My non-entry for this week's prompt -- took far too long to write, so I exceeded the time limit, but it was important enough an event that I wanted to get it right. I *think* I did all right, but I've been so sleep-deprived this week that it's hard to tell. XO
This is a sequel to Proof
, and maaaay still be AU. I haven't decided... but man, that's a lot of effort for an AU. XDRevelationAuthor: jenovaWord count:
It may have been home to the country’s Grey Wardens, as well as what had apparently become a military force of some note, but Vigil’s Keep had little defense against the tricks and training of a Master Antivan Crow, particularly one familiar with Fereldans. With relatively little effort, Zevran Arainai found himself in the Warden Commander’s private chambers in the deepest part of the night, with any hint of dawn’s first glimmers still several hours away.
Feeling a strange mix of anticipation and unease — really, what was there to be afraid of? — he silently approached the bed. The sight of the familiar figure there brought a smile to his lips, easing some of the tension that had gripped him with invisible claws since he’d debarked at Amaranthine. His Warden was here, and, it seemed, safe and sound.
There was something both endearing and a bit pathetic about the way the other man slept; in the middle of an enormous, opulent bed, he lay curled on his side, compact, as if a lifetime of narrow bunkbeds and bedrolls had left its mark on even his unconscious sleeping habits. Zevran wondered if that would change with time, or with company. He also wondered if he’d be in a position to learn the answer.Well, I will never find out if I simply stand here like a moonstruck stripling,
he thought, giving himself a mental shake. I did not leave Antiva and return to this dog-infested wilderness just to watch him sleep.
He had removed his gloves when he’d entered the room; as he tucked an errant lock of that ever-unruly blond hair away from the mage’s face, the fine strands brushed ticklishly across the bare skin of his fingers, just the same way they’d always done before. A sudden, weighty sense of memory
mentally staggered him in that moment. He’d thought of the Warden often while he was in Antiva, in quiet moments alone, or in the hot, hazy afterglow of a night’s entertainment with someone who hadn’t been able to draw the same feelings from him that this man had. Sometimes he’d wondered if he had been bewitched, to be haunted so, though deep down he knew better. And so once he’d finished with his self-imposed tasks among the Crows, he returned to this cold, drab, Maker-forsaken country, hoping that perhaps he’d be able to trade memories for the touch of real flesh.
The vivid recollections that flooded his mind at that first touch — sight, sound, even scent and taste, each little flicker bound to some moment in the past very much like this one — reminded him that memories were not to be traded away, only built upon with new experiences. The question that remained was if tonight’s new memories would be pleasant ones...
It seemed that he wouldn’t have to wait long to find out. The brief, whisper-light caress had been enough to rouse the Warden, and in a moment, Zevran locked gazes with Devin Amell for the first time in nearly a year.
The mage stared at him in blank incomprehension for just a moment, then sat up and scrambled back, away from his unexpected visitor, in a violent flurry of movement. “What— How did—” He seemed uncharacteristically shaken; it would have taken more than a midnight ambush to catch the Warden of Zevran’s memory truly speechless.
“I found myself in the neighborhood, and so thought I would pay you a visit, mi encantador,
” the assassin said lightly, hoping to put the other man at ease, but it seemed to have the opposite effect.
“Where did we first make love?” Devin demanded, his face pale in the near-darkness. He clutched at something near his pillow, Zevran noted, but what need did such a powerful mage have for a knife, when he could crush a man to death with a wave of his hand?
“In Redcliffe-town, after fighting those undead creatures,” the elf replied, not bothering to hide his bewilderment. He is trying to verify that I am myself? Perhaps he thinks I am one of those demons of desire, come to tempt him?
“We snuck out of the Chantry and into the back room of that abandoned store, yes?”
If that answer reassured the mage at all, Zevran couldn’t tell; the other man continued to stare at him in silence. He was considering how best to diffuse the obvious tension when Devin finally spoke again.
“Why are you here?”
It was not a question the assassin had expected. He thought the answer should have been obvious, but from the bitterness in Devin’s voice, it clearly was not. Feeling his usual sense of self-assurance begin to weaken, he tried to feel his way through an answer, to put words to something he didn’t quite know how to say.
“The Crows are no longer a threat to you,” he said carefully, “nor, in theory, to me. With that firmly established, I thought it finally safe to return.” He met the mage’s eyes and added, “To you.” Not that he really had any other reason to come back to this place — other than, perhaps, to distance himself from the Crows. But he could accomplish that much in far more pleasant places, if he wished, and Devin would know that.
The mage looked away for a moment, closing his eyes. Alert as always, Zevran did not miss the tightening of Devin’s hand around whatever it was he had by his pillow, and two decades of training allowed him to snatch the glittering thing that was hurled at him out of the air before it struck him.
He didn’t even have to look at it to know what it was; the shape of it was familiar in the palm of his hand, and the broken chain dangling from it was a dead giveaway. Aghast, he stared at the Warden, who was still avoiding his gaze.“I thought you were dead, you stupid bastard.”
