1. Can you feel this
[Post-tresspasser, Tw: mentions of suicide]
It took until the veil fell for Ena’vun to truly appreciate just how poisonous Solas’ self-loathing and guilt had been. He was supposed to walk the Din’an Shiral, the walk of death; suicide. From that moment he walked away in the eluvian, having confessed as much, she had not expected to ever see him again, but fate was a tricky mistress, and had seen him survive. Weak as a newborn pup, hidden away in one of his most ancient temples, protected by his fiercest followers, he slept. She stumbled across him one day, meandering through the eluvians, as the awoken elvhen rebuilt their world. She had taken a wrong turn somewhere, and the eluvian had shimmered a strange green as she stepped through. The guard on the other side of the mirror had been confused to see her, but before he could stop her from going anywhere, she had already turned the corner, and was out of sight. She followed the path for almost twenty minutes, winding up the mountainside, reminiscent of the route to Skyhold. The path lead to a temple, guarded by the large stone wolves she had grown to find bittersweet. It was not immediately obvious whose temple this was, or whether it was still in use in such a fashion. She took a step through the door, into what appeared to be a petitioning chamber, if her memory of the temple of Mythal was anything to go by.
She heard murmurs of how no one was to be seen, and she was not supposed to be there, some elves scampering off to inform whoever the big boss was that someone unwanted had arrived. She continued on, walking up the stairs, towards what was likely to be the inner sanctum. A friend had once told her that as long as you looked like you belonged, people would not ask questions. Evidently whatever was happening here, however, was a small operation, all knowledgeable folk accounted for and known by name and sight, she was unlikely to be able to talk her way through. The elves guarding the door to the next chamber narrowed their eyes at her with suspicion as she approached, almost falling over with shock when the gentle caress of her hand over the mosaics activated the magic, and she was able to walk through to the room. A room no one had entered for years.
Ena’vun could feel the latent magic in the next room, the inner sanctum most likely, despite it being entirely devoid of people. There were no mosaics in this room, just frescos, not dissimilar to those Solas had painted at Skyhold, or the ones they had found during the exalted council. She dared to hope. A tall, robed figure appeared at the opposite end of the room, striding towards her with their hands clasped behind their back. She knew that posture, those shoulders, those ears. He was alive.
He looked tired, the freckles on his nose more pronounced against deathly pale skin, his shoulders sagged with the weight of his decisions, his eyes devoid of any of the sharpness that she knew so well. The face of a man who had planned to die, and yet did not.
She did not look much better, having expected to die with the fall of the veil, or in one of the wars that followed. The veil had ceased to exist with a shudder, a strong breeze whipped across Thedas, stripping the magical construct from existence. The elvhen had risen, returning to Arlathan to rebuild their city, choosing to ignore humans at first. Gradually, the cities within the Brecillian Forest, the Tirashan, and the Emerald Graves were rebuilt from the ruins, elves flocking to them. Trade was established, and provided Tevinter and Orlais remained politically sensible, they could peacefully co-exist. It had been particularly interesting to watch Tevinter overturn a millennium of enslavement to prevent a war on two fronts. There was no way they could win against both the Qun and the Elvhen, and it was possible that with the ancients help, they could drive the Qunari back.
She had spent a good few years fighting with the chargers as they dealt with some of the demons that had been spawned by the falling of the veil, but once the magicks had stabilised she had been left with little to do. Her friends were dispersed, her clan, and family dead, she had no where to go. Her primary experience of ancient elves were Abelas, who deemed her barely sentient, and Solas, who had compared her to a tranquil, so she left them well alone, choosing instead to settle on the outskirts of the Brecillian Forest, in a small village. No one recognised her, or expected anything more from her than she could give.
Ena’vun stayed perfectly still, waiting for him to come to her, afraid that if she should go any further he may bolt. As he approached, it became evident how fragile he was, a sight she found deeply unnerving. He walked over to her slowly, as if each step pained him, the echo of his footsteps the only sound.
“You found me.” He said tonelessly, stopping a couple of feet in front of her, “What will you do with me, I wonder?”
“Feed you a decent meal,” Ena’vun blurted out, before she could censor herself. A ghost of a smile crossed his face, before it settled back to that irritating neutral that she hated so much. “When was the last time you ate? You slept?” She asked softly, more to herself than to him, stepping forward and engulfing him in an embrace before he had time to turn away. He stood stiff in her arms, still fighting the internal war about whether he should be with her. She buried her nose in his neck, and inhaled deeply, before letting him go. Tears in her eyes, she managed a small wave, her goodbye. His face still blank, she turned on her heel, and made her way to the door,
“Wait.” The hoarse whisper met her ears, and the hand that was reaching for the doorknob fell limply back to her side.
