Summer stretches on in a near-endless succession of days, each one more sweltering and claustrophobic than the last. The air in the Tower grows thick and oppressive, dense with humidity and pressing heavy on the chests of mages and templars alike; doubly-burdened, Wynne sits pregnant by a bowl of summoned ice, gasping for breath. From inside her the child in her belly pushes upward on her lungs, from the outside comes the impossible, waterlogged air, and Wynne can't shake the sense of being suspended in the middle, squeezed out of existence by warring forces determined to flatten her between them.

A small foot jabs up into her side, stretching the skin; absently, Wynne smoothes over the spot with one hand, counterpressure on the child's eager kickings in an attempt to coax him back to his proper place.

It won't be long, now.

Wynne drops her head to her hands, watching numbly as the ice melts inches from her face. The puddle pools outward as it releases its scant coolness to the air, a comfort that disappears almost before she can feel it.


She shouldn't do this.

It isn't as though she's some starry-eyed apprentice to trade whispers with a favored lover, or to hide notes where a forbidden admirer can find them. There isn't any point in lingering here, not now, but she sits rooted to the spot anyway, adamantly ignoring the seconds and hours as they pass, until the afternoon light begins to fade into the long evening that precedes these late-summer nights. With every heartbeat that passes she can feel the weight of Greagoir's eyes like coals on the back of her neck, the phantom-heat all the warmth that lies between them, now.

(It had been so different, last winter, caught in a fervent hurricane of passion, of drifting distracted through the days with her skin fit to bursting from the agitated secret inside her. Now her child occupies the space where that joy had been before, not quite a replacement.)

(She doesn't know what she'll do when that space is empty altogether. Her thoughts run into that dead space in her mind like a barrier, and go no further.)

She doesn't have to turn around to know that Greagoir is moving, a looming presence at her shoulder like a waiting thunderstorm. It's a sign, clear enough, curfew, time to leave—

Wynne feigns interest in the open book before her, scribbling down nonsensical notes, a slipshod attempt at appearing as though she couldn't care less about his presence, or his timekeeping, or anything at all but the lines before her, blurring as she stares at them too long and her eyes go dry.

Let him wait. Let him stew and seethe and scream to himself in the dark places inside his own head, let him suffer, if he can, above all let him stoop to acknowledge her as he's been so rigidly unable to these long and tortuous months—

"The study is closing."

Wynne presses her eyes shut, briefly, and doesn't move.

Surely the burden of his shame can't be any heavier than the weight of her anger; she can out-hate him, if that's what it takes. Let him crack, let him be the one to break down first, to come with soft words and softening heart and set right what had been cast so wrong.

In the absence of an answer he edges in close, the rim of his armor digging into the table like a dull blade as he begins to gather her things.

Wynne swallows the tightness from her throat. "I wasn't finished."

Greagoir doesn't stop, each movement dull and automatic and very careful not to touch her; her papers pulled up and tucked in the crook of his arm, out of reach, her ink stoppered and put aside, the book snapped shut beneath her nose. The puff of air stirs the damp tendrils of hair at her temples; she stares at the bare table, loathing acrid at the back of her mouth as though the venom in her heart could lend its poison to her words. "You can't just take my things," she argues, but he can, of course he can, isn't that the point?

Beneath his helmet Greagoir is silent, unresponsive. In this light she can't even see the dark glitter of his eyes; he might as well not be there at all, or a soulless replacement walking around in his skin, abomination gone undetected. He hesitates, unmoving, and Wynne realizes that he can't order her to come along with any certainty. If she resists any further, if she sits in place and forces the issue he'll have to touch her, and won't that offend his oh-so-sacred sensibilities? Wynne digs in grimly, fingers curled like claws around the edge of the table.

He stands in place like a man carved of stone. "The study is closed."

"You don't have anything else to take from me," Wynne grits out in bitter triumph.

Only it isn't true, and the knowledge hits her a moment too late; he jerks inside his armor as though the words had made it through the gaps in the steel and down to his flesh. There is a moment, just a moment, where pain and truth hang in ugly snarls between them, hopelessly tangled in despair and rage and everything they haven't said; as Wynne lists back and struggles to buoy back her sustaining fury from sinking into grief Greagoir turns on his heel and leaves.

A minute later another templar clanks his way into the library, flustered. "Enchanter Wynne…"

"I know," she cuts him off, blinking back startled tears that she can't allow to fall, because if she starts weeping she doesn't know that she's going to be able to stop. "I know. I'm coming."


She could end him so easily.

All it would take is the truth—a small weapon, a few words' worth of confession—and he would be removed from the Tower posthaste, whisked off to whatever punishment the Chantry metes out on vow-breakers and lovers of magi. Does he sweat over it? she wonders sometimes, idly. If he fears her public admission, he gives no sign of it, ever as unresponsive as the stone around him. She'd thought in the beginning that he might come to her in secret, would find her in some private moment and beg for her silence, or declare his affection or try to threaten her into holding her silence or anything.

