The morning of the wedding dawned clear and bright. Birds sang in the garden, flower petals drifted from the blooming trees like they had a job to perform. Alistair’s crown was polished to shiny perfection, and his hair was just this side of rakish.
It was destined to be a horrible day.
The curses emerging from Elissa’s room were audible four doors down. “Maker’s Breath! Loosen these damn laces, Hilary!”
“But milady, the dress won’t drape properly without…”
“Bugger the wrinkles! I’ll wear armor! What do I fucking care about whether it looks like I have tits for a bunch of leering old men who should have retired before Maric died? Do you want me to pass out at the altar?”
“His Majesty would prefer…”
“Don’t lie to me. Me wearing armor was Alistair’s idea.” There was silence for a few moments, wherein Elissa’s truth shut up the simpering ladies in waiting. He grinned just a little bit wider, while his body servant adjusted his sleeves and cape to fall correctly. He sucked in his stomach and turned sideways. It wasn’t that bad, but he could use a little more exercise.
His body servant spoke but didn’t criticize his primping. Good man. “Apparently the ladies find it unlikely that the King and his Dragon converse regularly about wedding fashion,” the man’s eyes twinkled at him, and Alistair winked.
“Well, we have to talk about something other than the state of the Kingdom. One can’t reminisce about their own heroism constantly, after all. It dulls as a conversation topic after the first four months.”
“I wouldn’t know,” Eamon’s voice echoed from behind him. The man looked older, lately, and he’d taken to carrying a cane. “You look well, Alistair. Like your father on his wedding day.”
Alistair made a face in the mirror. “That’s ‘Your Majesty’.”
“Hmmm, not today.” His advisor’s face appeared in the mirror, eyes shining. “I think today, you’re my ward.” He cleared his throat. “Your father – and your mother – would be proud, my boy.”
“Really?” Alistair humphed skeptically. “Well, I am marrying the highest born woman in Ferelden. What’s not to be proud of?”
Eamon cleared his throat. “You know, I had that pendant of your mother’s repaired, but it disappeared from my office while I was indisposed.”
“…Indisposed. Such a lovely word for ‘poisoned and then trapped by a demon summoned by your own son’.”
Eamon winced, and then shrugged. “Yes, well, I wish I had it for you to wear today.” He stared down at his feet. “You should have something of hers.”
“I do, as it turns out.”
Eamon’s eyes flashed up, surprised. “Then it was… you found and…”
“Elissa, actually. I had described the thing to her, not expecting anything to come of it. But wonder of wonders, there’s actually someone in the world that listens to me.” He swallowed, but pressed on, fingering the fine fabric and hating that his hands were soft enough now not to catch at the delicate silk threads. “At the time we weren’t certain you would survive. So she… borrowed it.” Alistair colored, but continued, in a sing-song fashion. “She said, that maybe it meant you cared after all.” He pulled it out from under his tunic, touching it. “It means a bit more now, than just a memento of a mother I never knew.”
Eamon stared at him, and then stepped forward and embraced him. Alistair rocked back in surprise, before embracing him in return, tight across the shoulders. Alistair let go first, stepping back. “Such liberties with your sovereign. You’ll wrinkle me.”
Eamon chuckled, “Forgive me, Your Majesty.”
“Just this once.” He stared back at himself in the mirror. “Do you think I’ll shame her?”
“Who, your bride?”
“No, my mother. I… I wish, I wish I knew that she was proud of me. I found Goldanna, you know.” Eamon flinched. “She’s a shrew. I half expect her to show up at the Chantry today, demanding titles and money.”
“You don’t need to worry about her.” Eamon met his eyes. “She is of no concern.”
“Oh, I’m not concerned. I just… if that’s what my mother was like, then…” his chuckle rang hollow, “Well, one must think of one’s children.”
“Your mother was nothing like her. In any way.” Eamon clasped his shoulder. “Trust me, Alistair. She would be proud to claim you, if she could.”
Whoever thought that it was a good idea for the groom to wait at the head of the Chantry for the bride to be delivered to him had never been a groom, Alistair was certain. The urge to fidget, to scratch underneath the stiff linen tunic, to stroke the silk cape, to hum, or generally embarrass himself was overwhelming. Teagan standing behind him kept him from the worst lapse in manners only by constantly muttering warnings and poking him in the back.
He was going to have bruises by the time Elissa showed. If she showed.
Leliana was gliding down the aisle now, winking at him cheekily. Elissa had demanded to delay the marriage until her friend could witness it. That had caused an awful stink – an Orlesian bard in the wedding party?
But in this, as everything, Alistair backed her. Even given Leliana’s feelings towards his soon-to-be-wife, it seemed right to have her there.
The back doors gaped wider, and Alistair, unable to resist, tugged at his collar. It had fit well enough that morning, but… “Stop that,” Teagan hissed.
