Slender hands woke him, gripping and pulling at his sweater with such intensity he feared they might go in search of flesh next.
She is still asleep of course, crystal blue eyes shut tightly, a frown distorting her delicate features, and sweat beading on her temple despite the chill in the air. A nightmare.
Blunt nails scrape along his shoulder blades through the cloth of his tunic, but Solas pays no mind to them as he ever so gently touches the pads of his thumbs to her eyelids, distorting whatever she's seeing into a pleasant afternoon walk along the ramparts.
Aurora’s breathing slows and her grip on him weakens until her arms are simply draped around him, not tense or thrashing as they were before. The lines on her face smooth out, no longer warping the white vines of her vallaslin.
Solas reaches down and pulls the blankets and furs back up around her, encompassing her lithe body with light movements so as not to disturb her rest.
In an effort to be comfortable, Aurora slides toward him and presses her head against his chest above his heart, sighing a little in relaxation and relief.
He is her safe place and she is his. He holds her steady while she keeps him grounded in the present. He shares with her his knowledge and affection where she chases away his melancholy moods and brings a smile to his face in even the darkest of times.
If only he could truly have her. If only he could give up his crusade and stay by her side. Perhaps he'd marry her, have children with her, and let go of his immortality to grow old with her. But that is not what he set out to do.
He set out to free his people. He's the only one who can.
“I was dreaming,” Aurora says, breaking him out of his thoughts and drawing his attention back to her.
“I know, vhenan,” Solas whispers, craning his head to brush his lips over her brow. “Do you want to talk about it?”
She shakes her head at first, but the shaking slowly turns to a nod and she sighs, sniffling. “You remember what I told you about the future I saw in Redcliffe?”
He nods, brushing damp hair back from his face.
“I never told you about… the lyrium. You and Cassandra and Varric… all of you… locked away and infected. Then… There were the demons… You three volunteered to die for Dorian and I as we tried to get back… the demons threw you at my feet… you were so broken… you told me to to run. And I did.” She sniffles again, hot tears falling from his eyes and onto his hand. “I've dreamt of it every night since… and each time, it gets worse…”
Solas clears his throat a little, her account nearly choking him. He brings his arm around her waist and pulls her tight to him, so close he can feel her heart beating against his own.
“I am here, ma vhenan,” he whispers softly into her ear. “I am whole and healthy and I will never leave you.”
'Liar', his subconscious tells him, spitting the word like a snake spits venom.
She lets out a slow breath, the hot air sweeping across his neck, her tears drying on her cheeks.
After a moment, Aurora presses her lips to his pulse point, sending a shiver skipping down his spine and dropping off into the low pit of his stomach, a warm liquid feeling pooling there and fluttering like a dying ember.
She trails soft kisses up his throat, pausing to pay special attentions to his jawline, then continues only to stop at the space below his ear.
By now, the warmth low in his pelvis has turned into a raging fire, threatening to take the rest of Solas’ body with it.
“Show me the life in you, ma vhenan,” she whispers almost desperately, her body fitted against his like a puzzle piece.
With an even more desperate groan, Solas covers her form with his and shows her what it truly means to him to be alive.
6 months after Corypheus’ defeat…
Solas turns to see one of his many scouts standing before him, eyes and head angled down out of respect and fear.
He hates it. He hates the way they cower before him. He hates the way they bow and grovel. It wasn't meant to be this way. He's not a god. He never wanted or deserved to be. He only wanted… To help.
“You wanted a report on the Inquisition?”
“Yes,” Solas huffs. “Go on.”
The scout takes a slip of parchment from the folds of his cloak and smooths it out, clearing his throat to begin reading. “As of three weeks ago, Inquisition forces have dwindled by a few hundred but remain strong at Skyhold. Camps on the Storm Coast, the Exalted Plains, and in Emprise Du Lion have begun dismantling and returning to the stronghold as there is no need to oversee those areas anymore. Inquisitor Lavellan held a feast for Divine Victoria where she publicly announced her pregnancy. Seeker Pentaghast has begun working to rebuild the Seekers of Truth and will be mounting a one month expedition to the Nevarran Wilds soon. Varric Tethras is also returning to Kirkwall to fund relief efforts for its citizens.”
