Title: Grey Solstice
Rating: AO (adults only) and NSFW (not safe for work) due to graphic sexual content.
Word Count: 2765 words.
PC: Fem!Amell, deceased.
Pairing: Established Alistair/Zevran (specifically, established in "Shades of Grey").
Spoilers: Possible end-game spoilers.
Summary: Celebrating Satinalia leads to some unexpected confrontations when two very different methods of celebrating begin to clash. Zevran is throwing a classic Antivan masquerade, while Alistair is creating the perfect Fereldan feast.
Notes: If you haven't read Shades of Grey, all you need to know is that it's set post-game, where Alistair and Zevran are rebuilding the Wardens at Soldier's Peak. Luthanuel is a recruit from Denerim who was one of the first newly Joined wardens.

Also, this really doesn't fit in the Shades timeline, so I might end up mucking about with that later to correct the problem. Originally Shades began in late winter, ending in early to mid spring. Satinalia occurs on the winter solstice, and I see this little story happening a few weeks after the ending of Shades. I guess I can just shift Shades back so that it ends in early winter to correct the problem though.

Satinalia: In many places, this holiday— once dedicated to the Old Goddess of chaos, Zazikel, but now attributed more to the Second Moon, Satina— is still accompanied by wild celebration. Celebrants wear masks and lose their inhibitions, and they place the town fool as ruler for a day. In Antiva (Antiva City in particular), this festival lasts for a week or more, followed by a week of fasting. In more pious areas, this holiday is now marked by large feasts and gift-giving. (Quoted from Prima Strategy Guide for Dragon Age: Origins.)

[[ ... Chapter One ... ]]

Alistair woke, bleary eyed and aching, wrapped too tightly around a pillow that he was most disappointed to discover was not Zevran. Grumbling, he shoved the offending thing away, and when it hit the floor, he made a noise, pulling the blanket over his head. Slowly, he rolled over in the bed, reaching blindly for the elf that he knew should be there. His hand found mattress, more mattress, and he rolled just a little more, just enough-


He lay there for a moment before it occurred to him what had happened. He had fallen off of the bed, the blankets a tangle around him. He struggled to get free of the fabric around him, and when he finally did, he forced his eyes open to look around the room. Reaching a hand up to hold his head, he pushed himself to his feet and stumbled over to the armoire. By the time he was dressed, he was awake, and he found himself jogging down the steps toward the courtyard. Strangely, he was humming.

His hand raked through his hair, not really caring if it stood on end or not. No one here judged him for it; well, no one except ... Zevran. A little smile touched his lips, and he leaned against the wall for a moment as he came into the courtyard, where the elf was dueling with Luthanuel. The Warden's long dark brown hair was in a braid that nearly dusted the hard-packed snow, and he was slowly circling, the long sword in his hand held at the ready, prepared to deflect any attacks that Zevran decided to throw. The elf was laughing though, deceptively at ease even with the two daggers in his hands.

It was difficult to believe that they had lived this way for a little over five months, that it had been only five months since the end of the Blight. It felt like a lifetime had passed, a blur of ship travel and organization and the most agonizing three days of his existence. He watched as Zevran lunged, as he slammed first one blade and then the other, continuing his momentum in a deadly spiral. Luthanuel was good, but no match for the assassin.

Alistair pushed off of the wall and took a sword from one of the other Wardens- all fourteen of the current Fereldan Wardens were there in the courtyard- and he parted the crowd easily enough. Zevran couldn't see him in the current position, but Luthanuel could. Alistair tilted his head slightly to the side, holding up the blade, and the youth nodded to him before he ducked away, letting Alistair slip into the circle in his place.

Zevran didn't miss a beat, using the moment to regroup, to assume a new guard that would hold up better to Alistair's attacks. His dark eyes flashed, and there was a second of hesitation before a slow smile curved his lips.

"Awake now, Alistair?" His voice was playful, and Alistair couldn't help but to return the grin. He wasn't certain, but he was pretty sure that Zevran had no idea how appealing he looked, his blond hair falling loosely around his face, out of its normal style and simply down. He was wearing his normal winter gear, which every Warden in the keep thought was adorable; he was so bundled up that Alistair wasn't entirely certain how he was moving at all in the snow. In fact, Alistair was certain he could count at least three shirts layered over the elf's lean torso.

"How can anyone sleep through this?" He swung the blade a little, rolling his head to make his neck pop as he did. Zevran was perfectly still for a heartbeat, and then the blade flashed. Alistair was ready for it; they'd been dueling now for close to two years. Zevran almost always lunged in his opening attack, particularly if Alistair didn't have a shield on his arm to block with. Instead, Alistair sidestepped, using the flat of the blade to catch and divert both away, sending the elf right past him.

