Actions

Work Header

Elgar Alas'niral

Chapter Text

When Josephine announced that there would be dancing during the Ball at Halamshiral, Jayla rejoiced. Before being dumped here, she’d been a dancer. It was one of her great loves – the other being music. The young woman couldn’t sing, though her ability to use instruments was quite the accomplishment. Her crafts were honed from a young age, and while here, she’d not been able to use them with any sort of frequency. Hell, the Herald, as they liked to call her, hadn’t gone near an instrument or had time to stretch her legs properly since she woke up in this crazy ass place.

She’d been excited, new dances to learn meant she could stay in Skyhold a while longer than her usual week or two to resupply and refresh her excursion party. However, when the day of the first lesson came around, Jay found herself sorely disappointed. The dances weren’t what she was wanting.

No lifts, no tosses, no elegance to speak of. Waltz. A modified waltz that’s all that this was. She deflated so completely that no one in the room could ignore it, though they all did out of politeness’ sake. Josie demonstrated and then asked them to pair off, watching her listless, fearless, leader pair herself with Dorian. They all feared the worst. That Jayla’s deflation was because she didn’t think she could learn the dance.

Dorian was ready for tread toes, but when the music starts, Jayla flows with him into the dance. She’s not counting, not looking at her feet, she’s just moving with him. The young woman doesn’t miss a beat, she doesn’t break a sweat. Not a single loc of her hair shifts out of its austere crown bun on the top of her head. It’s a perfect execution of every step, every turn, every switch in direction.

And the young woman’s dark eyes are a well of lethargic disinterest. There is none of the brimming interest, no infectious euphoria that had been there in the days that had lead up to the dance lessons. Everyone saw it. No one dared comment. Not even Vivienne who was known for making cutting little remarks just to get Jayla to snap back at her. Theirs was a strange relationship, but a strong friendship even with differing opinions.

When the lessons are called to a halt, everyone files from the room – save Jayla. She lingers, when the last footsteps retreat, her practice dress is torn from her arms. She leaves the damnable thing on a heap on the floor. Legs free of weight, body free of constriction, her mind recalls a song she had adored dancing to. It was melancholy, it spoke to her of being torn from things she loved, from everything dear to her. In this moment, that was what she needed. The notes of the song sit heavy in her throat, and she hums the first few softly.

As she sways with it, imagination taking up the other parts of the song, the idea that anyone could come upon her disappears. The Herald doesn’t care. All she wants is to let out this emotion without screaming. The song comes to its cue and she flows into the first position. Classical ballet had been her first love, contemporary her second, hip hop and salsa hobbies, the fox trot and Charleston larks. But now? Now they are the only words she has with which to communicate with in the loneliness of this world.

So, she moves, with music only she can hear, that only she knows. All her desperation and fear are poured into her movements. Her breath picks up as she throws herself into the dance. Form after form, pirouettes, jumps, movements that spoke of grace and discipline followed by those that spoke of raw grief and desperate hope.

The exertion has her skin shining in the slowly dying natural light in no time. The harshness of her breath the only sound within the room beyond her slippers on the cold stone floor. And that is how Solas finds the Herald.

He’d come because Cole had come to him humming a foreign song and murmuring about hurts soul deep leading beyond the veil and void. It took little to know the spirt spoke of their Inquisitor. Jayla was an emotional creature. Her joy was profound when it suffused her and her depression a black mark on her soul when it threatened to consume. Jayla was so completely otherworldly, though the Trevelyans had snapped the richly colored woman up in their small grasp for political gain – any with good sense could see that the young woman was not from Thedas. From the way, her hair was coiled, tight ropes making up the mane that hung to the small of her back, to the way she did not quail at the idea of hard labor but balked at the idea of death. The way her face paled with every gruesome injury and marveled at the magic used to return flesh to its previously unmarred stated.

Jayla had been brought here by Solas’ arrogant mistake. The orb and its misuse had torn her from her world, and anchored her here for the rest of time. Solas knew it but said nothing. There was no hope to send Jayla back. To do that there would have to be another catastrophe like the conclave, and no one would agree to it, least of all her.

He was heartbroken for her, but he also rejoiced at her presence. The Inquisitor may be human, but he saw so much of Elvhenan in her. Her hair – it was the same way he had worn his, her deference for life, it resonated in his very bones, and would have done the same with Sylaise. Her soul was one that he would have enjoyed getting to know, had he not been on the road of dinan’shiral. It hurts him more to know, this path of his will end in her destruction so far from home.

Cresting the staircase, he sucks in a quiet breath as his eyes find her. She’s in nothing but her breast band and smalls, dainty flat slippers on her feet. Her sienna skin glistens in the fire orange sun and roaring red firelight.  Hair in her usual crowning bun, Jayla is as always – beautiful. Not just for a human, for a person with a short life span, for a mage – she is simply beautiful. And there is pain in her, pain so clearly communicated now it’s a wonder that no one has ever thought to ask her how she is doing.

Her movements, they throw her feelings into the universe. There is no music, but he can find the beat to which she moves so well. Unbidden, he moves forward, into the room’s doorway. He’d always wondered at the way she was built, legs far stronger than a circle mage had the right to boast, her arms lean, her core strong.

Now he knows as his eyes witness the play of her muscles as she slides on to the tips of her toes, reaching as if for the very clouds themselves, before collapsing in on herself. Her breathing fills the room with sound, but Solas pays that no mind. He cannot take his eyes from her, the rawness in this moment that he has never seen. No one has seen, no one should see.

She is of his People in this moment. Not the shadows of this era, but the glory of the Empire that endured for a millennium. The ability being shown would have been lauded, she would have had a following, been a diva should she have had the right patron. The elder cannot remember a dance so true to a person’s soul ever being performed. He cannot think past seeing her. Watching the way her hands reach out and unseen ones pull her from what she reaches for, watches as tears fall from eyes squeezed shut. Her leaps and turns are fueled by sorrow so profound, he cannot do anything but feel it with her.

It is her sudden startled gasp that breaks him from the trance Jayla had put him in. His ears color as well as the bridge of his nose and cheekbones. Stepping forward, reaching out slightly, he tries to make words come. It’s the first in a long time that Solas cannot find something to say. There was always something on the tip of his tongue. Some quip, some question, some dry remark. Now there is nothing.

Fathomless pools of near onyx stare at him, horror and embarrassment painting her face. He steps farther into the room, closes the door behind him and gathers his thoughts. He had to say something. Had to give her some reason for intruding on an intimate moment like this.

“Inquisitor, I apologize. I did not mean to intrude. I. Cole.”

“He heard me?” Her question is quiet, the lilt so foreign to her still that she cannot help but wince. Again, Solas is struck by all the wrongs he has perpetrated against Jayla, willing or not.

“Yes. I came to try and help. I did not expect to see you – I did not expect to see this.” He gestures fruitlessly, still blushing furiously. Damn this inability to form the right words and act the right way. Had he woken years earlier, he may not stumble so much as he does now.  “You dance as they did in Arlathan – yet infinitely better. I, was not expecting to see that outside of the Fade.” Those words, they come without permission but they are all that he can offer her. Even if he knows that she is wrong, not of this world, he cannot possible tell her without there being questions. So, he lies, after a fashion.

“I – “Jayla’s arms curl around her middle. Part of her elates – someone had danced as she had in her life. But she is also even more filled with sadness than she had been earlier. Those that moved like she did were all long dead. What perfect irony. A hand swipes at her face, rubbing at tear trails, smudging the kohl used to line her eyes. “I was taught, by spirits.” The lie tastes like ash on her tongue, but what could she do, truly? Tell Solas she was from a world without magic, a world with technology that would make his head spin? “Spirits of joy, of longing, there was even desire at one point, though it was not a demon. We made no deals, but I asked for knowledge, for a way to communicate beauty into the world. For a universal expression, no one could mistake.”

It’s not far from the truth. Jay had always been enamored with dances of all sorts. There was a naked truth to it that words didn’t have. When someone danced, you could see their soul. It didn’t matter if the dance was choreographed or they were just moving to the music – emotion ran truest in those moments. It was why she’d devoted herself to it the moment her parents had seen her interest was more than a passing fancy.

“And you are deeply upset.” Solas breaks her from her thoughts and her mouth drops open. He – he saw? He could interpret what she’d been doing. The Inquisitor’s mind races. If he’d seen dances like this in the Fade, maybe he knew them. Maybe, Solas could dance with her. Maybe, she wouldn’t be so terribly alone anymore. It isn’t romantic intent. Jayla misses her family, misses her friends, the connection that intimacy of silliness and quiet companionable moments. She misses the gentle touches and the rough housing. God, she misses it all. Every fight, every yelled exclamation of annoyance. There was none of that here. Comradery came in spades, but no one let her delve deeper than immediate needs, history relevant to what task they needed to set before her or would help with their job. And no one – not a single person asked after her.

Jay’s vision blurs and a hiccupping noise startles her. It had come from her. Solas, standoffish, scholarly, aloof, Solas, he is the one who comes; sets his hands on her shoulders. It’s his blue eyes that watch her pain and mirror it, him who cannot seem to find the right words and settles on a physical show instead. Carefully his hands – cold hands, though he does use quite a bit of Frost magic for a mage –  are placed carefully on her back, pulling her forward into an awkward embrace.

The displaced young woman doesn’t care how stilted it is, she falls into the embrace, she lets out her pain and sobs without remorse against the strong shoulder offered to her. It all comes out, every bit of fear, her anxiety, the feeling of being crushed under the expectation to basically save the world, her own world out of reach because no one knew she wasn’t from here. Oh, they might know she wasn’t a Trevelyan in truth, but no one knew where she came from, not in reality. No one cared to know.

Her hands fist in his tunic and she all but wails. It doesn’t matter that he’s fully clothed and she was stripped of her own. It didn’t matter he was probably twice her age and likely judging the shit out of her for this display. It just didn’t matter. It is Solas who came to help her and Solas who held her. That is what mattered in the end.

When she calms, Jayla is tired. Drained in a way that even a smite could not achieve. Eyes puffy, throat raw, she comes back to herself, her breaths aren’t heaving things to fuel her sobs any longer. The quiet of the room retakes the moment. Information filters back to her senses.

For example: the scratchy quality of Solas’ outer tunic, the press of that damned jawbone into her skin, the way his hands have warmed, the way his cheek is pressed against her head. Most of all, her death grip on him. By degrees the pain she’d felt is put back in its box, and her muscles let go. Her hands unclench from where they’d ultimately settled on Solas’ back, the fabric likely wrinkled now. She pulls away from him bit by bit, grimacing at the mess she’s made of the shirt, a hand rubbing where the bone had pressed. The silence doesn’t bother her, it rarely ever does, but for once, apparently, it bothers Solas, who’s release of her seems reluctant.

“Are you all right, da’len?” Jayla jolts, head tilting to look at Solas. He never used Elven around her. Never. He barely used it at all in her memory. So why now?

“No.” Her voice is rough and she clears her throat, looking away from him. “No, but I will be later.” An out for him, a way to let him retreat from this situation. If their roles were reversed, Jay cannot say she would not take the opening for what it was and run.

Solas stays.

Da’len. Ir Abelas. We have not been kind enough to you, this mission, all you’ve been through. We pay lip service to it; praise you for the release of the mages, for your bravery against Corypheus, for your fortitude in bringing our people this far, for helping each of us, and yet, you have received nothing in return. No comfort, no deep friendship. Ir Abelas. We have wronged you in our fear.” For him, it is still an emotionally charged moment. He’d woken to a world full of what could easily be called Tranquil by his experience of the world. His actions had created the breach. Now, every one of the inner circle had failed to support this young, far too young, woman in the way she needed most.

“Solas – no. It’s fine. This. This is weakness.” She is pulling out of his reach, shrinking away from a very hard truth to face. She is and will always been a tool of the Inquisition. No more. No less. She wants to dress and get back to her room. There was a wine bottle with her name on it. Tonight, was for drowning her sorrows and pains.

“It is not fine, Jayla. This isn’t weakness. Having a soft heart in a cruel world will never be weakness. You are stronger than any gives you credit for. I wager there is more weighing on these small shoulders of yours than any of us know. That is our mistake, our folly to correct. It will be corrected, da’len.”

“What does that even mean? Dah-len, Ear-Ahbellas, I don’t understand what you’re saying Solas.” Minor irritation filters into her tone, and that out of all the things that have transpired in this room within the last few minutes, makes Solas smile. He even huffs a short laugh, letting her go and dress, which she does without any kind of shame. A body was a body, everyone had them. If someone came upon her and was scandalized that was their problem.

Da’len means little one, Ir Abelas, I am sorry.” Keeping his back to where Jayla has gone to pick up her discarded dress, Solas corrects her pronunciation while giving her information. Safe ground for them. Safer than the murky water of emotion. Together, they speak until the light dies and the bell signaling dinner calls them. Solas fixes the smeared kohl and they walk down to the great hall, as if the afternoon had not transpired. When she does finally sleep, it is without the aid of wine.

Chapter Text

When Jayla dreams, the Fade is vibrant. She summons the music of her time and throws herself into it. There are a million and one things that she could be doing, but after the day she has had, Jayla needed the additional outlet. The beat pounds, thrums through her and syncs up with her heart beat. She doesn’t picture a place or people, because she knew mages could see one another in dreams – hadn’t Solas already proven that to her? And no one needed to know about her home.

The beat and solitude – as close as she’ll get in this place – rips a part of her free from the wrappings she’d wound around herself. She leaps, and that is the first and last classical movement her body preforms. This wouldn’t be called dancing in Thedas. It would be called lewd, obscene. Just the thought has her grinning ferally as she moves hips leading her, feet shifting as the music bid her to. Her fingers tangle in her loose hair, her body arches and shifts like crashing waves.

There is no aim for elegance. Jayla just wants to feel – she wants this to echo within the Fade for years to come in this little corner that is hers. Let the generations that came after this watch her and puzzle out what this all meant. Let them call her unsavory names and paint her into the Chantry dogma as a spirit to be avoided.

Let them see her and be confused, aroused, afraid.

The call of her mind was hard to ignore. His magic was too deeply imbedded within her now for him to not know exactly where within the Fade the Inquisitor was. Tonight, that pull, it’s accompanied by sounds he hasn’t heard since the war began. Music like that wasn’t played until night fell, music like this was meant for – well, he certainly hoped that wasn’t happening as he crept toward her dream. After already intruding on her this afternoon, he would not intrude on a dream like that tonight.

What he finds makes his breath catch in his throat. Wild had never been an adjective he’d thought of when thinking of Trevelyan. She was mild, she was kind, merciful, terrible in her cruelty (kindness that cuts so deeply all feared it). But here she was, this dark, wonderful beauty, fierce in her movements. They call to him, wake him from a sleep he didn’t think he’d still been in the throes of.