There was nothing past the doors but footmen, one on either side. “Where is she?” His stomach sunk.
And then the organ started, and Fergus appeared, with a woman on his arm who looked…
Well, she looked distinctly uncomfortable, her eyes lowered in what would probably pass for demure with the onlookers, but Alistair knew for a fact was sheer rage.
Those eyes lifted towards him, though, and then… they flashed, catching the light of the thousands of candles and bowls of Andraste’s Fire scattered through the Chantry. She took a step forward, dragging Fergus with her, her lips determined and her steps never faltering.
And then she smiled, transforming her face from sullen into pure joy, and he smiled back.
She’d refused to wear white – the second scandal. Instead, she wore cloth of gold over a silk undergown, elaborately embroidered with lilies and Andraste’s Grace. She glowed under the headcovering she’d nearly refused to wear – giving in only as long as it wasn’t concealing her face. “He knows what I look like, scars and all,” she’d argued. “There’s no point. He knows he’s not getting a beauty.”
On the contrary, he’d never seen anything so beautiful as his furious warrior bride.
She arrived at the base of the stairs where he waited, a little sooner than the wedding march demanded, and Fergus handed her off to him with a whispered, “Hurt her and I’ll stage a coup, Your Majesty.”
“If I hurt her, I’ll arm the rebellion,” Alistair quipped back, and took her hand, concentrating on not letting his own shake.
Maker, it was actually happening. Somehow, he didn’t think they’d ever get this far.
Fergus kissed her cheek, and when Elissa turned back, he realized her eyes were shining with unshed tears. Heedless of his immaculate gloves, he wiped them away, ruining them forever. It was worth it. “There now, is marrying me that horrible?”
“You have no idea,” she managed, squeezing his hand. “But I love you anyway.”
“Good. Tell me that again in half an hour, after the interminable sermon about Andraste’s love for the Maker.”
That made her laugh, and they turned to the unamused Revered Mother waiting at the top of the stairs and ascended together.
Alistair had been allowed to read the traditional message – a formal approval by the sovereign being logical on the day of his wedding - and silently mouthed whole portions of it to keep Elissa smiling. It wasn’t hard to remember – most of it was trite and predictable. By the end of the homily, Elissa’s shoulders were shaking with laughter and the Revered Mother looked about ready to hit him over the head with her copy of the Chant.
Worth it, to have Elissa not glaring at him like she wished she had a sword to run him through.
His part was easy. “I swear upon the Maker and the Holy Andraste I will love this woman for the rest of my days,” the words tripped off his tongue almost too quickly to be understood. He’d been swearing that vow to himself since before the first time she’d kissed him. It was the first time he’d said it in public, though.
And then it was Elissa’s turn, and the quiet after the Revered Mother’s prompt went on a bit.
Long enough to make him nervous. She glanced at him, and nearly whispered, “I swear…”
He half-smiled, and Elissa relaxed, and tightened her grip on his hands, pulling them closer to her. “I swear upon the Maker, and the Holy Andraste, to love this man for the rest of my days.”
And then he was kissing her, and the rest of the service passed in a blur, including the coronation where he was almost positive he wasn’t supposed to kneel, but did anyway, just to keep Elissa’s poor suffering knees company. The Revered Mother was kind enough not to draw attention to his mistake.
The wedding dinner lasted forever, with insincere toasts, and pointed hints about their fertility that had Elissa’s lips tightening, and his hand on her knee squeezing to keep her from murdering their wedding guests.
“I know, it’s tempting, my Queen, but imagine the paperwork, before you act?” That gained him a shy kiss, even in front of all the people constantly staring.
“Only because you asked, my King,” she whispered back, her eyes mischieveous as they met his.
They were finally allowed to make their escape – a planned flight, staged by Teagan and abetted by the castle servants, who knew all the shortcuts through the palace. The chivaree would take place outside his suite – but they would be spending the night in hers.
It was a small amount of privacy, the only one he could wrangle for them. But at least they weren’t going to have to display the bedsheets from the windows as they did during the Storm Age. That was just barbaric.
Now that they were settled, however, with the doors locked, and the servants refused and dismissed, Elissa hardly looked ‘in the mood’. She was jerking at the laces tying up her back impatiently, and Alistair approached her cautiously. “May I assist, my Queen?”
The title – he hoped it was the title – made her shudder. “Maker’s Breath, Cheesy, don’t call me that. Not tonight, please?”
“Of course, my Dragon.” The endearment made her sag under his hands in relief. “Can I help?”
“Please,” she muttered through clenched teeth. “They’re so tight. Just… cut them.”
“They do lovely things for your breasts, though,” Alistair confessed, pulling out Duncan’s dagger. He was supposed to be carrying some useless thing studded with rubies and so on, but he’d overridden the body servant on the matter. He had wanted something of Duncan’s with him on his wedding day. Duncan’s dagger, his mother’s amulet, and his father’s crown.
