|"Has it affected you? Changed you in any way? Your mind, your morals, your… spirit?" asks Solas. Big questions, and not always easily answered...|
INQUISITOR: So what does this mean, Solas?
SOLAS: It means... I have not forgotten the kiss.
It's a big moment when, after Adamant, Solas comes up to see the Inquisitor in her quarters.
As he does.
He doesn't, does he?
No, really. Not ever.
Solas doesn't actually ever come to Lavellan's quarters. He doesn't come to her rooms.
As blog readers, you all know I'm a headcanoning fool, but yes, it feels to me, always, like one of the strictures he has set upon their budding relationship. As if she can go to him within the confines of the Rotunda, but that he cannot visit her in her bedroom because, well... it's just blurring the boundaries for him. Too difficult. Too tenuous. Too close.
See, this is where two roads diverge in a wood, and I—I take the Road of Solas Does Not Have Sex with the Inquisitor. Ever. In-game. While of course acknowledging that there's room for both takes on this (and it's genius of Patrick Weekes and BioWare to espouse this).
And I am not saying this does not occur, um, elsewhere. For instance, in various quality and exciting fanfics, some of which I may or may not also be writing. But I think—in-game, and quite cruelly—that no, they do not. I always find it tragic, because it's something she needs and deserves. Something I wish he had given her. That gift of intimacy. Just that one moment.
But... sigh. Me, I feel like he just can't allow himself to go there.
NOTE: Throughout this piece, I am using screen shots with the "Always Night at Skyhold" PC mod. I just felt, on the latest playthrough, that the mod was useful and appropriately gothic for a romantic story that goes so very dark. I love the original sunset setting for this scene, but to me it's brutally hopeful and romantic (which may have been the purpose).
I prefer this one, which is starker. Darker. It won't end well. Let's embrace it. But that's me.
|Each step of their romance is controlled by Solas—how close, how far, when to touch, when not to.|
So I do not believe that Solas and the Inquisitor have sex. My logic for this goes as follows:
- Their entire relationship is about the slow burn.
- Each step of their romance is controlled by Solas—how close, how far, when to touch, when not to. It's not in a toxic way, but that "dominate your focus" dialogue wasn't just there to be funny. Solas is all about control, to me, at least in certain (cough) scenarios. I think he likes to orchestrate things.
- Each beat of the relationship—except for the crucial Last Date—involves Solas refusing contact then returning to the kisses in spite of himself. And then he leaves with this almost palpable sense that he is forcing himself away from temptation.
- We never get a sex scene (and, aside from Josie, this is something we get for every other companion across the entire trilogy).
And, to me, this doesn't ping as Solas being ace (while Josie does)—although I should add here that he does ping as asexual to many other players, including reader Ladyiolanthe, who argues that Solas can certainly in fact be asexual or demisexual, and those are real potential options for him given his behavior as presented. In my ignorance, I dismissed those too immediately above, so of course this is another aspect that can be interpreted by the player. (Note: please forgive any mistakes I've made in discussing those or any other aspects of sexual orientation or preference, as I definitely didn't mean to discard interpretations or representations that may be powerfully meaningful for many players: How you see Solas and his sexuality is absolutely yours, first and foremost. This is just how I have attempted to interpret him.)
But let's get back to my case for "They Do Not Have Sex..."
So I'll amend my earlier statement to say that, to me, Solas seems like a very strongly sensual and sexual person, based on his behaviors, and one powerfully in love with the senses of the flesh, and who is deeply tempted by his physical desire for Lavellan. For this reason, the lack of a sex scene is noteworthy to me. Especially since he ends every other sexual moment with with variations on "we shouldn't!" So, for me, the moment he finally capitulates and goes, "Let's have sex!" should be a really big one. But we never see it.
- We never get kisses with Solas on demand. Which again, I find character-appropriate. Our Inky/Solas relationship is delicate enough that it is probably Solas who initiates the kissage. When he allows himself to. I know his romance was one of the later romances added in the final year of development, but I still think the technical options were there to add a love scene or a "kiss on demand," and that the exclusion of either item is deliberate and noteworthy.
- Last but not least, Solas instantly and emotionally denies sex when called on it by the Inky in "Trespasser:"
INQUISITOR: And so he did.
SOLAS: I did not. I would not lay with you under false pretenses.
Solas actually sounds upset over the above exchange, as played by Gareth David-Lloyd.
Either way, it's a big issue among Solasmancers, and there are passionate and persuasive points on both sides. But this is where I stand.
However—as I mentioned—I definitely understand those who headcanon that they do have sex after all. It just doesn't work for me the way the romance plays out. And I do think it's actually more angst-ridden and painful that way, that he never even gives her that one thing, that gift of shared intimacy. Not even a single night for them to lose themselves in one another.
Setting the Scene
|In terms of the story, Solas has tentatively entered into a romance with the Inquisitor, but they're also in a holding pattern.|
In terms of the story, Solas has tentatively entered into a romance with the Inquisitor, but they're also in a holding pattern. They kiss passionately in the Fade... and the next morning, in the Rotunda, he agrees to the possibility of a relationship if the Inquisitor will be patient with him, as "it has been a long time." She agrees, and he is warm and affectionate in a careful, slightly remote way going forward. But there are no more kisses.
For a pretty long time.
