Actions

Work Header

The Raven and the Nightingale

Work Text:

There was a raven sitting on the windowsill. It looked at Leliana with very smart, golden eyes.

It was not one of hers.

„Morrigan”

The raven looked like it was smiling.

„Morrigan. If you want to talk and catch up, you can just come here, you know? I have no time for games.”

The witch snickered. Feathers fell off her and she was standing now in the chamber on the top of the towers. The real ravens just ignored her.

„This was the fastest way up,” she said.

„This was showing off,” Leliana said.

„Maybe.”

The people present at the ravenry returned to their work. Mages were nothing weird at Skyhold, few of them were shapeshifters, but really this was not the strangest thing that could happen. Apostates, Circle mages, even one Tevinter mage – no problem. There were even some rumors that several mages that came with Fiona practiced blood magic, but if they did, they were hiding.

Of course, Leliana knew who was a blood mage. Just in case.

Morrigan sat on the table. Leliana sighed.

„Really?”

„Really what?”

„I have a chair, you know. I hoped your time at the court would teach you some manners.”

„You can take a witch out of the wilds but you won’t take wilds out of the witch.”

Leliana laughed.

It was hard to admit it, but seeing Morrigan was nice. It had been many years and Morrigan was good at hiding – and she was a dangerous, ruthless woman, but so was Leliana.

Once she claimed the witch is not her friend – now she realized she missed her. There were moments in the past when they sat by the fire in the camp together. Leliana was braiding Saliya’s hair and Morrigan pretended she didn’t care, but Leliana saw this glow in the witch's eyes when she talked of the balls and ballgowns, and all the shiny jewelry and beautiful shoes. Morrigan pretended to be cold, but she listened when Leliana was telling tragic stories of legendary lovers…

Oh, those were good times. She missed it.

So many years had passed. Leliana met Saliya last time about five years ago, when she visited Vigil’s Keep, before the mage rebellion when no one expected the current turn of events. But Morrigan… Morrigan disappeared just after the battle of Denerim.

And here she was – for a while an Occult Advisor to the empress, now helping the Inquisition. And she had a child, which took Leliana by surprise because Morrigan never seemed to be someone who would want to have children. But, here she was, she and her pretty, quiet son with a delicate face and smart, bright eyes.

There were few children at Skyhold, and Kieran stood out.

„So, what do you want?” Leliana asked because she didn’t expect Morrigan to just come up and talk.

But Morrigan smiled.

„It’s been a long time” she admitted. „I just wanted to talk to an old friend.”

„As if we were friends,” Leliana answered, but she smiled.

She was not sure if they were friends. It was complicated. But they fought together and helped defeat the Archdemon and stop the Blight. This bound them and Saliya bound them.

„Well?” Morrigan asked.

Leliana falt she was smiling.

„We can catch up, a little,” she said.

You cannot give too much to a witch, because when you give her a little, she would want more and more. But there are many things you can give to a person you bonded with during the Blight, even if this was many years ago and you would not call that person a friend.

„We can go for a walk” Leliana suggested and Morrigan agreed.

They left using the stairs down to the library and then to the battlements.

„It is an interesting place,” Morrigan said, looking at the trees below them. „We are high in the mountains and all around us there is cold, but inside the walls, it is war enough for thus much vegetation… Your Inquisitor planted the prophet’s laurel in the garden. It grows without any effort, although it usually needs places warmer, than the Frostbacks.”

Leliana smiled.

„And you have an idea why it is like this?”

„There is magic here. It’s old and it isn’t as powerful, as it used to be once, but it remained. But I guess your mages had discovered it already.

„Yes.”

„Just be careful, no one knows what does it really do” Morrigan warned, a smile on her face looking mischevious, but Leliana knew the warning was genuine. „But, I admit, for now, it is a good place. Safe, unless you anger the power that created it.”

„If this power still exists.”

