A week had passed since they had come to Skyhold. Slowly, the debris had been cleared from the main hall and repairs were begun. All around him were the sounds of work. At first it began with bent backs and physical toil, and he watched as apprentice mages struggled to carry burdens magic might bear. When Solas first cleared the door to the rotunda with a gesture, matters changed. More mages gingerly coaxed a pile of rubble onto a tarp for others to haul it off with ease later, or drew dust from forgotten corners with a wave of their hands, rather than break their necks trying to reach with feather dusters. Suddenly, it was as if the mages had magic, rather than weapons.
The development was almost enough to distract him. It occupied him, yes, guiding unsure hands with a firm voice, but his eyes flickered towards the courtyard, towards the healing tents, often enough that week that he could not fool himself into forgetting. He had more that the path before them on his mind, something as terrifying as it was exciting. Someone that made him feel lighter, even on this side of the Veil, even at the mere sight of him.
Yet since arriving they had scarcely spoken, any conversation interrupted by Ian being called away by new stragglers finding Skyhold, whose need was far more urgent than Solas’s. The eagerness with which Ian took his leave made him second-guess himself, wondering if the affection he had felt in their kiss at Haven was a figment of his own imagination. This world offered no answers, the Veil drew heavy between them, and each coy word exchanged left him more exasperated, more eager for an answer.
A week, he decided, and a week he waits. ‘Til new arrivals trickle and the work slows, and Skyhold begins to look more like herself again.
On the seventh day, Solas finds himself glancing down towards the courtyard with more frequency than usual. When he spots Ian sitting idle, he wastes only enough time to brush anything that clings to the front of his sweater before he descends down towards the healing tents. His hands tangle together behind his back, feet brushing bare stone before they nestle upon worn grass. The path through the courtyard is already worn by soldiers’ boots, Solas leaves less of a mark on his path towards Ian.
The smell of pipeweed is in the air, freshly burned, and he feels almost guilty for interrupting a moment Ian no doubt stole for himself. It does not stop him, however, nor silence the gentle cough he clears his throat with to attract the other elf’s attention.
“Ian,” he began, a simple start he had debated to himself for days. To use his name, or something else… “Do you have a moment?”
The events that have transpired since the attack at Haven run together when he stops to think–a blur of cold winds and warm blood. Ian has seen little of the Inquisition’s new home since their arrival–indeed, has seen hardly anything besides the canvas spread of the healing tents and an occasional glance at a cloud-spattered sky. The stains on the backs of his hands, the way blood grits under his nails. Tired smiles on his patients faces–those that they’ve managed to help. The others…
He hasn’t seen much of Skyhold, yet. There is much to be done, and more every day.
He’s grateful, even through his weariness. That he is busy means that the Inquisition’s forces have survived, and he has always preferred the weariness that comes with tending the wounded than the heartache that accompanies tending to the dead.
The days blur together–the nights, too. Ian loses count of the sunrises, would fail to notice them save for the brilliant way the light mounts the ramparts to announce the coming day.
The urgency of his work begins to slow. Wounded arrive in straggling groups, and between their need he finds himself with time to sit, to breathe. Not to think. When he thinks, everything runs together in an unintelligible blur, and he remembers a clumsy kiss when the world had felt more certain.
Nothing feels certain, right now, and when he has time to think he considers the fool he’s made of himself. Solas has been busy–everyone has been so busy, but if Ian has time to breathe, that busy might have finally found itself a pace–but Ian knows it’s too much to hope the fool in him is forgotten. His heart tightens, fear and frets worrying about in his chest, and he tries to turn his thoughts.
A moment to himself, and he almost spends it letting his jumbled thoughts work him into tighter knots. Almost. He counts the seconds between his breaths, and pulls his pipe from the pouch at his hip, letting his eyes close when the smoke warms his lungs.
He tries to turn his thoughts, but he does not imagine the sound of his name. His heart–so recently calmed to a reasonable pace–leaps into his throat, and he can’t help the way he jumps, half-turning in his start, grateful he hadn’t been in the middle of an inhale.
