A/N: If you've read this before, there are no major changes. But there were a few small problems that I had to address for continuity's sake. A big thanks to Sinpareil for bringing these to my attention. Also, I had a few garish spelling errors that Wynne was kind enough to point out. They were so embarrassing that I had to correct and repost.
If you haven't read this before, I hope you enjoy it!
"Here, look at this. Do you know what this is?" Alistair held his hand out so she could get a better look.
What she saw was the most beautiful rose. It was relatively small as far as roses go, its petals were of the deepest red, velvety to the touch. It had been plucked before it had bloomed, so the numerous petals were still closed tightly. It was the same rose she had seen him with for some time.
She looked up at him and smiled. "Is this your new weapon of choice?"
He laughed. One of the things he liked about her was that she shared his sense of humor. "Yes, that's right. Watch as I thrash our enemies with the mighty power of floral arrangements! Feel my thorns, darkspawn! I will overpower you with my rosy scent!"
She laughed good-naturedly at his display.
Then his face took a more serious expression. "Or, you know, it could just be a rose. I know that's pretty dull in comparison."
"You've been thumbing that rose for awhile, now."
"I picked it in Lothering. I remember thinking, how could something so beautiful exist in a place with so much despair and ugliness? I probably should have left it alone, but I couldn't. The darkspawn would come and their taint would just destroy it. So I've had it ever since."
She smiled softly at him. "That's a nice sentiment."
Alistair looked at her nervously. "I thought that I might…give it to you, actually. In a lot of ways, I think the same thing when I look at you."
She had been looking at his rose, admiring its simple beauty, when he said the last part. She looked up at him in surprise. "I…don't know what to say."
"I guess it's a bit silly, isn't it?" he rushed on. "I just thought, here I am doing all this complaining, and you haven't exactly been having a good time of it, yourself. You've had none of the good experience of being a Grey Warden since your Joining. Not a word of thanks or congratulations. It's all been death and fighting and tragedy."
He took her hand and gently placed the rose in it. "I thought maybe I could say something. Tell you what a rare and wonderful thing you are to find amidst all this…darkness."
She looked at the rose sitting in her open palm a moment longer. Then she lifted her eyes to meet his anxious stare. "I feel the same way about you, Alistair. And thank you for the rose."
He smiled in relief. "I'm glad you like it. Now, if we could move right on past this awkward and embarrassing stage and get right to the steamy bits, I'd appreciate it."
She grinned at his usual attempt to cover his nervousness with humor. "Sounds good. Off with the armor then."
Alistair knew she was simply calling his bluff and not being serious. They played at that sometimes, innocently flirting, taking the comments further and further until one of them backed down. She was just as naïve in all areas romantic as he was. This time, he was the first to back off. And had immediately gone and jumped into the freezing water of the lake near their camp to cool off.
x x x x x
"Alistair, my king, wake up."
Alistair forced his eyes open. He saw her staring down at him. But something was off. Her voice. It wasn't her voice. He rubbed the sleep and fogginess out of his eyes and focused on the woman standing over him. No, it wasn't her. It was his wife, Queen Indrani. He hated it when that happened. She and his wife looked nothing alike. She was an elf from the alienage in Denerim and Indrani was a noble woman from Highever. So he didn't understand why he saw her so often if he looked at his wife out of the corner of his eye or like now, when his mind was still sleep logged.
Indrani grabbed his robe out of the armoire and held it open for him to put on. "I know it's still early, husband, but if we are to make it to Rainesfere before nightfall, we need to head out soon. We do not want to miss the festivities."
How could he forget? He had been dreading this day while also longing for it, like a pitiful fool. All over the chance to get a glimpse of her again.
They were going to Rainesfere to celebrate the birth of Bann Teagan Guerrin's twin babies. The babies he had with her.
x x x x x
It was about a year after the archdemon had been slain, and seven months after Alistair's own wedding, when she married Teagan. Alistair was in attendance with his wife at the request of Teagan's brother, Arl Eamon. He had tried to get out of it. He couldn't bear to see her marry another man. But the Arl had insisted.