„It is hard for old powers to die,” Morrigan said, this time no smile on her face. „And you should know something about it.”

Of course, Corypheus was one of such powers, hard to kill, as Hawke proved, old as the Blight itself. And both during their times traveling with Saliya Mahariel and now as a spymaster to the Inquisition Leliana found enough evidence of other old powers, that weren’t necessarily dead.

She felt unrest deep inside her. It was hard not to when her mind was full of doubt since Justinia’s death.

From above, they could see both courtyards and the garden, people walking around, soldiers training, tents for the wounded and refugees, a colorful market, created by the stables.

„So,” Morrigan said again. „Adamant.”

Adamant. There was always Adamant.

„Yes.”

„Was she there?”

There always was this question. There was always fear, and Leliana remembered it when she looked at the fallen and prayed that the red-haired elven woman is not among them.

Morrigan was afraid too, even if she didn’t show it.

„No. She was not there. From what I know, she did not join the rest of the Wardens.”

Morrigan smiled.

„She was always wiser than that. Thinking for herself. She would start asking questions before she would let anyone fool her.”

There was so much confidence in Morrigan’s words. She believed in their old friend, but they both believed in her once. Even if after the years had passed Leliana realized some of the choices made then were not the wisest they could have made. Saliya said the same thing as they last spoke, some years ago now: that she was a naive girl then, knowing little of the life outside the Dalish clans, of the lives of humans in Ferelden – even less of the lives of humans elsewhere, of dwarves, of city elves even. But for someone so inexperienced and unaware she did astonishingly and Morrigan was right: Saliya asked questions and searched for answers herself. Probably that was what they had in common: a curious young witch, an Orlesian Bard, and an elven girl, who by unexpected circumstances was forced to join the Grey Wardens and then ended the fifth Blight.

Leliana nodded.

„She is too smart for that.”

„Do you have any idea, where she is now?”

„I received the letter that was given to my agent in Redcliffe, but I have no idea, where did she go after that.”

„I guess the king of Ferelden has no idea either?”

„Believe me, I asked him. And I was searching for Saliya soon after what happened in Kirkwall and Whitespire.”

Morrigan snickered.

„She was better at finding me than you were at finding both of us.”

Yes, Leliana must have agreed on that. Both Morrigan and Saliya hid deeper than The Left Hand of the Divine could reach.

Morrigan leaned against the battlements, looking at the rocks and frozen river below the fortress. This was the place where one could feel the chilly mountain air outside.

„So. What was she writing?” she asked.

„She is searching for the cure for her Calling,” Leliana said.

Morrigan smiled.

„Oh. I see. She always wanted to survive this. She loved her life.”

Leliana nodded.

She always suspected Morrigan did something… used some kind of magic to save Saliya from imminent death. Should she ask what this magic was and if it could be useful to use against Corypheus, but she hesitated, at least for now.

Morrigan would flee, and this was not what Leliana wanted and definitely not what Lyenne wanted. They needed Morrigan, they needed her knowledge and her magic and the Witch of the Wilds was not a person who would easily give in to threats. She was also secretive. Leliana thought she needed a different approach.

Agreeing to spend time with the witch was not the only opportunity to catch up with an old… not entirely friend – but also to gain knowledge the Inquisition needed.

„She did. I hope… I hope she succeeds. I hope to see her again someday.”

Sometimes she saw those old times as times of lost innocence.

Funny, how it was Morrigan who reminded her of that.

***

The Garden smelled of herbs and fresh earth. Leliana left the chapel along with other believers who participated in the morning prayers led by mother Gisele. Not many people attended the service regularly, despite most of the people at Skyhold being Andrastian. But many of them were not devoted, and the fact that the Inquisitor was not a believer herself influenced the attitude among the people. Leliana couldn’t blame them. She herself was having her share of doubt and while she still believed, the repetitiveness of the Chant was not bringing her comfort anymore.

