She thinks she's been jaded by time and circumstance and sheer dumb luck, because she's got ancient elvhen magic like a maw in her palm and it's been twisted by a magister that started the fucking Blights and, oh, human fairy stories are real. And elvhen fairy stories, which is terrifying – wonderful, yes, but honestly terrifying – because once upon a time she'd had Mythal's sigil written in blood across her face and down the slender lines of her body, and then she'd stood in Mythal's temple and trembled at the realization that her gods truly once walked the earth. And of course there was the time she walked in the Fade, and lived – and the second time she walked in the Fade and lived (don't think of Stroud don't think don't think don't think choices had to be made stop stop) – and walked into the dreams of her companion and was called a Dreamer for her efforts.
There's not much left to give Ellana pause, not anymore, especially not after waking up in camp to see Varric legitimately cuddling Bianca (the crossbow and not the dwarf she'd still like kick really, really hard) whilst making disturbingly happy noises in his sleep. There just comes a point in life where the revelations have reached such a magnitude that one has to shrug and go, “Yeah, well, I've seen weirder shit.”
It's been months since the fall of Corypheus. Though she's still busy closing rifts and righting wrongs and fighting the good fight (she likes the way the nobles look queasy when they say Herald of Andraste while staring at her ears, her long fingers, the silver-quickness of her body; it's power, but it's also funny, in a kick in the teeth sort of way), there is a little more time to breathe. Not fearing the world is ending will do that – take a weight off her shoulders, she means. Time seems to run more slowly, now. Sometimes she wishes it was back to the old days, to the rush rush rush, the hurrying and scurrying and long weeks tucked into musty canvas tents, howling at the Iron Bull for passing gas and sliding her feet between Solas's calves to warm her toes.
There's a hard, aching throb when she thinks of warm toes, of a calloused hand on the back of her neck, of “Ma vhenan,” breathed across her mouth. It's the sort of pain that elfroot can't numb and stubbornness can't fade, though time lessens the tightness of the barbs, if not removing the thorns entirely. She avoids the empty space that was once his, the grand painting spiraling across the one circular wall, her story (and his). Sometimes it makes the loss easier, keeping the reminders of Solas out of mind. Sometimes it makes it almost unbearable, because she feels as though he was a dream she's beginning to forget, an intangible wish she never truly touched.
Leliana looks but finds nothing more than a long dead village, and there's a hard pulse in Ellana's chest. His home is a crumbling ruin where dreams curl into the mist, where little more than broken foundation stones remain, and maybe the others see it as a lie but she knows. His home will always be in the Fade, in the dreams and memories; maybe he'll love her better this way, more strongly. Maybe he will dream of what-might-have-been and how he could have held on, instead of pushing away.
“You need a good lay,” Dorian decrees after months of work and studiously not moping, not even a little. They're getting obnoxiously drunk in the library; clerics are giving them nasty side-eyes and muttering under their breath, because she's sprawled across his lap and he's rubbing the inside of her thigh with absent minded fingers. It looks like foreplay, looks warm and rich and delicious, but the reality is they're both touchy-feely drunks. Her parts are all wrong for him and, well, he's too dark and broad and human, too slick and glib and loud in his cleverness.
“You and Bull planning on helping with that?” she teases, stealing the decanter of stupidly expensive brandy and taking a long pull. It burns like dragon fire, like the rough side of velvet, and her bare toes curl.
A finger smooths his mustache. “We could,” he drawls, peering towards the rafts and crying ravens. “Not particularly my point of interest, but there are options.”
She knows he's not just being shocking, just as Dorian knows she's honestly considering it. But her body has been mapped by an apostate's hands and there is forgotten elvhen unseen on her flesh, and somehow the thought of anything else makes her stomach rise and curl. So she shrugs reedy shoulders, kisses his cheek, and curls tight and warm against his chest. “Maybe,” she sighs, and it's the only no she needs to say.
More time passes. Ellana meddles in the affairs of Cullen and a Free Marches noble, writes to his sister he's found someone and they're disgusting and it's wonderful. Varric leaves, writes long letters from Kirkwall, and finally reappears with Hawke and an ex-slave with lyrium carved into his skin. Sera never leaves, though she keeps threatening it, and somehow it's Sera and Hawke and Ellana with things like earwigs, or dangerous explosives, or lots and lots of sludge. All of Skyhold holds its breath when they hear three women giggling like demons.
The Inquisition becomes stronger, more solid and unyeilding. She talks of disbanding, but the political unrest is too great, the nature of the beast too fierce. It's push forward or all the world as she knows it to fall into bitter fighting, and since she's the defacto Keeper of Thedas as a whole, she's got to keep it all together. So she's still Inquisitor, Your Worship, My Lady, Lady Herald when dragons come screaming out of the sky and time begins to bend in on it's self.
