A/N: More fanfiction for Crisium's "What We Become," Dog's POV again. Because everyone loves Dog.
His human had a knight once, but he went away.
Dog disapproves of this very much. Dog knows about knights. They are supposed to be brave and steadfast and trustworthy (almost as good as a hound, Dog thinks to himself), but Therrin's first knight had left. Perhaps it was because he'd decided to become a king instead; Wynne tries to explain it all to him, afterwards, but Dog still disapproves.
"Alistair has to be king, and it's different for kings," Wynne says, which is not really much of an explanation. Knights are supposed to be brave. And knights aren't supposed to stop becoming knights the moment they pick up a crown.
But I thought he liked her, Dog complains to Wynne, nudging at her knee. He didn't like her to be sad, and he killed bad things that wanted to hurt her—
Wynne sighs, bending down to scratch his ears; Dog wags his tail a little in appreciation. 'Yes," she says, "but it's complicated."
It is not. Why did he stop fighting for her?
Wynne sighs again. She smells like lavender from her bath, and warm stone in the sunlight, and a very little bit like ice. "I don't know," she tells him. "I wish he hadn't."
His human has found another knight, here in what she calls the Circle Tower (it is a very very tall pile of stones), and this knight smells like steel and strawberry jam from breakfast and faintly like lyrium.
And oranges. This knight likes oranges; sometimes he goes out to pick them from the orchard out behind the Tower when he thinks no one is watching, and then skulks around rather guiltily afterwards when the other men-in-armor asks him where he's been. Oranges are small and round and make Dog sneeze, but they don't run and are easy to catch—still, Dog isn't quite sure what to make of this new knight's strange tastes in food, especially when there is lamb and roast beef and chicken to be had in the kitchen for only a little bit of begging, and those don't run, either.
Humans are very strange.
This knight talks to his human a lot. Dog isn't sure what to make of that, either. He catches them at it in all sorts of strange places. When they talk, his human is happy and sad both at once, and the knight is nervous, and Dog has to go prowling through the nearby halls to make sure that the men-in-armor don't walk in on them. The men-in-armor are afraid of his human.
There are a lot of people who are afraid of his human.
This knight isn't, though. He looks at her like that other knight used to look at her.
But Alistair had left and Therrin had so earnestly not-cried about it.
So this time Dog is much more careful in how often he lets this new knight talk to his human; if he makes her unhappy she will be very very unhappy, and Dog doesn't know if she can put herself back together a second time if she breaks again.
Alistair comes to visit. Dog hasn't been expecting this, and neither has his human, and neither has the new knight she's found, and neither has the little pup she's adopted, and Dog would've found all of it very funny—all these humans standing in the hallway, growling at each other silently, hackles raised—if his human hadn't been about to turn the corner and run into the middle of it all.
He tries to warn the pup. But the pup isn't listening; Stephen is fluffing himself up to make himself look bigger, and the two knights are glaring at each other, and then Therrin is there and she is looking cracked and broken again. Dog whines and pushes at her legs.
Instead of listening to him, she locks him out of the room when she goes off to confer with Alistair.
Everyone is very unhappy about this. Dog flings himself down before the door with a whuff; there's dinner waiting for them in the eating room, and the little pup is hungry (pups are always hungry) and Alistair has brought many men-in-armor with him who are scowling unpleasantly at the men-in-armor who live here in the Tower. None of them are doing anything.
Dog eyes the new knight. He's standing off to the side, smelling like worry, but instead of opening the door—he has hands, with fingers and thumbs and everything—and going inside to help his human (or at least let Dog in to help his human), the knight is staring at the wall and not moving. Dog disapproves of this. How can he be a proper knight unless he goes in to help?
Knights should be brave.
But maybe he does help, because afterwards—after forever, when Therrin finally opens the door and sends Alistair away and they can all go to the eating room for dinner—afterwards, she is not as sad as Dog was afraid she might be, and her hair smells a little like steel and oranges.
It's easy enough to find the place where this new knight sleeps. The room smells of oil polish and strawberry jam, and Dog approves very much of the comfy blanket the knight has on his bed.
