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About Deviant Meat and Sarcasm Gal XDFemale/United States Groups :iconcircle-of-magi: Circle-of-Magi
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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

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As they exited the chantry and made their way down the steps, Astrid was profoundly grateful that Sebastian didn't try to break the silence. Her mind was a muddle of white lilies and Gamlen's face as he tried not to show how scared he was, and she didn't think she could have held a conversation if she tried. The few extra minutes of silence as they walked gave her time to collect her thoughts before they reached Fenris' mansion.

Neither of them were surprised when it was Isabela who opened the door. "Hawke? Is something wrong?"

"Mother's missing." Astrid hesitated, picking at a splinter peeling off her staff. Maybe if she didn't say the words, she could keep them from being true. "She... she received a bouquet of white lilies today."

Isabela's jaw tightened. "Shit. Fenris!"

"I'm right here." He was already in his armor, hefting his greatsword to its place on his back as he descended the stairs.

"Showoff," Isabela sighed. "Give me a second, Hawke." She dashed into a side room to retrieve her daggers. Astrid used the time to explain things to Fenris.

"So, where do we start?" Sebastian was the one to ask, once they were all gathered in the front hall and prepared to set off.

Astrid took a deep breath, knowing that neither he nor Fenris would like her plan much. "Gascard du Puis. Gamlen was going to head back to Lowtown, see if he could find anything, but that'll take too long. Gascard might know something already."

To her surprise, neither man protested. They both simply nodded, and Fenris commented, "Lead the way."

Her hands were shaking as she did.

>*<>*<>*<>*<

Gascard was lurking in a back corner of Darktown when they found him, "borrowing" a ruined hovel of a house that stank of sweat and rat piss. Astrid didn't even bother to knock, just kicked the door open and stormed in. "The killer you've been tracking, where is he?"

The nobleman's brow wrinkled. "Hawke? What are you doing here?"

She slammed a hand against the table with enough force to make Isabela jump and leaned in close. "He has my mother."

Gascard frowned. "That was fast."

The words had barely left his mouth before Astrid was grabbing the front of his shirt and shoving him against the wall. "What's that supposed to mean?!" she hissed as Sebastian and Fenris tried to pull her off.

"He took Alessa today, as well," Gascard informed her. "I am surprised at the recklessness, that's all."

She let him go, raked a hand through her hair. "Well, then we need to find him somehow. Any tricks or ideas you failed to mention last time we met?"

He hesitated, twitching nervously when Fenris' hand started toward the hilt of his sword. "Wait, wait! There is one thing I can try. Since he has Alessa."

"Do it," Astrid barked. There's no time. 

Gascard pulled out a small vial, the inside stained red. "Alessa's blood. I can do a ritual. It will tell us where she is."

That's blood magic, a voice in her head protested, years of her father's lectures revolting at the very idea.

I don't care, she snapped back, bristling like a trapped animal as her morals bent under the weight of panic. I won't be too late this time, I won't. "Hurry up and do it, and if we arrive to naught but corpses, yours may join them."

>*<>*<>*<>*<

She was scaring him. The realization hit Sebastian as he stared at the mage's face, watching her as she watched Gascard. He'd never seen her so much as raise her voice, certainly she'd never threatened anyone. And now blood magic, as this surely was? But what scared him perhaps the most was that he understood. Having lost his own family, knowing what hers meant to her, he could understand the desperation etched in her face, her posture. And so he kept his protests and misgivings about using blood magic to himself. Because if this choice had been presented to him--one small ritual, a chance to save someone and get revenge at the same time--he couldn't say with certainty that he'd refuse. So instead he sidled up next to Astrid and took her hand. There was a half-second's delay, and then her fingers wrapped tightly around his. They stood in silence together, not needing words. And while it may have simply been his imagination, Sebastian would have sworn Astrid had relaxed just a little by the time Gascard finished his ritual and gave them a location.

>*<>*<>*<>*<

Her heart sank roughly to her toes when Gascard's ritual led to an all-too-familiar abandoned foundry. "No. Please, Maker, no."

"We've been her before, haven't we?" Isabela asked warily.

"Yes," Fenris confirmed, drawing his sword. "Looking for Mharen and Ninette de Carrac. Do you feel that?"

"Balls, it's not just me, then," Isabela muttered, daggers suddenly in hand, the blades gleaming dangerously even in the low light. "There's something off here, Hawke. Worse than last time."

Last time. The panic hit full force and nearly knocked her to her knees, one hand scrabbling for support against a mildewed wall. Worse.

"Astrid!" A hand on her shoulder, than cupping her face, anchoring her to reality. "Just breathe. Focus."

She struggled, but did as he asked, and after a few seconds, a pair of concerned blue eyes came into focus. So blue...  Shortly after, the rest of Sebastian's face followed suit, and her heart began to slow. "Thank you," she panted, around a weary and grateful smile.

"Don't mention it," he assured her, his hand drifting back to her shoulder. "Dare I ask what you found last time?"

"Bones. Blood. A-A severed hand. A ring... Like someone had been using this place for sacrifices." She rested her forehead against the wall. "If I'd been just a little bit faster, we might've caught the son of a bitch then..."

"Hey, none of that," Isabela butted in, making Astrid acutely aware of how close Sebastian had been standing. "You are not responsible for whatever depraved bullshit other people dream up, you hear me, Hawke? Let's go find this asshole and put him down for good."

"Couldn't agree more, 'Bela," Astrid nodded, mustering a tremulous smile. She shot Sebastian a grateful look as she filed into the lead.

There were demons, as she'd expected. And more than last time, which she'd also expected. What she hadn't expected was the trapdoor. Tucked in a corner but far from hidden, the wooden hatch was thickly spattered with fresh blood. It made her want to vomit. So close. They'd come so close to finding his bolthole last time. Fenris hauled the trapdoor open and started down the ladder it revealed, Isabela right behind him. 

Sebastian held back a moment, glancing at Astrid. "How're you holdin' up?"

"Well as can be expected," she said grimly, free hand fidgeting with a buckle on her robes. "Better for having you with me."

"Whatever I can do to help," he assured her, checking to make sure Isabela was all the way down before he began descending the ladder.

Astrid turned to Gascard. "After you."

He raised an eyebrow. "Don't trust me, Hawke?"

"No," she replied bluntly. "After you."

Gascard sighed and climbed down the ladder. Astrid followed, her nose wrinkling at the stale, sour smell that permeated the air at the bottom. They'd barely ventured into the first large room when they were attacked by demons and shades.

It was as they finished the fight , last of the frozen demons shattering under a blow for from Astrid's staff, that she saw it; a grey-haired figure, clad in bright silk and laying entirely too still on a makeshift table. "Mother!"

Too late. You were too slow again. Why are you never good enough to save the people you care about? The thought mocked her as she lunged toward the table, grasped one slender shoulder-

And Alessa rolled onto her back, sightless eyes fixed on the ceiling. The woman's name slid from Astrid in a breathless, relieved gasp.

