Though the 'moment' captured here could properly be described as fluffy, I've tried for a more thoughtful aspect. Again, this is Leli's point of view as I attempt to capture her thoughts about the news she has to share with Aedan. For more insight regarding Aedan's reaction you might read 'The Hero of Ferelden'. (To summarise: Aedan participated in the Dark Ritual and hasn't told Leli yet.) This is technically an unwritten chapter of 'Hero', or the second part of Chapter Sixteen, 'Joy'.


A Second Chance

Leliana paced the room quietly for a few moments, willing her stomach to settle. She stopped near the armour stand Aedan kept by the door and caught the familiar scent of sweat and steel, the smell of her love. Oddly, she found it soothing. There were not many scents she found soothing right now with her stomach rejecting the aroma and flavour of foods she'd always enjoyed.

She lifted a finger to one of the shoulder armaments, tracing the curve of metal and smiling as she pictured the man this armour belonged to, the man whose child quickened within her. She wanted to share the news with him so desperately, but feared his reaction.

They had talked of children once and very briefly. She had found a lost child in Denerim, not long after the siege, and took the little boy's hand. She caught Aedan watching her and the pained look on his face scared her. Later that evening she asked him about it.

"Do you like children, Aedan? Do you think, ah, that you might ever…?" Her question sounded hesitant to her ears. He often had that effect on her, this robbing her of words.

He looked at her for a long time before answering her unfinished question and that same curl of fear she had felt earlier in the day tickled within her. He took her within his arms and whispered quietly, his voice stranger than she had ever heard it. "Grey Wardens don't have children, Leli. I'm sorry."

He had said don't, not can't, and she thought perhaps it was a rule within the order. She asked Alistair about it. After getting over his slight fluster at her forthright question he neither confirmed nor denied Aedan's words.

"It's pretty rare for Grey Wardens to have children, didn't Aedan tell you that? That's why Eamon is so eager to marry me off, to give me as much time to, ah, practice as possible."

Waiting for the king's flush to fade before pressing on with her next question, she kept her tone light. "So they could if they wanted to then?"

"Shouldn't you be talking to Aedan about this?"

She frowned. "I did, Alistair. He reacted very strangely."

Something dawned upon Alistair then, she saw it pass over his face and settle within his eyes before almost disappearing entirely. When he spoke he seemed nervous. "You need to have this discussion with him, Leliana, that's all I can say."

Aedan and Alistair were the only two Wardens she knew well enough to ask and so her question had gone unanswered until the day she realised she had answered it herself, she was pregnant.

The night she arrived in Amaranthine she'd not had more than a minute alone with Aedan until after dinner, and then, after a six week absence from each other talk had been the last thing on his mind. Leliana's smile widened and her cheeks flushed as she remembered the attentions he had lavished upon her two nights ago. Aedan had always been an enthusiastic lover, but six weeks apart! They'd simply collapsed afterward, exhausted, but in the most pleasant of ways.

Six long weeks without talking to one another, and she, one who loved to talk! She recalled his letters fondly, engaging little notes that both sounded like him, yet didn't. She enjoyed writing him stories about the people of Denerim and liked to picture the look on his face as he read them… hoping it was just like the smile he wore when he listened to her tales. His first return letter surprised her, she'd read a report he sent to Alistair and it had been so terse and to the point! But the note he sent to her brought tears to her eyes with its sweetness. Who would have guessed such a poet resided within her warden's soul.

She could have written her news in a letter, but she wanted to see his face when he found out, not picture it. His eyes were the most expressive she had ever seen and she would know immediately if he truly desired a child, and with her.

Last night Aedan grieved for the recruits lost during the first Joining since the Blight. Though it pained her to watch him mourn, there was a part of her that appreciated that he did. At times an awful rage simmered beneath his surface, something he kept bottled up inside, and when he grieved he let it out, bit by bit. Leliana knew all about suppressed anger and grief and she knew all about hiding from your problems. Aedan had been with her when she'd confronted Marjolaine and had helped her come to terms with her past life as a bard.