Yet she attended the prayers, partially in the hope something will change, in her, mostly, partially to have contact with people devoted to the Chantry and partially because it was expected from her.

But now she felt better when she left the chapel. The garden was still almost empty.

In the gazebo Leliana noticed Morrigan and she stopped for a moment. The with noticed her and smiled – in a way typical for her, a little mysterious, a little mischevious. She bowed down to say something to her son and when Kieran went towards the door leading to the throne room, Morrigan approached Leliana.

„So, morning prayers finished?” she asked.

Leliana nodded.

„And what are you planning now?”

„I wanted to eat breakfast first,” Leliana said. „Would you like to join me?”

The witch smiled a little wider.

„Why not. We could eat here, in the garden” she suggested and Leliana agreed more eagerly than she expected to.

This was a little like the old times, although the bread they had eaten was fresh and still warm and there was no danger in sight. But they sat under a large tree and there were flowers growing on a patch nearby and one of them was Andraste’s Grace. The smell was sweet and comforting and there was a moment Leliana had almost, almost forgotten where she is and that there is a meeting planned for the afternoon because the Inquisitor is going to leave for Emprise du Lion the next day.

But now, there were the two of them, sitting on the grass and eating their breakfast, and the time stopped for a moment.

Leliana picked up one of the little flowers. She hadn’t notice before it was growing here, at Skyhold. She ran her fingers on the delicate petals, then closed it to her nose, inhaling the smell she loved so much.

„Those were your favorites,” Morrigan noticed.

„You were paying attention?” Leliana asked, a little surprised.

The witch laughed.

„I remember Saliya giving them to you. For the first time, I thought she was going to seduce you, but then I got this lovely mirror from her, so apparently, it was not the case.”

„The one she was seducing was Zevran. But I thought it was the other way round at first.”

„They seduced each other, definitely. But really, there was a moment, I thought there was some… the tension between you and her. But I was not good at understanding the nuances of people’s behavior then.”

„You are better now, I guess?”

„I am,” Morrigan said. „I had to learn it to survive the imperial court. The Game is ridiculous, but can get you killed if you are not careful enough… even if you don’t participate. So I learned to see things.” she shook her head. „For example… The relationship between the empress and her elven spy won’t last long. They are in love, but there is too much thing Briala will never forgive.” Leliana at first expected a mocking expression on Morrigan’s face, but what she noticed was a kind of… sadness? When did Morrigan again this romantic streak? Or was „romantic” too much, was this just a little compassion?

But Leliana understood: as she, at the same time understood why Lyenne helped the empress and the „ambassador” to reconcile.

„For now Orlais is stable, and that’s what matters,” she said. „The private issues between Celene and other parties are less important.”

„But the situation of elves is important” Morrigan disagreed. „This was your Inquisitor’s main concern, not her belief Celene and Briala are star-crossed lovers whose relationship should be preserved. This is the same Saliya was doing.” Morrigan smiled and then shook her head. „They are so alike in this matter, this is surprising, most Dalish I’ve met don’t care for their city cousins. I once spoke with a Keeper outright said he would rather share the secrets with me, than with some „flat-ear” or with an elven mage from the circle… Saliya would call it sad, but I can see, Fereldans and Orlesians too don’t see their nations as the same people. Humans and elves are… so very much alike.”

And again: some sadness in her voice. But this Leliana understood.

They were young and Saliya Mahariel believed, truly believed, she could make the world a better place, and Leliana believed her and Morrigan started to believe her too.

This was all gone now, but at first, in Haven, Leliana saw Saliya in Lyenne. Two Dalish women, who appeared in her life in the hour of need, who led her towards the goal that was saving the world.

Lyenne was different – but there were similarities.

Morrigan looked at Leliana, smiled, this time it was a little mockery in her smile.

„You do it, right? Compare them. All the time.”

„Wouldn’t you?”

Morrigan sighed.

„I would” she admitted.

