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queen-scribbles
Meat and Sarcasm Gal XD
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Current Residence: US of A
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For my followers here who aren't on tumblr: I have seven fics ranging in length from 1500 to 4000 words from the Dragon Age AltPair week back in June. I did Jowan/Leliana. (Trust me, it does work. Though I am just a tad biased xD)

Anybody want me to post 'em here? They're all saved in sta.sh, so it won't be hard to do, I just don't want to flood my gallery with rarepair fic that no one's gonna care about.
  • Reading: Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn
  • Drinking: coffee

Activity


Title: Follow-Up
Author: queen-scribbles
Game: SWtOR/KotFE
Characters/Pairings: m!Trooper/Elara Dorne
Disclaimer: World and characters don't belong to me, I'm just playing with them
----------------------------------------------------------------------------


"Hey, Els?" Tel cleared his throat and tried not to laugh at the absurdity of what he was about to ask. "Where's my leg?"

Elara glanced up from the datapad she'd been studying, gaze flicking briefly to where his right leg should have been but wasn't before she met his eye with an amused half-smile of her own. "It was rather badly damaged in your... altercation on E-32. Even the Republic's best tech has limits on what it can endure. We waited until we were sure you knew you were among friends, and now it's being repaired."

He mulled that information over for a minute, fingers toying idly with the IV line as he processed her answer. "Alright, then. Follow-up questions. First of all, who's we? Havoc Squad?"

The briefest flash of... something crossed her face before she shook her head. "No, I'm... not with Havoc any longer."

Tel blinked, cocked his head, derailed from his previous line of inquiry. "I'm sorry, is the oxygen deprivation still messing with my head, or did you just say you're not with Havoc anymore?"

"No, you heard correctly." Elara rose, hit a pair of buttons to shut and lock the door, then crossed back to sit on the edge of his bed.

"Why?" Something about her behavior was making him think said departure hadn't been her choice, and it was kriffing hard to keep his tone neutral as he asked. A little bit of frosty growl still managed to slip through.

She sighed. "I was hoping to have a little more time before I told you this... Given the rising tensions following the Wild Space Expedition, Supreme Chancellor Saresh felt it would be prudent if the upper ranks of the Republic military were free of... questionable influence." She watched a muscle in his jaw twitch and visibly braced herself as she finished, "Such as former Imperial affiliations."

"I'm sorry, what?" Tel had never been the quiet fury type, and the implication of what his wife had just said... "She kicked you out because you used to be Imperial?!"

"It was an honorable discharge, and a better than decent severance payout, but yes, that's the gist of it," Elara nodded.

He shook his head, running one hand irritably through his hair. "I knew she was dumb when she wanted to turn Rakton loose the second we caught him, but firing--and be honest, Els, that's what it was--a kriffin' war hero who's been decorated for bravery and valor more times than the head of her franging unit because of where she happened to be born?!"

"Tel," she began, but he wasn't finished.

"And so what if you served a couple years in the Imperial military, you defected to follow your conscience, you were in the Republic longer--even before I met you--and granted kriffing Republic citizenship for crying out loud-"

"Darling."

"-and you've never given the slightest indication you regretted defecting--quite the opposite actually--and between the number of times you saved our frangin' necks and how many Imp operations you helped shut down, I don't know how she could even consider-"

With a sigh of loving exasperation, Elara turned and kissed him, long and deep, waiting until she felt him relax to pull away. "While I appreciate the vehemence with which you defend my honor, dearest, allow me to point out two things. First of all, even righteous anger is somewhat detrimental to the healing process--" her hand ghosted over the bandages wrapped around his chest-- "and second, had events not unfolded the way they did, we wouldn't have been there to rescue you."

"Well. That would have been bad," Tel muttered. Part of him wanted to continue castigating Saresh's intelligence, but he took the very broad hint in Elara's voice and dropped it, returning to his original list of question. "Alright, then, if 'we' isn't Havoc, then who is it?"

"Me, Kaira, Jorgan and Balkar helped as much as they dared but aren't here, Aleksei--he was discharged as well. He's the one fixing your leg-"

He raised an eyebrow skeptically. "Technical specialist?"

Elara waved off his concerns, her fingers tracing over the implant around his left eye. "Computers and cybernetics are close enough, Tel. And just because he was certified as a technical specialist doesn't mean that's all he studied. Aleksei is very confident he can get it working again."

"I'll take your word for it." He shifted on the bed.

"Mm, smart man," she murmured, kissing his forehead. "Where was I? Oh, yes. We also... rescued Fuse, so he's with us as well."

Tel's eyebrow rose even higher. "That sounds like a story."

"One I'll happily tell later," Elara side-stepped.

"Aw, come on, Els," he begged, trying his best to look pathetic. Given his current state, it wasn't hard.

"Oh, my," Elara chuckled, carding her fingers through his hair, "I'd forgotten you've mastered the art of sad puppy face. The short version is it involves quite a few rather clever lies, almost cost Balkar his job--we owe him several very large favors, darling--and let Vik have more fun with explosives than I would have preferred."

"I'm definitely gonna want to hear the full story someday," Tel said, laughing. It turned into a cough fast enough Elara frowned and pushed off the bed to check the monitor.

"Your O2 levels aren't stabilizing like they should," she muttered. "You didn't inhale anything unusual on the colony, did you?"

He mentally reviewed the events of the Zakuulan ambush and shook his head. "Nah."

Her frown deepened. "It must be a combination, then. The stress your body was under, along with the time spent breathing insufficient oxygen, is hampering your recovery. D'you know what that means?"

"You're going to worry about me even longer?" Tel joked, catching her hand and tugging her back toward the bed.

"Absolutely correct," she nodded. "You're also going to need a lot more rest. Doctor's orders."

"Well, that's no fun," he grumbled teasingly.

"Fun's not in the job description," Elara whispered mischievously, perching next to him once more. "At least, not as your medic..."

I like where this is going. He grinned. "What about as my wife?"

"As your wife-" she kissed his forehead- "I believe it would be prudent-" kissed his cheek- "to follow your doctor's orders. She is a very smart woman, after all. However-" kissed the other cheek- "just a little fun should be safe." She pressed a gentle kiss to his lips.

Tel cupped one hand against the back of her neck and deepened the kiss. "Just a little, huh?"

"Unless you want the oxygen mask to make a return," Elara said, resting her forehead against his.

"No, no, I'm good," he muttered hoarsely, thumb brushing idly against her skin. "The only thing I want to make a return is my leg."

"It will when it's fixed," she promised. "Hopefully before we make it back to your base. Your friend is making a few minor repairs to the hyperdrive and then we'll make much better time."

He frowned. "What's wrong with the hyperdrive?"

"Nothing serious," she assured him. "We may have been in a hurry to get here-"

"Els!"

"But it's nothing worth worrying over-mm!"

This time he kissed her. "I will worry about you as much as I damn well please, sweetheart."

"Well, then, I'll simply have to return the favor." Elara linked her fingers between his, heedless of the IV line and the heart monitor clipped to one finger. "After all, I just go you back. It would be a shame to lose you again, especially so soon."

Tel chuckled, his breath ghosting across her cheek as he agreed, "A cryin' shame."

"So I'll just have to keep a close eye on you then, won't I?"

"Oh, yeah." He grinned. "A very close eye."

She stole a quick kiss, forehead resting against his. "Is this close enough?"

He stole a kiss of his own. "For now."
  
