I had the strong sensation of needing to jump out of Zevran’s arms. Zevran tightened his hold on me just slightly and I knew he meant to shove me behind him in case Alistair lost his temper, seeing me in Zevran’s arms. I had turned to look at who had barged into my room and was shocked to discover Alistair standing in my doorway with Kristoff beet red behind him. Being detained by His Highnesses’ guards and Kristoff was mad as hell too. I signaled to him to stand down.
I turned my head around and looked at Zevran and with a silent communication between us, he let me go.
“Zevran, thank you once again for the gift and I’ll be sure to offer my thanks to Leliana when I see her.”
“It’s always my pleasure to do for someone who has done so much for me.”
“Would you like me to stay?”
“No, that won’t be necessary.”
Zevran seemed indecisive on leaving me alone with Alistair.
“I’ll be fine, I promise.”
Zevran nodded his head and bowed to Alistair as he left us. Alistair had given Zevran a look that said we’ll talk later. Zevran of course had ignored Alistair’s silent communication and laughed with glee on his way out closing my door behind him. I could feel the tension coming off of Alistair in waves. I could also feel it through the taint in both of us and he was drawn tighter than a fiddle string. I turned to look at my former lover.
“Your Highness, what brings you here and what can the Grey Wardens do to assist the crown?”
Alistair hadn’t said a word and the fury was still rolling off of him in waves.
I really didn’t know what to expect from him or how he was going to react with finding me in Zevran’s arms. Even though me being in Zevran’s arms had been innocent and even if it hadn’t been innocent I was no longer His Highnesses’ concern. What in Andraste’s knickers did I have to feel guilty over? I was mentally kicking myself. Zevran had saved my pride if nothing else by not allowing me to jump out of his arms. Bless him I thought.
Alistair ran his hand through his hair. His hair had grown since the battle for the city. It was starting to curl at his nap. He really needed a trim I noticed. He had always been so touchy about his hair and we’d all teased him relentlessly about his golden locks while on the road. Every one of us had done this, to his displeasure. He had trusted me or Wynne enough to trim his hair for him.
Both of us just stood there looking at one another. Alistair’s eyes traveled over every inch of my body. I felt the heat from his gaze. Through the taint I could feel the desire in each of us. I could feel his desire to reclaim me as his own through the taint. He hadn’t allowed his guard down this much since breaking our relationship. I wanted so much to run and jump into his arms. I ached for his strong protective arms to shield me and I so needed to know that he still loved me. He was standing there fighting the same need and desire to crush me to him. I felt a massive roll of the taint spiral through both of us, the heat of it. That roll had been caused by both of our emotions. I felt it to the core of my womanhood. Please I thought, crush me to you. Kiss me; don’t let it end this way I thought. I was starting to quiver with the need of him. Then as quickly as it had happened it was over. He had used his abilities as a Templar to fight his urges. Damn you I thought as I felt him place that wall between us once more. I felt it slam shut. I could still feel the taint from him and I always knew his abilities as a Templar had been strong, never had he used them on me. That hurt worse than him telling me our relationship was over to my face. He was trying to shut me out mentally. I wanted to sob as he placed that wall between us once more. I would have to be satisfied for that split second to know that he did indeed still cared–that he still loved me.
“Well Your Highness?”
“What brings you back here?” “Also uninvited I might add?”
I was still quivering inside from the need of him.
That brought him out of his mental exercise and brought him back from where he had been mentally to fight his urge over me.
“Let me get this straight, Zevran is allowed in your room without a chaperone.” “Yet our relationship was deeper and I’m not allowed in your room alone?”
“Well you seem to have made excellent progress in getting past my Warden.” “Underhanded of you I might add using your personal guard.”
Alistair just shrugged his shoulders and also that slight smirk crossed his face. Oh he was going to enjoy being king.
“A man must do what he must.”
Oh he didn’t just go there. Instantly I was filled with rage. How dare you I thought. Like hell, this attitude of his was not going to work. I really didn’t want to argue with him. Yet, I couldn’t allow this to slide.
“I believe we’ve already had this discussion.” I retorted back. Alright I was boiling mad now.