Marjolaine, she'd not thought about her in some time. Her former mentor would laugh at her current predicament.

"You live your life as though it were a dream, Leliana." She could hear Marjolaine's voice and her admonishing tone. She could well imagine her next words. "I have taught you better than this. You should have taken precautions! You are foolish."

Leliana didn't feel foolish. Though she'd cared deeply for Marjolaine, had loved her, it had been an entirely different sort of relationship. She felt on a more even footing with Aedan. He did not require anything of her in return but love.

So tonight was the night, but when Aedan offered to accompany her upstairs she put him off. More than nausea had suddenly gripped her belly and now that anxiety gnawed at her. She took a deep breath, willing the comforting scent of his armour to settle her fears. Dropping her fingers from the pauldron she tangled her hands together in front of herself, not noticing the whiteness of her knuckles until the numbness pained her. She looked down and loosened the grip of her hands. Why did she feel so apprehensive?

She knew he loved her, there was no question he loved her. Every note to arrive in Denerim had started and ended with those three little words. The first time he'd said those words aloud he told her his heart was hers 'til death parted them. But that had been a mere five months ago and none of them had realistically expected to survive the Blight. He may have been making a pledge he did not expect to have to keep. Leliana sighed out the breath she'd forgotten she held and forced her fingers apart from one another again.

A glance at the back to back griffons emblazoned across the chest piece of Aedan's armour brought yet another question to mind. He had dedicated his life to a cause. With a cold flash Leliana realised this is why wardens did not have children. What space did they have in their lives for a family? A lover, perhaps, but something more?

She wouldn't tell him. She couldn't. Leliana glanced down at her flat abdomen and pressed her hands to the front of her dress. It would be at least another month, perhaps two before anyone noticed. Tears formed in the corners of her eyes and she blinked rapidly. She loved it already, this little being within her. Though not planned, and certainly not expected, this was something she'd never thought she'd have and now she wanted it more than anything else. As her happiness warred with her sadness she bit her lip. She had been experiencing this contrasting pull of emotions for weeks now, confusing nearly everyone she'd come into contact with.

Taking another deep breath, Leliana calmed her thoughts. She'd been in more dire situations than this before. All this worrying would not solve anything. "Trust," she whispered to herself. She would tell him and trust that he loved her enough.

Someone ran down the hallway. She could hear the rapid footfalls and lifted her head toward the closed door. They stopped on the other side; she could hear someone breathing out there. Leliana took a step backwards, her hands falling from her stomach to her sides. She glanced apprehensively about the room looking for a shadow so slip into, a weapon she might use. Who stood outside? Who had run to her door?

Steeling her nerve, Leliana reached for the handle just as it turned and the door opened into her hand. Aedan stood there. She looked at his face and to her surprise found nearly all of the emotions she had just experienced reflected there, but with one overwhelming difference: Joy. His eyes sparkled with it.

He stepped through the door and put his arms about her, lifting her feet from the floor as he gathered her into a tight hug. He set her down and tilted his face towards hers, kissing her sweetly. His arms remained clasped behind her and he looked down at her face and smiled.

What had got into him? She smiled tentatively at him and thought to ask him what news he had to share that had delighted him so.

He spoke first. "Is it true, Leli…" and his face clouded with doubt and worry as he asked again, more softly, "A child, our child?"

Had someone told him? She'd not told a soul. Maker's breath, he looked so happy! She could feel the thrill of it through his skin; see the radiance of it in those cool blue eyes of his.

She nodded mutely as all the happiness and sadness she'd felt earlier decided to mix within her, leaving her unsure how to react. Aedan's joy confused her, after all her worry, she'd not expected it. He let her go and took her hands, his eyes full of concern. "Love, you look so sad, is this not something you desire?"

Leliana bit her lip and fought the feeling that the rest of her life might be decided in this moment. A child would bind them more closely to one another than the more simple arrangement they enjoyed now. Her voice sounded quiet and unsure to her ears, her training as a bard fleeing as it always did when she became overcome. "Yes, yes it is. I did not expect…I worried that you." She stopped, took a breath and blurted out, "You are so happy!"

