Part 5: To Save A Hero

Silence reined on the top of Fort Drakon as Zevran’s voice faded away.  I stared across the empty expanse of warm, bloodstained stone as the images of the past faded from my mind’s eye.  The sun hung lower in the sky than when he first started his tale, closer to the dusk of evening than the glare of midday.

I cleared my throat, breaking the silence.  I could feel a slight tremor in my limbs from standing still for so long in one place.  Beads of sweat rolled down my back from the fading heat of the day, the roiling breeze refreshing against my flushed face.

“Anything else?” I whispered through a voice thick with thirst.

“Nothing much else to tell my dear,” he said softly.  “At first, you slept.  And then when you didn’t wake, we worried.  Wynne was the only one who came up with a possible reason as to why you did not wake when your body was so healed.  Something about that light caused damage to your spirit and that’s why you didn’t wake.  So we waited, and we watched, and we helped Denerrim to take its first steps on a new life.  We knew that was what you would want us to do, and we did not feel it was right for you to die for this, for all of us, and not try to help rebuild the city where you made your last stand.”

I nodded at his words and turned to him.  “For what it’s worth, thank you.  For…you know.  Everything.”  I smiled softly at him.

Zevran chuckled at my words.  “Ah my dear Lurianna, it would have been rather boorish of us to leave you so, no?”

“Either way, I thank you,” I sighed and started to move my quivering limbs in the direction of the stairwell.  “I think it’s best if we go now.  I really don’t feel like deflecting the search party Alistair is likely to send for me if I’m gone too long.”

Zevran snorted in agreement and fell into step beside me.  But halfway across the circular expanse of the rooftop the exertion of the day caught up to me.  I cried out as I felt my legs give way beneath me and I would have fallen if not for Zevran’s quick reflexes as he caught me in his arms.

“I think we had best rest for a moment, no?” his breathe tickled my ear as his warm, wry voice washed over me.  I laughed weakly.

“Yes I think so,” I agreed as Zevran gently lowered me to the stone.  Settling himself behind me so I could lean back against him, we sat quietly for a few moments watching the sun sink lower in the sky, his arms wrapped loosely around me.

“I prayed for you.  For the first time in my life I prayed for someone else’s well-being.”

I stiffened in surprise at such a sudden declaration and shifted to the side.  I was more lying than leaning on him so I could see his face.  Zevran wouldn’t meet my eyes at first.  But then he looked at me with such pain and longing that my heart caught in my throat.

Zevran had always flirted with me pushing at any boundaries that I had set, hoping I would give in to him despite my relationship with Alistair.  I had always assumed this was just his way.  He pushed just as much with our other female companions as he did me and more than once I caught him trying his charms on the odd male.  But now I saw the true depth of his feelings and it scared me and made me feel no small amount of shame that I had been blind for so long.

He didn’t need to say anything. I could see it all in his eyes as his lips descended and touched mine, his tongue flicking gently across them, questioning.  His hand swept swiftly up my side, sliding under my tunic until he cupped my breast.  The touch sent a shock through me, followed by a deep, lingering heat as if a flame had been suddenly lit.  I gasped at the sensations, drawing his tongue deeper into my mouth as I arched my back.

We tasted and explored each other.  Or rather Zevran explored me.  I was too shocked and stunned by my body’s reaction to do anything in protest.

The small corner of my mind that was still sane noted that his lips were softer than Alistair’s, and that he was a hell of a kisser.  His tongued danced around mine as his fingers gently rolled and pinched my taught nipple, sending another bolt of heat through me.  I don’t know how long we stayed like that, but I eventually felt him pull a hair’s breathe away from me.

“Come with me Lurianna,” he whispered breathlessly against my lips.  He was so close I could still feel their heat.  “This life, it is not for you.  You were born into it but I have seen your eyes light up at the prospect of battle and I know that you are meant for so much more.  Come with me and we will travel the world together, have marvelous adventures and I will make love to you every night under the stars.”

It was hard to hear him through the pounding of blood in the ears.  My body was on fire and my every though was to be laid bare upon the stone and feel the hot thick length of male surging inside me.  But not just any male.  As mad as I was with lust and desire, I could only think of Alistair.  I reached up and trailed shaking fingers down his cheek.

“Zevran.  You have such an unselfish heart, with room for so many women, so many loves.”  I splayed my hand across his chest and gently pushed him away.  “But my heart is selfish and I only have room for one.”

