Chapter 1: Lowtown
The sheets had been clean when he arrived, laundered somewhere outside of Lowtown he suspected, otherwise they would not have been so white and crisp. The linens at Hawke’s hoity-toity manor were just as pristine and he wondered briefly if Merrill had asked Orana for tips, or if perhaps there were some kind of blood magic spells for cleaning. He shook the latter thought out of his mind, embarrassed he’d had it. Surely blood would just make things worse.
But the sheets were clean, though they didn’t stay that way. It was a long walk from the Deep Roads, and under his Warden blues he was sweating and dirty. He thought she’d want him to take a bath since padding and plate could only keep out so much of the filth. But as soon as his armor was haphazardly balanced on a rickety chair she slipped her lithe arms around his shoulders and pulled him into her bedroom, eager and deceptively strong.
"I like getting a little dirty sometimes," she chirped, and Carver had no objections.
But that was hours ago and the stamina he thought he'd developed from years of hard training was utterly depleted. He was sure he'd satisfied her, after the third time he even asked, but Merrill had only laughed, kissed him sweetly, and assured him of his prowess before telling him she was ready for more.
When he was too exhausted to mount her again, she eased him onto his back on the damp sheets, nimbly climbing atop him. In the low candlelight her body was flushed pink, sweat rolling down her collarbone in rivulets to travel the soft curve of her small breasts on the path to her flat belly. He lifted his hand to stroke her, catching her taut pink nipple between his fingers and squeezing it just hard enough to make her shiver.
"You shouldn't stay away so long," Merrill said, her tone chiding. "I get so very lonesome here in Lowtown, all by myself. You don’t want me to be lonesome, do you?"
"Of course not." The force in Carver's voice died when she slid forward to straddle his broad chest, running her hands over his shoulders. "But the Wardens," he said helplessly as he stroked her thigh.
"I don't think that's a very good excuse," Merrill said, her face drawing into a cute pout. She sighed, resting back on her arms. "You still aren't ready, are you?"
"Merrill, love, I won't be ready again for a week at this rate." He gripped her hips gently, giving them a squeeze. "You aren't trying to cripple me so I can't go back, are you? " he asked, teasing her warily. She pouted again, and he sat up enough to press his lips to hers, groaning at the urgency in her kiss. "You still want more? Come here then."
Carver stretched out on the bed again, propping his head up with her pillow. He eased her forward until she had to slide her legs on either side of his head. Though he was certain his cock would not rise to the occasion again tonight, he still felt that electric thrill while she positioned herself above his face. He lowered her until her skin was flush with his, her folds parted and wet just over his lips, so all it took was opening his mouth to taste her.
Briefly he tried to watch her as he ran his tongue back and forth, teasing the stiff nub of her clit just long enough to make her squirm in delight before sliding his tongue back to push it into her. He couldn't delve in as deep as he could with his cock, but he made up for that with tenacity. Within moments she was shuddering above him, pushing herself down harder, riding his tongue until he was lost in the scent and the taste and the delicious heat between her legs.
Merrill pulled away from him just long enough to catch her breath, then moved back over his head.
"Maker’s blood, how many more times do you--?"
"One for every night you weren't here and I dearly wished you were."
Through the exhaustion there was still excitement, trickling down his spine with the sweat and Deep Roads dirt. When she pressed herself to his lips again, her clit so swollen and tender that the smallest lick sent her writhing, Carver felt his cock start to slowly stiffen, proving without a doubt that he reveled in service.
By morning, the sheets would be beyond hope of ever being clean again.
Chapter 2: The Hanged Man
"No underclothes!" Isabela exclaimed, half drunk, half triumphant, but entirely pleased. "I knew you didn't wear any! I can always tell, you know." Isabela tossed her cards onto the table. "I know lots of things."
"Of course you do." Fenris sat across from Isabela, appearing comfortable despite not wearing a lick of clothing. A faint smile ghosted over his lips when Isabela looked him over appraisingly, the grin on her face sly and just a little lewd.