His hands itch to reach out and touch her. He wants to fit his body behind hers like he’d done in the past so many times before. Her dress – how had she imagined such a thing? It was reminiscent of the Avvar, or perhaps the chasined of this era. An illusion of nudity, wisps of fabric making up a skirt that clung to her hips and waist, her midriff bare, her top again encased in the illusion of carefully placed patterns; as if she wore nothing but woven confection.

Even seeing her in naught but small clothes had not shown him this much of her. Perhaps it’s the contrast of the clothing? The visible parts of the dress are pale, it makes her skin vibrant in comparison, the deep tone in stark contrast to the garment. Her hands are shifting over the swell of her hips, shifting over her stomach.  Spirits help him, this is a dance meant to evoke action. Stepping into her dream, it’s easy to drop the guise of a man as unassuming as the apostate. It’s far too easy to take up his rightful form, the pallor warms instantly to warm russet, his hair settles in its customary dark ropes against the right side of his face, his eyes slide from watery to piercing blue, the nose settles into its proud former glory, no annoying bulge just below the bridge, no excessive length, top lip returning to the fullness it had been.  He settles into his bulk with ease, and walks on silent feet toward the woman calling to him.

The new presence in her corner of the dreaming world makes her pause, dark eyes opening. Opening and promptly fluttering in shock. What spirit had conjured this man up? He’s a dream – and that isn’t the jarring part of the whole situation. He looks to be her age, perhaps pushing his thirties, and those eyes. She’s seen those eyes before. The jaw – that jaw.  The music hasn’t stopped around them even though the dreamer isn’t moving. Dark eyes watch the prowling male, curiosity and interest clear on her face. And prowl he does, he circles around her, where did that fire at her back come from?  There is an air about him that makes her head turn to keep him in her sights as he moves. When he comes to her front, his hand reaches out, she hadn’t noticed them clasped at his back, reaches and barely touches her stomach.

That touch is electric, it makes her blood pound as much as the intent gaze his aimed at her. And it’s like he can sense it, a predatory smile pulling at lips she would very much like to know. When he leans in, her back arches just a touch, chin tilting almost like an offering.

How tempting.

Ar nuvenan alas’nirma, Alasnire’lan.”  Gods that voice. Jayla can’t rightly describe it, the timber of it, the way it settles around them. However, her body responds before her lips even try to. She’s far too wary of spirits that want things from her here, though she has yet to meet one.  She doesn’t understand the worded request, but she understands the tone of invitation. For now, Jayla has been gifted a very beautiful person to dance her sleeping hours away with.

Her body moves, and her eyes leave his as she turns quickly, following the music as if she hadn’t paused. He prowls around the firelight, those eyes of his, so blue they remind her of a photo of the eye of the china sea, they heat her skin more than the fire does. Her head tips back as he rounds toward her again, an offering of the soft skin of her neck, eyes fluttering shut in a show. Finger tips slide against the column of her throat, and as she straightens, his solid presence fits against her. 

Had this woman ever been a spirit, she would have been Temptation. The spirit who placed what you could most want in your path, just to see if you would take it. The Fade heats as she does, reacting to her because this is her place. He might be able to place the fire here, to keep up with the old tradition, but he couldn’t manipulate this place over much. Solas doesn’t care to. He’s far more interested with the phantom feeling of her skin under his fingertips. Jayla is so soft, and yet so wonderfully strong under the hand that settles on her stomach as he starts to move with her.

This dance Solas knows. It’s as instinctive as joining with your chosen partner in the dead of night or a hidden alcove. This is the prelude, the introduction, the seduction of your partner. As much as a kiss could tell you if you were compatible – if your bodies could not move in sync then you would be found wanting.

How many times had he and his fellows danced in firelight like this, with pounding music driving their movements. How many dances had ended with the thrill of success and the cloying sweet tart of sex afterward? He groans to remember it, as the Inquisitor shifts under his hand, as her hips find and match his rhythm. This is wrong, he should not engage the girl this way, but he cannot help himself. To see her dance as the Elvhen did - not once but twice - within the span of hours is too much for him to ignore.

This is going to make his life harder, he knows it, but Solas cannot, will not, bring himself to care. It will only happen here, where the girl in his arms doesn’t know him. Where he can seduce and be seduced without worry of broken hearts and wrecked lives. Where he won’t see if his plans end with her being burnt like it will for so many others.  Instead, in his true form, one of them, Solas uses hands and hips to speak with her.  Hands that span the curve of her waist, that trace her arm when it’s slung up and back behind her head to lay against his shoulder. Hips that roll and sway in a mockery of an older dance. He nips at her ear when her fingers tangle into the short hairs at his nape.

The elder man growls when she twists from his hold, when she dances around the fire, and calls to him with her hands on her own body. Her eyes hold promise and her lips whisper it with the way they purse, with the way she digs her teeth into the bottom one. She lets him hunt her around the fire, both of them dancing, not more than an arm’s length from one another. When he is tired of the hunt and catches her around the waist to haul her body against his, her laughter is rich and sincerer than any he’s heard when they are waking.

When his palm slides along her thigh between strips of skirt and hikes it around his hip, that laughter dies, replaced by a sound that makes him want to take her to the ground. Instead, his hips swivel, no longer mocking more instinctive movements but emulating them. The answering roll of her hips as him so close to catching her mouth. The male even moves forward to do so, and his quarry is gone from his hold in an instant. She waits for him at the edge of the fire light, cloaked half in shadow. The way she moves calling him to hunt her again.

It's a dance of chase, catch, and release. Neither takes it farther than wandering hands, thrusting hips and chests pressed close to one another. Oh, there is the desire there between them. The way her deep brown eyes, so dark, so terrifyingly dark, are heated by want, and watch his mouth. His answer is to snap his teeth at her throat when her head falls back, to drag his nose along the curve of her clavicle.

Her hands insinuate themselves between his pants and shirt, they drag along his sides, nails digging in should his intent become too much for her.  This dance is more than any other he’s ever participated in. While the ones of the past landed him with a partner to indulge in, Jayla poses a challenge. Don’t touch too much, don’t want too much, don’t kiss, don’t taste. Mimic sinking into her, watch the way her back arches, feel the roll of her hips that answers – but do not take.

Let your palms become acquainted with the way her skin feels, soft and unmarred by scars, graze the heat of her, admire the slight swell of her breasts, put a hand in her hair and guide her to a position that would make the contemporaries of the age clutch their gems in scandal. Listen to the way her breath catches when the grip errs on the side of too tight as she is guided back to a standing position. Keep the pounding of blood to yourself when the round of her ass presses into your hips in invitation. Growl when her nails dig into your sides and watch the way those delicate features morph into want.

It’s a torturous game they play, and when he’s got her wrapped around his waist, her hair forming a curtain around them as she looks down at him, the temptation is so great. To taste her lips, to feel her passion as they ride it out together here within the safety of dreams. All he can think of is what her face might look like were he to take her from behind, or how she might curl around him if he were to settle her on her back. It is a blessed thing that when she leans within kissing distance,  just to whisper good bye before she dissolves from his arms.

Chapter Text

To say that the Inquisitor had perked up in the days after their little dance was an understatement. The young woman fairly floated from room to room within the halls of Skyhold. It amused Solas, to see her so carefree, to hear her happiness in the way she spoke, to the way she took to humming melodies from songs no one could place. That he had helped to bring this change in emotion to her was gratifying. Cole sent him beaming smiles, but kept quiet about what had transpired while he followed Jayla around as if she were a flame and he a moth.  The dancing lessons were still tedious for her, but the young woman rallied.

The days were spent peppering nobles for their favorite dances, the most scandalous they’d ever heard of. Solas listened during the meals he took with everyone, watched as those burnt umber eyes lit up every time someone tittered or pulled out a fan to hide their embarrassment. If someone out right blushed, that was the dance Jayla requested to be taught the next day. Josephine was beside herself, while Vivienne was highly amused. Dorian found it absolutely exhilarating to dance as the barbaric heathens of the south did. He took to the more euphemistic dances with gusto, and the two dark haired beauties laughed the whole way through their lessons.

During the Rivainese bossa-nova, they caused Cullen to nearly fall over, the way Jayla’s hips rolled with Dorian’s and her lips parted. Bull, however, loved it, animatedly requesting the pair perform the dance when the ball started to lull in danger and intrigue. Solas knew the way Jayla’s lip caught between her teeth, that she very well might. The conspiratorial way she caught Dorian’s eye? Oh yes, the bossa-nova would be setting petticoats and garters aflame at the winter palace in several weeks’ time.

Jayla ran through a gamut of dances from all over Thedas. She learned the Fereldan Remigold, swinging Cullen around as if she’d known the dance her whole life. The absolute joy in her was so infectious, even the stuttering Commander wasn’t immune. Dalish taught her a dance of the Dales, some bastardized folk dance lost mostly to time, though Solas did note that Jayla looked quite fetching doing it. A dwarven gig with Varric came next, a silly Orlesian allemande that had Sera making Jayla giggle and curse for five and a half minutes. While Solas disliked Sera’s irreverence for her birth culture, he could appreciate the dance, and the focus the da’len put into it with the Inquisitor.

From Vivienne came a proper bourrée, Dorian traditional, stuffy sarabande, and Krem a lively volta. Each person who knew the Inquisitor well enough, gave her a dance to learn. And she voraciously soaked in their tutelage. A week from the ball and the only person to not teach the Inquisitor a dance of their people had been Solas. He had watched and watched her, content to dance with her in their dreams. And dance they did, each night, every night since the first. No dream had escalated past where the first went, but they were bolder with one another, their actions speaking more of desire with each passing coupling. Yet, it does not surprise him that Jayla doesn’t push for this from him. In the daylight, Solas has built a reputation for being scholarly, uninterested in humans past getting the breach fixed, the divine’s murder solved. Yet every time he watched the young woman thrive as she learned new step after new step, jealousy lingered.

“Solas, do you not know a single dance to teach our dear Herald?” Of course, it had to be Vivienne who asked him. He could not think of a worse person to bring to light his lack of involvement in the Inquisitor’s training for Halamshiral. Valiantly he raises only a brow at the question, a slow smile working its way onto his mouth.

“In fact, I know several. None, however, would work in the Inquisitor’s favor were she to perform them in front of the nobility. They are all of elvhen origin.” A smooth enough answer. What he does not count on is a small hand lighting on his sleeve, and wide mischievous eyes on his face.

“I think a better question here, Solas, is will the dance you teach me cause an uproar?” There’s a different quality to her voice with him than when she speaks with the others of her friends. There is a soft hope and longing hidden in her words. A challenge there too. She knows the dances of old Elvhenan, she could have blended in with any of his People during the height of their power, save for the roundness of her ears.

What could he teach her she did not already know from their dreams? Tilting his head, the elder makes as if thinking. He runs through all the dances he knows before settling on the one that made him the most uncomfortable. It would work in his favor – he could dance with Jayla, could show the people who kept her on the edges of passion just how deep that river could flow. It would also reinforce his stick in the mud, too old, too stuck in the past persona that was so vital to staying hidden. There is a worry that introducing such a dance, dancing it in the waking world with Jayla will end their night time dances. At the same time, he would rather eat a human’s shoe than let Vivienne get one up on him.

“It was called a tango, and I promise you, da’len, if you dance this before the court, there will be people fainting.” There is a light in Jayla’s eyes he can’t name and she bounces on her toes just once before dragging him to the cleared ‘dance floor’. “Do you know a –“

He raises a brow at her question, at the eagerness. Is this a dance she knows? Perhaps he will just have to see. “I do.” It’s frivolous magic, used for entertainment, he wouldn’t be surprised if Vivienne knew the spell as well. Either way, he casts it, and the music fills the room. He watches Jayla, watches parts of her melt away to leave behind just herself- just the dancer. He stalks around her, she watches, and in a flash of movement he’s there. She barely reacts past an intake of breath.

From there they are off. He leads her, adjusts to her flourishes with the same breath they are made. The room melts away from them, the sounds, the music. All they see is one another, the dance, the movements to make. They breath together, shift together. This dance, it’s more intense for Solas than any shared in the dream. Touching her, sliding his hands along the curve of her, feeling fabric bunch in his hand, feeling her warmth. It’s a distraction, but one he valiantly deals with as they circle and move together. He wrests the lead from her flourishes, controls the dance and watches as color rises on her cheeks. It’s a beautiful thing, sienna skin warming further all because of footwork and gentle barely there touches.   The fast and slow of it, the sudden and abrupt intimacy that is broken when he swings her away or she turns her head.

By the time it is done, when he has her balanced against him, hand in her hair, her leg up, a warm hand on his side and one curled against his chest, the music has died and the room is silent. For a moment, all he sees is her, and then there is an awkward cough. Breaking apart, Jayla unleashes a wild, giddy smile at him turning to the room and breaking into giggles at the gob smacked looks on her companions faces. Dorian is the one to break the silence, a vague gesture fluttered between them.

“How, exactly, did you learn that, Amatus? And how did you know where Solas was going to be with every turn. I’ve never seen a dance like that. If I had – well. Parties would be so much more interesting.”

Throaty laughter bubbles from Jayla, real amusement lining her frame. Her eyes dart to Solas and she shrugs. “Solas, he clearly learned it in the Fade. Me? Well, I thought it was just a dance lovers did in my country, now I am not so sure if they didn’t adapt it from what the ancients did and keep it alive all these years.” She’s sweating, the fine hairs that frame her face plastered to it, skin glowing as she breathes in controlled bursts. Solas supposes he also is sweating. The dance took more than anticipated from him, all because he forgot this would be different out of the Fade. Clearing his throat, a smug little smirk on his lips, he nods in agreement.

“Likely that is true. I saw this performed at a bonding ceremony memory deep within the Imperium, perhaps near where Arlathan once stood. It was to be a heated dance; the couple were about to make their escape for their bed chamber when the dance was performed. You see now why it will delight, horrify, and utterly scandalize the court? It’s sex, plain and simple.” His face warms and he coughs, looking away from the group with a practiced discomfort. Such things should be anathema to him. They see him as unmovable in such away. Solas is happy to play into such assumptions.  Jayla is blushing now as he turns back to face the room. Her lip caught between her teeth, eyes on the floor. Her hands do not twist nervously in the hem of her sleeves however, and somehow, Solas knows this is a show too.

“Shall we call it an afternoon? Or are we to practice more?” He poses the question to the advisors. Cullen looks like he’s swallowed something rancid, while Josie and Leliana look like pleased cats. Cassandra’s face is red and her hand held over her mouth.

