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Lost and Found

Title: Lost and Found
Rating: PG-13
Summary: AU storyline. Amid the chaos of Howe's estate, Deidre Cousland finds a knight she thought she had lost. F!Cousland/Ser Gilmore
Note: this started out as a completely fluffy pre-game idea that morphed into this and almost went to the smutty level but decided to stay where it was at the last minute. I blame my playlist. Storybook Love decided to make repeat appearances.

Also also, this is for reconnoiterer, who has made me go all lovey dovey over this pairing.


Deidre Cousland’s breath was coming in ragged gasps, her arms wound around her middle to both support herself as well as put pressure on the stinging gash Howe’s hatchet had caused. She stood on shaking legs and stared down at his corpse, half expecting him to rise up and strike her down. There should have been some satisfaction to cutting him down; there should have been some sort of feeling of vengeance, but all she felt was the need to vomit. Very slowly, she knelt and started looking through his pockets for anything valuable, just as she would have done for any other enemy that she had killed before. Her vision blurred and she couldn’t help the strangled sob that was wrenched from her throat.

“There is a key here,” Alistair said gently at her side, his hand brushing her hair away from her face. “Why don’t we see what cell this goes to?” Very carefully, he helped her to her feet, holding her when she wavered. Wynne’s healing magic seemed like a warm, comforting blanket around her, the gash at her side closing in on itself.

“Forgive me,” she whispered, standing up straighter.

“Hey, we’ve all fallen to pieces in front of you,” Alistair told her with a small grin. “I was wondering when your turn would get here.”

Much calmer now, she walked towards the back dungeon, eyeing the people that were in the cells. She recognized the first as Vaughn, the former Arl of Denerim’s son. She had no quarrel with him, so after securing his voice against Loghain in the Landsmeet, she unlocked the door and watched him run off. The middle cell held a dead body, the man’s back littered with whip marks and Maker knew what else. All she could see of him was his bare back and legs, his naked body curled in a fetal position so tightly that she couldn’t even make out the color of his hair in the gloom. After whispering a quick prayer for his departed soul, she moved off to the third cell. The Templar there was half-mad with lyrium withdrawal, but she pocketed the ring that he pressed into his palm and promised him that she would give it to his sister.

They were about to leave when the body in the second cell shifted. The movement was so slight that Deidre thought that she had imagined it, but she unlocked the cell and went inside just to make certain that she wasn’t leaving a heavily wounded man alone to die. Kneeling down beside the man, she gently brushed his shaggy hair – now that she was closer, she saw that his hair was a coppery reddish gold – away from his neck as her fingers sought for a pulse. At the touch of her fingers, the man’s head moved and Deidre let out a gasp, hardly believing her eyes.

Rory?” she asked, her voice sounding too loud in the cell. “Is that you?”

The man turned a little bit more at the sound of her voice and Deidre’s breath caught when she was certain that the man in front of her was indeed Roland Gilmore. “Dee?” he asked, his voice a hoarse rasp, his lips chapped and split. “Have I finally died?”

Deidre turned her head and called for her companions. “Wynne!” she shouted, carefully gathering Roland’s upper body onto her lap. “Wynne, please!” She stroked her fingers down his cheek, sobbing at the sight of his face. His features looked like one huge bruise: someone had blackened both his eyes, the right one completely swelled shut. His nose was broken and dried blood was caked under his left nostril and down his chin. The rest of his face was covered in an unkempt beard, his jaw set at an odd angle that made Deidre think that it had been partially broken.

Still, he was the most beautiful thing Deidre had ever seen. She bent the upper half of her body over him, brokenly crying in relief that he still drew breath.

“Shh,” he murmured, crying out as he attempted to raise his arm high enough to touch her face. Deidre fumbled at her belt and uncorked a potion, gently raising Rory’s head so he could drink.

“Broken ribs, some internal damages. It looks as if his right orbital bone has been broken,” Wynne said, stepping over Roland’s legs so she could sit at his other side. The bluish-white spell wisp that circled overhead brightly illuminated the cell and Deidre winced at the extent of his injuries. The older mage put her hands on his chest and closed her eyes. “The potion managed to heal his collapsed lung, which means that I can concentrate on his ribs. Oh you poor boy,” she whispered, her eyes going down to his feet. Deidre didn’t even want to look; just by the horrified way Wynne was staring, she knew the damage was awful. “I promise that I’ll get you in some shape to walk.”

