Herah Adaar had never wanted to be in the centre of everyone’s attention. Talking to the nobles who had been travelling for days just to meet her and win her favours, meeting the representatives of the Chantry, some of whom never hid their disapproval and opinions about “someone like her” being deemed the Herald of Andraste… all of it was not for Herah.
Since arriving at Skyhold and acquiring enough resources to build a Mage Tower, Herah had gained even more opponents, especially among the nobles, making the situation even more difficult for Josephine Montilyet, their Ambassador. Lady Montilyet was doing her best to contact everyone and convince their present and future allies of the reasoning behind Herah’s choices and actions, allowing them all to avoid unnecessary conflicts as much as she could. Herah would have gone about things differently, of course, which was why she, along with the advisors, had decided that they would leave all the political aspects of the Inquisition to the Ambassador, and Herah did not mind one bit.
The thing was, Herah was not a politician. She had no knowledge of how “nobles” would handle things, and what she considered proper was not what the Orlesians considered to be proper. She preferred the straightforward approach, saying what she meant right away so that she was not misunderstood, and she believed in taking responsibility for her actions. However, the more nobility she had met and the more leaders contacted her, the less she wanted to be a part of any of this. What her parents had taught her, her attitude, her skills and magical abilities had helped her make a name for herself among the Valo-kas, and it was also what had led her to this very point. If she hadn’t been sent as a protector for the Convlave, she have found herself in Skyhold, trying to protect those who treated her with animosity and disgust.
She would have still worked with the Valo-kas, feeling accomplished, but she most likely wouldn’t have met people whom she could maybe call friends in the future. And the Inquisition gave her many more opportunities to help her parents, much more than the Valo-kas.
Still, the anchor had made everything more complicated. Herah was an individualist, and while she had worked in a group before joining the Inquisition, she had been given enough freedom to do things her way, and that was what had been working for her. Things were different now. When making any, even the smallest decision that seemed to be not significant at all, she had to consult the advisors, take into consideration all the options, and had to remember that she does not work alone anymore. That was one of the main problems she had to face.
After she left the meeting with Amabassador Montilyet, the Spymaster, and the Commander about contacting the rebel mages the Grand Enchanter Fiona and Sketch had informed them about, Herah really needed a break, but she knew it was not possible. The Ambassador had reminded her that she has been asked to talk to a noble who has arrived in Skyhold in hopes of meeting her.
The meeting was supposed to take place in the evening, since the Ambassaador had predicted Herah might want to take a break. Sadly, the time was passing very quickly for her, and as soon as she managed to grab a few apples to snack on, she went to the office where all the formal visits took place. The Ambassador always preferred to talk to any noble visitors first before Herah met them, and this time was no different. Herah appreciated the time to prepare herself for the visit.
When, after giving the visitors a chance to talk to the Ambassador more, she entered the office quietly.
There was a woman standing by the Ambassador’s desk. She had short red hair, almost as short as Cassandra’s, but curly. A long, dark scar ran from her nose, across her left cheek and ended near one ear, making her look rather intimidating, and she was observing the Ambassador calmly, one corner of her mouth raised slightly in a barely noticeable smile. Standing in the middle of the room with confidence and pride, combined with a heavy armour she was wearing, a large shield on her back and the width of the blade of her sword, she was a perfect example of an experienced, capable warrior.
Herah closed the door behind her and two pairs of eyes focused on her instantly. While the warrior was observing her closely, the Ambassador smiled at her as she moved slowly to stand in front of the desk.
“Ah, you’re here. Wonderful,” she said. “Inquisitor Adaar, let me introduce Lady Evelyn of House Trevelyan, the youngest child of the Bann of Ostwick.”
“Welcome to Skyhold, Lady Trevelyan,” Herah said, nodding her head in greeting and the visitor did the same.
“Thank you, Inquisitor,” the warrior replied. “I have contacted Josephine in hopes for arranging a meeting with you.”
“You know the Ambassador?” Herah asked, a bit surprised, as she looked at Lady Montilyet, who was still smiling.
“Our families keep in touch,” she explained right away. “However, we haven't exchanged correspondence often after Evelyn was sent abroad two years ago. It is one of the reasons why I was happy to receive a letter from her, asking for a meeting. Especially now.”
“What do you mean by “especially now”?”