And nothing else happens for what would appear to be weeks or even months in-game. If you look at the ensuing events after the Fade Kiss, the Inquisitor has accomplished a series of events both political and on the battlefield against Corypants. She's spent months establishing Skyhold as an important and vital new hub for the Inquisition, recruited valuable agents, acquired power across Thedas, and acquired loyalties from companions, including Solas. She's also most likely faced the dangers of Adamant and the Fade, possibly conquered the Great Game at Halamshiral, and recovered her memories.
|My favorite part of "Wicked Eyes" is how it also provides a subtle, enjoyable new flash of insight into Solas, and it's a more natural escalation, for me, into the balcony scene.|
As noted above, one thing I personally will also have chosen to do at this point is the wonderful quest "Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts." Now, this is optional—it can also occur after Adamant, which means that it would occur after the balcony scene, not before. But for me it's more effective for multiple story reasons for "Wicked Eyes" to have occurred before.
For one thing, experiencing "Wicked Eyes" before Adamant and "Here Lies the Abyss" means that you'll recruit Morrigan before Alistair (or whoever did the Dark Ritual, if your Warden or another character did so) in DAO, providing you with an additional potential scene in the courtyard between Morrigan, Kieran, and the father of her child that is surprisingly poignant.
But my favorite part of "Wicked Eyes" is how it also provides a subtle, enjoyable new flash of insight into Solas, and it's a more natural escalation, for me, into the balcony scene. To understand this, please check out my post here on what I think Solas was actually up to throughout this quest. It's really fascinating to consider, and to me it provides a fun explanation for why he's so odd, blithe, carefree, and unlike his usual rebellious self.
And then he's odd again after Halamshiral, not quite his old self again. As if he's trying to re-don the suit of the apostate and it no longer quite fits. I'll be analyzing that conversation later, so more on that to follow.
Nevertheless, whether before Halamshiral or after, Lavellan goes to talk to Solas, and he's jittery and odd, off-balance.
And then we talk to him and he shows up IN HER QUARTERS.
Sorry. It's just a big deal. Solas never does that. Bull does, sure (wait, wait, headcanons collide AND IT IS GLORIOUS)!
Okay, sorry. Now I'm back.
|When we go talk to Solas, triggering the balcony scene, he's quite different, yet again, from his usual cool calm. He is instead uncertain, on edge.|
First, let's address the timeline. Since we can skip around in quests and accomplishments, there's a pretty flexible order in which all this stuff can occur.
While some players have encountered this quest immediately after Solas's loyalty quest, for me, I suspect that the canon order in which the story flows is that Solas goes to see Lavellan after the events of Adamant and the Fade. I say this because the interlude in the Fade seems to both awe and exhilarate Solas. Not that this is a shock. I mean, let's face it, Solas loves the Fade more than anyone, anywhere, anywhen. Bless his little ancient elven heart.
So that's the scene, at least as I see it playing out.
And then we go talk to Solas, triggering the balcony scene, and he's quite different, yet again, from his usual cool calm. He is instead uncertain, on edge. The presentation of Solas in the scene here is that he looks almost sad, and openly confused:
SOLAS: Inquisitor, I was… do you have a moment?
They walk together out onto the Inquisitor's BALCONY (I know, I'll stop yelping about this, but it's a big deal!).
And then he turns to her.
SOLAS: What were you like... before the Anchor?
The Inquisitor looks down at her left hand, trying to remember her life before the Mark.
SOLAS: Has it affected you? Changed you in any way? Your mind, your morals, your… spirit?
Note the slight pause there. I've mentioned this before, but I think it's key. And since I overanalyze everything, I do think every one of Solas's pauses here is scripted, deliberate, and important.
|Solas's question of the Inquisitor is all the more tragic and epic because he sees and loves her beauty, her courage. And he sees and loves her actual spirit. So he suspects that love, tries to write it off as a side effect.|
So let's look at that pause: He pauses, hesitates, because spirit is the thing that means most to him in the world. The spirit. More than anything. And I actually believe that Solas, if he is in fact a former spirit, may even have some ability to see into the spirits within those he meets.
Which makes it all the more tragic and epic, his love for the Inquisitor: He sees and loves her beauty, her courage. And he sees and loves her actual spirit.
And I think there's something more complex happening here too. For me, his trip to the Fade has triggered his loneliness, his deep wish to find companionship, a kindred spirit. He's seeking additional connection. Which is why I believe Solas also yearns for the possibility that perhaps her spirit was changed, enhanced, transfigured by her contact with the Orb of Corypants (revealed to be Solas's).
In some respects, it's a slightly unpleasant, even narcissistic idea... but I think the key here isn't that he's looking for himself in her, I'd say he's more seeking every additional excuse he can to maintain proximity, even beyond the Mark. He knows he should not be romancing Lavellan. He knows he should remove himself... unless... there are reasons he MUST maintain contact. For her safety. For her spirit.
|Solas is genuinely torn, and this is one of the key moments when he must choose—caught between, love, lust and an open willingness to deceive himself.|
And story-wise, we've also entered the 'maybe' that he's even wondering frantically if this is why he's drawn to her, if it's instinctual, something he cannot help... because of this connection, because of the Mark, and because she touched his Orb (I know, I know, let your dirty little mind run free—mine already did).
My take: Solas is genuinely torn, and this is one of the key moments when he must choose—caught between, love, lust and an open willingness to deceive himself. On the one hand, he's searching for an explanation. Imagine the relief—he's not in love! She just absorbed a little magic and now he feels connected to her spirit! Just a by-product of sorts. Annoying, but not insurmountable. But still... the feelings are so strong. So he's also desperate to hold onto that idea that he and the Inquisitor may now be, irrevocably, spiritually connected.
