AN: Okay so this just had to happen. I'm still not sure if I would do a little sequel story, since I do leave a lot of plot open.. oh well, enjoy and lemme know if you have an idea for something more. In case you are curious, a href="."this is/a what my warden looks like. Also I should mention that Alim Surana of course means that he is elf mage. ;)


Gather your children and flee to the far southern borders. North will be your home no more. Leave this region with haste, for the time of the scourge's coming is still unknown. Take heed of my warning, for too many past folk have perished, the folk I held dear. This doom is not the first to come, nor the last that I shall see.
-NEST


Alim watched Alistair and Liliana from the far side of the bonfire. He picked aimlessly at the meat off the bone of the chicken leg, and ate it. He wanted to look away but he couldn't. It was like watching a horde of darkspawn approach and you couldn't move to defend yourself. It was that exact same feeling that pooled in his chest, watching Alistair blush as he gave Liliana a beat up bouquet of flowers he had bought at the Denerim market. Alim frowned and tossed the bone to the dog. Leaning over he reached for the wine he had picked up in the same market. Ignoring Wynne's disapproving expression, he popped the cork and drank a large mouthful of the vile liquid.

"He is quite besmitten with her, ain't he?" Wynne said with a little bloodless smile, "Young love, inspires the best in man. I only hope he doesn't forget his obligations to the Wardens."

"He won't." Alim said, wishing Wynne would stop talking.

"I hope you are right." Wynne said, getting to her feet, retiring for the night.

Taking another large drink, Alim couldn't help but to notice that Liliana ran her fingers through Alistair's hair, in a loving gesture. And he couldn't help but to notice how Alistair was smiling like a fool. What Alim wouldn't give to run his fingers through Alistair's hair, or to have him smile like that. These thoughts had to stop, he had to focus on the Blight, and not pine after something he would never have. Maybe he could ask Morrigan for some sort of arcane potion that would just leave him cold to matters of the heart, or just plain forget he had ever felt like this.

"This won't do you any good, Warden." Zevran said softy sitting down next to Alim at the fire.

"What are you talking about?" Alim huffed, reaching for another piece of chicken.

Zevran chuckled, "He won't ever be yours. Fooling yourself won't help."

Alim stopped dead and dropped the chicken back in the bowl. He looked down at his own lap and sighed. "Tell me something I don't know."

"Pining won't do any good." Zevran said softly. "For your own sake, then you should forget about it and learn to take such matters, where it is offered. That way no one gets hurt, and doesn't waste away on foolish romantic notions."

Alim nodded slowly. He turned his head and looked at Zevran, "I know you are right.. it's just.." He sighed deeply. "I just wish.."

"Don't.. Wish that is." Zevran said dead seriously, "It never brought anything good."

Leaning back, palms on the ground, Alim looked up into the sky. "I am happy for them, as I should be."

Zevran rose a brow, "You are a good friend, better friend than most."

"Yeah.." Alim just sighed.

Moving closer, Zevran leaned in so close that his breath tickled on Alim's skin. "I can drive those dark thoughts from your mind, for a while at least."

Alim bit his lip, closing his eyes. He knew all too well what Zevran meant, and how skilled he was at it. It made his heart skip a beat just to hear, not out of love or anything, but pure lust, nothing else.

"I will even let you pretend I'm someone else." Zevran offered in a sultry voice.

Sucking in his breath in a sharp inhale, Alim mustered whatever intelligence that hadn't just fled directly to his groin. "That wouldn't be fair."

"I am offering. Where is the unfairness in accepting?" Zevran whispered.

Finally Alim turned his head, his cheeks blushed with shame as he looked up at Zevran, "Come to my tent in a little while."

Zevran smiled, still amused at how much a prude the Warden was when it came to public display of vulgarity. "Of course."

~*~

Alim had retreated to his tent, he could hear Liliana laugh outside, wondering if Alistair had told her one of his lame jokes. She would only laugh at those if she thought the world of him. And this saddened Alim more than he wanted it to. He tossed his boots over in a corner in anger.

"Warden." Zevran said as he sauntered into the tent. "You look tense."

"I'm just tired." Alim said with a little smile.

"Here let me." Zevran said, reaching around Alim to unclasp the breastplate, letting it fall to the ground. Zevran ran his soft hands up under Alim's cotton shirt, "You lost weight my Warden." He mumbled in Alim's ear, as he could feel the other elf's ribs stand out under the skin.

