A/N: Veers off course right before Loghain gives Maric the truth about Katriel. Rowan says that she had wished Loghain had waited for her. Well, she's a go-getter, how about she doesn't wait, but you know, goes and gets? I think the balance shifts between the three of them quite a lot. The balance of who reacts with what emotion has so shifted, and things go down a little differently. I am hoping this doesn't seem unreasonable for their characters, despite it being an AU because of the decisions made and the people involved. I feel that the three of them are a triptych - feeding off of each other and supporting each other.
Disclaimer: Bioware owns all. David Gaider, ILU even though you took Rowan away from Loghain.
"I want to go with you."
"No, I must do this alone."
"You want him to kill her, Loghain, don't lie to me. I can see it in your eyes," she stepped in front of him, and while out of armor she was diminished, they were still of a height that she barely had to tilt her head to look him in the eye.
"Why do you stop me? She betrayed all of us! Not just Maric, I could care less who he takes into his bed," he raised his voice and she flinched, but if he saw it, he did not acknowledge it and drove on. "We could have won at West Hill!"
"You don't know that!"
"Yes I do!"
"You don't! If it wasn't one thing, it would be another! We know what she's done, and he will have to face that!"
"And you would let him spare her life? After all her treacheries? You of all people have lost both your betrothed and your father to her lies! Why do you defend her?" He was genuinely confused, and her body blocking his way had him very close to simply shoving her aside. She was clearly not herself.
"He's in love with her, Loghain! You must tread carefully!"
"Love!" He scoffed, and waved his hand at her ridiculous concept.
"Yes! Love." She solidified her stance. "You are not going in there alone."
He crossed his arms over his chest, and she knew she had won. "Fine. But if he lets that bitch live and she brings the entire Orlesian Empire down on us and gets Maric killed, it is on your head," he pointed his finger at her and then strode past her, opening the door to Maric's hall.
"There is something we must discuss," he began, and Rowan caught up to them and informed him the 'we' included her as well.
"I don't like the look on your face, Loghain."
"That's my fault," Rowan quipped and he gave her a dark glare in return. "Maric...it's about Katriel."
Maric sighed. "Rowan..."
"No. Listen to us," she began, reaching for him and laying her hand on his arm as Loghain merely glared at them both, his brow furrowed.
"She's on her way here, Rowan, I'd hurry up if I were you," he grumbled.
"Maric...she is not who she seems to be."
Maric paused, looking between the two of them and finding his powers of deduction directing him only one way. "I don't care who you think she is..." he began, shifting his arm from under Rowan's fingers.
"She's a spy!" Loghain broke in. "She went to Denerim, and is on her way back from there right now. Take a wild guess at who she could possibly have been cavorting with in Denerim!"
Maric shook his head and turned away from them. "No. You must be mistaken."
"I am not!" Loghain began, and Rowan laid her hand on his arm this time and he let out a huff of air and clenched his teeth, biting off further words.
"Maric. Please. You know we would not accuse her without evidence. We have that evidence. She was not working for Arl Byron. She...West Hill was a failure because of her duplicity."
"West Hill was...!" He clearly meant to say 'her idea' when it dawned on him. "No. No."
The door opened, and Loghain did not even turn around even as Rowan did and Maric craned his neck to see who was there. "Ask her yourself," he said calmly, and then raised his voice. "How is Severan, Katriel? Did you find him in good health?"
She froze, and Rowan, who despite everything still loved Maric enough that she hoped her own suspicions about the elf were wrong. She had no love for the girl, but she wanted happiness for Maric...even if it was not with her. Maric watched her try surprise and then give up, her shoulders sagging. She dropped her gaze and made to approach Maric, but Loghain had his sword outstretched in a moment, almost nicking her face.
"Do not come any further, traitor," he warned.
"Loghain," Maric said quietly, and with a brief shared look, Loghain lowered his sword, and fell back, remaining just in front and to the left of Maric while Rowan mirrored his position on the right.
Katriel watched them fall in - protecting their prince. She couldn't blame them. But she somehow hoped to be able to tell Maric as much on her own, without these two who clearly loved him enough to desire her immediate death.
"Maric, please," she watched his jaw tighten at her 'please'.
"Don't call me that," he instructed sharply, his eyes shining. "Is it true? Have you been betraying me since the beginning?"
She tried not to look at Rowan or Loghain, and kept her eyes on his, spoke to him as though it were only the two of them. He was her only hope.
