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{4. Coincidence} Unexpected Visitors

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Inquisitor Anya Adaar was a rarity in Thedas. There weren’t many people who could do what she did, not many who would even try. 

But she was always like that, surrounded by people who were always trying to do more, and be more, and strived to live the best of lives in the hardest of places.

She hadn't known her true parents at all. Only that they must have loved her enough to keep her away from a life in the Qun. Having been left alone from the time she was only 5, horns only little stubs on her forehead, she scraped and fought to survive in Fereldan where, eventually, she was found.

"We are lost, Reyna! Again! This is why I never give you the map-"

"We're not lost! I know exactly where we're going."

"You do not. Give me that-"

"Never!"

The pair were heavily armed, and obviously ready to travel. With bulky backpacks, bedrolls on the top, boots worn and dirty. But young still, the both of them barely adults.

Reyna had her arms crossed, an irritated expression on her face as the other woman sat down heavily on a nearby rock to study the map they'd been arguing over.

They made quite the pair these two. Reyna Sabre was elven, her hair oak coloured and buzzed at the sides with the top long and braided down her back. Her mage-robes were vaguely Dalish in design under the heavy coat, and a vivid sky blue vallaslin curled around her pale cheeks and up the shaved sides of her head down her neck to disappear under her collar.  With her high cheek bones, and gleaming emerald eyes her features could be described as aristocratic, but people were often put off by the pointy ears. 

Her partner, Yelena Castillion, dressed in fine quality leathers, embroidered coat and hood covering her honey coloured corkscrew-curled hair, her skin a lovely ochre brown colour. She was tall, lean with muscle, had a small scar on her cheekbone as if she'd been punched. A shield was strapped to her pack and a wicked-looking sword dangled at her hip.

"Per favor mirda- you had the map upside down! We have been going opposite to the pass! It was pure luck that we did not get attacked by Darkspawn-"

"Shh, Yelena-"

"Do not 'shush' me, Reyna. You are the one who got us lost in the middle of a Fereldan bog. I have half a mind to leave you here-" 

"Yelena, listen!" Reyna clamped a hand over Yelena's mouth, her eyes looking side to side. "Do you hear that?" She whispered to her partner, whose amber eyes began to dart around the area. 

It wasn't hard to hear now that they'd stopped arguing. The most heartbreaking, sad sound of a little girl crying could be heard echoing across the rocks and hills. It didn't sound far, and the two women wordlessly moved on towards the sound.

As they drew closer, they came across a formation of rocks where the small, ragged form of the Qunari child huddled against the cold. Crying out of hunger, for her mother and father. 

Reyna instantly stepped forward, to rush to the aid of the child, but Yelena touched her lovers arm and levelled a cautious look at her. "Possibly a trap." 

"Hurry." Reyna replied, as Yelena searched the surrounding area for traps or anything that could indicate it.

When Yelena gave her the all clear, Reyna rushed forward to the little girl. Kneeling down in front of her and offering her a small handkerchief. "Here, da'len. I won't hurt you. Ra is'ethmala ."

The kid looked up, brushing a greyed clump of untamed hair out of her eyes and sniffled. Taking the handkerchief, she wiped at her eyes and nose, shivering a bit.

Yelena came up behind Reyna, standing up but looking down at her worriedly. "I found a spot to camp, we can take better care of her there."

They had building camp down to a fine art, like clockwork. Reyna was in charge of firewood, lighting the fire, and making food while Yelena did their tent and set up their bedroll. Yelena, the stronger of the two, carried the child to the fire, sat her down on a mat, and draped two blankets over her while water to wash up with was heated up on the fire.

They helped the kid wash up, and Yelena gave her one of her woollen long sleeve tops to wear by the fire.

As the girl ate her third helping of food, they managed to get her to talk.

"What's your name?" 

She shrugged. Not looking up and still munching on her food.

Reyna pursed her lips, "You don't have one?"

The child shook her head, and Yelena spoke up, wiping the kids' mouth as her food dribbled, "Careful, niño- that is unacceptable. If you have no name, we will give you one."

"Yeah!" Reyna grinned. 

"It must be a strong name. For a strong girl." Yelena quipped, eyeing the little horn stubs on the girls’ forehead, "For a strong Qunari."

"Qunari? I don't-" Reyna had probably learnt something about them in passing but couldn't remember.

"Tall, horned creatures from the North. Past Tevinter." Yelena eyed her, "I haven't been there. But I was taught some of the language."

The girl hadn't looked up as they discussed her, she was happily helping herself to another serving of dinner.

"What about... Anita?" Reyna asked, moving closer to the kid so she could share her blanket.

"Hmm..." Yelena shook her head, "Opal?"

The kid looked up at that, and made a face.

Reyna laughed, "Okay... What about Anya? It was my sisters name."

They all considered it, even the little girl. Eventually Yelena nodded, "I like it. Last name?"

"Come up with a Qunari word."

It took her a bit to wrack her brain for what felt right, but after some time she settled on- "Adaar. Anya Adaar."

"Ooo, pretty name." Reyna smiled at her lover, reaching behind the newly named Anya to twine her fingers with Yelena's. "Anya Adaar. Welcome to the family." 

***

The plan had originally been to escape the Blight. But now it was more. Escape the Blight, don't get caught by Templars, and now raise the child.

It wasn't easy, Anya grew up with a moving home for a while. She was nearly twelve summers by the time they settled properly. 

It was a house Yelena owned in Val Royeaux, nothing huge or anything but big enough for two servants, big enough for the family to live. So she grew up with her two Mums.

Yelena simply adored her; showering her with gifts, teaching her to write and read in both common and Antivan, sharing her taste for good food and company with their child. Reyna was a font of knowledge on other subjects, such as Dalish language, and eventually, when Anya was old enough- magic.

Two things happened when Anya turned 14, her horns finally grew in completely, and she got her magic.

Reyna had been an unconventional teacher, but the two of them bonded over hours of practicing spells in the big main hall of their home, with Yelena always keeping a watching eye on the two of them. It was a wonder nobody caught them sooner.

The Blight ended, and suddenly the peace they'd found was disrupted.

Templars tried to take Reyna off to the Circle, she never tried to hide her magic, she was Dalish and never thought they'd actually get her. She fought her way out but, they left Val Royeaux that night, and wouldn't come back until much later.

Anya was 18 when she decided to join the mercenary company. Sure she loved her mums, but she wanted to find her own path. They wrote each other all the time, sharing worries and adventures and love. 

Reyna and Yelena got married not long before the Temple of Sacred Ashes exploded. Anya couldn't be at the ceremony because she was in Haven, right in the thick of it, doing a job.

When Reyna got the letter, she had to read it over and over again. Out of all the things to happen to her girl, this was never something she pictured.

"Yelena, ma vhenan." She murmured to the Antivan, who was already curled up in bed. 

"Hmm? It's late, cariño."

"It happened." Reyna was still in shock as she turned in her chair to face the bed.

Yelena sat up a little bit, her extremely curly hair falling adorably across her eyes in her sleepy state. "Hm?"

"Anya is... the one."

Chapter Text

The clopping of a horses’ hooves on snow-covered stone was the only sound that could be heard outside the fortress of Skyhold.

Yelena led the horse, her fine cape and dress skirts billowing behind her in the wind. In front if her sat Reyna, her expression grave, the pale evening light of the mountains making her vivid vallaslin stand out the skin of her neck, face, and head. They had both aged, they'd been young when they found Anya, and the years had only made the pair more beautiful.

Once they got closer to the gates they were stopped by the five guards posted in the entry-way.

"State your business!" The first ones addressed them as Reyna dismounted, helping her wife down off the horse.

