Standard disclaimers apply: All things related to or contained in Dragon Age: Origins, recognizable or no, belong to EA, Bioware, and the genius of one Mr. Gaider.

A/N: In celebration of reaching 100 Approval with Alistair during the post-Goldanna conversation on my second play-through, and as a peace offering following the flaming ball of angst that was "Into the Dark," I present the closest thing to fluff that you'll ever get from me. I hope you like.

P.S. This (and most every other story I've seen) is much prettier in 1/2 view.


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Coming from anyone else, he might resent the words.

"You don't need her," she says defiantly, kicking the dust outside Goldanna's ramshackle home. "You have others who care about you."

As a general rule, Alistair dislikes wallowing, but it has been one hell of a day. Between blood mages and back-alley back-stabbing ruffians and being soundly rejected by the only person in the world who shares his birth and his blood, his optimism isn't winning out on this particular day.

Maybe he doesn't need her, but Goldanna is his sister, and damn it, he wants her, wants the sense of kinship and belonging, wants everything she represents, wants everything he lost.

And coming from anyone else, the words might have seemed callous, but he reminds himself that she understands. She lost the family she knew and loved all her life, while he lost a mentor and a dream that was never real to begin with. Logically, he can see she got the short end of that stick, but his is only better by short degrees. In the end, they are both short a family, both alone, and he isn't in the mood to be comforted. Not even by her.

"Such as?" he counters. Images flash through his mind: the Arl closing his large hand over Alistair's smaller one, adjusting his grip on the practice sword; a shuttered, dark expression passing over the Arlessa's face; the stark grey walls of the Chantry dormitories; the hard, unyielding Revered Mother; and finally Duncan's kind eyes and warm smile. "The only person who ever cared about me was Duncan. And he's gone."

She frowns, clearly hurt, but the look in her eyes and the set of her mouth are all sincerity and determination. "I care about you," she says, her hand finding the break in his armor at his elbow and gripping his arm firmly, reassuring.

He passes a hand over his eyes and nods. It isn't the same, but he isn't going to press it. Not right now. He's weary of the conversation already.

"Alistair." She says his name firmly, using the tone she normally reserves for mid-battle orders or discussions on propriety with Dog, all business, and he can't fight the slight smile that tugs at his lips. "Family is more than blood, you know," she continues. "As far as I'm concerned, blood connections are the least important part about it. It's the intent behind family that makes it important: the dedication, the support, the love. But the blood...you and... well, you and I have that, don't we?"

He frowns a little. Something in her words buzzes without focus in his brain, like an insect in the room that he can hear but not see. "I'm not sure I— " he begins, and then stops, losing his prior train of thought as he catches her implication. He is not quite sure what to make of it and says as much, dropping his voice and edging her away from the crowded marketplace. "Riight, bound by the tainted blood of an ancient evil, how could I forget? Just what every relationship wants!" She shifts and looks annoyed but he blithely digs himself deeper. "So what, you're saying you want to be my sister now?"

She flushes a little and drops her gaze down to the scuffed toes of her boots, dusty and travel-worn. "If you kissed your sister like you kiss me, we might have a problem," she mutters at the ground, and it's his turn to blush. "I just mean to say that we're in this together. You are my family now, in many ways, and I'm not going anywhere." She peers back up at him almost hesitantly, as though afraid of his reaction to her declaration.

Her words act as a catalyst. Something shifts; something clicks softly into place deep within him. Illumination. Epiphany. He has held all the pieces in his hands for so long, but only in this moment does he put them together and see them for what they really are. His brain is suddenly roaring with a thousand words, all at once, her voice layering upon itself again and again like a symphony.

...not going anywhere...

...have you never...

...It needed to be done...

...sound like friends...

...are my family now...

...how much I enjoy your company...

...would never hurt you...

...like a father to you. I understand...

...will be remembered. They all will...

...feel the same about...

...I'll gladly help...

...has anyone ever told you that you're...

...will not kill a child...

...so cute when you're bashful...

...with the Grey Wardens... with you...

...the love...

After a moment he shakes his head hard. She is still looking at him, puzzled, clearly expecting a response. But what can he possibly say to her to explain, to make her understand?

"I... thank you." He says at last, lamely. "I'm glad you're here with me."

She nods slowly, a little disappointed, and they walk on silently.

But his thoughts are anything but silent. I'm glad you're here, his brimming heart shouts. I'm glad Duncan found you. I'm glad for the impending destruction of the world because it brought you to me. I'm glad for every rejection and closed door in my life, because they redirected me and pointed me to you, like an arrow to true North. I'm glad for every moment spent alone, because it enabled me to see how lucky I was to find you. I am glad of all this, of all these unthinkable things, because I love you.

Because I love you.

Love.

What a hell of a day.

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