So now it's back to saving the world, doing the impossible, freeing the innocent, trying not to die a brutal and horrible death. It's been two years and (she hasn't been with anyone else, becomes ill at the of allowing another man into her body): she doesn't think of him very often, but when she does it's to remember calloused feet and lectures and the scent of paint. It doesn't hurt. (She's got a hole in her soul that screams like a wolf cut off from its mate, is becoming rabid and mad.) Of all the things Ellana expects to encounter in the depths of an ancient elvhen temple to Fen'fucking'harel, it's not, you know, her ex-lover.
“Of course it would be you,” he says like a dirge, and there is magic on his fingertips and glowing on his palms. Half-wrapped feet are soft and soundless on the old stone, worn smooth from priests and pennants and seekers. Solas moves slowly, carefully, and she turns with him, like they're dancing without touching and her heart is somewhere in her throat.
“Considering we saved the world together not too long ago, I'm going to assume you didn't actually plan on tearing it apart now. Unless it's really done something to tick you off this time...?”
He snorts, chokes on a laugh. He smells of soap and his head is freshly shaved, and Ellana is reminded of tasting lemon in his mouth and how his fingers fit inside her body. He must be thinking nearly the same thoughts, because there's this flash in his eyes and suddenly Ellana feels like a dusty old tomb about to be read for the first time decades, and honestly it's pathetic how erotic the analogy is. But then there's the dragons, and time, and elvhen gods, and also old gods, and – and Solas standing in front of her with a bow staff and the shadows rising up to the blanket the very sun is a many-eyed wolf – and there is the voice of the Blight screaming rage and he's roaring back, like a monster in man-flesh, but it's just Solas and it's a fucking miracle they don't die.
It's done and over, at least for a moment, and she's splayed across the flagstones of Fen'harel's temple like an offering, bleeding and aching. Solas pulls her across his knees, lavishing healing magic over Ellana's poor, battered body. There's sweat on his lovely bald head and a badly mended seam in his tunic and it's just too much. Ellana snorts, clamps a hand over her mouth and bangs her feet on the floor before exploding into roars of laughter. It hurts, especially what with the half-mended hole in her side, but it's a really good sort of pain.
“Shite, knew it was bound to happen,” Sera announces from somewhere out of view. “Knew she was going to fucking crack on us. Like a bloody egg. All his stupid Elfiness' fault, innit? 'Oh, I'm an ancient magical god.' Well shut up about it, 'cause you got a stick up your ass and no one actually fucking cares anymore.”
“Charming,” Solas mutters above Ellana, and it's so very Solas – so stodgy and disapproving – that it just makes matters worse. She's choking, tears welling and pouring, and slapping one hand against his chest hard enough to make him wince.
“Y-you?” He peers down at her in confusion. “You're the Dread Wolf? You – you're the – the wolf in the night – the – the monster beyond the fire?”
The very picture of wounded pride, Solas pulls his shoulders back. “Is this truly so hard to believe, ma vhenan?”
Ellana whoops, almost rolling off his knees. “Oh look at me, I'm the – the Dread Wolf and – and I'll – I'll make sarcastic comments your intelligence before skulking off –”
“I do not skulk.”
“D'you remember? When you – you caught your robes on fire – didn't notice 'cause you were off in Solas-land, and we had to – to douse you?” Nothing says furious hobo apostate like a smoking, charred Solas dripping the stew that would have been their dinner. She'd helped him wash clean, still remembers plucking the carrot chunk from his ear and how hard she'd laughed.
Flailing about, she pulls an exaggerated look of horror. “May the Dread Wolf take you!” she roars. “To bed early because he doesn't like to stay up too late –”
With a noise of disgust, Solas abandons her. She's healed beyond any danger (better than she's ever been healed before, probably has something to do with the god-powers – she sure could have used those when fighting Red Templers), and so she flops bonelessly onto her side and laughs until she weeps and finally just lays there, gulping like a fish out of water and shivering.
Sera crouches over her, face upside down and wicked, as she cheers, “Elven glory!” They knock foreheads and collapse all over each other in hysteria, while Sera makes disgusting hand gestures and rude noises. Solas does himself no service by giving them a narrow stare and sighing, in a put upon away, “Da'len,” as though he's been given the task of herding rowdy children to bed.
It's not until later, when she's spread across wolf fur, after she's been encased in magic and lust and Solas, Solas everywhere, that she truly begins to believe. Not that it stops her from licking a line up his neck and whispering, “Rebuilding the empire, are we?” He curses her in elvhen she doesn't understand, but his gaze is warm and his mouth soft as he watches her laugh.