Prompt: Zevran's First Tattoo

Originally Written: 1/11/11

Notes: oh no this stuff is getting to be two years old. I've only got a couple more before my life radically changed and ficcing to a backseat to talking to my future husband on Skype all the time. Little things.

I remember not being entirely happy with this one but being unable to improve it. So, here it is, for what it is.

zevran's first tattoo:

It was a lingering pain, sharp sting turned to dull throb in each place the needle penetrated, itching with the unfamiliarity of the ink spreading under his skin. He knew not to squeak or squirm-for all his mischief, his soul was silent and still-but his mother saw his face, and paused in her work.

"Sh, da'len," she said. One gloved thumb pressed against his cheek, wiping away tears he hadn't realized he'd shed-his eyes were on the fine embroidery, part of him old enough to admire the skill and calculate the cost, the rest still caught up in its intricate beauty. "If we were home under the trees, the elder would stop me and tell me you were not ready for the vallaslin. And you are young, but I do not know-" She stopped, her hand shaking against his cheek "-and how will they know you for lethallin, if you are not marked?" Her breath came in a shaky stutter, as if she too wept. "Now be brave, my vhenan. It's no more painful than dying."

He awoke in the dead of night, but he had no need of candle; he searched with his hands, finding the ink he used to sign his contracts, the needles so easily slipped in a target's veins, a paperweight. He was long overdue by Dalish standards, and he hadn't seen the gloves in years, but the dream lingered in his eyes, guiding his hands to make the first incisions.

Over time, the Crows had stripped him of pain, of affection, of self; inch by inch he reclaimed himself, and for the first time, considered himself whole.