Chapter 1: Bespelled
Aedan panted and eyed the now very dead High Dragon that Flemeth turned into during their battle. When it didn't move, he lowered his bow but didn't put it away. Alistair poked Flemeth with the tip of his sword. He was glad he commissioned that armor from Wade. Not only did Alistair look sexy in it, it also protected him from fire, as Wade promised. Alistair didn't even want the armor at first, but on Aedan's insistence he kept it. That vdragon scale had come in handy after all. He was attracted to Alistair from their first meeting, trying not to laugh at the interaction between him and the mage. Alistair had an easy humor about him that made him almost forget that he may very well be alone in the world.
Alistair turned to him with a smile.
"We did it."He said.
"That was almost too easy."
"It has lost what little of what remains of it's sanity." Shale said. Aedan laughed. He never took Shale's sarcasm seriously. His blue eyes were alight with mirth.
"You still with us Wynne?"
"This was not what I expected when we set out."
"Let's get that Grimoire and get out of here. This place feels wrong suddenly."
"I hope Morrigan appreciates this, not likely though."
Aedan snickered and approached the corpse. He didn't know where the keys would have gone, or her clothes and to be frank he didn't want to. Several moments later, he found the keys and made a beeline for the door.
"Aedan, there's something on your hands."
"Ugh, it is covered in slim."
"Big babies." Aedan muttered, making to wipe his hands on his drake scale armor. Wynne tsked at him and handed him a handkerchief.
"Keep it." She said, grimacing in disgust. Aedan opened the door and they stepped inside.
"Alistair, can you check that chest? Wynne, the beds. Shale the places we can't reach."
They searched the small hut. "Ha! Got it! Let's get the hell out of here."
"Would you please stop cursing?" Alistair asked. He hated Aedan' s foul mouth.
"Seriously, not cursing much, yet." With that, Aedan left the hut laughing. Alistair followed him out. Wynne shook her head with a wry smile and followed Shale out.
They got halfway to the camp, when Aedan began feeling off. He felt overheated, itchy and restless. Those were the first symptoms. As they traveled other symptoms made themselves known. His skin flushed, he began sweating, he had a painful erection and he was breathless.
"Aedan? What's wrong?" Alistair asked, moving to stand beside him.
"I... I don't know. It feels like my skin is on fire. How much further till the camp?"
"About an hour. Do you want to stop?"
"Don't know if that's a good idea. Just give me a minute." Aedan murmured, leaning against a rock.
Alistair felt ill at ease with the sudden appearance of Aedan's symptoms. Wynne looked worried as well.
"Get him up, Alistair. We must make haste to the camp." Alistair hauled him upright, bringing their faces close. Aedan's pupils were blown wide, the pretty blue hardly visible. He wondered how Aedan was able to see in this condition. That done, he slung one of Aedan's arms over his shoulders and wrapped his own around his middle. Aedan gasped, shuddered and tried to pull away.
The wild look on his face told Alistair that something was very wrong with his friend. Aedan managed to wrench himself from Alistair's grasp and got six steps away before his legs gave out. He collapsed in a heap with a soft outcry. Then he went still, all his muscles going lax. It took a painfully long time for Alistair to realize that Aedan was unconscious. He rushed to his friend and fellow warden and turned him over. Aedan was still alive, and Alistair sighed in relief. Then he scooped Aedan up and carried him the rest of the way to their camp. If Flemeth cast a death spell in Aedan, he was going to kill Morrigan.
Chapter 2: Awkward Moments
The chaos begins.
Aedan's breathing was ragged by the time they reached the camp. Alistair held him and worried. Aedan was lithely built but not in the way Zevran was. He was attractive too, according to the flirtatious assassin. Right now, however he was far from it. His normally short, brown, messy hair was soaked with sweat and sticking to Aedan's head. Zevran and Leliana stood up when they entered the camp. Alistair focused on his friend who needed him.
"Why is he all red?"
"Leliana, my dear could you boil some water for me?" Leliana ran off to do as asked. Aedan began stirring. When Alistair sat him up to remove the armor, it brought Aedan's face close enough that Alistair could feel his breaths tickling his throat. Aedan smelled amazing. Like warm fresh baked cookies. The smell surprised Alistair, he'd never been this close to Aedan. He could make out the freckles on his face. It was something he hadn't even known about Aedan. They lightly dusted his nose and cheeks. Alistair wondered how he'd missed the little details about someone he saw daily.
Aedan opened his eyes. There were little flecks of green in his irises.
"Alistair?" Aedan asked.
"You're beautiful." Alistair breathed. Aedan's eyes went wide with surprise. Then he closed the small distance between them and sealed their mouths together. That broke the spell. Alistair reared back in shock and Aedan fell to the floor.
Alistair's eyes were wide with shock as were Aedan's. What just happened? Alistair moved further away much to Aedan's dismay. Alistair smell divine, which was strange because just that morning, Aedan was telling Alistair he stunk, literally and Alistair hadn't bathed yet.
Alistair retreated to the far side of camp. What was wrong with him? He wondered. Aedan was his friend and a man. How could he be so attracted to another man? And that kiss, Maker what was that about? Had Aedan lost his mind? Aedan looked so broken hearted at his rejections and Alistair felt badly about it. Aedan was under the influence of a spell, it wasn't his intention to pursue him.
Morrigan watched the whole thing and went back to the grimoire. Alistair glared at her.
"How was it?" Zevran asked. Maker, did the whole camp see that? Alistair thought miserably. "Is he as talented in that as he is in everything else? Does he have a wicked, wicked tongue?" Zevran grinned. "I can tell you plenty of things he might be able to do with that quick tongue of his."
"Zevran!" Wynne scolded.
"I'm sorry. Perhaps you can correct my bad behavior with some firm discipline?" Wynne grabbed his ear and dragged him away. "Ow! Not what I had in mind, my darling Wynne!"
Alistair had to laugh, his eyes watching Aedan from across the camp, the slender rogue moved away from the main group and was outside his tent. He was also out of his armor and in a thin tunic and nothing else, not even boots.
Alistair looked away quickly. He was glad that it was a big tunic. Aedan then disappeared into his tent.
"You are a fool, Alistair."
"I'm aware of what you think of me, Morrigan. What are you referring to now?"
She smiled coldly.
"I have found the spell that mother cast upon our fearless leader."
"Out with it." Alistair growled.
"Tis a lust spell. I do not doubt that he will continue to suffer until he finds relief. Unfortunately for him, you are the only one able to provide it."
Alistair glared balefully at Morrigan. He didn't like Morrigan's insinuation that he couldn't help Aedan sufficiently, not that he knew what needed to be done, exactly.
"How long does he have before the spell overwhelms him?"
"Several days. I do not yet know what will happen to him when it does."
Alistair rounded on her, his eyes flashing.
"Then what good are you?!" Aedan wasn't here to keep the peace between them. She glared at him and moved to cast a spell, only to find he had drained her mana.
"That's enough, both of you!" Leliana intervened. "He could be dying a few feet away and you're fighting."
Alistair felt badly. Aedan was suffering and here he was letting his constant annoyance with Morrigan get the better of him. Leliana was right.
"Break up camp. We should get him somewhere safer."
Chapter 3: Of Awkward Moments
Of Awkward Moments
It took what seemed like an eternity to leave camp in order to head to the safety of Redcliffe. Aedan would be more secure there and a lot warmer. The rest of them were ready fairly quickly. It was Aedan that was the problem. It was difficult to get the recalcitrant Grey Warden out of his tent. Especially considering what he was doing when Alistair went to get him. Alistair never blushed so hard in his life. Aedan hadn't seemed to mind that Alistair caught him half naked and... Alistair could feel his ears heating up again. Aedan was currently over Shale's shoulder. Aedan was not a happy person and was yelling obscenities from the golem's back.
Alistair winced. It was hard enough to get him out of his tent, but now he was throwing a tantrum.
“Put me down!” He yelled, struggling. Alistair winced and sighed. Aedan was going to break something if he kept hitting the golem that ignored him.
“Shale, I'll take him for a little while.”
“It is behaving very badly.”
“I know. He doesn’t mean it. He’s under a spell and he’s not himself.”
“I expect it to apologize when it feels better.”
“I'm sure he will.”
“Alistair?” Aedan whispered when Shale transferred him to Alistair’s arms. “You smell really good.”
“That’s the spell talking. I can’t dispell it, I'm sorry.” Aedan ignored him and began sniffing him. It wasn’t that Aedan couldn’t walk on his own, Alistair knew he could. Knew that Aedan was made of sturdier stuff than he credited himself for. But the spell had caused Aedan to collapse earlier and with the spell nearing it’s height, Alistair wasn’t taking any chances. Aedan seemed calmer in his arms than he had when Shale carried him, or when he’d been in his tent alone.
