Thankfully the exhaustion from the night before had driven her straight into a dream-state of sleep. Her mind melded into the Fade and it didn’t take long until Inspiration showed up, dragging a particularly hesitant horned friend behind her. Athena smiled, taking the first spirit into an embrace before looking to the other. “I don’t think you and I have officially been reintroduced.”
The other spirit rolled his eyes while stretching his arms above his head, yawning with his mouth wide open to show off his smaller fangs while answering: “Haaaarmony.” She nodded as he confirmed her theories from before, looking to them both with a small smile on her lips.
“What do you guys want to do tonight?”
The female spirit instantly jumped off the ground, an idea coming to her face as she clapped her hands together. “What was that thing you were talking about? With the stored plays and the screen?” Inspiration then reattempted to create the box with her fingers, aiming the center over her friend’s face while scrunching up her face tight in a focused expression.
Athena smirked. “Movies? You want to watch a movie?”
Inspiration’s mouth moved, trying to master the sound of the foreign word before nodding in excitement. “Yes. Absolutely. I want to see the arts from your world!” She then nudged Harmony in the side who gave her a frown before shrugging.
“I don’t see why not.” He added while looking to the surrounding area, a familiar chill settling into the area. Athena did not do well in hiding her smile as she tucked a stray hair behind her ear, containing her blush before accepting the other presence into her portion of the Fade.
Solas strode in from the side in a casual walk, gaze soft and friendly. She instantly took notice that Wisdom wasn’t there, her eyes looking to the side before she scrunched her lips in a look of confusion. “Where’s Wisdom?"
The elf chuckled, shrugging while making a gesture out into the open area. “We are not the only people who require her knowledge. I am sure she is with some other dreamer or spirit discussing philosophy and the like. What are you doing?” He looked around, taking note of the empty canvas of the Fade with a small hum. “You have not explored yet. . . “
She shook her head before turning away from him, closing her eyes and trying to craft a comfortable environment for them to watch something in. The memory of a couch formed with pillows on the ground. They were brought into one of her living rooms from childhood. She was still having trouble bringing electronics and their functions into this world, so instead she simply created a white wall in front of them for her to project her memories onto. When she opened her eyes hesitantly, she sighed in relief before walking around and plopping herself down on the couch. It threatened to consume her, just as she remembered it. She looked to the side and smiled as her favorite blanket materialized into view. The feeling was pure nostalgia as she brought it over her lap and curled it up to her shoulder. Athena smiled, rubbing the fabric against her cheek while letting out a soft sigh that was tinted with sadness.
Solas sat on the couch at the other end from her, giving her a look up and down. “Something wrong?”
Athena shrugged, looking to him with a gleam over her eyes that showed she was close to tears for a moment. “This just makes me miss home. I know this is a dream, a recollection of my memories, but everything just feels the same. The smells, the furniture. . ." Her voice trailed off, her eyes landing on the two spirits that had sat themselves on the floor in front of them between the couch and the wall while using pillows to prop themselves up. Inspiration looked over her shoulder expectantly, jerking her head towards the wall in anticipation for what was about to happen.
Her companion on the couch pressed on while leaning back and resting his left foot on top of his right knee in a relaxed position. “This whole experience sounds trying for you.” There was a genuine sincerity to his words and that brought a half laugh and a half sob from her lips. It was the understatement of her lifetime, but it was the reality she was dealt. Thankfully she had friends like Dorian and Rathein. . .and then the ever changing enigma that was Solas. She looked to the wall while running a hand through her hair and stretching into her position. Her legs were curled up next to her on the side, allowing him his own personal space on his side.
For some reason the words were difficult to form so instead she sighed, rubbing her forehead. “What type of story would you like?”
Inspiration did not hesitate, turning around and shooting her a glowing smile. “Something with music. I love your music from your world. It gives me so much energy, so much life!”
A musical? She thought back on her favorite movies, something she could call to memory with ease. The answer brought a chuckle from her lips, causing her to nod while gesturing to the wall. “As you wish, my friend. If there are any errors, forgive me. I’m still new to this whole Fade dreamer thing.” Harmony scoffed while sitting back on his pillow, making sure to keep an obvious space between him and his spiritual companion. Athena rolled her eyes before shutting them, imaging the opening lines to a classic in her world.
