Year 9:41 Dragon, THE FIRST TIME
Ellana felt like one of the support beams that lined the halls of Skyhold – ceaselessly pressed upon and never resting. As First of her clan, she thought she knew what it was to lead. Becoming the Inquisitor made her realize she knew nothing.
Her advisors ended another tense meeting abruptly – Corypheus hovered just out of reach, no one had any answers and everyone had someone to blame. As soon as Josephine suggested they try again tomorrow, Ellana strode out the door and didn’t know where she was going until she found herself staring at one of Solas’ unfinished paintings. She turned away, searching for the painter.
He sat behind his desk, buried behind paperwork. His slumped body looked like it was holding as much weight as Ellana. Solas had left without warning the day before. And just as suddenly, came back. The worst part for Lavellan wasn’t watching him leave. It was that brief moment when she wondered if he would ever return, and she realized he would take a part of her with him forever if he did.
Long fingers framed each side of a scroll. Solas wasn’t a beautiful man to most people. He never turned heads the way Cullen always would simply by walking past. But Ellana thought if anyone studied his elegant hands, they would swoon. She remembered the feeling of them pressing against either side of her face. He looked up at her as she walked toward him, and his blue eyes softened.
She made a show of looking around, bending over slightly to peer out the slit of his door. “It’s a nice night out,” she remarked.
“So it is,” he said, without looking, because he was still looking at her.
She straightened up. “I think I’ll go for a walk. Join me?”
To her delight, he did.
They walked around the ramparts, the air chilly but not uncomfortable. In the meeting room, Lavellan lost track of time, and now night was in full bloom. Skyhold never completely went to sleep – she could hear the sounds of movement and smell a fire burning somewhere – but this late at night the ramparts were nearly empty save for the occasional guard. She cherished the illusion that it was only the two of them right now, alone in the world with only the stars and the mountains watching.
Her eyes caught the pale outline of his hand, and it struck her how nice it would be to hold it. She reached out to entwine her fingers in his. He didn’t break his pace or acknowledge her touch, but he accepted the gesture and his thumb softly grazed hers.
She had her own worries she was dying to unload on him, but instead she looked at him sidelong and asked, “What’s on your mind?”
Solas paused before answering. She often envied how he could compose himself and gather his thoughts. Ellana’s thoughts overwhelmed her and spilled out of her mouth faster than she could grasp them.
“Many things,” he said finally, “I mourn my friend. I worry about the breach. I wonder what will happen if we don’t stop Corypheus. I think about you.”
Ellana felt her face flush, glad for lack of light. “You do?”
“Of course. I worry about you. About the enormous pressure on your shoulders,” he said. Ellana almost laughed, her cheeks still pink. They rounded a corner. He turned his head to look at her with a soft imitation of a smile on his face. “I am sorry, I did not mean to make it worse. I am sure you have enough on your mind.”
She waved him off with her other hand. “It’s ok. I worry too.” They kept up their leisurely pace, and she considered the soft weight of his hand in hers, the tingling pressure of his thumb against her skin. “Honestly, I’m terrified,” she said after a while. “A few months ago I was no one. Now I have this power that I don’t understand and it scares me. I know if I can’t figure it out, everyone will die.”
“You will,” he said.
“I have to,” she corrected. “But honestly, what scares me more is doing nothing. The best I can do is to try. Well, the best any of us can do is to try, really. It just never feels like it’s enough.”
Solas squeezed her hand gently, firing a bolt of sensation rippling up her arm, where it pierced through her heart. “You are strong, even though you shrink away from praise and credit. But you have one thing wrong,” he said.
His other hand rose to tuck a stray piece of hair behind her ear. “You were never no one. You were always important.”