Alistair felt nauseous the entire time. Watching her, breathtaking in her wedding gown, as she stood up with Teagan. Teagan looking at her much the same way Alistair himself would look at her. Their first kiss as husband and wife. Their first dance together. It was all nearly too much for him.
But the worst part was the reception. He tried to duck out as soon as the wedding was over, but his wife would have none of it. She wanted to dance and take part in the revelry. So it was inevitable that Teagan and his new bride would make their way over to them.
Teagan looked as happy as any man could, keeping his arm around her waist. And she didn't look unhappy, either, though she kept her eyes away from Alistair.
After exchanging a few pleasantries and some reminiscing, Teagan asked Indrani for a dance, who accepted as he led her out to the floor. Alistair cleared his throat while she stood silently in front of him. Not trusting his voice to work at the moment, he merely held out his arm and motioned to the dance floor. She kept her silence as well as she took his proffered arm.
Once they were out on the floor, she gave him her hand as he placed his other hand upon her waist. The dance was a slower one so he pulled her close to him. Since she was an elf, she wasn't very tall. She barely came up to his chin. But he could still smell the scent from her hair. She looked up at him and he was instantly reminded of the last time he had held her this close. He gulped loudly and put her at arm's length.
They danced without speaking for several steps before she finally broke the quiet.
"You look very handsome tonight, Alistair."
"So do you. Look nice, I mean. I mean, you look beautiful," he stammered.
"That is nice of you to say. Thank you."
They didn't say anything else as they finished the dance. Teagan came back to them and handed Indrani over to Alistair as he put his arm around his new wife once more.
She and Teagan thanked them for coming and accepted Indrani's well wishes before they left to make a few more rounds of the room.
Alistair couldn't keep his eyes from her, sweet torture that it was. Then he overheard Arl Eamon's congratulations.
"Teagan, dear brother, now that you have captured the heart of the 'Hero of Ferelden' and made things official, when can we expect to see some little ones gracing this dreary estate? I would love to have a little niece or nephew to dote on. Especially with Connor gone to the Tower of Magi."
Teagan gave a hearty laugh. "I agree, brother. So I aim to get started as soon as the lot of you are gone from here!"
Alistair could take no more. He made his way to the balcony, alone, for some air. He hadn't been there long when he heard a kind voice from behind him.
"Are you alright, your majesty?"
Alistair turned to see Cyrion, the father of the bride.
"Yes, of course. I just needed some air."
Cyrion came to stand beside him. "You know, this is not the happy day I had always imagined it would be. Admittedly, it is in part to the disastrous ending of my daughter's first attempt to be wed. I cannot help but feel that it casts a pall over this happy occasion."
Alistair clenched his teeth at being reminded of her near sexual assault at the hands of Vaughan, Denerim's ex-Arl's son. She had handled herself, however, and killed him before he could have his way with her.
"But it is also because, as happy as my daughter is today, there is a sadness inside of her. This sadness has clung to her for over a year now. She denies it, tells me not worry myself over her, but as strong as she is in most everything she does, she has never been a good liar," Cyrion said, with his voice filled with fatherly pride. "But something has changed her. She doesn't laugh so much anymore. She doesn't smile as often. And I can't help but notice the same of you, if I may be so bold, your Majesty."
By the Maker, Alistair hated being king. "Please, Cyrion, I would really appreciate it if you could go back to calling me Alistair like you did before I gained the crown. And it is a nice change to have someone speak so freely to me. I don't get that so much anymore."
"It would be my pleasure…Alistair." Cyrion let a moment of silence pass. "Well, you said I can speak freely to you so I will. I had rather thought that if my daughter ever got married, it would be to you."
Alistair was not surprised by Cyrion's bluntness. He had spoken much the same anytime Alistair saw him.
"Well, I guess your fortunetelling skills are a little rusty. Maybe you should try dusting that crystal ball off before you use it next time."
Just as Alistair was familiar with Cyrion's abruptness when it came to his daughter, Cyrion was familiar with Alistair's attempts to deflect questions and comments with jokes.
