|Of Whoresons and Nobles
Author: Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness PM
Love is no more than another tool in an assassin's repertoire, a charade to trick and deceive and murder, but even a Crow such as he was defenceless when faced with the real thing. Zevran-centric PoV, M!Cousland/ZevranRated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Zevran A. & Cousland - Chapters: 41 - Words: 159,995 - Reviews: 507 - Favs: 262 - Follows: 271 - Updated: 05-13-13 - Published: 06-07-10 - id: 6031831
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Bioware owns all, I earn nothing.
WARNING: This story has TWO MEN FALLING IN LOVE WITH EACH OTHER AND EXPRESSING SEMI-HEALTHY DESIRE FOR EACH OTHER'S BODIES. If you don't like homoerotic romance PLEASE BACK OFF! If that kind of thing makes you go start praying at the porcelain gods in a hurry, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Please exit quietly using the "Back" button, thank you. Please note that if you decide to continue, we do not supply brain bleach, so bring your bleach brand of choice before your eyes start drifting further. Thank you for your cooperation, and have a nice day.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to SiaLater for catching my errors and telling me how to tame them.
Of Whoresons and Nobles
It took a great deal of willpower to not succumb to the panic threatening to overwhelm him.
Arl Eamon's estate was in an uproar. The Warden's absence when they returned with Queen Anora had not gone unnoticed, and reactions to his voluntary surrender ranged from disbelief to outrage. Alistair was appalled that the Warden would even do that, although his not-so-friendly glares at Anora suggested that he was already blaming someone for that.
Zevran had remained silent while Anora and Eamon discussed the Warden's plight – and therefore had learned where the Warden might be imprisoned – before he had slipped away during the chaos resulting from a roaring drunk Oghren running off to fetch his armour and weapons while slurring about rescuing the Warden with a straight-up attack on Fort Drakon.
A long bath washed away the grime and blood, but did nothing to calm him. He had sat in the oversized copper tub – a tub that was large enough to accommodate the Warden's massive build, and had indeed been brought out for the Warden's use – and found himself staring at the ceiling as his imagination swamped him with images of the Warden in chains, bruised, battered, being whipped and beaten, treated to such exquisite pain and agony that... that...
The images haunted him while he dried himself and put on his clothes, chased him while he retreated to somewhere where no one could see how greatly disturbed he felt.
How he was clinging to professional calm by his fingernails as the torrent of fear and dread lashed against him.
The library in Arl Eamon's estate was, thankfully, deserted, and he found himself pacing up and down a shadowy aisle, surrounded by books and solitude as he wrestled with the foolish compulsion to follow Oghren's reckless, insane example and rush to the Warden's rescue.
It took time, a long time, before his legs started to ache and his mind quieted enough that he could think.
He wasn't too worried about the Warden's life. Not yet, anyway. His impression of Loghain, as well as what he'd learned from Eamon and Anora's discussion, told him that while the man may be mad, he was too wily to actually execute the Warden while the Queen – his only solid, legitimate excuse to wield his powers as Regent – remained in the hands of his foes. The Warden might be interrogated and tortured, yes – and the thought made him queasy – but they won't kill him, not if Loghain wanted to secure his political clout. So while Queen Anora remained safely ensconced in Eamon's estate, they had the advantage; at least, for the time being. Loghain may choose to risk actually attacking Eamon to "rescue" the Queen by force. Which meant that if the Warden was to be rescued, it had to be done quickly.
… but how could he accomplish that?
He sighed, closing his eyes and combed a hand through still-damp hair, fingers firmly running over his scalp and then lightly tugging on his hair. The gentle, tingling rush of blood to his scalp calmed him somewhat; he suddenly understood why the Warden had this particular nervous tic.
He did not quite jump a foot in the air; his body did jerk, however, and he winced as he accidentally pulled too hard and managed to tug a few hairs out of his scalp. Rubbing the stinging ache, he turned in time to see Leliana walk past his aisle and spot him.
The worried expression on her face collapsed into relief. "There you are. I've been looking all over for you."