The Phantom of the Opera.
The images flickered to life on the wall in front of them, it bringing a satisfied hum from Solas while Inspiration smiled in happiness. She then laid on her stomach and hugged the pillow to her chest, obtaining one of Athena’s favorite positions to watch a movie in. Did her personality somehow meld with the spirits when she helped her form? Or was the spirit always this kind and compassionate? It was a curious thought; one she would have to ask Wisdom later. For the moment, she turned and watched the movie while leaning her head against her hand on the arm rest of the couch.
This movie was always something to special to her. Its music was moving, the characters were relatable, and it had such a story that made you pity the villain it was astounding. It was also a steady date movie whenever she wanted to set a romantic scene. Fuck. Her eyes widened in a moment of panic, quickly resisting the urge to look over at Solas. A blush filled her cheeks and she pulled the blanket up to her shoulders and curled into the couch as if to become one with the fabric. “What is troubling you?”
His voice cut through her embarrassment like a knife and pulled a twisting feeling of anxiety into her belly. “Solas, there are, uh, memories attached to this particular production. Any tips on keeping those separate so you three don’t get dragged into the feelings that come with this?” He chuckled under his breath, shaking his head back and forth while trying to keep his eyes on what was happening on the wall.
The main theme was beginning to play and his lips twitched into a smile at the large fanfares and swells within the music. “It is difficult to offer suggestions when I learned to master that so long ago.”
It was Harmony who stood up and walked behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders while leaning down and speaking into her ear. “I think this is where I come in. You’ve been using your emotions as a fuel during your magic, yes?” He spoke low to avoid drawing attention away from the movie but he kept his gaze on it, the lights from the wall reflecting in his golden horns. She nodded in response, slowly feeling that pressure in her stomach resolve. He continued on, resting his head on his crossed arms while leaning on the back of the couch. “Use your emotions as a shield, an armor that nobody can penetrate. You are a being that is very in tune with yours. Other mages have been taught to contain themselves, control themselves to avoid drawing attention. You burn like fire within the Fade.”
It was something she had been told before but the way he said it suddenly make sense. She wasn’t from here. She was not raised in the same environments, the same schoolings as other mages. She was still a novice barely learning battle strategy, let alone being somebody who was completely in control of her emotions. “I don’t want to suppress anything though, Harmony. I like wearing my heart on my sleeve. It’s an honest trait I’m proud of.” She could feel Solas glance over at her for a second before returning his gaze to the wall, a ghost of a smile twitching at the corner of his lips. The spirit behind her shook his head, placing a hand on her shoulder to help sync her energy with his.
“I never said suppress, simply master. Learn your triggers, learn how your feelings move through you like magic. Keep them flowing but keep them from spreading out. Your emotions are yours alone. They drive you and give you guidance. Express them, yes, but only by your choice. You choose how to react to things, Athena. Keep them skin-tight. You know how.”
He then patted her on the shoulder and returned to his seat with Inspiration, sitting a hair noticeably closer to her, almost allowing for their thighs to touch while they sat on the floor. Athena sighed and rested her head within her hand again, paying close attention to her breaths as they came in and out. She then focused on how the swells of the music resonated within her. Even if they brought a tear to her eye, she kept the responding swell of emotion within her. It felt like a turbulent wind within her body but it didn’t spread farther than that. After the rousing romantic ballad of the opera, which normally brought her to tears especially with the Phantom’s heartbreak afterwards, Harmony looked over his shoulder and nodded while stating: “Better.”
The movie continued and when glanced at Solas barely responded, physically at least, to the things happening on the wall. Inspiration, however, reacted like Athena would have acted if she wasn’t practicing her guard. She cried, laughed, and sighed during most of the scenes. She allowed her influence to be moved by the movie and in a way Athena was jealous. It felt like she was finally getting the hang of this new skill when a rather emotionally charged song began to play through her mind. It was one of the final songs, the buildup of the entire movie where the main female character was being used as bait for the Phantom.