Aedan for his part was content to lay in Alistair’s arms and progressed from sniffing to pressing little kisses along Alistair’s jawline. Alistair felt his face heating up and not just from embarrassment. Things would be so much easier if Aedan wasn’t nearly mindless because of the spell.
Alistair shot an unseen glare at Morrigan. This was all her fault. Her and her mother and their crazy version of bickering.
“Don’t be so mad.” Aedan whispered. “I know it’s weird.”
Alistair’s eyes dropped to Aedan face. Aedan looked better than earlier but he looked at Alistair as if he’d like to eat him. “But I think we’ll find a way through this. I trust you.” Alistair fervently hoped that the spell didn’t hurt their friendship when all was said and done.
It didn’t take long to reach Redcliffe and Aedan frowned up at him. “Why are we here? I don’t want to be anywhere near sodding Eamon.” Alistair shook his head. Aedan’s severe dislike of the Arl of Redcliffe made it difficult for him to trust the man.
“He’s so slimy.” Aedan said once as they trudged to the village of Haven. “What kind of man says he’d take responsibility for a child and then make them sleep in the stables?”
“It wasn’t so bad. And how did you know?”
“My father.” Aedan explained. “He learned about it when you were three I think. He didn’t approve of how you were treated. And he wanted to take you away. Being raised away from court is one thing. Treating you like less than a person was wrong. If we didn’t need his help…”
“You’d let him die.”
“Maybe. I think Connor being a mage was punishment for what they both did to you. They say that he strayed but Queen Rowan was already dead when he met your mom.” Aedan put emphasis on the word dead. “The man was lonely, depressed and he must have liked something about your mom. Eamon had no right to treat you badly because of it.” Aedan looked up at him. “You have her eyes by the way. Your mothers I mean.”
Alistair’s eyes went wide. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. I met him once. He was kind to me even though I spent most of the time hiding against my mother. I was six or seven I think. I was really shy as a young child.”
Alistair snickered, picturing a miniature Aedan hiding his face and clinging to his mother. The picture it conjured was just so cute and the opposite of the calm and confident leader he was now.
“I can picture that. You must have been adorable.”
“And mischievous. I must have caused my parents such grief.” Aedan looked away. He still wouldn’t talk about his family what happened the night he left home. Whenever he mentioned them, it always made him sad. Alistair reached out and squeezed his shoulder. Aedan flashed him a sad smile. They had no way of knowing how the Crucible would test them all to the edge of their limits.
“We’ll stay at the tavern if makes you feel better. I know you don’t have the highest opinion of Eamon.”
“Thank you. But I don’t think insulting the man will go over well.”
“They’ll want to be close enough to help you, I think.”
Aedan settled against Alistair. When they arrived in Redcliffe, Alistair thought about Bella who loved Aedan and not just because he was attractive. Aedan easily cut down the previous owner, a slimy piece of filth that Alistair couldn’t remember the name of. The swiftness with which he threw that the knife that killed the man both impressed and worried those present. Aedan didn't react to Teagan questions. After securing Aedan in one of the rooms, Alistair found himself in a vice grip from the Wilder Witch.
Before he could ask her what her problem was she handed him a small vial.
“If you do not help him, he will die. You must have relations with him. This will ensure that neither of you are hurt as we can hardly afford for either of you to be sore.” Alistair blinked and then blinked again.
She dragged Alistair to Aedan’s door, opened the door to reveal Teagan and Isolde. Aedan looked both annoyed and confused. Morrigan released him and Alistair rubbed at his arm.
“Eamon sent us to help you.” Aedan stared at them, his face saying that he thought the three of them were idiots.
“Maker,” Aedan ground out between his teeth. “Does the Arl know what the spell entails?”
Poor Aedan was trying to be polite and failing. “Bann Teagan, as flattered as I am, I don’t think it’s a good idea. And you’re a married woman, Lady Isolde. Morrigan, could you please?” Morrigan nodded. Aedan’s message was clear ‘get rid of this duo of idiots sent by the head idiot’. She escorted them out and Alistair followed.
He tried not to laugh when Morrigan, at her limited patients end told them what breaking the spell entailed. They both turned red and left quickly. Morrigan then grabbed him again in an vice grip and shoved him inside.
“You are not allowed out of this room until tomorrow. He needs your help.” Alistair grumbled at being manhandled and that Morrigan was right. This had to be a nightmare. What kind of crazy universe were they in if Morrigan of all people was right? Alistair found Aedan in front of the fire, naked and staring at the flames.
He froze at the sight. Aedan’s skin was mostly smooth, save for an ugly scar across his right side, right across the ribs and another close to his heart. They were old from the looks of it. Though the slash across his ribs looked newer.
“You can join me here. Just remove that armor, would you? Makes me feel odd.”
Alistair started, realizing he’d been staring. He wondered if it was too late to flee. With a sigh, he put the vial down and began tugging off his armor. Aedan watched him struggle for several moments then stood up to help him. He easily undid the clasps and buckles that held Alistair’s armor in place and stepped back to allow Alistair to remove it himself. Alistair started with his gauntlets and boots first. Then jumped when Aedan helped him with the chest plate.
Alistair felt more relaxed and reached out to touch the scar on his chest. Aedan visibly shivered and Alistair grinned.
“Some day you'll have to tell me how you got that scar.”
“Later.” Aedan promised, sealing their mouths together.
Chapter 4: Famed Warden Ensurance
Famed Warden Endurance
Alistair barely remembered to get them to the bed. Once Aedan kissed him, the spell turned the exploratory kisses into filthy, full tongued things. Aedan tugged at his clothes urgently trying to rid him of the unfair advantage he had. The lightest of touches had the rogue shivering and seeking out more. Aedan responded eagerly to every touch, and every kiss, knowing that when the spell was over, whatever was attracting Alistair to him would be gone and things would change between them. It made him sad, and he hoped that they would be able to get past the awkwardness from having slept together but knew he should prepare for the worst. Alistair wasn’t stupid, naïve as he was. He quickly figured out what Aedan liked.
Exploring with hands and mouth as far as he could reach wrapped up in Aedan’s unyielding embrace.
“W-wait.” Aedan gasped. “You’ve got to….” He whimpered when Alistair found a sensitive spot with his mouth. Alistair grinned wickedly.
“What?” Alistair asked. Aedan stared, stunned. There was a woman that would be the luckiest person in all of Thedas and Aedan envied her already. Alistair was going to be an excellent lover.
“You need to prepare me.” Alistair kissed Aedan’s lips and gripped Aedan’s legs.
“You need to relax your grip on me first.” Aedan obeyed and Alistair grabbed the vial from where he left it. “How do I do this?”
“You need to use the oil in that vial. Unless you want me to do it.” Alistair handed Aedan the vial and Aedan set it aside. “Need you out of this.” He tugged at Alistair’s clothes. “It’s okay.” Aedan helped Alistair remove the clothing until he was equally naked. Aedan stared at him in a way that made Alistair uncomfortable. Then Aedan reached out and touched him. It was strange to have someone touch him where he’d previously touched himself only. Aedan’s touch was feather light and timid. Alistair gripped Aedan’s wrist and showed him how he liked it with a few guided strokes.
Aedan stroked him for several moments then released him to grab the vial. He removed the stopper with his teeth and poured a generous amount on his palms and stroked Alistair again. Alistair shook with pleasure. Then groaned when Aedan released him. Aedan poured more onto his palm and opened his legs. He slicked up the fingers on one hand and reached between himself. He slowly pushed in one finger inside himself, making a small sound. He teased himself open first with one finger, then two and then three. Adding more oil with each finger. He made little moans. Aedan was experienced, it was obvious. Alistair watched the entire act with interest. He reached out, curious.
“Can I?” Aedan nodded and opened his legs further. Alistair took what remained of the oil and slicked up his fingers. Aedan removed his and watched Alistair. Alistair hesitantly pressed his fingers against Aedan’s entrance.
“It’s okay. I'll tell you if you’re hurting me.” Alistair pressed two fingers inside and Aedan stiffened and moaned. “Bend your fingers and- oh!”
Alistair followed Aedan’s directions and when he bent his fingers he felt something inside Aedan. He straightened them and bent them again. Aedan made a sound of pleasure and arched into his touch. Alistair teased Aedan until he was sobbing. “Please, oh please.” Finally the teasing was too much for both of them and Alistair pulled his fingers. Alistair pressed inside and groaned. Aedan felt so good, tight and hot. Aedan clung to him, whimpering. Alistair rolled his hips experimentally and Aedan cried out.
Alistair paused, fearful that he’d somehow hurt Aedan. “Did I hurt you?” Alistair asked, the tension in his body not due to pleasure. Aedan stared at him, confused at first. Then he shook his head. Alistair visibly relaxed. Aedan thought it was cute, even buried to the hilt Alistair cared enough to make sure that Aedan was comfortable. Aedan lifted his hips and much as he could, searching for that spot inside that would make Alistair change his mind about moving.