His smile widened and he squeezed her hands. "Yes, I am happy, so very happy! I love you, Leli, how could I not love what will be a part of you?" He rested his forehead against hers and said more softly, "Thank you." His eyes closed a moment and opened again and he repeated himself. "Thank you."

Leliana couldn't help the chuckle that spilled from her lips. "You are quite welcome, my sweet Warden, but I didn't do it alone."

He laughed and slipped his arms around her again, pulling her close. "No, you did not!" He kissed the top of her head and then led her to the small couch set at the end of the bed. He pushed some of his discarded clothing aside and Leliana chuckled some more, if she'd not been so tired that afternoon she might have picked up after him, again. He sat her down and then knelt down on the floor in front of her, taking her hands.

"Will you be my wife, Leli? Let's do the rest of this properly, and together."

Leli blinked in surprise and tried to reign in her unruly emotions. Maker, this she had not even considered! She'd barely thought beyond having a child and how that would change her life. She looked at his face and saw how earnest he seemed. He awaited her answer and though her heart screamed 'yes', her mind said 'wait a minute'. Marjolaine's voice whispered to her, called her a lovesick fool. She ignored the whispers and listened to her heart, she wanted this.

His eyes searched hers. "I'm asking not just because you're carrying my child. Well, maybe I am. Wait, this isn't coming out right." He cleared his throat softly before continuing. "I would have asked you sooner, I would have asked you in Orzammar, but our lives were so uncertain. I can't give you a home like other men, I'm a warden and I have all this duty," he let loose one of her hands to wave his fingers over his head before rushing on, "maybe you don't want to marry a warden. It will be hard, it's why I haven't asked you before. I have so little to offer you…"

She put her fingers to his mouth to stop his rambling and said softly, "Yes, and not because what you can or cannot offer me, Aedan, but because I love you."

He blinked. "Oh, I forgot that bit, didn't I?" He sighed and began again, "because I love you. Wait, you said yes, right?"

He seemed to digest this a moment before looking up again. "You don't mind that I have nothing?"

Leliana smiled softly and lifted her shoulders in a light shrug. "Neither do I. We'll have each other."

Aedan shook his head softly. "I think my heart is going to explode. Here, feel it." He took her hand and pressed it to his chest and Leliana could feel the rapid beat. He grinned. "Is it possible to expire from happiness?"

Leliana laughed and tugged at his hands, pulling him off his knees, and he sat beside her on the couch. He kissed her and they chuckled against each other's lips. She rested her head against his shoulder and caught the scent of steel lingering on his shirt. She didn't mention it, but her heart felt as if it might burst also, she could feel the pulse of it in her throat, at her wrists and took a few deep, calming breaths, willing the giddiness to subside. Aedan put his arm around her shoulders and they sat quietly for a time as they both absorbed events.

A thought occurred to her. "Who told you, Aedan? Who knew?"

He answered quietly, "Philippe. He has four children, can you believe it?"

"So wardens do have children then."

Aedan shook his head. "Before, he had them before." He tentatively placed a hand over her abdomen. "I don't know how we managed this, but I am so very glad we did." He paused and nearly whispered, "The Maker himself has given me a second chance."

"A second chance?"

He studied her face a moment and she saw something in his eyes, confusion perhaps. She held her breath, her heart picking up again. He wanted to tell her something, she could see him struggling with it. Then he shook his head and simply replied, "At life, Leli, at everything."

He hugged her to his chest again and Leliana worked at accepting his simple answer. It did make sense in a way. They had all thought him dead after he killed the archdemon. Perhaps the Maker had smiled upon them both. Faith was one of the more precious things she shared with Aedan and he had never ridiculed her visions and beliefs. Aedan liked her ideas, perhaps the Maker did too. Everyone deserved a second chance, didn't they?

Leliana tightened her grip on the man she loved and turned her cheek to his chest, listening to his heart beat. She had finally found a home.