"Maybe." Alim whispered, purring as Zevran ran a hand down to his waistline, undoing the clasps and buckles there, letting the pants fall, and Alim stepping out of them.

As Zevran ran a hand up Alim's hardening flesh. Alim trembled slightly and rested his head back on Zevran's shoulder plate. Alim's world narrowed down to the slight cold in the tent, and the warm hand caressing his erection. "Do you think Alistair is a top or a bottom?" Zevran whispered hotly.

"Ah- I.. don't know." Alim whimpered, his hips helplessly thrusting shallowly into Zevran's hand.

Zevran wrapped an arm around Alim's chest, he could hear the Warden suck in his breath and purr, as the cold metal from Zevran's armor met Alim's heated skin. "Would you want him under or above you, my dear Warden?"

"Zev.. " Alim begged breathless, "Don't, don't mock me."

To Alim's surprise Zevran's sneaky smile disappeared and a serious expression replaced it. "I wouldn't dream of mocking you."

All previous excitement was dead, and Alim pushed Zevran away gently. "Of course you would." The warden brushed past the other elf, angry and confused. "This.. This was a bad idea Zev. I'm tired and.."

"You are a terrible liar, Warden." Zevran mused, crossing his arms over his chest he looked down at Alim's lap where the evidence of his body clearly not agreeing with his disengaged words, stood attention still. "Alim.. " The assassin sighed, "Make up your mind."

Alim just nodded, Zevran was right, it was futile to pine for Alistair. And what Zevran offered, he offered freely and uncomplicated. "Stay.." He whispered barely audible, "But please don't speak of others while we.."

"Fornicate?" Zevran said with a little grin.

"That too." Alim added with a little amused smile of his own even if he didn't want to. He dared a look up at the assassin, "Do we have a deal?"

"That we do." Zevran said covering the space between them with two long strides, sitting down on his heels in front of Alim, resting his arms on the mage's thighs. "Do I get something out of this bargain too?"

"You get to keep me warming your bed." Alim said with a sly grin to match Zevran's. "Is that not enough? Or maybe you want more?"

"Sounds like a perfect deal to me." Zevran reached up and placed a hand on the Warden's chest, pushing him backwards in bed. Pushing Alim's legs wide apart, making room for himself between them. Alim let his head fall back and closed his eyes, he needed this, he needed the abandon that Zevran lend him, even if only for a little while.

Alim bit down on his hand, his moans but whimpers. Zevran pulled the warden up so his back was against Zevran's chest. Alim let his head fall back on Zevran's shoulder, whimpering again drawing blood from his hand as Zevran effortlessly ripped another desperate moan from him, with a sharp thrust of his hips.

"Let me hear you." Zevran cooed breathlessly in Alim's ear.

Alim's eyebrows knit in worry, but none the less he let Zevran grab his wrist, and hold down his hand. Efficiently trapping him in Zevran's lap. "Ze.." Alim managed to whisper, but he was rewarded with Zevran setting a slow, much too slow pace. "Maker.." Alim breathed, "Do you want me to beg?"

"If you must." Zevran mused, biting Alim's ear sardonic, "If I give you what you want, you give me what I want." Zevran's breath hitched as pleasure traveled up his spine. His hands slipping in the Warden's sweat slippery skin. "Fair trade, yes?"

"Y-yes." Alim stammered.

Zevran kissed Alim's cheek affectionately and let go of Alim's hand, pushing the Warden down from his laps, down on hands and knees on the mattress. With a firm grip on Alim's neck, Zevran pushed his head into the weave of the fabric and the other grabbed around his hip.

~*~

Alim lay panting, too lazy to move out of the wet stain on his bed against his stomach. "Did I really call for the maker?" He asked mortified.

"You did." Zevran answered amused. A finger traveled down Alim's spine. "I like your voice, you should use in passion more often."

"Oh Maker..." Alim groaned, "I am never going to live that one down, am I?"

Zevran kissed Alim's shoulder, "Probably not." He snickered.

"Shit." Alim rolled over on his back, looking up at Zevran at his side. "Sometime soon I get to make the demands. Fair trade, yes?" He cocked an eyebrow and smiled at Zevran.

"Fair trade."

~*~

Two months later Liliana had moved into Alistair's tent, and even if Alim tried to keep their conversation light, brotherly, and most of all to the point. And in time the ache dulled, he knew he was being ridiculous, chasing ghosts.

"Alim, a word if you please." Alistair said, calling Alim to where stood. "My breastplate needs repair," he held out the banged up piece of metal for Alim to see. "But I need 40 silver for the smith to fix it." He smiled a little boyish, apologetic smile.

