Solas had well and truly fucked up. That was her first thought waking up in the dungeon of Haven’s chantry for the second time in her life. The shackles on her wrist a familiar weight. Cassandra’s footsteps in the rough stomp she had when she was upset. Leliana’s controlled steps. She'd done this song and dance. She knew of Corypheus and Fen'harel. She could feel the gap in her memory where the fear demon stole her memory and she knew what it took.
She steeled herself at Cassandra's rage. “I don’t know what happened.”
“Don’t lie to me. What do you know elf!?”
“Ellana.” She snapped. “My name is Ellana.” Cassandra glared. “I remember running. There was a wolf and a woman...”
“Woman?” Leliana prodded.
“Something happened. I don’t know what. A flash of light, reaching out then…”
“Then?!” Cassandra prompted.
“Then nothing. I woke up here. There are parts missing. parts I don't remember.” She admitted.
Leliana frowned. “Who was this woman?”
“She...” Ellana wriggled in her shackles. “I don’t know.” Which woman was she talking about again. The Qunari or the divine.
“What happened to the divine?!” Cassandra snapped.
Ellana held her gaze. “That's what's missing.” She sighed. “I'm not going to guess at what’s missing. I genuinely don't remember. Just that I was running. What did happen?” She knew logically. She was back at the start of the breach. But she needed to hear it. She needed to hear that Solas had sent her back in time.
“It would be easiest to show you.” Cassandra conceded.
Seeing the breach again felt viceral. For five years she’d looked up and seen nothing. But seeing it again; Feeling it through the mark. She could feel the fade crying. She could feel each spirit corrupt as they passed through it into a world of fear.
It was force of habit. Solas had once told her once her magic was empathetic. A subtle thing she hadn't noticed; Calming a room when she entered, feeling the emotions of a conversation more than reading it, willing an arrow to never miss. She wasn’t good at most magic or particularly knowledgeable of it. Solas had only noticed it by chance. Regardless her training to listen had paid off. It was horrid.
She tuned out Cassandra for the most part falling into the routine of fighting demons again. Muscle memory kicking in. Or was it the other way around. Gods know she hadn't fought any demons until the anchor. She’d hold back for a bit until her younger selves body was used to it.
She resisted the urge to roll her eyes when Cassandra demanded she disarm. She didn’t need a bow to be dangerous. She never had. She nodded instead waiting for Cassandra to correct herself.
“I should remember you came willingly.” Cassandra conceded.
Ellana glanced at the sky. “The breach… I don’t know if this will mean anything to you Seeker. But I truly did want Divine Justinia’s peace. I don't know if it would have happened but I hoped like everyone else.” She pushed forward.
Cassandra lagged behind a few steps as she continued. “That… That is difficult to believe but I want to. We all hoped to some extent but did anyone truly believe peace could happen.”
“You did. I admire that to be honest.” She could feel Cassandra's skepticism. “Your faith. You believe in things I’ll never been able to.”
“You dont believe in the maker.” Cassandra stated unsurprised for the wrong reasons.
“I believe in most of the ideals in the chant. But even my own gods…” She trailed off. “Once I believed in them.” She lodged two arrows into a pair of shades.
She stalked up the familiar path to the breach. Cassandra used to question her disappearances from Haven in the early days. Walking up to the breach and studying it had been a habit. Part in mourning lost memories, part in mourning the dead. The Dalish planted trees for the dead; A ritual to make life through death, to plant something to last. She’d planted countless trees down the hillside. But it never seemed enough. It never would she suspected.
“What changed?” Cassandra asked.
She hummed looking over. “Sorry?”
“You said you you used to believe in your gods.” Her hand was resting on the hilt of her sword. Her eyes watching for stray demons. “What changed?”
“Oh.” Ellana winced at the question. “I learned who they were. What they did… Should I have faith? Could I?” She hesitated running her fingers down the string of her bow. “At the end of the day I know who I am. I know what I stand for. It hasn’t been for the will of a god in a long time.”
A silence stretched between them as they continued broken only by fighting. She mulled over her words. She hadn't truly admitted her lack of faith before being sent back. Hadn't announced it to anyone. Hadn't confided in anyone either. Speaking to Cassandra had been a relief if she admitted it. They hadn't been friends before. Thinking back she hadn't been friends with anyone in the inquisition. Even in her own clan if she pushed further back. She’d been the stoic leader people expected of her. Cole had been the closest to a friend but only because he knew her in a way that only a spirit could. She kept people at arms length, refused to let them get close. She could face down a thousand demons but at the end of the day what she feared more was letting people see her. She could work on that. She could let herself be more open with the inquisition.
Seeing Solas and Varric fighting cemented it in her mind. Things we going to be different. She was going to change everything stop Solas from pulling down the veil. Convince him of a better way. But gods... Did he really think he was being subtle?
Seriously, a wolf jaw around his neck. The way his magic echoed; Ancient and solid. He’d taught her how to feel it too. Gods she felt silly. Then he was grabbing her arm again and she felt herself stitching a rift shut like she had a hundred times before.