But he's wrong on both counts, and she lets him know that very, very quickly. He doesn't get off that easily. If he's in this thing, he has to admit that love is involved. Nothing magic, nothing ancient or external. Just love, the deadliest thing of all.
|If Solas is in this thing, he has to admit that love is involved. Nothing magic, nothing ancient or external. Just love, the deadliest thing of all...|
So let's go back to where Solas asks his question, and the Inquisitor answers. (Please note that, unusually for me here, I will be including most potential response variations here, since they are so different, and show different potential sides of both Solas and the Inquisitor.)
Here we are, back on the balcony. And I love that we can hear the faint howl of the wind through the mountains here. The visual and aural design of this entire scene is so beautiful.
SOLAS: What were you like before the Anchor? Has it affected you? Changed you in any way? Your mind, your morals, your… spirit?
INQUISITOR: I don’t believe so.
SOLAS (disappointed): Ah.
Another telling pause. And this is a big one, and something I forgot to mention in my previous version of this post until reader Mia Monza pointed it out. She noted, and I agree, that Solas appears visibly disappointed here, as if he wanted her to acknowledge some visceral, real change in herself after the Mark. Mia noted that she believes this is due to Solas grasping for explanations on why Lavellan is so special to him and—specifically—on her "personhood" for him: If she has absorbed something from the Orb, this might provide him with a facile explanation for why she matters to him and allow him to continue on, guilt-free, with his plans to drastically change or even destroy this world without having to see its inhabitants as "people." (Remember, we later learn his vision of the living world was, for a long time, like "walking through a world of Tranquil.")
But this is one of the many times Felassan's words will echo back to him, in irony and bittersweetness, even as they did in the very beginnings of the romance: If she's real—if he accepts that she's real—then everyone here is real, and he is, in fact, a monster.
INQUISITOR (among options): Why do you ask? (Alternatives are where she asks if he thinks she'd notice, or simply where she asks what he thinks is going on there)
SOLAS (answering in a rush): You show a wisdom I have not seen since… since my deepest journeys into the ancient memories of the Fade! You are not what I expected.
This part is charming because it's another of those rare moments where Solas is effusive and emotional, unguarded. And then there are some more dialogue options (I usually go with Option 3):
INQUISITOR: I don’t think of myself as different from anyone.
SOLAS: Perhaps not in the form of your body, no.
INQUISITOR: Sorry to disappoint.
SOLAS: It’s not disappointing, it’s… (sighs). Most people are predictable.
INQUISITOR: What have I done that’s so surprising?
SOLAS: You have shown subtlety in your actions, a wisdom that goes against everything I expected. If the Dalish could raise someone with a spirit like yours… have I misjudged them?
The Inquisitor answers—either for the Dalish, disparaging them, or stating that she is a product of her own choices. I typically support the Dalish:
INQUISITOR: I don’t hold the Dalish up as perfect, but we have something worth honoring... a memory of the ancient ways.
SOLAS: Perhaps that is it. I suppose it must be. Most people act with so little understanding of the world. But not you.
One thing I especially love about this moment is that Solas is basically declaring his love for Lavellan's mind—her actions, her decisions. And he is also showing himself as fallible, as vulnerable, that he can rethink entrenched points of view he has nurtured for millennia. He can see her as a person. He can see the Dalish as people. He can care for his companions.
He is beginning to see how beautiful, and how fatal, simple love can be.
Once again, for readers of The Masked Empire, the ghost of Felassan is very present here. As he should be.
|The kiss and approach is an interesting staging choice—to me it seems to offer a slight nod to Solas's earlier implied bedroom preferences, in which she seems to be both relinquishing and yet wielding power.|
A pause as they face each other, the rays of the sunset falling gorgeously upon both their faces. They lean in toward one another but do not touch. Yet.
One of my favorite things about Solas as a character—both in how he is drawn and presented, and in how he's written and voiced—is this almost tangible representation of the fact that he is not quite fully there. He could run at any time. He wants to run; he needs to run. He doesn't want to give in.
So it's again a lovely detail that we see this so many times. So many times, he backs away, says "I shouldn't... we shouldn't..." and yet he's a passionate man. He is alive and still young even if the world is on fire. He has been desperately lonely for millennia, and here is perhaps is one and only chance at love, and at a moment of real happiness.
INQUISITOR: So what does this mean, Solas?
He smiles. Solas also likes controlling the moment, don't forget (see also: Indomitable Focus).
SOLAS: It means... I have not forgotten the kiss.
It's a big deal, and the Inquisitor faces him. She can either tell him to forget it, or agree to resume/continue their romance. Of course, my canon Inquisitor agreed with him:
Another key little moment. She walks right up to him and into his space. The romantic "Companion Kiss" music comes up in Trevor Morris's score. Then the Inquisitor leans close to him and clasps her hands behind her back. It's an interesting staging choice—to me it seems to offer a slight nod to Solas's earlier implied bedroom preferences, in which she seems to be both relinquishing and yet wielding power. And he gets that she's teasing him, and they almost kiss, the Inquisitor openly taunting him with what she knows he wants. But Solas resists and turns away.
She touches his arm and pulls him back.
INQUISITOR: Don’t go.
SOLAS (still facing away from her): It would be kinder in the long run.
Another "I should run right now" moment for Solas. "I should run far, far away from this."
