Zevran strode confidently through Kirkwall’s Lowtown district. Once again he’d thwarted the Crows who were still after him. This time he had the help of none other than the infamous Hawke and his old friend Isabela. Nuncio and his crew now lay dead on a beach.
Before leaving the shithole that is Kirkwall, Zevran decided he needed a drink to celebrate and headed towards the one tavern he’d heard the most about, the Hanged Man.
As he entered the establishment, the first thing he heard was an oddly familiar voice, shouting drunkenly. “I am the Prince of Ferelden, I’m telling you!”
Some woman laughed. “He keeps saying that, the poor sod.”
“That’s because it’s true!” the drunken man slurred.
“Alistair?!” Zevran said in shock, looking at the pitiable drunk before him. “Alistair, what are you doing in Kirkwall?” Zevran felt his heart clench in sorrow and sympathy for his old friend. They had spent months traveling together with the so-called Hero of Ferelden, trying to help him stop the Fifth Blight. The memory of the Hero’s betrayal of Alistair during the Landsmeet still burned hotly in Zevran’s memory.
“Prince Alistair to you, elf!” he shouted drunkenly. “I’m here to get drunk, what’s it look like?”
“Oh my poor dear Alistair. Are you OK?” Zevran asked.
“No, not OK. Worse than OK. Disgraced traitor, that’s what I am!” Alistair slurred.
“Oh, no, no, no. You are no traitor my friend. I can attest to that,” Zevran said, sitting down next to his old friend.
For the first time Alistair took a closer look at the elf and finally a flicker of recognition crossed his dazed features. “Zev?! Zevran Aranai? You’re here to kill me aren’t you? Who hired you this time? Anora? I bet it was that Ferelden bitch wasn’t it?”
“No, my friend. I am not here to kill you,” Zevran said sincerely. “I didn’t even know you were in Kirkwall until just now. Tell me Alistair, why are you in such a state? The last I saw of you was when Anora and her betrothed exiled you from Ferelden.”
“That bastard. He had no right! I was Maric’s son. Cailen’s brother…after all we went through to save Ferelden from the Blight. He had no right…” Alistair broke down in loud sobs.
Zevran saw that he wasn’t going to get his celebratory drink tonight. Alistair needed help, badly. “Come my friend, you need my help, yes? Do you have a room here, or a place to stay?”
“I have a little hovel here in Lowtown, why?” Alistair asked suspiciously.
“Then I will take you home,” Zevran said plainly.
“No! I said I’m here to get drunk! Barkeep! Where’s my ale?” Alistair shouted.
“Alistair, you are already very drunk. It’s time you went home. You need help, yes?” Zevran told him.
Alistair yawned, and then hiccupped loudly. “Well, alright. I suppose I could do with a nap…”
Alistair tried to stand, but wobbled unsteadily. Zevran quickly put an arm around him to steady him and slung Alistair’s arm around his shoulder. “Come, show me this hovel you call home.”
Alistair tried to guide Zevran to where he lived, but they went around in circles a few times before Alistair remembered which grim, grey hovel was his. Once inside the tiny dwelling, Zevran moved Alistair to his small, unmade bed and looked around for a source of water and a bucket. What Alistair needed, even more than sleep, was to get the alcohol out of his system. The process wouldn’t be pleasant for either of them, but Zevran had seen much worse.
Zevran found what he needed, filling a cup with water and setting it on the small table next to the bed and bringing over the bucket he found stashed in a dark corner of the dwelling. He sprinkled some herbs he’d taken from the pack he carried and mixed them into the cup of water. Helping Alistair sit up, he bid his old friend drink down the bitter mixture.
“Blech…what is this? Poison? I knew it…you are trying to assass…assassinate m…” Alistair was cut off when he suddenly lurched forward and violently purged his stomach into the bucket. As Zevran suspected, it was all liquid. Alistair clearly hadn’t eaten any food recently. Once Alistair was done, Zevran gave him a cup of clear water to drink while he disposed of the foul contents of the bucket.
Zevran made Alistair go through the purge process twice more before allowing the man to lie down and rest. Alistair passed out as soon as his head hit the pillow, and Zevran took the opportunity to strip the man of his boots, breeches and overly fancy shirt, leaving him in just his smallclothes. He then tucked the warrior under his blankets and let the man sleep.
Zevran then quickly made his way towards the small market near Alistair’s hovel, and purchased some simple foods, mostly bread with some cheese, meat and fruit. Alistair was still passed out when he returned and Zevran spent the rest of the day wiping his friend’s brow with a cool cloth, just watching over him.
He hadn’t planned to stay long in Kirkwall, having another contract he needed to complete, but he couldn’t just leave Alistair here like this. He had long wondered what had happened to him, after being exiled. Once Zevran’s obligation to the “Hero” had been completed, he quickly left his side and even spent a few months looking for Alistair. However the Crows soon caught up to him and he was on the run again and couldn’t spare the time to look for his former Warden friend.