"The pouch is just as much yours as it's mine." Alim said mirroring the smile, "You don't have to ask my permission."

"It's just that it's quite a large post, and we aren't exactly swimming in gold." Alistair said with a shrug, "So I thought I'd let you know."

"Alistair." Alim chuckled, "It's okay." He placed a friendly hand on the other warden's shoulder. "I am going to the market later, I can take your breastplate if you want me to."

"Uhm.. There was actually something I needed at the market, so.." Alistair said blushing slightly. "I can keep you company there?"

"But of course." Alim said, and this time he had to use all his willpower not to visibly cringe at Alistair's blush.

~*~

"You seem preoccupied assassin." Morrigan said casually as she poured herself a glass of wine from their spoils.

"I do?" Zevran asked shaken from his thoughts, watching Alim and Alistair at the other side of camp. "Rest assured witch, it is just because I was plotting your demise." He smiled at Morrigan who shook her head amused and offered him a glass of wine. "Where I am from, it is dangerous to accept a drink from strange women who can turn you into a toad."

Morrigan laughed, "Well we are not in Antiva, assassin." She came to sit by his side, and added, "It is still dangerous though."

Zevran chuckled and took a sip of the wine.

"Don't tell me you are ogling the warden?" Morrigan wrinkled her nose in disgust.

"We have an arrangement, which by the way says nothing about that I can't look in his direction during daytime." Zevran said more bitterly than he had wanted, maybe he was getting soft, being around this lot.

"Something tells me you aren't quite happy with your arrangement, elf." Morrigan said slightly amused. "I just never picked you for the type, you know?"

"What type?" Zevran asked, knowing instantly that he had walked straight into that one.

"You know, the type that sits around and pines after a man, all day. I had you pegged for a -go get- type." Morrigan shrugged with a slight haughty smile on her lips, knowing her words annoyed the assassin to no end.

"I do not pine." Zevran argued.

"Could have fooled me." Morrigan said innocently. "Okay.." She leaned forward, resting her cup on her knees, looking directly at Zevran. "You know he lusts for you, even I know that, and my tent is as far away from his on purpose. Could it be that your arrangement backfired on you? Have the tempter mayhap fallen in love?"

"Pfft." Zevran huffed. "Love is but.."

Morrigan held up her hand to stop Zevran's monologue. "I have heard your opinion on that matter before." She said, "But one thing is what you say, another is what you feel. Are you really so arrogant as to think that you care unable to be touched by love?" She laughed amused, "My dear assassin you are more dimwitted than I gave you credit for."

Zevran moved to stand, he had heard enough, but Morrigan seated him again with a firm hand on his shoulder. "Hear me out, or morning might find you as a toad." She smiled, "Let's just for the sake of the argument say that I am right. What are you going to do about it? Stay in an arrangement that makes you miserable, like feeding off scraps from the tables of the rich. Or are you going to change the rules?"

It took a while for Zevran to answer, "Maybe.." He just said, not sure he should trust Morrigan with anything. Even if she had saved his ass on a couple of occasions, and had proven herself a friend. He took a deep sigh, "Maybe the words have lost meaning, and so have the actions. No matter what I say or do, it will seem hollow."

Morrigan nodded, "I can see why you'd feel that." She took a sip of her wine. "But Alim doesn't know that. He have never heard them said in dishonesty from your lips."

"He knows my stories of previous.. uhm fleeting relations." Zevran said, looking at Morrigan with a frown.

"You are an idiot." She just stated.

Zevran nodded and shrugged at the same time, "I just never thought that things would change.. I am not even sure what it is I feel as we speak."

Morrigan laughed again. "I could look into my crystal ball for you.."

"You don't have a.." Zevran sighed, "Ah, right. That was a joke.."

~*~

Alim waited as Alistair discussed the payment with the smith, trying to barter his way to a lower price. Looking at the market he watched a couple walk through, he was a soldier of Denerim holding his woman by her hand, and carrying a toddler on his arm. Alim sighed at their happiness, knowing that this would be Alistair in the future, he knew that this was what his brother in arms would want. The best of both worlds. But he had no womb, and couldn't give Alistair an heir, and he would also never hold the other warden's affection. - "Do you have any shop in particular you'd like to go to first?" Alistair suddenly asked behind him, apparently having finished business with the smith, while Alim had wallowed in self pity. "No, not really." Alim said with a little strained smile.

