Zevran slept on his side, curling on the small bedroll. Eve clung to his back, wrapping herself around him like a turtle's shell. They always slept this way, ever since the first night they'd spent together in the cold of the abandoned temple they'd braved in the hope of finding Andraste's ashes.
He usually left after he'd satisfied her a time or two, but one frigid night she'd pulled him close and asked him to stay with her. An unusual request to Zevran, who preferred to sleep where he could hear anyone before they got too close, but he had offered his services as a bed-warmer, though he hadn't meant it literally. He'd lain on her bedroll, awkwardly for someone who had been so eagerly intimate moments before. He'd turned his back to her and tried to sleep, but before long he'd felt those slender arms wrapped around his waist, her slim body against his back. "Night," she'd murmured and fell immediately asleep. Zevran had stayed awake for a long time, not wanting to lose out on the comfort of her closeness, the gentle intimate touch he craved given so freely and easily.
It seemed ages ago they were searching for Andraste's ashes. So much had happened since then. She had gone to Amaranthine, and he to Antiva, running away from exactly this sort of tenderness before it could break him. And wonder of all wonders, she had come after him, come all the way to Antiva to bring him back home.
And home was where they headed now, two elves in search of the Dalish clan Eve called her own. But the Dalish were not easy to find. Eve's clan summered in the forests north of the Bannorn, and that was where they wandered now, and had been for a week. Eve had not found a trace of her clan and it had begun to worry her.
Dawn rose and with it the summer heat. Zevran sprawled across the bedroll, enjoying the sun on his skin. Eve was already awake, making tea over a tiny fire, her eyes fixed on his form in the sunlight. For when he was with his woman, Zevran always slept nude, and he looked so natural and peaceful in the sunlit forest, as though he were a wild creature rather than an assassin raised in the mud and filth of a city.
Eve brought him over a cup of tea.
"Ahh," said Zevran as he sipped it. "Good morning."
"Morning," she said.
"It is truly lovely today. I must admit I miss the city less and less as we spend more time in the wilds."
"Good," she said. "Cities are…" she paused, lost for the right word. She did not want to say frightening, but cities did scare her to a degree. She was a wild creature, born to run soft and fleet footed through the forests, to lounge like a cat in the boughs of trees and drink crystal water from trickling streams.
"Filthy," he suggested. She nodded. That too. The constant stink of food and people overwhelmed her, she who had been used to catching the subtle scent of a predator on the wind from a mile away.
They had no need of supplies, Eve knew her way around the forest well enough to forage and hunt for everything they needed. But she did need guidance. Her people had not been in this forest for some time, perhaps they now summered elsewhere, or perhaps the Blight had swept them away. She closed her eyes for a second. They must be alive, somewhere. Her keeper was far too clever to let the clan be taken by darkspawn.
"Perhaps we should return to Denerim," she said, picking her words carefully. "The alienage may have news of the Dalish, perhaps even of my clan. They used to spend the summers here, but there is no sign of them now."
"I am certain no harm has come to them, my dear," said Zevran, picking up on the anxiety subtly layered under her words. She would not propose they return to the city she despised unless she knew no other way to proceed.
She simply nodded and began to roll up their bedroll. Together the elves hefted their packs and headed for Denerim.
"Tell me of your clan," Zevran said as they walked.
Eve smiled. "Our keeper is Marethari. She is old but strong, and very wise, even more so than Wynne. But you'd best not make jokes about her bosom the whole time we are there."
"Is it a magical bosom? Wynne's was so very lovely I think she must have used some mage trickery to keep it so."
Eve laughed. "Her apprentice is called Merril. She's my age, but much wiser than I am, certainly. She will be keeper someday, but not for a long time. Marethari's time is far from over."
Eve talked most of the way to Denerim, of Pol, the young elf who ran away from the alienage to join them, and of Fenarel, the brave young hunter. Ashalle, who was a second mother to her. And Zevran listened and was jealous. Eve may have been an orphan, but she was obviously raised with love and care, surrounded by a family.
She stopped speaking when Denerim's gate rose in the distance, dark and oppressive. She hated the alienage, the squalor and misery and poverty. But she had nowhere else to look, no other leads to chase.