SOLAS: But losing you would…
He can't run, or resist. They kiss again, at last. And it's as passionate and beautifully presented as always, and with the setting rays of the sun falling upon them both (if, of course, you aren't running my grimmer mod). And I mean, it's, like, a THIRTEEN SECOND KISS. (Compare that to our poor Bullmancing Inquisitors, who got a 1-second peck outside the tavern, darn it.)
And then they end the kiss, and it's as if a pact has been sealed between the two of them. Solas says the words every Solasmancer has loved and dreaded since time immemorial:
SOLAS: Ar lath ma, vhenan.
And then he leaves. Dropping a mic as the Inquisitor just looks pleased, dreamy, and thoughtful as she watches him go (as do we all).
|And then they end the kiss, and it's as if a pact has been sealed between the two of them. Solas says the words every Solasmancer has loved and dreaded since time immemorial... DAMMIT.|
Meanwhile... not to diminish the charm or power of the final declaration, I only have one minor gripe here, which is that Gareth David-Lloyd's love declaration is phrased as "Ar lath, ma vhenan." Which has led, unfortunately and predictably, to a zillion tropes and memes in which people think he says "I love (you), my heart" here. And that's not quite accurate.
What Solas actually says is, "Ar lath ma, vhenan." To break it down in elven:
Despite the insistences of much of the fandom, in other words, "ma" (while it can certainly stand in for either "my" or "you") is much more likely to be used as the object "you," especially here.
As for me, I always take GDL's phrasing here more as, "Ar lath ma vhenan. Not that he's misplacing the comma but rather that he's emphasizing the word "love."
(Sorry. I'm a nerd.)
|Solas leaves... Solas, who is ALWAYS on the verge of leaving, simply because he is terrified of limits, terrified of feeling too much, lusting too much, of giving in to feelings he has bottled up for centuries upon centuries...|
Don't you love the view up here? I always do. So much!
There are some very interesting, key and unique things happening in these final moments for me, so just a few additional observations as we enjoy the fading light of sunset.
First off, it's both in-character and absolutely appropriate that of course, Solas declares love in this very casual yet intense way... it's as if he is simply speaking aloud something understood by them both. She already knows he loves her. He already knows she knows. But he gives her that gift by speaking the words aloud. Even her reaction isn't joy or glee or anything huge; she simply smiles thoughtfully, watching him leave (BECAUSE OF COURSE HE DOES). She's okay for now because he's given her a gift.
I've thought a lot about the timing of this "I love you," and it's worth examining. For other romances, the "I love you" is the culmination, a separate arc. But I would argue that, as Solas's romance plotline is so deeply tied to the main storyline of DAI, its timing is not actually all that sudden. DAI takes place across approximately 1-2 years according to canon. By the siege of Adamant, Solas and the Inquisitor have spent at least 9-12 months together, by my reckoning. I further headcanon a few months beyond the Fade Kiss (seriously, so unfair to poor Lavellan) as they navigated their potential burgeoning relationship and its boundaries.
So they've been good friends and companions, and that romantic "something else" for almost a year now. It's just that now is when it's finally out in the open.
It's not about the Inky admitting it to herself. But about the milestone for Solas. And his relinquishment of doubt or uncertainty. Against all his inner warnings, he loves her, and he must act. And it must be a relief, certainly, to do so here. To give each of them this moment.
But let's compare this to all of the other declarations of love in the game. Out of all of them, all of them, Solas's is the only one that pointedly does not lead to or arise from sex (beyond the kiss, I mean). (As I noted, I am a die-hard believer in "They did not have sex," so I incorporated a lot of this behavior into my DAI AU fanfic—a Solas who is always on the verge of leaving simply because he is terrified of limits, terrified of feeling too much, lusting too much, of giving in to feelings he has bottled up for centuries upon centuries.)
The moment is given, yes, but the moment ends.
Solas says "I love you"... and then he leaves. It's a gorgeous presentation of subtext and metaphor in a single moment. It encompasses all of the passion, warmth and sexiness of the character... as well as his potential for coldness and expedience... and even cruelty.
It's who he is. It's what he has to do. It's what he will always do, both now and in the future.
That's what you get if you love Solas. Twelve-second kisses that may or may not taste ever so slightly of the tears ahead.
I still think they're worth it. Most replays. How 'bout you?
Note: I updated this post to address a missed (and vital) element in the dialogue 3/18.
I think I'd find it difficult to be persuaded to believe that Solas & Inquisitor have sex, given that he flatly denies it in Trespasser.ReplyDelete
In any case, Solas is definitely my favorite romance story in Inquisition. As a person though, the Solas romance reminds me of too many of my bad relationships. I've had a couple where I definitely felt like I was the one who was all-in, while the other person was struggling. I've had to walk a line where it seemed like everything would fall apart if I asked for more than what I had. Where every bit of affection and reassurance had to be carefully, stubbornly drawn out from the person I cared for. It's a terrible feeling.
So is it worth it? Well, to read about or play in a video game? Hell fucking yeah!! Bring on the pain! But also, holy shit the Inquisitor deserves a lot better.
Anyway this is a really great write-up! I am loving this series. I think about Solas way too much....
Thanks so much, Hugseverycat!Delete
I really do know what you mean. I adore Solas's romance, but in real life? What he puts her through? OH HELL NO. At least... I hope not... (I might be weak, now that I think about it... DAMMIT SOLAS.) :D
But seriously, I'm so glad you enjoy the posts, and I so appreciate your taking time to read and comment!