“Yes we did and you seem to have also forgotten as the Warden Commander of Ferelden you also have a reputation to maintain.”
Andraste’s tits! He just used my own words against me. The man catches on fast.
“Hmmm, I really don’t see how that applies to me since sleeping with you my reputation has already been ruined.”
He inhaled sharply at my words.
“I would never tarnish your reputation Lady Cousland and will always hold you in highest regard and I will demand that my court do the same.”
“You can decree it so Your Highness that does not make it so.” “Your court will follow your wishes to your face; but, behind your back you can’t divine their thoughts only their actions, remember that Your Highness.”
“You yourself also said once our little group likes to talk, just a gentle reminder in case you have forgotten your Highness, therefore my reputation is already ruined.”
How could I ever forget that night he thought. I had been in heaven sleeping with you or the night before the Landsmeet when I was telling you goodbye with my body. Letting you know that I do love you in the only way I knew how. Damn you for making me King. We could have been together. Your work is too important to Ferelden and all of Thedas. Don’t you understand that? Don’t you think I want you with me always? How can I make you understand?
“Well, no snappy come back Your Highness?” “Don’t play dumb with me, I know you better than that.”
My words seemed to give him the kick in his ass that he needed. He was upon me before I could even react. He had finally crushed me to him. We looked in each other’s eyes and then he took my lips in a crushing kiss forcing his tongue inside my mouth to plunder the moist velvet softness of my mouth. Our tongues dueled with each other and he groaned.
I was lost in oblivion from his kiss, I was on the verge and he knew it, I could feel my climax building from just his kiss, it had been so long since he had kissed me this way. He was the only man who could ever make me feel this way. I thought I had loved another man but time had shown me it had only been a foolish crush and that crush had cost me so much and taken so much away from me. Alistair had been the only man ever to make me forget.
My legs were starting to give out on me and he sensed it. He tightened his embrace and held me closer to him. One of his hands found purchase on my derriere and he brought me even closer to him as close as his armor would allow me to him. I brought my leg up and hooked it around his hip. He deepened his kiss and groaned again. He finally broke the kiss and both of us were gasping for air. He gently laid his forehead against mine. We both had closed our eyes. He still held me and I hung on for dear life.
Neither of us spoke for a moment. I was just happy to be in his arms even though I knew it would be short-lived and he would not rekindle our relationship because of his duty as King. I loved him because he was a man who stood by what he said. His forthrightness would cost us both, our love for each other and a life together. I had set us on this path when I announced him King at the Landsmeet. I had made him King for his own safety and for Ferelden. I would be the biggest loser for doing my duty. My duty was going to cost me the man that I loved. We both knew it.
I felt him move slightly. I didn’t want to open my eyes to the inevitable. He raised his head and kissed me softly on the forehead. I lowered my leg to the floor.
“Bellavalia, look at me.”
I didn’t want too. I wanted this moment to last forever.
I didn’t move or open my eyes. Finally he took my chin in his hand and made me look at him. Slowly I looked up at him.
“Don’t ever doubt that I love you, and will love you till my dying day when I take my calling. You are the only person in all of Thedas that matters to me.”
“I am to be Ferelden’s next King, because of my bloodline, and with that comes duty with responsibility that I can’t outrun. I didn’t want to be King, yet you choose this.”
“So, you are punishing me for my decision?” I had sobbed my question.
“Shh… no, I’m not punishing you. Don’t you ever think such a thing, ever. I must show Ferelden I can rule on my own. This has nothing to do with us.”
“It has everything to do with us.”
“I understand why you say that. If you could give me children, I would have had the Grand Cleric here the moment you wake up to marry you, then have the large wedding for the kingdom on our first anniversary.”
I really wanted to hit him. I really did. I knew in my heart I should tell him I was about to make him a father in eight months time. I couldn’t do it because I really didn’t know or understand his true motivation of ending our relationship, and until I knew, I couldn’t tell him he was going to be a father. In ending our relationship he had taken away my trust in him.
“I need you to rebuild the Wardens, you are my only choice. I need you to do this. I didn’t want us to lose each other to these duties; but, yet it is here. There is nothing neither of us can do to change this.”