“I will not lie, Inquisitor,” the warrior said, her right hand landing on the pommel of her sword, a gesture that prompted Herah to keep an eye on their visitor, just to be sure nothing unexpected would happen. “Our family is not happy with what is happening within the Inquisition. The majority of our relatives are the members of the Chantry and the Templar Order. Three of our cousins died in the explosion during the Conclave, which is why we have been following your actions quite closely since then. Your support of the mages and the disregard for the Chantry’s views and wishes are often perceived by many as…”
“I am aware of what people think of me, Lady Trevelyan,” Herah interrupted. She did know what the woman wanted to say. The nobility generally did not approve of the Inquisitor’s actions. “We have received a letter in which your family expresses... concern and worries, and we have answered. Is there anything else you want to talk about?”
“There is,” said Lady Trevelyan, glancing at the Ambassador briefly before taking a step towards Herah, looking her straight in the eye when she said: “I left our lands in hope to stay here and offer my support for your cause.”
During her stay in Skyhold Evelyn has been tried to get involved in as much as she could and started to work with people living in the castle, waiting for the arrival of her friend from the Ostwick Circle. She began to train with the Inquisition’s forces, showing them fighting techniques she had learned when she had been stationed abroad, as well as informing Leliana and the Ambassador about what she knew of the atmosphere and problems that were arising in the cities she had passed on the way to Skyhold.
Evelyn was also a strong-willed leader who liked to know what was happening around her and who did not like to be kept in the dark, which Herah realized rather quickly as well.
It was one of the reasons why there was a lot of tension between them, especially when Evelyn demanded to be informed of every decision Herah was making, even during the meetings with the advisors. However, Evelyn’s stubbornness proved to be useful on occasion as well. Herah had left talking to her to the Ambassador at first, but soon she came to trust and appreciate Evelyn’s experience, especially after the warrior had helped her to deal with one of the other Ferelden families, since she knew how to approach nobility almost as well as the Ambassador did.
It was also one of the skills Herah appreciated about someone else. About Ambassador Montilyet. Josephine. They had agreed to use their first names. The woman was always smiling, offering Herah advice and listened to her whenever she felt less sure of herself or her decisions. They had been spending more and more time together and proposing to be there for Josephine whenever the Ambassador needed to talk to someone, too, was definitely one of the best decisions Herah had ever made. Whenever Josephine talked, Herah found it difficult to focus on anything else.
During the recent meeting with the advisors Josephine kept smiling as she talked of her plan to contact another Orlesian noble Josephine’s family used to be in contact with, and in the candlelight she looked even more gorgeous. It was difficult to look away from her. Herah really hoped she had composed herself quickly enough and no one had noticed how distracted she was around Josephine. Maybe she could offer to…
“Inquisitor, how did the meeting go? What have you decided?”
Herah stopped in her tracks as soon she felt a warm hand catching her shoulder.
“What do you mean?” Herah turned her head to look at Evelyn.
She was surprised by Evelyn’s curiosity, considering the meeting was more of an overview of their forces returning from Crestwood and the Storm Coast, deciding which areas to scout next, and whom should Josephine contact. It hadn’t taken long to discuss everything, so Herah had decided to take some time to talk about where to sell everything she, Sera, Vivianne and Cassandra had collected during their last trip to Crestwood. After having finished the meeting early, Herah went on her way to ask Bonny for her opinion about the materials and equipment they had encountered, but the determination on Evelyn’s face most likely meant that selling goods would have to wait.
“Scouting the ruins of Haven, Inquisitor. You had mentioned you’ll do it when we had talked to Josephine and Cullen weeks ago, and you still haven’t done anything about it,” the look on the other woman’s face made Herah frown.
“We have been focusing on discussing what our forces have found out during their last missions and on places we still need to scout before deciding what to do next. I do remember about Haven, Lady Trevelyan, but we decided that finding out more about the southern Orlais first would be a better idea.”
“Possibly, but people want to know what had happened there,” Evelyn put one hand on her sword again and Herah realized it must have been something she did when she got nervous or excited. “They are curious, and if we do not go there soon thieves and plunderers might take whatever was left and we’ll never get it back. Going there and securing everything we can might assure people that the Inquisition cares and pays respect to those they had lost.”
