That Which Is Unattainable
"Man approaches the unattainable through a succession of errors."
- Aldous Huxley
"My being an Elf doesn't change anything?"
Kallian watched him with cold eyes. The question, was indeed a pure one. He would most likely be crowned King, and she knew, that it would cause problems in… whatever this was. She crossed her arms, amber eyes catching the smoldering flames of the fire pit, and waited patiently for Alistair to quit fumbling.
"Of course not." He had said it, so assuredly, but the way his eyes glanced to the side, the way the second living Grey Warden looked defeated, morose for a split-second, told Kallian more than she had wanted to know. She shrugged, eyes closing to bite back coming tears, to stave them off for just the tiniest bit, and choked out her single, final reply,
"I… feel the same way too."
She cries, and she does so alone, and without anyone to comfort her. She cries because she must, and she soaks the bed sheets with her tears. She hears Alistair knock, twice, and then sigh and leave. She only glares at the door, crumpled up in her sorrow, and shrouded in the darkness of Arl Eamon's Estate.
"I have noticed your blossoming relationship," Wynne watched her, worry expressed in those bright blue eyes. They sat together, beside the fire, speaking in hushed whispers about the Grey Wardens' supposed relationship. "And I just wanted to know… where you thought this was going."
Kallian blinked, shocked, and stuttered back a reply,
"W-Wait, what?" Then those amber eyes harden, into a glare. She likes the old, wizened Mage, she really does but really? "What kind of sick-"
"This can only end in tragedy." Wynne looked from Kallian's paling face, to the smoldering flames, a sort of wise aura about her as folded her hands in her lap. "You do know that, right?"
The next morning, she refuses to look at the new King of Ferelden, leading her companions out to Redcliffe, to the gathering forces. He grabs for her hand, trying to get her to stop before she can disappear back into the shadows, and she yanks it from his reach, offering him only coldness and a deeper, more bitter form of betrayal.
Shianni looked down, biting her bottom lip. The angry shouts of the protestors outside the hospice seem to fade away. And it is only Kallian and Shianni, and the Grey Warden's entourage.
"The things that happened after your wedding… I… I'm babbling, aren't I? It's so good to have you back."
Somehow, for some reason, Kallian wished they thought her dead. She had not wanted to face Shianni, not after facing her red-headed cousin in The Gauntlet, and yet here they were.
"Wedding? You're… married?" She jumps at the sound of Alistair's voice, tucking behind a strand of auburn hair before facing her lover, her paramour.
"I was betrothed. It didn't end well."
The first night out of Denerim, they camp by a small stretch of insignificant hills, the dark green rolling over and over and over in the distance. She still refuses to look at him, resorting to chatting with Leliana about the coming battle. He stares at her, a darker look on his face than any she has ever seen.
Nelaros falls to her feet, staring unseeingly at the ceiling. His face pale, as his blood stains the well-worn rugs, and Kallian finds no strength to face the guards. She looks up, at their dirty faces, their ugly sneers and they come closer, holding swords made of the sharpest, most gleaming steel.
She awakes in Alistair's arms, covered in a cold sweat, despite the warmth of the body next to her. He looks at her, worried, and there is a soft undertone in his comforting voice,
"Are you all right? I didn't hurt you or anything… did I?" He says the last two words softly, cautiously. And Kallian chuckles,
"No. I had a nightmare."
She pulls him closer. She doesn't want to be alone.
Nelaros falls to her feet, and the guards murder her in her dream. This time, she wakes up alone and without anyone to worry over her like a doting grandmother. Her bedroll feels vacant somehow, as if something had been torn from it, and she tightens the blankets around her, feeling cold and forgotten.
"Why are you here?" She wakes up from her nightmare about something evil, a dragon perhaps? To see the human in question sitting by the fire pit, looking at her expectantly, as if awaiting something. He flinches, blinks, and mumbles something about ungrateful Elves.
Kallian refuses to be doted on by a human, the memories of what happened in the Alienage were fresh in her mind, and Nelaros' pale, dead body and Shianni's shaken state rose to mind before Kallian mumbled a quick, angered apology.
