Disclaimer: Me no own, you no sue
Summary: When one is a pauper they are grateful to any scrap or rag they can find to clothe themselves. When one is rich they forget what they have and complain unless they wear the finest raiment. Companion story to 'Pieces'.
AN: :flailing all over the place: I want to go back to working on Murder, but damn stupid BUNNIES! Here Pieces was supposed to just be a little stand alone short. And then I was like "Hmm... why would Zev be willing to settle for less than what he 'deserves'?" so then Scraps came into my head. And now I'm wondering... how would they work things out? Are the Warden and Zev together? Do they just have some kind of arrangement? I don't know! But then I was rereading something on onemorealtmer's LJ about her Tabris making patchwork quilts... and I just kinda... was like "Hey, I bet Zev and Lyna would be like a quilt – all scraps and cast off pieces of things that are broken or useless... and become a patchwork! AIEE!"
I still don't know if they wind up 'together' or not. I originally wanted Pieces and Scraps to leave it up to ya'll's interpretation. So, if anyone has a vote on it, lemme know. I'm thinkin' I'm gonna force myself to work on Murder for the next few days unless the third piece of this annoying bunny/character study decides to hit me upside the head.
Also, the tone in this one is different by the end of the story than how Pieces went, but that's because the difference is that Pieces was from Lyna's POV. And she was just freshly dumped by Alipants, and the whole sparing-Lohgain tripe, so she was in a dark place. While this one is from Zev's POV and sure he's angry, sure he wants Lyna to be happy so that he can be happy himself, but he's not stuck in that "OMG all things are dark and black and grr love sucks!" state of mind.
Beta'd by the awesome Amku!
Boy kings and their thrones meant nothing in the grand scheme of things, but the power they wielded could cause so much harm. They would forget themselves and play the part of monarch, wearing that mantle of power. Alistair was one of these, and yet he was good in his own sort of way.
Zevran could almost respect him.
However, the bastard prince forgot too much of himself too soon. He forgot stables and mucking them out, forgot the trudging in dirt and mud and bleeding and almost dying for friends. Worst of all, he forgot vows given in secret hours of the night to someone who did not trust easily.
Yes, Zevran had heard all those words, had listened at pathetically awkward gropings – had made himself stand calmly on watch as gasps came from the thin walls of a tent. At that time Zevran had thought that Alistair would value what he had, keep it close and never let it go. It was a pretty lie, and even then some part of the assassin knew it. Lyna had wanted it, had needed it, so Zevran convinced himself that there was a chance it would be true.
Still he had flirted, gazed and watched the slip of a girl. He wanted her for himself, wanted those smiles directed at him, those careless touches that spoke volumes of care. Zevran wanted to be cared about, too.
As if wanting it had summoned it into being – a gift. Gloves, finely stitched, far finer than what the Dalish would give outsiders. They were not very practical for a pair of gloves, but that didn't matter. Wary and shocked, Zevran had been hostile, waiting to find out what the cost was. Lyna didn't seem the type to hand over something so valuable, something so desired and require a fee, but that was the world assassins came from. Gifts had costs. He was disillusioned by what Lyna had done. It was not that he wouldn't give her anything he had at her request, it was... the fear that she wasn't everything he had hoped. It was like a knife in the back.
However, all the little Alienage elf had wanted was a smile. That was what she said, a sadness deep in her eyes. Zevran had wanted to erase it as soon as it showed up, so, rather than a smile in return, he had given Lyna a kiss. It was disgustingly chaste, on the tips of her fingers, and all the while he suppressed the urge to howl and throw the gloves back in her face. Oh, how it had hurt that she didn't want anything at all from him. Suddenly, the pendulum of his jumbled emotions swung the other way. Now that there was no cost, Zevran wanted to pay one, in direct contradiction to initial anger.
The leather in his fist was soft. Soft like he imagined the flesh of her hips would be. Soft like the glow that lit up her face when he said that he liked the present. Soft like her voice had been when she pointed out that the gloves were Dalish – like his mother's.
