A/N: Some deviation from canon. I really really really wished reconciliation was an option in-game although it's definitely not so easy nor clear-cut to do so...
After I had taken some time to absorb my new knowledge and suspicions, we proceeded. I didn't tell any of them, not least because my palm was hurting, and talk made it difficult to control the spasms, but because I simply didn't know how they'll react, especially if my guess was anywhere near the mark.
It dawned on me then, that I had fallen in love with an elven god, and Fen'Harel, of all the Evanuris. I wanted to laugh at the sheer absurdity of it all, the Dalish girl who ascended a shem throne and who captured the heart of an immortal being. But it was also startlingly, frighteningly real, I reflected, as we made our way across the courtyard and to the great doors of the qunari fortress.
And so we burst into a chamber to find the Viddasala, and through the balcony, the sight of a dragon. Dragon's breath. It suddenly made sense.
"Inquisition! Nehraa Ataashi-asaara meravas adim kata!" The Viddasala fled, again.
I heard a sound then, the sound of boots scraping against the hard cobbled floor. The footfalls heavy, solemn, determined, familiar. I didn't want to look, I didn't want to know, so I stared ahead through the balcony at the struggling dragon.
The dragon's cry echoed through the air as the qunari spoke.
"Good call leaving me behind. The Viddasala asked me to lend a hand, though. Nothing personal...bas."
Iron Bull unsheathed his sword, and it glinted ominously in the dim light in the room.
My stomach lurched and I felt sick. Briefly I closed my eyes and prepared my magic. I had little choice in this matter.
"Dorian," I began, but my voice failed me. The look in his eyes said all he needed to know about his former lover, and that he knew all that we needed to do.
It was Cassandra who struck first, who brandished her sword and slashed furiously at her former comrade, now turned traitor. Steel rang against steel.
"Ir abelas, Bull." I whispered, and I released the mana within me.
"Panahedan, Inquisitor. If it is any consolation, Solas will not outlive you."
I hated how the Viddasala taunted me, hated how she had turned Bull against me, and how she was now chasing down Solas. A part of me wanted to laugh, as I wondered what a mere qunari could do to an elven god, to Solas of all people. But when she taunted me, said that Solas – an agent of Fen'Harel – was ahead, I got angry.
I didn't miss the frowns on my friend's faces when I told them that we had to find Solas before her – that he was in danger. That was a lie, but I didn't care; but what shocked me more was the obvious disapproval that radiated from all of them, including Dorian. He of all people, should have understood my love and feelings towards Solas. None of them could understand how I felt, how Solas made me feel.
I was angry, and I channeled my anger to my magic, used it to power my fire and blade. I followed the Viddasala blindly, burning with my magic, and slashing with my ephemeral blade as we fought our way through the qunari to reach Solas before she did.
The large saarebas was dead, the pride demon he summoned gone, and we stood before a final eluvian. I sheathed my spirit blade and tightened my grip on my staff as I clenched my left fist to control the pain I knew was coming.
I stumbled as the pain hit me, and staggered back slightly. I drew in a deep breath, and nodded at my companions, and they followed me as I took a step through the glimmering eluvian, and to my destiny.
I blinked as I reappeared on the other side; I looked back, but none of my companions appeared. Maybe Solas intended it to be, if my suspicions were correct.
My boots scrunched against dirt, and I staggered back in shock as I came face to face with a qunari, petrified in stone. I collected myself, and pressed forward.
Each step was resolute, each step a hardened resolve. Come what may, I knew what I wanted to do. I hardened my heart and self. I would not show weakness. I could not.
Slowly, painfully slowly, I weaved my way through the stone statues. Time seemed to still, and my senses were hyper-alert. Each breeze against bare skin was cool and crisp, the scent of fresh leaves strong in the air, and my skin tingled.
I looked up the flight of stone steps that seemed endless, to see two figures standing there. My heart pounded even as the anchor flared. I grit my teeth, clenched my damned fist, and made my way up.
There was a sharp cry, cut off quickly, and as I ran up the last few steps I noticed that the qunari – the Viddasala – was now stone, and Solas was walking away slowly.
Solas, Solas, Solas. His name was balm to my wounds, and the sight of him, salvation. And standing there, looking at him, watching him turn to face me... I could hardly breathe. His eyes, steel grey with a tinge of blue, locked mine. He was outfitted in something similar to what Abelas wore back at the Temple of Mythal, except that he had a wolf pelt over it. Obviously, for the clues were there all along. I had only to look carefully.
"Solas." I began, and all words left me. Vhenan, my heart, my love, my beloved. "You are Fen'Harel." The word suddenly felt strange on my tongue, foreign, even though I had invoked his name in many curses, and sometimes when fighting alongside him. Ironically.
