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Title: In Sickness and in Health (3/3)
Rating: PG
Summary: They really hadn’t expected a dragon in the Bone Pit. Otherwise they would have dressed for the occasion.
Note: Sebastian’s Scottish-Gaelic is the product of searching around various sites at 3 AM. If anyone sees anything that needs to be fixed, please let me know.


Elsa Hawke rarely ever swore. Since childhood, her mother had ingrained into her that it was crass and unladylike to utter curses, that only uneducated people who couldn’t properly express their feelings through their limited vocabulary used swear words.

Obviously, her mother had never had a dragon fang sticking out of her leg. Elsa writhed on the ground, her teeth clenched as she howled out invectives that made Varric’s eyebrows nearly touch his hairline.

“Okay, one, I’ll give you ten points for creativity. I don’t think that word was ever meant to be used that way.” Varric knelt beside her and tried to assess the damage without touching anything. “And two, I’m not quite sure that phrase is physically possible.”

“It is if you’re flexible.” she gasped and curled her fingers into claws when Varric accidentally touched the portion of tooth sticking out a few inches from her skin. “Maker’s hairy arse, that hurt!

Varric clucked his tongue and continued to watch the perimeter for any signs of extra dragonlings. “Watch it; Choir-Boy isn’t going to like his sweetheart using the Maker’s name in vain.”

“I’ll overlook it,” Sebastian said curtly, looking through their packs for any healing potions. “We used every damned drink we brought with us?” He had to force himself to go slowly through their inventory when all he wanted to do was upend bags and frantically search for something to ease Elsa’s pain. He sighed in defeat and held onto her hand to at least offer solace, wincing slightly when she squeezed hard enough to cause some serious discomfort. “How far are we from the city?”

“A day and a half’s journey,” Fenris estimated, looking at the angle of the sun in the sky. “We probably have a few hours of daylight left before we’re forced to stop for the night.” He picked up the pack Sebastian had just discarded and rooted through until he came up with several long rolls of bandages. “I can take this out, but it won’t be pleasant.”

Elsa took a shaky breath. “Are you thinking what I think you’re thinking?”

“Yes.” Fenris wasn’t in good shape either; his eyes were pinched in a pained expression and his entire right arm looked as if it had been dipped in bright red paint. “Someone is going to have to bandage this once I’m finished. I don’t think I can do it at the same time.”

“I’ll do it,” Sebastian said, taking the bandages from Fenris.

“This is going to bleed like crazy once that tooth gets taken out,” Elsa hissed, propping up on her elbows. There was a sharp pain jabbing her ribs, probably where she had been slammed against the rock wall of the Bone Pit by the high dragon’s massive tail.

Sebastian nodded. “I’ll be ready.” He was already bunching the bandages together to form a thick pad to staunch the bleeding.

Fenris put his left hand over the part of the tooth still visible. “Do you trust me?” he asked Elsa, who nodded. Without giving her any time to think, the lyrium tattoos over his body flared a bright blue and Fenris plunged his hand into her leg, quickly pulling it and the bloody tooth out. Elsa muffled a scream against her arm, her face going pale when Sebastian pressed down on her leg, the bandages he had prepared already soaking through.

“Well, that went better than expected,” she said, trying to lighten the mood. “At least nobody died.”

“Dinnae even joke like that,” Sebastian growled, tying the bandage together. He held onto her hands and pulled her up to her feet, wrapping his arms around her waist to support her weight when she started to weave on her feet. “You could have died.”

She looped her arms around his neck for balance and gave him a reassuring hug, dismayed when she saw how her blood had smeared against the shiny whiteness of his armor. “But I didn’t and while we weren’t able to do anything for these poor people here, we saved the entire city against a dragon attack.” She rested her head against his chest, adrenaline from the fight draining away and leaving her bone tired. “That’s what’s important.”

“And we got some nifty loot in the process,” Varric piped up, holding something bloody in his hand. “Think Sol could make something out of this fire gland? They’re supposed to be pretty rare. And I found this in a chest nearby.” He held out some sort of armor he had looped over his arm, the black leather buckles dragging on the ground. “I might be wrong, but I think they might fit you, Hawke.”