"There's still time," she whispered, bile rising as it hit her she had just felt relief that an innocent woman was dead.

Just because it meant Mother might be alive.

This time she did vomit. She felt Isabela's hand on her shoulder, was vaguely aware of Gascard fidgeting impatiently, but stayed as she was until she was certain she was done.

"Come on," she said, gripping her staff more tightly. "We need to keep moving." I've wasted enough time

They pressed on, harried by demons and shades and undead every step of the way, crumpled notes slowly piecing together what this man was doing. Talk of Mharen having her hands, another woman having her ears... It gave Astrid a very bad feeling, a knot that kept tightening in the pit of her stomach.

And then she saw the gleam of gold, snagged on the wall near a flight of stairs. The sick feeling sharpened as she pulled the necklace free. "Mother's locket." Her fingers curled around the golden pendant, the broken chain dangling free. "She'd never willingly part with this..."

"We'll find her, Hawke," Fenris promised in an undertone as he cautiously made his way down the steps. Astrid and the others followed, equally cautious. At the bottom, they found themselves in what must have been the killer's living area--a half-made bed, chairs, scattered books and papers. Gascard started looking through some of the papers, but Astrid's attention was captured by the painting over the fireplace.

"That woman..." she breathed, sick feeling tugging at her gut. "She looks like Mother..."

Her friends' attention all snapped to where she was looking and she heard the sharp intake of breath before Fenris and Isabela cursed.

"We must be gettin' close," Sebastian murmured reassuringly, hand on her arm to offer support. "Obsessive as he's comin' across, I can't imagine this man livin' too far from his... work space. We'll find her, Astrid."

All she could do was nod, swallowing hard and clutching her mother's locket a little tighter as she prayed they found her alive.

Sebastian was right; it wasn't too much further in that they found the man they were seeking. He was nothing like she expected; not tall or short or wild-haired, just a thoroughly average older man. The only things that might make someone think twice about him were the maniacal gleam in his eyes and the power she could feel rolling off him--probably augmented by dabbling in things he shouldn't.

His voice, however, was exactly as Astrid had expected. "Ah, there you are," he crooned around the least-genuine smile she had ever seen. "I was beginning to wonder what was taking so long. Leandra was so sure her loving daughter would come for her."

Was. No, not again. Please, Maker, not again. "Where is she?!"

Even as the demand surged from her, twisted by anger at this piece of filth saying her mother's name like they were old friends, Gascard pushed his way past her. "Quentin!"

Her attention snapped to the nobleman. "All this time you knew his name?! You couldn't bloody give me that?!"

"You might have found him without me, then," Gascard shrugged. "And I need what he knows."

"And what does he know, exactly, that was worth risking the lives of every woman in Kirkwall?!" Astrid hollered, eyes flashing fury.

"Necromancy," Gascard replied evenly, eyes still fixed on Quentin. "How to cheat death itself. If you won't teach me willingly, old man, I'll settle for tearing the secrets from your skull."

Astrid's jaw tightened, the familiarity in that last sentence confirming her suspicions. "You. Bastard. To think I gave you the benefit of the doubt, that first time. You fed me your sob story about your poor murdered sister-"

Quentin laughed at that, interrupting her tirade. "No, no sister. Just an incredibly determined student, and a mentor who couldn't teach him properly after my wife died." His voice dropped to a whisper, almost reverent. "Do you know what the strongest force in the universe is, Astrid?" He barely paused before answering his own question, not giving her time to process the shift in conversation or the fact he'd used her name. "Love. I pieced her together, from memory." Quentin paced as he talked, circling the high-backed chair that sat between him and them. Astrid gripped her staff harder as she watched him, imagining her fingers were wrapped around his throat instead of the wood. "I found her fingers, her eyes, all the things I loved about her... and at last her face. Oh, how I've missed this beautiful face." His hand reached out, caressed the huddled figure perched on the chair. "Do you have any idea how long I've searched? How far I've gone to find her again? And now that I have, beloved, no force on this earth shall part us!"

A small nudge from the impassioned mage was all the seated figure needed to lurch to her feet, clad in a dirty white mockery of a wedding gown. A painfully familiar face was framed by the tattered veil and rough, uneven stitches cutting across her neck.

Mother. A wordless bellow of rage and pain surged from her lips as Astrid flung a stonefist at Quentin's head.

"No!" Gascard lunged forward, summoning a spell of his own to knock the stonefist off-course. "You cannot kill him, Hawke! I need-"

He never finished the sentence. Fenris' greatsword rammed through his chest at the same instant an arrow pierced his throat. The nobleman's body collapsed in an unceremonious heap as Fenris removed his sword.

And four sets of very angry eyes focused as one on the crazed necromancer.

But Quentin was ready for them. With a wave of his hand, undead warriors and demons stood between them and him. A few more gestures, and the skeletal corpses moved like puppets on strings. Which was exactly what they were, Astrid realized grimly as she dodged the claws of a demon and used sheer force of will to crush the thing to the ground. Unfortunately, the puppet master was hiding inside an arcane shield, safe from both magical and physical attacks as he threw more waves of enemies at them. Astrid forced herself to clamp down on the unmitigated fury roaring in her ears. She knew how those shields worked; that all she had to do was wait. Sure enough, after the third band of undead and demons fell, Quentin's shield started to flicker. Her lips curled in a feral smile as she started gathering power, letting it simmer just below the surface until the shield faltered and failed entirely.

And then, with a furious cry, she sent a huge, sharpened hunk of ice flying toward Quentin with enough force it skewered his chest and pinned him to the wall. He let out a single choked gasp, blood seeping from the corners of his mouth, and then slumped limply against the ice.

The... thing wearing her mother's face tottered and fell with the sustaining magic gone. Astrid lunged forward instinctively to catch her. "No, Mother!" Not you, too. Please, please, stay with me. 

Glazed eyes blinked open and met hers as she cradled the patchworked form in her lap, a beatific smile curving cracked lips. "I knew you'd come for me..."

"Of course, you know me," Astrid managed around the lump in her throat, keenly aware of the friends gathered around her. "I'm always here to save the day." Except now. Except the one time it matters on a personal level, the one time it's someone close to me.

Well, not the one time.
 Images of her father, of Bethany, even of Carver danced in her mind. Sickness, an ogre, the Blight... now this. It didn't even help reminding herself Carver wasn't dead, he wasn't, because she'd still failed. She paused to shove away the rising panic and swallow the threatening tears. "I'm sorry, Mama. I didn't mean it when I said I wanted you to leave me alone. I know you only give me advice because you love me, and I'm sorry for that and sorry I wasn't fast enough..."