Yelena's skirts brushed the top of her boots halfway down her calves. The fine grey hide and lambswool, with royal velvet sleeves under it, and her regal futures pegged her as a Lady. She grasped Reyna's hand as she lifted her chin. "Lady Yelena Celestia Ravana Castillion of Antiva and my wife Reyna Sabre-Castillion of the Dalish." Inside she was kind of having fun. They'd been buzzing with excitement the whole trip, and now they were finally here.

Reyna spoke up when the soldiers started whispering, and the main one called up a messenger. 

"Ambassador Montilyet isn't expecting us. But please fetch Anya, she'll be able to clear up any confusion."

The messenger left after a moment. Yelena made herself busy, letting her hood down and brushing a hand through her hair, but didn't turn away from the guards when she spoke to Reyna. "This is why we should have told her we were coming."

"Can't turn back now, can we?" Reyna had stayed with the horse, making sure he wasn't frightened.

Eventually three figures appeared in the gateway; the messenger, with Josephine and Anya in tow.

As soon as Anya saw the pair she ran forward with a disbelieving laugh, "Mamae! Mother! You came!" 

"Is that how you greet us? I demand a hug." Reyna laughed too, blinking through the sudden tears in her eyes. 

Anya dashed forward, grabbing both women in a huge hug. She was so tall, and strong enough, that she was easily able to get her arms around them and practically lift them off the ground. 

Reyna felt herself lean into it, squeezing her back and offering Yelena a private smile as they met each others eyes behind Anya’s back before being let go and stepping back, "Creators, have you grown?"

"Nonsense cariño, our ciervo pequeño has always been this tall." Yelena stepped away as well, not letting go of Anya's hand as she worriedly eyed the Qunari up and down. "I love what you have done with your horns, darling, you look even more beautiful."

Referring to the jeweled encrusted-embroidered faric that that Anya had wrapped both of her horns with. Neither of them had seen Anya put this much thought into her appearance, when she was younger she was always thinking of others. Even when learning magic, it was always with a goal outside of her self. It was just… how she was.

"She's grown up so much, vhenan." Reyna reached up and touched her daughters’ cheek before pulling her hand back, a gesture she’d been doing since Anya was a little Qunari girl to ensure she was alright.

"She really has." With that Yelena pulled the giant Qunari down into another hug with a strength that took the surrounding guards (and quickly gathering crowd) by surprise, "We missed you, ciervo pequeño [little deer]."

Anya hugged her back just that little bit tighter at the name.

Reyna wandered over to Josephine, who had previously been watching with a confused yet still warm smile.

"Josephine Montilyet I presume?"

She nodded at the elf, her eyes brushing over her slightly extreme vallaslin, having never seen a shade of blue that vibrant before, "Yes. I am Ambassador to the Inquisition, I am so sorry that we haven't been properly introduced."

Reyna waved a hand in dismissal, while in the background Yelena was straightening Anya's scarf and grilling her on if she was eating properly.

"That's quite alright. I'm Reyna Sabre-Castillion, married to the title as you can see. My wife over there who is currently fussing over our daughter is Yelena Castillion. The ‘proper’ Antivan noble."

Reyna could visibly see the cogs and questions in Josephine's mind. How? When? What was an Antivan noble (even an unconventional one who openly carried a sword and shield) doing married to a Dalish mage, with a Qunari child? 

By all accounts it doesn't make any sense.

"Anya, I cannot believe- Cariño! Did you know that Anya hasn't been eating her green vegetables?!" Yelena grumped, narrowing a stern gaze at Anya then Reyna in turn. 

"Don't look at me, da'len. I can't help you." Reyna put both hands up when Anya shot her an appealing look.

Someone led the horse away, and Yelena berated Anya the whole way up the stairs through Skyhold to the main hall where they were currently serving lunch.

The group drew a lot of eyes as they traipsed through Skyhold. It wasn't just the additions to the group, it was that Anya seemed more carefree when her parents were around. Laughing easier, standing and walking far more relaxed than anyone (except probably Sera).

When they got to the entry-way, two people moved from a table on the right to greet Anya. Raising an eyebrow at the additions, the dwarf with the chest hair spoke first.

"Well, Herald. You certainly keep interesting company." He said, and the elf next to him leaned back, scrutinizing the pair curiously, her fire-orange hair almost glowing in the light.

"Varric, Elaine. Meet my parents." Anya gestured to them in turn, "Lady Yelena, and Reyna."

"There has to be a story in there, Inquisitor." He grinned, that insatiable curious glint in his eyes as he lent forward.

"Nice to meet you guys." Elaine stepped forward, expression seemingly no longer guarded, "You here for the food? Let's grab you some."

The group sat down at the head of one of the tables, to the sudden silence of the entire room as they all strained to hear what was being said.

Josephine excused herself as they sat down, and Anya grinned at her as she wandered off. 

While Yelena piled food onto two separate plates, and made sure to put some extra vegetables on Anya's plate, Reyna leaned forward, "Do you want me to re-do your braids, da'len?"

Anya reached up to touch them, her lips pursed, "I'd rather you just undo them, they've been in for a while." 

Reyna nodded, "No problems." She said, thinking she saw Elaine's eyes flash to her at the words, but when she glanced over Elaine was eating her soup with gusto.

"So," Varric began, "What brings you here?"

Yelena cleared her throat, delicately dabbing around the edge of her mouth with a cloth, "Simply to see our girl, it has been too long."

"Yeah," Reyna agreed, grasping Yelena's hand and smiling at her, "Plus it's not every day your kid becomes the Inquisitor."

Anya seemed extremely relaxed now that they were here, and even though both Yelena and Reyna saw the circles under her eyes, and new scars on her skin, they were equally proud and worried.

"I'm not a kid anymore, mamae." Anya teased, voice lighter than it usually was now that the two women who raised her were with her again. 

Yelena and Reyna shared another meaningful look over their food, conveying meaning through just their facial expressions was something that in their years together had started to become akin to being psychic. It’d always annoyed Anya to no end, but now she found it sweet.

Then Reyna turned to her with another small wistful smile, “Don’t we know.” 

The conversation turned to light topics, smaller talk rather than anything heavier (which Anya was secretly dreading. She knew they would lecture her about safety when she told them even half of the things she’d been doing). They told her all about their wedding, which had been over a year ago, it was a small affair but Anya was still devastated that she’d missed it, she hadn’t been able to get away from the Valo-Kas in the middle of a job, especially when they were attempting to prove themselves to the Divine for the Conclave contract.

Yelena was regaling the table with tales of the honeymoon when a tall blonde elf wandered up to the table with a bounce in her step. “Hiya Tadwinks!” Sera grinned toothily at the Qunari, ignoring everyone else at the table as she pulled up a chair next to Anya, leaning into her for a second before turning and eyeing all the food with a hungry look before unceremoniously digging in. 

In sync, both Reyna and Yelena turned with their eyebrows raised to their daughter, who suddenly felt unbelievably small for the first time since she’d walked into Haven. Wow, only her parents could make her feel like such a small kid again. She chuckled sheepishly, wincing as Sera belched loud enough for it to echo throughout the hall.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Elaine hit her forehead with a palm, and Varric nearly ready to loose it completely as he looked like his birthday had come early, his notebook out and charcoal pencil running over the paper at impressive speeds.

Reyna’s eyebrows were about up to her hair-line as she turned her gaze to Anya. Yelena was still glancing at the elf, but attempting to cover her shock by sipping her tea and staring into the cup.

“Something to tell us, da’halla?”

“Ah… um.” Attempting to look far more confident than she felt, Anya reached for Sera’s hand. It wasn’t that she was embarrassed of Sera, it was that she knew she’d never hear the end of it from them for not telling them in the first place. It was also that she hadn’t been sure how’d they’d react, especially to Sera, who usually rubbed about 50% of the people she met the wrong way. 

Sera looked up at the pair across the table, then at Anya, then back down to her food. 

Attempting to adopt the same level of confidence, Anya straightened up, “This is Sera. We’re…”

“Together?” Reyna interjected helpfully. 