"I—ah—shouldn't you be with Therrin?" Cullen asks cautiously, staring.
Dog wags his tail. The blanket is soft in all the right places and folds around him perfectly.
"It's just that I was planning to sleep there, you know."
Humans are so predictable. He could try sleeping on the floor tonight, just to make things interesting? It would confuse people.
"I—what?" says Cullen, looking puzzled. Dog sighs gustily. This new knight is not very good at listening.
My human likes you, Dog explains, very patiently.
"Oh," says the knight. "I—er—um—" He stops. Then: "I can't believe I'm having this conversation with a dog."
Dog wags his tail again. He's a clever dog.
"Yes, very clever," Cullen says dryly. "I suppose you won't hesitate to bite me if I upset her? I heard what you did to the king."
Dog growls. Alistair is not king, he is a bad bad knight who abandoned his human, and Alistair deserves to be bitten a lot—only Therrin has told him not to because it's complicated, and sometimes she sounds like Wynne and Dog doesn't understand because it really isn't that complicated—
The knight is looking puzzled again. "What?"
Dog sighs again. Therrin is unhappy but less unhappy when she is with you, Dog says, wagging his tail furiously. Are you going to leave her?
Cullen sighs. "I hope not. I don't know. It's complicated."
That word again: complicated. Dog decides that he doesn't like this word.
If you're going to leave she'll be very unhappy, Dog warns.
"I know," Cullen says, sighing again.
Good. Dog stretches out and yawns, making sure that every one of his very sharp teeth are fully on display.
Then he jumps off the bed. Cullen backs up with alacrity. Smart knight.
There are bones in the kitchen, Dog says, looking up at him and wagging his tail. Do you want to come? They're much tastier than oranges.
"How do you know about the oranges?" Cullen demands. And, "Never mind. No, I'm full from dinner, thanks."
Humans. Dog gives himself a shake and goes trotting off.
Maybe Therrin can find him a blanket like the one this knight has.
More people come. Now the Tower is less empty and more full, which means more interesting things for Dog to smell but also more people who shout and wave angrily when they trip over him.
These new people are also afraid of his human. Those are the ones who have come from somewhere very far away, smelling like ice or fire or lightning—but not all three at once, because that is only his human and his human is special—and they whisper things about her when she isn't listening, like in the eating room after his human leaves but before Dog is quite finished with his bone.
(They say things that would make her sad. Sometimes Dog considers biting them all, but there are too many of them and they would all taste terrible.)
Lots of people are afraid of his human. Especially when she comes walking out of the lower workrooms, reeking of old books and magic.
"That's all right," his human says, laughing a little as she pulls the workroom door shut behind him and leans down to pat his head. "As long as they listen to me, and stop calling me mageling."
Dog licks her fingers. Does it make you sad?
"No," she says. "Not really. I have you, don't I? And Stephen, and Wynne—"
And your new knight?
Her smile stills. "I don't know. It's—"
—complicated. Yes. Dog sighs. Humans like to use that word.
The knight talks to his human a lot, and he is not afraid of her.
Which is something. And it is something that makes her happy, so Dog flops down onto the lakeside grass, tongue lolling, and occupies himself with an interesting-smelling clump of flowers as his human and her knight make little courting motions at each other over beneath the orange tree. They're murmuring something to each other in low voices. The air smells like magic and fresh-blooming flowers and ripening fruit.
Perhaps this knight is a brave knight after all, Dog thinks, closing his eyes as the sunlight comes down warm against his fur. Perhaps he will fight for her and make her happy and bring her flowers. His human would like that very much.
And if his human is happy, then Dog is happy. Dog likes being happy.
He wags his tail a very little bit, tongue lolling, and curls up to sleep in the sunny orchard.
A/N: So I'm thinking it would be totally cool for mages to be able to use their powers to grow flowers and fruits out of season. The Circle Tower could have its own private open-air greenhouse, warmed by magic, and the Orlesian courts would hire mages to grow them pretty things. Gardening ftw!