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The Jealous Kind - 30_hugs prompt

Title: The Jealous Kind
Fandom: Dragon Age Origins: Awakening
Theme: #18; the wrong words
Characters and Relationship: Nathaniel Howe/Moira Cousland, romantic
Rating: G
Summary: The green-eyed monster comes out to play at the appearance of a certain ex-Crow.
Note: One of the things I missed while playing Awakening was having Zevran in my party. I’m betting he and Anders would have had some awesome in-game banter going back and forth. Again, English-Italian translation is a bit iffy; I’m completely open to any corrections! I was wibbling about the title of this, seeing that Santa Esmeralda’s Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood came on my playlist halfway through writing this. The guitar solo + Kill Bill Soundtrack = Zevran’s theme in my head. ;)


Nathaniel had intended on going out and hunting for deer that afternoon, but the lone elf bearing an incredibly recognizable facial tattoo on the road leading to the Keep derailed his plans. Stringing an arrow, he stepped out of the brush and glared.

“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t fire this arrow through your throat right now,” he growled, pulling his arm back.

The elf stopped in his tracks and slowly raised his hands out from his sides. “I can give you several,” he said, his thick Antivan accent further confirming Nathaniel’s suspicion of his affiliation with the Crows. “One, it would make talking incredibly difficult. Two, I am completely unarmed, and three, your Arlessa would not be pleased to learn that a dear friend of hers was killed while visiting.”

“Why would she have anything to do with you?” Nathaniel asked, nudging the elf in the back with the arrow. “Move.”

The elf shrugged. “Such polite hospitality.” Grinning, he began to walk towards the front gates. “And for your information, my dearest Moira has had many uses for my varied talents.” The lecherous smirk set Nathaniel’s nerves on edge and he had to restrain himself from striking the elf on principle.

“We’ll see what she has to say about that,” he said instead, shoving his prisoner towards the entrance to the throne room.

Moira was standing near the dais talking to Captain Garevel when she must have noticed them come in. Nathaniel had a brief second to admire the fact that she had decided on wearing a dress for the day, the vibrant scarlet color making her stand out from the rest of the Hall. She turned her head towards them, squinting as she tried to see who Nathaniel’s prisoner was.

Then her entire expression changed. Her face broke out into one of the widest smiles Nathaniel had ever seen and her eyes lit up. “Zev!” she yelled, picking up her skirts and running towards them.

“What did I tell you?” the elf – this Zev, and Nathaniel wasn’t too keen on the enthusiastic way that Moira had greeted a potential assassin - asked, his tone cocky. His smile broadened when Moira reached them.

“What brings you back to the land of rain and dogs?” Moira asked, throwing her arms around him. Nathaniel scowled, but kept his distance, one hand on the hilt of his dagger, should anything happen.

“Is it not obvious? I have returned so that beautiful women can throw themselves at me on a regular basis.” He held Moira at arm’s length. “I also have some news that you might find interesting. Perhaps we could go somewhere more private, especially where there aren’t any brutes breathing down my neck?”

Moira looked over his shoulder, almost as if she’d only just noticed Nathaniel standing there. “Zevran, anything you have to say to me can be said in front of Nathaniel.”

Zevran whistled. “Nathaniel, is it? So, this was my competition. Huh.” He turned on his heel and slowly looked Nathaniel up and down, as if he were appraising him. Nathaniel sneered, which only made the elf’s eyebrow wing up. The Antivan said something in his native tongue, but it was so rapid that Nathaniel couldn’t catch what was said. It must not have been complimentary, because Zevran crossed his arms in front of his chest and gave him a dismissive glance. Moira shook her head and replied just as rapidly, which made him wonder if this was the person who had taught her the language. He could make out a little of what she said, especially the phrases he is my choice and I happen to think he’s handsome.

“Come on,” she said in their common language, her cheeks starting to redden. “We’ll speak further in my office.”

“Nice place,” Zevran commented once they had closed the door. “Perfectly situated to avoid attacks from all angles, virtually no hiding places for assassins…” he stopped at the portrait of Rendon Howe. “Although it is somewhat lacking in style. You have >this man on your wall, really? My dear Warden, you must fire your decorator.”

