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Fanfic / Skyhold Academy Yearbook

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Yeah, this is about as many times as it appears in the series, too.
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"It's probably best described as non-magical Hogwarts staffed by the Second Inquisition of Thedas, with occasional musical numbers and an extremely high tolerance for shenanigans."

Such is the basic premise of Skyhold Academy Yearbook, a High School A.U. Fan Verse starring the cast of Dragon Age, particularly Dragon Age: Inquisition. The castle of Skyhold has been transformed into a boarding school with a secret; under the watchful eye of Headmistress Leliana Nightingale, students from across modern Thedas come to study with the most eclectic and doting cast of teachers any video game could hope to spawn. It's a complete mishmash of canon references and modern media from the real world; the magic has been stripped from the setting, all the characters are human, and almost everybody's hiding a little something about themselves.

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Evangeline Trevelyan comes to serve as Skyhold Academy's art teacher for a year while Marian Hawke, the regular instructor, is on sabbatical. It doesn't take long for the entire cast to start shipping her with Cullen Rutherford, the popular but shy history professor, and the school year brings months of wacky adventures, mutual pining, terrible jokes, and enough nonsense to get a normal school staff fired on the spot. But Skyhold is not a normal school by any stretch of the imagination. Meanwhile, alongside the shipping and the occasional Disney movie, the school has to contend with the antics of their hated rival; the Skyhold Academy Chargers and the Venatori Prep Red Templars have a long-standing grudge and the repercussions are more serious than ever.

The whole thing creates tremendous Fanfic Fuel for the students, of course. And the Adventure Continues.

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    Stories in the series 
The original story, Skyhold Academy, covers the events of Evvy's yearlong tenure as the art teacher. Although this was initially planned to be a stand-alone story, it spawned a number of spinoffs and sequels:
  • The Year of the Unicorn and the Emerald Princess is a side story set during the same time, but showcasing the viewpoint of three of the students.
  • Where the Sky is Held is a collection of short adventures taking place in the autumn and winter of Evvy's second year at the school. Notably, this collection includes "Accidentally in Matrimony," a fanfiction written by two students about Evvy and Cullen.
  • I Must Be Going is a straight-up crossover, written and read aloud by Varric, putting the cast into a spoof of The Princess Bride.
  • Skyhold Academy Seasons is another collection of short adventures taking place between I Must Be Going and the following autumn. In particular, the students do a stage production of Beauty and the Beast, which spans three chapters, and also hold a school-wide talent contest.
  • Disorienuptials features another staff wedding done with a surprise twist.
  • The Memory Band, a third collection of short adventures taking place over the course of the year following Disorienuptials. It includes a reunion of previous Skyhold graduates, among other things.
  • Life is a Roller Coaster sends the school to an amusement park, which leads to a roller coaster ride of events. This turned out to be such a long installment that it was broken into two.
  • Beauty and the Bloodsucker is a sort of bonus installment, written for Halloween 2018, in which Jim and Rory enter a writing contest with a story about Cullen and his siblings as a family of vampires.
  • New Message Received is another text fic similar to Emerald Princess, but with an expanded cast; it covers the time between the end of that story and the end of Life is a Roller Coaster.
  • Bright Jewels, Chained City is a collection of Jim and Rory's writing. It's a series of noir stories centered around a pair of Kirkwall detectives based on Cullen and Varric.

Upcoming installments include:

  • Love is a Mystery, the final installment, picks up where Roller Coaster leaves off and introduces a number of changes in the school landscape.
  • Ordinary Chaos is a prequel featuring a few of the students, showing how they first met and adjusted to life at Skyhold; it mostly serves as an explanation to the reader how the school operates.
  • The Red and Gold Dossier will be something of a take on Dragon Age: Origins. It shows how the characters from that game became acquainted prior to the events of Ordinary Chaos.

The entire saga is written through roleplay between Lady Norbert and AuroraBorealia, and published on Archive of Our Own. Now has a Character sheet.


Sign my Skyhold Academy Yearbook with these tropes:

