Someones Knocking At the Door. [complete]

It wasn't the lancing that bothered Lessa so much, it was what Alistair pulled out of it that made her want to heave. She had watched in mute horror as she held the Dwarf firmly by her shoulders to prevent her from moving so Alistair could work, of all the scenarios that had run through her head. pulling a live spider from someones leg was not one of them. The Images it sprang to mind were not great but, it explained why the bodies were always wrapped in cocoon, not just for the spiders to feed on then. Suddenly Lessa wasn't hungry anymore.

With the deed done, the dwarf deep to the stone and the baby spider now burning in the fire, she sat herself on the log and watched as he joined her.  “So,”a low tone almost a whisper so as not to disturb poor Indra.  “I bet this isn’t what you thought you signed up for. How is your pain? Do you need another potion?” Lessa followed his gaze skywards for a moment. the stars looked pretty tonight.  “We’ll be able to stop in Highever proper and see about a healer. I am sure the teyrnir has at least one.”

"I can manage until we get there." She replied keeping her voice low but a slight chuckle escaped her lips "and no its not exactly something they put on thier recruitment posters."  Lessa shook her head a little "and here's me thinking you were the Wardens Poster boy," Her smile showed she was only teasing "Now thats a face any woman would sign up to see. The beaming smile, the bright eyes, the hairstyle, definatly the hair style." Lessa picked up her water skin and took a long swallow "I like you Alistair, what you see is what you get, you don't pretend to be anything or anyone other than who you are. At least i know when i talk with you i can be myself and not be worried about offending anyone with my lack of deeper intelligence."  That was not strictly true, Lessa was very intelligent, she just didn't show off about it like some she could picture. Some conversastion she had had with the other Wardens showed that. 

"Perhaps some rest is in order before first light comes creeping up. You get some rest Alistair, i'll keep watch this time. I'll wake you at first light. I don't think i will be getting much sleep but if any eight legged beasts show up I'll be sure to wake you, my swearing might do that actually."  her gaze flitted to where Indra lay "Good job Dwarfs don't dream. Lucky devils." 





"I can manage until we get there." Alessandra was no exception to most of the warriors he knew. Tough and stubborn about their wounds. He felt terrible that she would need to wait to see a healer, as her Warden healing meant the bone would heal where it was and need reset. He nodded, knowing it was useless to argue with her over it.

"and no its not exactly something they put on thier recruitment posters." No, they left the giant spiders off of those. "and here's me thinking you were the Wardens Poster boy." She had a pretty smile, even when she was teasing him, and it put him more at ease. "Now thats a face any woman would sign up to see. The beaming smile, the bright eyes, the hairstyle, definatly the hair style." He laughed, awkward, and tugged at the shell of his ear. "I like you Alistair, what you see is what you get, you don't pretend to be anything or anyone other than who you are. At least i know when i talk with you i can be myself and not be worried about offending anyone with my lack of deeper intelligence."

With a guileless smile he nodded his acceptance of the compliment. She wasn’t lacking in intelligence. He could tell she was educated, at least as well as he was. Recognizing when someone downplayed their own intellect was something he’d learned to recognize. Funny, that. There were those who liked to flaunt it, even in the Warden ranks. He never wanted to be one of those, but he was learning not to veer too far the other way, either.

"Perhaps some rest is in order before first light comes creeping up,” she suggested. “You get some rest Alistair, i'll keep watch this time. I'll wake you at first light. I don't think i will be getting much sleep but if any eight legged beasts show up I'll be sure to wake you, my swearing might do that actually." He watched her eyes move to the sleeping dwarf. "Good job Dwarfs don't dream. Lucky devils."

I actually envy her a little right now.” He chuckled, then sighed. “I will fight you for first watch, considering you are injured. Literally if I have to.” His tone was playfully scolding. “It wouldn’t be gentlemanly of me at all.” Some habits would never fade, and it was just the decent thing to do.

He moved to resting his back against the fallen log again. “I appreciate your candor,” he told her. “Not a quality shared by a lot of Wardens I know. It's refreshing.” He poked at the fire with a long stick, making sparks twirl into the air. “They like their secrets. I think it makes us less palatable to those who have never suffered a Blight. When there’s no archdemon to hunt, there’s less inclination for people to tolerate us in their lands.” He still believed in the Wardens. Still believed they were good, even after his time at Weisshaupt. “Oh, I’m not naive. I know there are things that are accepted that people would rather not hear about. But I think we do more good than harm.

He sighed, the day resting heavily on his shoulders. He envied Indra her dreamless sleep. Nothing like darkspawn dancing the merengue around your brain while you were trying to rest to make sleep anything but restful. “You take first sleep,” he said, letting her know there was no arguing. He was the Senior Warden. She was his responsibility. “If we were attacked you’re in no shape to fight.
I actually envy her a little right now. I will fight you for first watch, considering you are injured. Literally if I have to. It wouldn’t be gentlemanly of me at all.” 