“Dance it again, if you please. This is a dance the court must see. A secret weapon, in case our Inquisitor makes a misstep in conversation or action.” Leliana prowls around them, eyes sharp as she assesses and nods. “You will dance it with her Solas, be it to regain favor to after we have completed our mission. Her daring will make the history books, no one will forget the Inquisitor nor her Inquisition’s hand in saving Celene.”

The pronouncement has Solas’ smile melting from his face. Of all the things – her daring to dance with an elven man in front of nobility would put her in the history books? Not her grand force of men and women going against an ancient magister. Of course, not. Fucking Orlesians. He manages not to grind his teeth and sighs in a rather put upon manner. His eyes slide to Jayla, surprise flittering through him to see her less than pleased with the arrangement as well.

Jayla wanted no part in scandal that would revolve around Solas. The man did not need a target on his back. If she danced the tango with him – there would be assumptions. Leliana knows that. There isn’t a question to the contrary, Leliana is too good a spy master not to know. Even so, Jayla whispers the spell for the music and turns to Solas.

“Again?”

His borderline feral smile makes her heart stop, but his arm is around her waist and suddenly she is breathing the same air he is again. “Ma Nuvenin, Inquisitor.” And they are moving again. Leliana’s lunacy slides to the back of her mind, her loneliness, as it has for days since her spirit has started to dance with her, disappears. There is the song, there is her partner, and there are the movements they create together.  Dimly she is aware of someone speaking, mentioning that if their Inquisitor was going to be dancing like that, there was no way she could attend the ball in a uniform.

When they part, breathing heavy, tunics clinging to them from the exertion, Solas is swept away for a uniform to be fitted. Jayla is rushed into a bath and then to her own fitting. Apparently, she was getting a dress. There was talk of going with the Orlesian style that was currently in vogue. The young woman visibly cringed and waved a hand at her mostly nude body.

“Honestly, do any of you think I could pull that silhouette off? No. Give me some paper.”

Chapter Text

That night when they meet in the safety of the dream, Solas is struck by the way she moves against him. There is frustration in the way her hips roll, in the light of her eyes. Spirits, those eyes of hers. She could devour him with just her eyes, just the heat she conveys with them. The way she looks so hot and wanting when they lid, how they widen with surprise and morph into something raw and dark within seconds. The young sprite will be the death of him. If sheer need didn’t kill him, then hers would at least scorch him and leave a scar to remind.

Jayla allows no chasing tonight within the light of her fire. She dictates that they will stay pressed close together. She dictates the urgency with which they move.

Solas swallow’s noises when her hands guide his to places they have not dared venture. Yet he touches her without hesitation. He feels the play of muscle in the globes of her buttocks, he feels her heart beating below her breasts as his hand slides between them. The soft nature of her skin is a marvel. Her tongue tastes his skin, teeth dig into his neck as she grinds against him.

Her spirit gamely lets her lose herself in him. He allows the way she escalates things tonight, watches her with eyes that tell her his hunger. She watches with interest as that hunger for her deepens each time they come together. After dancing, twice with Solas – Jayla needed this. A simple, safe release of frustrations. It had not been his fault that the dance made her want to bed him. He was innocent in this – that dance always managed to make her skin prickle and her core tighten. More with a partner who displayed ability beyond her own or matched it.

Solas. Creators, he had matched her ability. He’d taken control so carefully. Not a single touch of his had become too rough, there were no abrasions from her dress on her skin. She is sure that if she’d danced with Dorian or Cullen there would have been. They were careful with her, but the need to keep hold of her, to keep hold of the dance, would have made them hold too tight.

The apostate, worldly and kind, it was him who knew how to keep a light hold that enticed her back into the cradle of his arms. He coaxed from her movements that really would cause someone to clutch their pearls or swoon if they performed for the court. It’s him and his cleverness that have her panting in her spirit’s arms tonight.

Solas is losing a battle to keep himself from taking what is being very freely offered. It felt wrong, Jayla didn’t know who he was. She thought him some spirit that took an interest in her. They were so careful not to speak here. In fact, he’s not said more to her than the odd greeting, and a repeated request to dance with him. There is no common that falls from his lips while with her in their dreams. It was too risky. He might have shed his apostate form, but his cadence was still the same. Her mind would only overlook so much. Had they not already shared a dream together, Solas might chance it. Might play into the idea that her erotic energy had simply conjured him, the person who knew her best of their circle of acquaintances.

But, he can’t. Not when she knows he can walk dreams. Instead when her lips seal against his, he pulls away, eyes curious and gauging as he watches the emotions slide over her. Damning himself he extracts his body from her grasp. “Emma isala on’ala ma.”

The truth would have to do. He wanted her, likely as much as she wanted him right now. But it isn’t right. Jayla doesn’t know who he is. She won’t take kindly to such a lie either. Who would? So his hands cup her face and he peers at her while repeating his words. “Emma isala on’ala, Alasnire’lan. Ar te’elan ver ma. Ma tel’ eolasa.”

Her eyes dart between his, attempting to garner what he means. It annoys him he cannot just speak, but this is a trap of his own making. So, he leans in, presses his lips to hers with care, savors how she yields to him and parts from her before she can anchor him to herself. “Ar te’elan ver ma, ma tel’eolasa.”

Solas walks from Jayla’s dream, shrouding himself in the Fade so she cannot follow him after that. He can’t do this, can’t drag her into his orbit. Can’t want her and certainly cannot have her. Not on this path. It was folly to think this exercise wouldn’t end this way.

When dawn comes, the taste of Jayla’s mouth still haunts Solas. His eyes squeeze shut, fingers pinching the bridge of his nose as he rolls onto his back.  Silently, the ancient man berates himself. The Inquisitor’s soul was so vibrant, called to him in her loneliness, and yet he’d thought himself able to resist the desire to truly have her. He thought himself strong for all that he knew he was weak. Would his arrogance never leave him? He was too old for such things.

Desire lingers in his frame, and Solas feels no shame or guilt as his hand retreats under the covers of his bed. The act, it was meant to stave off idiocy, and he did not think of her lewdly. He remembers the way she dances with him each night. Focuses on the soft feeling of her skin under his calloused hands. The sensation of her hips rocking and rolling against his, the knowledge that she gave all of it freely to him. There is no shame when his body tightens suddenly, a crashing wave of pleasure over taking him so suddenly.  The sated feeling that overtakes him is welcome. More than welcome, he’d needed this. To have the mysterious woman in his imagination if not his bed. It kept him from falling prey to his own misguided heart.

The great hall is filled with the smell of sweet breads this morning. Simple fare, but Jayla has come to crave the treats the cooks of Skyhold created on a weekly basis. Sweet breads and tangy gamey meats were unlikely bedfellows but made the best breakfasts. Today, Jayla falls on her food, mind racing with questions. Her spirit had left her last night. Kissed her and left her.

It had not twisted, had not made demands of her. It had even sounded apologetic as it spoke. Even now as she delicately pulls apart a fruit roll, Jayla feels the echoes of need he’d left her with. For weeks, they’d played the game of want but not have. The young mage hadn’t thought he would deny her when she offered herself freely. Had it been out of self-preservation? To stay as he was meant to be, so desire didn’t twist him from his purpose? Her fingers pop a piece of roll into her mouth, her eyes sweep across the hall.

This was the quietest meal of the day. Nobles unused to getting up so early, and unused to not having servants to bring them a late breakfast why the lay in. Soldiers worked hard all day only to catch the minimum of sleep to function. A bite of meat comes next, small, precisely cut as she continues to watch her people. The Inner Circle, with Sera, Blackwall, and the Iron Bull all wide awake. Solas subdued, Vivienne hiding her sleepiness under sharp barbs with Dorian who does not hide the dark circles under his eyes. Cole who is the most animated, not needing sleep, and Varric who perhaps never sleeps with the way he writes so prolifically. The Commander looks worn as he settles heavily into a seat beside her. Her hands move to pour him a strong cup of tea without prompting.

There was no love between she and Cullen, but she cared for him. He needed someone to help him, someone to remind him he was still a man not only a tool on which to hone the sword of their troops. It was things like this – tea in the morning, herbal headache remedies in the afternoon, and chess matches whenever she was available that made the bulk of their friendship. Leliana didn’t need such from her. Cassandra did in different ways. With her it was soft spoken tutorials on make up to illuminate her features, quiet chats over love stories, sparring that left Trevelyan covered in dirt and hay. Josephine only wanted companionship, someone to share delicate chocolate and cakes with, to sip rich coffee with as they spoke of anything and everything that came to mind. Friendships all of them, but nothing deep enough to keep Jayla truly happy with this station.

Perhaps she would never really be pleased as Inquisitor, held away from people by need and her own choosing. A hand brushes against her wrist, calloused finger tips, the scent of herbs and something deeper – Solas. Her eyes shift to him, a brow raises in question. His smile is slight, eyes bright with carefully veiled worry - is she all right? A sharp nod, wider than necessary smile – as well as she can be. They fall back into silence, listening to the conversations ambient around them.

“Oh, your Worship, the dress we spoke of.” Vivienne calls Jayla’s attention from her roll and she takes a hurried sip of hot tea to wash it down. “Yes? Will it be ready in time, we’ve got to leave by week’s end.”

“It is ready, in fact. I thought we might see you in it for today’s practice. The shoes are here as well. Such a strange design, they gave my cobbler fits before he figured it out.”  The elder woman looks like winter’s end has come early. It makes Jayla worry at the state of her design. It wasn’t that completely different to styles she saw around. All she’d done was take things she’d liked from her home and here to make something that would, hopefully, if executed properly, keep eyes on her. Perhaps it would start a new trend if she were extremely lucky. Orlesian dresses were awful.

“Well, I suppose I’d best grab another roll and a plate. No time like the present to see what needs to be changed or kept the same.” Jayla plucked a roll as she said it, placing it on her plate while taking it and her cup of tea to stand. Surprisingly, most of her company did as well. It makes amusement curl her lips and she shakes her head.

“You’re all coming then?”

“Glow bug, like we’d be anywhere else.” Varric smirks and looks at the others as if for confirmation. Everyone is nodding in agreement, even Solas.

“Da’len, you fail to realise your hidden depths have been quite interesting to see. Any garment you’ve had a hand in designing will be without doubt fascinating.” Solas takes her plate, balancing it atop his as he stands, moving around the chair with his quiet grace. Sighing dramatically and rolling her eyes, Jayla focuses on Vivienne again.

“Let’s get this over with, shall we, Madame?”

 

The dress is gorgeous on the body form. Circling it she takes in the gorgeous turquoise tone of the dress. Part of her had been worried as she detailed the colors she wanted, that it wouldn’t be a reality. This surpassed what she’d been after. The corset bodice emulates those that Vivienne favors, pointedly revealing with a sharp v that would hit just below curve of her breasts, white trimming it, delicate Nevarran lace in coral overlaying the deeper jewel tone. The corset ends, curving over her hips to accentuate the fullness of them with a point at the front, the back a straight line over where the start of her bottom would be, laces hidden by a panel buttoned on either side. The skirts are delicate, sheer but many, just as she’d described, the volume lacking until she moved. White, coral, and further turquoise layered over one another, each layer’s hem folded in white fabric. Sheer enough to great an opalescent effect without showing the world her under pants. There are no arms to the dress, no gloves either. An amethyst ribbon is tied around the form’s neck, a little metal symbol of the Inquisition hanging from it.

Her mask – it is exquisite. Finely wrought pewter, a mass of organic patterns to create what would hide half her face. The curls look to be ivy, a little crown to set in the middle of her forehead. It’s a bold statement, that her position within the Inquisition might rival that of Celene.  Her shoes are slippers, carefully crafted to match the illustrations she’d sent. The heel is no taller than two inches, sturdy, wrapped in turquoise silk, the body of the shoe is exactly as a Latin dancing shoe should be, peep toe, silver embellishment straps off setting the jewel tone.

“It’s perfect, Madame.” Jayla breathes the words reverently before she whirls, teeth digging into her bottom lip as she smiles. “Who’s going to help me get into this thing?”

Together Leliana and Josephine get the Inquisitor into her gown. It fits like a glove, the top laced just so it holds her as she should be. Nothing moves where it shouldn’t and there is no discomfort from the lacing. Her hands slide over the curve of her waist. Corsets were a taboo piece of fashion in her world. Something always painted as evil, when they were so beautiful. Her skirts swirl around her legs, and when she steps forward to grab up her shoes, the true nature of them is revealed. They are split on either side, and when she walks her legs are caught in glimpses. When she dances, they will be almost impossible to ignore – just as she intended. Her hair is down for now, as her mask is tied, but that night, she knows how it will look.

This is the most beautiful that the young woman has felt in what feels like an age. She’s got no make-up, none of her comfort amenities, and yet she feels like a princess. Her shoes are slid on and secured and Jayla darts out of the room that held the dress into the hall toward the practice room where her companions waited. The quick movements just further prove the dress was made correctly. Nothing slips, falls or catches under foot.

 

A vision appears in the doorway of the practice room. Solas feels the breath still in his chest when she comes into view. Radiant, ethereal, the Inquisitor doesn’t look like she could be real. A figment of wonder from a half-remembered dream, that fits the way she glides into the room, the way her skin shines, complimented by the tones of her gown. The mask draws attention to her deep eyes, makes them sparkle and have an air of seduction Solas knows she only affects in certain situations.  No one speaks. He’s certain they are all imagining her with ruby lips and decorations in her hair to make candle light glint as she moves.

“Amatus, you are stunning. Had I been a man of different tastes, I would be sweeping you from this room, I can assure you.” Dorian is the one to break the stunned silence, and the pleased smile his words bring is blinding.

“Flatterer. I will stand out, however, and that was the point of this frock.” Her hand fluffs at the skirt, and eyes are attracted to a flash of supple skin. Sera leers, crossing her arms and leaning back in her chair.

“How about you dance for us, Quiz. Show us how you’re gonna make them nobles swoon.”

A jolt of trepidation surges through Solas. Would she choose to dance with him or with Dorian? Their dances were undeniably the showiest and most interesting. It stood to reason one of them would show off the Inquisitor. A hand comes into his field of view, delicate fingers, equally delicate wrist.

“Solas?”  He bows, taking her hand as he whispers the music spell, and sweeps her into the dance. The resulting hoots and murmurs of approval when the first few steps are executed make the young woman in Solas’ arms smile all the brighter.

Chapter Text

The days leading to the Winter Palace were trying. Having to watch Gaspard attempt to woo the Inquisitor was nauseating. However, watching Jayla rebuff the would-be Emperor at every turn was quite entertaining. Their company placed bets daily on how many times Gaspard would make advances on their leader and how many times she would gently deny him. So far, Varric and the Iron Bull were coming out on top.