I love your explanation here!ReplyDelete
I think this scene is triggered by doing All New Faded For Her. When you talk to him after. I always rush to get this scene.
Thank you so much, Michelle! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.Delete
I definitely agree that "All New, Faded for Her" is another very likely possibility. For me, it didn't trigger there in my latest playthrough, so I wonder if it's a simple matter of approval. I'll have to explore that further!
Meanwhile, thanks so much for reading (and commenting)!
According to the DA Wiki, the balcony scene needs:Delete
- You have to have arrived at Skyhold.
- You have to have high approval with him - This threshold is unknown, but presumably it's at least +35, which is what you need to access all the "Tell me about yourself" dialogue options.
- You have to have exhausted all the "Tell me about yourself" dialogue options, because that unlocks All New, Faded For Her.
- You to have completed the return to Haven / fade kiss scene with him.
- You have to have completed All New, Faded For Her.
Twelve seconds in paradise before plunging in solavellan hell. Totally worth it every single time.ReplyDelete
Thank you for another awesome analysis on our favourite illusive elf. It soothes my broken heart.
Thank YOU for reading! I'm so glad you enjoy the posts. I have so much fun writing them.Delete
Lovely read, so beautifully put! I agree with all of this, save that in the balcony scene he is looking for connection due to the orb, some change... It's worth noting that he makes the same comment there - romance or no! I see it much more as him confronting head on the possibility that everyone in this world could be real. I see it as him wondering if she is real only because of something his orb had done - or if she was real all along, meaning everyone else must be too.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Calwyne! This was the point reader Mia Monza pointed out. And I cursed myself for omitting it, as it's been a major element of my posts on Solas's romance since the first. I had made notes on it and literally forgotten to include it here.Delete
So I absolutely agree. I think it's absolutely about his confronting "oh shit, they are real" (romanced or not). 100%.
And thank you so much for reading and commenting! I so look forward to your feedback and ideas -- thank you for sharing them!
I absolutely read a lot of your posts (and love them). I may or may not be in the habit of re-reading lines of yours over and over because I love them so much :PDelete
Calwyne, that is seriously one of the loveliest compliments I have ever gotten in my life. You seriously just made my entire week. Thank you so much for that!Delete
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3Delete
Let's try this again now that it's morning...ReplyDelete
So like I mentioned, I had crafted a reply about some slightly different interpretations I have for some of the stuff you discuss in this post. I think it's pretty cool that different people can see the same stuff in different ways (rather like the whole "I saw the Battle of Ostagar..." conversation after which Solas explains that both perspectives he saw in the Fade are "real". :D )
So, firstly... You wrote as one of your reasons for why you feel they didn't have sex "And, to me, this doesn't ping as Solas being ace (while Josie does)—to me he's incredibly sensual and sexual based on his behaviors, so the lack is noteworthy to me." Full disclosure: I am demisexual with strong ace tendencies. I interpreted the relationship between Solas and Lavellan as a demisexual one. IE, Solas has to have a very deep emotional bond with a person as a prerequisite to developing any sexual desire for them. But once he's arrived there, he can be as passionate and sensual as any sexual person. Clearly, he gets there with Lavellan, but if he's like me, he might be fine with kissing and cuddling but be sex-averse.
Another interpretation is that he is sexual while Lavellan is not, and in this interpretation, the fact that there is no sex scene can be explained by the relationship between them being a very mature and consenting one. If Lavellan's demi or ace, then Solas is respecting her need/desire to not be physically intimate.
I do find their relationship to be very mature and consenting. Indeed, during the morning conversation after their very first kiss in Fade Haven, two out of three dialogue options for Lavellan have her being apologetic to him for pushing him too hard.
INQUISITOR: Solas, I thought you were interested. If I misread you, I apologize.
SOLAS: No, you have no need to apologize… I… it has been a long time, and things have always been… easier for me in the Fade.
INQUISITOR: You did kiss me back. If I’m pressuring you-
SOLAS: No, you’re not. I am perhaps pressuring myself. It has been a long time, and things have always been easier for me in the Fade.
(The third option is, of course, the teasing fade tongue dialogue, which seems to be a favourite among Solavellan fans.)
This comment has been removed by the author.Delete
The presence of these two apology options, combined with the fact that Lavellan is the person who instigates that first kiss are a couple aspects of the game that helped me come to the conclusion that Solas may be demi. (Which I loved! Representation, yay!)Delete
(I should add that in the Fade Haven scene, he backs away from her when she advances on him after explaining that “I felt the whole world change” is a figure of speech, then seems a bit oblivious that she’s about to kiss him. The flirts leading up to this scene are mostly harmless fun and you have similar options to flirt with Cassandra, Vivienne, and Dorian even though those are companions with whom a female Lavellan can never have a romance.)
Onwards! The next thing I interpreted differently is the kiss on the balcony. I always found her stepping into Solas’ space to be very powerful. He, it needs to be noted, takes a couple of steps toward her, as well. (This is a marked contrast to their first kiss in Haven, where, as mentioned above, he actually backs away from her a few steps before she closes in for the kiss.) Here on the balcony, they meet each other in the middle. To me, they are meeting each other as equals. Which, of course, once you find out he’s the Dread Wolf, is pretty darn amazing. (I headcanon my post-Trespasser Lavellan wrestles with the idea that a person she grew up *revering as one of the Creators* loves her. She is no one special – how did that HAPPEN?!) But in the moment, she is just feeling confident and that she and Solas are a match. Partners.
