DAI ficlet: In another world

servantofclio:

On the theme of “pining,” if not quite fluff, @theherocomplex​ asked for “Solas pining for Branwen at the Winter Palace.”

#

It is as he told the Inquisitor: the ball smells of power, intrigue, danger, and sex. Besides that, there are some quite superb canapes and petits-four, and Solas is not above indulging. There is no harm in it, and it suits the part he is playing.

He watches Lavellan moving through the crowd. She is easy to spot, with her golden hair and scarlet coat, even as her slim form is obscured among the stiff skirts and taller forms of the Orlesian nobility. They play at power, in their masks and finery, though they have only the faintest grasp on where true power lies. They overlook Solas, for instance, even though he too wears Inquisition red tonight. The humans’ eyes skate past him as if he is not quite there. Only the servants take note of his presence, offering him food and drink like any other guest, though he can see in their eyes that they do not quite believe in him, or in her, Inquisitor, Herald of Andraste.

(One or two of them hide sparks of anger in their eyes, but are subtle enough to mask it. Them, Solas will approach later.)

Since no one meets his eyes, it becomes easy to drift through the crowd himself. Keeping an eye on her, he tells himself, in case he is needed.
In truth, she will not need him, not like that. He watches her move, straight and confident. He watches her dance, leading the much taller Grand Duchess across the dance floor with strength and verve, as if she had practiced for it her whole life.

She is perfect. Hair still in Dalish braids, Mythal’s brand on her face, and she could not be more magnificent, witty and graceful and clever and earnest; a true heart, powerful and purposeful.

As he watches her amid the scents of sweat and perfume and intrigue, he lets his mind drift. Almost, he could imagine another court, centuries gone; almost, he could imagine her one of the People of old, and she and he both free to choose as they would. In another world, a simpler world, he might take her hand, stand before her with no obfuscation between them, and they might live somewhere simply, or travel, seeing what wonders the world had to offer.

This world, unfortunately, is broken, tainted and clouded. He has thought, more than once, of confessing himself, laying out for her the whole truth. But if he did so, it would only be sensible for her to hate him. It is a weakness, but he cannot yet face the prospect of her hatred. She matters, bright and sharp as a blade, the best thing he has yet seen in this sundered world.

Across the room, she turns and catches his eye and smiles, her mouth in a clean curve; there is a glint in her eye like a spark of lightning. Next to her, the murmuring nobles of Orlais fades into insignificance.

He smiles in answer, and takes pleasure in how the spark in her eye brightens before she turns and goes.

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