Three guesses which meant the most, and the first two didn’t count.
“Who gives a fuck about how my breasts look when I can’t breathe?”
“Quite right, rude of me to notice,” Alistair sliced through the laces, and the whole gown slid forward off her shoulders, leaving her in just the embroidered shift. She let it fall, and he took a risk, slipping his hands first over her shoulders, and then down her arms, and across her ribs, to pull her back against him. “Is that better?” He rubbed over her ribs, gently, feeling the relieved rise and fall of her deeper breaths.
“Always.” He pushed her hair to the side, kissing the join of her shoulder to her neck until she shivered. She was so stiff…
He wanted to tell her that they didn’t have to do anything she didn’t want to do. “Forget this,” he announced.
She spun in his arms, frowning. “Cheesy, you know we have to…”
“Fuck the fucking consummation.” He paused, wondering if that was redundant thrice over, and then let it go as a lost cause. He rubbed her back through her clothes. “Elissa, I’m not going to let this get creepy, okay? I don’t want you if you don’t want me. We have the rest of our lives to…”
She blinked, and out of nowhere, laughed. “Where on Thedas did you get that idea?”
He felt his face heat. “Um… your body language?”
“I just need to relax, is all,” she smirked. “You stripping could help.”
“As my Dragon wishes,” Alistair stepped away and unlaced his own gambeson, one eyebrow raised in what he hoped was a teasing manner. He turned away and let it fall – letting the absurdity of the situation and his own whimsy carry him onward.
As a young boy, he’d never thought to marry at all. If he had, he would never have imagined his wedding to be like this opulent presentation of manners. It would be just him, and a woman, who presumably cared about him, and about what they could do to make each other happy. That’s all it should have been about.
But perhaps it wasn’t too late.
He fisted his hand in the neck of his shirt and pulled it over his head, letting the expensive fabric flutter to the ground as he flexed his back and wriggled his ass in what he knew were too-tight pants.
Elissa’s soft exclamation and subsequent giggle were all the encouragement he needed to break into a Remigold, bowing to a nonexistent partner to display his assets all the better to the woman behind him, and stretching out his leg in a parody of the regimented dance.
Elissa hummed, and he closed his eyes, and danced, her delighted laughter all the music he needed.
He indulged in some not strictly regulation hip swivels for her benefit, feeling the ghost of hands across his shoulders as she moved to join him. His hand drifted to his waistline, loosening his laces. When her hands touched his chest, his breath caught, and then released as they dropped to his waist, tugging and loosening further. “Elissa…”
“Shhh,” she whispered. “I… I want this.” Her breasts – when had she undressed? While she was watching him? – grazed his chest. “It’s been weeks, Alistair, weeks of me having my body criticized and molded into someone else’s idea of beauty. Tonight, I want you to help me take it back.” Her hand cupped his cheek, pulling him down to meet her mouth. Her other hand shifted at the damnably tight pants, dragging them below his cheeks, letting him hang free. “So naughty…” she breathed, stroking him.
“Manuel insisted that smallclothes ruined the line of the trousers,” he choked. “Pantylines?”
She slapped his ass and he moaned. “That’s for standing before a Chantry mother with no smallclothes on. And this,” she did it again, “Is for Amaranthine.” He opened his eyes, not bothering to disguise the want. “But then, you’d better swat me too. I took mine off before I put on the stockings.”
His eyes widened – she was still wearing those – nearly transparent fine lace and silk stretching up past her knees, fastened to a scrap of a belt that surely he should have seen with as tight as the gown had hugged her. “Maker’s Breath.” His hands trembled as they dropped to her hips. “I…”
“You like them, then?” She spun around, showing the back, where the ribbons flopped against her upper thighs, just below the perfect curve of her muscular ass. “I don’t have to take them off, Cheesy. They’re the only thing I was wearing today that I enjoyed.”
Bold, he grabbed her ass and squeezed, deliberately, slipping his fingers under the ribbons. “How in the world did your women not object?”
She shrugged, her silky hair falling across his chest. “They told me my husband would like it. It seems they were right about one thing, at least. I received all sorts of otherwise dubious information about my wedding night. I’m supposed to let you do whatever you like, while thinking of the future of Ferelden. Now there’s a sexy thought,” She snorted. “Ferelden will be the last thing on my mind, with you naked on top of me.” Alistair groaned, and she smirked over her shoulder. “Serve me?”
“Tell me how.” He slid his hand around her waist, pulling her against him.
“I’m delicate,” she batted her eyes, “having recently been injured.”
Now that he looked, the new scars were visible, twisting lines at the junction of her left leg and hip, tracing underneath to her most delicate area. “It would be my honor,” Alistair dropped to his knees, and her breath caught. He snatched her up, and legs spread against his chest, walked her back to her bed, turned down demurely for their presence.