“Yes.”

“…Alright then,” The elf turned to Sera with a hesitant smile, trying to not be awkward as she nodded, “Aneth ara Sera. It’s nice to meet you.” 

Before Sera could interject, Anya squeezed her hand and said, “These are my parents.” 

Sera’s eyes popped out of her head for a second, and she nearly spit-take the food she’d just stuffed down all over the table. She started coughing as Yelena put her tea back down onto the table, “I am Yelena Castillion. This, is my wife Reyna.”

“Uhh,” The blonde elf looked over the pair, taking in first Yelena’s fine robes and noble demeanor, then observing the vivid vallaslin running up Reyna’s neck onto the shaved sides of her head. “Hi.”

Always the proper lady, Yelena once again dabbed at the corners of her mouth, looking between both of them with a calm expression, “It is lovely to finally meet you, I look forward to getting to know you. But,” And with that she stood up from the table, and Anya could’ve sworn the entire room stilled and quietened, “It will have to be over breakfast tomorrow, it has been a long journey.”

Anya and Sera both let out a huge breath as the tension seemed to leave the table, and Reyna stood up too rolled her eyes towards their daughter as she followed behind her wife over to a servant. Yelena knew she commanded the attention of the room and always used it to her advantage, speaking softly to the servant, who nodded and began to lead the way;

For the first time, Sera noticed that Varric was sitting at the table too frantically scribbling over his notebook, and Elaine seemed to be staring intently into a tankard that looked ridiculously huge in her hands. And Anya, who was staring at her mothers as they followed the servant out towards the gardens where their quarters was, watched them with a gentle kind of relief as they filed out through the doors.

And yet, the far more interesting spectacle was what no one in the dining room saw.

The human servant escorted the pair of them through to the gardens, leading them in silence, Yelena and Reyna wordlessly reached for each other’s hands once they stepped outside.

There was an elven man crouched amongst the elfroot closest to the door, robes worn and grey, a sharp wolves tooth hanging from a pendant around his neck. When the door swung open, he’d unconsciously glanced up and met Reyna’s bright green eyes directly.

His own grey eyes widened a little, as his gaze was met with what could only be described burning hatred. A beat passed, not even a breath was taken between them, before the Yelena tugged on her hand and the stare was broken.

It was all Reyna could do to look away from him, but the meaning was clear as she raised her chin, and turned her back on him. 

This isn’t over.

Chapter Text

The whole of Skyhold was abuzz with the news that the Inquisitors' parents had arrived. Servants and nobles would tell whoever would listen that the pair of them had shown up unannounced, and dined in the great hall with Sera and the Inquisitor. By the time the news circulated throughout the fortress, people were saying that they’d nearly come to blows over the news that the Inquisitor and Sera were seeing each other. 

By the next morning, neither of them had been spotted outside of their rooms. And there were plenty of eyes, once again both servants and nobles and soldiers alike, who were waiting for them to emerge and face the day.

“Mmmmmm, vhenan? Where’d you go?” Mumbling, turning over and finding the other side of the bed empty, Reyna attempted to force her sensitive eyes open to the morning light. Shivering against the frigid air in the room, clutching the blankets tighter over her shoulders.

Distantly, she heard a short laugh across the room as she tried to blink the sleep away, sitting up on her hands, still trying to blink and see properly. Like most Dreamers, Reyna slept deeply and for far longer than most, and Yelena was so used to it at this point that she was prepared this time.

Over by the fire, the Antivan threw a smile over her shoulder as she built the fire back up, trying to bring warmth back to the room. “I went out to find tea earlier, only to find something very special.” Fire roaring quietly now, she went over to a tray laden with small baked goods, and two tall cups of steaming brown liquid. Sitting down, across from where Reyna was now sitting up on the bed cross-legged, still rubbing her eyes, she took and offered her one of the mugs, “I have not had coffee since I left Antiva.”

“Mmm…” The elf grumbled, taking and sniffing the drink before taking a cautious sip, “Urgh – never liked the stuff.” Immediately gagging, she placed the cup back down while Yelena laughed at her, “Gimme one of those rolls, I need to wash the taste out.”

 While Reyna ate breakfast in a bit of a daze, Yelena moved about the room and got herself ready for the day. Even though it had been a long time since she’d been amongst the nobles in Antiva, she always ensured that she presented the kind of effortless confidence that all the adults had when she’d been growing up. That included making sure she looked but together; be that in armour, travelling clothes, or a ball gown. 

Once ready to go, long winter dress straightened out, and hand axe buckled at her hip just incase. She downed the rest of her coffee as she walked back into the bedroom where Reyna was swinging her feet over the edge of the bed and shivering against the cool morning air, “I’mma comin’ just gimme a mmm-" Reyna’s sleepy mumbling was interrupted by her wife pressing her lips against her own before pulling away with a smile, “Go back to sleep cariño it is still early.”

Reyna looked like she wanted to argue but then shivered again, “I… okay, vhenan.” Throwing up one last tired grin, she dove back into the bed and drew the blankets up around her.

Taking one last look behind her from the door, Yelena covered her laugh at the sight of her wife. All hair, pointed ears, and blue tattoos visible even as she closed and locked the door behind her.

***

Yelena found the fresh air was better for waking up than the cup of coffee. Walking atop the battlements of this castle was something out of a story, Skyhold was truly breathtaking. There was no other fortress its like anywhere else in the world. Even she, who was no mage, felt something charging beneath her skin emanating from its walls, like anyone who stood on the stone was connected to it through a magic no one understood.

And yet she found herself so worried, even as she inspected the defences herself and watched the guards march up and down the walls, that this place was not safe enough for their daughter and her people. It was selfish, she told herself, stopping to look over the mountains to where she understood Haven had been, she knew that they could all protect themselves. Reyna had herself taught Anya how to wield magic to the best of her abilities, and understood more of this fight than Yelena did.

And after hearing everything that had happened at Haven, she wasn’t sure how safe it was anywhere for the Inquisition. Perhaps their enemies were just too strong, no matter what Reyna said, it was hard to trust memory. It was hard to trust what you knew to be true when she had so much proof in front of your eyes that things were too dangerous. And… she and Reyna had come with their own mission. To hesitate was to destroy the future and yet… maybe she was getting too old to think of these things. 

Resting her hand on her axe, she took another deep breath and watched the white cloud swirl up from her mouth as she let the air escape. It was… certainly cold here. 

“Excuse me.” Someone called on the distance, and she turned with a raised eyebrow to find a man marching in her direction, dressed in armour and a huge coat with fur. From where she was standing, he looked young but so tired, stress colouring what would otherwise be handsome features, that scar on his lip included.

“Were you speaking to me?” She asked, not lifting her hand from her axe.

He scratched the back of his neck with a tired sigh, “Yes, apologies, I’m afraid you can’t be up here while it’s still dark.” 

“Hm…” She narrowed her eyes a little before sighing, “I was only here to watch the sun rise, I imagine it is quite the sight.”

He hesitated, thinking for a moment before relaxing, “I suppose that’s alright,” He moved to join her there, looking out over the horizon and waiting for the impending morning.

Offering him a smile she turned back towards the hills, scanning the horizon with a thoughtful stare. Noting the sheer number of tents and little fires visible in the valley far bellow, how many people were here because of Anya? Because they believed she was the Herald of Andraste? When Reyna had explained what that meant, Yelena had instantly grown frustrated. She’d raised Anya to make her own choices, to follow her instincts and trust them. She would never allow herself to be led or ordered around by anyone, even Andraste.

Thinking long and hard, and attempting to count the amount of people were down in the valley, she took another breath, “How many people were lost at Haven?” She glanced at him at the corner of her eyes for a moment, and saw his expression crack into a deep sadness.

“While a great deal were saved… we still lost many good people. Too many.” The star scattered sky was beginning to turn a light orange at the base of the mountains, the inch of light creeping ever higher.