The smirk on his face and the reply on his tongue was instant and instinctive. "Oh? Looking for company? I knew you wouldn't resist my good looks for very long."
Months ago, the salacious tone in his voice would had made Leliana splutter and protest. This time, all she did was raise a brow and a corner of her mouth before she spoke, her voice deliberately casual: "I had hoped you have not left the estate. Thank the Maker I found you in time."
Amused by the blatant lack of acknowledgement, he leaned against the wall and crossed his arms. "Now what makes you think I'll be doing something like that?"
Both of her eyebrows raised. "Don't tell me you weren't thinking of going to rescue the Warden on your own. We both would know you'd be lying."
His blinked. Felt his face blank as he faked a casual shrug. "The Warden can take care of himself. He might even be finding his own way out even as we speak."
"Perhaps. But you'll go there anyway."
Her statement, spoken with calm sureness, prickled at his temper; largely because it was true. "I don't see how this is any of your concern."
She shrugged, her smile calm and serene. "Maybe I simply don't like seeing my friends in trouble."
"It's still none of your concern."
Her smile remained in place, but her eyes grew chilly and hard. "Do you really that it's easy to break into a fortress full of soldiers, alone? With no one watching your back, or helping you if you run into trouble? If you're going to rescue the Warden, I'm going with you too." Before he could think of any reply to that, she took the large roll of vellum pinned under her arm and waved it. "Either way, I believe you might be interested in looking at this. Consider it... mmm, compensation for letting me follow you."
He gave her a narrow-eyed look, toyed with the idea of insisting that she keep her nose out of this, and then shrugged. He supposed there was no harm in letting her help, if she so wished; and truth to be told, she brought up several very important concerns. That, and he was too tired to bother arguing. "Very well. Let's see what you have to offer."
Her expression brightened. "Thank you," she said. "You won't regret this, I promise."
We'll see. "You were about to show me...?"
She smiled, sauntering over to the closest empty table, and unrolled the vellum over the aged wood, revealing...
He blinked. Stared. "Where did you get this?"
"I'd been speaking with Erlina. She... err, let slip that Eamon may have charts like these in his study. So I borrowed this for a while." She ran her hand over the detailed architectural plans of Fort Drakon. "I don't think the arl would mind, if he found out what we are using it for. Assuming he even missed it in the first place."
He glanced at her, wondering why in the Maker's name would Leliana be speaking to the queen's clearly-more-than-just-a-handmaiden, but he had a suspicion that she would evade the question if asked. "Erlina is a very useful person to have around," he said carefully.
"She is that."
He made a noncommittal grunt at her cheerfully vague answer, and decided that there wasn't really any point learning what made Erlina so useful in the first place. He planted his hands on the table, focusing his attention on the charts and diagrams. The architect who drew these plans was very thorough; even the smallest rooms were detailed in, the names of each room labelled in a clear, precise hand. It was easy enough to identify the dungeon, built behind the kennels.
The longer he studied the plans, the darker his frown grew. Whoever designed the fortress was a brilliant and apparently paranoid genius; everything recorded about the fortress' structure suggested that it was built to be impregnable, and he couldn't find any sort of vulnerability that he could easily exploit. "This... might be something of a challenge."
Leliana let out a frustrated sigh. "I was afraid of that." At that remark, he glanced up, raising a brow in question. Her lips twisted into a wry smile. "I took a quick peek at the charts before I want looking for you. I'd hoped that you might see a path where I could not."
He snorted. "No matter. It simply means that forcing our way in might be a little too risky. Exciting, but risky. A little subterfuge, however, can get us in with a lot less trouble. Here." He pointed at a doorway marked as Servant's Entrance. "Fewer guards would be posted here, I think, and it's placed rather close to the dungeons; quite a fine coincidence."
"Or a deliberate choice," Leliana said, grimacing. "I imagine the dungeons have torture equipment, and those would require a lot of cleaning very often, no?"