"Okay." Alistair said walking down the stairs from the smith, "I know you said it was alright that I just took some money from the pouch. Are you sure that is alright?"

"Of course."

"See, I wanted to come here for two reasons, I wanted to have my plate repaired, but I also wanted to find a bethroal gift for Liliana." He blushed and smiled timidly again.

-Thrice damned- Alim thought to himself, wishing that Alistair wouldn't confide these things, and wouldn't look so blighted in love while he did so. "Have you already seen something she would fancy then?" He asked, feeling the false intent like poison on his lips.

"I saw this buckle that had the face of Andraste herself on it." Alistair said with a confident smile, "I think she would like that."

Alim shrugged, "I thought women liked trinkets."

Alistair laughed, "So did I, it was herself who pointed it out the last time we were at this market. And I made a promise to myself that I would get it for her, when we could afford it."

"Very well then." Alim said with a friendly smile, "Lead the way."

~*~

Alistair was bargaining with the merchant, and Alim stood and turned a black gem, which looked mostly like an orb that held the night sky. "Are you getting that?" Alistair asked suddenly.

"Uh? No." Alim placed the gem back in the merchants tray with an apologetic smile.

"You aren't getting Zevran something while we are here? I'm sure he would appreciate the gesture." Alistair smiled, "Maybe he would like that orb?"

"I don't think so." Alim said, squirming a little under Alistair's questioning gaze.

"What about this ring then?" Alistair said, picking up a ring with a dragon head on it.

"No." Alim said, turning from the merchants stall, just wanting to leave. Hoping the smith was about done with the repairs.

"So you aren't getting your beloved anything?" Alistair asked hasting after Alim through the market.

"He is not my beloved." Alim finally barked as he turned to face Alistair, "And I am not getting him anything. No orbs, no rings, no nothing." Looking away from Alistair's disapproving glare, the Warden looked at his own feet in shame of his outburst and sudden lack of privacy. "Lets just go fetch your armor. Okay?"

"No." Alistair said, grabbing Alim's arm hard. "Are you telling me that you are just playing him?"

"Maker!" Alim growled annoyed, "Did you think I was gonna marry him because he visits my tent now and then?"

"That would be the right thing to do." Alistair stated flatly.

"He does not love me, and I do not love him." Alim said with much less fire than he should, not sure why it sounded like a lie, when it was the honest truth.

Alistair shook his head in distaste, "I had not thought that of you."

"We have an arrangement." Alim counter argued weakly, pulling his arm back from Alistair's grip.

"In which you treat him as a common whore?" Alistair crossed his arms over his chest, awaiting Alim's answer.

"No! Nothing like that.. it's.. just..." Alim's words trailed off till he stopped mid sentence. "We.. we comfort each other, that is it." He turned to walk away again, but changed his mind and turned back to look at Alistair's frown. "It's mutual. I swear by Andraste."

"You care nothing of Andraste." Alistair huffed, brushing past Alim towards the smithy.

"Okay!" Alim yelled, "Okay I yield, I will get him something, if it will take that frown off your face." The warden smiled hopefully at Alistair's back.

Alistair turned around and shrugged, "I can let the matter rest for now. I will not think less of you."

Alim felt like his chest would burst open and his very heart would shatter as it hit the ground. "No, no you're right." He mumbled, "I should get him a token of my.. uhm.. appreciation."

Alistair eased up and came back to where Alim stood like a tool.

Turning Alim looked over the market again, "I admit I don't know what to get him." He sighed, "Something appropriate."

"I saw some Antivan boots in that stall over there," Alistair said with a sneaky smile, "Maybe those will do."

Alim nodded, "Sounds like a good idea."

~*~

It was dark as Alim and Alistair returned from Denerim, and to Zevran's confusion, The warden walked straight past him with nothing but a polite nod to acknowledge his existence. He was not invited to his tent, and was not even offered a smile.

Two more days would be like that, Alim avoiding Zevran, speaking to him only when nessisary, and for the remaining time he was elsewhere. In the end Zevran had had enough of that game, and decided that he had to find out what was going on, so that very night, Zevran found himself outside Alim's tent. "Warden?" He asked softly as he pulled the tent flap aside, peeking inside.

"Zev." Alim said with a little smile, "What brings you here?" He looked up from the massive tome he was reading, and put down his pen he used to scribble notes.

"Did we?.. did I?... Is it something I said?" Zevran finally asked, walking into the tent's heat and comfort from the howling wind.