    open/close all folders 

    The series as a whole 

Tropes present in the entire series

  • Academy of Adventure: Skyhold sort of qualifies, in its own weird way.
  • Adorkable: Cullen and Alistair are still the kings of this trope; Cullen has more screen time, however, so it's much more obvious with him.
  • Affectionate Nickname/In-Series Nickname:
    • Dorian and Evvy dub Cullen "the unicorn" because he's so elusive, emotionally speaking. Evvy herself is frequently called "the rainbow of Skyhold" by various characters. Evvy and Dorian also call each other "Cinderella" and "Fairy Godfather."
    • Mahanon, as is revealed during his introduction, refers to Evvy as "little lady." He explains that as the youngest daughter of the Bann, she's the littlest Lady Trevelyan, or at least she was when they met as small children.
    • In addition to all the nicknames Varric gives everybody else, Hawke and Bethany are "Varric's girls." Even Fenris - Hawke's husband - calls them that.
    • Dorian and Bull still call each other amatus and kadan, which evokes strong feelings of squee in Rory when she overhears them.
    • The student characters Rory, Jim, and Nessa go by the self-appointed nickname "Partners in Crime," which is also adopted by the teachers. They also call each other "Rors," "Jimmy," and "Nessie" on occasion.
  • All There in the Fanfiction: Jim and Rory have written quite a collection of fic about their teachers, but only a couple plot-relevant pieces appear in the series; they do, however, make references to some of the other stories, and Bright Jewels, Chained City is a collection of their work. Word of God confirms that some of the other stories also exist. See Spiritual Successor on the Trivia page.
  • Alternate Universe Fic: Specifically, it's a High School A.U.. A few chapters (and most of I Must Be Going) are Alternate Universe Fics of the Alternate Universe Fic.
  • Artifact Title: Arguably. The eponymous yearbook is rarely mentioned and has never actually appeared in the stories.
  • Ascended Extra: Students Jim, Seamus, and Nessa are actually characters from the game. The fandom has universally given the name Jim to the hapless scout who interrupts Cullen and the Inquisitor's first kiss, and here he's fleshed out and given a personality. Nessa is based on one of the Skyhold runners, who appears to be a dwarf; she's the one who can often be heard saying to Josephine, "At your order." Seamus is also based on a runner, the one forced to contend with such nonsense as Josephine having weekly meetings with Cullen and Leliana that they don't want to attend.
  • Babies Ever After: Not during the original story; the sequels are another matter.
  • Badass Teacher: Most of them, in one way or another, although probably Bull more than anyone.
  • Bat Family Crossover: The cast includes characters from all over Dragon Age media, with most of the Inquisition's inner circle serving as the staff of Skyhold Academy. Other characters appear in various roles, most often as students, guest teachers, or staff members at Skyhold, its hated rival Venatori Prep, or the University of Orlais.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Collectively, the senior staff all share one - they will suffer no harm to come to their students, their school, or each other. The fastest way to make any of them angry is to threaten one of those.
    • Never subject a woman to attentions she doesn't want, or you'll find yourself on the wrong end of Cullen Rutherford's fist. This is seen both in the narrative of the first story and also in Fenris's recounting of the day he met Cullen.
    • Don't ever imply that you might even be thinking about harming Bethany or Marian Hawke. Varric Tethras will end you. Literally.
  • Best Friends-in-Law: Their interactions would imply that this is the relationship between Fenris and Bethany; the two are clearly very fond of each other.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Dorian and Mahanon for Evvy; gender flipped with Mia and Cass for Cullen.
  • Big Man on Campus: Cremisius "Krem" Aclassi is arguably the most popular student in the entire school; he then graduates and joins Bull as assistant football coach so he can stay at Skyhold, continuing to be very popular.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Occasionally. For example, in Where the Sky is Held, the chapter about Fenris and Hawke's romantic history is titled "Pas de Deux" (a French ballet term for a dance between two people). Fenris himself is fond of the Latin phrase Tempus fugit, meaning "Time flies."
  • Blue Blood: As in the games themselves, Cass, Elissa, Josie, and Evvy all have this.
  • Boarding School: The students live at Skyhold during the school year, and are brought in from all over southern Thedas. However, it's noted that because it's an exclusive facility, there are rarely more than a hundred students on the rolls at a given time.
  • Call-Back: Later installments in the series frequently reference the earlier ones. Varric drops the trope by name in Skyhold Academy Seasons when Cullen remarks, "I must be going."
  • Canine Companion: Duke, Hawke's mabari, fills this role for Cole during part of the first story. By the end, a plan is in place to get a few more for the school, and as of Where the Sky is Held, Cole has his own mabari puppy named Snow.
  • Carpet of Virility: As in the games, Varric's chest hair is a bit of a recurring gag.
  • The Charmer: Mahanon is described this way.
  • Chick Magnet: Cullen, Michel, and Krem are regularly shown to be this; Sebastian also gets a turn during his visit to Skyhold. It's hinted, but not outright stated, that Even the Guys Want Him is in play for them as well. Varric receives a similar treatment when visiting the hospital in Kirkwall, though the bulk of his admirers are kept at bay.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Although a large portion of the extended Dragon Age cast is seen or at least mentioned somewhere in this series, at no point is there so much as an allusion to Anders. It's open to reader interpretation as to why; either those who knew him refuse to mention him, or he simply never existed at all in this AU. According to the authors, there's such a wide schism in the fandom about whether or not his actions in the second game were justified that they didn't feel there was any way to include him to everyone's satisfaction.
  • Class Trip: They occasionally take these; given that the school is noted to rarely have more than a hundred students on the rolls at any given time, when they do take trips, everyone gets to go.
  • Confirmed Bachelor: Solas seems to be this, expressing absolutely no romantic interest in anyone. Gender flipped with Leliana.
  • Conversational Troping: Varric is frequently guilty of this.
  • Cool Bike: Varric rides a black Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and it makes a few appearances. He describes it as being his most prized possession, second only to Bianca.
  • Cool School: Judging by the number of reviewers who have expressed the wish that they could enroll, Skyhold Academy qualifies.
  • Cool Teacher: All of them, in one sense or another, fall under this. Dorian is arguably the coolest; he certainly thinks so, anyway, and Evvy sometimes soothes his ruffled ego by appealing to that mindset. Varric invokes it in Seasons, when Dorian compliments him on arranging a pizza party for the kids, by saying that he can't let Dorian be the cool teacher all the time.
  • Coupled Couples: Evvy and Mahanon have been friends since they were small children. Cullen and Cassandra have likewise been friends for several years. Evvy introduces Mahanon to Cass while trying to get Cullen's attention.
  • Covert Group: Given the non-magical (and therefore darkspawn-free) nature of the AU setting, the Grey Wardens function as this instead of their usual purpose. They're an extremely selective covert ops organization which has jurisdiction over all of southern Thedas, and only the Divine herself has authority over them. They're so covert that almost no one outside the agency even knows who's in it.
  • Cuteness Proximity: In the later installments, Skye Rutherford has this effect on pretty much everybody. Evvy finds it particularly endearing that even Varric fawns (but only when he thinks no one's looking).
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Cullen, as in the game, although given the non-magical setting it's given a different spin here. It's later explained that many of the Skyhold students have these as well. It's implied that Dorian has one, but he doesn't talk about it much until Seasons, when some of his past catches up to him. Varric and Fenris are also each implied to have one, but Varric talks about his even less than Dorian does; Fenris, however, does give some details about his in "Pas de Deux," only because they explain why he was initially reluctant to get involved with Hawke.
  • Demoted to Extra: Sera, rather than retaining her in-game position within the inner circle, is instead one of the students and appears mostly by mention. Cole is also demoted to student, but has a larger role due to his relationship with Evvy.
  • Ensemble Cast: The first story somewhat revolves around Alpha Couple Cullen and Evvy (and everyone's efforts to get them together), but the series as a whole has no specific protagonist and everyone involved is considered essential to the plot.
  • Family of Choice: How the senior teaching staff regard each other; in I Must Be Going, Blackwall notes that most of them have no family but the one at Skyhold. Dorian in particular views the other teachers this way, especially Evvy and, as odd as he admits it sounds, Varric.
    • Varric notes that he's "an honorary Hawke."
    • It's generally understood that Krem might as well be Bull's son. Cole, meanwhile, not only 'might as well be' Evvy's son, but eventually becomes so legally.
  • Fan Verse: At more than 600,000 words as of the ninth installment, even the authors don't really know how long this is going to be.
  • The Fashionista: Bethany's hat in this universe, based on her in-game love of pretty clothes. She went to college for fashion design and manufacture; it crops up occasionally in the narrative. Among other things, she runs a blog about the subject and helps with the costumes for the Skyhold school play.
  • A Friend in Need: The teachers are this for each other on a regular basis. Leliana comments on it more than once, observing that while she's so pleased that they always have each other's backs, she wishes that circumstances didn't require it as often as they do.
  • Friendly Address Privileges: Only certain people can get away with addressing Hawke as "Marian." As far as the stories indicate, this is limited to Bethany, Cassandra, and Cullen; presumably Fenris and Varric are also on this list.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Varric and Dorian's friendship has this vibe. They torment each other in playful ways.
  • Gentle Giant: For the students and his fellow teachers, Bull is basically this. For anyone who gets on his bad side, not so much.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: This might be the best way to describe the occupation of Mahanon, Evvy's oldest friend. He's a private consultant for various law enforcement agencies a la Sherlock Holmes, but his actual skills range from codebreaking to breaking and entering. He even likens himself to the character in Roller Coaster.
  • Greek Chorus: The students are a bit of this; the authors refer to them as "a Greek chorus of squee."
  • Grumpy Old Man: Played with. Varric's fond of describing himself this way, even though he's really only about forty years old (and usually cheerful).
  • Happily Adopted: Cole, in time. In a sense, all of the Skyhold Academy students are this; see Orphanage of Love.
  • Happily Married: Hawke and Fenris (who has even taken Hawke's last name here) qualify, as do President and First Lady Theirin. This is eventually the case for a number of other pairings among the staff as well.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Somewhat improbably, the entire senior staff can sing very well. This results in a number of concerts and other performances, each more startling than the last. Varric jokes in Disorienuptials that he and a few of the others are "an aging boy band."
    • In the assorted sequels, it's revealed that Solas is a skilled video game player and also that he is a gifted mime. Both talents were basically a case of Throw It In! on the part of the authors.
    • Fenris, in a nod to a joke he makes with Varric in Dragon Age II, is a professional ballet dancer. No, really.
    • Bull has a Multiple-Choice Past owing to his history as a spy, and has been trained in a number of skills. Most improbably, he sings opera.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: As in the games, Varric. It becomes less hidden over time; he complains (not at all seriously) that having "Sunshine" around makes it difficult for him to maintain his reputation as a curmudgeon. Small dogs and household appliances are not fooled.
  • Honorary Uncle: Dorian and Mahanon become this for Cole, since they're both Like Brother and Sister with Evvy; Cassandra's similar relationship with Cullen makes her Honorary Aunt. When babies Skye and Anthony join the extended family later, it cements the role further. Varric also joins the honorary clan, referring to himself as the "whiskey uncle."
  • Hot Teacher: Cullen and Michel are regarded this way by many students; Varric is specifically described this way after his performance at the concert. Rather, a student is overheard to make the comment that "I never knew Professor Tethras was hot."
  • Hypothetical Casting: The authors have come up with a live-action casting for almost every character who gets mentioned by name in the series. Because everyone is human in the series, they don't look exactly like their video game counterparts, but they kept it as close as possible. Most of them can be found on the character sheet.
  • I Call It "Vera": Bianca, as ever; in this iteration, however, she's Varric's vintage typewriter.
  • Informed Ability: Hawke and Evvy are artists, Blackwall is a craftsman, and pretty much the entire school staff sings. Given the medium, the reader has to assume that they're as talented as everyone implies they are; only Varric, as a writer, ever gets to actually show his skill in the narrative.
  • It's the Best Whatever, Ever!: The students are fond of saying that Skyhold is the "Best. School. EVER."
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Since the President and First Lady were never able to have children of their own, they - as the patrons and founders of Skyhold Academy - look at the students as their children.
  • Lighter and Softer: In many ways, the series is this to the original Dragon Age canon. There is considerably less death, for one thing; in particular, it's noted that when Hawke and Varric were dealing with gang activity in Kirkwall prior to the series, they took a firm non-lethal stance.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Evvy has this relationship with Mahanon, whom she's known since they were toddlers, and develops a similar bond with Dorian; both men clearly adore her, and she them. Later, Dorian acknowledges that Evvy is "the sister I never had" and Varric is "the brother I never wanted," so his honorary siblings agree that they are this to each other as well. Everybody rolls with it; they even take a 'family portrait' in Disorienuptials.