“Solas!” Despite himself, he tries a smile. “You startled me.”
“I–” It feels desperate, the way his mind flies–trying to think of something, anything, to keep him from having to make a further fool of himself. Nothing occurs to him; there are no excuses to be made that do not ring as what they are. “Yes. A few moments, even.”
His ears flatten at the reaction: the smile that turns Ian’s lips, but does not crinkle the corner of his eyes, the beginning of a thought that does not end as it began, as if Solas had successfully cornered him. It is not an idea that settles well, and his stomach turns with nervousness. “If you would rather spend them alone, you will hear no further argument from me,” he says. “But we have scarcely spoken since we have arrived, and I confess, I have missed the sound of your voice.”
It is no idly spoken compliment, but the truth. Regardless of how his plans unfolded (and how often does everything fall neatly into place for him?) he will be grateful if something similar to the rapport they had before can be achieved. Solas steps several paces closer, hands hidden behind his back. “And it occurred to me– you likely have not had much time to see Skyhold. I remember you mentioned a garden in the Anderfels, and thought you might enjoy seeing what will become Skyhold’s.” The rubble had been cleared just a day ago, and no work has begun. It will be quiet, albeit overgrown, tangled from decades (centuries) of disuse, but he is confident Ian will see its potential.
Solas unclasps his hands, stretching one out towards Ian for him to take. Tugging him off the ground is like lifting a feather, and he tries not to imagine what would happen if he pulled Ian a few inches further towards him. He releases his hand, though the sensation lingers even in Ian’s absence. It flexes by his side absently, as his eyes lift towards the the entrance to the main hall, open for the first time in ages. “This way.”
His feet brush grass tips as he moves back the way he came, now with Ian at his side. His hands rediscover the spot behind the small of his back, and his mind rushes as everything he has been meaning to say hounds him at once.
Before another word leaves him, however, a question occurs to him: “How have you been?”
“No. I’ve–I’ve missed your company.”
He taps his pipe–nearly finished anyway–over to clear the ashes, tucking it away in his belt before gesturing, plaintively, for Solas to help him up.
Solas’s hand against his nearly stops Ian’s heart. He’s pulled to his feet and somehow loses his breath in the motion, a sudden swoop that lifts him beyond what heights he can reach on his own. Solas’s words simultaneously ease and agitate his fears–the lightness in his chest and head are disorienting, but he cannot help but take note of how quickly Solas releases his fingers.
“There’s a garden here?”
It’s an alluring thought–almost so much that he might forget how difficult it is to hear past the rushing in his ears. Those ears cant forward as he lengthens his step to bring him even with Solas.
“I–busy.” His ears fall again, and he grimaces. “I do not know if I can say I would rather I was not needed–I can better serve the wounded than the dead–but Haven…it’s been a very long time since…since I’ve seen…” Denerim, he thinks. The last real battle he’d been in. “But I have my health, yet. And my…my skills.”
Ian’s confession, soft though it may be, rekindles lost confidence. ‘Pride’ may be his name, but it is not blind pride. He is under no illusion that his company is universally pleasant, and if he were one moment spent with Sera will quickly rob him of that delusion. He smiles, gladder now than it was before, heart swelling foolishly. “Not a garden, but a potential one. Inquisitor Cadash expressed interest in using the space as such. For the moment it is still what nature made it.”
But most of all it is quiet, with less of a chance of prying ears hearing what he has to say. That is one thing he will miss about Haven, the snow always seemed to dampen the sound, and midnight chats were intimate even if someone slept in the hut beside them.
They pass banners freshly planted in the earth, Inquisition heraldry crowned with dwarven metal. A reminder, for any who try to forget the Herald is no human. “Haven was a terrible thing to live through,” he responds gravely. “And I fear it will not be the last battle before our goal is realised, but now that Corypheus has revealed himself he has lost the one edge he had in this fight. We will not be taken by surprise a second time.”
