Epilogue: Five Years Later
Disclaimer: I do not own Dragon Age.
Note: So with Awakening and the post-Origins DLC, not to mention the sequel which will be coming out in less than a year, this is officially AU.
Aunn had always known that this was a possibility. Everyone had always known that this was a possibility from the moment she was born although it had seemed more likely at some parts and outright impossible at others. The fact that this day had happened wasn't quite so surprising as the way that it had. It would have been nice and simple and, dare she say it, common if Trian had died before their father had – like he did – and she hadn't been blamed or if Trian had lived but the Assembly had preferred her anyway. For this to happen after she'd been exiled and sentenced to death but escaped her destiny and became a Grey Warden who ended a Blight, crowned two monarchs, and became a Paragon…well, she supposed there were less conventional ways to the throne. Eithnar Bemot who had been a commoner who had become a Paragon and king in one move and Gherlon the Blood-Risen who, though no one liked to admit it, had been a casteless who had done the same after heading up to the Surface.
Still, while hers might not be the most unexpected it certainly ranked up there. As it happened, just the fact that someone so high-born in the ruling family of Orzammar had had such a convoluted path to taking the throne was probably the strangest thing about the entire matter. If she had been from a different family – say the Helmis, she'd always liked them – or a member of a lower caste, even a casteless, her difficulties would have been more expected.
Aunn's second return to Orzammar five years ago had been a far more joyous occasion than her first had been. There hadn't been anyone who had called her exile or been openly hostile, her enemies were all either dead or worried she'd go on a noble-killing spree again, and the rebellion had at least stopped being quite so open even if Harrowmont were still facing it. Her own house, though many in it had died in the rebellion, had decided to support her as she was a hero now and being considered for Paragonhood and they all knew how to switch allegiances when it became convenient. That was how they had remained on top for so long, after all. Harrowmont had initially been quite opposed to allowing the aid from Anora and Alistair into the city because the rebellion had just stopped being so public and he feared the disruption allowing humans to pass through the city would cause. Aunn was determined, though, and had the support of several key Assembly members on the issue so Harrowmont eventually relented but required guards to keep watch over them as they headed to the Deep Roads. It had taken so long to change his mind that the Ferelden troops that had deployed a few weeks after Aunn had left Denerim had been waiting outside the gates of Orzammar for two entire days.
The Assembly deliberated for months but eventually unanimously voted that she become a living Paragon. Instead of forming her own house, however, Aunn had chosen to stay with the Aeducans as being their head would give her far more power than starting her own house and it wasn't like she'd have any children of her own to make the house last past one generation. Aunn had briefly wondered why, if everyone was so agreeable to the idea, it had taken so long to confirm it but then the Assembly never liked to move quickly. It was part of why they were in so much trouble.
Once Aunn's eyes had been opened up to problems facing her people – well, the non-darkspawn problems – she had found that it had been impossible to close them again. Openly lamenting the fate of the casteless like Lord Helmi did would have been political suicide but she had been working on the issue and gaining power enough to change things even a little seemed like the best way to go about it. That, combined with the guilt and general feeling of wrongness she'd had since taking her house out of power in the first place, was why she'd turned her attention to succeeding Lord Harrowmont.
It hadn't been exceedingly difficult. She was the daughter of a previous king, the only living Paragon, the head of House Aeducan, the ender of a Blight, and a favorite of King Harrowmont who had no living children of his own. No, finally taking the throne wasn't the difficult part. It would be ruling that would prove the hard part and Aunn wondered how she'd do. Harrowmont hadn't gotten much done with Bhelen's rebellion still lurking about besides increased isolation from the Surface which could easily be undone. After five long years, however, the rebellion really had declined into just a minor annoyance and one of these days they'd have to face facts and realize that the long-dead Bhelen was just never going to be king. Bhelen…Aunn had also spent a lot of time wondering what kind of king he would have made. He would have been a reformer, she thought, had he been able to make the Assembly bow to his will. And who knew? He'd pulled off other impressive feats so he might have been able to manage it. Aunn rather thought that her rule would be better than Harrowmont's ineffectuality but not as good as Bhelen's best-case-scenario rule. It was far too late for regrets, though.