"Tell me something Zev.." Alim said, his face a mask of seriousness. "Do I treat you like a common whore? I mean, do you feel like I mistreat you? Am I unfair?" He bit his lip and looked away from Zevran's confused form. "We both agreed on the arrangement, am I right?"

"We agreed, yes." Zevran said, not sure what Alim meant. "Do you wish to end the arrangement?"

"I.. eh.. I don't know." Alim looked anywhere than on Zevran.

"Oh." Zevran lost his cool for a moment, and allowed his disappointment to shine through. "Very well then." He smiled strained, "I shall leave you to it and retire to my tent."

"Zevran." Alim said, finally looking at the assassin who looked oddly deflated, it was a look that Alim could honestly say he had never seen on Zevran before.

"Yes?" Zevran said, smiling casually at the Warden, drawing upon every actor skill he had ever possessed.

"I got you something at the market." Alim couldn't help but to feel the tips of his ears burn red from guilt and embarrassment. "I thought you would like them.." He reached in under his table and pulled out the Antivan boots.

"Boots?" Zevran looked bewildered as he received the present. "Antivan.. How did you?.." He blinked, clearly touched by the gesture. "How did you -know-?"

"So you like them?" Alim asked with a hopeful nod.

"I love them!" Zevran reached out a hand to pull Alim in for a kiss, but then stopped dead, awkwardly. "Thank you Warden." He smiled a brilliant smile that never reached his eyes.

"Let me know if they fit." Alim said, sitting down again. "I hope they do."

"But of course." Zevran said, holding the boots tight, he turned to exit the tent, then stopped and turned to look at Alim. "Sleep well, Warden."

"Same to you, Zevran." Alim said with a polite smile. As Zevran left the tent, Alim let out a breath he didn't know he had been holding, he didn't feel like he had done the right thing, he felt like a complete ass! He couldn't deny the pain he had seen in Zevran's eyes, and he also couldn't deny that it bothered him that it was there. This was supposed to be uncomplicated! It was supposed to be in stead of something else! When had it gotten a life of it's own?

~*~

Summer became Autum and still the rugged band traveled together. Wynne had orchestrated a feast for Alistair and Liliana as she accepted his proposal, as they reached the Dalish caravan destined for their winter camp. And as it turned out, shemlen or not, the Dalish loved to party, and welcomed a reason to dance and laugh.

Alim sat at Morrigan's side, nestling a drink of unknown origin, watching as Liliana and Alistair danced. And for the first time he didn't feel sad, it was like it was supposed to be. It felt right to see them there, and the strange, dark, melancholy feeling he had harbored for longer than a year was no where to be found. Instead his eyes sought out Zevran in the party who was talking to two young Dalish elves, making them laugh in delight. "You do realize he talks about leaving, right?" Morrigan said, nodding towards Zevran to empathize who she was talking about.

"No. I didn't know that." Alim said saddened, "But I suppose I can't blame him."

"Maybe you should talk with him?" Morrigan suggested.

"Maybe." Alim admitted, "But not tonight." He shot Morrigan a little smile, "Tonight is for celebrating Alistair and Liliana, and I suggest we do that and leave and leave tedious tasks for the morning."

"Tedious tasks?" Morrigan frowned grabbing Alim's tunic and pulled him close to whisper in his ear. "He holds you very dear, Warden. And that he lingers when you dismissed him from your bed, just talks to his devotion, you are wrong to treat him like dirt."

Alim swallowed nervously, "No you are wrong witch. He doesn't hold me dear, we just sought each others company for..."

"I know what he did for you, he eased your troubled mind, and lovesick heart." Morrigan hissed, "But are you really that naïve that you don't think that love fells even the mightiest of us? He had just as little control over it as you did, you owe him kind words, Alim."

Alim turned his head, so close to Morrigan that the tip of his nose touched hers, he just stared into her eyes trying to read any untruth there.

"You fought demons in the fade, but you are afraid to ask that little Antivan elf for a dance?" Morrigan taunted, letting go of Alim.

"True.." Alim sighed..

"Let go little Warden, and celebrate not just the happy couple but life as well, because we all know it could soon be cut short." Morrigan said pouring more wine for herself.

Alim stared at Morrigan puzzled, this was advise he had expected from Wynne, but never from Morrigan. And for a moment he wondered about her motives, but it was sound advise none the less. He didn't really understand it himself, but he found himself get out of his chair and walk towards where Zevran entertained the young Danish elves with naughty stories from Antiva no doubt. "Zev.." Alim said, trying to look more confident than he felt, and even more so as the assassin turned around and looked at him. Alim held out his hand to the other elf, "Dance?"

