Title: Hush

Pairing: Zevran / fem!Cousland

Summary: She was Andruil, Goddess of the Hunt, and Zevran pledged himself to her completely, body and soul.

Rating: T for mention of sex

A/N: Italicized sections are from "Now That I am in Madrid I Can Think" by the brilliant poet Frank O'Hara. It may not fit exactly within the DA realm, but imagine the two worlds overlapping for a moment.

--

I think of you
and the continents brilliant and arid
and the slender heart you are sharing my share of with the American air

--

Zevran thought, when she stood above him, that she was Andruil, Goddess of the Hunt and he was her prey. She stood proud and with the forest behind her, the branches that formed shadows of antlers above her brow. Her hair was midnight and had escaped from the ties that bound it back, to fall in loose curls around her face. Slivers of twigs and leaves had found home there, tangled amidst the waves like bits of adornment, as if the trees had found favor with her, crowning her in acceptance. Her skin was nut brown from long days spent under the sun; her body well muscled as he caught glimpses of the rippling strength of her legs as she moved towards him, intent on her target. He could see the way she was, that she was used to her aim striking true and the course of her arrows not to falter. It was why he was lying here sprawled in the dirt, with his band of would-be assassins dead around him.

He was certain she was elven, at first glance, with the sun blinding him for a second, dazzled by her lithe limbs and her swiftness, but she did not have the pointed ears of his kind. She was human and her gaze was questioning and intent upon him, that kind of haughty demand for answers, the confidence bred by nobility. He knew how to bargain for his usefulness, having been through a few occasions where he had only quick wit to depend on, and this time, thankfully, there was no knife pressed against his throat.

--

as the lungs I have felt sonorously subside slowly greet each morning
and your brown lashes flutter revealing two perfect dawns colored by New York

--

There was something about Ferelden women that fascinated him. Antivan women were perfumes and illusion, coded messages behind fans and coy eyes through a veil of scarves. The noblewomen were hidden away in their scented pavilions, floating on the water, with the only access extended by exclusive invitation. Ferelden women wore battle armor cut high up on the leg to free their movements (this, he appreciated), boots and helms and greaves made out of light material. They were a different danger than the seductive nets of Antiva. Here the blades were bared and the barbs real, but here the women were soft when it came to duels with words. They were at a loss as to how to tease and to flirt with just the right edge of caution and seduction.

He delighted in causing the spread of red along her neck and her cheeks, with her clumsy, stuttered responses or even the wave of a hand when she dismissed the game. He felt his eyebrows arch in surprise when she finally found an appropriate counter, about the many uses for a handsome elf. He laughed sincerely, something he had not done in a long time, especially because afterwards the blush grew so deep that Alistair, passing by, asked if she was experiencing a fever. She ran away so quickly that if she had a tail, Zevran thought that she would have it tucked between her legs.

--

see a vast bridge stretching to the humbled outskirts with only you
Standing on the edge of the purple like an only tree

--

The warden Alistair puffed up like a pastry whenever she walked by, proceeded to trail after her like a newly imprinted mabari pup. He was so eager to please and not bad to look at, Zevran acknowledged, knowing instinctively that he would be the main contender for her hand. If this were any other occasion and any other place, there was his reputation to uphold, but he was bound by oath to the beautiful rogue and he would honor it. Besides, it was far more amusing to listen to the man with his not so subtle hints that Zevran's place was with the Crows, in hopes of charming the prettier Warden without another to distract her.

There were battles to fight and darkspawn to kill and he knew his place. He was an assassin for hire sworn to a hero the country has yet to accept, and what better companion for a hero than a bastard prince, something out of a fairytale storybook. However, he could not resist one meaningless tryst, a notch on the metaphorical belt, an eager meeting of hungry mouths and hot heat between legs. What he knew so well and the only thing he could offer.

She was liquid underneath him. The hair that was usually bound was soft under his palms, as he plunged his hands into those waves. And he worshipped her like he worshipped all women he knew, with his entire body and his entire being, a communion of gasps and moans. She shuddered around him, warm and trembling, tension and agony; his control held only by his teeth piercing his lower lip and he tasted copper as she cried and shook and everything unraveled around him.

Her lips were red, smeared with his blood, and she was puzzled as she wiped it off, coming away with the stain.

"You're bleeding," she said softly, thumb brushing the rest of it from his lips.

"It's better, when you bleed." He chuckled. "A fine line, between pain and pleasure."

She looked at him with those honest eyes. Eyes that looked at him with a great sadness, and he knew what she was remembering. A rack, the bodies of his torturers, what little comfort Taliesin could offer him.

"What I could teach you, little bird." He ran his fingers down her sides, made her giggle and sigh at once. "If you would only let me." He bit her shoulder and watched as the sadness went out of her. He would fill her with something else in the mean time.

--

and in Toledo the olive groves' soft blue look at the hills with silver
like glasses like and old ladies hair

--

He attempted to joke with the other warden. Something about his virility and the tips that he could give him, even though the quick rush of anxiety blurred his vision for a moment. Alistair and her speaking earlier in front of the fire and Zevran saw gifts exchanged, something that looked like a flower…and what better ending to a gift exchange would be to join her in her bed…

"No," Alistair frowned, not quite understanding. "We didn't do anything like that. What are you talking about?"

