Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Sereda Aeducan, Alistair
Spoilers: Minor, for "Broken Circle", the Dwarf Noble origin, and Alistair's backstory.
Notes: I seem to be in that phase where I want to write down all the tidbits of in-between scenes and conversations that have been buzzing in my head since I finished my second playthrough, with the Dwarf Noble Warden. Some of them may come together into longer stories; others, like this one, feel more like stand-alone ficbits. For now, I'll keep playing with them and see where they lead.
When they made camp that night, halfway between the Circle Tower and Redcliffe, Alistair was uncharacteristically quiet, taking a position alone some distance from the fire. Sereda found herself watching him, drawn up inside himself, focused on some distant star; eventually, curiosity got the best of her, and she went to him, taking a place at his side, scanning the part of the sky that held his attention. It still seemed strange to her, to look up and see no roof or stone up overhead, only stars and blackness that went on forever. "What do you see up there?" she asked.
He started, then looked down at her. "Oh, nothing, really. Just thinking."
"Dangerous pastime, thinking."
His brow smoothed, just for a second, and she caught the hint of a twinkle in his eye. "Especially for me, eh? I promise not to make a habit of it." Sereda chuckled, and he turned his gaze back upward. "No, it's just... the tower, all the horrors we saw in there -- the death, the destruction, the dismemberment -- and there's something I could do with less of, in the future. That image sticks with you, you know?" He fell silent for a moment, lost in thought again. "But there's one thing that weighs on me more than the rest: the templar in thrall to the Desire demon."
"That poor bastard," Sereda said with a slow shake of her head. Then she remembered where she was, and who she was with. Among her people, no one much cared if your parents had been married, but here... "Or-- I mean--"
The twinkle returned, and this time he even cracked a wry smile. "No offense taken." He paused, then sighed, serious once more. "It's only this. If I had stayed in the order and taken my vows? That would have been me. Longing for a family. A wife. Children. Someone to love, and to love me in return." He turned his eyes on her, dark with memory. "You know. You saw my dream in the Fade, my most secret desires made manifest. I looked into his soul, and it was like staring in a mirror. A dark mirror of the future I would have suffered, if Duncan hadn't saved me."
Sereda thought of the fate Duncan had pulled her from: certain death on the Deep Roads, exiled for a crime she had not committed. Better or worse than being forced into a life without love? "Acquiring a family seems almost as unlikely for a Warden, doesn't it? It's not like there's much opportunity to settle down during a Blight."
"I suppose not." He shrugged. "But at least with the Wardens I'm free to take a chance. To make a different sort of family, maybe."
He ducked and rubbed at the back of his neck, suddenly shy, and even by starlight Sereda could see his ears turning pink. Her hand crept into her pouch and found the silken petals of the rose he had given her two days ago, the night before their entry into the tower. Such an odd gesture: sweet, awkward, touching... and she hadn't been able to stop thinking about it since. A part of her ached to reach out, take his hand and assure him that she would be all the family he ever needed, but a million things held her back, not least her own poor track record in that department. What did she know about being anyone's family? Especially to a human.
Letting out a slow breath, she stepped away from him instead. To safety. "Family can cut both ways," she said. "You care for them more, so it hurts more when they betray you." She glanced up at him, askance. "Did Duncan ever tell you why I was exiled from Orzammar?"
Alistair shook his head. "Never. That was the rule among the Wardens: if a man wanted his story told, he'd be the one to tell it. Sometimes there was a good reason to keep the past buried, and we always respected that."
"Ah." Sereda brought her hands behind her back, clenched them into fists. "Well. Remind me to tell you, someday." She looked at Alistair again, saw his distant but hopeful expression, remembered his dream of unconditional love and acceptance. Seemed a shame to crush his romantics notion of family; it could wait. "We can look Goldanna up if you want, if we get to Denerim. Just... try not get your hopes up too much, all right?"
"Of-- of course." But his hand rested on his breast, fingers curling into a loose fist, and Sereda knew that he was reaching for the broken amulet she had found at Redcliffe, in the arl's desk -- the only token he had of his mother. Except, perhaps, for this mysterious sister.
Too late; the dream is deep inside him, and he won't easily let it go. Well, not much to be done, she decided, except hope to be wrong, and be there to pick up the pieces afterwards if she wasn't. "So, since you're up anyway, will you take first watch?"
"As you command," he replied with a nod. His smile was back, if a bit sadder then usual. "Thank you for listening," he said. "I do feel better, now, if only for admitting it."
"Good." Sereda returned the smile, as warmly as she dared. "Good night, Alistair."
"Good night." And with that, she left him, alone with his thoughts and dreams.
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