Arwen stood on her balcony watching the sun rise after another night of dreaming of the life she wished she had. One where she was free in the woods. Where she was still with her love. Where her heart wasn’t broken. One month since she had last seen him sitting there in the rubble of where it all began. Two months since he had taken not only the markings from her face, but her heart completely from her chest. She was getting better, but knew that she would never be whole again. At least she had stopped the destructive path she had started with all that drinking. After what happened in the Frostback Basin, she had taken a good long look at how she was acting. It was not befitting of the leader of the Inquisition to be getting drunk every night. The others had kept her shielded as much as they could, but eventually it would be found out.
Of course who knew what would happen in the next few weeks. Lunia, Fenris and the children were to be here any day now, returning from the Anderfells. Lunia’s last letter said that they would stay for a week or two, then travel with Varric to Kirkwall. Of course then Lunia would turn around and head back to Fereldan, but they all wanted to travel together for a time. Dorian would be going with them or part of the trip, then continue on to Tevinter. Vivianne, Thom, Sera and Cassandra had already left. Each one following there hearts and here she sat. Thinking of her little pack that was all leaving. The thought mad her sad and not want to do any of the paperwork that was piling up on her desk. Josephine was going to give her that look again. She sighed loudly.
“The day just started and you are already sighing? Come on Twinkle Toes, is not all that bad,” said Varric as he finished coming up the stairs and stood beside her.
“Ah Varric, my dear friend, you are up very early!” Arwen said, turning to face him.
“Siren and the others just got here. I told them I’d come up and get you so we could all catch up and have breakfast together,” Varric explained as he jerked his thumb back the way he had came.
“Oh, it will be good to see Lunia again. The letters that we have been writing have just not been enough. I trust the journey from Weisshuat was good, since they are all here in one piece?” Arwen asked as they headed for the stairs.
“Seems like it,” the Kids are growing like weeds! They are almost as tall as me!”
“Says the dwarf,” Arwen snarked.
“Ha Ha Ha very funny. Come on, before they eat all the good stuff,” Varric huffed as they came to the door that lead to the promise of food and time with friends.
Lunia and Arwen were enjoying some tea on the balcony that Vivianne once claimed as her sole domain. They had dragged the chairs outside so they could watch all that was going on. Lunia’s feet propped up on the railing while Arwen sat with her legs hung over the arm of her chair. The sun was lazily making its way down the sky. The day was relaxing. After breakfast, which was spent talking about Lunia and Fenris’s trip to and from Weisshuat, they went to the garden and watched the children run around with the other kids that lived at Skyhold. There they discussed the Battle at the Temple of Scared Ashes. Lunch was served and Lunia went to catch up on some work with the ever patient Josephine, while Lunia bugged Dorian and Fenris went to talk to Iron Bull and Cullen. Now they could hear Bull playing with the children, shrieks of laughter wafting up to them that drowned out the conversation that Varric, Krem and Fenris were having.
“Arwen, you nor Varric ever mentioned in your letters, what happened to Solas. You said he went to the final battle with you, yet he is not here. I wanted to give him a set down for what happened in the Frostbacks,” Lunia growled a little.
“I guess Varric told you?” Arwen asked while she took a sip of her tea.
“Varric told me some in a letter. I got the rest from Dorian this afternoon.”
Arwen watched the sun and gently set her cup down, after swallowing the last of it, “he left.”
“What? When? I really thought he would have stuck around for a little while.”
“He left right after the battle. When we got back, all his stuff was gone and the last piece of the fresco was unveiled. I knew he had been working on it, but he had kept it covered up.”
“Just like that?”
“Just like that.” Arwen swung her legs over so she could stand up. She walked over to the edge of the balcony, holding herself tightly, “how did you do it?”
“Do what?” Lunia asked as she poured herself another cup of tea.
“When Fenris left? How did you make yourself go on?”
