It starts with a bead.
Selene smiles and thanks the bird for the gift, tucking it into the pocket of her jeans before heading back into the Haven Wildlife Rehabilitation Center to help out her friend.
The next time, it is a coin. Given to her just as she is scrounging her pockets for fare for the bus back home. She would almost think it were on purpose, but of course this is just a bird and that would be ridiculous.
It is two weeks later when she hears a tap tap tapping on her window. There on her sill are two large black, familiar ravens, each holding a key in its beak.
She opens the window, and they drop their keys in a synchronized manner and flutter into her home. Making themselves perfectly at home, as though they had not last encountered her in the middle of nowhere with severe injuries.
As though they were pets, almost.
She watches as their talons click against her kitchen counters, inspecting her cereal selections with curious blinks and jerking head tilts.
She supposes, if she just leaves the window open so that they can leave, this might not be so terrible.
The next day she wakes up to a small pile of polished rocks on her bedside table. They were not there the night before, and she’s not entirely certain where they could have found obsidian in this region either.
But they are very lovely, and she thanks them with several sure strokes through their feathers as she stands to get ready for work.
The following day there is a bracelet, the next there are two earrings that do not match, and then a pair of earbuds covered in plastic glued on ‘bling’.
None of these particularly raise her alerts; its not uncommon for corvids to remember those who helped them, or to return with small gifts.
But then one of them brings her a pocketknife.
It is a very nice pocket knife, with an ironbark handle that tells her they definitely stole it from a dalish clan somewhere.
But she knows for a fact there aren’t any around here. Had made very sure, before she settled down, that she would not accidentally encounter anyone she might’ve known…before.
“This is a very dangerous object,” She informs the slightly smaller of the two, their beak somehow sharper than the others. “You could have been hurt. Please do not bring anymore knives.”
She could swear they nod in return.
She is watching The Princess Bride for the fifth time this weekend, sprawled out in her pajamas on the couch when the larger, cuddlier bird returns, landing on the armrest that had been doubling as her pillow.
There is a ring in its mouth.
“Finally decided to propose, have you?” She teases.
The raven makes a soft, purr like sound and drops the ring into her hand all the same.
She places it down on the table beside her, and goes back to watching the movie.
The other bird perks from where it had been settled on the top of her couch against the wall, eyeing the ring curiously. The first picks it up, and presents it to Selene again.
She takes it, again, and stares at them.
They nudge their head against her hand pointedly, and it clicks.
“Oh. Alright, well, I suppose it would be rude to say no, hm?” She slides the ring onto her finger, and rubs at their head in thanks “We already live together, it seems. I suppose this was always the next step. Not like it’ll change much around here.”
After that, the items they bring seem to be…a higher quality.
A few of the pieces she wonders about donating to a museum if only she could find one the Chantry did not have their fingers in. They are very old, a few still thrumming with ancient magics, but beautifully carved. Designs so intricate she almost thinks they must be changing when she isn’t looking. Necklaces made of stones and metals she doesn’t recognize, that do not feel heavy against her neck and almost seem to improve her luck throughout the day.
It is a nice sort of monotony they settle into. Albeit, a short lived one.
Selene wakes one winter morning, to find another body wrapped around her own.
She screams, but when she tries to pull away they only pull her tighter. Arms wrapped around her middle, a face pressed against the back of her neck.
“You are being unusually loud for so early in the day,” They mumble.
“Who the fuck do you think you are?” She screams back in retaliation.
“Deceit,” they mumble again. “And again, you are being very loud.”
“How exactly did you think I would react to finding a stranger in my bed?” She asks with an intense whisper as she tries to wriggle free of their grasp.
“I’m not a stranger. We’ve been living together for weeks.”
“No, we haven’t.”
Deceit hands drift down her arms, landing on the ring she is still wearing on her finger and taps it lightly. “Mm-hm. I gave you this, remember? You rubbed my head for it. Fear witnessed and everything.”
“Who is Fear?”
One of her birds finally rustles, feathers shifting from where it had been resting near her feet.
“That’s Fear,” Deceit informs her, nuzzling his head against the back of her neck with a soft sigh. “And I’m sorry I did not ask properly first. But it was very cold, and you were very warm. I didn’t think you would mind.”
“You should have listened,” Fear speaks from their place on the bed. “I warned you she would not take well to our shifting.”
Selene blinks, staring down at the raven.
The one that just spoke in perfect common.
To the strange elf in her bed.
“Is this a dream?” She tries. “Am I still asleep, maybe?”
“I would like to be,” Deceit grumbles. “It is still very early; we should all go back to sleep.”
“Sleep would not be unwarranted,” Fear agrees. “The Great Aspect will not be here for a few more hours; you should rest in the meantime.”
“Great Aspect. Right. I think we’re all agreed on sleep then. I’ll see you all when I’ve…stopped hallucinating. No more marshmallow cereals before bed, I think.”
Deceit just settles against her back in agreement, sliding one of their legs between her own as their breathing evens out.
Selene is still trying to convince herself she is already dreaming when her doorbell rings.