"I know that you didn’t actually come here to lose at Wicked Grace. For that you would have brought coin, and we'd play in the bar rather than this cramped little room of mine." Isabela eyed him, waiting for a tell. "In fact, if I didn't know better, I would think you were hoping to better me so I'd be the one sitting here, naked as a misbehaving sailor.”
“A misbehaving sailor?” The dubious rise in his deep voice was tempered by his smile as he leaned over the table, folding his arms over one another.
“When you captain a ship for as long as I have, you learn to get creative.” Reaching out, Isabela touched his arm with one finger, trailing it gently across the swirl of his tattoo. “If rationing the rum doesn’t work, sending them to the crow’s nest in the altogether usually does.” Smirking, she sat back and crossed her arms under her breasts. “It’s probably for the best that you weren’t one of my crew.”
“And why is that?”
“Because I would have run out of reasons to punish you far too early.”
Fenris chuckled and sat back on the chair, mirroring her posture by crossing his arms. “It would seem the Crow’s Nest would be too high up for you to enjoy the view. Or do you sit on the deck with a spyglass?”
“You know it,” she said, getting to her feet. He watched her as she rounded the table, closing in on him where he sat. He shifted in his chair, appearing as though the rough-hewn wood was the only thing uncomfortable about his lack of clothing. “Let’s get to the point, shall we? You’re naked, I could be naked. All you need do is say the word, and we can stop pretending to be civilized and fuck like wild animals.”
He swallowed, his ears twitched, and a faint ripple of light rushed down his body. When he met her eyes, his were vulnerable and feverish, and she realized every glance, every smile, had been leading up to this.
“And what word is that?”
“Any bloody word you want.” She leaned in to kiss him and in a frenzy of motion they came together, gripping, pressing, grinding, and desperately pulling Isabela out of her clothes.
He fucked her on the table, the deck of cards scattered on the floor in their haste.
Chapter 3: Ferelden Outskirts
Outside, the rain came in sheets from a black sky, tamping down summer dust into summer mud, leaving puddles in sinkholes on overworn roads. The few horses that remained in Ferelden were in danger of losing shoes to the sucking muck, and more than one traveller found herself with a boot full of sludge. Travelers who knew Fereldan weather descended on taverns before the sky began to darken, and by dusk there was not a single room for rent in the whole of the Kingdom.
On the outskirts, past The Hinterlands yet not over the Frostback Mountains, an elf undressed while watching rain sluice down outside his room. The rear facing window cast a rectangle of warm light onto the rain-slicked ground behind the Inn, and as Ziya Surana unclasped the jeweled collar of his robes, he thanked the Maker that he was indoors.
There was much to thank Him for, though prayers for an absent God always struck Ziya as pointless. The shelter, the meal, and the fortune to have made quick time was all worthy of thanks, but the warm, familiar hands running down his sides to rest on his hips nearly inspired him to fall to his knees--though perhaps not in prayer.
"Is there something on your mind?" Alistair asked as he wrapped his arms around Ziya's hips and drew him near, the well muscled wall of his torso flush with Ziya's back. "You have that look on your face again."
"Which look would that be?" Relaxing back against him, Ziya crossed his arms over Alistair's, fingers moving slow over scarred forearms and strong, calloused hands. Alistair rested his cheek against Ziya's and rocked on the balls of his feet. Together they watched the blackened world outside their room flash into intense whiteness before disappearing again into the dark.
"The one that means you're thinking about something troubling," he responded, releasing Ziya when he stepped away, an easy, unbidden smile forming on his face. He brushed a wild strand of dark, curly hair from Ziya's brow before leaning down to kiss it. "The one that means you're up to something."
"Do you think the Maker sees us?" Ziya asked, his bright eyes aglow in the candlelight.
"All the time? I certainly hope not." He grinned in a way he always thought of as rakish, but Ziya saw as endearingly silly. "The Chantry says the Maker has gone from us," he said, more soberly. "But we still ask for the Maker to watch over us, so it's anyone's guess, really. Why do you ask, my dear?"