    • This is more or less stated to be the relationship between Cullen and Cassandra, and between Varric and Hawke.
    • The three student characters known as "the Partners in Crime" are essentially this as well.
  • Long-Distance Relationship: Mahanon and Cassandra maintain one of these. Hawke and Fenris also have one, even after they get married, because he travels a lot with his dance troupe; however, he takes some time off at the same time she takes sabbatical because of Bethany's illness. As she explains to Varric, they basically take turns sleeping so one of them is always awake if she needs them. Bethany herself and Varric also have one of these after the first story.
  • Meta Guy: Varric, often - what else is new?
  • Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls: In-universe, this is played straight by Rory and averted by Jim.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Bull is stated to have one, having been a spy prior to becoming a teacher.
  • Musical Episode: In the first story, the chapters about the school concert and the wedding count as this, although the lyrics are shown only sparingly. Most of the sequels also have bits of this to them.
  • Mysterious Past:
    • Solas has one. Leliana admits that he just sort of showed up when they were first assembling the school staff, and that his expertise in so many different scientific disciplines made him an ideal candidate. But his actual origins? Even she doesn't know.
    • Blackwall also has one, which is left extremely vague; unlike with Solas, the other characters never even question it. Both he and Solas were eventually meant to have their back stories revealed, much like in Inquisition, but the authors admit that they got distracted by the other aspects of the plot and never found a good time to present them. The closest they get is in I Must Be Going, where it's revealed that the previous Dread Pirate Blackwall's real name was Thom Rainier.
  • Mythology Gag: Several.
    • Alistair is still a fiend for cheese, and Dorian is once again horrified to find that he actually likes Fereldan beer.
    • Varric, being the shortest of the male teachers, occasionally likes to joke that he's descended from dwarves.
    • Despite the non-magical setting, the cast does occasionally make references to blood magic.
    • In I Must Be Going, Varric utilizes red lyrium as a plot device to enable Prince Samson to track Princess Evangeline after her abduction. He then has to pause the narrative and explain that he read about both red and blue lyrium in an old book of Fereldan stories and he thought it would serve the purpose.
    • In "Favors and Fortune," Varric has one where he picks up a crossbow at the faire and shocks everyone with his immediate proficiency. He guesses that one of his ancestors must have been a crack shot with such a thing. Later, in I Must Be Going, he mentions that he bought a replica and has it displayed over the fireplace in his Kirkwall residence.
  • Nice Hat:
    • Varric wears a couple of these at different points throughout the series; his "fangirl in chief" heartily approves and even occasionally requests them.
    • Cole is very fond of hats, to the point where it's an affectionate running gag for the adults in his life.
  • The Nicknamer:
    • Varric, as usual. In addition to the nicknames from the game, Evvy is "Siren," Mahanon is "Lockpick," and Michel is "Champion." When Cullen's siblings visit, his big sister Mia is "Curly-Girl" and their younger brother Branson is "Curly-Two."
    • Since "Nightingale" is Leliana's actual last name in this iteration, he instead nicknames her "Songbird." Fenris, meanwhile, is usually called "Elf" in-universe, but since he's human here, it's been changed to "Broody." Cassandra is ex-military but not a Seeker, so her nickname is "General" instead.
    • In I Must Be Going, he dubs Rory "Sonnet," Jim "Bishop" (after the chess piece), and Nessa "Lyric." This prompts Rory to remark that "Bishop and Sonnet" sounds like They Fight Crime!.
    • In The Memory Band, it's finally revealed that he also has nicknames for President and First Lady Theirin - "President Kingy" and "the Queen Mother."
  • Noodle Incident:
    • It's not made clear for some time exactly why Hawke is still known as the Champion of Kirkwall in these stories; the different premise naturally cuts out the fight with the Arishok. Varric hints at it when he mentions that he, Hawke, and their other Kirkwall friends used to run around "cleaning up the mean streets," referring to the side quest in Dragon Age II in which the companions deal with nine different street gangs.
    • In "Pas de Deux," the matter becomes de-noodled; she earned the title by dealing with the person behind most of the gang activity, who happened to be Danarius.
  • Odd Friendship: It could be argued that there are a number of these, but particularly Varric and Cassandra.
  • Oh Crap, There Are Fanfics of Us!:
    • Subverted. In-Universe, the teachers are very surprised to learn that Rory and Jim have been writing Real-Person Fic about Cullen and Evvy, but no one minds. In fact, it becomes a Running Gag and they're all highly amused by it. When the kids turn in "Accidentally in Matrimony" for a writing assignment, Varric gives them an extremely good grade in part because the story made everyone laugh so much; he also requests a sequel. Seasons later reveals that not only have there been other fics submitted as assignments, but the teachers have occasionally taken to acting them out in the staff lounge. They get outright asked to write one as a wedding gift in Disorienuptials.
    • Played straight by Rory herself, however. After she starts dating Krem, she's a bit distressed to know that Jim and Nessa have started writing fanfics about them, and she forbids them from sharing the new stories with the teachers.
  • One True Pairing: In-universe, the students often refer to Cullen and Evvy as being one of these. When their engagement is announced to the school, one student responds by crying, "My OTP is canon!" Dorian/Bull is also one of these for Rory, at least; she describes an interaction she witnesses between them as "pure beauty".
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Nobody ever calls Bull anything but Bull. The kids all call him Coach Bull, and this is just accepted as being his name.
    • Later, Cullen and Evvy's daughter is named Eleanor, but she's only ever called by her middle name - Skye, in honor of Skyhold.
  • Original Character: Evvy, Rory, Mahanon, and later Skye and Anthony.
  • Orphanage of Love: Skyhold Academy's big secret is that it basically functions as this. It's not really a secret from the reader, as there are hints dropped throughout the narrative, but it's a very big secret in-universe. Even among the school staff, only the senior teachers are aware of the truth. It finally gets explicitly stated in-story when they decide to tell Evvy, and in Ordinary Chaos, it gets explained just why this is a secret.
    • Abusive Parents: Some of the students have these.
    • Parental Abandonment: Others, such as Cole and Jim, suffer from this.
    • Good Parents: A very few students (including Rory) have these, but the families have fallen on hard times, financially or otherwise.
  • Permanent Elected Official: Alistair is the rare heroic variety of the trope. He's the last surviving member of the Theirin family, which used to rule Ferelden when it was still a hereditary monarchy; but he (and his wife) helped to reform it into a democracy instead. The Fereldan people, who dearly love them, compromised by electing him President for life - he will hold the job until he decides to step down. The Red and Gold Dossier will show how all this came to pass.
  • The Place: Skyhold Academy, of course.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Jim, Rory, and Nessa, who are collectively known as "the Partners in Crime." They later somewhat adopt Cole and Seamus into the group.
  • Poetry: Varric's The Emerald Princess and Her Bashful Knight is described as an epic poem, and what little is shown of it suggests a rhyming scheme. It's noted that Rory is a founding member of the school's poetry club, leading Varric to nickname her "Sonnet," and Cole's singsong way of talking is attributed in part to the fact that he writes poetry too.
  • Precision F-Strike: A few. The language is generally pretty clean, making the moments where it isn't all the more noticeable.
  • Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: The first story has a fair bit of drama and dark aspects. From there it gets progressively Lighter and Softer, with the main emphasis being humor and fluff; some of the later stories do have dramatic plot twists, but as one reader put it in a review, it's guaranteed to work out happily in the end.
  • Royal Blood:
    • It's well known that although he's the democratically elected President of Ferelden, Alistair is the last surviving member of the royal family who once ruled as its hereditary kings. The line will die out with him.
    • Also applies to Sebastian Vael, the Prince of Starkhaven; the Free Marches are democratized similarly to Ferelden, but he retains his title, fortune, and position of authority.
  • Rule of Cool/Rule of Funny/Rule of Romantic: Anything which seems to stretch the reader's belief a bit too far is usually meant to be excused by one of these.
  • Running Gag: Several.
    • Sequins, particularly Dorian and Bethany's love of them and Varric's aversion to them.
    • "So cute it's stupid."
    • Solas not wearing shoes and Cullen's historical tie collection.
    • "Best. School. Ever."
    • The word smaragdine and Cole's hatred of it.
  • Save Our Students: A variant, as this is essentially the purpose of the school.
  • School Nurse: Mother Giselle from the game holds this position. She rarely speaks and mostly appears by mention.
  • Shipper on Deck: The entire school for the assorted pairings, especially Cullen and Evvy; Evvy herself is this for Cass and Mahanon. Later, Cass and Cullen and Sebastian become this for Varric and Bethany. Later still, the teachers collectively start shipping Krem and Rory.
  • The Short Guy with Glasses: Varric wears reading glasses, and is explicitly stated to be the shortest of all the male teachers.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Once Cullen and Evvy are engaged, it's a Running Gag among some of the teachers that they're "so cute it's stupid." This continues long after they're married.
  • Side Bet: Much like in Inquisition, the teachers - particularly Varric and Dorian - bet on a lot of things.
  • Soap Opera Disease: Sort of. Descriptions of the North Llomerryn virus and its treatment are left relatively vague, mostly because the authors didn't want anyone to think they were being disrespectful of a Real Life condition. It's actually meant to be a non-magical variation of Blight sickness from the games, as suggested by the scenario in which Bethany contracts it.
  • Squee!: The students are frequently prone to this, especially when it comes to shipping their teachers. Blackwall, at one point, jokingly nicknames the school "Squeehold Academy."
  • The Stations of the Canon: To an extent. The different premise naturally changes the nature of the events, but several significant incidents from Dragon Age canon are still included here, including Howe's betrayal of the Couslands, Leandra Hawke's murder, Bartrand's expedition, and Alexius meddling with time. However, the timeline of some events has been altered, as have the age differences between some of the characters.
  • Story Within a Story: A number of chapters (and pretty much the whole of I Must Be Going) qualify for this, as they feature Varric reading stories to other characters. The Emerald Princess and the Bashful Knight is a variant, as bits of it are shown in the first story but not the whole thing.
  • The Storyteller: Varric, as always. Jim and Rory are shaping up to be this.
  • Sweet Tooth: Solas is very fond of cake, as seen at the weddings. It's indicated at various points that Varric, Bethany, and Cullen are sugar fiends as well.
  • Teachers out of School: The majority of the series focuses on what the teachers are doing when they aren't teaching. In fact, very few scenes actually take place in any of the classes.
  • Team Mom/Team Dad: Alistair and Elissa are this behind the scenes for the school, while Leliana is the more public Team Mom. Varric functions as the Cool Uncle, since he secretly funds weekly ice cream nights, monthly movie outings, and other special treats for the students.
  • There Are No Therapists: Notably averted. Following a specific traumatic incident in the first story, it's explicitly stated that Leliana has arranged for a therapist to come in and help the kids and staff.
  • Time Skip: Happens between the various stories.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: More commonly, the staff members have favorite drinks. Evvy's is hot chocolate; Cullen's is coffee (until he has to give up caffeine), and he's also very partial to blueberries. Leliana has a particular tea blend, which Varric introduces to Bethany at one point. Dorian is very partial to Antivan brandy. As noted under Sweet Tooth, Solas in particular loves cake.
  • Troll: Varric, when the occasion permits, especially toward Dorian and Cassandra. They frequently give as good as they get, although his trolling is often much more elaborate and planned out than theirs.
  • True Companions: The teachers are this for each other; it's indicated in various places that the old Kirkwall crew still have this going on as well. Bonus points to Varric and Hawke, who belong to both groups - and are still more loyal to each other than to anybody else (except Fenris or Bethany).
  • Uncle Pennybags: Nobody knows just how Varric obtained his Impossibly Cool Wealth, apart from his writing and teaching, because every time he answers questions about it he changes the story. But he could easily be a Rich Idiot with No Day Job if he so chose, and he uses his money to buy special treats for the students and things that the school needs. He also insists on paying Bethany's medical bills as much as Hawke will let him.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Varric has a relationship of this nature with both Cassandra and Dorian. It's something of an Open Secret that he's actually very fond of both of them, and they of him, but everyone pretends not to know because the snark is legendary and fun.
  • W.A.F.F.: Several parts of the series are incredibly warm and fuzzy.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: Cullen is sometimes stunned speechless by Evvy's green eyes, especially when she wears green.
  • What Does She See in Him?: A running joke of Varric's is that Bethany's only known flaw is her questionable taste in men. Since he only makes the joke after they get together, it's more Self-Deprecating Humor than anything.