She rolled her eyes. “As much as I appreciate your input on interior design, my friend, I have to admit that it isn’t a shock to see you.”

“And here I was hoping to surprise you with a visit.”

Moira sighed and sank into her office chair. “So, how much money did they offer for you to kill me this time?”

Nathaniel stared at her. “What do you mean, this time?” He moved closer to Moira, putting a protective hand on the back of her chair.

Zevran laughed, his eyes sparkling merrily. “Oho, so he doesn’t know?” He perched his hip against the side of Moira’s desk. “I was contracted to kill the last two Grey Wardens in Ferelden. It was supposed to be an easy job for a vast amount of money, but unfortunately, I hadn’t counted on one of them being a deadly sex goddess who utterly defeated me.”

“I did trounce you rather thoroughly, didn’t I?” she asked, leaning her elbows against the desk. She smirked at Zevran’s wounded expression.

“I was sore for days afterwards, cara mia. That’s something that not even my most vigorous of exploits could ever accomplish.” He leaned forward and smirked. “Although it wounds me to think that you suspect me of taking money to kill you. After all we’ve been through, that hurts more than anything.” He put his hand to his chest to illustrate his point.

“Well, it never hurts to ask. If you’re not here to kill me, Arainai, then what are you here for?”

“I would say that I’m here to warn you of an assassination attempt, but it seems as if I am too late, if you already know.” He gave Nathaniel the Hairy Eyeball. “And by the way il tuo ragazzaccio treated me at the gate, I see that you know the Crows were involved.”

“Nathaniel and I had an altercation with some of your former colleagues, yes.” She frowned, ignoring Zevran’s dig on Nathaniel for the time being. “And what happened to my immunity from the Crows? Master Ignacio promised.”

“Ah, yes. That. Ignacio was most perturbed when he learned of this recent contract on your life. He was also equally upset when he found out that several of his own had taken up the offer. I do believe that if you hadn’t killed those three – and you did, didn’t you?” He gave her an approving nod when she confirmed it. “Then he would have come down here and killed them himself. Perhaps he might have offered you their heads and hearts in a basket by way of an apology.” Zevran stroked his chin and gave a thoughtful hum. “That does sound like something he would do. I am truly glad to see you alive, my dear. Three Crows are nothing to laugh about.”

“They weren’t much of a challenge. I was almost disappointed.” She looked down. “They were young.”

His eyes hardened. “And they chose their death, just as they chose their lifestyle.”

She arched an eyebrow. “Like you chose to join?”

Zevran winced. “What I meant was that they chose to ignore Ignacio’s warnings. At the risk of inflating your ego, your reputation has spread to Antiva and there are precious few who would have taken on the contract, even if Ignacio had allowed it. Most Crows have taken to calling you Lady Death, especially after what happened in Denerim. The three that you fought must have been fools indeed. Such a pity that I hadn’t arrived in time,” he continued. “I would have so loved to join you in a fight, just like old times.”

She gave him a faint smile. “I have to admit, I do miss fighting with you.” She sat up straighter, her hands on the desk. “I have a proposition for you.”

Finally. I thought I’d never get into your bed.”

“Shut up,” she laughed. “That’s not what I meant and you know it.”

“Again, such a pity. You don’t know what you’re missing.”

“I’ll take my chances.”

“Well, seeing that you’re determined to disappoint me, what is it that you’re proposing? Should I venture a guess that you’re looking to employ my services?”

She nodded. “That would be correct. How much do you know of this attempt?”

“I know that Bann Esmerelle was the one behind it. I also know that she paid each assassin three hundred sovereigns to complete the deed.” Zevran ticked off each point on his fingers. “My opinion is that you are worth far more, but then again, I am biased.”

Moira looked at Nathaniel, who glanced back at her. He had decided that this Zevran person wasn’t a threat and had melted into the background, wanting to see how Moira interacted with one of her old acquaintances. Now that his mind wasn’t looking for ways to defend her from an attack, he recalled an offhand comment she had made when they first met again, about how some of her closest friends had initially wanted to kill her.

