A/N: I am, in general, an Alistair fangirl. When he dumped my city elf after she made him king, however, I was most put out (even knowing it was coming because I always read spoilers...), mostly due to feeling the breakup dialog options were somewhat lacking in strength considering how completely pissed off I was. I fumed about it for a while, then started this to vent my angst. I may write more than the two parts that exist now, but I'm not going to force it, so it might stand as is. I think Zevran needs more attention from the (mostly) friendship angle instead of the manwhore angle, and I'm happy to give it to him.
Disclaimer: I do not own Dragon Age: Origins or any characters/plots/places/etc therein. I am the proud owner of Relora Tabris and her incredible pessimism.
"What…what are you saying?"
Alistair's shoulders slumped as if under a great burden, his soft eyes pleading with the woman staring at him in such painful disbelief. He had known this would be hard, but he had not realized what a vast understatement that truly was until he was actually faced with the reality of it. Seeing the dawning understanding in her pale blue eyes, knowing that he was hurting her when he had sworn he never would…it was almost too much. What kind of a cruel bastard could go through with this?
It would be so easy to pull her thin frame against his chest, to whisper apologies and reassurances that he was a fool to even mention such a horrible thing as this. Everything would be fine, they would make it work somehow, he would not give her up. It was an agonizing temptation, the urge to touch her hair, to trace her cheek, to tell the elf, his elf, that she was everything to him and nothing needed to change. Alistair the Grey Warden would have given in and never felt a moment's regret for it.
But Alistair, the King of Ferelden, could not.
"I…I made you king," she forced out, her voice a trembling whisper laced with accusations that grew in anger with every word, "because you said it was what you wanted. And…this is what has come of it?" Tears brimmed in her bright eyes, and guilt stabbed at his heart. He had never seen her cry, not once in the long months since he first met her, and now he would be the one to put her through this? "This is what you wanted?"
Swallowing his emotions, Alistair turned to pace away from her, desperate to look at anything but her eyes, his hand raking through his hair as a frustrated sigh whooshed out of him. "Want has nothing to do with it. I am king, or soon will be, and my duty must come first. Please don't make this harder than it already is."
He turned back around in time to see her eyes flash dangerously as she took a sharp step toward him. For a moment, he wondered if she would strike him. A part of him hoped she would. It might make this easier somehow…and maybe he deserved it. "You wish me to make it easy for you?" she spat, and despite the rising contempt in her tone, the tears finally broke from her dark lashes and trailed down her cheeks from heartbroken eyes. "Should it be simple for a man to destroy one set of promises for the sake of another? Should I bow and beg forgiveness for having the audacity to love a human who swears he loves me?"
Alistair narrowed his eyes and took his own forceful step toward her. "Don't make this about elf or human. That has nothing to do with this, you should know that."
"Don't you lie to me! Not now!" Her hands fisted at her sides, her shoulders trembling with suppressed sobs and fury. He had seen her angry a number of times, sometimes irrationally so, but this was something else entirely. This was despair, and some soft part of him died knowing it was his fault, that he had brought this upon her when she deserved so much more. "The mighty King of Ferelden cannot be haunted by an elven whore when there are far better human women out there eager to bear his children!"
Indignant anger swelled in him, and it was all he could do to say nothing until the feeling faded to a dull, throbbing ache in the pit of his stomach. "Lora…please…"
The stinging slap connected with his jaw, hard enough to leave an angry, red handprint across his face, and not surprisingly, it did not make things feel any easier at all. "I gave you everything," she whispered brokenly, and he almost refused to look at her. But he knew he owed her that much, so he met her piercing gaze, hoping she would see that this was anything but easy for him, that he was hurting too. "I was always there for you…I trusted you. You made me believe that there are…good men in this world when all I'd ever seen was…but…" her face contorted into something resembling a sneer, "you're just like every other bastard shem I've ever met."
"Lora," he pleaded in exasperation as she shoved past him toward the door. "Relora!" He followed her out into the hallway, jogging to catch up to her quick strides. "We need to talk about this. There is still the Blight to deal with! Stop, please, where are you going?"
When she did not answer, he went against his better judgement and grabbed her arm to stop her. She whirled on him, her face suddenly too close to his, but the expression on her face, the one that would forever after reminded him of an desperate, cornered animal, was almost frightening. "I'm going to see my family," she hissed, and Alistair was only vaguely aware of doors opening up and down the halls of the Arl's Estate. "Those who truly love me and don't betray me when promises are no longer a convenience!"
Alistair recoiled from her at that, and as she turned away again, his frustration boiled over. "What did you expect, then?" he shouted at her back. She froze but did not look at him. "That I would become king and…what? Marry you? That we would unite the land and its peoples and overcome all prejudices and end the Blight and live happily ever after? It's a fairy tale, Relora! You aren't this naïve – you know those stories don't come true! Some things are just not possible, no matter how badly we may want them!"
"Alistair!" The man startled and half-turned to see Wynne frowning at him in stark disapproval from the doorway of her room, her arms crossed over her chest. The self-righteous furor he had felt but a moment before faded to guilt and shame under her withering stare. A little farther down, from separate doorways, Oghren and Sten were watching him with different but equally unpleasant expressions, and Leliana had appeared as well, a hand pressed over her open mouth, her eyes wide in disbelief. "I hardly think this is the appropriate place for a king to handle such a…delicate situation," the aged mage admonished.