Until now Athena had never realized how sexually charged the whole scene was. Their voices were near raspy, their gazes never breaking as they prowled in movements around each other like hunters. The colors of red and black flashed across the scene and she could feel her breath catching in her throat. The music sent a chill down her spine, Harmony looking over his shoulder and arching a brow. She cursed under her breath, giving him a guilty half smile. “Am I leaking?”
He chuckled and nodded at her, nestling in his position with Inspiration that had transformed into her resting her head against his shoulder with his arm around her. “You were doing good, keep trying.”
When will the flames at last, consume us?
She tried to swallow but found her mouth was dry, her eyes taking in every dance move, every lingering gaze that the Phantom gave his victim. They were advancing on each other now and Athena pulled the blanket up to her chin to hide the flush that was spreading over her chest. It was difficult but she kept her aura from spreading, keeping all the awkward tensions contained within her spirit. Her mouth moved with the lyrics since she knew them from heart. She thought she was going to burst and fail when the song had a sudden change in theme. It brought tears to her eyes and they silently fell down her cheeks. Say you’ll share with me one love, one lifetime.
It was the Phantom’s broken voice in his plea that undid her, her aura trickling out with her emotions following it. Harmony sighed and shook his head, mumbling something like “You’ll learn” from under his breath. Solas looked over to her with a look of confusion, his voice soft while he asked: “You pity this character?”
Athena nodded, using the corner of the blanket to wipe the tears from her face. “It’s the beauty of this particular show. He is an awful person, has committed horrid crimes, but he just desires companionship. It’s tragically beautiful and heartbreaking.” He thought on this for a moment, his gaze tearing from hers while looking over to the wall.
He answered in a voice that was almost a whisper and for a second she could feel his cool aura sliding over hers. “You think he deserves it after all he has done?”
The weight of his words brought a sigh from her lips, tears coming to her eyes again. Thankfully she could lie if need be and say it was the movie, but truly it broke her heart if he felt he was unworthy of love due to his own actions. He crafted the Veil and in that doomed the fate of his people. The Dread Wolf walked a lonely path even though his largest fear was dying alone. She answered with a hum while nodding, turning her gaze back with a smile. “Everybody deserves love, Solas. Nobody should die alone.” His eyes widened and he tore his gaze from hers while keeping his face neutral. She could feel his aura slap back to his skin like a whip. She wanted to reach out to him, comfort him and give him some sort of peace. His body language screamed otherwise so she resigned herself to her corner of the couch with a soft sigh.
They finished the rest of the movie in silence, Inspiration nearly sobbing as the final notes echoed through the Fade. The wall returned to its blank canvas and the group sat for a moment in stunned silence. “That was so beautiful, Athena!” The emotional spirit cried out, turning her tear-stained face to her friend. Athena only chuckled while standing and folding the blanket up on the couch.
The moment it left her grasp the piece of fabric dissipated into the surrounding Fade. “I’m glad you enjoyed it.”
She continued to walk past the couch when Solas stood from his spot and followed in her step. “Where are you going?” His voice was heavy, sad almost but there was still concern in his tone as he followed her.
It was exhausting to keep her emotions bottled up so she rolled back her shoulders and allowed them to flow. “Honestly that training exercise left me exhausted. I was going to wake up early and hunt with the pack while seeing how much travel time we have left. I suspect it isn’t long now.” She didn’t turn to meet his gaze but stilled when she felt his hand on her shoulder.
“Athena.” She could feel her pulse racing but she steeled her will and turned to look at him, trying to keep a respectable distance between their bodies. He smiled at her, nodding while saying: “Thank you for sharing that with me. I would still like to see more of your world, if possible.”
Athena sighed and placed her hand on his, feeling the small spark between the collision of their auras while smirking at him. “Of course, Solas. Another time perhaps. I suppose I will see you when you wake.”
He nodded with a hum, holding her gaze for a few seconds longer before dropping his hand from her shoulder. There was a soft tint of pink at the tips of his ears but he nodded towards her before walking away. “Good night, Athena.”
She then pulled on the tether connecting her to her body and groaned in her bedroll, turning over to find tears on her face. Kain was immediately there to lick them away, soft whines accompanying the kisses to soothe her. “I’m alright, boy. Come on, let’s go get the others.”