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Perception

Title: Perception
Pairing: Alistair/Anora with minor M!Cousland/Morrigan
Rating: G
Warnings: Spoilers for post-Landsmeet and endgame decisions in Origins, some endgame details in Awakening
Summary: Appearances are incredibly important.


1.

The first time Alistair kissed Anora, it was shortly after his coronation. “Kiss me,” she had whispered as she stood beside him, looking every inch the Queen while he stood there trying to get used to the new weight of the crown on his brow. He had half a second to wonder just how she managed to speak without moving her mouth and keeping her beaming smile in place before he had bent his head and brushed his lips against hers. The audience below them had burst into cheers and applause, which Alistair had suspected was the real reason Anora had asked him to kiss her in the first place.

“Well?” Aedan asked him after everything was all said and done.

“Well what?” The day had been a whirlwind of activity; fittings, meetings, tastings, more meetings, and trying to memorize the servants’ names so that he wouldn’t suddenly realize twenty years down the road that he still had no idea who the person who handed him his socks actually was. “How in the Maker’s name do you do it?” he asked his friend, who was lounging quite comfortably in a nearby chair, his leg casually slung over the chair’s arm and a wine goblet held loosely in his fingers. Even after everything, Alistair still thought that Aedan Cousland was far better suited for the title of King. He had certainly looked like he had been in his element all day long, unlike Alistair, who felt as if he were a fish caught out of his bowl. “This nobility stuff is harder than it looks.”

Aedan took a long swallow of his wine and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “The trick, your Majesty,” and he grinned at that; the dimple at his cheek showing, “is to look as if you are fully in control of whatever situation at any given time, even if you feel as if you are at your wits end. Appearances are incredibly important.”

“How important?”

Aedan thoughtfully stroked his meticulously trimmed beard. “If I would have to guess, I’d say that in being part of the nobility, appearances count for ninety percent. The remaining ten percent is actual skill. How else do you think that some of the minor lords keep their positions?” He looked into the depths of his goblet. “Not every noble is that way; some of them have more substance than that.” Aedan thought of his father. Bryce Cousland had been one of those men who hadn’t needed finery in order for people to look up to him. His actions had spoken for him and if anything, Aedan was going to try his hardest to emulate his late father once he assumed the mantle of Arl of Amaranthine. Shaking himself out of a quickly forming pensive mood, he flashed another grin at his friend. “Or in your case, looks will count for ninety percent, ability will take up a mere one point, and plain luck will handle the rest.”

Alistair groaned and sank into a nearby chair. It still felt odd to actually be sitting in such a setting, but he forced himself to sprawl out, deliberately stretching his legs towards the fireplace as far as they would go. There, he thought. That’s a start. He covered his eyes with his hand and gave a dramatic sigh. “I’m going to be known as the bastard Heathen King who was raised by dogs, aren’t I?”

“Oh, I don’t know. You’ll have Anora at your side. I’m certain that given enough time, some of her polish will rub off on you.” He nudged Alistair’s arm with his foot. “And you still haven’t answered my question. How was it?”

Alistair glanced at him from between splayed fingers. “How was what?”

Kissing her, you fool.”

“It was…” he searched for a word. “Nice?”

Nice? That’s all you can come up with?” When he had been younger, he had developed a crush on Anora Mac Tir and had always wondered just what kissing her would be like. She had a lovely shaped mouth, her bottom lip full and pouty, just like… Aedan drained his cup. He would not think of Morrigan, not when he could still feel the gentle way that her hand had stroked the side of his face or how he regretted not telling her how he truly felt, the words dying like ashes on his tongue. He closed his eyes, trying to banish the image of pale golden eyes and the rare treat it was to see her look at him with her guard down, her mouth set in a soft smile, her body warm and pliant underneath his hands.

The look of betrayal that had flashed in those very same eyes when he had declined the offer of her ritual was even harder to banish. Deep in his heart, he knew that he would take the heartbroken expression she had shot at him before she left to his grave.

“Well, it was too brief to think anything of it,” Alistair countered. It wasn’t as if he had any real experience to base their kiss on anyway; he had been nervous enough wondering if he would bump her nose or act like a bumbling fool in front of everyone assembled, but he could recall that her lips had been soft and slightly dry. She had held on lightly to his right arm as they kissed, and he was certain that as far away from the dais as everyone had been, they hadn’t been able to see the faint manner that her fingers had trembled on his armor or the way that her smile hadn’t quite reached all the way up to her eyes.