Cyrion sighed. "Don't misunderstand. Bann Teagan is a good man and I've no doubt that he loves my little girl. I would even venture to say that she loves him. But when you and my daughter rescued me from those slavers, I saw then what was between the two of you. And when you supped at my house later that night, it warmed my heart to see how the two of you looked at each other. I could feel the happiness just emanating from you both." Cyrion chuckled as he remembered that night fondly. "It was very contagious."
Alistair turned quickly to face the older elf. "Cyrion, what do you want me to say? That I loved your daughter? I did. I love her still. And I do not question that she loved me." He turned back to the balcony's stone wall, his hands upon it as he looked out into the night. "It just wasn't…meant to be."
x x x x x
Alistair helped Indrani into their carriage before pulling himself up onto his horse. He did not like riding in the carriage, so he usually rode horseback alongside it. The sun was barely rising as he, his wife, and men headed toward Rainesfere.
He could hear Indrani chatting to her lady-in-waiting. He couldn't hear what she was saying and he honestly didn't care. Not that he didn't like his wife. He just didn't love her. But the feeling was mutual, he had no illusions about how Indrani felt about him. Theirs was an arranged marriage. They had never even set eyes on each other until the wedding ceremony. They were little more than acquaintances, not even friends.
Indrani was nice enough, he supposed, but being born with the wealth and privileges she had been, she could be rather snooty. And she was beautiful, but the problem with that was that she knew she was beautiful. Arrogance was not something that had ever appealed to Alistair, no matter what the person looked like or their station. And Indrani felt that she was above Alistair, knowing of his upbringing and previous bastard status. She disliked how well he seemed to get along with their staff and the common folk. Even the elves. Especially the elves.
Indrani and Alistair had had a knockdown, drag out fight many months back, after Bann Teagan's wedding. She had made the comment that she couldn't believe someone of the nobility would ever stoop to marrying an elf, of all people, even if that elf was the hero of the times. Alistair had taken surprising offense to her words, and it was the one and only time Indrani had ever seen him angry. Unaware of Alistair's previous relationship with Bann Teagan's wife, Indrani simply assumed his animosity was because they had fought together to defeat the archdemon. That he was basically defending her as a matter of honor, with the whole 'brothers-in-arms' thing. Regardless, Indrani hadn't made any more disparaging comments about her since.
But all that aside, Indrani was doomed from the start in regards to her husband, simply because she was not her.
x x x x x
Their group had stopped to make camp for the night, everyone taking some time to themselves. Wynne was talking with Leliana. They had gotten rather close over the course of their journey, the older woman taking the younger woman under her wing. Oghren and Zevran were near Oghren's tent, sharing some ale. Zevran was ribbing Oghren over how foul-smelling and pale most dwarves were since they never came to the surface of Ferelden. Oghren, in turn, was giving Zevran a hard time about his elven effeminate appearance. Sten had taken the dog hunting for something to eat besides the hard bread they had been forced to stomach the past several days. Morrigan was way off in the corner of the camp by herself, which was just fine with Alistair. Shale was busy trying to stomp some birds that had made the mistake of landing on the outskirts of their camp. Normally, Alistair got a good laugh at seeing how worked up the big stone golem got over a few pigeons, but his mind was on something else entirely this night.
She was warming herself by the fire, staring into the flames. She looked up and caught Alistair watching her. She smiled at him before going back to watching the fire. Alistair stood and walked over to her before he could talk himself out of what he was about to do.
"All right," he started. "I guess I really don't know how to ask you this."
She looked at him, concerned. "Are you sweating? It's a cool night."
"No! I mean yes, I mean…I'm a little nervous, sure. Not that this is anything bad or frightening or…well, yes." Alistair rubbed his forehead in exasperation at himself. He wished he was better at this. "Oh, how do I say this? You'd think it would be easier, but every time I'm around you, I feel as if my head's about to explode. I-I can't think straight."
She blushed at his obvious sincerity. "That's very sweet."
His heart jumped to his throat at the sight. That this woman, who was an absolute terror on the battlefield, could blush at anything he had to say got him every time.
He took a step closer to her. When she didn't back away, he grew a little bolder. "Here's the thing: being near you makes me crazy, but I can't imagine being without you. Not…ever." He took a deep breath and gathered all the courage he had. "I don't know how to say this another way. I want to spend the night with you. Here, in the camp. Maybe this is too fast, I don't know, but…I know what I feel." He looked at her, willing for her to say something.