Zevran tucked and rolled as soon as their blades crashed, easily dodging Alistair's follow-up attack. As he unfolded, one of his hands dropped a dagger, caught Alistair's ankle and sent him crashing into snow. The courtyard was packed hard enough that it knocked the breath out of the Warden, and he couldn't stop himself from letting go of the sword in his hand. He was out of practice, Alistair realized weakly, the sudden pressure of Zevran's second dagger against his throat. He swallowed and then offered the elf a weak grin.

"Yield?" He said it as sweetly as he could manage, trying his hand at offering Zevran one of those gazes the elf was so quick to use on him if Zev thought that it would work.

Zevran snorted slightly, snagged the long sword, and then backed of, his dagger quickly returning to its sheathe. "You always leave yourself open," he said softly as he reached down and pulled Alistair to his feet. The Warden Commander had to agree, as it seemed like no matter how many times they practiced, Zevran was always able to surprise him with a move like that.

"What can I say?" Alistair grinned, reaching back to dust off the loose snow that had stuck to him. When he was on his feet, he watch Zevran hand the sword off to one of the others, and Luthanuel handed the elf his dagger back. It was sheathed as well, and then Zevran was looking up at him, his brow furrowed.

"Did you need something specific, Alistair? Or did you just come out to play in the snow?"

Zevran's face was flushed, most likely with the cold, Alistair realized and he had to resist the urge to reach up to touch the elf's rosy cheeks, to see just how cold he was. Instead, he simply nodded toward the keep. "Walk with me?" he asked as neutrally as he could, not wanting to pressure. He knew he'd been more than just a little clingy since the incident in Denerim, since Zevran had spent ten full days at the mercy of the Crows.

He still hadn't spoken about it, hadn't offered any explanation or confidence as to what happened. Instead, if it was ever brought up, he simply smiled and deflected, saying that he had been trained for such situations. If Alistair brought it up in private, they ended up in a sweaty tangle of limbs on one of their beds. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, Alistair supposed, but it couldn't be healthy to hold onto it so tightly. He found himself letting out a breath he didn't realize he was holding as Zevran fell into step next to him, heading back into the keep.

He guided them both back up to Alistair's room, where the fire still had glowing embers. He took over coaxing it back to life, and after he managed it, he turned in time to watch Zevran peeling off his extra layers of clothing. Three shirts, trousers and leggings, and two pairs of socks. Without all of his layers, he looked much smaller, and Alistair walked over to him, drawing him into his arms easily.

Zevran relaxed into the embrace- he always did- and reached up, his arms wrapping around Alistair's shoulders. He made the softest of noises, and Alistair pulled him closer, letting him burrow into him for warmth. Zevran's head tilted back just right and-

"Maker's breath, Zev! Your nose is cold!" Alistair did his best not to jump back, but he still ended up flinching, and Zevran's low chuckle was muffled in his neck as he tried to reposition the elf in his arms. "How long were you out there?" He gritted his teeth just a little as Zevran decided it was imperative to warm his nose as quickly as possible. He was rubbing it over Alistair's collar, deliberately tugging the tunic down as far as he could to reveal more warm skin. Alistair gasped just slightly as cold fingertips joined in the exploration of his chest, snaking under his shirt and touching him softly.

"Most of the morning," was the only answer he got, and when he felt his shirt being peeled off, Alistair knew that it was the only answer he would get. The Warden couldn't stop the faint smile from crossing his face as Zevran somehow managed to get closer to him, to rub that cool-to-the-touch face onto Alistair's chest.

"I missed you this morning," Alistair ventured softly, and he gently pulled Zevran over to the bed. If the elf wanted to warm up, it would be easier to let him simply lay on top of Alistair instead of trying to stand and support them both. Zevran seemed in agreement, because he moved only to take off his leggings before settling down, laying on his side to press that slowly-warming nose against Alistair's chest. Alistair was flat on his back, one arm curled around the elf, his hand slowly moving through the locks of blond hair, absent-mindedly working out any tangles he found.

Zev made a noncommittal noise at first, but as they lay there together and he slowly warmed up, he lifted himself up enough to peer up at Alistair. "Did you?" he asked softly, his expression neutral. Alistair gently tugged on a lock of hair, coaxing Zevran to close the distance between them.

"I did," he murmured softly, his eyes almost closed as Zevran's lips ghosted over his own. They were just out of reach, just barely teasing his own. He buried his fingers in the elf's hair and pulled him down, wanting a kiss, wanting to taste him. Zevran made a very soft noise in the kiss, and by the time Alistair drew back, they were both breathing heavily. He let his fingers trail down and over the side of Zevran's face for just a moment, just looking; savoring.

Then the elf was under him, managing somehow to look both shy and seductive- it had to do with the way he looked out from under those lashes, Alistair was sure of it- as he whispered softly, a grin on his face, "Again, Alistair? What will your Wardens think if you keep me in here so often?"

