Where her hair was light and shone in the sun like firelight, his was the deep color of rusted armor and only a fire lit on the far side of her room made it shine. She carded her fingers though it, wrapping his braid around a finger and sliding her hand, palm in, down slowly over his cheek.
“He’s here for you, you know,” she whispered.
He chuckled and laid his hand on hers, pulling it away from his face so he could lace their fingers together. Pulling their hands close to his chest, his chin tilted, he kissed her knuckles.
“It’s nice of you to say so, Elissa, but I think we both know that’s not true.”
She drew in close and pulled her head up against his shoulder. “Then he’s a fool, and they should’ve sent a different Warden.”
“I don’t think it’s the Warden, you know.”
“I’ll think what I like, Roland Gilmore.” She said purposefully leaving off his title with attitude that very much informed him of the type of woman she could’ve been. The one that would never have shared his bed, or hers.
“Tell me something I don’t know, Elissa.”
She slapped his arm with her other hand, but it was light-hearted and barely a whoosh of air against his skin. And then, she laid her hand against his chest and followed the tight line of his stomach below the thick furs and soft silk blankets. Her thumb traced through a scar just above where his breeches sat, reminiscent of a fond memory.
“Rory, look at it!” Elissa held up a hand, brandishing a dagger.
With quick steps he made his way over to her and, grinning, he pulled his own, much weaker, much duller one from the belt at his waist. He had carried it everywhere with him since his nameday two months prior.
She lowered hers and held it side by side with his, once he stopped in front of her and in the dim light of the hall outside the kitchen, it doesn’t look like the two are so different.
“They’re the same,” he mused, running a finger down the flat shining side of hers. “Well, almost.” Then his cheeks stained red and he added, “It’s beautiful, Elissa.”
“I asked for one like yours.” She smiled, shoulders moving back and her chin lifting and he knew that look, the proud one that said she thought she had done something right. Something good.
He nodded and somehow that pride was in him too, but it wasn’t because she was happy with her decision, but that she’d wanted something that he had. That she somehow wanted to be a little like him.
“Do you want to try it, Rory?”
He did. He wanted it like he’d wanted little else in his eight years. But, his fingers hesitated next to hers and he looked at her, searching her face for something- a trick, perhaps. Sometimes, the boys in the yard, they teased like this, offering better, sharper weapons only to take them back at the last moment.
“But you haven’t even tried it yet.”
She shrugged and her thumb slid over the flat of the blade like he had done with his finger and she looked at him again, cocking her head to the side, blond curls falling around her shoulders. Elissa was never like that- never cruel like the boys in the yard. If she had asked, she meant it.
He nodded again, an eager grin spreading across his face.
“It’s not as nice as yours,” he offered, “but you can use mine? If you want?”
“Oh!” She thrust hers, sideways- and not quite proper, at him, reaching out hungrily with her other hand. “Don’t say that. It’s lovely.”
And he knew she meant it, because there was a goodness in her, all seven years at this nameday and for each day he had known her, she had been little other than good.
Her fingers were long and where the backs of them were soft, like a lady’s hand must be, her palms and the pads of each finger were rough and calloused. Like his. But, his hands were wide and his fingers were short, just comfortable enough around the wide pommel of the sword she’d gifted him on his sixteenth nameday. Like it had been fit for his hands.
The hands that knew hers so well.
She was sleeping and though it was long after hours and he should have already made his way from her room to his own small cot, he could not tear himself away from her.
Instead, his fingers rested over the tops of hers, light but encompassing and he could feel the give of the feathered pillow underneath their hands. It was chilly to the touch, bowing tiny divots where his fingertips surrounded hers. His head came up from his own pillow and he smiled at her, wondering how in Thedas she managed to keep her nails so clean when she spent just as much time in the training yard as he did. Perhaps more, if the stories from the guard were to be believed.
A wonder of ladies that he was sure never to understand.
Of honor-bound warrior-women.
That thought was enough to have him pushing away, her pillow wavering under his hands and she made a soft noise in her sleep that sounded like she was stirring awake.
“Shhh. Go back to sleep, Elissa,” he whispered.
There was a long moment where he paused, half out of bed, the covers sliding away to the chill of the room. The fire across the room, from earlier in the night was sputtering and threatening to collapse completely. Then, she stirred again, turning and she opened an eye- just the one closest to him and her lips purse accusingly.
“And... where- are you going?” she half-mumbled still rousing from sleep.
“To my room, my Lady. It’s late.”
She frowned. And that was a look; her face partially mushed against pillow, on her it was endearing when her brow lifted and she started to turn up to him completely. In a the breath of a moment, her leg was around one of his and she was yanking him down to the mattress by the knee.
“Wrong answer.” That said louder than before, but partially obscured and the syllables all threaded together as she closed her eyes again. Her fingers tilted up against his and she pushed her knuckles into his palm, grabbing at his hand much as she had his leg.
With an unconvincing huff he allowed himself to be pulled close.