Then he remembers who he is and what he needs to do, and he turns away from her again. I agree 100% with you that he is torn between duty and desire throughout the whole romance.
The last thing I interpret differently is Lavellan’s expression as Solas is walking away after their kiss. She doesn’t strike me as dreamy and thoughtful. She looks confused and maybe a little bit frustrated! ;) I can practically hear her thoughts “I gave him time to think about things, he clearly has decided he wants to be with me, so WHY DOES HE KEEP WALKING AWAY?!” (In my headcanon, she figures he has had a very bad relationship in the past and that’s what keeps getting in the way. Then, of course, she finds out the truth in Trespasser.)
While I agree with you that Solas needs to be in control, I don’t get the sense that he is trying to exert any control over her. (Indeed, given his love for freedom, freedom of thought, free will, etc. I can’t really see him as ever wanting to control her.) It’s all directed at himself.
P.S. I know a lot of fans swoon over Solas' thighs, but we can we talk about the lines of his shoulders and back in that screenshot you took of them kissing where his back's to us? *SWOON*ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for the eloquent replies! The system is being cranky -- this was the only comment it would let me reply to! (Grr!)
First off, thank you for correcting me. You are absolutely right that I am too hasty in assuming the romance cannot be demisexual or asexual. I will be correcting my post language accordingly.
I would say, to me, that to *me* he doesn't ping that way because of the way the scenes are played. But that's just my take. He seems really sexual to me, and the sexual aspect seems to be hardest for him to refuse. I also get this impression from his flirtations (and, of course, his teasing and open reference to BDSM).
However, I don't know enough about any of those things to know what is appropriate or typical, or whether the two can overlap, etc. Please forgive any ignorance I demonstrate.
Meanwhile: I like your notation that they meet "in the middle" on the balcony. I agree with that and think it's interesting and a lovely grace note. And I absolutely love the impact of the Inquisitor realizing later on just who she's been in love with all this time.
I also like the fact that she approaches him that way in order to, basically, ask him to take action. She has literally put her arms behind her back; she wants HIM to act.
And then he turns away again (and I would argue that he is not only attempting to refuse what he feels, that he may also actually teasing her just a bit here, with what he knows she wants). And so she reaches out again physically, and then he returns to her. Pretty much exactly as in Haven in the Fade Kiss.
As far as the last moment... I just don't see anything negative on Lavellan's face on that last panel as he leaves. She appears to me to be serene and thoughtful, pleased with their moment (and most of all with his words) and she makes no additional move after him as he departs. But that's what's so wonderful about attempting to interpret all this, as you point out!
Last but not least -- when I talk about his need for control, I don't mean it in a toxic way. I don't think he's trying to control Lavellan's thoughts or actions. I think he's -- to be blunt -- into control in the bedroom and prefers a dominant/submissive relationship. And to me that's very in-character and actually jibes for me with his constant efforts to control the scenarios around him.
Again, I don't mean it in an abusive or unsettling way or that it removes any of Lavellan's agency. I just think there's an aspect to Solas that is drawn to things that require both confidence and exquisite control. And that includes, ahem, his bedroom preferences.
As always, you bring up wonderful points, and I can of course be so, so wrong here. I so appreciated the conversation, and will look forward to your thoughts, as always!
Thank you for changing your post a little to acknowledge that demisexuality or asexuality are indeed possible options for Solas based on his behaviour in-game. I wasn't expecting you to change anything in your post when I wrote my reply, but I appreciate that you took the time to do that. <3 And like I said at the very beginning of my reply, everybody's interpretation is as real as anybody else's. A lot of people have difficulty wrapping their heads around demisexuality and asexuality, so you're not alone there. I myself didn't really understand what was "wrong" with me until the past few years. (Answer: nothing is wrong with me! I just experience life a little differently.)
Regarding Lavellan's expression as he leaves her - I don't really see anything there, either positive or negative. She looks quite neutral to me. So that probably explains how you can see her as dreamy and thoughtful while I can see her as confused and maybe a little frustrated.
Since there was no sex scene, I think Solas' behaviour in the bedroom us up for each and every one of us to decide! Personally, I do not find dominance/submission to be sexy, but I understand that a lot of other people do, and that's okay! I should note that I played as a rogue; Solas commented on my Lavellan's grace, so there was no underlying question of who was dominating who in my play-through. And /for me/, that was a much more comfortable relationship than a dominant/submissive one would be. :)
Great points as always on the subtler aspects and undertones to Solas's romance. And of course many people's reactions and mileages will vary on my take that Solas is at least a little bit into dominance (and yeah, I do find that sexy in him).Delete
But -- I also think there's plenty of room for interpreting his relationship without that element at all -- as you mention, he only references it in one specific dialogue (with a mage). So of course it's very easy to imagine that he is equally NOT into that as well. It's basically in the eye of the beholder in the best way.
The biggest irony is that in the three years since I posted this, I have come to realize that I am demisexual, and I do see that possibility very strongly in Solas, especially in retrospect.
