Ugh, I look like shit.
Two days until the trial and it feels like she’s run a marathon barefoot. Everything just aches. And she can’t sleep for more than a few hours before nightmares wake her, tense and sweat-soaked.
Pulling her towel more securely about herself, Ellana stares into the bathroom mirror and grimaces at the dark shadows circling her eyes, the thin, stretched quality of her skin. The strain is showing, but everyone around her just accepts that it’s all part of the upcoming trial.
So at the end of each day, they leave her alone in this room with her ‘bodyguard’ a few meters away past the open door of the adjoining suite. Nightly, she screams into her pillow until she’s hoarse before falling into an exhausted slumber.
One consolation is the fact that the leash has loosened since she made it clear she wasn’t going to run or tell anyone what’s going on.
Cass wants to take her out somewhere in the city, which means the whole gang will be there. Through some subtle prodding and encouragement, Varric invited Hawke, too. The country singer seems intent on hanging around. No way it could be because Ellana’s thrown Fenris and Hawke together at every opportunity. Just drawing the white-haired elf into the conversation whenever it seems most natural, though he barely grunts an affirmative or a negative before falling into vigilant silence again.
Hopefully, something will take.
The encounters seem to leave Fenris in doubt. And doubt is exactly where she wants him. It definitely doesn’t hurt that her attempts at normal friendliness cause her bandmates and her friends to include him in their jovial cajoling.
Ellana smiles at the memory of what happened yesterday—
The flash of blond hair as Sera lunges to throw her arms around Fenris in an attack-hug. His whole body goes rigid, while his face reflects total confusion and surprise. Sera’s lucky he doesn’t think it a hostile move. But then again Sera had just finished doing the same thing to everyone within ‘physical-affection’ range. It’s just her nature to be even-handed in all things hug-related ….
A chuckle rises out of her sore throat and, with a heaving sigh, Ellana reaches for her warpaint. Moisturizer, foundation, concealer, and more. All go on with practiced ease. The deep carmine of her painted lips stands out in a face that at least looks a little less like death warmed over. But these trappings are her armor and shield, just as kindness has always been a steady weapon in her hand.
A battle awaits this day. And the next. And every foreseeable day until Solas is back safe in her arms.
Gods, great and small, how she misses him.
Not often does she evoke higher powers. But she does now, praying as a child would pray, earnest and pleading. Mostly for him, lost to her. And a little bit for her, to give her the strength to endure.
And just a teensy little smidge for Fenris, so that hate can find no purchase in her heart.
Later, she sits with her bandmates, trying to laugh at the many jokes that fly through the air around her.
She chugs half a beer in a single gulp, to the applause of the pair she’s wedged between.
“Save some booze for the rest of us, Rosy,” Varric says, giving her a little nudge with his elbow.
“Ger’off, stumpy! Let her cut loose. S’been ages!” Sera whoops as Ellana downs the rest of her drink. The blond bounces up to stand on the booth’s cushion, waving at a passing waitress. “Oi! Bring us shots! ‘N at least, er, seven more pints of the black stuff!”
Cass frowns as she’s jostled to and fro by a rambunctious Sera plopping back down on her ass. “Sera! You’ve made me spill more of my beer than I’ve managed to drink!”
The violinist grins, wide and sly. “S’why I ordered more, Cassy-wassy.”
“Ugh, do not call me that.” Cass turns to Blackwall, who’s looking morose hunched over his pilsner. “What is the matter with you?”
The bassist grumbles, “Nothing.”
Varric snorts and throws a bar peanut at him. It bounces off Blackwall’s furrowed brow and lands in his beer. Everyone laughs as the bearded human shoots the dwarf a glare. Not to be put off, Varric says, “I guess that means things aren’t going well on the Josie front?”
Blackwall and Josie? Ellana thinks with more than a little astonishment. When did this happen?“Josie?”