He'd done nothing. From the moment she'd told him, through the months as they'd dragged by leaden and empty he'd done nothing, said nothing, given no sign that he knew or cared. Through the hue and cry as the news became common knowledge and fingers pointed all around the Tower—at Irving, at Sweeny, at the Knight-Commander himself, Maker forbid—Greagoir had gone about his rounds as though nothing in the world was amiss, as though the narrow spiral of duty and chantry was the entirety of his life, eclipsing her and everything else.

She could confess, she thinks from time to time, turning the idea over in her brain like a poisoned dagger.

She doesn't. She doesn't know why she doesn't, really, save that she has the idea that maybe he's waiting for the accusation. That maybe he, in some twisted little root of penitence, is hanging on a thread waiting for her accusation. Once accused he can atone, or repent, or whatever it is that the Chantry will have him do, and wash his hands of the affair and start anew.

No, she thinks one afternoon, catching sight of him only for a moment on his way to somewhere else. No. Let him hang.

The newly-Harrowed mage from two rooms down sits with her sometimes in the evenings, quiet as the Tower falls asleep around them, going through the motions of casual conversation. "Have you thought of a name?" the girl asks one evening over the edge of her teacup, eyes guileless and kind.

Panic catches at Wynne's heart, tedious in its familiarity—one can only live in misery so long before even pain becomes boring, but it ever seems to turn over a fresh leaf when she least expects it—and she stares. "I hardly think it would matter," she says, voice brittle and sour.

The other mage shrinks from Wynne's anger, leaves before the sun quite sets, and never comes again.


Wynne would've thought it impossible to be taken by surprise by an event she'd known was imminent, a birth she'd been dreading for months, but even so it catches her off-guard. She attributes her malaise to fatigue, to restless nights in an empty bed; she ignores the first gentle clenches of her belly beneath her robe as more of the same that had plagued her for weeks, nothing to get fussed over at all.

She's in the bath when the reality of her situation crashes in, pain enough to leave her gasping and scrabbling at the stone edges of the tub. And then worse: she tries to lever herself up and can't, and between pains she calls with burgeoning panic for someone to help, but the room is empty. It seems forever until someone comes, and by then the months of accumulated unshed tears have fallen upon her all at once; she weeps and sobs and clings blindly to the mages around her, docile and beaten as someone slips a robe around her shoulders and leads her clumsily to the healers. She doesn't stop crying, can't stop, not then or hours later, pacing the near-empty room, scuffing the stone with the soles of her feet and counting steps in an attempt to distract herself from the bottomless dread gaping open all around her like a chasm.

Time loses all meaning as the hours smear together, the mages around her tiring and leaving and replaced by new healers in shifts Wynne doesn't keep track of. None of it matters; none of these faces are the face she wants to see. She cries and bites her tongue to keep from whimpering for him (why him, of all people, when he'd given no comfort before? Surely you can't think he'd start now, she tells herself severely.) but she can't stop fretting, twisting the bed linens into tortured spirals with each new pain.

By the time her son is born, Wynne's voice is gone, throat bloody-raw and throbbing; she cannot speak as she holds the awkward infant on her chest and so her son never hears his mother's voice before he is taken away. For all too few seconds he sprawls atop her breast, sputtering and wailing as she smoothes his slick hair down and tries to sear the sight of him into her brain and body, to memorize every bit of him forever, and then the healer beside her makes a soothing noise (as though anything could soothe this, as though there is any power in the world that could heal this pain) and reaches out, gathering up her baby in capable hands and bundling him away.

Sobs she'd thought she'd run out of take her again, wracking with the force of their agony; they continue long past the time the healers leave her alone with her grief, bearing her into the darkness of a sleep more like death.

Greagoir is there when she wakes.

Wynne thinks, at first, that this is a dream, or some potion-induced hallucination come to rob her of the last snatches of her sanity, but his presence in the room burns like a dark fire; he stands at the wall unhelmed and silent. She licks her cracked bottom lip, the sting just another part of the ache that beats through her with every thud of her heart. "What do you want?"

He doesn't answer. He shifts slightly, eyebrows drawn together, and looks as though he might speak but he doesn't answer.

"He's gone," Wynne says, and her voice breaks on the declaration. "They took him away."

Greagoir gazes at her in silence a moment longer and seems to decide against speaking, turning for the doorway and disappearing from sight.

Alone again, the pain wells up with a vicious ferocity, a devastation of the soul that only magnifies the agony of her flesh. She turns into her pillow to muffle her sobs, curling around herself, a body's too-late attempt to defend what it's already lost.


The weeks that follow are glacier-cold, marked off in small increments of recovery. Wynne feels the loss like a severed limb, not just the child (she should have named him, she thinks, now she has nothing to call him, even to herself) but of something more, something she can't name or define that nonetheless feels vital and irrevocably gone.

She spends the winter regaining her strength, feeling like a small and shriveled heart knocking its way around the bones of the Tower. It's no satisfaction that Greagoir goes so grave, not now. Let him pay for the rest of his life, if he wants, let him rip himself to pieces and choke on his own shame. It doesn't matter. Wynne puts him from her mind and nurses the empty spaces inside her, lacking anything else to nurse, and waits for the day when the emptiness is enough.