Don’t want to… hurt you, lethallin. Please… stop me!
And with a single cry of anguish, the camp went silent again. Cael Mahariel stood over the crumpled form of his best friend. He was shaking, his weapons dropping to the ground before he followed suit. Knees hitting the ground with a dull ‘thump’ against the soil, Cael stared down at Tamlen’s body, unable to look away no matter how badly he desired to. He didn’t want to believe it. His best friend was dead. And it was because of him. Was he doomed to be followed by his past for the rest of his life? Not noticing the approach of the others, he jumped as he felt hands land on his shoulders gently. He didn’t look up but he could tell it was Zevran who was behind him. “Cael?” His voice was quiet but the worry was there. Glancing behind him, Zevran motioned with his head to the others to move away. They all hesitated for a moment before finally moving away quickly but quietly.
“He’s dead because of me.”
Quickly returning his attention to the elf in front of him, Zevran knelt down and pulled Cael back slightly. Wrapping his arms around the slender man, Zevran pressed his lips to Cael’s temple lightly. “It is not your fault, amor.” He whispered, trying to soothe the other. He was surprised when Cael pulled away from him and nearly stopped the other from moving away but let him go after a moment. He stayed where he was as he watched Cael lean over Tamlen’s body and rifle through his pockets. Confused and worried over the state of the other’s emotional being, Zevran leaned closer again and gently grabbed at Cael’s hands. “What are you doing?”
“He…He had this trinket on him…Always…Some stupid thing I made when we were young children. Damn thing…small…metal with inscriptions….Lethallin… Just…I wanted to see if it was still with…on him somewhere. Maybe.” He wasn’t making much sense and he knew it but Cael needed to know if Tamlen had it on him or not. He looked at Zevran with a sad smile and went back to looking as soon as his hands were released. His breath caught in his throat as he found what he was looking for. He held it in his hand and stared at it for a moment before the emotions finally won. Trying to stay quiet, he breathed heavily to stifle the sobs that were trying to tear through him. This only caused Zevran to panic and pull him away from Tamlen’s body swiftly. He pulled him up and away from the area quickly. There was a tree not too far away and luckily it was large enough to hide the two of them from the rest of the camp as he carefully lowered the two of them to the ground, still keeping his arms around Cael tightly. He was whispering in Antivan and Cael couldn’t make out anything he said except for one or two words but it was calming and it was helping him. It took a while before the sobbing stopped and his breathing returned to normal but Zevran never once loosened his grip or stopped talking to him. “He was one of the few that would put up with my bullshit. After my parents died…he was the only one that never tried to pity me…Still treated me normally. Helped take care of me.” He sniffled and pulled up the small trinket. It was barely bigger than a coin but just as flat. There was a hole at the top of it. He chuckled bitterly. “He must have broken the rope. It used to be a necklace. He rarely took it off.” He shuffled around slightly before laughing quietly as Zevran’s hold on him only tightened in his small struggle. “Zevran, you can loosen up a bit, vhenan.” He looked at the other and was surprised at the look on the normally happy elf’s face. “Zev?”
“Are you okay?” Zevran asked softly, his eyes holding nothing but concern in them and his grip remained strong around the other. “I mean really okay. Not as in ‘Oh I will be over this soon enough. Just give me time.’ But as in you are not going to just run off the moment I let you go okay.” He was scared. What if Cael bolted the moment he wasn’t being watched? What if he couldn’t handle killing his best friend and run away because of the guilt. There was no way he would be able to handle losing the man he loved.
“I won’t run off I promise…But…I need to bury him.” Cael’s eyes wandered over to the crumpled body lying on the ground, alone. “It’s…unfortunate we’re so far away from the clan though…They’d be able to give him a proper funeral. All I can do is dig a hole, wrap him up in something and say a few words…” Sighing heavily, he gave into Zevran’s hold again and rested his head against the other’s shoulder but his eyes never left Tamlen’s body. Catching sight of Sten and Alistair moving back over to the area, he tensed up and tried to wiggle out of Zevran’s grasp again. “Zevran let me go. They can’t-I need to-They have to stop before they-ZEVRAN” He snarled, trying again to move out of the other’s grasp and nearly stumbled when he was suddenly released and hauled up.
“Only if I can help.” Again with that sullen expression and stern look in his eyes. Cael merely nodded and the two of them went back to Tamlen’s body where Cael quickly got between the two warriors and the body.
“Warden, let us-“ “Mahariel, you don’t have to-“
“No.” Cael snapped, glaring at them. “You let me do this. He was like a brother to me. Probably the closest thing to a brother I ever had. You let me do this.”
Alistair looked between Cael and Zevran, trying to figure out if maybe the Antivan would help him out in this but it didn’t look like he was going to get any support. Sighing heavily, he ran a hand through his hair and looked at Cael again. “At least allow us to help dig the grave for him. You’ll exhaust yourself if you do it alone.”
It looked like Cael was going to argue for a moment before he nodded slightly. It would indeed exhaust him and he’d probably collapse before the night was over. “I need…Extra cloth…What ever we have extra of…just not white or black preferably.” He pinched at the bridge of his nose before glancing towards Bodahn’s caravan. “I’ll be…be right back. Just don’t…Don’t touch him.” He walked away quickly towards the dwarves’ caravan and knocked on the door to get Bodahn’s attention.