Sera laughs and says, “Yeah! Mega-watt puppy eyes‘n everything. Kinda like that—” And she points, pulling everyone’s attention to the pair at the far end of the long booth.
Hawke’s guitar rests on his crossed, elevated legs as his fingers deftly pluck out some soft, sad riff. He’s looking down at the guitar while talking in low, friendly tones to the lanky, white-haired elf scanning the patrons of the bar. Unbeknownst to the country star, Fenris’s green gaze keep dropping to stare at Hawke, widening with something like … yearning.
When Hawke starts to sing in crooning baritone, Fenris very visibly gulps.
The group busts out in laughter, even Blackwall, though his is chagrin incarnate.
Fenris and Hawke look up at the sudden burst of mirth. Fenris’s eyes narrow in suspicion as they seek Ellana out and pin her. Except badass mad-dogging sort of loses its intimidation factor with cheeks as red as those.
She shakes her head and smiles at him. Hawke says something that thankfully draws his attention away from her. Then she addresses Blackwall, “So Josie, huh? That’s awesome. Dating?”
“No,” he replies, sinking in his seat.
Her brows dip as she asks, “Going to date?”
He shrugs. “Haven’t asked her yet.”
A touch exasperated, Ellana says, “At least tell me you’ve talked to her—”
“Course I talked to her,” snaps the burly bassist. “‘Good morning.’ ‘How are you?’ All the standard shite. But then I get around to other stuff and the words just dry up. I g-gave her flowers, though.” That last is mumbled so soft that she wonders if she heard right.
“Oooh, lookit you, you furry romantic lumberjack! Flowers,” says Sera, with a teasing leer over her beverage. “Posies? Roses? Them ones what look like puss —”
“Did she like them?” interrupts Ellana, her finger going under Sera’s glass to tip it back and shut the blond up. Sera sputters around the sudden mouthful of beer, and half of it goes right down the front of her tunic. Ellana ignores the blond’s outraged ‘Oi!’ as she waves for Blackwall to answer.
Shooting her a grateful look, Blackwall says, “I … think so? She said ‘thank you’ as she bustled by.”
“Well, don’t take it the wrong way, Hero,” says Varric, with an encouraging wave. “She’s a busy lady. At least she made time to thank you.”
Now an abashed dropping of Blackwall’s eyes combined with some serious mustache chewing draws a real smile past Ellana’s own worries. They are all so precious to her.
All of them.
And that makes the rage held captive in her breast thrash and pull, rattling its cage. She throws back her shot and the next beer to drown that fire for now.
“He thinks the box is empty,” says the silent-until-now Cole, looking toward Fenris with his watery blue eyes. “He picks it up, shakes it and puts his ear to it. Hearing nothing, he thinks there is nothing. But it’s only because the box is very, very full.”
The whole table goes quiet. Cole’s words are so rare that all present know to listen. Everyone’s attention is drawn to the drummer. Even Fenris’s gaze swings around to Cole, who looks back with that hallmark eerie, fixed certainty. The spirit continues, “It wasn’t you. It was and it wasn’t. All that red. But you are more. Memory strains to be heard behind weak cardboard seams. And mercy is a wet trickle.” Cole’s nose scrunches under wide eyes that give a slow, mismatched blink.
Mesmerized, Fenris’s jaw drops open. Ellana can see the questions starting to build up in the elf’s mouth. A dam that will soon break.
Cole isn’t finished though and, after another blink, says, in a child’s singsong, “Varania says mum wouldn’t like it, but I wanna be a soldier just like dad.” Cole pauses. When he continues, his ‘voice’ is a little older, but still youthful. “Varania says there’s no such thing as monsters, but I know that’s what killed father.” Then, lastly, in the clipped tones of a young man, “I go to war. Those horned devils in Seheron will finally pay. May the old gods watch over mother and Varania while I’m off to do my duty.”
