere feet away from where she stands. It bears his stitching, she would recognize the gold thread anywhere.
“Evelyn!” She hears Cassandra but she ignores her. Her foot slips on ice but she keeps moving, her veins thrumming with power. He’s going to be okay. He has to be okay.
She falls to her knees in the snow, shoving the cloak aside and she screams. That is his dark, auburn hair matted with dried blood. It reeks of rot and blighted lyrium, he does not move. Why isn’t he moving? No.
There are hands on her she realizes. The sound of wailing fills the sight of the Conclave and belatedly she knows it comes from her. Evelyn is thrashing and kicking and cursing whoever touches her to whatever god is listening. His name pours from her lips like a desperate prayer, she is panting and reaching for him but she is reluctantly dragged away.
Gone. Please, Gods, Maker, whoever is listening. No.
A wave of magic envelops her, the feeling of soothing light washing over her eyes. She feels her body shuddering violently, her vision swimming, her throat absolutely parched. She doesn’t look at Solas as he leans over her, calming her with his magic. She doesn’t want to not feel this. She can’t. He’s gone.
“We must keep moving,” Cassandra insists, although the bite is gone from her voice. Evelyn stands on unsteady legs and does not turn around. She cannot.
They are only a few days away from the Conclave. She’s lounging back in the hot spring, enjoying the smell of pine and the spray of warm water soothing her aching back. Mahanon giggles into her hair, wrapping his strong arms around her from behind. He tucks his face into her neck and kisses the skin between her shoulders.
“Where shall we go after the Conclave?” He asks her playfully, tugging her deeper into the hot spring and she lets him. A smile blooms on her lips, one born of pure happiness and contentment.
“Rivain, my dear husband. Was that not the plan?” She turns in his arms so that she’s facing him and throws her arms around his neck, leaning up to place an insistent kiss on his lips. He tastes of the honey they had in their pack.
“That would probably be best, Ara’asha. Evelyn Lavellan,” he grins at the sound of her new name on his lips. “It is still a wonder to me that you wanted to take my name.”
“It’s far prettier than Trevelyan, I think. Besides I owe my family nothing after they handed me over to the Circle. I’m yours now. Always,” Evelyn coos up to her husband and his smile broadens.
“Ar lath ma,” he whispers and she closes her eyes, marveling at how very lucky she was to know him. To love him and to have his love.
“I love you too.”
She wakes up and her hand flies to the other side of the bed. Empty. Her eyes open and she is in a room she does not recognize. A crash has her flying upwards to find a terrified Elven woman scramble back.
“I’m so sorry, Herald! The lady Cassandra requested your presence in the Chantry when you woke!” The girl says hurriedly and suddenly it all comes back to her and her breath catches in her throat. Not a dream. He is gone.
The girl hurries off, the door closing behind her with a resounding click. She is alone again in a strange room and her husband is dead. Magic spills from her fingertips, automatically setting a ward to silence her.
Her body curls in on itself, collapsing into the bed as her body shakes with sobs. What is she supposed to do? Where will she go without him? How can she live without him?
She remembers everything and she cannot let it go. She sees his face, his smile, remembers his smell, his hands on her body, her name on his lips. Why couldn’t it have been her?! Mahanon would know what to do. He would have his shit together, he would mourn her but he could live without her. She knows he was strong enough. Was.
Fuck. There are no words to adequately describe her grief. It festers within her, until her tears have dried, her eyes are sore, her throat is aching from screaming. The desperate sobs and pleas stop and the spell dies with it.
She dresses in clothes she assumes were left for her and marches outside of the cabin to face whatever it is the Seeker has in store for her. Perhaps she is to be put to death. They blame her, after all, for the destruction of the Chantry. It would be good, she thinks, to meet her husband on the other side. Where she belongs.
The people murmur and point as she stalks past them, whispers and declarations of “Herald” briefly startling her before she continues to her death. Even tranquility would be preferable to this. She stops, forcing her eyes shut as she tries to reign in her overwhelming sorrow. Her nails dig into her palms, in a vain attempt to bring her back. She must move on. She must face the Chantry and she must face her death. She cannot be happy without him.
Resolved, Evelyn Lavellan throws open the doors and heads straight for the room where she hears the Seeker arguing with the disagreeable cleric they’d come across before. She hadn’t paid much attention to him then and she didn’t plan to now either.
