Duncan sat in a comfortable chair in the corner of his bedchamber in Denerim reading a book before bedtime. The oil lamp on the table beside him flickered and casted shadows on the walls and the pages of the book.
A thunk against the door made him look up, wondering if someone was knocking for him.
Duncan raised an eyebrow at the familiar voice of his charge, even as slurred as it was. He put the book aside and strode over to the door, and when it opened, he had to hurry and let it go so that he could catch Alistair before he fell in.
“Oh. Hello.” Alistair held onto him tightly, face close enough that Duncan could smell the ale on his breath.
“Alistair, who gave you something to drink?” Duncan asked disapprovingly. Everyone knew after one memorable night of drunken non-stop rambling and subsequent puking that Alistair couldn’t hold his alcohol, and Duncan thought that his stern glare as he helped Alistair to his room that night had gotten through to all that Alistair was never to be allowed drink again.
He didn’t bother questioning if Alistair had procured the drinks on his own, not after the lad’s utter embarrassment at some of the things he had said while under the influence.
“Ummm, Kherek.” He said, naming an older dwarf Grey Warden that spent most of his time at The Gnawed Noble. Duncan knew that Alistair would have a hard time saying no to the dwarf, as he respected him and wasn’t good at politely but firmly turning people down. He tended to stutter and blush before someone finally came to his rescue.
Alistair’s hands were moving along Duncan’s body, almost groping, but he was probably just trying to keep from falling over. “He said that I just needed to build tall-tolerance.”
Duncan sighed, wanting to pinch the bridge of his nose but having no hands free. Instead, he carefully maneuvered Alistair across the room to sit on his bed.
“Why didn’t he help you back to your room?” Duncan poured some water into a glass from a pitcher on the table, handing it to the waiting man.
“He was going to, but I sneaked off when he wasn’t looking.” Alistair grinned, as if that was a huge accomplishment. Duncan shook his head and took the glass back after it was drained.
“Let’s get you back to your room then.” He extended a hand for Alistair to take, which he did, but instead of using it to stand up, he clasped it in both of his hands and appeared to be studying it intently.
“Hmm, I like your hands.” Alistair declared in a satisfied tone, beaming up at him. Before Duncan could fully take the comment in, Alistair dropped his gaze back down, lifted Duncan’s hand up to his face and kissed the center of his palm.
Duncan’s breath caught.
“Alistair. What are you doing?”
Alistair paused, looking confusedly at the hand if it held some great mystery.
“I don’t know.” That didn’t stop him from lifting the hand to his mouth and sucking in a finger to mid-knuckle.
Duncan froze for a moment too long before he pulled himself together and started to pull his hand away. Before he could, Alistair tightened his grip on his arm and nipped at the tip of the finger.
“Alistair…” Duncan said in a warning tone, but it came out more husky than he intended.
“Duncaaan.” Alistair returned playfully, but got that confused expression on his face again. “I…I know you don’t want me. I’ve never done anything like this before. But I want to. With you.”
His tone was so earnest, as if he were declaring once more that he would make the Wardens (make Duncan) proud. It reminded Duncan of just how young and naive Alistair still was. Alistair had been just a boy when he lived at Redcliffe Castle, and after that had grown up in the Chantry, where matters of passion were discouraged. That didn’t mean that Alistair didn’t have desires.
Duncan understood how lonely it could get, not just because of the lack of physical release but for the lack of comfort. Having a warm body pressed up against you, knowing that there would be someone in the morning to wake up to if just for one night. Some took comfort where they could, especially in these trying times.
But it couldn’t be with him.
“You’re drunk, Alistair. I’ll take you to your room.” This time Duncan was able to tug his hand free. Alistair was pouting up at him, looking genuinely upset, but didn’t protest.
Duncan got him settled down in bed after helping him remove some of his outer clothes and boots, before throwing the blanket over him and shutting the curtains. Alistair remained quiet throughout.
As he turned to leave, the youth’s voice finally penetrated the silence.
“What if I still want it tomorrow?”
“Then we’ll discuss it then.” Duncan replied after a moment’s pause.
He returned to his room, but didn’t pick his book back up. Instead, he sat and imagined how either scenario would play out - Alistair waking up and regretting it, or waking up and still wanting it.
Duncan knew he shouldn’t encourage him. He’d learned how stubborn Alistair could be when he set his mind on something, but if Duncan was firm enough he would let it go. But a part of Duncan wanted Alistair too, and that was the part that had prompted his to speak up instead of staying silent where he should have.
It would be for the best if Alistair woke up and wanted to forget about the whole thing. However, some selfish part of Duncan wanted Alistair to step into his room and look at him again with that shy longing in his eyes.