Their fearless leader, for all that she gave off an air of innocence, was apparently well versed in making men go away when she didn’t want them near her. She even taught Vivienne a thing or two in the days before the ball. Five times the Duke took the Inquisitor out for a ride or walk, five times he had intended to bed her or woo her just enough to validate asking for her hand. Five times Gaspard came back from the excursions with a thunderous expression on his face. Jay returned with laughter threatening to burst from her. She was alive, full of energy, and yet, parts of her entourage noticed there was a light lacking in her eyes.

Solas knew why. It was his doing, in that he had not gone into Jayla’s dreams since the night he had kissed her. Her mind had called for him, she’d looked for him, and he had avoided her. He watched her scout out the Fade carefully in search of him from the shadows. She never saw him, the black form of the wolf kept him from her sight. It was a small blessing. Though, as he watches her bat down Gaspard with skill and grace, he silently regrets it. Here he had a chance to call her his, and he had thrown it away. He hadn’t even the kindness in him to tell her in common.

He glares at his book, a cup of Orlesian chocolate balanced on his knee. Fragrant and rich, all the drink does is remind of him of Jayla. Not her coloration, the drink is too bland for that, but her spirit, her being. Even covered in blood and gore from demons Jayla had a pleasing scent. Her soul was a rich thing, colorful, deep, entrenched in the Fade. He imagined her soul would have been tethered tightly to her world before the breach, but sets the thought aside. Instead he focuses on more important things. Tonight, they would, spirits allowing, prevent Orlais from falling to chaos by preventing the Empress Celene’s death.

As light dies, the Inquisition pulls up to the Gates of Halamshiral. Gaspard was in the first carriage, accompanied by the Advisors at Jayla’s insistence. She refused to sit with him for hours on end dressed in her gown. The man was a menace to females everywhere. A menace to her, to Celene, likely his ex-wife as well. He would not have her support in his claim for the throne. She rides instead with Cassandra, Varric and Solas. Her first companions, her most trusted. They speak quietly, and Jayla teases Cassandra she should have had a dress made.

And Cassandra should have. For all she said she was not feminine, Cassandra is beautiful. Her scars didn’t mar her, they spoke of strength. Her body was strong, and that should be enjoyed. She should be made to feel beautiful, seen as beautiful. Jayla continually laments that people only see the Seeker and her sword rather than the woman. They bicker gentle between themselves, as Solas and Varric watch.

The black haired elder woman protests the notion of frippery. She blushes as she does so, looking away from her companions. The protest is barely believable and Jayla continues to lay out alternatives to frippery. She lays out ideas of sexy for Cassandra. Dresses designed specifically for her body, to show off her strong legs or arms or both. Slippers without heels so she didn’t trip but added to the image of her being unattainable. The notion of letting her hair out of the very useful and terribly severe braid for an event. Jayla lays it out with details, the way Cassandra’s preferred color of amethyst would set off the sun kissed nature of her skin. The way it would keep the theme of extreme contrast for her. Her hair, her skin, her dress. She lays out a visual of a dress that hinted at far more than it showed a person. A glimpse of leg, a hint of cleavage, a fitted waist, a skirt that didn’t quite flair.

When she was done, Varric was blushing and Solas’ eyes were telegraphing amusement. Cassandra wasn’t convinced, but she was intrigued. The Inquisitor takes that allowance by the horns. She puts down a wager. If they make it through this campaign against Corypheus without killing a more than one dragon, Cassandra will wear a dress at a party of the Inquisitor’s choosing and design. When they shake on it, the men in their carriage wonder if Cassandra knows exactly what she’s agreed to. When would they have cause to kill a dragon outside of Fredrick’s mad request?

As the carriage stops, Jayla’s enthusiasm turns to nerves. Her hands twist in her skirts and she has to take several breaths before Solas is allowed to open the carriage door. Gaspard, naturally, announces them to the courtyard, before sweeping away to the Vestibule. Jayla insists Solas escort her around the courtyard gardens, eager to hear gossip and cement the idea that her apostate was not a servant but her equal. Scandal was the name of her game tonight. The Grand Game would be played, but she was adding an element to make sure she would be dismissed after cursory inspection.

Solas promenades the Inquisitor around the courtyard. He speaks with her in hushed tones, standing just to her left and a step behind her. He kept with the idea that the Inquisitor lead him in all things. It was a fall back on how unevenly matched pairs conducted themselves in his own time. The higher-ranking lead, the lesser to their left, safe from the draw of their weapon. Together they find a ring a Noble woman had lost. They recover a halla statuette, and unlock a room below the terraces.

As they pause to listen to gossip, the Inquisitor draws Solas near with fingers under his chin. Her head tilts back and to the left, and she whispers her distaste for the whole game in his ear. To others, it would look like a moment between lovers. Something the elder mage is painfully aware of. With his side pressed to her, her fingers tucked beneath his chin and her lips at his hear, there was no way to interpret this if one did not know them both. It’s bold. Solas can applauded the ebony woman for that. Josie might be worried the younger woman couldn’t play a crowd, the rebel is more worried about how she will play them.  Jayla does this several times, stopping to listen to blackmail worthy gossip and drawing Solas to her in a mockery of lover’s moments.

He knows why she uses him for this, he will not think more of it. The Iron Bull would see it as an invitation. The man already flirted with the Inquisitor more than he ought to. Cullen would be too flustered for this kind of subterfuge. Varric was too roguish, in looks and manner, to make it utterly convincing. Sera was an awful choice. Dorian would have worked, but Jayla is all too aware of how many eyes Dorian has on him. Better to allow him a touch of anonymity as just the ‘Tevinter magister’ than also her possible lover. Cole was too innocent. Vivienne wouldn’t play this game. Blackwall an equally unbelievable candidate. His manner and personal style did not mesh at all with the Inquisitor’s.

No. In the end, he finds he was the best choice. Nondescript, expected, after a fashion. The court would have assumed, had he simply been at her side, that she bedded him when she was bored. To have him so publicly in her affection? That was what would throw them all – was currently causing more and more whispers as they spoke or paused within a breath of one another.

When they’ve gathered all the information that they can, Solas presses his hand to the small of Jayla’s back, nodding toward the gate that leads to the vestibule of the Winter Palace. There is a sharp intake of breath to their immediate right. Both ignore it as the raven crowned beauty turns in a flurry of skirts and heads for the gate, Solas not more than a step behind her the whole time.

Jayla had brought this on herself. Having Solas next to her all night was driving her to distraction. Even as she brought piece after piece of information to Leliana, smiled at Noble after Noble, and checked in with the others of their company her ability to compartmentalize this was eroding. He’d put some sort of cologne on. Likely at the Ambassador’s urging, and the spice of it mingles too well with his natural chemistry. Every time he steps into her personal space and she titles her head to speak with him, she is assaulted by the scent. It’s intoxicating, it makes her face warm every time. Thankfully, Solas has not noticed. Varric likely has, the Iron Bull must have noticed. They were the two most observant people she knew. Little escaped them, and if it did, Leliana knew about it.

Again, they wander and mingle amongst nobles who would sneer if it weren’t for the fact they thought a woman of holy standing stood before them. A sentiment, a falsehood, that makes Jayla wan to reach out and throttle every single person in the room.  They wander the hall of heroes together, listen in on conversations, play act as lovers without a care in the world. Elves look at Solas with undisguised emotions, curiosity, jealousy, disgust. The humans in the rooms do the same, at the pair of them. Storm magic prickles on Jayla’s finger tips and it’s only Solas’ hand grasping hers that manages to get it to dissipate completely.

“Pay them no mind, Vhenan’ara. They are ignorant. We are not responsible for their education.” His voice is low, sending an involuntary shiver racing down the young woman’s spine. He sounded, for a just a moment, like her spirit. She shakes her head, sighing and nodding silently at his words. It was a warning, to not lose her temper, to not blow this cover of theirs while they were snooping. The game could go hang itself, the earth woman wanted nothing to do with it and it had only been an hour or so since their arrival.

The introductions could have gone worse, in Solas’ opinion. The way the Inquisitor swept down the ball room steps and onto the dance floor was magnificent. Her posture perfect, shoulders thrown back and her strides toward the Empress even. Her name and title are a footnote to Jay’s presence. She commands the room by simply walking into it. Solas watches her with no small margin of pride. His Inquisitor was marvelous. Though the possessive nature with which he’d started to think of her was… upsetting. That woman with legs that made men look and women turn away with jealous, she was no more his possession than the sky was. Jayla’s attention, her presence, it was a privilege, a gift, a distraction. One he is jolted from when he is announced – as her lover.

That has him faltering, and looking at where Jayla still walks, he notes the way her head turns just slightly toward him. She doesn’t stop walking. Her greeting to the Empress, Duchess and Duke goes over well. His announcement had people looking at her, kindly and calculatingly. When the royal trio backs from their perch, the music becomes louder, and the dancing begins.

By the end of the night, Jayla is surprised her mask and dress are still pristine. She’s more surprised her waterfall of hair and the half-crown bun she’d had help fashioning was still in place. The amount of fighting she’d done was – honestly surprising. Florianne’s defeat was satisfying however, on levels the young woman could not express. And forcing the three powers vying for the throne to work together as a unit? That was the chocolate topping on the cake for the lithe herald. She leaned against the railing of the balcony and sipped at a glass of what to her, tasted very much like sweet champagne. A success, truly. The court loved her, either despite her bold choice in Solas or because of it. Dancing with Dorian and set the court a flutter, with compliments raining down on them both.

There are toasts being had now, but soon a familiar pale visage appears at the balcony window. He watches her with a brow raised, and she watches him with no intent to move. That she gets the man to roll his eyes and come to her is just another victory for the night. “Solas.”

“Inquisitor. Leliana has requested our presence on the ballroom floor.” His lips curve into a smile that is neither kind nor particularly unpleasant. Jayla looks at her half full flute and pouts, looking at the elder man with pleading eyes. “D- Vhenan’ara, do not look at me so. We are to perform, five or so minutes, and I will ply you with more of the wine. I swear it.”

For a moment, Jayla had forgotten they were still play acting. He’d walked into her personal space and now towers over her, voice low, a hand coming to cradle her elbow. To anyone looking up, this was very intimate. To anyone not affiliated with the damned Inquisition it was intimate. Instead of sighing, Jayla traces the line of Solas’ jaw with a finger, soft, half sad, smile pulling at her ruby lips.  “All right, love. Let’s go put on one last show for the night.”

His hand grips her elbow, the other coming to pluck the glass from her hold and setting it aside. A kiss pressed to her knuckles and he leads her from the balcony to the ballroom proper. And when they take their places on the rapidly emptying dance floor, all eyes are on them as a pair. Under the guise of being lovers, Jayla can appreciate the figure Solas made. His shoulders are strong, wide for an elven man of his age. He is tall, taller than her, hovering right beside Cassandra. And he is strong.

The music swells around them and they move, as if gravity demands it, toward each other. This performance is to inspire lust in their crowd, to show just how much the Inquisitor was willing to bare to them. It isn’t hard to fake the way her breath catches when Solas’ hand slides up her arm, when he turns her so her back is pressed along his front. It is easy to let want thrum through her blood a fuel each movement.

She feels as if she is holding her breath every time they come together. There are so many times where they share air it would be nothing to catch his thin lips in a kiss. The image of her spirit flashes in her mind, and she wonders if she would yield for Solas as she does for him. His hands are everywhere, the solidness of his body tormenting her more and more as they eat up the dance floor.

Gasps and murmurs of varying natures are tuned out. For the first time, all night Jayla isn’t worried about people looking at her. She couldn’t care less about what they say. Her focus is on Solas. She cannot miss when his hands reach for her, cannot hesitate when she is bent and twisted and guided. His eyes are her focus, his mouth, his presence – all of it becoming consuming. He lifts her, making her eyes go wide and then her head tilts back letting loose a throaty laugh.  Her partner is pulling out every stop. When they stop moving, no one will be unconvinced they know one another as only the Maker intended.

Solas is thanking and cursing every spirit in existence as Jayla’s legs come in and out of view. She is a vision. Her burnt sienna skin, fathomless dark eyes, the way her equally jet hair swings and sways as they move – it is all ridiculously enchanting. Light glints off glass beads in colors complimenting her dress as he spins her. Her breasts press against the confines of the corset as he pulls her close. That perfume she was wearing becomes increasingly strong as her body warms. Their act is not quite an act for Solas. He’s wanted her back in his arms since the night he stopped seeking her dreams. The dance practices weren’t enough. The little possessive touches all night was not enough.

He dares as his hands are splayed across waist and hip to tilt his head and drag his lips along the curve of hers shoulder up to her neck. It is worth it to see those lips fall apart, to watch the sheer outrage on some of the watcher’s faces. This is an opportunity to do what he cannot allow himself. He can love her in this moment, with every movement, every time their gazes meet. This is the only time and only way he could ever have the lovely, smart, fearless human woman. This would be the only time he could make love to her.

Here he can watch as her head falls back and her throat is bared while his arm supports her and his hand keeps her knee by his hip. Here her gasps are far more important than those of the nobility. Here when she has her so she’s got to tilt her head down to look at him, when her breasts are just below his chin and her hands clutch at him, this is what matters. It is his best and perhaps last opportunity to see the fires that light the dark depths of her eyes. It is his last and most important chance to stroke soft skin that hides immense strength, to stoke fires of desire in her.

After tonight, there will be no reason for him to ever touch her thus again. There will be no opportunity to feel her body pressed tight against his. No chance to taste the wine on her breath and see the delicate flush of her cheeks hidden by the mask she wears. It will be the last time his fingers can tangle in her dreads, the last time her throat is bared with his guidance. The last time she yields for him in such a way. He has to make the most of it. He does make the most of it, maximizes the time he has her in his arms, counts the number of times she must wet her lips and gasps in surprise when he adds a different flourish to what was practiced.

And when they finally come to a standstill, she is in his arms, curled around him like a bride, sliding down his body to stay as close as possible, her hands not leaving him even as his adjust their hold on her. The room might be erupting in applause, but he only sees her.

Jayla feels like this might be her last chance. That this would be her only chance. Tilting her head just so, she claims the lips she’s thought about for ages. Just once. Just this once, this could be hers. She could blame it on the game. Say it was all to make the people believe. But this was hers, just for her. He tastes like sin, sanity, hers and she pulls away abruptly, breathless, smiling and turning to the crowd, his hand still tangled in hers, in triumph. A battle won.

Chapter Text

Jayla goes to her room that night alone and just a touch tipsy. Her spirits are high, they’d won the day. But in the pit of her stomach is a ball of shame. Kissing Solas – gods she was an idiot. He was her friend, her shoulder to lean on. She’d violated that with a kiss. All because of a dance. The heels of her hands press against her eyes as she settles on the ornate and frankly comfortable chaise lounge in front of her window. Her dress was still on, mask discarded on the top of her trunk, her hair pulled from its careful and simple styling.

