It was a stupid, stupid mistake—something so menial and trivial that should have never affected our lives like this but it did, and now we're stuck like this without any way to go back and redo the past. I know you don't blame me for this; I know you blame yourself (and possibly those humans, even if you've never said it out loud), but you can't pile the responsibility onto a single being, or any being for that matter. This is a result of poor judgment. This is a result of reckless pride, foolish curiosity, unjustifiable naivety…this is a result of my irritatingly mortal flaws.

I thought maybe someday I could stop watching you from afar. Maybe I wouldn't have to stalk you in my dreams; maybe I could find you, maybe I could find a cure. But then I'd catch my reflection in a shattered mirror or a lake nearby and want nothing more than to never let you see me ever again. You remembered me as Tamlen, your best friend—perhaps even something more. I didn't want your last memory of me to be a disgusting creature. I would have rather let your last memory be of my insistent nagging about some stupid cave if it meant you'd remember me as a fellow kinsman. Of course, I never saw you as the type that could be as shallow as that, but I was so ashamed, so haunted by my own mistakes. I didn't want to make another mistake again.

When you left the clan to come find me, I couldn't help but feel relieved that you hadn't abandoned me, and that I meant as much to you as you do to me. But at the same time, I wished you had stayed. I wished I hadn't forced you to leave our home forever to go on a search that would lead you nowhere. I didn't want you to leave because of me, yet I was so overjoyed that you left because of me. To this day, I can't forgive myself for how selfish I was, how I dared to rejoice what my mistakes made you do.

You changed, once you went into the open world. You became quieter, more distant from other people. At first I thought it was because you were surrounded by humans and just reacted to them the way all Dalish react to human trespassers. That I could respect. But as time went on, I realized that you were worried. Every town you visited, every place where I wasn't there discouraged you more and more. You were fighting yourself, debating whether or not to turn around and find our clan before it was too late. Yet, each time you were close to giving up, someone would mention seeing a male Dalish elf wandering the roads, and your determination would spark once more. (Again, you've never said this aloud, but perhaps you knew that you were following a false hope, and went on trying to find me anyway, having nowhere else to go and no one else to find.)

And then you met him.

He resembled me in a way, which was a comfort. It was almost as if he were my proxy, sent to protect you in my stead. And anyway, I knew he wasn't your type. You were too independent, too strong for his womanizing act. But he was a persistent bastard. He spent every night bragging to you about his Antivan adventures and sexual exploits. You listened to every word of it—she's humoring him, I thought—and, in turn, told him about some of our adventures. At first, I could tell he wasn't paying attention (not to your words, at least), but he eventually began tuning back into the conversation, becoming more and more fascinated by you.

There were times when I caught you staring at him. At that time, I thought you were definitely falling for him, and resented him for not taking you seriously. He was trying to seduce you, was trying to get you into his tent from the minute he laid his eyes on you. He didn't care about you, certainly not like I did—like I still do. He didn't deserve you. But then, as he leaned in to steal a kiss from you, you said it. My name escaped your lips. That must've been a turn-off, even for him, because he slowly withdrew and escaped into his tent without so much as a 'goodnight'.

You stopped speaking to him for a while. He still watched you from afar, just as I did, with a look in his eyes I couldn't classify as lecherous or immodest. I didn't know what you were thinking at the time, and I still don't know now, but something made you come back to him. Was it because he reminded you of me? Was it guilt? Lust? Love? I didn't know what you were feeling or thinking at all, and it was killing me inside because I didn't know if you even remembered me at all. All I knew was that you let him kiss you that night you got back together and you didn't say my name.

I don't think you noticed, but he became gentler after that. He was more protective of you, as if he was suddenly afraid of losing you somehow. There was a subtle tenderness in the way he held you, the way he spoke, the way he stared. You changed around him as well. You smiled at him more, laughed at his jokes—you treated him the way you always treated me. Both of you were falling in love with each other, and you didn't even realize it.

But then you remembered me. Something insignificant triggered it—a familiar bow and arrow, a certain inside joke—and it dawned on you that you had fallen for two people. You tried not to let him notice, wanting to sort things out for yourself (you always were too independent for your own good), but he wasn't stupid. He could see you were distancing yourself from him, and it confused him. He thought perhaps he hadn't shown you enough passion and attempted to take you into his tent with promises of some odd Antivan massage. When you declined, he wasn't sure what he was supposed to do.

Which brings us to tonight.

Right now, I don't know if I've won against him or not. He has an entire lifetime to win his way back into your heart; I've only a grand total of five minutes. You're all that matters in this world anymore, as cliché as it sounds, and I can't stand to keep this to myself anymore. Appearance and memories be damned, I won't stay off to the side and let you slip away without letting you know how I feel. If you don't know this…if I never let you know this…I can never rest in peace.

"I love you." And now the world turns black.

You look beautiful, you know. Even when you're crying.

A/N: Caution: Although I based this off the AU that Ellie Mahariel has in misAdventure (that AU being that Mahariel never joined him in the cave and thus never became a Grey Warden and instead left to find him), this has no relation to misAdventure whatsoever. It is a separate piece, meaning that the events here don't necessarily relate to the events that are to occur during misAdventure.

My only excuse for this sob-story fic is that I wrote it at midnight last night while listening to Evanescence. Oh, and because of the extreme lack of Tamlen in fanfiction around here (AND the extreme lack of MaharielxZevran). Reviews would be nice, but please don't make fun of me too much ^^;