The mages were finally free. The looming shadow of the imperium was gone and the allyship with the Inquisition was the buzz around Haven. The advisors argued whether this was a good or bad idea. Citizens of Haven chatted amongst themselves and Rubeus, the Chantry proclaimed "Herald of Andraste" could not turn a corner without hearing someone gossip. The organization that had gathered beneath him reaked of religious leaning that opposed the warrior's Dalish sensibilities and upbringing. He stood out like a sore thumb. His waves of ruby red hair, brushed over to the left exposing a shaved down side and undercut. His piercing orange eyes and the faded blue marking that spread out like tree branches tattooed on his cheek bones. A sign to others that he proved himself capable among his clan. He felt out of place around all the sisters and Templar. The gossip and whisper were unbearable so he decided his time was better spent helping refugees in the Hinterlands.
After a long day of closing rifts and fighting off bandits Rubeus and his party set up camp to rest for the night. Vivienne took a tent to herself, leaving Dorian, Rubeus and Solas to share the other one. The warrior tossed and turned in his bedroll. He could not get used to the sensation in his hand despite what he told the others. He grew restless. Unable to lay there trying to sleep any longer, the elf got up. Wearing nothing more than a pair of brown slacks he left the tent. The crisp night air felt cold on his sun-kissed skin so he sat next to the fire. The soft orange and glow of the flames illuminated his stern face with warmth and highlighted his toned chest. He heaved a heavy sigh and looked up at the green wound in the sky. He pushed his hair out of his face, trying to get a better look. The eerie glow of the breach lit up the sky like a lantern and made the stars impossible to see. Rubeus held his left hand outstretched with his palm facing him and compared the breach to the mark. Millions of questions and curiosities filled his head.
The light crackled in his hand startling an insect that had perched near the fire, It flew around the camp and towards a clump of fluff. A shadow on the hill just outside the firelight. It was Solas, his arms tucked under his head as he laid out under the stars. Sleeping with a peaceful face even as a moth landed on his head. The insect calmly cleaned its face as Solas' steady breath ruffled its wings before taking off again. His nose twitched, and suddenly he sneezed, awakening him with a jolt. Curious about the sound, Rubeus got up from the fireside. Cautiously he walked towards the commotion.
"Excuse me…" Solas murmured with lidded eyes as he scratched his nose. The rustle of leaves behind him made him sit up to spin around and look at who was there. Solas was mostly nude, except for the peek of his emerald trouser covered by the fur blanket.
"Rubeus, is everything alright?" Solas asked with a yawn, covering his eyes with his hand as he tried to focus his vision. The blinding green light in his palm concerned him once he realized what it was.
"I'm fine, just can't sleep." Rubeus shrugged, "I didn't mean to worry you." He turned to head back to the fire but the mark on his hand gave off a small spark and crackled. The warrior winced, and tried to hide his discomfort.
"Is it bothering you?" Solas asked and patted the ground next to him. Rubeus hesitated before nodding his head and joining Solas. The redhead brought his knees to his chest and rested his chin on them.
"I hate that I know nothing about this...thing." he lamented, examining the mark again. His face twisted into a look of sombre contemplation.
"Ancient magic stumps us all, what I have found out about it is, yet a fraction of what it's capable of," Solas said and reached out to put his hand on his. "May I?" He asked gently.
Rubeus gingerly gave Solas his hand to inspect. His eyes flitted upwards, examining the other man and how the green glow highlighted the curves and angles of his form. Without the knitted layers, the worldly elf looked a lot more slender. Rubeus's gaze traced over Solas's figure as he continued to survey the other man. Solas's eye downcast on the mark as he traced the lines of his palm around it. Warmth tickled his fingers followed by uncomfortable pins and needles along the nerves. Rubeus bit the inside of his cheek trying not to show the irritation he felt.
"It's stable, for now. Though I sense with the breach, it's feeding on it. The closer we are to a rift I can imagine it gets worse, yes?" Solas asked logically and looked up to notice Rubeus was staring at him intently. Rubeus realized that he had been caught. He turned his gaze back to the mark.
"It feels better since we closed the rifts in the region," Rubeus admitted.