    Skyhold Academy 

  • Academy of Evil: Venatori Prep
  • Arranged Marriage: Part of the reason Evvy left the Free Marches to teach at Skyhold is because her family was trying to push her into one of these. Given the modern setting, she finds the entire notion particularly archaic.
  • Audience Surrogate/Naïve Newcomer: Evvy, to a large extent. She has no idea what she's going to find when she arrives at the school, starting with the fact that it's in a castle, and the reader learns about Skyhold as she does.
  • Bouquet Toss: At the wedding, it's caught by Bethany, much to Varric's shock.
  • Bridezilla: Played with; during the shopping trip for her wedding dress, Dorian teases Evvy that she is terrible at being one of these so he has to do it for her - and he does.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Cullen can't bring himself to tell Evvy that he's in love with her, even after he admits it to his sister. This leads to her giving up on him because she's tired of him pulling away.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: By the time Coach Pheus makes good on his threat toward Evvy, everyone has pretty much forgotten all about him.
  • Cinderella Circumstances: Played with. Evvy is by no means impoverished (she belongs to the old aristocracy in the Free Marches), but an odd series of events leaves her with nothing appropriate to wear on the teachers' outing to the nightclub, prompting Dorian to call her his Cinderella. They continue to call each other "Cinderella" and "Fairy Godfather" for years afterward.
  • Code Name: The Grey Wardens who come to Skyhold are identified solely by these. The leader is called Commander, but the others are Second, Rogue, Braid, and Brand. Awakening players can probably guess that these are Velanna, Nathaniel, Oghren, and Sigrun, respectively.
  • Damsel in Distress: Evvy, when she's kidnapped by Venatori Prep.
  • Death by Childbirth: Evvy fears this may happen when her favorite sister goes into labor prematurely.
  • Declaration of Protection: Cullen makes one to Evvy when Coach Pheus threatens her after the game against Venatori; he assures her that anyone who wanted to hurt her would have to go through the entire teaching staff - and he'd be at the front of the line. When he's unable to actually uphold this promise later, he feels terrible.
  • Deus ex Machina: Cassandra describes herself as a "gym teacher ex machina" at one point when trying to help Varric.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: How Bethany feels about her illness. She's crushed by the idea that Varric is just humoring her feelings for him because he feels sorry for her.
  • Everyone Can See It: Both played straight and averted. Everyone's aware that Cullen really wants to be with Evvy and isn't letting himself, although no one knows why. It's also implied that everyone knows Dorian and Bull are a thing, though they keep it fairly low-key in front of other people; as the series progresses, they become more open about things. Averted with Varric, who is a lot better at keeping secrets than anybody realizes.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: Evvy gains the nickname "the rainbow of Skyhold" due to both her art and her bright disposition.
  • Evil Aunt: Lady Lucille Trevelyan, Evvy's great-aunt, comes to Skyhold in an attempt to meddle in Evvy's affairs. It's a case of Adaptational Villainy; in the game, she's only mentioned a couple of times in a Trevelyan playthrough, and her personality is undefined beyond a love of opera and a talent for throwing parties.
  • Fairy Godmother: Gender flipped; after he devises a dress for her to wear on the teachers' trip to the Fade nightclub, Dorian dubs himself Evvy's Fairy Godfather and calls her his Cinderella.
  • Fairytale Wedding Dress: Evvy knows she has a winner when Dorian starts crying.
  • Fictional Document: In addition to his other books, Varric composes an epic saga about The Emerald Princess and the Bashful Knight. He gives parts of it to everyone at Wintersend, and promises that the completed opus will be available during the following year's term.
  • First Kiss: The cast practically celebrates when the school's resident One True Pairing finally has theirs, based heavily on the one from the game. Later, another pairing combines this with "Shut Up" Kiss.
  • Food as Bribe: Suggested by Bull when the staff are preparing the great hall for the wedding. He points out that there are a bunch of teenagers wandering around with nothing pressing to do now that exams are finished, so couldn't they bribe them with pizza to come and help?
  • Give Away the Bride: Dorian is so intent on having this role that he's prepared to fight Evvy's father for the honor. This ends up being unnecessary, but he does graciously agree to share the duty with Mahanon.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: During the school's major crisis, the teachers try to keep the problem in-house because of the potential problems it could cause if it's known. However, they agree to call in Mahanon, and later the President sends the Grey Wardens to help.
  • Green Eyes: Evvy's most notable physical trait is a pair of dark green eyes, leading Varric to nickname her "Siren." It's also for this reason that she becomes "the Emerald Princess" in his epic poem.
  • Humiliating Wager: Remember the game of Wicked Grace in Inquisition? Remember how it ends? It happens here too. It's a little different, but not much.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: One of the excuses Varric gives for not pursuing his Love Interest.
  • I Have Your Wife: Inverted. When Evvy is kidnapped, Cullen reacts by blurting that "they have my wife!" Everyone is a bit gobsmacked (and heartbroken for him) since the two aren't even engaged at this point, but now they all know it's definitely on his mind.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Oh, Varric. Cullen too, in his own backward sort of way.
  • Ill Girl: It's eventually revealed that the real reason Hawke has taken a sabbatical is because Bethany has the potentially fatal North Llomerryn virus. Gender flipped with Cullen, who has a touchy heart condition from his time in the military.
  • Imaginary Love Triangle: Two of them. Cullen thinks he's in one with Michel de Chevin and Evvy, while Varric is convinced he's on the losing end of one with Bethany and Sebastian. Michel is in fact charmingly oblivious to the whole thing for a long time, and Sebastian actually turns out to be a Shipper on Deck for Varric and Bethany.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: Cullen's collection of historically-themed ties are both a Running Gag and a recurring source of pain for Dorian. Cullen retaliates for the jokes by getting all of the teachers their very own ugly ties as Wintersend gifts.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Varric makes one, quite unintentionally, when he says that his typewriter Bianca is "the jealous type." He immediately calls himself out on it.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bomb: Subverted. There are explosives hidden in a part of the school that's been sealed off for ages, and by the time the teachers find them, the bad guys are getting very close to setting them off.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Sebastian visits the school and, quite unintentionally, rubs it in Varric's face that he recently visited Kirkwall and speaks with Bethany regularly over Skype. Varric's just glad he has a good poker face.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Cullen, in spades, although he gets better. It's eventually revealed that Varric, of all people, is also this - though for wildly different reasons.
  • It's All My Fault: This is how Varric feels about Bethany's illness - since the situation which led to it was his idea, he's convinced he's to blame.
  • King Incognito: Almost nobody - not even Leliana - knows that the Commander of Ferelden's Grey Wardens is also the First Lady of Ferelden. The Reveal shocks the heck out of the school staff.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Evvy, regarding the truth about Skyhold, for about the first half of the story; this is also the case for Michel de Chevin, until he returns in the second year.
  • Longing Look: According to Dorian, Cullen does this a lot when Evvy's not paying attention. According to some of the students, he does it even when she's not there; it's later admitted that the kids delight in finding excuses to mention her name in front of him just to make him adopt the expression.
  • Love at First Sight: Powerful attraction, at least, if not love; Evvy doesn't deny it. Cullen does, although he later admits it was quite mutual.
  • Love Informant: Dorian and Cullen's sister Mia both straight out tell him to stop toying with Evvy's affections, because she's in love with him and because he's in love with her and needs to stop running away from it.
  • Manly Tears: Dorian gets hit by these when he sees Evvy in her wedding dress. "I'm seeing my sister dress for her wedding."
  • Memento MacGuffin: Evvy's locket is a Wintersend gift from Mahanon, and used to house Cullen's good luck coin. When she's kidnapped, it's left behind as a deliberate "calling card" so the Skyhold staff will know that something has happened to 'the rainbow.'
  • Mistaken for Romance: Cullen asks Dorian to teach him how to dance. Evvy walks in on one of their practice sessions. Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Mole: The teachers are horrified to learn that some of the support staff are actually spies for Venatori.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Cullen is a coffee addict, in part because it keeps him from sleeping and thus having to deal with nightmares. After his heart condition sends him to the hospital, he's forced to give up caffeine entirely. Later, Varric starts doing the same thing, and Cullen is able to talk to him about it because he understands.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Subverted. Varric thinks this is how Hawke would respond to his feelings for Bethany. On the contrary, no one could be more on board with the idea.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Evvy's youngest nephew is named for Sebastian Vael, who is also his godfather. The Vael and Trevelyan families have a much friendlier relationship here than is implied in the games.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: Inverted by Bull during the storming of the undercroft. When Varric starts wigging out because he killed one of the Venatori, Bull points out that "Technically, it was the fall that killed him."
  • Parlor Games: The ladies of Skyhold (and some guests) play "Truth or Dare" while helping Evvy move into new digs at the school. It gets about as silly as you might expect.
  • Platonic Declaration of Love: Evvy has one with each of her adopted brothers on her wedding day.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Or at least, kills a relationship that's been in existence for all of twelve seconds. Fortunately, Hawke and Cassandra are able to intervene.
  • Precious Photo: Varric has a framed photo on his desk of his and Hawke's group of friends back in Kirkwall. He really keeps it there so he can look at Bethany's face, but using the group photo helps to hide his intentions.
  • Protectorate: Invoked by the Grey Wardens once the main crisis is resolved.
  • Put on a Bus: Vivienne departs the school very early in the story, owing to a personal emergency.note  Michel de Chevin becomes a guest professor as a result. Later, it's revealed that she leaves the school entirely in order to oversee her late beloved's estate in Orlais, and Michel returns to the Skyhold staff for the remainder of the school year.
  • Record Needle Scratch: Used to disrupt the bride's waltz with her Fairy Godfather, in order to transition into something completely different.
  • Recursive Reality: Invoked in the narrative during the Venatori arc of the story. Hawke returns to Skyhold and takes the kidnapped Evvy's place as art teacher, meaning that she's substituting for her own substitute.
  • Secret Keeper: Several. Cassandra is this for Cullen about his heart condition, and later for Varric about his Imaginary Love Triangle. Varric himself is this for Hawke for a large part of the story. And all of the senior teachers are this regarding the truth about the school itself.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: When Varric refers to Evvy as being Cullen's girlfriend at the Venatori game, he makes this exact rebuttal. It's the truth, but as Varric then grumbles, "She would be if you'd quit sitting on your hands about it."
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Varric gets an absolutely hilarious one at the wedding, with several of the teachers laughing about how it's the first time anyone has ever managed to shut him up. Also doubles as the pair's First Kiss.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Played for laughs as Dorian gets up and glares at everyone attending the wedding, wordlessly threatening anyone who might object - not that anyone would.
  • Stag Party: Bull calls dibs on planning one of these practically the second he finds out there's a wedding in need of one. The groom is terrified, especially when even Solas starts talking about the strippers jumping out of a cake. They're winding him up. There are no strippers, only drinks and food and a storytelling game in which they all do their best to embarrass the groom.
  • Take Back Your Gift: When she grows tired of Cullen running away from her, Evvy returns his good luck coin.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Varric reacts this way after, well, exactly that happens.
  • This Is Not a Drill: Invoked by Dorian when Evvy gets kidnapped. He gets on the loudspeaker and announces that the entire school is on lockdown and all teachers are to report to the staff room for an emergency meeting.
  • Twice Shy: Cullen and Evvy have this going on a bit; she's pretty encouraging, but he responds to her flirting by running in the opposite direction - sometimes literally.
  • Wedding Day: How the story ends. No prizes for guessing whose.
  • With This Ring: Once they're finally in a relationship, Cullen wants to be prepared in case Evvy's family decides to push the whole Arranged Marriage thing, so he employs Varric to pick up an engagement ring while on a visit to Kirkwall. Cullen refers to it as the most terrifying piece of jewelry he's ever seen.
  • You Meddling Kids: Invoked by Varric when Evvy reveals Venatori Prep's cheating at the football game. "And they would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for that meddling art teacher."

    The Year of the Unicorn and the Emerald Princess 

  • Blatant Lies: Initially, Jim and Rory refuse to admit even to their third Partner in Crime that they write fanfic about the teachers. They later relent and let her read it.
  • Caps Lock: Since the whole story is told through text messages, this is the only way the three kids have to express their considerable excitement.
  • Drama Queen: Rory tells Jim to stop acting like one of these; it's implied to be something of a running retort.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: Rory calls Jim "James Michael Scout" when getting impatient about his not responding to her texts.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Invoked by Jim; when Rory tells him about the look on Cullen's face during Michel's visit to Evvy's class, he asks if it was "a green-eyed monster type of look."
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Rory and Nessa are present when Cullen's heart condition acts up at the dance club; Jim is not, and when they fill him in later, they more or less describe the situation in this way. Justified in that they're teenagers who just watched one of their favorite teachers collapse, and are extremely shaken by the experience.
  • Interquel: More or less, as it takes place concurrent with the first story in the series and fills in some tiny gaps in the narrative.
  • Let's Play: Rory, Jim, and Nessa are astonished to learn that their teachers dabble in various social media, but easily the biggest surprise is that Solas is the Secret Identity of popular Let's Player "The Dread Wolf."
  • Perspective Flip: It's the plot of the original story told in the format of text and Facebook messages exchanged between three of the students.
  • Real-Person Fic: Jim and Rory's fanfics about the teachers qualify as this in-universe.
  • Tumblr: After the concert, the video footage of the teachers singing is uploaded and watched so many times that the site crashes. Rory puts it succinctly: "Our teachers broke the internet."
  • The X of Y