“What are you doing?” Alistair asked uncertainly. Aedan didn’t have that much room to move but the small space was enough to give Alistair the general idea. It didn’t take very long before it became too much for either of them. Aedan cried out and his entire body tensed, tightening painfully around Alistair. Alistair gasped and felt his toes curl in pleasure and he followed Aedan over the edge. He collapsed on top of the rogue. Both of them breathing like they had run a mile. Alistair recovered first and lifted himself off the smaller man, falling onto his back to try to catch his breath. He kept both eyes on eyes on Aedan. Aedan’s eyes were shut, his mouth slack and slightly ajar. Aedan’s chest was rising and falling harshly. Alistair waited several moments before reaching out to grab Aedan’s shoulder. They were breathing more normally now. “Aedan?” Aedan opened his eyes and seemed to be taking stock of his body. He winced when he shifted his leg and Alistair felt a stab of guilt.
“I'm not hurt Alistair. Just a little…sore?”
“Does that always happen?”
“I don’t know. I've never gone this far before.”
“You never. I thought you had a lover in Highever.” Alistair was so confused.
“I did. But we didn’t have sex. We did… other things.” Aedan sounded far away. “I was always so nervous about it and he was a great person about it. He taught me other things and didn’t push.” Aedan sounded so very fond of this man and Alistair could feel jealousy ugly head rear up.
“What happened with him?” “My father caught us six months into our relationship. He was so angry and well, we were forced to end it. After that, every suitor they presented I rejected. Fergus thought it was hilarious.” “Where is he now?” Aedan’s face darkened. “He died to save my life.”
Alistair realized that he’d crossed some unseen line and acted without thinking. He gathered Aedan into his arms and held him tightly, ignoring the mess on Aedan’s stomach. Alistair knew what happened in that led Aedan to join the wardens. Duncan asked him to keep an eye on the younger man, after all. Duncan and Grigor both described the destruction of Castle Cousland. Grigor met them outside and had to hold Aedan when the young man tried to turn back and go back for his parents. The scene that Grigor described was heartbreaking and disturbing. It also made Alistair wonder at the time if the newest recruit would survive long enough to get to the joining.
Now, nearly a year later, he was still struggling. Alistair hoped that Aedan would find happiness. If anyone deserved to be happy, it was Aedan. Alistair pressed a kiss to Aedan’s head.
“I’m so sorry. Maybe when this is all over, we can hold a service for them. They deserve that much. And we’ll get Howe for this. I promise, he’ll be brought to justice. That’s my promise to you.”
“It won’t bring them back.”
“I know. But it will show everyone that his crimes are not forgivable.” Aedan sighed and pressed in closer to Alistair.
“What’s going to happen to us?”
“We’ll find a way to beat the blight. Or did you mean you and me?” Aedan kept his eyes down. “Aedan?”
“I just wanted to know where we stand. You’ll have to chose a bride when you are king and-”
“You want to know what will I do.”
“She’ll be very lucky to have you, Alistair.”
“Are you jealous?” Alistair asked with a chuckle. Aedan glared at him. “Of course I'm sodding jealous. I can I not be? She’ll have you.” Alistair shook his head and lowered his lips to Aedan’s.
“The only one I'm going to marry is you.”
“I spoke to Teagan. He agreed that the best alliance is with Highever. People love your family, you have political experience and you can talk circles around Anora. You know me better than anyone else in all of Thedas. And besides, it would be wrong of me to take your virginity and then run. I already promised myself that I’d marry for love.”
Aedan’s breath hitched.
“You love me?”
“I think that I loved you from the day we met. I wanted to protect you, wanted to make sure you'd survive, I would do anything to make you happy. It scared me at first but when Flemeth cast that spell, Maker it scared me. I didn’t want to disappoint you with my lack of knowledge. But I don’t want to live in a world where you aren’t there. You’re the first person I've ever been with. And the last.”
Aedan bit his lip. “The nobles might have some issues. I can’t give you children.”
“I wouldn’t be able to have children even if I were to marry Anora. Which would be weird because she was married to my brother.” Aedan’s face crumbled in disgust.
“I can see how that would be like sleeping with your brother.”
“Ew!” Alistair said, half laughing, half disgusted.
They dissolved into helpless giggles.
“Oh no, mental image. Maker what is wrong with me?!” Aedan’s face was horrified. Alistair laughed and kissed Aedan’s reddened cheeks.
“Should I be jealous?” He teased. Aedan shook his head. “Good. We should probably get cleaned up and you need to rest.”
“Stay with me?”
“Yes. But first…”
Aedan wasn’t sure what to make of Alistair’s words. His skin was still sensitive and he trembled when Alistair swiped a damp cloth across his skin. It could be a dream, or it could be the spell. He would have answers in the morning. He knew without a doubt that it would kill him if this was the end result of the spell. Alistair slid back into bed and pulled Aedan close. Aedan fell asleep rather quickly, and Alistair followed soon after.
Alistair woke the next morning feeling slightly overheated. Aedan was more than halfway on him and they were both still very much naked. Aedan was still soundly asleep and he was as hard as Alistair. Alistair tried to distract himself by counting backwards from 100 in his head. It was made more difficult when Aedan began to move. He was dreaming and Alistair wanted to let him continue so that he could remain asleep as much as he wanted to shift him so that the slow sensuous movements didn’t cause them both to make a mess.
Alistair swallowed hard and made his choice. He gripped Aedan’s hips hard.
Aedan’s eyes flew open.
“You were, um.” Aedan’s eyes went wide.
“Sorry. I was dreaming.”
“A handsome warrior that was ravishing me over and over again.” Alistair flushed and Aedan grinned wickedly. “Want to find out if it’s just as good without the spell?”
It was hard to think clearly. But Alistair knew he had to talk to Aedan.
“Aedan, wait a moment.”
“You’re rethinking what you told me, right? It’s okay. I know that you were under the influence of the spell. I'm not angry at you, Alistair.” His voice cracked and he offered Alistair a sad smile. “I'm a big boy, Alistair. I'll be fine. He pulled away from Alistair and got up. “I'll see you downstairs.”
When Aedan was gone, Alistair laid there wondering what happened. Aedan knew him better than anyone, literally. He sighed. Aedan had been on the verge of tears when he told Alistair he was fine. It was the first time he’d ever lied to Alistair. Knowing that the lie was just to make him feel less guilty for telling Aedan that they could never be made him feel even worse. Did he love Aedan? He wasn’t entirely sure. He’d never been in love before. He didn’t like seeing that heart broken look in his friend’s eyes. He was so confused.
Chapter 5: Fleeting Glances
Aedan fled Redcliffe Castle before Alistair came down from bed. He cried himself to sleep that night for the first time since Highever fell into Howe’s hands. It wasn’t Alistair’s fault, he knew that but it didn’t make the pain any better. Aedan didn't know if you could die from a broken heart but it felt like his would never be the same. First, the first person he’d ever loved and his family were slaughtered in a single night, along with his entire life.
He’d been forced to leave his parents, dragged off by Duncan who wrenched a promise from Aedan with his father dying a foot away. Aedan refused at first, clinging to his father until Bryce reminded Aedan that no matter the circumstances, Couslands did their duty. Aedan fought Duncan the entire way, trying to get back to his parents. Duncan had to knock him out in order to get him to safety.
When Aedan came to, they were traveling away from Highever. Aedan could see the black smoke rising from the castle. Aedan was over the shoulders of a large, burly man.
“No!” He cried. “Let go of me! That's my family in there!”
“Grigor.” It was too late, Aedan managed to get free and started back towards Highever. Grigor grabbed Aedan about the waist and held him tight. Aedan thrashed and screamed.
“No! Let go! No!” He dissolved into sobs. “Father…” His breath hitched. “Mother.”
Aedan collapsed to his knees, the fight leaving him. Grigor sat with him.
“I'm so sorry.”
“Please, let me go. I have to help my parents.”
“You'll die if you go back.” Grigor whispered.
He didn't talk about what happened with Alistair. He didn't want to. He stayed in bed for the next two days, until Zevran came to see him.
“Alistair has been moping about the castle.”
“I'm not ready to face him.” Aedan said. “I love him Zev. I'll always love him, I know that now. He'll never love me, I just wanted a few days to process what happened.”
“My friend, you are screwed.”
“Totally and completely. I'll be okay in a few days. I just…”
“Say no more my warden. What will you do now?”
“Well, get out of bed. Can't live my life here. I wish it were easier.”
They left to Orzammar after a week of resting. Aedan hated the brutal political schemes in the city. When they visited Dust Town, he could see the suffering. “I didn't know what life was really like elsewhere. It's terrible.”