They sat there for a while, the wind coming to the secluded garden from the mountains brushing their hair, mixing the smell of mountain air with the sweetness of herbs and flowers. Leliana realized, that she is still keeping her piece of bread in her hand. The food was not warm anymore, but still good when she ate it.

She looked at the witch.

„Well, it was good, but I need to see my ravens.”

Morrigan cackled.

„This raven is not enough for you?” she asked playfully.

For a moment, Leliana froze.

What was that? A mockery? An attempt to flirt?

„Well,” she started and the witch continued to laugh.

„You are red,” she noticed.

„Well, that is enough!” Leliana stated, feeling embarrassment overcoming her – her, the ruthless Left Hand of the Devine and spymaster for the Inquisition! Being red because some apostate attempted at… what?

This might have been a misguided step, but she just left the garden.

She heard Morrigan’s cackling long after she entered the throne room and went towards the tower and ravenry.

***

While Morrigan was spending most of her time in the garden, in the room with her ancient mirror or the library in the dungeon, her son was more inclined to visit every part of Skyhold and to talk with everyone. He was still a child, even if more intelligent and calmer than most boys his age, and although his eyes were a little eerie.

He visited the ravenry sometimes, asking questions: questions were normal for children, but Kieran’s questions were… unusual at best.

He was Morrigan’s son. He spent the first years of his life traveling with his mother all over the southern Thedas, having almost no contact with other people, including children his age. Then he spent some time in Orlais, but while his mother visited the imperial court, he remained in hiding. This was the first time he really could speak with so many different people and he seemed to take his time.

There were few children at Skyhold and Leliana disliked it when they were running all over the tower, disturbing the scholars below, knocking down Solas’ buckets with paint, scaring ravens. She didn’t mind Kieran though. Kieran was patient. Kieran listened. Someday in the future, she thought, Kieran would make an excellent agent.

This was Leliana’s ruthless side speaking and she was aware of this. Using Kieran – now, later, whatever – would angry Morrigan. She did not want Morrigan angry.

She actually didn’t know what she wanted from Morrigan right now or what Morrigan wanted from her, but still, Leliana didn’t mind Kieran sitting on one of her chests with some scroll in his hand. The scroll was Nevarran and Leliana was wondering if it was about magic.

Did Kieran have magic skills? If they awakened already, he didn’t show them, probably taught by his apostate mother to control them well.

It would be a shame if Kieran was caught by the Templars one day.

Leliana put down the quill and the letter she was writing. She stood up and approached the boy.

„Hi,” she said.

Kieran looked at her with his large, bright golden-brown eyes.

„Hi,” he said.

„What are you reading”

„Sidony gave me a scroll on spirits and death,” he said.

So, magic indeed. Necromancy on top of that. And Kieran must have asked Sidony for it personally.

„Do you understand it?” she asked.

„Some of it,” the boy said. „Some are… hard. But I will understand.”

„Because it’s in Nevarran or because it is magic?”

Kieran shrugged.

„What is the difference? He asked. „Both need understanding. Everything needs to be understood.”

A child mature over his age. Morrigan’s curiosity and thirst for the unknown inside a ten years old boy. Intriguing or scary? Leliana was not sure.

„Yes,” she agreed. „Understanding is power.”

„Power is just a tool to greater understanding, mother always says.” The boy said. „She says, power for the sake of power only is pointless. It is understanding and knowledge that matter.”

Speaking of it came to him so naturally, that Leliana really shivered.

But he was honest about it and she felt this must have been what Morrigan was really seeking.

„So you and your mother seek understanding?”

„She is reading the large book in the dungeon,” he said, nodding. „Says it is mostly bullshit but has some interesting things. I was talking to Cole earlier but I cannot understand what he is telling. I wanted to ask Solas, but he went somewhere with Lyenne and mother doesn’t like when I speak to him.”

Oh. This was interesting.

Morrigan and her son might have sought knowledge, but what Leliana needed was information.