    Where the Sky is Held 
  • Ascended Fanon: An in-universe example with Jim and Rory's fanfic; as noted below, Cullen (in the story) loves hearing Evvy read about the Korcari Wilds in Genitivi's book. The real Cullen and Evvy are so amused by this that it becomes something of a Running Gag for them, as revealed by Cole in the next installment.
  • Back Story: "Pas de Deux" has Hawke and Fenris detailing the history of their relationship for the rest of the staff.
  • Band of Brothers: Invoked at the Exalted Age faire in "Favors and Fortune," when the grand melee comes down to four of the Skyhold adults; rather than fight one another, they put their swords together and shout the credo of The Three Musketeers, much to the audience's amusement.
  • Birthday Episode: "You Make Me Live," the second chapter, celebrates Evvy's birthday and also the anniversary of her arrival at Skyhold.
  • Bookends: The installment begins and ends with Michel de Chevin back at the University of Orlais, talking about Skyhold Academy with other characters.
  • Christmas Episode: Well, more accurately, Wintersend Episode. The students are allowed to stay at Skyhold over the winter holidays for the first time since the school was founded.
  • Compound Title: The last three chapters riff on the in-game Faction Motto of the Grey Wardens. The two chapters about the Wintersend celebration are titled "In War, Victory" and "In Peace, Diligence." These are followed by the final chapter of the installment, titled "In Teaching, Sacrifice."
  • Eating the Eye Candy: It's mentioned a few times, usually as a joke between Evvy and Dorian. When the school visits the Exalted Age faire, Bull is particularly amused by a bookseller doing this with Dorian; he doesn't mind it because, as he tells his kadan, he likes that other people can appreciate Dorian too.
  • Flashback: The chapter "Pas de Deux" flashes back to before Skyhold's establishment and shows how Fenris and Hawke met and fell in love. Lampshaded by present-day Hawke, who dryly quips that she remembers it all as if it were a carefully constructed flashback.
  • Friendship Song: Dorian performs Queen's "You're My Best Friend" for Evvy on her birthday.
  • Hairstyle Malfunction: Seen at the Exalted Age faire. Bethany's hair is slowly growing back, but she wears a wig for the faire. Near the end of the day, a man accidentally pulls it off while flirting with her.
  • How We Got Here: "Pas de Deux" was written in response to a reader's inquiry about just how Hawke and Fenris got together in this verse.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Hawke makes a deliberate one in the backstory of her romance with Fenris. When he observes that the chief of police deputizing an artist and a writer (Hawke and Varric) to assist her with the gang problem is curious, she replies, "You have to admit, it's a creative approach."
  • The Lady's Favour: Abundant in "Favors and Fortune," where several of the teachers participate in various activities at the Exalted Age faire and their significant others tie ribbons to their arms as this trope.
  • Love Letter Lunacy: Factors into the chapters which cover Wintersend. It's all quite benign, but they have fun with it.
  • Patchwork Story: Rather than one long story like its predecessor, this is a series of mostly separate tales.
  • Real-Person Fic: "Accidentally in Matrimony," a story about Cullen and Evvy which Jim and Rory hand in as a writing assignment. It has a handful of tropes all its own:
    • Accidental Marriage: As the title would suggest.
    • Aroused by Their Voice/Geeky Turn-On: In-story, Cullen is enamored of the way Evvy reads Genitivi's Walking the Earth, particularly the passage about the Korcari Wilds. It becomes an in-universe case of Ascended Fanon when Varric reads the story to the other teachers, and they goad Evvy into saying the line; as it turns out, it really does have that exact effect on him.
    • Cannot Spit It Out: The leads are actually worse in the fic than they were in Skyhold Academy.
    • Metafictional Title: "Accidentally in Matrimony" is the title of both the fic itself and the chapter in which it appears.
    • Operation: Jealousy: Dorian masterminds a date for Evvy and Krem, both as a way for the young man to practice asking a woman out and for this purpose. He (correctly) guesses that Cullen will find out about the arrangement and not be pleased.
    • Read the Fine Print: A variant. Evvy and Cullen are perfectly aware that they're signing a marriage license; what they don't find out until it's too late is that it's a real marriage license.
  • Serial Killer: Much as in the second game, Hawke and Bethany's mother is murdered by one of these, about four years before the start of the series. Because of the non-magical setting, Quentin's motivations aren't included; the detail of him sending white lilies to his victims is, however, and the crime spree is colloquially known as the White Lily Murders. The only other confirmed detail about the murders is that Hawke killed the killer. The tale is told as part of the backstory for her relationship with Fenris.
  • Shed the Family Name: Played with. It's explained that when Fenris married Hawke, he took her surname rather than otherwise. Of course, the logical reason for this is that in the games, he doesn't have a surname of his own; the reason given in the story, however, is that it was a sign that he had put his past behind him.
  • Snowball Fight: A school-wide one of these is held as part of the Wintersend celebration.
  • Snowed-In: It's mentioned that Skyhold is somewhat this during the above-mentioned Wintersend celebration, with some of the party only barely managing to arrive ahead of the storm. Justified in that the school is located in the Frostback Mountains.
  • Take That!: In "Pas de Deux," Dorian makes a crack about "Fifty Shades of whatever ghastly monstrosity against literature that thing was." Varric responds by growling and declaring, "We do not speak of that."
  • Terminology Title: In a sense, Where the Sky is Held is this. Veterans of Inquisition know that the phrase is the translated form of the Dalish name for Skyhold.

    I Must Be Going 

Tropes found in I Must Be Going - the framing device:

  • Author Powers: Referenced by Varric when he notes that as an author, he has both complete control and none at all, because ultimately the characters will defy him if they feel it necessary.
  • Bland-Name Product: Usually averted, but in the last chapter, Varric specifically requests "Viscount Cola" when ordering pizza.note 
  • Dead Guy Junior: Eleanor Skye Rutherford is named for her paternal grandmother.
  • Death by Childbirth: Evvy goes into labor early, leaving the staff and students worrying about her. Fortunately, Varric has just the thing to distract everyone.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Discussed. When Cassandra wants to know who "gets" Samson, she's outraged by Varric telling her that he lives, since she assumes that means he wins.
    Varric: I never said he wins. But he lives. And you know, sometimes, that's worse.
  • Metafictional Title: I Must Be Going is the title of this installment and also of the story Varric is reading throughout most of it.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Dorian assures Varric that "you're my third favorite author in a five-foot radius." Unsurprisingly, Varric is less than flattered.
  • Panicky Expectant Father: Cullen is implied to have been acting like one of these toward the end of Evvy's pregnancy. The reports from the hospital indicate that he's being this to such an extent that the nurses are a bit worried about him.
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: Invoked. At one point, while discussing the antics of his in-story counterpart, Dorian informs Solas that "You are an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in no shoes." Solas elects to take it as a compliment.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The listening kids object to Varric using the word smaragdine to describe the color of Princess Evangeline's eyes. He explains that he got the word from his Word-A-Day calendar, and that it means something which is emerald green in color. Cole's response sums up the authors' feelings about the adjective (which they deliberately used because it's so odd).
    "I don't think that's a real word. Or if it is, it shouldn't be."
  • Side Bet: When Dorian complains about a particularly silly line said by Princess Evangeline in the story, Varric tries to bet him a few royals that the real Evvy will find her dialogue hilarious. Dorian, realizing that she almost certainly would, decides not to take the bet.
  • Silly Will: When Dorian expresses bewilderment at his in-story counterpart having inherited a crossbow, Varric says he's going to rewrite his own will specifically to leave his real crossbow to Dorian.

Tropes found in I Must Be Going - the actual story written by Varric:

  • Don't Try This at Home: Implied by the narrative describing Princess Evangeline's abduction. When she wakes up and finds herself in the kidnappers' car, she briefly considers throwing herself out of the moving vehicle - but she decides against it, since doing so "is an excellent way to wind up as street pizza."
  • Film Fic: I Must Be Going is a Skyhold-themed spoof of The Princess Bride.
  • How Is That Even Possible?: This is Princess Evangeline's basic reaction to everything Cullen tells her about his life as the Dread Pirate Blackwall.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: The logic offered for one of Bull's action choices. He didn't have a better plan, so he went for something which fit this trope.
  • Lemony Narrator: The narrator (presumably Varric, since he's the author) often makes remarks about what's going on in the story, and/or why. For example, when talking about the betrothal of Prince Samson to Evangeline, the narrator observes that it happens "for reasons that really don't get explained very clearly because I couldn't think of them".
  • Non-Answer: The man in black's tendency to give her these is what lets Princess Evangeline realize his true identity.
    Evangeline: Your mild indifference and lack of specificity reveals everything! You’re the Dread Pirate Blackwall - admit it!
  • Plot Hole: Lampshaded. Lacking for a better idea of how to resolve the story, Varric literally opens a plot hole and sends Dorian through it to collect a necessary Plot Coupon.
  • Real-Person Fic: I Must Be Going qualifies as this in-universe, since Varric takes the teaching staff and puts them into The Princess Bride. To the reader, however, it's a crossover fic.
  • Tap on the Head: Invoked; when Bull "jogs the memory" of Solas, it's described as this and also noted that it knocks him flat on his face. That instance is an accident, but when he does it again later to someone else, Bull clarifies that it was deliberate the second time.
  • That Liar Lies: Princess Evangeline finally calls out Prince Samson on his deceptions.
    "You lied to me, you've probably been lying to me, you're nothing but a lying liar who lies."
  • Tracking Device: Princess Evangeline's engagement ring from Prince Samson doubles as one of these. She doesn't know it, though.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: Following the death of his favorite author, Dorian was surprised to discover that said author bequeathed a crossbow to him. It comes in handy at the climax.

    Skyhold Academy Seasons 

  • Affectionate Parody: When the drama club puts on a stage version of Beauty and the Beast, before beginning proper dress rehearsals, Dorian has them do a completely silly run-through of the show to get the giggles out of their systems. The way they treat the dialogue, and even one of the songs, is clearly this.
  • Baby's First Words: Skye speaks hers in the final chapter. Much to Cullen's joy, it's "Da."
  • Casting Gag: Used in-universe in Dorian's production of Beauty and the Beast, which is a stage version of the live-action film. He casts Cullen as Maurice (because he's so good at being a dad), and at Varric's suggestion he then has Evvy playing the flashback role of Belle's mother. Baby Skye furthers the gag as baby Belle.
  • Cleavage Window: Mentioned jokingly while preparing for the school play. Bethany comes to Skyhold to assist with the costumes, and she and Varric have a bit of playful banter where he insists she design him something that shows off the chest hair.
  • Cool Mask: Bethany designs a series of these for the Beast and the enchanted objects in the school play.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Rory, in the last chapter, is almost incoherent with her love of a baby druffalo at Redcliffe Farm.
  • Filk Song: A pair of them are seen here as part of the ongoing joke war between Varric and Dorian. First, Varric rewrites the lyrics to "Coat of Many Colors" (from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) to be about Dorian; Dorian turns it back on him by rewriting the lyrics to "Blunt the Knives" (from The Hobbit) to be about Varric.
  • First Kiss: Rory has some anxiety when she and Krem are cast in the lead roles in Beauty and the Beast, because she realizes that their first kiss is going to be on stage in front of a live audience. Krem figures out a workaround to spare her embarrassment.
  • Flower Motifs: Krem presents Rory with a daisy on their first date and notes that they make him think of her, being "rather unassuming and sweet." Later, he sends her a bouquet of daisies for the play's opening night.
  • Friendship Denial: Varric and Dorian engage in a humorous version of this at one point, when Josephine and Leliana 'accuse' them of liking each other more than they want to admit. They deny it, naturally. Small dogs and household appliances are not fooled.
  • Gender Flip: Used in Dorian's stage production of Beauty and the Beast. He casts Dagna as LeFou, and changes the enchantress to an enchanter and puts Varric in the role.
  • I'll Take That as a Compliment: Invoked word-for-word by Dorian, when Varric calls him "an inspiration." The exchange leads to the Friendship Denial mentioned above.
  • Impossibly Awesome Magic Trick: Played for Laughs in "Is This Your Card?"; Krem and Rory do a number of "tricks" which are not impossibly awesome - but they act like they are.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: Krem's costume in "Coat of Many Colors" is either this or Impossibly Awesome.
  • Inept Talent Show Contestant: Krem rescues Rory from being one of these in "Is This Your Card?" when she panics onstage.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Referenced during the trip to Redcliffe Farms, when Evvy observes that Cole is "turning out just like your father." (They were both eating blueberries on the sly while picking.)
  • Lovely Assistant: Played with in "Is This Your Card?"; when Rory decides to do a magic act, she invites Krem to be this, invoking the trope by name.
  • Only Sane Man: This is how Varric describes Pere Robert, the village priest in Beauty and the Beast. When Dorian says he'll take that role in the school play, Varric teases him for casting himself as the only sane character.
  • Pair the Spares: In "Is This Your Card?", Krem becomes "the greatest wingman ever" by helping to introduce Michel de Chevin to Cullen's sister Mia.
  • Patchwork Story: Like Where the Sky is Held before it, it's a collection of one-shots.
  • Pick a Card: Factors into "Is This Your Card?" (as the title implies).
  • Plausible Deniability: In "Coat of Many Colors," it's outright stated that the rest of the teachers know that Varric and Mahanon are up to something, but most of them don't know what and don't want to know for this reason. Cass and Bull both invoke the trope by name.
  • Poetic Justice: When Nessa teasingly points out that the teachers might start writing fanfic about her and Krem, Rory reluctantly admits that it would be this if they did.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Jim invokes the trope by name just before the final dress rehearsal of the school play.
  • School Play: Dorian establishes a Drama Club and directs a stage production of Beauty and the Beast. Considering the setting and the characters involved, it's every bit as over-the-top as the reader might expect.
  • Talent Contest: The premise of "Is This Your Card?" - it was written in response to a reader request for "more musical numbers please."
  • Twice Shy: Rory and Krem fit the trope even more accurately than Cullen and Evvy once did, and it's actually her fanfic about the teachers which gives him an opening to move past it and ask her out.