Why did she do it? What had possessed her to take something not offered to her. No. Jayla knew, as much as she wanted to deny it even to herself, she’d thought of Solas differently from the day he comforted her while she cried. Her spirit had been his stand in. She’d missed the spirit when it stopped coming to her, but enjoyed the days Solas took her hand and lead her in the steps of the tango. He made her feel alive, wanted. It also made her feel shameful, to feel that way when he was only being her steadfast friend. She had asked him to teach her a dance after Vivienne goaded him. She had agreed to dance with him, had played willing lover to him in front of hundreds of eager eyes.

This was her fault.

Standing from the chair she paces, heels clicking gently against polished marble. Her arms cross and her head ducks as she walks. How could she be so selfish? How could she be so juvenile? Solas was going to avoid her now. She knew he would, and after he’d just come out of his shell with her. She’d wasted her friendship for a chance to know what he tasted like. To know how he fit against her in the heat of a moment.  Electricity flares along her arms, little pin pricks of light that spider over her skin. Jayla wants desperately to cry or yell and can do neither.

There’s one surefire way to rid herself of the energy and emotion, and the perfect place to do it. Jayla waits, until the lights of the ballroom go out, and she sneaks down in her dress without shoes on. Hiding when guards come, she makes her way to the gargantuan room, and conjures a mage light. It hangs above her, following her as she goes to the center of the room. Pausing in the center, she whispers for music. The music plays, as soft as her whisper, floating through the room around her.

Her movements come slow, in time with the bass of the song. This isn’t sorrow this time. There is shame that makes her movements stilted, but all she has to expend is passion tonight. Jayla sways, like she had with her spirit. She entices an empty room with her legs. Her head tilts back, hands in her hair as her back arches and hips roll. Every muscle in her is strung with pure need.

“Solas.” Dorian’s voice jerks the elf from his thoughts, and it earns the young Altus a dark glare. “What is it, Dorian?”

“Come look at this.” He was by the window, peering across the inner courtyard at the rest of the palace. Intrigued, and annoyed enough to want to just indulge the man so he could sink into the Fade, Solas stands. Four strides and he is at the younger man’s side. He is about to snap another what when he catches a glimpse of it. A mage light in the palace ballroom.

It casts a pale circle of light on a dark figure draped in jewel tones – Jayla. His breath catches in his throat and he leans forward. She’s dancing again, and this time it isn’t some exposure of self. It is, and it isn’t. This is a different facet being shown. He knows this facet. He’s seen her move like this, felt her movements against him in a different place. She’s more vibrant here than in the Fade – and she always made her space full of color. It might be the nature of the light she’s conjured, but the woman glows. She looks like a goddess should, she looks like temptation. A leg shifts out from her skirt, fabric held away as her hips gyrate lewdly. The sharp intake of breath is his.

Dorian is fascinated, but more so by Solas’ reaction than Jayla. The woman put most of Tevinter’s entertainers to shame. She surely put the whole Orlais to shame, likely Fereldan as well. The way she danced was outrageous, but gorgeous. The way Solas watched her? That was a man dying of thirst and unwilling to drink the water set before him. Dorian was far from blind. The man saw the way they looked at one another when they danced. No one had missed that kiss just hours earlier. No one was that good at deception. Even the nightingale had commented on it, frown marring her mouth.

“Shouldn’t you be there with her? That dance looks like it’s meant for two.” He says the words softly, eyes refocusing on the Inquisitor. Watching her, he found he had meant the statement from weeks past. Had Dorian even an inkling of desire for the female form, he’d have pursued Jayla. But, alas, he must let her go to the elf, because he has no interest in her like that. A sure loss for the world. They would have made gorgeous children.  Ah well. His eyes slide to Solas as she turns toward the windows.

Solas hears Dorian. He does. But when she turns toward them, unknowing she’s being watched – he cannot find his voice. Her hands trace the plunge of her bodice, grip at it like she wants it off. His blood turns molten. Without a word, Solas turns from the window and strides for the door. It’s a simple spell to keep himself shrouded as he makes his way through the hallways of the palace. One night, tonight, that was all he could have. All he would take. They had duties he and the Inquisitor. Neither could waver.

But waver he has. His feet carry him to the ballroom, and he silences the door as he opens it. Slipping inside, letting it click shut behind him, he watches her, sinks into the music that drifts and drives her. He stalks the edges of her light, waiting for her to sense him, willing her to sense he was there or she was being watched. While he waits, while he hunts her, he notices the little differences in the way she moves in the waking world. In the Fade, there wasn’t any hesitance in her. He wanted to learn what caused her short pauses now. Pale blue eyes hungrily take in the way she shifts, how the fingers of her right-hand fan over her neck, while the left splays on her stomach and drags to her hip. Her eyes are barely open, and it’s clear her mind is somewhere else. There is color in her face, more than make up, natural warmth there.

What shocks him is the way she sighs, the word she sighs. It’s his name. A soft, breathy, pleading - Solas.

He pounces. In seconds his hands are on her waist, drawing her forward, bringing the light with them. The spell shrouding him fades, and the shocked squawk of his leader, his herald, makes him grin ferally at her. That she has little arcs of electricity moving up and down her arms is good. She was ready for anything, no one would get the jump on her.

“Jayla,” her name shouldn’t sound like a prayer from his lips. Solas shouldn’t even be here! Had he seen her sneak through the halls? Or had someone said something. The music had frozen when she had, her mage light was flickering with her lack of focus. In seconds, Solas has another hovering near hers.

“What are you doing?” He lets out a harsh laugh, steps so there isn’t an inch of space between them. “Answering your call, Vhenan’ara.”

Her face flushes deep red and he chuckles again, leaning forward, pressing a kiss to her cheek. He was warring with himself, she could see it in his eyes as he leans away from her. For what? Didn’t he want her? Wasn’t that why he was here? But then his grip on her tightens. “The music.”

Two words and the Inquisitor jumps to do as asked. The tones of the song swell around them, and she bites at her lip when she realizes how the song might sound to him. It invited a certain sort of attention. But there is no rebuke, just his stance shifting, a thigh insinuating itself between her legs, a hand sliding to her back, dangerously close to where her corset and skirt meet. The other hand brushes against her cheek, she’d barely noticed it left her waist.

“Dance with me. Ame ma min’nydha, vhenan’ara.” His words make her heart jump into her throat. Elvhen. Her spirit had been speaking Elvhen. She releases her lip to lick at them, trying to find some moisture in her mouth. Why did her spirit speak only Elvhen to her? Why did she care when the man she wanted was right here asking her something?

“What?”

“Dance with me.” He pulls her forward, and Jayla is powerless to do more than follow his lead. There is nothing formal in this coupling. Yet, there is something very different about how he moves with her. It’s familiar, and not simply because she’s partnered with Solas before. There is an air to him, a strength about him that she knows. Her eyes search his face as she moves with him, willing him to give her answers to unanswered questions.

They move slowly with the song’s timing. His touch is heavy on her, she can feel the heat of his hands through her corset. Her whole world narrows to him, the points where their bodies meet. His hand guides her movements. He tells her when to sway, to roll, to arch her back. And Jayla lets him. There is nothing sinister in this as her hands wander over the uniform jacket he still wears. There is no shame in submitting to another’s lead.

Solas twists her in his arms, one curling around her middle, the other toying with the edges of her corset. It makes her breath stutter and her head turn in question. Those eyes are there, deep blue like the china sea, screaming his desire at her as surely as those fingers against the curve of her breast do. Her head snaps forward, shock making her stiff for a moment. Were they dreaming? How would she know if she’d stumbled into his dream? She’s never asked that question, just always known.

Through the layers of her skirts his thighs scald her. When his hand catches in her hair and tilts her head to the side, she burns, from the point of contact his lips make clear to the apex of her thighs. The feeling of his lips curling into a smirk on her skin has her staggering away from him, whirling around. She retreats, but keeps dancing. It doesn’t make sense, but Jayla just lets it happen. It feels right.

Elegant ears twitch, bald head tilts, eyes that are too dark narrow – and he comes after her. She feels like she’s been doused in a river at the beginning of spring. He moves the same as her spirit did. Dainty feet slap against tile as she hurriedly retreats, keeping the elf within her sights. He doesn’t let her leave his, and he hunts her. He stays within reaching distance of her, watches her carefully, searchingly, hunger a backlight in depths of blue.

Ame ma min’nydha, Alasnire’lan.” He pitches himself purposely low, knowing he’s been caught. It was folly to have come to her here, but Solas has never wanted something like he wants her right now. They’ve been walking this path for weeks, tormenting each other. He was done. His will was shattered. His name on her lips had done that.

“Which is real.” Her words are shaking, and her cheeks flush with anger, the arcs of electricity back in force. He pauses, but she darts away and Solas is forced to follow lest she flee. “Both are real. This is real, the Fade is real. Which face do you favor?”

That makes no sense. It had to be one or the other. She strides forward striking at his chest. “I want the man who is real.” She moves to strike at him again and a strong hand stops her. Her magic fizzles and pops uselessly where he holds her. All at once, pale, older Solas is gone. Her spirit stands before her and the mage lights dim.

Ame ma min’nydha, Vhenan’ara, Alasnire’lan. Isala ma.” He drags her forward, not hurting her, but not letting her leave. Jayla could force him to let her go. She could run to her room, ward the door and leave at first light, ride hard for Skyhold. All were options. She chooses to be dragged forward. She lets herself become lost in this dance that she’d been unknowingly a part of for weeks.

“Tell me what you mean.” Her voice shakes as he bends her back, covering her with his body in a slow circular motion. She’s lifted, so she has to look down at him, leg caught in his grip, curled around his waist.

Ame ma min’nydha – be mine tonight. Isala ma – I lust for you.” The young woman is told this as he lets her go, and she slides down his body abruptly. She retreats, he advances. Her hands fend him off, his catch her up and tease her. Callouses she knows better than she should pass over her arms, along the lines of her bodice, they tease at the tops of her thighs. Breathing is fast becoming a chore for her.

“Why now?” Her arm lifts, curls behind his head. Her fingers tangle in locks much thicker than her own. Teeth catch her earlobe, worry at it. “Because I cannot resist any longer.”

Gods. His voice is like gravel and it makes her roll her head back onto his shoulder. Plush lips, chapped lips are there at the line of her offered throat in the same moment. He doesn’t suck vivid marks of claiming, but he does nibble and lick and generally make her quake in his arms. Nimble fingers twist in his hair, drag him away as she turns.

If he can’t resist, then she won’t. Why did this feel so final? Why did it feel as if this was going to change everything? She can’t make sense of her own thoughts but she knows that if this chance isn’t taken, if she stays on the cliff rather than leap, all she’ll know is regret. Jayla leaps, her mouth finds his, and her earlier assessment is again proven valid. He tastes like sin, like whiskey and want.

Fingers rip at the back of her bodice as her lips part for him. He’s like a wave, tentative, just coming in at first tide and advancing more and more. His magic, presence, being washes over her, wraps tight against her skin. The younger woman knows this dance, she reacts, following him as he retreats, advancing in his absence.  They’ve stopped moving, standing stationary in the palace built on the ruins of his people. 

Eventually the kiss ends, leaving them both short of breath. Leaning forward, he urges her to tilt, sweeping her hair away from her shoulder. Blunt teeth scrape at her pulse point, nibble along the vein and her body runs wild with feeling. A sound leaves her, something foreign and utterly dark. All at once she breaths easier, her back becoming chilled until large hot hands map the skin revealed.  “Solas.”

This time when she sighs his name it is directly into his ear. His hold tightens on her, he turns his face into the hands that frame his face and nip at the palms in turn. Mouths come together again, urgently this time, desperate for another taste as the bodice is removed from her. Greedy hands slide over the bared skin, tracing the indentations where the bones had sat pressed into her. Delight rips through him when she moans into his mouth. What Solas wouldn’t give for a bed in this moment. He will make do.

Pulling away from her, he rids himself of his uniform jacket, the clothing tossed to the floor beside them. It would protect her back from the cold well enough. The undershirt comes next and she surges forward to capture his lips for another kiss. Her fingertips learn his skin with the lightest touches. They trail over broad shoulders, slide down arms much stronger than they should be. Those fingers have fine callouses on them, she hasn’t wielded a staff long enough yet.

A thumb catches a nipple and Jayla’s head falls back in a low moan. It swipes back and forth over it and she quakes. A part of Solas marvels at her sensitivity. Another part crows that this would be his from this day forward.  He torments her, gentle swipes, no pinching or kneading. He doesn’t take her into his mouth, he stands with an arm supporting her back, finger tips tracing budded nipples in turn. They are dark, plump, begging him for more attention. No quarter is given. He touches until she whines, low in her throat, eye sparkling in the dim light.

“Solas.” A plea, a prayer, how many forms would she make his name bend into this night. The Dread Wolf is eager to find out. His fingers leave her, moving to his mouth. There is a great show made of licking at each finger pad before they are returned to her body. It makes her shiver, and when he bends his head, blowing the whisper of an ice spell against those pebbled nipples, she cries out his name, fingernails biting into his shoulders, into the nape of his neck. Full hips rock up against his, pausing as the feeling of his desire becomes evident. The motion happens again, more insistently, a leg lefts and curls around his much narrower hips.

“So eager.” He chuckles darkly into the valley between her breasts, licking the skin there. He nuzzles at her, the hand on her back making soothing circles. Not so soothing, he feels her tremble when he passes over certain spots. It has him straightening, interest piqued. They hadn’t the time tonight. A traitorous thought – they only had tonight. It couldn’t happen again. They could not do this after tonight. It would ruin her.

The pressure of his hand against her back increases, the way she whines becomes more pronounced, irises lost when her eyes find his again. Her back meets the silk of his uniform abruptly, a hand cradling her head. His body blankets hers – and they dance.

Chapter Text

It’s been four months since Solas had slept with Jayla. At first, she’d been hopeful he would find the desire to repeat the performance with her. But as days wore on, and the man returned to his teacher designation, she lost hope. Lost hope and lost interest in the men who were more than willing to give her what she needed. Dorian had pointed out, in a last-ditch effort, the Iron Bull would no doubt be a good person to take her frustrations out on. All that had garnered him was a raised eyebrow before she stalked off to the Tavern to read the Qunari the riot act. She had perhaps, given the Bull some ammunition as well. Instructions to soften his approach with Dorian lest he chase the man back to Tevinter.  Then Josephine tried to convince her Cullen had eyes for her. Jayla had laughed herself hoarse over tea that day. Cullen, darling, straight laced Cullen could not have eyes for her.