“Why is Skyhold safer?” Yelena knew she was grilling the man, but she had a feeling she knew who he was, and if there were anyone who would assuage her concerns of safety it would be him.

“In almost every way, it is far safer than we ever were at Haven. It’s built to house thousands, our soldiers have instant access to defensive positions, and… we also have walls.”

She let out a short giggle, feeling a small smidgen of warmth on her face as the sun greeted the waiting day. “I suppose that helps.”

He nodded, and turned to her, now with the warm light of the dawn shining on them both, “We are always prepared for another attack should there be one.”

There won’t, “Glad to hear that,” She said, turning and giving him a short bow of the head before offering her hand, “Yelena Celestia Ravana Castillion, I am reassured to hear my daughter is protected in her home.”

At first he seemed shocked, perhaps he hadn’t heard any of the rumours out of the barracks, but then he nodded as if he should have expected this to be so. “Ah,” He shook her hand firmly, “Commander Cullen Rutherford. Apologies again, if I had known I would not have asked you to leave.”

“It is not a problem, Commander.” She smiled, a little bit of weight lifted but a whole lot still there. Not something that the Commander would be able to fix, “It was comforting, I admit I have been worried for Anya’s safety. More so now than she was with her mercenaries.” She shrugged a little, and then turned towards the stairs, “Thank you for allowing me to watch the sun rise. I am sure we will speak again.” 

***

“Yelena? Did you go this way?” Reyna called, cupping a hand over her mouth as she half-whispered half-yelled down one of the many corridors. She knew her wife would have walked around to get some fresh air, and it had only been an hour and a bit since she left.

But inside a fortress like this she was out of her depth when it came to directions… who was she kidding, even in a forest and holding a map she was out of her depth with directions.

In her search she’d somehow found herself inside one of the walls, walking directionless down one of the many corridors there. She hadn’t even climbed the ladders to switch levels, and here she was completely lost.

What a story if the Inquisitor’s mamae went missing in her kids’ castle. 

Rubbing her hands together for warmth, Reyna grumbled as she made her way through yet another identical corridor. Completely impressed that people actually lived here and could find their way around.

More time passed, and she could see that through some of the little portholes for archers that the sun had risen above the surrounding mountains. She couldn’t even catch up with passers by to ask for help because there really weren’t many people moving around this area, and when she did they seemed so shocked to see her that they simply scurried away.

Eventually, she started to hear a small murmur of voices, laughter, and the sounds of people eating. Relieved, she walked a bit faster towards the sounds, it was most likely the barracks, she reasoned, from there someone should be able to tell her where to go.

As she walked, it grew noticeably warmer as the sounds grew louder, and she could hear someone playing on a flute in there too, they sounded fairly skilled too, “Guess the soldiers schedule their jam sessions for the morning…” She sniggered a little, and rounded a corner to find one last corridor, in the middle of which was a tall archway with no door, that she could see the light and sounds were leaking out of. At least she’d found some people. 

With a hand on the door, she peaked inside. Only to do a double take when she saw what was actually there.

Apparently she’d arrived at one of the many corner towers of the fortress, the room was reaching high above the walls surrounding it. Its roof was slanted and dome shaped, more than sixty feet above her head, the morning light streamed underneath and flooded the rest of the tower. From where she was standing, left and right there were stone stairs carved into the walls that led up to other levels around the sides, where doors stood open to other rooms, with most stairs that lead up to another level.

And it was full of people too, standing in door ways or sitting amongst pillows and comfortable blankets near a huge fireplace on the opposite side of the tower from the door. Laughing and talking, eating their breakfasts and getting ready for the day. There were even a handful of kids running around, bleary eyed and sleepy from the early hour. And it hit her suddenly, the majority of these people… were elves. 

Stepping further into the room, finally feeling warm again after wandering the halls for so long, Reyna felt her heart swell as she looked around at her people. What was this place?

Glancing around at the elves chilling on the pillows, she realised that she recognised one of them, moving through the people quietly and trying not to be noticed. Except the further she went the quieter they got, and she knew it was because of the vallaslin. She was used to that.

“Elaine!” She called softly when she got close enough to get the red-headed elf’s attention. And she watched her jump and glance around for whoever said it, when she saw it was Reyna happiness and confusion coloured her features.

By the time Reyna stood in front of her and the people she’d been talking to, the entire tower had grown completely silent. “Reyna? How’d you get here?”

Wringing her hands again but this time out of nervousness, she kind of wanted to run, “I am very lost but…” She looked around, noticing that there was a kind of mosaic along the walls of the bottom level kind of reminiscent of the elven ruins littered around the countryside, “What is this place?”

Elaine seemed to take a breath for a moment, and in the silence it seemed to hold onto everyone around, but then she relaxed and smiled, standing up and calling out, “Alright everyone back to your knitting, go on get on with it.” It seemed like everyone else exhaled too, and they all went back to what they’d been doing, some of them a little quieter.

Elaine grinned at her, and then gestured for her to sit down with the group she’d been with, “Do you need breakfast? Tea?" 

Creators tea would be great, ma serannas.” She grinned, sitting down and accepting the poured cup from one of the others. 

Ane vhalla,” Elaine replied with a smile, picking up the bowl and spoon she’d been holding, and gesturing at the elves around her with the spoon as she ate, “This is Clara, the elder here. Leda, she works with the seamstress’, you might have seen Frank at the stables, and Jethon is in requisitions.” They all smiled when she said their names, “No offence, but they’ve all heard of you, Reyna.” 

She grimaced into her tea, “Rumours.” 

“Yeah,” Elaine nodded sympathetically.

Clara spoke up then, putting aside her own bowl, “Try not to take it to heart. Aside from you being the Inquisitors’ mamae, most of the people here haven’t met many Dalish. The novelty will wear off.” As she said those last words, she shot a look at a few of the adults near where they were all sitting and they scrambled to act casual. 

Downing the rest of her tea, Reyna nodded a little, but then glanced around again, “Can you tell me what this place is?”

Clara glanced at Elaine for a moment, who nodded, and she excitedly launched into the story, “We… we called it Lanaste. When we first fled Haven, tensions were high and… everyone lost someone when we fled. Us more than most, and I realised that the more the Inquisition grew, the more it would be necessary for its elves to feel safe." 

“So… this is an alienage?” Reyna hated them, whenever the chevaliers, soldier or Templars caught her in any given town she’d always be dragged back to the alienage no matter what she said.

“No.” Frank shook his head, “This is our home. We live here by choice, that is the difference.” 

Clara continued, “We are a small community in the middle of Skyhold. It helped us. To make a home here after so many were lost at Haven, gave us something to hope for. But we don’t exclude people here. Look-” Pointing again, Reyna followed her gaze to the mid floor, where there was a pair of dwarves there leaning against the wall speaking to an elf. As she watched the group, a cluster of children dashed past, one of whom was an even smaller dwarf which the pair of them smiled at as he ran away from his parents laughing as he went.

“So… all the elves live here?”

“Not all. Elaine refuses but she knows she’s welcome, as are anyone who wishes to be part us.” Clara smiled at the red head, softly bumping her with an elbow.

Elaine took a sip of her own tea, “I don’t want to take up space. Besides I love my room.”

Frank grunted, “S’too far away, Spitfire. We miss you on your journeys.”

“Aww, but I always come back.”

As the conversation shifted, Reyna sipped at another cup of tea while she narrowed her eyes at the elf sitting opposite, considering. She had been prepared to meet others like herself, she had been around for a long time. She hadn’t expected to see someone so integrated with the people, it was almost seamless. She even saw the twining edges of a vallaslin spiralling around from her back to her neck.

Shaking herself out of it, she took a deep breath and shook herself out of her thoughts. There was a job to do, they needed to focus. “Hey… Elaine, do you think you could show me back to the main hall? I should find my wife.” 