    Disorienuptials 

  • Best Friends-in-Law: Varric and Hawke become this.
  • Best Woman: Due to the nature of the ceremony, Evvy plays this role for Mahanon, since getting the real best man there would completely ruin the surprise. She assures everyone that the real best man (her brother Nathaniel) is in on the whole thing and gave his blessing.
  • Bouquet Toss: Done with a twist, like most everything else at this wedding. The bride aims for Dorian. He's not amused (or at least he tries not to be).
  • Cake Toppers: Seen in the first reception chapter. One cake has a traditional set. The other has a bride and groom riding a motorcycle.
  • Content Warnings: This installment contains the only one in the entire series to date; readers are advised not to drink anything while reading. The authors don't want anyone choking or ruining their electronics.
  • Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: Dorian very nearly covers Rory's ears when Isabela starts talking about her "friend-fiction."
  • Embarrassing Ringtone: He seems only mildly embarrassed by it, but during the shopping trip, the male teachers are amused to learn that Varric's phone plays the first few notes of "You Are My Sunshine" when he receives a text from Bethany.
  • Exact Words: Somewhat invoked by Varric when he makes the observation that he always knew Sebastian would marry Bethany someday. He's right. Sebastian does marry Bethany... to Varric.
  • Fictional Document: The resident author has a few more under his belt in this story, and the last chapter consists of one.
  • Foreshadowing: Cullen remarks that the students enjoy the wedding announcements so much, they ought to just be present the next time anyone proposes. Sure enough...
  • Give Away the Bride: Both Fenris and Cullen take on the duty here.
  • I Love the Smell of X in the Morning: Invoked by Varric. "I love the smell of plotting in the morning... or whatever time of day it is."
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Unlike the preceding installments, this story has a sort of theme to the titles of its chapters; they all get their names from phrases or dialogue found within the respective chapters.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Played for laughs, as strange as it seems. Fenris threatens to kill Varric if he breaks Bethany's heart. Of course, this is just "Broody's" idea of a joke, and everyone knows it.
  • Impossibly Awesome Magic Trick: Krem gets recruited to do some at the wedding, such as pulling the wedding bands out of the groom's top hat.
  • Intoxication Ensues: The first chapter has Varric getting his wisdom teeth surgically removed. Hawke almost kills herself laughing as she uses her phone to record his sedative-induced ramblings afterward, including failing to recognize Bethany - and then promptly proposing to her.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: The penultimate variant is seen when Leliana subtly slips it into the morning announcements that Varric's getting married. Played for Laughs when Rocky, of the Chargers, pretends to get excited about the last item on the list - that there will be pudding at dinner.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Following the bachelor party, Varric remarks to Cullen that when he writes the story of the wedding, he's going to leave out the last few days leading up to the ceremony, since the anticipation is too much to bear. The chapter ends on this line, and the next chapter jumps ahead to the morning of the wedding.
  • Lovely Assistant: Krem invokes this when performing a card trick at the wedding. He asks Cassandra to Pick a Card.
  • Mister Seahorse: Played for Laughs when Varric tells Hawke that "I've been trying to find the right moment to tell you that I'm pregnant."
  • Poke the Poodle: Invoked by Varric during the shopping trip.
  • Portmantitle: Disorienuptials is a portmanteau of disorientation and nuptials. Also counts as a One-Word Title.
  • Real-Person Fic: Jim and Rory end the tale with another one of these, as requested by the newlyweds; they were asked to write one as a wedding gift, and they deliver. It's a period piece about the Exalted Age, when a non-combatant sort of guy tries to compete in the Grand Tourney in order to win his beloved's hand.
    • Cool Horse: Harley, the male lead's loyal steed, carries him into the joust.
    • Family Honor: Factors into the resolution of the conflict.
    • Hedge Maze: An important scene near the end of the story happens in one of these.
    • The Lady's Favour: As a contender in the joust, the male lead wears this into the competition.
    • Non-Action Guy: Under normal circumstances, the male lead is mostly this.
    • Take a Third Option: Really more like a second option, but the betrothal situation is resolved in an unexpected manner.
  • Record Needle Scratch: Fenris plays this sound effect on his phone at the Stag Party to indicate that the tone of the event is about to shift.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Implied by the officiant, who informs the wedding guests that he has limited the groom "to a two-minute speech consisting of words of fewer than five syllables."
  • Solar and Lunar: The sun and moon motif is part of the wedding and features in the groom's gifts to the bride.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: The officiant at the wedding doesn't even give anyone the chance to object; he gets halfway through the line and then pauses to ask, "Surely there's no one here who's that foolish?"
  • Stag Party: The one in this story has an even sillier theme than the one the guys threw for Cullen.
  • Tacky Tuxedo: Varric takes the opportunity to troll Dorian by modeling a few of these. Evvy commemorates it in a drawing, which features Varric in the worst of the lot running away from a baseball bat-wielding Dorian.
  • Troll: How Hawke describes Varric after his farewell speeches to the other teachers before his surgery - he was "being a troll, because he's Varric, but a sincere troll."
  • Wacky Marriage Proposal: Varric makes one under the effects of a sedative. Naturally, the rest of the staff has a field day when Hawke shows them the footage. He makes a second one when stone cold sober, and in its own way it's even wackier than the first one. Later, someone else makes a more public one.
  • Wedding Day: As the title implies - though as the title also implies, it's not that simple.
  • With This Ring: Varric proposes to Bethany by slipping the ring onto her finger while she's asleep. He later points out that while she said she wanted him to be alert and in possession of all of his faculties when he proposed, she never said that she had to be. Her response is to demand that "you get down on one knee this instant!"

