Title: My Name
Series: Dragon Age: Origins
Pairing(s): Alistair/F!Surana(past), Zevran/F!Surana
Genre: Drama/Hurt and Comfort/ with a bit of Angst
Chapters: One Shot
Summary: Three years have passed since the Blight, and Alistair is now ready to seek some desperately needed closure between himself and the one who he felt had so thoroughly stabbed him in the heart. Zevran isn't feeling particulary sympathetic.
Notes: This idea came to me after I read "The Stolen Throne". There's some heavy spoilers for that, if you haven't read the book. In my Mage playthrough, Surana had slept with Alistair and they had a good thing going for a while, and then when he confessed his love for her she dropped him like a bad habit and then went to sleep with Zevran. This could or could not have been because during my first playthrough with Rogue!Tabris, I was absolutely outraged that he had dropped her like a bad habit after the landsmeet. I know why he does it, I dun care, I wanted some petty revenge. But upon reading the book, it gave me the perfect idea as to why Surana did what she did, and I added a touch of Zevran because I love him.
BTW, I suck at writing DA:O Characters. Forgive my fail.
Amore - Italian endearment(since Antivan is pretty much Italian)
Cara mia - A deeper form of 'amore', denoting a more intimate relationship between the two, like a husband speaking to his wife.
And yes, for those familiar with my original work, I used Briae in my playthrough. Lemme alone.
x x x x x
"You know, for a long time, I wanted to hate you." King Alistair leaned against the stone wall of his chambers, looking outside his window to the streets below. Denerim was full of activity today, merchants dragging their carts toward the market place, nobles and peasants alike traversing the dusty brown streets. Sounds of construction could be heard off in the distance and the King watched it all, his domain, his people. Three years and the capital still needed rebuilding.
Three years and Alistair still struggled stitching together the shattered pieces of his heart and soul.
The Hero of Fereldan kept a respectful distance away, but did not duck her head or flinch at his words. Her ivory staff rested neatly between her shoulders, green and blue robes glittering softly under the natural light of the day. Alistair turned his head to her then, taking in her pale silver hair and soft blue eyes. Instead of the short crop she had worn during their travels years ago, loose strands of hair hung limply over her shoulders, resting along the curve of her breasts. The rest was pulled into a thick braid, settling along the middle of her back. He took in her still too pale skin, noticed how her large eyes, which had once held a youthful light along with stark pragmatism now looked narrowed and even cold.
A solid wall now laid between them, both of their own doing. Weariness and regret settled on the King's shoulders and he fought the urge to say something in an attempt to rile her, to gain a reaction, to once more see the fiery passion of the woman he had once loved.
Still loved, Maker damn him.
He held up a hand before she could speak, sighing out loud. "This...I didn't ask you here to fight with you." A delicate white brow arched skeptically and her rosy lips twitched upwards with amusement. "Really, I didn't!" He insisted, raising his hands in a peaceful gesture.
Just like that, the tension in the room eased as she raised her delicate elven hand to her mouth and giggled softly. There. This was the woman he had fallen for so many years ago, not the cold, blocked off hero who had entered.
"I asked you here Aleria," he continued "to tell you a story. And to apologize." A pause. "For everything."
She blinked twice although her expression became neutral. The wall between them returned. "Unneeded and unnecessary, your Majesty." Her words were flat. "I never blamed you and I would understand and accept your feelings."
Shifting uncomfortably, Alistair rubbed the back of his neck, offering her a wary smile. "After everything we've been through, do you really need to address me so formally, Ria?"
The room temperature dropped several degrees just by the glare she shot him alone. For a fleeting moment, he seriously wondered if this would be the moment he'd be turned into a toad. To hell with what all mages claimed, he knew they had a spell like that somewhere hidden in their repertoire they kept all hush-hush and sacred.
"I had been given the impression addressing you with such...familiarity," she spat the word "given our new positions would be unwelcome."
It pained him that he could hear no hurt in her tone, simply anger, as if she had been dealt an unfair hand. At least with hurt came feelings, even if they were only caused by the thought of being jilted by a friend.
But we had stopped being friends, remember? I made that pretty clear to her back then.