There was a hint of playfulness in his tone, but Lessa knew a scalding when she heard it, and in all honesty she really wasn't up for any sort of fight. playful or otherwise. Although that didn't stop her sense of humour surfacing. Picking up a long stick she shifted a little and poked the fire too, watching as the embers flew into the air like firefly's with thier whirling and wandering. 

"Although I'd happily surrender if you show me how you'd fight me? i have no doubt your sword is big enough." She kept a straight face but that was through sheer will, honestly what had started out as playful jabs was backfiring because every time he looked at her her heart skipped a beat. Not that Lessa would let hm know that. 

I appreciate your candor, Not a quality shared by a lot of Wardens I know. It's refreshing.” Lessa watched as he too poked the fire  “They like their secrets. I think it makes us less palatable to those who have never suffered a Blight. When there’s no archdemon to hunt, there’s less inclination for people to tolerate us in their lands. Oh, I’m not naive. I know there are things that are accepted that people would rather not hear about. But I think we do more good than harm.”

"Oh i don't know," Lessa remarked "I think it depends what nation you live in too. I mean You and Aedan did your bit and the Wardens are more or less ok here, unless of course you are a noble and in that case all the smiles and nods are as fake as an Orleasian banquet." She heaved a sigh "But the Chantry i suspect hate us because we don't have a cute little circle for our mages with Templars watching over them." She shook her head which sometimes might not be a bad idea. she thought to herself but kept that thought well and truly hidden. "We are ok to go in and stop blights but oh Maker forbid we don't bow down to the Grand Clerics when its all over.

Lessa was Andrastian to the core, but you wouldn't find her going into a chantry, if she even crossed over the threshold she thought she might burst into flame. Lessa nodded absently when Alistair told her to take first sleep but she doubted she would actually sleep, as good as that poultice was there was no comfortable way for her to sleep. 

She looked over at the Dwarf and gave a small smile, at least she would be better come the morning, well as better as one could be after seeing her comrades become spider food oh, and having a spider taken out of her leg, but she would be fine. Moving down to sit beside him, she moved a little closer and looked back at the sky watching the stars. 

"Do you ever wonder if there is more out there?" She asked "All those stars, lightening up the sky" She rested her head on his shoulder and found it made the pain in her side go away "That the Maker has more than one world to oversee?






"Oh i don't know," Alessandra said. "I think it depends what nation you live in too. I mean You and Aedan did your bit and the Wardens are more or less ok here, unless of course you are a noble and in that case all the smiles and nods are as fake as an Orleasian banquet." She sighed heavily. "But the Chantry i suspect hate us because we don't have a cute little circle for our mages with Templars watching over them."

Alistair had to dip his head to that because it was true. The Chantry did not like that the Wardens basically gave their mages free reign to do as they would, magically or otherwise. It was a subject Alistair had mixed opinions on, though most of them were favorable to the mages, overall. It was the few bad apples that marred his opinions, and he’d seen too many bad ones to trust the whole barrel.

"We are ok to go in and stop blights,” she added, “but oh Maker forbid we don't bow down to the Grand Clerics when its all over."

Alistair let a soft snort. “Careful, I’m pretty sure she can hear you from here.” He chuckled. Somehow the Grand Cleric always knew when he was up to no good, and she was not quite as taken with his charms as some.

Quiet fell after he ordered her to first sleep. Alessandra seemed to keep her own thoughts for a time, gazing back at Indra as she slept, blissfully dreamless. When he thought she would retire, given her movements, he was surprised that she instead slid down off the log to settle beside him. He thought little of it, even as she scooted closer to him and turned her gaze up to the stars.

"Do you ever wonder if there is more out there?" she asked him, her thoughts far away in the stars she asked about. "All those stars, lightening up the sky" He startled when her head came to rest upon his shoulder. "That the Maker has more than one world to oversee?"

I have thought about that,” he admitted. “Wondered about it myself, if that's why the Maker seems preoccupied.” He tried to relax under the weight of her head on his shoulder but found himself a little tense. Not out of any revulsion, but more the surprise. Between that and the kiss in the tunnels, he was learning that Alessandra kept few boundaries. He didn’t want to embarrass her, and didn’t strictly mind the open casualness of her actions.

They teach a little of the stars in the Chantry,” he said, shifting his weight beneath her head and trying not to be so aware of it. “Mostly for trackers, for navigation, but we’re all taught. The kennel master where I used to sleep,” something he’d forgiven Eamon and Isolde for long ago, “once told me you could wish on them. I thought they were surely magic, until I tried it, and it didn’t work.

Oh, how he’d wished for something, anything, to take him from the Chantry as a boy. “Or maybe it did work, just not until much later when Duncan recruited me.” Perhaps that was late wish fulfillment. Perhaps it was just luck. “Why, what do you see when you look up?
Whilst Alistair told her what he thought and his wish she listened. After a moment or to she moved her head and went to lay out on her bedroll, one hand tucked under her head. Her thoughts elsewhere. It surprised her somewhat, she normally teased for a bit then respected boundaries, hell she respected all boundaries. Figuring she has teased him enough she decided to let it be now. Besides this had backfired on her and she wasn't about to let her heart rule her head. 