“You! Put that woman behind bars!” Evelyn doesn’t even flinch as she stoically faces the Seeker. Belatedly, she realizes that she must look quite the sight to the woman. Before she left the cabin, she hadn’t exactly bothered with her appearance. She imagines she must look positively haggard for the woman to be giving her such a pitiful look.
Closing her eyes, Evelyn leans back against the wall and listens to the Seeker spout nonsense about an Inquisition and the cleric, Chancellor Roderick, argue back and forth before he disappears in a huff. She doesn’t think about it, she doesn’t care. She’ll be dead soon enough anyway.
“Will you help us, Herald?” Cassandra finally deigns to address her, her dark eyes boring into her.
“Herald of what?” Evelyn demands, her arms crossed and back straight.
“The people believe you to be our Herald of Andraste. Only you have the power to close the rifts and we need your help restoring order,” another woman chimes in, her tone cool and calculating.
“I am no prophet. You wanted me dead earlier, I do not understand the sudden change of heart,” she argues stepping forward to fully face the women.
“I – we, believe you to be innocent. From what we witnessed at the Temple of Sacred Ashes, we do not think you responsible for the destruction. We want to end this war between the mages and the Templars. It is our duty,” Cassandra answers, full of conviction.
“Perhaps you should just kill me and be done with it. I’m nothing but a rebel mage and I have no cause anymore. I am biased towards the mages, I bear no good will towards the Templars. You do not need me. Kill me,” the mage insists, hands shaking as she slams them into the table.
“On the contrary, we very much need you to close the rifts. Only you have the power to do so,” the other woman reminds her and it takes everything in her power to reign in her anger.
“Why do you have a death wish? Do you admit guilt?” Cassandra questions suspiciously and Evelyn groans.
“I have done nothing but assist you so far while my heart is in pieces. I cannot bear another waking moment in this fucking world without him!” She cries, shoving away from the table and collapsing into herself. Breathe. She cannot.
All is quiet for a moment as her words ring throughout the room. She owes these people nothing, least of all her grief. Staggering, Evelyn stands and makes a beeline for the door. Before hurrying from the Chantry, she speaks quietly, “Do with me what you will but for now – just a little while – let me be.”
Haven, she now realizes is the town she occupies, is somehow bustling with activity and quiet all at once. People move and go about their business as usual but when she enters the square, they stare. There’s no way she can face them now.
She locks herself in the cabin she had woken in, once more casting wards and letting herself be overcome by grief. It is days before she can emerge.
Never before had she truly cursed being a somniari. Her Circle training had unfortunately lacked knowledge when it came to those who could walk the Fade. She could never truly master her dreams and now he was there, smiling and screaming and reaching for her.
“Why did you leave me?” He cries and she doesn’t know why. She forces herself awake and regards her surroundings.
It is dark, the light of the moons dim inside of her tiny cabin. Evelyn straps her staff to her back, stepping into her boots and snatching a few bottles of lyrium before she rushes out of the door. The feeling of the cold night is welcome on her too-hot skin as she walks out of the gates.
She has not eaten, has barely slept, has cried and wailed and cursed and it has all been in vain. He will never return to her. Breaking into a run, Evelyn scales the trees and embraces the tightness in her chest from breathing too hard. With any luck she will beat herself into a deep sleep.
Uncaring for those who would see her, the mage unleashes her power, her sorrow, her fury. How could he leave her behind? Who was she without him? Her hands twirl her staff expertly, swinging and parrying a branch before she engulfs the entire tree in flames. The blade at the end of her staff swipes and cuts at every leaf, twig, and burning branch as she loses herself.
Not once does she speak as she attacks everything in her surroundings. She wants to destroy something, to fight someone, to make them bring him back. He left her. He died. She was alone.
Her mana depleted, she downs a lyrium potion and continues to unleash her magic. Usually it was swift, precise, perfectly crafted as a former Circle mage’s should be. Now, she fights with an uncontrolled fury as she unleashes her anguish. She continues this process until dawn, until the lyrium supply is gone, until her eyes sag and her steps falter.
There is only ash surrounding her. She lies on her back and closes her eyes, inhaling the smell of burnt wood and the scent of her own magic. Faintly, very faintly, she can still smell Mahanon on her sleeve. This coat had indeed been his. She’d worn it without thinking, and now his scent would forever be gone from her and covered in her filth.
Tears pour down her face and she wraps her arms around herself. Gone.