Sorrow and Silence
A story for lovers of dwarves and irascible older men.
Disclaimer: As usual, Adan and most characters are property of Bioware from their DA: Inquisition game. Zheevá is mine (pronounced zhee VA'). Some spoilers. Conversational spoilers. Some profanity. Romance.
The alchemist remained sitting on the stool, absolutely still with his face buried in his hands as the guards watched him. Disbelief and grief was visible on their own faces, clearly remembering the meaning of Cole's words even if they didn't really remember who said them. Cole remained standing, obviously continuing to try to "hear" his friends, then his eyes fixed on Adan sadly. "Maker, no, she can't be gone. You ask too much, how much more did you want from her? I forgot how to care then there she was…arse, rock licker, old bear. Maker, please, don't let it be true, I need her."
Cullen stepped through the milling troops, followed closely by a squad, stopping when he saw the alchemist with his head bent as Cole spoke his last few words. Then Adan seemed to hear the movement, raised his head and leapt to his feet when he caught sight of Cullen, fury and grief blazing as he pointed a finger at the Inquisition's commander.
"You! Bastard, you gave the orders that bloody well kept me trapped here, and now she's gone! You and everyone else, demanding more and more of her and now…" he broke off, unable to continue, hands clenched until his knuckles were white.
"I gave her my word you'd be kept safe, Adan."
"I should have sodding known." The dark-haired alchemist closed his eyes and took a deep breath before continuing in a quiet, pain-filled voice. "I want to see her body."
"There is no body."
"A piece of bridge gave way while they were fighting Corypheus's dragon. The Inquisitor, Lady Cassandra, Blackwall, Dorian, Stroud, and Hawke all fell. Several people saw the bridge crumble under them, then there was a flash of green light. But no bodies."
"How long will it take to clear the rubble?" Adan's voice was dull and his eyes didn't seem focused on anything.
"The rubble was under them as they fell, the bodies should have been on top of the rubble. We couldn't find any trace of any of them." Cullen spoke evenly, clearly torn between grief and hope himself.
Adan gaped then whirled toward Cole to find he was no longer standing where he'd been. "Shit. Of all the times for him to take a stroll."
Suddenly there was a stir in the crowd that had gathered around Cullen and the alchemist.
"Move your arses out of the way!" The familiar voice froze the entire crowd into silence, then several of the soldiers moved abruptly to the side as a small figure shoved them out of her way. Adan stared in disbelief at Zheevá, who stopped, hands resting cockily on her hips, apparently and nonchalantly unconscious of the blood and filth clinging to her armor as she smirked at the alchemist. Cullen watched emotions flash across his face rapidly as the silent crowd watched on, then Adan matched her stance, fists resting on his hips and glaring.
"You're back! And in one piece."
Zheevá grinned cockily and took a step closer. "What, and miss hearing you call me an arse, you cranky old codger?"
"Rocklicker." The tension in the crowd began to relax and more than a few soldiers clearly were fighting grins at the comforting familiarity of the pair's insults as they slow moved toward each other.
"Crotchety old bear." By this point they were standing almost toe-to-toe, the alchemist glaring down and the Inquisitor grinning back up cockily as Blackwall and Dorian stopped even trying to smother laughs, even if those laughs might have had more than a whiff of hysterical and profound relief to them. Then abruptly Adan dropped to his knees, wrapping his arms tightly around Zheevá, blood and all, to bury his face in her neck.
"Maker, I thought you were gone, you damned idiot, you'd better not ever do that to me again!" The dwarf wrapped her arms just as tightly around him, her eyes closing for a moment before unerringly meeting Cullen's, naked relief and gratitude in her eyes. Almost imperceptibly, he nodded, and, embarrassed, she buried her face in Adan's neck.
"Arse. Even a little stroll in the Fade isn't going to keep me from coming back to you. Who else is going to nursemaid me?"
"I am not a nursemaid!" Adan pulled back enough to see her face as he bellowed at her, then his mouth was covering hers before she could respond in a long, hard kiss to cheers and slightly hysterical laughter. Zheevá's hand came up to tangle in his beard as the kiss extended, then finally he released her. "But for you, maybe I can make an exception. Minx. Don't you ever scare me like that again."