Follow-Up
A fairly immediate sequel to Breathless(maybe a day or two later?), written because I can and these two are giving me all the feels all of a sudden. The whole thing with Elara getting kicked out of Havoc is from something in one of the dev livestream things for KotFE ch. 11, where the developer said something along the lines of Saresh not wanting someone holding a high rank in the Republic military who had "previous Imperial affiliations". This completed the tanking of my opinion of that woman. BUT that's a rant for another day. For now, have some fluff.
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Elara Dorne, all other characters, and SWtOR belong to BioWare

Tel Airen is my Trooper
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Title: Deeper
Author: queen-scribbles
Game: Dragon Age Origins
Characters/Pairings: Jowan, Leliana, f!Cousland, Alistair, little bit Jowan/Leliana
Disclaimer: Dragon Age universe and characters belong to BioWare, all I'm getting out of this is enjoyment :)
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They were two days out from Orzammar, nothing but rock and darkspawn far as the eye could see, when Jowan had an important--belated--realization. Somewhere between leaving the Circle and now, he had developed an intense dislike of small spaces. Not quite claustrophobia, just close enough to it to be a problem. But he kept his mouth shut. None of them were particularly comfortable down here, if the Wardens' unease and Leliana's moodiness were any indication. Of course, there was another potential reason for the latter, but he would rather dwell on the miles' worth of rock over their heads than remember that night in Denerim.

"How much further is it?" Marta asked their newest companion, and the dwarf shrugged.

"Few more hours, give or take, but there ain't anywhere better'n here to camp, and it's gettin' to be night in civilized places. We might wanna set camp sooner rather than later," Oghren advised, pulling out his flask to take a swig. 

"Sounds good. We're probably all ready for a break anyway..." Three murmurs of assent answered her, and Marta unslung her pack. "Alright then. We'll camp here and press on tomorrow."

Not needing the tents meant setting camp took much less time than usual. Which meant it didn't serve as a distraction for nearly as long as he'd been hoping. He pulled out his sketchbook and tried to concentrate on the details of his most recent sketch, the figure dominating a whole precious page near the end of the book. But focusing on the minutia of his work didn't even do it, the closeness of the tunnel and the rock ceiling a constant niggling at the back of his mind. Afraid he was going to ruin a nearly-finished project in his agitated state, Jowan flipped the sketchbook closed and glanced around to see what the others were doing.

Oghren was sharpening his axe, Marta and Alistair were deep in a friendly debate about dinner, and Leliana was apparently suffering from the same antsy creative block he was; her lute was in her lap, but her hand rested still against the strings as she stared at one of the half-blocked tunnels barely visible in the gloom. Jowan tucked his sketchbook away in his pack and crossed the campsite to sit next to her.

"For what it's worth, I hate it down here, too," he said sympathetically.

Leliana half-smiled briefly. "We can be miserable together, no?" She was quiet for a moment. "Marta said something once about Wardens being able to hear the darkspawn. Imagine how much worse this must be for her and Alistair..."

"No, thanks," he muttered, running one hand through his hair. "It's bad enough as it is."

She exhaled a short laugh. "I suppose it is."

They were both quiet for a stretch, Jowan shifting to sit with his knees drawn up, arms resting atop his knees, as the two of them stared out into the tunnels.

"I miss the stars," Leliana said abruptly. "If you count the time spent in Orzammar, it's been almost a week since we last saw them."

Jowan nodded. "It has been awhile. And it feels even longer down here."

"So what do you miss the most?" She set aside the lute, bracing her elbow against her knee to support her chin.

He raised an eyebrow. "D'you really think this is a good conversation to be having right now? When we're probably going to be down here at least another week?"

Leliana just shrugged. "Unless there's something else you wanted to talk about?" Her tone suggested the question was nowhere near as innocuous as it sounded.

Jowan pulled his knees in a little closer to his chest. "Cool breezes. I miss cool breezes. It's all stuffy down here; hardly any moving air. Reminds me of the Circle."

She raised an eyebrow. "An ancient tunnel full of darkspawn reminds you of the Circle?"

"Just the lack of moving air part." He paused. "Though some of my teachers were scary enough to pass for darkspawn."

Leliana giggled. "Sounds like there are some stories there, no?"

"Nothing exciting," Jowan said, attention suddenly consumed by tracing one of the patch seams on the knee of his pants. "Mostly just instructors putting the fear of the Maker into young children so we would understand about not trusting demons. But there were a few later on who always seemed to know which students hadn't studied, and always called on them."

"Must've been magic," she teased, fingers toying with the one small braid that decorated her hair.

He made a face at her for the joke, but couldn't help a small chuckle. "Must've been."

Marta hollered the food was ready then, cutting off their conversation. For not being able to cook--she hadn't wanted to risk a fire--she and Alistair had done a good job preparing dinner. After a satisfying meal and a planning conversation in regards to the following day, they settled in for the night, all hoping that keeping watch would prove an unnecessary precaution.

<><><><>

The night passed uneventfully, much to their collective relief. As did the next several. It reached the point of almost seeming normal; fighting darkspawn, traveling deeper and deeper in search of this Paragon who could somehow get them the help they needed, and the further they went, the more Jowan decided he hate close spaces.

The Dead Trenches were the worst yet. Even with the cavern's relatively high ceiling and open feel, they were miles underground. And that fact was almost as nerve-wracking as the fact the archdemon was there--briefly, thank the Maker, but just a glimpse of the monstrous dragon was enough to insure none of them slept well that night. And the Trenches were thick with darkspawn, so the sleep would have been helpful. Even Alistair's perpetually optimistic outlook started to wear away as they fought their way through, and Jowan started praying they found who they were looking for soon. 

<><><><>

An already-awful circumstance tipped over to nightmarish when they found Hespith. The story of what Branka had done to her House, the hints of what happened to the Laryn woman Hespith mentioned, turned Leliana's stomach. That this level of depravity was possible... It was abhorrent. The dwarven woman cracked under even Marta's gentle questioning and ran off deeper into the tunnels.

No. No deeper. I miss the sun and the stars and the sky. Please don't make this take any longer to get back to the surface. But she kept her complaints to herself, even as a glance showed Jowan, at least, shared them. And they went deeper, fighting past a pair of raging ogres and the Stone-Memories(ghosts, really) of dead dwarven warriors. Bit by bit, Hespith's voice, coming from who-knew-where, shared details of watching her friends die, of seeing Laryn begin to transform into something horrible. The rising sense of dread was palpable. All five of them had weapons drawn and ready as they advanced down the tunnel, Marta and Alistair both with jaws tight, fighting the darkspawn presence.

And then the narrow passage opened into a larger cavern, which would have been a relief were it not for what awaited them--an angry, screeching broodmother. Every single one of them swore, even Marta. But the noble's lost composure returned quickly, and she issued orders with a level of calm and poise more suited to a diplomatic tea that fighting something out of a nightmare in the bowels of the earth. Leliana had never been so grateful she was a ranged fighter before in her life.

She and Jowan hung toward the far end of the cave, sending arrows and hexes and spells toward the shrieking monstrosity as Alistair and Oghren attacked it head-on and Marta skulked in the shadows looking for opening. It was going pretty well, too--apparently the Maker could hear her down here--until one of the broodmother's tentacles got lucky and caught Marta. Their leader let out a surprised yelp as the tentacle curled around her leg and yanked her off-balance. That, of course, distracted Alistair from his combination attack/guard duty, and as he wheeled to check on her, several darkspawn charged past, summoned by the broodmother. With Alistair's attention divided, the assorted darkspawn made it far enough Leliana and Jowan had to break off from attacking the broodmother to defend themselves. Fortunately, whatever awkwardness lingered between them regarding the Denerim Incident did not extend to combat. They still worked like they'd been fighting side by side for years instead of just a few months. Three genlocks and a hurlock fell in a flurry of arrows and magic, and the shriek only got away because it vanished into the murk just as she drew a bead on it. Instinctively, the two of them backed up until their shoulders touched and started scanning for the elusive darkspawn.