Her eyes searched his, looking for an indication that he was playing at their usual game. When she saw he was not going to back down this time, she felt her own heart start to racing. "Even though I'm not human like you?"
She and Alistair may have spent much of their travels flirting with one another, but she never believed Alistair would ever act on anything. He was human, and most humans believed elves to be beneath them. An after affect from when the humans had enslaved the elves.
He chuckled, mostly in relief that she hadn't immediately rebuffed him. "Especially because of that."
"You want to spend the night? Are you sure?" She wanted to make absolutely certain before they took that next step. This would, after all, be the first time for them both.
"I wanted to wait for the perfect time, the perfect place…but when will it be perfect? If things were, we wouldn't even have met. We sort of…stumbled into each other, and despite this being the least perfect time," he took hold of her hand. "I still found myself falling for you in between all the fighting and everything else. I really don't want to wait anymore. I've…I've never done this before. You know that. I want it to be with you…while we have the chance. In case…"
She cut him off, shaking her head. "Don't talk like that. There will always be time later." She herself was ready, but she didn't want the fear of death to be what pushed him into her arms.
"Will there?" he asked softly. "You don't know that. I don't know that. I'd like to be able to say that I threw caution to the wind at least once."
"Very well. If that's what you really want…"
"I think so. I hope so."
The rest of the evening had been spent in his tent, away from the others. That night, as they lay naked in each other's arms, they told each other that they loved one another. When she finally allowed sleep to claim her, he watched her, a smile upon his face. And despite what he had earlier feared, it was the most perfect night of his life.
x x x x x
"Husband, are you alright? Your face is a little flushed."
Alistair cleared his throat. "Yes, of course, Indrani. Just the sun."
"Good. I don't want you trying to run out of there as soon as we arrive like you did last time. I intend to have a wonderful time tonight."
"This is not a wedding reception. We are welcoming the Bann's new additions to his family. There won't even be anyone there but them and us."
"And that means what? Surely there will still be dancing, music, singing, and much more merriment in store."
"You are absolutely right, wife. We are going to give congratulations to Bann Teagan and his wife for the birth of their babies. With two six-month-olds in attendance, you can be sure that the Bann will have plenty of hedonistic fun planned for the evening. A wonderfully sinful time will be had by all, the twin babies especially."
"Alistair, why you insist on making jokes all the time when someone is trying to speak to you seriously, I'll never know."
Alistair sighed deep and loud. He and his wife never bantered playfully back and forth, like he did with her. Maker, he missed that. And not for the first time, he wondered what life would have been like if Anora had remained Queen, and he had been able to stay with the Grey Wardens, with her, rather than become king.
But, he supposed they were both to blame for that not happening.
x x x x x
"I need to talk to you," Alistair said quietly as he shut the door behind him.
"Yes, love?" she asked.
Maker, I can't do this Alistair thought. No, I have to. It's my duty as Ferelden's new king.
He sighed. "I understand why you agreed with Arl Eamon about my taking the throne over Anora. Her father was a traitor and had tried to have us killed on numerous occasions, and she followed him in both regards. I was the only other option, being that I was King Maric's bastard. So, as unhappy as I am about taking the crown, I understand why it must be. But this has now put a barrier between us."
She only looked at him, saying nothing.
Alistair was shaking. His mind was screaming in protest at what he was doing. His soul felt like it was being torn from him. His own body was railing against what he was about to do. Apparently, his mouth was the only thing that did not have a problem, as it continued speaking.
"Now that I am king, I have a duty to produce an heir. So that this whole fight that occurred over the throne doesn't happen again. And two Grey Wardens together can't do that. There is too much of the darkspawn taint to overcome for a child to ever be possible between us. I must wed another and do my duty to Ferelden."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "Are you actually telling me of how you will be marrying another and having children with her in the middle of your break-up speech to me?"
"I'm sorry. I am…so…sorry." His voice cracked when he saw a tear spill down her cheek.
