The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.
-John Milton (Paradise Lost.)
"We need to talk." Alistair said, not quite entering the room where the others sat drinking, playing cards.
Oghren elbowed Hashim, whom turned around and smiled at Alistair, "Of course. Can it wait till I win this hand?"
"No." Alistair mumbled, but his lover apparently didn't hear, and turned around to catch up on the card game. "No." Alistair said louder, "Now Surana."
Hashim frowned and folded his cards, turning around in his chair again to look at Alistair, "What?"
"Please." Alistair said more gentle, but his face was every bit as serious as before.
Hashim sighed, "Very well," He placed his cards on the table with the backside up. And got up from his chair, "Where have you been? I thought we were going to have a celebration, Loghain is dead, and his daughter in prison. And you are.."
Alistair hauled a surprised Hashim out of the room and into the adorning room for privacy.
Hashim laughed nervously, he would have thought it funny if not Alistair had looked to serious and downtrodden. "What is it my love?" he asked, reaching up to caress Alistair's cheek.
Alistair didn't move into the touch, and just turned his head away. "It's just.. Remember when you said that everything would be fine as long as we had each other? And remember what I said?"
"No.. Maybe.." Hashim said withdrawing his hand, wringing it with it's twin, not sure he liked the tone in Alistair's voice. "What is this about?"
"Duty." Alistair stated as he started pacing the room. "I am about to be King, - King! And.." He stopped for a moment and looked at Hashim, for a second he almost didn't want to say anything, he just wanted to take his lover to bed and kiss away that haunted look in his eyes. But he didn't, he took a deep breath and said. "There is talk in the corners, about me, about you.. about us."
"So?" Hashim said confused, "Since when have you cared for gossip?"
"Since I was made to be king." Alistair said in a lifeless tone. "And Anora was right when she said.."
"Stop right there." Hashim took a step forward, "Did that bitch get to you with promises of political marriage and peace?"
"It's a little late for that, don't you think?" Alistair said and looked away. "There is just more to it than that. You know that Grey Wardens don't exactly have the longest lifespan, if we don't die in battle, the taint will get us eventually."
"But we.." Hashim wet his lips, "I thought that.."
"So did I." Alistair sighed, "But you see I am the last of my bloodline, and I would need a heir.. And you, you can't.." He dropped his head and looked at the floor, his words but a whisper, "Give me that."
"Surely you are joking.. Tell me you are joking." Hashim said with a tiny voice, his hands wrung so hard that his fingertips were white, but none the less he managed to shoot Alistair a little smile, "Maybe we should go to bed and you could think it over in the morning."
"No." Alistair shook his head sadly. "It's no joke, I'm terribly sorry Has-.. Surana.This is how it has to be, and I see no point in delaying it. If this is what has to be, then we might as well," He looked away from Hashim again and sighed, "End it now."
Hashim blinked confused, "Your logic is flawed, surely you can.."
"Don't make this harder than it has to." Alistair begged, "I love you, but we both knew that a day might come when duty would.. Come in the way."
"I know you -said- that, but I had honestly never thought that it would happen, I thought what we were.."
"-Be stronger than that?" Alistair cut in. "I did too." He started pacing again, "I have spent the last two hours waiting for an answer from the Maker, because I really didn't want to chose between my heart and my duty." Alistair turned to look at Hashim's large worried eyes. He could tell that his lover was scared, he had only ever seen him like this twice, once was when they had found Cailan nailed up at Ostagar. "I never asked for this."
"I supported your right to the throne because I love you, I trust you and believe that you would be the best king that Ferelden could wish for." Hashim said, his tone hard and angry. "I would never have supported you if I had thought that it would mean -this-. I never wanted this! I want you, here by my side like you are supposed to be.." Hashim's lips were a thin bloodless line of anger, "That came out wrong, I didn't do this for us, or me. I did this for -you-."
"And in time I will get used to it." Alistair mumbled sadly, "It might even grow on me, but.."
"I can't believe I'm hearing this!" Hashim yelled angrily, finally letting go of all his penned up frustration hitting a tall vase letting it shatter on the floor between them. "You really are of noble blood, because only a noble would do something like this, for something so.."