Appearances, he thought, were definitely important.

2.

The second time Alistair had kissed Anora; it had been at their wedding six months later. He had tried to make some headway in getting to know his future bride, but all he had gotten during their brief conversations were polite answers to his questions as if he were merely a random stranger instead of her soon-to-be husband.

In many ways, he was a random stranger. He was forever grateful to Eamon and Aedan for helping him find his footing as King of Ferelden, but he was rapidly finding out that it was obvious that Anora resented him for the little things – well, not to mention the great big thing of actually becoming King in the first place instead of leaving the throne all to her – like how he had decided to start ruling. No matter what Morrigan had said during their travels, Alistair was no fool; he knew that Anora had experience running the kingdom and he wanted her on board with the changes that he was going to try to implement. He asked for her input, hoping that it would win some points in his favor and crack the polite yet chilly atmosphere she seemed to draw herself into like a security blanket.

Although, now that he thought about it, listening to Anora and then automatically looking at Aedan for guidance probably wasn’t doing him any favors. Anora’s mouth had a way of slightly thinning that if one wasn’t looking for it, they would completely miss that she was upset.

Her mouth was set in that same manner now as she walked up the aisle to meet him. He had to admit, she looked radiant in her wedding dress, the white and gold colored fabrics setting off her skin and hair. Aedan leaned in from his position a few steps behind Alistair to give a barely audible appreciative whistle (and in the Chantry in front of the Revered Mother, of all places! Only he would have been able to get away with that!), but all Alistair could think of was how uncomfortable Anora looked to be on Eamon’s arm – it should have been her father giving her away, had he survived the final blow with the archdemon flitted through his head – and how despite the way that she smiled up at him, that same smile still didn’t reach her eyes.

He felt more confident about his kissing technique than he had at his coronation. He even felt her kiss him back just the tiniest fraction, which gave him something to hope for. He was nervous enough about the wedding night as it was.

“You,” Aedan said, slinging his arm over Alistair’s shoulders later on at the reception, “are one lucky bastard.”

“How so?” Alistair asked, noticing that the scent of alcohol was heavy on his friend’s breath. He had heard tales of the Cousland brothers making every event they attended together a lively one, but so far it seemed as if Fergus was quietly sipping on his first goblet of wine while making small talk with Bann Teagan, the newly appointed Teyrn’s expression clearly stating that he would rather be anywhere else but here pretending to make merry.

Alistair couldn’t blame him; had he recently lost his own wife and child, he would be in no mood to celebrate someone else’s nuptials either.

“You’re marrying one of the most beautiful women in all of Ferelden.” Aedan leaned heavier on him and whispered in sotto voice, “She’s incredibly smart too. It would be in your best interest if you involved her in everything.”

“That’s what I’m trying to do.” He glanced over to where Anora was sitting with some of the other ladies. She caught his eye and gave him a tentative smile before delicately sipping on her drink.

“I think I need to leave soon,” Aedan said suddenly.

“Well I wasn’t going to say anything, but if you keep on drinking like that, we’re going to have to pour you into bed.”

“No, I mean leave Denerim. You’ve got things under control without me and Amaranthine can’t be ruled by just a seneschal forever, no matter how good he is.”

Alistair steered them off to one side where they wouldn’t be interrupted by any well-meaning guests. “Are you sure that’s what you want?”

Aedan nodded, looking incredibly sober for the first time since the reception. “It’s not only what I want, but it’s what I need. Denerim,” he looked around the hall, his expression wistful. “It has too many memories for me. I need something to occupy my mind that doesn’t constantly remind me of the Blight.”

“We can have paperwork drawn up first thing tomorrow, if you really want this.”

His friend laughed and smacked his shoulder. “The day after your wedding? I would never dream of doing such a thing! Your bride deserves your attention, not I. The paperwork can wait.” Aedan glanced at Anora, then back to Alistair. “I know that you only married her because it was the most reasonable solution at the time, but I do wish the two of you the best. Fall in love with her, Alistair, and make her fall in love with you in return. It’s an amazing feeling that everyone should experience at least once in their life.”