"I was instructed to get close to you, to deliver you, alive, to Severan. But...I found myself incapable of performing that duty," at this Loghain scoffed and she tried not to look over at him. "And I went to Severan to...break my contract. He...still lives, but I know how you can kill him."
"She lies!" Loghain accused, and Maric reached out a hand to place it on Loghain's chest, holding him back from attacking her.
Maric nodded at her, his face unreadable except for the shine to his eyes. "You lied to me. You betrayed me. I..." he looked away, and Rowan threaded her fingers into his hand. He did not look at her, but squeezed her hand briefly before letting go and inhaling, stepping out of their guard to take advantage of the height he had over Katriel. He looked down at her, and she up at him, tears now freely flowing from her face. "Men died, my men, men who believed in me!" His voice softened. "You made me love you, and you never told me one true word the entire time."
"No," she insisted, and she reached to grab his tunic, to plead with him, and he stepped away from her, grimacing as though her very touch was now poison. "No, believe what you like, but know, know that I love you! That was never a lie! That is why I could not carry out my orders! That is why!"
"Don't listen to her!" Loghain said again, and raised his sword to her again, causing her to distance herself again from Maric.
"Maric," Rowan's voice was softer.
"What?" He whirled on Rowan, his eyes now reddened from blinked-back emotion. She merely frowned at him sadly, and shook her head.
He turned to Loghain. "Chain her up. Put her in a dungeon. Whatever. I don't care." He didn't even look at her again. "I don't want to see her," he said, and he stalked off, leaving his friends behind. Loghain looked to Rowan and nodded his head in Maric's direction. She assented and walked quickly after their prince.
Loghain smiled at Katriel, and it was a smile she suspected he had been saving for her for some time. "Shall I have an accident?" her voice was quiet but strong. "Shall I not make it to the dungeon and slip and fall on your sword?" she bit out, expecting nothing less from the prince's swordarm.
"No, I will do as he asks. But you will give us every bit of information you possess, every bit you handed over to those bastards." It remained unspoken what he would do to make sure she was truthful, and she easily imagined worse things than he would have done, only because she, like most everyone else, hardly knew anything true about him.
She was not handled gently, but neither was she injured as she was transported to the dungeon of Gwaren's keep. Everyone along the way was made to know she was a traitor, and the likelihood that it would be some secret knife in the dark that ended her life increased with every pair of eyes that watched her, a familiar face at the king's side, being escorted to the dungeon by Maric's closest advisor. They were not stupid, and they knew a turncoat when they saw one.
Her cell door was locked, and she waited.
# # # # # #
"Loghain," Rowan's voice was quiet in the soldier's encampment, most of the men settled for the night, and he among the few left still awake, staring into the firepit.
He had one knee folded to his chest, and did not look at her as he tossed a pebble into the fire. "Thought you would be with Maric."
"He's resting," she said, and came to sit by him.
"Tired him out, did you?" he quipped, his face stony, his jaw tight.
As she took his meaning, her fist clenched at her side with the instinctual desire to slap him. "That would make you happy, wouldn't it?"
"No, it would. One more way for the world to have wronged you," she scolded, and stood. "Grow up, Loghain. You've had it hard, harder than many, perhaps, but stop blaming everyone else for it. Stop pretending like you expect everyone to betray you. I'm sick and tired of it," she turned and walked away, and he watched her go before turning his eyes back to the flame.
He had expected her to go to Maric. She still loved him, did she not? She would console him in his betrayal, and he would take her to his bed and Loghain would hate very much that he did care who Maric bedded. Rowan would have her place back in his life – his future queen. It was how it should be, and he, the common farmer, had gotten in far over his head.
The camp quieted as he watched the flames die down.
"Commander? I'll take watch," one of the younger soldiers looked down at him, and by younger, the word merely meant of Loghain's own age. He forgot, sometimes, how young the three of them were, playing at war and king-making.
He nodded to the soldier and stood, and looked around the camp aimlessly, unsure of what to do. Then he set his feet towards the keep, to seek her out.
# # # # # #
She should have been abed, but she was not. When he opened the door, she did not even acknowledge him. She sat in the window seat, her hair in one long braid instead of done up for battle. She was clad only in her nightshift, and she stared out at the moon, her chin on her hand.
"Come to apologize?"