"You made me do it!" Alistair yelled back, "You are the one who wanted me to take the crown from Anora, I wanted her to keep the blighted thing!"
"I know.." Hashim growled, "But this.." He extended his arms out into the room, "This.. it's madness Alistair."
"I know.." Alistair repeated. "But it is how it has to be."
Hashim hung his head, "I understand." He mumbled, and then looked up at Alistair with fire in his eyes, "It's not about some blighted heir, is it? You could get yourself a queen and a child, and you know that I would still be right here at your side. This is about me being poor Denerim Alienage riff raff ain't it? It's about me being an elf, who can do little else than to serve the noble. They sure as shit don't share their sheets or their breakfast as equals. Or is it about me being a mage? Suppose we aren't good for anything but being locked away in the Tower. - And all the love and respect I thought we had, it all comes down to this. But it's okay brother, do what you have to."
"Do you really think that little of me?" Alistair whispered sadly sitting down on the edge of the bed.
"Right now? yes I do." Hashim argued, "You seem to forget who I am." He walked over to Alistair and kneeled down at the other warden's side, looking up at the man. "Are you going to sacrifice our love, on the altar of duty?"
"Don't do this." Alistair begged again, but this time he turned his head and looked down at the elf seated at his feet. "We will still be brothers in arms. Apart from us not being lovers, nothing will change."
Hashim took a deep breath. "If that is your wish." He mumbled and slowly stood, "Brother." He clenched fists not to cry, swiftly turning away from Alistair on the bed walking towards the door to the hall. "I need to be alone."
"I understand." Alistair answered in a thick voice from the bed.
Hashim had fled to his room, someone had knocked on his door, but he hadn't been bothered with answering it. He had two glasses of red wine trying to ground himself, knowing that Riordan expected them both in his room.
When he came back he found Morrigan waiting in his room. "What do you want?" He sighed, "Whatever it is, do it fast, I am tired."
Morrigan studied Hashim and nodded, "I know why you need a Grey Warden to end a blight. I know your little secret." She said, "I am offering you a third option so no one has to die."
Hashim rose a brow, "More of your blighted blood magic?" He shook his head, "Not interested."
"Would you just hear me out?" Morrigan asked walking past Hashim and over to the door to the hall and closed it. "If you lay with me now and impregnate me, the soul of the dragon would seek out the baby, and not you or your fellow wardens."
"A.. -a baby?" Hashim repeated like an idiot.
"Yes you are aware how they are made right?" Morrigan smiled a little awkward. "The child would be mine alone, and I would leave to raise it, never looking back." She shrugged, "A small price to save your life."
Hashim shook his head and poured another glass of wine. "I have no fear of death, as a matter of fact I would welcome it." He sighed, "Go ask Alistair, he is apparently in the baby making business."
"Be reasonable Surana." Morrigan argued.
"I have -had- it with being reasonable! Get out of my room witch! Persuade Alistair to go along with your mad plan, or don't." Hashim growled, "Just get out of my sight!" Hashim tore the door open behind Morrigan and forcefully pushed her outside into the hall, not caring for her arguments he just shut the door hard between them.
Hashim seated himself in an armchair burying his face in his hands, feeling like the empty feeling inside would swallow him up, and he would abandon all reason and just slip into the warm comfort of madness. This was all wrong! How could Alistair even say the things he did?
The door opened and Dog slipped into the room. It nudged Hashim's hands for a reassuring touch. Hashim looked up and saw Zevran stand in the door, "The dog was unable to find rest, so I thought it wanted to go to it's master."
"Thank you." Hashim said flatly, scratching the dog behind his ear.
"I heard you yell earlier, is everything alright?" Zevran said trying to be diplomatic about it. Truth was they had heard every single angrily spoken word through the wall. He slipped inside and closed the door to give them privacy.
"I'm fine." Hashim said unable to wipe a trace of sadness from his voice. "I just need a good nights rest."
"I could.." Zevran looked thoughtful for a moment, and chose his words with great care, "I could give you a massage, I promise you it will do you good and help you relax." Hashim just glared at Zevran. And Zevran held his hands out in front of him in a dismissing gesture. "No nothing like -that-."