Alistair had known about Aedan’s relationship with Morrigan; he didn’t think that anyone that had travelled in their group could completely ignore the sounds coming from the mage’s tent some nights or fail to see the way that they interacted with the other. He just hadn’t been aware of how deep Aedan’s feelings for her had gone. His friend had a habit of hiding his true emotions behind a sarcastic, glib mask that even Alistair was unable to see through. “I’m sure that you’ll know that feeling again,” he tried.

Aedan shook his head. “I highly doubt it. We Cousland men have a nasty habit of loving one woman and one woman only for the rest of our lives. Everyone else merely pales in comparison.” He sighed and tilted his head back to drain his cup. When his face was once again fully visible, the usual smirk and twinkle of mischief in his eye was back in place. “Go stand with Anora,” he said, shoving Alistair good naturedly. “I do believe that Oghren issued a challenge to Teagan and I would dearly hate to miss seeing either get drunk under the table.”

Alistair made his way over to Anora, but his eyes followed Aedan as his friend went to stand next to Fergus. Aedan grabbed two tankards of ale from a server, shoving one into his brother’s hands before taking a hearty drink from his own. It wasn’t long before both Aedan and Fergus began to belt out a rousing drinking song to the delight of those around them, but Alistair could see, even if everyone else around them couldn’t, that neither brother truly had their hearts in it.

3.

Alistair fidgeted, fusing with the sleeves of his shirt. He began to pace his bedchambers, stopping in front of the gilt mirror to lean close and inspect his teeth for any stray traces of left over dinner, his tongue running over his incisors. Just like the five other times he had already checked, he found nothing. He smoothed his hands over his hair before running down his cheeks and grimaced at the beginnings of scratchy stubble that rasped against his palm. Should he shave? Would she mind? He began to pace again, his bare feet soundless over the ornately woven rug.

Maker, but he was nervous. In terms of experience, what was going to happen in the very near future was so far beyond the pale that he had nothing to fall back on to ease his anxiety. Why didn’t I at least attempt to listen to Zevran when he was joking around with Aedan about roots and arching and… He let out a deep breath and wondered if he might have enough time to dash down the halls and ask Aedan for some last minute advice. He was about to move towards the door to do just that when the adjoining door in his chambers opened.

“Um…” Oh, that was just brilliant Alistair. Dazzle her with your amazing conversation skills, why don’t you? “Good evening.” He tried to think of anything else to say, but his brain was far too busy taking in the diaphanous gown she wore and the way that the sheer gauze clung to her body, the tiny silk slip underneath the only thing keeping her modestly covered.

Her hair was out of its usual braids, and Alistair couldn’t help but notice just how young she looked with the mass of golden hair flowing down her back and around her shoulders. “Good evening,” she replied, her hands clasped in front of her. That little lip thinning thing she did was back, but she shook her head and let her hands hang loosely at her sides. “Well…”

Alistair balked at her businesslike tone. “We don’t have to do this,” he said quietly, stepping out of her reach.

She arched an eyebrow. “Actually, we do. Heirs are not simply plucked out of the Fade.”

He scowled. “I know that. I’m not stupid.”

“I never said that you were.”

“No, you never say anything, but you think it.” All right, so this might not be the best venue for this conversation, but it does have to be put out in the open. And now she doesn’t have anywhere to go since we’re expected to spend the majority of the evening in the other’s company. He pointed towards her eyes. “You might be an expert at diplomacy, but your eyes give you away every time. You dismiss me as a fool.”

She looked away. “It would be better if you were a fool.”

“Why? So you can rule from behind the scenes?”

Her eyes snapped up to his and he could tell that he hit a sore point. “Yes!” She crossed her arms over her chest. “It would be so much easier that way! I could run this kingdom the way that it is meant to run and you can just stand there and look pretty since you don’t really have any desire to be king anyway.”

“Who said that I didn’t?” He mirrored her stance, crossing his arms defensively. “Just because this position was not my first choice in how I would spend the rest of my life doesn’t mean that now that I’m here that I don’t want to make a difference. Yes, I’ll be the first to admit that I know very little about how politics work, but I’m willing to learn. I’m trying to learn. When was the last time that you were down in the alienage or even in the lower quarters of your own city? I’ve been there and I want to help people live better lives and provide for their families.” He thought of his half-sister. Goldanna might disgust him with the way that she had greedily demanded her fair share of his money – money that he didn’t actually have – but he wanted to try to make things more livable for her so that she didn’t have to work her fingers to the bone to afford the price of bread. He wanted that for all of the people that were now under his care.

