Year 9:41 Dragon, THE FIRST TIME
Every one of Ellana’s senses clamored for her full attention. Her skin tingled under the press of magic, her ears pricked at the rush of water, her nose sniffed at the cool, damp air while her tongue tasted the earthy musk her inhale left behind, but all she could focus on was the sight of Solas’ pale, glowing hands waving in front her face.
If Keeper Istimaethoriel were still alive, she would be mortified to see what her former First was doing. Guilt ebbed inside Ellana but it crashed soundlessly against curiosity and indignation.
Solas’ hands were impossibly gentle as they slid over her face, barely touching her skin. His magic flared minty green and warm where it painlessly pierced her flesh. As his hands trailed to the side of her face, his magic dimmed and she peered at his face. The light of his power danced around him, reflecting in his eyes and bouncing off the panes of his face. In the sharp light, so close and so gentle, he was the most beautiful man she’d ever seen.
His eyes were fixed on his task, but as the last of his magic sparked away, he looked at her like no one had ever looked at her before. Solas was a powerful mage, but his true power was in these moments where he made Ellana feel every sensation like a punch.
Without her Vallaslin, she felt more naked than if she was actually naked, but she liked the feeling. She caught his eyes. His mouth slid into a reassuring smile.
“Ar lasa mala revas,” he said, “You are free.”
She felt it as their eyes stayed locked. She felt it as they stood up together, weightless. She felt it as she dared imagine a future - one with Corypheus vanquished. One of safety. One where Solas always looked at her the way he did now, every single day. One together.
She was free.
Year 9:41 Dragon, NOW
The fiery streak of sunrise cuts through the sky and every inch of Ellana’s body aches for sleep as they approach Skyhold. She adjusts the borrowed scarf around her throat for the dozenth time, just to keep her body moving so she doesn’t slump over on her horse.
She’s flanked by Josephine and Cullen on their own mounts. Neither of them speak, so Ellana ignores the worried glances Josephine keeps shooting her way when she thinks Ellana isn’t looking.
The crisp Skyhold air stabs her nose with every intake of breath, but she’s grateful for the sensation. The cold air in her nose, the ache of her throat, her hands gripped around reigns, the warmth of her horse against her legs ground her and remind her she’s still in reality.
When they finally reach the stables, she isn’t surprised to see Dorian approaching with a walk a little too slow to be a completely casual early morning stroll. She can picture him pacing around Skyhold’s library, glancing out the window every few seconds and racing down the steps as soon as their riding party appeared in the distance as pinpricks. The thought settles like warm tea in her bruised throat.
She nods to Dorian as she commands her horse to stop. Ellana dismounts quickly, patting her horse and pointedly keeping her eyes straight so she can pretend she doesn’t see Josie’s head turn toward her. She takes longer than she needs to remove her items and guide her horse back into the stables. She's even more careful not to look back at the riders behind her. Ellana chances a glance to her left and spots Dorian, standing mercifully alone.
As she strides toward Dorian, she’s stopped by Solas, who steps in front of her with his arms across his chest. She curses inwardly.
“Inquisitor,” he says. “I’d hope we could speak.” His assured posture is slumped into such a genuine distraught that she almost feels a tug of sympathy. “I am still feeling out of sorts. What happened tonight…there are…gaps. Worrying gaps. I know you had recent experience with something similar. And you were the only one with me on the balcony, I-”
“Of course,” Ellana interrupts. “I’m always happy to help you, Solas. We’ll talk later, I promise. After I take the longest nap of my life.”
He blinks slowly, his lip drawing into a line. “Yes, certainly,” he replies, his tone inscrutable. Then he puts on a smile, the one he used before an intense bout of brooding. “You need rest after your hard work at the palace. You should be proud of what you’ve achieved here today. My problems can wait.”
“Thank you,” she says briskly, and walks past him. She doesn't turn around to see what his reaction is. At this point, she isn't sure she cares. Instead, she folds her hands behind her back and slowly walks toward Skyhold as Dorian reaches her and matches pace beside her.
Dorian smiles at her, eyes nearly twinkling. “I knew you would do it,” he says.
She raises an eyebrow. “Do what?”
He bumps her with his shoulder. “Find a better way. Still save the world. The usual Inquisitor thing.”
Save the day. Had she? There were so many loose threads. Solas could regain his memories again. Fen’Harel could kill her outright this time. Corypheus still plotted to destroy the world. And there was the matter of the mysterious forces that had Fen’hrel scared.
But that was the future. Who knew what it held?
Ellana smiles at Dorian, and for the first time in more than 2 years it is genuine. “I did what I said I would,” she says, “I killed Fen’Harel.”