Title: Don’t Mind Him. He’s… Antivan. (2/5?)
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anders ♂, Zevran ♂, M!Surana (Lucien) ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V1 D0)
Warnings: Descriptions of past battles, adorable kitten being adorable, mild angst
Notes: An unexpected interlude on the battlements, in the moonlight.
As it went, Anders didn’t need to wait until afternoon to see the assassin again. It was the middle of the night, in fact, and he and Ser Pounce-a-lot were out on the battlements, watching the moon and stars.
"All the world, Pounce. All of Thedas and beyond. It’s ours, if we want it. No more Templars, no more windowless rooms. I’m a Warden, and you are my brave feline companion."
Ser Pounce-a-lot meowed, inquisitively, and swatted at a beetle between two stones in the wall.
"That’s right! Brave heroes in the fight against the darkspawn. They’ll never lock me up again, and you’ll get to grow up here, with all the fresh air you can stand." Anders reached out and scratched the kitten behind the ears. "I’ll never let them take you away from me."
Sparks danced between his fingertips, and Pounce rolled over to bat at them.
"I’m sorry about the Deep Roads, Pounce. We’ll be done there, soon, and then we can spend the rest of our days aboveground, enjoying the air and the sun and the stars."
"Don’t be so sure of that." The voice was directly behind him, and the hand that wasn’t on the cat lit up with lightning, as Anders startled and turned. Zevran continued as if he hadn’t moved at all, stepping up to rest his hands on the crenellated wall. "Lucien is fond of the Deep Roads. I have never seen him so at home, as when we were below. If he wasn’t a mage, and such a fine mage, I would insist his father must have been a dwarf. But, no dwarf can do what he does."
Anders slowly remembered how to breathe and rubbed the lightning off his fingers. "And you?"
Ser Pounce-a-lot slunk up to Zevran’s wrists and rubbed against them, purring.
"I went with him. You have to understand, then? I would have gone anywhere with him, because the I was dead to the world. It was pleasing. But, down in the dark, no. I do not belong down there." Zevran stared out across the courtyard and the acres of sleeping farmland, beyond. "Not that I belong up here. Being a dead man has certain disadvantages."
"I’ll have to try being dead, if I have to run again. Does it work well?" Anders asked, gently tugging at the tip of Pounce’s tail, to distract the kitten from Zevran’s wrists.
"For a time, yes. And then they start to realise that no one ever found the body, and just maybe those stories going around are true." Zevran sighed. "It was nice while it lasted, but I was travelling with Lucien. We were always in the spotlight. It had to come to an end eventually. So, I died again, and that lasted a little longer. But, again, Lucien. If you want to stay dead, don’t run around Ferelden with a hero."
"If I need to be dead, it’ll be because he can’t protect me any more." Pounce clambered up Anders’s sleeve, curling up in the feathers on his shoulder.
"What are you running from?" Zevran asked, still studying the landscape.
"Templars, mostly. Being a Warden should make that stop. At least that’s what Luke and the Queen told me."
"You’ve met the beautiful Lady Anora! That is a woman who knows how to rule. With a little less death and scandal, she could have been an empress. I would have stayed in Ferelden for that — Assassin to the Empress of Ferelden. We could have taken Kirkwall, maybe some of Orlais. But, no. Her father ruined that for her." Zevran shook his head. "A beautiful woman, in every way that matters."
"She seemed competent. Maybe a little terrifying, seeing as I met her as an apostate, in front of a Templar. But, Luke conscripted me on the spot — to be fair, I didn’t realise that had the potential to be a death sentence at the time. I was just happy they couldn’t drag me back again. A year. In solitary. And they wonder why I run."
"I grew up in a box. I understand." Zevran laughed. "In the end, I ran, too."
"Alienage?" Anders asked.
"Crows. It’s not all mayhem and glamour. That comes later."
"Then you know what it’s like. Kind of."
"And if I didn’t, I heard it from Lucien. You know he tried to sneak a blood mage out of the tower?"
Anders cackled. "Luke? What? No, you’re kidding."
"He didn’t tell you this? It’s why the Arl of Redcliffe was so ill. Loghain was paying his blood mage friend to poison the man. I do not think I have ever seen Lucien so angry before or since, and that includes when I tried to kill him." Zevran shook his head. "But, he let the blood mage live — I have never met a man more strangely willing to back his faith in the goodness of mankind with the force of his disappointment. Have you seen him disappointed? It’s compelling. I have to learn that, one of these years. And that mage helped us save the arl and his son from a demon. You do not disappoint Lucien twice."
