Disclaimer: I own absolutely and completely nothing. Bioware has that particular pleasure.
Author's note: Welcome back, guys~ Welcome to the new people. This is a sequel to Denerim and Rainesfere so it is likely that a lot will not be understood without reading that piece. Same format, same storyline. As always, feedback would be nice and welcomed~
In this chapter: And this is how they begin.
She has been dancing around him. It hadn't been like this before, not until the King had come between them and attempted to make his reasons known. No, this is different. This is expected and unexpected at the same time and Maker knows he dislikes it. This tension between them, between minds, bodies and the barriers that had been but that he had destroyed on that day on the terrace. The day when it all ended and new stories could take place.
Teagan knows this isn't about Alistair. Isn't about Eamon. It isn't even about her family and people, everyone that is going to despise her – or, at least, to comment and point fingers because he is a human and steadfast in his choice for a companion. It's about stupidity – all hers – and lack of decision. And this frustrates him.
He is a man, a noble man. He knows he must give his lady time and be patient. And, in a world where peace was the norm and life was easy, he would feel free to give her all the time needed and desired. He would walk closer but not expect more, not wish more. But the reality is different. There's a war and heartbreak, the necessity to come closer without being aware of how much she'll accept before she pulls back.
Makes him wish to be elven. Makes him wish for her to be human. Makes him want to stalk her during day and night, force himself to rest and constrain his mind with all the calm he can summon. He can wait, he can. And it's preposterous to think he cannot, to think he'd rather be by her side until she says yes or she says no. This wait will surely harm him more than any negative reply she might utter. He can wait, he just doesn't want to.
He takes his time though. His tasks are many and he takes his time with each and every one. It is easy. The King is far too interested in getting him away from the female warden, if only for the sake of his sanity. His brother, that one would have him sent to Orlais if he was sure it would bear any fruit. But it doesn't and wouldn't, so the man satisfies himself with veiled comments and insinuations, implied insults about everything from shape and mentality to honor and duty. Everything implied because anything more would make their relationship strain and Eamon is not stupid. He will not lose everything in order to stop this.
Teagan allows the distractions. The Banns are eager to please him and he accepts it. Women realize he is a bachelor and future Arl and act accordingly – under the good auspices of his brother, no doubt. And he accepts it because everything is both tool and distraction and everything, just about everything, is better than look to the corner of the room where she sits, surrounded by those who have followed her thus far. When his arm touches someone else, her eyes narrow. When he comes too close, her attention pulls towards someone else, something that will not cause anger. Because this is annoyance, perhaps even jealousy. It wafts through the air every time and this, he also accepts eagerly as reassurance.
And so they dance since the Archdemon, tiptoe around each other. It is enough to make even Eamon hope for an appropriate ending for this story. Stupid really, doesn't he knows his own brother? Frustration doesn't equal hopelessness.
He takes his time until he can take no more.
It is morning, early morning and an important one, the end of a story. In this day, knights are greeted and heroes rewarded. It is a good moment, or supposed to be. It is exactly why he searches for her, crossing the hallways without thought or permission, not stopping even when the door in front of his eyes is closed.
Tasha paces inside, from one side to the room like a woman possessed. Not arranged as appropriate, her face contorted like she is about to be tortured and not honored, hair in disarray and armor thrown everywhere but on her body. The man takes a brief moment to notice that this isn't her normal armor either, decorated in symbols which had been belonged to the Wardens a century before.
"Teagan," she starts, speaking while the pieces of the new armor refuse to be attached properly. "Should you not. Speak to me? Instead of standing there in silence."
The man sits instead while she voices complaints, doesn't move, doesn't blink, sitting on his throne as if his servant has just arrived. When his head turns to her, he has that serious touch to his eyes, the one others are used to see. The Archdemon hasn't changed him, just her.
"Would you finally reply to me?" Teagan asks, rather simply.
Tasha stops, understands his meaning and ignores it completely. "You have yet to ask anything."
"I did before."
Is this for serious? Is this actually happening? Pessimism wars against amusement, against surprise, against everything that this woman has been doing to his life. She had been a friend, that he is sure. But now what? She had been just a friend but then, but then he acted. He had been the man by her side while she mourned someone who none would mourn, while she mourned herself who didn't understand why she was standing and breathing. That is important. That matters, doesn't it? There are moments and actions which make a person important, which change a life. And he did that. He changed her in that moment - or so he hopes.