“But we do,” Herah argued. “Lady Trevelyan, I appreciate your advice, but we have people guarding the area, we have sent letters…”
“Inquisitor, trust me, I know what I am talking about,” Evelyn insisted. “I have heard that the Bull’s Chargers had offered to go there if you ask them. So ask. They might help and…”
“Yes, Krem has offered to help with that, and we already talked about it, but we aren’t sure if their help wouldn’t be needed somewhere else soon.”
“But they are not busy right now!” Evelyn caught her by the forearm, and Herah blinked, caught off guard. Evelyn was sure of herself, but it was the first time Herah has heard her raise her voice. She wasn’t prepared for that. “They’ve been waiting for the last two weeks, doing nothing. Inquisitor, I am telling you, this is the right thing to do.”
They were standing in the middle of the grounds, just looking at each other. Herah was much taller, the warrior barely reaching her shoulders, but they were still standing close, neither of them backing down. Herah was aware that people were observing them, it was difficult not to, when they started whispering among themselves, but she didn’t care much. She kept looking at Evelyn, her warm fingers were still tightly wrapped around Herah’s forearm, the fire in the warrior’s eyes directed right at her for the first time since their first meeting.
“Has anyone ever tell you, Lady Trevelyan, that you have a way with words?” Herah asked, one corner of her mouth rising slightly as she kept looking at Evelyn, who blinked, startled. The warrior seemed to be shocked at her words, which made Herah feel quite accomplished as the tension that was between them instantly vanished.
“I…” Herah saw Evelyn wet her lips before she cleared her throat and stepped back, composing herself right away. “What does that mean, Inquisitor?”
“Tomorrow I will ask Krem if his offer still stands. I am not sure if the Chargers don’t have any other jobs waiting for them at the moment, but if he agrees, I will send the Chargers to Haven. I’ll ask Leliana or Cullen if our soldiers could help with scouting the area. Since it’s so important to you, you’ll lead the expedition. Sounds acceptable?”
Evelyn nodded, her mouth turning up in a smile. “It does.”
“You have a week. Anything you find you bring back here. If something looks important or valuable we’ll decide what to do with it once you get back to Skyhold. I’ll give you more details after I inform everyone and we come up with a plan.”
“Thank you, Inquisitor.”
Herah smiled and watched as Evelyn turns around and walks up the stairs quickly, skipping every other step. Before the warrior entered the castle, however, Herah called her again.
“Lady Trevelyan,” Herah waited for Evelyn to turn her head to look at her again before she continued, “I hope you won’t get used to getting your way whenever you stomp your feet angrily.”
“Of course not, Inquisitor. I wouldn’t dream of it.”
Herah smirked at the answer. The other woman had a strong personality, but so did Herah. She liked a good challenge, she always did, and it looked like working alongside Evelyn Trevelyan would prove a challenge enough.
As soon as she had revealed what she knew of Florianne’s plan and after reconciling Empress Celene and Briala, Herah finally had a moment for herself. The guests’ attention seemed to move elsewhere, at least partially, and Herah was left standing alone on the balcony. After talking briefly to Josephine, Herah stayed outside, looking at the beautiful gardens. As much as she detested the Game, she actually enjoyed Orlesian buildings and their gardens.
Herah, with her elbows propped on the balustrade, turned her head slightly to see Sera and Dorian standing in the entrance, observing her. Sera was frowning slightly while Dorian, with his arms crossed over his chest, was leaning against the door frame.
“What is it, Sera?”
“Just wanted to see if you’re alright. I knew those piss-faces would talk shite, ‘cause they’re friggin’ shits like that, but me and Dorian can kick their arses if you want.”
“And, as you know, we can be very discreet about it if we want to be,” Dorian added, rising one eyebrow and Hera chuckled, shaking her head. “Well, at least I can.”
“I appreciate the thought, but I just want to leave this place as soon as possible,” Herah stepped back from the balustrade and walked up to her friends, putting one hand on Sera’s shoulder and squeezing gently. “I don’t think the Orlesians are going to let us leave if they find their clothes full of rashvine I know you took with you, Sera.”
“It’d serve them right, though, yeah?” Sera grinned and Herah couldn’t help smiling back at the rogue.
“You don’t even know how much I agree.”
“Oh, and Lady Badass wanted to talk to you. Something about something, meeting more of noble pricks, something, something, and talking to Lady Ambassador. She looked pretty serious, though. And just plain pretty.”
Herah blinked, confused, before Dorian laughed quietly.