"I kind of knew Luke, when we were apprentices. Don’t think I had the opportunity to disappoint him, but I knew his face. Nobody doubted he’d pass his harrowing, you know, but … he wasn’t… this. None of us saw this coming. If you told me that he’d save Thedas from a Blight, when we were still in the Circle, I’d have laughed. He really kept his head down. Even now, I can hardly imagine him trying to sneak… Wait." Anders looked at the elf beside him. "Jowan. Was the guy’s name Jowan?"
"I think it was, now that you mention it."
"Shit, he didn’t just help Jowan escape, he helped me escape! There was so much mayhem in the halls, I just … took advantage of the confusion, helped myself to some Templar plate, and walked out." Anders laughed, and Ser Pounce-a-lot stuck a paw on his cheek. "Andraste’s ass. He’ll love that. …Won’t he, Pounce?"
"You walked out of the tower dressed as a Templar? No one questioned this?" Zevran finally took his eyes off the endless sprawl of farmland and looked at Anders.
"There were Wardens visiting. Everyone assumed I was working with someone else. I put down one of the new transfers, left him next to a couple of empty bottles, grabbed his gear and left. I didn’t even keep it. Left it in the bushes so I could swim across the lake. The hard part was getting out of the tower." Anders rubbed his eye with the heel of his palm and then flicked his fingers at the kitten on his shoulder.
"Artistry. And then, somehow, you ended up here, with Lucien?"
"That was stupid. I should have gone north, but I went east. I wanted my phylactery. I wanted to belong to myself, again, so they couldn’t keep finding me and dragging me back. Do you know how tiring it is, knowing every time you close your eyes, that’s what they’re waiting for, and you could wake up in chains? I got sick of it. I wanted out — really out." Anders sighed. "I had a friend in Amaranthine who knew what I was after, and thought she’d heard something about it. Looking back, I think they got to her. I think she turned me in. And then, when I got out from under them, she did it again."
"Beautiful women, dangerous pursuits. I’m liking this story." Zevran gracefully hoisted himself into one of the crenels, leaning against the merlon behind him and stretching his legs along the base of the crenel.
"They caught up to me in Amaranthine. Took about a week of running around before they actually got me, but… there were more of them, and I had to sleep, eventually. They decided to hold me here, until they were headed back to the Circle, but… darkspawn. Nobody saw that coming." Anders leaned his hip against the wall, kicking at the stone dust that remained from recent repairs.
"But, the Wardens…"
"Not even the Wardens. Luke was away, and everyone here was new. They came up out of the Deep Roads, into the old Avvar crypts."
"He didn’t tell you this?"
"Not like this! He said he arrived and the keep was overrun, and everyone was dead, except this charming apostate with a terrible nervous laugh." Zevran shrugged, in a poor impression of wide-eyed innocence. "I expect he didn’t want me to worry."
"Terrible nervous laugh. That’s great, Luke. Thanks."
"I wouldn’t worry too much about it. You should hear the things he says about me. You know he once called me a wretched, thieving ass-pirate? I introduced him to my dear friend Isabela, a pirate of asses and other Northern finery, and he took it back, on the spot." There was a way Zevran spoke, as if everything were incidental and unimportant, and Anders could feel the skin tighten expectantly along his spine, as if this were only a distraction from things yet to come. "But, you were locked up when these darkspawn came?"
"Inside the keep, not in the dungeon. They wanted to keep an eye on me. Probably for the best. The beds are nicer inside. They had me all loaded up with magebane and chained, when the darkspawn came. I couldn’t have saved them, if I wanted to. Not that I wanted to, particularly." Anders sighed. "I waited it out. I was very quiet and not very interesting, and behind another locked door. When the magebane wore off, I let myself out, and straight into a horde of hurlocks. Obviously, I set them on fire."
"Obviously," Zevran agreed.
"And that’s when Luke barged in with a girl in platemail and a crazy, screaming dwarf."
"That is so very like Lucien."
"So, I apologised for the Templars all over the floor. I don’t think the girl believed me, when I blamed the darkspawn, but I also don’t think Luke cared, one way or the other. He pretty much told me I was coming with him, and if I set his ass on fire, I was a dead man, so it was in everyone’s best interest if my aim was as strong as my flames. I remembered him from the circle, so it was a little weird seeing him… in charge of anything on the outside. They really don’t like us getting out in the world, you know." Anders shrugged the shoulder that didn’t have a cat on it. "Best offer I had, so I took it. The queen showed up after it was all over, Templars and her guard with her, and Luke… Something went on, with him and Anora. They smiled at each other, said some irrelevant tripe, and then Luke just cut off the Templar — Rylen? Rylock? something — right in the middle of a rant about how I was an unrepentant apostate murderer, and said he couldn’t have me, because I was being conscripted. The ‘murderer’ thing wasn’t true. Or at least it really depends on your definition of ‘murder’. But, again? I really don’t think Luke cared."