Solas, who was picking at loose clumps of fur in his pelt, freezes in his place, eyes widening slightly.
“I must have misheard you,” he says, the air in his lungs escaping all too quickly. “Did you say… ‘pregnancy'?
The scout swallows nervously, eyes scanning the parchment to see if he has made an error. After a moment, he shakes his head.
“Y-Yes, my lord,” the scout stammers, hands shaking and flexings, nearly crumpling the parchment in his hand. “The runner who handed off the report said it is rumored she is nearing the end. She will birth the child soon.”
“Did Auror--” He stops himself from saying her name. It brings back too much. Even the meaning, dawn, makes his chest ache and his eyes water. “Does anyone know who fathered the child?”
“No, sir. There have been… Speculations… but no official confirmation.”
“Speculations?” Solas squints, hands balling into fists behind his back. “What do they say? Do the insult her?”
The scout quickly shakes his head. “Oh, no, no. Some suspect that you…” His eyes widen though they stay low and he takes in a large, shaking breath. “...are the father, my lord.”
In his chest, Solas’ heart squeezes painfully with sorrow, threatening to cause an outburst of emotion that none of his men can see. They can't see weakness in him. They can't lose faith.
“That…” Breathe, Solas, Breathe. “Will be all. You're dismissed, scout.”
“Thank you, sir.” The scout bows and scurries away.
Once the man is out of sight, Solas lets loose an unholy scream, slamming his fist into a nearby pillar and cracking like it was merely plaster.
He HAD a reason to stay behind. He HAD a reason to cancel his crusade and focus on his heart. He had… A reason… had a reason… HAS a reason.
Solas leans his forehead against the pillar, tears cutting streaks down his cheeks. “Vhenan,” he whispers, voice shaking and sorrowful. “I'm sorry… I'm so sorry…”
After a few calming moments, he stands up and runs a hand over his face, sighing heavily. Whatever is he going to do?
'Go to her.' A voice echoes in his mind. Spontaneity.
Spirits. Pressing against the veil, sensing his distress.
'But will she have him back?' Caution asks.
'She will,' Hope says, voice light and airy. 'She wants him back.'
Solas closes his eyes and clenches his fists. Yes… Yes, he will go to her. He will explain everything. If she wants him after hearing such truths… he will stay.
Taking a deep breath, he walks confidently across the room and steps through an eluvian, navigating his way back to the one in Skyhold itself.
It is night when he reaches the ancient ruin, the dim glow of the stars above him just barely lighting his way through the quiet gardens and courtyards.
It's the quiet that bothers at him as he makes his way up the steps towards the great hall. Even during the slow evening hours, Skyhold bustled when he still walked the earth here. Soldiers who had returned from tours in the field, scouts who needed a break from their endless errands, and others who provided support and services for the Inquisition always raised a ruckus no matter what the time of day. Dances, feasts, contests, and all manner of amusing pastimes took place. Now, the courtyard is silent, eerily so.
He comes to the top of the steps and runs right into the back end of a crowd of people, all squeezed into the great hall like stuffing into a turkey. They stand silently, all eyes and ears fixed on Aurora’s bedroom door at the other end of the room.
How is he going to make it through them all?
Solas slowly pulls his hood up, making sure his face is hidden, then taps one of the onlookers on the shoulder.
“What's going on?” He asks, whispering so as not to disturb the deafening silence.
The man doesn't even turn to look at him when he answers. “The Inquisitor felt pains this morning. She's been preparing to give birth all day.”
Setting his jaw and making himself as small as possible, Solas begins to slip through the crevices between bystanders, creeping his way to the front of the hall.
When he is only a couple feet away, Cassandra comes through the door of Aurora’s chambers, her mouth set in a hard, agitated line. “The Inquisitor has asked that you all retire to bed,” she says, yelling without even trying. “The child will not come for hours more.”
No one says a word, but Solas can feel disappointment leak into the air as the onlookers start to disband.
Cassandra heads back through the door, starting to shut it behind her, so Solas fade-steps as quickly as he can to slip through before she does.
Thankfully, the Seeker doesn't notice his entrance and she continues to walk around the catwalk, through the second door, and up the steps to Aurora's bedroom. Solas follows quietly behind, stopping midway up the stairs to look up into the room.