"Don't be," she said firmly, even as more tears came. "I knew what would happen when you became king. I am not so foolish as to think that the new king would have been allowed to take an elf bride. Although I was unaware that we would never have been able to have children together. I just wasn't expecting to hear this from you before we fought the archdemon."
Alistair looked at her in surprise. "If you knew, then why didn't you suggest Anora to remain Queen? We could have—"
"Because she was not what was best for Ferelden! Between you and her, you were the better choice! I love Ferelden, as much as you do. What kind of person would I have been if I had put her on the throne, anyway, knowing what she's done? All for the purpose of keeping you to myself. I just never imagined this would hurt so…"
Alistair had his own tears to contend with now. She was doing her duty to Ferelden, just as he was. It made him love her all the more.
He took a step forward, reaching for her.
She backed away from him. "Please, Alistair, don't. I couldn't bear to have you touch me now. It would be more than I could…" She turned her head away as she choked back a sob.
"I love you," he told her desperately, though he knew he was only making things harder for them both.
She turned to face him, her eyes still glistening from her crying. "I know. I love you, too."
He left her then, closing the door gently behind him. He leaned back against it, trying to compose himself before anyone saw him, wishing he could turn back time and flat out refuse the crown, selfish as it might have been.
He heard her through the door, her sobs coming more freely now that she was alone. He turned and cracked the door, taking a peek at her.
She was sitting on the floor, her right hand in a tight fist pressed against her heart as she hid her face in her other hand. Her crying was quiet, but strong enough that it racked her body.
Alistair's heart broke all over again as he watched her.
x x x x x
"We are nearing Rainesfere, my king," one of Alistair's guards informed him. "We should be there within a half hour."
"Thank you, Ser Garon."
"Oh, thank the Maker!" Indrani said with a bored tone. "I am so sick and tired of being cooped up in this carriage!"
Alistair ignored his wife and kept his eyes on the dirt road they were on.
"Your Majesty, forgive me, but I was curious about something," Garon asked.
Alistair gave his newest guard a smile. "Ask away, Ser Garon."
"Well, is it true that Bann Teagan's wife is the same woman that was in the Grey Wardens with you? Is it true that she helped you to kill the archdemon?"
Alistair's smile immediately left his face. "Yes. She is the same."
Garon didn't catch the change in his king's mood. "Wow! I can't believe I'm going to set eyes on the woman who helped to save us all. It is such an honor." he gushed. "Is it true that she's an elf?"
Alistair answered that she was.
"Wow," Garon said quietly. He looked over to Alistair. "I've heard people speak of how beautiful she is. I've also heard how kind and fair she is to all the villagers of Rainesfere. Is it an exaggeration? Is she as lovely a person as they say?"
"Not an exaggeration," Alistair told him softly. "In fact, I'm sure whatever you've heard about her still doesn't do her justice."
"Amazing. Sounds like the Bann is a lucky man."
Alistair kept silent. He wholeheartedly agreed with the guard.
x x x x x
They were standing at the top of the tower in Denerim. The archdemon had finally appeared, in all its massive and horrifying glory. The great dragon roared as it spied them. Despite the ending of their relationship, they clasped each other's hands tightly as they stared in awe and fear at the dragon. She looked at Alistair.
"I love you," she told him, wanting to have said it one last time in case one of them was to die this night.
He looked back at her sadly. "And I love you. Always."
Then they charged, along with the rest of their group and Ferelden's army. Most fought to keep the darkspawn from taking the castle or moving up the tower. But many fought alongside her and Alistair, trying to vanquish the archdemon and end the Blight.
The battle had gone well, all things considered. That is, until near the end. The archdemon knew it was close to its death. So it attacked with even more frenzy. It stomped the ground hard with one of its clawed feet, knocking many people to the ground, including Alistair.
Alistair got to his feet slowly, feeling a little dizzy, not seeing the dragon's tail whip around to knock him back into the ground.
She noticed, however, and ran to Alistair, throwing him out of the way. As he hit the ground, Alistair looked up in confusion in time to see the archdemon's tail slam into her, flattening her to the ground.
Alistair saw her bloodied and broken body once the dragon's tail lifted off of her. He knew she was dead.