Skyhold’s doors welcome them, and as they enter a handful of faces turn briefly from their work to smile in greeting. The main hall still bears marks from an age of neglect, but light shines in from the windows upon the second floor. Yes, perhaps it highlights the cobwebs that persist, but it is not nearly as stifling as it felt a week ago. “I set up a workspace, should you find more time to spare in the days to come,” he says with a gesture to their right. The door is thrown open, inside a pile of debris is still shoved against the wall, but a desk has already been moved in. “It is rudimentary at the moment, when work on the main hall is finished I hope to do more with it.”
His arm sweeps around Ian’s shoulder, brushing them, guiding them to their left. The door to the gardens is still beaten and bent from the rocks that had been piled against the frame, but it opens with a gesture, magic greasing old hinges. “But this is what I wanted to show you…
Beyond the door, a rudimentary path has been carved through rotted wood and crumbled stone, towards what will one day be a garden. From here he can see vines that have grown over the walls and up the columns that align the walkway, curling towards the heavens. Solas pauses, allowing Ian to pass through first.
He follows Solas, though his own strides gain less ground. Whether or not Solas notices, Ian is uncertain. He pauses as they turn, and Ian closes the distance even as he shies away from the rise of stone walls. Solas’s workspace is spacious, high reaching walls and a circling stair, but he feels it tightening his throat as he takes it in. Skyhold is still a castle, and her walls are thickly mortared, and he prefers the courtyard and the canvas tents to the stones that circle him now. With the doors flung wide, he hasn’t far to look to find relief, but it will take some adjustment before he can convincingly portray anything but ill ease.
Solas’s touch at his shoulder is gentle, and prevents his thoughts from wandering too far. Ian follows his gesture, forcing a steady breath through his teeth as magic wills an aged door to yield. Something akin to a path expands beyond the threshold, soft dirt sighing beneath Ian’s boots as he follows its wanderings. Solas hangs back, gesturing for Ian to step ahead, and Ian is glad to return to the mountain air and the feeling of sun on his skin. It has only been a matter of moments, but he turns his face upward to let the rays brush his cheeks before he truly attempts to take in the garden.
“Oh…” It isn’t quite an exclamation, isn’t quite a sigh. The utterance is one of quiet wonderment, though the garden is, as Solas had warned, more as nature has made it than anything. Dark vines wind up partially crumbled columns, broad leaves disguising the stone as though behind a curtain. Grasses burst in uneven, ambitious clumps, stretching to reclaim what had once been paved. Tiny, unruly wildflowers–weeds, refusing the confines of any recognizable sense of order–scatter the field, thickest where the sunlight splashes.
Ian’s fingers catch at his lips, and he can feel the stretch of his smile beneath them. He almost wishes that the Inquisition might leave this place untouched, though he knows that an organization will have to present a ‘proper’ garden, if a garden they have at all. “Oh…Thank you. For–for sharing this with me. I have–I have been so…thank you.”
From behind, Ian’s pleasure is still obvious. The tension that had coiled in narrow shoulders loosens, now, as though sinking into a bath. Unsatisfied with the view, Solas moves forward, drawing level with the other elf. The garden is spared only a passing glance. Lifted hands are not enough to disguise the smile that steals across his face, eyes crinkling at their corners. The sight coaxes an affectionate smile from Solas. “Ara melava son’ganem.” Elvhen comes to him first before he adds, in a quieter voice, “You’re welcome.”
With some effort, he tears his eyes away from Ian and onto the garden. It is different than he remembers, but few things in Skyhold are the same. Human stonework has claimed it, but still its elvhen origins linger in the air. He wonders what Ian sees, what colour the blue wildflowers are to him, what emotion he thinks of when he beholds them. It is tempting to ask, but he pushes through the temptation, knowing the answers will only distract.
He allows his hand to touch Ian’s arm in passing as he continues on into the untamed garden. “I remembered what you said about gardening in the Anderfels,” he begins. The break in the wall that should allow him to pass through has been blocked by a bush, and so, instead, he climbs over the pony wall that has kept back as much nature as it could. Some vines have stolen over it, brushes his toes as he swings one leg over, and then the other with a soft grunt. “Then I imagined what you could accomplish here, where the environment is not so unforgiving.”