"Then leave and come back when you are ready to do so," she informed him, and he hesitated. She turned her head slightly, silhouetted against the moonlight. "I said leave. I don't want to talk to you unless you're here to apologize for calling me a whore."
"I did no such thing," he insisted, keeping his voice down because of the hour, and stepping further into the room.
"You did exactly that," she said, and turned back to look out the window. "I've been sharing your bedroll half the nights since we returned from the Deep Roads, and yet the moment that elf is out of the picture, you expect me to take him back and make him see that I was right for him all along?" He clenched his jaw, hating that she could read him so well. "That's calling me a whore, Loghain."
"He will be king."
She snorted and looked back at him. "And so I'm less of a whore because it is the king I spread my legs for?"
"Stop saying that word."
"Why? It is what you think of me, and you are always right, are you not? So clearly it must be true."
"Yes. I did think you would. I was under no impression that you had stopped loving him, and I know he is important to you. I thought…with…yes, with her out of the way…"
"You know nothing, so stop thinking," she said, gazing out once more. He waited, and she sighed deeply, her shoulders sagging for a moment. When she spoke again, her voice was lower, and he had to be closer to her to hear her properly. "My maidenhead was a bargaining chip, Loghain. Don't be so foolish as to think that I gave it away in a fit of pique and broken heart."
He had no words. He…did not realize she was untouched. Though given a moment's consideration, it made perfect sense. He had thought her tears were of the thing she could not have, rather than any physical pain.
"I…am sorry. I…"
"I didn't tell you, there was little reason to. That which should have been given in my marriage bed was lost in the Deep Roads. It happened, it's over with, and since then I've repeated the act." She shrugged. "It was not something I did lightly, Loghain. I did not settle for you simply because you were there. Yes, I was upset, yes, my heart was in pain. And, yes, truth be told, it still is, a little. But after all we've been through together, you would think me so changeable as that? I'm not sure which is the worse insult, that you think me a mere whore or that you consider my whims are like the wind, settling here one day and there the next."
"I think neither. I am…sorry."
She looked at him with a small smile. "Two apologies in the space of as many minutes. It is unfortunate there is not a scribe here to commit this moment to paper."
"Stop playing!" he frowned. "What is it, then, that you do intend? Will you marry him now that he is no longer enamored of the spy?"
"Why not? He will need a strong queen, and there is no better candidate than yourself, to be sure."
"You know the nobility that well, do you?" He opened his mouth to reply, but she spoke over him. "He will need his friends, that much is true. You and me. But I hardly need to be married to him for that."
"So is that it?" she swung her legs off the seat and gripped the stony edge, her feet dangling, looking at him with a little contempt still left in her eyes. "Now that you've established I did not run back to him, and you have gotten your way with the spy, you're done with me? I've served my purpose?"
"Now it is you who dissembles. We are so close to victory, Rowan. We are being watched, our every move. Now is the time to separate yourself from the common outlaw and the scandal that will surely follow if anyone puts one and one together and gets two," he said, as though she should know better, his arms crossed over his chest defensively.
"And what if I don't care?"
"You will. I have already let this go on too long," he said, and looked away from her.
He heard her footsteps, but did not move, even as she pried his arms apart and stepped into him, wrapping her arms around him and laying her head on his shoulder. As though by instinct, his arms went around her back, tightening and holding her to him. He pressed his lips to her hair, closing his eyes. "Stop this. Please," he asked.
"I don't want to."
"You should marry him. You should be queen, as you were always meant to be."
"Things have changed."
"You still love him."
"Can my heart not love you both? In time…it has already begun to let him go. In his place, you are there, and…" her voice became sardonic, "it is not only your judgment being questioned here. You're a miserable man most of the time, what sort of illness must possess my mind to want that?" she said into his tunic.
His arms tightened again as he inhaled, as though he could pull her into the spaces between his ribs with his breath.
"If we find victory someday, and Maric is made the rightful king, you…are of noble blood. This…will not be allowed to continue."
"I rather think he'll owe us a favor or two by the time this is done."
He pulled away a little, her body still held in the circle of his arms. "And you would what? Use a boon from the king as permission to…marry below your station?"
She shook her head. "Oh no. I can't do that. I'm of noble blood, I have responsibilities." His face only furrowed deeper and she reached up the little distance to kiss him on the nose. "He's just going to have to make you a noble."
He snorted and she was gifted with one of his rare smiles, brief and all the more precious for it. "I'd make a terrible noble."
"So do most of the rest of them, you'll fit right in."