    The Memory Band 
  • Asexuality: In "The Review Saga," Rory mentions that she and Jim are "teenagers on the asexual spectrum." The authors confirm that Jim is asexual and Rory is demisexual.
  • Baby Talk: Skye's vocabulary has increased in the months since her first word was spoken at the end of Seasons. She now calls her brother "Co," Josephine "Jojo," Leliana "Elly," Bull "Boo," Dorian "Dodo," and Varric "Ick."
  • Big Man on Campus: For the last few years, this has been Krem's role, but the reunion chapters reveal that he sort of inherited the post from Delrin Barris, the valedictorian of the school's first graduating class. It's explained that Barris was something of a Big Brother Mentor figure to several of the younger students, including quite a few of the Chargers.
  • Birthday Episode: The second chapter is technically this for Jim, who is turning eighteen; however, the day's adventures don't quite get the sort of start he and his friends were expecting.
  • Christmas Episode: The story begins with the school celebrating Wintersend a little early, as the Rutherford family is heading to Ostwick to spend the actual holiday with Evvy's parents.
  • Class Reunion: Part of the reason this installment is especially long is because multiple chapters are dedicated to a school reunion, in which all of the graduates are invited back to celebrate the establishment of the Fereldan community college system. Along with Skyhold's alumni, the party is opened to several friends, including Michel's former colleagues from the University of Orlais and members of the teachers' families; Vivienne is also seen for the first time since her departure in the original Skyhold Academy.
  • Cool Uncle: It's observed that Skye has several of these - and since all but one of them are present during the school reunion, they decide to have an "uncle-off" to determine which is the coolest. Notably, her "whiskey uncle" prefers not to take part, saying it's a question he doesn't need answered.
  • Cyanide Pill: One of the characters in "Operation: Heart" is revealed to have a cyanide tooth.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Anthony Lavellan is named for his maternal uncle.
  • Doorstop Baby: The story kicks off with Cassandra visiting Mahanon in the Free Marches - where he has found an abandoned infant on one of his cases. The child was left on the doorstep of a Chantry which is no longer used.
  • Facebook: The social media network factors into the start of the adventure in "Operation: Heart."
  • Fictional Document:
    • Hawke's Wintersend gift to her colleagues is an illustrated book titled The Adventures of Dodo and Ick - a children's book about Dorian and Varric, using the names baby Skye has given them. They hate it, of course. The actual content of the book appears in a later chapter, when the teachers do a live reading during the school reunion. (See Storybook Episode, below.)
    • Rory and Jim's midterm project is once again a Real-Person Fic shared and enjoyed by the entire staff - and is long enough to encompass two chapters. "The Search for Certainty" contains the following tropes:
      • Amoral Attorney: The district attorney, based on Samson.
      • Anti-Villain: Calpernia just wants to make Tevinter a better place.
      • The Bartender: Krem at Adamant, who sometimes gives the detectives tips based on stuff he's observed about his patrons.
      • Big Sister Instinct: Hawke is willing to help the detectives, but only if they protect her little sister in return. "My sister must be safe. That is my price."
      • The Chanteuse: The nightclub called Adamant employs one of these, with a male counterpart to sing duets. The descriptions make it clear that they're based on Leliana and Bull, with Josephine as The Piano Player. The real (and very amused) Leliana invokes the trope.
      • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Big Bad of the story. Possibly also the Bigger Bad, although this is left somewhat vague.
      • Da Chief: Captain Hendallen, who is also a Reasonable Authority Figure and something of A Mother to Her Men.
      • Emerging from the Shadows: Cassandra's entrance at the climax.
      • Femme Fatale: Bethany acts this way; the real Evvy, listening to her antics, drops the trope by name.
      • Film Noir: The story is told in this style, including deliberately over-the-top analogies.
      • Hanging Judge: Meredith Stannard.
      • Hardboiled Detective: The story's synopsis describes Varric and Cullen this way.
      • Hostage for MacGuffin: At the climax, Solas kidnaps Bethany and demands the sword Certainty in exchange for the hostage.
      • It's Not You, It's Me: Varric basically tells Bethany this when they talk about the fact that she honestly has a thing for him.
      • It's Personal: Cullen is determined to bring down both Meredith and Samson, because he believes they're corrupt - and also because he believes they were among those responsible for Evvy's near-fatal car crash several months earlier. He's right on both counts.
      • Knight In Sour Armor: Varric is portrayed this way.
      • Lady in Red: Bethany is this when the detectives first meet her.
      • MacGuffin Title: "In Search of Certainty" pairs this with Double-Meaning Title. The mystery is about finding and recovering the missing sword called Certainty, but it could also be regarded as being about Varric wanting a reason to be less cynical.
      • Metafictional Title: "In Search of Certainty" is both the title of the fic and also of the first of the two chapters in which it appears.
      • Mysterious Woman: Hawke is this at first.
      • Nice Girl: In-story, Evvy Rutherford is this. So is Bethany; the Femme Fatale act is just that - an act.
      • Rescue Introduction: The detectives first meet Hawke when she saves them from a trap laid by the Crows. Later, Varric and Bethany meet Dorian when he intervenes before Erimond and his men can kill them.
      • Vigilante Man: Dorian is out for justice all by himself.
      • What's an X Like You Doing in a Y Like This?: "What's a nice girl like you doing in a mess like this?" Varric asks Bethany.
  • First-Name Basis: For the duration of the school reunion, Alistair and Elissa insist on being this with the Skyhold staff, who (apart from their old friend Leliana) normally call them "Mr. President" and "Madam First Lady."
  • Foreshadowing: A conversation between Varric and Bethany at the reunion serves as this for The Red and Gold Dossier, providing small hints about the circumstances in which Alistair, Elissa, Leliana, Morrigan, and Zevran all first knew each other.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: Varric had one while celebrating Bethany's college graduation, as he recalls at the end of "Operation: Heart."
  • Happily Adopted: The final chapter sees Mahanon and Cassandra bringing home the Doorstop Baby who is now their son, Anthony.
  • Interpol Special Agent: In "Operation: Heart," Tallis passes herself off as this, claiming to be an agent of the Thedas FBI.
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Varric invokes the trope almost verbatim to describe the school during the reunion.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: A variant comes into play during the trivia contest, when the University professors' team is struggling to remember the name of Emperor Florian's daughter who died in infancy. They're stuck for a moment - until one of them catches sight of Evvy, and remembers that the princess was also named Evangeline.
  • The One That Got Away: Varric and Dorian have a conversation over drinks about Bianca and Rilenius.
  • Pair the Spares: The reunion chapters imply that Rylen, Cullen's friend and chess-by-mail partner, is interested in Cullen's youngest sister Rosalie, and vice versa.
  • Patchwork Story: It's another collection of one-shots, this time loosely framed around the theme of milestones and memories.
  • Pet the Dog: Vivienne indulges in some of this at the reunion in a conversation with Varric, complimenting him on his recent projects and also remarking that he's welcome to bring Bethany to her Orlesian estate any time if she needs a change of air.
  • Running Gag: Jim's desire to name things "the Inquisition" (or a humorous twist thereon) comes to its zenith at the reunion, when he's finally allowed to name the trivia contest "the Quizquisition."
  • Second Love: The fact that Bethany is this for Varric is finally acknowledged in this installment, although very little is said about his previous relationship with Bianca, who is presented here as having been his girlfriend in college.
  • Storybook Episode: "The Adventures of Dodo and Ick" takes the Academy staff and drops them into a comical story which combines several fairy tales.
    • The Atoner: The bearded mercenary (implied to be Blackwall) becomes this after he fails to kill Princess Sunshine and she spares his life.
    • Bears Are Bad News: The bullfrog warns Dodo and Ick to be careful if they go into the Hinterlands because he hears it's full of bears.
    • Big Guy, Little Guy: Dodo and Ick.
    • Chain of Deals: The heroes have to do something like this in order to solve everyone's problems.
    • Everything's Better with Princesses: The Rainbow Princess and Princess Sunshine are central to the story.
    • Fairy Godmother: The heroes are tasked with finding one of these for the child the Rainbow Princess is going to have.
    • Friend to All Living Things: The Rain Prince (Cole) can tell that Dodo and Ick are good people because Ick gives milk to a hungry kitten.
    • Girl in the Tower: Cassandra has this role, for reasons which are not immediately clear.
    • Happily Married: The King and Queen of Ferelden (Alistair and Elissa) and the Prince and Princess of Skyhold (Cullen and Evvy) are indicated to be this. By the end of the story, there are a few more such couples; no prizes for guessing who.
    • Heroic Sacrifice: The bullfrog (who is really the Iron Knight) makes one to save Dorian. He gets better.
    • MacGuffin: The heroes have to collect some of these, including a Living MacGuffin who can serve as Princess Sunshine's seventh bodyguard, in order to resolve several of the plot threads.
    • Magic Music: Lady Nightingale's song works kind of like this.
    • Metafictional Title: "The Adventures of Dodo and Ick" is the name of both the story Hawke wrote and the chapter in which it appears.
    • Not What I Signed on For: Dodo starts to get frustrated partway through their adventure because he came to Ferelden just to find stories, not to find MacGuffins for other people.
    • Only a Flesh Wound: Invoked by the bullfrog.
    • Those Two Guys: Dodo and Ick, again.
    • True Love's Kiss: Factors into resolving two of the plot threads.
  • Terminology Title: This installment takes its name from a ring in Dragon Age: Origins, which was initially only available to players who had pre-ordered the game.
  • Troll: In "The Review Saga," Jim has to contend with a pair of online bullies who decide to shred him and Rory over one of their stories. The trolls quickly learn why it's not a good idea to torment a kid from Skyhold Academy.

    Life is a Roller Coaster 
  • Amusement Park: The installment kicks off with the school trekking to Lady Shayna's Valley in the Hinterlands, an amusement park that Varric has rented for their exclusive use for an entire day.
  • Baby Language: Skye and Anthony communicate with each other in one of these.
  • Baby's First Words: Anthony says his first word in this installment. Meanwhile, Skye's vocabulary has expanded a bit, and she delights Rory by asking for "boobury."
  • Babysitting Episode: Chapter 9, which is even called "Adventures in Babysitting," sees Cole, Krem, and the Partners in Crime babysitting Skye and Anthony while their parents go on a double date.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Played for laughs when Bethany uses the tickets she won playing Skee-Ball to acquire a fluffy pink stuffed bear at the park. She jokes that "They aren't lying when they say the Hinterlands are full of bears," a reference to Dragon Age: Inquisition.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Bianca Davri is mentioned for the first time in the previous installment of the series, and actually comes to the school in this one.
  • Cuteness Proximity: What the Skyhold babies continue to create for everyone around them. No one is immune, even if they try to pretend otherwise (and at this point, nobody's trying very hard).
  • Decade-Themed Party: The teachers hold a 1930s-themed 'film release' party in the school library, dressing up in period costumes and pretending to go to the debut screening of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
  • Delayed Reaction: The students have one when Varric casually announces that he's going to be a father. They start talking, then pause and do a sort of collective "Wait, what?"
  • Diaper Check: When Anthony won't stop crying in the babysitting chapter, this is one of the first things they do to eliminate possibilities. Turns out that he's cutting his first tooth.
  • Fainting: Varric's reaction to Bethany's pregnancy announcement at the amusement park; to be fair, though, it's got more to do with his motion sickness. When he comes around, he assures her that he's "pretty sure this urge to puke is totally unrelated."
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: In addition to Bethany's pink bear mentioned above, Evvy is delighted when Cullen presents her with a plush mabari at the amusement park, noting that she's "no longer merely a Fereldan by marriage!"
  • Graduate from the Story: Largely averted. The final chapter is graduation day for Cole and the Partners in Crime, as well as the other students in their year; however, because of the arrangements made with the new community college in nearby Redcliffe, they're going to be able to remain at Skyhold Academy even while moving on to college.
  • Green Around the Gills: Varric, as it turns out, is prone to motion sickness. This has unpleasant consequences when Dorian decides to play a prank at the amusement park.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Referenced at the petting zoo, when Cullen warns Evvy that Anthony likes to throw things out of the stroller; she replies that the boy clearly has his father's sense of humor. His father invokes the trope when told about it later.
  • Mister Seahorse: During the teachers' film party, the conversation from Disorienuptials about Varric being pregnant gets a Call-Back.
  • Morning Sickness: This is revealed to be the reason that Bethany is avoiding the fast or spinny rides at the amusement park; she's been having this and doesn't fancy making it worse. As she herself notes, it's not the way she intended to announce the pregnancy.
  • Neat Freak: Dorian is this when it comes to his library. He warns the other teachers - repeatedly - that if anyone makes a mess, there will be hell to pay.
  • Nobody Touches the Hair: At the amusement park, Dorian doesn't want to go on fast-moving rides because it will mess up his hair. He relents for the carousel, but when the Music Express leaves him a little mussed, he comes up with revenge on Varric for talking him into riding it.
  • Panicky Expectant Father: Varric, although he's more justified than most. Everyone jokes that he's "Cullening" his wife.
  • Plausible Deniability: Once again invoked in the narrative; see Wild Teen Party, below.
  • A Rare Sentence: Invoked by Blackwall when the teachers decide how they're going to mark the special occasion.
    "It's a premiere night to celebrate the announcement of Baby Tethras." Blackwall shook his head. "On the list of 'sentences I never thought would come out of my mouth,' that ranks pretty high."
  • Real-Person Fic: Courtesy of Rory and Jim once again, this time for Cullen and Evvy's anniversary. The kids get inspired by The Greatest American Hero (or rather, the Thedosian equivalent) to make Cullen into a superhero.
    • Captain Geographic/Captain Superhero: Cullen is Captain Ferelden, which the fic presents as being something of a Legacy Character.
    • Clark Kenting: Cullen's entire Secret Identity disguise is messy hair and a pair of reading glasses. And it works.
    • I Have Your Wife: More accurately, I Have Your Tailor. Cullen and Evvy aren't a couple when Samson kidnaps her.
    • Meet Cute: Cullen meets Evvy when he goes to her tailoring shop and asks her to make him a superhero costume. It's about as silly as it sounds.
    • Super Fic: The basic premise. In addition to Cullen being Captain Ferelden, there's a reference to another hero called Peacock; this is a throwaway joke about giving Dorian abilities on par with The Falcon.
  • Serenade Your Lover: Cullen does this for Evvy on their second wedding anniversary, with the rest of the staff on hand to watch.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Invoked by Bull at the amusement park, after Dorian gets drenched on the water flume. He says it only for Dorian's own ears, but both Varric and Solas remark that they're a bit uncomfortable with whatever it was they didn't hear. (They're just trolling Dorian, of course.)
  • Talking to the Dead: Seen briefly at the teachers' 1930s party, when the Hawke sisters mention a particular antic of their late brother Carver. Bethany glances at the ceiling and remarks, "Cheeky, brother. Very cheeky."
  • Titled After the Song:
    • The title comes from a song by Ronan Keating.
    • The chapter "My Heart Will Lead Me There" gets its name from a lyric in the song "Beyond the Sea" by Bobby Darin.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: In "My Heart Will Lead Me There," Mahanon is dismayed to realize that he's missed his son's first word, and decides that the long-distance thing isn't working for him anymore. He even references the song "Cat's in the Cradle" in a conversation with Nathaniel Trevelyan.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: It's mentioned in the babysitting chapter that Jim is, in fact, deathly afraid of snakes.
  • Wild Teen Party: Mahanon seems to think that when the students are babysitting, they're going to throw one of these, so he gives them some colorful advice about practicing their alibis.
    "Listen, whatever happens tonight, try to maintain some plausible deniability. You might want to rehearse before we get back. 'No sir, the pizzas were always on the ceiling! That giant snake was in the bathtub when we got here!' Things like that."

