This is going to be quite short – no longer than 2 or 3 chapters. The concept itself came to me while playing the game in the Fade, and some of the dialog ideas were graciously given to me by Chrissy Shepard (thank you for the inspiration!). I don't usually write very much romance dialog in my stories, so it might come across as rather...insipid from time to time, so please bear with me!
(Alistair has to have a high approval rating but has yet not made any obvious romantic overtures to the Warden for this sequence of events to make sense.) The event itself takes place while the Warden (in this instance – Dalish Elf origin) and her companions are trapped in the Fade by the Sloth demon. She has to free her companions from its hold, and after freeing Sten and Wynne, she runs into a rather embarrassing alternative to Alistair's "nightmare".
Sten had been easier to convince than Wynne. Perhaps it was because he was Qunari, or perhaps it was simply because they had known one another longer and Quinn knew which sensibilities to appeal to. Either way, she was quickly losing patience with this wretched place. Her irritability was not lost on Wynne, and it took a great deal of forbearance on her part to remain level-headed when dealing with Sten.
She stepped towards the ethereal Fade pedestal and growled at the back of her throat. She would have to deal with Alistair next. Given the senior Warden's more trusting nature, he was a stark contrast to his other companions and could prove more difficult to persuade. Still, she had to try. An unhealthy green-black fog swirled about her and she shut her eyes to this alien yet now-familiar phenomenon. An acrid odour wafted through her nose. Its quick dissipation – in all but memory – signaled to her that she had now been transported to a different island.
She opened her eyes and began to descend down a slight hill. Reaching its foot, she realized that she was unconsciously wielding her greatsword in one hand. Conflict over conversation had suddenly become her preferred choice. She was ready to strike first and explain later.
The Elf walked up to a homestead, quite pleasant in appearance, and gazed curiously into the garden therein – hoping to spot her fellow Grey Warden. Several fruit trees were in blossom, and their scent beckoned to her. Quinn willed her mind to remember the unnatural sour stench of the Fade portals and quickly curtailed any longings to remain here. She made her way into the garden and spotted some movement to her right. A woman toiled amidst rows of potatoes, saw Quinn and rose up smiling to greet her.
"Hello," she called, wiping traces of dirt and good soil on an old apron. "I don't think I've seen you here before."
"You haven't." responded Quinn abruptly. "Where is he?"
"Where is who?"
Quinn huffed impatiently. "Look. All niceties aside – I know this is some twisted version of the Fade, you're a demon and you've...you've ensorcelled my friend and I'm here to get him back."
The woman laughed. It was oddly pleasant. And friendly. "I don't know what you're talking about, friend. It's obvious that your journey has been a lengthy one. And judging from the wear on your...attire, you would like some rest. Come inside and I'll see if I can provide a reprieve worthy of your labour."
"I didn't hack my way through your five – whatever it is you like to call them...demonic kingpins – just to stop in for tea and cake." She stared defiantly at the woman. "I am here for my friend. Now I will ask you one more time – where is Alistair?"
"Oh, Alistair? You know my brother then?" The woman maintained her friendly demeanor, much to Quinn's growing annoyance. "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Goldanna, and I – "
Quinn snorted and brushed the woman aside. She walked down the well-crafted garden path and into the cottage inside. She shoved the door open and stepped within its threshold.
"Alistair! Where are you?" she called out impatiently. She muttered under her breath as she roughly looked in through several rooms of the house. Having found no trace of him, she backtracked through a narrow corridor only to run into Goldanna.
"I was trying to tell you – he's quite busy at the moment. Why don't you come back later?" She held Quinn's arm – gentle yet firm and began to lead her towards the front door.
Quinn's gaze rested on Goldanna's face for a lengthy moment. She narrowed her eyes and jerked her arm back. She stalked her way through to the back of the cottage and gazed through a window at the rear garden.
He was sitting on a garden bench, but he wasn't alone. His face looked oddly relaxed and happy. He seemed...what's the word she was searching for – carefree. His eyes remained fixed on the woman before him, the face of whom was turned away from her. He held this woman's hands in his and seemed to struggle to say something.