An image of the Warden tied to a rack, bruised and bloodied and screaming in pain as the joints of his limbs were slowly ripped apart, flashed in his mind. He felt his body tense as old memories rose to the surface of his thoughts, reminding him of how the Crows used to torture their disobedient recruits, remembered the the cries of terror, the helplessness, the pain...
With a pang of black fear and a bark of false laughter, he chased the thoughts away. He cannot, would not, think of such things. Not when he needed to be calm. "True. Still, it's convenient for the two of us, regardless of the reason for the placement. We can sneak through the living quarters here, across the courtyard here"–what kind of idiot puts ballistae in the middle of a fortress?–"and then head straight for the dungeons."
Leliana made a moue. "Easy enough. But what reason would the guard let an Orlesian woman and an Antivan elf into the fortress?"
"We will also need a good reason to keep our weapons and armour."
"That, too." She shrugged. "I haven't thought that far yet, to be honest."
A thoughtful silence fell as they pondered this particular set of dilemmas. Zevran stared at the map, mindful of the fact that the longer they did nothing, the less time they had before Loghain made his move, and the Warden would be killed. He felt his chest tighten, a cold hard stone settling low in his stomach, and his hands clenched into fists, crumpling the vellum beneath them. The Warden may try to break out of Fort Drakon on his own, of course; the intent was clear in the gaze that they shared before parting in the late Howe's estate.
But making the assumption that the Warden would successfully find his way out of Fort Drakon and back to Arl Eamon's estate... Zevran didn't like the risks involved. Even if the Warden was not incapacitated to the point of helplessness, he would have a hard time fighting or even sneaking his way out of a guard-filled fortress with Maker-knows-what injuries. Then there's the problem of navigating the dizzying, dangerous maze of Denerim's streets on his own, exposed to any sharp-eyed bandit or mercenary who recognised him and wanted to claim the bounty on his head, or even to simply take advantage of a lone, injured man...
No. Too many risks, too many dangers. Zevran couldn't let that happen.
The pitter-patter of clawed feet on hard stone snapped him out of his thoughts, made him raise his head. Anlan's large, hulking form appeared from behind a bookcase, and the dog slunk towards them, head and ears drooping. Catching slight of Zevran, Anlan approached him, made a plaintive, questioning whine.
As if the dog expects me to say something. He sighed, pushing himself away from the table and kneeling down. "Looking for your master, hm?" he murmured, hand rising to scratch behind Anlan's ear as the dog came within reach. "I'm afraid we haven't brought him back yet."
Somehow Anlan managed to look even more depressed, despite the limits of its canine face. Unsure of how to comfort a sad dog – and a frighteningly intelligent dog at that – Zevran looked up at Leliana, wanting to ask...
… except Leliana was staring at Anlan, her eyes wide and her mouth open, as if startled.
Zevran watched as she slowly blinked, and then those bright blue eyes turned towards him, while her lips curved into a mischievous, delighted smile.
"I have an idea."
Leliana's idea, as it turned out, was truly brilliant in its simplicity and ease of execution. It took only a moment for the both of them to find Eamon's cook and convince her to hand over two large sack of beef bones. In less than an hour after that, they were both armed, armoured, and in Fort Drakon, awaiting the captain of the guard.
"Food for the dogs," he murmured with a grin. "I sometimes forget, Fereldens do love their pet hounds."
Leliana smiled. She looked more than a little smug. "See, I told you this would work."
He shrugged. "I prefer sneaking my way past things, to be honest. Talking is not my strong point. Although I'm hoping this captain would be fairly oblivious." He glanced at the bow still strapped to Leliana's back, feeling well aware of the weight of his own dagger and axe. "No servant would be carrying around weapons and armour, like we are doing."
"Perhaps we're just a pair of very low-ranking recruits forced to do menial tasks to please our own captain," she said brightly. "Not to worry. I can handle the captain."
"Of course," he said, with a tiny little smile of amusement. "But I'll keep a knife handy, just in case."
Leliana raised an eyebrow at that, but any forthcoming reply was interrupted by the distinct sound of shifting chain-mail. They turned as one, just as an irritable-looking man with slightly better armour than the earlier pair of guards approached them.