However, he still couldn't hold back his surprise. "Who gave you that impression?" Alistair wanted to know. "I mean I know we didn't...part on the best terms, but I'm not such a tart that I'd make you call me by my title. At least, I'd like to think so." There were a lot of things he hadn't always been sure of back during their adventures, but he was at least sure he would have never pushed his station in her face.
"The Queen." She answered plainly.
"Oh. Well, that makes sense then." He said rather lamely and began walking over toward his desk. Ornate but sturdy, the King's desk easily boasted his height in length, covered with piles of parchment and scrolls. Gently, he grabbed two thick journals, leather-bound and fairly nondescript. Alistair raised them high enough for her to see before dropping them lightly back on the desk, turning to face her. He leaned against the edge, hands bracing themselves against the wood.
"Well," when he relaxed she followed suit, crossing her arms and tilting her head in her familiar manner. He continued "I'm sorry Anora said that to you, but it's far from the truth." Alistair shook his head as if to clear it, before pointing to the books. "Those...belonged to my brother Cailan and my father, Maric. Don't ask me where I found them, you really don't want to know. What's important is what they say."
"Personal journals?" Aleria queried and Alistair nodded.
"Yes. I learned..." Pain and guilt flashed on his handsome face and all of a sudden, he couldn't look at her. "I learned a lot about them, especially my father. And the Orlesian war. And...Loghain."
Really? He thought almost bitterly. Because I still don't. Not really. "I learned my father had loved a woman once. An elf named Katriel. Loved her so much he would have done anything for her, even marry her despite all of the hell he would have gone through to do it." Something flashed in Aleria's stormy blue eyes, but was gone the moment she blinked. "But she betrayed him."
"Ah, I see." She smiled thinly "I'm sure you found the irony in that."
"No." Alistair closed the distance between them, grabbing her arm firmly, his gaze hardened with conviction. "It wasn't the same thing, Ria. Not. At. All. What Katriel did and what happened between us..." As if finally realizing what he was doing, Alistair let her go and took a few steps back, threading his hand through his hair in frustration. Aleria stood still, no cracklings of energy hummed through the air and he couldn't sense any magical barriers between them. She merely stared at him, waiting.
A full minute passed before he finally collected himself and went on with the story. Everything had seemed so right in his head. Tell the story, reveal his revelations to her and perhaps gain some much needed closure between them. Because even if she had been content with the way things had turned out, he had not been and a part of him still wasn't to this day. He needed to know the truth, and only would he believe it from her lips.
"Anyway, I learned some stuff about Cailan's mother, my father, and Loghain." he waggled his hand. "They had some weird love triangle thing going on back then. Queen Rowan had loved Maric but then fell for Loghain and then..." Alistair shook his head again, shrugging. "It was all a huge mess, but my point is that in the end, all three of them did what was right for Fereldan. Even if it hurt, even if it meant throwing aside their true feelings..."
Alistair looked her dead in the eyes.
"Like you did when you left me for Zevran."
Aleria sucked in a sharp breath, closing her eyes slowly. Her brows furrowed, echoing her pain and sadness. She blinked several times and he could tell she was trying not to cry.
Oh, Maker, I actually guessed it right this time. Alistair had read through his father and brother's journals at least half a dozen times before going to others around the castle to confirm the tales. A few select individuals of course, those who had been alive during those times. Each time he had read through his thoughts had drifted to Aleria.
Memories of how she had become thoughtful and distant after their first visit to Redcliffe had returned to the surface. At the time his head had been too wrapped up between the haze of love and the rancid stench of the darkspawn threat to notice the change in her behavior. Alistair had been so sure on the thought that he'd never be King - nor had he wanted to be - and denying the inevitable that he hadn't seen the wide gap Aleria had made between them until it had been too late.
He had felt like such a complete fool for confessing his love only to be shot down coldly even after all they had shared prior. Weeks later, which had felt like only the next day to Alistair, muffled noises from her tent in the night had told him all he had needed to know - she had obviously moved on. Although Alistair had remained silent, he had been so angry at them, at her, not realizing that was exactly what she had wanted.