The three that were left back at the other side of the camp quickly grabbed shovels and found a suitable area where they could dig a grave that would be a respectable distance away from their campsite. It wasn’t long before they heard Cael returning and muttering under his breath in Elvish. Alistair couldn’t help looking over towards what the elf could be doing and realized that Cael was wrapping his friend up in the cloth in an almost ceremonial way.
“Leave him be.” Zevran whispered off to his side. “Let him do whatever it is he needs to do for this. He needs this.”
“I know. I’m just…worried about him. He’s spoken about Tamlen a few times to me and…one other person from his clan but…that’s it. He’s never spoken about anyone else. I don’t know how he’s going to come out of this.” Alistair responded softly, returning to help with digging. They were almost done surprisingly but he shouldn’t have been TOO surprised. Not with a qunari aiding them.
“He will be sad. For a while. I know he will be. It will be hard for him to pull through this. Tamlen was his family. His best friend. But we are here as well and we can help him.” Zevran said firmly, looking at Alistair with a light smile. “We are also his friends are we not? We can make him happy again.”
By this point, Sten was paying attention and looking at them. He nodded slightly before finally speaking to them. “You would probably be best in making him happy, Antivan.” Sten’s eyes snapped up towards the Warden and the other’s eyes followed his gaze to see Cael standing up and walk towards them.
Cael stopped and looked at how far they had gotten before smiling tiredly at them. “Thank you.” His voice was quiet and hoarse. “I’m sorry for yelling at you guys…I’m just-“
“It’s quite alright, friend.” Alistair said quickly, giving the elf a smile. “Is this a good area? I’m not quite sure about Dalish customs about burials but-“
“It’s what is available. It would be ideal if I could give him back to the clan but they went north. Free Marches I think. I don’t remember though. Keeper said she wanted to take them north to keep everyone safe.” He was about to say something else but his breath caught and he looked away from them. “This..this will do. It’d be best to bury him quickly.” He whispered and ushered them out of the grave, helping Zevran.
“Amor, are you going to be able to lower him down in there?” Zevran asked, catching the other’s wrist gently. “Maybe Sten could…” He watched the emotions flicker through Cael’s face before hearing the sigh of defeat.
“Yeah…Hey, Sten?” Cael raised his voice slightly to speak to the other and was surprised when he saw that Sten was already moving over to Tamlen’s body and lifting him up gently.
Zevran caught Cael tensing up and gently brushed their fingers together. “Cael-“
“Whoa, been a while since I’ve heard my name coming from you.” Cael said, chuckling quietly. But his eyes were misty again as he watched Sten move over to the grave and gently lower the bundle down. Wiping at his eyes quickly, he grabbed one of the shovels quickly and leaned against it before whispering in Elvish again. “Ar lasa mala revas, Tamlen. Dareth shiral.” He stood there in silence for a few moments before he started shoveling up the dirt and tossing it into the grave. He didn’t notice as Sten and Alistair joined in helping him until he felt someone take the shovel away from him gently. Looking up at whomever stopped him, he sighed and handed it over to him. “Thank you.” He whispered, letting Zevran take over his spot to finish burying Tamlen.
He sat down on the ground not too far from everyone else and watched them quietly. He eventually zoned out and wasn’t even aware that they had finished up and Sten and Alistair had left. He was brought out of his daze when Zevran was helping him back up onto his feet and over to the tent they had been sharing lately.
“You really are something else.” Zevran whispered, helping Cael out of his bloody clothing and into something cleaner. He had done the same but Cael had been too spaced out to notice his lover changing.
“What?” Cael looked at him with a raised eyebrow. He finally cam to his senses and started helping the other out with things.
Pouting, Zevran chuckled with a shake of his head. “I was appreciating how compliant you were being honestly.” That got him a small smack on the arm. That was expected but he couldn’t help himself. “Ahh, yes. There you are.” He said happily, wrapping his arms around Cael’s waist quickly and trapping him.
Surprised, all Cael could do was put his arms around Zevran as well. “Did you..Did you seriously just do all that just to get me like this? You really are tricky.” He chuckled, leaning into the embrace happily. Eyes closing, he suddenly realized how tired he truly was after everything that had just happened. If he was any less coherent, he would have collapsed the moment they had gotten into the tent most likely. And he was sure Zevran knew that. Which was why the other was holding onto him now no doubt. Picking up his head to look at Zevran tiredly, Cael pressed his lips against the others. “Thank you. For this. For helping me. It means a lot.” He whispered and couldn’t help but smile into the kiss as Zevran smile against his lips. He let out a small muffled yelp as they suddenly tumbled down onto their bedrolls. “I take that back. You’re the worst.” He laughed, rolling his eyes as Zevran looked down at him with a grin on his lips. “Whatever you are planning you better stop those thoughts right now, Arainai.”
“Oooh, getting sassy with me now are you, amor?” Zevran whispered teasingly before he sobered up a bit and smiled softly at the elf beneath him. “But have no worries. Now it is time to sleep.” He whispered, planting a kiss against Cael’s lips one last time before rolling off to the side only to pull Cael right up against him again and bury his face into the other’s neck. “But maybe tomorrow-“
“Good night, vhenan.” Cael interrupted quickly, laughing softly.
“Good night, amor.” Zevran whispered back, listening to Cael’s breathing evening out before he sighed heavily and held onto the other firmly before he too fell asleep.