He was the type to want marriage, to dream of it quietly in the afterglow with his woman. No, Jayla didn’t want Cullen. Perhaps if she were older, perhaps if she was a real Thedosian, she would want him, welcome him into her bed. But she isn’t, older or Thedosian, and she cannot take him into her bed without putting a different face on him.

She is distracted, he distracts her. Every time his arms wrap around her to adjust her spell casting stance. When his hands light on her hips, when he uses his hands to guide hers in the molding of a specific glyph. As he speaks she becomes desperate to move and often simply stands up, bringing her book with her to pace around the Rotunda. It’s been near ten months since her magic came, since she had come to Thedas. She still stumbled with magic, it was – too elegant and at times too blunt an instrument for her. She would have done better with a cross bow like Varric’s, at least she had the ability to aim.

Another month rolls by and her body burns for Solas. It’s madness, at home she would have used her vibrator and imagination until the crush took care of itself. Instead, here, she is visited by desire, longing, ardor, lust, passion, craving, and covet each night. They wear Solas’ face, either of them, and come to her when she is half way in the bed in her dreams. They whisper they can give her more than he can, they will please her better than he will, and she always ends up waking wet and shaking instead of wet and satisfied.

It is, in the end, Vivienne who Jayla goes to with her plan. Seduction has never been her problem, and she had forgotten that it was her who had done the chasing when she lived on Earth. A few weeks’ worth of carefully designed outfits, armor that would put some gamer bros to shame, and she had the beginnings of her chase.  The colors were deliberate, forest greens, to name her his, sheer fabrics to tease his eyes, - all meant for dancing, each skirt a variation of the Winter Palace gown. Vivienne had only raised an eyebrow at the designs, a knowing glint in her eye.

The woman might be two decades her senior (possibly) but Vivienne could spot the steps Jayla was taking. Perhaps she had taken the same steps once upon a time with her lover, when his eyes had fled her form. Either way, no rumors started and she took tea more often with the Elder mage. They stayed in close confidence as the winter snows kept them up in Skyhold, the passes too blocked for their mages to safely clear. It worked in everyone’s favor, the scouts scattered across Thedas kept a close eye on the Red Templars, who were also hindered by the winter weather, and Jayla took more time to master her magic, to send out operations to quell and steady rising tensions across the continent.

It was two weeks before the mock ups of her dresses and gear were ready. The simple mock ups did little to illustrate the end effect, but everything fit perfectly. The cuts of each garment would bring her assets into sharp relief. No one would be able to ignore her in these. It makes the young Inquisitor giddy and she hides it carefully, avoiding Solas as much as he avoids her. Though, she does not do so in her dreams. She calls to him, when ardor visits her, when lust comes knocking, Jayla lets his name ring loud and long in the fade, feeding off the Spirits (or demons, she can’t honestly distinguish them, they aren’t twisted or threatening, just wanting), as much as they feed off her. She brings her old dance partners into her dreams, the music always turns darker when she feels Solas at her dream’s edge. As if she wouldn’t feel him. She knew how his magic felt here, it had been pressed tight to her more nights than he’d likely admit to.

But it doesn’t matter, Jayla let’s her body do the talking. Hands slide over her skin, her clothes more closely modeled after her outfits on earth. Nothing that would give her away, but things that would certainly make Solas think she’d likely worked in a brothel at some point. Skirts too short to be decent, gowns that bordered on nudity, anything that would keep him at her dream’s edge longer, or have him scurrying away within moments. It made her nights more interesting, and more frustrating. Worth it. This would all be worth it.

Winter’s End comes and Jayla flits around Skyhold delivering little tokens to her people. More tools for Blackwall, chocolate chip cookies for Sera, a dragon bone mug for Iron Bull, a package of quills with metal nibs for Josie, a letter to Bianca to bring the woman to Skyhold on ‘business’, a beautiful silken gown for Vivienne, slippers for Leliana, a roof for Cullen so he didn’t freeze through the winter and a new mantle so he wouldn’t wear his lion’s mane out, a promissory note from Varric for two additional chapters of Swords and Shields for Cassandra, sumptuous fabric for Dorian to commission new armor with, and several new hats for Cole in varying leather colors. Solas was conspicuously skipped over, his gift, if she could call it that, would come later. Though she’d found a volume of poetry, rumored to be from the time of Arlathan in the basement of a Val Royeaux books store to give him if he called her on leaving him out.

For most of the morning she was delivering gifts, delighting in the smiles and hugs she received in return. She traipsed through the rotunda twice over, and Solas said not a word. It made her sigh, speaking in low tones with Vivienne over finger sandwiches and tea at the noon bell. For all that Vivienne was at a loss as to why Jayla spent so much time chasing after an apostate, the elder woman didn’t voice disapproval. She hummed and laughed, gave advice where it was appropriate. In general, she simply kept Jayla sane, acting as a sounding board when it was most needed. Vivienne was worth her weight in gold for that alone.

After the midday meal, Jayla drifts around her keep. If it could really be called hers, honestly, they were more akin to squatters, the lot of them. Hadn’t someone owned this place? Could it truly ever be owned? Her fingers trace along the stones of the wall in the garden, her voice soft as she hums a hymn from her own world. It was – it felt right to do that here. The garden was dedicated only to growing, the Chantry had been relegated to a closet, Jayla pointedly ignoring the mothers’ ire when they were told. She was not a part of a holy war, this was something much more. This place would not capitulate to the desires of a single regime.

“You look as if you belong here, have always belonged here, Lethallan.” His voice shocks her from her thoughts, has her twisting in quick order, dark eyes wide until they settle on him. In the late afternoon sky, his freckles are sharp against his pale skin. This visage – it still rubs her the wrong way. Both sides are right but this one always rings false now that he’d chosen his caramel face to be what she associated with real.

“Perhaps this was always meant to be where I laid my head,” her voice comes out throatier than it was meant to. Her tone is playful and she knows her eyes have lidded; her lips are pulled into that smirk her past lovers had called a sinful invitation. Damn him for driving her to this place.

“Perhaps it was. You have certainly brought this place into the modern age, brought it up to your standards.” He shifts, moves toward and around the well. His hand mimics hers, gliding around the lip of the stone construction.

“Should I not have? This is my home, it is likely where they shall entrust me to the beyond when my days are done. I would not have it be entirely military in nature. I will not allow the Chantry to take it over. This place is mine.” Her chin tilts up, daring him to refute her claim, what surprises her is the way he chuckles. Soft and low. His eyes meet hers and she knows that look, it hits her in her core and makes her breath catch.

“If it were not meant for you, I doubt we would have found this place, Lethallan.”

“Jayla.” She corrects him with a mock sternness she has nothing to put behind to make it real. His head nods, his eyes flash and she is going to combust if he comes a single step toward her.

“Apologies, Jayla. This place sings with your touch. It responds to your will, or have you not felt the magic in the stones?”  That lupine tilt of his head, sure steps carrying him toward her. Jayla refuses to retreat.

“I simply know it feels right to be here. I feel welcomed, as if I am wanted.” Her tone is quiet, almost shy, and she shrinks back into the ivy that grows up the wall. Her teeth dig into her lip as he comes another step closer. She retreats two.

“You are always welcomed by this place, its stones, grass, flowers, water, it all welcomes you back. You are wanted.”

Fuck. He could have her now if he wanted to. She feels slick and are they really talking just of Skyhold? Or is Skyhold being used as a convenient allusion to him? Either way, the fire in his eyes, the way his magic licks at hers, may the gods save her because he will turn her to ash if she doesn’t retreat soon. And when did this game switch? When was it she that was avoiding him and him doing the chasing?

“I have neglected to give you your winter’s end gift, Jayla.” Mercy, mercy, let him never say her name like a prayer again. May he say it only in the privacy of her bedroom with her wrapped tightly around him.

“Oh? I did not think you would be a practitioner of these traditions, Solas. I did find something to give you, however. I’m afraid I don’t have it with me.”

“Nor I your gift. It is not even here yet. It was made specifically for you, and I am loathe to admit I did not think to have it made until just a week ago, when Master Tethras reminded me of the coming day.” He is barely a foot from her. She forgot to move, forgot to dart away from him, to give him a chase. He could snatch her up into his arms in a breath if he so desired. It feels like he does. His magic is washing over her in waves and Jayla is trying very hard to keep coherent. It’s harder than it might seem.

“Then we shall have to trade gifts when it comes.” Her voice is – wrecked, but steady. Her desire is laid bare within her words, but she doesn’t betray herself with action. Turning away from him, she pulls her hair over her shoulder and makes for the garden door. “I look forward to your gift, Solas. Until then – a blessed Winter’s end.”

Her steps are measured, the sway of her hips calculated even in this silly simple dress that she’d worn. It was nothing like the ones coming, she was covered from shoulder to the tips of her shoes. White like the snow, shift and over dress, the vest that cinched it in made of ram leather. Nothing alluring about it in her eyes. She disappears through the stone door and leaves Solas standing alone in the garden of her fortress.

“Chuckles, you look like a man who was an inch from his greatest wish.” Varric’s voice brings Solas from his rumination. Solas does his best to keep a growl deep within his chest and soundless. Varric was too often correct in his assessments. The Dwarf had an ability many would kill for. Solas would like it to not be turned on him for once.

After the Winter Palace, when he had carried the Inquisitor to her rooms only to have her again (and again) leaving her hoarse and wrapped in the Fade, he had avoided her. Not going to such lengths as to not accompany her when invited, but the easy relationship they had enjoyed was summarily left in flames. They did not dance in their dreams or otherwise, she did not haunt his rotunda, nor pull his eyes to her when she spoke. All her time was for the others now, and all his time was spent on his path, on the path to right the mistakes made.

“It would seem, Master Tethras, I have succeeded in driving away the one thing I just now realize I wished to keep.” He has that face, Solas knows faces likes those, that make you speak without wanting to, as he did now. It makes him grind his teeth and his jaw jumps with his irritation. Whatever spirit takes pity on him now, he should thank for years, for the dwarf sobers, eyes bright with understanding.

“It’s a damn shame when that happens. If you want, I’ve got a sweet red from the Anderfels coming in the next few days. It’s always good to drown your sorrows.” The offer draws the elven man up short. He had not expected that commiseration. Questions, perhaps, but understanding, so blatant, that wasn’t.

“I would welcome the opportunity.” He says it as Jayla darts inside, followed by a snowball through the keep doors, her laughter infectious. Sera can be heard calling the other woman a wimp. His eyes follow her as she makes her way toward her bedroom. Varric is not so kind as to not notice.

“Ah, Sparkler had said you two danced, I didn’t realize. I’ll let you know when the wine gets here.”  Solas only sighs in reply, going to his rotunda to mix more plaster.

That night, Jayla wants too much, to erase the dream that comes for her. She aches for Solas’ hands on her and if she cannot have the man, she can have the memory of his touch, she can conjure new scenarios to blanket it upon. That is how he finds her – wrapped in him, a spirit who had happily taken his current form and laid beneath his Inquisitor. Its hands grasped at her hips and she was riding him like she might die if she paused. The bed creaks under the force she is exerting, and he is enthralled. She bounces atop his likeness, with fervor, likely chasing an end she will not receive. Her eyes are shut, head tilted back, breasts on display, pushed together from the way her hands rest on his chest.

It’s beautiful. The pleading whines wrung from her are delicious, the way she becomes frustrated as she cannot get enough friction, enough of his touch. Even if it is not him personally, it is his hands she yearns for, that she growls for and hastily directs to places he had learned to touch so many nights ago, in the Winter palace. He is who she urges to thrust harder into her as she rolls, taking the spirit with her. It’s him who has her eyes wild with desperate desire.

Honestly, Solas is surprised that it is a spirit between Jayla’s legs and not a desire demon. He reaches with his aura, pokes at the spirit and finds it to be …oh. He recoils, with no small amount of wonder that she had attracted such a being. They were rare, and yet not if someone knew where to look. The dark woman straining under it likely had not needed to look. She so often surpasses expectation.  He knows he shouldn’t watch such intimacy, that this is a bit of a violation of her space. Yet he cannot bring himself to walk off into the Fade. She moves with no small amount of purpose.

All the muscles that play under her skin are tense. Her face is twisted into a look Solas well knows, but never thought to see on her face. She is reaching for her release, willing it into being. Such was the problem with things like this. Knowing a touch, remembering it, that could bring what she sought, but they had not coupled like this. There had been fierce desire, but he had not been rough with her, nor she with him. He had cherished her, treated her like spun gold, drawn gentle whimpers and fervent cries with careful exploration.

He steps across the barrier of her dream. The spirit took the form of the Apostate as they roll once more, and Solas lets his spell melt away. He comes to her as he is, has always been, hands sliding up her arms as he kneels behind her. The touch has her shuddering, her movements slowing. Solas can see her head start to turn, but he plasters himself against her back, presses his face against hers so she may not see him. Her movements have slowed to a near stop, the spirit under her let’s its hands play over the plains of her stomach. It needs no completion, but seeks to give her, hers. It makes small motions, keeps her attention torn. Solas brings his hands to wander over her. He traces the curve of her hips, fingers grasping, lifting her and settling her in smooth motions. Only when she starts to do it herself, does his hold on her retreat.

He traces the curve of her waist, pressure on her skin firm so it does not tickle. He massages her breasts when the weight of them brush at his hands, cupping, careful, methodical, pebbled peaks manipulated with care. The elder man smiles as her head drops back, her movements as lazy as his, and a hand reaches down to pet her flexing thigh with affection.

It is impossible to deny that he feels for her. Impossible to lie and say that single night had not caused a flame to be fanned into an inferno. Jayla knows his face, the one that hasn’t been seen for millennia, she knows him without knowing and her being calls to him. She beckons him to her bed with every breath. Even as she avoids him, there are times she cannot. War Room meetings, where all are required to weigh in on plans, meals, when her presence is expected in the great hall. Would that she had only the public baths available to her, this desperation would not have spilled into the Fade. Would that he could separate himself from her before this had started, and they would not be here.

Sathan, Solas. Sathan, ma ema lanaste.” The words make him turn his face into her neck, the soft unblemished skin, and set his teeth into it. Where had she learned those words? Mercy? She wanted mercy from him. The hand that pet at her thigh, that felt the taut nature of muscle and skin, slides up to settle between her legs. Her body moves on a replica of his, straining, desiring touch, desiring more, him outside of a dream. But that cannot happen again, he cannot stray. His fingers part her lips, the spirit sinks up into her further, and he lightly circles the engorged nub that has her back arching.

They work in tandem, he and the spirit. They keep her mostly immobile between them now, touching her, murmuring in common and a broken elven until she shatters in their arms. It happens quite literally, Jayla reaches her peak, and it wakes her, her body dissolving in Solas’ hands. In seconds, the spirit takes Jayla’s form, and he is left with an expanse of wonderfully sienna skin. The elder can only smile, and wish the spirit a safe journey before he retires to the place where dreams will not plague him.

