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The Queen

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"Anora of Ferelden is a solitary rose among brambles."
- Empress Celene I of Orlais

 

Anora is her father's daughter.

The morning Cailan starts his march to Ostagar, she means to kiss him awake. Shifting onto her side, she leans into him and discovers his eyes already open.

"This is it, Anora. They will write tales about this battle: the Blight ended by King Cailan, the Grey Wardens, and the great general Loghain."

"Cailan," she exhales in a soft laugh. Her lips touch the side of his face, the line of his jaw. "Do not focus so much on the aftermath that you forget it is a battle, my love."

Her husband's entire face crinkles into a smile. "You sound like Loghain."

"I do wonder why that is."

This time her kiss lands directly on his lips. Whatever reservations she may have, it has been some time since she had any about giving her love to him.

*

The afternoon news of the massacre at Ostagar reaches her ears, she disbelieves it.

She dismisses the messenger with steely grace, hurriedly but not without her thanks. It isn't until after he leaves and she makes the trip upstairs to her bedroom -- the room she has shared with Cailan for five years now -- that she covers her hand with her mouth. Her shoulders shake once, twice.

In under half an hour, she returns to her duties with renewed vigor. Her voice never breaks until her father returns to the palace with his men.

And without her husband.

*

The evening her father declares himself her regent, she knows what people are saying.

She must either believe that the darkspawn were so numerous and deadly that her husband and his soldiers were overrun and that her father pulled his men out in a strategic move that saved lives... or she must believe her father intentionally abandoned her husband on the field and therefore allowed him to be overwhelmed.

She cannot believe the latter.

Still, she hears the whispers around corners and in darkened hallways. She sees the quickly growing rift of distrust between the Bannorn and the palace.

She watches in concern -- and even mounting fear -- as her father acts more restlessly, more stubbornly, than he has for as long as she can remember. "Do not worry yourself, Anora," he tells her, never letting her approach too near the heart of any matter she brings up. "This is under control."

And yet with Cailan dead, Ferelden needs her father more than ever. It needs her more than ever, and she shall not allow it to splinter from internal conflict or crumble under the threat of darkspawn.

Anora is her father's daughter.