Solas – Fen'Harel – smiled, and I felt my stomach churn. This wasn't how I planned reconciliation to be, and if what I suspected was correct, he was not going to –
"Well done." He nodded slightly, and my cheeks burned as my heart raced. "The truth is much simpler, and much worse, than the qunari believe. It is my orb. I was Solas first. Fen'Harel came later... An insult I took as a badge of pride. The Dread Wolf inspired hope in my friends and fear in my enemies… Not unlike Inquisitor, I suppose."
Solas. Fen'Harel. Solas. Fen'Harel. Elven god.
"And now you know. What is the old Dalish curse? 'May the Dread Wolf take you?'" His voice was soft, almost sad.
"And so he did." I shook my head slowly, and a bemused, soft smile crossed my face.
"I did not. I would not lay with you under false pretenses."
Thoughts, unbidden, of skin against skin flew through my mind. Fleeting memories of the times we laid under the stars, bare skin against bare skin as we snuggled under and above his wolf fur. Of how he had refused me until he could take it no more, that first time we made love in a tent in Crestwood, several days after we had tried to rescue his spirit friend. And of course, Crestwood dredged up other memories. Of how he had broken up with me just several months later, after a brief passionate, but gentle, courtship.
"But you lied to me. I loved you. Did you really think I wouldn't have understood?"
"Ir abelas, vhenan." Vhenan, vhenan, vhenan. He called me vhenan. His beloved, his one and only.
"Tel'abelas. If you care, give me the truth."
And he began. He told me of how the elven gods were Evanuris, powerful but mortal. Of how they came to be revered. And of how they had betrayed Mythal and killed her, their voice of reason, in their lust for power.
I listened, enraptured, as he told of how he created the Veil to banish them, as justice for her death, for a lifetime of imprisonment was the only appropriate punishment.
"Your legends are half right. We were immortal. It was not the arrival of humans that caused us to begin ageing."
He looked out upon the elven ruins, and I wanted nothing more than to reach out to him then and tell him it was okay, that everything would be alright; but I knew it wouldn't.
"It was me. The Veil took everything from the elves, even themselves."
Silence hung between us, and I looked about the ruins. The place was beautiful. The burden of guilt must have lain heavy on him for so many millennia. I couldn't – no, I didn't have the right to – pretend that I even understood how he felt, like the weight of the world was on his shoulders.
"That's the past. What about the future?"
"I lay in dark and dreaming sleep while countless wars and ages past. I woke still weak a year before I joined you. My people fell for what I did to strike the Evanuris down, but still some hope remains for restoration. I will save the elven people, even if it means this world must die."
"Let me help you, Solas." I said quickly. Come what may.
"I cannot do that to you, vhenan." He looked down and shook his head sadly. Vhenan, vhenan, vhenan. Beloved, one and only.
"But you would do it to yourself? I cannot bear to think of you alone."
"I walk the Din'Anshiral. There is only death on this journey. I would not have you see what I become."
"Please, Solas. What about us?"
"Whatever happens, I want you to know that what we had was real."
"Let me help, please."
Solas shook his head sadly. But the waves of pain rippling up my arm, and quickly increasing in intensity, brought me back to a more pressing issue.
"There's still the matter of the anchor. It's getting worse." I gritted my teeth.
"I know, vhenan. And we are running out of time. The mark will eventually kill you. Drawing you here gave me the chance to save you...at least for now."
I cried out and fell to the ground, clutching my left hand tightly and pressing it to my body to ease the pain.
"Solas, var lath vir suledin." Please, Solas. Our love will see us through.
"I wish it could, vhenan."
Another ripple of pain, and I screamed.
"My love..." He knelt before me then, a look of hurt contorted on his face, and I felt my heart break. The pain within me was far greater than that searing through my hand, and I barely managed to repeat myself through the pain.
"Please, don't go."
He was so near, so close, but yet so far. So unattainable. I breathed, and looked into his eyes. He was as confused as I.
And then slowly, imperceptibly slowly, he tilted his face slightly, and I closed my eyes for what was to come. His lips met mine, a soft and gentle kiss, a stark contrast to the passionate ones we shared in the past. It was tender, as if the hurt and pain over the past two years had distilled itself to a singular point, ready to burst any moment. He held my left hand gently in his, and the green glow intensified although I could feel no pain; his other hand cupped my cheek.
I hovered on a precipice, tension taut like a string as I struggled to maintain control over myself and my thoughts. I shivered as I realised Solas was really kissing me. It wasn't a dream anymore. It was real. He was real. This was real. He was leaving without me, and I couldn't allow it. He pulled apart and stood up. The kiss, bittersweet on my lips, would be the last.