Heart-beating a little faster than she would have liked nor anticipated, Quinn made as if to step outside before a powerful arm grasped her shoulder and yanked her back. Instinctively, Quinn swung her sword at this new hindrance and struck at Goldanna's apparition. The demon wailed for a fraction of a second and then scattered into a dusty vapour. She waved a free hand in front of her to clear the smoky air. She was getting rather good at demon-vanquishing. Well, at least in the Fade, she thought ironically. We've got to embrace the small victories.
She stepped quietly into the garden and made her way forward to eavesdrop on this new turn of events. She concealed herself behind the trunk of a large oak tree. Why all the stealth and secrecy, she asked herself? It is just another apparition – kill it and be done with it! But who is this woman he has grown so enamoured of? And who is she to him?
Quinn held her breath and listened.
"I know –" Alistair's voice broke and he abruptly cleared his throat, "I know we haven't known each other a very long time and it might seem strange to say this but I have come to...care for you. A great deal. Maybe it's because of all the things we went through together. I don't know. But I...well, I need to know if there's a chance that you feel the same way. Or if I'm simply fooling myself. Am I? Fooling myself? Or do you think that you might feel the same way about me?"
His object of affection paused, and Quinn listened with nervous anticipation.
"I already do, Alistair. I have loved you since the moment I first clapped eyes on you."
That voice! Quinn choked and struggled to contain her surprise and horror. The voice was her own. She steadied herself against the tree and continued to eavesdrop.
"Alistair...I believe that we were fated to meet. The Maker led me to you, of this I have no doubt. All this fighting and strife, it was but a path to you."
Fated to meet? mouthed Quinn silently. A path to you? She didn't believe in fate nor did she believe in the Chantry's conjured deity.
"So you do…? You –" ventured Alistair.
Quinn watched as her doppelganger placed a finger on Alistair's lips. "Love you. Yes. And I always will."
He leaned in close and drew her to him. The kiss was a long one, and Quinn watched on – guiltily aware of her dreadful fascination. She shook her head to dismiss her conscience. You're not a voyeur if you're watching your own...well, whatever the heck this is.
"Maker's breath, but you're beautiful." he said as he drew back. "I have to confess, I was completely nervous about asking you. A bit of a blubbering wreck actually. I kept waiting for the perfect moment, the perfect words. And I never thought I would find it."
"We're here now, my love."
"I wish we could stay here forever. I have...never been so at peace before in my life. I thought – I thought I had found a fragment of belonging when I joined the Grey Wardens, but being here with you and my family... Nothing I could have imagined could have compared to this."
Behind the tree, Quinn clenched her fists. I don't know. I can imagine a few things.
"And now that we're here," began her other self, "And because of the peace we've found...need we go back to the war? Battles will always need to be fought somewhere, but why is it always ours to fight? The blight is being quelled by numerous Orlesian Wardens. Two more or two less Wardens would not make a difference."
He paused and looked away. Quinn quickly ducked back into cover.
"I...yes, I suppose you're right. I am tired. Of all the fighting. And I don't want to risk losing you. I want a home. A life and a family."
"A family?" came the other voice that was now foreign to her despite having her own tone. "Is this a...proposal, Alistair?"
"It most definitely can be. If you want it."
Stop this madness! cried Quinn silently. Everything is moving too fast! She felt humiliated and violated. Is this how Alistair had imagined her? Or worse, wanted her to be?
"Oh I don't know. It would depend on how big a family you'd like. I've always dreamed of a large one. Three boys and three girls."
"That...that sounds perfect."
"I've even thought of a few names. Jonathan for the eldest boy, David for the middle, and Alistair Junior for the youngest."
"You have given this a great a deal of thought." He sounded a little surprised.
"Sarah, Ruth and Ellen for our girls. You know," she placed a hand on Alistair's knee and began to squeeze it suggestively. "We could get started on that family now if you like."
He spluttered. "I...now? Here? In the garden?"
"Wouldn't it be better if we...well, waited?"
"I have you with me here. Now. I don't want to waste a precious second without you."
"I don't suppose there's anything wrong with that," he conceded.
"Right! This is getting quite maudlin!" Quinn shouted, no longer able to contain herself. She relinquished her hiding place angrily and stomped towards the bizarre pair, an indignant forefinger held up in the air.