Roland cried out again as Wynne’s magic reset bones and knitted muscles and tendons. He all but screamed when she reached his feet, his face buried against Deidre’s neck. “That’s all I have the strength to do for now,” Wynne told her, sitting back and looking drained. Deidre wondered if she had called on the Fade spirit that was keeping her alive to help, feeling guilty for asking so much of her friend.

“I’m forever grateful for your help,” she said, cradling Roland in her arms and pressing her lips against his brow. He had passed out after his right foot had been set, the bones clicking together in such a way that had made Deidre sick to her stomach to imagine the agony that he must have suffered at the hands of Howe. She wished that the man was alive merely so that she could kill him again. With Alistair and Zevran’s help, they managed to get him to his feet. Deidre dug into her pack and unrolled her traveling cloak, knotting it about Rory’s waist in an attempt to warm him as well as give him some decency. His head lolled against her shoulder and she held on to him tighter, clinging onto him as if she feared he would vanish out of her arms if her grip slackened. It was slow going up the stairs and down the hallway, but luckily no one had discovered them.

“It is too quiet, no?” Zevran noted, taking the lead since both of their fighters had their hands full.

“I don’t trust this,” Alistair agreed, shifting so that he could take the majority of Roland’s weight should they have a need to fight. “Let’s free Anora and get out of here as fast as we possibly can.”

They collected Anora, but were faced with an ambush once they got to the front doors. Roland stirred in Deidre’s arms and as injured as he still was, he tried to put himself in front of her as a human shield. The move made her heart clench painfully in her chest, especially when he whispered her name as she stepped out from behind him.

“We shall go freely with you, to show that there is no truth to these allegations against us,” she said. “Yet I will only go with you if you give me your word that these people will not be harmed.”

“We care nothing for the others,” Ser Cauthrien said. “Our orders were to collect the two Wardens.”

“Don’t do this,” Roland hissed, his hand tight on her wrist. He leaned heavily on her when his legs buckled.

She shook her head. “I’ll be fine,” she told him, glancing over to Zevran as the assassin helped support him. “Don’t let him out of your sight,” she said. “He is my world.”

“I swear to you, nothing will befall him.” Zevran glanced at the guards. “Shall we sit and wait for you two to free yourselves or shall we organize a rescue mission?”

“Give us at least a few hours. If you don’t hear anything before nightfall, then pick someone to come with you.”

“Leliana, perhaps. We’ll need as much stealth as possible.”

“Agreed.”

Roland scowled at her. “I thought I lost you once before, I’ll not lose you a second time.”

“Dearest,” she said, running her hand over his chest. “You of all people should know that it takes more than a few guards to keep me away. Rest and recover, for me.” She stepped away before he could answer, her hands out at her sides to prove that she didn’t have any ill intentions. She glanced back at Wynne, pleading with her eyes to make certain that Roland’s injuries were well taken care of in her absence. Wynne nodded, holding Roland up on his right side. She turned towards the guards again, but apparently she wasn’t moving fast enough for their liking. She had only a split second to see the gauntleted hand in the corner of her eye before it struck her, sending her to her knees. The last thing she heard before darkness took her was the sounds of Alistair struggling beside her and Rory yelling out her name.

When she woke next, she was staring at a dark stone ceiling, the light from a nearby torch barely giving off any type of illumination. She groaned as she sat up, tentatively feeling the side of her head, her fingers tacky with drying blood. There was a metallic taste at the back of her mouth and she shivered, realizing that she had been stripped of her armor and clothes all the way down to her undergarments.

“Ah, you’re awake. I was so worried.” Deidre turned her head, wincing as the sudden movement made her vision swim. Alistair sat against the bars of their cell and looked at her.

“How long was I out?” she asked, gingerly getting to her feet. She walked over to the door and stuck her arm out of the bars, trying to blindly make out the lock. Her fingers found the keyhole and she smiled as she recognized the type of lock she was dealing with.

“I’d say less than an hour. It’s hard to judge time in here.”