"Shh, shh, darling, it's alright. I understand. That man wanted to keep me trapped in here, forever. But now, I'm free." Her smile widened, almost lazily, like she was waking from a nap, not dying in her daughter's arms. "I'll get to see Bethany again, and... and Malcolm. But you..." The smile vanished, replaced by concern. "You'll be all alone."

"Oh, don't worry about me," Astrid deflected, blinking away tears as a hand settled gently on her shoulder. "I'll... be fine."

It was a lie. The doubts and blame were already circling. Too slow, too slow, you failed again. But did you really expect any different? 

"My little girl's grown up so strong," he mother murmured, voice fading. "I-I love you, Astrid. And I'm proud of you. I've always been proud of you." Her eyes slid closed, and the body cradled in Astrid's lap went limp.

"Mother?" She felt the tears start in earnest when there was no response. "Mother?!"

"Hawke..." Fenris' voice was hesitant, wanting to offer comfort and condolence, but reluctant to say The Words she knew but didn't want to hear. It was when the elven warrior rested his hand next to Sebastian's on her shoulder that she started to crumble, and when Isabela's joined them, she broke completely.

Astrid lost track of how long she sat there--two minutes, five, ten--curled over the dead woman who was both her mother and not, her friends' hands resting on her shoulders in a silent show of support. But, badly as she may have wanted it in that moment, life didn't stop. It didn't even slow down. And so she sniffled, wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, and offered a wobbly smile of wordless thanks to Sebastian, Fenris, and Isabela. "I-I need to... Gamlen shouldn't see her like this. But I have to tell him. And Carver..."

"We'll help with whatever you need, Hawke," Isabela promised. Astrid took them up on it.

It didn't take long to clear off one of the long tables Quentin had used for his experiments. It wouldn't have been her first choice for her mother's pyre, but they had to work with what was available. The ancient and dry-rotting table caught fire quickly, even from the miserably small spell Astrid was able to conjure. She watched numbly as Sebastian said the prayers and her mother was consumed by the flames. Jaw set firmly in a bid to bottle up her emotions until it was safe to break again, she strode over to Quentin's corpse, still pinned to the wall by her giant icicle, jerked his head back by the lank grey hair, and slit his throat with her dagger.

"No resurrection or cheating death for you," she whispered harshly, watching the blood run down the front of his robes. Gascard required no such assurances, between the gaping hole in his chest and the arrow through his throat. Satisfied neither of them could possibly walk away from this to hurt someone else, Astrid headed for the stairs.

"Hawke..." Isabela nodded toward the still-burning table. "Aren't you forgetting something?"

"No," Astrid replied flatly. "The foundry walls are stone, there's nothing close by enough to catch, and I'll stay to make sure it's contained, but I want this place to burn. All his notes, all his research, all his experiments, I want it to burn with him and his bastard apprentice." And with that, she turned and left, one brittle step at a time.

By the time they made it back to the ladder up to the trapdoor, they could hear the roar of the growing conflagration below them, as books, papers, and dried-out wood fed the flames. By the time they exited the foundry, smoke was belching out the trapdoor. And by the time Fenris and Isabela solemnly took their leave, she could see embers winking in the few high windows the foundry possessed. 

And Sebastian stayed. Didn't say a word--though she did see him murmuring what she assumed was the Chant once or twice--didn't try to make it better, didn't even make the first move to offer comfort, respecting her space. But when her hand groped seeking human contact, he took it and didn't let go until the flames had died and they returned to Hightown.

"Thank you," was all that made it out when they parted ways at her door. Please stay seemed too presumptuous and tangled in her doubts until Sebastian had vanished from sight. I don't want to be alone was too broken and likewise wouldn't come out. With a sigh, Astrid pushed open the front door of her mansion, feeling the numbness settle in as she was greeted by two very hopeful dwarves. It stayed heavy on her shoulders all through talking to Bodahn, to Gamlen, dulled her nerves to the point that when her uncle spat "Why couldn't you have just been normal, like Carver?" upon hearing the killer was a mage, it didn't even sting. Then came the parade of friends, trickling in as word reached them, offering heartfelt condolences and promises of support.

And after that came the emptiness. Knowing Bodahn, Sandal, and Orana were downstairs didn't make her room seem any less lonely--even with a mabari curled up next to her. Storm seemed to know exactly what was wrong, and stayed where she was, head in Astrid's lap, all night long. A night Astrid spent staring at the wall as she absently stroked her dog's head, unable to sleep. As the first hints of dawn peeked through the window, she glanced down at the locket still clutched in one hand and loosened her grasp enough to flick it open. She stared at the pictures inside for a long moment before working her way out from under the sleeping mabari and padding softly from her room.

She wasn't sure how long she stood outside her mother's room, trying and failing to work up the courage to enter, alternating between fiddling with the locket and picking at the sleeve of her too-big sleep shirt. It had been Carver's, a fact that did nothing to improve her state of mind when she recalled it. Finally, with a deep breath and a tight squeeze around the locket that had already imprinted itself into her palm, she stepped forward and opened the door.

It almost hurt more that it didn't hurt. There was no overwhelming wave of emotion, no crippling rush of loss, just the empty, buzzing numbness of a soul bled so dry the tears wouldn't even come. Astrid stood just inside the doorway, surveying the room and its contents; the jewelry box on the dresser was open, the dress Mother had worn to the de Launcets' still draped over a chair. It bore so many signs of its occupant planning to come back it made her heart hurt. She was so lost in her thoughts, the battle with her doubts, she nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of a quietly cleared throat. 

"Sorry," Sebastian apologized, seeing her flinch. "Bodahn let me in. I wanted tae check on you."

"You're up early," Astrid mumbled, trying to both hide and slow her racing heart.

"Dawn prayers," he shrugged, eyes full of concern. "What's your excuse?"

"Couldn't sleep," she admitted. "I just..." she stepped further into the room, traced a finger along the edges of the jewelry box before she looked back at him, not even caring if she was mess. "I can't stop thinking... this is my fault."

"No, it's not!" Sebastian contradicted, voice thick with fierce indignation as he followed her into the room and tipped up her chin to insure she met his eyes. "This is the farthest thing from your fault, H- Astrid."

The tears started to prick as she struggled to believe him. "Maybe if I hadn't yelled at her, hadn't gotten her upset, she she would have been paying more attention and he wouldn't have been able to grab her. Or if I'd been just a little bit faster-"

"And maybe if I'd behaved myself and not been given to the Chantry, I could have done something to save my family," Sebastian said, cutting her off.

"That's ridiculous, you'd've just been killed, too," Astrid retorted, swiping at tears.

"No more ridiculous than you assumin' the burden of another's evil, Astrid," he countered quietly, pulling her into a hug. "I'm with Isabela on this; other people's depravity is not your responsibility. You did your best-"

"And it wasn't enough!" she keened, fingers curling into the fabric of his shirt. "It's never been enough. Ever. I couldn't save my father, I couldn't save Bethany, the best I could do for Carver was a delayed death sentence, and now this... It can't happen again, Sebastian." She looked up at him, eyes red from the tears. "I am not strong enough to do this again. I can't let anything happen to y- anyone I care about again."

