Note: end of this chapter is NSFW.
Around Judith and Daniel, the party was in full swing, people celebrating with everything they had. Oghren and Teagan were downing barrels of pickle juice, with a large audience gathered round them placing bets. Teagan and Oghren glared at each other, neither willing to concede, despite their faces now being as green as the juice they were drinking.
Zev and Riordan had made it almost to the door before falling into each other's arms, and were now up against the wall, kissing passionately. Wynne had retired already, as had Fergus Cousland. The King and Queen were long gone. Judith realized as she looked around the room that she was still trying to count heads … and that the count would never be complete again. She wondered briefly where Morrigan had gone, but since the answer could be anywhere, decided not to go farther down that road. Suddenly she felt inexpressibly weary. Turning to Daniel, she said, "I don't know about you, but I think I've done enough celebrating for one day. I'd rather go back to bed."
He grinned. "Well, that wish is certainly my command. Lead on, Arlessa."
She narrowed her eyes. "You didn't have anything to do with that, did you?"
"No, definitely not. You didn't have anything to do with him making me the Arl of Denerim, did you?"
Judith shook her head. "It's an inspired decision, though." She kissed him quickly. "You'll be the best Arl Denerim ever had."
"But what about you?" he asked. "With you in Amaranthine …" His voice trailed off, and he grabbed her hand. "Come on, let's go somewhere out of this crowd."
"By all means," she said, grinning, as he led her through the room and toward the hallway leading to their room.
He closed the door behind them, leaning back against it. Judith walked toward him, her eyes half-closed as she murmured, "And now that you've dragged me in here, ser, are you going to have your wicked way with me?"
Instead of reaching for her, as she'd expected, he cleared his throat. "An excellent idea," he said, slipping around her. "But later."
"If you insist," she said, turning to look at him curiously. "What's on your mind?"
He pulled his hand out of his pocket. "Would you sit down, please?" he asked.
"Of course." Staring at him in confusion and concern, Judith took a seat on the edge of the bed.
Daniel let his breath out slowly, trying to decide where to start. "It seems impossible to believe," he said, "that when all this began, I was just a Sergeant in the Guards."
"I was just a mage of the Tower," she said. "And now look at us."
"Right." He chuckled nervously. "A couple of fancy nobles."
Judith grinned. "Thanks to the former stable boy ex-Templar turned King."
"Hard to make up a story like that," he said, smiling back at her. "But it leaves the question open—what's the ending?"
She leaned back on her hands, crossing her legs. "I thought the whole point of this celebration was that there isn't an ending. The story goes on."
"Yes." His brown eyes lit up. "So I guess it's up to us to decide what the newly minted nobles will do now, isn't it?"
"Run Denerim and Amaranthine?" Judith raised an eyebrow. If he was going somewhere with this, she hoped he would get there soon.
"But besides that." Clearing his throat, Daniel got down on one knee. Both Judith's eyebrows flew up at the pose. "Judith," he began quickly, before she could speak, "I feel as though my life started when I met you. And I want to spend as much of the rest of it as possible with you." He fumbled in his pocket, and withdrew a ring. "Will you marry me?"
Her eyes stung with tears. "Oh, Daniel, that's such a lovely gesture, and it's so sweet of you to pretend that it's possible, but we both know I can't."
He was taken aback. "Why not?"
"Mages aren't allowed to marry," she said sadly. "What if we turn maleficar and make our spouses our blood slaves?"
He took her hand in his, sliding the ring, a single sapphire surrounded by diamonds, onto her finger. "I think you forget," he said, kissing her hand, "that—because of you—mages have just been given their freedom."
"Alistair said he'd try," she protested. "It's not the same thing."
"The King of Ferelden said he'd try to free the mages from the Chantry because you asked him to … and you don't think he'd also grant you permission to marry?" Daniel grinned at her. "Especially since, last I knew, mages aren't supposed to be Arlessas, either."
"It feels strange, taking advantage of a privilege denied to others like me," Judith said uncomfortably.
"Don't think of it that way." Daniel shifted to sit next to her, putting his arm around her shoulders. "Think that you're paving the way for other mages to live normal lives through your example."
"Oh." She thought about that for a moment, and a slow smile spread over her face, lighting her blue eyes. "In that case, then …"
"Shall we try this again?"
Judith nodded, her eyes sparkling, and Daniel slid back off the bed, going to one knee in front of her. "Judith Amell, light of my life, will you marry me?"
"Yes. YES!" Laughing through the tears that spilled unheeded down her cheeks, Judith launched herself off the bed and into his arms, wrapped hers around his neck.
Daniel, caught off balance, toppled over onto the floor, carrying her with him.
Judith straddled him, their eyes meeting, and the laughter faded. Her breathing quickened as lightning shot through her. Leaning down, she brought her mouth to his, her tongue slipping into his mouth.
Daniel groaned, his arm tightening around her, deepening the kiss. He rolled her over. Her hips pushed up against the bulge in his trousers, and he rubbed against her.
Extricating herself from the kiss in order to breathe, Judith ripped at the back of his shirt. Daniel lifted himself off of her to pull the shirt over his head. "Your turn," he said breathlessly. Judith got to her feet, turning around to allow him to tackle the fastenings to her dress.
His fingers were trembling so badly he could barely manage it. "I miss your armor," he growled, biting the nape of her neck. Judith moaned. "Buckles are so much easier than these lacing things."
"Rip it off," she moaned, leaning back as his hands slid around her to cup her breasts through the gown.
"Oh, now she's an Arlessa, she can afford new gowns anytime she wants, is that it?" He nipped at her earlobe.
"And if I can't, maybe I'll just ask my fiance, the Arl," Judith purred, turning in his arms to kiss him again. Their tongues slid together, and Judith's hand cupped Daniel's erection through his pants. "Get the dress off, now," she hissed.
"Yes, ser," he murmured, and, stepping back, he yanked it up over her head, tossing the thing across the room. The rest of their clothes followed quickly.
Once the clothing was out of the way, Daniel gently removed the pins holding Judith's hair up, letting the blonde tresses flow over her shoulders. He stroked his hands down from her hair to her breasts, his thumbs rubbing the stiffened nipples, as Judith arched her back trying to get closer. With one arm around her lower back, Daniel bent her over so his lips and tongue could take over his ministrations to her breasts, sucking each nipple into his mouth.
Gently he laid her back onto the bed. Judith's hands worked their way down his chest and over his stomach to caress his length. He moaned, thrusting against her hands, and allowed her to guide him into her wet heat.
They thrust slowly together, savoring the sensations caused by each movement, until the pleasure became unbearable. A final thrust put them over the edge, falling onto the mattress, panting from the exertion.
As her breathing returned to normal, Judith snuggled against Daniel, his heartbeat thumping steadily beneath her ear. At last, after everything she'd been through since Duncan had come for her, and even before that, since Ser Otto put her on his horse and carried her down out of the mountains, she'd come home.
Daniel thought of the flyer still hanging over his desk. When he'd taken his first look at that beautiful face, it never occurred to him that the woman it belonged to would bring all his dreams to vivid life. Too happy to sleep, he lay listening to the soft rhythm of her breathing and the familiar sounds of his city settling down for the night.
If you're interested in Judith and Daniel's further adventures, check out the sequel, "Dangerous to Travel to Known Places."