So Zevran paid her back the only way he could. He shined armor, made sure her poison supplies were always full, and that there was always at least one extra set of poultices in her kit. He watched over her, waited, and watched. When pieces of her would fall, he would step in and give her distraction. Zevran would gather every smile she handed him, every minute of her time that she shared.
Heavy footsteps came down the hallway, alerting Zevran to oncoming company. Sitting up from his place on the floor, the golden haired elf waited. For five days his Warden had laid abed, Wynne's sacrifice having saved her life and kept her from paralysis, but that was all. Blood had to be replaced, organs mended, bone knitted, muscle healed and skin stitched back into place. So she lay there mostly sleeping or crying out from waking dreams while Zevran remained at her side. He did not join her in the comforts of the bed, choosing instead to use the bedroll that had been his resting spot for the last year. Or was it two years? Time had marched on without his noticing it.
There was a hesitation, a pause, a hitch in the tread of foot on floor reminding the Antivan that the unwanted visitor was still coming. Alistair. From rags to riches, the bastard prince – soon to be crowned the bastard king – had come by each day since Zevran had gathered himself to haul Lyna out of Fort Drakon. Each day the not-quite-Templar came by and would stare for a few minutes at the form of the Alienage girl. The same girl he had thrown away. The same girl who had clawed her way, leading, dragging, forcing and cajoling a victory from a no win situation.
Elf nor prince said a word toward the other.
"She... looks better today," Alistair offered, sounding strained as he coughed into his fist.
Refusing to give him any leniency and knowing Lyna was still asleep from the way she breathed, Zevran countered, "Hmm, yes she recovers at a good pace. How terribly inconvenient for you, no?"
Alistair flinched and glared at him, "Don't say that! I... I cared for her deeply."
That was too much, and sore and recovering as he was, Zevran still had the strength to lunge forward, dagger slipping into hand in one practiced motion. Across the room in a breath, grabbing, swinging Alistair into the wall – nevermind the commotion and faux pas of attacking the technical monarch – Zevran pressed the knife edge to his windpipe. Deceptively strong, Zevran had been trained for decades to be whipcord lean and strong enough that when adrenaline hit he could literally pick up one handed someone as large as Alistair. And he did so, holding up the younger, sandy blond haired man-child against the wall. It was tempting, very tempting to slash at his throat. To finish it. To make him pay for lying, for shaming, for betrayals that go deeper than any crime of murder.
Alistair thought he was safe probably, staring down with his pale blue eyes. He probably thought that Zevran was only having a fit of jealous anger. An irritated but tolerant expression was on the shemlin's face – as if Zevran wouldn't do it.
That alone almost spurred Zevran to damn the consequences.
Arrogance, unwarranted pride was a personal pet peeve. Not when it wasn't amusing, and not when it was discounting of the actual danger. Allowing his eyes to go dead, Zevran let Alistair – almost friend, once comrade, unjustified rival for something precious – see the dark thing that lived within the assassin. He let him see something that made others tremble in fear.
Desperation shone in Zevran's eyes as the monster reared up. Greed and anger. Need and hate. An utter lack of humanity. Flashes were all he had revealed before. He didn't like to pull aside his mask, not even to his targets. Not even they deserved to know what really was killing them. Why give them that much extra terror when it was just further cruelty?
Overkill. Zevran disliked it intensely.
In this instance, however, overkill was absolutely splendid.
His voice chilled even his own ears as they spilled from his lips. "You don't understand the meaning of the word 'care' Alistair," he purred around the edges of each word, making the Ferelden sound like something exotic and lovely, not clunky and harsh. "If you did, you would have taken care in how you stepped, and who you crossed. You would have watched yourself and used that brain that the Maker supposedly gave you."
Zevran dropped him, releasing the man-boy that Zevran had, at some point, thought fair competition, and turned his back. Sometimes mercy was completely overrated. Letting Alistair live was the worst punishment Zevran could come up with. Let him fester and for all his coffers of gold, and worldly power – be the poorest of the poor and wretched in terms of soul.