Lessa was not without her admirers, male or female it mattered not really She was a stunningly beautiful woman with a demeanour that seemed to draw most people to her. Her personality and her sense of humour

Why, what do you see when you look up?"

Alistair's question broke into her thoughts and she was silent for a little longer "In terms of a wish?" she sighed finally "That my best friend was able to escape that Hurlocks grip as he pulled her underground and she is alive and well somewhere." She doubted it, she had heard what happened in the aftermath of Ostagar and since becoming a Warden and seeing first hand what befell women taken by the spawn she had a very good idea what had happened to her friend. "As for what i see" She let her gaze wander around the star field "Hopes for a better future, an end to all blights and the promise of something better when we leave this world.

The poultice began to work its magic and her eyelids grew heavy. When Alistair would next look he would find her asleep, her chest rising and falling in silence and for once no nightmares. 


Highever was a welcome sight. She found Wardens to be tolerated more here than anywhere else in Thedas, wether that was because of Aedan's blood connection to the Tyern or that the Couslands had always respected the order she had no idea and, she didn't care, she let the healer prod and poke at her, swearing when they prodded where her ribs protested. The healer gave her some foul liquid to drink and told her what she already knew. Warden healing aside she was not going to be fighting anytime soon. Lessa sat as the healer rubbed some sort of paste around her broken ribs and then wrapped a bandage around her ribs. 

"You may heal faster than a normal human Warden," The healer spoke "But i do not advise anything strenuous for while" 

"No chance of that." Lessa remarked and looked at Indra's form "Is she going to be ok?

The healer looked over "She will be fine. I am not sure if she will want to see a spider anytime soon, pulled one out of her leg you say?" Lessa nodded. 

"Warden Therrin did that." The Denerim raised warden pulled a face "Rather him than me, that was gross." 

"Hmm, at least we can write up why they feed on the still warm victims."

Lessa stared for a moment and looked at Alistair "Really? This is the highlight of his day? Working out why Spiders do what they do, gross."  When the Healer had finished she pointed "Can you pass me my jerkin? its a little cold in here and i don't want my wrap giving away more that it should in public and what now? i can't move for a few days and Indra isn't going anywhere, so are you going to return to the Vigil and let the Commander know or wait here with us and take in the sights of Highever?" 


Alessandra considered his question. "In terms of a wish?" He nodded as she sighed, finding comfort finally in her bedroll. "That my best friend was able to escape that Hurlocks grip as he pulled her underground and she is alive and well somewhere." Unfortunately, it was unlikely her wish would prove true, but he didn’t say that. It seemed rude. "As for what i see. Hopes for a better future, an end to all blights and the promise of something better when we leave this world."

From your mouth to the Maker’s ears,” he said quietly. Anything else he had to say would need to wait until morning, as the next time he looked at Alessandra, she was fast asleep.

It was a short trip to Highever the next morning. Indra rode in front of him in the saddle, since they only had the two horses. The teyrn was only too happy to welcome them, and Alistair was given the hospitality of a room to rest while Alessandra and Indra saw the healer. After a short but welcomed rest, he returned to the infirmary in time to see the healer wrapping bandages around her ribs. Alistair turned, allowing her privacy. Again, manners.

"You may heal faster than a normal human Warden," The healer said as Alistair reached hearing distance. "But i do not advise anything strenuous for while"

At least his decision to keep her off of watch had been the right one. "No chance of that." Alessandra noted. "Is she going to be ok?"

She must have asked after Indra, who was asleep again. "She will be fine,” the healer assured them. “I am not sure if she will want to see a spider anytime soon, pulled one out of her leg you say?"

"Warden Therrin did that. Rather him than me, that was gross."

"Hmm, at least we can write up why they feed on the still warm victims."

Disbelief touched Alessandra’s voice. "Really? This is the highlight of his day? Working out why Spiders do what they do, gross." The healer had just about finished up, and out of the corner of his eye he saw his fellow warden point. "Can you pass me my jerkin? its a little cold in here and i don't want my wrap giving away more that it should in public and what now? i can't move for a few days and Indra isn't going anywhere, so are you going to return to the Vigil and let the Commander know or wait here with us and take in the sights of Highever?"

Alistair handed her the requested garment, still keeping his back turned while she dressed. “I’m not going back without you,” he assured her. “I’ll see that Indra is taken back to Orzammar when she’s well enough to travel, and send word to Commander Berlra to keep him abreast, ah, updated on the situation.” Maker, he could have fit both feet in his mouth. Instead he sighed. “You got lucky down there. We both did.

He sat in a chair and ran his hands through his hair. “I have no business being in charge of anything,” he said, ashamed of the petulance in his voice. It was why he’d always insisted that Aedan was the one to lead them during the Blight. Aedan who was to be the commander over the new order of Fereldan Wardens. But that had fallen through when Aedan had disappeared, and Commander Berlra decided that Alistair had to step up. “All I’ve done is manage to get several dwarves killed, and almost you and me besides. I should have sent an escort for the smiths.