And he wasn’t preoccupied enough any longer to realize that jealousy burned hot in his gut. He didn’t care for the way that Zevran leered at Moira, or the covert way he was trying to look down the bodice of her dress. He also didn’t like the comfortable manner that Moira held herself while they spoke. He’d only experienced Moira this much off her guard when they were alone together and Nathaniel had thought it to be something intimate that the two of them alone shared.

Zevran took notice of the silent look that went between them. He said something else, but it was so low that Nathaniel couldn’t hear. Whatever it was, it made Moira blush. “No,” she said firmly, trying not to smile. “You are not going to see me naked. That’s final.”

His shoulders slumped. “Ah, the mysteries of the world will be forever denied to me. I am heartbroken.”

“And I’m sure that you can find many women who would be more than willing to help you mend that broken heart of yours,” she said mildly.

“You’re right, I could. But back to business. For you, I will waive my usual consulting fee, traveling expenses, and other various deductions. Are there any specifics for how you wish the deed to be done?”

Moira took a breath. “I don’t want to do this. It sinks us down to her level.”

Nathaniel put his hands on her shoulders as a show of support. “I’d rather be at her level than always be on guard for an attack.”

Zevran gave Nathaniel a thoughtful look. “He has a point. At least you made certain to fall for a reasonable man.”

She sighed, her hands reaching up to cover Nathaniel’s. “Make each look like an accident, Zev. That’s all I ask.”

“It will be done.” The teasing look faded from his face and he stood up from the desk. “I know that you never enjoyed the implications of the lessons I taught you, but there are times when those skills are necessary, yes?”

“Yes, you’re right. Bann Esmerelle isn’t working alone; we have strong reasons to believe that there are more nobles from Amaranthine cooperating with her. Ser Temmerly is currently residing in our dungeon. Perhaps your particular type of persuasion might get something out of him where I failed.” Nathaniel might not have been able to see her expression from where he stood behind her, but there was something about her that had changed.

Zevran nodded his head in approval, his lips twisting into a smirk. “Ah, there is my Morte di Signora. I was wondering where she had gone,” he said softly. “Perhaps when this business is all over, you and I will have an opportunity to enjoy the other’s company and talk about old times. Tell me if I am wrong, but did I happen to catch sight of our favorite drunken berserker in the hallway?”

Moira laughed, seeming more like herself. “Yes, you did see Oghren.”

“Ah. Then perhaps we shall sit back and reminisce with a bottle of fine Antivan wine I was thoughtful enough to bring with me. You Fereldans have watered down swill in comparison.”

She rolled her eyes. “Yes, yes. And yet you still keep on coming back.”

He shrugged. “What can I say? I chose to have the finest friends who happen to live in the worst places.”
He tilted his head. “I should be going. As a professional, I pride myself on getting the job done swiftly and thoroughly. It wouldn’t do if I were seen leaving your home and then shortly after, one of Bann Esmerelle’s allies meeting their demise. In the meantime, you should not go without a weapon.”

Moira shook her head. “I always keep a blade or two on me at all times.” She pulled up the bell sleeve to her overdress, exposing the tightly fitting sleeve of the underdress. She had strapped a holster high up on her forearm that was full of thin throwing knives. The intricate brocade pattern along the sleeve actually camouflaged the leather, so should her overdress slip upwards, it would be difficult to know that she was actually walking around armed. “And besides, I have the finest bodyguard I could ever want.” She smiled warmly up at Nathaniel, her hand squeezing his.

Nathaniel tried not to puff out his chest, but he didn’t think that he succeeded.

“And on that note,” Zevran said, “I shall take my leave. Take care, my dear.”

Nathaniel pushed the door closed after the assassin had left. For good measure, he also locked it, making sure that they were not to be interrupted.

“I expect you have some questions,” Moira said, stirring the fire that blazed in the hearth with a metal poker.

“A few.”

“More than likely pertaining to my friendship with Zevran.” She sank down into one of the high backed chairs next to the fireplace. “I told you that I met and befriended an assassin during the Blight. Like he said, Zevran was sent to kill Alistair and me, and it was pure luck that he didn’t manage to pull it off.”

“Who sent him?”

Moira looked at the fire. “Your father and Teyrn Loghain.” She hated admitting it, because every time that Nathaniel asked about her past, it seemed as if Rendon was always there trying to kill her. She could tell that every instance was chipping away the figure Nathaniel had thought his father once was and she could see the growing resentment he held for the man he thought he had known.