"I don't see it," Jowan hissed, grip tightening on his staff.

"I know," she retorted, gaze traveling over where Marta was getting to her feet, skimming the rock walls, probing the visible nooks and crannies.

"Leliana, we need to find it."

"I know," she snapped, fear sharpening the words.

Alert as they were, neither was expecting it to come charging from the tunnel instead of the cavern. The shriek hit them hard enough to send them both flying. Leliana's head banged against the rock wall, sending spots and lights flashing behind her eyelids, but she managed to keep hold of her bow and the arrow she was about to nock.

It didn't do her much good. By the time she'd spun to locate the shriek, it was close enough she rushed her shot and missed. And then the darkspawn was too close and she wasn't ready and where was her quiver-

"Jowan!!" She didn't know why she'd said that. He was probably in trouble, too; she had no idea if he was in a position to help, but his name slipped past her lips like it was instinct.

And the shriek froze inches from her face. Leliana stared at the paralyzed darkspawn, breathing hard, her hands braced against the tunnel floor. That was too close.

"Move, Lel!" Jowan barked, and she came to her senses. She rolled away from the darkspawn, grabbing her quiver and bow as she went.

"Thank y-" The words caught in her throat as she turned.

The shriek wasn't paralyzed. At least, not by a conventional paralysis spell. Blood dripped from Jowan's fingers as he leaned against the tunnel wall with his  hand outstretched toward the darkspawn. When he saw she was safely out of the way, he curled his hand into a fist. The shriek hunched in on itself with a yowl before crumpling to the ground and laying still.

Oh, merde, was all Leliana could think as she met his eyes, swimming with so much raw emotion and self-loathing it almost hurt to see. "You..."

The thought trailed off as Oghren let out a yell of triumph, his axe buried so deep in the broodmother's skull he had to lever it out.

"Are you alright?" Jowan demanded. "It... It didn't get you, did it?!"

Leliana focused on calming her breathing as he pushed away from the wall and approached her. "No, no, I'm fine, I promise." He... that was... 

"You're bleeding," he pointed out, and she raised a hand to her forehead.

"So are you," she retorted even as her fingers came away red. "I just hit my head. It looks worse than it is. What about you?"

Almost reluctantly, he held out his arm so she could see the fresh slash across the edge of his wrist. "It's nothing."

"Nothing, he says," Leliana huffed, pulling out bandages. "Hold still."

"Only if you let me take care of this," Jowan said, running his fingers lightly over the cut on her forehead.

"How?" Raising an eyebrow hurt, but she did it anyway.

"Wynne gave me some more lessons," he replied. "After... After the Proving."

Leliana nodded. "Alright, then. I suppose if you have to practice on someone, I'm the best choice, no?" They found a relatively clean rock big enough for both of them and sat. "So..." she began hesitantly, after a pregnant and awkward silence as Jowan healed her forehead. "Was that...?"

"Yes." It came out in a whisper, barely loud enough to be heard, as he stared at his hands. "But I used my blood, I swear. I would never-"

"I thought you hated blood magic," Leliana sniped, not liking the hurt, accusatory note in her voice, as she brusquely bandaged his arm.

"I do!" Jowan protested. "I hate it, and I hate what I did to myself and other people because of it, and I desperately hoped I would never use it again."

"Then why did you?!" she demanded, raking her hair back in exasperation.

"Because I hate the thought of losing you more!" he burst out, face flaming red as soon as the words were said. "I mean... You- You're a good person, Leliana, and you're trying to help people, and I would hate to see that end because of a damned darkspawn. Especially with what they do to women."

Leliana shuddered, silently concurring with the last part. "Well... thank you. But this is our life for now, Jowan; fighting. And fighting darkspawn. I don't want you doing something that's makes you hate yourself just because I'm in danger."

"I know." His eyes were remorseful as he met her gaze. "I was... I panicked."

She smiled at him, ignoring the little voice nagging about That Night in Denerim. She wasn't going to bring that up, not here. "Just promise you won't lose yourself trying to save me."

Jowan nodded. "I promise." For the briefest flicker of a moment, there was something in his eyes, but then he stood abruptly. "Looks like they're waiting for us."

"Right. Let's go." Leliana stood as well, chastising herself for entertaining thoughts Like That again. They rejoined the others, Alistair's knowing look ensuring archer and mage kept their hands conspicuously to themselves as they pressed on.

<><><><>

All told, it took another two weeks of smotheringly close tunnels, several close calls, one dead Paragon, and one equally dead would-be king before they emerged from Orzammar. But Marta held Harrowmont's written promise of troops, and the stars were showing, and they were out.

"I suppose the next stop is letting Arl Eamon know we're finally ready, no?" Leliana murmured as she looked up at the stars.

"I suppose," Jowan shrugged, not wanting to dwell on going back there, facing those demons.

"Stop worrying about that," she admonished. "Cross the bridges as they come and don't borrow trouble."

"Easier said then done," he smiled wryly. "But I'll try." And he meant it. He owed her that much.
Deeper
Next of the AltPair pieces, in which the mage and the bard take baby steps in the direction I want them to go instead of plunging headlong. They really are trying to kill me with the slow burn here. The Proving incident Jowan mentions is from my Bite My Tongue fic for Marta, since I'm considering this series as something that actually happens in her canon(short version, for people who don't want to read it: Marta got really badly hurt fighting in the Proving for Harrowmont, Leliana had to go get Wynne because Jowan knew diddlysquat about healing, he felt guilty and had Wynne teach him some of the basics).
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Jowan, Leliana, and Dragon Age in general belong to BioWare

Marta is my Cousland
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Title: Nature of the Business
Author: queen-scribbles
Game: SWtOR/KotFE(ch 9 ending spoilers)
Characters/Pairings: f!Imperial Agent/Theron Shan
Disclaimer: SWtOR and all associated characters belong to BioWare, I'm just having fun
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"You need sleep."

Theron didn't look away from the datapad in his hand, but a small smile curved his lips as he countered, "I could say the same to you."

"You could, but we both know it would be less true," Jaaide said lightly, nudging his hand down until he was forced to look away from screen and met her gaze, "I have that lovely extra week's worth of rest, remember?"

"Yeah," he said dryly, trying not to dwell on it (too much) as he set down the datapad. "I also remember the reason you got all that extra rest. Something along the lines of Arcann ramming his lightsaber through your gut."

The thought of it still turned his stomach, if he was honest, and he was almost glad Lana'd had him half a galaxy away tracking down the former Cipher agent's ship. He wasn't sure what he would've done if he'd been there to watch. Probably nothing smart and everything stupid.

"Theron." Jaaide must've seen or sensed the darkening of his mood (he'd never been good at keeping his guard up around her), as her expression had softened. She no longer looked exasperated at his sleep schedule--or lack thereof--but rather concerned. "I'm fine, I promise." She reached out, took his hands in hers. "If you won't take a nap, will you at least take a break? There's a conversation we still need to have..."

Theron fought the urge to wince. She was right; they did need to talk about... that, but he really was awful at relationship stuff. Part of him wanted to put of showing just how awful as long as he possibly could. But at the same time, there was something different about this time, this woman. "...Sure, why not?"

Jaaide's shoulders slouched a little, losing the Imperial-parade-posture stiffness, and she smiled in relief. "Alright, then. After you, Agent Shan."

"Oh, no, no," he grinned, squeezing her hands before letting go of one and tugging her to walk next to him. "Side by side, Cipher."

An almost unreadable look flashed across her face, but her smile had barely faltered before it was back in full force. "If you insist."

"I absolutely do."