“You are going to be King; you can do as you wish.”
“No Bellavalia, I can’t. This is what you don’t understand. I’ll never have the freedom of choice in my life again once the crown is placed on my head. I will have certain responsibilities to the realm. My life and happiness do not matter, only the people of Ferelden matter.”
I felt that he was wrong, he was set on this course and there was nothing I could say to make him change his mind. Then so be it. I had tried and tried. I was done with trying.
“Let’s face the fact, you just kissed me, because you found Zevran in my room with me alone. Let’s face the fact you can’t stand the thought of another man with me….having me.”
“I won’t lie to you and yes, I didn’t like finding him here with you alone. You think this is easy for me Bellavalia in setting you aside?” Knowing what I’ve done, that you are free to be with other men as you desire? You think I want that, knowing other men will be able to touch you and I won’t be able too? The mire thought leaves my heart cold with the desire to kill and ask questions later. You are mine and will always be, even if you are with other men. You won’t be able to erase me in your heart any more than I will be able to erase you in mine.”
“Yes, I do believe it is that easy for you since you’ve done exactly that.”
“It’s not like that.” He said
“It is exactly like that.” I yelled back.
“You are just like all the other men I’ve known, who only used me for who I am – being Bryce Cousland’s daughter. Now that you’ve gained what you and Eamon wanted than I’m no use to you anymore.” I started to struggle to get out of his arms.
He wouldn’t allow me to wiggle free. He had an iron grip on me and he wouldn’t let me go.
“Not until you listen.”
“No, I won’t.”
He shook me a little and that only inflamed me more.
“Don’t say my name again.”
“I will say your name, over and over if I desire to do so.”
“Let me go Your Highness.”
“Say my name Bellavalia.”
“No,” I cried. “I will never allow your name to pass through my lips again.”
“Get out and leave me alone.”
“I never meant to hurt you, I truly never meant too.” His eyes begged me to understand.
“You did and nothing you can do will change that you have chosen Eamon’s desires over your own, over me. You live with your decision Your Highness. I hope Eamon keeps you warm in bed at night. I will not be at your beck and call when you feel the need to make yourself feel better. Let Eamon do that for you from now on.”
“Bellavalia, I’m warning you.”
“Warn me?” I hissed. “Speaking what I feel is the truth! How dare you!”
I really started to struggle to get out of his hold on me. He only tightens his grip more.
“Bellavalia, I’m sorry, I truly am.” We looked into each other’s eyes and saw the truth of all statements.
He had finally loosened his grip and I pushed him away from me. A lot of good my maneuver did when I was still weak as a cat. I nearly fell over. He caught me and pulled me to him once again.
“You’re not going to stop until you hurt yourself. Bellavalia, please stop and be still.” You’re injured badly as it is.”
He held me even though I didn’t want him too.
“Why are you here?”
“My note couldn’t have reached you this fast.”
“I just sent a message to you.”
“What did the message say?”
“I’d like Starfang and my daggers returned to me Your Highness.”
He sighed and let me go when he realized I wasn’t wobbling any longer. “Yes I have them. I was going to give them to you this morning. They are here in my scabbard. Starfang is badly damaged and will most likely need to be repaired.”
I just nodded my head.
“Why did you want them back so soon?”
I wasn’t going to tell him why. My mind was already running through my inventory of possible swords and daggers I could take with me tomorrow night.
“They are my sword and daggers, isn’t that reason enough?”
“I was going to send Starfang to Warden’s Keep for Mikhael to see if he could repair your sword.” “I was going to have Wade repair your daggers. I’ve never seen your sword or dagger take this much abuse or be damaged so badly.”
“The battle for you to take the fort was awful wasn’t it?”
I just nodded my head yes and looked away. I will never forget those battles either. Ostagar or Denerim and what each meant to me personally. What I had truly lost from each battle. A shiver ran through my body from remembrance. The horror of all of it, I had taken three ogres on myself. If not for Wynne I should have died right there. The battles inside this very fort and the battle with the Arch Demon on the roof, my body had been slashed to ribbons before I had ever made it to the roof. I started to shake remembering my battle with Urthemiel and fighting him in the fade. That power that he nearly undone me with. I was seconds away from death and the loss of my soul forever.