Nathaniel grimaced and sat down in the chair opposite to hers. “Father was rather determined to see you dead,” was all he said, stretching his legs out in front of him. “I’m glad that his plans were thwarted.”

“As am I.”

“What happened in Denerim? And what deal did you strike with this Master Ignacio? This is the second time that you’ve mentioned that name.”

Moira turned her head towards him. “When Zevran failed to complete the contract on my life, his own life was made forfeit. The Crows are not a group that fosters loyalty amongst its members by being a loving, caring organization. Zev is one of the finest assassins in Antiva, killing him would open the way for others to climb higher in the hierarchy and take his place. And seeing that his attempt at killing me hadn’t gone over so well, the contract was wide open for others to accept it and the reward Loghain offered.” She fussed with the sleeve of her dress. “They struck a little before the Landsmeet, ambushing us in one of Denerim’s alleys. Alistair, Zevran, and I were caught unaware, but the three of us managed to take on a little under ten highly skilled Crows without suffering major damage.

“Ignacio was keeping tabs on the developments. He tracked us down and asked me to complete a set of tasks for him. I was to assassinate several people on his list as well as retrieve a boy held for ransom. In return, Ignacio promised that I would never be hunted again and that he would order the Crows to cease all attempts on Zevran’s life for leaving the organization, basically making him a free man for the first time in his life.”

Nathaniel listened to her, trying to absorb everything that she had just said. “And you did this without blinking, didn’t you?”

She nodded. “For Zev’s freedom and to save my own life, yes.”

He noticed her choice of words, where she put someone else above her own life. “Did you sleep with him?”

The question took her by surprise. “Zevran?” She sat up straighter and choked out a laugh. “Whatever would make you think that?

He glared at the fire. “Oh, I don’t know. Perhaps it was the casual body language both of you had, or all the ‘my dear’ endearments he threw your way.” He looked at her crossly. “Or maybe it was the way that you didn’t slap him when he looked down your bodice or asked to see you naked.”

She looked at him incredulously. “I don’t believe this. You’re jealous.”

“And if I am?” There was no sense in denying it. “I just witnessed the woman whom I just confessed to this very morning that I loved her run into the arms of another man and then proceed to flirt outrageously with him while I was still in the same room.”

“Nathaniel, that’s…” She stood up and went towards his chair. Their first spat and it was over something like this. “That is just the way he is. The day that he stops flirting with anyone, male or female, is the day that I worry about his mental well-being.” She thought for a bit. “The only reason he didn’t act that way with you was because he said you pointed an arrow in his face. That tends to be a black mark in his book.”

“Ah, yes, and ‘trouncing him thoroughly’ while he tried to kill you means nothing.”

She ran her hands through her hair. She’d never seen Nathaniel worked up in such a state, and she was at a loss as to how to proceed. “Every friendship needs to start somewhere,” she told him. “Nate, Zevran and I fought for months together during the Blight. He taught me everything I know about being an assassin and in return, I think I became one of the few friends he had that happened to be female.”

“Was he the one who taught you Antivan and your knife dances?”

“The dances, yes. The language, no. I asked my sister-in-law to teach me so that she wouldn’t be so homesick in Highever. Zevran merely added some more colorful phrases to my vocabulary.”

He scowled. “And the remark that I was his competition?”

Moira bit her lip. “I’ll be honest with you; Zevran did try to seduce me once early on in our friendship. And before you ask, yes, I did refuse him. I told him that I wasn’t available, that I was involved with you.” She wanted to tell him what Zevran had said in the Throne Room, about her horrible taste in men who did nothing but frown and sneer, but she thought that it might be the wrong thing to say at the time.

He uncrossed his arms. “You told him that?”

She nodded. “I did.” She leaned over and brushed her lips over his forehead. “You’ve always been the only man I’ve ever wanted.” Gathering her skirts up in one hand, she slid into his lap, her knees straddling his hips. “I’ve never loved anyone the way that I love you, Nathaniel.” She cupped his face in her palms and kissed him, only slightly worried when the chair they were sitting in creaked under their combined weight.