She nodded, brushing a bundle of deep orange hair behind her ear and moving to stand, “Sure, c’mon then,” And went to say her goodbyes.

***

“Oi Varric, you seen Anya’s mum?”

“She’s standing right next to you, Spitfire.”

“Her other mum.”

He gave a short laugh before pointing with his quill towards the door next to him, “Last I heard she was looking at Chuckles’ murals.” He turned to Reyna with that same shit-eating grin, “Seems the pair of you can’t take two steps without the whole of Skyhold hearing about it.”

She rolled her eyes, distaste colouring her features as she thanked both Elaine and Varric reaching for the handle and making her way through the two sets of doors to find Yelena.

She found her in a room very reminiscent of Lanaste tower, with the exception of the spaced out levels and balconies. And the murals of art along the walls reminding her so much of her dreams that she felt her breath catch, and she had to remind herself where she was after a moment.

Cariño? There you are,” Yelena turned at the sound of the door, smiling and reaching idly for her wife as she wandered closer. The two women holding hands in the middle of this space, watching over drawing and paintings of their daughters’ accomplishments as Herald of Andraste, and leader of the Inquisition. There wasn’t a feeling that could be put into words seeing all of this. No matter what mental preparations they’d done. 

And down the stairs that bald elf came just then, greeted with the sight of the two women once more. Caught unawares, he had time to consider all of his avenues before clearing his throat. 

Startling, they both turned their gazes his way, and once more moss green and storm grey eyes pierced into his own before he had time to consider what he’d done to warrant these glares.

“May I be of assistance?” Solas offered, used to the role by now.

There were a few beats of silence that seemed to stretch the tension in the rotunda to uncomfortable levels, and Reyna felt herself step protectively in front of her wife. Angling herself as if to cast a defensive spell at any moment. “Some… advice, perhaps?”

He didn’t reply out loud, only moved to stand behind his desk as if to put something solid between this new elf and him. Motioning for her to continue.

Yelena gripped her hand that little bit tighter, as if cautioning her. But Reyna continued onward, “Hypothetically. If there was a threat to an organisation such as the Inquisition, a threat from within that no one will expect, what direct action should be taken to weed out this threat?”

Solas felt his skin crawl at ever syllable uttered by this Dalish in front of him. But maintained his careful composure as he tilted his head, “I do not believe I am most suited to answer that.”

Yelena waved a dismissal, “We are asking you.”

Reyna continued, baring down and stepping closer to the desk, “And, hypothetically, there are certain people who know of this threat within. That were tasked with their own missions and duties. If there is one such person with the opportunity to eliminate this threat, knowing that their mission would fail should they let it persist. What actions would you take, Solas?”

A sharp warning jolt shot down his spine as she spoke his name, filled with loathing. He hadn’t heard it spoken this way in a very long time. Who was this? 

But they were waiting for him to reply, his composure nearly shattered, he took a breath before replying. “If my duty was to fulfil my mission, I would do whatever it took.”

A vicious sneer curled over her features, the blue of her vallaslin crackling like lightning as she stared him down for another moment. Then leaning back towards her wife, she closed her eyes and schooled her features.

Footsteps before a door swung open and a familiar Qunari form appeared through the door to the battlements. Anya had her glasses sat upon her nose, face scrunched up in annoyance and buried in a letter in front of her as she entered the room.

Tension dissolving, Yelena and Reyna moved in sync towards their daughter, greeting her for the morning and idly chatting for a few moments. Solas watching on from his desk, pretending to have recovered from the previous conversation. 

But as Yelena moved to direct them towards the great hall to sit down, Anya sighed and held up the letter she’d been holding. “I can’t. I have to deal with this.”

“What is it ciervo pequeño?” Yelena fussed at Anya’s side, touching her elbow and looking into her face with concern. 

“It is… worrying.” Letting out a breath, Anya glanced over letter once more, running a hand under her glasses to rub at her eyes, “First thing this morning, we received a missive out of the Black Emporium in Kirkwall. The Antiquarian there requests our presence, ‘aid’ is what it says here.” Letting her hand drop, “He is not known to be asking for help in this way. It is concerning, to say the least. I… am going to have to leave immediately for Kirkwall, this will be important.” Putting the letter down, her shoulders were slumped in defeat as she glanced down at her parents. She’d been so overjoyed to see them finally; it had been almost a year since she’d spoken to them in person. She’d missed it. And now she would miss their visit all because an immortal idiot couldn’t protect his shop, it wasn’t fair.

But she had her duties, it was her job to help.

Reyna and Yelena glanced over at each other, once more seeming to read far into what the other was saying through their eyes. Wanting to help Anya feel better, but not knowing how until, after a moment, a switch flicked and they turned back to her excitedly. “We will join you.” 

“Yeah!” Reyna grinned, wrapping an arm around Anya’s middle and leaning into her, “Road trip with the parents, we’ll get to see our da’len in action, and spend more time together.”  

Anya somehow looked both reluctant and happy, “Are… you sure? The road can be rough.”

“Oh pish posh,” Yelena waved a hand, “We have journeyed farther than you ever will. We can protect ourselves; we are not old ladies yet.”

“I beg to differ, mother.” 

“I should put you in time out-”

Chapter Text

“Up and at em, Vhenan! We’re hitting the road again!” Reyna for once was awake far before Yelena, having not slept a wink the night before a road trip. Ever since she was small she’d always loved adventure, and it’d been a mixture of nerves and excitement that kept her awake. Even now, grown up and wise about the world, she still revelled in that feeling. It was familiar. Constant.

Yelena who, out of the two of them, was a morning person, grumbled in Antivan as she sat up from the bed. Rubbing her face, she glanced outside to the crisp morning, where the setting moons and rising sun met to cast a light orange glow over Skyhold. Not responding to Reyna yet, she swung her legs over the bed and retreated towards their en suite, the door swinging behind her for a handful of seconds before suddenly she was pushing the door open again, long embroidered robe tied around her, dragging behind her on the floor, her blonde corkscrew curls now gathered atop her head like a cloud spun from gold, all traces of sleep gone from her face. “Alright, breakfast?”

After eating and getting dressed, the pair gathered their things and made their way back to their horse, catching up with Anya along the way. She was travel ready in her Qunari robes, holding a bowl of oatmeal and eating it with a spoon as she clomped down the stairs. The night before, Reyna had gone up to her room to undo the braids in her hair. It’d been a small part of their family traditions when Anya was younger; her hair was extremely thick, and allowed for those tight kinds of braids that Reyna had grown up with in her Clan. Anya would sit on the floor, attempting to read a book but struggling anyway, and secretly listen to her mamae hum to herself as she gathered and braided her hair.

Last night she’d undone the tightly gathered strands, giving the ends a much-needed trim, and at Anya’s behest redid them into thick twists, entwining gold beads in them to match her horns. 

Yelena offered both of them a huge smile as they reached the bottom of the stairs, “Your hair looks ever beautiful, ciervo pequeño.”

Anya ducked her head and made sure to chew and swallow her food before replying, “Thank you, mother.”

Reyna shot her wife a knowing grin, “This one wants to look beautiful for a certain elf.”

“Oh? Hmm, will Sera be joining us, then?" 

“No!”

“We are only teasing, mi querido.”

“Why not? I was looking forward to getting to know her.” Reyna seemed genuinely disappointed at the news, and a little bit concerned, “We didn’t scare her did we?” 

“No, mamae I swear. She has commitments with her organisation, and cannot accompany us all the way to Kirkwall. She did want to come.” Reyna pursed her lips, not really buying it but only shooting a look at Yelena they let the matter drop as they arrived at the stables.

Those accompanying them were already milling about, despite the early hour.

