"Aren't you nervous at all?"
"What do you mean?"
He should not be here. He should not be listening in on this conversation. He should have kept following the blessed dog around the camp.
"Well, it is only natural for one to be.. apprehensive in such times as these." A chuckle.
"Zevran, we're fighting a Blight, I think my nerves are all caught up in that right now."
"Oh? I beg to differ, most auspicious leader of ours. Your shoulders are so tense."
He honestly never meant to end up here. He was just walking the dog. Honestly.
But he cannot just walk away from this.
When he had finally mustered up the courage to approach her, he had thought it, just once. What if she looks elsewhere? She was funny, brave and so unbelievably beautiful, and she could enchant anyone – literally, probably – to bend to her whim. She had certainly done that with him. But, thought Alistair, he was not sure if she would be perfectly happy with.. well, him. He had grown up in the Chantry, for Maker's sake, he had no idea what the complicated business of female body language was actually telling him! But he had plunged right ahead and bared his soul, and had been rewarded with the most perfect smile he had ever seen. All doubts fled – he belonged to her, he knew it. And she to him, she affirmed, as their lips met in the softest of embraces.
The only trouble was, of course, that he was not the only person who held her close to his heart – in some way, everyone in the camp did. After an initial misunderstanding, Leliana looked upon their leader as a big sister to gossip to; Wynne, although always holding Alistair himself highest in their group, had a large soft spot for the woman who made him happiest; even Sten seemed to allow her some grudging respect. But that damn Antivan..
Alistair could see it, clear as day. The assassin who failed saw this shining example of a woman as a prize, to be conquered, and she made it so easy for him to do so. Her fault – not even a fault, it was a blessing that she cared so much – was her interest in people. She has sat down with everyone in the party and talked the night away. Listening to their hopes and fears and histories one by one, and making them feel like every single detail is important. What was more, he thinks, fingering the amulet that now rested on his chest, is that she really remembers. Leliana had been a vision of joy the day that she had been gifted with those flowers that reminded her of her mother – a single fact that had been plucked from the vast conversations they had shared, and remembered individually.
But that Antivan..
He had whiled away nights with the men of the camp, telling of his exploits and sharing shameless observations on the women of the camp. From the way he talked, one might think he had designs on everyone. But Alistair saw the glint in his eye whenever their leader walked by, or when she asked him a specific question, or showed interest in their discussions. It made Alistair nervous. It was made worse by the fact that the damn assassin was an elf too, just like her.. it had taken a lot of effort to get her to trust humans in the first place, and sometimes when he saw her battling it out with some merchant he was not entirely sure that she did.
But every night, at their place by the campfire, her small hand founds its way into the clutches of his. That had to mean something, right?
"It is new to you, yes? This feeling." The Antivan is still talking, rousing Alistair from his thoughts. He should not be here, he reminds himself sharply.
"Well.. yes, of course. No-one makes me feel like this. It's a little terrifying."
"But in a good way, no?" He can hear the smug face.
"Oh definitely. Now all I have to do is.. tell him," she replies, and he can hear them laughing. Pulling himself together, he quietly pulls away from the tent and wheels round to follow the path that the dog had trodden only moments before.
So it was like that. He wants to throw up. The bloody Antivan, the snake in the grass.. he had not even wanted the man to join the group, but she had convinced him that there might be some merit to the idea. Some merit indeed, he thinks. Never before has he felt so bereft of any meaning – she had become everything to him, and now he was to bear witness to that ship sailing away..
"Hey." She rests a hand on his shoulder. He looks up through glazed eyes for one last mournful look. She frowns. "Are you alright?"
"Fine," he snaps. She will not be fooled, but he does not much care right now.
"Mm, I can see that. Well, can I talk to you for a moment?"
"If it's important." She pulls him further away from the camp, a nervous smile playing on her features. He sits down, leaning against a tree trunk wearily. Only a few moments ago, everything was perfect, he thinks, closing his eyes. And now, everything is lost..
"Alistair," she whispers, taking his hand. He opens his eyes to her smile, her enchanting, gorgeous smile that he could drink in for days and never tire of. Maker's breath, woman..
"Yeeeessss?" he asks, using that voice that she tells him is annoying, but that he knows she secretly finds cute.
"I'm.. not quite sure how to say this. I've been thinking about it for a while." Oh, but for some respite from your thrall, love. Am I really not a match for that bastard assassin? Is my love so empty compared to his enticing glances? "Alistair.. I love you."
Silence. She looks at him, trying to gauge a reaction, but his face is impassive. In his mind, there is dancing and minstrels and the blessed Maker himself singing the praises of the lithe elf in front of him. She loves him. She, the light of his life and the only thing he could never bear to lose, loves him, the idiot nobody who was too lucky to die.
Reaching out to cup her face in his hands, he pulls her lips to his and kisses her with all the passion he can muster. Where before was a dark pit in his stomach is now a lightness like no other. She responds in kind, threading her fingers through his hair and caressing his head. They break for air, and he feels the need to apologise, for doubting her. But before he can even begin to form the words, laughter bursts out of him like a hot geyser, and does not subside for some time.