“I'm proud of you, young man. Giving that young mother enough money to get to the surface and rent a house.”
“Her son was sick. No kid should suffer because of circumstance.” Aedan said. He fidgeted and shook his head. “The entire system is a disaster. Belen could change that.”
“I don't like him. He's slimy.” Alistair said. Aedan stared at him, stunned and impressed that Alistair picked up on Belen’s unsavory nature.
He looked away from him when he realized he was staring. Alistair shook his head, it happened often enough that he wondered if Aedan really was okay with his decision. Alistair could hear the laughter in Wynne’s voice when she commented on how he was watching Aedan. Alistair tried to deny it and ended up getting into an embarrassing situation. Aedan didn't say anything, but the muscles in his shoulders tensed.
When Belen asked them to seek out Branka, Aedan agreed to travel into the Deep Roads. They were joined by her husband, Oghren. It made Alistair nervous and set his teeth on edge. Aedan didn't sleep the entirety of the trip to find Branka. After finding her journal, Aedan was convinced that she’d lost her mind. Of course, finding her journal also meant finding a nest of corrupted spiders and one very large Queen. During the fight, Aedan was poisoned. The toxin didn't kill him, just paralyzed him for a time.
Alistair finished off the Queen and turned to find Aedan wrapped in a sticky web cocoon. “Aedan!” There was no sign of life from within and Alistair clawed at webbing until Aedan was freed. His eyes were shut and he was too still. “Wynne, he's not moving!” I can still hear you Alistair. I can't move. Something in the venom maybe?
“Calm down, Alistair. He's still breathing.”
“What's wrong with him?!”He sounds really scared.
“There is a toxin in his blood.”
“Maker, he'll die! We're too far to reach help in time.”
Alistair lifted Aedan into a sitting position. “Stay with me Aedan, please. I can't do this without you.” You'll be surprised to learn what you're capable of when you have no choice.
“He isn't dying.” Oghren said. “It's the venom, he'll be like this fire the rest of the day. Just keep the kid warm.”
He was lifted from the ground and carried for several paces. “You’re a sticky mess, Aedan. You've got a whole lot of spider web in your hair. Don't worry, I'll clean you up.” Alistair worked slowly, first removing Aedan’s light armor. Aedan looked terrible but it was the result of days without proper rest and the venom. Alistair left his side to start a fire. “When you are able to talk again, we have to have a long coversation. You got to say your piece now I want to say.” Please don’t start this conversation. I don’t want to hear anything.
Alistair cleaned Aedan and then laid next to him. “I’m not saying anything about it. What you did was reckless today. I do think we need to have that talk. I don't know what to tell you Aedan, I've never been in any type of relationship. I don’t know what I'm doing. But I do care for you.” Don't do it Alistair, my heart can’t take it. Alistair sighed. “I know you are lonely and I know that you're scared. I don't know what I'm supposed to say. I hate seeing you so sad. I know it’s too late to do things the proper way.” Way too late. The only thing I have left to hold onto.
“How is he?”
“No movement yet. Soon I hope.”
“Just tell him that you love him.” Oghren said. “It's obvious you two have something special. It might be what he needs to hear.”
Oghren, stay out of it.
“Maker this is embarrassing.”
“Just saying.” It took an hour before he was able to regain some mobility. The first thing he disk was open his eyes and look around. They'd retreated into a small alcove within the cave and there was a fire burning hotly nearby.
“Don't move. The venom is still keeping you still. Drink this.”
“Can you please let me go?” Was what he wanted to say but what came out was: “Hmugh.”
“It might be a while before you can talk. I'll keep you safe.”
Yes! I mean no! Get a hold of yourself Aedan! He might be only slightly fond of you, but only as a friend. The only person who loved you like that was Roderick. No, don't start thinking about him now, stupid. He'd be angry if he knew if he was here. Stop it, torturing myself is only going to make it a long night.
Roderick Gilmore was a gentle soul. He met Aedan when he came to Highever as a knight. Aedan was young and very impressionable. But that was when they also met another knight by the name of Astern. Aedan was infatuated with him.
“He's thirteen.” Roderick said.
“He certainly does not look thirteen.”
“Maker, I'm not hearing this. If you pursue him, it's against the law and Teyrn Cousland will kill you.”
“I'm not going to have sex with him. But a few kisses here and there…”
“What are your plans after you romance him?”
“I'll marry him of course.”
“Do you actually love him?”
“You don't have to love someone to marry them.”
Roderick vowed to save Aedan from this plot. What ended up happening was they ended up falling madly in love. Roderick was seven years Adams senior and so they waited until Aedan came of age before their courtship began. On the night Aedan decided to give his innocence to his lover, Bryce Cousland walked in on the would be lovers.
“WHAT IN THE VOID IS THIS?!” He bellowed.
Bryce was rarely angry but was a terror to behold.
“Father wait!” Fergus said.“Be rational.”
“Did he hurt you, my boy?”
“What? No! He loves me! He'd never… I love him.”
“You're too young to understand the word.” Aedan shook his head. “Fergus, stay here with your brother. I have to have a long chat with Ser Gilmore.”
“Not a word.”
The door closed on Roderick’s terrified face. Aedan waited with Fergus for what seemed like days. Roderick looked sad when he returned with Bryce.
“Aedan…” He paused. “My lord. I'm afraid that we can't see one another anymore.”
“No! Why are you doing this?” Aedan asked. “Roderick, I love you. You love me.” He wouldn't meet Aedan's eyes, as if he would break if he had to watch the light leave them.
“My lord, I'm sorry. If I led you astray, you have my most sincere apologies. But I cannot continue to see you in anything less than a professional manner.”
Aedan began to cry.
“I'm sorry.” Roderick whispered before sharing one final kiss with Aedan, consequences be damned. When they parted Roderick straightened and turned without another word. Aedan sobbed and simply stood there. Fergus held him as he cried.
Aedan rested most of the time until the venom wore off. Aedan moved away from the fire when he could. Alistair sighed and shook his head. Aedan needed time. It was not pleasant.
Chapter 6: Denerim
The events of what happened before the Landsmeet, my way! XD
Alistair tried not to be offended when Aedan didn't chose him to go into the Arl of Denerim's estate but he was. They were so close to seeing an end to this awful nightmare and he didn't know how it would play out if he wasn't there to protect his friend. They hadn't had the time to have the important conversation that he knew Aedan was desperately trying to avoid and he needed to tell Aedan that he loved him. He really did want to marry Aedan, he didn't care what Eamon or any of the other nobles thought. He would find a way to marry for love and rule the country with the one person who never let him down. He realized that he was jealous of Zevran. He was a shameless flirt and the entire time they had traveled together hadn't changed that.
"Hey, I was hoping that you'd come to wish us luck."
"It's a tactical thing Alistair. If something happens to me, you still need to end the blight with the armies we've gathered."
"Who else is going?"
"Wynne and Morrigan."
"So you're leaving the rest of us here?"
"Erlina only managed to get four complete sets of armor for our disguises. I can't take anyone else."
"This is a bad idea."
Aedan blinked. Alistair was becoming more assertive and confident. Then he grinned.
"If you have to come to save my ass, you can say 'Told you so' But this is the better way in case the disguises fail and I'm caught. Howe won't be interested in the others and he might let them go."
"You think you'll run into him there."
"Undoubtedly. I have no intention of killing him, I just want to save Anora. How she managed to get herself into such a situation, I'll never know but no one deserves to die at that maniac's hands."
Zevran came into the conversation with:
"I can stay here, my warden. It would probably be best to have someone strong enough to carry any bodies you might need to hide."
"You're so naughty, Zev. Are you sure?"
"Yes, the armor will not fit me at any rate and you can have a decent warrior with you whose stench will not give you away."
Zevran left the armor where Alistair could easily grab it and danced away before he realized what was implied. Aedan laughed outright and shook his head.
"Come on, let's get going as soon as you're ready."
"He's up to something."
"It's Zev, he's always up to something. Part of the reason I love him." Alistair's face darkened in misery. "Are you...? You are, you're jealous! Calm yourself, Ser Templar. He's interested in Wynne."
"But she's old enough to..."
"Don't want to think about that." Aedan said, shuddering.
The plan was nearly flawless, until they realized that there was an enchantment cast on the door and they couldn't open it until they dealt with the mage that cast it.
"Damn it. So you can't dispel it?"
"Tis not so simple as that. Tis a sustained spell, and the mage casting it must die for it to fall."
"Perfect, killing some poor fool who's just trying to do their job. Howe, you asshole."
"He doesn't sound like he wants anyone to free the queen. The mage will be close by, this is not a distance spell."
They made their way to the dungeon.