"All right," he said, sounding just as grumpy as he looked, "what's this about?"
Someone's feeling impatient today, Zevran thought, at the same time Leliana spoke, in her most convincing eager-to-please-recruit voice: "Making a delivery, captain."
The captain's scowl darkened as he looked askance at their armour. Which, Zevran realised somewhat belatedly, looked nothing like the standard-issue armour that guardsmen would wear. When he gave Zevran's obviously-elven face a suspicious look, however, Zevran had to force his face into a blank, if mostly bored, expression, like a man who was only here because he was forced to. Whatever the captain's thoughts on elves were, it didn't matter, as long as he let them into the fortress. Zevan had more pressing matters to attend to than to deal with some foolish idiot's racism.
The captain's eyes narrowed, but if he had any doubts about their credibility, he chose to say nothing. "I wasn't notified about this," he growled, glaring at the sacks of bones.
Leliana's smile was the right mixture of placating, unsure, and wryly amused, designed to invoke sympathy. "It was a little spur-of-the-moment, I admit," she said, her tone apologetic. "Cook at the royal palace had a lot of soup bones left over and wanted to send them to the dogs here."
"... Table scraps?" The captain's face wavered between disbelief, outrage, and disgust, before eventually settling on an in-between expression that looked like he was constipating in a badly-maintained privy. "Oh, Maker." Zevran could almost hear the "They called me here just to waste my time checking on a pair of wet-behind-the-ears recruits making a menial delivery?" in the captain's head, and he coughed to hide the laugh threatening to gurgle out of his throat. Leliana just shrugged and spread her arms helplessly, as if saying "Well, here we are, and your guardsmen insisted..."
The captain gave her a long-suffering look, but eventually rolled his eyes skywards, his lips moving in a silent prayer. Or maybe a curse. Zevran suspected that it was the latter. "... fine," he sighed, before he turned and almost stomped his way to where the two guards were standing, gargoyle-like, beside the servant's entrance. "Take them to the kennel," he snapped, making them both jump, and he was past them before they could react with more than an perfunctory "Yes, ser!".
Zevran and Leliana both waited until the captain's grumbling faded out of earshot before they picked up the bags and heading towards the entrance. "No need to guide us," Leliana said with a cheery smile at the guard who'd called for the captain earlier. "We know the way."
"Uh... of course," the guard said, sounding a little stunned.
Leliana's smile deepened, and Zevran watched, amused, as she laid a hand on the guard's armoured chest, and leaned in far too close to be called 'polite'. "Later, perhaps, you may give me a private tour of this place," she all but purred, making the poor sap redden slightly, lips twitching as if he wanted to smile despite himself.
"Err... I might be able to find time for that, yes."
Leliana beamed, winking at him, and then she breezily swept past the door, Zevran following closely behind her.
It was only after they'd strode some distance away from the guards (far enough that he could no longer hear the other guard enviously teasing his comrade) that Zevran gave in to the urge to snicker. "Nice touch," he said. Spotting a decorative statue in a corner – one of those ridiculous, shield-holding statues that seem so common in Tevinter architecture – he trotted over to it, eager to be rid of the bag of bones. "You do realise that we might have to kill him later, when we break out with the Warden, hm?"
"Mmm." Leliana's face was serene as she trailed after him. "I suppose it's unfortunate, but the last thing we both need is to have him follow us, no? And what faster way to distract a man than to use his lustful nature against him?"
"Speaks the voice of experience," Zevran said, and Leliana chuckled, unperturbed. He shoved the bag past the small space by the statue's feet, letting it drop out of sight to the cranny formed by the corner and the large pedestal. "I must say, dear woman, I rather like this change in you."
"That's nice, but I'm not sleeping with you."
The quick reply – and the teasing glance that she gave him as she walked past him – made him grin as he leaned one shoulder against the wall. Ah, so she wants to play this game. "Oh, I can think of many other things we can do other than sleep," he said, voice dripping with obscene suggestion.
She raised her brows. "Oh? Then let's see what's in those trousers. I like to make informed decisions, after all."
