A/N: An idea that refused to go away.
Disclaimer: I don't own the sandbox, just like playing in it.
Maker, though the darkness comes upon me,
I shall embrace the light. I shall weather the storm.
I shall endure.
What you have created, no one can tear asunder.
The clink clank sounds drifting from the hallway were drawing ever closer. Raven Cousland sat behind her desk listening as whoever was in the hallway made their way toward her. She let out a sigh.
Raven had been waiting for this day for years. She knew exactly who was clink clanking their way to her study at Vigil's Keep in the middle of the night. She didn't need to see him to know the sound he makes when he walks. The little tune he hums as he strolls. She had heard it all through the days she had traveled with him. Had heard it plenty of times when he visited.
King Alistair just had a certain walk. A certain way in which he moved that she could place even blindfolded, and half deaf.
It didn't matter that she hadn't seen him in nearly a year. She could pinpoint him in a busy crowd. Had done just that plenty of times in the crowded market in Denerim when he'd wander off to do whatever it is that he does.
She also knew exactly why he was not so stealthily making his way to her study. She fingered the letter addressed to Nathaniel Howe laying on her desk. She had written it a year ago, the pages slightly yellowed and crumpled but the ink was still intact, and no smudges or smears were present.
Finally, the heavy footfalls stopped at her door, and there was a quiet knock before the door swung open. She looked up to find Alistair leaning on the threshold. She met his gaze, noting the way his hair was streaked with grey, and his blue eyes were slightly glossy. Wrinkles, and laugh lines graced his features but all she saw was the goofy boy she had met at Ostagar so long ago. There were no guards flanking him. He had come alone.
She stood and walked around the desk to stand before him, and waited.
He took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, and ran a hand through his short hair before meeting her green orbs.
"It's time." He said, his voice as steady as always.
She nodded, already knowing, and she reached toward the trunk by the door. She pulled out her sword, and dagger and strapped it to her back. She was already in armor, had been all day, and all she needed was her cloak.
"What are you doing? It can't be your time yet, I was a Grey Warden before you." He sputtered, confusion making his eyebrows scrunch together, and despite the time that passed, he looked just as he always did to her. Like a confused puppy. The thought made her smile, which felt odd on her face. She hadn't smiled in such a long time.
She let a sigh out, and turned fully to face him.
"I'm tired Alistair. I've been tired ever since..." Her voice cracked at the thought, even though it had already been two years, but she continued, "...Ever since Zevran passed away. I don't want to do this anymore. I'm ready to go. I don't want to wait any longer. I...want to see him again." She finished, and reached for her cloak laying across the back of her chair behind her desk.
"What about the Keep?" He asked, but it was half-hearted. He knew she had already made up her mind.
"The Keep will be fine without me. I've already picked a suitable replacement, and Nathaniel's more than capable taking care of the place, and the Wardens." She answered. She moved the letter to the very top of the stack of papers on her desk. Nathaniel would see it first thing in the morning when he came in from his daily report.
"Should we say goodbye to Oghren?" He asked, reluctance in his tone. Whether it was for saying goodbye to their drunken old friend, or because he accepted that she wasn't changing her mind, she didn't know.
A sad half-smile crossed her lips at the thought of the dwarf.
"Oghren wouldn't want goodbyes."
Alistair grinned at that, and she felt tears prickle her eyes at the sight. She crossed the room in three steps, and laid her hand on his cheek. His skin felt warm despite the cold weather outside. He raised his hand and laid it against hers.
"I still love you, you know? I always have." He said, his eyes filling with unshed tears. Her own spilled over, and ran hot down her cheeks. She nodded.
"I know. I...I'm sorry for the way things worked out. Zevran was...very dear to me. I couldn't let him go. I'm sorry." She whispered. The thought of her late husband made her heart twist painfully in her chest. He smiled, and pulled her hand away from his cheek to lay a kiss on her palm.
"I forgave you many years ago, Raven. You're still my best friend. You always will be. To the end." He laced his fingers with hers, and she squeezed his hand.
"To the end." She echoed.
In War, Victory...
She remembered victory. She had raced for the sword left behind by a fallen soldier with only that thought in mind. She heard Alistair call out her name, could see Zevran desperately trying to reach her side but she didn't slow down, didn't stop.
She didn't know if Morrigan had been telling the truth. She didn't know if she would survive the final blow. All she knew was that this needed to end.