They made their way to the base's cantina hand in hand.

oOoOoOoOoOo

"So, what did you want to talk about first?" Theron asked, once they had gotten drinks and settled in one of the more secluded booths. "Us, or whatever this other thing was that you had in mind?"

Jaaide made a face and spun her glass absently, watching the cometduster slosh perilously close to the rim. "The latter, I suppose," she finally said. "I want to be honest with you, Theron. Give you my straight up truth. I feel like it's something you should know before we officially become an us."

He'd half-smiled at her use of his own words back on Rishi so long ago, but sobered when he saw how serious she was. "Fire away."

"Did... did you ever work with Ardun Kothe?" This was it. She'd promised not a soul, but that was five years and a galaxy-altering war ago. Imperial- Sith Intelligence, the SIS-- hell, the Empire and Republic were drastically different now. She was drastically different now(granted, falling hard for a Republic spy had not been planned, but still. It had happened, and it changed her).

"Once or twice." Theron's brow knit in confusion. "The SIS liked to limit things to one maverick per operation."

Jaaide managed a short chuckle at the joke before pressing doggedly ahead. "Did you know about his mission to recover the Shadow Arsenal?" 

His frown deepened. "Yeah... how did you know about that?"

She told him everything--from being planted in Kothe's cell, the mind control mess, the former Jedi returning later to offer her a way out of an increasingly untenable situation. "He suggested I defect. Work for him instead, inside the Empire in hopes of bringing it down eventually. He'd seen how I held up under long-term undercover work and knew I could handle it. And I... I felt betrayed. Everything I'd done to protect the Empire and my reward for being good at my job was the Sith demanding measures be taken to rob me of my free will. So I accepted. It meant going back, pretending I was still loyal to the people who betrayed me. But dangerous and slow-progressing as that may have been... I slept better. No one knew except Kothe and me. Not even my crew. But even with my lips sealed over a secret that would be the death of me if I was found out, I felt freer than I had... actually since I was hired by Imperial Intelligence. I had an ally, I wasn't alone, I was doing the right thing." She sighed, took a long swallow of her drink. "I wanted to tell you. Stars, I wanted to tell you so bad. I almost did on Rishi. But Kothe said tell no one, so I told no one. Hard as it was."

"I know the feeling," Theron muttered, staring into his drink. He looked up at her, eyes narrowing. "Wait... are you telling me you were his deep cover source in the Empire?"

Jaaide shrugged. "Unless he had another one."

He sighed and shook his head. "Small galaxy... So you weren't Imperial on Rishi?"

"Technically? No. I wasn't. Or on Manaan, or on Rakata Prime. But you know the nature of the Intelligence business." She toyed with her glass.

"Only too well." Theron ran one hand down his face and rubbed his eyes.

"I'm sorry," Jaaide said, reaching over to squeeze his other hand. She should've waited to tell him. He was so tired, and she went and dropped a bombshell like that on him...

"You don't have anything to apologize for," Theron contradicted, not letting go of her hand when she started to pull back. "It's the nature of the business, like you said. Everything you've been through, I feel like I owe you an apology; for not being there as another familiar face when you got thawed out."

"You don't owe me anything," she assured him, voice tilting playful, "except perhaps several dozen backlogged kisses."

He chuckled, slid around the booth so he was next to her. "Really now? How'd you figure that?"

"It has been five years," Jaaide reminded him, eyes gleaming mischievously. "You don't think that adds up to at least a couple dozen?"

"Hmmm, fair point," Theron conceded with a knowing--if slightly tired--grin as he leaned closer. "Guess I better start working some of those off."

She leaned in even closer toward him. "Probably a good idea. If you're sure this is what you want?"

His fingers slid up into her hair, his palm resting against her cheek. "Without a doubt."

Neither of them could say with certainty later who kissed who first. They spent the next several minutes putting a serious dent in that backlog--until Jaaide's comm beeped.

"Son of a Hutt..." she grumbled, trying to catch her breath and glaring briefly at Theron when he smirked. "Yes?"

It was Lana, needing the Alliance Commander to met her in the war room to discuss some thing. "And bring Theron, too, if you can find him."

Jaaide coughed. "Sure. If I see him, I'll make sure he tags along." She closed the call and glanced at him. "Well, back to work, it seems. For both of us."

Theron grinned and stole one last kiss before sliding out of the booth, pulling her after him. "Nature of the business, Commander."
Nature of the Business
I really have no excuse for this, other than wanting to write these two some more sort-of-fluff. And also Jaaide really wanted to tell Theron about the double agent thing. xD
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Theron Shan and SWtOR in general belong to BioWare

Jaaide Arien belongs to me 
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Title: Normal
Author: queen-scribbles
Game: Dragon Age Origins
Characters/Pairings: Leliana, Jowan, f!Cousland(rogue), Alistair; tiniest hints of Leliana/Jowan toward the end
Disclaimer: Dragon Age world and characters belong to BioWare, not me, and this is written strictly for enjoyment
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Three nights. It took three nights of waking in a cold sweat, her dreams too closely resembling her past, before Leliana decided maybe she needed to tell somebody. And another two to work up the courage.

When she did find the nerve to cross the short distance between their tent and push out the words I need to talk to you, Jowan instantly marked his page, closed the spellbook, and gave her his full attention. Moved--and slightly overwhelmed--by his reaction, she plunged into the story of her past as a bard. She didn't glaze over any of what she'd done, or her relationship with Marjolaine, or the love she'd felt for the older woman and the ease with which Marjolaine manipulated her, used her, betrayed her. Somewhere around the dagger sinking into her gut and her being left to the (non-existent) mercies of Captain Raleigh, Jowan almost hesitantly covered her hand with his, his eyes saying I'm sorry even if his lips couldn't form the words. She turned her hand over and linked her fingers between his as she continued.

She did skim a little over the torture. Raleigh had been a creative, sadistic man, and she no more needed to relive all he'd done than Jowan needed to hear it. So she left it at a mention and hurried on to Dorothea's rescue. But even her brief mention elicited a sympathetic hand squeeze. But he still didn't say a word. Not as she recounted the escape, or Dorothea's pep talk, or the revenge she and Silas and Sketch had sought.

"But she got away," Leliana sighed at the end of her tale. "I let her live. And... went back to Dorothea and joined the Chantry. I've spent my time since trying to be a better person. And I hope you don't think less of me now that you know this."

"I don't think you have anything to worry about, there," Jowan murmured. "I'm more speechless that you would trust me with this than anything else. I won't tell anyone."

"Thank you," she whispered, squeezing his hand back. It felt like a weight off her shoulders to tell someone, and for that someone to treat it with solemnity and care... it meant more to her than she could put into words.

"It's what friends are for," he whispered back. "And thank you for trusting me. I'll be sure to return the favor sometime soon."

"You don't have to-"

"But I want to. Not now, but... soon," he finished lamely. They sat in silence until the moment bordered on awkward, and then Jowan straightened, eyes brightening. "I have something for you, by the way."

"Do tell." She tried to downplay her rising curiosity and hide the sense of inexplicable loss when he let go of her hand to lean back inside his tent.

"I've been working on it since we left the Dalish," Jowan explained, voice muffled by the tent until he emerged with his sketchbook in hand. "Some of the details were hard, but I really wanted it to look right." He slid a loose sheet of vellum out from just inside the front cover. "Here."

"Ooo!" Her eyes lit up, melancholy fading as she accepted the picture. "It's the tree! Thank you!" She hadn't exactly hidden how charmed she'd been by the Rhyming Oak in the Brecilian Forest, but the amount of detail in the sketch was almost unbelievable. Just the thought he had put that much effort into something for her... She hugged him, ignoring the brief flinch before he hugged her back. "I love it. Any particular reason, or is it just because?"

