A/N: This is a little piece which I brewed up last week, about an hour or so into the game. There are hardly any spoilers at all, I hadn't even reached Denerim, much less the ending of the game with its crucial choice making. It's just a small character piece with a bit of PC-Wynne and PC-Alistair interacting. My PC, as you'll find out, is a female Human Noble Rogue (and yes, I know, I took her name from Children of Dune by Frank Herbert, it's one of my favorite names, so I use it a lot when I play, so I stuck with the one I had used in the game). Enjoy! Please R&R.
As Ser Jory's bloodied body sank to the ground, Duncan approached, holding the large cup in both hands, and handed it to her. With a churn in her stomach, she took the vessel from him.
But she drank.
The campfire danced and crackled as Ghanima Cousland lowered herself in front of it. She sat close to it, too close almost, in the hope that the searing heat would evaporate the tears that had not yet formed. She had lost * everything * , and now... this.
As she drew her knees to her chest, Wynne approached and sat down beside her. Ghanima had known the old woman a grand total of three days, at the most (the passing of time had been difficult to make out while they had been at the Circle and in the Fade), yet she had immediately taken a liking to her. The senior mage reminded her of Nan, her old nanny, without the stern demeanor.
"Are you well?" asked Wynne, with a kind voice and a worried tone.
"As can be expected, considering the circumstances."
"If... If I may ask... Does the father know?"
A fierce pang of grief and guilt intertwined shot through the young Cousland as she remembered Ser Gilmore's fiery red hair and the soft touch of his calloused hands. She hugged her knees even tighter.
"I... No, there was no time to tell him. I was not even certain myself that I was with child. Besides... we had no understanding, and my father had intended to betroth me to another man, a man whose own father slaughtered my entire family, and... well, Ser... no, there was no time." She sighed. "Forgive me, Wynne, I'm rambling."
"Perhaps it is not my place, but should you not get a message to him, if he can be found?" the elder woman insisted.
"He..." Ghanima choked back a sob. "The father gave his life so that my mother and I could escape." She bowed her head, resting her brow upon her knees.
Wynne was taken aback, horrified by the magnitude of what the young noblewoman had endured. She had lost her family, her home, her lover, and now the child she had been carrying, all in less than a fortnight. The mage lifted a hand to attempt to comfort the other woman, but dared not disturb her. "I am truly sorry. There are no words, but I pray you will forgive my ignorance."
However, when Ghanima lifted her head, Wynne was surprised to see that there were no tears marring her face. "You could not know, or even guess what happened. I cannot hold that against you, Wynne. It is my burden, and mine alone. Perhaps this is the will of the Maker." The Grey Warden smiled sadly.
The senior enchanter was saddened to feel the walls go up so swiftly. The younger woman was not allowing herself to grieve; she was denying her feelings, shutting them in, and everyone else out. That could not last, it would ultimately consume her.
In a final attempt to bring some manner of solace to her patient, Wynne spoke softly as she rose to her feet. "If it is any comfort at all, I've done what I can, healing what I could. At least, you won't be weakened by excessive loss of blood. If there is anything else you need, … you know you have but to ask." When Ghanima said nothing, Wynne started making her way back to her tent.
She had almost made it to her bedroll, when she spied Alistair striding purposefully towards her. Sighing, Wynne drew herself up, "Good evening, Alistair."
The senior Grey Warden (for that is what he was now that all the others had perished at Ostagar) looked contrite as if he knew he was keeping the old woman from her rest, but he spoke nonetheless. "Wynne, how... how is she?"
Their leader had suffered a bout of vertigo as they had marched back to camp, and since then, the former templar had shown he was very much preoccupied with her fate. As if he feared she, her last and only comrade, would also vanish.
Cautiously, Wynne formed a guarded response, not wishing to reveal more than he already knew. "She will be well in a bit, provided she rests tonight. Did she not tell you so herself?"
A flash of annoyance crossed the young man's face, revealing his frustration. "She has not spoken a word to anyone but you! She barely nods when we speak to her, and when I offered her some stew, she just shook her head." Alistair frowned and stared at his feet. "My cooking's not *that* bad, is it?"
Wynne chuckled. "My dear boy, do not take this personally, but mayhap it would be safer to let Morrigan cook!"
"Uh-huh, the witch who threatened to poison us...", the young man grumbled as he turned away.
The senior enchanter caught him by the sleeve before he took a step and stared at him fiercely. "Alistair, listen to me: she has lost much, just as you have. Do not forget that. Just give her time." And with that, she disappeared behind the tent flap.
In her wake, she left a puzzled young man who could not even begin to fathom why Ghanima's grief seemed more acute then it had been at Ostagar or Lothering. It took Alistair a few moments before he managed to return to his place by the campfire, an arm length away from his Sister. He dared not speak, but he sorely wished to convey his desire to offer some manner of comfort to the other Grey Warden. He hated seeing that dead, vacant look in her eyes as she gazed at the flames. It was a look he had seen a few weeks ago, in an older Grey Warden, one who had disappeared into the Deep Roads. Despite his better judgment, despite Wynne's sound advice, despite simple common sense... Alistair opened his mouth.
"Can I ask you a question, Ghanima?"
At first, she stared silently at the crackling embers. The silence dragged on, and the young man thought the noble would never answer.
"You just did.", she sighed. "And I already told you, friends and family call me 'Ghani'. Only strangers call me 'Ghanima'."
"Fine, then... *Ghani*.", replied Alistair, just a bit miffed at her answer. "I... I just wanted to ask if there was anything you needed, before I retired for the night."
At long last, Ghanima tore her gaze from the dancing inferno and turned towards Alistair. As she folded her legs beneath her, he was glad to see her out of that position, with her knees tucked under her chin. It had made her seem... so vulnerable.
"Tell me about the Grey Wardens, Alistair."
The former templar had expected anything but that, and was taken aback. However, when he saw her steady, expectant look, he started spinning tales of the months he'd spent in the company of those Grey Wardens who had fallen at Ostagar. And though it pained him to think of Duncan and of lost comrades, it brought them both a bit of peace to think that they were not entirely alone in the world.
For good or for ill, they had been brought together, as Brother and Sister of the Grey Wardens, and perhaps that had been the will of the Maker.