"A clearly thoughtless question," she comments, frowning as the armor denies her.
Idiot, idiot, this is an idiotic woman – a dark eyebrow just faintly raised against a furrowed brow – who does she think him as? He is a man, one in the truest sense of the word. He has honor, learned at his father's knee, in his mother's breast. He makes no offer he will not follow. And frustration wars and grows and he wants to shout but does nothing. Because that he also learned and his control is paramount to everything.
"I remember everything I said and nothing was thoughtless."
There's no composure except for his. Tasha continues to pace and the armor refuses to keep where she wishes. She could request his help but the whole subject is about how she doesn't request it. Ever. And so she paces while he controls himself again and again as the stupidity of this discussion hits him.
"I am a Warden," she stops and declares. Again. Like a statement of war.
And he nods tiredly, as if it's bluntly obvious which, sadly, it is. "I am highly aware of that, Tasha."
"I will be expected to," she continues without bothering to pause, her feet taking her to her original position and then back again. Right and left, wall to wall. Her thoughts are clear in her distress. What is a Warden when there is no Blight? What will she do? Follow through the Dead Roads like the Legion of the Dead? Train others? Fight and fight and fight some more while the rest of the country rests safely inside four walls? "Continue my task. Stay in Denerim and look after my people. Repair the order. Help Alistair." And recovery doesn't fit in these plans. Neither does a companion, nor children, nor a home. "You asked on an impulse, Teagan. You know this. You understand."
She half-kneels in front of him and one hand grips his like a lifeline. This close, her eyes look scared, almost frightened like he has never seen them, not even in the eve of battle. Is it fear of the unknown? A battle one does not have to win, weakness to give into each other, frailty in acceptance? Teagan cannot be sure. He knows more than her though. He remembers a moment in which words weren't important, actions were. Lips against lips, uncomfortable metal between them, those matter and those he remembers. If she was safe, then in the aftermath, why not in the many aftermaths which will follow? Because he knows, he understands.
"You are being ridiculous," and fearful, of him who would never harm her and his frustration knows no bounds. "I have seen you tiptoeing around me since the King has visited and, frankly, it is unnecessary. I did not speak freely. I did not speak without thinking. This was the result of months deliberating, of months thinking about what was right and what was wrong, about this would mean, both to me and you and Rainesfere. But if you want my logic, I shall tell you so."
"Do you know my brother is aware of my inclination? Aware and frankly against it." He continues, staring at nothing but her. In between her worry, he sees a spark of dry amusement. "So is the King. So is my sister-in-law and, from what I have seen, your father. Your cousin does not like me much. Neither does your male cousin, from what little he has said. So, our families are against it."
Her lips twist, see? I'm right.
"But I'm finding that, the more everyone says the reasons for us not to, the more I wish to." Fingers against her lips halt the next words, no, this is not childish, this makes sense. "Because none of them gives me the reason why it will work and leave me to think it by myself. Such as we understand each other, such as you accept me, such as I love you."
He tugs on the hand which he still holds, slow and deliberate, something else in his eyes that is hardly cold logic. An arm snakes around her waist, pulls her against him and the barriers break and crumble to the floor while she's pushed against a hard chest, breathing and living unlike cold metal. She is so much smaller, he realizes yet again, not stronger but still strong. And this is comfortable, embarrassing and comfortable for them both for all different sorts of reasons. "Will you run from me?" He whispers, forehead against forehead, familiarity all over the action. "Because, I assure you, I can chase as well any Warden."
Barriers are comfortable but they are gone and he cannot let go of this closeness, ridiculous or not, confusing or not, because it is right. It is not a game anymore and she's not the sole knight on the chessboard. This close, they are finally the same, a man and a woman, his smile permanent, the world outside at peace.
It is a beginning like any other. Better, even.
"Will you marry me?" Her voice speaks finally certain, faint red coloring the lightest frown which is steadily replaced by hope.
Teagan smiles, his boyish kind of smile which is, without his awareness, usually her undoing.
"If I must."
And the world falls into place.
He waits in the crowd while she is applauded, praised as the hero she became. Sees her meet Alistair on the top of those stairs with a smile and happiness, answering whatever sarcastic replies with a grinning expression that becomes her. Then she leans and whispers something and the King's face says he knows about her next attachment. His eyes search for him.
And that little part of him, which is not perfect nor completely spiteful nor completely kind, causes him to stand straighter in satisfaction.