Lath Araval Ena (The Path Will Emerge)
by misscam

Author's Note: I play too many video games and thinks too much about video game characters and their choices, clearly. This story will have some angst, but also hope, because I cannot help my optimistic nature. Set after Trespasser - will almost certainly be made non-canon by DA4

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Prologue: Resignation

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The first time she sees him again after the Crossroads, she's aware it is probably the last time. There is a definite chance he might feel forced to kill her. There is a definite chance she might feel forced to kill him. There is a definite chance they might both die even if all goes to plan, and in so doing, complete the tragedy that is their story. She's reconciled herself to all these possibilities (or at least tells herself that). Her own din'anshiral to stop his.

She's determined. She's made her choice. She's tried everything else to reach him, to change his mind. She's resigned herself to this being the choice left to her. She is ready.

It will probably be the last time she sees him – so she makes the most of it.

She sees him a few moments before he notices her – and she sees the tense lines of his body, the tautness in his skin, the dark expression on his face, the fatigue in the dark circles under his eyes. He looks terrible, despite his grand armor and the power radiating from him. He almost looks like the death he has resigned himself to.

It hurts, but it also feels good, almost comforting. Despite all, it's still Solas. It's Solas, alive and really there, not just out of reach in a dream that feels more like a haunting. It's Solas, Solas, and that still means something. What, she doesn't dare dwell on. That would hurt too much.

His head turns slightly, and he sees her. For a moment, he just stares. His eyes are sad, but also bright when looking at her, lighting up at the sight of her.

"Vhenan," he breathes, and she hates how sincere it sounds on his lips, even after everything. For a moment, there is even the ghost of a smile on his lips.

"Solas," she says. Her voice sounds a touch strained, but it doesn't crack. It holds, just barely, much like her heart. She can see him savor the sound of his name on her lips, his face softening before he tenses again.

(She doesn't call him Fen'Harel. He isn't that to her, not even now. That would feel like a defeat, like giving up, like truly, truly losing him.)

"You should not be here," he says without preamble. In the distance, she hears the sounds of fighting. His forces against the Tevinter forces. Hopefully, her small force has managed to stay out of the fighting. They are here to take advantage, not to engage.

"Nevertheless, I am here," she challenges, stepping closer. He watches her as she does, guarded, but also wistful, torn between conflicting emotions. She knows how he feels.

"So you are," he agrees. "Without tipping off any of my agents. Impressive."

"Leliana would thank you for the compliment, I'm sure," she says, and for a moment, for a glorious moment, they share the tiniest of smiles, shared memories of the Inquisition and their companions overshadowing the present. Just for a moment, and then he clasps his hands behind his back and tries to look detached.

"Why are you here?" he asks.

She exhales, steeling herself. "To stop you."

He doesn't look surprised, she notes. Nor does he look disappointed. He just looks determined, and sad, so very sad.

"I can't let you do that," he replies. "You cannot change my mind, vhenan."

"I changed your heart," she challenges. "Vhenan, Solas. In your own words."

He sighs, and she steps yet closer. She is nearly close enough to touch, and his nearness seems to stir all the memories she's tried to bury. How it felt being in his arms. How it felt kissing him. How it felt like being just Lavellan and Solas, not the (former) Inquisitor facing the Dread Wolf.

He looks at her as if he too, remembers all too well now, and she wonders if that is why he always stayed out of reach in her dreams. Easier to stay detached at a distance, after all.

"You are my heart," he says very softly, almost as much to himself as to her. "My duty to my people, to my world, must come before all else. Ir abelas, vhenan. I wish…"

He shakes his head, as if trying to shake the thought. She wonders what he wishes for, if it's anything like what she has spent the last months wishing for.

"I must do this," he says, voice hard. "You cannot change my mind. My path is set. I walk the din'anshiral. You cannot change that."

Her heart breaks a little, again, and she steels herself, again. She always knew this was the most likely response she'd get. She always knew what she would probably have to do.

It doesn't make it any easier.

"Ir abelas, vhenan" she echoes. "I have a duty too. To my people and my world – and to you."

He looks up sharply, eyes alight with magic and alarm, but it is already too late. She has already stepped closer and touched him, and everything, everything becomes magic and pain, filling her and roaring in her head. She thinks she might scream; she is pretty sure he does too. It hurts, oh how it hurts, as his magic bleeds from him and into her.

"Lavellan…." He gasps. "What have you done?"

"What I had to," she says, falling into him as her legs start to give in. He keeps her upright for a moment, his body trembling in pain as hers does; it is a strangely tender embrace despite it all. He refuses to let go, and so they both fall to the ground, clinging to each other. The last thing she sees is his gaze, eyes so very blue, so very broken.

She thinks it's an end. Her end, their end. She doesn't know it's also beginning – despite both being resigned to death, they end up living.

It makes things very complicated.

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