I felt Zevran still and stiffen around me.  We looked at each other for a long moment before he frowned as he slowly slid his hand from under my tunic and pulled further away.  “I understand,” he gritted out, his voice hard with emotion.

“Come now let me help you up,” he said with a brittle smile.  Gently disentangling himself from me he took my hands on helped me rise to my feet.  Turning from me he started again for the stairs, but I caught his arm and pulled him back.

We stood there for what seemed an eternity, frozen in tableau on the roof of that ancient fortress, staring at each other.  I swallowed past the lump in my throat.

“Do not doubt yourself Zevran.”  He stared unblinkingly at me.  “It has nothing to do with who or what you are.  Alistair and I were already on our path when you crossed mine.  If I had of met you first…” I shook my head.  “Zevran, you are one of my oldest companions and my dearest friend.  I do love you, but not the way you need me to.”

I wasn’t sure if I should have been saying any of this to him, but I could not simply leave things as they were.  I had to speak my piece.  I watched his face anxiously for anything that would tell me what he was thinking or feeling, but his mask was firmly in place.  I think he was wrestling with himself over choices made and paths not taken, because after a few moments his eyes softened and he smiled a warm, genuine smile.

“Ah, but what man could not be content with that?” he asked metaphorically as he stepped forward to embrace me.  I hugged him back hard, thankful I had not lost him before he pulled away from me and held me at arm’s length.

“You are without a doubt the most amazing woman I have ever met Lurianna.  Any man would be lucky to have you by your side, I had to try.  But you made me no promises, and I should not have forced my expectations upon you.”  He bowed.  “Forgive me.”

I grinned at my old friend.  “There is nothing to forgive,” I said simply.

With a chuckle and a flourish Zevran took my arm.  Leaning on each other once again like we had done so many times before, we finally made out way to the stairs and started down.  The journey down was hard for me.  The drama between us and the fear of losing a companion was sufficient to push all conscious thought of the fire raging inside me out of my mind, but with nothing but silence and the cool darkness it returned in full.

My mind raced as my body raged.  Why was it doing this?  I had never experienced this before.  Was it survivor’s syndrome?  It was often said that surviving when so many others did not often raised one’s ardor and prompted them to mate as a kind of reaffirmation or celebration of life.  Alistair and I had not lain together for some months now.  Perhaps that was it?  I had been so long without him that a mere touch from another male would ignite me?

Those were questions I would have to think on another day, for my room drew close and my breathing ragged.  I daresay Zevran saw something amiss, but was showing one of his rare instances of wisdom and held his tongue.  I opened the heavy old oak door into my room and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw Alistair seated on a sofa in front of the fireplace.

The rooms we had taken over once belonged to the commander of the fort, and while luxurious in comparison to the other rooms, they were still small but immensely more comfortable.  The first room consisted of a simple sofa and fireplace, with a desk for work against the wall across from us, and a liquor cabinet for entertaining to the right.  The left side opened up into the second room where a plush four poster bed waited to greet its nightly occupants along with a wardrobe and small dresser.

“Sweet Andraste!” Alistair leapt to his feet when he saw me and I could only imagine what a sight I made.  Short breathed, leaning heavily on my cane, and my face flushed red from the sun and lust.  “Are you alright Lurianna?”  Not waiting for an answer he looked beyond me to Zevran, his eyes blazing.  “Go fetch Wynne,” he snapped.

“No!” I barked.  Alistair drew himself up short and blinked at me in surprise.  “We don’t need to call Wynne every time I need to take a blasted piss!” I almost shouted at him.  “I spent the afternoon in the sun and am tired is all.”

I turned to Zevran who was still standing behind me and eyeing the both of us warily.  “Thank you again Zevran, but I think I’ll be turning in now.”  He nodded slowly at me and bowed low.

“Then I wish you both pleasant dreams,” he bade us before heading further down the hall to his own room.  I locked the door behind him and turned to the bedroom, letting my cane clatter to the floor as I began peeling off my clothes.  My body felt too warm in them.

I heard Alistair following.  “Lurianna?  Are you alright?” he called after me, voice full of concern.  I ignored him.  He would know my intentions soon enough.  By the time I reached the bed I was naked.  I sensed him behind me and wondered what he saw.  My body was paler and more scarred since we were last together, and I had still not regained all the muscle mass I had lost during my convalescence.  I was a hero, but I was also a woman and prone to the same insecurities as those of my gender.  But I refused to let it stop me.