In a flash, Fenris is at Cole’s side, hands gripping the spirit by the shoulders. “What do you mean? What does all that mean? Can you see my past? Who is Varania? Tell me.” He gives Cole a single shake. “Tell me!”
Inquisition stands as one, protests flying from every mouth. Seeing the many ways the situation could go very very wrong, Ellana bends across the long table, knocking glasses aside in her fervor. She grabs Fenris by one wrist, not hard, but adamant, giving it a light squeeze. He snarls in pain, but it shakes him loose of his mania. He then seems to notice everyone’s hostility, all pointing right at him. Letting go of Cole, he rocks back on his heels with a sharp, shaky breath.
Ellana also lets go, holding her hands up to show she meant no harm. Fenris looks around at all of them, so ready to defend Cole, and damned if a sheepish flush doesn’t creep over the elf’s face. Cole isn’t even ruffled, gaze distant as ever, wandering over booths and patrons with vague interest.
Wetting her lips, Ellana says, “Cole is a spirit. Of compassion. Yes, he can see things that are hidden. But he can’t always articulate the specifics.”
“Riddles and rhymes,” says Sera, with a loud burp.
“And sometimes, some sweet, sweet alliteration,” adds Varric.
“It’s almost poetry,” Cass says, with a nod and wave.
“If poetry could reach into your guts and give’em a yank,” Blackwall concludes, sour. Ellana smiles. As though the bassist hadn’t been the first on his feet.
Varric snorts and rolls his eyes. “Some people would say that’s the whole point of poetry.”
“Those people like poetry.” Blackwall sniffs. “Say it plain. Why bother with all that metaphor and shite when you could just say what you mean?”
“Your soul must be a barren, love-starved place then.” Varric wipes his eyes as though grieving for Blackwall.
Hawke takes his feet off the table and pulls an empty chair near. He says to stricken Fenris, “Wanna sit?”
The elf hesitates. “I-I shouldn’t.”
Varric chuckles. “Pull up a chair. I highly doubt a million zillion ninjas will pop out of the shadows to attack Ellana. At least, not tonight.”
Gingerly, Fenris sits among them, and shakes his head. No doubt at their easy acceptance after he physically manhandled one of them.
“Sooo … is what you said true? Or rather, implied?” Hawke sets aside his guitar to lean toward the white-haired elf. “There’s stuff you don’t remember?”
After a swallow and a nod, Fenris winces and says, “I … I have a sort of amnesia.”
Varric mumbles a snarky, “There are different kinds?”
Ellana stills him with a hand on his shoulder. She doesn’t want to spoil whatever is happening. The rest take her cue and fall into watchful silence, too.
“Did it happen in the service?” asks Hawke, careful as though Fenris is skittish as a cat.
Hawke touches Fenris on the arm in sympathy, brows furrowing. “I’m sorry.”
“Why? Did you cause it?” the elf shoots back, a little bitter, but also, a little teasing. His lips pull to one side in a smirk.
Giving a laugh, Hawke lifts up his cowboy hat to run a hand through his hair. “Not that I remember, no. I just … . I was in the service, too. Did my six before getting out to chase fame. Ferelden. One hundred and first Airborne Division. The Screaming Eagles. A … lot of my buddies ate it in Seheron. And others came home with PTSD or missing bits. Did you see a lot of action?”
Fenris relaxes as Hawke’s body language starts to reflect his own. Just two soldiers talking about the messed up shit that happened ‘over there.’ The elf says, “I think I must have, but I don’t remember.”
Hawke smacks himself in the forehead. “Oh, right. Amnesia. Anyway, I remember this one time Washburne, or Bunsen, as we called him, he took all the bootlaces—” And Hawke spins story after story of his life in the army. His friends. His comrades.
With Fenris sitting there, soaking it up like a sponge. Every line painted with envy and longing. Eyes big and open as they’d never been in her short acquaintance with the spiky elf. He laughs with sincere mirth at the funny bits, and nods agreement at some of the more esoteric army-isms. She guesses some things are remembered by the soul when the mind fails at recalling.