Zevran looked as he considered the offer for a moment, and then split in a smile. "But of course."

Alim had never been a dancer, and his childhood and studies had left no time to prefect the art. And the fifth time he stepped on Zevran's toes he couldn't help but to laugh. "I'm sorry." He looked up at Zevran's amused grin. "I am a terrible dancer."

"True." Zevran said, "But it's not the technique that matters."

"I hope not." Alim chuckled, and whirled Zevran around clumsily.

~*~

Morning found Alim at the feast ground still, at first he was confused, not recalling when he had fallen asleep. But as he opened his eyes he looked directly into Zevran's neck, realizing that he was spooned up against the assassin in the grass. He could hear his Mabari breathe behind him, feeling a little better knowing that it had kept an eye on him, when he clearly weren't able to do so himself. He closed his eyes again, not ready to rise just yet and snuggled closer to the warm body next to him. Maybe Morrigan was right, maybe he should just take what was offered, complications and all, because in the end would he really want to be without? One thing was keeping Zevran at bay, focusing on other things, telling himself that he wasn't being fair and the he treated the other elf lowly, and shouldn't take such matters that lightly. And why had he done that? Because Alistair had been disgusted with him, that he would bed someone without the promise of eternity. Sweet, dumb Alistair. But the thought of Zevran gone, not within an armslenght should he need him, was scary. Maybe all this with feelings weren't Alim's strongest side, he was terrified of getting hurt, and that was the Makersworn truth.

~*~

Alim cradled his coffee, trying to will his hangover away. He looked up at the sky that looked dark and heavy with rain. Traditionally the feast for Alistair and Liliana would last for two days more, but they didn't have that long to just frolic about. They had to get back to Orzammar before winter gripped the lands for real. They needed to restock and get warmer clothing, amongst other things. Alim groaned as a headache set in.

"Warden." Zevran said, seating himself next to Alim at the fire. "We need to talk."

Alim couldn't remember when the assassin's tone had last sounded that serious. But his hangover dulled the feeling of impending doom. "Sure, Zevran." He said with a weak smile.

"I hope you don't misunderstand, or that this will cause any bad blood between us, because I really don't want to have to come back to kill you." Zevran chuckled a little at his own attempt of a joke. "Thing is that the Ferelden winter is.. not for me, and I have decided to travel with these Dalish to their winter camp down south."

"Oh." Alim sucked in his breath, not sure how to react. He thought they were fine, that they had overcome whatever their issues was. Or rather Alim had overcome whatever issue he had with it all. "Are you sure?"

"I am sure." Zevran said, "But I owe you my life, and so.."

"You don't owe me anything." Alim said with a sad smile.

Zevran nodded, "If your path should ever carry you to Antiva, then."

A million replied waited on Alim's lips, but only one slipped out. "Are you just going to leave it like that?"

"Leave what?" Zevran asked puzzled.

"Us." Alim said with a little frown, the word was so alien in his mouth that he wasn't even sure it was himself who had spoken.

Zevran's smile faded, "I wasn't aware there was an 'us'."

Alim blushed against his will, and backpedaled faster than the wind. "I shouldn't have said that." He mumbled. "I must still be influenced by the wine." He smiled awkwardly, not looking at Zevran.

"Still.." Zevran sighed, "I want you to have this," He held out his hand with a pair of earrings, "I have held on to these for a long time, and maybe it's just time to let them go." The lame metaphor was not lost on Zevran, but he just didn't know what else to do.

Alim looked at the earrings that Zevran held out to him. Gingerly he picked them up from his palm and studied them. "They are beautiful, and very expensive."

"The lady I took them from had lots of gold, and she doesn't need them anymore." Zevran shrugged, "They are yours if you want them."

"I do." Alim said with a tiny voice, "Thank you." The warden closed his hand around the earrings. "I am afraid I don't have anything for you."

"I didn't expect you to." Zevran said with a slight shrug.

"Very well then." Alim said, "Till next time."

"Let it be merry, filled with wine and women." Zevran said with a smile as he stood from his log and disappeared off into the Dalish camp. Alim sat there and looked at the ground for hours after Zevran had left, not sure why he felt like he had lost something dear to him, and yet feel relieved that he never again had to worry about such matters.

~*~

As the party left the Dalish, Alim walked with long determined strides, the dog at his side. "Wait!" Alistair called, "Where's Zevran?"

"He's not coming." Alim said without slowing his pace.

