Of The Dangers of Boredom

A/N: Just a wee little something, decidedly lighthearted, before I dive into the angstfest that is Return to Ostagar. Happy Valentine's Day!

The Wonders of Thedas.

They could be here for hours. At least Wynne, surely, but once Morrigan realized that the shop had a lot of raw magical ingredients for her potions and an entire section of books of herbal remedies, she was even willing to accompany the elder mage on her semi-regular trips to the store. Giovanna Cousland this time went along for the sheer fun of watching those two, never mind the delicious distraction from thinking about various ways to do harm to Loghain Mac Tir. The Landsmeet loomed ever closer, and they've already cleaned out every single alleyway there was in Denerim from bandits, including the Alienage, so there was hardly ever anything else to be done.

Truth to tell, she was almost as bored and impatient as Sten, although as long as the Qunari had his sword, Asala, he was content. Giovanna has never seen anyone obsessing over a weapon as much as him, and that was to say something. She supposed it was something to do with the Qun. The man never parted that sword since they found it deep in a chest amongst assorted war memorabilia in that dwarf mercenary's house in Redcliffe, and compared to his previous self he almost radiated happiness. Giovanna caught him almost smirking at some sarcastic remark Shale made over a cage of chickens at the Denerim food market and she was shaken to the core for days afterward.

So, the Wonders of Thedas. Giovanna absently ran her hand over a stack of books in a dark corner in the back of the shop, wishing Wynne would finish with the discussion about one kind of obscure spell ingredient or another with the Tranquil who ran the establishment. She had vague memories of passing by this place when they visited Denerim with her family when he was a child; Fergus teased her mercilessly afterward for weeks because she thought the golem dolls they had on display were 'cute'. That was pretty much the last time she used that word, and she was usually rather sure it would stay that way... except when Alistair was pouting.

Alistair... Giovanna sighed and turned her attention to another pile of tomes with dusty covers and exciting titles such as Theory of In-substantiation, Volume One, The Basics, and Transmutation: The Easy Way in Thirty-One Days. There was also The Veil For Dummies. From the titles Giovanna somehow suspected this particular pile wasn't necessarily something the Chantry would particularly approve, and suddenly she was glad they left Leliana and Alistair at Arl Eamon's estate. An ex-lay sister and an ex-Templar might just have thought no Chantry-controlled mage should possess books like The Way To A Templar's Heart: Tasty Recipes from Sister Beatrice (With Potions, Too!).

Hmm... Giovanna pulled out that one from the stack, a clear indication of just how horribly bored she was. Whoever this Sister Beatrice might have been, judging by the recipes she thumbed through, she must have weighed about three hundred pounds. Take a pound of butter, she read, feeling her heartbeat getting more frantic just by the thought of actually doing that, and beat it for an hour with the yolk of eight of the freshest eggs.

Beat it? Giovanna furrowed her brows. She wasn't quite sure how one would get violent with butter and egg yolks... Her forays into anything culinary consisted of dragging Poppy out of Castle Highever's kitchen. After she got conscripted by Duncan, she received a crash course in camp cooking, and, truth to tell, her skills in that regard were barely better than Alistair's famous Grey Stew, that was voted unanimously Worst Supper Ever by everyone in camp the one and only time he was ever allowed to make it.

Add a pound of white cane sugar... she read, and whistled under her breath. Damn, but this was one expensive Templar, whose heart this Sister tried to warm. White sugar was something her mother complained over once when they discussed Oren's birthday cake. And beat it for another hour.

By Andraste's holy knickers,who has this much time? She closed the book with a disgusted expression on her face. That would be two hours right there and all she'd get is some righteously abused butter and eggs and ridiculously expensive sweet stuff.

No sodding way...she thought and glanced over to where Wynne sat in one of the store's chairs, with primly folded hands in her lap, negotiating some complicated price discussion, no doubt. Morrigan was lost amongst the ingredient shelves further to the side, and all that meant that there was no easy escape in sight. Back to the wonders of tasty recipes, then...

That was when she accidentally spotted the book. It caught her eye because of the binding: faded cherry-red velvet, no title, just a single imprint of a rose in gold ink on the cover...

Oh dear Maker, it can't be... The Garden of the Secret Rose?Her hands shook a bit as she gently eased the slender tome out of the pile. Yep, the very same. No wonder it seemed vaguely familiar. Giovanna's cheeks colored lightly and she looked around quickly to make sure no one saw her now. Just holding it made her feel sixteen again, running away from the sitting for her official portrait for the family gallery, hiding in her mother's room and finding the twin of this book on her night table. She still remembered how horrified she was realizing that her mother, her always calm, collected and cool mother, who always, always treated her father with a kind of amused but distant affection, kept something like this in her bedroom...

And it even has the miniatures... All colored and very, very detailed. Giovanna wasn't sure if she should blush like she did back when she was sixteen, or snicker at the ridiculousness of the faked passion on the faces of the couples on the exquisitely painted images or...

Oh, dear.

She definitely didn't remember this one... She leaned closer, rather sure she misread that. Given that it was a translation from Antivan which was the translation of the Tevinter original itself, according to the foreword, it easily could be. After all, this wouldn't be the first case something was lost in translation. There was, for instance, that thing with the camel and the needle...

"Pulleys?" she murmured under her breath. "And ropes?" Her eyes widened. "To the ceiling?"

"Will you be getting that?" Morrigan's dry voice sounded right next to her ear. She slammed the book shut as fast as she could and jumped up from the little stool she perused while browsing, clutching the book to her chest like a shield. "'Twould be most unusual, you finding something in a store such as this, but mayhap one with some pictures of swords?"

Giovanna swallowed; she was in no condition to explain anything to the witch. Besides, right now even that sentence sounded like one laced with double meaning.

"Uh...maybe?" she offered, blindly casting her hand out and grabbing another tome at random from the pile. "And...this one."

Morrigan's brows rose.

"Indeed." she said drily, glancing at the title. "Although I did not think you would need to learn that from a book."

"Learn what...oh." Giovanna swore quietly under her breath. Of course she had to pick up the stupid cookbook at random...The Way To A Templar's Heart indeed...

"All right, let's go, then." she said airily, marching to the front and slamming the books down in front of the Tranquil manning the desk. "How much?"

Fade take it, she thought defiantly while pulling silver after silver out of her money pouch, and trying not to look Wynne in the eye. The woman's eyes were positively twinkling, dammit! I better look at the bright side of this, because this was one rather expensive little shopping trip. I can't wait to show these to Alistair.