"Just 'cause," Jowan replied as they sat back. "I mean, I think we're somewhere near a month since Marta conscripted me, but it's just a thank you. For being my friend at a point when the world and I were in agreement I didn't deserve one."

"You and the world were wrong," Leliana retorted, still grinning at the drawing.

"And you were the only one to call me on it. You were kind. You cared. And this is just one small part of me beginning to return the favor."

"Jowan, this must've taken hours; I would hardly call it small," she protested, looking at him.

"You were a large contributing factor to saving my life," he countered. "Compared to that? Pretty damn small."

"Alright, I'll give you that one. But I'm not looking to be repaid for my friendship," Leliana pointed out.

"I know," he assured her. "Think of it as a reminder that I'll be there for you like you've been there for me."

"That I can do," she nodded, still smiling as she gave him a peck on the cheek and rose to head back to her tent. She'd known trusting him would be a good move. That night she slept better than she had in almost a full week.

<><><><>

The timing of their conversation proved to be almost fortuitous. They were ambushed the next day, just a couple hours shy of exiting the Brecilian Forest. It was the perfect place for it, Jowan had to admit; hills on either side of the narrow path both corralled them and provided the attackers a good vantage point, said path was winding enough to make a snake jealous, and at one point even crossed over a small rocky stream before doubling back to climb the hill where some of their attackers stood.

"Watch out!" Leliana yanked him to the side and an arrow snapped against the rocky embankment that had been behind his head a few seconds before.

"Alistair, Leliana, you try to make your way across that bridge and up," Marta instructed rapidly, drawing her daggers as more of the bandits emerged from the surrounding woods. "Jowan and I will deal with this lot."

"Right," the warrior nodded, raising his shield to deflect another arrow. "Come on, Leliana."

The battle was brief but fierce, and it was killing him that the windy nature of the path meant their only clue as to Alistair and Leliana's progress was the cries of warning or triumph or pain--and what sounded like an explosion at one point.

"Focus!" Marta hissed when that distracted him, even as she gutted the assassin trying to take advantage of Jowan's lack of concentration.

"Sorry." He froze a looming warrior and two trailing rogues with a blast of magic, brittle enough the warrior shattered when Marta slammed her daggers against him. Jowan had just flung a stonefist at one of the rogues when an arrow came whistling down from the hill and--more by luck than any talent of the bowman responsible--buried itself in his arm just above the elbow.

His cry of pain was more instinct than anything else. It hurt, yes, but far less than stabbing through his own hand. He winced but waved Marta off when she raised an eyebrow in concern. I'll be fine. Gritting his teeth, he snapped off the shaft so it wouldn't catch on anything. Another arrow twanged into the ground near his feet, and in frustration he lobbed another fist-sized lump of rock toward the archer responsible.

It shattered on the outcropping below her feet, but before she could nock another arrow, an unfamiliar voice rang out. "HOLD!"

All of the surviving bandits froze instantly. A man in gleaming silverite armor appeared at the crest of one hill, a dagger held to his throat.

"You heard him, no?" Leliana called out, arm firm around the leader's neck. "Now drop your weapons!"

Even as they obeyed, Marta and Jowan made their way along the path and up the hill. Alistair was keeping an eye on the surviving archers when they made it, and Leliana was still holding her dagger to the leader's throat.

"Any particular reason you made this call?" Marta asked, jaw noticeably tightening when she saw the bard's newly-acquired black eye, the fresh gash across Alistair's forehead, and the mildly singed state of their armor.

"Look at their weapons, their armor, their tactics," Leliana replied. "These are not common bandits. I thought you might want to find out who they are."

Marta nodded and locked eyes with the leader. "Well?"

"Well, for started, I'm someone who regrets takin' you lot on," he answered ruefully. "Knew you'd be trouble, but not that much..."

"Why did you, then?" Alistair demanded.

"We had orders," the man retorted, trying to shift so Leliana's blade wasn't quite so tight against his throat. "Kill the red-haired girl, and do as we pleased with the rest."

"Kill the..." Leliana's grip slacked for a second in surprise. "Who's trying to kill me?!"

He gagged as she refreshed her hold. "I dunno, I swear! But I have the address where we was s'pposed to report when we were done. You can go find out for yourself!"

"Your life for the information, then," she hissed, eyes dark and almost frantic as they met Jowan's. In that instant, he knew what she feared, and how badly.

"Done. And we won't attack you no more," the leader promised, cautiously and gratefully fishing a slip of parchment free of a belt pouch. "Here."

Leliana let him go and snatched the parchment away from him. "Go, quickly. And it we ever see you again, you are dead, no?"

"Oh, you won't," he repeated, gesturing to his surviving men. "Come on, boys. We're getting out of here."

As they limped off out of view. Marta turned to Leliana. "Who the blazes would want to kill you?!"

"Marjolaine," Leliana replied wearily, unfolding the parchment and glancing over it. "This is in Denerim."

"Leliana. Who's Marjolaine?" Marta pressed.

"Someone from my past. I can give you more details, but shouldn't we head back to camp first? They're both bleeding, and the way you're holding your arm makes me think it should be seen to, no?"

"Fine. But I do want more details," Marta insisted. It was hard to argue with Alistair's head wound, or the blood slowly soaking Jowan's sleeve, but she was obviously curious. "Maybe you can talk as we walk?"

"I... I can do that," Leliana nodded, looking resigned. "I might even finish before we get to camp."

"It'll be a distraction from the pain," Alistair joked, clearly trying to lighten the mood.

She smiled briefly. "I suppose it will." The version she shared as they walked was shorter and less detailed than what she'd told him; Marjolaine simply a former bard master and lover who framed her for treason. It was still enough for Marta to suggest they head to Denerim to confront Marjolaine.

<><><><>

Leliana thought she might cry. Jowan's reaction to her past--game acceptance and showing he still cared--had been one thing. Marta offering to detour in exactly the opposite direction they needed to go... What did I do to deserve this? "It... would probably be a good idea," she admitted. "Marjolaine was always... persistent. If we don't face her, she will simply keep sending more men after us."

"Then off to Denerim we go." Marta rose, rolling her shoulder to alleviate residual stiffness from popping it back in joint. "After a good night's sleep, of course."

"Oh, of course," Leliana agreed, dazed. Needing something else to focus on, she turned her attention to Jowan. The poor man was trying to bandage his own arm. It would have been enough of a chore were he able to do it with his good hand, having to do it with the stiffer left hand meant all he was accomplishing was worrying a pretty serious bit mark into his lower lip. "Let me help."

"Gladly." He relinquished the clumsily rolled bandages with a sigh of relief. "Thank you."

"I need the distraction," she shrugged, checking the wound to make sure it was cleaned before she began wrapping the bandages around his arm. "I seem to do this for you a lot."

He blushed a little at the joke. "Sorry."

"You don't need to apologize, Jowan," Leliana shook her head. "I don't mind."

"Mm. You doing alright?"

She focused intently on tying off the bandages. "Well as can be expected, knowing that soon I'll be facing off with someone I loved. Someone who betrayed me." She tried to smile, but could tell it didn't reach her eyes. "My stomach's in knots."

As she dropped her hands, he rested his arm around her shoulders and pulled her into a hug. "You know we'll watch your back, right?"

She nodded against his shoulder.

"You know I'll watch your back, right?"

"Because that what friends are for, no?" she whispered.

"Exactly."

<><><><>

The journey to Denerim was subdued. Wynne and Sten were less than happy to be going the wrong way again, Zevran seemed to have doubts about the face a master bard head on plan, but everyone kept their thoughts to themselves, and Jowan was even quieter than usual. Marta delegated Wynne as temporary leader while she helped Leliana with her problem. "Alistair, Jowan, you're with us. The rest of you, go with Wynne to find lodging. We'll probably wind up spending at least one night here."

