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Of Flowers And Happiness, the Elusive Nature of Which

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It started out innocently enough.

“You’re happy here!” Cole exclaimed in that excited, breathless way of his.

“I like flowers,” Evelyn explained calmly and knelt down on the meadow she had found not too far from Skyhold. It wasn’t as lush as her garden back at home, but the simple fact that pretty flowers could grow this high up in the mountains in this maker-forsaken country of cold was something to be admired. She’d have to thank Josephine later for telling her about this place.

“Soft giggles and softer hands,” he whispered under his breath. “Mayweed, crystal grace, hurtsickle, marigold, webbing, weaving… No, don’t touch that, that’s – “

“Blood lotus, yes, I remember,” she interrupted him softly. “My sister Darlene got the funniest rash on her hands after that.”

“You were wearing them on your head,” Cole pointed out. “The flowers. You all were, and you felt… Pretty? “

“We did,” Evelyn confirmed, patting the ground next to her for him to sit down as well. “We pretended to be the dancers from the midsummer festival; they had the most amazing flowers in their hair… But their crowns were professionally made, of course, nothing we could do ourselves, but oh well…”

“It made you feel pretty,” her repeated. “But you’re always pretty, why the flowers?”

“Oh, Cole, I don’t know!” She chuckled, a little exasperated. “A girl likes to feel special sometimes, I guess.”

“And flowers do that?” He wanted to know. “Make you feel special? Like Josephine! Blackwall brings her new flowers to her desk every week, and that makes her happy! And… Sad, too. Flowers can do that?”

“Ah, that’s different,” Evelyn told him. “Their situation is… Complicated, and those flowers are a romantic gift. The flower crowns my sisters and I made were not. Want me to show you?”

“Oh yes!” The… Boy… Spirit? Spirit boy? Whatever he was exclaimed and watched in rapture as her hand went to work, picking a few poppies and weaving them together to form a small band.

“There, you see?” She asked softly ad she placed the crown in his head. “Now you’re pretty, too!”

“Can I try, too?” He asked eagerly, carefully touching the flowers on his head. “And make you pretty and happy?”

“Sure,” she said. “Just pick a few flowers and do what I did.”

“This is fun!” He declared later, after having spent the better part of the afternoon making countless little crowns for her. So many, in fact, that she couldn’t possibly balance them on her head anymore. “It’s like making happiness with your hands!”

“If you think that’s fun, I’ve got to teach you how to knit sometime,” Evelyn laughed. “Then you can make hats and scarves for everyone, that would probably make a lot of people happy in this maker forsaken cold… Another time though,” she added when seeing his over-eager face lighting up at her words. “We really need to go back now.”

 

***

 

A few days later, Evelyn was on her way through the courtyard, checking up on the wounded and the recruits training, when she heard Cassandras exasperated sigh.

“Cole, I really don’t think that is necessary.”

“But you like flowers!” Cole protested.

Turning around the corner, she saw Cassandra sitting on her favorite log by the training dummies, book on her lap, and Cole standing in front of her, a delicate wreath or marigolds in his hands.

“I do, but… Not like this…” Cassandra protested weakly. “Ugh.”

“Shhh,” Cole made and placed the crown on her head. “Just be happy.”

 

***

 

“Scout Harding,” Evelyn greeted her favorite scout at their main camp after a brief excursion through the Emerald graves. “Fancy meeting you here. Also, nice crown you’re wearing there.

“Inquisitor,” the dwarf returned the greeting, adjusting the crystal grace band in her hair. “Funny story; the strange boy you take with you sometimes gave these to me.”

“Did he, now?” Evelyn asked in amusement.

“As a thanks for pointing out the way to more flowers,” Scout Harding continued. “I don’t quite remember doing that, though.”

“That happens,” Evelyn assured her, shrugging. “It’s good of you to accept his gifts, regardless.”

“Hey, I travel to the most horrible places Thedas has to offer for you on a regular basis,” Harding reminded her. “I’ll take all the pretty flowers I can get.”