“Lady Trevelyan hoped to see you,” he explained, stepping away from the doorframe to follow Herah and Sera into the building, and gracefully manoeuvring between the dancing and talking guests. “When we had been entertaining ourselves with killing demons, she, Ambassador Montilyet and our dear Spymaster had been talking about using everything we had learned tonight. Writing a few letters to representatives of families that appeared here tonight seems to be Lady Trevelyan’s preferred approach. It seems that we have gained some advantage by being here, at least.”
“That’s always something,” Herah nodded, “but it’s still not my idea of a good time.”
She looked around the ballroom and only when she noticed Evelyn and Josephine talking in the corner, away from prying eyes and ears, she started walking towards them, Sera and Dorian close behind her. Suddenly Josephine smiled at something Evelyn said, and she looked so gorgeous that Herah almost tripped over some noble lady’s ball gown. She wondered if Josephine would dance with her, even if it meant being in the centre of everyone’s attention…
“Hey, Dorian, have you seen Bull? I thought he’d be sticking to you, or something. Or you to him. You know, with you two being all…”
Herah blinked, losing her train of thought as with the corner of her eye she noticed Sera making a few very graphic gestures with her hands, complete with noises. She could barely stop herself from laughing, but she managed to hide it behind a cough.
“I have no idea what ever do you mean, Sera,” Dorian interrupted her, looking away from her momentarily as he scanned the ballroom, as if he was searching for someone.
“Sure you don’t,” Sera snorted. “You two are makin’ sounds and I hear them every time you go to his room to…”
“Ah, Inquisitor, here you are.”
Suddenly Josephine appeared right in front of them, interrupting Sera’s comment. Evelyn, Leliana and Cullen were following Josephine, however, it was difficult for Herah to guess what exactly were they thinking, or what they were discussing before she approached them.
Sera and Dorian stayed close to them, still talking and most likely looking out for Bull, while Herah focused her attention on her advisors.
“Are we ready to go back to Skyhold, Josephine?”
“I am,” Cullen adjusted the collar of his dress uniform, looking vaguely uncomfortable as he was observing people walking around them. “I can let our people know that we’re leaving soon.”
“They can start preparations. I believe the Duchess will have her hands full for a while after everything that has happened tonight,” Leliana added. “And so will we.”
She glanced briefly at one of the elven women standing near the door, and after the woman nodded subtly, Herah realized she must have been one of Leliana’s agents. She wondered how they communicated when Leliana was always so careful about her choice of words.
Herah had been warned to choose her words carefully when talking to the anyone invited to the Palace, too. The Inquisition had no possibility of checking in detail everyone who had arrived at the ball or finding out how many people were listening to their conversations and following their every move. This visit was political more than anything else and Herah tried to keep that in mind every time some Duke came to her to offer his insight into the situation of Orlais, or when Orlesian Baronesses spoke to her as if they thought that her upbringing meant she couldn’t understand them, even if they pretended to be polite about it.
“I hope you will not mind, Commander, but I believe we should stay a bit longer after all,” Josephine smiled, looking discreetly at the pair of nobles standing near the entrance to the hall. “There are still a few more guests who could offer us their support, and from what I have heard they were hoping to talk to you, Inquisitor.”
Herah sighed quietly, resisting the urge to scratch the skin near her left horn. She did notice the couple Josephine must have meant, but how could Josephine know they wanted to talk to her when the masks they were wearing quite successfully managed to hide their intents? It was a mystery to Herah.
“Do we know what they want to talk about?” she once again turned to Josephine. Cullen and Cassandra seemed curious as well, though Cassandra was decidedly better than he was at hiding that she’d like to be anywhere else right then. It was reassuring to see that Herah was not the only one who felt like leaving the Palace as soon as possible. “Another conversation about Qunari or my upbringing? Maybe a request for support in an argument about a piece of land? Or something more subtle like insuring that someone conveniently disappears? Apparently they know enough about my past jobs.”
Herah heard Dorian snorting behind her and Sera muttering something about “not having a problem with making some pieces of shite disappearing,” and Cassandra raised one eyebrow at them.
“Inquisitor,” everyone turned to look at Evelyn, who was standing there with her arms crossed over her chest, her head raised confidently. It was a good look for her. “If you would like me to, I could talk to the Marquise instead. As far as I remember our family has exchanged letters with hers in the past. If I’m not mistaken they were always concerned with the state of their property. We can approach them together and then you can leave the conversation to me.”
