Written for the Seven Deadly Sins challenge "Lust" prompt over on the Loghain live journal community. Spoilers for The Stolen Throne ahead. Finally, given the contradictory accounts of Alistair's mother, this story assumes that what you learn in the game about her (from Alistair, Loghain and Goldanna) is true and that Fiona from The Calling is not his mother.
Sins of the Father
He reached the sprawling manor house as the sun turned the horizon over Lake Calenhad into a spectacular swath of deep reds and oranges above the clear blue water, but the view was lost on a travel weary Loghain who slowed his horse from a canter to a soft trot. The sound of approaching hoofbeats drew the attention of the royal guards flanking the door. They recognized him immediately, saluting when he dismounted and handed the reigns over to a squire. He waved off the salutes, but took a heavy goblet from an offered tray.
A long swallow of wine washed the dust from his mouth allowing him to bark a terse, "Well, where is he?" as he thrust the cup back into the servant's hands.
"The King is waiting for you in the study, your grace, but Arl Eamon has requested to speak to you first. He is waiting for you in the hall."
Loghain grunted, pulled off his riding gloves and strode into the house. That Rowan's little brother was here considering the circumstances was… surprising, but then young Arling had been growing alarmingly political as of late, so perhaps not.
Eamon bowed in greeting, but Loghain was in no mood for social pleasantries today, instead nodding an acknowledgment and heading for the study without breaking stride.
Undaunted, Eamon fell into step beside him. "You must talk some sense into him. He is being completely unreasonable."
Privately Loghain agreed, but his hackles rose at the young Arl's demand. "Must I now?"
"He'll listen to you. That's why he sent for you. He trusts your advice."
That was also true, and the only reason Loghain had allowed Maric's folly to drag him from his wife and daughter at Gwaren and into this mess.
"Possibly, but he is the King. He can do as he pleases."
"You know what will happen to Rowan if he is imprudent."
At her name, there was the familiar burn in Loghain's chest, dulled somewhat by time and circumstance. "Does she know?"
"I don't think so. We managed to move the girl out of the city undetected. Rowan believes we are on a hunting trip. I would like to keep that way, but there is a problem."
Loghain stopped in his tracks and lifted his eyebrows.
"The girl died last night. Complications from the childbirth. And now, Maric is talking about acknowledging the babe."
Loghain swore and stalked down the rest of the corridor in silence, Eamon trailing behind. When he reached the study, the guard let them pass.
What Loghain saw when he entered the study did little to improve his humor. Maric sat by the fire, smiling down at the child in his arms. He looked up and extended a sad smile to his friend. "There you are. I was wondering if you were going to come."
"Of course I came."
"Well don't just stand there. Come and take a look at my son."
Loghain was not going to do any such thing. Since he had much to say, much that couldn't be said in front of the young Arling, he turned his glower from Maric to Eamon. "I need to speak to the King."
Eamon squared his shoulders and turned to Maric. "I would prefer to stay, your majesty, since this affects my family-"
Maric cut across his words. "I appreciate your position, Eamon, but I need to speak to Loghain in private. Take the babe to the wet nurse and I will summon you if I need anything further."
A muscle in Eamon's jaw twitched, but he did not protest. He made a curt bow, took the child in his stiff arms and shot Loghain one last glare before leaving Loghain and Maric alone.
The King and the Teryn faced each other in silence. Finally Loghain shook his head and spoke allowing every drop of disgust and disappointment he felt leach into his tone. "How could you do this, Maric?"
"It was..." Maric swallowed. "There is no defense for this, I know."
Loghain's temper, that had been simmering since he'd received the summons, broke. "You're damn right there isn't!" he bellowed. "You betrayed your wife, your son, and everyone who has ever put faith in you."
"I didn't intend for this to happen."
"I'm sure that will be a great comfort to your wife when she discovers it," Loghain spat. "I never thought you could be this cruel to someone who loves you."
Anger flashed across the King's face, tightening the line of his jaw as he rose slowly from the chair. "That's the problem, Loghain. She doesn't love me, she loves you. My wife pines for my best friend who stays away because he cannot bear to see us together."
Loghain's hands clenched around the riding gloves he still held. Rowan would have never turned to him in the first place had Maric not been a fool and loved her the way that she deserved. He had hoped that distance and time would help soothe the wound, but he could still see the look on her face when he'd pushed her into Maric's arms for the good of Ferelden.