She took a breath and closed her eyes. “I want what is best for our people as well.”

“Then work with me. I’ll not be a puppet for you to pull strings on, but I’d rather not do this thing alone. If you truly don’t think of me as a fool, then you would realize that I know how capable you are and that I respect your thoughts. Think of all the good we could do together if we both decided to stop pulling in opposite ways and actually form a partnership.”

“You’re right,” Anora told him. “Forgive me, but I’m not used to having someone to rely on when it comes to things like this.”

“And I’m not used to being in a leadership position.” He reached out and put his hands on her shoulders. “We’ll learn together.”

She smiled at him then, really smiled, and Alistair could feel that a layer of ice had begun to melt. He was also astounded at how lovely she was when her eyes sparkled. “We still need…”

He shrugged. “I know.” He tugged at her nightdress, hiking the neckline upwards. At her look of confusion, he stepped back again. “But I would much rather do this because we both want to do it, not because we have to.” He went over to the side table where a servant had placed a tray of fruits and cheeses. “Since we’re going to be here for the rest of the night, why don’t we get to know the other a little better?”

She took the offered water goblet and picked up a few grapes. “What would you like to know?” Now that some of the pressure had been taken away from the evening, she didn’t hold herself as stiffly as she normally did.

And that was how Alistair and Anora spent their wedding night. Alistair learned that Anora had a penchant for climbing trees as a girl and Anora got to hear about the time that as a boy Alistair had started a food fight in the Chantry and how the Revered Mother had made him scrub every inch of the dining hall with the smallest scrub brush available as punishment.

She wound up drifting off before he did, her long limbs stretched out horizontally on the bed and her head pillowed on her arms. She murmured in her sleep when Alistair carefully rolled her to her back so that she was lying correctly, but she didn’t wake when he pulled the coverlet over her and tucked it around her shoulders. He stared at her and impulsively leaned down to brush his lips over her forehead before grabbing the spare pillow and settling in the overstuffed chair near the fire.

4.

“Are you certain that you don’t want to come with me?” Alistair asked two weeks later, standing in front of his mirror and tying on the right gardbrace to the corresponding pauldron. The royal armor was a little different than what he was used to wearing, and he planned on changing out of it once he had made all the necessary appearances in the Bannorn. He eyed the worn pack that was leaning against the footboard of the bed. His old splintmail was inside, as comfortable and familiar to him as ever. He might have had the blacksmith do some minor fortifications to the armor to satisfy his bodyguards – and how strange was it to have bodyguards when he was so used to watching his back by himself – but the set as a whole made him feel a lot more like himself than any of the gold-plated armor did.

“I’m certain,” Anora said from her seat by the window. “Someone has to stay in town and oversee the market’s grand opening.” Even though the marketplace was one of the first big pieces of commerce to reopen after the Blight, they still hadn’t had a chance to formally celebrate the way that it was bouncing back. Alistair had insisted that the poorer portions of Denerim as well as the alienage were the first parts of town to see regrowth and revitalization, and she had agreed with him.

Now that she had put aside the budding resentment she had initially felt towards him, Anora was quickly realizing that there was much that the two of them agreed on, even if they didn’t express the sentiment in exactly the same fashion. Where he wished to make broad changes, she pinpointed the details for him and helped get the ball rolling.

She had to admit, they made a good team. She was even finding herself seeking him out during their few quiet moments in the day, just to sit and talk with him. She was learning a great deal about her new husband and in return, she couldn’t help but tell him little things about herself that she had never told anyone before, not even Cailan. It still felt odd to look at Alistair out of the corner of her eye and momentarily see her late husband staring at her, but it was clear that Alistair was not his half-brother, no matter how similar they might have been in appearances. She might have been incredibly fond of Cailan, but even after five years of marriage she hadn’t been entirely certain that she had actually loved him. After only several weeks of really getting to know Alistair, it was quickly becoming apparent that while she might not completely feel it right now, it would be incredibly easy to fall in love with him.