"But why? I thought you settled your differences." Alistair insisted, hasting after Alim.

"He is staying with the Dalish," Alim clenched his jaw as Alistair stopped his flight with a ironclad hand on his shoulder.

"Why?"

Alim turned around and looked at Alistair and the rest of the wondering party of friends. "His mother was Dalish, maybe he wants to discover his roots? I don't know, and I don't care. Let's just get going so we won't get caught in bad weather before we reach Orzammar."

"That is just not good enough. I thought you.." Morrigan cut in.

"Enough!" Alim bellowed. "Shut up!" And then he turned on his heel and took to his angry stride again.

~*~

Winter came and Liliana started to show. Alim wasn't surprised when Alistair chose to leave her in an estate at Orzammar with trusted. He was a warden first and a father second. Liliana insisted that they had a private ceremony for the eyes of Andraste to bless their union and Alistair's departure. So should he not return, her child would not be a bastard born outside wedlock. They all knew that it was a little makeshift to have some dwarf brother hold the ceremony, but it was as good as it got.

While the others were out restocking for their travels back to Redcliffe, Alim had stayed behind with Liliana under the pretense of needing to make some portions. But as soon as they were out the door, he returned to the fireplace and Liliana. "I'm sorry it has to be like this." He said, "I know it is not what you wanted."

"You are right, but it is as it can be." She shrugged. "He is right that I should not travel in this condition." she rested a hand on her slightly swollen womb.

"Look." Alim sat down at the floor by her side, plucking out the earrings that Zevran had given to him. "I didn't give you a wedding present. And I have nothing of greater worth to give you than these." He dropped th earrings in Liliana's hand.

"But those are.."

"I know." Alim said with a little smile. "And now they are yours."

"Why did you let him go?" Liliana asked, running her fingers over the gold earrings.

"Because he wanted to." Alim said staring off into the fire, "No good would come from asking him to stay, when he wanted to go."

"Maybe he wanted you to give him a reason to stay?" Liliana said softly.

"Maybe." Alim sighed. "But we had a practical arrangement, no feelings were hurt by his departure."

"You are a terrible liar Alim." Liliana shook her head.

Alim smiled, "You all keep saying that."

"Maybe it's because it's true." Liliana laughed. "Keep your earrings, they were a gift to you."

"No, I want you to have them." Alim turned his head and looked up at Liliana, "In case you need gold while we are gone, you can sell those, they will bring you a decent prize. Besides," He took a deep breath, "I have no need for the memories in them."

"Bring Alistair back to me, promise me that." Liliana said, grabbing Alim's wrist hard.

"I can't promise you that." Alim said sadly, snatching his hand back.

"Pray tell, what is your father's name?" Liliana asked, anger evident in her voice.

"You know, that I don't know that." Alim said, letting her take out her fear and anger on him. "Maker, Liliana, don't do this to me."

Liliana stayed her tongue and stared off into the fire in silent anger. And eventually Alim got up and went to make the portions he said he would, with the bitter taste of defeat in his mouth.

~*~

Winter became Spring, and on their way from Denerim to Orzammar the party came across the Dalish elves as they returned to their summer camp in the Brecilian forest. A strange foreign hope swelled in Alim's chest that Zevran would be amongst them, but as he entered camp, he didn't see sign of the assassin. While the others got reacquainted with the elves, Alim sought out Zathrian by his wagon.

"Forgive me Keeper, but I have a question." Alim said, bowing slightly in respect for the Dalish elf.

"Ask away, Warden." Zathrian said with a slight nod.

"The warrior that left with you, did he by any chance return with you as well?" Alim asked, sure that the Keeper could see past all his defenses and to the real root of his question.

"Zevran Arainai, the Antivan?"

"Yes." Alim said with a nod.

"I'm afraid he left us when we reached our winter camp, I know not what became of him." The Keeper said, narrowing his eyes, studying Alim. "Were you the reason for his heartache? I believe you were, I can see the same worry in your eyes as in his."

"I.." Alim looked away from the Keeper, "I was not aware he suffered heartache."

"Then you are a fool." The Keeper said with a shrug. "But as I said, I can't help you, I don't know where he went."

For a moment Alim was just about to nod and leave, but something in the Keeper's tone made him look up at him. "I see that now."

"Sadly it is too late." The Keeper said,

"Yes it is." Alim admitted, "Thank you Keeper Zathrian." He bowed slightly again and left the Keeper behind. He had known it, hadn't he? Alim tried to tell himself he had not seen the hurt in Zevran eyes when he called their relationship off, or when he ignored him, and only spoke strategy and practical things. "Shit." He hissed, kicking a stone on his way.