Because she had known as well as anyone that if certain parties had their way, Alistair would be sitting on that throne and their love would have been impossible. Marry an elf? An elven mage? An elven mage who was also a Grey Warden, meaning she could never give him an heir? Never. Like his father, Queen Rowan, and Loghain, Alistair would have been forced to leave her, to abandon their relationship. It would have been the most difficult thing he had ever done in his entire life, but he would have, and she had known then. Aleria with her sharp wit and practical nature, the woman had grimly situated herself as leader when Alistair hadn't wanted to deal with the pressure, and had made the hard calls that had needed to be made for Fereldan and the Grey Wardens. Hardly ever had she allowed her heart to interrupt the right and logical decision, no matter what the cost.
Such as sparing Loghain and forever losing Alistair.
Despite her background, she would have been a better Queen than the one currently on the throne, and that Alistair found ironic.
"I didn't leave you for Zevran." She finally spoke, dragging Alistair from his thoughts. Glancing at her, he noticed how her emotions were now written all over her face, laid bare and open. No regret, but he could see pain and guilt, and felt like a bastard for feeling a sense of justice and bitter pleasure at her discomfort.
He tried very hard to push down old resentment as he settled back against the desk. "Well...you didn't exactly -"
This time she cut him off with a raised hand. "I rejected you once I realized you would become king, whether you liked it or not, because I knew our relationship would only end in tears. I'm a mage, but I'm also a scholar, I know how politics and royalty work. I knew what Teagan and Eamon were about. But I did not leave you for Zevran. At the time I did not love him."
She rolled her eyes and smiled wryly, but there was warmth in her expression. "I went to him for the same reason he came on to me. We used each other, Alistair. I was another notch under his belt concerning his long line of previous lovers, and I knew if I had continued to remain available, either I would have lost my resolve and come crawling back to you begging for forgiveness, or you might have tried to restore our lost relationship and I wouldn't have had the strength to deny you. It was the only thing I could think of to make you finally give up on me."
"Well, it worked." He muttered, but he couldn't muster any heat behind his words. Probably because she hadn't loved Zevran, at least, not at the time. The two elves were still together, as much as they could be with the Crows still after him, and Aleria would not have remained with the ex-assassin so long if it were still a matter of them using each other. "And then you chose to spare Loghain of all people...it felt like a double betrayal."
"I know." She approached him finally, resting her hand on his arm. Aleria looked up at him and the two ex-lovers locked gazes. Tears still swam in her eyes and Alistair began to blink back his own. "You and I...our views on the purpose of the Grey Wardens differed. Duncan had taught me we do what we must, no matter what, when it comes to defeating the darkspawn. For you, it was about pride and honor, but..."
He silenced her by pressing his thumb against her lips. Carefully he leaned forward and she stiffened, but he only brushed his lips against his thumb before pulling back. He had wanted to kiss her, to feel her lips just one last time would have felt so heavenly, but wrong. She loved another, and he would not force her to betray him. Not when they were so close to the closure he so desperately needed for years.
"Duncan would have approved." Alistair painfully admitted. "And I think...that's why it was better that I left. I never would have had the strength to do what was necessary, not after what Loghain did and was privy to." He chuckled. "You always were the stronger one, you know. Not once did I ever see you break, and as much as I loved you for it, I think it also infuriated me."
Alistair pulled back and the intimate moment between them faded. Aleria's hand dropped and she took a step back, smiling sadly. "I did break down, twice." She admitted. "Once in front of Leliana, and she held me as I wept in my room after the Landsmeet." Her last words came out almost at a whisper, to where Alistair had to strain to hear even with them so close. His heart clenched painfully once he realized what she had said, knowing she had wept because of him. "The second time was... a year or so ago. That time, Zevran had consoled me. I am not unbreakable, nor invincible, despite what the tales may say of me."
"Please, don't be." Aleria sighed. "The fact that we're even standing here, speaking like this at all is...wonderful, Alistair." He glanced up at her, surprised, and somehow found himself returning her small, genuine smile. "I had expected you to never forgive me, and although it hurt, I would have never, ever blamed you. I am not...proud of everything I did and in retrospect, I could have handled things much differently than I had."
