Title: He lets the past behind him lie
Author: Jade Sabre
Notes: I do believe this was the very first fic I wrote after beating Dragon Age for the first time. I am not sure why it has taken so long for me to post it. I think it is because I wanted to finish "Domestication" first, as this takes place in the same universe, and that took a while.
Reviews would be greatly appreciated!
Disclaimer: Dragon Age still does not belong to me (but pst, Bioware, if you're looking for someone to take over Gaider's novel-writing gig, call me!).
"Well, well, well, what have we here?" said an entirely too familiar voice—and that was what threw him, because he hadn't heard a familiar voice anywhere in sixteen years, and it made no sense that one would be here, in this tiny little tavern in a tiny little town that didn't know whether it belonged to Orlais or Nevarra. It thus paid tribute to neither, and that was why he liked it.
He opened his bleary eyes to see pale skin, waist area probably, given that his head was lying on the table and the skin was right in front of him. It moved and he soon found himself staring at crossed arms wearing familiar black gloves, and so he closed his eyes and moaned and buried his face in the splintery wood.
"Is that all you have to say? It's been so long," she said, her voice smooth but with the mocking lilt he found so grating thoroughly intact. "Come here, child, don't fear the smell. 'Tis merely the stench of failure, but nothing to fear."
Horror possessed him, but he opened his eyes and turned his head until his chin rested on the table, and saw that Morrigan had apparently acquired a baby witch of her very own. Granted, the girl was a teenager, and something about her tugged at something in him in a distant way, but she had her mother's stance and her mother's dark hair and eyes that were a strangely familiar pebbled grey. "Oh, goody," he said. "You spawned?"
"I did indeed," Morrigan said, amused. "Feidlimid, meet Alistair, once the last—"
"Warden," the girl said, tilting her head, naming him with a seriousness that belied the situation.
Alistair groaned. "Once a Warden," he said. "Not anymore."
The girl's forehead wrinkled. "Once a Warden, always a Warden," she said. "It's in your blood. You can't escape it. You can't drown out—"
"I'm sure he knows, child," Morrigan said, her eyes flashing a warning, and he winced a frown of confusion. "So is this what you've been up to since storming out of the Landsmeet in a rage? My, my, I can only imagine what—"
"Who's the father?" he asked, trying to derail the conversation from approaching any sensitive Warden-related subjects.
"Your rival," the girl said, again with the perfect clarity and severity he would have expected from her grandmother. Making the same amount of sense.
"I was not competing for your mother's attention, believe me," he said, and he realized he probably should try to stand and walk away from the conversation before the witch found a way to break him, as she usually did—or had once usually done, and it wasn't an experience he wanted to revive.
"'Tis unimportant," Morrigan said.
Feidlimid looked at her mother. "But he asked, and I know."
"And what I have told you about answering questions to which you know the answer?" she said, and Alistair felt that this was an old, old conversation. "'Tis much more interesting to contemplate those things undiscovered than to trod the same stretch of land again and again."
"It is only through repetition that one comes to know anything," the girl countered, crossing her arms and tilting her head, and it made him nauseous to see how well Morrigan had formed another being in her image.
"Then find new ground to tread. You shouldn't spin the poor man's head with riddles." He ached to smash a fist into her compassionate smile. "He's had enough of thinking, and has for a long time now."
"That's just silly," said the girl. "In another world, he could be my father; am I to accept that this is all he will ever be?"
Alistair had choked on the word "father" and somehow the shock had driven him into a fully upright position, fist on the table, and Morrigan rolled her eyes. "And now he's in a black panic and you are to blame. I told you to be quiet."
The girl slouched into the chair next to her, glowering at the table. "It's the truth."
"How could it possibly be the truth?" Alistair demanded. "As if in a thousand years I would ever—"
"You would if she asked you to," Feidlimid said, her eyes glancing up to meet his, searing him with their dull intensity. The breath left him, and he found himself looking to her mother for answers.
"I do not know why I bother," Morrigan said to her daughter, but the latter looked away, and she sighed. "Teenagers," she said to Alistair. "I thought you were the most unreasonable person I'd ever met, but I have since been proved wrong."
He went on staring. "What have you done to this poor girl?"
"Poor girl? Hardly," Morrigan said, faint pride in her voice. "No, I'm afraid I can only take credit for her beauty, and even then she turned out surprisingly well. As for her assumption that she knows everything…well, that is her own belief, and who knows if it is unfounded? But there is a difference," and her voice hardened, "between knowing everything, and knowing when it is wise to hold one's tongue."