"Go," Zevran said with a wave of his hand. "Go and live in your pretty castle, marry a pretty wife. Make some pretty babies." He moved to stand over Lyna's still sleeping form. With tender reverence he stroked a scarred finger down Lyna's cheek. "Your presence is not required here."
With a derisive snort full of bravado, Alistair spat his words, "You think she'll take you? A whoreson -"
Cutting him off, Zevran spoke with cold words, "Quiet boy. Another word and I will leave you broken physically in ways you cannot imagine. She may not take me, but I will pick up the pieces you have left her in and I will put them back together."
He missed her smiles, always rare before, now they almost didn't exist at all. Zevran knew Lyna had hung on to life not because she cared whether she lived or died – having been so recently shattered, Zevran knew it made finding the strength to go on nearly impossible – but because others needed her. There was an understanding between the two of them, and perhaps Zevran could dare to hope she hung on for him rather than because of him.
Alistair had thrown a last barb his way as the assassin finished packing the gear to travel. 'You go sniffing after her like the dog you are, begging for table scraps. When you die, she may shed a tear before leaving you in a ditch, but you'll be replaced by another beggar soon enough. You will be forgotten. You're nothing, Arainai. Nothing but a dog chasing its master.'
He was accurate in many ways, but so wrong in others. Zevran knew the meaning of faithfulness and loyalty. He wasn't the sort to die for failure, rather believing that surviving failure meant he could redress whatever he had done wrong. Dying for it would serve no purpose. He disregarded that Lyna had released him from his oath, freeing him to do as he chose. That oath was the first thing the elf had ever done entirely by free will.
Looking forward at the muddy road, Lyna carried a pack like a common soldier a few paces ahead. For Lyna, Zevran would always be faithful, always loyal to her, and it wouldn't matter if she sent him away; he would orbit the young woman. Not because he was desperate, but because he had made a choice and planned to stick to it until his end.
He knew the value of her smiles.
He picked up his pace to walk beside her. "So, amora, do you not think we should stop for the evening soon? If I recall correctly, there is a delightful inn a few miles ahead. The food leaves something to be desired, but the entertainment was quite good when I was there."
"Hmm? Oh," Lyna said with a little jerk, as if she had forgotten his presence. It was quite possible she had. "Um.. sleeping in a bed could be nice." A small frown turned down her full lips. "If the inn is still there and hasn't been destroyed by darkspawn..."
"Ah, let us not think about such things," he replied, keeping his tone light. "If it is not there, then we walk a little further and make camp, and I shall cook real food for you."
That thing Zevran had been hoping for showed up, a smile. It was a little one, but it was still there, "Suitably spicy and very Antivan?"
"Why, of course!" he exclaimed, throwing his arms into the air, laughing. "Antivan food is better than anything outside of Seheron! Actually, have I ever told you about this little food seller that was near my favorite brothel? It had the most delicious meat skewers, and it was run by this luscious Qunari. My friend, Salvail, after sampling her goods said she was as tasty as those little folded bundles of meat and vegetables she sold..."
Lyna socked him in the arm playfully, "Maker, you're incorrigible!"
Waggling his eyebrows, hamming it up for her benefit, "Should I be some other way? Now, as I was saying, the food from Seheron, if this Qunari's cooking was anything to go by, would certainly rival all but the finest of my people's cooking."
The whole way to the inn Zevran worked on keeping Lyna smiling, laughing. Making her forget her sadness. For the time being at least. And it was a glorious thing. It was what Zevran would hope for each day, and that afternoon, with her attention focused on him and her twinkling eyes flashing, she gave Zevran more than enough to keep himself going.
"Do you know what I missed the most?"
Wooden floorboards were a rough place to sleep, but Zevran had lain on worse things. The inn had still stood, and they booked one of the few rooms. Lyna was mostly healed, the work of a month of rest and many hours invested by healers, but Zevran would rather her lay in something somewhat comfortable. The room's interior was dark, save for small gaps in the wall, inexpertly filled with mud, where some of the evening's light shone through. Lyna's voice was both loud and quiet in the twilight.