"I will never forget you." The look on his face was heartbreaking.
"No! Solas, please, don't! I need you, please." I stumbled up and grabbed his arm with my right. The mark on my hand glowed although I felt nothing. He didn't let go, although he had his back turned to me.
"I cannot let you follow me."
"Please. I'll do anything. Let me help you."
"All the more, no, vhenan. I cannot let you sacrifice everything that you've worked for, everything that you've done, for the sake of a mere man. Especially a man like me."
"You're not a mere man," and the tears ran freely down my cheeks. I barely felt the pain in my hand now. "You're my beloved. My one and only. My vhenan. Please." My hand was numb, and I wished it was my heart that was numb, instead.
"I have spent two years waiting for you, looking for you. And all I get is one kiss and a goodbye? Is that how you do things, Fen'Harel?"
He didn't answer, but his anguish was evident. He walked into the eluvian, and, fate be damned, I followed him.
I appeared in a place, bright with light. More ruins.
"Vhenan, do not follow me!" Solas was running ahead of me, away from me now.
"Solas, please!" I picked up my pace and chased after him, careful to avoid tripping. I was exhausted from the ordeals of the day, both physically and mentally, but I found strength in me to chase after him. This could be, after all, my last ever chance.
I didn't care that he wanted to destroy the world, I didn't care that he may likely release the elven gods that he claimed as evil and that went against all the teachings we had ever known of elven lore. I didn't care that he was the one who damned our people to a lifetime without immortality, for it was he who was our salvation in the first place, he who had created the Veil to protect us from the Evanuris.
The only thing I cared about was that he was Solas. My vhenan, my beloved, my one and only love. Two souls as one, that's what I thought we were and still could be. I would think about convincing him otherwise of his plan later. One step at a time.
"Please don't leave me behind." My voice was desperate even to my own ears, as I ran hunting for my wolf. I worried for a moment whether he had tired of me over the past two years, and that he was serious about me not following him, simply because he had fallen out of love with me already. My heart told my traitor mind no, and I pressed on.
"I'm sorry, vhenan!"
"Augh!" I cried out as I clutched at my stupid hand. It hurt again, and I watched, transfixed, as Solas stopped – and turned around. A flicker of hesitation crossed his features. Almost inexplicably, another cry issued from my lips as I doubled down in pain, clutching my useless arm.
And then he was by my side. "It still hurts?"
"I don't know." I managed out. I felt faint as pain rippled up my arm and through me. "I thought the anchor was removed."
"It was." He held my hand carefully in his, his fingers wrapped around my bare palm. "But...the anchor has taken a toll on your hand, these few years. I am sorry, my love." His eyes were sincere, and I watched him carefully.
My hand was too far gone. It dawned upon me then as clearly as day.
"I can't feel my hand."
"I can't. I can't feel it anymore!" I screamed as I clutched it and raised it above me. There was no sensation – nothing. I stared at my hand in horror, and colour drained from my face as I realised that my hand was limp and weak, barely able to support itself.
"The nerves, gone. No sensation." Even as I said the words I knew what I had to do. As a useless limb it could only do more harm than good, a hindrance in battle, a potential weakness for enemies to exploit.
"Solas, my heart, help me."
"I cannot do what you ask of me." His eyes widened.
"Then I will do it myself." I wriggled my hidden dagger from its sheath at my belt and positioned it comfortably in my right hand, testing its weight. Solas stared at me as I held the dagger like a knife over my left forearm.
"No." He said finally. "I'll help you. Make it painless."
He knelt before me again, and I pressed against him, wrapping my other arm about him and wanting to feel him against me. I didn't have that chance just now, and I wasn't about to let the opportunity slip me by, especially if Solas was insistent that I could not accompany him. I would take every moment I could with him. He held me close, strong arms about me, and I could almost taste his magic, his aura. Evanuris. Hot tears sprang to my eyes as I realised rather belatedly, again, that I had fallen in love with a god – and that a god had fallen in love with me. I could hardly believe it.
"I just need you to say the word." He said softly, gently.
And then – nothing. I felt nothing at my left forearm, and for a moment I worried that his spell hadn't worked. But then I looked down at my left arm and saw – nothing. I was left with a small stump below my left elbow where I knew my arm to be, and there was scarcely a scratch. The skin was pink, as if healed, and there was no trace of blood, nor of a removed arm, and I was thankful for that.
"Thank you, my heart." I snuggled close to him as a tear escaped my eye. My mind was made up, my resolved strengthened. Come what may, whether he would accept or not, I would follow Solas to the ends of the world.