"So this is retribution then."
Maric threw his hands up. "No, dammit! I was…" He paused and looked into the fire. "I was lonely."
"So instead of trying to make things right with your strong, intelligent and beautiful wife, you take a tumble with a willing servant."
Maric sighed and began to pace in front of the fire. "She saw the man instead of the King. She wanted me, and I have not been with a woman who wanted me for a very long time."
Loghain shook his head. More likely she was a starstruck servant flattered that by the handsome king's attention or perhaps a woman looking to be set up in comfort for the rest of her life, but whatever her folly, the girl had paid for her indiscretion with her life. The sentiment was familiar enough though. Maric had used them to describe another of his follies from the past.
"Since the Orlesian spy, you mean."
The King's face tightened with his fury. "We will not discuss her."
"You are such a fool, Maric."
"I am," he admitted. "But so are you for thinking that this would work between Rowan and I."
Loghain had once thought it was impossible to hate the man standing in front of him, but at the moment, he was finding it very difficult to remember exactly why that was.
"It will if you allow it. Rowan loves you. She always has, but you're too busy mourning a woman who betrayed us all."
"How would you know?" Maric snapped. "You haven't been to Denerim or seen Rowan since we made you Teryn and gave you Gwaren. You were supposed to stand by our side and help us rule this nation. We need your council and you hide on your estate."
"I was doing my duty and standing aside so that you could do yours." And in doing so, he'd somehow managed, more by luck rather than design, to find an unexpected refuge with his wife and daughter. They'd been a balm to his battered soul in ways that Loghain would have never thought possible.
"I did my duty and we have a wonderful son. I just…" Maric sighed and raked a hand through his hair. "Rowan gives me affection and understanding. She cares about me, I know she does, but there is no passion between us. I needed to feel that one more time."
"The indulgence of your lust comes with a dammed heavy price."
"I know," Maric said softly. "But when I look at my beautiful new son, I cannot feel regret for it. The boy is why I've called you here. I need your advice."
The King returned to his seat by the fire and gestured for Loghain to take the chair across from him. For a few moments, Loghain considered stalking out without a backward glance and leaving Maric to untangle the unholy mess he'd created on his own. But Maric's hold on him was as strong as ever, and he could no more abandon his friend now than he could have abandoned the boy king in the wilds years before. So with a scowl, Loghain dropped his weight into the seat.
Loghain leaned forward, lacing his fingers together as he rested his elbows on his knees. "Do you really want to hear what I have to say?"
"Not really," Maric said, his tone a reflection of his rueful half smile, and at that moment Loghain remembered exactly why he couldn't hate his friend. "But I think I need to hear it."
"Fine," Loghain said. "You must give the boy away, but you already knew that."
Maric flinched, but nodded in agreement. "As soon as I find a place for him to go where he will be safe and cared for."
"The Chantry would be the best place. He would be well cared for, provided an education and training. Enough gold greasing the right palms would ensure the necessary silence on the matter."
"I don't want my boy to grow up there. I want him to have a proper home."
Loghain rubbed his jaw. "Then you have someone in mind."
"Yes," the King said. "I do."
The pause stretched between them, and it didn't take long for Loghain to realize what Maric meant. He shot to his feet and sliced the air in front of him with his hand. "No! Absolutely not."
"Loghain, there isn't anyone else who I would trust with my son with more. I've seen you with your daughter. You are an excellent father."
"And if I returned home with a newborn babe, what do you think that would do to Celia and Anora? Everyone would assume he was my bastard!" All of the hard earned peace he'd managed to build would be shattered in an instant.
"Not if I acknowledged him. Then there would be no stain upon your honor, only on mine."
Loghain threw his arms wide. "And what of Rowan and Cailan? Have you even thought about what this would do to them?"
"I am hardly the first nobleman or King to sire a bastard. These things happen."
"So she should just expect your infidelity and embrace being reduced to a royal concubine because that's what noble husbands do?"
"That's…" Maric shook his head as he fumbled for words. "That's not what I meant!"
Loghain pulled himself to his full height and continued his verbal assault. "You have already betrayed Rowan, but you would wound her even more by having all of Ferelden know of your folly? You would drag your Queen's name through the mud and dishonor her in front of the kingdom that she helps you rule? Have people laughing, or worse, pitying her behind her back, because her husband has cuckolded her?"