“What are we dealing with?”

“One guard, who should be coming back shortly to check on or taunt us, however you wish to take his remarks.”

“Anything else?”

“Not here, but it sounds like the place is heavily armed.” He stood up and went over to her. “What’s the plan?” He went beet red when she reached into her breast binding, taking out two pins. “Could you at least warn me before you go doing something like that?” he asked, screwing his eyes shut.

“Where’s the fun in that?” she wondered, reaching around and picking the lock. “Come on, sweetheart, open for me.”

“What the hell!” Deidre groaned as the guard stood in the doorway.

“Damn,” she muttered, swinging the door wide open. “Alistair, if you would?”

“On it!” he yelled, grabbing a bucket that was in their cell in both hands. He swung it around, hitting the guard, which gave Deidre enough time to sneak around the guard and stab him with his own dagger. They dragged the body into the cell and locked the door, hoping that it would give them some time should they be discovered missing.

“So, I take it that you know the man we rescued?” Alistair prompted, opening the chest and slipping his armor on.

“I do,” she replied. “That was Rory – Ser Gilmore, from Highever.” She fastened the buckle to her armor, wincing as the muscles across her ribs protested the move. “I thought that he had died along with the rest of the castle.”

“And you love him.” It wasn’t a question.

“Yes, with all my heart.” She looked at him and felt a pang of grief at his expression. “Alistair…”

“No, that’s all right,” he said, holding up a hand. “I mean, you’ve never said or did anything to lead me on and I knew that there was someone that you had mourned since the beginning.”

“I don’t want to hurt you like this.” She sheathed her sword and wrung her hands. “You’re one of my dearest friends and I love you, though not in the way that you want me to.”

“All I want is for you to be happy, Deidre.” Gilmore had called her Dee. She had cried over the knight. Maker, but he felt like a fool. “And besides, it wouldn’t do for a future king to look all starry-eyed at someone else when he’s to be married to someone else, right?” He gave her a little grin, feigning a lightheartedness that he definitely didn’t feel. “Come on; let’s get back before everyone has to make a rescue plan for us.”

They fought their way through the guards, leaving bodies in their wake. Alistair huffed under the weight of his armor, his arms burning with fatigue and blood dripping down his brow. Deidre wasn’t any better; she looked as if she had been painted in blood, her light blonde hair matted in rusty colored clumps. The Dalish armor that she favored left a lot of her body exposed, the partially healed slashes and cuts standing out in stark relief on her pale skin. By the time that they had reached near the entrance, both of them were practically holding the other up.

“I don’t know if I can make it through another wave,” Deidre confessed, her feet stumbling out of sheer exhaustion. The door in front of them creaked open and she braced herself for another attack.

“Pity that we got here too late,” Zevran called out, sheathing his daggers and crossing his arms over his chest. “It looks as if the two of you didn’t need our help after all.”

“Are you both all right?” Leliana asked, going over to Deidre’s side. “Any serious injuries?”

“None, though we could use a bath and a good nights’ sleep,” Alistair assured her. “Please tell me that we can get that before the Landsmeet.”

“Eamon is most anxious to see the both of you, but I think that can be arranged.” Leliana wound her arm underneath Alistair’s and he slumped against her, not realizing until then just how much his arms felt like jelly.

“How is he?” Deidre asked, leaning similarly against Zevran.

Il vostro amante is resting at the Arl’s estate. Wynne and Morrigan have been plying their trade on him since they returned. He was badly beaten, but he has been asking for you.” Zevran snorted. “Morrigan had to cast a sleep spell to keep him from jumping out of bed and marching to your rescue.”

Thanks to both their rogues, they snuck past the city sentries with very little difficulty. Deidre felt clumsy and awkward in comparison, physical and emotional fatigue taking their toll on her body. She was in no mood to speak to Eamon, but she did enter into a short – and clipped on her side – conversation with both him and Anora. She left Alistair in their care and wove her way towards her room where Zevran had informed her that a hot bath had been drawn. Her eyes strayed to the closed door across from her and she bit her lip in indecision. Rory was still sleeping and she hated to disturb the rest that he dearly needed in order to heal. She sniffed and made a face. The part of her that was still completely girly recoiled in horror at the fact that she smelled like a sweaty sock and was splattered with blood. Bathing would definitely be a first priority before seeing Rory again.