He had assumed that she would simply dismiss him, as she always had. The unexpected repartee make him bark out a delighted laugh. "That's rather saucy of you, isn't it?" he teased, waggling his brows. "You really have changed."
"Yes, yes." Leliana's tone was sharp, impatient. "I don't see those trousers coming down, however, do I?"
It took a moment for him to realise just how serious her expression had become, as if she... He blinked. "Err... you just want me to show you? Right here?"
"Why not?" She stared at him. "Aren't you the shameless lothario you claim to be? There are rumours about you elves and I intend to see them proven untrue before I even consider a tumble."
He blinked again. The question to ask just what exactly those rumours were hovered on the tip of this tongue, but he recognised a verbal trap when he saw one. He'd attempted to bait her, but she'd returned the favour tenfold, and... well, there were some things that even he didn't think was wise to do. Like dropping his trousers in the middle of a hostile area. "On second thought, perhaps you've travelled to an awkward place where I dare nor follow..."
Leliana smiled, brilliantly. "I thought as much."
He glared, narrow-eyed, but she only laughed and shrugged. Cheeky woman. Conceding that she'd won this round, he gave her a thin-lipped smile as he pushed himself off the wall and strode past her. "Mmm... enough dallying, I think. The Warden isn't going to claw his way out of prison on his own."
He heard Leliana giggle behind him. He pretended that it never happened.
As it turned out, there was one good use for ballistae in the middle of a fortress. He wasn't sure what the value of that statue was, but he did think that it looked better without its head. The Tevinter weren't renowned for their ability to create pretty things, after all.
Still, he did feel a little miffed about the method used to remove aforementioned head. "Did you really have to do that?" he muttered, giving Leliana a narrow-eyed glare. "My ears are still ringing."
"You were taking too long."
"I was two sentences away from persuading that guardswoman away from her post–"
"I don't think we'll be able to talk our way past anyone back here," Leliana commented, looking around. "Hopefully there aren't too many guards around. Things might get a little messy, otherwise."
She shrugged. "As I said, you were taking too long. Really, Zevran, I expected you to be more urgent about this. Especially when it's your beloved's life at stake here."
Whatever annoyance he had felt simply... vanished, as his mind stuttered to a halt. "He's not my–" His tongue froze, that one word sticking in his throat as a part of him adamantly refused to even admit that aloud. "It's not like that."
"Oh?" She raised her eyebrows. "From what I've seen, it is very much like 'that' between the two of you."
Annoyance flared. "Are you sure your eyes are working properly, Leliana? Perhaps you've injured them, somehow, and you aren't seeing things clearly."
"I'll have you know that I can land an arrow on a target that's two hundred paces away," she retorted. "You are the one that is blind, and wilfully at that. Anyone with a working head on their shoulders can see that you are in love with the Warden, and he is in love with you."
His head was already shaking before he even realised it, and his mouth had opened to speak, but a shout of alarm told him that they were spotted. The luckless guards were under-trained, thankfully, and stood no chance against a man and a woman who were both very efficient – if differently skilled – killers. He wasn't even out of breath when he bent down to wipe his weapons clean on a tunic and said, "The Warden and I simply have an arrangement of convenience. Nothing more."
"You talk as if you are trying to convince yourself that you believe in that," she said, pulling an arrow out of a fallen guard's throat, sending a spray of blood splattering on the floor.
"There's nothing to convince me about," he said flatly, "because it is true."
"Then you are a fool for thinking that," she said. Her tone was calm, almost gentle. And her gaze was... sad? Pitying? "He only ever had eyes for you, Zevran. I've seen all sorts of emotional games played out in Orlais and Ferelden; what the Warden feels for you is strong enough that he does a very poor job of masking it, and he is a very skilled player."
He snorted. "You make it sound as if it's so easy to just..." He waved his hand in a vague, all-encompassing gesture. "... let things be. That sentiment is just a simple thing."
She shrugged. "Sometimes, love really is just that simple. You are making it more complicated than it has to be."
That word again. Love. He felt his muscles tense, his skin prickle, as the instinct to run screamed in his head.