Grasses bend in his passing, either through magic means or the weight of his feet. Through the weeds he spies stone benches whose seats have been stolen by ivy. He half-turns, under the pretense of seeing if Ian has followed, but truth be told he more wished to set eyes upon him again.
The pretense does not last long, his gaze lingers, and his smile broadens. “And I thought the wildflowers might find a companion in your face. It seems I was correct.”
Fingers brush the fabric of his sleeve, and something warm and cold thrills up his spine. He stills until the touch passes, holding his breath as if it might aid the moment’s endurance. The warmth that blossomed shifted, taking root behind his ribs. When he inhales, the world spins, just for a moment, until the touch has ended and Solas has braced himself against a wall, heaving himself over. Ian hesitates, hovering until Solas has cleared the wall before he follows. He pulls himself up, but doesn’t quite drop over to the other side, perching on the wall amongst the ivy, one knee hugged close to his chest.
“You–um.” Ian’s voice catches, and his hand rises again, lips trembling against his fingertips. His fingers curl, and he tries again. “I didn’t–you remembered.” He tries to recall precisely what he had said, knows it had been a passing comment. Hardly worth hearing, let alone committing to memory. It’s surprising, though not unpleasant. It leaves him off balance, heat rising across the bridge of his nose and over his cheeks, and he ducks his head when Solas turns to watch him.
He’s still looking down when the compliment catches, and the heat in his face spreads until his ears burn too. He pulls his knee closer, toes curling within his boot. “Solas…” He tries to begin, but his voice rings of pleading, and he isn’t certain just what he is pleading for. Ian’s mind reels as he tries to reconcile the sensation of fingers at his arm and the unabashedly forward nature of Solas’s words with the silence that had persisted ever since arriving at Skyhold. There’s a certainty in his gut that competes with the fluttering in his chest–this sureness that Solas has brought him here to rebuff him against this hope that perhaps he has not. He doesn’t try to speak again, only shakes his head a little, eyes downcast until he sees little but the trailing ivy that creeps past his perch and the wild tufts of grass that meet the wall at its roots.
It isn’t the reaction he had hoped for, his name whispered against the wind. Yes, his cheeks grow red beneath the vallaslin that spans his face, but one can blush from shame as easily as they can flattery.
Solas looks down, penitent, though it is not an apology he gives shape with words, and so means nothing in this world. Once, it might have flooded the world around them with contrite thoughts, and the blue flowers might have turned white out of sympathy. Upon the wall, Ian seems to curl in upon himself, knee tucked against his seat upon the wall, back bent over his leg. It is a distressing sight, and the blood in his veins seems to sour. In the pit of his belly, anxiety coils, until it feels potent enough to melt his stomach lining.
He had been hoping to lead Ian in gently, like a bath ran too hot, but seeing him now, he reconsiders. Perhaps, for both their sakes, it is better he take the plunge.
“I do not idly forget moments shared with you,” he says, soft, but strong enough to carry. His chin lifts, the sun breaking the shadows on his face. He retraces his steps towards the wall, careful to follow the path he had carved a moment ago. There are moments spent with Ian that bring him shame to think about, now. Moments where he had looked at his face and was not quite sure if what he saw was an echo of what was, or else an illusion. Where what he sees now was not even considered.
He stops short of Ian, hand reaching out to place upon a column that has seen better days, its edges eaten by rain.
Haven feels close by at Ian’s side, even upon this side of the Veil, where it is still buried beneath a mountainside of snow. While Ian’s gaze is at his feet, Solas keeps his trained upon where their eyes ought to meet. He can feel his heartbeat in his fingers, but the ground beneath bare feet steadies him.
It has been seconds since he last spoke, but feels a lifetime before he opens his mouth to add: “I have not forgotten our kiss.”
Solas’s words are delivered gently, offered in a soft tone that almost sounds as an apology. But what has Solas to be sorry for, save–save that Ian’s worries are well-founded. He feels his shoulders fall, and swallows an apology of his own, knowing that the words will trip against his teeth and worsen the situation.