I returned to the rest later. For a while. I was afraid he would leave while I was gone, although part of me knew he wouldn't. I was in too deep.
My left forearm was gone, and although I could still cast and channel, I worried whether it would hamper me in any way. The pain the anchor brought was also quite literally far removed, no thanks to my beloved. I could scarcely believe it, scarcely believe the choice I was making and had already committed in mind, consequences be damned.
I paused before the eluvian, took a deep breath, and walked through.
"Inquisitior!" Thom was at my side immediately. They had evidently been waiting around the eluvian for me to reappear.
"How long was I gone?"
"Not long. But long enough that we were starting to get concerned."
I could have sworn I had spent hours talking with Solas, trying to persuade him otherwise of his plan, but ultimately deciding to accompany him, whatever his decision. Part of me told myself that I was insistent on following him just so I could convince him not to destroy the world, but deep down I knew that it was simply because I couldn't be without him.
"Are you alright?" Cassandra held onto me gently as I stumbled.
"Her hand." Dorian muttered, and Cassandra drew back immediately.
"It's...gone." Her face turned pale. "Where is Solas? Did you find him? Did he do this?"
"Solas..." Oh, vhenan. Solas, Solas, Solas. "Removed the anchor. But my hand was too far gone, so I removed it. It would be a hindrance, otherwise."
"What happened? The qunari? We need to know." Cassandra said quickly.
In as little words as I could, for I had begun rehearsing my lines the moment my mind was made up, I explained, lies covered with white lies covered with a thin veneer of truth. I didn't know whether they bought it, but frankly, I didn't care.
My only thoughts were of reuniting with my beloved when the Exalted Council was settled. I led the party back quickly, careful to avoid any telling shows or revealing information about the decision I had made for myself. They couldn't – mustn't – see the cards I had in my hand and were about to play. It pained me, that I had to lie and deceive and trick, but nobody said I was a selfless person to begin with.
Was it necessarily wrong to take certain actions in the name of love? Was it wrong to want to stand by your lover's side, no matter what? What is good and evil? Still, I had no doubt that my friends would hate me after all this was over. That didn't make what I was about to do any easier.
I paused in front of the door and held on more firmly to the tome with my good hand. It was a deep shade of red, embossed with a silver symbol that was radiant amidst the candle light. A familiar tome, drawn out when the Inquisition was reformed three years ago, and now, when it was to be disbanded.
I could hear the shouting from within the room as I hurried down the hallway.
"The Inquisition did not cause this threat. We informed the summit of the danger –"
I flung the doors open.
"The danger posed by qunari spies inside your organisation!" Stupid, stupid Teagan.
"Without our organisation, you would not be alive to complain."
"No one has forgotten what you have done. But Corypheus is two years dead. If the Inquisition is to continue, it must do so as a legitimate organisation, and not a glorified mercenary band." Teagan sighed and thumbed his temples. I looked around expectantly, and soon the room was filled with an audible hush.
"You all know what this is. A writ from Divine Justinia authorising the formation of the Inquisition." I held up the tome for all to see. "We pledged to close the breach, find those responsible, and restore order. With or without anyone's approval."
There was some murmuring in the crowd, and I continued. "We have fulfilled that pledge. And now the war is over, for most of us. It is time for our soldiers to sheathe their swords and go home. To all who served: thank you. It has been an honour." I looked upon the room one last time and gave a slight nod; evidently everybody had been stunned speechless, for nobody said a word.
I walked out of the door then and to my destiny. Part of me felt terrible, horrible at my betrayal. Some were obviously relieved to see us disband, although deep down I was acutely aware of my ulterior motive in doing so. Our efforts against Solas would be weaker, but more secure and less prone to corruption, they said.
We gathered later, for one last time, at the large balcony once more. I watched as my friends said their goodbyes, watched as Varric handed Cassandra one of those books she loved so much. Vivienne left our little gathering first, and then Sera.
Soon there were none left, and I stood alone at the balustrades watching out upon the world. My left hand itched, and I reached out to scratch it, only to reach at thin air. I had forgotten it was gone, but it tingled slightly, like a phantom limb.
I left that night, making certain that nobody was following me.
I was aware that convincing Solas to abandon his plan may be an impossibility, but if redemption wasn't possible, then at least reconciliation could remain an option. Solas was adamant that I not follow him, but yet I knew him well enough that he wouldn't willingly endanger me. I had set out on this path already, and it was too late to turn back.
For I was a traitor, harellan. Not Solas, not Fen'Harel, but me. Even if the world were to burn, I would remain by his side and watch it go up in flames. For there was nothing I wouldn't do for him. Come what may.