A meal was delivered, with promise that one would be provided for Indra when she woke. Alistair ate in silence, the clear broth welcome in his stomach, almost as comforting as more of the sleep he still needed. “You saved my life down there, you know. I won’t forget that. I’ll make sure the Commander knows your part in us escaping.
Alistair handed her the requested garment, still keeping his back turned while she dressed.  Oh he had such manners, probably rare in the vigil most guys and gals like to watch, Lessa thought

I’m not going back without you,” he assured “I’ll see that Indra is taken back to Orzammar when she’s well enough to travel, and send word to Commander Berlra to keep him abreast, ah, updated on the situation.” Lessa arched an amused eyebrow and tried not to laugh when the healer made a little squeak of shock at Alistair's unintended pun.  “You got lucky down there. We both did.”

Lessa didn't need telling twice, seemed that luck was in abundance with her lately, the Harvester being the main focus of that luck. They had been lucky then not that Henri or Velanna would admit to such a thing. Still, best not provoke providence so she nodded a little "I guess we did, one to thank the Maker for no doubt.

I have no business being in charge of anything,” Lessa scowled at the shame that seemed to litter his tone, and her dark eyes darkened a little more.. “All I’ve done is manage to get several dwarves killed, and almost you and me besides. I should have sent an escort for the smiths.” He sat in a chair and ran his hand through his hair, a sign that the weight of the last few days had come onto his shoulders. 

"and Balen could have sent an escort with them." Lessa replied a little harshly. "coulda woulda shoulda, whats done it done and theres nothing we can do to change that." Lessa waited until the healer left before moving off the bed and sitting herself across from Alistair. It hurt to breathe still but at the moment it was a lot more comfortable than she had been. "Look Alistair we all make mistakes, the mark of a leader is someone who makes those mistakes and admits to it. not cover it up with the immortal line "its what wardens do," cause frankly what Wardens do is not always right and its why we have a shit reputation at the best of times.

She scratched her nose and than the top of her head. Therin was a rare one indeed. a snowflake really, he genuinely cared about people and he wanted to help. Maybe it was a bit fantasy to believe that the Wardens were a force for good when evidence to the contrary stated that they only cared about thier own agenda but that was him and, despite what some quarters thought, he was a Hero of Ferelden. 

"You know um..Lord Cousland" She carefully phrased knowing healers liked to listen at the door "was not the only Hero of Ferleden. You are too as are the people that fought with you. Wasn't all down to him." She raised her hand to fall stall any arguement from Alistair for the moment. "You took command back there, you got Indra and me out. and you practically ordered me not to do the watch, for which i am most grateful. People die Alistair and honestly would sending an escort have stopped what happened? So yeah you do have a right to be in command, better than some anyway." Lessa heaved a sigh "You saved Indra from a fate worse than death so thats something else too. who else would have realised that a spider was growing in her leg? not me." Lessa put a hand over his "Enough wallowing Senior Warden, you are what you are and your a better man because of it. and you have far more going for you than what you put out.

Lessa got up and made her way to the window, the view was nice and Highever was beautiful, hard to think a few years ago it was the ravaged corpse of a jealous power hungry man. She closed her eyes a moment wrestling with something. He was honest about what he felt about things. That was a rare trait in anyone. it didn't make him or anyone with the expectations of an order and history of thier blood any less than the next man or woman. "
I like you Alistair. a lot. and i'll leave that there. Take it for what you will." She kept her gaze on the view out the window "Maker i could murder a pint of cool ale right about now."  There she had said it but she would say no more on it. Less she get told words she really didn't want to hear. 
Alessandra was having none of Alistair’s self-pity. "and Balen could have sent an escort with them." Her tone was a little brusque, but he couldn’t say it was unwarranted. "coulda woulda shoulda, whats done it done and theres nothing we can do to change that." Once the healer was gone from the room, clearly sensing a private conversation, she moved from the cot where she’d been examined to sit across from him. "Look Alistair we all make mistakes, the mark of a leader is someone who makes those mistakes and admits to it. not cover it up with the immortal line "its what wardens do," cause frankly what Wardens do is not always right and its why we have a shit reputation at the best of times."

He ducked his head, almost as ashamed to be lectured by her as he was in his perceived failures. She was right, Wardens didn’t always do the right thing, but he still believed in the virtue of the order, even after his time with Aedan. Duncan had seen to it that he knew the good they could do.

"You know um..Lord Cousland was not the only Hero of Ferleden. You are too as are the people that fought with you. Wasn't all down to him." He opened his mouth to argue, but she stymied him with a raised palm. "You took command back there, you got Indra and me out. and you practically ordered me not to do the watch, for which i am most grateful. People die Alistair and honestly would sending an escort have stopped what happened? So yeah you do have a right to be in command, better than some anyway." She sighed, as if exasperated. "You saved Indra from a fate worse than death so thats something else too. who else would have realised that a spider was growing in her leg? not me." She placed a hand over his, her tone only softening a smidge. "Enough wallowing Senior Warden, you are what you are and your a better man because of it. and you have far more going for you than what you put out."