It was a shout in all but volume, and the pain in it made the elf recoil a half-step. He grasped what must have happened almost immediately: this necklace, taken from him in a brief, bloody battle with a cell from a rival House, must have been sent to his Warden as some sort of “proof” of his death, either to weaken the Warden, or to prevent him from coming to Zevran’s aid. At the time, the assassin had been angry at the loss of the pendant, and of his prized Rivaini earring, but he’d assumed that his attackers had sought simply to take away any magical protections they might have given him. Maybe, at the time, that was
all they had intended, but someone must have come up with this little plot, and since Zevran did not feel free to safely correspond with the Warden, he hadn’t been able to correct the misinformation — and whoever had set this up knew
that. It had been neatly done.
He could explain all of that to Devin, and the mage would understand, logically; he was no fool, and even now he might have been drawing the same conclusions Zevran had. But the elf knew, instinctively, that no explanation would soothe the hurt he’d just heard. Those sorts of strong feelings paid no heed to logic. There was little he could do but apologize, with words and actions, and hope that the Warden would eventually forgive him; Devin could certainly hold a grudge, but if he was at all glad to have Zevran here, hopefully that would win out over anger in the end.If he is glad to have me here.
Perhaps he’d moved on. They’d made no promises to each other when Zevran had left; it wasn’t the nature of their relationship, whatever one might name it, to demand exclusivity or some such thing. He’d had more than one lover while in Antiva, and he wouldn’t have been surprised or angry if the mage had done the same, but... he had come to miss the Warden fiercely as time had gone on. Had Devin felt the same way at all, before he learned of Zevran’s “death”?
The only clue the elf had was the pendant, clearly still kept close, but not worn, as if the mage had never truly retaken possession of it. What did that mean?
“I am sorry,” he said quietly, gathering the dangling chain into his hand. “More than you know.” There was no reply as the other man stared into the middle distance, his expression set into hard lines. After a moment, Zevran asked, honestly unsure of the answer, “May I keep this, my Warden?”
“I wouldn’t have given it to you if I didn’t mean for you to keep it,” the mage replied, a hint of exasperation breaking up the iciness in his voice. It was, and wasn’t, an answer to Zevran’s real question, but that was the way things had always been between them.
“I... Thank you. I will have it mended tomorrow,” he said, tucking the amulet safely into one of the pockets on his belt.
Devin did not reply immediately; he had turned to the table beside the bed, and was poking through a small box of baubles. His stash of enchanted jewels, perhaps?
He’d collected more than a few during the Blight, the elf remembered, and surely he’d acquired more since. After a moment, he plucked something free and turned back to Zevran, making a peremptory gesture. Obediently, the assassin held out his hand, and the Warden deposited some small trinket into his waiting palm.
“You can have that back, too.”No.
That told Zevran what the item was, even before he closed his fingers around it and felt its familiar shape: his ruby earring, the one that had been taken from him — ripped from his ear — at the same time as the necklace. Whoever had done this to Devin had certainly wanted to get their point across. For a distracted moment, Zevran wondered if the deception would have worked with only one trinket and not the other. Perhaps with the earring. It is the one thing I have that is so recognizably mine.
And that, the elf thought, was part of why he no longer wished to keep it for himself. The notion hit him like a bolt of lightning from the sky, sudden and undeniable, and he realized there was no other path for him to take.
“Devin,” he murmured, catching the other man’s attention with the use of his name — unusual, coming from him. He had no real plan, just the lightning-flicker of thought that was quickly setting light to other things in his mind. Like a creature running with a wildfire at its heels, he had no choice but to move forward.
The mage looked up at him, his guarded expression by no means encouraging. Zevran pressed on anyway. “I would like very much if you kept this,” he said hesitantly, holding the earring out. When Devin made no move to take it, he added, “As... as a token of affection.” The Warden’s eyes widened, and Zevran managed a small smile at having surprised the man. “Will you accept it?”
“I...” Devin held out his hand, and the elf gently pressed the earring into his palm. “I will.” He clutched the earring tightly, his expression difficult to read.
There was no reply that Zevran could make in words that wouldn’t sound foolish; instead, he settled on a kiss, and his mind was overwhelmed with memories again as months of longing collided with a wish fulfilled. The subtle scent of a familiar soap, of Devin’s skin, the feel of his lips — all were as the assassin remembered, and yet better
Reluctantly, he pulled away and looked down at the mage, who was simply watching him, his expression still undecipherable. There were a great many explanations owed, Zevran knew, but those could take place in the morning, and in the days to come. For now...
“May I stay here tonight, my Warden, or shall I throw myself upon the mercy of your guards?” he asked, finally feeling confident enough for a hint of levity.
“If you don’t intend to greet me properly
after all this time,” the mage replied in a low growl, “I will
throw you out.”
Zevran could only laugh as he began to unfasten his armor as quickly as he knew how.
/cue ending credits, set to The Black Keys’ "Tighten Up"Someone said
True love was dead
And I’m bound to fall
Bound to fall