"If I don't acknowledge him, an innocent child will be punished for my mistakes. Rowan will be hurt by this, it's true, but she would not want that."
"How do you know what she wants when you haven't had the stones to tell her what you've done?" Maric's mouth tightened into a thin line underneath an angry glare, but Loghain did not back down. "Do you think she would agree with this fool notion when it throws the legitimacy of her son's claim to the throne in question? Maker's Breath man, have you even thought of the unrest this could cause after your death? Civil Wars have been started with less fuel than this. You put into jeopardy everything we have fought and sacrificed for."
Maric's face twisted. "He is just a little boy, Loghain. He doesn't even have a mother now."
"He's not just a little boy. He's a royal bastard who's going to have to pay for his father's mistakes. It's not fair or right, but that is how it must be."
The two men glared at each other until finally Maric looked away. The King's shoulders slumped in defeat, but Loghain felt no triumph with his victory. All he could think of was his own daughter and the way he would have felt if he'd been forced into making such a terrible decision.
Finally Maric asked, "Then what should we do with him?"
"Find a young unmarried nobleman that can be trusted and give the child to him so he can pass the boy off as his own before he takes vows. That would cause the least amount of strife."
Maric sighed and nodded. "Who will be the one to take my son?"
Loghain's gaze flickered to the closed door.
"Eamon? He is already married…" Loghain waited in silence as comprehension dawned. "You mean his brother."
"Teagan is a young man of the right age for everyone to believe that this is just a youthful folly. As a nobleman, no one would judge him for it, and I believe that he would agree, given what is at stake for his family."
Or if he didn't, Loghain was certain his brother would force the young man's agreement. It would be another injustice – a burden placed on a boy of sixteen summers who did not ask for it, but it was the best solution that Loghain could see.
Maric was visibly relieved with the idea at least. "Very well. Summon Eamon and we'll talk."
Loghain rose and went to the door. Eamon was pacing the hallway on the other side. His head jerked up at the sound of the opening door, and with a twitch of his hand, Loghain commanded his entrance. A few moments later, Maric had laid out the plan. Eamon listened in respectful silence that rubbed Loghain completely the wrong way. Loghain couldn't quite put his finger on it, but there was something about the curve of the young Arl's lip that seemed to be overly satisfied by what he was hearing.
"Of course, your majesty. My family is honored to be of service to you." Eamon stroked his chin. "Although I don't believe it will be necessary to involve my brother. I will simply take the boy home, and that will be that."
Loghain frowned. "What about Isolde?"
Eamon blinked. "What about her?"
Blue eyes narrowed. "If Teagan does not acknowledge him as his, people may assume that the boy is your bastard. Surely she will object to sharing a roof with him, especially since you cannot tell her of the boy's true parentage." She was Orlesian after all and could not be trusted with the knowledge.
"I have given Isolde no reason to doubt my fidelity, and she will learn to adjust. " Eamon shrugged. "Besides, we are having difficulty conceiving a child. If we fail to produce an heir, I will claim the boy as my own."
Loghain stared at Eamon, completely taken aback by the casual cruelty of the Arl's words. But Maric was looked pleased with this idea, and as much as Loghain pitied her for what was about to happen, he would not risk having Maric changing his mind by objecting on behalf of the Orlesian woman's marriage.
"Very well," the King said.
"When shall we depart, your majesty?" Eamon asked.
"Tonight," Loghain snapped. "As soon as possible." Loghain did not want to give Maric anymore time to reflect and change his mind.
Eamon's brows shot up, but he must have followed the Loghain's train of thought because he made a curt bow and strode out the door. Less than a half an hour later, Eamon, his guards, and the boy's wet nurse were on horseback, and the boy was in his father's arms for the last time.
Maric clutched the boy and for a terrible moment Loghain thought that he was going to refuse to hand the child over, but he kissed the sleeping babe's forehead and murmured, "Goodbye, Alistair." He handed the child up to Eamon. "Take good care of my boy, Eamon."
Eamon shifted so the babe was in the crook of his arm. "I will, your majesty."
Loghain and Maric watched them go, standing silent until Eamon and the babe disappeared into the trees. Maric turned away, his raw grief plain on his face and went into the manor house. Loghain stood where he was for much longer, swallowing the bile that crept up his throat before shaking his head following his King and his friend inside.