 

***


“Inquisitor, a word please?” Ambassador Josephine asked of her a few days later back at Skyhold, another crown of crystal grace and marigolds in her hair.

“Cole got you, too, I see,” Evelyn chuckled.

“That he did,” Josephine confirmed, looking mildly uncomfortable. “He came to my office this morning and placed these on my head, saying I deserved happy flowers for a change. Do you happen to know how he got that idea?”

“He’s a perceptive kid,” Evelyn evaded the question. “He probably observed this courtship thing you and Blackwall are doing, and, uh… Drew his own conclusions?”

“He is not trying to court me, is he?” Josephine gasped in horror. Evelyn laughed again.

“No, I really don’t think so,” she assured her. “Don’t worry about him, he just… Does this now. You don’t have to wear the flowers if you don’t like them, though.”

“Oh, but I do like them,” Josephine assured her, patting the wreath where it was worked into her braid. “They are pretty, and completely in-season, strangely enough.”

 

***

 

Evelyn now found flower crowns on her desk every other day she spent at Skyhold; she’d made it a bit of a habit to braid them into her hair in a different way each day. Today, however, she was just returning from the field, a big bag of… Creature bits, as Sera called them, in her hand, and on her way to her researcher in her library, when she came across both Solas and Varric in Solas’ little rotunda.

“I told you we should have made the boy more human instead,” Varric said to Solas, a pink crown of flowers on his head, and additional flowers decorating his chest hair.

“This is but a phase,” Solas assured him, readjusting his own crown that slipped down his bald head and was only held up by his ears, the flowers getting into his eyes in the process. “A temporary fascination of his. It will pass.”

“If you say so,” Varric sighed and waved at Evelyn as she climbed up the stairs to the library.

Once she had reached the research table, she saw Cole sneaking around from the corner of her eye. Turning around in curiosity, she spotted his newest victim; Dorian was sitting in his fancy leather chair, brooding over a book and so absorbed by it, he didn’t even notice Cole until a crown of bearded cloves and adonis roses was perched on the back of his head. Cole would have gotten away with it, too, if Dorian hadn’t started sneezing violently as soon as he was crowned.

“Fasta vass!” He cursed, sneezed, jumped to his feet, sneezed some more, and ripped the crown from his head, staring at it in bewilderment for a second, sneezed again, and then roared; “Cole! Get back here! I’m allergic to these, too!”

 

***

 

“I told you before, I won’t wear these!” She heard her spy master whisper when checking up on her on the rookery.

“But you want to!” Cole whispered back. She could see them now, in front of Leliana’s small, personal shrine, Cole insistently holding out a crown made of Andraste’s Grace out to her.

“It would undermine my authority!” Leliana argued, eyeing the crown with a mixture of longing and wariness.

“Then just wear it under your hood,” Cole suggested, pushing the crown at her insistently.

“But then nobody will see,” Leliana pointed out. “What’s the point of it?”

“You will still be wearing it,” Cole reminded her. “And be happy. That is enough.”

With an exasperated sigh, Leliana pulled down her hood and Cole crowned her as well, before she quickly put her hood on again. Then she spotted Evelyn watching them and gave her one of her death glares.

“You saw nothing.”

 

***                     

 

On the next morning, Evelyn went to check up on her horses. She liked horses almost as much as flowers; they were gentle and reminded her of her childhood. Unfortunately, her fond memories were interrupted by a frustrated grown coming from the hayloft next to the stables.

“Blackwall?” She called inquisitively. “Are you alright?”

“Yes!” A gruff reply came back. “No! I mean… What even…”

She climbed up the loft and found Blackwall sitting on his makeshift bed and violently combing his beard.

“Can I help you with something?” She offered, biting back a laugh.

“What in the void is wrong with that kid?” Blackwall asked in frustration. “I tell him I don’t want any flowers, and he… He just…”

“Braids them into your beard,” Evelyn finished for him. “Well, you have to give him points for creativity.”

 

***

 

As she made it back into the main hall, an enraged Vivenne approached her.