"I met the Kendells once. Not a great family. Father wasn't overtly fond of them either. Vaughn was not a good person, rotten to the soul. He was the dangerous type of evil."
"You don't like him at all."
"Hope he suffered before he died, the bastard."
"You really didn't like him."
"He was a disgusting rapist. The lowest of crimes. It's one thing to steal or to take someone's life but to rip someone's innocence and hope from them?"
"You feel strongly about it."
"For a long time."
The door to the dungeon was locked and Aedan broke three lock picks trying to open it. "Oh this isn't good. Let's head to where Howe sleeps. The mage might be there. Wynne, do you think you could persuade the person who cast the enchantment to dispel it?"
"I don't think they'll listen, young man."
"We can try, right?"
Aedan froze when they reached the room that Rendon Howe was sleeping in. There was a staircase that led down into the dungeon.
"He has a private route to the dungeon. That's disturbing. Are you okay, Aedan?" Aedan bit his lip and shook his head.
"I can't help but think what he might have done to all the people I was forced to leave behind when I fled Castle Cousland. I still don't understand. He was supposed to be their friend. I was going to marry his daughter Delilah, even though I didn't love her and all because he was dear to my father."
"I'm sorry Aedan. I know it doesn't fix what happened, nothing can. But Duncan gave you you're best chance. You aren't alone in this. I'll be here as long as you want me."
Aedan turned towards him, his eyes watery.
"I don't know if I can do this." He said, shakily. "I trusted this man. Looked at him like an uncle. Why would he try to kill me?" Alistair pulled Aedan as close as possible with the armor they were both wearing. Aedan was vulnerable, confused and probably very uncomfortable in the heavy plate armor that slowed him down.
"I know you can do it. All of us believe in you." Alistair said quietly. He was useless when it came to calming people who were so upset, not knowing what to say to get them to stop crying or to calm down. Wynne moved closer as well.
"I know it is difficult, young man but try to remember the happy memories with your parents instead. You want to remember that they loved you very much and that they would be very proud of what you have accomplished."
Aedan nodded, took several deep breaths and straightened.
"Let's go find that mage before Howe impliments his plan." He moved to the chest and opened it. "These are Grey Warden documents! How did he get these? Was there a survivor from Ostegar that Flemeth didn't tell us about? Is this person still I alive? Or did Howe kill them?"
Aedan rolled up the documents and stuffed them into his bag. When they arrived in the dungeon, there was a guard outside a cell. He started to speak, only to be grabbed and have his neck broken by the man within the cell. He snatched the keys and dragged the body inside, stepping out several minutes later. The man was Riordan who came to investigate why the wardens in Orlais hadn't heard from Duncan. He'd been Howe's prisoner for several months, being tortured the entire time. They let him leave to find a physician and then they proceeded further in.
Howe, they learned had a lot of innocents prisoner, a noble's son who had been searching for his friend, a survivor from Ostegar, a Templar that had been trying to track down Jowan, an elf named Sorris, who told them that he'd been in there before Howe's arrival because he dared to try to rescue his fiancée from Vaughn's grasp. The only person Alistair felt belonged in the dungeons was Vaughn himself. Aedan's face twisted in disgust and fury at the sight of him.
"Let me out! I have gold!"
"I think I'll let you rot for your crimes, Vaughn. I have no pity for men who commit the foul deeds you have."
"If he stays here, he'll starve to death."
"Good. Maybe a slow, painful death will humble him." Aedan said. Alistair stared at him. Was this the same Aedan who gave money to poor people so that they wouldn't suffer? He wondered. What was his history with Vaughn? Had Vaughn attempted to hurt someone Aedan loved once?
"Warden, that is cruelty." Wynne said.
"Morrigan? Fry him to a crisp."
"With pleasure." Morrigan said with an evil smile. Alistair and the others turned away as Morrigan stalked over to the cell. Vaughn screamed a moment later and Alistair wondered about this streak of barbarism that seemed to take hold of Aedan suddenly. Evil man or not, no one deserved to go out that way, Alistair thought with fright. It made him wonder about the mage's and Howe's chances when Aedan finally found them.
They found Howe and his men in the last room they searched in. He was waiting for them as if he knew that they would be coming. It set off alarm bells in Alistair's head.
"Well, well. Bryce Cousland's little boy. All grown up and still trying to fit into daddy's armor." Aedan stood frozen, his eyes misting over with unshed tears. Alistair watched with sorrow. It hadn't occurred to anyone how difficult it would be for Aedan, to have to face the man that murdered his entire family. "I never thought you'd turn up here. But then I never thought you'd live, either."
Alistair bristled in outrage at the mocking tone Howe was using to talk to Aedan. Aedan looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there.
"Why betray us Howe? My father was your friend!" Aedan croaked. Oh, that meant that he'd been friends with Howe's children and family. This man had been welcome on sight into Aedan's home and he destroyed everything in a single night. Duncan had been worried about Howe attempting to kill Aedan before he had a chance to testify against him. Both Duncan and Cailan were both dead now and Aedan would have to take justice for his family into his own hands, especially considering that Loghain ignored Aedan's words at their first meeting.
"A clumsy appeal, child. He was a traitor to me and a coward to his nation! Trips to Orlais, gifts from old enemies, all while I sank into obscurity. Your family squandered glory at was rightfully mine. How suitable that their death raised me to the ear of a king."
"Oren and Oriana never did anything to you! They were innocent! Oren was a little boy!" Aedan said, his voice breaking at the end. "And Loghain is not king. He won't be if Ferelden has a say in the matter!"
"If you think you can take this from me, that I will allow it, you are very much mistaken!"
Howe and the others attacked. Aedan moved forward with determination, dodging blows and spells to reach Howe. The battle was fierce, brief and ended with Aedan driving both his daggers into Howe's chest.
"Curse you! I...deserved...more!"
"You had true friendship and you chose to spit in it's face. For that, you deserve nothing not even pity." Aedan said. Howe collapsed a moment later and Aedan looted his corpse. He kept his back to Alistair the entire time. "Let's go get Anora. I get the feeling that they were expecting us and I'd like to know why."
Anora was dressed as a guard when they opened to door. She looked so ridiculous. "Aren't you a little short for a guard?" He quipped. She silenced him with a glare. They were nearly out when they were confronted by Loghain's right hand, Ser Cauthrien. who wanted to arrest them for. Howe's "murder". Aedan's protests were interrupted when Anora ran forward and hid behind the warrior.
"Thank the Maker you arrived when you did, Ser Cauthrien! This fiend meant to force me into marriage to become the new king. I have no doubt that he would have succeeded if not for your timely intervention."
Alistair glared at Anora.
"You lying bitch." He growled. Aedan put a hand on his shoulder and shook his head.
"If we fight them, then every foul rumor that they are spreading about the wardens is true. Killing these men who are just following orders won't help our cause. Lay down your weapons."
"Tis most unwise."
"I agree with Morrigan. We can take them."
"These men did not sign up for this." Aedan said. "We surrender! Allow these others to go free."
"I am not interested in them."
Aedan laid down his daggers and held out his arms in surrender. It didn't help. Anora's claims caused Cauthrien to repeatedly bludgeon Aedan over the head until he stopped moving. One of her men hit Alistair so hard the world went dark and he woke up in a dank cell. Aedan laid a few feet away, on his back, still unconscious. It was another hour before Aedan woke up with a groan and rubbed at his head.
"Anora really is a bitch." He murmured. "Ow. Fuck!"
"They hit you pretty hard. We're in Fort Drakon."
"That's not good. The others?"
"Made it out without a scratch."
"Good. Let's get out of here. I have a plan."
Aedan was a good actor, pretending to be ill in order to get the guard to open the door. Then he knocked the man out and stole his keys. He opened the door for the man in the cell next to them and they ran into a storage closet. Aedan grinned and pointed to the guard uniforms. Their plan went off without a hitch, allowing them to sneak away from the patrol they latched onto without being noticed. Alistair couldn't help but laugh when they finally reached the marketplace.
"Alistair, that was excellent acting.
Maker, I need a drink." Aedan said. "Let's not go back to Eamon's estate just yet. Let the man sweat for a while. Let's see how many drinks we can have before we can't see straight."
"We need to talk and we can do that when we get to the tavern."
"I was hoping you forgot."
"I didn't. We'll get a table and have a nice, quiet conversation."
"Oh, I need to tell Bann Alfstanna that I found her brother. I hope he made it out of there."
"That poor Templar? He didn't want to leave his cell."
"Maybe she can convince him to leave?"
Aedan opened the door to the Gnawed Noble and spotted her right away. She was talking to the Bann of Western Hill. Aedan paused in the doorway.
"I knew one of his sons when I was a youngster. We came to Denerim at the same time as children. Became thick as thieves."
"Well, little Aedan Cousland! I remember you! You were this high when I last saw you."