They went their separate ways, Leliana guiding their group off the slip of parchment. Finally, they stood outside the rickety door of the ambushers' contact. She took a deep breath, squared her shoulders. And pushed the door open.

The waiting and extremely hostile guards they had expected. That fight didn't last long, even with the close quarters hampering Leliana's use of her bow. But next came Marjolaine. Seeing her again--seeing her free--made Leliana's stomach twist with a combination of anger and fear even as the woman tried to talk circles around them. The redhead swallowed hard, one hand curling into a fist. Jowan saw and shifted his weight so his shoulder brushed hers. One side of her mouth twitched in a half-smile. She took a deep breath and spoke.

"She cannot be trusted, Warden. She is too paranoid to stop."

"Well, then." Marta smiled thinly. "I suppose there's only one course of action."

Marjolaine matched the smile with one of her own. "Oh, my dear, sweet Leliana. I made you. I can unmake you just as easily!"

They all spread out as Marjolaine signaled for the reinforcements waiting in the side rooms. Leliana's hands trembled slightly as she targeted one of the mages, but even so she dropped the man in one shot and moved her attention to one of the hulking qunari guards. She was vaguely aware of Marta yelling something as Alistair went straight for Marjolaine, but she was too focused on her own target to make out the words.

Said target suddenly lost his balance as the floor turned to ice under his feet, and even as he stumbled, a jet of flame licked at his armor. Leliana finished him off with an arrow to the neck, but when she turned to thank Jowan, his attention was already elsewhere--specifically, helping Alistair take on Marjolaine.

The bard master saw where Leliana's gaze had gone, smiled, and hollered an order at one of her remaining guards. The lanky elf nodded--and headed straight for Jowan. Marta caught him before he got halfway to the mage, however, and slowed him down enough for Jowan to dodge out of the way and take down the elf. One by one the guards fell, until they were all able to focus on Marjolaine.

She was slippery, difficult to pin down, until Leliana got in a lucky shot to her knee. Thus hobbled, it was only a matter of time before they finished her off. Alistair got the honor of the killing blow, his sword sliding almost effortlessly into her chest. Even as Marjolaine let out a weak gasp and coughed up blood, he used his shield to push her off the blade. She collapsed in an undignified heap.

Leliana just stood there for a minute, staring into the empty eyes of the woman she had loved, who had betrayed her, "She's dead." It came out just above a whisper as she felt tension drain from her shoulders. "She..." You're free. Didn't that feel good? Her stomach turned as she realized yes, for part of her at least, that had felt good. "I need a minute."

The others were all looking at her in sympathy, making her wonder just how rattled she looked. But she just turned on her heel and walked out of the house, hands shaking, mumbling something about needing to be alone.

<><><><>

It took two hours for her to finally show up at the inn where they were staying. Not that he'd been keeping an eye out because he was worried or anything.

"You... alright?" Jowan asked, startling the redhead as she leaned back against the door. "Sorry."

Leliana shook her head, eyes closed, and sighed deeply. "I will be. She was... a big part of my life for so long, and with everything she did... it is a little overwhelming to think she is gone, no?"

"I can understand that," he nodded. "You want help with your armor?"

She smiled half-heartedly. "That would be lovely." Her bow and quiver she left in the front room of the suite, with Alistair's sword and shield, and Marta and Zevran's daggers. Jowan didn't say a word as he helped with the harder-to-reach buckles on her leathers. For 'simple' armor, there were a lot of them. Once they'd gotten the leathers off and she'd tugged at her shirt to straighten it, Leliana gave him a more genuine smile. "Thank you. For not pushing."

Jowan shrugged. "We both have a lot on our minds. I figured letting us deal with that was better than trying to pretend everything's normal."

Leliana scoffed. "What even is normal?"

He laughed shortly. "I ever figure that out, I'll let you know."

"I'd appreciate it. And thank you for your help today."

"You're welcome." That's what friends are for. Jowan rubbed the back of his neck, thought the better of the comment he was going to make, and substituted, "Hope you sleep well tonight."

"Me, too," Leliana replied, a distant look in her eyes as he took his leave.

<><><><>

He was hiding something, she could tell. And she didn't need her bard skills to pick up on it, either. Jowan was just lousy at hiding his feelings. So Leliana waited until it was late enough the rest of the party had retired to their rooms and cornered the mage, dragging him out on the balcony that overlooked Denerim. "Out with it."

"Out with what?" he dodged, staring at the skyline.

"Out with why you won't meet my eye, with why you've been quieter than usual lately, why you keep rubbing that scar." She reached over and tugged his right hand away from the dark, ugly line across his left palm. "Talk to me, Jowan."

He sighed, looking miserable but meeting her gaze--if just barely. "I... What Marjolaine did to you, it's too similar."

"To what?"

"...Me." It came out small, almost mousy, and she nearly laughed at the absurdity. 

"Well, that's ridiculous," she shook her head.

"Only because you don't know the full story of what I did," Jowan retorted, and then plunged abruptly into the detailed  version of how he wound up in the Redcliffe dungeons, summing up, "I lied to someone who loved me, used her to accomplish something that benefited me, and left her to face the music while I ran. Seems pretty similar to me."

Leliana was quiet for a long moment, her hands covering his so he wouldn't dig at the scar. That explains a lot. "Jowan... I just have one question, well, two really, but they tie together; do you regret it, and would you do something like that again?" 

"Only with every waking moment, and I'd die first."

"Then you're nothing like Marjolaine," Leliana said simply, squeezing his hands. "She would do it a thousand times without remorse. There may be some surface similarities, but you have a great many good qualities she lacked, no? Starting with a conscience. If anything, I am more in danger of being like her than you."

"Now that's ridiculous," Jowan scoffed. "How are you anything like her?"

"I enjoyed it. When we killed her," she confessed.

"That's just called human nature, Lel," he contradicted, freeing one hand from hers to rub her back. "She used you, betrayed you, left you to die, and then tried to kill you again. Relief and satisfaction that she's gone is normal. It doesn't make you a bad person. You're still one of the best people I know."

"I could say the same about you," Leliana rejoined lightly.

"Then you need to meet more people," Jowan deflected. "There's plenty better."

She just raised an eyebrow skeptically, her free hand braced against the balcony railing behind him.

Subconsciously, almost as if nudged by some outside force, they both rocked forward slightly, leaning close enough she could feel his breath on her cheek.

What are you doing?! a voice screamed in her head. He's your friend, you're still emotionally drained from today, this is a bad idea.

Jowan must've had a similar voice in his head, because even as she pushed off the railing and back, he sidestepped, pulling his hand free of hers, both of them redder than her hair.

"I should get to bed," Leliana mumbled, tucking her hair behind her ears and staring at the floor.

"Me too," Jowan muttered. "G'night." And he vanished back inside at just shy of a run.

Leliana waited a few seconds, one hand curled against her stomach. Where did that come from?! 

The more confusing, heart-twisting question didn't occur to her until she was in bed, listening to Wynne's quiet breathing from across the room.

Why do I regret not going for it?
Normal
Day three of AltPair week was Hurt/Comfort and Angst, which we all know is something I love to write. Leliana's personal quest seemed like good material for a hurt/comfort fic, and it sort of got away from me again. As usual. (Seriously. 95% of what I write gets away from me. It's ridiculous.) On another note, sorry the posting of these has been so sporadic; they're all done, I just have to remember to re-proofread and type up an author's note before posting, but the internet at work is iffy, and then I forget by the time I get home and just OY.