“Better armor, where was that ten minutes ago?” Elsa attempted to limp her way over to investigate, but then made an indignant sounding squawk when her injured leg buckled under her. “Oh, this is going to be fun,” she said sarcastically, hanging onto Sebastian’s arms for dear life.

“I have you,” Sebastian murmured, tightening his arms around her.

“I know,” she whispered back, giving him a tired smile, her fingers sifting through the strands of hair at the nape of his neck. “You always do.”

“We might have some luck finding health potions if we check the miners’ bodies,” Fenris suggested, holding onto his arm with his free hand. He had wrapped a bandage around his bicep, but it was loosely knotted together.

“I hope so,” Elsa agreed. The four of them slowly made their way up the piles of bones and rubble until they were back at the mine entrance.

“Stay here,” Sebastian told her, helping her sit on top of a crate. He pointed at Fenris. “That goes for you as well.”

“How does your arm feel?” Elsa asked Fenris. She reached over and fixed his bandage, wincing when he grunted in pain. She wasn’t sure if it was the lyrium markings or bone, but she caught a flash of white between the fingers he held over the worst of the injury.

“I’ve had better,” he told her, his voice clipped. “I’ve also had worse. How does your leg feel?”

“I’ve had better,” she echoed, shifting her weight so she wasn’t putting so much pressure on her leg. “Thank you for helping me.”

He looked at her oddly, as if he were trying to figure out the right words. “You’re one of the few people I can truly call a friend, Hawke. You stood beside me against Danarius and Hadriana; taking one dragon fang out of your leg is nothing in comparison to all the things that you’ve done for me over the years.”

She leaned against him, their good shoulders touching. “Still, thank you.”

“We managed to find one flask of potion,” Sebastian announced, coming over to them. “Luckily, it’s a rather potent one.”

“Take it,” Elsa said, pushing the flask into Fenris’ hands. “You’re hurt more than I am.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Fenris countered. He saw the stubborn glint in her eye and sighed. “I’ll only use half if you promise that you’ll use the other half.” He didn’t wait for her answer, but he tipped his head back and drank half the flask in one swallow, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand as he handed the bottle back to her. She drank the rest, instantly feeling better. The painful ache in her ribs subsided to a dull throb and she could feel many of the minor cuts and scrapes along her body close in on themselves.

“We’re going to need to get out of here,” Elsa said, looking sadly at the still-smoking bodies strewn around. She might not have spent a lot of time in the mines besides a few side trips to find deposits of ore or other crafting materials, but she had gotten to know a handful of miners and their families on her visits into Lowtown. Someone was going to have to tell their widows what had happened. Knowing Hubert, Elsa would have to be the bearer of bad news. “Hubert has to know about what’s happened.” She stood up, but then quickly sat back down. Apparently, the half-portion of healing potion had cured her minor hurts, but the major injuries were still there. She let out a cry at the white-hot lance of pain that shot up all the way to her hip when she tried to put weight on her leg.

Sebastian really saw one solution. He unbuckled his quiver from his chest and put it around Elsa, taking care to buckle it tighter so that it wouldn’t slip around. “Hold this for me as well,” he said, slinging his bow over her head so that it rested against the quiver at her back.

“And what are you doing?”

“You can’t walk, right? The only logical thing would be for me to carry you.” He turned around and knelt as close to her as he could, presenting his back to her. “Can you make it from here?”

Elsa bit her lip and stood on her good leg, her hands going out to his shoulders for support. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“I am.” He turned his head and gave her a smirk. “Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten how to ride on someone’s back.”

She wrapped her arms across his chest as he stood, his arms locking securely underneath both of her knees. Blood loss must have been making her woozy, because she stifled a giggle against the side of his neck. “The last time I did this, I was eight.”

“Then you’re long overdue, my lady.” He took an unsteady step as he adjusted his balance, then started down the rocky mountain path behind Varric and Fenris.

“I’m not too heavy, am I?”

He rolled his eyes and let out a sarcastic snort. “My heart, I’ve lifted heavier Chantry tomes. I don’t think a wee bit like yourself is going to overly tax me.”

Okay, blood loss is definitely starting to kick in. “Is that your way of telling me that I’m scrawny, Vael?”