„Why?”

The boy shrugged.

„Mother just doesn’t trust him.”

Lyenne trusted Solas. She was smitten by him, probably in love and it was possibly not entirely unrequited - a rumor of the Inquisitor and an elven apostate being romanticly involved was known in Skyhold, although both of them were rather secretive about the real level of the intimacy between them. But Solas’ wisdom and the fact Lyenne relyed on the mage and her attachment didn’t change the fact that nobody knew anything about Solas. Where did he come from? Where did his knowledge come from? What did he really want?

If Morrigan had at least some knowledge that could be useful… Leliana trusted few people and she didn’t trust Solas at all.

„I don’t trust him either,” she said. „Did Morrigan say anything more?”

Kieran shook his head.

„They argued several times. Once it was when he wanted me to go with him.”

Oh.

„Go where?”

„He wanted to show me a place outside. Some spirits. Fade. He said that I need to learn, but mother doesn’t want me to learn from him. She says he is something… She has no idea, but he is not a normal elf.”

„Well, I know that already,” Leliana said.

But Morrigan must have noticed something more.

It was time to talk to her again. Leliana sighed.

The way they ended their last conversation was still embarrassing. Was Morrigan flirting? Leliana remembered her words, the smile curving her lips, the shine in her golden eyes. Morrigan was…

Oh, Maker, Leliana really didn’t want to think of the witch this way. This was a terrible idea.

They were going to discuss Solas, she told herself. And, possibly, other things that would be useful to the Inquisition.

I would seduce her if I know it would bring me information, Leliana thought, surprised.

Morrigan would seduce me if she believed this would bring her understanding, she thought then and felt the sudden thrill of this thought.

She was not a person using sex to get what she needed, but in her youth, as a bard, she flirted and teased, and there was Marjolaine…

But this was something else. And…

She shook her head.

***

She didn’t find Morrigan in the dungeon though. In the hall adorned with dwarven sculptures, several younger people discussed the newly published last issue of „Swords and Shields”. Somehow this library contained the more obscure – and often considered dangerous by the Chantry – treaties on magic and history alongside a pretty decent collection of popular literature, including crime stories and romance. The improvised bookclub brought chairs, little tables, and cookies (the kind Sera despised). Cassandra, the uncrowned number one fan was absent, as was the author himself and Lyenne, but Leliana noticed, to her surprise, that Elran Lavellan is among the disputants, as was his weird friend, the girl with grey hair, scar, and unusual fighting style.

They were loud enough to chase anyone out of the library.

„Sister Nightingale!” Leliana heard.

Blight. Who let Isabela in? Leliana highly doubted she was interested in the book, despite being Varric’s friend. She was probably analyzing the security of Inquisition’s vault.

The Rivani pirate grinned at her. Leliana didn’t like this kind of grin.

„Are you going to join us?” she asked.

„O was just searching for Morrigan. Have you seen her?”

„She left through the kitchen.” Elran was much more helpful.

„Thank you”

Before leaving Leliana heard some of the discussion continuing:

„Could you explain to me the fragment about the Circles?” this was Elran’s friend, who claimed she was „from a different place”, whatever that meant. „I understand the theory, but some contexts are...”

The stairs from the kitchen lead to the stables. Several horses an Elran’s hart were eating grass, the children of the Skyhold’s inhabitants deciding to spend some time here. One particularly bold girl was already sitting on the hart’s back, which was an achievement since those animals were difficult to deal with for unskilled humans. Blackwall (or rather Thom...) stood nearby, having an eye on the children in case something happened to them.

Leliana noticed Morrigan finally. The witch had several books with her and was standing near one of the merchants’ stand, discussing something fiercely with the shop owner. It was about some exotic ingredients, as Leliana overheard as she approached.

„You could always ask the Inquisitor,” she said. „Lyenne has many supplies she would be happy to share with her advisor.”

