AN: I'd like to thank Aeowyn99 and The Invisible Pretender for reviewing Tears of the Nightingale. Both of you inspired a bit of this tale and gave me ideas for future projects. Plus, Aeowyn is an AMAZING writer. Go check her stuff out.
Now, let us conclude this tale of everyone's favorite little Nightingale. Enjoy and hopefully all the shattered hearts I left in the wake of TofN will be mended.
Corypheus had been defeated. Thedas was no longer in turmoil and everyone could finally sit down and breathe. The Inquisition had been branded a heroic organization, and the Inquisitor a divine heroine guided by Andraste's very hands.
Now, the Inquisition would celebrate their victory and survival of impossible odds. The Iron Bull and his Chargers cheered and drank; Josephine walked around with razor sharp eyes, making sure all the guests were well; Sera and Blackwall were having a drinking contest while Varric and Dorian placed bets, the Inquisitor vigilant of her beloved elf as she watched Sera drain yet another mug of ale; Vivienne chatted with some nobles of Orlais, retelling the strength the mighty Inquisition possessed; and Cassandra and Cullen conversed about the importance of keeping a blade well-oiled and sharp while not causing any damage to it. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the festivities.
Everyone except a certain heartbroken, empty red-headed woman.
Leliana was perched on the window in which Vivienne called home. The balcony offered a good view of Skyhold's courtyard. The same place where her lover, the Hero of Fereldan, had been burned months ago. Leliana had not attended the ceremony that would take the soul of the love of her life to the Maker; the pain and sorrow were too great.
She reached inside her coat and withdrew an old envelope, the same one Alixon Cousland had left for the spymaster before...
Before she died.
Leliana had been stripped away of the only thing she loved, cared for, that infamous day. News quickly spread of the Hero's fate, and while Thedas mourned a heroic woman, Sister Nightingale mourned the loss of her life.
Staring at the envelope in her hands, she closed her eyes, feeling the wind tickle her smooth face as she read the letter in her mind. So many times had that letter been read, the words were a litany for the former bard.
"Pain, sorrow, loss. Why did she leave me? Why did she break her promise?"
The words startled the spymaster, a rarity considering her craft. She turned and saw Cole, his large hat slopped to one side as his hair obscured the majority of his forehead and eyes. His expression was a mirror of what Leliana was feeling inside.
"She said she would stay," Cole continued. "She promised we'd be together. Warm, smooth lips holding the promise."
Leliana was no longer the sharp-tongued woman she once was. Her shoulders drooped and her sky blue eyes no longer shone with her mischievous glint or inquisitive gleam. She was nothing more than a shell of her former self.
"You were loud." Cole said when he met silence. "I want to help."
"You make people forget, Cole. I don't want to forget her. Not ever." Leliana's dull eyes hovered over the envelope still in her hands before looking up at Cole again.
"But it's so great. Why would you not want to forget?"
"I can barely stand the pain, it is true. But I enjoy the memories I have of her, of us. I would rather endure the endless sorrow than forget Alixon."
She turned back to face the courtyard, a sign the conversation was over. She did not know why she had trusted Cole with such feelings; she no longer trusted anyone. She hoped he wouldn't go telling everyone how she felt.
"Finding, seeking. Such a long journey. I must find you. Tell you the truth. Taste your sweet, sweet lips. The scent of Andraste's Grace..."
Leliana's eyes widened. She turned to face Cole, only to see him walking away from her, toward the main level. As she walked after him, her heart beating with trepidation.
"Cole, what do you feel?" She asked urgently.
"Soft, small hands leaving a heated trail. Warm, hot kisses. Is she here? I need to know!" Cole merely replies, his stride quickening into a run.
The spymaster chased after him, unwanted yet needed hope filling her chest. What was she doing? How stubborn could she be? Alixon's dead. Nothing will bring her back.
She stopped running when she reached the threshold to the courtyard, standing atop the winding, stone staircase. Cole kept running, ran to the gates where Leliana lost sight of him.
She had been foolish. How could she have thought that Alixon would come searching for her? Alixon was nothing more than ashes and mere memories.
She sighed and turned back to the entrance of the fortress, the music overwhelming the bard. Without giving another glance back at the gates, Leliana began her way back inside. She would have to inform the Inquisitor that Cole took off running.
She stiffened as her name reached her ears, the voice being carried by the wind. She dared not turn around, lest her world crumble once more. Her name was called out once more, sending chills down her spine, causing goosebumps on her pale skin.
I will not turn. There isn't anything to see. My mind is simply so wounded that I am now hallucinating. Yes, that's-
Armored arms wrapped around her waist in a tight embrace from behind, her own armor protecting her from the sharpness of the other, much heavier armor. Her nose was overwhelmed with the scent of leather and sweat, with that underlying scent that belonged only to one person. She was tugged, spun around to face a ghost.