His breath caught at her exhaustion-induced slip, and he held her closer as the tears finally started in earnest. "While I believe you're a good deal stronger than you think you are, I do understand the sentiment. And I'll do everything in my power tae help you keep it."

"Thank you," Astrid mumbled, voice even further muffled by his shirt. They both felt when her knees wobbled, and moved almost as one toward the bed. She couldn't bring herself to do more than sit on the edge, but it was better than standing. "Y'know, Storm wouldn't budge from my side all night. Why do I have a feeling you're going to be at least as stubborn as she was?"

Sebastian chuckled quietly, his thumb rubbing absent circles against her shoulder blade. "B'cause while I'd never claim tae be as good a companion as a mabari, I do at least have the tenacity of one."

She felt the barest hint of a smile reluctantly tug ever so briefly at one corner of her mouth. "Trust me, Sebastian, you're more than good enough for me."

She felt him smile ever-so-slightly against her hair as he settled in next to her. "An' that's more than good enough for me."

Astrid tucked her legs up under her, curling in closer to his chest even as she asked, "Won't they need you at the chantry?"

"Maybe. You need me more."

A small whirl of selfish relief danced in her chest at the words, and she decided not to protest them. They were true, and the relief of having someone she didn't have to be strong for, who she trusted enough to let him see her break, was indescribable. So Astrid sat on her mother's bed, held close by the person she trusted most with her grief, and cried. Tomorrow she could go back to being the stalwart champion who let nothing deter her from solving Kirkwall's problems.

Today she just needed to be broken, and to know that it was okay.
Good Enough
This follows pretty closely on the heels of  Comfort. Like, immediately on the heels of it. Because All That Remains is one of only two points in the game that Astrid was not the "Let's seek a peaceful solution" diplomat who like to fix things peacefully. For obvious reasons. It's also one of the few times she didn't  feel obligated to pretend she's stronger than she actually feels. And when both she and Sebastian started seriously questioning if they were "just friends" or if there was the possibly there for More. (Well, more accurately, Astrid stopped lying to herself that Seb was 'just a friend', and Sebastian started wondering how deep his feelings for her went. Either way, this was a turning point in their relationship) 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sebastian, Isabela, Fenris, and Dragon Age in general belong to BioWare

Astrid is mine
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She's two and doesn't know what the words little brother mean when Mama lets her crawl up on the bed to see the noisy, red-faced baby. He looks almost like a doll, with hair to match hers, and she says as much. "No, Jayele," Mama corrects with a smile. "This is Telcontar, and you're his big sister."

----------------------------

She's four and has decided little brother means thing that likes to pull hair. "Ow!" she screeches as chubby fists snarl in her dark red ponytail yet again, and smacks him away. "Jayele, don't hit him," Mama says. "He doesn't know any better," Mama says. "You get to help teach him and protect him," Mama says, and that's all well and good, but who's gonna protect her from him?

--------------------------

She's seven and has changed her mind. Little brother must be code for The brat who won't stop borrowing my toys and leaving them all over the ship. Tel always takes responsibility so Mama doesn't yell at her, but she still wishes he would stop. So she fiddles with the lock on her toy chest until she's the only one who can open it.

-------------------------

She's twelve and never thought a game of tag could go so sour. And sour is being gentle, she thinks as Mama scrubs and scrubs, trying to help her get the paint off her skin and out of her hair. It's a losing battle. Tel's not helping matters, even if it's not technically his fault. "That color looks good on you," he teases, and starts calling her Silver. She glares but keeps her mouth shut, hoping the nickname will fade with the paint. It doesn't.

------------------------

She's thirteen and Tel is looking at her with a special level of awe. She pretends not to notice, that her attention is on the departing customs officer, but can't help grinning and ruffling his hair. "Think Mom an' Dad'll be proud?"
He nods, casting a single, worried glance after the officer. "Is he gonna get in trouble?"
"Nah, it's be fine," she promises. "And we're not hurting anyone by makin' a little more money."
"Silver?"
"Yeah?"
"You're awesome."
Her grin spreads as she hooks one arm around his neck and gives him a noogie. "So're you, sprout."

------------------------

She's fifteen and those pirates were not supposed to show up yet. Her parents double-time unloading the cargo hold, Silver and Tel keeping an uneasy watch for trouble. A blaster shot rings out and Tel yelps in pain and suddenly she's firing blindly at the kriffing moof-milkers who hurt her baby brother as she drags Tel back up the Corellian Angel's ramp. "Aren't we gonna help fight?" he protests as their parents follow suit. "The pirates are after the refugees, we shouldn't just leave them."
"They can take care of themselves," Dad says, checking the blaster burn along Tel's forearm. "And I'm not about to risk you and your sister on a fight that's not ours." Tel's not happy, but she's relieved. His yelp is echoing in her head and her hands won't stop shaking. One day, she intends to fly around the galaxy with her brother, helping people and righting wrongs, but not today.

------------------------

She's sixteen and still taller, a fact which drives Tel absolutely insane. To cheer him up, she offers to arm wrestle, which they both know he always wins now. "Don't worry, little brother," she teases as he pins her hand to the table, "I'll be the brains, you be the brawn, and we'll save the galaxy one underdog fight at a time."

-----------------------

She's eighteen and they're fighting again about how to do that. Silver wants to supply and defend the underdogs so they're ready when the next bully comes along. Tel wants to remove the bullies as a threat altogether. "Can't hurt people if you're dead."
"Can't help 'em either," she retorts, and they go around again.

----------------------

She's nineteen and never felt so betrayed in her life. But badly as she wishes she was dreaming, Tel's still wearing the Republic military uniform, packed bag at his feet. "How could you?" she demands, as cracks form in all of her plans.
"How could I not?" he counters. "I can help people better this way."
"Oh, really? Can you, Telcontar?"
He winces at the extra syllables, at the pain and hurt and anger behind them, but nods. "Yes, I can, Jayele."
Her eyes narrow. "Y'know, part of your job'll probably be hunting people like us. Like your family."
"I will never turn you in," he swears. "But you could come with me, Silver. You got plenty of talents the SIS could use."
She snorts. "No kriffin' way. You know how I am about takin' orders, Tel. You don't have to go, either, y'know. Just cuz Mom's got some war hero ancestor who helped save the galaxy three hundred years ago doesn't mean you hafta do it now!"
"That's not why I'm doing it." Tel sighs, runs a hand through his hair. "I want to help people, and this is the best way for me to do that." And then he's gone, leaving all her dreams for the future as dust on the ground. "I'll always be there if you need me," he promises anyway, and she nods at his retreating back.
"Same to you, little brother."