„Those are private matters, not research for the Inquisition” Morrigan answered. „Well, lady Nightingale, what a surprise” she added, with a smile on her face. „So you decided to speak to me again.”

„I just had an interesting discussion with your son and I wanted to ask you some questions. This is professional.” Leliana said with a cold voice.

Too cold, as it turned out because the smile on Morrigan’s face just widened.

„You don’t need an excuse with me,” she said. „Or did your spies and Orlesian nobles started to whisper again? Of the Left Hand having an… inappropriate relationship with an apostate.”

„We were companions during the Blight” Leliana reminded. „There is nothing inappropriate about that. But if you wanted to imply...”

„That there might be something? Why not? I’m not afraid of what the Chantry and the nobility might say. I never complied with their standards.”

Leliana sighed.

They walked and they left the merchants behind them and walked towards the stairs to the upper courtyard.

„This is a discussion for another time,” she said, cursing because she should end this right here, right now. „I wanted to talk about Solas.”

Morrigan raised her eyebrows.

„Is there anything to talk about?” she asked. „Anything you don’t know, that is?”

„I know very little” Leliana admitted. „And Kieran mentioned you wanted Solas away from him, despite he had outright come to you and said he wants to teach the boy. This raises many questions. You allow Kieran to talk to everyone at Skyhold, as far as I know. When I met him today, he read some scrolls from Sidony. He spends lots of time with Varric, with Cole, even with the templars… and it is another apostate you are afraid of. So there are to questions: who do you think Solas is, that you believe that he should keep away from Kieran… and what do you think Solas could want from your child?”

And, Leliana thought, who is Kieran’s father?

Morrigan was not the kind of woman who would get a child by accident. She was a skilled witch, she knew the right herbs. If she got pregnant out of a casual encounter, she wouldn’t be pregnant for long. If she had a child, that meant she had a reason to have it.

Why? To prove she would be a better mother, than Flemmeth? Because by any chance she met someone she had fallen in love with? As a magic experiment For any other reason?

Leliana’s spy instincts told her, that it could be important information – on the other hand, she kept thinking of Morrigan as of a friend, and felt asking about Kieran’s origin would be too invasive, too much. If Morrigan wanted to tell the world, the world would know. Leliana’s agents claimed that there is no father, that Kieran himself claims he has no father.

Maybe there was no dark secret, but just witch’s whim. This too was possible.

Morrigan looked at Leliana and it was a long and dark look.

„You can ask me anything,” she said. „But never, ever ask me about Kieran. If you do this, then you will have to fear my wrath. And I’m warning you only because I think of you as of close to me. But I will warn you only this one time. So don’t ask about Kieran. He is my child and I would do anything to keep him safe – this is all you should know.”

„I won’t ask then,” Leliana said.

If anyone else would tell her this, she would start inquiring. But it was Morrigan and Leliana decided to respect this wish.

„And about Solas?” she asked, ending conversation about Kieran’s origin.

„Solas isn’t Dalish. Solas is not a city elf. You must have asked who he is then, Leliana. Your inquisitor must have asked too, and she might be blinded by the shine she sees in him, but that doesn’t make her stupid.”

„What are you implying?”

„There are several possibilities. He might have been one of those Dalish mages, who were exiled by their clans… some of them meet this fate as small children, this is cruel but if the child survives, think, how powerful they must be. If they have enough determination to live for so long, to find the places and powers unknown to the others… Solas could be such a child, but he is too smooth with people… he might have learned this from the spirits though. This is my one guess.”

Leliana nodded and listened. Morrigan continued.

„The second one is that Solas cames from some secluded group of elves. They seem Dalish to the outside world, but they are not. They don’t share the customs Dalish have. I met one such group. They venerated the gods called The Forgotten Ones. The Dalish hated them. The Orlesians from the place I was at the time raided against them and they had good reasons, Leliana. Those elves were different and had amazing knowledge I regret I could only have a glimpse of… The knowledge Solas has doesn’t match the one of the Chantry and of the Dalish, so he could be one of such elves. And then there is a third possibility. You remember what Uthenera is?”

