A/N: If you've ever taken Sten to the mage tower, you'll probably have heard the cookie story from him just before the boat ride. There are also plenty of other mentions of his sweet tooth. Anyway, this is how I envisioned it happening.
The small party made their way through the Denerim market; Oghren arguing with the armourer about a breastplate that hung down to his knees; Leliana trying to convince the Warden that silk slippers were a worthwhile buy whilst on a quest to slay the Archdemon; Sten presiding over it all with an air of disdain. The Warden didn't even know why Sten volunteered so frequently to come and buy supplies. It wasn't as though he ever purchased anything for himself, and he never seemed to enjoy their sojourn into the lively markets.
The Warden firmly prised a pair of open-toe, lacy boots from Leliana's hands and replaced them on the stall, leaving the redhead looking crestfallen. Oghren soon joined them, along with a newly purchased a keg of ale, explaining to them all how he had gotten it for a bargain.
After Leliana – still feeling the loss of her shoes – pointed out that the keg was too heavy and cumbersome to drag back to camp, Oghren had an inspired thought. If the keg was too heavy to carry, all they had to do was make it lighter – by draining some of the ale. Seeing as the perfect drain for alcohol was Oghren's mouth, the four settled themselves on a low stone wall by the main square. They then waited for the dwarf to prove his mettle.
"Is there anything you want to buy while we're here?" the Warden asked Sten, whilst Oghren tried to convince Leliana to start a drinking game with him.
"No," he answered shortly. After a pause, in which she stared at him plaintively, Sten continued. "I have no need for another sword, and my armour is sufficient. I do not need to purchase anything else."
"Don't you want to buy something just because you like it? A memento of Ferelden?" the Warden asked, grinning. "To treat yourself?"
"There is no point of buying frivolous things that serve no purpose in battle – they only distract from our true purpose," Sten explained in his passive-aggressive monotone. His dark glare fell on the stalls that sold the 'frivolous things' that Leliana had been cooing over earlier.
A squeal of glee broke into the pleasant hubbub of the warm afternoon, and the small group directed their attention to the squat houses that lined the square.
A red-cheeked boy burst from one of the doorways, a clay pot tucked under one arm. He darted off with surprising speed for such a rotund child and disappeared out of sight as a woman shrieked after him: "Get back here you little rascal! Don't you think I baked all those cookies just for you! Bring them back right this minute!"
After a moment, she concluded that the boy was either out of earshot or ignoring her, and returned to her house, mumbling irritably to herself.
With a bemused expression on his usually frowning face, Sten turned to the Warden. "What is a... 'cookie'?"
"Mm, they're heavenly," Leliana said. "In Val Royeaux, there was a baker who used to make them with a special kind of butter from our famous –"
"Warden?" Sten asked, ignoring Leliana's nostalgic explanation. Slightly put out by the qunari's rudeness so soon after the shoe incident, Leliana turned her back on them and decided to focus on Oghren.
"Well," the Warden explained, "cookies are circular biscuits that are full of sugar, and other goodness. People usually have them as a tasty treat."
"I see. And children are frequently rewarded with these... for what purpose?"
"I... I don't know. Sometimes they're just given to kids because they like them. It's not such a bad thing to spoil kids a little bit."
Sten's brow raised almost imperceptibly as he again compared Ferelden unfavourably with his home. From what the Warden had heard, qunari children were disciplined drones, so it was no wonder the boisterous Ferelden kids seemed so peculiar to him. Admittedly, the boy who ran off with his mother's food probably wasn't the best representative of Ferelden parenting. However that didn't mean that all children here were spoilt, nor that cookies were the harbinger of all evil.
Oghren belched loudly, provoking a disgusted cry from Leliana, who shot to her feet. The Warden took this as a sign they should move on.
As they drew up to the gate that exited the markets, the Warden noticed that one of her number had abandoned them. Oghren was still there, swaying happily on his feet. Leliana also remained, but was gazing off towards a gap between some hovels. The Warden joined her, and saw the light-fingered child from earlier gazing fearfully up at their formidable qunari comrade.
A sodden piece of biscuit fell from the boy's mouth as Sten demanded, in a voice that brooked no defiance – "Hand those to me, now."
The Warden gaped at him, speechless. Was he actually mugging a child? For cookies? She knew the qunari had different practices, but this was ridiculous.
The boy hastily offered up his sweet food, and Sten took it. "This is for your own good," he told the kid sternly, before striding back to the group. The boy stared, transfixed for a moment, before running off. Perhaps he was going to tell his mother that a giant had just stolen the cookies that he'd originally stolen.
"Sten!" Leliana exclaimed, looking scandalised. "How could you steal from a little child? You should give those back to him right now."
"The imekari require discipline – returning these confections would only lead to complacency and slovenliness. If all human children are this spoilt, it is no surprise that so many of your people are obese."
The Warden ignored this last comment and decided to take the moral high ground. "Well, you should at least return them to his mother."
"She is clearly part of the problem," Sten replied.
He removed the lid and lifted the jar to his face, inhaling thoughtfully.
"Why don't you try one?" the Warden asked slyly, wondering if he would abandon his strict morals for the sugar. "If you like them, you could always buy some to take home with you."
Although the look Sten gave her was blank, the Warden knew him well enough now to realise that he was glaring. It wasn't that hard to guess though – he spent most of his time glaring at people.
Nevertheless, he dipped a large hand into the clay pot and pried free the sweetest-looking cookie the Warden had ever seen. He warily took a bite, looking ready to spit it out if it turned out to be poisonous. This was the man who'd charged undaunted into a battle against a high dragon, and yet was unsettled by a little biscuit.
As he chewed, the stoic giant's face softened into an expression that vaguely resembled joy.
"You like them, Sten?" Leliana asked, surprise causing her to temporarily forget her indignation.
He responded by plucking another cookie from the jar and popping it in his mouth.
"Ah, if there are two ways to charm a man, food is certainly one of them," Leliana said sagely.
"And the other?" asked the Warden.
"How should I know? I'm just an innocent Chantry sister." The redhead giggled.
Oghren, presumed unconscious until now, began a fit of raucous laughter.
Sten had now finished the entire pot of cookies, but his appetite for sugary goodness didn't appear to be sated. He stared round the marketplace with a rather predatory look on his face.
"We'd better be getting back to camp, seeing as no needs anything else," the Warden said, hauling Oghren up from his prone position on the ground.
"Not yet," said Sten. "I must purchase supplies."
"I thought you didn't want any." The Warden waggled her eyebrows pointedly. "I thought they were just 'frivolous distractions'."
"These," he brandished the empty jar for emphasis, "are a necessary provision."
With that, he marched off to the small baker's stall and demanded sugary food from the old woman attending it. He bought all the cookies she had on sale, not to mention a couple of buns and cakes, threatening to bankrupt the Warden's dirt poor group, and then returned to them.
"I wouldn't have thought you'd have a sweet tooth," said Leliana, grinning.
"I don't understand. None of teeth are particularly sweet," he replied in puzzlement.
"'S like yesterday," Oghren slurred, wearing an expression that was somewhere between hilarity and suspicion. "I saw you picking a bunch of flowers, just outside the camp. Don't tell me you're goin' funny like that bloody elf?"
"And last week, I saw you playing with that kitten!" Leliana exclaimed.
Sten scowled, shoving the newly bought cookies into his pack with affected nonchalance.
The group set off; the Warden and Leliana chatting animatedly, Oghren plodding along and Sten bringing up the rear, discreetly sneaking a cookie out of his pack when he thought no one was looking.