She stood before them and looked back and forth from each face at an unexpected loss for words.
Alistair started in surprise. He scrutinized this new development with his mouth ajar. "You have...a twin?" he exclaimed.
"A twin?!" yelped Quinn, her voice unnaturally shrill. "All this time we spent fighting darkspawn and demons and...and other things, and you can't tell the difference between me and this – this cheap imitation?!"
"Ye-ees...my sister!" stammered Quinn's image, "this is Estelle. My twin who now resides in...Orlais. She must have suddenly decided to come home." She turned to the real Quinn. "Estelle, dear, mother sent you to our clan in Orlais to recover from your illness. But it seems that your sojourn there has not made you well. It seems to have hastened your symptoms."
"You perverted little...hussy!" Quinn turned to Alistair. "And you! Don't tell me you can't tell the difference between her and me!"
"I – I don't know..." Alistair's face fell into various expressions of confusion. He looked between the two Quinns.
"Not the physical differences! By the Goddess, you're ready to believe anyone, aren't you?" Quinn raised a pair of frustrated fists in the air. "The Queen of Antiva could bat her eyes your way and you'd be conceited enough to think that she had simply fallen in love with you – no questions asked. You men – Shemlen or Elf – all the same. You're all the same. You give a woman little credit. You think I'd fling myself amorously about like this little Jezebel?"
A slow realization began to dawn on Alistair's features. "But if you're you, then who is –"
"I'm your beloved, Alistair," began the other Quinn, her voice quite plaintive.
"Quiet, demon!" shouted Quinn. She pointed her weapon at her adversary and held her at bay with it.
"Hey, you can't talk to her like that!" protested Alistair.
Quinn was furious and took a deep breath to rein in her anger. "Alistair. Stop for a minute and think. What were you doing before this place? Do you remember the abominations in the Circle Tower? Do you remember the sloth demon? Do you remember him putting us all to sleep – under his spell?"
He reflected on this for a moment. "Yes. I remember Wynne. She was telling us to resist and fight its influence. Are...you saying that this isn't real?"
Alistair looked down at his boots. "Then, this has the potential to be seriously...awkward. Doesn't it?"
Quinn's silence was response enough.
Alistair too remained speechless for a few seconds. But then suddenly, the words came tumbling out."I don't suppose I could convince you that when I fell under the demon's spell, and I uh...may have cracked my skull on impact with the floor and this...hallucination is but one of many completely random imaginings that have nothing to do with my subconscious desires...? And that if you pop over to another place, you'll see my equally random fantasy of dressing up as an Orlesian chamber maid?"
"That would be reaching."
"Let me leave with a shred of my dignity. Please?"
"Look," said Quinn, her tone finally softening, "I don't give a flying fig about what you've been dreaming about – whether this involves me or not. I really don't. Let's just kill this demonic version of me and get you out of here."
He looked puzzled and a little hurt. "I – okay. But I have to ask you a question,"
"What is it?"
"If you're in such a hurry to be out of this place, why were you spying on me? Why did you listen in? I mean, why wait?"
Quinn opened her mouth as if to answer. Why indeed? she asked herself. She shut her mouth. And then she suddenly grew tired and irritable once again. She glared at Alistair for a long moment and then sliced through her apparition in response. The creature disappeared in a puff of smoke.
They stared at the now-empty spot in silence. Alistair shuffled from foot to foot. Eventually he couldn't stand it anymore. "You didn't answer my question, you know. Why did you wait?"
"Because I wanted to assess the situation! You can't just go charging in on a whim, you know!"
A broad grin spread across his face. "Were you jealous?"
She sputtered and shook her head. "Jealous? Of what?"
"The other woman." He said it slowly, carefully enunciating each word.
"The other woman was me! How could I be jealous of me? I'm not envious of myself! How could I be envious of myself?!"
"Methinks you doth protest too much." His smile had yet to disappear.
"You shouldn't be glib right now. You have so lost the right to be glib. You've lost many rights today. The first being the right to speak to me. The only thing standing between you and a damned good slugging is a sloth demon. So help me kill him or you're next."