“I can’t believe he would just leave.” Those words had been what she had said to Leliana, moments before going to celebrate with her friends. Corypheus was now a forgotten memory, dust upon stone, and they were gonna party til the sun came up and then went down again. Despite the drunken reverie, the horrible singing by bull, and the passible dancing from Sera, Solas remained a dark cloud over Mathelina’s joy. To be with her, to love her, and then to leave with barely a goodbye. Even Cullen noted her sour mood, so turned against the festivities. Mathelina tried to enjoy herself from then on, and for a moment forgot all about the tall elf who had shown her new worlds. His shadow hovered though, behind the throne upon which she made judgment. At the top of the stairs to her room.
And more than anywhere else, his ghost was present in the art gallery he created. Every time her feet carried her through that way, she expected to see him. Seated at his desk, grimacing at a cup of tea or lost in a book. All that was left was an empty chair, and a book with a piece of fabric in place; the only reminder that he had been there at all. Well, that and the paintings he had left. The gallery mostly finished, all but one panel. The colours bright, the lines perfect and steady unlike how her hand would shake with every attempt. He left his mark on her soul, and on the walls of her home. On days when she missed him most, part of the archer wished she had let him strip the tattoos off her face. As though having his touch upon her face would be enough to erase the pain she now felt.
As her companion’s left, one by one to various parts for new work, Mathelina found herself spending more and more time in the rotunda. The castle grew cold, empty. Dorian no longer throwing books aside with disgust, the flap of ravens gone. Not a whisper in the tower, and she felt Solas’ shadow more and more. As if he hovered next to her shoulder, and disappeared each time she looked. One by one, Skyhold grew empty too. Soon, it was her, her advisors, and an army at her beck and call. The stone halls no longer filled with Varric’s tales, the inn growing cold and unused. All her friends had moved on, a far away quest for her or some other sort. Only she remained, and Mathelina remained in the rotunda.
Her room at the top of Skyhold filled with dust as Mathelina began to sleep in the rotunda. The couch she often found Solas asleep upon her only haven against the resounding silence of her home. Only a year since the breach was closed, and already she felt like a relic. A leader of a thing whose time had passed. A year and half, a year and ten months. The army moving out and coming back from different peacekeeping efforts, her friends visited or sent letters, but Mathelina rarely left Skyhold. Even Varric had commented on it, “You’ve got to go out Scout. You’re starting to look like a ghost.”
It was meant to be a joke, but the elf couldn’t summon a laugh. She simply drew another arrow, and fired. The pointed edge finding the centre target, right next to Bianca’s bolt. “I know. It’s just… What are we doing anymore? The inquisition has finished its work. The breach sealed, and all the minor rifts have been closed. Why do we keep doing this? It would be best to disband at the summit.”
“I dunno Scout. The Inquisition is still doing a lot of good. You’re doing a lot of good. You just need to go out and see it.” he tried to cheer her up, a friendly archery competition. Two years and the elf still had the near perfect aim when they had first met at the temple ruins. He didn’t want to call it out, the real reason why she wandered the halls like a lost ghost of Skyhold. A two year stump, and Varric just wanted to pull her out of it. Especially with the summit approaching. Varric put down Bianca, and rested a hand on her draw arm. Mathelina looked down at him, and he noted the dark circles that had started to gather under eyes; he tried to ignore the green sparks that danced in her once reddish-brown eyes. She looked exhausted, in many ways; physically, emotionally, and that damned anchor wasn’t doing her any favours. Leliana had only briefly mentioned it. The way the Inquisitor would jerk awake, eyes flared with pain as she grasped her arm; the green light flickering in her palm despite the rifts being nowhere near. It seemed to eat at her efforts, and pushed her further and further away from the world of the living. Varric wondered if Mathelina noticed the change. “Scout, you know he’s not coming back. Right?”