Thank you,” he managed. “I sometimes forget that I need to hear these things to remember them.” She was right, he had acted as the leader he was supposed to be, that Alessandra and Indra were both alive was testament to that. The other dwarves hadn’t really been his fault, but he still carried the burden like it was his own.

His fellow Warden stood with a good deal of effort, her wounded ribs obviously hurting beyond what the poultices and potions could shield her from. She moved to the window, overlooking one of the many gardens around Castle Cousland. "I like you Alistair,” she said, “a lot. and i'll leave that there. Take it for what you will." He looked up, a brow raised as he tried to understand what she was saying. "Maker i could murder a pint of cool ale right about now."

Why would you need a—” Alistair was not as thick as he liked to let on, but it did take him a moment to put together what she was saying. “Oh. Oh.” He swallowed. “I don’t really know what to say,” he said honestly. He rubbed a hand over his hair, sending it in different directions as he did. “I guess, uh, thank you, first of all.

He rubbed a hand over his face and stood, not able to sit still with such a confession hanging in the air. He was painfully aware that he needed to say something, anything at all, but as the seconds dripped by he was losing the proper time to do so. The quiet in the room stretched on, and he bobbed his head as if that would make up for his lack of words.

Look, I don’t want to give the wrong impression,” he said quietly, trying to spare her anyone overhearing them. “You’re a fine Warden, and I can tell a good soul.” He let out a breath, his face turning pink, “And you should already know that you’re very lovely.” She was, there was no denying that. He was thick, he wasn’t dead. He was still only a man. “But that’s all I really know about you.” Oh, there were details she’d shared, and he remembered her stories, but it wasn’t quite enough. “I have to… know someone.

He sighed, disappointed in himself for not knowing how to say all of this in a way that wasn’t hurtful. “I’m not saying that, well I don’t know what I am or am not saying. I’m not… worldly.” Oh, Maker. Did that ever sound wrong. “I’ve not, well I have, but not,” he let out a huff. He was not about to kiss and tell. That night with Leliana was not a thing he chose to share with others. It was for them to remember, only. “I am sure you are great to get to know, and now I’ve put both feet in my mouth, so I should probably offer to buy you that pint.
Lessa was not really expecting an answer but when Alistair did answer in that oh so clumsy way he was renowned for she quirked an eyebrow but kept her back to him. 

Oh. Oh.” He paused as the silver finally dropped.  “I don’t really know what to say,”  She glanced in the reflection in the window as he rubbed a hand over his hair, almost laughing as he sent it in different  “I guess, uh, thank you, first of all.”

The bobbing of the head was amusing. it was as if he really didn't know what to say or do, bless him. 


Look, I don’t want to give the wrong impression,” he said quietly as if it was some big conspiracy they were talking about. “You’re a fine Warden, and I can tell a good soul.” a pause and as she watched his reflection she saw him turn a somewhat delicate shade of pink, “And you should already know that you’re very lovely. But that’s all I really know about you. I have to… know someone.”

wait a minute, did he think? Lessa turned to face him known her eyebrow raised a little. Did he think she was suggesting that they just get into bed now? she dropped her head a little as if exasperated at the thought and would have said something to elevate that but he carried on wanting to get it all out apparently. 

I’m not saying that, well I don’t know what I am or am not saying. I’m not… worldly. I’ve not, well I have, but not,” he let out a huff. “I am sure you are great to get to know, and now I’ve put both feet in my mouth, so I should probably offer to buy you that pint.

Lessa shook her head a little in amusement, because that as all it could be seen as. She was not so precious that she needed to be cottoned from the words. However she did want to make one thing clear then, if needs be, they need never speak of it again. 

"Alistair, i wasn't remotely suggesting that we get into bed and ride the honey waves. One my ribs couldn't stand it and two not what i was getting at. I would like to get to know you and for you to know me and if that was agreeable then maybe something more somewhere along the line. If not its no big deal. I still like you a lot" She patted his shoulder  "no matter what, now i think a pint or two is in order here.

She had no wish to know about past liaisons, that was his business and frankly none of hers, just as hers was none of his. Lessa paused, stopped and kissed his cheek "and thankyou for being a gentleman, there are few and far between these days." and with that she waited by the door. Ribs be damned, she wanted a long cold ale and a hearty slab of meat preferably in an Inn that wouldn't have them stared at for carrying the plague or something distasteful on the bottom of thier shoes. "Come on, times wasting." 
Of all the reactions he expected, Alessandra being amused was not one of them. She shook her head gently, and Alistair knew almost immediately that he’d slipped up and said something stupid.

"Alistair, i wasn't remotely suggesting that we get into bed and ride the honey waves.” The what now? “One my ribs couldn't stand it and two not what i was getting at. I would like to get to know you and for you to know me and if that was agreeable then maybe something more somewhere along the line. If not its no big deal. I still like you a lot" Her hand patted his shoulder. "no matter what, now i think a pint or two is in order here."

I—

"and thankyou for being a gentleman, there are few and far between these days." She walked to the door as if even broken ribs couldn’t stop her from what she had set her mind to. "Come on, times wasting."