Varric was sat on a barrel, counting the amount of ammo for his crossbow. He’d actually requested to accompany Anya when he’d discovered they were heading to Kirkwall, citing that it was his home, that his knowledge of the city would be helpful, and that he ‘wanted to check on a few things’. He was chatting with Elaine, who was sat on the floor, blinking sleepily into her own bowl of oatmeal and looking like she very much regretted the life choices that led her to be awake this early. Leliana had asked her to join them in place of a handful of Inquisition soldiers, also wishing for her to pass some things onto her scouts stationed in the city. Then, lastly, Solas was readying his horse a small distance away from the other two. Having requested to join the party himself, in order to investigate the mysteries of the Black Emporium. If he had any other motives for wanting to join them, he kept them to himself.

“Hello all,” Anya heaved a sigh, depositing her bowl on a barrel next to the door as she walked in, “Thank you for coming, hopefully the Antiquarian is being overly dramatic, and this will not be too painful.”

“This will be fun, da’len.” Reyna reached up to pat her daughter on the shoulder for a moment.

Yelena nodded in agreement, “Indeed, I look forward to seeing you in action, Anya.”

Suddenly there was a load groan as Elaine pushed herself off the ground to a standing position, “Phew let’s get going then, yeah? I’ve never been to Kirkwall but I wanna see!” 

“Oh don’t worry Spitfire, we’ll get there soon enough and you’ll be able to see for yourself what a shithole the place is.”

They rode out in very much the same way that Reyna and Yelena had rode in not two days before. With a mission, and barely an idea of where it would lead them. And If anyone saw the stare of calculated, considering anger directed at the back of Solas’ head from Reyna, they didn’t comment on it.

***

“The party stepped onto the piss filled, blood encrusted streets of Lowtown. The mixture of the Hanged Man’s signature ale and vomit lingering on the air. Hearing groans of beggars, the echo of whores at their trade, the looming feeling of impending doom and failure on the wind.” Varric gestured grandly, narrating with a grand town as the party gathered themselves a little away from the boats.

“I feel right at home,” Elaine sniffed, looking a little wistful. 

But Reyna was excitedly tugging on Yelena’s sleeve, “A Tethras original?! Right of the cuff?" 

Anya’s sigh could probably be heard all the way from Darktown, rubbing at her temples where her horns began to stave off the migraine. “Varric please stop narrating. We talked about this.”

“Can’t help it, Inquisitor, sometimes you’re filled with inspiration.” The dwarf flashed a grin, winking in the direction of Elaine, who was in the middle of determining what substance the puddle at their feet was. She briefly considered asking Solas what it was, but he was keeping to himself on this trip, more than usual.

“On your own time, Storyteller. Right now we have to get to… where are we going?” Starting to move, Anya paused and glanced around the docks.

Moving forward, Varric gathered his bag and stood next to her with a pat on the arm he could reach, “Hightown’s where we’re going, Inquisitor. I’ve been looking after Hawke’s old estate. I’m sure she won’t mind.”

Reyna grinned at her wife, hefting her pack onto her shoulders and helping Yelena with hers, even though the Antivan was far stronger of the too, “Let’s get going then, mah ma falon en!”

As they stepped off the dock and ventured towards the steps that led towards the rest of Lowtown, Varric leading the way, one member of the group passed by a set of huge doors to the right they were barricaded completely shut. Elaine paused, staring at them.

“Hold on a second.” She turned towards everyone else, who simply stared at her, “That’s where the Qunari Compound was, right? When they occupied?”

“Yes,” Varric’s light tone faded a little bit as he stepped forward. 

“I’m just thinking, and I hate saying it, but Anya I think you should wear a hood.” Yelena visibly bristled at the suggestion, and Reyna reached for both her hand and then Anya’s as her daughters’ shoulders clenched as if braced for a hit.

Elaine winced, sounding extremely apologetic, “It hasn’t been that long since their attack on Kirkwall, is all I meant to say. If we wish to move through the city, particularly Hightown, unharassed, I only mean to suggest that we be careful. And let’s be honest, we don’t exactly blend in. There’s only one human in this entire group.”

“True…” Solas tapped his chin, glancing over at the others and speaking up for almost the first time since they’d docked, “It may be wise to attempt the subtle approach.” Only Yelena and Elaine saw the uncontrolled twitch of anger on Reyna’s face as he spoke. With a determined click of her jaw she stepped up next to Anya, who looked absolutely crestfallen as she tugged on the hood of her robes.

“Let them say what they want, ma’nehn.”

“You have nothing to be ashamed of.” Yelena said, eyes creasing at the corners, reaching to grasp her wife’s hand as she wandered closer.

Anya shot them both a small smile, but shook her head, “It will be quicker this way, mamae.”

And so the group ascended the stairs up towards Hightown with the infamous Varric Tethras leading the way. 

*** 

“Bodhan and Sandal holed up here long after Hawke fled Kirkwall, not sure where they went but the only one here now is Orana, she’s the housekeeper? But she does a lot of work with the refugees and the Alienage so, she’s often not around.” Varric prefaced as he opened the door to the Hawke estate, “When I heard we were heading home, I sent a raven ahead so she knew we’re coming.”

“Hmm, interesting.” Yelena followed close on his heels as they stepped through the doors, instantly warmth from the fireplace beyond the entryway greeted the party. The scent of freshly baked bread and roasting meats greeted them with a homely welcome. She smiled broadly as she looked around the main hall, “I had heard the estates in Kirkwall were magnificent, I am glad to be staying here Señor Tethras,” She bowed her head a little.

Said dwarf chucked a little, motioning them further into the mansion. Solas seemed rather unimpressed in comparison to Elaine, who was looking around as if Satinalia had come early.

“Yeah… this place is special though. Hawke fought hard to get it back for her mother…” He took a deep breath, looking around the halls as if seeing how it had been when there was a family actually living in it, “I can still see Hawke teaching Fenris to read over in the library.” 

Elaine shook herself out of her awe-filled trance and walked over to him, patting him on the shoulder, “Good to be home, yeah?” 

He was quiet for a moment, breathing in slowly and still glancing around him, looking at a house that seemed to be filled with ghosts of a time that had long passed. His jaw tightened, and his lips pressed together as he gave an almost imperceptible nod, “Good to be home.”

After a moment of silence, Anya stepped into the room after shedding her hood and coat, throwing her arms around the shoulders of her two mothers, towering above them both. “What smells so delicious?” 

“That’ll be Orana’s cooking. C’mon let’s eat and I’ll show you all to a room.” Solas excused himself to find his own room for some reason, half telling himself that he wished to rest and half telling himself that he did not wish to dine with the elven women in the party (both of whom hated him, one he knew the reason behind, and the other he didn’t).

Elaine rolled her eyes at his retreating back, and patted Varric on the shoulder again, “Mmmm I’m hungry, does Orana need help cooking bacon ‘cause I smell bacon-” 

Orana welcomed them to the estate once more as they wandered towards the kitchen, insisting on them sitting down while she served dinner, then sat in the chair at the head of the table. She was the host so, she got the position of power.

The group ate and filled up on drink for the next few hours as the sun ducked below the city skyline outside. For the Inquisitor, it was simply nice to spend time with both of her parents, it had been a long time since the days where they would eat together as a family, talking about their days, their worries.

Afterwards though, they all individually retreated to their own rooms, there was plenty of room for them all to have their own space. With Yelena and Reyna sharing the largest room, the hearth in the corner spreading warmth through the space, they took the first clear breath as the door closed behind them. Finally letting their travel fall from their shoulders as they ventured further into the room.

They were settled quickly, too tired to do anything other than kiss each other good night, and crawl under the covers to at last rest in the first proper bed of the journey to Kirkwall.

Reyna was already lying down, legs and arms akimbo and hair fanned out on the pillow behind her, vallaslin almost jumping off her skin in the low light of the fire, eyes shut and welcoming sleep. But Yelena had always been the opposite, with a very strict night time routine that involved washing her face of the day, stretching out her muscles, and tying her curls back in a braid for the night before sitting up to read a while before sleep.

