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Title: A Warden's Route to Victory aka Crack a Smile
Author: Rhion
Rating: K
Disclaimer: Me no own, you no sue
Summary: The way of Fereldens was unnatural.
AN: Happened when I came across a story where Sten and Zev were paired up with a Dalish F!Warden. I didn't read the story, but I made a comment to janniferthat Sten wouldn't be an L.I. to me, but I'd certainly have fun tweakin' his nose for shits n'giggles.

XXX

He did not understand these Fereldens. They put women in armor, and men behind grocer stalls. Everything they did was backwards. Not a bit of it made any sense. Particularly, not the Warden. Settling back, the large Qun'ari began to eat his meal in usual silence.

Eventually he heard a giggle and glanced up to see the failed assassin doing something with his hands along the Warden's sides that made her roll around squealing while he laughed with equal fervor. Making a face, Sten set aside his bowl to attempt some of his meditations. If he was able to complete meditations on a battlefield, he could certainly ignore the odd... thing that the pair was doing. Along with the party's responses to it. Dog even had taken part, and was jumping on them, bowling the pair over and barking. The other Warden was red faced, and the elder mage was muttering to herself, as the apostate rolled her eyes.

In the midst of his chants a sudden weight fell upon him. Startled, Sten began to rise, to prepare for an attack, until he realized that it was the Warden draped over him ingloriously, legs wrapped around his waist, head tucked on his chest. It was vaguely uncomfortable, not because the Warden was heavy, but because she was rubbing her cheek over his chest, making snuffling sounds.

Frowning down at her as he said, "Kadan, this is unseemly behavior."

She made a strange trilling noise, her pointed ears wiggling, mirroring the action of her nose as she looked up at him, her massive blue eyes even larger than usual. "Hiya!"

"...What... are you doing, kadan?" mustering up some patience from his vast reserves Sten asked.

"I'm cold, and you're big. My pallet doesn't have a pillow anymore, Zev stole it and won't give it back. I'm gonna use you instead," each word jettisoned from the small, pink mouth with bright, matteroffactness.

"Ah, but amoraI said I would be pleased to share with you!" the assassin called, grinning. "You only have but to come to my tent!"

Sten began to work on her arms, which only locked on tighter each time he managed to loosen them. Growling, Sten wondered how it was that a mage of such a petite size was able to summon up such large amounts of strength. It would take far too much force to dislodge the tiny elf, and that might crush her fragile bones. Sighing deeply, Sten searched for calm to weather the irritation.

Instead, he received further wriggling against him, and the Warden chirped, grabbing his attention. "So, Ser Grouchy Face, what's your favorite color?" The sharp point of her chin dug into his sternum as she blinked those massive, almost feline eyes up at him.

"I have no favorite color, kadan," which was an answer that made the bard giggle madly.

XXX

He felt eyes upon him, and Sten glanced down to see the Warden keeping pace, the top of her head barely at his elbow. "Yes, what is it?"

"Nothin'!" she chirped, one of her usual large, cheek pinching grins forming as her eyes sparkled. "Heya, Zevvy?"

"Si, amora, is there something your humble servant can do? I fear I shall fall at your feet soon if you do not allow me the privilege of doing your will," the elven assassin quipped jauntily.

The Warden's hands grabbed Sten's pack, yanking it from his shoulders, and he was far too surprised by the motion to stop it. "Can you carry his pack?"

"I am fully capable of carrying my own pack, kadan," he pointed out, rather unnecessarily in his opinion.

Before he could reply though, she was hopping up, and scampering over him like a squirrel on a tree. "Whee! Piggyback ride! I've always wanted one!"

Zevran shot him a smirk, while Sten did his best to hide his aggravation. "I am not a mode of transport, kadan."

"But you're almost seven feet tall, and I'm tiny! You won't even notice me," she said, flopping her arms over his shoulders, and tapping a beat upon his chest.

Unsure of what to do, Sten resumed walking.

"Oh, it's the song that never ends, it goes on and on my friends! Some people star-ted singin' it, not knowin' what it was!" right beside his ear, the words were belted out. And then began to repeat. Shuddering, Sten realized that Alistair and Zev had picked up the tune. Fereldens, Sten was coming to learn firsthand, were quite... mad. And it appeared catching, as the assassin was Antivan, and not Ferelden.

XXX

As it was a nightly occurrence, he did not flinch when the Warden launched herself at him, repeating those little trilling noises that put him in mind of a kitten. At least the assassin had begun taking her from him once she had fallen asleep, the sharpness of his features going soft each time he picked her up. It must be the madness that the Fereldens had, because Sten could feel himself sometimes responding similarly to the Warden's insanity. However this time, when the Warden launched herself at him, Sten found himself catching her. Which in turn made laughter burst from her like a firestorm would from her hands.

She wriggled in his lap, a hand reaching up to play with his braids. "I'm gonna play with your hair tonight!"

"Don't," voicing his dissent.

Unfortunately he realized she had already gotten it partially undone. This left him no recourse but to allow her her fun. Cutting a glance around at the rest of the party, he saw that all of them, even Dog, had their hair done with little bows and ribbons. Heaving a deep sigh, Sten knew that soon enough, he would be adorned similarly.

Once she was finished, she plunked in his lap once more, beaming at her handiwork. "Heya Sten - smile!" so saying, her tiny hands reached up, tugging on his cheeks. "SMOOSH!"

Sadly, Sten knew the madness was contagious. There was only so long he would be able to hold out. And so he gave in, cracking just the slightest smile at the Warden's exuberance.