“Varric was kind enough not to tell the whole story. Did you know there was another child?” At the shake of Arwen’s head and wide eyes, Lunia got up and stood beside her. “I found out I was pregnant when I lost my mother. I was ready to give up on everything. The city, my friends, myself. I had first lost my father before the Blight began. Then my brother to an ogre before we made it to Kirkwall. Next my sister to the taint in the Deep Roads. Then Fenris left, but I still had mother. Then she was gone too. In my head, what was the point? Everybody I ever loved died or left. Yet for that baby, that one small piece of family, I picked myself up. I would live so that baby would live. Yet, I lost that baby too. The fight with the Arishok, I saved Kirkwall at the cost of my child. I hadn’t told Fenris, but he found out after the battle. He was angry and grieved. It brought us close somehow. He had to free himself before he could be with me though. Yet as we mourned our child, I found hope.” Lunia placed her hand on Arwen’s shoulder, then gently wrapped her arms around the elven woman for a hug. “You will find your hope. There is something in this world that will help your heart go on just a little farther. Then something else will come to help a little more.”
“Solas isn’t coming back. I know that, but everybody wants me to move on. They don’t understand.” Arwen said as felt Lunia stroke her hair. Here was somebody that knew. Somebody that it would finally click with.
“I know. They want you to be happy. I have seen it in their eyes. I have seen how Cullen looks at you. As if you are the only water hole in a desert, but you can’t. Anders would give me the same look. As a great woman once said, ‘take them by the hand as say, my time.’”
They stood there for a moment, a weight felt like it was lifting off of Arwen. She felt better than she had in weeks. “Thank you, for understanding.”
“I have been where you stand. The fate of the world on your shoulders and all that crap. It is a lot for any person to bear. You find something to help you shoulder them and then they are gone. Just so you know, you are not a lone wolf, there are people that are here to help you,” Lunia said as she eased back to look at her friend.
Arwen giggled a little. “Did you know that in the Dalish, we are born under certain constellations and those are the characteristics we are attributed too? I was born under Fenrir, the white wolf. Some of the elders in the clan would make a signs behind my back. Fenrir is seen as the sign of the Dread Wolf.” Arwen gave a small smile, “did you know that wolves mate for life?”
“I did. You do know that Fenris mean, ‘little wolf’.” Lunia chuckled, “I’m surrounded by a pack of wolves. Don’t worry, your little pack maybe spreading out, but they never truly leave you.”
“I just wish-”
“He is still here,” came a voice from the shadows, making both women whip around and pull out their daggers.
“Cole! Don’t scare us like… wait. What did you say?” Arwen asked as she slipped her daggers back into its sheaths. “He isn’t really here. You and Leliana looked for him. He can’t be found.”
“Maybe he means in our heart. The people we love never really leave us,” Lunia placed her daggers in their rightful place and got a certain look in her eye.
“’Skin like silk, cooling from the night air that enters through the balcony door. ‘Ar lath ma, vhenan’ she whispers into the pillow while dreams still hold her. My heart is so beautiful.’ Not a dream.”
“Cole we have talked about not …” Arwen started, but became stricken. “He said that…”
“It was both real and not. He is a dreamer and you have the mark. It makes everything more.”
“Cole, are you sure?” Arwen croaked out.
“Yes.” he whispered as he played with his fingers.
“Will somebody please tell me what is going on here?” Lunia demanded as she watch all the color leech from Arwen’s face.
It was just in the Fade, wasn’t it? It had felt real, but it was in the Fade. Those few night of stolen pleasure. So few and far between, were treasures to her. She remember every single one. All that happened in the waking world was kissing and heavy petting, right? They didn’t truly… did they?
“Lunia, Solas and I…” Arwen said, reaching for her hands, grasping them as if she was drowning. Then there came a voice from the library hallway, headed toward them. No, not yet, she needed to process this.
“Inquisitor, they said that you and Hawke were- Sweet Maker, are you alright?”
“Cullen, I…” she felt her vision dimming, and slender, strong arms grab her as the world faded.
Lunia held Arwen and moved her red hair from her face. This can’t be good, this can’t be good at all. “Cullen, I need to slip her down to Josephine’s room. Then go on to the war room.”
“Hawke I don’t-” Cullen said as he moved over and took the elf from her arms.
