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A Modest Proposal

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Everyone could tell when the boss was on his way.

The entire environment of the office would change: those chatting with coworkers, hanging around the coffee machine, and even those trying to get to the bathroom would rush to get in place at their desks, to be the very image of a perfectly professional workforce. It was like interrupting a casual potluck with a funeral.

Solas came sweeping down the hall, his eyes an agitated thunderstorm. The office was dead quiet as he stalked into his office and shut the door with a bang.

Varric whistled from his desk. “He is not happy today.”

“Is Ishalé not here today?” Dorian said, peeking over the other side of the cubicle. “That’ll make it worse.” Even so, there was a slight chuckle in his voice, ever the lover of drama.

As if on cue, Solas’s personal assistant, Ishalé Lavellan came flying out of the elevator, a coffee in her hand and the remnants of another splashed across the skirt of her work dress.

“How bad is it?” Ishalé asked in a rush.

“Oh, the usual. He’s grumpy and pouty and looking terribly dull in that grey jacket,” Dorian teased.

Ishalé’s nose wrinkled. “I think the jacket is... dignified.” The edge of her lip quirked up. It was no secret that her boss was quite a bit older than her, but that sweater made him look like he had escaped from a retirement community. “I better get to it before he feels deprived of coffee.” She winked at her friends before heading into Solas’s office.

Solas’s office was beautiful, elaborate paintings adorned the walls. Ishalé recognized the breathtaking scenery of Arlathan in many of them from her undergrad classes. Although she knew very little about her boss, she knew that Solas had come from Arlathan originally before moving to Fereldan. If they were friends instead of coworkers, she would have asked him so many questions. But it was fairly unprofessional to gush about history with her handsome boss when there was work to be done. But she couldn’t lie, the wistful way Solas talked about his home made her heart ache. The stories he must have to tell…

“Good morning, sir,” Ishalé said brightly as she entered.

Solas hummed in response, not even looking up from his computer. He pushed a notepad to the edge of his desk: tasks for Ishalé’s day already outlined, as they were every day. She set down his coffee and picked up the list, turning to leave his office and get to her long list of duties.

“A moment, Miss Lavellan?” Solas called from his desk.

Ishalé turned back and straightened. “Sir?”

Solas was holding the coffee up and scrutinizing the writing on it. “Who is ‘Bull’ and why does he want me to ‘call him?’”

Ishalé felt her stomach drop. Bull, more commonly known by his stage name, The Iron Bull, worked during his daylight hours as a barista and was a massive flirt. “Oh, I… spilled your coffee on the way over. That one was actually mine.”

Solas squinted then took a sip. It was perfect: decaf peppermint mocha, no whipped cream, a bit of foam. It seemed his assistant shared his coffee preferences to the letter. Strange. He had never noticed that before. He looked over and noticed the stains on her skirt. “It seems you got lucky.”

Ishalé tried her best not to scoff before nodding. “Yes, I did.”

“You can go, Miss Lavellan.”

Of course, there it was, the dismissal. Did she really need this job? No, but she couldn’t deny that she loved it. Getting to assist the editor of a travel magazine like Eluvian was a dream come true, and it didn’t waste her double majors in history and journalism that she slaved over. But days like this put her on edge, and sometimes she had to question if it was worth it.

She turned to leave once more before turning back. “By the way, Mr. Teagan is here.”

That gave Solas pause. Teagan was from the immigration office, but Solas’s visa wasn’t anywhere near close to expiring. He brushed off his concern easily, however. It was probably nothing. “You can send him in, Miss Lavellan.”

“Right away.”

*****
“Deported?!”

“Yes, Mr. Revas. You have two weeks to pack your things and leave Fereldan.”

Solas tried desperately to keep his composure. This couldn’t be happening. “I don’t understand, I- my work visa is still good-”

Teagan silenced him by raising his hand. “Unless I am mistaken, you went to Val Royeaux six months ago?”

“Of course I did, there was a major event to cover. I am essential to this company, after all.” Solas pushed up his glasses and rubbed at the bridge of his nose. The event in Orlais was a gathering of all the hottest travel and culture magazines across Thedas, Eluvian had to be there.

Teagan hummed. “That’s just it. Under the conditions of your visa, you aren’t supposed to leave Fereldan while the visa is active. You haven’t applied for citizenship, so we have you send you back. I’m afraid there are no other options.”

Solas groaned. The whole process was ridiculous, there was no reason to have to jump through this many hoops. He had been far too busy with his work to begin the process. “What am I supposed to do now? I can’t just leave, I have a company to run-”

“That isn’t our problem.”

“It should be! What a ridiculous rule-”

A soft knock interrupted, and Ishalé entered, carrying a stack of reports. Her first task already finished, very efficient. And her appearance gave Solas a moment to collect himself.

“Here are the sales reports you wanted,” Ishalé said with a smile, setting the stack on his desk.

Solas looked over her for a moment. Ishalé was a diligent worker, eager to succeed, always trying to keep a blithe smile on her face. Despite his professional coldness, Solas had always liked her. She did her work well and had an impressive resume. In a few years, she could become so much more than just a PA. She could be a writer, or an editor even, with enough time.

And then Solas had an idea. It wasn’t a good one, and it was a long shot, but it may be his only chance.

“Ishalé?” Solas called to her, his tone artificially lighter.

Ishalé looked up, confusion written all over her face. Solas never talked to her like that, all… friendly. He definitely never used her first name. “...Yes, sir?”

“It’s alright,” he said quickly to cover her use of moniker, taking a step closer to her. “I suppose we should tell Mr. Teagan the news.”

Ishalé looked back and forth between Teagan and Solas, her brows knit together. He was leading her, she could tell, but to what conclusion?

Until Solas reached out and gently but urgently slipped his hand into hers.

“You see, Mr. Teagan, Ishalé and I are engaged.”