Hashim wanted nothing more but to be alone, but his entire body ached from weeks on the road, fighting and sleeping on the ground. "In that case, I would appreciate it."
Hashim sighed with bliss as Zevran's hands worked his aching calfs, the sandalwood oil making him relaxed and drowsy.
"If you don't mind me prying, then what was that fight about?" Zevran asked softly.
Hashim knew he should have argued, but he didn't, he was drowsy and warm. "Duty." He whispered lazily. "Alistair's duty to the crown of Ferelden, and my duty to the wardens." Hashim closed his eyes as Zevran pressed the heel of his hands down and pressed a warm sore trail along his spine.
"I'm sorry." Zevran said softly, kneading the tense muscles in Surana's back.
"Me too." Hashim whispered. "He needs a heir, something I can't give him no matter how many foes I kill for him, or how deep my love is."
"Do you regret supporting him as king, then?" Zevran asked softly.
"Yes, and no." Hashim admitted, "He belongs on the throne, I'm just sad that it has to be without me at his side." Why he confided so in Zevran he wasn't sure, but it felt good, felt like his headache dimmed a little.
"As I understand it, your time here is precious short when you are a warden." Zevran said, "Turn around." He pulled Hashim's arm and he rolled over on his back.
Hashim draped an arm over his eyes, "It's foolish I know." He whispered, biting his lip as Zevran's hands worked his thigh. The warm hands on skin that hadn't felt a touch in weeks, radiated straight to his groin. Hashim blushed embarrassed. "I'm sorry." He mumbled referring to his slight erection behind his smallclothes.
"It's fine." Zevran said with a little smile, "You aren't the first who had that happen."
Hashim didn't answer, and didn't move, he tried to will his erection away, but Zevran's smooth hands kneading his muscles sent all the wrong signals to something buried deep under reason. Maybe it was the wine? He sucked in his breath as Zevran abandoned his thighs to massage his arms.
"I would hate for you to think I took advantage of you, but if you want me to take care of your need, I will happily oblige." Zevran said smoothly, leaving Hashim's right arm to pick up the left and give that same treatment.
"It's just.." Hashim mumbled, draping the other arm over his eyes, not wanting to see the disapproving look in Zevran's eyes, here he was talking about heartache, and still his body reacted to the other elfs cunning hands, he didn't want it to, but it did. "It's been a while." His blush deepened. "Nothing personal."
"You speak as I should be offended." Zevran chuckled.
"Surely you know that.."
"I know," Zevran said with a little smile, "Nothing personal." He placed a hand boldly on top of the bulge in Hashim's smallclothes.
Hashim bit his lip, "No." He breathed, hating himself.
Zevran removed his hand, and moved off the bed, wiping his hands free from massage oil in a cloth. "Any time you need to have your muscles loosened a little, let me know." He said casually.
Hashim sat up in the bed, ignoring his throbbing erection that demanded attention that he refused to grant it. "He was right you know." he said, "Matters of love and lust should not come before duty." He looked away from Zevran's amused smile, knowing he lied. Covering himself up with his hands he managed a half smile to Zevran, "Thank you for the massage, I feel better than if I had slept for eight hours straight in a soft bed."
"You should have that wound in your shoulder looked at before it festers." Zevran said tossing the oil soiled rag to the corner.
Hashim nodded weakly, "Good night Zevran."
Zevran knew he was being dismissed and left the wardens room. Not sure he liked the sad frown that had settled in Surana's face, hoping that it would not matter when it came down to his focus in battle.