“I need you to do this Cullen. As soon as I figure out what is going on, I will tell you. But I have to make sure that she is ok first, alright?” Lunia ordered as, what she called, her Champion voice, came out of her mouth.
“Alright,” Cullen murmured as he headed back the way he came. He would go the long way around to avoid people seeing them.
“Cole, I need you to get Varric, Fenris, and Bull. Tell them to go to the war room and wait.”
“I thought that it would make her happy,” Cole whispered, sounding so confused.
Lunia placed a gently hand on his shoulder,”under normal circumstances, I would say yes. Yet, I don’t think she was expecting it. Go get the others,” Lunia told him gently.
Well, this was gonna be so much fun! Lunia thought as she headed over to Dorian’s alcove. She found him reading a book, but at the sight of her, he put it down.
“Ah my favorite Fereldan, come to bother me with some more gossip?”
“Ummm, something like that. You need to head to Josephine’s room. I’ll be there shortly.”
“Could you be any more cryptic?” Dorian muttered as he stood up.
“Oh I could be, but I don’t have the time at the moment to think up some better way to tell you. I gotta get Leliana, then I’ll meet you there.”
“So?” Lunia asked as she stopped her pacing behind the couch that Arwen was laying on. Dorian was coming out of his medical delve into Arwen’s body. When he was completely out, he moved some of the strands of her hair that had fallen onto her face with such tenderness.
“Cole told her? Dorian asked, still staring at his friend.
“Yeah. From what I can figure, Cole could sense Solas in her. Well, a part of him anyway.”
“It’s true. She passed out because it was too much for her mind to take in.”
“I have heard that before,” Lunia sighed.
“I’ll go ahead and wake her up, and we will figure this out.”
“Oh we know how it happened,” Lunia sniggered.
“Not that! The situation that you caused by telling everybody to wait in the war room!” Dorian chastised.
Lunia deflated, “yeah, I kinda panicked.” She started scuffing her feet on the floor, looking at them with a guilty look on her face.
“I’ll say. We both know she will keep the baby. I will stay here till she gives birth. Medicinal magic has never been my strong suit, but I got some time to figure it out. So I guess I will not be joining you as you head north. Home can wait a little while longer.”
“I’ll talk it over with Varric and Fenris, but we will more than likely stay too. I don’t want her to go through this alone. We have gotten close since Adamant, writing letters and all that. She needs a friend that has been there to help her. She needs a pack.” Lunia leaned over the back of the couch and grabbed Arwen’s limp hand. “I will help her see that even though most of the pack is gone, there are still others that will stay and help her. Now, let wake her up, before Cullen come barreling in here and breaks that big door.”
“Think he could?”
“Oh yeah,” she chuckled.
Dorian placed his hands on both sides of Arwen’s temple, closing his eyes as his magic flowed through her. When her eyes began to flutter, he removed them and leaned back. Lunia gently squeezed the hand that she was holding.
“Arwen, can you hear me?” Lunia asked gently as her friend slowly opened her eyes.
“Lunia? Dorian? What happened? Where am I?” Arwen said as she slowly sat up.
“In Josephine’s room. You passed out when Cullen came into the room after Cole kinda dropped a bombshell on you,” Dorian said, standing up.
“Oh… OH!” She looked up at Dorian. “Truly?”
“Yes, from what I can tell, the baby is healthy. My question is, how? Oh I know how it happens, but you never told me about this happening.”
“Well, ummm” Arwen started, her face becoming red. “It happened right after the Winter Palace. It didn’t happen very often, just a few times, scattered between then and when he… took me to the grove.”
“What did Cole mean when he said, ‘real and not’? It must have really happened, or you wouldn’t be sitting here like this,” Lunia asked.
“I happened in the Fade. Solas would always place powerful wards because it would attract demons. That’s why it didn’t happen very often. Yet it always felt more real than other times that we walked the Fade together.”
“So while you were doing the dirty in the Fade…” Lunia trailed off.
“Of course! Because Solas was a Fade Walker and Arwen has the mark, they can shape the Fade in ways that most mages can’t! More than likely, it was not only happening there, but in the real world as well. I’m sure that the wards being placed had something to do with it. It more than likely drained Solas, so he wasn’t in as much control as he thought,” Dorian sounded excited. Of course, explanations always made him happy.
