Summary: My take on the Zevran romance, which in some ways I enjoyed more than the Alistair one (!), built in and around scenes and dialogue from the game, with the added problem that the Warden has fallen for Alistair.
Words: ~11,000 in total (it's completed, & I'll upload additional parts as I edit them)
Warnings: Slash, brief lead-up and allusions to sexytimes (believe me, you'd rather I not attempt smut), and probably spoilers for pretty much everything, including lampposts.
Disclaimer: If I owned Dragon Age, I wouldn't be writing fanfic about it. Bioware is way cooler than I am, I promise. I also use some dialogue from the game pretty much verbatim (mostly in the earring-related scenes).
A/N: Guess who forgot to sleep and wrote another fanfic? Yup. That's how it works over here in synthemescLand. In case it will make anything clearer, the order of events I have imagined for this fic is: Lothering, the Circle Tower, the Dalish Elves, Zevran's assassination attempt, Redliffe, Denerim/Urn of Sacred Ashes, Orzammar, back to Denerim, the Landsmeet, and the final battle.
Also, apologies because I don't know if I think my second fanfic is as good as my first. Zevran's character is damn hard to nail (well—figuratively, ehm… you know what I mean.) I just hope I made them interesting and not like crying girls, that's always my fear. Go forth, and be critical of my awful characterization! (…in the reviews you're all going to write, right?)
Zevran is accustomed to taking his pleasures when they are offered to him, so he does not question it when the Grey Warden who spared his life asks to share his tent.
Said Grey Warden is an elf who wears Dalish leathers, but is not Dalish, and is the only mage Zevran has ever encountered who never wears robes and wields a sword instead of a staff. He is strong, though somewhat short even for an elf, and attractive. It only makes the conditions of his oath and his departure from the Crows seem like an even better idea, so he does not set out with any intentions to ask why or pick apart his benefactor's motives, so long as he continues to receive the benefits.
But Zevran is observant either by nature or discipline, and even though he cannot help but notice, he does not question it when they are talking and the Warden steals preoccupied glances over his shoulder like a lovesick teenager, to where a certain blonde-haired templar is usually sitting in front of the firepit.
He does not question, but instead feels strangely disconcerted, when the Warden presents him with a pair of Dalish gloves, and later Antivan leather boots, with the nonchalant explanation that "I remembered you mentioning them before." Then he flashes this bright smile, and hugs him in a way that seems to be more simple affection than a precursor to anything more, and Zevran really can't question it, because he has no idea what to make of someone giving him a gift without ulterior motives, and spends a week waiting for his Warden to make him pay up with some ridiculously complicated or unpleasant request that never comes.
When they sit side by side some evenings, making idle conversation, Zevran finds himself following his Warden's gaze across the campfire to where Alistair sits, polishing his armor, talking to Wynne, or ever-hopefully searching his pack for more cheese, and he has to remind himself not to question it when he can't figure out what is so extraordinary about an awkward, inexperienced Chantry boy who is really quite the whiner, objectively speaking.
And if the name his Warden gasps during the nights when they share a tent is not his, he may have to patch a small hole or two in his pride, but he certainly does not allow himself to question it.
Then he realizes that in his mind the Warden has somehow become his Warden, and that is when the questions really begin.
The Warden Surana is not a typical alpha-male, chest-thumping hero. He has a healthy curiosity about the world cultivated by a life trapped inside a tower, which is understandable, and he possesses a talent and penchant for manipulation that Zevran has to admit that he admires. If he were a Crow, he would probably be able to get by convincing his marks it was in their best interest to kill themselves. And he would probably also do it with a smile and very few crises of guilt—so Zevran added "amoral tendencies" to Surana's list of personality traits.
He wasn't evil, and in fact had a hidden yearning for justice (the slaver Caladrius had never stood a chance, and was dead almost as soon as he whined out his last plea for mercy in that pompous, nasal voice), but he did make Alistair pout over a less-than-squeaky-clean decision more than once.
But he always won the templar over in the end, with gifts and that smile, and the way he could make you feel like you were the only person who existed in his world.
Zevran was relatively certain the man had never truly, unselfishly cared about another person in his entire life. Which was fine with him, because neither had he.
When Alistair waggled his eyebrows and asked in jest, "What about you? Have you ever licked a lamppost in winter?" he had not been expecting Surana to grin like a hungry lion and take on a deep, sultry tone and inform him that yes, he'd certainly licked far more than his share of… lampposts.
It made Alistair reevaluate everything the Chantry had ever told him about the Circle Tower, and envision for one very brief, very terrifying instant the sorts of things he would probably have stumbled in on had Duncan not saved him from becoming a templar.
