“Look!” The Inquisitor shouted over the crashing waves, pointing down at the rocky shore, “Over there!”
Their mission had brought them here, to the Storm Coast, where they found a massive stronghold of Red Templars, and, at the end of it, surprisingly, they found a series of boats. They approached them, spreading out and examining them. There were three of them, small rowboats just lined up against the shore.
“I wonder why they’re here,” Solas mused eying them slowly, “They can’t be here for long travel, certainly.”
“Look at that,” Cassandra said, pointing at one of them, “The Templar symbol.”
Varric pointed across the water, to a shape hidden behind the low-hanging fog, “Maybe it’s to head to that island? I can’t see anywhere else they’d want to go,” he continued, grumbling, “Not that I’d want to go anywhere by boat. Not that anyone asked.”
Ellana grinned at the dwarf, “Well, we should explore it, right? That’s what we’re here for, isn’t it?”
“I think we’re here to close that thing in the sky, Sparky,” Varric pointed out with a raised eyebrow.
The mage laughed, “And we will! But first - spooky island,” the Inquisitor smirked, “I, err… anyone know how to row?”
“Sparky, don’t your people live on ships?”
“Aravels,” she rolled her eyes, “Don’t you dare call them ‘landships’. You may not be human but you can still be a shemlen,” she warned playfully, eyes sparkling.
“By the very definition, I- you know what? I don’t care,” the dwarf replied, and followed it up with, “And no, I don’t. I also don’t fancy going in one of the boats at all, mind you.”
“I have not ever rowed a boat,” the other mage replied, “But I am sure it will not be too difficult.”
Famous last words.
“Solas!” Ellana yelled, struggling to keep her head above the rough waves. Her head ducked under the water for a moment, resurfacing an agonisngly long time later, coughing and spluttering icy water from her lungs, flailing her arms.
She’d barely swum before, only paddled, really, in the lake they visited every so often. It was completely different now. The current was crashing into her from all sides, knocking her body from every angle. She was barely keeping afloat, she was failing, she was drowning, she was-
Suddenly there were strong arms wrapped around her, keeping her above water. She hadn’t the oxygen to thank them, whoever they were, for saving her. She hadn’t the oxygen to stay awake, even. Soon everything was fading, going black, and distantly, she heard her name.
When she came to, she was shivering, her whole body wrapped with shudders. She sat up fast, her head spinning with the speed of it, disoriented as she was. Where was she? Where were the others? What happen-?
Then she remembered.
The waves got choppier and more ferocious the closer to the island they got. She remembered shouting to the other boat to brace just as one massive wave lurched up and crashed down on them, capsizing their boat in an instant. The was plunged into the cold, murky depths, and someone… someone saved her. Who…?
A figure came out of the treeline, silhouetted, and carrying a large armful of large leaves and twigs. Their own clothes were dripping onto the rock beneath them, shoulders trembling just as much, but they were conscious, walking and trying to get some warmth back into their bones.
“How are you feeling?” Solas asked, dropping the bracken in front of her, kneeling down gently beside her with a soft smile.
Ellana smiled back, “I-I’m c-cold,” she stammered, her teeth clashing against each other so hard she thought they might crack.
“I know,” he said, turning back to the fire, “You need to get out of those clothes,” he added, focusing on arranging the twigs into a more campfire-like shape.
“I- excuse m-me?”
“Your clothes: they’re what are making you cold. These are the biggest leaves I could find,” he said, passing her a couple of massive leaves, big enough to cover a fair bit of her, “You should use them as a blanket, of sorts. I would have taken your clothes off before, but I thought that may have been… indecent.”
Ellana took the leaves gratefully, thankful that she wasn’t going have to sit their completely nude, but she still wasn’t convinced, “But you’ve still got your clothes on,” she said, almost petulantly.”
Solas chuckled softly, “It would have been just as indecent for you to wake up with no clothes on as it would be for you to wake up and see me with no clothes on,” he cast a smirk over his shoulder, “I’ll get rid of them once this fire is started. Don’t worry,” Ellana swore she just saw him wink, “I have my own leaves.”
Ellana was still unsure, but Solas seemed so at ease with it that she didn’t want to complain just to be awkward. Plus her clothes really were sodden with freezing cold water that she could feel reach her insides. Perhaps it was for the best. “O-okay then…”
Solas turned his back to her again, giving her some privacy. She still turned away, hiding as much as she hated to admit it. Solas had been ever the gentleman, but he was always so… she didn’t know how to describe it. He always saw more than he was shown. It was intriguing. And terrifying.
The elf summoned a spark in his hand, lowering it to the flammable leaves at the base of the fire. He gently blew on the embers that formed, cultivating it until there was a nice, steady flame burning on the rock. Enough to provide some light in the rapidly darkening sky, and, if they were lucky, some warmth.
“W-where are the others?” Ellana said, sitting back down, wrapping the leaves around herself as best she could. She snuggled closer to the newly-born flames with eagerness, hoping for that heat to reach her soon.
The other mage stood, walked a little ways away from the fire with his own leaves, and began to disrobe. Ellana blushed and looked away, “I have not seen them,” he called, “But I do not suspect they were as affected by the wave as we were, they were a fair distance away from them. Perhaps they also landed here.”
“Then we should go look for them! What if they’re-”
“In any case,” Solas said, “We wouldn’t be able to find them until dawn anyway. The dwarf and the Seeker are both careful people. It would not do to doubt them now.”
Ellana sighed, eyes pointedly down-turned as the other elf returned to the fire, one large leaf wrapped around his waist. “I suppose you’re r-right. You always are, in the en-nd.”
Solas laughed quietly, “I was not right about rowing being easy.”
“That is tr-true…” she replied, smile forming on her blue lips, “Creators, I’m c-cold,” she said under her breath, wrapping her knees close to herself and huddling closer to the fire.
Solas looked at her for a second. She looked so fragile. This small creature glowing in the warm light of the fire, the markings she didn’t understand glowing softly in time with the flames. She looked small. It tugged at strings in the old elf’s heart he didn’t know he still had.
“Allow me,” he said without further delay, coming to sit next to her by the fire, “Do you mind if I…?” he motioned with his arms and she nodded furiously, snuggling into his embrace with vigour. He paused for a moment, don’t get too close, he warned himself, before settling his arms around her, rubbing soft, warming circles into her bare back.
His skin was cold at first, but as she sank into his arms the warmth of his body seeped out. Ellana sighed contentedly, appreciating the warmth Solas rubbed onto her back. They stayed like that for a while, no words spoken between them. Just comfortable silence as they warmed and dried by the fire, illuminated by its soft, warm glow.
The Inquisitor started to get more and more comfortable, failing to stifle a yawn against his chest. The elf chuckled back. “Are you tired? We should probably get some rest,” Solas suggested, and Ellana leant away to stretch and yawn again, arms high in the air.
“We should probably stay close together, though, right?” Ellana said, almost too eagerly, but Solas didn’t comment on it. Anything to be closer to that damn elf and his warmth, and there was something else about it too, something nice. Ellana enjoyed being close to him.
Solas laid back against the now warm stone, settling in against the hard floor, before opening his arms again for her. She huddled in again, desperate for the warmth and safety she got between this arms.
“I…” she started, voice muffled against his chest, tired eyes drooping shut, “Thank you.”
“It is no problem,” he said into her hair, pulling her closer. He liked it. He liked holding her, caring for her, making sure she was safe and warm and close.
He liked it. And he hated that fact.