“Now, I will be staying till the baby is born and we know that you stay in good health. Lunia is going to talk to Varric and Fenris to make sure they are fine with staying as well. We are here for you Arwen. You won’t be going through this alone.”
“Thank you. It does mean a lot to me that you guys are going to put your lives on hold to be here with me,” Arwen said sweetly. “Wait! What happened to Cullen? He saw me pass out.”
“Well, I may have jumped the bow and told everybody to head to the war room…” Arwen groaned and put her head in her hands. “If you don’t want to tell them right now, I’ll make up something. I’m getting better at winging it!”
“No, its fine. The sooner I get this over with, the sooner Josephine will have time to plan something. Leliana will be leaving soon to become Divine, so she will need to lay some groundwork as well.”
“Wait, one more thing. How did nobody notice this after the final battle?”
“She wasn’t badly injured. She used her bow a majority of the time and within the first month it is hard to find a babe unless a healer is looking for it,” Dorian answered for Arwen. “Do you want to wait a moment darling?”
“No, let’s go get this over with,” Arwen said as she gracelessly got up with their help.
This was so much to take in. How was she going to word this? She tried to picture everybody’s faces. Josephine would have sympathy in her eyes as she started taking notes on changes in dates, people to contact and so on. Leliana would keep her cards close to her chest. Who knows what she would be thinking but Arwen hoped that she would be happy for her. Bull would laugh for a moment, thinking it was a joke. Varric would look right to Lunia for confirmation before being happy for her. Cole, of course knew, but she knew that he would feel the bud of happiness blooming inside her empty heart.
Yet Cullen, there was the one that she was worried about. He had been there for her with everything that had to do with Solas. Cullen was the one that kicked down her door and made her see that she couldn’t waste away in her room when Solas left her. He helped her during the low point of not being around Solas and would carry her back to her room, making sure that nobody saw their leader so drunk she was passed out. He talked with her on the lake in the basin after the wound of heart break had been lanced. Would this be the straw that broke to bronto’s back? Would he finally turn away from her completely. She knew that she couldn’t be with him in the way that he wanted, but at the same time, she needed his friendship and stability like she needed air. ‘Only one way to find out,’ she thought as she stood before the doors, pushed them open and walked in, flanked by Dorian and Hawke.
Cullen looked like he had stopped mid pace. He rushed over to her and gently took both her hands in his, “thank the Maker! Are you alright? She is alright, right?” Cullen asked as he looked over at Dorian.
“Cullen, I… what I mean to say is… I- uhhh” she should have waited in the room till she figured out how to word this. She was too busy worrying about everyone reactions.
“’How? Why is this so hard? I need to stop stalling, stammering, speak! He is always with me now.’” Cole said, turning everybody’s attention to him. “Just tell them.”
“Right, thank Cole. It turns out…” She started then tapered off, not knowing the words.
“Are you sure you are ok? We could get…”
“I’m pregnant!” Arwen blurted out, then slapped her hands over her mouth. She hadn’t meant for it to come out so bluntly.
The room was frozen, the Bull started laughing. “That is epic! I love it! You got us all!” Bull laughed as he looked at the three of them and saw the seriousness on their faces. “Oh shit, you are not Joking…”
“No Bull, I’m not…” Arwen said as her face got red. This was not turning out to be good. As she looked at Cullen’s face, she thought that she broke him. He wasn’t moving. His eyes stared blankly at her.
“So, who is the lucky daddy?” Bull asked, with all the subtlety of a bull in a porcelain shop. As he looked at all their faces realization dawned on him. “Oh shit.”
Arwen looked at the others. Josephine and Leliana were smiling, they looked happy. Bull was rubbing the back of his neck. Varric started walking over to them. Still Cullen stood there as if he was in shock.
“Well, Tinkle Toes, I guess I’m canceling my trip to Kirkwall for a few months. Don’t worry, we won’t leave you alone in this. Will we Broody? Siren?”
“Of course not Varric. You must be somebody else’s knight in shining armor,” Lunia chuckled.