And today was the day. Harrowmont had passed away quietly in his sleep after a period of declining health exactly a week ago. As had always happened with nobles whose cause of death wasn't violent, poison was suspected. Maybe it was true and maybe it wasn't, it was hardly Aunn's job to personally inspect his food and drink. The stress of the kingship couldn't have helped matters either. What Aunn did know was that she'd miss him despite knowing full well that Orzammar couldn't really afford any more of his stagnation. Three days ago, the Assembly had voted to confirm her as Harrowmont's successor. The vote hadn't been unanimous but it had gone through. She'd have to keep an eye on those that had voted against her. And even those that hadn't, come to think of it, because for better or for worse this was Orzammar.
Now, sitting around and waiting for Gorim to come fetch her for the official coronation – not just her initial crowning upon being voted queen – to start, Aunn couldn't decide if she was excited enough given the circumstances. She was a little pleased because, after all, she'd been working towards this end for years but on the other…this was not going to be a fun job. It would be a lot of responsibility and stress and would remind her too sodding much of her father and brothers. Still, there was no backing out now.
Five-year-old little Endrin had no such concerns and was running around the room sword-fighting an invisible opponent with a quill he'd found lying around. "Take that, evil darkspawn! And that! And that!" He was really the spitting image of his father at that age though with a smaller nose and a different hairstyle. It was a little worrying, to be honest, but Aunn kept firmly reminding herself that Endrin was not Bhelen and wouldn't be plotting to kill her for at least another decade or so.
His mother, Rica, was attempting to chase him down. "Endrin, dear, don't run! You're going to knock something over!"
Aunn could help, she supposed, but she was enjoying the sight and the distraction too much to bother.
Endrin dived behind her chair. "Hide me, Auntie Aunn!"
Aunn winced. "Don't call me 'Auntie'."
Endrin looked as adorably puzzled as he always did when she made that request…which was virtually every time he called her that. "But…you are my auntie."
For that, Aunn fully blamed Rica who failed to hide her smirk at the exchange. Once Rica had realized that Aunn wasn't going to force her or her son back to Dust Town, Rica had warmed to her…slightly. She still resented her for killing Bhelen but at least she was usually quiet about it. Aunn wouldn't have really minded being called 'Aunt Aunn' but Rica had decided that since her first name was only one syllable, it was better to call her 'Auntie.' Aunn hated that word. Once Rica had found out about her aversion to it, that appellation was there to stay and Endrin was too young to realize that she hated it. Aunn was well aware that a noble's relatives usually didn't have much to do with them until they were older and more 'interesting' but Endrin was the only actual family that Aunn had had left and she had found that she really didn't mind small children so much if she could hand them off to their mother if they got too sticky or smelly. Besides, Endrin was her ward since his father was dead and his mother was casteless so she could spend every waking moment with him if she so chose…not that she was that fond of him, though.
"I'd love to hide you," Aunn told him seriously. "But at this point I fear it may be a lost cause. Your mother saw you get behind there."
Sure enough, Rica reached behind the chair and pulled her squirming son out. "You know that today is a very important day," she said sternly. "And you need to be on your best behavior, okay? Otherwise there will be no dessert and you'll have to go to bed early."
"I don't want to go to bed early," Endrin complained. "And I can't eat without dessert!"
"Then behave," Rica said simply. "Do you think you can do that?"
Endrin seemed to seriously consider the matter. "No promises."
Endrin was a very bright child which Aunn desperately needed him to be. In addition to the fact that he was her only heir and so he'd need to be able to survive any assassination attempt that came his way, head up House Aeducan, and probably become king himself someday, he'd need to do it sooner than Aunn would like. She was twenty-nine now and every year brought her closer to her eventual Calling. It was always possible someone up at Weisshaupt or Avernus could come up with some way to extend the Grey Warden lifespan before it was her time to go but she hadn't heard anything yet.
Though the Calling was technically supposed to be thirty years away from the Joining and thus hit heard in her early fifties, most of the people she had seen pass through the city on their way to their own Calling were in their forties. Aunn didn't know how much time she had and though her Calling wouldn't take her by surprise, Endrin needed to be ready to take over and there was every chance he'd still be in his late teens when that time came. Aunn would, of course, put it off as long as she could but there was really only so long she could ignore the taint consuming her. It made her feel a little guilty to become queen only to have such a short rule but since she'd stopped Bhelen from becoming king and ruling for perhaps decades, she felt obligated to try and fix at least some small part of it.
And Bhelen's son would be king. He'd be pleased at that, she thought.
The door opened and Gorim stood there, beckoning to her. "It's time, my lady."
Aunn rose and went to go meet her fate.
It's the end so review please!