Rolling onto his back, Zevran cushioned his head on his hands. "And what would that be, amora?"
"At first, I believed that I yearned for the warmth of someone next to me. And then I thought that I must miss the sound of a heartbeat near my ear. But that wasn't what I really missed either, because after a few days that went away. It wasn't until later that I figured out what it was that hurt me for its not being there. The night I woke up in the castle with you in the room I found what it was." Leather creaked against the wood of the bed frame as she shifted.
Lyna was silent for a long time, leaving her thought incomplete. Zevran waited her out; she would tell him when she was ready. More shifting and creaking, and Lyna was hanging her head over the side of the bed. He could catch the faint scent of the rosewater she used when washing her hair, soft and sweet. She was so close that Zevran would only have to reach out a little bit to touch his Warden's face.
But it was her slender hand that was reaching through the dark, not his own, to touch his forehead. Hooding his eyes, Zevran remained still and quiet as calloused fingertips slid over his features. Such a touch was more intimate than any mere conquest would ever be. It was the sort of exploration saved for someone trusted and valued. Someone... cared for.
Her position could not have been comfortable, scooted to the edge as she was, but his Warden remained that way. Lyna lay the back of her hand against his cheek, maintaining the small contact. Leather, polish and metal had distinctive odors that mixed with rose and that bit of salt feminine musk that all women carried, so close to his nose. It was a heady perfume and when combined with the sensation of her skin on his, Zevran found it hard to resist moving.
"And what was it that you pined for, amora?" For once, he spoke for the sole purpose of distracting himself rather than Lyna.
A twitch in the muscles of her hand, "Um. You're not sleeping."
He smiled in the dark, his eyes long since adjusted to the gloom and able to see her eyes wide. She was rarely caught by surprise. "Was I supposed to be? I thought we were having a conversation." Slowly, carefully Zevran dared to rub his cheek against her hand, "And you have yet to finish your thought, amora."
"I'm sorry, I... I didn't mean to," she said meekly, pulling away.
Suddenly desperate, Zevran reached out, snagging her wrist. "Please."
There was a hesitation, and then Lyna was scooting off the bed, half falling atop him. Zevran wasn't sure exactly what she was doing, the assassin was only happy at whatever it was. Part of him wondered if he would have the strength to resist the temptation if she offered him what they both craved.
Rather, Lyna just curled into him, speaking quietly, "I'm sorry, it's... not fair to you."
He sighed in relief. Neither of them was seeking sex. "What is not fair to me, amora?"
"This," she replied, squeezing his hand. "Me. I'm not fair to you, I don't want to use you. But here I am, dragging you along to who knows where. Here I am in your bedroll. If I'm not careful... I could hurt you."
Cautiously, Zevran wrapped his arms around the Warden. "And how would you use me?" He chose his words with great care, "There is no way to regain the entirety of your heart from the betrayal you suffered. You know this, as do I. So you would not be using me as a replacement, amora. And since it would not be using, how would it hurt?"
"No, I knew he would end it. Even if he hadn't, I would have," she spoke with certainty. "It was how he did it, Zevran. Like I was... nothing. A pet, an.. animal. That I was something that had gotten too big for my britches and needed to be put in my place."
Not sure of what he should say, Zevran pressed his jaw to her forehead. If it did not entail leaving Lyna behind, he would have returned to Denerim to employ torturers' arts to Alistair. To imprint what the truth of being treated as an animal could do to one.
"Vaughn, when he and his lackeys came on my wedding day, he called us 'animals' and 'pets'. And that wasn't the first time." Zevran had suspected as much, and Lyna's words only proved his suspicions correct. "It was rare for them to come in the day time during such a large gathering, but it happened from time to time. That time led to everyone in the Alienage having the fact shoved in their faces that not one of their daughters would ever be spared... We could pretend that being taken in ones and twos didn't happen before that. Everyone liked to act as if each of us were never defiled." She released a deep shuddering breath and Zevran squeezed her tightly. He knew what had occurred all too well. "And to be treated like an animal.. by.."