Jayla woke up sticky and panting, staring up at the rock ceiling of her quarters. Spirits, she hadn’t -. Solas was not supposed to see that. She hadn’t gone into the encounter thinking of him watching, participating in that. Guiltily she drags herself from her bed, wondering, praying, she did not twist her companion with her selfishness.

Her dresses come the next day after she wakes from the dream she won’t speak of. Her giddy high comes back to her as the packages are brought to her room. Vivienne has come with them, and her indulgent smile only eggs Jayla on. The first dress she tries is the one she keeps on. Plunging neckline, sliver trim, covered shoulders and arms, rounded back and pointed front, it is quite like Vivienne’s armor, though the sides are made of only lace. Jayla has made no secret of admiring Vivienne’s style. It was unique, called people’s attention to her while warning them she was far out of their reach. The skirt, however, is where that similarity ends. Again, the skirts are not whole. Flowing, iridescent and her legs show with every step she takes. She feels – amazing in the dress. She feels like a queen and to hell with anyone who didn’t think so too.

“My dear, I should have had you at my tailor the moment Skyhold was livable. You are perfection.” The sincerity of Vivienne isn’t lost on Jayla. Her smile is brilliant as she braids her dreads down her back.

“Thank you, Vivienne. This – it’s more than I had imagined.”

“Of course, it is darling. My tailor made it.” That teasing smile takes the condescension from the elder woman’s words and she heads for the door, leaving the maids to continue unpacking. “Come on then, Inquisitor. We’ll have the nobility of Thedas eating out of your hand in an hour, and if we’re very lucky, your apostate will have swallowed his tongue.”

Jayla floats into the Great Hall with the Madame de Fer at her side. Breakfast is still going, and her people have yet to leave their table. The young Inquisitor walks like she aims to seduce, and she does, to her chair, sliding into it without a word, reaching for the juice sitting in front of her. She pretends not to notice that the Inner Circle’s conversation had died just after the elder Frost mage took her seat. No, Jayla pours her juice and sets it back in its place, taking a sip before her eyes flick up. They are all looking at her. She’d smile if it wouldn’t give away her game.

“Good morning, is something wrong?” Her question comes on the heels of her licking her lips after swallowing the mouthful of juice. It has the desired effect. Blackwall, Sera, and the Iron Bull all shift in their seats, averting their eyes after a moment. Solas looks – like he would throw her on the table if she’d let him.

Spoiler: she would. She really, really would.

Dorian looks like he might choke with repressed laughter, but quickly gets a hold of himself. He was an Altus after all, and knew exactly what this was. “You look radiant this morning, Amatus. Is that a new dress? Have your advisors finally realized you needed clothes that depict you as the Goddess you are?”

She could kiss him. Dorian had to be the finest friend on the planet besides Vivienne. Dark eyes dance as a slow smile forms on her face, and she leans forward just a touch, leaning her elbow on the table, resting her chin in her hand. The bodice is cut so it’s low, but it’s also tight, so her cleavage hardly moves, but it is thrown center stage with the movement.

“Thank you, love. They didn’t sadly, and I was so tired of bland dresses or pants that made me seem unapproachable. Lady de Fer helped me with the design. I adore it, it fits perfectly, and I feel like I float in it. I especially love the Antivan lace panels on my bodice. When it gets warmer that will make the days much more bearable.”

“Antivan lace you say? I must see it, do come here, Amatus. I must judge for myself if it is worth the fuss. I am rather partial to the Tevinter silk sewn lace myself.” His eyes are dancing as he leans back in his chair. The girl was good. To rope Vivienne into this? To dare tease a man so carefully controlled as Solas? Yes, his dear friend was bold as brass and terribly good at it.

Jayla rises from her seat without a word, eyes rolling as if Dorian did this to her all the time. Completely believable, he likely would if she wore clothes like this all the time. Clothes befitting her station, in his words. Her hips sway and her legs peak from between the skirts. It’s not a long walk, but it’s enough that eyes are once again on her. Bull makes no bones about the way he watches her. Sera has dribbled jam on her shirt. Blackwall looks very uncomfortable. Solas has a death grip on his goblet.

She’s never been so proud of herself. “Do you like the skirts? I did so love my dress for the Winter Palace ball. I had to be able to wear it again – all of my dresses feature it now.”

“Lovely, though you will be cold, nothing a simple warming rune can’t fix. Now, turn let me see the bodice from all sides.” Dorian twirls his finger and she laughingly obliges, lifting her arms and executing a slow turn.

Solas is beside himself. After that dream, she continues to taunt him, to draw him to her. She taunts him with her legs, with the skin that the lace shows. Her bodice makes him want to rip the eyes out of everyone who stares at her lasciviously. She is beautiful, a vision, and his. He should have never taken her, but he has, and she is his now. He opens his mouth to make a compliment, aware he has been silent far too long, when the Commander and Advisors sweep from the office.

“Oh, Good morning, Leliana, Josephine, Cass, Cullen. How are you?” Jayla turns a bright smile on the women and Commander. Cassandra’s face shows quiet appreciation, while Josephine smiles, a touch of a blush on her cheeks. Leliana approves, it shines in her eyes. Cullen, darling, dear Cullen, he turns dark red and shuffles his papers nervously.

“Good morning, your worship. You look divine. I see your shipment from Orlais arrived in one piece.” Leliana comes around the table, holding out a hand to the younger woman, which is given without pause. Leliana spins her, watches as the skirts flare and part, notes the flash of skin at her sides. “I do hope you had shoes to match fashioned. It is such an exquisite piece, as I am sure they all are, it would be a travesty if your slippers were simple.”

“I did, they aren’t unpacked yet. I was too eager to come to breakfast.” Jayla laughs, curtseying playfully when she comes to a stop.

“You – Maker’s breath – We do need to speak to you about Adamant, Inquisitor.” Cullen trips over his words, eyes resolutely on his papers. Jayla immediately goes over to him, going so far to lay her hand on his arm.

“Well then, let’s be off. I can sneak into the kitchens for a sweet roll later.” Nothing suggestive in her tone, though her voice and hand draw Cullen’s eyes to her. Several of the circle stifle laughter at the way his neck turns red. Without a word, he nods, turns offering the Inquisitor his arm, and leads her, and the other advisors toward the war room.

Solas feels like swearing. His eyes close slowly and he takes a deep breath. When they open, Varric’s eyes are trained on his face, sympathy and amusement etched at the corners of his eyes and mouth.

Fenhedis. Beautiful, so much gorgeous skin on display. So, soft, it felt so good to hold her, would she cry out if I – ““Kid!” Solas is eternally grateful to Varric in that moment.

****

His torment waltz into the Rotunda after super. She is, a vision in that dress, illuminated by the candle light. His mouth goes dry as he watches her approach the desk. She smiles so sweetly at him, her hands behind her back like she is hiding something. That she slides in front of him, leaning on his desk makes him sit back in his chair, peering up at her with an arched brow.

“Can I help you, Inquisitor?”

“Yes, I told you I’d gotten you a gift several days ago, I didn’t want to wait to give it to you.” She has pitched her voice low, so only he might hear her. It would do little to stem rumors if someone were to look over the balconies and see them so close.

“I thought we had agreed to wait until my gift for you arrived.” His head tilts, and he notices the way her eyes spark. It was too easy to fall into old habits with this woman. She undid him in the worst and best ways. He watches as her eyes slide from his, as her teeth dig into her lip and her shoulders shrug.

“I’ve always been terribly impatient when it comes to gift giving. Receiving – that I can be patient for. But I’d like to see your face, see if I got you something you will like, or if I need to try again.” This is too intimate. For all that they are in public, she is too close, her voice is too soft. He could so easily stretch up, grip her neck to drag her down a bit and kiss her until she yielded to him again. The Elvhen man clears his throat and puts on a bland smile for her, extending a hand to her, elbow resting on the chair’s arm.

“If you insist, Inquisitor.”

“Jayla,” she corrects him gently and pulls the book from behind her back. It is a small thing, the volume hardly worth being called that, but he recognizes it instantly. A replica of the original cover, a terrible translation, but that was a book of poetry. One that was quite old, and rather racy if he remembered correctly. His lips quirk into a smile as she places it in his hand.

“I know it likely isn’t nearly as old as the book seller said it would be, but, I thought you might like it, or could at least laugh if it’s horribly wrong.” Her hands retreat from the book, settle on the edge of the desk as she watches him.

“I know the cover, actually. I’ve seen it in the echo of an ages lost library. Though this is most certainly a reproduction, the poems will likely be very like the originals. Have you read them?”

The way he looks at her from under his lashes, a wolfish smile on her lips makes Jayla’s stomach flip, heat pooling in her belly from a single look. He was ridiculous in his ability to affect her. “I hadn’t. Are they particularly sweet, or perhaps wonderfully naughty?”

His little woman, she was his, a look and her eyes have dilated in interest. The book taps against his lips before he stands, crowding her against the desk further. The Inquisitor still wants him, he hasn’t yet chased her away. “Perhaps I could read them to you, we could learn together – Jayla.”

Gods save her. He might as well have his hand under her skirt right now. Her head tilts back to look at him properly now that he’s standing and got her pushed against his desk to maintain the illusion of propriety. It is a very thin illusion. She can smell the chocolate on his breath from dessert earlier. “I would like that. I did rather enjoy poetry when I was a girl. Perhaps I could rekindle the love of it.”

Ah, she’s whispering, it gives him reason to lean down closer to her. He internally crows when her breath catches as his face nears hers. He wants to chuckle when he veers to the side and she lets out a soft sigh. He doesn’t analyze to see if it is relief or disappointment. “Ma nuvenin, ma’da’alasnirelan. Dy ar ver ma tarasyl la'var son?” The words are rumbled into her ear, the affect perfect. He can see from the corner of his eye the way her eyes close and she takes a breath.

“Tonight, then? Whenever you’re done with your reports, of course.” Her voice is laden with desire, face turning towards his just a touch before she brings a hand up to trace along his ear watching it turn pink and feeling him shudder against her. “Sule min'nydha.”

It takes Jayla considerable effort to slide from between Solas and the desk. She had no idea what he said to her. She understood the pet name, that he said as you wish, the rest was a mystery. Cole could only help her so much, and her talks with spirits and wisps were limited lately. Taking a few steps away, she heads to the door that will lead her to the basement. The wine cellar is stocked, she needs something to take the edge off this sharp desire she’s feeling.

Her hand lights on the door when Solas is at her back, the book pressed to her side, the fingers of his left hand burning her other side. His mouth is at her ear, teeth grabbing the flesh for a moment. The gasp that fills the hallway is followed by a dark chuckle when he releases her ear, tongue flicking out along the shell. “Until tonight, Jayla.”

She needs vodka, fuck wine.

****

The Inquisitor is lounging on her bed when Solas creeps into her room. There is a flute in her hand, a pale pink liquid within it. She’d gone to the wine cellar then, likely to calm nerves or perhaps to simply have something decadent to enjoy. Solas is familiar with the vintage, sweet smooth, it was one of his favorite in this age. He climbs the steps and his spell falls. His shoulders roll and he sighs comfortable now.

“I didn’t think you would actually come.” The soft declaration comes as he strides past the chaise stationed at the stairwell bannister. He raises his brows at her silently, not pausing as he walks to her. His eyes are trained on her as she lifts the glass to her lips and sips at the beverage.

“I offered to read to you, did I not, Vhenan?” He can’t help the way he reacts to her. He hasn’t been able to since before the Winter Palace. The Dread Wolf had been running from a slip of a human woman. “If you would rather I not – “

“No, I want you here.” She sits up away from her pillows and turns to sit at the edge of the bed. A thought strikes him as he comes within a foot of her, stopping and looking at the beauty he’d had and would have again. If he has her here – he has her in his home that he gifted her, in the room he slept in, in ages past. An appropriate place to claim what is his.

“I’m rather glad of that. Shall we sit on the chaise, or in front of the fire?” Solas might want Jayla, but he would not be so crass as to invite himself onto her bed. She contemplates, eyes flitting from the bed under her, to the chaise, to the fire. Her teeth dig into her bottom lip and he wants nothing more than to descend on her then and kiss her. He doesn’t, because this will be her choice, if it kills him, it will be her choice.

“Just sit on the bed with me, Solas. It’s late as it is. I don’t want to crawl off the floor or from the couch.” And it would make it that much easier to turn companionable snuggling, should there be some, into kisses. Jayla has … the outline of a plan. “Would you like some wine? It’s very sweet, you might enjoy it.”

He sits next to her in an instant, all fluid grace and keen eyes. He doesn’t leave much room between them, a fact Jayla is very aware of. Sitting like this, her legs are exposed by the skirt, the heat of him, even though his leggings can be felt.

“I would, actually.” The possibilities on how he would like to drink that wine come to mind. From her mouth, to lick it from her body, perhaps to pour it into her core and drink of it and her at the same time. Jayla had sipped at the wine just moments before, he could – he does. Leaning forward, his lips press gently to hers, a ghost of a kiss compared to ones they have shared in the past. It lingers just for a few moments before he pulls away and licks at his lips, deep blue eyes trained on her dark and surprised ones.

“Yes, I would very much like some wine.”

Her face warms, the urge to touch her lips is strong, but the Inquisitor resists. Instead, she ups the ante. An innocent kiss was not all the man would leave here having given her. The glass comes to her lips, a small sip before she’s climbing onto the elder man’s lap, pressing her mouth to his. The book gets tossed onto the bed behind him, and the hand that has the wine flute wraps around his shoulders as Solas responds to her. His hands press against the lace panels of her bodice as his lips coax hers open and take the wine from her.

The groan that he lets out has Jayla squirming on his lap. Triumph fills her – Solas hadn’t simply tossed her aside. He wanted her still. Her advances were welcome. Her lips brush against his again, tongue darting between them for a moment, his chuckle and smile making her lips pull into a mirroring expression as she pulls away. “More?”

“I should think so, Vhenan’ara. I have tried to go without, and find I haven’t the will or desire to do so anymore.”  His eyes are on hers, sincere, open, she can see all his emotions right now. Desire, affection, regret? Perhaps for having waited so long to come back to her? She takes a mouth full of her wine and slots her mouth over Solas’.

Neither of them were going to think tonight. They were going to live and feel and be together. The wine makes a mess of the kiss, but neither particularly cares. They drink each other in, auras washing over one another, twisting together like their mouths do. Where she had been so eager and impatient the night of the ball, here she lingers. She memorizes his taste, the way their mouths fit together. Jayla commits to memory the way his eyes become heavy after several kisses, how it makes heat curl in her. The wine is forgotten, set aside clumsily as she refuses to part from her lover.