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Leliana, Jowan, Marjolaine, and Dragon Age in general belong to BioWare

Marta is my Cousland
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Title: Throwing Stones
Author: queen-scribbles
Game: Dragon Age Origins
Characters/Pairings: Leliana, Jowan, f!Cousland(rogue), Alistair
Disclaimer: Dragon Age world and characters belong to BioWare, not me
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He looked so lost. Leliana smiled to herself as she watched the newest  member of their group survey the campsite and pick at the cuff of his sleeve.

At least he stopped fiddling with the bandages, hearing it from Wynne,a little voice in her head pointed out, and she did have to concede that. When they'd returned from Haven, it had been blatantly obvious Jowan had either ignored or forgotten Leliana's admonition not to mess with the bandages around his left hand. So she'd sicced Wynne on him while Marta talked to Teagan, both hoping and suspecting the older mage would give him a stern enough lecture he'd remember not to do it anymore.

Apparently it had worked. Even as his expression and body language reminded her of the refugees in Lothering--mildly stunned and feel completely out of his depth--he left the bandages alone to instead worry loose threads in his shirt.

"You can relax, you know," she commented as she approached, resting one hand on his arm.

Jowan flinched and then blushed. "Sorry, I'm just... still half convinced this is a dream or something, that..." He raked his good hand through his hair as he let the sentence trail off.

"That you'll wake up back in a cell," Leliana supplied, smiling sympathetically. She remembered that feeling. "Or that a messenger will come running over the hill saying Arl Eamon changed his mind, the Wardens can't have you, you need to pay for your crimes?"

He gave her a weak smile. "Something like that."

"Well, I promise this isn't a dream," she assured him. "And from what I've seen, the Right of Conscription is inarguable, and will give you far more chance to atone than simply dying, no? And if how being a Warden affects Marta and Alistair is any indication, this is not 'letting you off easy' or anything."

"Good." Jowan pushed up his sleeves, glanced around at the others. "Because-"

The rest of what he was going to say was lost, as Marta's mabari returned from exploring and realized there was a new person to greet. He came galloping over, checked his stride just a little too late, and then apologized for knocking the mage over by vigorously and repeatedly licking his face.

"No, Bear, stop that! Heel, boy!" Leliana snapped her fingers and instantly the big dog backed off and sat next to her. "See, Bear likes you," she giggled as she helped Jowan back to his feet. "So you can't be all bad."

"While that may be an excellent point, I think he, you, and Marta are the only ones who do. Like me, I mean." He brushed dirt off his clothes and gave Bear's ears a scratch. The dog woofed and went bounding away to find his owner.

She shrugged. "Alistair will come around eventually once he sees what you're actually like instead of believing everything he's been taught about blood mages. Morrigan and Sten are more or less indifferent to everyone, and Zevran is new enough I'm not really sure about him. Considering he's an assassin, though, I hardly think he'll be throwing stones."

"What about Wynne?" Jowan glanced toward the healer, who was checking on one of Marta's healing injuries.

"I think she is torn between knowing your intention were good and knowing you are a blood mage," Leliana conceded. "But you probably know her better than I do, no? Marta does trust you, or she wouldn't have conscripted you, and I like having you to talk to." Before he could question why, she cleared her throat and changed topics. "But we should figure out where to set up your tent..."

"I don't have one," he reminded her, something in his eyes clearly planning to ferret out her reasons sooner or later.

"I think we have some extras, bedrolls, too. I'll grab one for you." She quickly headed for Bodahn's wagon, rummaging through the crates of found goods from their travels until she dug out the necessary items. The only tent available was a little ragged, but it would have to do. "Any ideas where you'd like to be?" she asked Jowan as she rejoined him.

He shrugged. "Anywhere relatively flat is good, I guess...."

That turned out to be easier said than done, but they eventually found a spot halfway between the main circle of tents and Morrigan's self-imposed exile. Leliana helped him set everything up, fairly sure that between the Circle upbringing and the still-limited functionality of his left hand, he'd need the assistance--even if he was too shy to ask for it.

"Thank you," Jowan said quietly when they were done. "It's the best I've had in months, really."

"Not a problem," Leliana assured him. "That's what friends are for, no?"

He gave a harsh laugh. "Trust me, Leliana, you don't want to be my friend. They're the first casualties of my decision making skills, or lack thereof."

She smiled and winked at him. "I think I'll risk it."

<><><><>

It was risk that proved worthwhile. Even as her predictions came true--Zevran was amiable(downright flirty once he realized how red he could make Jowan blush), Alistair warmed as he realized Jowan being a blood mage didn't make the man a monster--her own friendship with the mage deepened. Despite not going into detail about their respective pasts, the two of them both honed in on the fact they had a common ulterior motive in working with Marta to save the world: redemption.
And to his credit, Jowan never pried into why she needed redemption, or how a Chantry lay sister knew how to fight so well.

"You ever want me to know, you'll tell me," he shrugged when she thanked him. "Otherwise... I know all about having a past you want to forget. I'll be the last one throwing stones over secrets."

She thanked him for that with a kiss on the cheek that made him blush to his ears. (Not that she thought anything of it; he blushed when complimented, when Zevran playfully hit on him--which was downright funny if she was honest, when he was embarrassed... there were a large number of reasons.)

It wasn't until they finished what Alistair joking called a 'do-gooder spree' and went in search of the Dalish elves that Jowan seemed to start feeling like he fit in. It took a week and a half of searching to find one of the clans that didn't try to kill them on sight, and even they seemed less than thrilled to have a party of humans walking through their camp. The Keeper, Zathrian, was friendly but apologetic, citing a werewolf problem as reason why they couldn't fulfill the treaty. The whole time he and Marta were speaking, however, a familiar sense kept tweaking the back of Leliana's mind. And when their leader took her leave of Keeper Zathrian, she'd figured it out.

"He's lying." Jowan said the words at the same time as she did, and the two of them shared a look as Alistair raised an eyebrow and Marta let slip a bemused smile--though whether at their certainty or this being the first unsolicited opinion Jowan had given since joining them, Leliana couldn't say.

"What makes you think that?" Marta asked, crossing her arms as she waited for their replies.

Leliana chose her words carefully, but still was first to answer. "I have a gift for reading people. Even if Zathrian isn't lying, he isn't telling us the whole truth, no?"

"That's what it seemed like to me," Jowan chipped in. "More that he's keeping something from us, than directly lying. And I know what that looks like from... previous experience. "

He seemed to share Leliana's relief when Marta didn't press, just nodded. "I agree. Good instincts, you two."

It was only the first evidence of how closely the two of them had bonded. Multiple times as they searched the woods for the wolf Zathrian claimed was the source of the curse, they had an uncanny sense of timing when it came to saving each others' necks. To the point Alistair started teasing they were mentally linked or something.

Until Leliana gave him a knowing look. "Like you and Marta, no?"

He stopped after that, though it wouldn't have surprised her if he was keeping a running tally in his head of who saved who how many times. Which was frankly ridiculous, Leliana thought to herself as the Wardens cleared rubble away from a ruined temple entrance. She didn't care more about any one member of their group than the others. And then she caught sight of the werewolf, skulking through the shadows that dominated the first chamber. It was approaching the group as a whole, but its dull eyes were fixed on the mage.

She had nocked and fired an arrow even before the wordless cry of warning tore from her throat, her hands moving by instinct, a prayer for protection spilling out after her cry.

Even injured and having lost the element of surprise, the werewolf persisted in lunging toward Jowan. Leliana's second arrow caught it just behind its ear even as his fire spell hit it dead center in the chest.

"Thanks for the save," he said gratefully, staring at the gangly corpse.

She shrugged, tucking hair behind her ear. "That's what friends are for, no?"

There were many more attacks like that one, and Leliana always managed to convince herself her racing heart afterwards was due to fading adrenaline. And nothing else.