“That’s true,” Alistair said, shaking her out of her reverie. “Although I’d much rather be here with you.” He cursed inwardly when he felt the tops of his cheeks grow hot. “I mean, all that walking. I’ll surely feel as if I’m back in the Blight with Aedan.”

She gave him a sympathetic smile. “Well, you are planning on visiting Amaranthine before you head into the Bannorn. You’ll actually get to see him before you set out.”

“Yes. And I’ll have an opportunity to welcome the new Wardens from Orlais as well.” He was looking forward to that. Even if they didn’t speak the same language, the Joining ritual that linked them as brethren that was far stronger than any barrier nationality could ever pose.

He even secretly hoped that they would get to battle a few pockets of darkspawn before everything was said and done. It was absolute torture to be able to sense them around Denerim and yet be limited on what he could and could not do based on his kingly status. At least when Aedan had been in the castle, the rogue had managed to sneak the two of them past his guards without being noticed and then both of them would be back before dawn, only a few minor scrapes and their armor newly cleaned the only things giving their nighttime missions away. Perhaps while he was visiting Amaranthine there would be a chance to fight alongside his fellow Warden once again.

Then again, perhaps not. Eamon wound up getting incredibly prickly the last time Alistair unnecessarily put himself in harm’s way and even though he was currently in Redcliffe trying to set Teagan up as the new Arl, Alistair could practically feel the look of disapproval he would surely have given him. “Well? How do I look?”

Anora rose from her seat and went over to stand beside the mirror. She gave him a brief once-over, teasingly exaggerating her glance to appear more critical that made Alistair grin down at her fondly. Reaching up, she brushed a strand of hair out of his eye. “You’ll do,” she said lightly, letting her fingers linger on the cold metal covering his bicep longer than she normally would have done.

“You’re going to miss me,” he accused, waggling a finger at her while he winked.

She arched an eyebrow. “And what makes you say that?”

“Once I’m gone, I’ll be taking my charm and absolutely handsome good looks away with me. I’m positive that you’ll be inconsolable.”

Anora couldn’t help but laugh. “I’m sure I’ll find ways to occupy my time while you’re gone, Husband.” The endearment slipped out of her mouth before she could stop it, but she found that she didn’t mind, especially when it made Alistair’s lips curl upwards into a pleased smile.

It was only when they walked towards the courtyard that he had turned and reached for her. She had been expecting him to kiss her as a way to reassure everyone present that their monarchs were happy with the other, but she hadn’t expected him to take her hand in his and slowly bring her knuckles to his lips, his eyes warm as they locked onto hers.

She honestly tried to listen to the farewell speech he gave the crowd – knowing him, he had quickly thought it up on the spot instead of carefully planning it out – but she couldn’t hear anything over the pounding of her heart in her ears and the butterflies fluttering in her stomach.

5.

“So, what do you plan on doing?” Alistair asked, looking over the missive he had just handed Aedan. He managed to miss all the fun; when he first arrived in Amaranthine, his friend had just finished clearing Vigil’s Keep of a darkspawn ambush and now that he was traveling back on his way to Denerim, he had missed the massive battle that had all but destroyed the Wardens’ new home. Aedan had managed to make several important upgrades to the Keep’s walls and arm his soldiers with suitable armor, so the casualties weren’t as high as they could have been. Aedan himself, along with a handful of other Wardens – and how unusual it was to see Arl Howe’s son amongst those that Aedan trusted! – had defended the city, confident that the fortifications they had made would hold.

Even though they chose to defend the city, it hadn’t been completely spared from the ravages of darkspawn. Instead of going ahead to Denerim like he had planned, Alistair stayed behind to personally help his friend rebuild Amaranthine.

Aedan looked over the message again, his hand running through his thick hair. “The weather is ill suited for travel,” he mused. “The delay will give me plenty of time to set things to rights here.”

“So you plan on going after her?” After seeing how hard Aedan had taken Morrigan leaving him, Alistair had wanted to do something to…he didn’t know exactly why he had hired someone to track Morrigan’s whereabouts. To bring them back together? To let Aedan find some sort of closure? Whatever Aedan decided to do was up to him, but Alistair had wanted to at least give him the chance to do something.

Aedan set his jaw. “I am.” He looked back down at the letter. “I highly doubt she will want to have anything to do with me, but I would like to see her again, if only to explain my reasons for the decision that ultimately drove her away.”

