It is perhaps understandable that having nothing can lead to greed, and Meghan Brosca was greedy right down to her bones. She never had enough of anything; coin, food, respect, no matter what she did or how hard she tried, though she snatched up every coin she could find, scoffed up every mouthful of food she came across before it was stolen or spoilt, and scowled at anyone who dared to address her as 'brand' until they backed down. She was more than that; she had plans, and big dreams. She didn't want to just have enough to survive, unlike most people in Dust Town. She wanted everything.
And if the only way she could get that was by doing Beraht's dirty work, then she would be the most thuggish thug that ever thugged until she got it.
When she wasn't busting heads for the Carta, she was scrabbling together her own little treasure-trove. There was no way she could horde coin, of course, what didn't go on food went (begrudgingly) on her mother's booze, but she amassed a collection of all the bits of broken jewellery or fragmented gems she found in rubble, the occasional ring or necklace that somehow made their way into her pocket, and any rusted or snapped blades that were abandoned in the Deep Roads.
All the odds and ends she amassed ended up in her hidey-hold under a loose flagstone in their crapshack home. It was the only secret she had from Rica, and one of only a handful from Leske, but she didn't want to share it. Most of it wasn't worth much, truth be told, but it meant a lot to her, the beginnings of her fortune, and a soothing balm for the realities of her poverty.
It was a start, but not nearly enough.
Before Beraht's body had even hit the ground, she had made plans on how to spend his fortune and how to run his empire. Finally, Rica wouldn't have to go with any man unless she wanted to, her mother could (and probably would) drink herself to death without hesitation or interruption, and Leske would still be her right hand man and partner in crime, but significantly better fed.
For all of about five minutes, she had everything she could have ever wanted, before the Stone crumbled beneath her feet and she was torn away from everything she had ever known.
Being a Grey Warden, she learned, wasn't a bad alternative. Sure, they had the Blight to contend with and half of Fereldan was out for their blood. They had nightmares, darkspawn and depressingly short lifespans to deal with, but she also didn't have to follow orders any more (in fact, she was the one giving them). Even with her increased appetite, between Morrigan and Leliana's very different hunting techniques, they had enough to eat. And with all the odd jobs they took on, jobs in which she was actually paid fairly, she had more coin in her possession than she'd ever had.
But the absolute best thing about being a Grey Warden was all of the exciting looting opportunities. From castles and towers, to ancient ruins and temples, there was plenty of treasure for a sharp-eyed dwarf with a set of decent lock picks to horde. Her backpack was so stuffed with bars of gold and silver, fabulous jewel-encrusted antique jewellery, and silverite weaponry that she had to keep it in Bodahn's wagon as it had become too heavy to carry.
It was her own personal collection, far more valuable than the one she had left behind, and the true value of it just as secret. If everyone else knew just how much loot she was carrying around with her, they would 'encourage' her to add it to the war fund, and she had no intention of doing that. She'd given them more than enough already.
None of her companions would really understand her obsessive need to amass wealth, but then, none of them had ever lived with constant, abject poverty before (At least Alistair had stopped complaining about her habit of casually picking interesting locks after she had found his mother's necklace after rifling through Arl Eamon's desk drawers). Meghan knew that this wandering wouldn't last forever; sooner or later she would have to start building a life, a home, for herself. She intended to live the rest of her short life in luxury, Grey Warden or not.
None of her companions understood, until she added an Antivan Crow to her band of vagabonds. She was willing to let him join them, not just because all of Alistair and Leliana's talk of 'mercy' and 'doing the right thing' had quite obviously sunk in more than she had realised, but because she had recognised him from the first words he spoke to her.
Zevran's familiarity to her wasn't down to his appearance, of course, his lean, sun-bronzed body and pointed ears were as far from recognisable to her as it was possible to be. It was his attitude, his circumstances that rang a chord with her; his cheek branded with what he was, a servant of uncaring masters who would not accept failure, trying to seek out pleasure and beauty where he could to fill up the bleakness of his own life and hiding that bleakness under humour.
She had lived under stone, and he under sun, but she knew him, and suddenly she had a playmate. She had a second set of eyes when scouring ruins for treasure, and an extra pair of hands to help her open locks and disarm the traps that always stood between her and the most valuable things. He could spot a glimmer of gold in a pile of rubble almost as quickly as she could.