He hears Solas’s return, the pivot that carries him back across the garden until he stands just beyond the wall where Ian perches. Absently, he wonders just how he manages to hear the pace of bare feet and the soft yield of new grass when his own heartbeat thunders wildly within his skull. His face burns, and teeth drive into his lower lip as he forces himself to breathe past the worry that tightens his throat.
The next words spoken, however, startle his heartbeat still. Silence overwhelms the drumming in his ears, muffles its sensation in his chest, and despite his anxieties, he finds his gaze lifting, eyes wide behind his blush. “I–oh. Ah–” The words catch, stumbling as he’d feared–as he’d known–they would, and he bites his lip again, trying to rearrange his thoughts into something resembling coherence. “I thought, maybe–maybe you wanted to. Forget, I mean.”
Gloved fingers curl into the fabric of his trousers, thigh tight against his chest where he hugs his knee. He searches Solas’s face, unable to quite meet his eyes but seeking hints of Solas’s intention all the same. “I didn’t–um. I don’t…I had–had thought, maybe–but…but it’s alright. If you–I mean. We don’t have to talk about it.”
It isn’t until teeth drag over freckled lips that Solas realises he is staring. He jerks his gaze away, his own teeth mirroring Ian’s body language. Since their moment in Haven, he had found himself lapsing into a habit only reserved for deep contemplation, only it was not ancient tomes on his mind of late. “Wanted to?” he echoes, soft. “I doubt I could, even if I did.”
Perhaps part of him does. The sensible part, that does not judge with what he feels, but measures every action against a grander scheme. Words come to him, unbidden, the one that came them voice forgotten to him: ‘ I would sooner mistrust in calculations, particularly if no heart might temper their direction.’ It was not logic that led him down the path he walks now, but feelings. Feelings too potent to ignore.
“Had the night gone differently, perhaps I would have said this then, rather than now. Then again– it has given me time to think.” Were the world right, they might have had centuries, not months, to grow the seed they had unwittingly planted that day Ian had returned with questions, and not accusations. Adrenaline lights his blood aflame, as though the few steps over to Ian had been a marathon. One hand reaches out to the wall beside Ian, to hide how it tremors, and he allows his gaze to drop to watch it.
“I have seen centuries from the Fade, heroes and villains whose names are written in books across Thedas, but you…” His face is hot, cheeks mottling a unflattering pink, but he pays it no mind, eyes lifting to see the same blush paint Ian’s cheeks. “I have not seen your like since my deepest journeys into the very heart of the Fade, and had not thought to see again. The memory of your kiss,” he adds, lips parting in a grin brought on by the mere thought, “I will treasure it, even if you meant for it to be only a kiss.”
The thought dampens his spirits, but they are truly spoken.
“Though, it would be dishonest if I did not admit to hoping you meant it as something more.”
“Oh.” It’s a soft sound, softer than the meaning behind it. It felt heavy in his chest, even as it lifted his heart in fluttering so urgent he is certain Solas can hear it. His face burns, cheeks desperately bright.
For a long moment, ‘oh’ is all he can say. Solas’s cheeks darken, too, and the grin he wears is catching. Ian feels it pull at the corner of his mouth as his knee drops and his hands–lacking any other purchase–fall to catch himself against the lip of the wall.
“I didn’t. I–Oh. I mean–” Ian’s words trip over themselves in their haste, in trying to say what he means. They tumble over themselves as if needing to be uttered all in one breath, and he bites at the inside of his cheek to stop the tide. “I–mean. I wanted to–but–”
Speaking has never been something he excelled at, and here, now, when it matters very much, he stumbles. He wills himself to stop, measuring first one breath and then another, before he tries again.
“I wanted to–I wanted to talk, then, but–” But Haven had burned. His ears fall, but he forces those emotions further back, determined to finish first with this conversation, safer now in the wake of Solas’s confessions. “I thought maybe you didn’t. And I didn’t want to–I value your friendship, and I thought that I had–had made a mistake. And I stepped on your foot.”