I think all the the subjective interpretation of Lavellan’s facial is due to the wide range of BioWare character creator. Just one tweak to lip thicknesss here, one to jawline here and brow height/ shape, and you have a vastly different face. Maybe even your inquisitors natural resting face looks to be a particular emotion potentially. By this is mean most of the time running around skyhold and in non cutscene dialogues my inquisitors neutral resting face looked a little stern, slightly hardened emotionally by the way her eyes and eyebrows were I’m not sure if I’m getting the image across but hopefully yes. And this same stern eleven inquisitor , when she had her balcony scene in her quarters with Solas and he walked away ending the scene, somehow the facial expression on my inquisitors face changed from stern and hard/ slightly cold, to softened and slightly concerned expression her lips parting and her eyebrows drawn together. I suspect the unique way each of us solasmancers designs our eleven inquisitors affects the facial animations we see in scene which adds so much flavour and depth to the head cannon omg thank you BioWare (not sure if I can stand waiting just might die of impatience regarding RotDW -Dread Wolf-). thank you so much btw for making this website it’s been such a treasure to me realizing there is nothing for me to be ashamed of by being an adult woman’s and extremely passionate about fictional worlds such as dragon age and the Witcher. All your analysis of ironbull and solas are an absolute delight to read as it reaffirms thoughts I had myself, expands on areas I couldn’t quite pin down and presents entirely original new ideas and perspectives that I could not hope to come up with myself! I’m sorry for rambling on or if what I’m about to say is overly personal but dragon age franchise and inquisition specifically have been a huge help for recovery from my ptsd. That’s why I get so emotional personally about it aside from the fact it is damn well written to pull at the heart strings and something for everyone. I just have one more thought to add, I recall, reading one of the romance dedicated pages that stated iron bull and solas are the most unexpected and complex stand out relationships from the game, all are great and have substance but you mentioned these two as particularly different and outstanding. I completely agree with this assessment and grading but would like to suggest an addition, a contender for 3rd most unique and memorable romance experience, and that would be sera’s. I haven’t done the romance personally but have watched videos on videos and I can really say there is lots of hidden depth there, simply fantastic to feel the shock as you realize love was a able to help Sera grow out of her shell and be comfortable with her self, more so even than that she learned to love herself and be damn proud, (sera’s personal loyalty quest “pride cookies” pun totally intended!) she learned to express love, while Dorians struggle with sexuality is no less emotional and vulnerable I believe sera’s learning to love anything and anyone herself included for the 1st time is extremely tender, something naive yet mature that is both fitting her childish impish like nature as well contradicting her innate stubbornness to discuss or reason on anything.ReplyDelete
Please never stop writing on this site and never take it down :) I’ll always be happy to read,
P.s. best of lucky with your solas fanfic truly looking forward to reading more!
Faelys, thank you for this lovely compliment -- I am so glad that you've been enjoying the blog, and that Dragon Age has helped you overcome your PTSD. Dragon Age and its fandom have definitely been a comfort to me as well, in so many ways.Delete
It means a lot to me that my posts and blog are helpful or meaningful to you in any way, and I promise that I have no plans to take it down! I hope it stays up forever.
Angela, I just love all your posts! Seriously, I have been absorbing in each one since I finished DAI, which was actually very recent! You write so well and you give such a richness and depth to content that it already pretty great, but you always see more. I can’t wait to do another play through with all your wisdom now guiding me.ReplyDelete
I’ve read that Weekes confirmed the whole “did they or didn’t they” is supposed to be up to the player. So I guess it really is either/or. I personally have a hard time getting behind the idea that they didn’t sleep together only because of the dialogue where Lavellan asks something about him trying to get her into bed and Solas says “I am grim and fatalistic. Getting you into bed is just an enjoyable side benefit.” If they hadn’t actually slept together that would be such a strange thing to say, even if meant in a flirtatious and playful way. I view that as a pretty bold thing to say to someone you’ve only ever kissed. Also he doesn’t say “...getting you into bed WOULD be an enjoyable side benefit” he says “...getting into bed IS JUST an enjoyable side benefit.” as if it’s a perk he’s experienced before with Levellan.
Anyways thanks again for being such a badass with all your amazing posts. One of my favorite historians is Heather Cox Richardson and I read her political posts every morning. You’re like my Heather Cox Richardson of DA.
I'm so glad these threads are still kinda active-ish this many years later so I don't feel bad being late to the party. I only just discovered this blog in one of my Solavellan flare-ups. I swear it's like a chronic disease that you can live with for months and months and then suddenly the feels hit you and there's this irresistible urge to go on a therapeutic fandom rampage. And in such a state this blog is giving me life.Delete
Anyway, I think an important thing to keep in mind with all of these "but he has this line of dialogue" points is that he doesn't always say those lines. When, as you point out, the word of god themselves basically said that everyone's shade of "did they or didn't they" can have its own parallel universe, single lines of dialogue aren't really meant to go any further than specific playthroughs. Though I agree that if you do have the grim and fatalistic line, it's odd to then NOT think they slept together.
In my understanding, the "did they or didn't they" question comes down to two things. First, the player's idea of Solas's morality, which as I know from my part, is also very much influenced by my own. Strictly from the "lying about his identity and agenda" standpoint, I just can't see bedding her as any worse than carrying on with a romantic relationship as emotionally deep and intimate as what the Solavellan romance feels like. Solas drawing the line at sex when he's already letting her give him her heart just feels arbitrary. (This is of course different if he's drawing that boundary for other reasons such as being demi/ace, which I can easily see being the case, even though he does register as sexual to me, just as for Angela.)