"Lucien has a certain fondness for murderers with style and taste." A knife had appeared in Zevran’s hand, at some point, and he was cleaning his nails with it.
Something finally occurred to Anders. "Speaking of Luke, what are you doing up here?"
"He’s gone to sleep. To be fair, he wasn’t expecting me to suddenly appear and derail half his day. But, even by his side… the stone echoes. I can’t sleep. So, here I am, thwarted in my plans to stare mournfully off into the distance, until he finds me in the morning." Zevran grinned. "He loves it when I play dramatic."
Anders huffed in amusement. "Do you want me to leave you to your dramatic posturing?"
"No, no. You are much more entertaining than sleeping peasants as far as the eye can see. What are you doing up here, so late?"
"I don’t sleep much. I keep expecting to wake up to Templars, again."
"Better Crows than Templars, hmm?"
"No offence to you and yours, but Crows usually aren’t lyrium junkies with a hate-on for everything I am, who can cut off my magic with a gesture. If it came to it, Crows are still flammable, and I’d still have the fire to set."
"No offence taken. It was a mage who finally took me down. I was one of the best, you know."
"Still am. But, I’m … let’s call it ‘retired’. Or maybe I’m just on extended holiday. I’m a dead man, remember?" Zevran let his eyes wander over the lanky mage. "Ok, maybe that part of me isn’t so dead. You and Lucien…?"
"Really? I’m surprised." The knife vanished from Zevran’s hands. "You don’t have some silly human prejudice about elves, do you?"
"What?" Anders laughed. "No, nothing like that. I just… it never came up. Luke’s a good looking guy, I just think it might be … weird or something. He’s got you. He’s my boss. People would talk."
"This assumes people would know."
"The stone echoes. Everyone would know. Immediately."
"Oh. Hm. You may have a point there." An unapologetically cheerful smile lit Zevran’s face. "I suppose he’s going to have some explaining to do, tomorrow, then!"
"And this is why he wants me to keep you away from Bann Esmerelle. You’re terrifying and horrifying, and that’s just your mouth."
"You don’t know half of what I can do with my mouth, or you would be much more deliciously afraid."
Anders was certainly deliciously something, and very glad to be wearing a robe. "Deliciously afraid you might blow me? Oh, the horrors."
"That would be just the beginning. The talents of my tongue go far beyond that."
"You vile tempter," Anders teased. "Don’t say such things in front of my cat!"
"Ah! Little pointy ears. Shame on me." Zevran held out his hands. "May I?"
Anders scratched under the kitten’s chin. "Would you like to visit with the charmingly wicked assassin, Pounce?"
Ser Pounce-a-lot mewed and pressed his cold nose against Anders’s cheek.
"Pounce?" Zevran asked, accepting the little bundle of warm fluff.
"Ser Pounce-a-lot. Bravest kitty in all of Ferelden. He’s survived the darkspawn attack and the local mabari. All without a scratch." Anders looked like a proud father.
"So much skill and bravery in such a tiny creature," Zevran marvelled, solemnly, nuzzling the kitten’s belly. "Definitely enough to be a knight."
Lucien’s voice and the sound of the door swinging closed interrupted the moment. "I should have known I’d find you up here, playing with his pussy. Why the fuck are you awake, Anders? When’s the last time you slept?"
"Three hours, two hours ago?" Anders shrugged. "I’ll be fine. You know it doesn’t wear on me much."
"One of these days, you’re going to sleep a whole night, and you’ll put me to shame in the morning," Lucien conceded, joining them by the wall, wrapped in a blanket. He leaned down and nipped the tip of Zevran’s ear. "Can’t sleep?"
Zevran shrugged. "I took first watch."
"Asshole." Lucien wrapped his arms around the Crow’s shoulders, and Zevran reluctantly handed the kitten back to Anders. "Come back to bed, lover. I’ll make sure you sleep."
"Will you, now? My, my…" Zevran swung his legs down and stood up, still wrapped in Lucien’s arms. "What have you got on under that blanket, hmm?"
"Wouldn’t you like to know?" Lucien grinned and let go of Zevran, clutching the blanket as he bolted for the door that led back inside.
"If you ever get the chance," Zevran sighed, delighted, one hand pressed to his chest, "take it. I’ll see you in the afternoon, you beautiful creature. And you as well, Anders."
With that, he blew a kiss to Anders and Pounce, and raced back inside, after Lucien.
"I think we should stay right here, for a while, Pounce. If they’re going to wake up the whole keep, we should not be between them and the wrath of exhausted Wardens."
Pounce mewed inquisitively.
"I’m not wrathful. Oh, you meant exhausted. I’m… not that tired. It’s fine."