She remembered the ease in which the blade sunk into the Archdemon's skull. She was blinded by a swarming light that engulfed her, and everyone else on top of Fort Draken. There was a force that flung her back, and then darkness.
When she awoke, she was cradled against Zevran's chest. He was whispering to her in Antivan, and tears were pooling in his eyes. Alistair was on her other side, and he laid a hand on her shoulder. She raised her hand to Zevran's cheek and smiled up at him. He looked relieved, and bone-tired. Her eyes drifted to Alistair, and her smile turned into a grin, and then a laugh. He laughed with her as Zevran muttered about crazy Wardens, and Wynne called them a bunch of reckless fools.
It was over. They had won.
Victory was theirs and they were alive to see it, but at what price?
Morrigan had spoken true, and she never saw the witch again. For better or worse.
In Peace, Vigilance...
It hadn't taken long for her to adjust to being Commander. In fact, she had been the one to make all the decisions during the Blight despite Alistair being her senior Warden. She hadn't minded then, even when it was hard, and she didn't mind it in Amaranthine either.
She liked being the Commander of the Grey. Not because she liked being a leader, because Maker knew she hated making tough decisions, but because she didn't wish the job on anyone else.
Over the years she had had to make decisions that left her awake at night even after it had come to pass. She lived with the guilt when a choice she had made had devastating consquences. These were her burdens to bare though, and she lived with them.
It was her men and women that made it easier to bare. Her fellow Wardens, and friends stood behind her for every decisions, even ones they didn't approve of, because they respected her, and she respected them.
Nathaniel had been her saving grace. They had started off distrustful, and hostile, but over the years had grown into a lasting friendship. She never thought during the Blight that she'd ever care for a Howe but Nathaniel had stuck by her side time and time again. She knew that when the day arrived, and she was ready to face the Darkspawn one last time, that it would be he who she would trust the Grey Wardens to. Oghren was a close runner up but he had mentioned once that he someday wanted to return to his wife, and child if he ever got the chance.
It had been in the fall, when she had returned from a scouting mission with Oghren, Nathaniel, and their newest recruit Stephen when their healer met her on the steps. His eyes were terrified, and wrought with grief, and he could barely look her in the eye. A cold hand clenched at her heart, and she just knew it was about her husband.
"I have...grave news, Commander." He began. She was frantic by the time she reached him, clutching at his robes.
"What's happened?" She sobbed, and Oghren had to pry her hands off him. She let go, shell shocked as the healer explained that Zevran and a group of new recruits had been ambushed by bandits. There were no survivors save their youngest recruit who had managed to flee when Zevran had told him to run. She had been angry. Furious that the boy had left him behind to save himself. It had taken a year to accept his death, and another six months to forgive the boy.
Zevran was gone, and with him everything she had ever loved. She drifted through her days in autopilot, going through the motions but she wasn't truly there.
Raven Cousland was tired. Tired of living. Tired of breathing day in and day out with no peace in sight save for her Calling which seemed to be a million years away.
When she had heard Alistair walking down the hallway of Vigil's Keep, all she felt was relief.
Though all before me is shadow,
Yet shall the Maker be my guide.
I shall not be left to wander the drifting roads of the Beyond.
For there is no darkness in the Maker's Light
And nothing that He has wrought shall be lost.
They stood at the entrance of the Deep Roads. A foul smell of decay and ruin seemed to breath out toward them, and Alistair said something about a distance sound of singing. He said it was the Old God's song, calling out to him, and this is why Grey Wardens know when it's time for their Calling. She didn't hear it but she didn't care. Raven was ready to face the darkness. Ready to embrace the end.
Alistair reached out and took her hand. He squeezed it gently, and grinned. She grinned back.
"In Death..." He spoke quietly.
She let go of his hand after squeezing back, and withdrew her sword and dagger from her back. Alistair followed suit, unsheathing his blade, and pulling up his shield.
"Sacrifice." She whispered into the silence.
They braced themselves, steeling their nerves, and took the final step the way they began. Together.
The darkness of the Deep Roads swallowed them, and Fereldan saw no more of their Hero, or their King.
Draw your last breath, my friends,
Cross the Veil and the Fade and all the stars in the sky.
Rest at the Maker's right hand,
And be Forgiven.
A/N: So that was really depressing, and angsty. Hope you enjoyed it, despite the tear-jerker it was. Reviews are lovely. Review, please?