"Just feeling particularly blessed, is all."
"You're just trying to make me blush, aren't you?" While bending to kiss him, light and slow, Alistair finished the job Ziya started by pulling his robes up his legs, bunching them at his sides, and tugging them over his head when they parted. Ziya's skin was dark and warm, and Alistair drew him close again, lips to his forehead, fingers buried in his curly hair. "It's working."
The bed was small, not meant for two, but there was just enough room for Alistair to lower Ziya onto it and climb over him, to lean down and kiss familiar lips, to run his hands down the well-traveled contours of his body, over the ridge of his collarbone and the rise of his ribs to rest on his soft belly.
"You are getting fat as a Feastday goose," Alistair said, his tone teasing but kind as he gave Ziya's belly a squeeze, getting a good grip on the soft plumpness that had settled there after the Blight was over. He leaned again to kiss him, stopped by the firm pressure of hands on his chest.
"You would not say that were I a woman," Ziya said, frowning when Alistair captured his hands and moved them to the side so he could meet his lips. There was tenderness in the slow press of Alistair's mouth, of his tongue seeking, of one hand gravitating to Ziya's neck to slide behind his head and cradle it. Ziya forgave easily, and closed his eyes, lips parted, pulse thundering in his ears as Alistair moved to kiss his ear.
"There are few things I would not do were you a woman." He dropped his lips to his jawline, pressing firmly. "I would still tease you. You turn the prettiest shade of red when you think I'm serious."
Ziya lifted his hand to stroke Alistair's cheek, wrapping the other arm around his broad shoulders. He grunted lightly when Alistair nuzzled to his neck, breath warm, the prickle of whiskers scraping in a ticklish way. "You're getting a beard," he said, brushing his thumb over his scruffy jaw, admiring the look of alarm of Alistair's face when he sat back and immediately lifted a hand to his chin.
"Huh, so I am." Deep in thought, he stroked his face, running his hand up his cheek and over his chin. "I keep forgetting to shave. What do you think; is it horrible?"
"Not in the least." Ziya kissed his cheek and nuzzled the prickly hair. "Maybe you could grow it out a little more and people won't recognize you as the bastard Prince of Ferelden."
"A problem, your highness?"
"You are just asking to be left alone for the night."
“I may be asking for something, but it’s certainly not that,” Ziya said, grinning and sly, running his hands down Alistair’s firm chest to the furrow where his hip met his groin.
“Mm, but it’s late.”
“We need to travel early in the morning if we hope to get to Orlais.”
“You don’t think I’d really say no, do you?” he asked warmly, dipping his head to place a soft kiss to Ziya’s collarbone. “You are beautiful.” Another kiss, lower, on his sternum. “And despite all the trouble you give me, I love you.” Another on his belly, just above his belly button, where the dark trail of thin hair started and worked its way down into his smallclothes. Ziya tossed his head back onto the flat pillow with a gasp when Alistair’s lips moved over his smalls, light, but warm and present.
“I have been...with a lot of people...” Ziya said slowly, swallowing hard at the cool air on his bare skin, at the play of Alistair’s fingertips over his thigh.
“As you keep reminding me,” Alistair said, his nose wrinkled.
“But you are the only one that makes me feel...” Alistair’s lips brushed his hip and a shiver rolled down his spine. He shifted, lifted his hips and spread his legs more as Alistair’s hand grazed his inner thigh. “Unbelievable.” He finished.
“I bet you say that to all the bastard Princes you bed.” Teasing, he moved up to kiss him. There was salve on his fingers and it was cool between Ziya’s legs, but the hot, insistent press of Alistair’s cock, and the fullness, and the closeness, and the weight of his body pushing down made up for it. He was unbearably earnest, watching Ziya’s eyes, the motion of his hips steady but slow, one hand cradling Ziya’s head, the other bracing himself against the bed. Their bodies fit together like mold and cast, emptiness filled and abundance accepted, Alistair still as tentative, still as careful, as he had been when it begun, though Ziya had long since proven he was unbreakable.
