My late non-entry for the "Secret" prompt, with the actual topic prompted by Corker. XD A little bit rough around the edges but it's about as good as it's going to get this week. D:
This is meant to happen sometime in Act I of DA2, so in terms of Alessar and Zevran's path, they've reunited in Antiva, taken care of some business, and are now returning south. More importantly, it happens after The Steel Key
(which is thoroughly NSFW, if you wander over that way :x ).Making an ImpressionAuthor: jenovaWord Count:
some hints towards previous naughtiness.
Alessar didn't care much for Kirkwall. The omnipresent reminders of its history as an anchor of the slave trade made even the brightest parts of Hightown seem oppressive at times. Zevran didn't like it any better, but he wanted information about Ferelden before they ventured back into the country, and Kirkwall was supposedly swarming with Fereldan refugees. And, too, taking a ship from here to somewhere on Ferelden's northwest coast — Highever, perhaps, or some smaller port — would allow the two of them to make a more cautious entry into Amaranthine or Denerim as needed.
Zevran had gotten some snippet of information earlier that seemed to have put him in good spirits, and now the two elves were making their way into a well-known local tavern called the Hanged Man. Alessar dubiously eyed the establishment's sign — a mannikin suspended by one ankle — but once they entered the place, he saw that it wasn't the disreputable thieves' den he'd been fearing, just a working-class sort of tavern where one might find information, odd jobs, or people to perform such.
The Antivan elf was scanning the crowd, looking for someone specific, and judging by his sudden grin, he found them. "Come, my dear Warden," he said in an undertone, touching Alessar's arm lightly, "there is an old friend here."
"An old friend?" The Warden certainly didn't expect to find Wynne here, nor Shale, though if they'd succeeded in Shale's quest, who knew where they could be now? Morrigan would never be in a place like this, and Alessar wasn't quite sure Zevran would name her as a friend or be pleased to see her. Sten was surely long gone from this part of Thedas. Alistair and Oghren should have both been in Ferelden, still, which left... "Leliana?"
"Hmm? No, although that is not a poor guess," Zevran said with a chuckle. "Perhaps I should clarify: an old friend of mine
, though you know her as well."
Alessar barely had time to puzzle over that before he caught sight of her standing at the bar, a blue silk scarf holding back her dark, wavy hair. Isabela!
He'd never expected to meet her again, but of course a ship's captain could be at any open port in Thedas, couldn't she?
The Rivaini woman glanced at them sidelong as they approached, then looked up sharply as she recognized them. Before she could say a word, though, Zevran made some sort of subtle sign with his hand, then greeted her before she could do the same. "My dear Isabela! How long has it been?"
"Far too long, my friend," Isabela replied easily. She turned to Alessar, looked him up and down, and grinned slyly. "Friends,
I should say, eh? What say we take a table and catch up a bit?"
"That sounds very fine indeed," Zevran agreed, apparently ignoring the lady-captain's obvious amusement for the time being.
They took a table not far from the bar, and Isabela waved the lone barmaid over to take their order. Once she was out of earshot, Isabela gave Alessar another appraising look before turning to Zevran. "So, still with this one, eh?"
The assassin smiled contentedly. "Oh, yes," he replied, without elaboration.
"Even through all that business down south?" Now Isabela sounded mildly surprised. She turned her gaze to Alessar. "I've heard you did some good work down there," she said with a slight grin, and the Warden realized that Zevran must have signaled for her to keep quiet on their identities. "Though keeping a leash on this one" — and here she pointed at the Antivan elf — "is an impressive feat in and of itself."
Embarrassed at the trend of the conversation, Alessar smiled a little uncomfortably. "I don't have any leash on him," he began hesitantly.
"Ha! You do, whether you know it or not." Isabela smirked as she glanced at Zevran. "That good a goer, is he?"