“That sounds surprisingly good after everything we’ve had to deal with today,” Herah admitted, adjusting the cuff of her jacket. “Are you sure you won’t mind? I could handle it, but…”
“I am sure, Inquisitor. Leave it to me,” Evelyn smiled, and Herah noticed that the warrior’s face looked a bit more gentle than earlier when they had arrived in the Palace. She wondered what could be the reason for the change, but decided not to let it distract her. Not too much, at least. They had more important things to do after all.
“Let’s get it over with, then. Josephine, will you introduce us?”
“Right away. And do not worry, Inquisitor, we will protect you,” there was a clear amusement in Josephine’s voice, and the glint Herah saw in her eye right then made all the discomfort she had experienced through the whole evening worth it.
Herah heard Dorian yelling as he sent a fireball at the two giants that were moving towards him. She ran to freeze another one that was aiming at Sera, while also trying to look around to make sure no more giants would surprise them.
Her left bicep still hurt from when a spider had bit into it not even an hour earlier, but fortunately it was not her right arm. She could handle using her staff with her right arm only, because she had done that numerous times before. Still, the spider’s poison did weaken her enough to make her vision a bit shaky.
Not much time has passed between leaving the cave full of spiders and encountering giants when Herah and her party were exploring the northern parts of the Emerald Graves. She had been attacked by the spider when she had been protecting Sera, but while her skin was tougher than human’s, she could still feel the effects of the poison. They were already out of healing potions, so Herah tried to keep her distance from the enemies, making use of all the long range spells she knew. She was protecting Cassandra, Sera and Dorian with winter spells, trying to immobilize three giants as much as she could, giving the others a chance to destroy them, but the beasts were very resistant.
Before they had left the camp the scouts had warned them that they might encounter giants, but no one had mentioned that there would be three of them. They had wanted to pass the area without catching the giants’ attention, but then they had walked right into one, and the sounds had drawn the attention of the other two very quickly.
Now Herah, Sera, Cassandra and Dorian were trying to somehow defeat all three of them at once. Their plan was to try to focus on one and try to avoid getting hit by the other two, but it was easy only in theory. Herah tried to create a protective barrier around Sera, so she turned her head away only for a second, before she felt something hitting her in the side, the impact throwing her against the nearest tree.
“Stop dying, you!”
Sera’s voice was loud, and as soon as Herah heard it, she shook her head.
“I’m trying!” she managed to yell back, as she stood up, holding on to the tree. “Dorian, look out!”
She raised her arm to freeze the giant that was about to hit the mage with one heavy arm, but at the same time she heard someone yell:
“Inquisitor, behind you!”
Herah turned her head, jumping away from the tree just in time to dodge the hit that would have knocked her down if it connected with her head or even her back. The pull on her already injured arm worsened and she couldn’t help wincing as she tried to stay upward. She sighed, gritting her teeth. There was no time to think about her injuries just yet.
She ran closer to the stone on which she could stand so that her spells could be more effective and jumped on it right away. Sera started to look tired already as she ran around, shooting arrows and throwing whatever she could find at the giants, but also trying to pick up her arrows from the ground. There was a trail of blood running down Dorian’s uncovered arm as the mage threw another fireball at the giant attacking Cassandra.
“Seeker, now!” He yelled and as he ran closer to blind the beast with fire, Cassandra ran forward, jumped, and slit the giant’s throat in one, precise slash.
She did, and right away she heard a loud clatter of a fist connecting with metal. But if everyone was fighting the second giant, then who was…
Evelyn was hitting the third giant with her sword again and again, not even once missing the target. She ran at her opponent, her shield ready to parry each attack. Herah had seen Evelyn fight before, but it was mostly during the training, when they were trying to see what the other was capable of, who would yield first, challenging each other. Here it was something completely different.
Evelyn ducked once, then twice, dodging next hits, while Herah was drained so completely that she had to wait to catch a breath. Fortunately the giant was focused on catching the warrior so much that Herah could focus on gathering whatever energy she had left. Exhaling loudly, she gripped her staff tighter.
“Evelyn, step back!”
Herah ran forward and froze the giant to the ground, giving Evelyn a chance to strike. The spell didn’t last long, but apparently it was enough for Evelyn to run forward quickly, preparing to attack. When she was close to the beast’s legs, she put her sword right through one shin, jumping away in time to avoid being crushed by the large body falling down.
“Now! It can’t run away!”
