Zevran isn't talking to me today so I'm posting this entry instead! Sandtigress created a thread over on the BSN in response to the Festival DLC and invited the community to respond with fiction/art and so on. I responded with this:

(As usual it all belongs to Bioware except for my Aedan and the characters you don't recognise.)


Pins and Needles

Alistair shut the door behind him and sighed with relief. Silence. Much as he had enjoyed celebrating feast day with Aedan, Leliana and their three children, he now sought peace. He briefly wondered why he and Brenna wanted a child. This might be the only time he blessed the taint. Surely just the one wouldn't be as noisy as two, or three? If they had only one child, they would be a lucky, happy and quiet little family.

He heard a soft chuckle and opened his eyes. Brenna looked at him with an understanding expression on her face. "Grace's squeals are piercing, are they not?"

Alistair raised a finger to his ear and gently probed it before saying, "What?"

Brenna laughed. She turned to the balcony doors and flung them open to admit the mild night air before whirling back toward him, her arms outstretched. Alistair took his wife in his arms and kissed her hair. He murmured into the silken strands, "We have to have a son, my love, or I will be deaf before I am old."

Brenna tightened her arms about him and Alistair bit his tongue. They had been trying to conceive for two years with no success. It had become a touchy subject between them and amongst the Landsmeet. He had been king for almost four years and still had no heir. He sighed gently and moved his hands to tilt her face upwards, kissing her lips lightly before tendering a soft apology. "I should not spoil Satinalia with our worries. Let's talk about something else."

"Let's not talk at all." Brenna placed a hand over his, removing it from her cheek and tugging him toward the bed. "Practice makes perfect, they say."

Brenna sat on the edge of the bed and offered him the sweetest of smiles, one only she could deliver convincingly. He stood there a moment, contemplating her beauty, before pushing her lightly back onto the bed and stretching out next to her.

Alistair moved to kiss her again, but gasped against her lips instead. A sharp pain caught him in his calf muscle and he reached down to rub at it through his pants leg.

Brenna's brows drew down in concern. "Love, are you alright?"

"Muscle cramp, I must not have stretched properly after practice this morning. It will pass, don't you worry." He grinned at her and left off rubbing his leg to begin unlacing her dress instead. Her fingers deftly moved over his buttons as they followed the sweet and familiar pattern of exchanging soft kisses and whispering endearments.

Alistair experienced a stabbing sensation in his wrist and he yelped. His hand stiffened and hung limply for a moment as they both considered it. Brenna ran her fingers along the skin and Alistair winced, drawing his hand back from her touch. "Ouch."

"Another muscle cramp?"

"I don't think so; it felt more like something bit me!" Alistair attempted to rub the skin again and found the stabbing pain had faded. He shook it out and sat up to remove his shirt before settling back down beside his nearly naked wife. "Now, where were we? I think we have some more clothing to remove."

They got no further. Alistair suddenly arched his back and cried out. Pain lanced through his left shoulder and then again on the right. He howled again and Brenna rolled off the bed and grabbed her robe.

"I'm going to summon Nicholas, don't you move!"

Alistair nodded weakly as he continued to thrash about the bed, yelling at each fresh stabbing sensation. "I'm trying not to…Gah!"

He felt oddly like a pin cushion.

--=0=--

Aedan waited impatiently for Leliana to finish opening all the doors and windows to their suite. He finally called out to her as she started struggling with the last one, the little window by the desk that always stuck. "Leave it, Leli, come to bed!"

She turned around with a grin. "Well if you'd help me with this window, I'd get there that much sooner."

He grumbled and swung his legs over the bed and moved up behind her, reaching around her shoulders to try and shift the stubborn window. They got it open and he dropped his arms around her, snuggling her close against his chest and lowered his face, kissing the back of her neck. "Mm, you always smell so good."

Leliana turned within the circle of his arms and lifted her face to his for a kiss and they both froze as a cry rang out into the night. Aedan dropped his arms and they ran together towards the children's bedroom. They were greeted by darkness and silence. Aedan checked on Grace and Leliana checked on Riordan before they exchanged a glance and a shrug.

Aedan put an arm about her shoulders and whispered, "Come, we probably heard holiday revelry from the streets. You will insist on opening all the windows."

