[Timeline: After defeating Corypheus, before the events of Trespasser]
The journey up the snowy mountain range had been arduous. He tried to follow the foot paths left in front of him but his companion was trained to step lightly, springing seemingly effortlessly up the cliff without impacting the snow more than an inch. Each of his footfalls sank deeply into the snow, causing him to fight for every step, battling the biting numbness of his toes. Not ignoring it but relishing it, for he knew every stinging jab that shot through his legs like a searing flame (how can cold burn so?) brought him one step closer to her.
Now, his arms burning, he yanked himself up the last few feet of stone wall, ignoring the outstretched hand offered to him. His companion merely smirked and continued leading the way. He had been dreaming of this moment for over a year, planning, hoping, yearning, and at last she was within in his reach.
The ledge they walked along was crumbling rubble. After all the success of the Inquisition, they couldn’t afford to fix the walls? They entered through one of the gaps in the stones and landed silently in hall with a great wooden door at one end. He started towards it but his guide grabbed his hand, nodding towards the other direction. He snatched his hand away, his anger glowing white hot for a moment. They continued in careful silence.
As soon as they entered the room they could see the faint green glow dancing across the marble walls. His breath caught in his throat as he saw the outline of her sleeping form, silhouetted by the effervescence that shimmered from her left hand. He had waited for this moment for so long, he would not wait any longer.
In four great strides he had crossed the room and was staring down at her. She whimpered lightly in her sleep, the skin between her eyebrows crinkling. She was lovely. Clenching his teeth, he pulled back his fist, a white, ethereal light now mixing with the green haze as he prepared to shove his hand through her heart.
He heard the low growl seconds before he was on the ground, pinned by something immense and fur-covered, that smelled of wet woods and earth, it’s sharp teeth fastened around his neck slowly pressing against his windpipe without breaking the skin.
“What in the--” he heard Zevran exclaim in shock just before the weight of the beast holding him shifted as it easily threw Zevran’s from its back. He tried to wrest the animal off of him…
“Nobody move,” a calm, soft voice said from the corner of the room. All turned to look at the Inquistor, clad in nothing, standing atop the bed, arrow trained on the scene before her. For what felt like an eternity, no one spoke.
“Well, heh heh,” Zevran laughed nervously, “that’s quite the welcome.”
But the Inquistor didn’t seem to hear him. She was staring at the enormous black wolf that still held him immobile. Her face had gone from calm and collected to a mix of emotions he could barely follow. Confusion, recognition, hope… anger? The wolf stared back at her.
She breathed in sharply, “Solas?”
As suddenly as it appeared, the wolf fled to the balcony and was gone.
She ran after it, searching in the darkness, but he had faded away. He watched her face as her eyes filled with unshed tears, she clenched her fists and bit her lip then suddenly whirled around to face them.
“What are you doing here?” she demanded, lifting the bow once again.
Zevran immediately stepped forward, hands raised in surrender.
“Now, now, let’s not do anything rash here,” he said quickly, flashing his charming smile at her. “I’m certain we are able to talk about this.”
She stared through Zevran for a moment before turning her eyes to him where he still lay on the floor.
“Were you planning on talking?” she asked harshly.
Surprise wearing off, he jumped to his feet. “No, I didn’t plan on talking! I planned on ripping your heart out of your chest.”
He stalked forward until her arrow tip was right against his throat. He glared, part of him daring – wishing? – she would loose the arrow.
“Just as you did to me.”
Her brow wrinkled and then understanding dawned on her face.
Aurora watched as Zevran circled the kitchen, munching on an apple before tossing it down unfinished and picking up a cheese wedge.
“So you see, he needed someone to help him sneak in,” he prattled, mouth full. “And who better than the famous ex-Crow assassin, Zevran!”
She nearly smiled in spite of herself. Zevran had spent the last half hour divulging every bit of their plan while Fenris sat across from her in stony silence, half a bottle of wine in front of him gone.
“I want to save Hawke,” she said. Fenris suddenly focused his blurry gaze on her. “I always planned on trying, but everything else happened and… We need a plan.”
“What would you suggest?” Fenris asked, voice dripping with disdain.
“I would have asked…” she hesitated and shook her head to chase the thought away. “We need someone who is an expert on the fade. Vivienne won’t touch it… we could ask Dorian if he has any ideas--”
“The mage from Tevinter?” Fenris practically spat out, “I’d sooner jump into a rift.”
“Dorian is nothing like what you think,” she replied, back straightening.
“Is he a Tevinter mage?”
“Then he is exactly what I think.”
Zevran looked back and forth between them for a moment, an amused smile on his lips. He popped a grape into his mouth and cleared his throat.
“You know,” he began, “there is another mage we could ask for help… in fact, I have had the pleasure of working with her in the not-so-distant past.”