“Lurianna,” his voice was in my ear, deeper and thicker than normal.  I turned to him and saw the desire banked by concern in his eyes as his gaze travelled over me from head to toe.  We were close, so close, barely a step apart from each other.  I was amazed he could not feel the heat radiating off me.  I closed the distance between us and wrapped my arms around his neck as I kissed him.  My bare breasts rubbed against the coarseness of his tunic, the friction teasing my sensitive nipples into tight, aching points.

I parted my lips and flicked my tongue against his, gently biting his lip.  Alistair encircled me in his arms, embracing me briefly before gently grasping my hips and pulling back out of my reach.  “Are you sure?” he whispered huskily.  I speared my fingers through his hair and kissed him with as much desire and passion as I could, letting my body answer for me.  Alistair tried to be gentle at first, to go slow, but then his control snapped and I felt a wave of primal satisfaction as I heard him growl deep in his throat as he grabbed me by the waist and threw me onto the bed.

Our coupling was wild and fierce at first, we had been too long without each other and it was what my body demanded.  I nipped and scratched at him through the fabric of his tunic, hard enough to leave marks but not to draw blood.  Alistair hissed in that heady mix of pain laced pleasure as he fumbled at the front of his breeches, freeing himself.  Roughly pushing my legs apart he fell between them, his manhood resting at my entrance.  He stilled his body long enough to look at me one last time, that question again on his lips.

I smiled up at him and arched my back, my centre already so wet he slipped easily inside.  With a swift intake of breathe Alistair pulled all the way out and thrust deep into me.  I arched my back again and cried out as he hit the entrance to my womb and I shuddered around him, stars exploding in my vision as I climaxed.  After a few more thrusts Alistair stiffened and moaned my name as he spent himself and collapsed on top of me.

We made love well into the night.  The rest of our time together was the kind of gentle lovemaking you hear tell in ballads and epic romantic poems.  We took care to relearn every inch of each other’s bodies, the room filled with our soft sighs and moans.  I guessed it was about midnight when I found myself cradled in Alistair’s arms as we lay together, naked, sated and content.  He kissed the top of my head and I looked into his blue, blue eyes with that familiar mischievous twinkle in them.  “Not that I’m complaining or anything mind you,” he drawled “but what brought that on?”

I chuckled low in my throat as my heart stilled in my chest.  I did not know what caused it, but I knew what triggered it and I was loath to spoil our first night together with the truth.  “I missed you,” I answered simply instead. Alistair kissed me again and smiled.

“I know you too well Lurianna,” he said to me.  “You rarely do anything without reason, even when we make love.  And I could tell you weren’t yourself as soon as you stepped through the door this afternoon.  Please, tell me what was wrong.”

I sighed and reluctantly pulled out of his arms, sitting up in the bed and wrapping a sheet around myself.  I rubbed at my tired, gritty eyes as I tried best to phrase what I needed to say in the best manner to keep him from going on a killing spree.  “Alistair,” I finally asked.  “What do you know about female Grey Wardens?  How does the taint affect them?”

Alistair frowned at my question and propped himself up on one elbow.  “Not much I’m afraid,” he admitted. “There weren’t many women in the Grey Wardens to begin with, and you know Duncan wasn’t able to tell me everything we needed to know about the order before the battle.”  He looked at me with trepidation and concern.  “Why do you ask?”

I took a deep breath and explained to Alistair everything that had happened between me and Zevran since I had woken up.  The brief kiss as I was first coming to, the glances and touches that I only now registered as I looked back on the past week, and what happened on the top of the tower just a few short hours ago.  Alistair was understandably incised by everything that had happened and he leapt naked out of the bed and began pacing around the room.

“That bastard!”  He cried.  “I knew I should never have trusted him!  But I never thought he would actually try to force himself on you!”  I remained silent while Alistair raged.  Under normal circumstances I would have enjoyed the view, but I didn’t think that would have gone over very well.  “He didn’t force himself on me Alistair,” I sighed.  He snorted in disbelief.  “Could have fooled me.  And why are you protecting him?  You’re his friend, a Grey Warden, my fiancée, and you’re going to sit there defending him?”  He shook his head incredulous.

“Well you might be able to let this go, but I’m not,” he declared as he turned to leave the room.  I could only assume he was going to confront Zevran, and I didn’t know what I feared more.  One of them losing their lives to each other, or losing one of them from my life.