It was the moment she turned the page of her book, a small one she’d found in the Library that she recognised as an Antivan book of children’s tales, that a small knock sounded at the door. 

As she glanced up from the pages the book, she spied Anya at the door, out of her robes and into more comfortable clothing, devoid of shoes and gear, smiling sheepishly as she knocked. 

“Mother-” 

“Is everything alright?” Yelena moved to get up, but Anya was already shaking her head as she stepped further into the room, motioning for her to stay where she was. 

Yelena sat back into the pillows as Anya sat across from her on the left side of the bed. Pulling her legs up to cross them under her, shaking her head and laughing at Reyna, who had fallen asleep not moments ago, but was snoring lightly already.

“I just saw Elaine in the hallway,” The Qunari began as Yelena carefully closed her book, and sat up from the pillows, “She wanted to go out alone, something about Leliana’s contacts and the Blooming Rose? I am unsure how safe it is for an elven woman alone in Kirkwall in the middle of the night.”

“Hmmm,” Yelena reached over and grasped her daughters’ hands, inspecting the state of her nails and frowning at the discovery that she’d been biting them again. Glancing back up to meet Anya’s eyes, “Judging by that sword of hers, Thorn she called it? I would say she was more than capable of taking care of herself.” 

“That is true… I still sent Varric with her, just incase.”

“A wise choice.”

Comfortable silence stretched between them, they hadn’t sat like this in a very long time.

But there was something in the air still, that had gone unsaid since they arrived. With the news out of the Black Emporium, with their arrival, with all of the things that had happened since they’d reached Skyhold, there hadn’t been time.

But there was now, and Anya was never one to leave things unsaid.

“Mother… I wanted to ask you something. And I don’t want it to seem as if I am ungrateful, or not happy to see you both but…” She looked down at their hands, mumbling the words towards them, “Why are you both here? As much as you love me, and I know you do, it seems as if you might have other reasons behind wanting to accompany me.”

Yelena sighed, replacing her book on the table next to the bed and reaching once more for her daughters’ hands. They had always been bigger than her own, but that hadn’t stopped Anya when she was little from wrapping her fingers around one of her own instead of holding her hand. They’d been a comfortable family, one that expressed love with hugs and touching as well as words. And Yelena was certain that this was the one thing she missed most about Anya growing up and journeying out into the world, it was that comfortable knowledge and reassurance that she could reach out for a hand.

“You know… when I first left Antiva, it was to go to a Fereldan wedding. Some distant cousin of mine, Orianna, was marrying Fergus Cousland. A love match. At that age that was something I had not understood. Women were married to men of influence, for political gain, for access, for power, not for love.” She took a breath, continuing with a distant look in her eyes. 

“That was when I first understood that a love match would never be for me, not in my family. At that wedding, I met a man named Vaughan Kendells. Almost ten years my senior. My father introduced me as if a prize pig displayed for slaughter. This was a glimpse into my future, I knew. If I remained, I would be married to Vaughan, a man I knew to be as disgusting and abhorrent as he was craven.” 

“I’ve heard the story, mother.” Anya said gently, “That was when you met mamae.” 

“I know.” She said with a smile, “But you will listen regardless.”

Anya didn’t reply, only shut her lips together and smiled a little, waiting.

“We did not leave Fereldan immediately, and I grew bored within the confines of the estate. So we snuck away, outside the walls. Being the only girl, amongst all boys, they would always wander away together, and leave me to fend for myself. It was at this time, I got lost in the woods, and heard someone yelling, causing trouble not far away.” She smiled a little as Anya leaned closer, listening intently, “Upon closer inspection, I encountered an elf. She was my age, nearly twenty summers, with beautiful tattoos on her face the likes of which I had never seen. She was upset, getting angry with herself as she held her staff aloft, practicing magic that she seemed to be loosing proficiency at with each time she tried.

“When she discovered I was there, she didn’t reject me, she offered me some of her water. There was never anyone I had met that welcomed me for any other reason than that they wanted to. I learned her name, I learned that she was Dalish, and I learned that she had been rejected as the First of her clan, because of her uncontrolled magic, and her reluctance to keep the line ‘pure’ as she stated it. She did not wish to bond with a man, purely out of necessity.

“I had never thought I would have as much in common with this elf as I did. And it wasn’t just that, I knew she was special. Beyond anything, I knew without a doubt that this was someone extraordinary. So, when we had met every day of that week, and she offered to run away from her clan for me, so that we could be together, I do not believe I had it in me to hesitate. The future was in front of me, and if I declined, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life.

“And… how could I? It led me to you.” Yelena reached forward, touching her hand to Anya’s cheek.

“You did not answer my question." 

She dropped her hand with a short laugh, “I may have, in my own way.”

Mother.”

Alright,” She took a deep breath, shaking her head, “If you are not ready, I cannot explain it to you. Other than…” Her eyes trailed from Anya’s down to her wife’s snoring form next to them, a softening and warmth blooming across her freckled and lined features as she looked at the elf, “We have a mission. I am unsure if we will fulfil it, only that it matters. To your mamae, and because it matters to her, it matters to me.” 

Anya nodded, looking back down at her hands, watching as Yelena reached out to tug the blanket up over Reyna’s form as she shivered a little. Wondering if maybe, someday, she’d trust and believe in someone, with her whole being, with no reservations, as much as her mother believed in her mamae.

Chapter Text

They’d all spent the morning separate, doing their own errands around the city. Varric had disappeared very early, and returned smelling distinctly of The Hanged Man just after noon. Elaine had ventured out with Orana, who was headed towards the Alienage for the day, citing that she thought the elven woman might need protection. Solas wasn’t seen either for most of the day, it would be assumed that he’d kept to his room for the entire morning until it was to meet up.

The afternoon after they’d arrived, everyone regrouped outside an entrance to Darktown. For all of Varric’s narrating, none of them were particularly prepared for how utterly horrid the stench, the darkness, or the level of misery that hung in the air around Darktown. 

Having ventured deeper, the only one who had been there before was Anya, and she knew exactly where she was going. Even Varric hadn’t seen it before, despite Hawke being a frequent customer.

They’d arrived at a room where the sewers flooded into, the stench was absolutely abysmal. But Anya had powered through, going over towards the stone wall to the right, pushing aside some of the crates and taking out an inch of charcoal as she looked at the wall. Etching a rune onto the surface, Solas watched with fascination as she lay her palm over it and charged the rune with magic. She backed away as the section of the wall shook for a moment before slowly swinging backward, an illuminated passage visible through the small crack.

After the party filed through to the other side, the wall slammed back into place with another rumble.

The group found themselves standing on a dirt platform, a narrow corridor spanning 30 feet in front of them. Along the walls spanned shelves overgrow with mossy vines, littered with black candles, the wicks glowing with eerie blue light. The ground beneath them was a mixture of wet mud and stone, the platform short before it gave way to a rickety wooden bridge, seemingly holding together with old rope and pure chutzpah. On the other side of the rickety bridge stood the Black Emporium, its light creeping up the corridor towards the group. Almost welcoming.

Sitting atop a huge chair on a raised platform in the centre of the room in the distance, seemed to be a skeleton wearing a blanket of his own skin, hanging around each limb like leathery bandages. He seemed to have frozen with a book in his hand, the huge tomb covering what would have been his face, if he still even looked half the humanoid shape he had been. He now sported several extra limbs, seemingly sprouting from hips and shoulders and sides, wrapping around the back of the grand chair he was sat upon.

“So I never exactly understood how to get to the Black Emporium.” Elaine let out a yelp as her coat brushed her leg, making her jump in the gloom of the cave, “But I never thought of anything like this." 

Anya laughed, Yelena and Reyna smiling at each other behind her back as they heard how free she sounded, “Dorian likes to say that the Antiquarian lives for the dramatic.”