“And then what?”

He shrugged. “If she doesn’t want me, then I’ll return and rule here. I know that being Arl as well as being a Warden is rather unconventional, but perhaps I’ll settle into some sort of traditional routine. You know; find a pretty girl, attempt to have a passel of children, perhaps even get another dog so that Rolfe won’t be so lonely, that sort of thing.” He glanced at Alistair. “I might not be happy, but I’ll try my best to be content with the hand that life dealt me.”

“And if she does want you?”

He grinned. “If she doesn’t turn me into a toad first, then I’ll join her wherever she might be. I could never ask her to live in a stuffy old fortress; she’d be bored to tears with the trappings an Arlessa has to deal with. Orlais is much more lenient on their mages, or so I’ve heard. As long as they aren’t malefecars, then they pretty much leave apostates be.” He could see them living by themselves. Aside from insisting on living in something larger than a hut in the Wilds, he would follow her anywhere.

“What of Amaranthine?”

“Nathaniel has been trained since practically birth to become Arl. Amaranthine and the Wardens would be in good hands.” Anders might even decide to run off with him, if only to get away from the Templars of Ferelden so he could get lost in Orlais. The country’s opulent style would suit the mage as well, and Ser Pounce-a-Lot could live comfortably on cream and fish for the rest of his life. “I’ll miss my brother and you as well, but…” He sighed and his mouth turned downwards. “I thought that dealing with Amaranthine would help to get my mind off of her, I really did. Instead, all I could think of was Morrigan would have found much amusement in this or Morrigan would have done this, had she been here. I know that the two of you rarely saw eye to eye on matters, but I love her. I want to see her once more, just to put my mind at ease. I need to see her.”

“I know where you’re coming from,” Alistair assured him. He thought about Anora. Even though they had started out as a marriage of convenience, he had quickly grown very fond of her. He didn’t fancy himself in love just yet, but it wouldn’t be hard to do so, especially after seeing hints of a much softer, warmer woman underneath the proper, somewhat standoffish persona that she projected in public. “And I want the best for you, whether it be here in Amaranthine or off in Orlais with Morrigan.”

“Thank you,” Aedan said. He slung his arm around Alistair’s shoulder. “And I have kept his Majesty here far too long. Your presence is overdue in Denerim and I’m sure that your lovely wife is eager to have you back.” He waggled his eyebrows for emphasis.

“About that…” Alistair twiddled his thumbs.

Aedan eyed him. “Wait. Don’t tell me. You…”

He huffed. “Just because you have to do something doesn’t mean that you do it right there on the spot. I’m working on it.” Alistair gave him a sideways glance. “Although a few pointers might be handy, you know, to compare notes on.”

Aedan tilted back his head and let loose the first hearty laugh that he’d had in a very long while. “For you, of course. Wait, let’s head on inside the Keep and grab a few bottles of libation first.” If he made enough noise, then Anders would certainly come see just what all the fuss was about. Since alcohol was going to be involved, Oghren was certain to wedge himself in their fun. Aedan hooked his arm through Alistair’s as they made their way back inside. Perhaps he could even persuade Nate to join their little impromptu Boy’s Night Out, especially if Varel or Garevel were to be present. While he hadn’t seen it firsthand, his seneschal and captain of the guard were supposedly savvy card players. This had the potential of being an entertaining evening.

***

The next morning, Alistair was nursing a sore head and sick stomach. Why did I listen to Oghren when he said he bet I couldn’t finish the whole bottle? He pinched his nose between his forefinger and thumb, trying to soothe the ache away. It had been worth it, if only to see Aedan truly look as if he were enjoying himself. He hadn’t seen that since before the Deep Roads during the Blight. And after the initial teasing had finally died down, he had gotten a wide variety of information from the different men who had been in attendance. The advice had varied from the practical to, in Oghren’s case, the downright lewd, but he had soaked everything in, glad to see that he was on the right track when it came to following his gut instinct.

He made his way inside the palace, wondering where Anora might be. He really hadn’t expected her to be waiting for him at the front gates, but he had thought she might have been in one of their private studies. He rolled his shoulders underneath his armor. Perhaps he would ask someone to draw him a bath before continuing his search. The walk from Amaranthine to Denerim had been long and dusty and even though the weather had been on the cold side, he had still sweated underneath all his padding and armor.