"Um.. perhaps this will calm it, so you can sleep," Solas said as his spell completed and the numb feeling subsided. The mage should have put his hand down but held on longer than what was friendly. The warrior's eye lit up.
"Thank you," he muttered with a small but warm smile on his lips.
"I'm glad you chose to help the mages. The venatori would have done terrible things to them if they were to fall into their control, but when you disappeared. I…" Solas cut himself off with a sigh. He only let go to pull the blanket up higher on his body. Rubeus flopped onto his back in the grass and crossed his arms over his chest.
"You…what?" Rubeus pressed.
"I wanted to ask what you saw." Solas finally said after a long pause. His attention diverted to the stars.
"A lot of things…. The breach had swallowed everything." Rubeus explained, "I… I also saw you… in the future I mean." He sat up and turned to face Solas.
"I was relieved at first, but then I realized you weren't yourself." He sounded apprehensive.
"I don't think I want to hear much more about that." Solas breathed nervously. Shifting uncomfortably as he processed the information.
"Not that I know you that well to begin with." Rubeus gave a shy chuckle, "I wouldn't mind remedying that."
Solas let out a chuckle as well, the dimples of his cheeks giving away a smile lit by the firelight. He paused in silence once again, before laying down next to Rubeus.
"What would you know of me?" He asked as he perched on his hand to stare down, intently searching Rubeus's eyes.
"How long have you been travelling?" Rubeus asked, "and what is your favourite ancient ruin you've seen?" His bright orange eyes flickered with curiosity and he waited attentively for the answer.
"My entire life, I've settled down in a few places for a while but I think my favourite was this hostile tropical island I found. I wasn't there long, due to the borders being so close to Tevinter. I would go back as long as the giant snake had moved out." Solas chuckled. "I found a ruined old bath house there, it still smells of patchouli oil." Solas took a deep breath as if he could smell it now. Rubeus laid back down as he listened.
"That sounds amazing if not a little dangerous," he mused.
"I have some questions for you myself if you would indulge me," Solas asked, Rubeus smiled at him. His fiery red hair cascading around his head like a sunburst crown. Solas could not help but steal a touch as he ribboned some hair through his fingers. Rubeus did not appear phased by this. Something about Solas's touch felt familiar and made him feel more relaxed.
"Of course. Ask me anything," he offered.
"Do you have a family?" Solas asked curiously. "Back with the clan you're from, is there anyone waiting for you?" Solas asked curiously.
"My mum and my little sister," Rubeus replied.
"I hope they are safe," Solas said with concern, though he seemed relieved.
"Me too, I managed to send them a letter after I woke up." Rubeus elaborated, "My little sister is a mage and..." he trailed off.
"Ah, so your family has a stronger magical lineage than others. Is she any good?" Solas asked, staring at the hair wrapped around his finger.
"She still needs a lot of training and practice," Rubeus sighed. Solas was intimately close and Rubeus felt bold.
"I get the feeling there is more to that question than just learning about my family," Rubeus said with a coy smirk. Solas let go of his hair and visibly blushed. His reaction was unexpected, Rubeus looked sad that Solas let go but the mage's rosy cheeks were endearing and he was caught staring again.
"I thought I could ask you anything." Solas laid on his back so he was no longer facing the warrior. However, he shifted so they could lock eyes once again.
"You can, but I am allowed to draw my conclusions by what you've asked," Rubeus teased. "Is my assumption correct?"
"Perhaps…" Solas was nervous under his gaze. "I wanted to know if there was someone… special." Solas was struggling to get the words out, and avoiding eye contact all the while. Rubeus shook his head.
"No, there is not." His right eyebrow quirked up, quizzically trying to read Solas's reaction.
"You seem like the solitary type, I was just curious." Solas was deflecting and prying for some information.
"I am." Rubeus confirmed, "the work I did before the conclave is dangerous. It's better to work alone than have someone get hurt."
"Ah, yes you mentioned your work with the Emerald Knights. I'll be honest I don't know everything about them. Though I guess it's a lonely lifestyle." Solas scratched his cheek, feeling the heat of his face despite the cool night breeze.
"Don't misunderstand, I have had boyfriends in the past. Being a lone wolf does not equate to detachment," Rubeus clarified. He spoke nonchalantly about his preference towards men all the while nervously watching Solas. His body tensed ready to move at the first sign of distaste.
