Firelight Reflection

Notes: This is my first fanfic of any kind in a very long time. For now, I just wanted to play with words. Constructive criticism welcome. I think it goes without saying that Dragon Age and its characters do not belong to me but to Bioware.

Summary: Alistair muses about life and love during an evening at the party camp during Dragon Age: Origins.

Another long day of travel slowed into a night time camp. The party members had retired to their tents and bedrolls. It had been a day of listening and looking, of vigilance and violence. Night brought its own risks: ambush by armed men or ambush by nightmares. But there were always a few moments by the fire, after the cooking utensils had been put away but before sleep came, that there was sweet silence. Enough time to actually think, to actually relax. To finally let one's weapons stand idle.

Well, not every party member had retired for the night. The two Grey Wardens sat side by side, enjoying the fire, enjoying the friendship. The more-than-friendship. More-than-friendship but still less than. . .less than.

Alistair had considered himself a solid man. Solid: not the best, not the worst. He worked hard, he persevered, but he never desired great things. He was clever enough, and strong enough, but not the best. Which was fine, perfect, acceptable, desirable (to him). He did not have the true soldier's stoicism, to accept one's place and then to try to excel in that position. (Or perhaps that is a Qunari stoicism, not a soldier's?) He did not want to be the best Templar. Actually, he did not want to be a Templar. But if was going to be one, why not be a good one. Acceptable.

But with Duncan's death, he felt as if he had been thrust into the position of de facto leader of the Ferelden Grey Wardens. And with Calien's death, there was the possibility of becoming the very real leader of the Ferelden people. The thought that the more qualified leaders had died terrified him. How had he survived and they had not? Luck? Chance? The Maker's will? What were the real forces at work in the world?

It had been a real relief, a nearly tangible relief, when this new recruit had taken over. Alistair did not wish to shirk his duties. Tell him what to do, and he would get it done. But responsibility and decision-making can cause a warrior to freeze and to have to ponder uncertainties. And those uncertainties can lead to death.

Of course, King Calien had been quite certain, and that had also led to death. Everything led to death.

Alistair, then, did not want to be certain or uncertain. He just wanted to point his sword and clobber some darkspawn. That was all he had ever wanted, to just do some good in the world.

Not entirely true. Deep down, he also wanted a family. A place or a group to belong to. Preferably a group. He had found that with the Wardens. He had thought he'd be happy with even a brief taste of family. But those few months showed him what he missed, and now the longing and desire grew within. He was assembling a new family now, a patchwork of rogues and drifters (and mages and warriors). But if he did not make the right decisions now, he would lose them, too. Even if her jabs cut, he would not want to lose Morrigan. Even if her devotion to the Chantry seemed naïve at times, he wanted Leilana around. Even if….well, every companion, every person has their flaws. But every member's strength was matched: a desire to rescue, to be good, to save, to work together. Familial attributes indeed.

Alistair did not expect to find a family within the Grey Wardens, and he did not expect to find one outside. He certainly did not expect to. . .Dare one think, let alone say the words? He did not expect love.

What was the point in considering love as a Templar? Who is there to love? Subjugated mages? Fellow soldiers, many driven mad by devotion, paranoia, and/or lyrium? And of course, Alistair had largely seen the ruin love could bring, not its glory. What had love gotten his mother? Death. It seemed all things lead to death. So why not keep it simple?

These few moments of quiet, after dinner but before sleep, allowed his mind to consider such things. A head is no place for the heart. The head should be for martial arts, not for melodramatic musing. But it was too late. Too late to stop the floodgates, of his roiling brain, of his reeling heart.

He leaned against her now, his lovely female Warden. Her own life uniquely tragic, yet mirroring his own regrets and longing – just as everyone camped that night fit together in a mosaic of sadness and searching. She had shown great promise in the Korcari Wilds, and Alistair had been glad when she passed the Joining. She had shown bravery and courage at Ostagar. And as they fought and walked and talked their way through Ferelden, she had shown him his own heart.

Selfishly, he had been happy when she had stepped in as leader. Capable and confident. Calm. Collected. Clear. Caring. Selfishly, he hoped she could take care of it all. She could decide. Decide how to deal with each new challenge, decide who should lead the country, decide how to handle the Archdemon. Alistair would follow her to the end of the world, he would do anything she asked, he would turn down no request. If she could just carry it all, he would carry her.

Dog had been asleep by the female Warden's tent, but he joined them now, stretching out at her feet. What a perfect picture, Alistair thought. Anyone seeing us would think we were normal.

He smiled at this and then declared, to Dog and Warden, that it was time for bed. Time to rest by slaying dreamy monsters, in order to rest up for another long day of slaying real-world horrors.