"Hello, Arl Wulff, Bann Alfstanna."
"I heard what happened to your parents." Alfstanna said. "I'm so sorry. If you need Waking Seas, you have our armies to take back your teyrnir."
Aedan looked shocked and he bit his lip. His eyes getting watery. She pulled him close and held onto him. “No one who knew them believes Howe’s lies.” Alistair felt sorry for his friend. Aedan was born into this world of politics and nobility.He was the child of a high ranking noble and led a life of luxury until Howe murdered his family and forced Aedan to live like a refugee. Being shown kindness must be strange for him.
“Thank you.” He whispered. “But that isn’t why I came. I found your brother, Immeric. He’s in the dungeon at the Arl of Denerim’s Estate.”
“What?!” She said. “I’ll go to him straight away.” Aedan nodded.
“If you need anything, my lady just let me know”
“Thank you.” She ran off and Alistair guided Aedan away. He made Aedan sit down at a booth.
Aedan’s shoulder’s slumped when they were both seated.
“Thank you, Alistair. I didn’t think it would be so hard to be here.”
“Are you okay?”
“I don’t know.” Aedan said. “My father was a good, decent man. He’d be so ashamed of me for what I did.”
“With Vaughn and Howe?”
“I was afraid for you. Thought I finally lost you to grief.”
“I had a man burned alive.”
“You were upset. Aedan, no one blames you. What was your history?”
“I used to have a sister, Elissa. She was four minutes younger than me and so pretty. Whenever she smiled, she’d have these huge dimples. She was blonde with brown eyes like Fergus’. Sweetest person ever. When we were fourteen, we came with our parents to Denerim. Father was good friend’s with King Maric and he was going to be leaving. Elissa and I were playing with some elf children near the entrance to the alienage when Vaughn showed up. He was older than me by five years. He started harrassing some of the girls and Elissa wouldn’t stand for it. So she threw a rock at him. Hit him square in the face, breaking his nose. But he took notice of my sister. He couldn’t do anything because he was in a lot of pain.
He spotted us days later when he was with his goons. Two lesser nobles that followed him around like dogs. He tried to rape my sister as payment for his injuries. And I lost it. I don’t know where I got the bottle but I sliced up his friends good and I tried to kill him. It took four of the city guard to restrain me. Elissa told them everything and we were all taken to our parents who were at the palace. Father defended me and his father defended him. Elissa told King Maric what happened and that was what kept me from getting into serious trouble. She told them everything and didn’t leave any details out. Vaughn was supposed to get punished but his father promised to deal with his son. I guess he never did.”
Alistair grabbed Aedan’s hands that rested on the table.
“I don’t blame you for wanting to kill him. What happened to your sister?”
“Elissa died three years later. We were hunting and she fell over a cliff.”
“I should have been with her, she never should have been alone.”
“I doubt you could have prevented it.”
“I wouldn’t have been able to, not in the condition I was in but small details.”
Alistair wanted to ask, but thought better of it. He signalled the barmaid over and placed their orders. Hours later, they were stumbling through the door of a room in the tavern lip-locked. Alistair woke the next morning with a severe hangover, naked next to an equally naked and hungover Aedan.
“Ow. Did we seriously fuck last night?”
“I can’t remember anything.”
“Neither can I. This is a nice room.”
“A nice room. Ow! Shit!” Alistair felt guilty about hurting Aedan. From their nakedness, Alistair guessed that they had sex.
A knock sounded at the door.
“Are the newlyweds ready for some breakfast?” A cheerful voice called from beyond. Aedan and Alistair just stared at one another, stunned into silence. Alistair celebrated inwardly, they both could die tomorrow, at least now he had Aedan as his own.
“Alistair?” Leliana called. “Aedan?”
“Give us a few minutes!” Aedan said. He winced as he sat up. “Leliana, could you ask Wynne for something to cure the hangovers and something for the pain?”
Alistair reached out and ran the tips of his fingers alone Aedan’s spinal cord. “Looks like we had a pretty wild night. What do you want to do?”
“That’s what newlyweds means. I can’t remember what happened. Did we go back to the estate?”
“I hope not. You hate Eamon and obviously, none of us have restraint when we’re drunk.”
“Or shame. It feels like we only stopped because we passed out.”
“Are you decent?”
“No, but it’s not anything you haven’t seen.”
Wynne shook her head as she entered the room.
“How do you feel this morning?”
“Besides hungover? Like I’ve been fucked for hours on end. What happened last night?”
“Zevran went looking for you when we heard of the escape but you hadn’t returned. He found the two of you sitting at a booth downstairs and you asked him to gather the rest of us because you were going to marry Alistair. We managed to slip past Arl Eamon and you two got married. Zevran told the barkeep and they arranged for you to get a room for the night.” She handed over a mug to each of them. “This will quell the aching in your heads and other areas. Congratulations, you both deserve to be happy. Treat one another well and be patient with one another.”
“Thanks Wynne.” Alistair said. He flopped backwards onto the bed when she left, empty mugs in hand. “Are you okay with this?”
“Stunned but I’m okay. I’d rather be married to my best friend than anyone else. So, do you want to tell Eamon that it’s too late to annul this marriage, or should I do it?” Aedan said with a wicked grin.
Alistair chuckled and sat up to press a kiss to the back of Aedan’s left shoulder.
“I think it’s a better idea to keep this from him from now.”
“Aw… I just wanted to be there if you decide to tell him, if only to see the look on his face.”
“I don’t remember our wedding or the wedding night. Want to try to relive it? Well, the wedding night part anyway.”
“Are you sure?”
“Alistair, we aren’t leaving here until you’ve had your way with me, throughly.” Alistair smiled, there was his Aedan.
Aedan laid down on the bed, kicking the sheet away from them. Alistair felt exposed, aroused and surprisingly, at peace. Aedan parted his thighs and Alistair felt his mouth water at the sight. He needed to touch, to taste, to make sure Aedan never forgot that he belonged to Alistair. He wanted to keep Aedan forever, even if they didn’t have forever.
“Maker, but you’re beautiful. I am a lucky man.” Aedan smiled so brightly at him.
“I’m the lucky one. I found someone willing to love me despite everything I’ve done.”
Alistair laid over Aedan and pressed their mouths together. Aedan hummed into the kiss, and wrapped his limbs around Alistair. Soon, kissing wasn’t enough and Alistair pulled back to fumble for the oil. “No need, I’m probably still loose from last night, check with your-” Alistair pushed two finger into Aedan before he could finish his sentence. Aedan was right and Alistair pulled his fingers out. He slid home with a grunt. Aedan arched into it and moaned. A few thrusts and Aedan was pushing at his shoulders.
“Did I hurt you?”
“No, on… on your back.” Alistair obeyed, groaning at the loss of Aedan’s heat. It wasn’t long before Aedan was straddling him, legs opening as he gripped Alistair’s erection and sank down slowly on it.
It was good in too many ways. When Aedan was fully seated he whimpered and hunched forward to kiss Alistair. “Feels so good.” For a few moments, neither of them moved. Then, Aedan shifted himself onto his knees and began riding Alistair. Alistair reached out reverently and held grabbed one of Aedan’s thighs.
“Aedan…” He whispered. Aedan was shaking around him.
“So good.” Aedan said. “So close.” Alistair slid his hand lower and grabbed Aedan’s hard flesh. Aedan yelped in surprise. Then he tightened around Alistair and Alistair cried out, arching into the pleasure and nearly dislodging Aedan. Then he collapsed to the bed, Aedan flopped over him, limp and panting.
He wrapped his arms around Aedan and held onto him while they both recovered. Aedan’s mouth was open and pressed against his shoulder. Alistair pressed kisses to wherever he could reach, savoring the fact that he was so still. Aedan recovered enough to straighten.
“Maker, that feels better each time.”
“Can we just stay here all day?”
“No. You wouldn’t be happy that way, and we still need to let Arl Eamon know that we’re still alive.”
“But I don’t want to move.”
“You have to, love.” Alistair replied fondly. Aedan rolled off of Alistair and sat up.
“I know, you’re right. I don’t like it, but you’re right. We should bathe before we leave.”
Alistair nodded. They called for a bath and learned that it was easier said than done, bathing together. They ended up a tangle of limbs and both began laughing. “This is harder than I thought.” Aedan giggled. Alistair kissed Aedan and then reached for the nearest towel. There would be plenty of time later to full explore every inch of his little rogue.
The others were happy to see them and Alistair receieved a hearty slap on the back from Oghren.
“I knew you had it in you.” Aedan and Alistair exchanged confused looks.
“The whole tavern could hear the two of you my friends.” Zevran said, a wicked smile pulling at his lips. Alistair flushed. They hadn’t exactly been quiet, but he didn’t expect for an entire building to hear them. Aedan squared his shoulders, grabbed Alistair’s hand and with as much dignity he could muster, walked out.