The sense of relief made him dizzy.

The camp was very small, too small for a pacing assassin and a candidate to be king to stare daggers at each other over the fire. Zevran felt caged as he stalked the forest boundaries, and he found amusement in taunting Morrigan and offering his services to Leliana. He even dared to slide close to Shale, who batted him away with those great fists and told him to harass someone else, painted elf.

At the moment, she had her head conspiratorially next to Leliana's, and when she sauntered over to his place by the fire, he regarded her suspiciously, knowing that smirk. She dangled the gloves before him like he was some docile animal, and he could have pretended it meant nothing to him, but he snatched up those gloves with eagerness that he half attempted to hide. She has already given him the smell of Antiva City; he could only mask his delight with comments about prostitutes and chowders, watched her nose wrinkle in disgust, but also laughter. She was both generous and kind, saucy and teasing. This other gift, however, meant much more to him. He was buoyed up for a moment, knowing that she listened and that she remembered, and that maybe, it meant she cared. It brought back memories of a mother who was also kind and caring, who was too gentle for the life that she was born into.

But that all came crashing down into a great heap when giddy and foolish and overwhelmed, he chose to share with her the memories that he kept locked within him, the memories he kept to himself to prevent the spread of pity in her expression, that emotion he hated most of all. This pity for a young child who grew up in the gutter in the company of whores, pity for an assassin who took the first contract that would mean suicide. His guilt and his shame for laughing in Rinna's face, Rinna with her lovely eyes and the way she said my dear Zevran, I have an hour or two to spare, now let's put you to good use. When he crumpled the vellum that exonerated her charges and sobbed in his quarters, alone, a death wish forming in his mind.

Rinna with her head lopsided like a doll with her strings cut.

--

It's well known that God and I don't get along together

--

"So you won, happy?" The templar scowled at him, his lips twisted.

"I have no idea what you mean." Zevran was confused when the knight stalked up to him and crossed his arms in his armor (which was no small feat) to announce his victory.

"Just, be good to her, alright?" Alistair went away sulking, and the elf had no idea what was going on in the man's head and wondered if Morrigan's jests had really gotten to him and that he was indeed a bit slow.

It wasn't until later when Leliana started watching at him sideways with meaningful looks and when she stood in front of him, smiling hesitantly, another gift in her hands.

"Do you mean to buy my affections, warden?" He teased.

Her lips pursed and she almost dropped the damn thing into his lap, so that he had to juggle it while grasping her elbow. He was, of course, blessed with swift reflexes as he set the globe aside and out of harm's way to kiss her until she forgot her exasperation.

The gift was a skyball, as he would learn later, a crafted noble luxury. My father used to have one, she said, in his study. I always thought it was the prettiest thing. She looked into the depths of the globe, loneliness mirrored there, and this time he was the one who put his arms around her as she cried, tears spreading on his shoulder.

He could not protect her from the terrible weight of her past and the great dragon looming over all of Ferelden. He wondered if she made the right choice, choosing gutter trash over the man who could give her an entire kingdom.

--

It's just a view of the brass works for me, I don't care about the Moors
seen through you the great works of death, you are greater

--

The landsmeet and Taliesin and everything all a whirlwind. The gem winked at him in his hand, mocking him. It was so tiny and insignificant; what gifts could he offer her, when she was the one who saved him and gave him greater gifts than he would ever be able to afford. She pinned her hair up to admire how they looked in her ears, and he thought they suited her well. He liked that a piece of him would be with her, even with the bloody memory those jewels contained.

There was his confusion and his frustration, building up to her final challenge. Her eyes flashed like Elgar'nan, God of Vengeance or the Maker smiting the earth for the death of his bride. She was striking and beautiful and frightening, everything a deity should be, when she asked him about his elusiveness. Zevran, who once thought he lost his heart in Antiva somewhere, admitted defeat (for who could withstand the wrath of a goddess?).

In the hushed twilight of a castle chamber, her soft footsteps made no sound on the worn stones and rugs when she crawled under the covers. Their whispers counted down the hours, time unwinding until they were exhausted and spent, hoarse from their gasped pleasures broken up by hours upon hours of conversation. She recounted every pleasant childhood memory and he told her of the wonders of Antiva. She ended up sobbing again, even though he tried to shelter her with his embrace: those tears he could not prevent, what assurances he could not give her, that final interlude they had together when the dawn announced itself in the eastern sky. Zevran, only a grey warden can slay the archdemon, do you understand? And he did.

He joined his voice with those at the gates, calling out For Ferelden, For the Grey Wardens. His eyes kept on being drawn to the top of the tower…where the light shone so brilliantly from above like a beacon of triumph. The darkspawn retreated, the Blight beaten back, but he did not join in the cheers as he watched Alistair carry her down from the steps of the tower, the knight's tears joining the rain that splattered against her skin. He put his arm around the shoulder of the man who used to be his rival, but all that seemed unimportant now with her looking serene and still. It was so unlike her, for in sleep she was moving and restless and this was not her…

His own eyes were dry even when he said his final goodbyes, for dead men cannot weep.

--

you are smiling, you are emptying the world so we can be alone together.

--

It was said that Zevran Arainai, despite frequent offers of bed partners, never loved again.