I could hear the thunder and see the lightning crack
and all around the world was waking, I never could go back
The months, the years, have not been kind to Leliana.
She can feel it—the way that they have all accumulated on the shores of her heart. She can feel the bruises and the lacerations. She can feel the way that it has eaten away at the core of her, leaving her hollowed out, her very bones turning to dust beneath the pressure of it. The time within captivity, the attack from Vulgaris, the plague returning, the disappearance of Dovev. It was all enough to make her curl into herself. Even with the baby’s breath delicacy of her reunion with Vulgaris, it was too much.
She felt pieces of herself falling away, crumbling each day.
She grew thin during the pregnancy, thinner than ever before.
But she does her best to hide it. She presses soft kisses into her daughter’s hair and sings them sweet songs. She curls into her serpentine husband’s side and buries the fear that sometimes lingers—the nightmares that curl around her psyche in the middle of the night. She does her best to restructure this land as a home once more and not a prison. She does her best to find the pieces of herself again.
When the familiar pains of childbirth arrive, she does not panic. Not even when the rest of Beqanna so clearly enters into the throes of its final cure. She glances up to the sky but once, feeling the magic as it pulls through the rest of the land and then folds herself to the ground, lifting her head and letting loose a soft, throaty cry for Vulgaris. For the first time since Sabbath, he would be here for their coming.
Some piece of her clicks into place with the recognition.
It is a golden glow in her chest, the thin mare pulling onto the exhausted threads of her healing to ease the process for her child. She falls into the rhythms of it easily; it is almost welcomed. The tides and the pressures and even the pain, although her gift works at helping to ease it. She welcomes it.
But there is something different about it.
She feels it when Beqanna swells, purging the plague, when the magic cracks through the sky and when the rest of the land around her begins to bleed of it. She feels that seed of it plant within her. It melts into the sensations of childbirth and she closes her eyes, arching her neck back, teeth clenched.
She does not notice when not one, but two child slide to the ground.
She does not notice that she herself is no longer on the ground but rather suspended in the air—every cell on fire. In her head, she is screaming, but on the outside, she is silent. In her head, she is coming undone and stitching back together. She is falling apart and being remolded into something new. She is being born as surely as her son and daughter had been. There is a piece of her—a shred of the girl from her youth who is soft and kind and hopeful—that she steals away, locking into some hidden part of her.
But the rest?
The rest burns to the ground and spreads like ash in the wind.
Seconds pass—minutes, hours, eons. It doesn’t matter to her anymore. It is everything and nothing all at once and when she finally breathes again, when she begins to lower back to the ground once more, she continues to glow golden. Entire cosmos spin in her chest, her mind splintering outward to look at the world from entirely new perspectives. When she opens her eyes again, they are the color of glowing volcano mouths, pupiless and wide. The rest of her remains so much the same, if not so different.
Her health has returned in a breath’s time, flooding through her. Her coat is glossy, the dapples rich and thick. Her weight has returned, the years curling away from her like bark from an ancient oak. She is young, radiant—the flowers blossoming thick in her mane and cascading over her shoulders.
She is entirely herself, and yet—
There is an emptiness in her expression, a quizzical loss, when she turns her attention toward the children on the ground, on the man before her. Somewhere deep in her chest, she feels the tolling of a bell, these emotions that once would have flooded her, but it fades into echoes, into ripples— into nothing.
[ no more dreaming like a girl so in love with the wrong world ]