The elven woman flinched, her scarred palm curled tight and the anchor flared. The green caused her whole arm to pulsate and a few drops of blood slipped between her fingers. For a moment, Mathelina was back again. Full of fire and fury, and then it slipped away with the anchor. Her whole body slumping over, and Varric had to catch her. In a moments passing, the elf had grown pale and feverish. It was lucky that Curly was walking by at the right moment, and saw the Inquisitor grow weak. “Inquisitor!”
They carried her back to the Rotunda. A poultice was applied to her hand, and the former templar tipped a potion down her throat. Everyone had gathered. Leliana and Josephine gripped hands, the diplomat’s fingers curled over her mouth as she waited for Cullen to speak. Mathelina’s fever broke as he pulled away, the elf’s eyes fluttering open to replace the words that her commander would’ve spoken. The entire room seemed to breath as she looked at them, her voice seemed hoarse and ragged. “I’m alright. Just worn out.”
“You shouldn’t have gone all competitive.” Josephine scolded, though she was smiling at the same time. “Will you be able to make the trip to Orlais? We leave in a few days.”
“Of course. I can’t miss out on my own hearing.” the Inquisitor laughed, slowly sitting up as though she had not fainted moments ago. Varric wanted to protest at the movement, she was still deathly pale and the anchor was taking its time to dim into nothing. He couldn’t help but ask, “Is it happening more often?”
“Yes.” It was impossible to read her face; stoic just as she was when delivering judgment. “I fear that whatever Solas did to stabilize me, may be fading. With Corypheus dead, there is no way to know for sure.”
Mathelina rose on unsteady feet, and gave a small wave. Her advisors watched her consistently these days, fearing another fainting spell. She felt like a child again, or a cripple. Everyone waiting for her to collapse again. No one moved right away, but Varric seemed to understand and made a move to the door. The rest quickly followed. Some moments needed to be spent alone. This was one. Mathelina moved to the frescos upon the rotunda, her fingers gently tracing over the deep blue of Celene’s skirt, the sharp blade of the Inquisitor's sword. Each piece yelled Solas’ name. “I can’t believe you would just leave.”
She could feel him here. No one would believe her of course, she didn’t believe it either. Everytime the mark pulsated and burned her hand, she could feel him. A shadow hovering in the corner of her mind, just out of sight. Mathelina eventually reached the unfinished part of the rotunda, her fingers followed the lines of the sketch Solas had made. “Why did you never finish this? Not enough time? Or no inspiration?”
She could see the smirk he would give to that, the smart answer in a voice that erased her worries. Countless trips and quests, and Mathelina had memorized the lines of his face, the canter of his speech. Hours spent mastering the other, as if they could create a copy of each other. “What would you have painted? A wolf, a dragon? What does it mean Solas…”
Mathelina was already reaching for the abandoned paintbrush Solas had left behind. Already aware of what he would have painted upon the wall. The black wolf, a red dragon, the light blue background. It all became clear as she mixed the paint. She could feel the sharp angles of his hand against hers as she painted the wall, created the patterns and shadows as she moved. She was nowhere as fast as Solas with the brush, nor as steady in hand. This was her last connection to him, and she had to finish what he started. Not aware of what she painted, nor of how her hand moved, only that the spirit of her past lover seemed to fill the room as the smell of oil and paint filled the air.
She didn’t eat, nor sleep. Simply painted. Nothing broke her concentration until the last drop of paint was applied to the fresco. Only then did she hear Leliana calling her name, “Inquisitor! It’s time to leave, the horses are saddled.”
The brush and palette clacked to Solas’ desk, and Mathelina looked up at what she had created in the reverie of paint and the past. A dragon of deep reds, a mirror that glowed in blue and framed in silver. A wolf, massive and painted black. The eyes, those gave her pause. She had not remembered stirring the colour, nor painting them on. Yet the wolf had six, red eyes upon its face. “Fen’harel.” she whispered, having once seen a similar sketch in her Keeper’s book. She reached out to touch the fresco. Then Leliana called her name again, and Mathelina was being dragged away to the horses. A mystery of her own hand left upon the wall. “Solas. What were you trying to say?”