He smoothed his hands over her backside and down, frowning when he encountered something that broke the line of her thigh. “What…?” Lifting the hem of her dress, he saw that she had a dagger strapped to each of her legs.

She laughed against his mouth. “I told you that I walk around fully armed at all times,” she told him, standing up and pulling him to his feet as well. She walked backwards until the backs of her thighs hit the edge of her desk.

“Well, I have to give him one thing,” Nathaniel admitted, boosting her up on the desk. “You are truly Una Dea mortale del sesso.

“You know Antivan?” His accent wasn’t quite as fluent as a native speaker, but his voice still sent delightful shivers up her spine.

“I spent eight years near the border. I picked up a little here and there.”

She ran her hands down his chest. “Aren’t you just full of surprises.”

He kissed her ear, his breath warm against her skin. “Lasciami dimostrare.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
silksieve
Jul. 5th, 2010 05:50 pm (UTC)
I'm continuing to love this pairing and series. And as an avid Zevran fangirl, can I just say how impressed I was that he didn't completely take over this chapter for me? It just shows how strong Nathaniel and Moira are for me, I suppose. :)
iceprincessd
Jul. 5th, 2010 09:13 pm (UTC)
Aww, thank you! I loved Zevran in Origins, and there were several times I wished that he would have been in Awakening, even if only for a cameo.
annikainen
Jul. 5th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
Ooo eeee! I giggled all the way through this chapter XD You write an excellent Zevran, cara mia ;) And it's nice to get some of that not-so-rosy side of life for them, too. :)

And then to the antivan! :D

My dear (of a woman): cara mia

Zevran's last name: Arainai

il suo ragazzo = what is he saying here? It translates as 'his/her boy' and I guess he's going for something insulting, but gimme what you want him to say and I'll translate :)

This gave me the best laughs (I really love online translators and how they just skip words sometimes!)
un goddess mortale del sesso.= A deadly sex-goddess? :D Let's see... Una Dea mortale del sesso. It kinda bothers me that 'mortale' also means 'mortal', but apparently Una dea mortale is the actual expression, so let's keep to that. :D

The last one then... Let me show you? I think it would be more natural if he didn't use the third person of her - English might be the only western language where there is no way of politely addressing someone - because the second person singular (thou) has died out completely. Actually, what is quite mind-boggling, is that you actually use the polite plural form of EVERYONE. :D Basically an English-speaker is with first-name terms only with his/her god (Thou art a pervert, good sir!).

SO, after this ramble about verb mechanics (I would've probably made a good professor, branching out like this all the time), I'd have him say 'lasciami dimostrare'. At least it doesn't expect 'to show what' after it. :)
annikainen
Jul. 5th, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC)
Actually, I got it. Go for "il tuo ragazzaccio". It's a derogatory form of ragazzo (boy, youth), so I guess it would work ;)

Somehow that makes me think of Rita Skeeter and Bill Weasley, the "long-haired pillock". Wonder why. :D
iceprincessd
Jul. 5th, 2010 09:21 pm (UTC)
I just realized why I love Nathaniel so much. Hooked nose, longish dark hair, great voice, extreme sarcasm...

He's Snape!
annikainen
Jul. 6th, 2010 09:32 am (UTC)
Yes, exactly!! And I have a guy like that in real life. <3 Plus he's tall. ;)
iceprincessd
Jul. 5th, 2010 09:18 pm (UTC)
I ♥ Zev SO MUCH. And jealous!Nathaniel kinda came out of left field, but he was fun to write too.

THANK YOU so very much for all your help with translation! I now have a love/hate relationship with the online ones: I wound up with three to four different translations and just went with the general gist from them all while going "I'm probably butchering up pronouns/gender/what have you by splicing this together..."
annikainen
Jul. 6th, 2010 07:10 pm (UTC)
:D

Online translators have the problem that they really don't DO grammar, and they give direct translations, so whenever there's a difference in grammar between two languages, it's bound to produce errors, for instance, often expressions with prepositions don't translate directly at all and idioms just don't work... And italian has some very weird verb forms that English expresses in quite other ways.

But, that's what you have friends/annoyingly active readers for, they help you with stuff you don't have the time to learn ;)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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