Leliana nodded.

In Orlais she learned an old elven poem about „waking dream”. Then, during the Blight they found the ruins in Brecillian Forest and there some bodies in ancient sarcophagi: the elves were dead and their ghosts haunted the place, but hundreds of years ago, when they went to sleep, they were alive. This was Uthenera, a slumber that allowed the ancient elves to remain alive while at the same time leave the body… but something went wrong after Arlathan fell and the elves in Uthenera died.

„What if there were elves, who managed to survive their sleep?” Morrigan was speaking. „What if they were able to wake up after all those hundreds of years? This is a third thing Solas might be.”

„He would be an ancient elf then,” Leliana said.

„Yes.”

„I’d expect you would rather seek his knowledge” Leliana pointed out.

Morrigan snorted.

„I would, but he is not keen on sharing it. The only person he sees „worthy” is your Inquisitor, and yet he keeps feeding her with lies and half-truths. No, if he doesn’t want to tell the truth to a woman he is smitten with, how could I expect he would want to tell something true to my son? He knows more than he says and we both know that. Your Inquisitor knows that, but instead she chooses to listen to whatever he whispers to her ear. He will become her weakness one day, remember that, Leliana. Or she” Morrigan smiled widely „will be his weakness. This always works both ways. Can be used both ways.”

Leliana nodded. Morrigan was right. Solas might hurt Lyenne… but at the same time, she might use whatever was between them against him. Lyenne was far less naive than Saliya used to be, the way she moved in the imperial court showed it well.

„I will remember this” Leliana said.

They stopped at the upper courtyard. Farther towards the inn Leliana noticed Dagna, who must have left the undercroft – she was doing it rarely, most of the time occupied by her studies – listening to Sera explaining something, using lots of gesticulation to show.

„Well, you know what you wanted,” Morrigan said. „Or rather, you don’t know it, but you know what I think about it. In this case, are you going to return to your work, or…?”

She didn’t finish and there was a smile on her face and some of Lelians’s instincts were screaming to run away now because this was the last chance to run away. After all, if she stayed to talk to Morrigan they both would do something that would be hard to escape from.

She did not run away.

***

It was late in the evening, Leliana realized, and she had spent several hours talking to Morrigan. It was getting dark now, torches and fires lit in the keep, people gathering at Herald’s Rest to drink, to sing, to have a good time. Several chantry sisters went for evening prayers.

The air was chilly, but in the garden, some nighttime flowers started to open.

Morrigan smiled, and in the light of a torch, her smile was soft and pleasant.

Not a dangerous apostate, a power-hungry witch, a daughter of a mysterious shape-shifter, but a beautiful woman who had just spent time with her… friend? What was the right word? Was there even the right word for this what was happening?

If anything was happening at all.

„Thank you. I missed it. Missed having someone around. I never expected you would like to spend the time with me – so thank you even more.”

Leliana took a deep breath and closed her eyes.

„I didn’t expect it either,” she said. „I was… a cold person, lately.”

„So I heard. Not this sweet girl from ten years ago anymore. When I heard who you are, what you are doing, I thought, that this is something I could expect from you… and yet I regretted this old you. I thought of her as very naive, and now...” Morrigan cackled again. „I’ ma little nostalgic I guess.”

„You changed too,” Leliana said. „You are… I remember you as cold, ruthless and cruel.”

„But I am ruthless and cruel. I am not cold though.”

Again, the shape of Morrigan’s lips as she spoke, the smile, the blink in her eyes, the golden reflections on the shape of her face, her shoulder. No, not cold at all.

Leliana realized, she is staring, and maybe she was staring too much. She closed her eyes again.

„Morrigan...”

„Yes?”

„What do you want from me?”