At that moment, Alistair was sure that if his hair and eyebrows could blush, they would have been right on board with the rest of his face as he frantically tried to escape the mental pictures his brain was now generating of his fellow Grey Warden—quite against his will—and change the subject to something less completely mortifying.
But you couldn't change the subject with Surana, and all of the things you wanted desperately to evade just seemed to keep coming up in everyday conversation.
He hadn't even realized how many lampposts there were in Ferelden until Surana pointed out every damn one of them in and between Lothering and Lake Calenhad, grinning that predatory grin and touching them—the way he touched them was the worst: very lightly, with just the pads of his fingertips, or sometimes he would glide his whole palm over the length of the post, while asking So what do you want to do to lampposts in winter, again, Alistair? By the time they finally made it to the docks, his face was permanently tinged pink and Morrigan and Leliana were actually beginning to wonder if one or both of them had some sort of obscure fetish for light fixtures.
It was torture, to be sure, but he endured it because he was beginning to actually trust the elf. Sure, he teased more than Morrigan did, but at least he was fairly certain Surana was doing it because he liked him. And he treated him like his ideas were actually worth considering instead of dismissing him out of hand, which was a novel concept.
And even though he suspected Surana would be embarrassed if he mentioned it, he kind of enjoyed the way that when he talked about anything, really, but especially when he talked about Duncan or the Grey Wardens, the mage's face softened, and he stopped joking, and he really listened to what Alistair wanted to say. And when the mage told him his feelings weren't stupid and he understood, he really believed his fellow Warden was telling the truth.
Alistair decided he'd put up with a lot, for that.
When Surana discovers Jowan in the dungeons of Redcliffe, it is unsettling, to say the least.
Zevran does not have much sympathy for the man, as a whole. It sounds to him as if his main talent is making very bad decisions, and then begging other people to forgive him and fix his messes for him.
When he shares this observation with his Warden in camp, he laughs and tells him he is a good judge of character.
But what unsettles Zevran is not so much Jowan's apparent incompetence as Surana's apparent reaction to finding a man he has known for most of his life in such a situation.
None of Zevran's acquaintances stretch back that far; he was sold to the Crows when he was seven, and Crow training did not exactly lend itself to making long-lasting social connections. He wonders if he had somehow maintained a relationship with another person over the majority of his lifetime, how he would treat that person upon finding them locked in a dungeon, admitting treason.
He suspects he knows the answer already.
Jowan is thrilled to see Surana, and Zevran immediately assumes there is more between them than meets the eye. Surana greets him relatively warmly, given the circumstances, but does not soften the blow when Jowan asks what has happened to Lily. When they must move on and decide what to do next, Jowan proclaims that he would understand if Surana decides to kill him, and thinks that he probably should.
Zevran finds that his mouth has suddenly become very dry.
At this Surana hesitates, his hand on the hilt of his dagger, and he leans in close to Jowan through the bars, and from the look that they share, Zevran can feel the weight of their history balanced between them.
Surana's forearm twitches, and for one long moment, Zevran believes he is going to do it.
When Surana backs away instead, he turns his head and stares blankly in another direction, saying in a low voice, "I'm not going to kill you, Jowan."
As they leave the dungeon, Zevran finds himself thinking of Rinna—innocent Rinna, begging for his mercy, and a part of him wishes that Surana had just killed the other mage, had killed him.
Zevran really only tells Surana about Rinna because he knows that if he doesn't explain what happened on his last job with the Crows, the mage will never stop asking. Afterwards, he finds himself immediately regretting it, because now he realizes the mage will never let him forget.
It is only several weeks later, having located the Ashes and revived the arl and watched him send Jowan to be executed, that Surana tells him that he doesn't believe Rinna's death is entirely his fault.
"How is that possible? It is as much my doing as if I had slit her throat myself," Zevran argues.
"But it wasn't you who slit her throat, was it?" Surana asks thoughtfully. "No, I think someone was… planning for it. Manipulating you."
Zevran clenches his teeth, does not say that wouldn't make him any less guilty. "And so you have been bringing it up and taunting me with it ever since I told you for what reason?"
"Because you don't believe it yet," Surana says with a bright smile, and claps him on the shoulder before running up ahead to retake the lead of the party. Zevran is unsure whether he should feel encouraged or offended.
A/N: Shortness! Exposition! Hopefully not too much awfulness! Next time, I promise you even more blushing!Alistair, more terrible innuendo, and a guest appearance from Morrigan and her distaste for smiling! Thanks for reading!