Alessar spluttered into his mug of ale as his partner laughed out loud. "Ah, my dear Isabela, always so direct! Look, you've made the poor man choke." The conversation paused momentarily, pirate and assassin both looking at Alessar in mild concern until he indicated that he was all right with a wave of his hand.
"We suit each other," Zevran resumed, shrugging as if this were something that needed no further explanation.
Isabela, however, didn't seem satisfied with that, her eyes bright with mischievous curiosity as she leaned forward. "'We suit each other?' That might be the
most boring thing I've ever heard out of your mouth, Zev."
"Surely you know, my dear woman, that someone who suits me is anything but boring," the assassin replied with a catlike smirk.
"Really?" Isabela drawled in a tone of amused disbelief. "And this sweet little thing can keep up with you?" She glanced at Alessar with a slightly predatory
The Warden barely resisted the urge to sink lower into his chair, to hide somewhere. He'd gotten used to Zevran's come-ons and enticements, but being talked about like this...
"You have no idea," Zevran said, his voice a smug purr. "Do not be fooled by those lovely blue eyes; there sits a man with a number of rather... exotic
Alessar's eyes widened as he thought of the sorts of things the other elf might be referring to. Maker's Breath! He's... he's not going to
tell her, is he?
"Zev..." he said in a strained undertone.
Do tell," Isabela said at the same time, grinning impishly at the Warden.
"Well..." To Alessar's great dismay, Zevran leaned to whisper in the woman's ear, and with the general noise of the tavern all around them, he could make out nothing of what might have been said. All he had to go on was Isabela's expression — eyebrows raised in surprise and lips slightly parted as if an exclamation might slip out. What had the other elf said?
" The captain sounded slightly impressed.
"Truly," Zevran said solemnly, though the wolfish grin right after ruined the effect. "It is as I said; he is anything but boring, my dear Isabela."
They both turned to look at Alessar, who could feel the blood rushing to his face... or was that simply the ale making him feel overly warm? Probably both.
He looked steadily at the tankard clasped tightly between his hands. What did he say?
Zevran would never say or do anything that would be truly hurtful to him, the Warden was sure, but what if his
idea of hurtful didn't include things that were best left in the bedroom? The other elf was hardly shy, after all... but he knew that Alessar was
. Why would he do such a thing?
"You're an utter villain, you know," Isabela said to Zevran, her tone suddenly tart. "Look, he's absolutely mortified." She tilted her head to catch Alessar's gaze from below. "Don't worry, kitten, your secret's safe with me," she said reassuringly, though her lips were still curved in a half-smile.
The Warden met her eyes nervously. Surely, Zevran trusted her, or he'd never have done such a thing... would he?
As if he heard the thought, the assassin ran his fingers over the back of Alessar's hand, a touch that was at once both comforting and electrifying. "It is nothing of consequence, cielo,
and nothing to be ashamed of," he murmured. His use of the pet-name brought another grin to Isabela's face, which he ignored. "But... let us speak of something else, yes? I assume you fled Denerim's waters ahead of the Blight, my dear captain?" he asked, changing the subject.
While Isabela recounted her hasty departure from Ferelden's capital, Alessar's mind still spun in circles, like a dog chasing its tail. What did he say?
He began to wonder, too, if Zevran had said anything at all, or if the two were simply playing a joke on him. It would have been simple — and entirely Zevran-like — for the Antivan elf to simply whisper, "Pretend I said something shocking,
" and for Isabela to play along.
But if that were the case, wouldn't they simply say so by now, to reassure him that no harm was done?
The Warden took a long drink of ale in what would probably be a useless attempt to steady his nerves. He would ask Zevran about it later, but in the meantime... it was going to be a stressful evening.
The two elves didn't discuss the matter later that night after all, although Zevran apologized in his own way. The exertion and a bit too much ale ensured that Alessar slept easily and soundly, untroubled by nagging worries of his secrets becoming gossip fodder far and wide.
