“I’m glad you decided to stay.” A soft murmur floated through the room, barely overheard. With a particularly horrid blizzard raging just outside, one might need to speak a few octaves higher just to be heard. This wasn’t necessary here, not when the two were mere inches apart.
“Something tells me you wouldn’t let me leave. Or am I wrong to have this presumption?” There was mirth to those words, almost carrying a teasing tone. Still, there was no motion to flee the comfort and warmth of the bed. Grandiose as it was, it truly only needed to serve only one purpose; a proper place to rest.
“You—perhaps.” She chuckled softly, the sound traveling only between them and no further. It seemed rare that the Inquisitor even had the time to simply laze around. Technically speaking, she was meant to already be resting. It wasn’t her guest that kept her awake though, but instead the storm. A combination of the harsh winds and the falling snow was, somehow, too much. Or at least that had been her claim. Solas didn’t seem to mind if this had been a lie or not.
After a moment or two of silence, the Inquisitor let out a soft sigh. She was beginning to feel somewhat guilty. Considering how much Solas spoke of the Fade and his frequent “visits”, she didn’t want to keep him from it. Surely this was the case with them both laid in bed, not resting. These little concerns weren’t uncommon. In fact, the Inquisitor found herself fretting over many things—some of them hardly even worthy of her time. However, logic wasn’t always playing second chair. Her worries could easily range from the many Inquisitorial duties of her life to the most minute interactions. It was the sort of thing that kept the poor elf up at night. This time, that honor was given to the blizzard just outside the stone walls.
“Vhen’an, you seem far too restless tonight.” The apostate quietly shifted, opting to lay on his side. It allowed him a better view of her and the way she stared at nothing in particular—unless the ceiling was amazingly interesting. Solas needn’t cast an upwards glance to doublecheck this possibility. “Does the storm continue to bother you?”
Truthfully, it hadn’t been the first blustery night within the Frostback mountains. As Winter rolled around, the weather changed accordingly. The higher altitude allowed for frigid temperatures though, which gave way to its own set of problems. Thankfully, the fortress walls kept most of the windswept snow and ice out. Those very same walls were thick enough to keep warmth in, yet this was only valued in the wintry months.
“No. I’m… I’m just not tired. Please, don’t let me keep you up any later than it already is.” Ethir sighed softly, turning her head just enough to see him. His eyes watched her carefully, reflecting what little light poured in through the windows; the moon struggled to filter through the heavy snowfall. For a moment, she felt caught in that gaze. Perhaps it didn’t help that the mage’s brow furrowed ever so slightly in concern. The role of Inquisitor was hardly an easy one. If anything, a proper night’s rest would be the most beneficial. Ethir’s habit of drinking far too much tea to keep awake wasn’t the best method either.
“Nonsense, you know I’m not bothered.” Solas paused for a moment, allowing himself time to think. “Is there any way I might be able to help?”
Initially, his question was met with silence. Insomnia seemed to plague the Inquisitor more often than she liked to admit. It certainly made the earlier meetings of her days that much more difficult. After a few seconds of mutual silence, Ethir finally offered a reply.
“I’m not sure. I… hm.” She stopped, frowning slightly. At this point, Ethir had finally settled her gaze back onto the apostate. “Sometimes I’m just a little restless, is all. Too much going on in the day. It gets a little harder to settle down for the night, I guess. The storm isn’t particularly helping though.”
Ethir’s lips had formed into a comical pout then. She nestled further into the blankets, seeking both comfort and warmth. Despite her life as a Dalish elf, she wasn’t especially tolerant to extreme weather. No one could expect her to be. Dalish or not, everyone was affected by the oppressive heat of Summer and the bitter cold of Winter. Often would her clan seek shelter in ruins to escape the worst of it. But Ethir was in Skyhold now. She was arguably safe both within the Inquisition and within her bed.
“Garas amahn.” The apostate suddenly spoke, breaking Ethir from her thoughts. She blinked, refocusing her attention. Solas had outstretched his arm, it being lifted just enough to offer the invitation. The other rested comfortably against one of the pillows. Even if she hadn’t understood the words, it was easy enough to make use of the context.
After a brief second of hesitation, she maneuvered herself into his awaiting arms. The apostate’s arms enveloped her then, bringing both comfort and a sense of protection. Due to her smaller stature, it felt as though she fit near perfectly. However, that could have easily been her own biased opinion. The elf nestled into the crook of Solas’ neck though, choosing to enjoy the comfort he offered. Ethir certainly favored this form of intimacy—and yet she was shy. Shy enough to not reach for him, to seek out that affection directly. There were times when her confidence was sufficient. Some part of the Inquisitor believed Solas might reject her; the thought itself terrified her, as did the potential. And yet another part the poor elf recognized how silly this train of thought must be. Here they were, comfortably sharing her bed as per her rather timid request.
“I wish you’d teach me.” Ethir murmured against his neck, her words slightly muffled.
“Teach—? Ah, you want me to teach you elvhen? There are few who are as fluent as I am. You may only have me for conversation.” Solas quietly mused, his hold on her slacking just a bit. His hand slid down her back, stopping at the waist. The temptation to go even lower was there, yet he didn’t dare pursue it. He had already allowed himself this luxury of care and affection and relished in it entirely. However, Solas knew all too well that he couldn’t have it forever. Perhaps it was best to cherish what he had in the moment.
Ethir might have thought the apostate was the one to initiate, but that was furthest from the truth. Ever since that instance in the Fade, it had been the exact opposite. Solas acted upon impulse then and he knew it had the potential to happen again. He would search for her small, sometimes shy invitations. It was wrong—this should have never occurred in the first place. Now that Solas found himself entangled, he didn’t wish to escape. Not yet, at least.