"Let them think whatever they like," Alistair replied softly, moving so that his weight was off of Zevran, so that he was kneeling. Zevran's fingers were already at work, carefully unlacing the front of Alistair's pants- the only clothing left between them- and pulling him out, slowly squeezing and working over him, making him gasp, making his hips jerk into the elf's hand. Zevran gave him one more squeeze before he let go, reaching up blindly for the nightstand. Alistair stopped him and took over the job of locating the oil. He'd had enough practice to be proficient in it now, carefully oiling one of his fingers to push into Zevran slowly.

The elf's eyes closed just a little, and, struck by sudden inspiration, Alistair leaned down to draw his partner's length into his mouth while he worked. Zevran's fingers immediately found their way into Alistair's hair, tangling and twisting around the shorter locks. Alistair moaned softly- he'd only recently discovered that he liked his hair touched so- and Zevran's hips jerked just slightly against him. He couldn't stop the satisfied sensation welling up, pleasure at knowing he could get Zevran to this point almost as easily as the elf could get him there.

Another finger, another moan, and then Alistair couldn't wait any longer. He was aching, and as he pushed in, Zevran's legs hooked over his shoulders, he groaned. He waited for a heartbeat, two, giving his lover time to adjust, time to stretch. Through sheer force of will, he held still until Zevran shifted under him, letting him know it was okay to move. Then he began to pull out very slowly before he sank back in, barely able to breathe through the sheer tightness around him, the heat searing through him.

He was moaning; Zevran was moaning; and he couldn't hear or see anything it seemed. His entire world had focused to the simple feeling of pushing in and out of the elf, of feeling Zevran's hand moving over his own length, the heat sparking between their bodies. Then suddenly everything was shattering, and he couldn't stop it, couldn't prevent his hips from surging forward, his release a sharp extension of the movement. For a moment, he stayed there, and he didn't move until he realized that Zevran hadn't finished.

Then he shifted, pulled out and moved down, pushing away those slender fingers and replacing them with his mouth. He wanted to taste the elf, to feel his release over his tongue. Fingers tugged sharply on handfuls of his hair, and- there it was, salty and bitter all at once. He drew back slowly before he turned and collapsed on the bed, falling face-up. There was just a moment of stillness, then Zevran moved over so that he was also on his back, but his head was resting on Alistair's shoulder. Despite the light sheen of sweat over them both, Alistair folded his arm over the elf, holding him close, needing the physical contact more than he cared to admit.

They lay like that for a long time, just together, not talking, not moving. Finally, Alistair could stand it no more, and he asked softly, "Zevran?"

"Yes, Alistair?"

Almost two years in Ferelden, and Zevran's accent was still strong; if not a hair stronger than it was before. It was as though he were concerned that he might be losing himself to the country, to the Wardens. It wasn't the first time such a thought had come up. Alistair swallowed, not wanting to bring up such a painful topic. Not while they were both feeling so well. Instead, he asked, "What do you want to do for Satinalia this year? We're actually somewhere that we can do something, and I'm at a loss."

Zevran smiled then, and he tilted his head back enough to look up at the Warden. "We are holding a masquerade of course. What else would we do?"

"A masquerade?" One of Alistair's eyebrows raised, disbelieving. "With the dancing and masks and everything?"

"That would seem appropriate, yes. Is that not what you do for Satinalia?" Zevran's expression mirrored Alistair's, just as confused, just as disbelieving. Alistair reached over and brushed hair from Zevran's face, wanting to see it clearly, make sure he was understanding this properly.

"Well, no. We hold a feast. We exchange gifts. A masquerade, really?" Another hesitation, and then Alistair stopped. The look on Zevran's face was one of utter disappointment, another Antivan tradition being stripped away to make room for something more Fereldan in nature. He couldn't do it to the elf, not after everything they'd been through. If he wanted a masquerade, Alistair wasn't about to tell him no. "I've never been to one of those."

Zevran smiled then, his face warming considerably. It was comforting, to see that smile back on the elf's face. There had been precious little to smile and laugh about for almost a year. It was something that Alistair had missed terribly, even though he hadn't been able to pinpoint what it was he was longing for so desperately.

"It's enjoyable," Zevran was explaining, and Alistair made himself actually listen, not simply drift and nod. "The dancers all dress up as various people and- Who should we invite?" Then Zevran was out of the bed, and Alistair smiled, watching as the elf dressed carefully, clearly thinking of a list of invitees.

"How big do these get?" He asked curiously, pulling himself up to sit and lean against the headboard as he watched Zevran button one of those three shirts.

Zevran grinned, and Alistair felt his stomach sink. "In Antiva City, they can last as long as week before the actual holiday. Smaller communities only celebrate the night before normally though. We can set it where the masquerade is the night before and a feast the day of-"

Then he was gathering up his extra clothes, and Alistair sighed softly as the elf practically ran out of the room, plans whirling around so heavily that they were simply tumbling out of Zevran's mouth as fast as he could think of them. Most likely, Alistair knew that this wouldn't end as innocuous as it began. For some reason, the thought didn't bother him nearly as much as he knew it should.