The next day, they walk down the Imperial Highway and he tries to make conversation with her. She ignores him, hand clenched around the pommel of her utility knife as an extended warning. Wynne stares at her, a sort of sadness in her gaze that Kallian would not have expected of the sprightly Mage.
"Do you know what this is?" Alistair hands her a rose, the velvet petals preserved by something Kallian cannot truly understand, and she truly, does not know what to say. But the smarminess, the sarcastic side of her rears its head.
"Your new weapon of choice."
To her surprise, he laughs. And she admires the way the light of the fire paints dark shadows on his jaw bone, his eyes, before realizing that he has said something.
"Pardon? Didn't catch that." She mumbles, looking at the flower in her hand. She lets that rare smile creep up on her lips, and touches the petals gently, as if afraid of destroying it.
She curses as her skin catches on something sharp while searching for ale in her pack. She sits inside her tent, where she spends most of her nights these days contemplating what she should have done in the Landsmeet, drinking whatever was left of the stash she'd bought back in Denerim. Pulling out the offending sharp object, Kallian blinks away the tears that come to her eyes.
Whatever magic that had been preserving the velvet-colored rose had faded, leaving behind nothing but a wilted flower and a stalk of thorns.
The first time she sees the Darkspawn, is the first time her blood truly freezes in her veins. The skin had turned grey, gnarled, leaving nothing behind but the husk of something that didn't even seem remotely human.
Alistair is the one to bring her to her senses, the one to yell at her and bring her back to reality.
Later on, after Ostager, she remembers she forgot to thank him.
"I will slay the archdemon." The words have a final quality to them, as if she'd just signed a contract to her death, and yet, she has the ability to say those very words without stumbling, without sounding quiet and timid. Kallian does not fear death, nor would she ever.
But the way Alistair looks at her, fear, shock and bitterness on that handsome face, is enough to make her heart bleed all over again.
Riordan nods, replies, and his words have a ring of finality to them as well, "Very well."
Alistair tries to stop her on her way back to her room. And Kallian gives him a single glance, the first time she's looked at him since the aftermath of the Landsmeet, and her glance is icier than the summit of the Frostback Mountains. He stops, and hangs his head, and she slams the door to her room behind her, and even that, has a final ring.
Morrigan turns to face her, revealing a newly lit hearth and a sense of danger that screams at Kallian's instincts.
"Where do we go from here?" He asked her, and Kallian hangs her head slightly, a veil of auburn hair hiding her from his gaze. The fact has finally come to her. He cannot have her, if he is to be King. But she knows that he will make a great King.
"We stay together," She mutters, and looks into the smoldering flames of the fire pit. "No matter what."
Even she knows she's lying to herself, and to him.
His hand clenches painfully around her wrist as she reaches for the greatsword that's impaled one of the many Darkspawn surrounding the fallen archdemon. She glares at him, amber eyes lit angrily like the smoldering flames of the fire pit the two of them had sat around so many times.
"Let me go, Alistair." Someone screams, from the bottom of Fort Drakon, as she hisses those words. "This is my duty, as a Grey Warden."
"No." His grip is tight, stifling around her small wrist. He is looking at her, eyes gleaming with a pain Kallian has never seen him have. "I will slay the archdemon."
"You will not!" Her other hand raises, and strikes him across the face. She is yelling now, and Leliana and Zevran rush towards them, blades at the ready. "Haven't you already taken enough from me? I will not allow you to sacrifice yourself, and take the only person I care about from me as well!"
Alistair pales, hangs his head and backs off as she glares at him. With a single, swooping motion, she takes the greatsword and runs.
The archdemon's blood spatters across her face, and then, it is over.
"Have you changed your mind about Alistair and me?"
Wynne smiles, a soft smile that brings a memory of her mother to Kallian's mind.
"Yes. He seems… different around you. More comfortable, and relaxed, and he opens himself up more."
Wynne stands beside Alistair at her tomb, the tomb of the one who ended the Blight, who defeated the archdemon, who did not get a chance to live as fully as she should have.
"She loved you, a great deal, Alistair." Wynne tells him, taking his hand in hers, in a motion that was completely maternal. Alistair simply stared on, into space, wondering if Kallian was in the Maker's hands now.
Wynne left, and Alistair stood there, looming above the tomb of the woman he loved.
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