If truth be told, Zevran had developed quite the crush on Alistair when they had travelled together. However, it was clear Alistair had no interest in him or men in general. He’d tried to put his feelings behind him when it was clear Alistair wasn’t interested, but there was still that pang of regret. As he watched Alistair sleep, he could still see that young, handsome, naïve face he had known, despite Alistair’s now hollowed-out cheeks and the dark circles under his eyes. Zevran sighed and tried to remember happier times.
Hours later, Alistair woke up, blinking slowly. This wasn’t the first time he woke up back at home with no memory of how he’d gotten there. This was the first time he woke up, almost naked and neatly tucked under his blankets.
Then all of a sudden there was a person next to him, wiping his brow with a cool cloth. “How do you feel, my friend?”
“Wha…? Who?” Alistair started, nearly jumping out of his bed, before his eyes focused and saw the elf standing over him. The elf with those oh-so-familiar tattoos swirling along the left side of his face.
“Zevran?! What are you doing here? And why am I half-naked? Wait…did you follow me all the way to Kirkwall to try and seduce me again?” Alistair blurted.
“I found you at the Hanged Man, raving about being the Prince of Ferelden,” Zevran explained. “You were quite drunk so I brought you home and helped purge some of the alcohol from your system. Now I would like you to try and eat something. You are hungry, yes?”
“Oh alright. I suppose I am a bit hungry. Is there any cheese?” Alistair asked hopefully.
Zevran chuckled. “Yes, my dear Alistair, there is cheese.”
Zevran made Alistair a sandwich with cheese and meat and handed it to him.
As Alistair ate he regarded the elf. He hadn’t changed much since he’d last seen him in Denerim. Still the slight, muscular build, and sun-bronzed skin. His blonde hair was longer, but he still wore the sides braided back. And of course those very distinctive tattoos.
“So, want to go back to the Hanged Man with me later and grab some drinks? We could catch up,” Alistair offered.
Zevran shook his head. “No, my friend. You do not need more alcohol. I am determined to get you well again. The next few weeks will be painful for you, but you need to stop drinking. It’s not good for you, yes?”
“Hey, who appointed you my guardian? I’m a grown man, if I want to drink, then damnit, I’m going to drink!” Alistair said angrily. Zevran had expected as much and was prepared to fight the man if necessary to subdue him.
“You were once a mighty warrior, a Grey Warden, and former Templar,” Zevran reminded him. “You still have many years left and they shouldn’t be spent in drunken misery. Please Alistair, let me help you.”
“Why do you care? You once tried to kill me, and then you abandoned me,” Alistair snapped.
That was unexpected. “Abandoned you? How did I abandon you, my friend?”
“You…you…let him exile me!” Alistair wailed, tears brimming.
“I was in no position to argue with him about it, and I was still obliged to his service until the entire Blight problem was resolved,” Zevran explained. “Would it surprise you to know that I went in search of you after the Battle of Denerim?”
“You did? Why?” Alistair asked.
“Because, my friend, I cared about you, and I worried for you after your exile. I wasn’t able to stop it and I wasn’t able to go with you, but I wanted to make sure you were alright,” Zevran explained. “Clearly, you weren’t, were you?”
“You cared about me? Even after I kept pushing you away?” Alistair said incredulously. “Why?”
“You were a good man Alistair. Strong and brave…and very handsome. I will not deny that I wanted to warm your tent back then,” Zevran confessed, a slight blush crossing his cheeks. “Above all, you were always there for all of us. In every fight you took the brunt of the attack, and you saved my life on numerous occasions. You were selfless and loyal. I owe you much, my friend, and I wish to repay my debt.”
“You don’t owe me anything. I was just doing what I thought was right, at the time,” Alistair sighed. “I’ll never be that man you remember Zevran. You should just leave me to wallow in my misery.”
“No. I cannot, and I will not. I finally found you after all these years and I will see to it you are made whole again. This I swear.” Zevran said emphatically.
“Why do you even care, now? All that stuff was so long ago,” Alistair said quietly.
“Mi querido, does it even matter why?” Zevran said softly. “I care because I do, and I wish to help you. Please, Alistair.”
“Why…did you just say that? The Antivan bit? What does that mean?” Alistair asked.
Zevran blushed, not realizing he’d said the term of endearment. “My apologies Alistair, I forget myself. It is nothing. Forget that I said it.”
“What does it mean though?” Alistair pressed.
Zevran sighed, his blush deepening. “It translates roughly as ‘my dear,’ or ‘my darling.’”
“Oh,” Alistair replied, when his eyes suddenly opened wide in understanding. “OH!”
“Do not fear Alistair, I have no intention of pressing you for affection. I merely wish to be your friend, to help you through this and help you become a strong, healthy warrior once again,” Zevran reassured him. “Will you allow me this?”
Alistair sighed. “You’re not going to let me keep wallowing in my misery, are you?”
“No, I cannot do this. You need help,” Zevran replied, slowly smiling. “However, I promise I will make sure you always have cheese.”
“Alright, deal. As long as you never forget the cheese,” Alistair chuckled.