“Alistair don’t!” I called after him and scrambled out of bed to follow him.  But I had wrapped the sheet too well around myself and my foot got caught in a fold of fabric and I went sprawling face first into the cold stone floor.  My cry of shock brought Alistair back to me thankfully, and he rushed to my side when he saw me sprawled naked on the ground.  “Lurianna-” I held up my hand to stop him and pulled myself back onto the bed.

“You’re not going to do anything to him,” I said softly, not looking at Alistair.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw him straighten in indignation.  “And why not?” he bit out.  I finally raised my eyes and looked at him.  “I love you Alistair.  But I won’t lose my friend because of you.”

I could see the muscles in his jaw tense at those words.  “Oh right, my apologies.  It’s in the nature of friends to force themselves on each other when the other is weak, unable to fight back and in love with someone else.”  Sarcasm dripped from every word and if his voice were any colder I would have been frozen on the spot.  “Was it really me you were with just now, or were you thinking of him?” he sneered at me.

I don’t remember getting up.  I don’t remember closing the distance between us.  But I do remember the sharp crack my hand made as it met his face, and the red imprint it left behind on his cheek.  It took a moment for Alistair to register what had happened, and I used that to my advantage.

“If it was Zevran I wanted, I would have had him,” now my voice was colder than the grave.  “We were alone up there for hours.  I could have fucked him ten times over and you would have never known.  But as soon as I knew what was going on, I stopped him.  I walked away from him.  And I came back. To. You.” I poked his chest to emphasise my words.

“And yes, Zevran is my friend.  He will always be my friend, perhaps my closest one aside from you.  Do you want to know why Alistair?” He glared at me mutinously but held his silence.  I felt my shoulders sag with weariness as I sat back down on the bed. “Because he never judged me,” I whispered.  “Never once did Zevran judge.  He accepted me wholly and completely.  Do you have any idea how important that was?”  Alistair had a look of curiosity and disbelief on his face.  I don’t think that had ever occurred to him.  But then he shook his head in denial.  “We all accepted you-”

“No,” I interrupted.  “You followed me and trusted me, but none of you ever fully accepted me for the longest time.”  I began ticking examples off on my fingers.  “You yourself questioned me several times on my decisions.  Leliana often called me out on being too hard, Oghren for being too soft, Sten and Shale for reasons I still don’t get to this day, Morrigan would call me a fool for helping whoever we could, and let’s not forget the wonderful conversation Wynne and I had concerning my ‘moral ambiguity’.”

“I was orphaned, conscripted, hunted, and expected to lead a rag tag group of people to stop a war, a blasted Blight, that most didn’t believe was coming.  And if the Maker was good, hopefully I would stop it before too many had died.” My eyes pleaded for understanding.  “Do you have any idea how comforting, how refreshing it was to have one person like that?  One person, who never questioned, challenged or judged me?”  Alistair remained silent, watching me.  I couldn’t read his face, and something inside me told me I had failed in making him understand.

“I’m not asking you to like him, or to get along with him.  Just…don’t drive him away,” I finished lamely.  I sat on the edge of the bed, staring at my hands clasped on my lap.  I now noticed how cold it was in the room and my skin broke out in goose bumps, making me shiver.  But then something warm was draped over my shoulders and the bed beside me dipped under a new weight.  Alistair wrapped his arm around me and rested his head against mine.

“I’m sorry,” he said softly.  “I never thought of that.  We did put a lot on you, but it’s only because we knew you were the strongest of all of us.”  I felt grateful tears welling up in my eyes at those words as his sigh brushed across my face.  “I don’t think I’ll ever trust him again, but I won’t do anything out of respect for the service he has done you in the past.” I nodded as a few silent tears rolled down my face, one of the few times I had cried since the death of my family.  I felt Alistair brush a kiss against my temple before he stood up.  I looked up the length of his firm, warm body and my heart swelled with love and gratitude that we were able to find each other in the midst of a war torn land.

Alistair laid his hands on my shoulders and smiled at me.  “Let’s go to bed,” he whispered.  And I was only too happy to oblige.

***

In the quiet hours before dawn, Alistair opened the door to their shared room and looked up and down the hallway, ensuring it was empty.  Aside from a quiet huff at his feet announcing Kiché’s presence, there was not a soul in sight.  No matter where Kiché roamed during the day as Lurianna built up her strength, each dawn would find him curled up in front of their room, waiting for his mistress to wake.

Alistair looked down into Kiché’s soulful brown eyes and opened the door a little wider, beckoning the hound inside.  “Don’t wake her,” Alistair whispered as the Mabari hound slipped silently past him.  Another huff, the briefest of disturbances on the air served well enough to let Alistair know that he had been heard and understood.