In a few hours, Fenris almost looks happy.
Especially when Hawke’s arm finds a semi-permanent roost around his shoulders.
Suddenly, it’s all too much for Ellana. The pretense at familiarity is getting too thin a seeming. Some traitorous part of her wants to like Fenris. Probably already does.
How could she!
Her breath throttles and comes short. She stands with the mumbled excuse that she needs to pee. She climbs over her bandmates and ambles toward the restroom in a walk that’s just short of a run.
Her head buzzes with alcohol as she nears the door marked ‘unisex.’ Past it, in blazing orange, she sees ‘EXIT’ and before she can even really think about it, her hand finds the handle and pushes. The steamy night air in the alley is less suffocating than that of the bar behind her, and she stands there gulping it in for several minutes. The rough brick scratches at her skin as she slides along it, trying to will away the spots and squigglies from her vision.
Then, the drink and food from the past few hours comes rushing up her throat and out onto the pavement. She heaves everything up, until her gut is empty.
Into her drunken misery, intrudes the sound of approaching footsteps. “Hey, sweetheart. You okay?” An unfamiliar hand touches her shoulder.
Ellana nods, too dizzy to reply, spitting bile into the mess at her feet as she tries to sweep her hair back out of her eyes.
That hand pushes at her, as if testing, and she almost goes face-first into the slop. Pushing back, she manages to grumble, “Hey!”
Then fingers dive into the pockets of her jeans. After a moment of frantic digging, the stranger grumbles, “C’mon, where’s the cash?” Cash? What cash? They get terribly invasive as they are thwarted in their search. But her purse is back in the bar.
She’s being mugged.
The thought strikes her hard, and the rage slips loose its leash with a furious shout. Burning so hot it feels as though it blisters her throat on the way out.
She comes up swinging. Well, flailing. The man curses as her left fist collides with his cheek. Then his nose. A wet, satisfying crunch finds her ears. But then her assailant gets his arms around her, and all her air whooshes out as he crushes her to him.
“Oh, you fucking knife ear bitch! You are gonna pay.” He starts dragging her away, into the darker end. His hard hands dig deep and cruel through her thin clothing into her flesh.
Ellana bites the hand trying to muffle her, and stomps everything within reach of her heels. She manages to twist around, but the mugger’s hand twists in her hair. Her play for a quick escape defeated.
Spitting and shrieking, she punches and kicks until finally her toe finds his groin. With a pained grunt, he lets her go and she stumbles into a wall, but the anger gnashing and growling within has her bouncing right back at him, fingers extended like claws. Her remembered magic roars into life, a flaming cocoon around her hands.
She swings, and misses. Her hand swings right through the patch of dark she’d been sure he stood in. Spinning almost full circle with the force of her attack, she pauses, heaving pants in the sudden silence.
Then a soft wet gurgling touches her ear, along with the heavy ‘fwump’ of a body hitting the pavement. The flickering flames go out as anger drains away to be eclipsed by horror at the sight of the other glowing presence in the alley.
Her back hits the brick behind her. The white lines on Fenris’s skin glimmer as they dim, but not before their light illuminates the chunk of bloody … something in his right fist. Then he drops it with a careless flip of his wrist. With a wet splat, it hits the ground. Her eye can’t help but follow.
If her stomach had left anything in it ….
The wave of crippling nausea swamps her senses, and she bends double, dry heaving between too shallow breaths.
Fenris reaches out to her with the bloody hand and she recoils. In the gloom, she sees his handsome face draw into a grimace. His deep voice rolls out of him in a tentative, “Are … are you alright, Ellana? Did he hurt you?”
She sincerely hopes it isn’t more acidic bile. When it reaches the top of her throat, she realizes with distress that it might be something worse.