A Crow has no use for sentiment.
But he was a Crow no longer, wasn't he? He was free. Free to do whatever he wanted.
Free to feel however he wanted.
And yet... he didn't know if what he felt for the Warden was indeed what Leliana seemed to think it was. He didn't even know how to make head or tail of the tangled skein of emotions that rolled over him where the Warden was concerned.
Zevran sighed, suddenly weary. "Enough. We're making no progress here, and we have more pressing matters to attend to."
Leliana stared at him for a little while, her eyes narrowed, but she eventually shrugged again, and nodded. "Very well. We'll talk later."
Assuming I even want to talk about this later. Restraining himself from rolling his eyes – it was a childish act, and he was a child no longer – he fell in step with Leliana and ventured further into the dungeon.
They encountered very few guards, and what resistance they ran into was dealt with swiftly and ruthlessly. Leliana had no real love for people who took part in or even simply allowed torture – he couldn't be sure, but he suspected that there was a personal reason for her deep hatred of torture – and as for Zevran... images of the Warden's broken body lying on a rack lent a deadly edge to his attacks, and he knew his face was the cold, hard mask of a man pushed beyond fear and anger into a dark place where nothing mattered except finding the Warden safe and sound.
And then, suddenly, they were there, in the dungeon itself, and he could see that two of the cells were occupied. Which held his Warden, he couldn't tell.
He saw the jail keeper rush at him, and his lips twisted in a vicious mockery of a smile as he met the attack. One, two, three heartbeats, and the keeper lay dead at his feet.
His forearms were soaked in blood, and he knew more of the stuff had splattered all over him. Leliana, too, had some blood over her, a result of having to occasionally fight dirty when she didn't have time to use her bow. He imagined that they made quite an unnerving image as he opened the door of the closest occupied cell and swung the door open.
The Warden was sitting on the floor of the cell, his back propped up by the wall. His eyes were closed, his head bowed as if asleep. Or dead.
But when the door swung open to bang against the side of the cell, that head lifted, and the Warden's eyes opened to stare at them, his face blank and devoid of any emotion.
Zevran's eyes swept over the Warden's body. The guards had removed all clothes and armour, leaving him in his loincloth. There was bruising, ugly patches of colour over the hard planes of his face and body, and his lip was puffy, with a wicked split that did not look entirely dry. His wrists and ankles bore the too-familiar chafe marks of heavy shackles. But there were no odd bends or twists, and the eyes that stared at them were bright and clear.
Relief crashed into him, sweeping away the ugly ball of fear that had been sitting low in his belly, leaving him almost numb. He felt a brief spurt of anger – if the Warden was fine, why didn't he try to escape? – but it was quickly overwhelmed, and Zevran was left feeling... wrung out. He did not quite fall against the side of the door and sag, but he did have to force his knees to lock themselves before they gave out under him.
"There you are!" Leliana's tone was light and cheerful – only the unusual roughness of her voice showed that she had been truly worried before. "Follow me. The arl is waiting for us."
The corners of the Warden's lips twitched as he slowly stood up, and then he was striding towards them, only just slightly unsteady on his feet.
"Took you long enough." His voice sounded harsh and dry, as if he had gone for hours without water. "I think that the guards have my things locked in a chest somewhere, Leliana. Can you fetch them for me?" His lips twisted in a wry smirk, forcing a little trickle of blood out of the split. "I'd hate to run through enemy territory stark naked. The weather is too chilly for that sort of thing."
"Of course!" Leliana stared at the Warden for a little while longer, her eyes wide and oddly shiny, before she smiled and turned away, presumably to look for the Warden's equipment.
Zevran's attention immediately shifted, fixed on the man that was suddenly standing inches away from him, close enough that he had to tilt his head back for their eyes to meet.
"... well." Zevran pulled up his best cocky grin, leaning back so he can support himself on the frame of the door, and tuned his voice to the best flippant tone he could muster. "It seems like we got here in time. You don't look very good." Still, better than I expected.