I started to shake uncontrollably. Alistair drew me into his arms once more and held me. “Do you want to talk about it?” I just shook my head no. How could I explain what happened to anyone? I really didn’t understand myself and what the repercussions would be over the ritual. How did Flemeth and Morrigan both know that Urthemiel was chained in the fade? He was also a shape shifter. The most powerful mage I’d ever battled and I’d very nearly lost. If Morrigan had not guided my sword arm in the fade I would have died. He was also the most handsome man I’d ever looked upon. That had almost been my undoing. He would also be half-brother to my children when he was also born here in the world. I wish I knew where Morrigan was. I had questions and no answers. Where would I even begin to find those answers? Will Alistair look for Morrigan and is this why he is ending our relationship? I would not allow him to look for her alone and he knew this. Had there been an attraction between them all along and one that I’d never picked up on? I would have to find her first, come hell or high water I was going to find her. The more I thought on it the more I was certain there was someone else in Alistair’s life that he was more in love with than me. So who was she? Did it really matter now?
I stepped out of his arms and walked over to my bed away from him. This couldn’t go on. He couldn’t keep coming around me and giving me hope everything would be alright between us. He wanted us to remain friends and I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. How would I make him understand this was just too painful for me?
“I have a request your Highness.”
“Bellavalia, please stop calling me Highness.”
I turned around and looked at him.
“I can’t, because that is all you are to me now. This was your decision, not mine. You’re asking me to do something I can’t possibly do. I can’t be your friend and stay close to you. I can’t do it. It’s too painful for me. I love you with all that I am, you know this. If you ever loved me at all as you say you do, then please don’t come to see me again regardless of the circumstances. Your coming here to see me just makes it harder for me. I will have to deal with you as Warden Commander and I’ll only deal with you officially from here on out.”
“Bellavalia, I can’t do this without you.”
“I’m afraid you’ll have too. You have the capability to be a great king. Be a great king for the sake of our lost love if nothing else. My advice, surround yourself with good honest advisers, because you are going to need them.”
“Bellavalia, as Warden Commander you will be expected at court. It is your place to be there. I’ll expect you there.”
Yes, it was my place and he didn’t know yet by law I had the right to send my seneschal in my place, which is exactly what I planned on doing once I appointed one at the Vigil. Fergus would also attend the Landsmeet every year so I would know what was happening at court, even if I didn’t want to know. As long as my seneschal attended there would be nothing Alistair could do to me as King. He wouldn’t be able to order me to court except for some other reason, such as a darkspawn threat to the Kingdom would be the only reason for my presence at court. I would also use the excuse of fighting darkspawn in not attending. I already knew that I would be responsible for a monthly report to the First Warden and the Monarch on the status of the Grey Wardens of Ferelden. Alistair would receive his reports and that would be all he would receive from me.
“Yes, and after my report to the Landsmeet I will leave to return to the Vigil. I will not stay in the city for the festivities that usually go on when the Landsmeet is in session.”
“I will see my duty done to you Your Highness, you know this without asking.”
“I do, yes, I know you will always do your duty to Ferelden.”
Silence drew out in my room.
“You never answered my question, why are you here?”
“Leliana told me what happened.”
“Are you alright?”
“You’ve seen for yourself that I am.” “You can’t come running every time I’m in danger.” “I will be fighting darkspawn now without you, are you going to come every time I fall down?”
“My shield will always be there for you my lady if I am nearby, and you too know this.”
I knew in my heart if he was near and I was in a battle he would never allow me to be overwhelmed and die in front of him if he could help. He’d give his own life for mine. As I would do for him in battle; I’d give my life for his.
“Who do think is behind this?”
“I’m sure both of us can hazard a guess who ordered this done.”
“Anora, you mean?”
“What are you going to do about her?”
“I’m not sure yet.”
“I was thinking along the lines of having her installed in a Chantry somewhere under heavy guard.”