That last thought tumbles out all on its own, unplanned, and his fingers lift from where he grips the wall to hide his face. Could his cheeks grow any warmer? He is certain that he feels his blush burning through the leather at his finger tips. “I’ve never–I don’t know how to–You’re the most interesting and–and wonderful person I’ve ever met. I didn’t think you–I thought maybe if–I wanted to be brave, during the celebration. Because I might not–I didn’t think you would–I stepped on your foot.”
The response is quiet, and his ears strain to hear the enthusiasm behind it. He hears nothing, of course, only the wind through the grass. There is no meaning to be found beyond the subtle expressions that play across Ian’s face. Over the past few months he has learned how to better read them, but it is too easy to project. Where he might see affection, Ian might feel shame– and when he might feel caution, Ian might see aversion. It is a difficult dance, which is why he tries to be clear, now.
He tries. He tries to listen to Ian’s half-sentences, beginnings that find their end, as a winding river meets the sea, or else dry out before they reach it. He is not sure what Ian has never, or what he does not know how, although he feels he has an idea. Ian blurts out his confession a second time, and though he tries to hold back a laugh an ungraceful snort escapes, instead. Perhaps it is best they waited, or Ian would have seen the purple bruise that had blossomed on his foot later that night.
“Did you? I had not noticed,” he teases, then bites down on his lip and restrains himself, lest Ian take it poorly. “My apologies, I– it is rude to laugh, but–” It is his turn to trip over his own words, as he considers and reconsiders what to admit. “Laughter comes easier, when I am with you.”
Perhaps that confession does not mean as much to Ian as it does to him, but it is worth saying, regardless.
“What I mean to say is that the misstep is not what I remember about that moment.” He remembers Ian’s lips, clumsy against his own, as all first kisses are. He remembers how his soul seemed to lift, even though his feet were anchored to the earth. He remembers wanting more. “And that you may step on my feet as often as you like, provided you follow it as you did then.”
Solas can hear himself lapsing back into implications, even knowing plain words are what Ian needs (what they both need). His tongue runs absently over his bottom lip, knowing what he will say next before he knows it himself:
“May I kiss you?”
Solas laughs, and then makes an effort to stifle it. The sound of a half-swallowed snort lifts Ian’s heart even as he groans, face buried in his palms. Solas’s laugh–that undisguisable snort of pure, honest amusement–births butterflies that batter against the backs of his ribs. That Solas can laugh around him is a generous statement, but…oh, he feels so foolish.
Ian keeps his face down, tucked into his palms as he trembles where he sits. Solas’s laughter softens, and he stutters. Solas stutters–just a bit, a little trip of words tumbling over themselves. Ian recognizes the effort, the need to say something very precise and having the words tangle at the tip of your tongue. His fingers slide down, just a bit. His nose remains hidden, and his palms block most of his cheeks, his mouth, but his index fingers flex to allow him to look up, just for a moment.
Solas’s expression leaves Ian dizzy. The butterflies behind his ribs erupt again, enthusiastic to the point that he can’t quite catch his air. His fingers curl slowly, falling away from his face, softly astonished by the question posed.
He tries to answer, but his voice feels small, and sounds distant. As though someone else is speaking. He has to swallow before he can make a second attempt, this time accompanied by a quick nod, more assertive than any vocalization he’s currently capable of.
Perhaps it is a foolish question, but it feels necessary to ask. Better to be a fool than a mistaken fool, and there are boundaries at play here more delicate than the toes Ian trod on, all those days ago.
Ian looks up in the pregnant pause that follows, hands still held against his face, obscuring all expression save the wide shape of his eyes. Fingers come apart with effort, pried from his chin so that he may speak. Solas drops his hand from the pillar to the wall, coming to rest not far from where Ian perched. His stomach swoops when Ian begins his answer, and falls just as quickly, as the sentence dies upon his lips.
He had lived centuries that felt shorter than this, but he stays the urge to assume, and allows his heart to trust in Ian’s answer.
It arrives softly, almost swallowed by the breeze, but he would have recognised it over a downpour. Solas feels his heart against his ribs, beating violently in opposition to the gentleness of the moment. He ignores it as best he can, and lifts a tremoring hand to steady itself against Ian’s jawline. He feels realer where they touch, and it would be so easy to…
Solas’s thoughts trail off, falling from his mind as his back bends. The space between them closes, and all coherent thought ceases.