After their little spat, Alistair and Lurianna had crawled into bed, exhausted.  And while she quickly slipped into a deep sleep, something so rare before but so common now since her body still had some healing to do, rest was more elusive for him.  He lay awake in the dark, listening to the soft sounds of her breathing and replaying their conversation over and over again in his mind before coming to a decision.  Taking only enough time to throw on his breeches from earlier before he padded on bare feet over the cold stone he slipped out of the room where Lurianna still lay sleeping in their bed, and gently closed the door behind him before making his quiet way down the hall.

At the end of the hall he stopped before another thick, oaken wood door, no different than any other.  Raising his hand, he rapped swiftly on the wood and waited, the sound barely registered in the quiet night, but he was sure that the room’s occupant heard him.

Soon enough his assurances proved true as the door opened and Zevran appeared on the other side of it.  His normally well kept hair was mussed and tangled from sleep, and like Alistair he wore only a pair of breeches, but that was the only indication he had been resting as his eyes were bright and alert and he held one of his many daggers in his hand.

“Ah Alistair!” Zevran exclaimed with a smile that quickly vanished as his eyes took in the empty corridor.  “Is everything alright with our other companions?” he asked warily.

“Can I have a word with you Zevran?” Alistair asked, ignoring Zevran’s question.  After a pause Zevran nodded and stepped aside to let Alistair in.  Zevran’s room was smaller than the one Lurianna and Alistair shared, instead it was almost an exact replica of the room Lurianna woke in after the battle.  A simple bed and chest of drawers, with a desk, chair and lamp with room enough to move around filled out the room, with a small slit of a window above the headboard allowing in light and air.

Alistair took the room in at a glance and turned to Zevran who had closed the door partially over and eyed the young Templar-turned-Grey-Warden-turned-King warily.  The blonde human had a good foot of height on Zevran and at least half a hundred pounds on him, and it wouldn’t take much for a lucky strike to lay the assassin low for a few moments despite his advantages of speed and agility.

Zevran was under no delusions as to why Alistair was here rather than with Lurianna.  She told him everything that had happened today, and now he had come to settle accounts between them.  Zevran was not surprised that it had come to this, the only thing was he did not know what Alistair intended.  Alistair was mild mannered enough not to want to provoke violence, but in Zevran’s experience logic and long standing personality did not often play a role in the reactions of a threatened or jilted lover.  Alistair’s words soon enough confirmed his suspicions.

“Lurianna told me everything,” Alistair began without preamble, looking Zevran right in the eyes.  Zevran’s hand tightened on the dagger he still held, and he noticed Alistair’s eyes flicker, catching the motion.  “I’m not here for vengeance,” he said, holding up his hands in peace.  “But I cannot let what happened pass by without saying something first.”

Zevran and Alistair stared at each other for a few moments passed before Zevran finally arched a brow at the other and gestured with his free hand for Alistair to continue.

Alistair ignored the signal, taking a few additional moments to collect his thoughts.  He had everything he wanted to say planned out before he left his room, now he wanted to make sure he said it right.

“You shouldn’t have laid your hands upon her like that,” he started.  “I think it was the ultimate betrayal of trust, both hers and mine.” Alistair paused and raked his hand through his short cropped blonde hair, taking a deep breath and expelling it in a rush.  “But I understand you had to try.  “I can only imagine how hard it would be to see the woman you love in the arms of someone else.  I’m not sure I wouldn’t have done the something similar if I were in your shoes.  But she has made her choice, and I can only hope you understand and honor it.”

Zevran nodded solemnly to Alistair. “I will, and I can.  You make her happy, and who am I to deny her that?” he said with a shrug.  Then he looked at Alistair with a dark gleam in his eyes and a slightly sinister smirk.  “But Alistair, be sure you keep her happy hmmm?  I will not push myself on her again, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be waiting for another chance.”

“I would die to make her happy,” Alistair growled at the elf, his hands unconsciously clenching into fists at the implied threats.

“Then we have an accord.”  Zevran inclined his head.  “You would die to make her happy, and I would kill.  Two sides of the same coin, no?  So long as she is happy, then so too, are we yes?”

“Yes,” Alistair gritted out.  Smirking at the aggravated king, Zevran opened the door wide, a clear invitation for Alistair to leave which the frustrated blonde took, casting one last glare at the elf before walking back down the corridor to his own room, the soft thud of a closing door echoing behind him.

Part 7: The Hero of Fereldan

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