Title: Temperance

Author: Jade Sabre

Note 1: So, now I am outing myself as a Loghain fan, and promising that I'll go back to Alistair once I'm done with this detour. Written for the Seven Heavenly Virtues challenge over at the Loghain LJ community. I haven't read either of the DA novels, and have no idea if I've gotten the personalities of certain characters correct. Apologies if I am miserably OOC.

Note 2, thirty minutes later: Having read chunks of The Stolen Throne thanks to Amazon's "Search Inside" feature, I can safely say this story is a teeny bit AU, but then again I wouldn't trust the storytelling abilities of a nursemaid who tells her charge about his parents' sex lives before their marriage. What.

Not that I'm any better, apparently. Mood/thematic? spoilers for the novel, I suppose, though nothing you couldn't have learned (as I did) from the wiki.

Reviews would be greatly appreciated!

Disclaimer: I can't claim to have come up with any of the storylines or characters involved in Dragon Age, although they are so deliciously depressing that I kind of wish I could take them as my own.


Maric drinks too much.

Normally this isn't a problem, because the fact that he takes whiskey instead of ale hides behind the hours between drinks, hours filled with meetings and arguments and delicate attempts to reknit Ferelden's sinews. But leave him alone with a bottle on a bad day, and it will be gone before the hour is out—two hours, if the day is not-so-bad. But Loghain has seen his friend on all his days, and today is definitely bad. For the king has failed; he has asked the Landsmeet to open the Alienage, but no one is willing to allow the knife-ears out of their cage, to give them the freedom of clean air and trees which is their right. And tonight there have been too many bottles in too few hours, and it is starting to show.

Normally he keeps his thoughts to himself—Maric's seen him drunk plenty of times—but tonight there is something about the king's behavior, in his restless pacing as he tosses back drinks and laughs with his guards, which promises trouble. It is not that Maric is on edge; it is rather that he lacks an edge, that his bitterness stems from despair, not anger. Tonight, Maric has given up, and the rest of them can only watch as their king chooses to drown himself.

Rowan knows, and he has thought himself past the point where her pain is his own; the proud warrior queen sits quietly in the corner, firelight glinting off the grey in her brown hair as she bows her head over needlework, of all things. And she is as lovely in her sorrow as she has ever been, of course, but he is safe in his corner and she in hers and he is here solely because Maric requested his presence at the Landsmeet. The vote is crucial, the king had said, pleading, practically on his knees in the teyrn's courtyard. I need your support, and I need your presence. You can leave the next day, if you wish, but please, Loghain. Come.

And now he is here and Maric is drunk and Rowan's head is bowed and oddly enough he thinks of his wife, raising her hand in farewell, beautiful and heavy with his child and alone, and then Rowan raises her head and their eyes meet and all he knows is feeling, the feeling that he will take her in his arms and all will be well, her eyes won't hurt and his won't be lonely, that he loves her and he hates Maric for taking him away from his wife and away from his love and for drinking to the memory of a dead woman whose people he cannot save, who would not take salvation handed down to them from a shem king anyway (and that is the bitterest taste in the king's mouth, though neither of them ever brought it up). Rowan's eyes know him, know that he has forgotten reason, and her smile holds a hint of chagrin even as it encourages him to take leave of the room and his senses and wait for her—and it will not be so bad a thing, because Maric knows and Maric understands and Maric is so drunk he will tip over and wake in the morning without a clue of what's happened, and Loghain will return to his wife and the babe she carries and Maric will return to the affairs of his kingdom and Rowan—

He closes his eyes and grits his teeth, and then he looks away from her and to his king and stands. Maric's guards step away and their king sways dangerously until Loghain grips his arm and pulls him straight, supporting him with all the love and the hate in his heart.

"Loghain!" Maric says, and his sunny sweet smile is heartbroken and brave.

"Your Majesty," he says, to forestall any attempt on his own part to smile; instead, he leans in and whispers, "Go to bed with your queen."

"What?" Maric's eyes are wide and confused and he is drunk, and Loghain cannot squelch his fondness for the man.

He allows himself one smile: grim, and perhaps a little heartbroken, and he says, "Go to bed with your queen. She is waiting."

Maric sways into him, his face warm in Loghain's shoulder, and he can barely hear his king's words. "For you."

"You're the one she married," he says sternly, shaking his arm just enough to force him to meet his gaze. "Maric," he says, "go to bed, and take Rowan with you."

"Is that what you want?" The words don't come in order, or even recognizably pronounced; Loghain has heard his friend in all states, though sometimes he wonders if the king has paid the same attention in return.

"Go to bed," he repeats, and to enforce his point he jerks the king by the arm until he takes an unsteady step on his own; Loghain releases him, and watches as he crosses to the queen, whose eyes are on her work.

"My dear lady," Maric slurs, nearly dropping to his knees but instead banging them against her chair, "it is time for me to retire, and so I ask, nicely, if you wish to join me."

Rowan looks up at him, and Loghain looks away. "You're drunk."

"Yes! Yes, I am." Maric's voice breaks; softly, he says, "Sorry."

Loghain can hear her smile, quiet and resigned. "Give me your hand," she says, and Loghain remains where he stands as the king's guards flow around him, following their monarchs out of the room. He stands in the empty chamber with the crackling warmth of the fireplace and knows that all he will find in the palace is a cold, empty bed (and the same could be said of the teyrnir, but the fault does not lie with the beautiful wife who bears his child); he thinks the king will understand if he leaves in the morning, and takes a bottle of his finest brandy tonight.