------------------------

She twenty two and a weird mix of nervous and excited. She wasn't expecting her parents to retire for a few more years, but here they are. Standing in the living room of their palatial new home on an out of the way world, exiting gracefully(and alive) as Dad hands her the datapad with the ownership documents for the Corellian Angel. The first thing she does on her ship is call Tel. She's forgiven him(mostly) and he'll know what a big deal this is for her. "What's up, sis?" his voice squawks out of the comm unit. His base must only be allowing audio transmissions today.
"Dad gave me Angel!" she says gleefully, running a hand over the console.
"Silver, that's great! There's nothing wrong with him or Mom, is there?" he double checks.
"Nah, just decided to retire," she assures him. "How're things with you?"
"Oh, um, I made Corporal." His voice sounds muffled, but she chalks it up to old speakers.
"Yeah? How'd ya score that?"
"Caught a rocket to the face protectin' my squad."
"Tel!"
"I'm fine, sis. Well, fine-ish," he amended. "It didn't fully catch my face. I just shielded my squad from the blast-"
"Tel!!"
"I love you, too, big sister, but you can't protect me from everything, and this is literally what I signed up for."
"Okay," she grumbles, hating that he's right; she can't protect him. "You just lemme know if you need me..."
He chuckles. "Ditto. And congratulations."

---------------------------

She's twenty four and he's the first call she makes when some sleazeball steals her first big sale--and her ship, stranding her on Ord Mantell of all places. Tel promises to see what he can do, but "I don't know much that'll be." He just made Sergeant, after all, and they're going to be shipping him out any day now.
"S'alright, I'm a big girl," she assures him. "'Sides, the farm boy sidekick's good help and good company."
"Oh, sure, you say that now," Tel jokes, and she rolls her eyes as she cuts the call.

---------------------------

She's twenty six and she's married the "farm boy sidekick", who means infinitely more to her than those three words can ever express, and Tel's piqued he wasn't invited to the wedding. "Well, it's not like you invited me to your promotion ceremony, Major," she needles. "'Sides, we didn't invite anyone--it was just me an' Corso."
"You do realize you'll have to have another one, then, right? Mom'll kill you if she doesn't get to go to a wedding."
"You'll just hafta take care of that," she sasses, and he snorts.
"Don't think me'n Els are quite there y-" he stops himself, but it's too late.
"Oh, so you do have a girl," she teases. "Here I thought you were gonna wind up a 'married to the Republic' diehard or somethin'. Tell me about her."
He does.

-----------------------------

She's twenty seven and wishing dearly she'd never heard of the Revanites, and that her knowledge of the Sith Emperor had stayed limited to 'He's scary and bad news'. But Tel needed her, so she helped him. And now she has a Dark Council member comming her while she's trying to sleep. "Marr, you've got my brother's comm frequency," she groans. "Call him instead. A SpecForce Major'll be more help than me, I'm sure." She ends the call and curls back up with Corso, doesn't think any more of it. Until the Expedition is attacked, Marr's flagship blown to pieces, and everyone MIA is assumed KIA. The guilt is immediate. I was supposed to protect him and instead I got him killed. Fortunately, the stubbornness isn't far behind. Tel's not dead. He can't be. Not her little brother, who blocked a rocket and only got a few scars and cybernetics in exchange. She just has to find him. Because that's what family does.

-------------------------------

She's thirty two and her little brother is dead. Has to be; she's been looking for five years and can't find a trace of him. Even in the mess that is the galaxy right now, she should be able to find something. It doesn't exactly speed things up, she supposes, that they keep detouring to help people. And Arcann is a tyrant and a bully--the kind Tel always wanted to stop--so she detours a lot. When reports and rumors first surface of the fiery-haired Outlander, she refuses to get her hopes up. It would feel like losing him again if she's wrong. But Corso won't let her her be entirely cynical, and the Alliance sounds like a good cause, anyway.

-------------------------------

She's thirty two and her little brother is alive. She can tell the other Alliance leadership isn't used to new recruits greeting the Outlander with tight hugs and name calling, but she doesn't care. Tel's alive, and she found him, and just for a second everything is right in the galaxy. And then the jerk pulls on her ponytail and she slaps him up the back of the head.
"Don't make me regret worryin' about you," she grumbles.
He laughs and hugs her again. "I missed you, big sister."
"And I missed you, little brother," she replies, ruffling his hair and silently swearing never to fail at her job again. She promised to protect her little brother, and that's what she's going to do. Because whatever else little brother might mean, it meant family. "You know I'm always here for you, right?"
He nods, grinning. "Ditto."
And tweaks her ponytail again.
Little Brother
The result of me wanting to settle up the history of Silver and Tel's relationship(they're siblings, they're close, but I wanted to work out the details) and try out a different style of writing. I like it, but don't know if I'll do anything similar in the future. I feel like this sort of thing has even more potential to get away from me than my regular stuff.

-------------------------------
SWtOR storylines and universe belongs to BioWare

Silver and Tel are mine
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Title: Nice to Know 
Author: queen-scribbles
Game: SWtOR(KotFE)
Characters/Pairings: f!Agent/Theron Shan, brief mentions of Lana Beniko and Koth Vortena
Disclaimer: World and characters not mine
----------------------------------

Jaaide was no stranger to failure. She was also rather experienced with narrow escapes, “inevitable casualties”, making hard calls, and the equally inevitable ghosts that came with them. As an agent and a leader both, she’d grown accustomed to taking responsibility for allies lost on her missions.

So it really shouldn’t have surprised her that Theron did the same thing. And on one level, it didn’t. The Republic put far more emphasis on saving everyone they could, and minimizing casualties, and all those other idealistic views that had earned her lectures all through her training. Even all his years as a spy couldn’t have completely dulled the hope that just once everyone would live.

“I tried. Couldn’t get them all away in time.” 

It echoed in her head, his tone breaking her heart. If not for their own dire straits, she would’ve said something, tried to console him. But with the battle cruiser coming down around their ears, she had to settle for plotting out what to say as she and Senya picked their way through flaming debris and skirted gaping holes in the floor. It was a near thing, their escape; the shuttle and the Gravestone both taking a beating in the process. And then came the knife-twist of SCORPIO’s betrayal. One more “ally” who stabbed her in the back for their own ends. At least with SCORPIO she’d been expecting it, sort of, ever since Belsavis. It was almost enough to dull the guilt when Lana took her to task for Admiral Ranken’s death. Almost.

“Lana, I tried to save everyone,” Jaaide pointed out, the guilt still mounting in waves. “Of course I don’t view our people as expendable. We just ran out of time. I’m sorry.”

Theron cleared his throat, shooting her a look she couldn’t quite decipher. “Jaaide, you want to help me check on the engines? We took some pretty good hits, and I want to make sure we’re okay to get back to Odessen.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Sure.” Well, now I won’t have to hunt him down for a talk when we get back. 