Eamon was waiting at the entrance for them. He took in their clasped hands and paused.
“Alistair, we need to speak.”
“I’m coming too. There’s something we need to tell you.”
Eamon sighed and the lovers walked to his office.
“Anora arrived here safely. She wishes to speak with you Warden.”
“I’ll see to her presently, Arl Eamon.” Aedan answered politely. “Let her wonder if I’m about to rain vengence on her head.”
“Aedan, you’re being naughty.”
Eamon was trying to figure out a polite way of asking why they were holding hands. Then he saw the flash of gold on each of their left ring fingers.
“You two are married?”
“Hey this was easier than I thought!” Aedan said, smiling brightly. “Yes, we got married last night. I know it’s a little strange, but hey at least you don’t have to worry about marrying Alistair off to anyone that he’s not gonna know what to do with.” The last part was teasing.
Eamon wondered how he might end the marriage.
“We will have to inform the landsmeet.”
“Yes, I suppose if we both survive the blight, we’d have to have a more public ceremony.” Alistair said.
“We’ve already secured the alliance of several of the nobles. Waking Sea, and Dragon’s Peak so far but I think we may also have Western Hills on our side as well. Highever, Denerim and Amaranthine are not going to be part of this landsmeet. We have a lot of work to do if we’re gonna overthrow Anora and Loghain. And I should speak to her before she wanders in here.” Aedan stood, kissed Alistair and sauntered out of the room. Alistair’s eyes watched until he was out of sight.
Aedan made his way to the room that Anora was in.
“I want to apologize for the way I behaved when we met, Warden.” She said. Aedan didn’t know how to respond. He wanted to shake her and make her understand that her actions did have consequences. That she nearly got the two of them killed. Instead he nodded.
“I understand that you were afraid.” He said. “I know it couldn’t have been easy for you to lose your husband. And I’m sorry. He wasn’t a bad man, just a terrible husband.”
Anora snorted. “I know you want my support. But Alistair isn’t Cailan. He’s untrained, yes but he is capable. I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true. I know you don’t want to hear it, but wouldn’t it be nice for you not to have all that stress on your shoulders?”
“How do I know he will not kill me?”
“He doesn’t have an unkind bone in his whole body. He could never hurt anyone.”
Anora narrowed her eyes.
“You love him.”
“Yes, he’s easy to love. And I’m rather sure that the people of Ferelden will too. The people love you and I have no doubt that if you were to set aside your hatred for him, things would go well for everyone involved.”
“I will think on It Warden.”
“I can ask no more, my lady. Now I must go see to the unrest in the Alienage. Perhaps it has something to do with the outbreak of plague there.”
Aedan stood, bowed politely and left the room. Anora shook her head. Aedan Cousland was charming, handsome and if he offered, she might have married him. But he was clearly in love with Alistair. He promised that no harm would befall her if she abdicated the throne and if the rumors were true, her chance to arrange a marriage to Alistair was over, the fools married one another. Was he planning on keeping the Cousland boy or did he have plans to divorce? She would have to wait and see.
Chapter 7: New Beginnings
The wardens battle politics and the blight, the blight is less scary.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Of New Beginnings
Alistair didn't agree that they should do different things to gather allies with only three days until the Landsmeet. But that Templar in the Alienage needed help and Aedan was going to salvage what he could from the Warden vault. Aedan arrived back at Eamon's estate last. By then, Alistair had been lectured for an hour by Eamon about his responsibilities to the people of Ferelden and his duty as the future king. Aedan, according to Eamon was an unwise marriage choice for Alistair. Aedan wasn't able to give Alistair heirs and Aedan had no political ties to help Alistair.
Aedan was in their room when the lecture was over. Alistair knew something was wrong almost immediately.
"I'm not hurt, Alistair. I overheard Eamon. He's right. I have nothing to offer you. I can't give you children and staying married to me won't make your rule easier."
"I don't want to to be married to anyone else."
"No, Aedan. I don't care what Eamon or anyone else says. I love you. You're the only person that looks at me like that. You didn't hear the end where I told Eamon that I would never set you aside."
"No, I missed that part" Aedan said quietly. He couldn't tell Alistair about Anora's threat to sell him into slavery. Alistair would likely go ahead and kill Anora. He let Alistair goods him, silently planning how to end their relationship. He didn't like the idea of giving up Alistair, he liked it even less that he would have to watch him marry someone else.
Aedan shut his eyes and pictured their future. Alistair married to some beautiful noble woman, and having beautiful children with her. It made him miserable just thinking about it. He asked Morrigan about it. She thought it was stupid for him to give up his claim to Alistair, not because of love but because she thought it was stupid to give up his right to power.
"I know you're worried. We'll get through it together."
Aedan shook his head.
"You have to let me go, Alistair. I'll get us both killed. Please, I'd rather be away from you, than watch you die. I love you too much to watch you die."
"What do you mean dead?!" Alistair demanded, alarmed.
"This isn't the Free Marches or Orlais. It might be accepted there. It's not illegal, but rusty doesn't actually mean that the nobility will accept it. Do you know what could happen to us? We'll be dragged through the streets, beaten and tarred. And that's if we're lucky. If we're unlucky, a thousand worse things await us." Aedan shut his eyes. "When my father caught me with Ser Gilmore, he told me in vivid detail what would happen to us if anyone found out. I can't watch you die just because of me. Please don't ask me to."
Alistair crossed his arms.
"Who told you all this? Eamon?"
"It doesn't matter."
"It does! I don't know if you know it, I love you."
"I know. You have to love Ferelden more than me." His voice wavered.
"Are you okay watching me remarry?" Aedan shook his head sadly. "Then the answer is no, I'm not petitioning the Chantry to dissolve our marriage. Anyone who wants to try to hurt you, will answer to me."
Aedan buried his face into Alistair's shoulder. " No matter what happens, they aren't going to hurt you. I'll make sure of it." Aedan wondered if Anora was bluffing or if she was serious. He'd find out soon enough, he couldn't tell Alistair but maybe Leliana would have a suggestion. Alistair's stubbornness was both endearing and maddening.
The three days seemed to drag on forever. But with Leliana's help, they had evidence linking Anora to everything. They were running late because Alistair was so nervous, he threw up twice.
"What if I have to make a speech?"
"You'll do just fine. Deep breaths. Let's head inside, we'll be in more trouble if we don't get in... Ser Cauthrien. Right now I don't have the time to have a conversation with you, if you'll excuse us."
A sword stopped their progress.
"Everyone who should be at the Landsmeet is already inside." Aedan's brow furrowed in consternation. Aedan tried to reason with her but in the end, they ended up having to kill her because she wouldn't listen to Aedan's pleas.
"If only you'd listened to me." Aedan said. "Let's go inside."
Eamon was nearly done with his speech by the time they got inside. Aedan was ready in case this turned ugly, which he thought it would. Anora would never willingly step down and Aedan was willing to bet that she would show up to cause problems. Aedan laid out Loghain's crimes with the evidence they gathered. The nobles were outraged by what he'd done, but then Anora showed up and ruined their plans and mere seconds after Loghain accused them of kidnapping Anora. Aedan drew himself upright and informed Anora coldly that he traced some of the crimes Loghain committed back to her. That he had proof linking her to Logan's plan to murder Cailan and the plot to murder Alistair afterwards. It shocked everyone even Alistair, but Aedan had evidence, the letters that Loghain thought destroyed in Ostegar.
The vote was mostly in their favor, only a handful of the nobility stood behind the MacTirs. Logan refused to accept the results and started a fight, which was brought to a halt by the Revered Mother. Aedan let Alistair duel Loghain, he did have a score to settle after all. It ended with Loghain beheaded, and Alistair proving to be the stronger of the two. Alistair, now confident announced that he would rule alongside Aedan, but there was the blight to worry about first. They headed for Redcliffe, where they believed that the blight would come to a head. They were wrong, the majority of the hoard eye actually headed for Denerim.
To make things worse, Riordan told them that a Grey Warden needed to die in order to kill the Archdemon.
"I'll do it." Aedan said, without hesitation and without forethought. Alistair glared at him, clearly not approving. Riordan told them that Aedan's offer wasn't necessary, that the blight wouldn't spare him for much longer and he would take the final blow. They fought pretty badly after that, leading to them sleeping separately for most of the night. Morrigan offered them a way out, and even though Aedan refused the offer, Alistair accepted. When it was over, Alistair felt guilty and ashamed. Aedan was half asleep when he crawled into their bed.
He kissed the back of Aedan's neck.