"Me too." He raised his hand, cupping her cheek, his thumb brushing over her soft and cool skin. "I never stopped loving you, Aleria. Even when I wanted to hate you, I couldn't because..."
He paused only because she had taken his hand in both of hers, leaning into his touch. Alistair wondered if this was how Maric felt so many years ago, loving a woman he couldn't have, wanting to feel hatred where there was none. Even though Maric had eventually killed Katriel in his rage, he had never stopped loving her, Alistair was sure of it, as sure as he was of his continued love for Aleria.
That's probably why Anora said what she did, wanting any potential opposition as far away from me as possible. Not like it would have mattered, but...that's the way she is.
"That name you use for me," she began, a strange emotion flashing through her eyes. Distant. Far away, as if reliving a memory. "It's incorrect."
"It is?" Alistair would have dropped his hand had she not been holding it, blinking at her owlishly. "Uh...so you mean, your name isn't really Aleria, is that what you're saying? Because that's um...interesting. In a very odd sort of way, to be honest."
She rolled her eyes again, seemingly exasperated with him, but pulled back finally, not protesting as his fingers lingered on her skin a little longer than necessary. "Aleria is the name the Circle gave me when I was brought to them. At the time, I refused to speak to anyone, and they had to call me something, so I became Aleria. I kept my mouth stubbornly closed for almost three years and then afterward, I never deemed fit to tell them the truth. In fact, I never told anyone." her hand clenched at her chest and she sighed. "I felt, at the time, my real name was the only thing the Circle couldn't take away from me, since they didn't even know I had it. I've never even told Zevran, and there is little between us we do not share at this point."
"So, um, does this mean you're going to tell me?" His breath caught when she nodded once. "Why?"
"Because it is the only thing I can give you that isn't already tainted. And because if anyone deserves to know this truth after everything I've done, it's you." She leaned forward again, tilting her head so her lips pressed against his ear.
"The name my mother gave me, is Briae." A pause. "I hope in time, you will find your own happiness." With that, she kissed his cheek, which tingled long after she left.
And long after she left, the King remained in his chambers, holding Maric's journal in his hands. The book remained open, his eyes staring down at one line:
You never forget your first love, even if you want to. Matter of fact, it's almost like your first love makes the second one that much sweeter, and you appreciate what you have a lot more than before. As I look at my second love, I find myself indeed a lucky, lucky man.
"I hope so too, Briae."
x x x x x
"You're a terrible eavesdropper." Aleria shot a glare at her lover, who raised a hand to his chest and gasped dramatically.
"You wound me, amore!" Zevran joined her from the shadows as she walked down the palace steps, bowing fluidly. "That my stealth skills be put into question, I do not know if my pride can withstand such a blow. I was perfectly invisible to all suspicious eyes."
She let the implication hang in the air for a few beats before sighing. "Alright, I admit I might have cast a little something on you in case your curiosity got the better of you..."
"But, even without that, I have a sixth sense for these things you know." She smiled playfully at him "A 'Zevran sense'."
The Antivan hummed at this, his eyes glittering with amused mischief. She had known Zevran would have peeked in on them regardless, not because he didn't trust his lover, but because he didn't exactly trust Alistair. After all the fights, accusations, and then Anora telling the mage - basically - that she was no longer entirely welcome in Alistair's company, Zevran had understandably had his misgivings about Aleria suddenly meeting with the King. Alone. Had the tables been turned, she likely would have done something similar.
The two headed toward the Alienage, finding that the elves held much better memories of the Hero of Fereldan as the years went on as humans did. Aleria still found herself well loved and regarded by the people, but old prejudices died hard, and she quickly became more weary of being around humans than comfortable. With Anora and Alistair actually pouring funds into making the elves's home a more hospitable living place, Denerim's Alienage actually held a beauty to it no other could boast of. In fact, a special little home had been built just for her - at Shianni's insistence - whenever she decided to visit. The nobles had complained about the 'meager offering' of a tiny house compared to a mansion or estate, but Aleria had been honored and pleased, especially since the house had been built next to the red-haired elf's.
