And as always: Reviews make me squee!

Title: Little Gifts
Author: Rhion
Rating: T
Disclaimer: DAO is owned by BioWare, Laran is owned by Zevran or vice versa, or, well, Croaky. Mutual symbiotic ownage?
Summary: It was the night before Saturnalia, and all through the camp, all was silent...all was well.
AN: Croaky/Teapirate has a birthday, as we all do. It is just that Croaky's lands on an...awkward day. While people are giving season's greetings and all that, Croaky is like "Yeah, okay...um...hello? Birthday? Anyone?" So, I'm totally trying to do something about that, even a little thing like this. Because, frankly? No one deserves that poo end of the stick.
Also, I thought putting Zev's bday on the day before Saturnalia would be awesome as the poor man never had a present in his life, it would also be kinda...poignant that he receives a 'replacement' to the connection to his mother on his birthday - also bein' the anniversary of his mom's death - but in a Totally Non Depressing Way. Apropos.
Working on the Secret Santa story also, kicking it into submission. Blarg.

XXX

Laran had been holding on to the gloves for Saturnalia, along with boots, and of course, what was Saturnalia without some fine liquor? As there had been so little room for luxuries what with the darkspawn hordes, rabid wolves, disgruntled banditry, irritating soldiers and spiders, he had thought that a little extra something to show his appreciation to the group's resident assassin was in order. And definitely not because he slips into my tent even on nights when I haven't asked him to, or because the feeling of him beside me makes it easier to fall back asleep after the nightmares. Nope, those aren't why at all. Okay, why don't I believe myself? Because I intimidate better than lie? Sounds logical to me.

Fingering the soft leather gloves, they weren't anywhere near as sturdy as the set his lover wore currently as quality gear was a top priority for one and all, but that wasn't the point. The point was he remembered what Zevran had said about his mother and the gloves had been found in the Brecilian Forest and tossed in with much of the loot to be sorted later. When Laran had stumbled upon them, he hid them immediately, only knowing that they reminded him of what he had seen the Dalish hunters wear and that Zevran had carefully not looked t any of those items except in the most clinical and perfunctory of manners. Then had come the boots, the maker's mark in Antivan as well as their pungent odor telling Laran all he needed to know about those. And the brandy was quite clearly labeled as Antivan - small things of home, signs to show his frequent lover that he actually listened to the words that rolled off of that thickly accented tongue.

After making the usual nightly rounds while Phobos was slipping into tents with the assigned presents for the others, Laran approached the Antivan who was going over his gear, with gloves in hand. "Zev, are you busy?"

The Crow glanced up from checking the lacing of his leathers, "I am never too busy for you my Warden. What is your desire?"

"Why you of course," unable to stop from laughing as he sat beside his lover. "Or at least a moment of your time. I've got something for you."

"Oh? Do you now? Right here, right now? Tchk, Laran, what would the others say? Not that I am against such a display at all, quite the opposite - I have nothing to be ashamed of."

Passing him the gloves, "They've either gone to bed or are too busy to care either way."

"Gloves? You're giving me gloves? What for?" the hostile edge surprised Laran, as Zevran's full attention slammed against him like a hammer-blow, the intensity vaguely unnerving.

"They're Dalish - like your mother's," he pointed out with as much encouragement as he could find. "A gift for the best assassin this side of Lake Calenhad."

"I'm the onlyassassin this side of Lake Calenhad," came the fast, dry rejoinder. "So - what do you want me to do for them? To pay you?"

Laran thought Alistair must have bashed him on the head with his shield. "Zevran, you don't pay someone for a gift. It's...it's a gift.You take it, you might smile or grimace at the person giving the gift depending on how much you like the gift or the giver, and then that's that."

The slanted gold eyes showed a flash of something the Warden didn't know how to identify properly. "A...gift? No one has given me a gift. Oh, sometimes some coffee or a Saturnalia sweet, but no one has given me a gift before, let alone on my birthday."

For once he didn't just blurt out the first thing that came to mind when Zevran's presence was distracting him. Instead he watched the elf pass the dyed leather through the nimble dark honey-brown hands slowly for several long minutes. All Laran could really think was how vulnerable and young Zevran looked in that moment, as if time had rewound itself, showing a glimpse of the little boy taking out a hidden and treasured possession, the only connection to a long dead, unknown mother.

"You didn't know it was my birthday, did you, my Warden?" The slow inspection of the stitched seams didn't stop, an odd lack of masks or veils of any sort between them usually reserved for the privacy of a tent or rented room. "There's no way you could have, yes?"

Rather sheepishly, "Caught that did you?"

"Hmn, let us say that I was too shocked to notice that first. But don't tell anyone that the famous Zevran Arainai missed such a detail - I've a reputation to uphold," finally looking up once again, the attempt at levity obvious.

I wouldn't tell because then I'd have to share this moment with someone other than you."Well it's customary here in Ferelden, barbaric as you say we all are, to give one present the day before Saturnalia and the next day you get the rest. I think that this year, Saturnalia doesn't come, and it's just time for your birthday presents instead."

"I've nothing to give you in return."

"Zev, I don't expect anything in return - they're you'rebirthday presents."

The assassin shrugged, "What can I say? I'm new to this gift giving custom you've introduced me to."

Rubbing his chin, Laran quickly went over the usual things. Carousing, gifts, gratuitous hilarity and likely some drunken sex. Cake, but the last of their sweets had been consumed a few days ago. Must get more soon, a belated cookie would work even.

"Well, the birthday person gets spoiled rotten, or at least a little pampered," he finally said. "Hey - maybe I'll give youthe massage."

Zevran chuckled, "Somehow I am not sure if that is pampering or manhandling."

"I thought you likedmanhandling."

"Oh, I do, I do. Well then, I suppose we should get on with that and whatever barbaric customs you seek to teach me, yes?"

It had been easy to succumb to the kiss and to the touches - why wouldn't he want to? But Laran had intended on spoiling his lover as much as he possibly could, not the other way around. Everything had started off as fun and friendly in the beginning, something to relieve stress and sate needs not easily filled, but somewhere, somehow, Laran had realized that it was more important that Zevran was there, that he was content, that he felt valued. Because in many ways - large and small - that was how Laran perceived Zevran's own actions towards him. Saturnalia didn't matter, but giving the former slave something he had never had before did. Far more than the Warden had considered what seemed ages ago. Love had been a benevolent Fade spirit disguised as a demon of lust, even as that thought unnerved him just a little.

Curling around his friend, his lover, much later, or earlier depending on one's viewpoint, "Happy birthday."