"I'm sorry." He whispered. Aedan turned and snuggled into him, his guilt multiplied tenfold. He didn't know how he was going to tell Aedan about this but he knew he couldn't watch Aedan die nor did he want to force Aedan you watch him die. He'd tell Aedan eventually, or maybe never. Despite his conscience troubles, he had no problems falling asleep. The battle went on for a long time, before they watched Riordan's death in horror. The battle against the Archdemon was worse, as Aedan had to turn the ballistas inwards to even hurt the Archdemon. And that took time and left him vulnerable.
When Aedan stunned him so that he could take the final blow, Alistair was stunned. It was one thing knowing that his husband wad stronger than he looked, it was another thing entirely to be on the receiving end of that punch. Alistair watched Aedan use Riordan's sword to slash the Archdemon's throat before driving it into the monster's head with a shout. Aedan didn't die but instead he was thrown back several feet and he hit a broken wall hard when the energy wave caused by the Archdemon's death followed a brilliant flash of light. The remaining Darkspawn fled, scattering. Alistair helped Aedan stand up once he could see.
Aedan stared at him for long minutes before speaking.
"Should I be jealous or amused that you slept with Morrigan?" Aedan asked.
"It was awful." Alistair said. Aedan snorted before laughing and then wincing.
"Think I hurt something. Even with armor, that hurt."
"Let's get you to Wynne then."
Aedan moaned, hanging his head as Alistair draped one arm across his shoulders and wrapped one of his around Aedan's waist.
"She's gonna lecture me again." Aedan whined. "Last time I got hurt, she lectured me for six hours about being more cautious."
"Can't be avoided. Maybe she'll go easy on you cause this wasn't your fault?"
They made their way back down from the top of Fort Drakon slowly. Aedan asking on several occasions for them to stop. Zevran thought that Aedan might have a few bruised ribs and a sprained ankle. Morgan was already gone, disappearing shortly after the blast. There was commotion when they finally got outside.
"Let me through! That's my little brother!"
Aedan's mouth opened in shock, and Alistair realized that this had to be Fergus. Aedan launched himself at his brother, holding onto him tightly and causing them both to fall to the ground.
"Fergus! You're alive! I knew you weren't dead, I knew it!" Aedan sobbed, and Alistair felt like an interloper in this family affair. Fergus held Arab and shut his eyes.
"It's okay now, Aedan. It's okay." He said, he was fighting the urge to cry himself it seemed. "I'm so proud of you."
Alistair was about to leave to get Wynne when Aedan's hand shot out, grabbed his wrist and forced him into the family huddle.
"Fergus, this is Alistair. We're married."
"I heard, you treat my brother right or I'll kill you."
"You'd have to wait in line, Aedan would kill me first." Aedan laughed and then moaned. "Let's get you to Wynne." Aedan wasn't lectured by Wynne, he was lectured by Fergus for twenty minutes before he took pity on the hurt man.
I found it really strange that Anora didn't know that Loghain planned to let Cailan die, especially considering her claim to have ruled in Cailan's stead and that she knew everything that was happening.
Chapter 8: Of Poisons and Antidotes
An assassination attempt on Alistair get the wrong target.
Alistair watched Aedan sleep. Aedan was heavily drugged to combat the extreme pain he was in. Someone tried to kill Aedan last night. Well, to be more accurate, someone tried to kill him last night. Aedan had been all laughter and smiles as he teased Alistair with the sandwiches of cheese, only to eat a few himself. Aedan was never really a big fan of cheeses, not like Alistair but Alistair knew it was in part to distract him from his work.
“Have you been sitting here all night?” Aedan asked. He frowned at the platter. “You didn't touch your snacks. I had them sent up over an hour ago.”
“I've gained weight.”
“Nonsense, you look amazing.” Alistair gave Aedan a look. Aedan sighed. “Okay, I've been feeding you more cause I'm jealous. You're surrounded by women most of the time and they're beautiful.”
Alistair stood and kissed him.
“And they all fawn over how much I love you. They think it’s adorable how I get tongue tied around you and how many times we kiss.” Aedan blinked, stunned.
Alistair kissed his forehead.
“They say that we bring out the best in one another. Eamon raised me, but you Aedan Therin have made me into the man I am. You're stuck with me, I'm afraid. No getting rid of me.”
“I'm yours as long as you'll have me, my sweet templar.” Aedan replied. “Now, I think you need a break, only a short one. Wouldn't want my love to wear himself out with this accursed paperwork. Its deadly, you know?”
Alistair kissed him.
“You're distracting me.” Aedan plucked a cheese sandwich off the platter and bit into it. His face scrunched up at the taste. “Not a cheese fan my sweet?”
“Alas, no. At least not this particular type. It was bitter.”
“Ah, that's the cheese Oghren sent. It's got Lye in it.”
“Yuck!” Aedan put the sandwich down and tried a different one. “Is it supposed to be so salty?” Aedan asked. Alistair had gone back to his paperwork and Aedan crossed his arms pout.
Aedan tried the different cheeses, curious about what Alistair found wonderful about them. This wasn't unusual for them. Aedan and Alistair did share food often enough that it was considered a couple’s quirk. Adorable in the eyes of visiting female dignitaries.
Aedan had gotten halfway through when his teasing stopped suddenly. Alistair knew immediately that something was wrong. Aedan was pale, clutching at his throat and breathing raggedly.
“Quiet Death.” Aedan managed to gasp. “Can't breathe!”
Quiet Death was a serious poison. Aedan was one of the few people who knew how to make it, but he never did except for once and he felt so badly about it, he’d tossed it into a lava pit in Orzammar. Aedan suffered for days in breathless agony before it was considered safe enough to dose him with something to dull the pain.
They were investigating how the poison got into the cheeses but they had little luck finding out who did it or which cheese actually was poisoned. Aedan’s health was still in decline, and Alistair was worried that Aedan might die. Fergus had been summoned and was due with any moment now.
“Aedan, please you can't leave me.” Alistair begged. “You have to live.”
Fergus burst into the room.
“Aedan!” He dropped to his knees. “What happened?”
“Someone tried to poison me but Aedan… Aedan was teasing me about the cheese sandwiches. They were poisoned. And Aedan… he got so sick, so fast.”
Fergus sobbed. Wynne explained later that there had been a lot of the poison used and only Aedan could tell them who he asked to bring the snacks. Aedan came out of his drugged state with a whine. “Aedan sweetheart, I know it hurts and I promise we'll give you something for the pain but we need your help.”
“Aedan, focus.” Alistair ordered gently. He felt terrible doing it but they needed help. “Did you make the sandwiches yourself or did someone make them for you?”
Aedan blinked at him. “Aedan, do you know where you are?” Aedan seemed to struggle.
“I… I can't remember!” Aedan said frantically.
“It’s okay, Aedan calm down. Just rest. Fergus, stay with him.”
Aedan whimpered and grabbed Alistair’s wrist.
“I'll go question the kitchen staff. Aedan needs you here.” Aedan clung to Alistair's hand and sobbed.
“You'll be okay sweetheart.” Alistair said. “Just keep focused on me, I'm not leaving you.”
“I'm scared.” Aedan said.
“I know honey. They're working on an antidote for you. It's almost ready. You just need to hold one a bit longer.”
The best spirit healers were working the the physicians to get an antidote for the poison in Aedan’s blood. Alistair was worried but he put on a brave face to keep Aedan calm.
“You're a terrible liar.” Aedan said. “I'm going to die, aren't I?”
“No! Wynne and the others are working on an antidote.”
Aedan smiled exhaustedly.
“I love you.” He whispered. “I want you to be happy, find love again, marry. Promise me you'll do all of that, Alistair.” Alistair broke down, kissing Aedan’s hand and sobbing. It wasn't fair of Aedan to wring such a promise from him at this moment. “Please, Alistair. I need to know you'll be okay when I'm gone.”
Alistair kissed the inside of Aedan's left wrist.
“I promise.” He said after a long pause. Aedan nodded.
“Thank you.” Alistair stayed with Aedan until Aedan was too weak to open his eyes anymore and could no longer swallow. Somehow, he thought they would have more time together than the brief two and a half years. One during the blight, two and a half months separated due to Aedan's duties as Warden Commander. The first year Alistair didn't count, they weren't together for all of it. Aedan changed his whole world with his appearance in Alistair’s life. How could he lose the only person that never once lied to or used him?
“We have the antidote!” Wynne said. “We'll need to administer it immediately.”
“He can't swallow.”
“I know. I thought that might be the case.” The antidote was put into a hollow tuber and Alistair blushed. Poor Aedan. They had sex often enough but this was cruel.
Six days later…
Aedan was out of danger now, resting peacefully with Alistair at his side. Aedan begged Alistair to hold him while he slept. Eamon and Fergus had yet to find the assassin or why it was done. Alistair left Aedan sleeping reluctantly. He'd almost lost the best thing that ever happened to him but he was going to find out who did it. He owed it to Aedan.