“Incorrect,” Yelena coughed, backing away from the black wax candle she’d sniffed, “He lives due to his own idiocy.”

“IS SOMEONE SPEAKING OF I? ME? THE ANTIQUARIUM OF THE BLACK EMPORIUM?”

“No!" 

“OH… CARRY ON, THEN!”

As they crossed the rickety bridge and entered the Emporium, everyone in the party excepting the Inquisitor tense and glancing around curiously, the Antiquarian seemed to revive.

“INQUISITOR! IT IS YOU!” His voice reverberated the entire room. Grand, throaty, and completely at odds with his corpse-like appearance, “YOU HAVE RECONSIDERED MY OFFER?" 

“No, Xenon.” Anya wandered closer to him, idling at the foot of the stairs up to him and his throne, “I would prefer to keep my hand.” 

“IT WOULD BE AFTER YOUR DEATH, OF COURSE.” He sounded deeply offended, to his credit, “THERE WOULD BE NO USE FOR IT WITH YOU STILL ATTATCHED.”

 As she shook her head, she gestured for the others to relax, and the party began to spread out. Looking around at the different shelves while Anya discussed the problems he’d been having with the Antiquarian. 

“You mentioned someone has been stealing from you?”

“HMM,” He gave a guttural cough, “THAT IS CORRECT.”

“But I thought you needed an invitation?”

Solas immediately wandered closer towards the table piled with tomes and ancient texts, excitedly lifting them and inspecting the titles before moving on to the next. Seemed he was looking for something in particular, glancing over the table and towards the narrow doorway behind Xenon, where more shelves could be seen.

Before he could step towards it, Elaine snuck up behind him and tapped his shoulder, muttering to him so quietly that her words couldn’t be heard over the shouting of the Antiquarian.

“URCHIN? BRING ME A MOIST TOWELETTE!”

“Can we return to the matter at hand please, Xenon?” Anya almost begged, “How often has the thief returned?”

Reyna, having ventured closer to a mirror on the left hand side of the Emporium. It dominated its section, looking vaguely familiar but she couldn’t quite remember why. Crossing her arms in front of her, she felt her eyes wander over towards the book section.

Finding Elaine and Solas huddled rather close together, a giant book open in front of them as they whispered to each other in what sounded like distant elven. She felt her eyes narrow, anger once again filling her at the sight of him behaving this way. Just one chance, that was all she needed, and it would be over. Anya would be safe. 

Rage clouded her features, she could see, as she turned back and met her green eyes in the mirror. Her mind wandered once again as she stared at her reflection, and she felt a weird feeling in her stomach for a moment as she watched something shift in the surface. The vallaslin to Dirthamen, the intricate electric blue lines and dots that she’d lived with for most of her life, she watched as they seemed to fade from her skin. Her features reverted to a blank canvas for all of a moment. She felt her lips part, staring at it as if in a trance- 

Cariño-” Suddenly Yelena was there, hands on her shoulders and turning her away from the mirror. Suddenly snapping her out of the trance she’d been in. Silently she held up a hand, still seeing the blue lining her skin on the back of her hand and breathing a sigh of relief.

“So you are telling me the thief dropped their bag? Why didn’t you lead with that?”

“I DID NOT WANT TO ROB YOU OF THE ENTIRE STORY. I AM AN EXCEPTIONAL STORYTELLER.” As Anya sniggered into her hand, attempting to keep a straight face, Xenon seemed to sit in his brag for a moment before he turned, “WHERE IS THAT URCHIN? FETCH THE SATCHEL URCHIN!”

Varric, who had been looking over the selection of armour and trying on coats, had to dodge out of the way as a gaunt, rag-covered urchin seemed to materialise from under the floorboards. The kid looked startled at the amount of people milling about the place, but quickly recovered, nodding and darting away towards the back room.

There were several sounds that reached the group through the relative silence while they waited. Footsteps, growling, crashing glass, a cat screeching, before Urchin rematerialised with a worn leather book bag. Darting over towards Anya, who took the bag with a smile. Urchin replied with a toothy grin, showing a few missing, but then dived under one of the tables again and disappeared.

“What the hell…” Elaine ran over to the table, leaning down to see where the kid went but not finding anything.

She straightened up with wide eyes, mouthing the curses again as Anya dug through the satchel, kneeling and spreading out the contents on the stairs, “Lyrium potions… pencils… notebook, what is this language?”

“IT APPEARS TO BE GIBBERISH.”

“It makes sense to them,” She hummed, turning back to the items in front of her. “This is almost like a pencil but… there is ink inside?” Muttering a little quieter, she found a scroll at the very bottom of the bag, pulling it out and unrolling it, revealing a hastily sketched out map. It had that weird writing again, and drawings sketched out along the edges.

The rest of the group slowly returned back to Anya’s side, everyone having their turn inspecting the items. Varric lifted up the odd pencils, lifting a scrap of vellum off the floor and scribbling a few lines on it, letting out an impressed sound, “This is amazing.”

“Do you recognise this map, Varric?” Anya turned to him, kneeling, she was his height, “Is it anywhere in Kirkwall?”

Depositing the odd pencils where found them, he knelt down next to Anya and frowned down at the map.

“YOU THERE, ELF. YOUR HAIR IS RED.”

“Uh…” Elaine looked left and right, “Yeah?”

“I HAD RED HAIR ONCE.”

“That’s nice.”

“It looks kind of like one of the maps Bartrand drew when we were looking for an entrance for our expedition.” He said slowly, running a hand over the ink drawing underneath he other markings, “Before Hawke found Blo-Anders and we used his.”

“I didn’t know you considered other entrances,” Elaine tilted her head down, trying to peek at the map over his shoulder. 

I didn’t,” Varric stood up with an annoyed huff, “Bartrand thought he could do it all himself. He took a few mercenaries, ventured into a few of the entrances around Kirkwall and hit a lot of dead ends before he gave up and went with my plan to find a warden.”

Anya stood up too, allowing Elaine to kneel down and look over the items, Solas leaning to peek over her shoulder. Silently, she snatched two of the odd pencils and tucked them away into one of her many coat pockets before anyone could notice.

Anya rubbed at her eyes, thinking quickly, “Was it really a dead end?” 

“I’m absolutely sure, the passage went completely abandoned, it never led anywhere.” Varric scratched his chin.

“Someone may have excavated it since you were last there,” Solas shook his head over the map, straightening up, “I do not understand this language, it looks like mere scribbles.”

Elaine, who wasn’t facing the group but looking over the map, was frowning and muttering to herself something about ‘Hebrew’ and messy handwriting. As she heard the word, Reyna wandered closer to the elf, narrowing her eyes at the looping characters doodled all over the paper, arrows pointing to certain points along the path seeming to indicate either landmarks or weak points she wasn’t sure.

The younger elf straightened up, for a moment that seemed to freeze in time she met Reyna’s eyes with a serious, knowing expression. A kind of silent understanding seemed to pass between them, unnoticed by the others. There were no words spoken, and yet they were on the same wavelength as they turned back to the group, who’d arrived at a decision.

“LONG LIVE THE INQUISITION.”

Anya heaved a huge sigh, walking over and rolling up the map before tucking it away in her satchel, “It appears we are headed for The Deep Roads.”

Elaine huffed, crossing her arms, “I hate The Deep Roads.” 

“You have been down there?” Yelena seemed surprised and a little impressed as she asked.

“Not really I just hate them.”

“Seconded,” Varric threw a sympathetic shrug up at Anya, “Sorry, Inquisitor.”

“I must admit I am not fanatical about this idea.” Solas chimed in. 

But Anya just sighed, pointing towards the door, “Let’s just go.”

“WHERE’S MY BACKSCRATCHER?” Xenon’s gasp reverberated through the entire party, as they stepped down back into the corridor leading out, “DID THAT THIEVING CAD TAKE IT TOO?! URCHIN – SCRATCH MY BACK!”