“You two better not… do anything down there,” Koth called over his shoulder as they left the cockpit.

“Well, so much for wondering if anyone knows about us,” Theron muttered, rubbing the back of his neck.

“It’s not really a surprise is it?” Jaaide asked. “I mean, it’s been a few months, and–ironically, given our line of work–we haven’t really been subtle.”

“True.”

They were both silent the rest of the way down, absorbing and processing the events and losses of the last few hours. The engine room was blessedly empty when they reached it–probably due to the acrid tang of oil smoke still hanging in the air. Fully intending there to be more than fixing going on–though not in the manner Koth intimated--Jaaide shut and locked the door behind them. No sense letting the smoke out would be a passable excuse.

“It wasn’t your fault.” They said it at the same time, then blinked at each other in bemused surprise.

“After you, boss,” Theron said with a wave of his hand as he opened the diagnostic panel on the nearest power core. “Please, explain to me how my not being fast enough wasn’t my fault.”

“Well, for starters, you were battling through self-destruct protocols set up by an extremely intelligent droid,” Jaaide pointed out, mimicking his actions at the next pylon over. “On top of that, you had to wait for me to tell you who to launch ne-”

“Is that why you think this is your fault?” he interrupted, looking over at her. 

She shrugged, briefly biting her lip before she replied, “That, and I’m the one in charge. Losses are my responsibility by default.”

Theron snorted. “Really? No passing the blame to a lower man on the totem pole?”

“I don’t work like that and you know it,” Jaaide countered, “and even if I did, you aren’t a lower man on the totem pole. I may be the figurehead and the technical commander of the Alliance, but I know exactly how important you are, as well. All of our contacts, all of the allies we’ve gathered, we have them because of you. You have an important job and you are good at what you do, so there is no way in hell I am going to let you sit there and take blame for something that’s not fault.”

He was silent for long enough she completed the diagnostic she was running and closed the panel.

She glanced over, caught him staring at her. “Theron?”

“…I really wanna kiss you right now,” Theron muttered hoarsely.

A small smile quirked her lips. “What’s stopping you?” Certainly not me.

He must have come to the same conclusion, because he crossed the space between them them with a single long stride and kissed her so gently it could almost be called chaste. “Thank you.” A teasing note crept in, but she could still tell he was touched. “Nice to know I’m appreciated.”

In answer, Jaaide grabbed the collar of his jacket and pulled him into another, deeper kiss that left both of them breathing hard. “How about, rather than arguing if it’s your fault or mine, we blame the GEMINI captain and SCORPIO?”

Theron paused as if mulling it over before he nodded. “I think that’s a good plan. Makes sense. And it’s one less ghost to carry.”

“Stars know we have enough already,” she mumbled, earning another kiss before he stepped away to get back to work. The silence returned, but it was companionable rather than heavy, broken only by occasional mechanical noise as they ran diagnostics and made minor repairs. The engine room had mercifully been spared major damage, so not much needed doing. They had almost finished with the last set of pylons when a sharp, electrical crackle cut through the air, followed by Theron swearing under his breath.

“You alright?” Jaaide asked, looking up from her own task and swinging the access panel closed.

“Just startled me is all,” he brushed it off, but something in his voice–well, combined with the faint smell of burnt leather and flesh–made her think he was lying.

Theron.”

“Jaaide.” He smirked a little at the look that earned him.

She sighed and rolled her eyes. “Let me see.”

Theron gave a sigh of his own–resigned more than exasperated–and turned to hold out his hand. “It’s really nothing. I’ve had much worse.”

“Doesn’t make this any less serious,” she countered, arching a brow. “Glove off.”

He gingerly worked his hand free and held it out again. “See? Nothing.”

Jaaide had to tamp down the urge to bop him on the head. “This is not nothing. Just because it doesn’t hurt yet doesn’t mean everything is fine.” Her thumb brushed over the reddened, not-quite-bleeding section of his palm, her other fingers carefully spread under his hand to support it. “It is just a mild burn,” she conceded, “but it could still get infected, and we don’t need that.”

Theron was quiet, watching her as she fished in one of her belt pouches and pulled out a bacta patch and synthskin. “Always prepared, huh?”

“Only when I’m planning to commandeer an enemy battle cruiser with five people and a droid,” she dryly. “I’m a medic, Theron. It’s my job to be prepared for this particular circumstance.”

“Very true.” His fingers twitched slightly as she smoothed on the patch, and it took far more willpower than she wanted to admit not to just stare at his hand. Memorize the lines of it and run her fingers over the callouses and knicks. “But you’re good at your job, too.”

Jaaide redirected her thoughts from their fast track to the gutter. “Thank you.” She curled her hand over his, pressing firmly to make sure the synthskin would stay, as she murmured, “Nice to know I’m appreciated.”

The two of them stared at their joined hands for a long moment, Jaaide’s thumb brushing lightly over the heel of his hand, before Theron coughed sheepishly and slipped free. “I think that’s good.”

“Yeah?” She watched him flex his fingers and tug off his other glove. “Y'think we’re all set?”

“I think we’ve been down here long enough Koth’s gonna worry we’re doing stuff in his engine room,” he said, closing the last of the access panels. “So we should probably get back to the cockpit and ease his fears.”

“Well, I did start to undress you,” Jaaide teased, shooting a significant look at his gloves. “And we didkiss.”

“Mm, several times,” Theron nodded, smiling as he linked his fingers between hers (even if the smile didn’t quite reach his eyes, it was a start). “And you locked the door.”

“I may as well have hung out a ‘do not disturb’ sign,” she deadpanned, fighting a grin. “He must be frantic.”

A quick, keyed-in command and the door slid open. Bringing them face to face with a mildly frantic, very disgruntled looking Koth Vortena. “You lovebirds finish what you came down here to do?”

“As a matter of fact, we did,” Jaaide replied airily, tugging Theron down for a kiss as they skirted the pilot, pointedly ignoring the innuendo. “And we even behaved ourselves.”

Koth snorted. “Well, that’s nice to kn-”

“Mostly.”

They didn’t stick around long enough to catch his reaction.

“But you’re alright?” Jaaide whispered as they hastened away, squeezing Theron’s hand. I just want to be sure.

He squeezed back and gave her a grateful smile. “I will be.” 

Well, that’s nice to know.

Nice to Know
Way behind on posting these over here, because I'm a lazy and forgetful potato, but have some Jaaide/Theron comfort fic following chapter 15 of KotFE. Because I'm slightly disgruntled there's not a dialogue option to tell him it's not his fault one of the shuttles didn't get away in time.

------------------------
Theron, Lana, and Koth belong to BioWare

Jaaide is mine
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"I need to talk to you."

Sebastian glanced up, and one look at the storm clouds brewing in Astrid's eyes had him setting aside the candles he'd been trimming and brushing his hands off as he got to his feet. "What's wrong?"