Unstoppable, it’s on the cusp of being loosed when she wonders, Is this what going crazy feels like?
But the scream she feels bubbling at the back of her tongue manifests as something else altogether.
A chuckle breaks free, then a giggle, then a full and whooping laugh that shakes her narrow frame as she clings to the brick. Her eyes screw shut as the mirth rolls through her belly, scouring and replete.
“Ellana? Ellana, please. You’re going to draw notice,” Fenris says, his gaze cutting to either end of the alley. With a few, efficient movements, he picks up the mugger’s corpse and tosses it into a nearby dumpster.
Hysteria abates a little, and she finds that a great part of the anxiety has dissipated with the outburst. “I don’t … I don’t know what’s more fucked. The fact that you can rip people’s innards out with your bare hands, or that you actually seem concerned about me.”
Clearly taken aback, Fenris’s eyes drop to his boots, and he slumps like a disobedient child. He looks so forlorn that pity pricks her heart. Killer or no, he might have just save her from robbery and rape. “I’m … sorry.”
She straightens, wiping her mouth on the back of her hand. Tugging on his sleeve, she says, “C’mon. Let’s get you cleaned up before someone screams bloody murder.”
And she giggles again, and wonders just when she lost her mind. But seriously, it’s not the first killing she’s witnessed, just the most uncanny and eldritch.
And she is so very good at compartmentalization.
Walking back into the bar, she screens his entry into the gentlemen’s. When Fenris emerges, clean of any trace of blood, she nods toward the sound of their companions’ boisterous boozing. Approaching the table, she climbs over Cass and Sera to plop back into her seat.
Varric looks up from his enthusiastic storytelling and doubletakes, staring at Ellana’s face. “What happened to you?”
The others take notice and she frowns, peering at the mirror over the bar. Her flushed face and mussed hair shout violence, as does the developing bruise at the top of one cheek. Did that bastard land a blow? She can’t remember. To the repeated question, this time in Cass’s no nonsense ‘mom’ voice, she says, “I went out back for some air.”
Sera nudges Cass in the ribs. “See? Told ya she didn’t fall in.”
Ellana clears her throat and continues, “There was an awfully impolite gentleman who decided he wanted whatever cash I had.”
Blackwall growls and makes to stand. “You got mugged? Is he still out there? Did you see which way he might’ve run?”
She resists the urge to shift and stammer as she answers, “He tried, but I didn’t have anything on me. But no, Fenris came out and took care of it.” Ellana looks Fenris dead in the eye and says, with sincerity, “Thank you, Fenris.”
All eyes find the white-haired elf, who stares back with trepidation. Then Sera cackles and says, “Good on you, spiky!”
And a round of applause and backslapping enthusiastic enough to fluster Fenris happens. Hawke gives him a half-hug that sends the poor man near swooning.
The night concludes with them staggering back to the hotel, arm in arm. A long chain of revelers singing silly songs in the dead of night. Hawke and Fenris walk behind, still talking in low tones.
Entering her hotel room, she listens as Hawke and her ‘bodyguard’ talk at the door to his room.
“Rescuing damsels in distress kind of your thing?” asks the human.
“Would it be strange to say it was my first time?”
“Oh? Well, you seem good at it, if Ellana’s gushing is any indication.”
“It-it was nothing,” says demure Fenris, a shy note in his voice.
“Humble, too.” There is a pregnant pause and a light scuffling in the hallway. Hawke clears his throat, just a soft, nervous sound. He asks, “May I … kiss you?”
A swift intake on Fenris’s behalf reaches her ear. He stutters, “I’m not … I mean, I don’t remember if …. I don’t know if I’d be any good at it.” That last comes out in a pained rush.
With a teasing chuckle, Hawke says, “Only one way to find out.”
The unmistakable sound of lips meeting, wet and open pants, filters through the walls and doors. Ellana smiles as she moves away from her eavesdropping to the bedroom. Laying her drunken head on the pillow, her hand caresses the other half of the bed, heart wrenching with the wish that Solas was there.