"By someone who swore never to hurt you, to never give you reason to regret your trust, yes?" Overstepping boundaries he had carefully set up, Zevran brushed his lips over her forehead. "That is what breaks you so, and why you wish something, anything to fill the empty places."
In the dark they lay there, Zevran rubbing circles in Lyna's back. This was the amount of comfort she would allow him to give, and even then it was taken with trepidation. Surely she must know that he wouldn't push and would not expect more than what she could give in return.
"I never want to hurt anyone that way, Zevran," she spoke in a quavering voice and her eyelashes fluttered against the flesh of his neck. They were damp from mostly unshed tears. "I never want to make someone that is close to me regret their time with me. No one should have to ever feel broken and empty and so... desperate to cling to something."
Strangely, he had to gather his courage – because it was possible she may not know that was how things were – to explain himself in words rather than action. Plain speech was not his forte, not in these sorts of matters. Assassins were trained to be smoke and mirrors, using whatever was at hand as a weapon and an advantage to a goal. To maintain the upper hand. Never to relinquish true control or give something freely.
Swallowing thickly, struggling with what his Warden needed to hear, "The only thing that would make me regret anything at all with you, amora, is being unable to provide you with what you need."
"Why, Zevran? Why? I released you from that oath," Lyna said, sounding tired and young. Confused. It was then that Zevran knew that she truly did not know. "You stand by me; you give me everything. Why? I don't have anything to give in return. I am unwhole."
Rolling so that they were nose to nose, tasting her breath against his lips, he spoke in a desperate tone, "You have given me everything, amora. Protection, friendship, purpose, trust. I know the values of these things, sweet Lyna, for I have lived my life without any of them, not knowing that I craved for them so. Not until they were within reach." There were so many unspoken feelings on his end, and it was becoming easier to put them forth. "And what you say is broken, and not enough... is more than I have ever had, amora. Please do not rob what you have given me of value, do not debase it. Not for some belief that what little you have left is worthless. To me, it... is everything."
Hands crept under the hem of his shirt, sliding around his waist to clutch at the muscles, "My father once said 'One mans' trash is another's treasure'." Expecting a kiss, expecting further overtures and ready to provide, Zevran waited as Lyna scooted even closer, legs twisting up with his. "You still deserve better."
"Your father is a most wise man," he replied, his voice thickening. "And consider that I do not know how I would react to what you deem as 'better'. It is probable I would run as far as I could from such. No, this is enough for me. I ask no more than what you can give me, amora, and will count myself a rich man."
She didn't kiss him, not like that. It was soft, and gentle – yes, and that was something he did expect from Lyna. But it was chaste, comforting, and bore no heat. No need at all. The corner of his mouth, half on his lips, half off, and it didn't inflame Zevran the way he thought it would. Rather it was her giving something to him, and not taking what he offered. A strange sort of 'thank you', a nice one, but foreign.
Settling down, reaching up to snag the blankets from the bed, Zevran covered Lyna and himself. It was time for sleep, and later they could figure out what they had. New boundaries would be set – and probably broken.
Starting to doze off, Zevran woke up when Lyna whispered, "I missed the sound of someone I love and trust breathing near me."
And then she was asleep.
Stymied, Zevran lay awake, no longer able to sleep. It was clear to Zevran that Lyna did not mean romantic 'love', but some other form of nebulous emotion that someone who grew up with a home and family and friends would understand. Resolving to learn the knack so that he could enrich his life and perhaps hers, Zevran hung on for dear life to his Warden.
One foolish boy's trash was Zevran's most treasured dream. He would not waste a single scrap, drop a single piece, and he would find a way to make a patchwork of himself. If he was lucky, Lyna would help and let him help her in turn.