“Well, well. What have we here?”
Morrigan rolled her eyes but stepped back from the door of the hut to allow them entrance. “I suppose it is too much to ask that one be left in peace after one saves the world multiple times?”
“Ah, Morrigan,” Zevran gushed. “The years have only made you lovelier, and likely deadlier, but truly, what is your secret? Did you learn your mother’s spell for immortality?”
Morrigan let a hissing sigh out through her teeth. “And ’tis obvious Zevran, that you’ve not changed one bit.”
“And are we not all joyous that it is so?” he laughed.
Fenris entered the shack but stayed next to the doorway, eyes darting around the room.
Morrigan eyed him, “this one does not like me, I think.”
“Good guess,” he growled back.
Aurora stepped between them.
“Fenris has a… history with mages, he’s not a fan of magic,” Aurora explained.
“Intriguing,” Morrigan replied, “seeing as how it is woven into the fabric of his flesh.”
“Lyrium is not magic, witch!” he stepped forward, the lyrium beginning to shimmer faintly through the lines framing his face.
Morrigan laughed at his rage, “and yet, clearly, magic is exactly what you need or I would not be suffering through this visit.”
She turned her gaze onto Aurora. “What is it? I thought I made it quite clear that my association with the Inquisition was at an end.” She paused then added in a voice that was automatically softer, “I need to tend to my son.”
“Your son!” Zevran exclaimed, “yes, yes, where is he? I would like to meet this boy, this offspring of the Archdemon, a witch of the wilds, and the King of Ferelden.”
Morrigan fixed him with a deadly glare. “He is spending time in Orlais studying, I was to join him tomorrow.”
“Oh, how disappointing,” Zevran replied, shaking his head. “Although I’m sure the queen will be glad to know her husband’s bastard is out of the country.”
Morrigan smiled slowly at him. “Yes, be sure to tell her at your next clandestine meeting, would you?”
Zevran ducked his head, grinning, “touché, my dear, touché.”
Aurora ignored the exchange and pressed on.
“We need your help,” she explained. “Hawke may still be alive in the Fade, we want to rescue her.” She glanced sideways at Fenris before adding, “or at least know what her fate was.”
“You know her fate,” Morrigan replied, exasperated, “why go in search of knowledge that will only rub salt in the wound?”
Aurora hesitated. She glanced at Fenris again, who glared at her, obviously convinced this was a waste of his time.
“I—I need to know,” Aurora began, “If I can get to the fade maybe I can find out where he—she is.”
Morrigan’s knowing eyes watched her for a long moment. Finally, she sighed.
“’Tis nothing but a cruelty,” Morrigan said, “But I will give you all the help at my disposal.”
The shimmering mirrors were an endless maze of wonder. Although she had seen it before, the sight took Aurora’s breath away. Morrigan stood beside her, silent, drinking it in as well, this safe haven that had protected her and Keiran in his first years.
“—feels quite odd,” Zevran was saying as he emerged through the rippling glass. His arm was the last thing to appear and it gripped Fenris’s elbow as he yanked him through the Eluvian after him.
Fenris looked shocked and then immediately patted himself down, making sure he wasn’t missing anything.
Zevran laughed heartily, “a land of mirrors, oh I could think of many pleasant uses for this!”
“Not now,” Morrigan said. She turned to Aurora.
“You have been in the fade both in dreams and in the flesh,” she began, “the anchor assists in this journey but you lack the discipline to travel to a specific place. That is where I can assist; with the fade so much closer here, I can manipulate it in a way I cannot in Thedas. We cannot send you physically, so you will not be able to rescue her, but you may be able to ascertain her fate, and we can formulate a plan from there.”
Aurora nodded. She looked at Fenris. His eyes seemed to recognize the resolve in her own and his brows relaxed slightly. He nodded, a quick, almost imperceptible acknowledgement of their pact. She would find Hawke.
Aurora wasn’t aware of opening her eyes but suddenly everything around her was shifting, slightly out-of-focus, and her gut recognized the vertigo feeling of entering the fade. She tried to look around, get her bearings, but the floating mountains and rocky crags seemed no more familiar than they were the first time. She could see the Black City, they were near it when they lost Hawke, but it was an impossible landmark to navigate by for it was visible from every corner of the fade yet as you approached it you never seemed to get any closer.
She felt a tingling sensation on the nap of her neck and she knew he was there even before she turned around. She did so slowly, fearing any sudden movement would cause him to vanish once again.
She was staring at the ground, seeing his unclad feet first, then powerful calves and tawny thighs. She scanned up past the wolf jaw necklace she knew so well – perhaps that’s why she dreamt of him as a wolf?—and pointed, cleft chin until she met his soft gray eyes, shadows of the unknown moving behind them.