“You knew.” She whispered before she thought better of it. Would letting him know that she knew backfire. Probably.
Solas blinked tilting his head. “I had a hypothesis yes.”
She was grateful for Varric’s interruption this time. A break to think things through before she spoke. She didn't. But she was grateful it was an option nonetheless. “Has this happened before?”
Varric blanched at the thought. “Maker, I hope not.” Solas looked confused.
She blinked letting her own words sink in. “Oh. Oh gods no. That’s not what I meant.” She bit her lip sorting the words she meant in the right order. “I meant your hypothesis! Not having one. Or having the same one.” She cringed. “The words are all wrong.” she took a breath and started over. “I meant to ask if something similar had happened before. If we could close the breach without the thing that created it.” She took a breath to calm herself. Why had they made her inquisitor again? She wasn't good with people. She was always saying too much and too little.
Solas’ lips twitched up. “I’ve never seen anything as large as the breach but it is hardly the first time the veil has been torn open. The magic that created it however, is unlike any I’ve seen.” She bit her lip. “Seeker you should know your prisoner is no mage.” She bit harder. “Frankly I find it hard to believe any mage capable of creating the breach.”
She locked her eyes on Bianca as if sharing a secret with the crossbow. You understand right Bianca. You get that I a wreak of a person should never have been in charge. Gods she could barely form a sentence half the time.
In the time it took for varric to invite himself along she’d had a whole conversation with Bianca. It was concerning but not out of character. She’d allow it for a day. This day specifically.
“I’m sure Cassandra will appreciate Bianca’s company Varric. If not yours.” She mused. Solas snorted. Wait had Varric said the crossbow’s name yet? Gods why wasn’t she listening.
“Well Bianca is prettier than I am.” Varric whistled.
“The crossbow is far quieter than its owner thats for sure.” Cassandra rolled her eyes.
Varric feigned offense. “I’m hurt Seeker!”
She tuned them out content to fall into herself like she used too. She’d destroyed the trees she’d planted when Corypheus forced her hand. Trebuchets, honestly. An avalanche hadn't been her best idea.
She lingered on the lake watching the breach. She should move. She should step away from the aftermath of battle.
“You are Dalish are you not. Yet so far from your clan.” Solas’ tone was deceptively neutral breaking her out of her strange moment.
She scowled. He was back to this of course. She hadn't answered the first time. But she would have had the same answer six years ago. She hadn't been Dalish in a long time. She’d lost her way with them somewhere. It was why keeper Deshanna had sent her away to the conclave. She still hadn't found a reason to go back.
“Bold of you to assume I’m Dalish.” She deadpanned staring him dead in the eye. Varric snorted.
“You’re not Dalish? Yet you wear their markings.” Solas prodded.
“There are a lot of things that were true once that aren’t anymore.” she mused. “I was Dalish.”
He nodded. “That is a fair point.”
She willed herself up the steps on Cassandra’s prodding. Varric had continued questioning her about the breach; If she’d created it. In fairness he hadn't been there for Cassandra’s interrogation.
“No.” She thumbed the mark. She could feel Cassandra watching her daring her to contradict her assumptions. “Life has value. This, the breach…” She took a step forward. “No one deserves this. Justinia’s peace deserved a chance.”
“That’s the second time you’ve said that.” Cassandra drawled.
She smiled letting herself continue towards the temple. “Is it so hard to believe I mean it?”
“All things considered. Yes.”
“Then what remains is for me to prove it.”
The trip to the temple was the same as ever albeit filled with demons and open rifts. The mountain path familiar. The walk up to the temple remains as daunting as it always was. The weight of the breach just as heavy if not more so. Years from now would it ever fade. Would it alway remain echoing in the sky as it had before, the memory blending with reality.
Cassandra was speaking and Leliana but she kept walking. There was a path she used to use away from the song of the red lyrium. She whispered the rite of the dead under her breath gripping the railing. It hadn't been her fault. She knew that. But she was responsible for every dead name. She was responsible for every mage, every templar, every person that had died here when she’d failed to stop Fen’harels focai from tearing through her arm. Cassandra had raised her voice but it sounded distant. She needed to finish the rites.
Solas gripped her shoulder. She flinched. “Dalen, there will be time to mourn later.” His voice was softer than she was expecting. She didn’t have the right words to explain to Cassandra but...
“ I lived Solas. ” She whispered. Their language had always felt heavy but the words weren’t the same in another. He’d know what she meant. He’d understand the weight.
He knew. “ And so we endure. ”
She nodded. “ Until the end. ” She took the first step towards the breach. There’d be time later.
The divines voice rang out first. It was a familiar panic that made Varric crash into her with a curse. It was her fault for stopping so suddenly. Her own voice had followed when she continued followed by Cassandra's disbelief and demands. Solas had interfered offering an explanation.
Stabilizing the breach had taken longer the first time. She’d had no idea what she was doing. She knew now. Shed closed hundreds of rifts. She’d closed the breach itself. The rift collapsed in on itself pulling itself closed and she fell.