The keep grounds were quiet as Theron and Zevran made their way down to Velanna’s walled garden, hand in hand. They passed the odd guard at his or her post, but beyond brief greetings the walk was uneventful. They stood in the entryway and stared into the garden that was only lit by the light of the stars. The statues of the elven gods seemed to glow in the dull light, staring out with blank eyes.
“I am surprised that Velanna doesn’t sleep here. She spends so much of her spare time in this garden.” Zevran commented as Theron led the way in.
“She has a room in the keep, you know. I think she’s still adjusting to life here.” He answered as he led the way to the central patch of grass and laid the blanket out on the ground.
“At least we will not have to worry about her emerging from the darkness to interrupt our time together. That is one thing I do not miss about our travels during the Blight, being interrupted so often.”
Theron frowned at Zevran as they sat down.
“I thought we were coming out here to look at the stars? Or have you been planning to seduce me?” He teased.
“Trust me when I say that my intentions are wholly innocent tonight, amor. If I wanted to seduce you, I would prefer to do so in the warmth and privacy of a bedroom with a locked door, not out in a walled garden.” Zevran grinned as he lay back on the blanket and wriggled to get comfortable. “The ground isn’t too cold.”
Theron nodded, and joined Zevran in lying down. Out of habit they curled up together, tangling their legs together as Zevran rested his head on Theron’s chest and Theron put an arm around Zevran’s shoulders to keep him close.
Above them, framed by some of the taller-growing plants, the night sky glittered with hundreds of pinpricks of lights. They lay still, taking in the view of the dark sky and stars above them. Theron breathed slowly, feeling Zevran’s warmth as they lay so close together, the weight of his head, the steady rhythm to his breathing.
“Beautiful.” Theron sighed.
“Do you know any constellation names?”
Theron nodded, moving his free hand to run his fingers through Zevran’s hair and behind one ear.
“A few that I can pick out in the sky. Fenrir and Equinor, Fervenial. I don’t know if we’ll be able to see any of them, we’re a lot further north than the Brecilian Forest, the stars have moved.”
“We can still try. If not, I can tell you about the constellations over Antiva.” Zevran offered, his eyes firmly closed as Theron rubbed gentle circles on his scalp. “So, Fenrir? I take it that one is related to wolves?”
“Yes. For the Dalish, it represents Fen’Harel the trickster god.” Theron studied the stars, and extricated his hand from Zevran’s hair to point up at a collection of stars to the west. “The last constellation to show itself after sunset, set apart from the others.” He felt Zevran turn his head to look up at the sky proper, and heard his faint hum of interest.
“And here I was raised thinking it was about a simple wolf.”
“The Crows taught you about the stars?”
Zevran shook his head, and then grinned.
“I am allowed to have hobbies outside of killing people, you know. Or wooing them. Or both. One of these was stargazing. What about Fervenial?”
Theron squinted up at the sky again.
“I can’t… Oh wait, there it is. It’s a bare tree. That group of four stars there make up the trunk. See the three big branches those other stars make above it?”
Zevran nodded as he followed the lines Theron traced in the air.
“It always reminded me of the Vir Tanadhal. Each branch represents a different tenet every Dalish hunter must follow if he or she wants to call himself or herself a hunter.” Theron continued.
“Fascinating.” Zevran replied, his gaze on the sky again.
They grew quiet after that. Theron listened to the faint nighttime sounds of the keep around them, the whisper of a cold breeze through the plants around them. Zevran shifted where he lay, curling up even closer to Theron, and eventually sighed.
“You know, I am not really one for stargazing these past few years.” He mumbled against Theron’s collarbone.
“We can go back inside, if you want?”
“No, no. We’ve not been here very long.”
“Alright.” Theron was quiet for a moment. “Do you want to talk about it?” He ventured.
Zevran nodded, but remained silent. Theron looked down at him, and then carefully returned his free hand to Zevran’s scalp. Zevran seemed to relax under the gentle scratching and rubbing, a tension leaving his shoulders that Theron hadn’t even realised had been building up. Theron frowned in concern to himself, but decided not to pressure Zevran into talking before he was ready. Even though the sudden shift in mood was worrying, to say the least.
“I… I enjoy looking at the stars, make no mistake,” Zevran began slowly. “It is simply that when I look up at the night sky spread out above us so, I cannot help being reminded of how small and… And insignificant I am, compared to the hundreds upon hundreds of stars up there across the vast sky. And that feeling of helplessness,” Theron tightened his arm around Zevran’s shoulder, getting an idea of where Zevran was leading the conversation, “reminds me of the Crows. If I do not tread carefully, I can get lost in the depths of my own thoughts, like the depths of the heavens.”
Zevran had moved as he talked, to bury his head in Theron’s chest. Theron could feel a slight dampness soak into the fabric of his shirt, about where Zevran’s eyes were. Theron wrapped his arms properly around Zevran, holding him close as if that would protect him from his own mind.
“Oh, Zev. You’re not helpless. Would a helpless man have gone back and dismantled the Crows alone, Talon by Talon? Would he have risked death so hundreds of children wouldn’t have to undergo the same trials he did? You’re so far from being helpless, or insignificant. And I love you for it, more than I can ever say but I’m going to keep saying it every chance I get. I love you, Zevran.”
They lay there for several minutes until Zevran stopped trembling against him and lifted his head up. He carefully wiped his eyes dry.
“Thank you for such kind words. Forgive me for acting like some hormonal maiden, amor. I doubt this is what you had in mind for a private night together looking at the stars.”
Theron sat up and kissed him gently on the lips.
“That doesn’t matter. The stars are beautiful to look at, but I prefer your beauty so much more than a bunch of distant lights in the sky.” He answered, which earned him a weak smile.
“I would be most hurt if you enjoyed the company of the distant stars to me.”
“Then it’s a good thing I don’t.” Theron kissed him again. “We don’t have to stay out here if you’re feeling upset, lath. The stars can wait another night.”
“Are you certain?”
“Yes. We can get a bottle of Antivan brandy from the kitchen somewhere, find a comfortable window seat or chairs by the fire and gossip about the nobility somewhere warm until we fall asleep in each other’s arms.”
Zevran considered it for a moment, and he seemed to be blinking away tears but Theron couldn’t quite tell in the low light. Then he moved so Theron could get to his feet. Theron automatically held a hand out to help Zevran up, and then paused as a memory stirred at the sight. Zevran seemed to remember the same thing as he knelt looking at Theron’s outstretched hand.
“Just like old times, hm? If only we had known back then.” He grinned weakly, before he took the offered hand and stood.
They walked back to the keep slowly, Zevran’s arm around Theron’s waist and Theron’s arm around Zevran’s shoulders, discussing the small things in life.