Down the hall, voices began singing bawdy songs in peerless tune. “They hired professionals?” Elissa choked.
“Only the best for the King and Queen,” Alistair managed from between her legs. He tipped her knee out a bit further. “Enjoy the music.” Coming from so far away, it sounded almost pleasant instead of the disturbance it was meant to be.
His lips touched her and she jerked. “Too much,” she managed, so he crawled up and kissed her instead, twisting so she rested on top of him. Her mouth was intoxicating, and he sunk into it, losing his train of thought until she was pressing against him and moaning. He pulled his head away at last, and walked his fingers down her back, and around her thigh to reach her apex, and began to play, little circles and squiggles along the line of her, carefully avoiding the most tender area.
“Mmm.” He slid the tip of his finger in, ever so gently, pressing and circling and never going deeper than the first knuckle. She gasped, digging her fingers into the sheets. “Oh, that’s…”
She arched into his hand, and so he settled her on her back, and knelt again between her legs. “I am at your service,” he breathed, and buried his nose against her nub, nuzzling gently until she spread a little wider to accommodate his presence.
He stroked, and she hummed again, louder, and dropped her fingers to play with his hair, tangling up with his crown. She grabbed the accessory, frowned as if she’d forgotten it was there, put it back, and pressed the back of his head to increase the pressure instead. Alistair moaned into her, and she giggled. “Like that, do you?”
“Always, my Dragon.”
“Good,” she purred. “Show me how much.”
He doubled his exertions, sliding a single finger inside and crooking, moving gently still, until her hips rocked impatiently into his hand. He narrowed his tongue, and circled her, teasing, playing until she groaned and grabbed his hand. “Wait.”
He stopped, outwardly patient, and inwardly straining at the limits she imposed. Tonight was on her terms, and he was all too eager to obey, however his body longed to bury himself in her.
She was shivering, relaxing, and finally she breathed, “Continue.”
Chuckling, he bent down and began again.
It took less time to bring her to the edge this time, but again she stopped him with a gasp. “Cheesy…”
He groaned, pulling away to sink his forehead into the featherbed. “You’re going to kill me.”
She snickered, “It’s going to kill you if I don’t orgasm?”
He raised his eyes up just enough to see over her pelvis, and her face softened at the desperation in his eyes. “I don’t deserve you.”
“Let’s not start that again,” he ordered.
She reached out to rub his lower lip, pouty and slick. “Come here, then, love.” He rose at her touch, meeting her mouth, tasting of watered wine.
Her thighs slipped against his member as he moved over her, covering her, “Maker, Elissa. Please.”
Her hand shook, stroking down his side, to cup his buttock. “All right, Alistair. Take me.”
She said it like an order, and he, ever the dutiful soldier, could only obey. He slammed into her, gentleness gone, paused, and slid out, making her feel every inch of pleasure he could provide. Back in, hard, dragging slow in retreat.
She panted beneath him, fingers digging into his right cheek, back arched, breasts on display. He knelt and captured one, nibbling it like the finest cheese as she whined. “Damn it, Alistair, move.”
It was all he could do not to come at that moment, between the push and pull of their lovemaking, the scent of their sex heavy in the air, the slick between her legs, and the exquisite sounds coming from her lips.
He wanted a million things – to taste her again, hot and slick on his tongue. To bend her over and pound into her until they both saw stars. To have her mount him and ride like the legendary warrior she was.
And to let her cover him with her mouth and take him sweetly to the edge of ecstasy, spilling into her mouth.
“Maker, Cheesy!” He realized he’d given voice to his desires too late, as she squirmed, her eyes burning into his as he redoubled his efforts. “Don’t stop!”
He lost his breath, but it didn’t matter. Gasping, he met her halfway, until she shoved herself upward and rode his lap, slapping into him with sounds equally obscene and divine. She cried out, but kept going, slamming down all the harder.
He choked and came, and a lesser version of himself might have been embarrassed at the whimper that came from his lips. But Elissa was there, cradling him there against her breasts, damp with each other’s sweat. She took the crown from his head and set it aside. “Shh, Cheesy. I have you now.”
“I certainly hope so,” he managed after a moment, “Or this whole day was rather pointless.”
He could always make her laugh, and she tipped them both sideways with barely a wince. “That it would be. At least this part was… nice?”
“Nice, she says. My head nearly explodes – again – and she says it was nice.”
She snuggled to his chest. “I’m going to like sleeping with you again.”
She giggled and stroked his hair back away from his eyes. “Wouldn’t miss it.” He kissed her again, responding despite himself.
It had been much longer than weeks. “I don’t suppose…”
“Oh, I think we’re just getting started.” She rolled him on his back. “My turn to do the work, I think.”