~*~

Alim sat at the fire in the night silent camp, turning a cup of wine in his hand. "Can't sleep either?" Alistair asked sitting down next to Alim.

"No." Alim admitted, "I can't believe I was such a giant fool. I didn't know what I wanted, and not that I do, I can't have it." He looked up at Alistair and smiled sadly, "And in the grand scheme of things, I feel like a selfish child to feel so cheated when we stand oppose such a foe. What does it matter that my heart wants something it can't have?"

"Blight or no blight, life goes on. You are not a selfish child to wish for happiness." Alistair rested a hand on Alim's shoulder.

"I was just so sure he didn't mean it, and then I felt terrible for treating him like a cheap whore to call for when I felt lonely." Alim confessed, "I wish I had realised that I would miss him like this." He looked at Alistair with a crestfallen expression, "I wish I could go to Antiva and find him, and tell him I am sorry. Sorry for not listening to what he actually said, and sorry for trying to ignore my own feelings because they were alien, and because I was scared that he was just whispering all those things because he thought I would want to hear them, not because he meant them."

"You don't have to go all the way to Antiva."

Alim spun around and stared up at Zevran's smile. "But the Keeper said that.."

"He lied." Zevran's smile widened, "Because I asked him to, in case you should come back and ask for me, like I hoped you would."

Alim slowly got to his feet, giving Zevran a shy smile. "I'm sorry." He said, "I'm sorry I didn't believe in you."

"I wouldn't have believed in me either." Zevran said, tilting his head slightly studying Alim. "Suppose I am just not a very trustworthy fella."

"No you aren't." Alim chuckled giving a toss at the audience, he flung himself at Zevran. Kissing the other elf with the relief and bliss he felt in that very moment. And Zevran held him tight, answering the kiss with equal alleviation.

~*~

Descending into the little hot spring close to the Dalish camp, Zevran looked up at Alim in the moonlight. "I have something for you." Alim said with a little secretive smile as he shed his armor. Roaming in a pocket he closed his hand around the object, and then proceeded to climb into the hot spring. seating himself in Zevran's lap, chest against chest, he opened his hand. "I found this earring for you,"

"Found it?" Zevran asked, running his hands up and down the Warden's flanks.

"Well, I took it off a bandit I killed. Romantic right?" Alim said with another shy little smile.

"Very." Zevran said, "Put it in then." He turned his head to the side.

Alim opened the earring and stuck it through the hole that already held another earring, Zevran's hands exploring down to grab Alim's ass. "If you keep that up, I might make a new hole for this earring." Alim chuckled breathless.

~*~

Lowering himself Alim felt filled with more than just Flesh and heat. He gave Zevran a sloppy, wet kiss. "I'm glad you didn't stay in Antiva." He whispered.

"And miss this?" Zevran breathed, biting Alim's lower lip playfully.

Alim held a hand on each side of Zevran's face, "I'm serious." He mumbled softly.

"I wanted to." Zevran admitted slowly thrusting up into the Warden in his lap, "But I couldn't let you fight this Blight alone."

"Liar." Alim panted, licking a wet trail along Zevran's jaw. "You just lusted for my body."

"That too." Zevran admitted with a light chuckle, grabbing Alim's hips, keeping him in place as he set a faster pace he knew would have his lover trembling with ecstasy within moments. And to Zevran's delight his lover let out a sharp moan, and again as he angled his hips to maximize pleasure for them both.

"Oh Maker." Alim gasped, trying to steady himself with a shaking hand on Zevran's shoulder, taking himself in hand with the other, stroking in time for Zevran's thrusts. "Shit.. Oh.. Ah." Alim let his head fall back and let deep moans of pleasure ring out into the night.

Zevran tried his hardest to keep his eyes open, watching his lover as be lost himself to their lovemaking. He had never seen anything as delicious as this, he had seen many people come undone by his hands, even the warden many times before. But never like this, Alim had always been guarded, preferring to keep some wall of distance, or shame between them. He had never just given himself up like he did in this moment. There was no shame in this, no guilt, no secrets. Alim was making love to Zevran because he wanted to make love to Zevran, not because he just wanted to forget about the world for a moment, or that the offer was given at an opportune time. No turned heads, no downcast eyes, and no muffling his moans. For a moment Zevran couldn't help but to think that Alistair didn't know what he missed out on, this could have been his if he had but asked for it.

-End.