Outside, the storm refused to let up. Rivers swelled, and animals living on the banks of lakes were driven from flooded burrows. But in the tavern on the outskirts of Ferelden, Alistair Theirin and Ziya Surana were riding out the storm, madly, hopelessly in love.
Chapter 4: Amaranthine
At Vigil’s Keep, Theron Mahariel drummed his fingers while the Seneschal went over yet another tedious list of grievances from the nearby Bannorns. Someone’s cow had gone barren, so he accused his neighbor of blood magic. Someone’s crops had failed, so she accused her neighbor of salting her fields. By the time the Seneschal reached the section detailing how to approach a spate of petty theft in Amaranthine City, a restlessness had flooded through Theron like a summer storm, leaving him driven to motion.
“Do what you think is best,” Theron said, then stood and left the table.
He found Anders in the dining room, leaning against the long, wooden table as he held a conversation with Sigrun. Theron did not bother to discern what they were talking about, instead grabbing the ring that clasped on Anders’ stomach, holding the sash around his waist, and yanking him towards the stairs.
“Oh, I seem to be going somewhere,” he said with a laugh. “Sorry Sirgun, we'll talk later!" Anders allowed himself to be led, putting an arm around Theron’s shoulder once they were out of sight.
"You have the best timing, love. Sigrun was telling me what nug tastes like--do you want to know? "
"No." Theron scrunched his nose, still holding to Anders’ sash as he led him up a flight of stairs.
"Neither did I, but I didn’t get a choice. I'll be thinking about how crunchy they are every time I eat." Anders stopped and Theron, unable to make up for the difference in their body weight with momentum, did as well. “As much as I appreciate escaping that conversation, I would like to know what’s going on.”
Theron released Anders and leaned on the wall across from him, standing poised between steps. He tilted his head skyward, closing his eyes, rolling his neck and holding it in one awkward position to stretch it. When he opened his eyes again they were warm and steady, pale green shaded in the dim stairwell. “I can’t take being Arl for another moment, not today.” He beckoned, and Anders closed the small distance between them to press his lips firmly against Theron’s forehead. “If I’m going to run away from my responsibilities, I’m taking you with me.”
“Are you, then?” Anders brushed wild strands of deep red hair out of Theron’s face, tucking them behind his tapered ear. He then stroked the length of that ear to the tip, smiling warmly when it twitched against his fingers, flushing pink. “Where are we running off to this time?”
“Just the roof,” said Theron, distracted by the gentle play of Anders’ fingers over his ear. “I just want a few moments,” he murmured. Anders pinched the tip of his ear and rubbed it between his fingers. “Maybe more than a few.”
"I bet if I rub your ears for another two minutes I could get a whole day out of you." Anders slid his hand down to stroke Theron's cheek, studying his pale eyes. "How long for a marriage proposal?"
Theron chuckled low on his throat, pushing himself flush to Anders. “Five and I’m yours all night and halfway into the morning.” On his toes, Theron wrapped his arms around Anders’ shoulders and nuzzled into the curve of his neck. "Six and I’m yours right here,” he added, whispering, his lips brushing feather light across his throat.
“And here I thought my days of clandestine meetings in stairwells were over.” With little difficulty, Anders scooped Theron into his arms, letting him brace his back against the wall for stability. “I could fuck you right here,” he whispered, his breath warm on Theron’s ear. "All I need is to get your trousers off and I could have you just like this." With the tip of his tongue he traced his earlobe until he felt the shudder start at the base of Theron’s spine. "You'd like that, wouldn't you?"
“Everyone would hear.” Theron tilted back his head when Anders kissed his neck, clutching to his shoulders as warmth washed away his restlessness. He met Anders' lips, kissing him soundly while he entertained the idea.
