Tremble

Pairing: Zevran / fem!Surana

Rating: M, dark themes (no explicit description, but warning: mention of underage, non-con, violence, sex)

Summary: Once you left the tower and promised you would not return. Now here you are.

Companion/contrast piece to Linger

A/N: More Zev whump for Lit, and Zev angst for Tas.

--

You clawed your way out of the alienage, age 10, magic manifested older than usual. You knew only of the orphanage and your cruel masters: women with their thin faces and the education of open handed slaps. The men who led were no better; they taught with fists and loosened belts, to wrap around your throat and to choke the rebellion out of you.

Your human jailers gave you squalor and despair, but it was the elves that turned on themselves, showed all of you to be lesser. Some of their tastes ran to children, easier to bend, easier to break. For a few coins, they could buy you for a night, thrust into your young, unprepared body, wind your hair around their fist as they rode you like a beast of a field.

The first chance you had, you burned your hatred into them, reveled in their screams. Your first kill numbered three.

So you turned feral.

--

You came to the tower, another grey prison: a prettier one without the broken windows or the mud, but the idea was the same. There was a hierarchy here, and even outcasts have rules to keep you in line. Similar taunts, same idea, different names. You were knife-ears and forest-whelp, and spittle splattered on your face and your shoes. You learned to wipe it off.

You grew into your woman's body, knew what you had to your advantage. You sauntered in front of the templars, who cupped your ass when you went by or squeezed a breast with a hard gauntlet. They were the ones who whispered Oh Maker when you serviced them, mouth working away at what remained of their devotion, their holy vows. You learned to wipe that off too.

The templars protected you with their shields as you worked their swords, and you had your pick of the mages who called you whore, threw their coins on your bed after they left. Jowan was the first one who laughed at you and had no desire to enter your bed. You cheated off each other during lessons, misfits found a common bond in the tower.

But Jowan betrayed you for Lily. They always had other women, other goddesses they worshipped but they would not turn you down for a romp. You blackmailed and you lied and you hardened yourself. You left the tower and promised you would not return.

--

You became Grey Warden and the taint suited you, ate away at your insides while your ragtag party gained a crazed chantry sister and a murderous Qunari. They followed you and the worthless templar at your side, the one who reminded you of those who watched over you in the tower. You ignored his sniveling whines about growing up in a castle, relegated to scrubbing the chantry stables. Because you had some semblance of kindness left in you, you sacrificed the bitch who threw him at the mercy of the Reverend Mother, even though he begged and protested, and you thought him more merciful than you ever would be and this mercy was his weakness.

The Chantry was just another prison; the cage, the promise of faith and salvation. So you took the demon's offer, because blood was magic and blood was power, at the expense of a young child who lived a better short life than the entirety of your years. The dark red lifeforce pulsed and quickened in you each battle, when it welled up in your hand and you drank in their fear, felt it bubble in their veins. You sent Jowan to his execution, with the cause that you yourself were guilty for.

--

The assassin was the one who you could not explain. You wanted to label him, like you did all your other companions: weak-willed, mad, fanatic, simpleton. You saw a mirror in his face, when he kneeled before you asking for his life, said he would rather live than to die. You saw that spark inside of him, the base desire for survival. You respected this, acknowledged his recounted tales of growing up as the son of a whore, sold for coin and power.

He mirrored you in many other ways, strong hands sure and steady, directed your limbs into all sorts of new positions that even you had not encountered before. You had sex for pleasure and danger, that irresistible lure of death promised by an assassin's blade. You were a little disappointed each time (after you both climaxed and parted, sweat pooling into different crevices, his chest rising and falling beside your own) that he did not kill you, with a slip of poison or a well-placed dagger.

You sparred with him bare-handed, his skills against yours, with you clothed in a chest wrap and loose leggings, and him clothed in almost nothing at all. You stepped inside his guard, deflected his blows and when he swept you off your feet with his leg and the force of his body, you would tumble into all sorts of compromising positions, and those who found you would walk away with their faces scarlet with what they saw.

Sex was your form of communication, and you spoke often and at great length. There was no pity found in his eyes when that hazel gaze roamed your body, saw the thin white memories of lashes there or the tender carvings of a knife under a rib and a once punctured lung. Just as you did not mention the welts that decorated his lean back or enquired about slightly crooked fingers obviously broken many times.

--

One by one you gained them, and one by one they left you.

Sten was the first to leave at Haven. You stripped him of his armor and he said to fight at your side would be to dishonor his people. You killed Wynne when she dared to counter you after you poured the dragon blood on the ashes of Andraste; you thought it better to rid the people of a fabled illusion and an old mage whose death was fast approaching. Leliana parted ways with you shortly after that, lasting longer than you would have imagined, having lost her faith in the Maker and her divine visions.

The camp that had swelled to the ranks of so many was now littered with only a few. You gathered the armies and marched to the Landsmeet, to crown the widower queen and for the Hero of River Dane to find his own redemption.

How all of your fates unwound, scrolls recorded long histories, chronicling many lives and many deaths. You woke each morning into a new dawn heralded by old magics, the archdemon and its promised reign. You felt your heart's steady beat quicken when you looked at him in the morning and wished you were not an elven mage beaten and battered, but someone less scarred, who might be brave enough to love – once.

Instead you used him like you did Alistair, used their life and their blood and their pain to kill your enemies. With the templar it was vicious pleasure, a vengeance for all those wounds inflicted upon you, the watchguards of the tower and their carnal needs. With the assassin it was a petty desire to hurt him, that he dared to make you believe that you could be whole again, dared to make you feel all sorts of weakness and pretend futures.

You turned him over to Taliesin, who had better claim. You betrayed him before he had a chance to betray you, told him that he should have heeded all of those warnings above love, what he should have learned after Rinna. He could not look you in the eyes after that, lowered his head and waited for the sword to fall.

And you gave yourself an excuse to kill him.

--

You thought of them as you looked out at the waters on the banks of Calenhad, shivering, removing your armor piece by piece. The chill clung to your skin, as you stood surrounded by the ghosts of those lives you took: the three elves in the alienage, Isolde, Jowan, Connor, Wynne, Taliesin, Howe, Loghain…Zevran, those you ran over by magic or by will.

The ex-templar who would be king became a wandering drunkard and the witch supposedly returned to her wilds - you heard these brief news after you returned to the circle tower. There was nowhere left in the kingdom to go, no companion to visit or home to return to. There was only the charred tower and mages to scuttle past you, regard you with fearful eyes, and a promise to yourself that you never kept.

The gloves were the only remaining things left to discard, and you hesitated to part with them. You knew what regret was sewn into their lining and what this simple gift meant to another, when you killed the one man you could have loved and took these gloves for remembrance. Naked you came into the world and naked you will return to it. The gloves fell at your feet. You would have no use for them, where you were going.

You allowed the water to fill your nose, your mouth, your lungs; their ghosts followed, the spirit healer's gentle advice and memories of a tower that used to be whole, the Antivan assassin's murmurs when he kissed the inside of your thigh, and you joined them in your journey to your final sleep, until you sank into the depths of Lake Calenhad - the only grey warden left in Ferelden.