She misses the sweep of his eyelashes over mischievous blue eyes, the little wrinkles at the corners when she makes him laugh. The way the dusting of freckles over his cheeks stand out when she finds a way to fluster him. Oh, and those ways ….
Sleep overtakes her, and for once the universe shows mercy and no nightmares haunt her.
The hangover is light, considering. But perhaps yacking up so much drink before it could work through her system did her a service after all.
Still, she moves about the room with tender regard for her aching head and stiff muscles. Showering away the night’s excesses, she dresses in clean pj’s as she heads out to the common area of the suite.
The scent of coffee strikes her full in the face and her mouth waters as she moves toward the kitchenette in a zombie-like shamble. She blinks away the hypnosis of coffee’s siren call to see Fenris there, back to her as he tosses something around in a skillet over the stove’s single burner.
Turning, he gives her a tight smile in greeting. Then he sets the spatula down and lifts a cup and saucer. He spins and sets it on the kitchen island before her. Along with cream and sugar packets.
Nonplussed, she pulls up a stool and mixes her coffee how she likes it.
Fenris starts to hum, a deep, velvety rumble. With a shock and a grin, Ellana recognizes it as one of the tunes Hawke played last night. Oh, he is well and truly smitten. She gives a small giggle at that as she sips her coffee.
“What?” asks he, looking over his shoulder at her.
All innocence, she shakes her head. “Nothing. You’re in a good mood. Something happen last night?”
A rosy rush fills the man’s tawny cheek. And the faraway look in his eye tells a far different story from his perfunctory shrug.
A plate lands in front of her and she huffs a laugh as she looks at the breakfast Fenris made for them. Some sort of scramble. Eggs, sausage and potatoes. There’s even bell pepper and onion in it. Which means he left sometime that morning to go shopping at the little market on the corner.
Which also means he trusted her enough to be alone.
The thought comes with a rush of victory. She eats with hearty relish.
Then his phone rings.
Wait. He has a phone?
The spatula clangs on the side of the plate, and Fenris shoots her a look full of apprehension. He reaches up and tucks in an earpiece from the lining of his collar. Straightening, he says, “Yes, sir.”
A long pause as he listens, then, “No, sir.” And again. “Yes, sir. She’s been completely compliant.” Then his face hardens as he turns fully to look at Ellana. Then that person, she can only assume it’s Corypheus, must have said something … unfortunate, because all the color drains from Fenris’s face and he says, “But, sir, she hasn’t—No, sir, I’m not questioning orders …. No,s—Yes, I-I …. Yes, sir.”
She doesn’t like the resignation in that last ‘yes, sir,’ nor the blank, cold expression that settles over his face. His fingers fiddle at his belt, drawing out a slim black cell that he pokes at for a moment. Then he sets it on the island.
Corypheus’s raspy bass floats out of it. “Is it set?”
“Yes, sir. You’re on speakerphone.”
Ellana’s stool skids back as she retreats from Fenris’s sudden threatening advance. He pushes her the last few feet into a wall. The back of her head strikes the plaster and she squeaks in pain. Pinning her there with left hand around throat, Fenris slams his other fist into the wall next to her head. She whimpers in reaction and confusion.
Leaning close, he whispers, “Cry out.”
“Wh—” she starts.
“Good. Now slap her,” says the voice of the evil bastard holding Solas.
Bracing herself, she cringes when a loud smack fills the air. But there’s no sting. No pain. No throwing of her face to the side.
A bright red spot slowly appears on Fenris’s own cheek.
“Harder. She must be a resilient little thing.”
She watches in fear and horror as Fenris strikes himself again. This time she remembers to cry out.
“Again.” Smack. “Again.” Smack. Over and over, Fenris slaps his own cheek. Blood starts to trickle out of the side of his mouth from his torn lip. He gives no quarter in each strike. And she cries out every time, now in sympathy more than anything.