“I don’t mind that.” She pulled away then, realizing that if they were to speak, she might as well see his face. Sleep would not come easily to Ethir that night, it seemed. No matter. Solas provided pleasant conversation. “We could gossip about everyone without them even knowing. It could be fun.”
“Is that your only reason to learn it?” A chuckle followed those words, though a teasing undertone laced through them.
“You know I appreciate whatever I can… recover from the ancient elves. It’s the Dalish way. And—ah, you know so much. And I… like to learn.” As she continued to speak, Ethir felt increasingly bashful. It was no secret between the two of them that the Inquisitor was rather inquisitive. Despite Solas’ initial distaste for her Dalish origin, she was quite receptive to his tales of Elvhenan.
“Indeed, and I find it quite endearing.” The apostate smiled, nearly smirking, as the compliment seemed to get a rise from poor Ethir. It was the genuine tone that seemed to catch her every time. Still, Solas was unable to see the undeniable redness of her face and tips of her ears in darkness. Impulsively, his hand slid from her waist and moved to cup her cheek. He seemed to hesitate for a brief second though, ultimately opting to take hold of her chin instead.
“I am curious. Do your elvhen ears pick up on the rhythm when I speak it?”
There was, initially, silence between them. Ethir took the time to consider his question, finding it to be intriguing. However, she also found herself to be a bit distracted. Her eventual reply was small and quiet. “No. I… don’t know. Could you… say something again?”
“Ma ane on lan’sila. Ar ju’shathe ghi’la.” His response came quickly and without any hesitation. Fluent indeed. After a moment, Solas added an additional sentence. He spoke thus as his thumb ran over Ethir’s bottom lip, “Ar nuven ma eolasem… garahnen.”
Though Solas was curious for her answer, he found the temptation too great. Leaning forward, the elf closed what little gap there was between them. Ethir was unsurprisingly eager for the kiss—always so appreciative of that affection. He wished the Inquisitor would simply take what she wanted more often. It was fine to be agreeable and complacent, but not easily coerced. Ethir would pretend she needed nothing, desired nothing. That is, unless she was given the opportunity to express it. Solas knew better.
The kiss was meant to be brief—or so Solas would have claimed. However, Ethir had met him halfway, pressing further in. It pleasantly lingered before the Inquisitor herself pulled away. Both arms had wrapped around his neck in such a short period of time. Solas was hardly complaining though, as one of his hands had settled back onto her waist.
“You’re meant to be sleeping, vhen’an. Tread carefully.” The warning came out in a low whisper, yet it didn’t seem to carry any conviction. Solas didn’t wish to deny her.
“I’ll sleep when I’m tired.” Ethir challenged, her stubborn nature surfacing in that moment. It seemed the apostate wasn’t one to back down from such a challenge, even made in jest.
“Bel rahn’en elana souvera.” Solas knew she wouldn’t be able to understand yet spoke regardless. There was a mildly suggestive lilt to his voice though. Admittedly, he found amusement in the secrecy that came from the language barrier.
“You—Solas.” The shorter elf groaned softly, ignoring the way her face felt considerably warmer. Even with the lack of understanding, Ethir could take a guess. She didn’t want to be too presumptuous though. “Don’t be mean. You know I can’t understand, and you could be saying all manner of things.”
“Fear not, I shall teach you soon enough. But that is for tomorrow, not tonight.” Though his voice was gentle, the tone was stern. Solas didn’t mind having casual conversation—in fact, he relished in their time together. However, he knew as well as anyone that the Inquisitor needed rest. Her days required her to be ready for anything. Being selfish was fine in increments, yet Solas refused to be responsible for any misfortunes. Well, ones such as this.
“It would do you well to try and rest.” Solas spoke with a softer tone then as his hand came up to grasp at her arm. With little coaxing, the elf had released her hold around his neck. Pleasant as it was, it wouldn’t be a comfortable way to sleep. Once Ethir settled into a better position, his arm returned to the small of her back. It had been a long while since the apostate shared a bed with another. In a way, Solas could have simply lived without having done so ever again. This was what he wanted to tell himself at the very least. And yet, in the back of his mind, Solas knew he was in some form of denial. It terrified him—this terrified him. Did being alone for the rest of his days scare him more, though?
“I suppose you’re right… but… Solas?” A murmur came then as Ethir closed her eyes once more. “How do you say… good night?”
“On nydha.” Solas quietly replied, thankful that she unintentionally broke his train of thought.
“Well… in that case, on nydha, Solas.” She parroted the elvhen phrase, most likely trying to commit it to memory. However, as Solas previously said, the lessons could start at a later date. Preferably within the next seven or eight hours, of course. Always the eager one, of course.
“…On nydha, Ethir.” It would take several minutes of silence before the apostate knew Ethir was finally asleep. The peaceful quiet that fell over them both was calming, especially for him. However, Solas knew that his mind would swim with thoughts of what could and could not be. It often did, in fact, when he found himself with a moment of peace. Not tonight. No, he didn’t want tonight to be plagued with thoughts such as them. Drifting off to sleep with Ethir comfortably in his arms sounded far better.
Here are translations for your convenience
Ma ane on lan’sila. Ar ju’shathe ghi’la.
You are a good student. I will happily teach you.
Ar nuven ma eolasem… garahnen.
I wish you knew… everything.
Bel rahn’en elana souvera…
Many things can tire you…