The Warden shrugged. "Could be worse. I'm lucky that they were more interested in executing me than beating any information out of me." His eyes narrowed. "The guards didn't prove too difficult, did they?"
Zevran's grin widened as he raised his arms up. "I'm unharmed."
The Warden said nothing for a while, his still-narrowed eyes roaming over Zevran, studying, inspecting. Looking for injuries, he realised, and he saw the moment where the hard tension in the Warden's frame eased.
He was worried for me.
The thought made his heart stop, and then start hammering in his chest. Suddenly he was aware that they were standing close, too close, enough that he could feel the heat radiating off the Warden's body. The urge to flatten himself against the solid wall of muscle in front of him was almost overwhelming; he wanted to cover the bruises and cuts and scrapes that he could see with his hands, and then his lips.
He wanted to ease the discomfort that he was sure the Warden felt, and distract him with an entirely different sort of discomfort.
More than that, he wanted to reclaim every inch of skin that was touched by hands other than his own, because the Warden was his, and his alone.
Swallowing past a too-tight throat, he found himself staring at the trickle of blood by the Warden's lip. His hand was halfway raised before he realised that he'd moved, fingers itching to wipe away that ribbon of red –
A hand closed around his. Gripped it gently, but firmly.
"I don't think you'll want to touch me while I'm bleeding," the Warden said softly.
Zevran blinked, and jerked his arm back, reclaiming his hand. "Well, you don't look very presentable right now, and you need to see the Arl, no?" He intended the remark to be flippant; the rough-edged, almost angry growl of his voice startled him.
The Warden laughed softly. "I promise I'll clean up before I go to see Eamon. After I catch up with whatever has been happening while I was down here..." One of the Warden's eyes closed in a slow, deliberate wink, his lips curving ever so slightly. "Then you're free to touch me wherever you want... however you want."
The slow, soft croon of the Warden's voice felt like a tangible, too-warm thing curling around his insides, and Zevran had to fight to suppress a shiver at the clear invitation in the Warden's eyes.
Then his mind finally processed the actual words he'd heard, and he frowned. Surely not... "Are you offering what I think you're offering?"
The Warden blinked, slowly, and his expression was perfectly innocent – the sort that could only be worn by people who really weren't. "... Maybe." That innocence was broken by a too-wide grin, and the Warden stepped back. "But we'll talk later. There are some pressing matters to attend to, and this place is wicked cold."
And that was how Zevran found himself staring at a wall as the Warden walked to where Leliana was crouching beside an open chest, fussing over a jumbled mess of armour and items.
You're free to touch me wherever you want... however you want.
Zevran closed his eyes and thumped his head back against the door frame behind him, a rueful chuckle threatening to wiggle out of his throat. He wasn't entirely sure if the Warden really did just mean what those words sounded like, but... the invitation in those sharp eyes, and the vague, lightly taunting answer.
The sneaky bastard was baiting him. Again. Unsurprising, all things considered, and consistent with the Warden's general behaviour, but there was that offer...
Oh, they'd done many things over the past few months. Many creative, pleasurable things. But there was always one particular line that Zevran haven't crossed, and the Warden had said nothing to indicate that he wanted...
Why now? What changed?
His mind circled around the questions. And came up with nothing.
We'll talk later.
… Well. Zevran supposed that there was no harm in talking. And if the Warden insisted in examining some things that Zevran would rather not acknowledge... he'd deal with that hurdle when he came to it.
For now, though, he needed to whisk the Warden away to somewhere safe. He reached back, withdrew his dagger, and knew that a hard smile was twisting his lips even as he jauntily twirled the blade in his fingers.
There would be resistance while they escaped, and he would welcome it. These fools would pay for hurting what was his.
~to be continued~
A/N: I would like to repeat, in case anyone is afraid that I'd abandoned this, that I WILL finish OWaN. It'll just take some time. Some of you who might be following my deviantART page (the link to that can be found on my author's profile page) will know that I've been stupid busy. I do write, but progress is slow. Rather like moss growing.
For those who have followed so far, thank you for your patience, and I'm happy that you are still keeping my work on your alert list!