He’s drunk when he comes to her in the middle of the night. It’s the first thing she notices. His normally pristine posture is slack, wavering like a young tree during a storm and his eyes are a little too unfocused. Solas is always sharp and contained. It makes her want to pick him apart piece by piece. She is too old to be this curious.
Ellanna tightens her robe around her sleepwear; a thin t-shirt and thick socks. Anything else and she feels claustrophobic.
“Solas?” she asks, still trying to blink away the sleep burning at her eyes. The candles are burning low now, flickering dimly as wax pours over the bronze candlesticks scattered across the room. They flicker and cast shadows, making rooms that once felt small to her bigger in the darkness.
Her hand tightens on the door frame and she fights the urge to set him on fire. He’d be fine with the cool, icy looks he seems to have mastered towards her. It figures that their flirtations at Halamshiral were another misstep in his book. Her patience for games is evermore thin than they were before.
“What do you want?”
Her heart stops beating in her chest for a moment before she remembers herself and wills it to start beating again.
“You’re drunk,” she spits angrily, moving back to slam the door shut. His hand reaches out to catch the wood with surprising reflexes for someone who smells like a brewery. Ellanna stares at him through the lesser space in the door.
“I’m not asking you for anything. I’d just like to sit with you.”
There is a moment of pause. She’s learned to be soft when she needs to be, hard when there are decisions to be made. A First, a Keeper, an Inquisitior should know when to close a door, lock it and throw away the key.
Ellanna steps aside and lets him in.
He’ll probably wander off the battlements or trip down one of the many staircases he had just climbed up to my rooms, she reasons. He’s safer sleeping it off here with me.
She is careful not to think of the implications of her companion spending the night in her rooms. Solas clearly isn’t of the right mind to sneak up the stairs, whoever was on guard tonight would be sure to talk. Something odd settles in her gut and she is careful not to think about that either.
She helps him to her couch, laying him onto his side. Though it might have been more comfortable than his rickety bed off the rotunda it’s a bit too short for him. He clumsily throws one of his legs over the arm of the couch and lets the other hang off the side while she goes to get him a blanket from her bed. Clumsy is a word she never thought to associate with him.
“If I didn’t know any better,” she grumbles softly. “I’d say you were using me for my Orlesian sheets.”
He hums and shifts, eyes closed with his lashes fluttering against his cheekbones. Ellanna hesitates before gently lifting his head to slide a pillow underneath. Her hand threatens to linger, rub the tip of his ear and slide her lap under his head instead.
“Never,” he tells her, muttered into the pillow. “Though, they are quite nice”
“Sleep,” she commands him and slides back into her seat at her desk.
She watches his form for a few moments.
You. His voice echoes in her mind. Her hands tremble and she flexes them, shifting her gaze to the papers and books piled on her desk. Ellanna works as long as she can, signing documents and writing letters she’ll have to send tomorrow. So much to be done. Sleep slowly creeps into the corners of her eyes again, stinging. She rubs them, setting her quill down.
Solas is snoring softly on her couch, one arm now dangling off it to accompany his leg. She sighs softly.
She makes sure her chair doesn’t squeak too much when she pushes out of it and shuffles over to her bed. Shrugging her robe off, she flicks her hand lazily, dousing a majority of the candles. She leaves a few on the fireplace, the room nearly dark now. Outside, she can see the stars and the white tips of the mountains over the balcony railings.
Ellanna spares a few glances at him as she pulls her socks up to her knees again and slides into bed. The room is silent, his breath gone slow. Sometimes, Skyhold feels too tight around her, like a tunic that doesn’t fit properly and prevents her from breathing. She wants to see the sky and feel the warm forest breeze on her skin.
The thought sends an ache to her heart, down her spine. She steels herself against these thoughts usually. They aren’t of any use to her, she isn’t going back to her clan anytime soon so what’s the point of worrying.
She shifts onto her other side, watching the dull glow of candles sneak in through the space under the door.
