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It was another pointless occasion where Elyon had to tolerate the nobles of Amaranthine lounging around in his throne room and making smalltalk with him or trying to get him to do something for them. Elyon really admired how the Seneschal and Mistress Woolsey managed to keep on their polite smile and chat with them as if they hadn’t heard the pointed remarks or snide comments. He himself had to either fold his hands behind his back or hold onto a cup of wine to be able to stay polite and not show them the door. He knew how it was supposedly worse in Orlais, but he was a mage for Maker’s sake, he never had to deal with politics, and he didn’t exactly feel it a loss. But now, oh, now he had to listen to all these lies and smile, pretend he didn’t see their hypocrisy. He would much rather spend a month in the Deep Roads…

Elyon was talking to the daughter of one of the nobles, he failed to remember whose exactly. Well, talking was a strong word. Even though there was Nathaniel with him to translate if he wanted to say something, the both of them were just smiling and nodding along to a story about how she wanted to buy expensive fabrics from Tevinter but was tricked and… Elyon gave up actually listening around that point. Judging by his glassy eyes, Nathaniel did, too. He looked dead inside and Elyon could sympathize with that.

“Ah, Commander!” Lord Bensley stepped to them with a beaming smile when the woman – was it Lady Cowden, maybe? – took a breath between two sentences. She scowled at him, but he would have had no chances otherwise. “I’m honored to be in your presence! I am still humbled that you have saved my little Eileen! She is going to get married next month and her fiancé has been beside himself when he was informed of her abduction. He is in the Free Marches currently, but he too sends you his gratitude, my lord.”

‘Little Eileen’ was 18 years old. Elyon had been 16 when he was conscripted into the Wardens. Still, he smiled politely as the lord spoke, then turned to Nathaniel to sign to him, so he could interpret for him.

“There is no need for further thanking, Lord Bensley. The Commander says it was his pleasure to help your daughter, and his duty” Nathaniel translated easily, his voice polite and even, and Elyon wondered if he was trained to sound like this, being brought up as a noble.

“Ah, thank you, my lord!” Lord Bensley smiled happily at the Commander again. “It was such a shock to have her life in danger, so shortly before her wedding…”

“Speaking of which” Lady Cowden interrupted him, her voice sharp, clearly showing her disdain for being cut off earlier. She turned to the Commander and gave him a sickeningly sweet smile that was not heartfelt at all. “Have you considered marrying anytime soon, my lord? I’m sure there are many volunteers…”

“Oh, that’s a wonderful question!” Lord Bensley agreed, looking curiously at the Commander. “I’m sure the Vigil would benefit from having an arlessa!”

Elyon’s eyes widened at the question and he nearly choked. He collected himself quickly, however, forcing on a mostly neutral face as he looked at Nathaniel for help with only slight panic in his eyes. What was he even supposed to say to that? No, he had never considered the possibility of marriage at all, let alone now, when there was Varel… Did he have to marry? Would he be forced to? Could he possibly get a replacement for himself from the Anderfels wardens if that was the case? Did the rules of nobility even apply to wardens?

“The topic hasn’t come up yet” Nathaniel started explaining to the nobles, seeing his look of utter terror and understanding that he wasn’t going to get an answer out of his commander now. “While being an arl would demand an heir, the arling is now in the hand of the wardens and there are still some uncertainties about the heredity of it. Besides, the Commander is a private person and not many are privy to his personal affairs.”

Elyon smiled at the smooth way Nathaniel could handle such questions and situations. He must have been trained for this, he decided as he turned to him, there was no way he could have done that so easily.

Thank you for that. Now I have to go out, give them my apologies Elyon signed to him before he turned away from the nobles and headed for the door. He needed air, he needed to be alone and think.

Elyon didn’t stop until he reached the battlements. The patrolling guard was standing far enough for him to have an illusion of privacy. He leaned against the stone wall and looked over the courtyard of the Vigil, thinking about what had happened. It shouldn’t have upset him as much as it did, it was just a stupid question. After all, marriage was all nobles ever talked about, right? He hadn’t had much contact with nobility before, but that seemed to be the case. Ever since he had been in Amaranthine, he was listening to gossips about romances, marriage announcements, rumors of engagements and possible marriages… He was getting so sick of it and now they were trying to drag him into it. He was a mage, an elf and a warden, and they were still trying to drag him into it!

Well, there was at least one positive side to it. They didn’t seem to care that he was a mage and elf anymore. Being a warden seemed to stopped being a negative thing after the assault on Amaranthine.

Still, he felt something ugly twist in his guts as he thought about having to marry one of the noblewomen from the arling. He didn’t want to. He wouldn’t. Being an arl wasn’t his wish to begin with, he would sooner resign or hear his Calling…

The door behind him opened and he turned around to see who it was, eyes scanning for an escape route if it was one of the nobles, or Maker have mercy on him, Lady Cowden herself… But he saw Varel step out to the battlements, concern morphing into a gentle smile as he noticed the Commander standing there against the wall. The Seneschal closed the door behind himself and made his way to him, quickly looking around before pulling Elyon into his arms. The Commander rested his head against his chest and let Varel hold him.

“I saw the way you fled the room” Varel started after a few moments of silence. “What has happened? Has Lady Cowden upset you with something she said?” Varel inquired, and he was honestly curious what she could have said if this was the case. Elyon had faced an ancient, intelligent darkspawn, a crazed broodmother and a dragon, he wasn’t usually one to be upset so easily. He hadn’t even been fazed by the conspiracy against his life…

With a sigh, Elyon pulled back slightly to be able to sign, but stayed close enough to have Varel’s hands still around his waist.

It was her. She asked when I’m going to get an arlessa. I think she also volunteered.

Varel was surprised at first, but he couldn’t help but chuckle at the bitter face the Commander made while signing that last part. He then sighed and looked aside with a musing expression.

“Honestly, I’m surprised it took so long for them to bring this topic up. I’m pretty sure this has been eating away at them from the moment you arrived.” He then looked back at the Commander with a serious expression. “Do you want to marry?”

Elyon stared at Varel at that, thinking at first that his seneschal must have lost his mind to even think about asking that.

Silly. Of course not. I have you he motioned, giving him a hard look for good measure.

“That is sweet, dear” Varel smiled at him gently, cupping his face with hand and stroked his cheek. “But this has nothing to do with that.”

Of course it does! You know that I love you Elyon signed impatiently, frustrated at how Varel tried to talk politics with him. I don’t wish to marry a stranger. I just want to stay with you.

“I love you, too” Varel continued to smile, the slight bitter edge of his smile disappearing, easing into complete happiness. He leaned down to steal a quick kiss before continuing. “I’m so grateful you think this way, even though I wouldn’t blame you if you took a wife anyway. I’m old and not getting any younger…”

And? Elyon sighed in frustration. They had been over this. After that night when they had shared their first kiss, they discussed what they wanted from each other. The Seneschal worried about his age and Elyon declared that he didn’t care, full stop. I have the taint slowly spreading in me and making me die relatively young. A match made in heaven. Now enough of this stupid marriage talk.

Varel laughed at that, he really didn’t have anything against that – however said this fact made him. But instead of brooding about it, he let the Commander drag him down into another kiss. Hopefully his mood would lighten up enough that in a few minutes Varel could get him to come back to the nobles with him. It was rude to leave his guests alone, after all.