She shouldered her door open and wearily entered her guest chamber, inhaling the sweet scent of jasmine that wafted over from the tub. Closing her eyes, she winged the door shut with her hip and began to blindly fumble at the buckles on her cuirass, her head resting against the doorframe.

Her eyes flew open when a second set of fingers joined hers. “You should be –” she began, her sentence ending in a muffled squeak as Rory’s lips covered hers, his arms wrapping around her in a hold so tight that it was nearly painful.

“I should be with you,” he said fiercely, framing her face in his hands and peppering her face with kisses. “Don’t ever leave me behind like that again, Dee.”

She tried to laugh at the familiar nickname, but it came out as a sob instead. “It’s been so long since anyone’s called me that,” she said, clinging to him. Both of them swayed on shaky legs, their foreheads pressed together.

“My lady’s bath is getting cold,” he murmured, his fingers deftly undoing buckles. She shimmied out of her armor, leaving a trail of pieces that started at the door and wound up at the bathing area of her suite. Roland couldn’t stop touching her, and she never wanted him to stop. They both stripped out of the last of their clothes and slid into the tub. She was mindful of his once broken ribs, but he had assured her that Wynne had given him a clean bill of health in her absence. Between her healing magic and Morrigan’s herbal remedies, he had recovered twice as fast as either mage anticipated. Deidre was still hesitant about harming him, but she relaxed against his chest when he pulled her close to him. She closed her eyes as his fingers walked along new scars along her shoulders and arms, sighing when he passed a washcloth over her skin to rid it of any traces of blood. She shifted in his arms and took the cloth from him, wringing it out in the tub and applying a fresh layer of soap to the material. Rory braced his arms on the sides of the tub and let his head rest on the rim at the first swipes of the cloth along his neck and chest. The thick beard felt prickly underneath her fingers as she tilted his head for a kiss, but she didn’t care. He all but sighed against her mouth and her body went limp against his, her head fitting neatly in the crook of his neck as his arms went around her.

They both must have dozed in the tub because when Deidre opened her eyes next, the water had gone nearly ice cold. They helped each other out of the massive tub and dried off, their fingers threading together as they made their way to the bed. Deidre had reached for him, but he quietly shook his head and placed a chaste kiss across her lips. “We both need to rest,” he said softly, settling down beside her. His words didn’t stop his hands from reaching down and lifting her thigh so that it rest against his hip, nor did they stop the hand that Deidre was curled under from stroking down the line of her arm.

Deidre snuggled closer to him, feeling completely safe for the first time in months. She pressed her lips against his shoulder and slowly drifted off to sleep, the steady beat of Rory’s heart under her ear lulling her under.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
melinda_goodin
Dec. 1st, 2010 08:11 am (UTC)
*Happy melty awh* for Deidre and Rory and a sad little *sniff* for noble Alistair. Here's hoping Anora isn't Queen Frosty Knickers for him :}
iceprincessd
Dec. 2nd, 2010 03:40 am (UTC)
I've never had Alistair marry Anora in-game, but I'm kind of playing with the idea that their ending goes through some twists and turns before everything is all said and done.
reconnoiterer
Dec. 2nd, 2010 03:31 am (UTC)
I was wondering how yours would differ from what I have so far, and very much enjoyed the results! You have a total knack for fluffiness that warms a person right through. I like how absolutely dedicated you show him as, right from the start. Rory! Your wounds!

Absolutely what I needed this week <3 Well, failing a nice hot bath with Ser Gilmore of course!

I can let you know when I post up my Ser Gilmore/Cousland/Nathaniel piece, if you like?
iceprincessd
Dec. 2nd, 2010 03:36 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it. I really meant to do a pre-game fluff-fest, but apparently this wanted to get written first. There might be a few others written before I'm finished with this pairing. :D

I can let you know when I post up my Ser Gilmore/Cousland/Nathaniel piece, if you like?

ABSOLUTELY! ♥

reconnoiterer
Dec. 4th, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
Check your friendslist for a new post in the Nathaniel Howe comm! <33
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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