"No!" Alistair screamed, still on all four. He stood, grabbing his sword, and ran as fast as he could to the dragon. When he got close enough, he leapt into the air, his sword raised. He plunged his sword into the meat of the dragon as he landed on it. He stabbed and sliced over and over again. The dragon gave one final roar before it finally collapsed, dead.
There was an uproar of cheers once the archdemon had been felled, but Alistair heard none of it. He felt in a daze as he stumbled over to her body. Wynne was with her, working her healing magic on her. Wynne told Alistair that she was not dead, like he had thought, but that she was grievously injured. Alistair had barely sighed with relief when he fell next to her, unconscious.
x x x x x
Alistair and his entourage were being led into Teagan's estate. Once they had gotten settled and freshened up from their long journey, they made their way down to the main hall.
Alistair's eyes sought her out. He found her sitting on the floor with two chubby babies rolling around in front of her. She laughed and played with them, her father, Cyrion, next to her. Cyrion looked younger than he had the last time Alistair had seen him, happy as he was with his new grandchildren. And she, well, it had been a long time since Alistair had seen her look so content.
"Alistair!" Teagan exclaimed with good cheer as he came over to embrace him. Alistair saw her head jerk up upon hearing his name. Much of the joy left her face when she saw him. She turned her attention back to her offspring. Teagan kissed Indrani's hand in greeting before turning back to Alistair.
"I hope your journey was uneventful, good friend," Teagan said.
"Indeed it was." With the exception of old memories popping up.
"Good to hear, good to hear. Come, greet your fellow Warden and meet the newest Guerrins."
Teagan led Alistair and Indrani over to his wife and children. Alistair saw that the babies were fraternal twins, one a boy, the other a girl. Both favored their mother greatly, though they appeared human. But they shared enough of Teagan's features that there was no question that Teagan was the father. Somehow, this upset Alistair more than if they had been the spitting image of her. Seeing her features combined with Teagan's on these two babes hit him hard, like a kick to his stomach.
Cyrion looked at Alistair, his eyes pitying as he saw Alistair's discomfort. He had hoped that with time, the love he knew his daughter and Alistair shared would have faded. But, he supposed love never faded. There wasn't a day gone by that he hadn't thought of his deceased wife. How he wished she were here now. Cyrion left the room before he could embarrass himself with his blubbering.
Teagan was so excited to be able to show off his family that he did not notice Alistair's expression. He scooped up his daughter as she chortled happily, and playfully rubbed his nose on hers. He handed her to Alistair, who reluctantly accepted her. Then he helped his wife up from the floor. She bent over and picked up her son, and let Teagan lead her to Alistair.
"They are absolutely adorable!" Indrani said honestly. "What did you name these precious babes?"
"Well," Teagan started. "The beautiful lady his majesty is holding is Wynne."
Alistair looked over at her. "Wynne?" She nodded.
"I take it you know this Wynne for which this baby is named, husband?" Indrani asked.
Alistair nodded. "Yes, I knew her. She was a mage that accompanied us on our journey to stop the blight. She was there with us when we fought the archdemon."
Indrani's ears perked up at the mention of that final battle. She had asked Alistair for details on it many times, but he never gave her any satisfying answers.
"Yes," Teagan said. "And Wynne is the one who saved the life of my love."
His wife and Alistair had been looking at each other. She blushed and looked away at Teagan's words. She was not comfortable showing or receiving affection from her husband in front of Alistair.
"What happened?" Indrani asked Teagan.
"See, near the end of the battle, the archdemon had tried to kill Alistair with a massive blow from its tail. This brave woman at my side," Teagan placed a kiss on his wife's forehead. "got to Alistair in enough time to push him out of the way, but had been unable to get out of the way herself.
"Wynne saw this and cast a powerful shield around her right before she was hit, saving her from being killed instantly. She still ended up in the infirmary for about a month. At the beginning, we weren't even sure she would make it, after all."
"And you and my father were there by my side, nursing me back to health the entire time," she said to Teagan in appreciation.
"Don't forget about Alistair. He slept by your bedside for nearly two weeks straight."
She looked at Alistair in surprise. "You did?"
