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The Bricks Make Me Nervous

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i. The Kitchen

“Alistair!” her voice called from outside the pantry, “The cook is terrified that his Majesty is rummaging through his food stores. He thinks you are worried he is trying to poison you.”

“I’m not rummaging or disturbing or even moving anything!” he called back, still digging through the bags, “I’m just trying to feed myself, not investigate my future murder.”

He heard her footsteps approach softly behind him, the padded soles of velvet shoes from Orlais rather than the familiar clomp of her heavy leather boots. She gave a soft sigh, and his shoulders sunk in reaction.

“Alistair,” she said softly, kneeling beside him, “You have to let them serve you. When you don’t, they worry that you are going to make them leave the castle.”

“Love, I’m a grown man, I can make myself a sandwich,” he leaned into her, as she wrapped a silk-covered arm around his waist.

The corner of her mouth turned up in a smirk, “Didn’t Wynne have to heal you last time you tried to make a sandwich?”

“How was I supposed to know that a broadsword makes a lousy cheese knife?” he asked sheepishly as she giggled against him.

ii. The Parlor

Teagan spends a month trying to teach him how to play chess before arriving one day to find the board smashed against the floor.

“Must’ve been the wind,” Alistair said with a shrug, surveying the damage, “Too bad, I was pretty sure this was my day.”

Teagan had turned on his heels and left without a word.

Alistair immediately started to pray, “Andraste, please listen to my prayer and don’t let him go right to my wife. If he does go right to my wife, please let me be swift enough to be outside city limits by the time he does.”

As two sets of footsteps rapidly approached, his prayer changed, “Okay, so you don’t want to deliver on the wife thing, but do you think you could just make me invisible? I ask for this probably once a day, but can this be the time that you deliver?”

He froze as the door swung open, crossing his fingers behind his back that the prayer had worked. But she looked right at him with her hands on her waist and Teagan gave him a smug grin from behind her shoulder.

“Did the wind have a temper tantrum?” she walked over to the chess set, picking the pieces, “Or did the King get angry that the Queen is more powerful on the board?”

“You know, it could’ve been your dog, I saw him in here before,” he met her gaze, “He does really hate tiny castles.”

“Rook,” Teagan chimed in.

Alistair gave him a confused look, “What did you call me?”

iii. The Armory

The young man jumped up at attention, spilling the glass of ale and sending his gauntlets tumbling off the table.

“Is that you Love?” Alistair asked, not turning around, “Should I be concerned by how well you can sneak up on me or is this preparation for some sort of surprise party? Nevermind, don’t tell me, I’d rather be surprised either way.”

“Ser, is the King bothering you?” she asked, giving the young man a wink and grabbing her husband’s tankard, “What story is he telling you this time?”

“One about you Milady,” the knight stuttered, picking up the previously fallen glass.

She turned to Alistair with a twinkle in her eye, “Your Majesty, I will never tire of hearing my great deeds.”

“Well, luckily for you, I will never tire of bragging about my wife,” he grabbed the glass back from her, taking a long drink, “However, the story I was telling is not important and we are long for bed, so young man, we’ll be taking our leave.”

She held her hand up to stop him and he froze, half-standing, half-sitting, and completely unsure about what was to come. Her eyes looked the same as when she was hunting and had a deer in her sights when she turned back to the Knight.

“Ser, what story was my dear husband telling?” she asked, a delicate smile danced over her face.

“Don’t fall for her feminine wiles!” Alistair exclaimed, trying to grab his wife’s hand to pull her from the room, “I did and I haven’t been able to say no to her since.”

“It was a sweet story Milady,” the Knight continued, “About the first time he saw you at the Warden’s camp.”

Alistair went to speak again before she placed a lone finger against his lips. She gave a small shake of her head and he let out an exaggerated sigh, “And what did he say about it?”

“He said that he hoped that I could find someone like you on my journeys with his army,” the young man explained.

When he finished, the Warden took a last sip from the mug of ale and stood up at the table.
Giving her husband a quick kiss on the cheek, “Don’t stay down here too long bothering the young men, we have an early journey tomorrow to Antiva and you hate traveling while tired.”

Alistair listened to her footsteps as they exited down the hall, before offering his hand to the Knight, “Good man! Now, let me impart a great lesson, never tell the story about the first night your wife took you to bed if your wife is also silent and deadly.”

iv. The Bedroom

The first bed was too soft and the Warden would awake with her malbari stretched across her legs, and Alistair curled on the floor in front of the fire, boots still on his feet.