“Never. I think you’re a comely, petite woman. I’d even go as far as describe you as delicate, but I fear you’d scratch my eyes out.” The last was said in a teasing tone and Elsa could see the very edges of his smirk from her vantage point. “Trust me, Elsa. Scrawny is the last thing that crosses my mind when I look at you.”

She tightened her arms around his chest. “I think that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

He turned his head enough so he could nudge her cheek with his nose. “There’s plenty more where that came from, but we have an audience.”

Varric laughed and waved a hand at them. “No, no. Keep it up, Choir-Boy. I need filler dialogue for my new story.”

***

They finally stopped when it got too dark to see the path in front of them. Varric started a fire and called first watch, sitting a little bit away to survey their campsite with Bianca in his arms. Elsa offered to check Fenris’ arm, but he reassured her that it was fine. The elf curled up on his good side on the opposite end of the fire, falling to sleep almost immediately.

“This is going to need attention once we get back,” Sebastian said, changing the bandage on Elsa’s thigh. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that reddened streaks radiating out from the puncture mark weren’t present, but the threat of permanent scarring and tissue damage still worried him. He tied the bandage, watching for any signs of discomfort. “I’m sorry, Hawke.”

She shrugged and leaned back on her elbows. “It’s a bit tight, but it’s not uncomfortable.”

He shook his head. “No, I’m sorry that you got hurt in the first place. If you hadn’t been…”

She sat up and pressed a finger against his lips. “Stop right there,” she told him. “If I hadn’t distracted that dragon, you would have been in worse shape.” Sebastian had fired the last of his arrows into the dragon’s eye. The dragon, blinded and heavily injured, had lashed out in his direction. Elsa had seen the way that the massive clawed foot would have crushed Sebastian, so she screamed and yelled and threw a nearby bleached skull at its head, trying to lure the dragon’s attention towards her. It had worked, but she hadn’t counted on the tail hitting her as it turned around to face in her direction. She had heard something crack as she hit the rock wall, but at that time, all she had really cared about was killing the dragon before it could get another chance to breathe fire at them.

Sebastian took her hand in his and placed a kiss in her palm. “I thought I was the one that was supposed to protect you, not the other way around.”

She smiled. “I don’t see why we can’t protect each other. You would have jumped in front of that dragon if our places had been reversed.” Cupping her hand behind his neck, she tugged until he moved closer to her, his arms moving to bracket on either side of her body.

“I would face anything to see you safe,” he vowed, his lips moving over her cheek and down her jaw until his teeth nipped at her earlobe. “I can’t bear to think of a life without you in it.”

“Sebastian…” Elsa sighed, twining her fingers in his hair and tilting her head to the side to encourage him to keep making wonderful, lazy patterns with his mouth and tongue against the side of her throat in such a manner that had her toes curling in her boots.

Is tusa gaol mo chridhe,” he breathed against her collarbone. Underneath the metallic odor of blood and leather, he could faintly catch the last traces of floral scented soap against her skin. He braced his weight on one arm and ran his left hand over her side, stopping when she let out a tiny pained whine.

“Stupid cracked ribs,” she moaned, a rueful smirk on her lips. She eased herself down until she was flat on her back and staring up at the sky. “And one of these days, you’re going to have to teach me your Starkhaven dialect. It sounds lovely, but for all I know, you could be telling me that I smell like dead dragon.”

He laughed softly, mindful of waking their companion. “I would never dream of telling you such a thing,” he said, lying down and lacing his fingers with hers. “Although, if you want me to be perfectly honest…”

She laughed, but then wrapped her free arm around her side. “Ow. Don’t make me laugh.” Rolling onto her good side, she snuggled up against him.

“You should get some rest,” he said lifting his arm so she could move that much closer to him.

“You too. I’m not the one carting around a grumpy girl on my back.” She hissed when a painful jolt went down her leg.

“If I could take your hurts and bear them myself, I would do it in an instant.” Sebastian drew her closer until her head was resting on his shoulder.

“That’s sweet of you, but I don’t think I could carry you all the way back to Kirkwall. Your legs are a lot longer than mine; they’d drag on the ground.” She splayed her hand over the armor covering his heart. “It’s a good thing that we weren’t expecting a dragon,” she said offhandedly.

“Oh?”