    Beauty and the Bloodsucker 

Meta tropes for this installment

  • Excuse Plot: The concept of the story basically came into existence as an excuse for the authors to write 'vampire Cullen.'
  • Halloween Episode: It's basically this for the series. Thedas doesn't have Halloween, nor even a known equivalent, but the authors wrote the story as a Halloween treat for their readers.

Tropes for the framing device

  • Call-Back: Jim playfully quotes something Krem said during their silly run of Beauty and the Beast, noting that "I am all about the drama."
  • Hurricane of Puns: Jim drops a bunch of these near the end as suggestions for the story's title, including "Fangs For the Memories, "Once Bitten, Twice Shy," or simply "Bite Me."
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Krem gets one, noting that the concept of the story sounds like he could really "sink my teeth" into it. He immediately lampshades it, noting that he spends entirely too much time with Coach Bull.
  • Real-Person Fic: Played with. Jim and Rory openly admit that they're once again doing a "Cullevelyan" story, but they intend to change all the character names before submitting the story for the contest.
  • Spoilers: Krem, Nessa, and some of their other friends show up a few times hoping for these.
  • Take That!: When Jim first presents the idea of doing a vampire story, Rory immediately wants clarification: "They wouldn't sparkle, would they?"
  • Talent Contest: They write the story for a contest in a magazine calling for vampire fiction.
  • Verbal Tic: Rory pays homage to Cassandra's famous "disgusted noise."
  • You Were Trying Too Hard: Rory worries that she's doing this when she overthinks certain aspects of the plot, such as the siblings' tower assignments. Jim assures her that her ideas are very interesting.

Tropes for Jim and Rory's story

  • Alternate Universe Fic: Specifically, it's a Storm Age-era vampire AU.
  • Beast and Beauty: As the title implies.
  • Berserk Button: A group of bandits press Cullen's when he's out with Evangeline. It doesn't end well for them.
  • Big Fancy House: Rutherford Hall, where most of the story takes place.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Cullen may be the lord of the manor, but it's Mia who rules the roost over her three younger siblings.
  • Blessed with Suck: How the siblings, Cullen especially, view their predicament. (No pun intended.)
  • Butt-Monkey: The de Launcet sisters are basically this.
  • The Cameo: Krem appears as Rosalie's chosen of the evening. The leader of the orchestra performing at the ball is an obvious expy of Dorian.
  • The Charmer: Branson, very much. Evangeline also calls Cullen this, which takes him by surprise.
  • Crash-Into Hello: How Cullen and Evangeline meet.
  • Curse: Ultimately revealed to be the cause of the siblings' condition.
    • Cursed with Awesome: It's indicated that at least a few of the bannorn residents see their condition as this.
  • Curse Escape Clause: A secret one that the siblings don't know exists.
  • Dances and Balls: The leads meet during the annual Blood Moon Ball.
  • Elite Four: Played with. The four vampire siblings each occupy a tower in the castle, in the cardinal direction deemed closest to their personality.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Evangeline knows that something is weird about all of this, from the gossip she hears at the inn to Cullen's inexplicably cold hands. She just can't figure out what that something is until he spells it out for her.
  • First-Name Basis: Cullen asks Evangeline to be on this with him, as he feels so comfortable with her.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampires: The four brothers and sisters are all perfectly nice people who do what's best for the people of their bannorn. Unfortunately, this requires them to drink the blood of four of those people each year.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: Mia does this when she realizes that Cullen didn't do what he needed to do at the ball.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Part of the siblings' backstory.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: A few characters make these, with regards to the Rutherfords having taste and an appetite.
  • The Ingenue: Rosalie's personality can be largely summed up this way.
  • Kiss of the Vampire: The bannorn residents don't really mind letting the sibs feed on a few of them each year, since it's not fatal and this trope is heavily implied to be involved.
  • Meaningful Name: The Blood Moon Ball takes place every year on the night of the blood moon, which is presented here as being nothing more important than a specific full moon in the summertime. It's also the event at which the Rutherford vampires conduct their annual feeding.
  • Nice Girl: Evangeline's defining trait.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: For starters, they only have to feed once a year. They also don't have to kill.
  • Red And Black Color Scheme: Since the annual ball takes place on the night of the blood moon and is thus called the Blood Moon Ball, the guests all dress in red, black, and white.
  • Romantic Vampire Boy: Cullen.
  • This Explains So Much:
    • Cullen thinks this when Evangeline mentions that she's a visitor to his bannorn, since of course as an outsider she wouldn't know the actual purpose of the ball.
    • This is also Evangeline's reaction to Cullen's confession about what he is. She takes it rather well, on the whole.
  • True Love's Kiss: Not exactly, but similar.
  • Voluntary Vampire Victim: The people of the bannorn all qualify, since it's actually considered a tremendous compliment to be one of the four "chosen" at each year's Blood Moon Ball. Since they know they won't die from it, they figure that being sickly for a couple of days is a decent price to pay. Evangeline is also this, ultimately persuading a reluctant Cullen to bite her rather than deny himself and die of hunger.

    New Message Received 
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Invoked by Jim, when his best friends discuss the sense that something is afoot.
    Jim: Do I ever get the feeling that something is going on at Skyhold? Yeah, that's called Tuesday.
  • Caps Lock: Since the whole story is told through text messages, this is the only way the kids have to express their considerable excitement.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: When it's confirmed that Michel de Chevin will be returning to Skyhold permanently, Rory and Nessa are delighted at the prospect of having so much eye candy at the school.
  • Generation Xerox: A variant. Rory and Jim realize, in one conversation, that they greatly resemble a younger Hawke and Varric in the way they relate to each other.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Jim is a Pungeon Master in general, but he makes possibly his best/worst one yet in this installment when talking about the school production of Beauty and the Beast.
    Jim: Wait, so what you’re saying is Gaston is going to be the winner of the No-Belle prize?
  • Interquel: Much like Emerald Princess, it's more or less this, since it takes place concurrent with the rest of the series and fills in some narrative gaps.
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum: The kids quote Varric as having said this.
  • Perspective Flip: It's the plot of most of the series up to this point, told in the format of text and Facebook messages exchanged between several of the students.
  • Real-Person Fic: Once again, Jim and Rory's fanfics about the teachers qualify as this in-universe.
  • Severely Specialized Store: The kids joke about "Jim and Rory's Fanfic Emporium" when they start asking to read specific stories the two have written about the teachers. These include a Shakespeare AU and a beach story. As noted elsewhere on this page, these stories actually do exist; they've just never been made an official part of the SAY series.
  • Shipper on Deck: The kids are all this for their teachers in their respective romances, and also for Rory and Krem in their own relationship.
  • With Friends Like These...: Jim makes this remark with regards to the girls repeatedly trying to get him to tap dance.
  • The X of Y: Not the fic itself, but its two chapters both have titles of this nature.

    Bright Jewels, Chained City 
  • Buddy Cop Show: It's a literary version of this, with the two main characters being detectives, partners, and friends.
  • City Noir, in a Crapsack World
  • Clashing Cousins: In the first story, the background plot involves a pair of cousins, Gaston and Celeste, who are rivals for a highly-sought political position in Kirkwall.
  • Da Chief: Captain Hendallen returns in this capacity; again, she's also a Reasonable Authority Figure and something of A Mother to Her Men.
  • Fan Sequel: The entire collection of stories is this to Varric's own novel Hard in Hightown. In-universe, it's also a Real-Person Fic with the Serial Numbers Filed Off (much like Hard in Hightown itself). Oh, and it's also Jim and Rory's senior writing project, which they submitted for their final grade in Varric's class before they graduate. Varric, in the opening chapter, even describes it to his editor with this exact phrase.
  • Film Noir: All of the stories are told in this style, including deliberately over-the-top analogies.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Eric and Colin.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The five stories in this collection all have the names of precious jewels in their titles, which is what prompted the name of the installment. These are The Sapphire Scandal, The Topaz Promise, The Emerald Affair, The Ruby Operation, and The Tourmaline Trap.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: The detectives first meet the homeless boy Nicolas when he's feeding stray cats.
  • Knight In Sour Armor: Eric, in spades; Colin too, to a lesser extent.
  • MacGuffin: In Sapphire, a letter opener given to Gaston's wife as an anniversary gift is increasingly relevant to the plot. Unfortunately, nobody seems to know where it is.
  • Metafictional Title: Bright Jewels, Chained City is both the title of the fanfic and the title of the story collection written by Rory and Jim.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Jim and Rory are basically writing an Alternate Universe Fic about the Alternate Universe Fic in which they exist.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": When trying to get into Judge de Ghislain's personal computer, the detectives don't expect to be able to guess the password; but since the tech guys won't get started until the next day, they figure they'll try the most obvious possibilities just to eliminate them in the meantime. None of them work.
  • So Proud of You: Varric's reaction to these stories. It's pretty much a Foregone Conclusion, since he reacts that way to everything they submit.

    Love is a Mystery 

    Ordinary Chaos 

  • How We Got Here: It's the story of when Skyhold Academy first opened, giving the reader further insight into how the school is run.
  • Prequel: It's set a few years before the original Skyhold Academy.

    The Red and Gold Dossier 

  • How We Got Here: As indicated by some foreshadowing in The Memory Band, it explains how the current state of affairs in Ferelden became established.
  • Prequel: Being set prior to Ordinary Chaos, it's actually a prequel to the prequel.
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