„Do I always have to have an ulterior motive, Leliana? Does everyone always have to have an ulterior motive? Not everyone wants to use you, spymaster.”

„You know I’m not talking about this! I’m talking about where do you think it is going. What are we, to each other? What are we going to be.”

Morrigan laughed again.

„Oh, Nightingale, are you afraid? Of one witch? You are gathering information and sending away the assassins for the Inquisition and you are not afraid to make decisions for entire nations… but now you need what? A promise? Certainty in the world standing on the edge of the abyss? Are you afraid of the unknown? Of me?”

„I’m not...” Leliana started.

And then she felt Morrigan’s hands resting on her shoulders and the witch’s body leaning against her.

„Prove it,” Morrigan said.

Leliana had seen many provocations in her life and she was able to recognize one.

She leaned down and kissed Morrigan.

It was a light kiss, at first, just lips brushing against lips, before Morrigan opened hers – but it still was delicate and slow. The witch tasted of honey and herbs, sweetness with something bitter deep inside.

Leliana realized, how long ago it was since she allowed herself to have a lover, to touch someone, to do something like this, to forget about consequences and just take what is offered.

And what Morrigan was offering was closeness and pleasure and understanding and Leliana needed it. There was no point in asking about what comes next because neither of them would like to make it a conventional relationship. Morrigan will go her way, leave Leliana like she left all her previous lovers, including Kieran’s unknown father: and that was all right. Why did they need anything more than today, when they were safe at Skyhold, for now, before the world was saved or destroyed?

They separated slowly to catch their breath and Leliana saw Morrigan smiling. It was a sweet smile, so unlike the witch, but this was also a side of her and Leliana recalled the glimpses of it: where the two of them and Saliya were sitting together in the camp in the morning, helping with each other’s hair and talking.

„Well?” Morrigan asked.

Leliana kissed her again, with more strength, more dedication, more desperately, maybe.

„My quarters are in the tower,” she said, as they separated again.

Morrigan nodded.

„Lead the way.”

They went, silent, through the corridors and stairs. Leliana had her rooms just below Inquisitor’s chambers, yet they were smaller, almost spartan: Leliana slept there, the rest of her life was outside.

This was not important now, when they closed the doors and kissed each other again, lips open, arms thrown over each other, bodies closer than before.

Leliana felt lips on her neck, sweeps of a tongue, that made her feel the heat, despite the chilly night in the mountains. The witch had skillful, curious fingers like she was using some magic – maybe she did? - to unfasten all the lacing in Leliana’s clothing, to help take off all the layers until there was nothing more, only Leliana herself, feeling surprisingly free. Like with the clothing her responsibilities, fears, and regrets were gone like Morrigan was making her forget.

This was potentially dangerous, to let the witch, the apostate seduce you, but at this moment Leliana forgot even this thing, too occupied with the smooth skin that smelled of herbs, with quiet sights, that escalated to louder moans: and those were the voices of both of them, mixed, entwined, as their bodies were now.

And for a moment there was nothing else.

***

Morrigan was sitting on the edge of the bed, her back curving slightly. Behind the window, on the night sky, a green glow could be seen: what was left of the largest rift, the scar in the sky. Was Morrigan looking at it?

Leliana embraced the other woman. Morrigan’s skin against her breasts was a pleasant experience and Leliana wanted to use it as much, as it was possible. As long as it lasted.

She rested her chin on Morrigan’s shoulder, looked at the sky above it.

„Are you going to ask again, what now?” Morrigan asked. „What we are for each other?”

„No.”

There were no other words, they were not needed. They knew who they were: two women from two different worlds, an apostate, and a Chantry sister, who met for the first time when the world was in danger and met again in circumstances, not unlike the previous ones.

And that was enough: where the world was in need they could meet, be a little like friends, a little like lovers. It will not last.

Maybe one day the world will be in danger again and they will meet again.

For now, it was just Skyhold’s magic and the scar in the sky that kept them together. This was enough.