When nothing followed, no more words, or the hand on her hip she so desperately wished for, she turned around, a biting retort dying on her tongue at the sight of him sat on the floor, head in his hands, shaking violently. She watched him grapple with his invisible demons, unable to understand the rapid stream of babbled Elvhen he was muttering under his breath. She sat down next to him, and rested her head on his shoulder, a quiet comfort.
“You would be better off without me.” He said quietly, “The world would have been better off without me,”
The belief he had in those words broke her heart. Self-hatred was a powerful poison, she knew just how so from first hand experience, and without him, and her friends within the inquisition, she would not be here now. They sat in silence for a while, Solas lost in thought, while Ena’vun ran a hand up and down his back in what she hoped was a soothing manner. Eventually, his head dropped onto hers, and the steady sound of his breathing told her he was asleep. She let him rest until she was numb from having sat for so long, and needed to move. She tried to be as careful as possible, moving him so she could stand and wake her legs up, but he stirred at the first movement. He yawned widely, pulling himself to his feet, needing to grab on to her to stop himself from falling over. She wrapped her arm around his waist, steadying him, as he started to walk towards the back of the chamber.
They moved slowly through the next two rooms, Ena’vun keeping one eye on Solas, and the other marvelling at her surroundings. It was beautiful, but not as ostentatious as some of the other temples she’d seen, more for living than for worship. She wondered if this was where he led his first rebellion from, before going to Skyhold to raise the veil; thousands of people could be housed here without it being seen as cosy. They finally made it to what she assumed to be his suite of rooms, where he sighed, let go of her, and disappeared off into one of the side rooms. It was sparsely decorated, the odd fresco, a few plants, and a desk buried under a small mountain of paperwork, but there was nothing homely about it. She wondered when the last time he’d had a proper home was, and whether he had considered the inquisition home for a while. She was brought out of her musing by Solas poking his head out of the door he had just gone through, looking irritable. He indicated for her to follow, as if it had been obvious that she should have done.
The room was dark, curtains pulled, with a dim veilfire orb hovering over a large looking bed.
“I know it is presumptuous, but-” He finished lamely, gesturing at the bed.
Ena’vun rolled her eyes, before going to lie down atop the covers, fully clothed. He climbed in next to her, just the top of his bald head visible amongst the vast amounts of fabric, and almost instantly fell asleep. She envied that about him, he seemed to be able to sleep anywhere, and without difficulty, whereas it took her at least two hours and a blood sacrifice to drift off. She stroked the top of his head absent-mindedly, wondering if he needed her there to sleep. Once he had revealed his true identity, it had not taken her long to put the missing pieces into the jigsaw- things like the reason behind his utterly bizarre diet. He appeared to eat infrequently, and mostly sweet things, which on the face of it was simply odd, but coupled with the myth that the ancient elves subsisted on the energy of the Fade, made more sense. If he wasn’t sleeping, then he would not be eating, so to speak, which would explain his sickly appearance. She fell asleep herself not long after, the warmth of the room, and smell of the furs lulling her to the Fade.
Solas was surprised to see her, he had not expected her to stay, let alone sleep. He was Dreaming of their first Fade encounter in her memory of Haven all those years ago.
“Does Fade-tongue still not count?” She asked lightly, a twinkle in her eyes.
He laughed despite himself, remembering the subsequent conversation to this encounter. She held out a hand, and he took it, lacing their fingers together as they walked around the snowy landscape of yesteryear. They talked little, just enjoying the others company for a while, before she stopped, and placed a hand on his face, forcing him to look at her. Here he looked as he ever did, lively eyes, twitchy, vigilant ears, pale, but not unhealthy skin. So far removed from the real world.
“No more poison.” She said softly, stroking his cheekbone with her thumb.
He leant into her hand, shutting his eyes as he mulled over her words. He was responsible for so many deaths, those before the veil, those caused by the veil, those in the interim years, and in the second rebellion. The healer has the bloodiest hands, but what he had done was not healing, not worthy of healing. He had precious little in the world for himself, it was as it had always been, he was ostracised by friend and foe alike, until one or other had need of him. He was tired of fighting, tired of justifying himself, tired of being.
“I am weary,” He said, his words weighty
“Then rest.” She replied simply. “Retire, we’ll get a dog,”
He laughed again, his smile reaching his eyes this time, and retorted that he was all the dog they’d ever need. She chuckled lightly, retirement would suit them both just fine.