A/N: The other half of that fluff exchange with with callalili (If you haven't read her stuff, you're missing out!). She requested a piece in which Alistair actually holds on to the non-noble (non-human?) PC- beyond hope, beyond reason- because he thinks it's right and he's willing to fight for it.
So here it is, sweet enough to rot your teeth and your soul. Dragon Age belongs to Bioware, as always.
The nobility of Ferelden are no strangers to cutthroat tactics and bloodshed for the sake of political gain; still, many look queasy as they back away from the widening crimson pool of Loghain's blood.
Arl Eamon, at least, ignores it, red seeping into the soles of his boots and squelching as he walks- though, she thinks, he might not be ignoring it at all. The old man is canny; the bloody footprints could be for effect.
It seems to be working. Aside from the Arl's footfalls the hall is silent.
"What will it be, then, Grey Warden?" he asks, cutting his eyes at her sidelong as she notices his sword still loose and ready in its sheath.
He expects there might be more trouble, then.
Loghain had been plenty hard enough, thank you, she has no desire to fight her way out through a flock of heavily-armed nobles. And dammit, she'd just bought these robes, was it too much to ask that one change of clothing- just one!- keep from getting bloodstained for one day?
Maker above, and the Arl was asking her?
"Alistair will be king, of course," she says almost distractedly because really what choice is there? A double-crossing power-mad woman who'd likely have them all publicly executed the minute she's reaffirmed queen? Or Alistair?
Alistair it is. And even as she says it, she knows it's right.
It feels right.
"And you with me."
The nobles have begun muttering amongst themselves, filling the hall with the buzzing drone of a half-hundred voices by the time she can blink in utter shock and turn. "I'm sorry?"
"Uh." Alistair steps forward, giving the assembled nobles his most charming smile and opening his hands wide in a gesture of peace. "Could we have just a moment? Really, just a second. A little second. Good, thanks," and then yoinks her by the arm and into a corner that really isn't as private as it needs to be.
And he looks nervous and it makes her nervous. But he swallows hard, visibly, and launches into a spiel she can tell immediately he must have rehearsed. "So- yes. We haven't really… spoken? About this. I mean this, specifically, this exact situation, because we've done a lot of spokening- speaking." He sighs reedily and swallows again in a futile attempt at forcing himself calm, holding to her arms as though he expects her to run away. "You didn't think I said all that before and didn't mean it, did you?"
"All that," she repeats numbly, because this isn't going to work and life isn't a nursery story in which princes just- just appear.
And fall in love.
His attempt at a smile feels thin and cracked with nerves. "You've forgotten already? Don't tell me you've forgotten already."
And she hasn't forgotten but she can't seem to speak because if he's saying what she thinks he's saying-
Maker above, does he even know what he's saying? This is Alistair, after all, he could be obliviously offering her a pastry instead of proposing marriage and doing it in front of the leaders of all Ferelden.
"I said," Alistair begins slowly with a deep breath, "that I cared about you. Very much. And that I wanted you to be the last woman I ever spent a night with. Do you remember?"
She nods absently, half-listening to the buzzing of the nobles work its way into something like a dull roar.
It flashes through her mind: trouble, and the Arl's sword at the ready, and Alistair is going to ruin his chance at being king before ten minutes are up.
Something inside her is not surprised.
Alistair is, as expected, oblivious. "And the rose? I told you that you were the beauty in the darkness, remember? That you have been- you've been the best thing that's ever happened to me. Tell me you remember that."
Remember it? If she lives to be a thousand, she'll never be able to forget it.
But a glance at the crowd only confirms the suspicions writhing in her gut- no one looks happy, and Anora looks like a golden she-wolf smelling blood in the air. "Alistair-"
"I'm in love with you," he interrupts bluntly, making her blink again in surprise. "I don't think it'd really be a shock at this point. And I think you feel the same way about me. But I love you, and I meant everything I said before, and if I'm going to have to be king- I don't want to do this alone," he confesses. "Really, really don't want to do this alone. Please stand with me. I need you."
Pretty words, and sweet, but she doesn't know that they'll be enough.
"You're thinking about them." He inclines his head a fraction in the direction of the crowd. "Aren't you?"
He smiles again and this time it's stronger, defiant. "Say the word, and I'll take care of them. They want a king? They want the Grey Wardens? Then they'll have you as well. It's because of you that the races have come together, all pledged their service. To you. You've already led them, pulled them into working side-by-side for the good of Ferelden. If you can do that… and anyway, I'm told there's a Blight on; they won't want the Wardens to walk out now."
She frowns. "You're sure."
"Absolutely." His shoulders square and his grip on her becomes something more like reassuring and less like please-don't-run-away. "If you want it. Say the word, and it's- I'm- yours."
And it flashes briefly behind her eyes- nursery tales, and happy endings, and stories that aren't supposed to be true because no one actually gets to live them- but she's already nodding, only half aware. "Yes."
His smile widens, bright as the sun. "Yes? Really? I mean, really really?"
"Really really." And she can't help the grin that steals across her own mouth, and doesn't give more than a moment's thought to what the pair of them must look like to the waiting crowd.
"Oh Maker, thank you," he breathes as he crushes her close. "I thought for a second there you'd say no and then I'd look like an idiot- like a bigger idiot- trying to explain 'oops, sorry, no she didn't want me in the first place, carry on!' So… wow."
She nods wholehearted agreement. "Wow."
And in front of all the nobles of Ferelden he straightens and very deliberately takes her hand, and together they stand before the Landsmeet and fight side-by-side as they've done so often before. And though the battle of words is long and difficult, it's only a matter of unraveling the arguments until the truth becomes clear to those assembled- together, they're ready. And together, they win.