He doesn’t even need the prompt any more as that hand flies like it’s attached to some mechanical wheel.
Ellana’s vision blurs and, to her shame, she begins to sob watching him hurt himself. Her hand comes out to halt his at the wrist, she pleads, “Stop! Just stop!”
“That’s enough, Fenris dear.” Then Corypheus seems to lean away from the phone on his end, commenting to some other person, “See? I told you not to worry, Danarius. Steady as a rock. Fenris, carry on.”
And the phone clicks, screen going dark.
Fenris takes a deep breath and releases her, giving her an apologetic pat before walking away into his own rooms.
Shaky with reaction, Ellana blinks and wipes her face. She hears water running in the other room and the sound of vigorous scrubbing.
When the shock wears off, that anger starts to brim over the small cup of her restraint. She stomps into the other suite to find Fenris holding a hand-towel full of ice to his cheek. “What the hell was that?!”
Fenris looks at her with distant interest, reminding her very much of when first they met. He pulls the ice away from his face to say, “He demanded I hurt you, but you had done nothing wrong. Is this not preferable to actually hurting you?”
“Some goddamn consistency would be nice. Why, Fenris?” She can make demands, too. “Why?”
She can see it puzzles him, too. His gaze turns inward, and he shrugs. Insufferable little git. “I … could not.”
“What the fu—” She’s interrupted by a loud series of urgent knocks on her door. Giving him a look that promises she’ll get her answers from him, she strides back into her room and answers the door. The petite elf there looks at her with wounded appraisal on her vallaslin-covered face.
Ellana manages, “Merrill?”
A phone is thrust in her face. “It’s Dorian. For you. Oh, Ellana, what have you done?”
With hollow dread, she put the proffered device to her ear. “Dorian, it’s Ellana.”
“Thank goodness! I’ve been trying to reach you for a couple of days now. I need to tell you. Corypheus has Solas, and he’s been beaten. Just bruises everywhere on his face. I saw him get on Corypheus’s private jet, headed Dumat knows where. He’s a hostage, Ellana! Are you listening to me?”
At the word ‘beaten,’ she’d almost dropped the phone. A sick feeling wells up in her core, worry intensifying to the point of agony. “Y-yes, I’m listening. I know, Dorian.”
“I figured as much. When Merrill described your ‘bodyguard,’ I figured Corypheus was up to his old tricks again.”
Merrill stares at her, with a combination of judgement and empathy.
Ellana blurts, “But he’s hurt, you said. Beaten?”
“Yes! I saw his face when he foisted some stoned elf named Zevran off on me.”
Thrusting the phone back into Merrill’s hands, she about-faces and storms into Fenris’s room. She glares at the elf, summoning forth all the rage building up in her chest since this whole shitfest began. “He’s been beaten.”
Fenris tilts his head at her. “Who?”
“Solas.” She steps right up in his face and accuses, “Corypheus has been beating him! Did you know he would?”
Guilt swallows his mask whole. “Ellana, I—”
“No!” And her hand flies before she can think twice about it, cracking against his wounded cheek. His whole body winces before her attack. “You don’t get to care. You don’t get to care about what happens to me and hold me hostage!”
Before her fury, he cowers.
“Make a choice, Fenris. And it better be the right one, or you’re going to have to work for assholes like Corypheus for the rest of your life. And there will be no room for anything else. Not friendship. Not family. Not love.” She stares him down and says three more words, punctuating each with her finger jabbing his chest, “Make. A. Choice.”
Her head turns at Merrill’s tentative, “Ellana?”
A breeze pulls her attention back around to the suddenly empty room. The curtains at the open window waft to and fro. Shaking her head at the man’s uncanny exit, she breathes. Just a deep in and out for a moment, before straightening and turning to the very concerned Merrill.
“I suppose I have some explaining to do.”