She gasped as she took in the features of the woman standing before her, gripping her waist tightly. The figure's left eye was covered with a dirty cloth that wrapped around their head, a deep scar ran down the same eye to her chin. Her dark, long hair was ungroomed, giving the woman a wild look. Her right eye, however, was what called forth the spy. Emerald green looked into her cerulean ones, the stare so deep Leliana felt her soul being watched through that green eye. Chapped lips slowly formed into that oh so lovely grin that only Leliana knew.
Those lips crashed into her own, sending a jolt down to her abdomen. At first, she was still, not moving. But when a warm, delicious tongue passed over lips that had sobbed for so long, Leliana wrapped her arms around the woman's neck as tears rolled down her face.
The kiss lasted for a moment and an eternity. Unspoken questions were asked as they slowly pulled away, the need for air rising.
"How...? Is... Is this a dream? Will I wake up any moment crying alone in my chambers?" Leliana whispered.
She was drawn in once more, this kiss shorter but no less passionate. "You will never be alone again, Leli."
The two women were so enthralled with each other they had not noticed the crowd that had formed.
"It's the Hero of Fereldan! Lady Cousland!"
As the crowd gasped and ooh-ed and ahh-ed, Alixon leaned closer to her lover. "Perhaps a more private place would be better. There is...much to discuss, my love."
"Leliana, listen." The warrior spoke once the door was shut behind them. They had taken refuge in Leliana's chambers. "I want-"
A gloved hand covered Cousland's lips, silencing her. Crystalline eyes looked deep into her own green emerald, the former swirling with passion.
"I thought you were dead." Leliana began. "I saw your body burn. I have needed your touch, your presence since you left for your search. Right now, I need you."
Alixon needed no more indication. She pounced at the lithe spymaster, kissing her deeply as she wrapped her arms tightly around Leliana's waist. Familiar hands roamed as they removed armor, piece by piece.
With the armor and clothes of both women now scattered on the floor, Alixon laid her lover on the bed. She stopped a moment to take in the curves and valleys of her beloved, while also noting some changes. Her figure was much skinnier, her skin a shade paler. But still her lover was a beautiful sight after so many years of yearning her.
Alixon moved to Leliana's neck, lavishing it with kisses and love bites. She took her time, wanting to imprint once more the spymaster's body in her mind. She explored further south as her lover writhed in pleasure.
Finally, she reached Leliana's core. Without hesitation, her tongue explored and savored its favorite flavor. Leliana's hands moved to her lover's head, clutching to her as she moved Alixon closer to her body. Before long, a wave of fluid hit Alixon's lips as Leliana cried out her lover's name. Alixon savored the moment, feeling whole once again after so many years.
When she realized Leliana had no more to give, she crawled back up to face the sweaty spymaster.
"I... needed you for so long." Leliana breathed, her chest rising and falling as she caught her breath.
"I must explain what happened, love. I... I know you thought me dead, for I myself thought the same. In my search, I met a group of people. They... they were not of Thedas, but of a different land. They said they had been watching us and knew of all the ailments that befell Thedosian people, including the Blight.
"When I told them I was Tainted as a Grey Warden, they gasped before taking me with them with a promise to cure me. But... It wasn't true. I was to be their experiment, a way to learn of such an illness. When we reached their settlement, I was taken to a ritual site, as they called it. They were to cure me there. Instead, I was subjected to... to much torture.
"My eye... they removed it to see if sight was affected. When I could stand the pain no longer, I begged for them to let me write a letter to someone, so that they may know that I had died, for I was sure death would be my fate."
Leliana embraced the warrior fiercely, wanting to protect Alixon from everything in the world. Alixon continued her tale after placing a quick yet tender kiss on Leliana's forehead.
"They left a body in my stead, another Grey Warden who had the same unfortunate fate of crossing paths with those people. The face was unrecognizable, but I told them to leave some of my belongings near the body."
"Your box." Leliana said. It was not a question, merely an affirmation.
Alixon nodded slowly before continuing. "One day, someone arrived. He seemed to be the ruler of those people, for they all bowed to him. When he saw me, bruised and bloody as I was, he grew furious, for her did not condone such acts, he told the people. He ordered them to release me and to cure me."
"So the Taint..."
Alixon smiled. "I am no longer Tainted by the Blight. I have a normal lifespan now, love."
Leliana squealed as she jumped on top of Alixon, her joy and sadness and all of her feelings being put to light in that moment. She lathered the warrior with kisses full of joy as tears of happiness rolled down her cheeks. In that moment, Leliana felt like that careless girl she once was many years ago. She felt free.
Alixon laughed through the onslaught, something she hadn't done in such a long time. She also cried, for the future she had in mind for the both of them would be possible. They would be able to be together forever.
"I have never heard such better news." Leliana said once she calmed down. "I had faith you would find a cure."
"Thank you for trusting me, Leliana." Alixon said with a smile. "The ruler of the foreigners gave me a recipe of sorts. The formula for the cure. I will take it to the Wardens at Weisshaupt. No longer will the Wardens suffer their whole life."
Leliana felt a surge of pride and love towards Alixon. Both women had lost so much yet in the end both were able to once more be together again. To enjoy life together until their brittle bones could give no more.