“Thank you,” Aurora says, not without weakness, when Cassandra comes into the room. “I feared they would be up all night. No need for them to miserable tomorrow.”
“Anything for you, Inquisitor,” the seeker responds fondly, sitting on the edge of Aurora's bed. “You need a good night's rest as well after all you've accomplished today.”
“I will present her in the morning. They deserve to see her.”
Dorian occupies the other side of the bed and Cole, ever watchful, balances easily on the footboard.
Aurora herself leans against a mountain of pillows, fallen locks of hair plastered to her face with sweat and a squirming bundle in her arms. The child. His child. THEIR child.
Even beset with exhaustion, the elven Inquisitor is more beautiful than the woman he committed to memory months ago. Her hair noticeably longer, though intricately braided back from her face, and it hands over her shoulder in a dark mahogany waterfall. The moon outside does nothing but compliment her delicate features as it shines upon her face, now clear of the white vines of Mythal’s vallaslin. If he could stand in this exact spot and gaze upon her forever, he would. But, he can't. He has to move.
Cautiously, he makes his way up the steps, tiptoeing silently until even he is full view atop the flight.
Dorian sees him first, making a dash for his staff. Cassandra doesn't even bother to look, standing and grabbing her sword from its scabbard where it leaned against the wall, attributing Dorian”s sudden alarm to an intruder. Cole does not move and does not look, content where he is.
“Sorrow, cold and freezing,” he says in a hushed, hurried tone. “Pride and joy and anguish all mixing like a great melting pot of nothing and everything. This child. My child. Our child. Perfect.”
Cassandra stands between him and his heart and the newborn baby, the grim and hateful look on her face he knew so well. “What are you doing here, apostate?” She hisses, body drawn tight into a defensive position.
“Let him through, Cassandra,” Aurora says lightly, shifting a little to sit straughter up.
“But, Inquisitor, he--”
The Seeker makes a noise that sounds like no less than disgust and steps away from the bed. Solas steps forward cautiously and kneels down before his heart and child, before all he could ever want and all he could never have deserved.
“Hello, Solas,” Aurora says, weariness set in her face, but her eyes awake and poised on him.
“Vhenan… Aurora…” He whispers, unshed tears welling up to the rims of his eyes. “Forgive me… Ir abelas… Ir abelas…”
Gently, she reaches out and touches his gloved hand, the slender fingers that gripped his shoulders months ago, now seeking to entwine with his.
He removes his gauntlets hastily, desperate for contact without inhibitions. Her fingers slowly curl around his, squeezing softly.
“Solas…” Aurora whispers. “Why did you go?”
Suddenly and without pause, the whole story slips past the ancient’s lips. He confesses the whole truth before his heart and her treasured companions, telling her of his time as Fen’Harel, the God of Misfortune and Rebellion and how he brought down the veil to silence the other gods and save his people. He told of his time in the uthenera and how he allowed Corypheus to find and use his foci.
Aurora listened the whole time, her face constantly changing emotions and giving away her thoughts.
When he is done, her face softens and she gently pulls him up onto the bed with her, her hand coming to cup his cheek. “Why didn't you just tell me, hahren? I would've understood…”
“You're…” His eyes widen a little. “Not angry with me.”
Her face breaks into a tired smile. “Oh, I'm angry, Fen’Harel. Angrier than you could possibly imagine. But, I will save that fury for another day. Now…” she leans up and kisses him, barely brushing her lips against his.
Much like the first kiss they shared, when Aurora starts to pull away, he reels her back in and deepens their previous actions. The act earns him a satisfied groan, making him break into a smile.
The cooing of the child and the eyes of Dorian, Cassandra, and Cole draw them apart.
Tiny fingers emerge from the sea of blankets the child is wrapped in, little hands seeking purchase with whatever they can grab.
As be lends the child his finger to hold, Solas does the math in his head. “Aurora, you were with child in--”
“Crestwood? Yes… I was…” A note of sadness laces her voice.
“Oh, Vhenan…” He sits, free hand coming to cup his heart's face. “I will never leave again…”
Another weary smile. “I'll hunt you to the ends of Thedas, the world, the Fade, and everything beyond if you do.”