The second thing is how far everyone's Lavellans are willing to trust Solas, given that he does share "so little personal history" as Viv put it. Even if Lavellan doesn't think there's anything shady going on (which mine doesn't), technically she still doesn't know that much about him, at least as far as biographical facts. She does spend more than a year in his company, he talks truthfully about his feelings and opinions (even if he does carefully pick the topics), and he supports Lavellan and some companions emotionally. This can certainly be enough for some Lavellans to go all the way in emotional AND/OR physical intimacy, which on the physical side means having sex (again, unless sexuality considerations apply). My own Lavellan does get there eventually, though very slowly - partly also because of headcanon backstory stuff. And thus in my canon world, they do have sex and not even just once, but the sex comes months after the "Ar lath ma, vhenan" scene. (In my timeline there's half a year between that scene and the breakup, so there's still a period of development, then he dumps her just as she's getting truly comfortable.)
Putting aside my not being able to really understand how "taking her" into bed is worse than "taking her" emotionally, I kinda still see, intellectually, how some would conclude Solas drew the line at sex, as implied by one interpretation of the "would not lay with you under false pretenses" line.
Personally, I lean toward an "I would not seduce you for my agenda" type of interpretation, and think that he would be open to being physical if she was. To me it even adds an extra bit of agency to her. If he can't give her the full truth he will at least offer her every bit of the self that he is to her.
Ultimately, it's up to both of them in the world, (as it should be), which in meta-world means it's up to both the player (their idea of how Solas stands on sex vs. emotional vulnerability in the face of duplicity, and potentially his sexuality), as well as the character (Lavellan's ability and willingness to trust him given missing and available information).
Solastminute (I love your name), thank you for the great comment!Delete
As far as "Getting you into bed is just an enjoyable side benefit," I would note that he can totally say this in the context of "We are about to sleep together," which is what I take from the scene.
In which case that comment makes sense -- especially since I feel both of them are very calm and connected as the date begins, both comfortable with each other and (I feel) certain that this is the night they will be together.
Until he realizes what he's doing and breaks it off. So to me it still works as "they did not have sex." BUT -- as always -- I get why many many people disagree! :)
Meanwhile, thank you so much for the really lovely compliment -- that's such high praise! I hope you'll keep reading. And commenting!
I also believe he and Lavellan do not have sex... But what if, right? I mean. I am currently writing a series of books, MGIT, who landed in freaking Arlathan. Solas was one of her teachers, with Mythal, and even Andruil for hunting and bow usage.ReplyDelete
Before Andruil went mad, Mythal was murdered and Solas raised the veil. They fell in love, but neither told the other. We're talking MAJOR SLOW BURN. She has moved on. ISH, but, they will in the fic eventually have sex. She was raised as an Evanuris, she is one of them, but tried to save Mythal, helped Solas in his rebellion. And with her luck, she becomes Inky. Or will. We are in Kirkwall right now chillin with the Hawke family. But yes, he would not lay with someone who didn't know who he really was.
What SUCKS is Patrick Weeks actually had said that the scene in Crestwood, where he rips both of their hears out? He was going to tell her who he was, he was going to lay it all out so that he and she could be together. And then he chickened the fuck out. That strong in control man, afraid she would hate him, chickened out. But made her hurt.
Kris, thanks for reading -- and your fanfic sounds wonderful!Delete
Yeah, Patrick's comment about Solas's state of mind in that moment is so moving and maddening because they really let us know that the moment is just as difficult and heartbreaking for Solas as we suspected. (Aghghg!)
I do talk about that further in my later "Last, Worst Date" post on their romance.
I will always cherish the solasmance so so goddamn much despite how much it hurts to watch it unfold, but I totally agree with your post. That being said, a few things I just wanna say bc I can lol. First I actually always romance Solas as a male lavellan for the fact that i'm gay irl (lol) but also because theres a really good chance he was supposed to be bi in the first place, both because theres actually a lot of male vo lines that were recorded for his romance and because for a guy whos been around for thousands of years it really doesnt make sense (imo) that he'd be exclusively straight. Since his and Cullen's romances were the very last two to be added, I feel like some of his potential kinda got cut short. For example, on my hunt for cut content stuff from DAI, there was actually supposed to be a scene during the epilogue where lavellan was with Solas when he met with Mythal. This honestly makes me headcannon that, if you earned solas's trust and maxed out his approval entirely, maybe even had a secret extra thing to gain his full trust, you would be rewarded with him not only telling the full truth at the waterfall, but the early option to side with him and join him post game, which likely would also lead to more intimate scenes since in Trespasser he states that he wouldn't lay with you "under false pretenses" really does feel like a punch in the tooth like "you missed out on the super secret option to discover my identity sooner and therefore are also denied the same intamcy everyone else gets for being 'easy'". That being said, I also enjoy the headcannon of him being on the ace spectrum as well, i just feel that we more or less just got cut from our precious egg potential. But yeah, by far my favorite romance, imo is the best written out despite arguably being the least rewarding but I genuinely refuse to believe that in another world somewhere theres a secret option to join his side through it all.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for commenting (and reading)! I absolutely agree that in my personal headcanon, it's not even a question that Solas is bisexual. I don't see someone living for thousands of years without sampling both sides of the plate! And given that Solas tends to see the "spirit" of the person first, I think this is further indication that he is more adventurous with his tastes. Besides, anyone who flirts with him knows he's got a wicked little glint in his eye -- he's had his share of adventures, darn it.Delete
My understanding is that he was originally bisexual, but that the writers ultimately decided not to go with that to avoid the "evil bisexual" trope. Which I do understand. I suspect that if they made the game now, the outcome might be different, however.