The second bed was too large, and again he would be wrapped in blankets, head resting on the cold wooden floor of their bedroom.

Before allowing the craftsmen’s guild to build a third bed, she staved off sleep long enough to catch him unwrapping his arm from her waist and slowly swinging his legs over side.

Her hand caught him before he slid down to the ground, “Why do you keep sleeping on the floor? We used to share a single tent, have I done something wrong?”

Shame crept across his face, “Oh Love, I’ve really screwed up if you think you are responsible for this.”

“Then what is responsible,” she inched closer, holding her hand to his chest, “I think if the chambermaid catches you asleep on the floor again, we’ll have rumors that the Hero of Ferelden kicks in her sleep or that the King is scared of his Grey Warden wife.”

“Maybe I am-OW!” he exclaimed, as she smacked his arm playfully, “You know that hurt?”

“It didn’t hurt because the King is also a scary Grey Warden,” she rubbed the same spot gently, “Alistair, you always promised to be honest with me.”

“I miss the sky, I miss the sound of the fire, I miss crickets in the spring,” his list continued, “I miss feeling the grass under my hands, I miss the smell of rain before a storm starts, I miss how the full moon would shine across your face and I swore you looked like Andraste coming to bless me.”

Her cheeks reddened, “Flatterer.”

“It is true, you never looked more beautiful then laid across my bedroll under a sky full of stars,” he ran a hand over her hair, “I miss everything about those first nights.”

She knelt forward to kiss him, and he swore he could smell the morning dew in their small bed chambers.

“Will you come back to bed now, or do I have to sleep on the floor too?” she asked with a pout that made him laugh and pick her up in a large sweep to place her in the center of the bed.

Alistair gave a debonair look as she started to laugh with him, “Darling, if I ever answer no to the question if I will come to bed with you, send me to the Deep Roads because I’ve obviously lost touch.”

v. The Throne Room

“It seems silly to have a room that just serves to house a pair of fancy chairs,” he ran a hand disdainfully over the polished wood, “Can’t we turn this into a ballroom or grain storehouse?”

She leaned back in her chair besides him, “It is a chair, it will not bite.”

“Are you sure? I’ve definitely been tricked before,” he responds, staring down at the red satin pillow, “That cushion looks like a trap.”

“You have figured me out,” she throws out her hands to be cuffed, “This is part of my plan to overtake the throne, soft and downy cushion traps.”

He sat cautiously, “No need for dramatics, but I may need to hire a Royal Seat Tester just in case.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll just hire Zevran when I’m ready to take you out,” she patted his leg, “You won’t even know what is happening until it is already done.”

“If you both are done with your banter, I’m going to start inviting in the visiting dignitaries and the rest of the nobles,” Teagan came up behind them, “You just need to hold court for the full afternoon.”

His posture reverted him to a sullen six-year old boy, “The entire afternoon! Why can’t my lovely wife handle this?”

“The same reason that you have to wear the crown while you address them,” the Warden rubbed his back, “You are their king, I am just your wife.”

“Just my wife! You are the hero of Ferelden!” he boasted, “They should be honored.”

“And you are transparent,” she responded, “I appreciate the praise, but you are not getting out of this.”

Alistair rubbed his temples, “I was really sure that would work.”

Teagan clears his throat, drawing Alistair’s attention back to him, “I’m going to go now, you should probably practice your royal wave.”

Alistair debates every way to explain that he hates crowds, he hates nobles, and he hates anyone that would assume he is like them. The assumptions that he judges himself better than his people, that noble blood isn’t the same as noble born.

But she smiles, offers a hand, and his voice speaks in the same tone that Duncan would use on nights where the darkspawn blood stained their armor and their ranks grew smaller. She traces small circles on his palm, as they hang on every word and stare lovingly at their King.

Alistair turns to her afterwards, in their shared quiet moment, surrounded by the chaos of the court and whispers, “King?”

He lets that word hold all of the doubt he feels when he looks in the mirror and debates when the nobility will realize they made a mistake letting the bastard take the throne. The questioning in his voice displaying every nightmare of his wife having to live through another massacre, every voice in his head that declares that he will never produce an heir to fix the mistakes made by generations before. He thinks the first Warden he saw sent to the Deep Roads and grips his own sanity to hold it away from the Taint that constantly taunts him.

“Yes, King,” she confirms and the crown on his head never felt lighter.