Herah focused all her energy, exhaled again and sent a Stonefist right at the giant, hitting the beast in the head.
She could feel her knees giving out, her injured arm pulsating with pain, but she couldn’t leave Sera, Dorian and Cassandra. She leaned on her staff and tried to stand up, using the last bits of her energy to freeze the giant again, hopefully weakening the last enemy enough.
Right after she heard Sera’s yell of victory and congratulating Evelyn, Herah fell down, her head connecting with the soaked grass. One of her horns was digging into the ground uncomfortably, but she didn’t care right then. All she wanted was to close her eyes…
She could feel two pairs of hands moving her so that she was lying on her back, then a soft bundle was placed under her head to elevate it. Warm hands touched her arm gently and she sighed, the tension leaving her body instantly…
“I would suggest trying not to fall asleep, Inquisitor,” Dorian murmured. She opened her eyes, blinking a few times as she felt a pleasant warmth spreading through her body. “How about waiting until we are back at the camp? We might need a potion to get you back on your feet, I’m afraid.”
“Sounds good,” Herah rasped out. “Next time remind me to check the area better, huh?”
“Oh, I will definitely do that,” Dorian replied, the corner of his lips raising in a brief smile before he got back to bandaging Herah’s arm.
“Evelyn, what are you doing here?” turning her head, Herah saw the warrior walking up to them, kneeling next to her.
“Josephine sent me to bring you a message,” she said and Herah’s heart skipped a bit at the mention of Josephine’s name. “When the requisitions officer told me where you went I followed you and saw you already fighting.”
“We kicked their arses!” Sera and Cassandra walked up behind Evelyn, a huge smile on Sera’s face making Herah smile as well. “Just wait until I tell Bull and Krem about it. They’ll piss themselves.”
“Charming,” Dorian noted, frowning, but it wasn’t difficult to hear the amusement and affection in his voice.
“Hey, I’m not the one who’s doing stuff with him, yeah?”
They continued to bicker, but Herah couldn’t focus on what they were saying at all. Thanks to Dorian’s magic the pain in her arm stopped spreading to the rest of her body, but she still had a difficult time focusing on what was going on around her. Keep her eyes open was a challenge enough. She tried to raise her hand to grip Dorian’s arm, but her fingers were enveloped by someone’s cold fingers. The touch was firm and the calloused skin somehow comforting…
“We will get you to the camp, Herah.”
She lost consciousness.
All the people invited to the celebratory feast were still in the castle, walking around Skyhold and just enjoying themselves. The optimistic atmosphere was a novelty for many, but at some point it had gotten too much for Herah. After having talked to all her friends she left the castle, sneaking out through the door of the tower no one ever used. She ended up walking until she reached the wall from which she could observe everything that was happening in front of the castle. She was not someone who could spend too much time among such a large group of people.
There were numerous people entering and leaving the hall through the main entrance, but what caught Herah’s attention were two familiar figures leaving through the kitchen door. As they stepped behind the building, the shadows keeping them hidden from the view of people leaving the main hall, Iron Bull backed Dorian up against the wall. His one hand was cradling Dorian’s cheek while Dorian placed his hands on Bull’s hips. They were talking for a while before Bull leaned down and pressed his lips to Dorian’s, one hand moving from the mage’s cheek down to touch his chest, then sliding lower.
Herah smiled and turned away, giving them privacy. They both deserved to be happy.
Walking down the walls overlooking the Herald’s Rest she waved and shook hands of soldiers who were passing her and the merchants who visited Skyhold. A lot of time would have to pass before she would stop being in the centre of the attention of the people living in the castle.
She shook Helisma’s hand, wishing her a good evening, and decided to go to her quarters for a while.
Herah turned around at the sound of Evelyn’s voice to see the warrior walking down the stairs as she nodded at Evelyn in greeting, since they haven’t had a chance to talk before the feast had started.
“How is the party going?” Herah asked and a smirk appeared on Evelyn’s face as she put one hand on the pommel of her sword.
“It’s… eventful. Josephine will have her hands full for a few more hours, I believe, but she can’t wait to spend more time with you,” Herah couldn’t help looking at the ground briefly at the mention of Josephine, knowing very well that Evelyn could see a blush appearing on her face. “She cares about you a lot. I have never seen her smiling at anyone else this way before.”