Falling back on his bed, Hashim cursed himself for his weakness. He had completely lost focus on why he did what he did. He had acted like a love struck maiden, trying his best to impress the man of his dreams, with the fragile hope that he would chose him and stay by his side for eternity. Eternity had just come premature in the shape of the people of Ferelden. He knew he was being ridiculous but he was just about the worst match for a new king. He was an man, a mage and lastly he was an elf from the Denerim Alienage. True fairytale story that he had ended up as the kings trusted, and like a selfish child, he wanted more. He wanted his heart and soul. He wanted Alistair. The dark heavy feeling spread in his chest again, somehow it was just worse to know that Alistair was sleeping two doors down. Maybe he wasn't even sleeping, maybe he was with Morrigan. That bitch didn't waste any time did she? Why had the Maker set him out on this path, knowing that he couldn't see it through? Had he been a noble woman, it wouldn't have been a problem. Hashim was sure of it! Then they could have worked around the whole taint issue, or maybe he just thought that Alistair would have been more inclined to try and work around it.
The Dog crawled up in the bed and Hashim curled up to it, still feeling lazy and warm from the massage and all the dark thoughts had erased his unwilling arousal. He buried his face in the Dog's fur and closed his eyes, just listening to the giant animal breathe was soothing. "It doesn't matter now Dog, you and I are going out in a blaze of glory for all to remember, when we slay the Archdemon. It will be glorious and songs will be song about us, I'd like that, wouldn't you?" The dog grunted and shifted it's huge head and fell asleep.
The next morning they Hashim didn't join them for breakfast, he didn't want to see any of them to be honest. As he strapped his armor he looked down at Dog. "What do you say we pay Soris a visit?" He smiled at the huge war dog, "I think we are entitled to a day off." Hashim opened the door to the hall and looked outside, he didn't see anyone and figured they were busy eating breakfast and making plans for today. "You have to be silent as a mouse, you can do that can't you Dog?" Hashim snuck out of the Arl's home with great care. And as soon as he was outside he and the dog sprinted towards the Alienage, he didn't slow his pace before he walked down the stairs to the bridge he knew so well. Even the putrid smell made him smile. He was home! He had been honest when he had said that he thought of the tower of Magi as his home, but this was his home as well. "Maybe you can even find a rat or two to eat." He grinned at the dog at his side. "But no urinating on the Vhenedal."
Opening the door with a red painted cross to the simple house, Hashim frowned at the semi dark inside. "Soris?" But no one answered and he stepped into the house, he peaked into the bedroom and saw his brother sleeping on his back. "Soris?" He asked again as he came closer.
"What?" Soris mumbled, struggling to sit. He looked at Hashim with dull eyes. "Is my eyesight failing or is it you little brother?"
"It's me." Hashim said with a smile. "I came to Denerim with the, the... Oh never mind that." He sat down on the bed next to Soris, "I thought I would take a day off the whole darkspawn killing and come see you."
"That is kind of you." Soris laid down again with a groan, "You shouldn't have. I mean you really shouldn't have, not unless you want to risk getting locked up in the Alienage with the rest of us." He slurred.
Hashim frowned, and by instinct rested his hand on Soris' forehead. "You are burning up!" He gasped, "We need to get you to the healer.. Or maybe I could try to.."
"It's the plague," Soris sighed, "Can you cure that with your fancy magic baby brother?"
"No." Hashim muttered and hung his head. "But.." He stroked his brother over his hair tenderly. "Why didn't you send word to me?"
"I wouldn't know how." Soris said bitterly, closing his eyes.
Hashim sighed, he knew that Soris was right. "Is there anything I can do for you?"
"Get Shianni out of here." Soris said with a soft smile. "She is not sick."
"I can try, but I don't think she would come." Hashim said, brushing his fingertips lightly over Soris' forehead, "But I can't leave you like this." Hashim bit his lip and placed his hands on Soris chest using every single recourse in his body to pour healing magic into his brother. Panting he let go, "I can't - heal you."
Soris gasped as the magic source left his body. "It was worth a try." He said pinching the bridge of his nose, feeling dizzy.
"I know a mage who is the most talented healer I ever met. I will bring her tomorrow." He picked up Soris' hand and kissed it, "But for today, is there anything I can get you? Food? water? a bath?"
"Food would be nice." Soris admitted, "I haven't been able to go out for a week, and Shianni she doesn't come here."
"The cross on the door?" Hashim asked.
"Ah." Hashim stood and tucked the dirty blanket around his brother, "Don't worry, I will make everything alright again, I promise."
"Don't make promises you can't keep baby brother." Soris yawned.