Ellanna wakes early but he’s still gone, leaving a neatly folded blanket on her couch and not much else. The least he could do was offer an apology. She puts that out of her mind and decides to skip breakfast and walk the battlements. Usually, she’d dress and break fast with her companions down in the tavern.
“The Inquisitor shouldn’t be eating with everyone else.”
Everyone else was a heavy word around humans. When you didn’t want to say something overtly offensive about someone they were “everyone else” because you were special. She had noticed this was even more prominent at the Winter Palace.
Either way, she reveled in her tiny rebellions sitting with her friends and trying to wake up from a short restless sleep. Maybe it was some childlike part of her that still refused to stop clinging to her womanhood. It must have been stubborn because those years seemed so long ago.
She had been looping around the front of the fortress, passing through the room above the Tavern. She could hear the din of the servants starting to cook and clean.
Rubbing her forehead, she leans against the parapets and sucks in the sharply cold mountain air. The last bit of the sunrise is dissipating over the mountains. Down below, she can see the rows upon rows of tents. Plumes of smoke snake towards the sky. She can almost imagine herself among them, a nameless soldier waking for the day to sausages and cold ale and no responsibilities. The title of Inquisitor is bestowed to someone else in this fantasy.
Ellanna lets herself ache for it, just for a moment.
Her feet are off before she even wills it. They carry her across the path from Cullen’s tower to the main hall and off towards the rotunda. Solas is sitting in his chair, as casual and unconcerned with her feelings as he had ever been.
“You kissed me,” she states accusingly.
His eyes flick up from his book and an unreadable expression settles over him. It’s far too early for anyone to be in the library above them but still, she is embarrassingly aware of how that would sound if anyone else had overheard her declaration. Well, there weren’t many other ways to interpret it. Especially since he had done a little more than just that.
Ellanna’s heart flutters in her chest like a frantic bird trying to escape its cage and she can’t help but sympathize with it.
There’s something about Solas that reminds her of the way the forest used to smell when she’d wake in the morning after it rained.
“Say something,” she huffs impatiently, eyes frantic. Solas sets his book down and he stands from his chair, crossing around the desk.
“Would you like me to do it again?”
“What?” she asks, suddenly breathless. Ellanna wonders if it’s from the furious steps she had taken to get here or from the way he’s looking at her. Like he wants to eat her.
But she has enough bite to close the distance between them herself.
Their kiss quickly turns from stubborn and angry, to frantic. His lips move against hers and his cool, soft hands are cupping her cheeks. Something roars triumphant in Ellanna and she bites down on his bottom lip, only to be rewarded by a soft groan in the back of his throat.
It’s the Winter Palace all over again; wandering hands, needy kisses and the familiar heat building between her legs. He turns and presses her against the desk. She’s nearly his height but leaning back against the wood, his lean form overpowers her and lifts her up onto the surface. It might be similar but there is a desperation to both of their movements that has replaced the hazy lust she remembers.
A door opens upstairs and their bodies freeze. Solas gently pulls back from their kiss, his pale cheeks flushed and his lips parted with soft pants. Their eyes look upwards, terrified their unwelcome guest has already made it to the balcony railing. Luckily, they hear quiet steps and a soft whistling tune as someone lights a few torches upstairs to ready it for the day.
Ellanna’s fingers that were busy tugging open the ties of Solas’ tunic fall to the edge of the desk where he still has her pinned.
Their eyes meet each other.
“I’ll speak with you later?” Ellanna asks softly.
“Mhm,” Solas grunts, extracting himself from her. Ellanna fixes her clothes and runs her fingers through her hair where his had been only moments before. Her heart it still pumping wildly. Quietly, she grabs his cheek when he goes to turn away, already feeling that wall go up again.
His eyes meet hers and he sighs softly, relenting and delivers a soft kiss to her forehead.
“Later,” he tells her.
It’s the most free she’s felt in a long time.