Herah wasn’t sure if Evelyn knew what effect her words had on her. Now that the battle was over and they were all safe, Herah planned to spend as much time with Josephine as she could,. Just thinking about meeting Josephine after the celebration was over, wrapping her arms around Josephine’s waist and kissing her was enough to make Herah smile, and hearing that Josephine thought of her as well was equally overwhelming. However, she decided to change the subject before she became completely distracted. “What will you do now that you achieved your goal? Do you plan to go back to Ostwick?”
Evelyn looked thoughtful for a while, but then shook her head. “I’m not sure yet. I thought so at first, but after I came here, after I talked to all those people who fought Corypheus, I… I think I might stay here a while longer. If you wouldn’t mind, of course.”
“I don’t,” Herah smiled. “I didn’t have a chance to tell you this before, but I want to thank you. For all the help and for advice. At first I didn’t want to believe Josephine when she told me about your travels and the battles you fought, but now... I’m glad you were by my side.”
“It was my pleasure. And believe me, at first I wasn’t sure what to make of you as well. You were not who I had expected to see at all, compared to what have I heard about you back in Ostwick. But you are a good leader, Herah. And an even better friend.”
They stood by the stairs, Evelyn a step higher than Herah, just looking at each other, before Herah started laughing loudly, the serious look on Evelyn’s face being too much for her to bear. After a while Evelyn snickered as well before stepping closer to Herah a bit stiffly. Herah was not sure what was happening but then Evelyn raised her arms slightly and Herah realized what the other woman’s plan was. She smiled and wrapped her arms around the warrior in an awkward embrace, their height difference not as prominent since Evelyn was standing higher on the stairs. They both stood there for a while, not knowing what to expect, but it wasn’t bad.
“I… I should probably leave you to your duties, then,” Evelyn said as she stepped back carefully, a small blush visible on her face even in the moonlight as she ran one hand through her short hair. “Tell Josephine I will talk to her tomorrow.”
“I will. Good night, Evelyn.”
Herah watched her walk away, her thoughts immediately getting back to what Evelyn had told her. The last week had been busy for everyone, and she and Josephine hadn’t spent much time together outside of the official meetings, but now that their opponent was defeated they had all the time in the world to just be together. She was aware that there was still a lot to do, people who needed help, cities that could use support after the attacks, not to mention the nobility that would want even more attention, but now they had time to face everything.
A few minutes later Herah entered the main hall again, smiling slightly at the loud greetings that erupted as soon as people noticed her by the door. When she finally found Josephine, the Ambassador was talking to Bonny and Vivianne, but turned from them as soon as Herah stepped closer to them. Knowing that she was the reason for this beautiful smile appearing on Josephine’s face made Herah feel special like not many other things could.
“Excuse me,” she smiled at Vivianne, then at Bonny, wrapping one arm around Josephine’s waist gently. “Would you mind if I steal Lady Montilyet for a while?” She was sure it would be more than a while, and from the amusement clear in Josephine’s eyes Herah gathered that she knew it as well.
After talking to a few more people and wishing good night to their friends, Herah and Josephine departed to the Inquisitor’s quarters. As soon as Herah closed the door she sighed, relieved to finally have some peace and quiet. Turning around she saw Josephine opening the door to the balcony, so she decided to follow her lover outside. It was a truly beautiful night.
“I hope I haven’t interrupted anything important back there,” Herah said, standing next to Josephine and catching her hand gently, her thumb caressing the delicate skin of the back of Josephine’s hand.
“No, we were discussing sending letters to Bonny’s and Vivianne’s friends. We are preparing to receive a lot of messages from Orlais in the upcoming days.”
As Josephine turned to look at her, Herah raised the other hand to touch her lover’s cheek gently, as Josephine leaned into the touch.
“Will you stay with me tonight?” Herah asked when Josephine looked up at her.
“Always,” the smile on the Ambassador’s face turned playful as she put both hands on Herah’s cheeks and pulled her into a deep, satisfying kiss. Herah, in turn, wrapped her arms around Josephine’s waist, bringing their bodies closer together, and as the other woman moaned quietly against her mouth, Herah couldn’t help sighing contentedly.
As they pulled away from the kiss to catch their breaths, Herah smiled at the sheepish look that appeared on Josephine’s face when Herah’s hand squeezed hers.
Even if they indeed had all the time in the world now, Herah didn’t want to waste any more time to finally, finally think of her own, and Josephine’s, happiness.