The two stubborn elves got along rather famously, as far as Aleria was concerned. In fact, Shianni over the years had become a sort of surrogate sister of sorts. The two women were close, and so whenever business took her to Fereldan's capital, the mage made it a point to visit her friend for a few days.
"You know," Zevran began thoughtfully as they continued down the streets. Aleria had her cloak up, obscuring her from anyone who might recognize her and potentially stir up a crowd of admirers. For the most part, the two elves were ignored, the citizens more concerned with repairs or other mundane daily issues to bother. "I did always wonder if you still loved him." He refrained from saying Alistair's name in public "I had noticed the lingering looks of longing you would give when he wasn't looking, the soft sighs of regret that would heave from your lovely bosom at camp or on the road." he tutted "You were very good at hiding it, I will give you that."
She almost stopped walking "Zev...are you...jealous?"
"What?" He looked at her incredulously "Me? Of course not!" when she glared at him again, he sighed and shrugged. "Maybe a little. But only a little."
She did not let down her hood as they ventured through the Alienage, although her indignant snort gathered her a few stares. "Really now, how could you even be a little jealous? I feel no jealousy towards the fact that you still hold feelings for Rinna."
He did not even skip a beat, as if anticipating her argument. "Yes, but there is a difference between the two situations, my dear Aleria. For one, Rinna is very much dead, whereas our lovely King is not. And-" he held up a finger, cutting her off. "Before you even ask, mi amore, while I am fairly certain you will not jump into his willing arms, you cannot blame me for feeling a small twinge, considering."
"I suppose." When they reached the small but pleasant little home they would share for the next few days, Zevran opened the door for her, his lips tilting up with amusement as he heard a few elves gasp lightly a good distance away, realizing the Warden had returned. Quickly, he closed the door shut behind him, making sure the lock clicked loudly. Hopefully, anyone nearby would get the hint.
The sparsely furnished home was clear of all dust with two baskets, one filled with fruit and the other bread, sitting on a round table. Unhooking her cloak and tossing it along the sofa as she entered, Aleria snatched a piece of bread, lightly munching.
"We didn't exactly start off on the right foot, did we?" She eventually asked. Zevran had ventured over to the bedroom and from her position, she could see his muscled back as he removed his armor and tunic, leaving him in only his pants and boots.
Slowly, she brushed her fingers along the beautiful golden earring he had given her. "I had panicked when you first offered this to me. I had been so afraid to love again, and I had questioned your sincerity. Then, I had felt unworthy of your love, as silly as that sounds."
"It does sound quite silly," he finally emerged, holding up a bottle of fine Antivan brandy and two glasses. "Remind me to thank Shianni later, she is quite thoughtful, no? I am glad we sent a letter ahead."
"Wait, how is it silly?" Aleria frowned at Zevran's back as he practically sauntered over to the table to pour them both glasses. "You're not supposed to agree with me on things like this, Zev."
He let out a small sigh but did not turn. "Women. I do not think I shall ever understand their wily ways. Since I know we will never get anywhere tonight until I answer your question, I shall oblige." corking the bottle, he grabbed the two glasses and closed the distance. He spoke again when she took her glass. "You said it yourself, did you not? Alistair would have, eventually, dumped you once he became king. It is the entire reason you went out of your way to do what you did." He waved his hand as if dismissing the notion.
Aleria glanced at her glass, lightly swirling the amber liquid as Zevran had taught her. He did the same for a moment before taking a sip. A sigh of pure pleasure escaped his full lips upon tasting his beloved brandy and she almost rolled her eyes at him. Antivans, so dramatic. Not as bad as Orlesians, but close enough.
"Yes. He never said as much, but I saw it in his eyes today. He would have done what the nobles wanted and -"
"Exactly." He tipped his glass to her, as if to prove his point. "You did what you had to do to protect yourself, and perhaps him, in a way. But in the end, blaming yourself for Alistair's shortcomings is what I find to be silly. I heard Morrigan tell of how he was initially the senior warden, yet had been perfectly content to dump all of the responsibility on your lap."
She opened her mouth to protest. "Well..."
"He allowed you to make all the decisions because he didn't 'like leading', never bothering to wonder about how you felt. And continued to do this when Eamon and Teagan began their prattle about him becoming king. Oh, he protested and whined, as usual, but behind all that was resignation. Not once did he ever fight for himself, until the Landsmeet."