"Just promise to keep welcoming me back like that." She grinned over her shoulder in the direction of her friends where even Cassandra was covering a grin. "We have a reputation to live up to, you know."
Adan snorted. "Arse." Then he buried his face in her neck again, whispering softly, "Dammit, woman, I love you, even if you do try to be a sodding hero."
Zheevá reached her room with a sigh, firmly pushing the door shut on the sounds of continuing celebration from the main hall below. Adan had slipped away almost an hour earlier with a whisper to join him when she could get away, but it felt as if everyone in Skyhold had wanted one last word with her. Not that she entirely blamed them; she was feeling a bit hysterically giddy herself, knowing that Corypheus was finally gone and his threat ended. But other than a brief moment when they managed to duck out of sight for a hurried hug and a peck of a kiss, she'd hardly had time to look in the alchemist's direction. In the end, Blackwall, Sera, and Dorian had started a bawdy, loud, drunken song that attracted the laughter and attention of the hall, allowing her to finally slip away, though she'd caught Sera and Dorian smirking at her as when she reached the door and glanced back.
Wearily, she trudged up the steps to find Adan sitting on the couch, a bottle and plate on the table between it and the fireplace, and thick wool blankets and furs piled beside him. The dwarf raised an eyebrow as she approached, a slow grin spreading. "Hmm, looks like you've been making plans."
"Thought you might want to celebrate a little more in private. Some perry to wash out the taste of those odd cakes the ambassador brought in and some real, plain food."
"As long as it isn't pickled eggs." He barked a laugh as her eyes challenged him. "And an old Fereldan bear to keep me warm?"
He grinned back as she levered herself onto the couch, straddling his lap before grabbing one of the heavy furs to wrap around both of them. "Well, I could go on to bed without you, but it'd be a lot warmer with you in there with me."
Zheevá leaned in to kiss him lightly on the cheek, hand tangled in his beard. "I need you here to keep me warm. Bed can wait a little longer."
Adan chuckled, then slid practiced fingers under the head wrap and flipped it onto the floor. "Time to be rid of that rag, then." He pulled her forward so her head rested on his shoulder, fingers running through the short blonde curls, stroking her hair with one hand as he held her with the other arm. They rested like that for several minutes in complete contentment, only the crackling of the fire and the faint sounds of celebration breaking the silence. Finally he leaned down to kiss the top of her head. "So, um, now what? Corypheus is dead."
"I might have noticed."
"Arse" She sat back a little so her green eyes met his thoughtful brown ones. "I meant, what are you going to do now?" He hesitated, then plunged on, "Are you staying or going or, well, if you are, what happens with us?"
"Us?" She seemed surprised by the question, and he sighed.
"Zheevá, I love you, you know that, I just want to know if we'll be together. I suppose if you want to…to go back to the Carta, it would be hard for me to…"
The dwarf began laughing, but it was a delighted sound as she pulled him closer to kiss the tip of his nose. "Old bear, what did I tell you at Adamant? Not even a walk in the Fade would keep me from coming back to you. Didn't I tell you what Nightmare taunted me with in the Fade?"
"No?" His hand cupped her cheek, puzzled relief in his face. "What?"
Suddenly it was her turn to be uncomfortable, staring down at his chest and he could feel how tensed up she was. "That I would die in the Fade and you'd never know how I felt. That I…I love you, you crotchety old bear." Reluctantly, almost embarrassedly, she raised her eyes to meet his. His fingers traced one of the scars on her face, a slow, genuine smile spread across his face as his fingers brushed across her lips, then he pulled her into a gentle hug and let silence be his answer.
I hope you enjoyed the ending, and I apologize for the delay (a combination of real life, waiting for Trespasser, and a debate on how to handle a couple of things.) Trespasser has inspired an epilogue, but won't be published until my other story, Saying Goodbye, is mostly finished.
Dear friends of mine are the inspiration for the flavor of Zheevá and Adan's relationship, a couple whose relationship took me years to begin to understand and appreciate.