It makes him laugh, has him shifting back onto the bed and then tumbling back, bringing her to lay over him. She is more beautiful than any woman he has seen in his long years. Her hair, her skin, the curve of her lips, and even her round ears, all of it is beautiful – her soul is beautiful.

“Ar lath ma, Ma’Vhenan.” He murmurs it as he draws her down for yet another kiss, free hand splayed across her back. There is question in her eyes that is ignored. Her lips are more important, and he kisses her until she sighs into his mouth, relaxes against his body. This time, there was no rush. He could have her all night, without worry. He could have her the next as well. The thought thrills him, spurs him to press open mouth kisses along the curve of her neck and down her shoulder.

Solas’ arms wrap around Jayla’s middle, scooting her up his body. It makes her laugh, though the sound dies in her throat when his lips begin to trace the lines of her bodice. The dress had been the best idea, she decides as her lover nuzzles and kisses, sucking a bruise between her breasts. It makes her shake her head at him. She hadn’t thought he was possessive, but she had no problems with showing the world she was taken.

“Solas,” ah, and there is the prayer he has so missed. It makes him press his forehead to her chest before looking up at her. Eyes full of heat, lips pink from his kisses – a vision. “Vhenan.”

“I missed you.” So softly spoken, so careful, eyes fragile behind the heat. He sits up, taking her with him, keeping in a groan when she settles on the rise of his erection. “And I you, ma’vhenan. I should not have pulled away.”

The dark eyed beauty kisses him quickly, teeth nipping at his lip sharply. “See that you don’t this time.” Fragility still, there in her eyes. Solas strives to soothe it, to erase it from her soul.

“I will not.” It’s a promise as his hips roll up against her. The conversation was heavy, but the situation – this world. When would coupling not be made different by the gravity of what they faced together? Her little moan, the way her head tilts, baring her neck for him, it doesn’t matter how serious things are, this moment is for them.

They have the time now to explore, to taste and touch without some frantic need driving them, without the fear of being caught looming over them. Solas especially takes his time. He works off the distracting bodice of Jayla’s dress while learning if he bit at the hollow of her throat, it made her hips jerk against his. He remembers the way her body responded when her back was touched, and had her twisted on the bed below him so he could find each spot over again – this time with teeth and tongue. The ancient observes as his lady quivers and sighs her approval, head turned so she can catch glimpses of him while he explores.

They take turns, with Jayla chasing after him when he retreats. She takes his mouth gently, pulling the spirits forsaken shabby woolen tunic from him. It interrupts the kiss, but she doesn’t seem to mind, smiling lovingly at him her hands tracing along his shoulders, down his chest. His amulet is twisted in her hand used to guide him where she wants him. It has him chuckling, his hands dancing up and down her sides as she sucks a bruise high on his neck. Her lips and tongue bathe him in attention, paying more attention to areas when he grits his teeth or groans for her. He ends up with bite marks along his hips, and she torments him with teeth, tongue and fingers at his nipples.

When she relents, he gets her on her back again, sitting between her spread legs, hands admiring the smooth skin of them. Breathing heavily, Jayla watches Solas with lidded eyes. He is so intent on his self-appointed task. It’s an intensity she was only fleetingly acquainted with, and is quite pleased to see it again. Her teeth bite into her lip when he raises on of her legs to his shoulder. He kisses at her ankle, each side, trails kisses and fingers right to the point where her skirts part for her legs to show. She lifts in invitation but her lover straightens, a hand raking through is hair to get it out of his face. Something no one else will see, a thought that has her privately pleased.

He repeats the process, drawing her legs up, kissing her ankle, delicate important things to her, before descending. Her skin is ever so gently glowing as she warms with his touch. Her song of desire is building, sweet music that surrounds him. When he is again where her skirt meets her thigh, he eyes her from where he lays, continues to do so as he shifts forward, finding her through her skirts and smalls with little problem. The infuriating man presses kisses to her core like that, with two layers separating him from her warmth. His knuckles press just below where his mouth kisses and he smiles as her head falls back in frustration.

Solas,” her hips roll against his mouth, annoyed that she can barely feel what he’s doing. She’d rather be naked with his mouth on her. Or him named with her mouth – oh. “Solas come here,” her right hand reaches for him, and when he takes it she tugs him up to lie between her legs. The swell of his cock settles exactly where it should be and has them both groaning, his forehead resting against hers. He breaths for a moment, eyes closed, he was more keyed up now than he had been during their couplings in Halamshiral. It made no sense and all the sense all at once.

His eyes open when Jayla presses her lips against his cheek. She peppers his face in kisses, and he revels in her affection. But, she had pulled him away for a reason, had she not? He was curious. “Vhenan, why did you take me from my task?” He manages to catch her for a quick kiss, his free hand sliding between them, thumb brushing over her nipple.

“Ah – because I want to put my mouth on you. We could do it together.” She’s hoping Thedas knows what a sixty-nine is. Someone somewhere had to be adventurous. Her eyes watch his for reaction and she is relieved when his eyes brighten with wickedness.

“Vhenan’ara, the things you want – “he chuckles, leaning to kiss her neck before rolling off her to the middle of the bed. His hands pull at the lacings of his breeches, pausing to hurriedly undo his footwraps when he remembers them. Jayla rolls on her side, watches him in fascination. They hadn’t really gotten fully undressed last time. But it had been wonderful, the rush of him shoving his pants and small down just enough to get to her. Her smalls had been destroyed. Such flimsy things Orlesian smalls. The bands were too thin, too easy to snap. Not that Jayla had cared then. Nor did she care today – which was why she wore a pair today. She’d have worn a pair every day until Solas either told her to leave him be or tackled her to the ground to have her.

“Vhenan you are staring, and lost in your thoughts.” His voice draws her back to the present. A slow smile curves her lips and she presses her mouth against his shoulder in a silent apology before taking him in.

“Gods, you are gorgeous.” Her hand reaches out, traces down along his side, squeezes the muscle of his thigh. A brow is quirked at her in amusement and she moves herself between those rather lovely legs of his. She’d been all for having him pleasure her while she did the same for him. But, he’s rather tempting, and she’s never been good at self-control in these matters. His cock is – pretty to her. Resting against his belly heavily, proud and thick.

She licks him. A stripe right up the underside of his cock. The gasp is involuntary, but it garners a predatory smile from his little lover. Solas had thought this was to be a mutual effort, it seemed Jayla was reconsidering. He can’t complain as her mouth presses kisses up his length, his head falls back against the bed and he lets his lover do as she will.

Yeah, she was so taking advantage of this. He wasn’t pulling her away and he’s got her mouth already watering. Sucking cock wasn’t a think Jayla advertised loving, but right now? She’s gonna make sure Solas has fun. Her hand wraps around him, slowly stroking him as she scoots closer, wrapping her lips around his head and watching as his hands close into fists. His breathing is controlled, calm, and that’s a shame.

Her tongue swirls around his head once, before flicking at the backside of it. Just to see if it garners a reaction past a twitch of his hips or a slow breath. Her hand slides up his length to meet her mouth, and she slides down a bit. Just a little, he wasn’t wet enough for an easy slide, something the eager girl is rectifying. Her tongue laps at him as her mouth pulls back, and then she’s sliding down, a little farther each time. It’s a steady rhythm, and it pays off when she can slide almost to the base of his cock without caught up in the whole dry lips vs skin scenario. Now, she can get into it, just let go of everything else and enjoy the slide of him in her mouth, the weight of him in her hand and on her tongue. She varies her speed when Solas gets squirmy or twitches, when his breathing hitches – like when she twists her hand as she comes up off him. That gets her to drop almost immediately back down as far as she can go.

Void. That mouth was going to be the end of him. He hadn’t expected this kind of treatment, he’d barely imagined her going at him so enthusiastically. His hands itch to bury in her hair, instead they are thrown across his face. Jayla might like her hair gently pulled when they were in the middle of coupling so he could get at her neck, but he wasn’t going to attempt to find out if she liked it with his cock in her mouth. So, he just lets the sensations wash over him. He not exactly silently enjoys the heat of her mouth, the slide of her hand, the gentle rasp of her tongue on his skin. However, it can’t go on forever, and soon he is reaching for her, the dread wolf’s voice ragged as he does. “Jayla, I won’t spend in your mouth tonight. Another night if you want, but not tonight, ma’lath”

She lets him go with an obscene slurp, absently wiping her mouth as he pulls her up. Shockingly, Solas kisses her bruising when she’s level with his face. It’s fantastic. She loves it, moaning her enjoyment of it into his mouth. Something that just spurs him on, has him delving into her mouth in a pantomime of what they will be doing in the ever-nearing future. He doesn’t break the kiss until Jayla is straining against him, leaving her breathing hard and glassy eyed.

Vague Elvhen registers before Jayla is unceremoniously hauled up to kneel on the pillows over Solas’ head. Her skirts cover him, something she doubts will be comfortable later, but he no sooner gets her situated properly and his tongue laps at her through her panties. It makes her jolt, the dark-haired elf between her legs chucking before his hands curl around her thighs and pull her back down. He licks at her a while, until the most powerful woman in Thedas whines his name plaintively. It’s a beautiful sound. The smalls are familiar, slim fingers curl into the waist band and give an experimental tug. The sound of seams ripping is heard, and with another sharp pull the are tossed from under the green skirts.

Jayla expects Solas to sort of dive right in. Instead he kisses her thighs, runs a finger a long her seam and follows with his tongue. Just a light caress, nothing that will make her overload in a few seconds of attention. It has her relaxing, happy to wait for him to do this. In comparison to her past lovers on earth Solas is already doing better than they did. He laps at her, parts her ever so carefully and eases her into things. He doesn’t shove his fingers into her yet, in fact he just toys with her entrance, light pressure that glides across her. That’s – the feeling is really working for her. Better as he doesn’t just attack her clit either. He playfully noses at it, licks around it, gently kisses at it before his tongue slowly flicks over the bundle of nerves. A soft cry rends the quiet of the room and her lover continues in such a fashion. Gentle, easy until her hips start to move. He can’t see her face like this, so he relies entirely on body queues. When her hips rock, Solas eases a finger into her channel, cursing rather fluently about how wet she is before pressing his tongue to her more firmly.

Even working slowly, being as thorough as he can with her, it doesn’t take long for Jayla’s hips to ride his fingers and tongue. The experience is a heady one, to know he can take her apart like this. To know he still knew how to perform the act properly was rather ego boosting. His fingers and mouth work at her relentlessly. He wanted her loose and boneless when he got her under him. He wanted her to feel no pain at any point during this coupling.

The Inquisitor is falling to pieces over Solas slowly. The man is nothing if not dedicated. Her hands grip at the headboard when he eases into her. She bites her lip near to bleeding when a second joins it and his tongue speeds up with more pressure.  Jayla is reduced to panting and moaning faster than she ever had been in the past, and feels no shame in pushing her hips, her pussy down to meet Solas’ fingers and tongue. His name becomes a panted mantra as she moves with him, it’s then he presses just a touch of storm magic along his fingers and into her.

“Holy fucking shit. Solas, do it again.” The breathless exclamation has him laughing against her lips but obliging. It takes three more bursts of the magic before her channel squeezes tightly around his fingers and his lovely Inquisitor screams for him. The first accomplishment of the night, a smug grin twists his lips as he eases her back down, slowly removing his fingers from her, licking at her clit one last time before she shifts off him and to the side.

Jayla collapses against her pillows. Her breath comes like she’s run a marathon, or a great bear decided to chase her through the Hinterlands. Solas had been doing a damn good job of getting her off before the magic. With the magic? Shit. She’ll take that over a vibrator any day of the week. She’s blissed out enough that she doesn’t realizes her skirt has been removed. It’s not until his hands wrap around her hips that she blinks lazily down at him, the man kissing up her stomach, hand raking through his locs again to see her. Her smile is lethargic, little shivers shooting through her as he works his way to her neck.

“Are you ready to continue Vhenan?” He’s so goddamn polite now. Where was her brash lover from the Winter Palace? Her voice is soft as she laughs and rolls her hips up against his. His cock presses against her clit and the moan she lets out has him grinding down against her.

“Does that answer your question?”

The elder rolls his eyes at her, playfully though it happens all the same. It takes seconds to have his length positioned to slide into her, and he asks once more, “Vhenan?” A frustrated growl is his answer, her hips tilting up while she bites at his lip. “Fuck me, Solas.”

Certain now, he presses into her, a low sound falling from his lips as he slides into her grasping heat. Her hands grasp at him. One at his back the other at his arm as she gasps. It was the same as the first time, the initial stretch taking them by surprise. He stays still for just a breath before pulling back half way and rocking into her. It takes them only a few thrusts to find their rhythm, the paces that has them both moaning and gasping.

They’ll scandalize her guards at this rate, the ones at the base of the tower. The stone echoes, and Jayla isn’t a quiet lover when it comes to this particular part of sex. Nor is Solas. He praises her, murmurs to her in Elvhen, yelps her name when she twists her hips just so. They race together, toward a rather spectacular finish. Her nails dig into her skin, one of his hands grips at her hip so hard it will leave a hand shaped bruise.

“More,” the request is answered with the hand her nails dig into shifting, hand catching her leg, pulling it up into his arm, position shifting so she’s bent and he looms over her. He basks in her cries, the way her nails drag over his back. Leaning down he bites at her shoulder, Jayla howls, tightening around him reflexively. The action has his movements stuttering before redoubling, hand on her hip releasing her to sit between her hip. The storm magic comes again, little pulses that make her wail and writhe under him. It’s beautiful, delightful, and is drawing him ever closer to climax. He’d see her go over first.

“Vhenan, my beautiful girl, come for me, squeeze your body around me so I might spend in your grasping warmth.” Years ago, Solas had been far more comfortable whispering things of this nature. Now he feels out of practice, but the blush on his dark lover’s face says otherwise. He keeps talking to her, pulsing the magic and attempting to keep rhythm. His words switch between elvhen and common, asking her if she will let him have her again, and again, until neither of them have the strength to leave the bed. He tells her how wonderful her cunt feels around is cock. It goes on, and on, until Jayla’s back bows off the bed, her orgasm announced with a wordless cry.

From there Solas chases his end. Five strokes, ten, and bliss washes over him. His hips twitch against his love’s, his face pressed against her throat. They breath heavily for a time, before the dark beauty that is his lover, leader, Queen of his heart, pushes at him. The withdrawal has them both twitching. In seconds Jayla has the sheets pulled back and she tugs Solas against her. She curls into his arms, sighing contently.

“Stay?”

“Always, Vhenan.” And he will, for her. Until her duty was done, and then he was taking her with him. Wolves didn’t hunt well alone, after all.