<><><><>

By the time they got everything sorted, found out what Zathrian was hiding--his involvement in the curse--and worked out a peaceful solution, as Marta was wont to do, Leliana was tired. She was tired of having to remain on her guard, tired of shooting werewolves off her companions, tired of fighting, just tired. Still, it was almost habit to pick up her lute when they got back to camp, fingers moving lazily in a memorized tune. She missed a note, growled softly in frustration, and started over.

"It still sounded fine, y'know," Jowan commented, appearing out of the gathering dusk.

"Not to a musician's ear," Leliana chuckled, scooting to the side so he could sit next to her.

He took her up on the unspoken invitation. "Maybe not, but I was enjoying it, all the same."

"Is that why your tent's been inching closer to us than no-man's-land?" she teased, lightly bumping her shoulder against his.

"And here I thought I was being subtle," he laughed wryly, face shading pink even as he grinned.

"Oh, you are," Leliana assured him playfully. "It took me almost a week to catch on, and I don't think anyone else has noticed yet."

"If they do, I'll play it off as wanting to be part of the camaraderie or something, rather than the fact that I like listening to you sing."

She missed a chord. "Really?"

"Really." Jowan frowned as he nodded. "Is there something surprising about that?"

"No, I just... it's been a long time since someone complimented me without wanting something, no?" Leliana smiled and strummed the chord she'd missed.

He smiled back without a trace of his usual bashfulness. "That's what friends are for, isn't it?"

She laughed. "That and watching your back."

They both got a chance to prove the latter part the very next night, when warning cries from Marta and Alistair pulled them all awake just as nightmarish, long-limbed darkspawn attacked the camp. The Wardens had already moved to stand back to back by the time Leliana emerged from her tent. She nocked an arrow and waited, loosing it as soon as one of the shrieking monstrosities showed itself. Half of the arrow's shaft buried itself in the darkspawn's neck, and it went down with a final scream. This drew the attention of two more, which came barreling toward her with cries of hateful rage.

Until their clawed feet hit the sheet of ice that suddenly coated the ground between them and her. The skidding, flailing darkspawn were no match for Bear's teeth and Zevran's blades.

"Merci," she smiled gratefully at the dark-haired mage as he reached her side.

Jowan just nodded as he adjusted his angle so they could watch each other's back. It was a strategy that worked very well against the darkspawn they currently faced, who would vanish from attacking one person and reappear to hassle someone else. One by one, however, the gangly darkspawn met their end, to blades, arrows, magic... mabari teeth, in a couple cases.

"Alright... how's every one doing?" Marta asked, breathing hard, as the last creature fell dead.

They'd gotten off relatively light, considering; a couple tents knocked over, Bear had a shallow cut across one paw, Alistair and Sten had minor injuries, but it could have been a lot worse. As Marta fussed over Bear, and Wynne saw to Alistair and Sten, Leliana beelined for where Jowan's--now collapsed--tent had been set up.

"Good thing you've been moving closer, no?" she teased as she approached.

"Heh." Jowan gave a short laugh, focus mostly on seeing if the tent could be salvaged. "It did come in handy, didn't it?"

"Very much so." She sat next to him to help separate canvas from the broken wood of the tent poles. "Thank you for having my back. Knowing I was safe from at least one direction helped a great deal."

He shrugged, mischievous smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. "You're welcome. I have it on good authority that's what friends are for."

She threw a wood chip at him. It bounced harmlessly off his shoulder and he laughed as he retaliated with the first thing he got his hands on. However, he was laughing hard enough the small pebble missed her completely and went flying into the darkness beyond the camp.

"Even from such close range," Leliana teased, tsking a mock remonstrance. "Such terrible aim."

"Aim is your strong suit," Jowan pointed out. "Most of the time I'm either concentrating on a specific person or just need to be facing the right direction."

"Very true," she conceded gracefully, freeing a broken pole from the snaring canvas and casting it aside. "Did you have anything breakable in here?"

He shook his head. "Should just be books. Nothing to cut tho- your hands on."

"Good to know." She stood and started gathering the canvas. That seemed undamaged so far; hopefully they could just find new poles. As she pulled it toward her, a book tumbled free of the folds, flopping open as the spine hit the ground. "Oh, sorry." She bent and picked it up, the canvas laying forgotten on the ground when she saw what filled the pages. "Did... you do these?"

Jowan nodded, scratching behind his ear as his face crinkled in a sheepish--almost apologetic--smile. "Most of them. Felix 'borrowed' it once or twice to doodle, but yes, most of those are mine."

Leliana raised an eyebrow as she paged through the sketchbook. "You're good."

"Thanks," he shrugged, getting to his feet as well. "I had lots of time to practice. It started as little things in spellbook margins, but as I got older, the classes got longer and more boring, so I started drawing more. Needed a separate book for them to go in." 

She flipped back to the beginning, fanned through a few pages, seeing sketches of people, tower hallways. copied illustration of demons, the occasional spider, before she closed it and handed it back. "You've had that sketchbook a while, no? It's almost full, and I can see the progress from earlier to later."

He nodded, fingers curling around the dog-eared cover. "Nice to know I'm improving."

"The early ones are good, too," Leliana clarified hastily. "Your lines get clearer, more confident, and there are more details in the recent ones. That's all I meant."

Another shrug. "Always good to be better, though, isn't it?"

This time, she nodded. "And you are, Jowan. In more ways than just that." A gesture toward the sketchbook. She knew what he really meant, what haunted him most. "Any particular reason this has stayed a secret?"

Jowan sighed, running his free hand through his hair. "Not so much secret as I didn't think anyone would care. I mean, what you do; the- the stories and the music and the singing... You inspire people, you lift their spirits, you help them. I see it all the time when we're in battle, you start singing about Ser Aveline, or...or the Battle or Ayesleigh or whatever and it helps. Or back here-" he gestured toward the camp- "after a hard day, like today. Your songs help people. My talent, my habit... doesn't. It just helps me."

Leliana smiled and rubbed his arm encouragingly. "And that's okay. You think Marta writing in her diary helps anyone other than Marta? But if it really bothers you, I'm sure you could find some way to use it to help people."

He smiled back, hesitant yet grateful. "You're right, of course. Thank you. For that and helping with my tent."

Her smile widened as she said the familiar words. "That's what friends are for, no? I'm glad I could help."

The next night was the first of many that found quick but clean-lined sketches of flowers tucked in the strings of her lute or resting on her pillow when she returned to her tent.

She kept every single one.
Throwing Stones
Day two of the AltPair week, and my headcanon of artist!Jowan bleeds into yet another timeline. I think it's always going to do that. I just love the idea of him being good at something, even if it's not necessarily magic, and sketching is the first thing that popped in to my head and boy howdy have I run with it. xD Side note: the theme for this day was romance an bromance, which is perfect for these two with their whole friends to lovers angle and the stinkin' slow burn.
------------------------------------------------------------
Leliana, Jowan, and Dragon Age in general belong to BioWare

Marta is my Cousland 
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:iconthephoenixking:
ThePhoenixKing Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2016
Hope you have a fantastic birthday! Keep up the great work!
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queen-scribbles Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2016
Thanks, and I shall try my best! 
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Wirls Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2016
I have been offline today, but it should still be the 12th there by you so HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Hope you have a fantastic day! *much huggles and butt touches* <3
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queen-scribbles Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2016
Hee hee thanks!
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Maloneyberry Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Happy birthday!!! :D
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queen-scribbles Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2016
Thank you! :)
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NeroonCousland Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2016
Happy Birthday to You!
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queen-scribbles Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2016
Thanks! :D
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Captain--De-Lorenzo Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you so much for the +fav Meow :3
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tainted-knight Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2015  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for the :+fav:
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