“Inquisitor, what is the meaning of this?” She demanded, holding out her signature horned hat, which now had drapes of pimpernels, corncockel and Andraste’s Grace all over it.

“Oh, that was probably Cole,” Evelyn answered, again fighting the urge to laugh.

“Well, then tell your pet demon to stay out of my things!” Vivienne insisted. “I will never understand why you insist on keeping him around…”

“I don’t know, I think the flower thing is cute,” Evelyn defended herself and shrugged.

“Be that as it may,” Vivienne hissed. “Should I ever find it approaching me at night again, I will obliterate it, are we clear?”

“I’d calm down if I were you,” Varric called out to them from his fire place, fondling the flowers decorating his cleavage today. “The more upset you get, the more he gets the impression you need more flowers. So I’d think twice about any obliterating you’re planning on right now.”

 

***

 

That night at the tavern, everyone present was treated to the spectacle of Cole sitting on Bull’s shoulders and draping his horns with yet another wreath of flowers, while Bull was busy yelling at Krem for not wearing his crown.

“It’s a gift,” the Bull roared. “For fuck’s sake, Krem, just put it on!”

“Chief, I really don’t think this works with our image,” Krem argued and held up his very own personal flower crown made of poppies, calopsis and crystal grace.

“Everything works with our image if you wear it right,” Bull corrected. “Now stop being such a wimp and wear the damn thing!”

Krem snorted.

“Yeah, that’s rich coming from the guy getting draped in pansies right now.”

“They are pretty!” Bull growled at him.

 

***

 

The next day, Evelyn spent the better part of the afternoon trapped in the war room, looming over maps and reports and working on a plan of attack for Coypheus’ next move in the Arbor Wilds.

“This is getting us nowhere,” Cullen sighed after a lengthy debate, straightened himself, stretched, and bumped into someone who definitely shouldn’t be there, jumping away from the invader with a startled gasped. “Cole?” He explained upon spotting their visitor, and then his gaze fell on the flower crown made of heartsease, baby’s-breath and mayweed in his hand.

“Looks like it’s finally our Commander’s turn,” Josephine pointed out, chuckling.

“And here I thought he was pretty enough even without flowers,” Leliana chimed in. “It seems I was wrong.”

“Oh, no, no, no,” Cullen protested, backing away from Cole with his hands extended defensively. Cole, on the other hand, slowly and carefully kept approaching, as if he was trying to put a harness on a spooked horse, until he had Cullen cornered. Then, with a very quick leap he had probably practiced numerous times in the various inhabitants of Skyhold, Cole placed the crown on Cullen’s head and poofed away, as he did.

“Well, that sure is a way to liven up our sessions here,” Leliana commented dryly while Cullen was left in some sort of shock for a few moments. Then he glared at her and pulled the flower crown from his head.

“Not a word.”

 

***

 

It had been a few days since then, and Evelyn was just returning from a brief trip back to the Hinterlands with her companions, when suddenly Sera next to her fell down flat.

“What by the Maker’s balls - !” The elf screeched, then Cole materialized, straddling her back, and placing a flower crown made from just about every flower Evelyn could name on her head.

“I got you!” He exclaimed excitedly. “Now you can be happy, too!”

“Get off me, you fucking cocked up pile of demon shite!” Sera screeched, trying to fight him off, until Cole got up and ran, away, the conventional way this time. “I’ll stick you so full of arrows there’ll be flowers growing out of you next!” And with these words, she pulled her bow and bolted after him.

“I would like to see that,” Varric snorted. “Is that even possible?”

“I believe she was referring to flowers growing on his grave,” Solas mused. “But I don’t believe Sera thinks that far.”

“Do you still think that’s just a phase the kid’s going through?” Varric asked him. “Or should we maybe do something about it?”

“I don’t see why,” Evelyn participated in the conversation. “He’s not hurting anyone. And doing a very good job at fending off those who try to hurt him. Also, watching his shenanigans is kind of fun, wouldn’t you agree?”