Alistair stared at her for a moment, not exactly confused, but also not completely understanding what had just happened. A few moments ago they were talking about losing half a dozen dwarves and spiders coming out of living bodies, and now he’d stuffed both feet in his mouth and made a presumptuous comment about someone who just confessed to feelings for him.

Would his life ever stop being weird?

I, well uh, I suppose a drink wouldn’t hurt.” In fact, if he looked at it practically, it might help Alessandra relax and get more rest. It couldn’t hurt to try, at least. There was no harm in simply having a drink with someone. So, when the healer wasn’t looking, they left the infirmary and walked into Highever’s market district.

Since its destruction, Highever had rebuilt into a thriving town, a testament to the Cousland teyrn for his commitment to the people of the teyrnir and the town proper. While the market district was still relatively small, it had signs of ever expanding, with tents and construction underway around the square.

Finding the first tavern they could find, Alistair held the hefty door for Alessandra, partly out of that gentlemanly quality she’d mentioned him having, and partly because he knew her ribs would not thank her for hefting it. In their uniforms, they entered to a round of cheers from the small gathering of people in for a midday drink, and the tavern owner offered their first round on the house.

Alistair ordered an ale and sat at one of the tables apart from the crowd, his unease at all of the attention apparent. When Alessandra joined him, he wanted to be clear. “So this is a friendly drink? I don’t want to make you think it’s more than I can give right now.” He was not in the business of leading people on. “But it’s not a bad way to get to know one another. I feel like you have me at a disadvantage: you know so much about me,” at least the stories, “but I don’t know quite so much about you.” Though he had learned some things. She’d once been engaged, she’d lost people very close to her in horrible ways, but that was things that happened to her, not who she was.
Lessa was more than surprised at the welcome both her and Alistair had been given in the Tavern. She had actually been surprised at the work that the Teryn had put into his birthland. After what Howe had done and the ravages of the Blight she did not really know what to expect but she did not expect to see all the repair work that had been done. and then this welcome. Lessa was used to glares and whispers behind raised hands whenever she walked into a tavern in Amaranthine honestly even if she wasn't wearing armour they just seemed to know. It was as if she wore a big sign around her neck that said "i am tainty" 

Lessa took a honey ale and went to join Alistair, now decidedly more comfortable since the healer had worked thier magic. It was a comfortable enough silence and Lessa soaked in the atmosphere for a little while. 

So this is a friendly drink? I don’t want to make you think it’s more than I can give right now.” Lessa nodded, it was just a friendly drink, nothing more nothing less. “But it’s not a bad way to get to know one another. I feel like you have me at a disadvantage: you know so much about me,” Well that was true enough she supposed but it was only what everyone else knew. “but I don’t know quite so much about you.” 

Lessa quirked an eyebrow and took a long swallow from her tankard, now that was good ale and she might have another couple after this because honestly only the Crown and Lion served the Honey Ale but even that was nothing on this. Lessa cocked her head a little and shrugged. It was a fair enough statement. 

"I was born in Dragons Peak, so i was told." Lessa ran her finger round the rim of her tankard, although she was following the cold trail down the length of the tankard. "My mother was a tavern wrench but i think you can guess what she really was." Honestly he couldn't be that naive surely? "My father was a templar and er some kind of Templar hero, this was his." She hesitated for a moment then, taking off her pendant she let it sit on her hand for a moment before handing it to Alistair to let him look. "i met him just recently in fact, Burrows was with me." Lessa scratched the back of her left ear "In fact he and er Leliana were the ones who told me it was off significance to the Order, the winged sword shows if you tip it a certain way in the light." Lessa didn't say how she met the Left Hand as she didn't think it was relevant. and she certainly did not go into what had happened at the Circle. 

Another Sip of Ale and when Alistair handed it back to her, Lessa put it back round her neck and looked around, even nodding and giving the patrons a smile of thanks when they raised thier tankards to the Grey Wardens in the corner. At least the Wardens were welcome, or maybe it was Alistair after all they all knew who he had travelled with during the blight. 

"My mother did not want to be saddled with me so she left me in a shack when i was a month or so old. where i was found by a merchant and his wife and taken to Denerim and placed into the care of the Chantry."  Lessa lent on the table, not invading his space but in a way that was comfortable to her "Your turn tell me something about you.
Alessandra got herself a tankard of honey ale and joined him at the table. Alistair noticed the hubbub they started with their entrance, and was momentarily distracted by what he took to be whispers about them, or just him. He wasn’t sure. Everyone thought they knew exactly who he was. Not that he did much to disabuse him of their preconceptions.

He turned his attention to Alessandra, who took a long draught of her drink before starting her story. "I was born in Dragons Peak, so i was told. My mother was a tavern wrench but i think you can guess what she really was." It wasn’t a long leap to guess. "My father was a templar and er some kind of Templar hero, this was his." She waited a moment before taking off a necklace with a pendant attached. Alistair lifted his eyes, clearly impressed with the trinket. "i met him just recently in fact, Burrows was with me. In fact he and er Leliana were the ones who told me it was off significance to the Order, the winged sword shows if you tip it a certain way in the light."