"I see." Solas's eyes fluttered, and he cleared his throat of the lump that had suddenly tried to choke him. He did not move away. Actually, he shifted closer. Finally able to look Rubeus in the eye after a few steady breaths. Rubeus relaxed again but still looked pensive.
"I can relate. I have had a few different partners in the past. Though, I've never had a boyfriend." Solas admitted. "Being an apostate on the run does not make a very stable environment to develop a relationship. Now with the threat of the breach and this, what did you say his name was? The elder one?
"I was never given a name. Just 'the elder one'," Rubeus said in a mock Tevinter accent. "Alexius made him sound like some sort of god…" He rolled his eyes and huffed.
"Many mortals parade themselves as gods, The empress is a fine example of that too. Power has a way to wholly corrupt those who possess it." Solas mused as his gaze shifted to Rubeus's chest. That's when the warrior rolled onto his side, facing him directly. Solas quickly corrected his gaze back to his face.
"I hope that once the breach is closed, mages can have a chance to settle and create lives for themselves," Rubeus stated.
"That is a noble goal, one I would fully support as well," Solas said and turned on his side to face him as well. "Mages do not have as many sympathizers as they need to be heard amongst the most powerful. Cassandra already looks to you for guidance, I'm sure the others will in time. I've heard Cullen praise you highly when you're not listening." Rubeus looked surprised.
"And here I thought they were just putting up with me till they could prove I'm guilty." He sighed, "there is too much gossip to know what's going on."
"I have heard nearly all the gossip going around Haven, some of which you might not want to hear." Solas attention drifted, admiring the lean muscles of Rubeus's chest and biceps.
"I've heard a few things myself, we might need to compare notes…" Rubeus trailed off when he noticed Solas was no longer listening. Rubeus rolled his shoulders back with a dramatic flair, tipping Solas off that he had been caught.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to stare. You're…I've noticed how easily you swing a sword nearly twice your size. It's impressive. Especially when you took on the dragon by yourself. Sera scarcely made it out of there alive if you didn't take that fire blast for her." Solas explained, laying back with his eyes on the stars as Rubeus let out an uneasy laugh and blushed.
"It was a rash decision on my part to even engage the beast!" He exclaimed, "I should have just run. I feel bad that I got you involved." Remembering his missteps embarrassed him. His blushed so intensely even the tips of his ears had turned as red as his hair. Solas sighed thinking of the battle, before he noticed Rubeus shuffled around beside him.
"Thank you for helping me, repeatedly." Rubeus expressed. Under all the flustered was a genuine and grateful smile. Solas sat up to face him, wondering what he was thinking about to cause his cherry complexion. Rubeus sat up alongside the apostate. He opened and closed his left hand a few times, examining it. He felt no weird sensation or tingling, it felt normal.
"I should let you go back to sleep… Thank you for staying up with me," Rubeus said and looked at Solas for a moment. He appeared hesitant, debating something.
"If you're having trouble sleeping, I'm always here to help." Solas calmly explained, his tone difficult to decipher. "I've always been alone, but I'm trying my best to help so feel free to talk to me about anything… especially the mark." the severity of his voice deepened. Perhaps more defensively was his motive, though Solas could be very aggressive in a passive way, Rubeus was clever enough to see through the facade. Especially since Solas' hand still gingerly brushed up against the warriors calloused fingers.
"I'll tell you more another time," Rubeus shook his head and got up.
"Alright, until next time." Solas said as he pulled his hand into his lap.
"Sleep well and pleasant dreams," Rubeus bid Solas goodnight and walked back to the tent. Solas noticed the blue ink of a vallaslin had been tattooed on his back. Rubeus's marks started at the base of his neck, hidden by the ends of his hair and traced down his spine. It stopped just below his shoulder blades and branched out into a tree-like marking for Mythal. The marks were near impossible to spot while in armour or the casual garb Haven had provided him. Solas eyed saddened at the sight and he turned away quickly to rub his eyes.
"What should I say?" Solas asked himself as he turned his attention to the stars once more. Listening to the wind hoping to hear something answer him, yet there was nothing but howling wolves. Which were uncomfortably close.