“You think they’d be jealous?”
“Embarrassed, more likely. Scandalized by the Warden-Commander’s lack of decorum.” Theron kissed him again before unhooking his legs from around Anders’ slim hips and sliding down the wall to his feet. “My rooms aren’t far, or did you still want to go to the roof?”
"You lead," he said with a smile.
On the roof there was a covered alcove where Theron had stashed bedrolls and blankets when he first came to the Keep. Though he was now comfortable enough with Anders at his side to sleep in the Warden-Commander’s rooms, he kept them up there for sleepless nights and days when he needed the illusion of solitude. After the few minutes it took to unroll the mats and toss a blanket on top of them, Theron settled into Anders’ lap, deft fingers working the clasp at his throat.
“You never answered my question,” Anders said, and slipped his hands up the back of Theron’s shirt. Theron released him long enough to squirm out of it, his expression contented as Anders ran his nails lightly down his spine.
"What question was that?" Anders slid his hands around Theron’s waist to reach his laces, brushing against his half hard cock in the process, distracting himself from his ultimate goal. Theron's breath hitched when Anders cupped him through his trousers, massaging, coaxing.
"How long do I have to rub your ears for a marriage proposal?" Anders teased. Theron’s eyes fluttered shut and he rolled his hips forward, pushing his cock more firmly into Anders' hand, rocking into his palm. “Ten minutes? Fifteen? I have good hands, love. I could keep it up all day if I have to.”
“You think they’d even let us in the door?" Dropping his hands from the jeweled clasp that held together Anders' pauldrons, Theron unlaced his trousers just enough for Anders to slip his hand between the fabric and his heated skin. "A Dalish and an apostate--they'd laugh us out of town."
Anders licked his fingertips before wrapping his hand around Theron’s cock, his eyes on Theron’s face, watching his lips part in silent delight when he brushed a wet finger in a slow circle around the swollen head. "It's a pretty thought though," he said, firmly pressing his hand to the middle of Theron's back when he jerked forward, his hips moving of their own accord. Theron snaked his arms around Anders’ neck, reaching up to untie the leather tie that held Anders’ hair back.
"Perhaps." With closed eyes and a contented sigh, Theron buried his face into the crook of Anders' neck, combing out his dirty blond hair with his fingers. "It's your fantasy, not mine."
"That’s unkind of you," Anders said softly, tilting his head enough to kiss Theron lightly on the cheek, still stroking his cock in slow, measured rhythm.
"I'm sorry," he said, his voice tinged with genuine remorse, though it was caught behind thick gasps. "I don't mean to--" Anders tightened his grip and Theron groaned, grabbing a fistful of Anders' hair.
“I know, love,” he whispered, nuzzling against Theron’s ear. “Would you though?”
Without thought, without the old trepidation, without the worries about clan and race, without anything but Anders’ affection and the warmth of the sun on his back, Theron nodded, his nose pressing into Anders’ neck.
“Yes,” he said, breathless, and Anders released his cock, moving to cup his cheek instead to guide his face up for a kiss.
With the sun in his eyes and a foolish smile plastered onto his face, Anders pulled Theron atop of him on the bedrolls, burying his fingers in his long hair and resting their foreheads together. “That you would is enough, love.” He stroked down Theron’s sides, dropping his hand at his hip to cup his hard cock, giving it a long stroke. “Now put this to use and do what you came up here for,” he said with a grin, laughing sweetly when Theron growled and shoved his arms over his head.
They kissed again, Theron mounting Anders while holding his hands above his head, his firm grip keeping them still, releasing him only when he needed his hands to guide his cock inside Anders' ass. Once he was deep in him, rocking slow and gently, tasting the desire on Anders' tongue, and hearing it in every sucking hiss and ineffectively held back moan, Theron understood the appeal of Anders being his, even if he didn't believe in the Maker.
The stars were out before they were ready to go back inside, lighting their little nest with cold blue light that felt warm despite the Amaranthine chill.