"'Tis not my fault people cannot handle truth," she said. "It is all I seek to bring."
"Trust me," Alistair said, "most people don't want it."
She glowered at him, but he avoided her gaze. "I shall go to Tevinter. They'll listen to me there."
"You will not," Morrigan said, and he felt this was an even older conversation.
"It's not very nice there," Alistair agreed, though reasoning out why he was helping Morrigan discipline her child was far beyond his mental capacities at the moment. "Blood mages, grumpy landless nobles with delusions of grandeur, hardly the place for a nice young lady like yourself, regardless of upbringing."
She blinked at him, and so he put on his charming smile, rusty from disuse, yet somehow drawing forth color on the girl's pale cheeks. Morrigan snorted, so he turned it on her, and she merely raised an eyebrow and said, "I am not so easily wooed."
"Yes, well, you're clearly no young girl on her first adventure in the great wide world," he said, trying and failing not to be bitter, wishing he had a drink to occupy his mouth instead. "Besides, I have no interest in wooing you."
"Thank goodness, for I would not have the patience for it."
"I am not on my first adventure," Feidlimid broke in. "Mother won't let me have an adventure. She fears I'll go to Ferelden."
"And you would," Morrigan said. "And I made a promise to a friend and to your father that you would not, and until you learn to respect that, you will stay with me."
"It would probably help if she had friends of her own," Alistair said, and when Morrigan turned her yellow eyes on him, he shrugged and said, "It's not like you understood promises before you came following after us."
"I have friends," Feidlimid said.
He rolled his eyes. "If they have four legs, it doesn't count."
"A hawk has only two—"
"Yes, but hawks don't have hands, you see, and they can't talk—"
"You only say that because you've never listened."
"—no, I'm saying that because they aren't capable of talking to anyone who's not a hawk."
"'Tis hardly my fault if your imagination is so limited—"
"My imagination works just fine, thank you very much!"
She opened her mouth to speak, but her mother interrupted before she could say something that probably had to do with his imagination and probably ought not be uttered aloud ever. "She's not starting with you," Morrigan said, which was the closest she would come to acknowledging that he had a point. Feidlimid glared at him, but her lips were turning up in a smile, and vivacity had overcome the somber foreboding in her eyes.
And he, satisfied that perhaps the strange girl would be saved from her mother's madness after all, said, "Ah, well, I'm too old for her anyway. You know what they say about old drunks chasing skirts."
"No," Morrigan said, raising her eyebrows again, "but I suspect that is our cue to depart. Come, child. We have other places to be."
They stood, and Alistair watched them with something of—a twinge, painful but not enough to make him voice his thoughts, to ask to follow, to seek something that wasn't the same old smell of piss and ale and dark depression. Glory, maybe, or just some fresh air. The look in Morrigan's eyes wasn't quite pity, and certainly lacked some of the animosity he'd expected—begrudging him something, yes, but not hating him. "Good luck getting out of your chair," she said. "I suspect you've started to join with the wood, and extracting yourself will be painful."
"Don't get lost on your way," was the best comeback he had. "I'd hate for the famed Witch of the Wilds to fall to something so passé as a blizzard."
She snorted again, and Feidlimid tilted her head and said, "She's in Orlais, you know."
"Hm?" Alistair said, though his gut was miles ahead of his ears and already tensing.
"Orlais," she repeated. "And she's never married, nor even looked at another man, they say, and there are always darkspawn to be fought." She looked to her mother. "Should I apologize for that?"
Morrigan was watching him, though, with a look that said that she'd thought of telling him the same thing, that said that she who had one friend and one friend only thought that this one friend would appreciate her daughter's words. All she said was, "Your apologies are centuries late at best and unhelpful at worst."
The girl sighed, and then smiled at Alistair and said, "If you go to Ferelden, will you tell my father hello?"
"That is enough," Morrigan said crossly, and she turned and left the tavern as smoothly as a cat. Her daughter followed, stumbling as she smiled at him again over her shoulder, and Alistair found his lips quirking in a smile in return. He looked down at his hands as the door shut; Orlais was nearby, and, Maker preserve him, Morrigan was right about the amount of time he'd spent in this chair.
Perhaps it was time to venture into the great outdoors again.