“I will not be the steed now either. Yet if Lunia wants to stay and you would allow it, we will stay and help,” Fenris said coming over as well. “Congratulations.” He patted her on the back and led Hawke from the room.
“Oh, I must go get a special dinner ready! We will not make an announcement just yet, but we will have a private dinner to celebrate!” Josephine said as she rushed over, hugged Arwen and breezed out the door.
“I will go and see what will need to be done to make things run smoothly with any operations in the next 7 or 8 months.” Leliana said as we walked over, kissed Arwen’s cheek and walked out the door.
Cole smiled and disappeared.
Bull walked over and gave her a gentle hug, “does that make me an honorary uncle?”
“Of course Bull. I will put you and Krem on diaper duty,” Arwen giggled into his chest.
“We will negotiate that out. I’m happy for you Arwen,” he smiled, grabbed Dorian by the arm and walked out.
Varric looked at the two people remaining. He slapped Cullen on the back, waking him up it seems and walked out of the room. Cullen looked around and noticed it was only the two of them.
“Well, uh, congratulations,” Cullen said, rubbing the bad of his neck.
“Cullen I…” Arwen started, tears forming in her eyes.
“No, don’t cry Inquisi-”
“Stop! Don’t call me that. Cullen, you have been one of my dearest friends. You have helped me through so much. Don’t shut me out now!”
“Arwen… Do you want this?” Cullen said after a few moments of tense silence.
“I will help in any way that you want me too. I will even be the…”
“No Cullen. I want you there as a friend. An uncle to this child. I know what you want, but I can’t…”
“I understand…” Cullen said as he walked toward the door.
“Cullen…” she gasped, holding out her hand to grab his arm.
“I need to think Inquisitor,” he said, his back toward her.
She pulled back as if stung, “yes of course.” Tears flowed down her face. “I want you to know that, above all else, I want you to be happy. Good day, Commander.” She turned around and walked over to the war table and placed her hands on it. The silent closing was worse than any slamming of the door. They would make it through this. Never again would it be the same as it was before, but she knew that her and Cullen would make it through this somehow. She grabbed one of his markers off the table, staring at it. Cullen was the brother that she didn’t have. She didn’t want to lose him. With the marker in hand, she left to war room.
As she looked out at the night time landscape of the moments, she heard her door open again. Cullen had not come to the small dinner that they had. She didn’t think he would come, but it still hurt. She looked at the marker again. She had left it on her desk and as soon as she came back to her room, she picked it up.
“Inquisitor,” she heard Leliana say as she walked up to her.
“Yes?” Lunia said, not taking her eyes off the marker.
“Cullen has requested a short leave to visit his sister. I have to have your approval for him to go.”
“Of course, he may go see Mia. I’m sure that she and the children will be happy to see him. He does not see them enough.” Well, he said that he would need time. Time he would have.
In a rare show of affection, Leliana placed her hand on Arwen’s shoulder. It wasn’t much, but it spoke volumes. “I will let him know that he has your blessing. I told him that he should come and ask himself…”
“It’s alright, I understand. He said that he needed time.”
“It’s not your fault,” the spymaster started.
“I know. Cullen knew where my heart always was. I wanted him to find somebody that he deserves. He is a thoughtful, caring, loving man. He deserves the best. Not a woman that can’t completely love him. I will only ever see him as a brother.” Arwen moved to her desk and set the marker down, “doesn’t stop it from hurting though.”
“No it doesn’t. He will come around. Maybe it is better this way.” Leliana stopped for a moment. “Do you want me to put more effort into finding Solas?”
“He knows where I am. If he wants to know anything about me, he will find it out in his own way, I’m sure. If you want to, you can. Just don’t take up resources we could be spending on other things.”
“Of course Inquisitor.” The redhead turned to leave. “We are happy for you Arwen, and I know that you and Cullen will work things out in the end.”
“Thank you Leliana. I hope that I will get my brother back before this is all over. Solas took my heart from me. Though he gave me a child without knowing, a piece of him to have with me always, I would hate to think that he took away the man that was like a brother to me too.”