He loves her. Despite it all, he could not help but love her, in the end. He is not so different from Cailan, it seems.

Eamon arranged everything, though the hesitation in his eyes was obvious to everyone. Not even he would dare go against the word of the Hero of Ferelden. Alistair's expression was often one of nervousness, and she was rarely seen without her hands clenched. These days she is calm, hands gently writing out envoys to other nations. He strides in, swooping to kiss her forehead, before sitting in front of the large fireplace with a sigh. Finishing the letter, she turns, a gentle smile on her face.
"Hello, husband. Productive day?" He rolls his eyes.

"Oh, terribly. The Revered Mother seems to think that I am still at her beck and call, and the resulting shouting match was a sight to be seen." He starts removing his pauldrons, but his hands still as she kneels in front of him, taking over the arduous task. "Thank you," he adds, a warm smile gracing his features. She blushes slightly, and he chuckles.

"Oh, nothing. Just pleased that I can still make you blush." She laughs, loosening the buckles on his greaves.

"You say that like we've been together too long. Like the romance has died out."

"Oh, never," he dismisses with a grin. "After all, our romance wasn't exactly.. conventional." He pulls off his gauntlets and reaches out to stroke her cheek. Her hands still at his touch, a small sigh escaping her. Leaning forward, he kisses her cheek, before grabbing her hand and pulling her to her feet. "I definitely need to bathe," he states, grinning, before allowing her to summon servants.

There is still a place set at the table for the King's Mistress. They smile as they take their seats, discussing their day. The seat remains empty, of course.

He crushes her against the door, kissing her hard. As she gasps underneath him, his hands tugging at clothes, she asks him the same question she has asked him every night since their marriage truly began.

"Do you really not love her?" He chuckles, the familiarity of it warm despite the awkward jump in his heart.

"You know that's not the case," he growls into her neck, planting kisses as he pulls down her dress. She does not ask for another answer, but pushes him towards the bed.

He was torn, for a long time. She was his first love, the one who woke up his heart and showed it to the world, and there would always be a part of him that loved her. This he knew. But the day he fell in love with Anora, a new rhythm began beating in his chest, a call to war that he could not ignore.

It had been tense for a few months, before he had finally taken her hands in his, pressing that first sweet, genuine kiss to her lips. Suddenly he felt washed, all shiny and new and wondrous..

And then he had sat down to dinner with both of them.

"Good morning, your Majesty," she drawls, feet resting on his desk as he enters his study. He chuckles, hands on hips.
"I should lock you up for insubordination," he suggests. She grins.

"Oh, shut up. You love that I don't treat you with airs and graces." She swings her legs down, giving up his seat and walking around the desk to poke his chest. "Besides, who else would warn you about the Orlesian Grey Wardens?" She smirks as he rolls his eyes and plants a kiss on her forehead.

"What do they want now?" he groans, picking up the report on his desk.

"The usual. 'Oh, pleeze, 'ow deed you survive such an ordeeel?'" She snorts. "Apparently 'I don't know' isn't an acceptable answer anymore."

"And 'the king had sex with a witch and spawned a demon child' is generally just a conversation killer," he laughs. She smiles, before folding her arms.

"Did you.. tell her?"
"Anora? Mm, eventually." He grins. "She didn't believe me at first, but I think she understands, really. Kept asking about the danger to the throne, but her eyes told me what I wanted to know." She nods, staring out of the window. He sighs. "You're still upset with me about it, aren't you?"

"A little," she admits, smiling. "After the grief you gave me for flirting with Zevran, though.."

"I was young! I didn't know any better!"

"We were both young," she laughs. "And you didn't know much of anything, I seem to recall." She winks, and he blushes, a fact that still makes her smile and him secretly pleased. After a moment, he decides to ask.

"Will you really never see eye to eye with her?"

The idea was laughable, he realises, as he storms from the bedchamber, half-clothed and all-outraged. Behind him, the two women glance at each other, anger and fire in their eyes. Anora is first to move, snatching up her robes and muttering darkly.

"Wait, please." The voice is soft, and she turns to the Warden Commander. The woman sits, eyes closed. "Can we talk? I.. well, I want to try and.. talk." She smiles slightly. "Can't be any worse than his idea," she chuckles, and Anora cannot help but smile.

"It was.. not his best idea," she admits, sitting on the edge of the bed. "I have to wonder where he got it from."
"Probably the bloody Orlesians," she mutters darkly, and Anora nods.

"There, I think, we have an agreement. They are far too free with their ridiculous ideals." They laugh, the mood lightened in the presence of common ground, before she sighs.

"This'll never be normal, will it," she murmurs, and it is not a question.

"Such is the fate of those who love him, I think," whispers the queen.

"I.. cannot bring myself to love you too, but I respect you." She looks sad for a moment. "And I won't interfere with what you two have."
"Thank you. I will keep him whole for you, for the end." And she reaches out to hold her hand for a moment, because that end is a lot closer than any of them would like.

Time passes, as it is wont to do.

Anora stands, hands trembling as they rest on the shoulders of her two sons. Duncan, the elder, watches his father and aunt walk out of the grounds, eyes hard with understanding. Beside his mother, Mactir clutches her robes, confused but aware that today is a sad day. Beneath hair that has whitened early, Anora cries for lost love and a friendship too short.

And in the distance, two Grey Wardens hold hands as they set out for Orzammar, denying that they are both not quite whole.