Hashim looked away from his brother's blue eyes that stared at him accusingly. "I didn't exactly ask the Templars to come and whisk me away." he said sourly, but stopped himself before he started a fight with his brother. He knew his brother had resented him for leaving, and it didn't matter what he said then Soris wouldn't listen, they had exchanged many an angry exchange of letters years ago."But that is hardly relevant now." He answered his brothers glare with his own. "I'll be back in a little while.Try and rest."
Shianni stared at him like he had fallen from the moon, "Cousin." She cheered, embracing him for a moment. "Have you come home to use your magic to cure the sick?"
Hashim took a deep breath and looked up into the sky. "No." He said softly. "I already tried on Soris, I can't.."
Shianni crossed her arms over her chest and just glared at him, "What do you mean you can't?"
"I mean, I don't know how to do it. And maybe I am not talented enough, I don't know." He shrugged. "But I know someone who I think can do it, if she can't then I don't know who can."
"Then why are you here?" Shianni asked.
"I came to visit Soris." Hashim admitted, "I had not heard news of plague in the Alienage."
"And for good reason, because as much as we want help, then we can't afford a lock down." Shianni said with a slightly guarded expression. And Hashim knew why. He had left this place as a kid, and was no longer really a part of their collective, all things aside.
"You can trust me." Hashim said with a friendly smile.
As he left the Alienage and went back to the markets place, his head was swimming with information. Under normal circumstances he would go to Alistair, and know that Alistair would do his damnedest to help the poor elves, but now.. he wasn't so sure. Maybe it was best not to tell anyone till he was sure what was going on, exept Wynne if he wanted her help.
"My, my warden Surana." Zevran said flashing a grin from his seat on some crates. "Visiting your kin?"
"My family, if you must know." Hashim said with a shrug, "I grew up here."
Zevran nodded, listening. "I didn't know you were from Denerim."
"Of course not, I haven't told you." Hashim stated.
"Alistair is absolutely livid, looking for you." Zevran said jumping from the crate, "I figured I had a better chance at finding you on my own. After all that is my specialty, finding people who don't want to be found."
"I just.." Hashim fell into the same pace as Zevran across the markets place, "Needed to straighten out my head."
"From the look of you, it didn't work." Zevran said, placing a friendly hand on Hashim's arm. "You can tell me you know. The only other thing I am really good at is keeping secrets."
"That is such a huge lie." Hashim laughed.
"Yes, but I got you to smile." Zevran shrugged and took his hand back, "Then it was all worth it."
"There you are!" Alistair cried out as Hashim stepped through the Arl's doors. "Where have you been?"
"Family visit." Hashim said looking at Alistair with sad eyes.
"I was afraid you left." Alistair admitted with a tiny voice, grabbing Hashim and burying him in a tight embrace.
"I would never do that," Hashim whispered, and melted against Alistair's broader form.
Alistair let go and took a step back to put distance between them. "You were pretty upset."
"I'm fine." Hashim said, wishing he had pushed Alistair away when he had gathered him in for a hug. "Excuse me, I need a bath." He tried to get past Alistair, who grabbed his arm and held him back.
"We are still friends right?" Alistair asked in a childish, fragile tone that made Hashim suck in his breath.
"We are." Hashim said turning to face Alistair, he took a step forward, saddened to see Alistair took one back. "Please reconsider." Hashim took a deep breath, "Us."
"You have no idea how much I hate myself for doing this to you, I can see the hurt in your eyes, and I can hear it in your voice. And I know that telling you that I love you won't change anything." Alistair said unable to meet Hashim's eyes. "But to hold you now would be to promise a dying man, life."
Hashim just stared at Alistair, his glare full of the venom he felt. "Suppose you are right." He finally said bitterly.
"Let us never speak of this again, it serves no purpose other than hurting us both." Alistair said reaching out for Hashim who was the one to step out of his reach this time.
"I have no other choice than to accept it." Hashim said in all honesty. "But know that I will never forgive you."
"I understand." Alistair said with a sad nod.
"No you don't." Hashim barked, turned on his heels and fled to his room and locked the door.