Hubert had sent them to check out the mines after he hadn’t heard from his workers in a while. Elsa had expected a minor strike or something she could have easily talked the miners out of, which was why she had decided against wearing anything that looked too intimidating. “If I had worn my heavier armor, carrying me would be a lot more difficult.” Not to mention that her heavier armor had a lot of chainmail around her hips and legs. When the dragon had bitten her, it probably would have driven several rings into her skin in addition to leaving a tooth behind.

“The heather burns would have started around this time,” Sebastian said, changing the subject. If he couldn’t take on Elsa’s pain, the least he could do was try to distract her from it. “Farmers do controlled burns on the moors in order to kill off the old growth and promote new shoots for sheep to graze on. The older growth that escaped the burns turns into shelter for grouse. I remember that you could smell the heather for miles when it burned.” He had some other memories associated with those fields – women whose faces and names he could not recall had fallen into the fragrant mess with him for stolen moments of passion. He looked down at Elsa, thinking that she would look beautiful with her dark hair dotted with the bright lavender blooms as she smiled up from underneath him. He made a silent promise that once events in Kirkwall had calmed down, he would show her everything his land had to offer.

Their land, if she would have him. Nothing made him happier than the thought of spending the rest of his life with the woman he had come to fiercely love at his side. Sebastian continued to talk about Starkhaven, switching topics from the plants and land to its people. It wasn’t long before the heat of the fire combined with the low, soothing tone of his voice lulled Elsa to sleep. Pressing a kiss against the crown of her hair, Sebastian quietly yawned and fell into an exhausted sleep.

***

“Ah, home, sweet home,” Varric sighed, brushing off invisible bits of dirt from the sleeve of his coat. “Blondie is waiting over at your place by now.”

Elsa frowned. “How does Anders know to look for us?”

“Oh, I sent word with one of my people once he hit the city limits. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a bathtub and a bottle of good brandy.” With that, Varric waved his goodbyes and headed down to the Hanged Man.

“I’ll be heading back home as well,” Fenris said.

“It wouldn’t hurt to have Anders look at your arm,” Elsa prodded.

The elf sneered. “I’ll not have him healing me with magic. I have a supply of potions I can use.”

Elsa frowned, but didn’t press the issue any further. It was an old argument; one she knew would never be truly over while Anders held his grudge over Fenris’ support of the templars and Fenris held his grudge against Anders for being a mage. Their rivalry was the main reason she had asked Varric to accompany them to the Bone Pit in the first place instead of Anders, whose presence would have made the trip back into town a whole lot less painful. Elsa tightened her arms around Sebastian’s shoulders as they watched Fenris head towards the estates close to the Chantry.

“He’ll be all right,” Sebastian assured her. He looked up at the stairs that awaited them. Traveling with Hawke on his back on level ground had been fine, but the steep steps looked like they might give them something of a challenge.

“I can walk from here,” she said, seemingly reading his mind.

“Don’t be daft. I can manage.”

She huffed against his neck. “Stubborn man.”

He grinned. “And you wouldn’t have me any other way. Come on, let’s get you home.”

***

As Varric had said, Anders was waiting for them in Elsa’s entranceway. He fussed over Hawke’s injuries and moved in a flurry of action, helping her off Sebastian’s shoulders and walking her over to a chair in the front room so he could tend to her. The mage didn’t even give Sebastian a second glance, which made him feel like a third wheel. Very quietly, he turned on his heel. By the time that Elsa had a chance to look over her shoulder for him, he was gone.

***

It was only after he was chin-deep in a hot bath that Sebastian realized he had left his bow and quiver with Hawke. He took his time, scrubbing dried blood out from underneath his fingernails, but knew that he’d have to go retrieve his weapons sooner or later. Drying off, he slicked his hair out of his face and dressed in a plain tunic and trousers. Leaving his armor on the stand in his otherwise sparsely decorated room – he, Elsa, Aveline, and Fenris had made a point to rid Kirkwall of criminal elements and the city guard helped to make sure that the streets remained safe to travel at night – he headed out of the Chantry and down towards Elsa’s estate.