He kissed her temple and they made their way back across the apartment to their bedroom. Aedan had just divested Leliana of her nightdress when another cry floated through the open balcony doors.

"Aedan, that sounds like Alistair's voice."

They moved toward the balcony and heard yet another yell. Aedan raised a brow and chuckled. "Look, their balcony doors are open as well, perhaps the King and Queen are enjoying the fresh air as much as I would like to."

Leliana laughed. "Do you think he is trying to compete with you, my love? Your roar is legendary, you know."

Aedan winked at her and ran his hand down her naked back. "Shall we make some noise, see if we can compete?"

But Alistair's cries turned into yells and it quickly became clear he was in pain. Aedan grabbed for his pants and Leliana reached for her dress.

They met a guard in the hallway and he called out to Aedan, "Commander, the Queen sent me to summon you. The King is ill!"

Aedan and Leliana exchanged a panicked look and fled for Alistair's rooms.

Guards were clustered about the hallway outside Alistair's door and when they entered the sitting room they had to elbow their way through staff. Aedan set to organizing the milling crowd as Leliana slipped into Alistair's bedroom.

Aedan finally entered the bedroom to find Alistair curled into a tight ball on the bed, wearing nothing but his underpants. Nicholas, the palace mage and healer, hovered nearby, chanting and sweating. Leliana had her arm about Brenna's shoulders and the queen bit her pale lips and clutched at her robe.

"What happened, is it something he ate?"

Nicholas opened his eyes and shook his head. "I can find no trace of poison or illness. No broken bones, no muscle cramps, no injuries whatsoever!" His voice rose in panic as Alistair's yells increased in volume. "I can find nothing wrong with him!"

Aedan stepped to the bed and put a hand on his friend's shoulder. "Alistair, what ails you?"

"Gah, it feels as if someone is stabbing me over and over again, make it stop!" Alistair's face screwed up in pain again and he tensed, clutching his knees to his chest.

Suddenly he fell limp and a huge sigh left his lips. His eyes closed. Brenna whimpered and ran to the bed. "Alistair?" She patted at his cheeks and the mage quickly put a hand to the king's forehead.

Alistair opened his eyes and began giggling.

Aedan blinked in surprise. Alistair never giggled. He chuckled, chortled, snickered and laughed aloud. This giggling sounded very odd. The hair rose along the back of Aedan's neck as the turned toward the mage again. "Could he be possessed?"

Alistair now twitched across the bed in alarming fashion, slapping at himself and saying, "Stop, stop!"

The fit did not last long and once again Alistair fell limp. When he looked up at everyone again, he flushed and reached for a blanket, covering his hips. "Ah, why is everyone in my bedroom?"

Leliana called for tea and they gave Alistair some privacy so he could dress. When he joined them he seemed fit and well, if a little annoyed.

"So what were you doing when all these strange pains started happening?" Aedan raised a brow in question.

Alistair jerked his head toward the bedroom door and said, "What do you think?"

The four of them chuckled and continued to sip their tea, enjoying each other's quiet companionship. When it became clear Alistair suffered no longer from the mysterious ailment Nicholas settled into the couch to keep a watch, Alistair and Brenna retired once again to their bedroom and Aedan took Leliana's hand, leading her out the door.

--=0=--

Morrigan slipped quietly into her son's bedroom. She had heard his quiet voice and boyish laughter and wondered what he might be doing awake so late.

"Cian, what do you have there?"

"It's a doll, mother, I found it in your room. It's quite funny looking, don't you think? I made it the king and then I killed it."

The little black-haired boy demonstrated with the paper knife he held and Morrigan quickly stepped forward to rescue the doll. She crouched down before her son and looked into his cool blue eyes. "'Tis not nice to take other people's things. I would have it back now."

Cian handed her the doll and she held it gently a moment, considering its face and crop of reddish gold hair. She leaned forward and kissed her son on the forehead. "Time for bed, Cian."

She tucked the boy into his bed and brushed the hair back from his face. "Goodnight."

Back in her own bedroom she looked at the doll again. A small smile took her lips and she lifted it in her hands and rang her fingers lightly up and down the body, tickling along the sides and down the legs. She chuckled softly to herself before whispering quietly, "Goodnight, Alistair."