"Mother. I love her, but I really don't understand her priorities sometimes." Astrid raked her hands through her hair in frustration, completing the destruction of her already-loose ponytail, and paused for a moment to tie it back up.

"I'm sensing a story there..." Sebastian murmured, one hand resting on her elbow to guide her away from the suddenly definitely-not-eavesdropping Chantry sisters nearby. "And that that's what you want tae talk about?"

She nodded. "I need to vent. And you're the best choice for listening ear, far as I'm concerned. But if you're busy I can go bother Fenris or 'Bela instead-"

"You're not a bother, Hawke," he assured her. Never, ever a bother.

Reproachful green eyes slanted toward him. "How many times...?"

He grinned sheepishly and bobbed his head in apology. "I'm sorry, Astrid. You're never a bother. Now, what was it you wished tae talk about?"

"Right, well, you know how I spent this morning."

"Playin' mediator b'tween Fenris an' Anders, aye. Seemed tae be dealin' with a powerful headache by the time we parted ways."

"I was," Astrid confirmed dryly as they stepped into the relative privacy of the Chantry garden. "And then I returned home to Mother, incensed and on the warpath because in my haste to eradicate slavers I apparently forgot she had accepted an invitation to tea with the De Launcets."

"Ah." Sebastian bit back a smile. "Such a shame..."

"Roughly my feeling on the matter. Fifi de Launcet can induce a headache even faster than Fenris and Anders' bickering. I can't say I'm sorry I forgot." She sighed, taking a seat on one of the scattered and secluded benches. "But then between my bad mood and hers, things... escalated. I was venting hurt that she's never completely forgiven me for Bethany dying and Carver being gone, and she was haranguing me for always being busy and never having time for social appointments and do I know how hard she's been trying to find me a husband?" She paused for breath, cheeks shading pink under her freckles. "That one... she may have a bit of a point. I have made it far from easy, but it's because I'm not interested in any of the suitors she likes. No, I have to make things difficult and want what I can't have."

The implication of her words hung heavy between them for several heartbeats, Sebastian silent simply because he couldn't think how to respond. And who says you can't?

Astrid hurried on, burying her brief slip beneath the rest of the story. "It's bad enough when we fight to begin with, but she just kept pushing and... and I wound up telling her I was perfectly happy with my life and I wished she would leave me alone and let me live it before storming out of the house." She buried her face in her hands. "She was planning to visit Gamlen today. I'm sure she's complaining about her horrible daughter who simply won't cooperate and doesn't understand that she wants what's best for me and it would be so much better if Bethany were alive--"

"I'm fairly certain she's no' sayin' that," Sebastian cut her off, laying a comforting hand on her shoulder. "She loves you, and knows you love her. A family is no more perfect than the individuals who form it. No matter what you said, I'm sure she knows."

"I've never... blown up at her like that before," Astrid mumbled, face still in her hands. "I've always managed to keep myself at least mostly in check, not say anything that would hurt her. I know whenever the twins come up it's just venting, she doesn't truly blame me. But sometimes..."

"Sometimes it's easy to forget?" Sebastian finished for her. "H- Astrid, one of Elthina's earliest lessons that actually stuck inside m' thick skull is that it's alright tae feel things, even hurt or resentment. It's what you do about it that's important. If you feel you've wronged your mother, by all means, set it right. But allow yourself to acknowledge when things she says hurt you. Your feelin's matter, too."

She gave vent to a small, self-deprecating laugh. "What, little old me?"

"Yes, little old you." He moved his hand from her shoulder to cover her hand, a familiar gesture of comfort that seemed to carry unexpected weight. "You are important, Astrid. I know it's easy to forget with th' weight a' the world on your shoulders, but don't."

"If I do, I suspect you'll remind in short order," she said with a smile as she turned on the bench to give him a hug. "Thank you for listening. And for trying not to take sides. I appreciate it."

"Anytime," he promised, returning the hug and briefly squeezing tighter before he released her. "I'm available whenever you need me, and whatever you need me for."

"Thank you." Astrid offered one last grateful smile before she stood and left the chantry, her stride significantly lighter than it had been coming in.

>*<>*<>*<

She returned much sooner than he would have expected--no more than an hour after their conversation. This time, she was dressed for war; her robes obviously pulled on in haste, staff clutched in a white-knuckle grip, eyes bright with desperate, furious panic. "Sebastian, I need your help again. And not for a counseling session this time."

He took one look at her, absorbed the nervous--almost frantic--energy flowing off her, and nodded. "Of course. What's wrong?"

"Mother never made it to Gamlen's."
Comfort
Have a mini fic spawned by a tumblr prompt ages ago, that's been sitting in sta.sh forever while I tried to come up with a title. The shorter things are always harder to title, I guess because there's less time for a pattern/theme to emerge? :shrug: But, yes, being the evil mother that I am, of course I couldn't just let these two have a quiet moment without throwing in the bit at the end.

--------------------------------------------
Sebastian, Leandra, and Dragon Age in general belong to BioWare

Astrid is mine 
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Title: At Long Last
Author: queen-scribbles
Game: Dragon Age Origins
Characters/Pairings: Leliana, Jowan, f!Cousland, Alistair; Leliana/Jowan
Disclaimer: Dragon Age world and characters belong to BioWare. I get nothing out of this other than enjoyment. And feels.
-------------------------------------------------------------------


"You need a haircut."

Jowan grinned at the gently scolding tone of the comment. "What if I'm aiming for a ponytail?"

Leliana's hands smoothed over his shoulders, silent as she considered. "I think that would look dashing."

"Dashing?" he parroted, turning to face her with one eyebrow raised.

She giggled at his skepticism. "Like a hero from the legends, no? Unless... are you just teasing me?"

"Now, why would I do something like that?" He wrapped his good arm around her waist and pulled her closer, kissing the tip of her nose.

"I feel like I should be asking you that," she retorted, arms settling around his neck as she leaned in to steal a real kiss.

"Because it's fun," he whispered. "And I think we're due a little of that. But if you actually like the idea of me with a ponytail..."

Leliana nodded, resting her forehead against his. "It doesn't have to be a long one, but I do think I'd like that. You're more than halfway there already."

Jowan wrinkled his nose at the teasing note in her voice. "You are, as usual, right."

"Do you know what else I am right about?" she asked mischievously.

"What?"

"We're going to be late."

"And?"

She sighed in mock exasperation. "Well, I think Alistair would appreciate it if we were on time for his coronation, no? Also, tardiness in regards to state functions is considered very rude."

"Once again, I find myself unable to argue with your logic," Jowan corrected with a sigh of his own as he reluctantly let her go.

"Cheer up, cheri," Leliana giggled, giving him a final peck on the cheek as she stepped away. "There will be plenty of time later just for us, no?"