Alistair felt his ears start to blush. "It was no big deal. The little chair I slept in was more comfortable than the massive bed I had waiting on me at the palace."
"I…thank you. I had no idea you were ever there."
"Well, you were unconscious that whole time, love. Once Wynne had assured us that you were going to pull through, Alistair finally allowed himself leave to take care of his kingly duties."
"I think Wynne is very fitting." Alistair told them as he gazed upon the little girl in his arms. He had always been fond of Wynne and had been a wreck when she passed away a few months back. "She would have been honored."
Teagan stroked his daughter's cheek before turning to his wife and son.
"And this handsome lad is Alistair," Teagan said, holding a finger out to his son who immediately grabbed hold of it.
"W-what?" Alistair asked, stunned.
"Well, Wynne saved my wife's life at the final battle. But you were there with her from the beginning, protecting her. Well," Teagan said with a smile. "maybe not protecting her, I doubt she needed much of that. But you were there, much the same. And you saved all of Ferelden when you struck that killing blow upon that dragon. Our son has been given a great honor and privilege, being named for a man such as yourself."
Alistair looked at her. She inclined her head to him. "No," Alistair said softly. "The honor is all mine."
The baby in her arms began to squirm and get fussy. She placed a hand on her husband's shoulder. "Little Alistair is getting hungry, it seems. I will be back after I've seen to him."
Teagan took his wife's hand and kissed it. "Of course, love."
She left the room with her son.
Not too long after she had gone, Alistair excused himself, leaving Teagan and Indrani to their fawning over little Wynne.
He had to talk to her. He didn't even know what he wanted to say, but he had to say something. He headed up the stairs where the bedrooms were. He looked into every one until he found her. She was sitting in a rocking chair, humming a song to her son.
Alistair stepped into the room, clearing his throat. She lifted her head up at him in surprise.
"Alistair. What are you doing in here?"
"I don't know, to be honest."
She stood and kissed her sleeping son before gently laying him down in his cradle. She turned back to Alistair.
"You have beautiful children. The Maker has truly blessed you."
"So…Alistair, huh?" he asked, motioning toward the slumbering babe.
"I hope that doesn't make you uncomfortable. It was actually Teagan's idea, but I could hardly refuse. It does do my son much honor to be named for you."
"I'm not uncomfortable. I was just caught unawares. I know, shocking, right?"
She smiled at him. "I hate to break it to you, your majesty, but it isn't all that shocking, really."
He smiled back at her.
"I am glad you came up here," she said to him quietly. "I wanted to say thank you for staying at my side while I was recovering. I had no idea that you were there or I would have said something sooner."
"Please, put it out of your mind. It was the absolute least I could do for the woman who saved my life."
They looked into each other's eyes for a few moments. Alistair had the insane urge to kiss her, and she was suffering from the same want. But neither made any kind of move, both remembering the vows they had made with their spouses and the Maker. Neither would ever go back on that.
He tore his eyes away from hers. It was then that he noticed the pendant that she was wearing around her neck. Since the blight had ended, he had seen her wearing this silverite chain. Though the chain was always on the inside of her clothing so he had never seen the pendant itself.
It was a sphere made of clear glass. Suspended in the middle of it was a rose.
"Is that…is that the same rose I gave you?"
She looked down at the necklace. She looked embarrassed that he had seen it but didn't try to hide it now that he had. "Yes. I asked my father to fashion this for me once I recovered from my injuries."
"And you wear it all the time?"
"I have never taken it off. Except for my wedding day. I didn't think it would have been appropriate then…" her voice trailed off. "You must think I am a complete fool."
Alistair shook his head. "No. I could never…it means more to me than you will ever know that you still have it after all this time."
"Of course I do. We may have been through, but I couldn't just…throw it away." She fingered the little sphere. "One day, I'll give it to my daughter and tell her of you. My first human friend, my first love, my first…" she smiled shyly at him. "Well, let's just say my first and leave it at that."
Alistair felt tears burn at the back of his eyes. He took her in his arms and simply hugged her. She hugged him back just as tightly.
Unable to hold the words back any longer, she whispered to him. "I love you."
He squeezed his eyes shut as he rested his forehead in her hair. "And I love you. Always."