“Inquisitor,” he said, nodding slightly.
Something in her heart shredded at his use of her title, but she pulled herself up to stand straighter.
“I--” she hated that her voice cracked, “I am trying to find Hawke.”
He nodded again, a slight knowing smile curving his lips. “I know, I am here to help you.”
Aurora felt a surge of joy she tried to beat down. “Why?” she asked, attempting to keep her trembling voice as neutral as possible.
“Because I will always help you, Inquisitor,” he replied softly. She opened her mouth to speak but he held up a palm. “On one condition.” She tilted her head slightly in confusion. “You may not ask me any questions about myself or my whereabouts.”
“What?!” Aurora exploded, the floodgate of emotions she had been trying to hold back shattering into a thousand pieces. “You-- you left me! You didn’t say anything, you just left! I loved--” she managed to snap her mouth shut before all the things she had been screaming at him in her mind for the past year came out in a torrent of abuse.
Solas waited as she took a deep breath to calm herself.
“You have every right to be angry,” he said. “In fact, hate me, you’ll be better off for it.”
Aurora just silently stared at him, awash in feelings she couldn’t name.
“But if you want my help, vhenan,” he continued softly, “You must promise me this. I cannot give you the answers you seek, not yet.”
Aurora swallowed hard. Her heart had jumped into her throat at the word “vhenan” and she was struggling to keep the white hot tears at bay. Her mind slowly registered his offer, and while there was still an ocean of anger under the surface, her heart soared at the sliver of hope he’d offered. Not yet.
“I can take you to where we left Hawke,” he said. He seemed hesitant for a moment then extended his hand. “Ready?”
She stared at it for a long moment before placing her palm in his. He looked at their joined hands for a moment with a small smile but pain deep behind his eyes. He looked up into hers and the world fell away around them. For a moment it was as if they were suspended in eternity, with no other beings in existence. Then the feeling slipped, the ground shifted, and light became visible once more. Her heart was pounding and her stomach churned.
Solas dropped her hand and gestured behind her. She turned around. The enormous eyes flashed red back at her as the gigantic spider-like monster shuffled back and forth. It roared its frustration that they were out of its reach, hairy mandables yawning open to reveal rows and rows of sharp yellow teeth, even in the fade she could smell it’s putrid breath, the smell of a thousand dead and decaying souls.
There was no sign of Hawke.
Aurora’s shoulders slumped. What was she going to say to Fenris?
She trembled slightly at Solas’s hand on her shoulder.
“She isn’t dead,” he said, matter of factly.
“What?” Aurora searched the scene around her again frantically, “where is she?”
He said nothing but looked again at the spider pacing back and forth in the cavern of the mountain they stood upon.
“W-what?” Aurora fumbled over the words as she slowly understood what he was telling her. “Hawke is… inside… that thing?”
Solas nodded, “yes, trapped inside the nightmare, living, but-- living through the worst fears and terrors every mind in Thedas every conjured in slumber.”
“Can I help her?” Aurora asked.
“That, I do not know,” he replied, his voice softened, “but if anyone can, it is you.”
Aurora’s throat closed again, the emotion those whispered three words elicited almost too much to bear. Solas met her gaze and it felt as though an ocean of words passed between them in the silence. His hand was suddenly at her cheek, he looked as surprised by the contact as she was. She could feel him start to draw his hand away and she caught it in both of her own and pressed her face into his palm, not caring what emotions she allowed to spill out, suddenly fearful that this was goodbye again, for good.
“Solas,” she whispered, eyes closed.
His mouth crushed hers and as she tried to draw breath, his arms locked around her waist pulling her against him. She opened her mouth under his and he deepened the kiss, tounge darting and flicking across her own as he devoured her. She couldn’t breathe, she didn’t want to. She only wanted more. She wrapped herself around him, trying to get closer, as his hands reached down to hitch her legs up onto his hips. She half laughed, half sobbed against his mouth and the sound seemed to bring him back to himself. He softened the kiss gradually as he set her back on her feet and slowly pulled back.
“Forgive me,” he whispered, and was gone.
Aurora said straight up in the Crossroads, her scream echoing all around them.
“Calm yourself,” Morrigan said, helping her up, “You’re back.”
Aurora looked at the faces staring at her, trying to reconnect with reality.
“Are you quite all right, Inquisitor?” Morrigan asked, looking as though she could guess what had transpired.
“Well, she did seem to be enjoying the last bit of the dream quite a lot, no?” Zevran chuckled. One glare from Morrigan silenced him.
Fenris finally met her eyes, his were shielded and his body rigid, prepared for the worst.
“What did you find?” he asked.
“She’s alive,” Aurora breathed. His head snapped up and a light shone in his eyes for the first time since she’d met him.
“We’re going to get her out of there, I promise.”
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