Elissa would probably have ended up in an arranged marriage to Teagan after all, or else would have succeeded in her plan to run away to Orlais to escape the wedding. Considering they still would have had to escape Lothering for Kirkwall, Ria would have just continued working for Athenril until she managed to get enough status within the gang to branch off on her own. Vrania would been raised a noble in Kirkwall if she were totally mundane, or if still a mage but nothing “special” would have died during Uldred’s rebellion if she hadn’t managed to escape at that time.
I don’t know, really… Elissa is endlessly curious and genuinely interested in things she doesn’t understand. Ria honestly believes in mage freedom due to the way she was raised. If anything, she publicly downplays that passion early on just to fit in, until she and Anders become involved. And Vrania is 100% no-fucks-given. Only if she needs to establish herself in a community so that they treat her as one of their own if and when the templars come does she do anything other than just live like a normal, non-magey person.
Elissa primarily has all sorts of official tomes, filled with the sort of information we’d find in the codexes, the info from the wiki that would be known in-universe and not just as meta, and the World of Thedas book—an entire library’s worth of that sort of thing and then some. She does also have her private library, which includes both more work-related things (including but not limited to private Warden documents about the histories of the Blights, as opposed to public layman works on the topic) and epics and novels and such for personal enjoyment for the rare occasion she gets to read for pleasure anymore. And yes, quite a few of her “personal” books are trashy novels of mostly Nevarran and Orlesian origin, in addition to silly adventure stories.
Ria doesn’t read often, because she’d rather be doing something than just sitting in place, so her library at the estate is mostly filled with her mother’s collection. I’m sure Isabela probably provided a few choice selections that Leandra pretended to be scandalized to find, however.
Vrania doesn’t typically have the luxury of shelves, though, since she’s on the move so often. Just enough belongings to fit in a pack or two and off she goes whenever the templars seem to be sniffing her out. Back when she had access to the Circle’s library she was more likely to be studying above her approved level after curfew than to be reading anything traditionally considered “pleasure” reading. Although like Ria, she often prefers to be doing than just sitting; so, reading was fine when there was something to get out of it but for leisure she was far more likely to play cards or chess with her not-friend Alim. (She was willing to confide certain secrets to him, but never actually considered him a friend as he was an elf and she had been nobility before coming to the Circle.)
“You’ve got to clean up, first.”
Elissa darted toward the dressing room, and then immediately back out again. “I don’t have to wash my hair, do I?”
“Let me see you,” Anora instructed. “No, I think once we brush you out properly your hair should be fine. But get that dirt off so I can see if you have any scrapes from that fall and then I’ll braid your hair like mine if you like.”
More than half an hour passed before the older girl was satisfied with Elissa’s condition. Through some miracle, Anora found only a single bruise on the girl’s shoulder—from where the witch hit me with her spell, she was informed—so shortly afterward they picked out a pale green dress from the wardrobe for her to wear to supper.
They sat quietly for a while as Anora brushed and braided Elissa’s dark hair, wrapping and pinning it carefully into a crown over the little girl’s head. Then suddenly, when Anora was about half finished, Elissa finally spoke again.
“Miss Anora, do you know how to fight?”
“I’m much better at hunting than fighting,” she replied cautiously, remembering Elissa’s entrance earlier that morning, “but yes. My father believed I should be able to defend myself if necessary.”
“Could you teach me?”
“I don’t think that would be wise, Elissa. Your parents might not approve, and I probably don’t know enough to be a very good teacher.”
The little girl sighed dramatically. “You mean my mama might not approve.”
“But your mother has the right not to approve. Besides, don’t you want to be a lady someday? I used to fight dragons and witches when I was your age, too, but when girls grow up they have to learn to be ladies.”
“So… when you become queen, are you saying you won’t fight anymore?”
Anora smiled, but was distant when she replied. “Ladies don’t fight with swords, Elissa, if they fight at all. And a queen’s purpose isn’t to fight anyway. A queen is there to inspire her people, to give hope to them when they need it.”
“So you won’t fight anymore.”
“No, probably not.”
“But what if Ferelden is attacked? What if there’s a blight or something? Can’t you be queen and give hope by fighting the bad guys?”
“Don’t be a goose, there won’t be a blight anytime that we have to worry about.”
Scowling, Elissa pulled away before Anora could finish her braid and turned on the older girl. “You don’t know that,” she accused. “What about Queen Rowan? Or the king’s mama, the Rebel Queen? They both fought, and they were ladies!”
“It’s not that a lady can’t fight if she has to, but they don’t go looking for fights, either.”
“You said ladies don’t fight with swords.”
“Ladies don’t,” Anora replied, slightly irritated, “unless they absolutely must. Queen Moira and Queen Rowan weren’t normal queens. There was a war going then, and they had no choice.”
“Would you fight if there was a war?”
“Elissa, that’s hardly relevant…”
“Would you, though?”
Oh, you ended the selection right before poor babby!Elissa has her dreams crushed! :(
Anyway, this little story threw me through so many emotions from start to finish, not just this portion of it. At first, I planned to write brat!Elissa through and through. Then came tons of big sister/little sister feels, and I had to stop and rethink the whole idea again. Finally it came out to this very important discussion, which a majority of even Elissa’s adult opinion of Anora is based on. (There will be other scenes as both girls continue to grow up that get more and more argumentative, but this is the root of her lost faith in the older girl.) Babby!Elissa has very specific ideas of what a queen should be, and she’s slowly realizing that her new idol isn’t going to fit into those expectations.
…Yeah, I could definitely see Ria being interested in role play. More with Isabela than with Anders, though, I think.
Elissa: Serpent’s song clawing at her soul.
Ria: Loves hats, daggers, ale, and apostates.
(If I can think one up for Vrania I’ll add it in later; technically she’s not a Warden though and I don’t want to make this post wait on her anymore.)