While they were looting in the Circle Tower, ignoring the blood and corruption all around them, her hand brushed his in the wreckage as they both reached for a bar of the softest, purest gold. She watched his eyes light up as he saw it, and motivated by an impulse she didn't quite understand, she pressed it into his hands.
He turned it over in his hands, raising a bewildered eyebrow. He knew her hording habits as well as the others by now.
She shrugged, feeling oddly awkward about the whole thing. "Keep it," she offered, surprising herself even as the words came out of her mouth.
It was a bit of a wretch, giving up the gold, but the wary pleasure on his face melting into a genuine smile made it all worth it.
"Thank you, my Warden," he all but purred. "You have exquisite taste."
Ridiculously, she felt herself blush and turned away quickly to hide it. She was coming to realise that she was craving his smiles more than treasure, and would do anything to get them. It was a little worrying.
On the night she finally invited him into her tent, there were two sets of greedy, grasping hands, but there was nothing selfish in their actions. She didn't think she could ever have enough of that.
When Zevran offered her his earring, she was thrilled. It was a beautiful, precious thing, gold and glittering between his fingertips. It was made all the better because it had meant something to Zevran, and he was giving it to her.
As she eagerly grabbed for it, he held it over her head with a teasing smile, making her pout. "Ah, now, my Warden," he chided playfully, but with a hint of something serious in his eyes. "Don't get the wrong idea. You freed me from the Crows and I am forever grateful. Such a trifling bauble is the least I could give you in return, so feel free to sell it, or wear it. Whatever you like."
Her hand froze mid grasp, and she stared at him, all the pleasure from the gift melting away, to be replaced by hurt. After all their time together - fighting at each other's sides, sharing their bodies and their thoughts late into the night - was it really wrong of her to want more than a trifling bauble? Was it wrong to want some indication that she meant more to him than a way out of a life he hated, and a convenient body to keep him warm at night?
Was it really so greedy to always want more?
"I can't accept it, Zev," she answered, feeling suddenly as lonely as she had the first time she stepped out of Orzammar, a sole dwarven girl in the midst of a group of tall, grim-faced Grey Wardens. "Not unless it means… something more."
Zevran's expression turned angry, something she had never seen directed at her before, and a little hurt as well, which was worse. "Means something?" he repeated, the tone making her flinch a little. "You are a very frustrating woman to deal with. We pick up every bit of treasure we come across, until our packs are full to bursting, but not this— this little thing, you refuse. Fine, you don't want the earring? You don't get the earring. Very simple."
She watched him stalk away and couldn't think of anything to say to call him back. It was true that she had never turned down a piece of treasure - not even ones corroded by the taint from the Deep Roads or damaged to the point of being valueless by dragon claws. But this time, without the sentiment behind it, she knew that Zevran's little piece of gold was worthless.
After she turned down his earring, he turned her away from his tent and she couldn't think of anything she could say, or do, to mend the rift between them. Her idea of fixing problems tended to involve hitting them with a mace until they stopped twitching, and that really wasn't appropriate in this circumstance.
Suddenly everything was so much more of a struggle, and her nightmares were so much worse without Zevran there to huddle into until the lingering images faded away. She had lost the thing she valued most in her life and didn't know how to get it back. Some things couldn't be stolen, not even by the craftiest of rogues.
It wasn't until they were attacked by Zevran's former companion, Taliesin, and Zevran not only defended her from him, but agreed to stay with her (and her heart almost stuttered to a stop for a moment when she thought he would leave her) that they truly had a chance to talk. He told her of Rinna, her death and his guilt and grief and she understood, more than understood, the memory of Leske dead at her feet would never leave her, and she ached inside that he felt the same pain she did.
"Since you asked me into your tent, I have been nothing but confused," he confessed glancing down at her fingers entwined with his. She didn't know when she had reached for him, hadn't realised how tightly she was gripping him, as if she was afraid he would slip away from her forever. "But all I need to know is if there might be some future for us, some possibility of… I do not know what."
"I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, Zev," she answered gently. "Let alone in the next thirty years. But wherever I go, whatever I'm doing, I want to have you with me, more than anything."