“I was wondering when you’d show back up,” Elsa said once she saw him standing in her sitting room doorway. He wasn’t sure if it was just the light from the fireplace or if she was blushing, but she shyly ducked her head. “I mean, I was hoping that you would come back.” She stood up from the couch without any difficulties and walked over to him, her gait as smooth and elegant as ever. Taking her offered hands, he allowed himself to be drawn into the room.

“Anders has…” he paused, knowing that Anders was a friend of hers, “unconventional bedside manners. I thought it best if I left the two of you alone so he could tend to you better.” Sebastian wasn’t blind; he saw the way that Anders stared after Elsa when he thought no one was watching. While he was secure in the knowledge that Elsa cared for him and him alone, Sebastian couldn’t erase the longing glances Anders gave her from his memory.

“I wished you had stayed,” she said quietly. She let go of his hands and fidgeted. “I wanted to thank you for everything that you did for me, I really appreciate it.”

He reached out and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “Oh yes, it was a great burden to have a beauty such as yourself close to me all day. I don’t know how I withstood such torture.”

Elsa rolled her eyes and they stood there, staring at the other for the longest time. “Anders did a great job,” she finally said, breaking the tense silence between them. “My leg is as good as new, see?” She did a little twirl, the skirt of her dress flaring out around her knees.

If he had been less of a gentleman, he would have grabbed her then. He would have slid his hands up and over her sides and kissed her, relieved that her cracked ribs were mended. They would have ended up on the couch with her straddled over him, his hands easing the hem of her dress over her thighs so he could see for himself that she was whole and healthy. If he had been less of a gentleman, he would have…

“Sebastian?”

He blinked, images of what could be still floating in his mind. “Forgive me,” he said, taking the safe route. “I guess I’m more tired than I thought I was.”

She gave him a soft smile. Going over to the corner, she picked up his quiver and bow where they had been resting against the wall. “If you’d like, you can stay in one of the guest rooms.” She looked at him hopefully, but watched as he shook his head.

“I don’t want to impose.” He took his belongings from her hands, his fingers brushing hers. “Thank you for the offer,” he said, sliding the quiver over his head and setting the bow against the side of the couch for the time being.

“I’m going to let Hubert know what we found at the mines tomorrow,” she started. “And then after, I’ll be visiting the miners’ families. They deserve to know what happened from someone…”

“Who actually gives a damn about their husbands, fathers and brothers?” She nodded. “Hubert is an ass,” he said. Sebastian had never liked the man since the first time he had met him and it didn’t take a genius to figure out what sort of condolences he would have given the Fereldan widows.

She let out a sort of amused breath. Sebastian swore even less than she did; to hear him curse was strange. “Well, yes, he is.”

“And you’re far too nice to tell him to his face that he’s a horrible little man.”

“I prefer to call it being diplomatic instead of nice. I’m fully prepared to deck him if he says a single thing against those poor men.”

He gathered her in his arms and rested his chin against the crown of her head. “Ah, there’s my lass,” he said fondly. “Of course I’ll go with you. Informing survivors of their loved ones’ death is never an easy task; I’ll help in any way I can.”

“Thank you.” She splayed her arms over his back and pressed her cheek against his chest to better hear the comforting thump, thump of his heart. “Last night,” she said, changing the topic. “When you said…” she scrunched her nose in concentration. “Gool mol chreeyeh…”

He grinned against her hair. “Is tusa gaol mo chridhe?” he asked, surprised that she remembered. Her pronunciation was horrible, but he would help her improve once they got a quiet moment to themselves.

“Yes, that.” She picked her head up from his chest and looked at him. “Obviously that doesn’t mean you smell like dead dragon, and it’s probably going to be like pulling teeth to get you to translate, but did you mean it?”

He cupped her face in his hands and bent his head. His eyes flickered over her face, taking in her flushed cheeks and closed eyes. You are the love of my heart, he had told her. “Every last word,” he swore, his breath ghosting across her lips. “Every last word.”

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
phoenixblaze
Jul. 27th, 2011 05:56 am (UTC)
Guh! The ending! Way more cute than I can handle! This was great. XD
iceprincessd
Aug. 1st, 2011 02:59 am (UTC)
Thanks! These two have been nominated as my fluffy outlet for this fandom and I'm starting to not mind having Sebastian in my group while I play now. I think it's because I've been beefing up his constitution numbers so now he doesn't just keel over every other fight. :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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