In the morning, he awoke to the sound of the door of their inn room closing, and he quickly sat up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes when he realized Zevran was no longer in bed beside him. His sudden worry evaporated, however, when he saw the other elf by the door, a small satchel in his hand.
"Isabela left something for you with the innkeeper," the assassin said with a smile. He flipped the small suede bag into his palm and hefted it experimentally. "Jewelry, perhaps? It has the feel of metal, and Rivaini do so love their baubles."
Well, that certainly seemed to be the case, judging by the various Rivaini merchants and traders Alessar had encountered in the past. Isabela had been wearing a generous amount of metal herself. But something for Alessar, rather than Zevran, who she'd known quite well?
He caught the satchel when Zevran lobbed it to him, then struggled with the elaborately tied drawstring for a moment before finding the strand that undid the rest of the knot. Reaching inside, he pulled out a peculiar contraption made of polished brass. It was a snake, coiled as a finger-ring or armband might be, but the diameter of the coil was too large for even a human man's finger, and much too small for a bracelet. Oddly, the snake's tail broke away from the circle made by the body, and angled downwards and inwards, ending in a sharp upward bend. The tailtip did not taper to a point, but rather flared slightly into a rounded bead.
Puzzled, he held the thing up so that Zevran could see it. The assassin's eyes widened for a moment, and he chuckled appreciatively. "Marvelous," he murmured, eyes alight. "Do you not like it, cielo?
Zevran's reaction made Alessar look at the trinket again in a new way, and he nearly dropped it when he realized where and how exactly it was meant to be worn. "This— this is—"
He knew then which particular secret his lover had shared with the pirate captain, and the knowledge that someone else knew about... that...
made him want to run away and hide somewhere, or burrow back under the blankets and not come out. He was too shocked to be angry, yet, but he could feel it forming in his gut, a little seed of resentment that would blossom into something ugly soon.
With his attention focused inward, he didn't notice that Zevran had crossed the room to join him until he felt the mattress dip as the other elf sat down behind him. Lips pressed against his neck, right below his ear, and Zevran asked, "Are you angry with me, cielo?
"Shouldn't I be?" Alessar replied, trying to keep his voice steady. Feeling numb, he fumbled with the little bag again in order to put the strange bit of jewelry away. Something rustled inside, though, and he reached in to pull out a small note. Zevran said nothing as he unfolded it and read it quickly.Don't worry, kitten, the merchant is none the wiser as to who I bought this for. Wear it in good health!
He could hear the woman's laughter in his head as he read the last sentence. She was the kind of person who laughed at her own jokes, but her giggle was infectious, and despite the tension Alessar had felt last night, he hadn't been able to help smiling at some of the more ridiculous things she'd said. He wasn't smiling now, but thinking of her honest laughter made him realize that just maybe she wasn't mocking him — or at least, not in a mean-spirited way.
"I would not have said such a thing to someone who would think less of you for it," Zevran murmured, resting his chin on Alessar's shoulder as he wrapped his arms around the dark-haired elf.
Alessar sighed. He knew that much... "But why did you say anything at all?"
The assassin's only answer for a moment was a chuckle as he nibbled lightly on Alessar's earlobe. "Did you not see the look on her face?" he said finally as the Warden shivered in reflex. "Her opinion of you has only gone up after this, querido.
"Something for you to think on, perhaps?" Zevran trailed a series of nips down the side of Alessar's neck before continuing, prompting the Warden to tilt his head to the other side. "As I said last night, these things you enjoy are nothing to be ashamed of. Discreet about, of course, but ashamed of? No."
He said no more, intent on soothing Alessar in a more tactile fashion, and the Warden was left to absorb his words. As he absently began to put the snake band away again, though, Zevran stopped him with a touch on his arm.
"What?" Alessar looked over his shoulder to see the other elf's sly grin.
"Aren't you going to try it on?"
is a picture of the trinket in question -- the image itself is probably okay, but the actual nature of the item is NSFW!