Zevran leaned forwards and kissed her. They had kissed before, many times, and much more than that, but this felt like the first time. "I still have the earring," he whispered huskily in her ear, sometime later. "I would like to give it to you… as a token of affection. Will you take it?"
"That sounds like a proposal," she replied, and it should have been a joke, but the need was raw in her voice and she knew that Zevran would hear it.
"If you wish it -" she snatched the earring from the palm of his hand and had it in her earlobe before he had finished speaking.
"Oh, I wish it, alright," she answered, and a slow smile spread across Zevran's face as he watched her hook it into place.
"You are so very, very greedy, mi amora," he murmured fondly.
"Only with something I really, really want," she answered, pulling him into another kiss.
When Riordan told them of the Grey Warden's true purpose, Meghan was enraged, but hardly surprised. Being a Warden had been a non-stop discovery of unpleasant surprises, after all.
She and Alistair hardly exchanged a word after that. They had always known that death was a pretty likely possibility in their mission, but knowing it was a great big certainty for one of them was a totally different thing. She hated to admit it, but she was scared. She didn't want to have to sacrifice herself, or watch Alistair do it. She hardly knew Riordan, but she didn't like to think of him dying after enduring such suffering, either.
Was it greedy to want everything? To live happily-ever-after (for as much after as a Grey Warden could have, anyway) with her elf, while her best friend ruled a kingdom - surrounded by riches he might not appreciate the same way she would - but alive and well, and still with her. Was it so wrong to not want to die?
But she knew she would do it, if she had to. She had come too far to let a little thing like certain death stand in her way. So when Morrigan came into her room to offer her a loophole, a way out, her first instinct was to turn her down flat. Morrigan's offer smacked of secrets and desperation, which was enough to put her off anyway, but it also sounded like blood magic. Everything she had seen of blood magic since coming to the surface had made her think it was A Very Bad Idea.
She was all prepared to refuse, but Morrigan had prepared for her refusal. "What of Zevran?" Morrigan asked her, and she felt the question like a knife to the spine, skewering her where she was most vulnerable. "Would he want his beloved to sacrifice herself?"
Meghan scowled at her, but the damage had already been done. She couldn't stop herself from thinking about how Zevran would feel if she sacrificed herself, what would become of him if she were no longer around. She couldn't bear the thought of living without him, of him going on without her, of all the unspoken, half-formed promises for their future weathering into nothing but dust and lost possibilities.
The thought of Zevran losing another lover, of him being all alone again, made her want to weep as she had not done since she was a child, before she had learned that the world was blatantly unfair.
Meghan knew she would do what Morrigan asked, knew that she would beg Alistair to do something he would find distasteful and that would probably come back to bite them on the sodding arse later.
If it came down to it, she had thought she could give up her life, her friends, her sister, all the treasure she had found and respect she had gained. She could give up the whole world, if necessary, but she could not give up Zevran.
But when it came down to it, she was just too greedy. She couldn't let him go.
She had everything she had always wanted.
The archdemon was dead (admittedly, this had not been a life-long dream, but it had become rather important in the last year or so).
Alistair had given her a title, lands of her own, enough riches that even a member of the noble caste would be jealous. She had respect as the Hero of Fereldan - a whole crowd had gathered, just to cheer for her! She had even been named a sodding paragon (Leske would have split something laughing, poor bastard).
It still wasn't enough.
It wasn't until later, when the speeches had ended and the party began to wind down that she managed to catch a few quiet moments with Zevran.
"I hear you are rebuilding the Wardens?" he asked, looking so handsome it made her ache inside.
"Only if you're coming with me?" she answered, suddenly feeling awkward and shy. They had made promises, but no plans, after all, and she could understand if he'd had enough fighting for a while. And all her titles, all the riches she had won for herself, would mean nothing if he wasn't there beside her.
"As if you could leave me behind, my Warden," he replied, pulling her into a kiss that scandalised the whole of the Fereldan court. "I am yours, always."
And for the first time in her life, Meghan Brosca was more than satisfied with what she had.
This was written for the seven deadly sins challenge on swooping_is_bad. My sin was greed/avarice. I've been meaning to write something with my Brosca for ages and that prompt was perfect for her. Any reviews are always welcome!