“The Chantry, are you insane? She will stop at nothing to regain her power; she would have ordered you executed as a threat to her throne if I had sided with her at the Landsmeet. She would not have hesitated in having you hanged; you would have been hung at dawn the next morning after being given penance with the Grand Cleric. Don’t you realize this?”
“I…I can’t be that type of King Bell.”
“You’re going to have to be if you expect to hold your throne. Your own father had to kill men in order to take his own rightful throne back. Do you think he wanted to do those things? King Maric had no choice. He killed Bann Ceorlic and Bann Loren’s grandsires because they betrayed your own grandmother; they murdered her in cold blood. Beware of their grandson’s as well.”
“You know all of this?”
“Of course, I know Bellavalia, the Chantry did teach me my father’s own history as Monarch.”
“You’re going to have to execute Anora if you want peace for the realm. You have no choice.”
“Bell, I can’t, not without proof she is a traitor.”
“You will execute her if you have proof?”
“Yes, the law will demand that I order her death.”
I knew where that proof could be found. I had to get to Gwaren and beat Anora’s maid there. She had slowed me down or she thought she had. Apparently, some didn’t realize or believe how badly I had been injured while fighting the Arch Demon.
“In the mean time she will be transferred to the Chantry at Redcliffe.”
“No, not Redcliffe, which is too close to Gwaren, send her to Amaranthine, the highest Chantry in Ferelden.”
She will never make it to Amaranthine if I have any say in the matter, I thought.
“See this is why I need you to help me.”
“No, you would have thought of this yourself. You’ll just have to think these things through.”
“You can do this. Once you become familiar with the laws of the land. You won’t need my help. As the King you are only an administrator and if the need calls, the highest ranked soldier in the land. You are a seasoned warrior. This is all that a King is Alistair.”
“I’ll always need your help.”
He had taken a few steps closer to me again. I held up my hand to stop him. I watched as he saw the new leather armor on my bed that Zevran had brought to me. I wondered what he was thinking.
Alistair saw the new armor laid out on the bed. If I had only thought instead of having her drake scale armor repaired; I should have bought her a whole new set. He was kicking himself for that slip. She would look stunning in that armor too. Zevran and Leliana had chosen the armor well and viewed her as a woman in it where he would have only seen his fierce battle rogue. Maybe it was best he had ended their relationship. He needed time to adjust as King and learn to rule the realm and he couldn’t do it with her near. Maybe in time they could be together later if she would have him. Once the Wardens were rebuilt and he had time to prove he could rule the kingdom on his own. He prayed to the Maker it was so.
He knew it was time for him to leave. He didn’t want too. He wanted her moved where he could see her everyday even if Eamon didn’t like it. He also knew it would not be good for either of them.
She had stopped him from approaching. She would not stop him this time. He continued to walk toward her. She watched him and saw the determined look in his eyes. She stood her ground. He came closer to her and he gently lifted her chin in his hand causing her to look up at him.
“I will do as you ask My Lady, but you will need to do two things in return for me.”
I nodded my head yes.
“Say my name Bellavalia one last time and let it be for always, as just the man who loves you and not as King.”
Alistair watched as she closed her eyes shut and a single tear ran down her cheek. He took his thumb and gently wiped her tear away. Bellavalia whispered ever so softly.
“I love you Alistair for always.”
“I’ll love you, Bellavalia, for always.”
He bent and gently kissed her lips for one last time. He stood and looked at the woman he loved and his heart was broken inside for what he had done to them both. He spoke.
“When the moon waxes full each month, I want to you to look up into the sky and look upon it and know I too will be looking at the moon and wondering where you are and praying that the Maker keeps you safe, while I cannot. I’ll pray to the Maker when I say your name to the moon that the wind will carry it to you wherever you are so it will remind us both, that I will love you forever.”
Alistair watched her nodded yes that she would do this.
Alistair reached behind him into his scabbard and withdrew her sword Starfang and her two daggers; he laid them on the bed next to the new armor. He turned and looked at her one more time as the tears fell down her face. He turned and left her room closing the door softly behind him. In the main hall those present saw the one lonely tear fall from their new monarch’s face as well as he left to go about the remainder of his day.