You’ve met Leliana, then?” he said with a look of fondness in his eyes. He wasn’t surprised. His friend knew a lot of people. “And your father was something of a hero to the Order.” He tucked those facts away.

He returned the necklace to her, and she returned it to its place around her neck. His eyes wandered the room, following her glances here and there, and people raised tankards to them. He never really got used to the celebrity that came with ending a Blight. He turned his attention back to Alessandra.

"My mother did not want to be saddled with me so she left me in a shack when i was a month or so old. where i was found by a merchant and his wife and taken to Denerim and placed into the care of the Chantry." She shifted her weight to leaning on the table. "Your turn tell me something about you."

Something about me that you don’t already know. Hmm.” He took a drink of his ale and considered for a moment. “I used to start fights at the Chantry. Not because I thought I could win them, but because I was so angry. Angry at my father. Angry at Eamon. Even angry at Cailan, though I’d not met him yet.” He remembered being teased by one of the other young initiates when he’d been about thirteen. Alistair hadn’t even tried to keep his temper in check. He clocked the boy. “And that is when I wasn’t running my mouth. I got really good at scrubbing pots and pans.

I remember I was so angry one day, feeling particularly sorry for myself. I’d just received a letter from Eamon. I tossed it in the fire and taunted the first group of boys I came to. There were three of them, all better martially than me. I don’t think even the Archdemon beat me as thoroughly as that group of initiates did. But I got a few good hits in, and I felt better. At least until the Grand Cleric got ahold of me.” He sighed with a self-deprecating laugh. “I don’t make it a habit anymore, so don’t go getting any ideas of starting a brawl.

He rubbed a hand over the back of his head, bringing it forward to tug at his ear. “I was very unhappy at the monastery, but looking back, I think it was good for me. Fighting aside.

Another drink of ale went down and Alistair looked to Alessandra again. “I’m sure that doesn’t fit with the golden prince tale that everyone tells, but that’s what it was really like.
Something about me that you don’t already know. Hmm.” Lessa watched as he thought and took a long swallow of his ale before he began.“I used to start fights at the Chantry. Not because I thought I could win them, but because I was so angry. Angry at my father. Angry at Eamon. Even angry at Cailan, though I’d not met him yet.” He paused “And that is when I wasn’t running my mouth. I got really good at scrubbing pots and pans."

Lessa let a half smile cross her face she could imagine that actually she could even imagine his punishment for it. "When i got too mouthy which was not very often admittedly, the Revered Mother had a switch arm the likes of which i had never seen before or since.

Alistair continued after a moment. “I remember I was so angry one day, feeling particularly sorry for myself. I’d just received a letter from Eamon. I tossed it in the fire and taunted the first group of boys I came to. There were three of them, all better martially than me. I don’t think even the Archdemon beat me as thoroughly as that group of initiates did. But I got a few good hits in, and I felt better. At least until the Grand Cleric got a hold of me.”

He sighed and she heard a laugh that sounded familiar in a strange way. a way that reminded her of herself when she was a young kid.  it usually masked what she was really thinking at the time.

I don’t make it a habit anymore, so don’t go getting any ideas of starting a brawl.

"Thought never crossed my mind." She raised her hands in a surrender gesture and much to Lessa's surprise a Honey Ale was put before her and an ale before Alistair. turning Lessa saw a young woman about her age, wearing the garb of the Highever Teryns guard nod and go back to her conversastion. "Ok, guess i'm not buying the next one.

I was very unhappy at the monastery, but looking back, I think it was good for me. Fighting aside.” Another drink of ale went down and Alistair looked to Alessandra again. “I’m sure that doesn’t fit with the golden prince tale that everyone tells, but that’s what it was really like.

Lessa shrugged a little "Maybe not. but i can see why you are like you are." Lessa picked up her ale "Kids in the chantry all have a dream i suppose. For some reason Brother Bernhard and Mother Vanessa encouraged me to fight. I heard them say once i could have been a Seeker or a Templar, knowing what i know now i guess i can see why they would think that." Lessa finished her first ale and moved the second one in front of her but didn't touch it for the moment "I think i'm angry still. They must have known that i was the daughter of a Templar, the pendant alone would have said that and that i had family out there, but they chose to keep me in the Orphanage." She lifted a shrug "it doesn't make much sense to me, not really.

Shaking her head a little to clear it maybe, Lessa cleared her throat, she was enjoying the conversastion and she doubted many knew how harsh his life had been. but then what would they expect, the bastard son of the king, of course they would try and make sure he stayed out the way and didn't get any dibs on the throne. Lessa wondered if people actually wanted Alistair to be king because of what he was but in reality realised it was because of who he was. Some people would do anything to ensure that a Therrin stayed on the throne, well they had that, sort of.  "How did you meet Duncan?






Alessandra was unfussed by his story. "Maybe not. but i can see why you are like you are. Kids in the chantry all have a dream i suppose. For some reason Brother Bernhard and Mother Vanessa encouraged me to fight. I heard them say once i could have been a Seeker or a Templar, knowing what i know now i guess i can see why they would think that." No sooner had they finished their ales than new ones were waiting in front of them. "I think i'm angry still. They must have known that i was the daughter of a Templar, the pendant alone would have said that and that i had family out there, but they chose to keep me in the Orphanage." She shrugged. "it doesn't make much sense to me, not really."