His lips are fragile against against Ian’s, afraid that if he leans in too eagerly he will fracture. He wants to, but his heart bursts with affection he feels too small to handle. Solas settles for gentle, and that is more than enough. His heart flutters, giddy as their lips glide together. He’s sure if the world could still sing, it would sing Ian’s name. Months of longing beg he move closer, but he breathes in the scent of wildflowers, and pulls away. Only a touch, just far enough that hazel eyes swim into focus, just far enough that he can see the expression in them.
Words fail him, and the world is still. When his thoughts return to him, they are unkind, and confident that the emptiness in the world around them is a sign of Ian’s disinterest (even reminding himself of the nature of the world does not move them.)
But Ian is kind, warm and real beneath his fingertips, and it will take more than his own doubts to shake them.
He is unsure how many foolish questions he is permitted before Ian realises he is not as certain as he seems. But if this is to last, it is better he know now, and so he asks in a quiet whisper, “Was that to your liking?”
Solas moves closer, and Ian feels his heart stop. He’s certain it’s stopped, tight behind his ribs until his head spins and his breath catches. Solas moves closer, and Ian’s breath is stolen before they even touch. And they do touch. Solas’s fingers brush his cheek, and Ian can’t tell who is trembling more. His whole body shakes, anxious anticipation rattling him until he cannot even feign composure. Solas does, though Ian is almost certain that he feels the fingers at his face tremble. Almost certain.
But their lips overlap, and Ian forgets that he’s breathless. He forgets that he trembles. He forgets that he felt foolish and anxious and certain of anything.
It’s a gentle kiss, more careful and tender than the clumsy attempt he had made at Haven. Solas catches his bottom lip, briefly sharing his breath–what little breath remains–and for all that Ian can tell, he his held upright only by Solas’s hand at his jaw and the way their lips fit together. This feels so certain that when Solas pulls away, Ian very nearly sways, disoriented and unsteady and yet secured by the hand at his face. His own hands–completely without his knowing–have wandered, catching almost desperately at Solas’s sweater. Something else to hold him, to ground him, when the butterflies behind his ribs might otherwise have carried him away.
Solas pulls away, studying his face with a question before he speaks it, and Ian presses his lips together as if he could recapture the sensation so quickly past.
He’s astoundingly articulate today, but it feels a little less foolish in this moment. He breathes a soft sigh, and feels his cheeks pull into a smile that favors one side of his face over the other.
“I–um. I think you should–I think you should do it again.”
The last time he had kissed someone, the world hummed with their pleasure. It was as tangible as the kiss itself, and left no room for doubt to grow. If Ian’s soul sings, the Veil stifles its sound, and he is left grasping for pieces. Perhaps it is his imagination, but he thinks he feels the fingers that clutch his sweater resist as he pulls away. Ian’s sigh is warm on his skin, but sends cold chills up his spine.
It is eloquent in its simplicity, and the uneven smile that parts Ian’s lips sends silly thrills through him when it dawns upon him that his kiss inspired it.
He opens his mouth with a mind to respond, speak a few coy words before he inevitably acquiesces, but he only laughs instead. It is a restrained sound, as much as a sigh as it is a chuckle, before he falls against Ian again. He feels teeth against his lips before Ian melts into the kiss, chapped lips overlapping with eager effort. He still kisses as though he’s made of glass, simple to shatter in the wrong hands, but he remembers how Ian held him in the snow after Haven fell and his hand slips behind Ian’s head to deepen their kiss.
Ian’s hair is coarser than he imagined, but curls delightfully around his fingers, which find their strength anchored against his skin. Their affirmed affection has done nothing to tame his heartbeat, it thumps in his chest so heavily he’s sure Ian can feel it where his fingertips press against him. As fragile as he sees himself, he is softer where they touch, fear forgotten in the wake of– of something stronger.
But if this is how he shatters, at least a healer will be on hand to pick up the pieces.