<><><><>

Plenty may have been the wrong word, she was forced to admit, as the coronation stretched into its second hour. The Grand Cleric did love to talk. Next to her, Jowan fidgeted slightly, running a finger under the fabric of the sling Wynne had insisted her use while his shoulder healed. Get some of the weight off the muscles, she had explained. The trade-off was it chafed the back of his neck and drove him crazy.

Leliana reached over and captured his hand in hers, shooting the mage a Fiddling will only make it worse look as she intertwined he fingers with his.

Jowan met her look with one of gratitude, and squeezed her hand as they tried to stay focused.

<><><><>

When they finally managed to escape the celebratory aftermath of Alistair's coronation, Jowan was in a much more solemn mood. He'd gotten Marta alone for just a few minutes; long enough for a hasty, basic answer to how Alistair had killed the archdemon and survived. Of all the explanations he'd thought he might hear, blood magic sex ritual with Morrigan wasn't even on the list.

Marta had chuckled wryly as she nudged his jaw closed with one finger. "People will stare." She further explained they hadn't said anything to him because "we figured you wouldn't want to do that to Leliana."

"We weren't a couple," he protested.

"Maybe not yet," had been the noblewoman's reply, paired with a parting grin. "But you could have fooled us." and she'd excused herself to go talk to her brother, leaving Jowan absolutely speechless.

"You alright, love?" Leliana asked, pulling him back to the moment.

"Hm? Fine," Jowan promised. "Just got lost in thought."

"I hear that can be dangerous," she said teasingly.

"Oh, very," he deadpanned, looping his arm around her neck and pulling her in to kiss the top of her head. "I should probably stop. Especially when the company is so good."

"Flatterer," Leliana blushed even as she rolled her eyes.

"Nope. Just honest." He released her and headed for his pack. "In fact, I have something to give you..."

Her eyes lit up when he pulled out his sketchbook. "What?"

"Here." Jowan carefully tugged the page free, hand shaking ever so slightly with nerves.

Leliana took the sheet of parchment eagerly. And nearly dropped it--along with her jaw--to the floor as it registered what she held. "This... you... how long did this take you?!"

Jowan shrugged. "I've been working on it a little bit at a time since Marta conscripted me. I wanted to make sure I got it right."

She looked at him skeptically. "I am not that pretty."

"First impressions are a powerful thing," he said simply, pressing a kiss to her temple. "And I draw what sticks with me."

Leliana shook her head and resumed staring at the sketch. "I just can't believe..." He watched her eyes trace the lines, the details of the armor, the curve of her bow, her hair cooperating better on paper than it ever had in real life. "Thank you!" Her arms circled his shoulders, carefully; mindful of both his injury and her gift, and she gave him a long, lingering kiss. "I love it! And you."

He smiled shyly and kissed her back. "I love you, too."

<><><><>

The parchment crinkled as she held it in her hands, the edges flaking slightly with age. Leliana sighed and lightly ran a fretful hand over the creases, trying in vain to smooth it out, before taking another sip of her wine. "I don't know how you do it," Justinia had said once, after she had summoned Leliana to be her Left Hand, "find the strength to be who you must." There were times Leliana would admit she didn't know either. Today was one of them, as the loneliness squeezed her heart with an ache she couldn't put into words.

The door creaked open behind her, and Leliana's brow creased in irritation.

"I said I wasn't to be disturbed," she groused, setting her goblet down hard. "Not even if Divine Victoria or the Inquisitor herself need me-"

"Surely you're willing to make some exceptions," a familiar--and dreadfully missed--voice commented close behind her. "After all, that's what friends are for, isn't it?"

Leliana's face split with the widest grin she'd worn in... well, since the last time they were together, as she pushed out of the chair with enough force she nearly knocked it over. She wheeled and lunged for a hug, her arms going around his neck heedless of armor, of the ponytail pinned between the crook of her elbow and the back of his neck, of grime, of everything.

The breath of Jowan's chuckle whisked across her cheek, and she heard his staff drop with a clatter as he wrapped his arms around her waist. "Oh, Maker's breath, I missed you, Lel."

"I missed you more." Her words were muffled against the side of her neck before she pulled him into a kiss. "Where were you? I was worried sick, all through the mess with the Wardens. How did you avoid that?!"

He smiled and tweaked a lock of hair falling in her eyes. "Marta had me go with her and Nathaniel to search for a cure. I guess she figured since the Taint is in the blood, I might be able to help in a way no one else would."

"And?" Leliana prompted, her hands sliding to rest on his chest. "Did you?"

"Did what, I know something, or we find a cure for the Calling?" Jowan's eyes glinted mischievously, clearly aware of how much she'd missed him.

"Both. Either. You're safe, so I don't really care about the details," she admitted. For so long they'd been answering to separate masters, passing like ships in the night, stealing moments when they could and writing letters when they couldn't. (She had a boxful, all decorated with sketches of flowers and landscapes) She'd long since come to terms with the realities of loving a Grey Warden--including the Calling. She wasn't going anywhere, regardless of what he said now.

"Yes. And yes," he answered, grinning impishly as he hugged her just a little tighter. "It seems you're stuck with me, Sister Nightingale." 

"Oh, no," she deadpanned, stealing a kiss as she settled her arms back around his neck. "What a terrible tragedy. Whatever shall we do?"

Jowan's grin widened and he kicked the door closed. "I have a few ideas..."

For the rest of the night, Leliana was very, very grateful she'd left orders not to be disturbed. And when she watched morning sun flit across Jowan's face as he slept, she realized that she finally felt at peace. And that?

That made it all worth it.
At Long Last
And there's the last of them. And the shortest, as I was trying not to overwork my hand. Besides, it's the happy ending fluff; I didn't want to overdo it. Thank you for indulging me and my (super-duper)rare pair. I know this isn't a ship that would even occur to most people, let alone become a soul-consuming "I SHIP IT" level pairing, but I have a habit of enjoying the unconventional characters/ships SOOOO it doesn't really surprise me that the second the thought occurred I latched on to it. xD
-------------------------------------------------------
Leliana, Jowan, and Dragon Age in general belong to BioWare

Marta is my Cousland
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ThePhoenixKing Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2016
Hope you have a fantastic birthday! Keep up the great work!
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:iconqueen-scribbles:
queen-scribbles Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2016
Thanks, and I shall try my best! 
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:iconwirls:
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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:iconqueen-scribbles:
queen-scribbles Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2016
Hee hee thanks!
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:iconmaloneyberry:
Maloneyberry Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Happy birthday!!! :D
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:iconqueen-scribbles:
queen-scribbles Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2016
Thank you! :)
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:iconnerooncousland:
NeroonCousland Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2016
Happy Birthday to You!
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:iconqueen-scribbles:
queen-scribbles Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2016
Thanks! :D
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:iconcaptain--de-lorenzo:
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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:icontainted-knight:
tainted-knight Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2015  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for the :+fav:
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