The last place he had expected to find Anora was inside his bedchambers, which was exactly where she was. He hadn’t noticed how she had been napping in his bed when he tossed his gauntlet down towards a nearby chair. It had missed the chair and landed on the stone floor with a clang, making him wince and Anora jump upright.

“Sorry!” he said, cringing as the noise made his head ring. “I didn’t know anyone was here.”

She slid out of bed and smoothed her skirts. She could feel her face grow hot at being caught sleeping in his bed. Since he had been gone, the palace just hadn’t felt right. She had tried sleeping in her own room, but for once the plush mattress hadn’t soothed her into slumber like it normally did. She found herself creeping into Alistair’s room, where the pillow still smelled like him and for some reason, had drifted off right away. She had done it so many nights that it was now verging on becoming a habit that would be difficult to break once Alistair returned.

“I wasn’t expecting you back so soon. Your last letter said that you were going to be staying in Amaranthine for at least another three weeks.”

He grinned. “Well, I sort of got myself kicked out by the Arl. He told me that my presence was needed elsewhere.”

“Then I for one am glad that you were kicked out.” Impulsively, she stretched up on tiptoe and pressed her lips to his. She had a brief moment to register his shock before his arms went around her and his mouth moved under hers in a way that had her threading her fingers in the hair at the nape of his neck, her heart flipping in her chest and her mind going pleasantly blank. “Welcome home.”

He let his hands settle warmly on her waist. Rubbing her nose affectionately with his, he lightly kissed her again. “It’s good to be back.”

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
naela
Jan. 1st, 2011 06:26 am (UTC)
Daaaw

I've been having a very tough week, but this week has lightened things up =)
iceprincessd
Jan. 5th, 2011 02:59 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm sorry you've had a hard week, but I'm glad I could help with the cheering up. :)
melinda_goodin
Jan. 1st, 2011 07:59 am (UTC)
What Naela said!
Oh, heck, have to say it myself. Daaaw!
Lovely way to start the year :}
iceprincessd
Jan. 5th, 2011 02:59 am (UTC)
Thanks!
mutive
Jan. 1st, 2011 08:15 am (UTC)
What a gorgeous story. The slow fall into love, the exquisite charaterization....this story is brilliant. It is the kind one will read and re-read again, just to pick up on the details. I am very impressed. :) And may write more when coherent. :)
iceprincessd
Jan. 5th, 2011 03:00 am (UTC)
Yay! I'm glad that you liked it. :)
wdboldstar
Jan. 1st, 2011 05:09 pm (UTC)
Man, I think Alistair/Anora is fast becoming my Dragon Age OTP, so it's so great to see more good fic about them. Thanks for writing!
iceprincessd
Jan. 5th, 2011 03:00 am (UTC)
Thanks!
jessicajones_1
Jan. 1st, 2011 05:43 pm (UTC)
Dear Maker I love this. I love how Alistair and Aedan get along as friends even though Aedan saved Loghain. I love how much Aedan loves Morrigan. And I love, love, love your Anora and Alistair and all their cute kissing because Anora and Alistair are my OTP forever and I love you for writing this!

Pls put this on ff.net so I can favorite it ;)
iceprincessd
Jan. 5th, 2011 03:14 am (UTC)
I'm so glad that you liked this. (and yay for dancing!Aang! Flameo my fellow hotman, flameo.)

I just posted to ff.net over here: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6625119/1/Perception
jessicajones_1
Jan. 5th, 2011 04:06 pm (UTC)
Hee, is one of my favorite icons. And shows :P
reconnoiterer
Jan. 3rd, 2011 03:13 am (UTC)
I'm not usually an Alistair/Anora kind of girl... but this is terribly sweet!
iceprincessd
Jan. 5th, 2011 03:14 am (UTC)
Thanks!
harbingerloki
Jan. 5th, 2011 07:36 am (UTC)
I loved this! It was very sweet down to the last word. :)
iceprincessd
Jan. 7th, 2011 03:01 am (UTC)
Thank you!
eaglelives
Jan. 5th, 2011 06:56 pm (UTC)
moar?
iceprincessd
Jan. 7th, 2011 03:02 am (UTC)
I tried. All I had was enough for a one-shot. :( Thanks for reading!
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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