Gingerly, she sipped her brandy as she watched Zevran's movements become slightly exaggerated as he explained, recognizing his mood. "You...were angry with him."
For a moment he paused, eyeing her with something almost akin to suspicion before he shrugged, nonchalantly. Unfortunately for him, she could see how his eyes glittered with carefully restrained anger. "Perhaps I still am, it is a trivial matter now. In any case, Alistair's unhappiness is his own doing, for behaving like a spoiled prince and then lashing out at you for doing what you have done from the beginning - make difficult decisions for the good of Fereldan. He all but demanded to be on the throne, knowing what it would mean for him. Is it your fault he has yet to move on? Why should you feel guilty for his lack of initiative?"
"But...well I mean, he is married to Anora and the two of them...it is somewhat my fault they married..."
"Bah!" Zevran took another drink. "What does that have to do with you, really? If he had been so keen on having the throne, he could have taken it, be damned what Anora wanted. Had he actually pressed, you would have given him that, at the very least. He could have married anyone he wanted, then. You left Alistair first, because deep down you knew he wouldn't have fought to keep you by his side."
He set his glass down finally, pinning Aleria to the table with his arms, leaning in close. Tilting his head, he brushed his lips along the shell of her ear, smirking when she shivered and her breath caught.
"So, what I find silly, is you believe you are the one unworthy. If anyone was unworthy of love, it was us."
Us. Both him and Alistair, she assumed. Still, Aleria found herself hard pressed to believe his words in her heart. She had hurt Alistair so badly, even if she knew logically that Zevran was right. If there had been any faith in her love for Alistair, she wouldn't have rejected him. If she had believed in him, their budding relationship would have flourished. But she hadn't, and there was nothing to be done for it now.
The fact that she would have been right would have hurt three years ago, but despite the feelings she still held for Fereldan's King, Aleria loved Zevran and regretted nothing.
"A-are you disrobing me?" She suddenly asked, now noticing her lover's deft hands working on her belt. Her collar was already wide open, exposing her silk blue undershirt. He was really good at undressing her while she was distracted.
"Are you not hot in those ghastly Circle robes?" Zevran inquired, glancing up at her briefly with a raised brow. "Shianni has been so kind as to have the fire going -" She turned and noticed that there indeed was a fire blazing in their bedroom fireplace. "I am only trying to be helpful."
"My robes are not ghastly."
"Hmm." The belt clattered to the floor and he went back to the front of her robes.
"Cad. Brute." She teased and his head snapped back as if she had slapped him, eyes widening in shock.
"My dear Aleria, how you continue to wound me so! I have been called many things in my time but a cad? Brute? Never. I can take no more insults, now I shall have to punish you." She squeaked when he all but yanked down her robes, leaving her in the silk shirt and smallclothes.
She decided to play along, her lips curling up into a small grin as he made grabby hands at her. "Will it involve spankings? Or reciting of bad poetry? I am partial to the former, myself."
"Tempting. We shall see." His warm hands settled on her hips and she just barely managed to set her glass down with his before he pulled her against his hardened body, nuzzling her neck. With a small sigh, she slid her hands up his abdomen and chest, enjoying the low rumble coming from his throat in response.
"Aleria." His voice came out thick and husky as he guided her toward their bedroom, keeping his hands firmly on her hips while he continued to spread heated kisses up along her neck. "Do not ever feel guilty for loving me."
"And perhaps I was a little jealous," he hastened to add, guiding her to the large bed in the center of the room "because once again, you shared something with him that I will never have."
"I..." The two of them slid further onto the bed, Zevran hovering above her, his gaze intense and completely serious. Her fingers brushed along the curves of his tattoos, inching along to his lips. He kissed her fingertips before taking one of her fingers into his mouth, tongue swirling around the digit. Aleria closed her eyes as he licked at her fingers as if they were coated with honey or fine wine, before bending down to claim her lips.
"Do not worry, cara mia," he whispered, his hand sliding beneath the silk shirt. "He can have those treasures, for I have the greatest treasure of them all. To me, that is all that matters."