Title: The Things He Remembered
Fandom: Dragon Age
Rated: T for sexual innuendo
Spoilers: Yes, for Origins
Status: In progress
Summary: Alistair reflects on the awkward, amusing, and poignant moments over the course of his relationship with Aeryn.
The only experience more excruciating than resigning oneself to an ill-fated end is watching someone else admit complete and utter defeat. And for her, surrender was not a gentle bow; it was a collapse.
The first thing I remember about her is that she did not lose gracefully.
The fires raged early that morning, waves of heat swirling against the blood-red sky. Naturally, I had worn an extra set of long johns under an already insufferable amount of gold-plated armor. Brilliant move there, Alistair. Of course, it made perfect sense to trust the weather predictions of a dwarf! Maker's breath, if it wasn't an ogre's crushing grip that would have done me in, surely I would have drowned in my own sweat.
Guttural roars bellowed in the near distance, the unsheathing of weapons ringing in unison. Pointy objects were one hell of a good reminder that I couldn't afford to dwell on trivialities. I raised my blade to rally the others towards the next onslaught of Hurlocks, but with one look over the shoulder, I realized we were one short.
She wasn't there.
"Aeryn?" My throat constricted. No answer. "Aeryn!"
I scrambled to retrace our steps, but the heavily-armed darkspawn wasted no time in making their charge. Forced to fend off the oncoming swarm with a round of skull-cracking shield bashes, I gutted anything that moved. Truth be told, I don't know how I managed to break through with my head still intact; some of Eamon's men hadn't fared the same fortune. I'd say I was too pretty to die, but somehow, I have a hunch that a Hurlock has more of a sense for intestinal delicacies than a dapper-looking man.
Maybe it was providence. Or maybe it was just sodding luck. I suppose it doesn't matter much now. All I knew was that I had to find her. She had to be alive. I needed her to be alive. "Aeryn! Where are–"
A jolt of pain shot through my knees as I immediately halted at the edge of a small clearing. Not but five paces away, there she stooped over a corpse, clutching an item in her hand. Lovely. We had a war to win, and the woman wanted to pilfer personal effects. I called after her. "Don't mind the rest of us dying around you; looting cadavers is clearly more important than, oh, I don't know…ending the Blight?" When I didn't get so much as a backwards glance, I marched up behind her, contemplating dragging her back towards Fort Drakon by the ear if she tested my patience further. "Oghren and Wynne have already gone on ahead. Why is it so difficult to get your damn act together and keep up with the–"
"Riordan's dead, Alistair!"
That shut my bloody mouth.
Aeryn's fist tightened as she stood, throwing down Riordan's longsword with a clang! at my feet as if to spite me with proof. When her eyes eventually strained to make contact, I saw her for the little girl she was. Pale, shaken, her staggering gaze maddened with fear–she had convinced herself there was no other way but for her to die.
And she despised me for it.
I swallowed. Hard. It's a peculiar sensation when you can almost hear the dagger scraping against your insides, but you can no longer feel its razor sting. I should have reached out to her, placed a firm grip on her shoulder. Instead, I found I hadn't the energy to care anymore. What little strength I possessed was used to clench my jaw. "Hold it together, mage. We can't back out now."
I started once more towards the fortress, but she drove past with a hard shove into my right arm. Subtle. And let's not forget to add in a verbal barb for good measure: "I don't back out of commitments, templar."
Now she was just pissing me off. "Aeryn, this is hardly the time for–"
Her nostrils flared as she spun around. "Let's try to save the one thing we still can, shall we?"
And that was us: the last of the Fereldan Grey Wardens. Noble. Valiant. Selfless. The stuff made of legend. Sweet Andraste, pathetic excuses for heroes, we were. We'd reduced ourselves to nothing more than petty remarks in some sadistic game of seeing who could cut the other down first.
But it hadn't always been that way.
I had loved her once.