"A fairy tale?" Alistair's attention was forced back to his lover – former lover – as she echoed his words. She stared at him like she could not possibly fathom him, like he was a stranger or a madman or both, then shook her head. Her eyes turned to steel and she raised her chin defiantly his direction. "I hope you find a beautiful, virtuous human to wed, and I hope she bears you a dozen fine, strong sons, and for all your blessings, I hope you die alone and miserable, wallowing in your regrets."
Alistair barely registered Wynne's tired sigh, or her soft urge for them to please calm down. The elf stared at him fiercely for one last moment, her shoulders thrown back in a stance she used when facing her enemies, and then she was gone, ghosting through the shadowy corridor and out the front doors.
He took a step to follow her when someone snapped, "I would not do that, were I you." Zevran brushed past the scowling man to stare after the young woman before turning a passive, neutral expression on Alistair. "She does not wish you to follow."
"And what would you know of her wishes?" the future king growled, though he made no further attempt to follow the woman.
The assassin tilted his head and let the corner of his mouth twitch upward in a smirk. "Given that passionate display we all just witnessed, I would say I know more of her wishes than you do. By far."
Alistair bristled, but Wynne sighed again and stepped between them to force an end to the posturing before it could gain momentum. "Let's not make things worse than they already are," she urged, mostly in Zevran's direction.
"She should not be alone," Leliana commented, her hands twisting together in concern. "Someone should…"
"Allow me," Zevran offered before the thought was finished, his boots already carrying him in the direction of the doors. "I shall ensure that our lovely leader comes to no harm, from others or herself."
"Absolutely not!" Alistair commanded as he strode around the exasperated mage to intercept the elf.
Zevran cocked his head again, then turned to lean against the stone wall, and casually examining his fingernails as he spoke. "What is your concern, my friend? She is no longer yours to protect, yes? And if this is jealousy talking…well, you have forfeit your rights in that regard as well, don't you think?"
The human sputtered in indignation. "That does not mean I will allow you to…to take advantage of her while she is upset!"
"This is what you imagine I intend, then?" The assassin chuckled and pushed himself off the wall, his eyes fixed on Alistair with just a hint of malice in their depths. "She has gone to the Alienage, to see her family. You would not be wise to travel there, and as I am the only other elf here, it would be safe to assume that I am the logical choice to seek her out. Can you argue this?"
When Alistair eyed him skeptically, and no one else seemed inclined to join the debate, Zevran smiled and pressed his case. "I have no motives other than to keep her from doing something stupid. Such as getting drunk, climbing a tree, and plummeting to her untimely death. This is a good cause, no?"
Alistair's scowl darkened, but he looked away and the Antivan nodded, knowing he had made his point. "Well, then," Zevran straightened up and rubbed his hands together for a moment, his eyes roving aimlessly over the gathered companions. "There is but one thing left to do before I set off, I suppose." He was perfectly relaxed as he took one slow step closer to Alistair, then another, a smile flitting across his face as he spread his hands out like a man bearing a peace offering. "It occurs to me that I have done little for the sake of my people, and indeed I have hardly begun to repay my debt to lovely Lora for sparing my life. This seems to be as good a time to begin as any."
The elf was fast, faster than Alistair could follow, and the blow of one solid fist cracked into the human's nose before he even realized what was happening. There were several gasps of surprise somewhere behind him, and he stumbled backward with a bellowed cry, feeling and tasting the blood pooling in his nose and the back of his throat. He stared, disbelieving, through watery eyes at the grimacing elf as Zevran shook off the ache in his throbbing knuckles, but the former Crow's eyes were hard and cold as he regarded Alistair.
"She trusted you. Not just as a woman, or a lover, but as an elf. This is not something idly given, or idly tossed aside. I wonder, will you rule as king in this manner, hmm? As an elf, I pray it is not so, or perhaps I would be better off in Antiva after all."
And in a blink, the assassin disappeared down the corridor after the other elf, gone and out the door before Alistair could even begin to formulate a reply. "I…he…" he stammered around the hand with which he was unsuccessfully trying to staunch his bleeding, "he broke my nose!"
Wynne turned him around and wearily instructed him to tilt his head back and hold still, but Sten grunted and growled, "Good. Then I suppose I won't have to."
Alistair blinked at the glowering Qunari and glanced at Oghren when the dwarf grumbled, "Aye, remind me to buy that girly elf a drink when he gets back." He sharpened his eyes on the human and added, "Woman like that doesn't come along more than once in a sodding lifetime, kid, even if you're lucky enough to find her once. Hope you know what you just gave up."
"You…" Alistair floundered and stared around at the faces, ignoring the healer's insistence that he keep still so she could finish repairing his damaged face, "you all think this is easy for me?!"
Leliana touched his arm briefly, her eyes compassionate, but guarded, and Alistair knew she blamed him as well. "Easy or no, it is done," she murmured soothingly. "Nothing more need be said."
All but Wynne returned to their own rooms, and it was only a few moments before she too stepped away from Alistair. Brow wrinkled in concern, she said nothing but rather only studied him worriedly for a heartbeat before shaking her head sadly. "And here I was, worried that she would hurt you," she softly said as she turned away.
Alistair stared as she closed her door behind her, leaving him alone in the silent hallway. Something suffocating wound around his chest, something like sadness but deeper, sharper. Loneliness. Lonely already.
I hope you die alone and miserable.
The future king's eyes prickled painfully, and he hung his head in despair before forcing himself to trudge back to his room.