There is a lot the Chantry does that doesn’t make sense,” he agreed, taking a drink. “I’m not surprised they didn’t try to find your parents. They don't like their templars to have attachments.” Jaded? Probably. But he’d suffered enough in the monastery to diminish his charity on stories like hers.

Alessandra moved on from the topic as most people with painful pasts did. "How did you meet Duncan?"

“Oh, well that is a story most people know, isn’t it?” He chuckled and buried his nose in his tankard, pretending he wasn’t going to tell her more. He missed Duncan, every day, and once it stopped being painful to talk about him, he decided he should be talked about, often. “He came to the monastery, recruiting. We had a whole tournament just for him,” he said. “Like I said, there were plenty of templar initiates who were martially better than I was. I lost as many bouts as I won.” He shrugged. It wasn’t something to be ashamed of. He’d done well enough since, hadn’t he? “Duncan picked me.” It was a story he’d told many times, and he told it with enough ease. “The Grand Cleric had a fit about it, and he was forced to conscript me. I don’t know why he wanted me so badly.” He paused in his telling and considered telling more. “Sometimes I think he knew what I was. Who I was. Like he was saving me from something.

Saving him only to make him a Warden was a weird thing to do, but Alistair had been grateful all the same.

They exchanged a few more stories until their ales ran out when Alistair decided that they’d worn out their hospitality for one evening. Highever had a modest market and he invited Alessandra to walk it with him, just to stretch their legs. He was restless, knowing they needed to get back to Vigil’s Keep soon, but knowing that Alessandra needed time to heal before she could ride again. Thankfully, Wardens healed quickly, and she was likely to be healed in a day or two.

Returning to the castle to find Indra awake and in better spirits, Alistair set about arranging her travel back to Orzammar, over land instead of under it. He doubted she would be setting into the Deep Roads any time soon.

Finally, it was time for them to return to Vigil’s Keep. Alistair helped Alessandra mount her horse, as was the gentlemanly thing to do, considering she was just recovered, and they started their trip back.

I think, in a way, you were lucky,” he said, guiding his horse next to hers. “To not be a templar.” Oh, yes, he was being very nosy, but what was the point of such a prominent nose if he couldn’t use it? “Spend your best years riddled with lyrium or grouchy at not having enough, only to lose your wits at the end of your usefulness.” Now, he couldn’t claim the Wardens were much better, but at least they didn’t require a substance to keep you loyal. “How did you avoid it, if I might ask?
Oh, well that is a story most people know, isn’t it?” He chuckled and buried his nose in his tankard, just when Lessa thought he wasn't going to say another word on it, he continued. “He came to the monastery, recruiting. We had a whole tournament just for him,

That did surprise Lessa, considering she was aware of what the Templar Order thought of the Grey Wardens she didn't expect to hear they held a tournament for the former Warden Commander. 

Like I said, there were plenty of templar initiates who were martially better than I was. I lost as many bouts as I won.” He shrugged. “Duncan picked me. The Grand Cleric had a fit about it, and he was forced to conscript me. I don’t know why he wanted me so badly.” He paused a moment and after a moment or two added. “Sometimes I think he knew what I was. Who I was. Like he was saving me from something.”


The walk through the market was a welcome distraction and she perused the stores for a moment, She even brought them both some food because Wardens had appetites that would put a pig to shame sometimes. Honestly sometimes it felt like she could eat the entire forest of boar and deer, burn the weight off and do it all again. 

When they returned Indra was awake and in good spirits. She had thanked them both but Lessa had waved it off. "I am just pleased you are recovered" She had said when they saw her off with an escort of surface dwarfs. When it came time to return to the Vigil Lessa thanked Alistair as he helped her onto her horse. Her ribs still ached but at least she could breath better and, it seemed the healers work and that of her own warden healing had done its job.

They rode in a comfortable silence for a while until Alistair guided his horse next to hers. “I think, in a way, you were lucky,To not be a templar.” Lessa looked at him a moment raising a brow a little.  “Spend your best years riddled with lyrium or grouchy at not having enough, only to lose your wits at the end of your usefulness.” well, there was that she supposed. “How did you avoid it, if I might ask?

Lessa took in a long breath through her nose for a moment "I was chosen." She replied "and i was due to leave for the Denerim Monastery but when i sat outside and watched the people in the market i changed my mind. I wanted to give something back to the city that took me in and raised me." Lessa gave Alistair a sideways glance "I can't say the Revered Mother was very happy but, all things considered she was understanding about it. Strick she may have been Maker rest her soul. but she understood if you phrased it just right." Lessa lifted a shoulder in a shrug "i think i got the better end of that conversastion, still knowing what i know now i do sometimes wonder if they knew who i was." Lessa brushed it off and changed the subject "You've been to Wieshaupt? Is it really as, bleak as they say up there?