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Hallelujah - 30_hugs prompt

Title: Hallelujah
Fandom: Dragon Age Origins: Awakening
Theme: #23; candlelight
Characters and Relationship: Nathaniel Howe/Moira Cousland, romantic
Rating: R, or M, whichever you prefer. Here there be sex.
Summary: Nathaniel and Moira play a game of “If you show me yours, I’ll show you mine” with their scars.
Note: This chapter is probably the only one that would have pushed the story to an M rating over on ff.net, so instead of completely changing the rating there, I did a little bit of editing. This is the full version, in all its smutty glory.

“Blasted scavengers,” Moira hissed under her breath, searching the contents of said scavenger’s clothing. He didn’t protest, mostly because he was dead. “Sodding rain.”

“If I didn’t know any better,” Nathaniel said dryly, tossing his head to the side to get his hair out of his eyes, “I’d say I was traveling with the dwarf.”

Moira snorted and jammed some more of the goods they had managed to salvage into her pack. “That can be remedied,” she told him archly, shivering in her armor as rain pelted the two of them. “I’ll just run back to the Keep while you keep watch here and tell him that we’re going to need an extra hand carting all this back.”

Nathaniel shouldered two satchels and shook his head. “That won’t be necessary. Come on, we’ve saved everything that hasn’t been ruined.”

Moira’s boots squelched in the mud and she had to brace her legs to regain her footing. “Somehow, I don’t think we’re going to make it back in this weather.”

He reached out and held onto her elbow. “I think you’re right. Luckily, we’re close to town. A night at the inn sounds much more agreeable than trying to set up camp out here.” He would have suggested his sister’s home for shelter from the storm, but he didn’t want to impose.

The summer thunderstorm had caught them both by surprise. The day had begun warmer than usual and hadn’t held any promise of rain. Mistress Woolsey had requested that some merchant goods be retrieved before scavengers could claim them, and Moira had felt that it was a simple job for only two people. Nathaniel had volunteered to go with her, ignoring Oghren and Anders’ snickers behind his back and muttered comments about wanting ‘private time’ with the Commander. While he and Moira had been discreet over the past fortnight about the change in their relationship, it seemed as if everyone in their group had caught on. While sneaking around and stealing covert kisses in darkened hallways had its appeal, it was also was a relief to know that should he want to, he could stride up to the throne room dais and kiss Moira senseless. Not that he ever would; he was far too private of a person to display that much affection in front of others, but he could.

As luck would have it, Amaranthine was only roughly twenty minutes of walking from the salvage site. By the time that they reached the front gates, the sun had gone down over the horizon. Both of them were soaked through to the bone and completely chilled, their clothes sticking to their bodies uncomfortably. Moira’s hair was plastered to her scalp and her teeth were chattering together.

“Awful weather out tonight?” The innkeeper at the Crown and Lion commented, looking up at them from his spot behind the bar.

“Absolutely horrible,” Moira agreed, warming her hands in front of the fire, a puddle of rainwater already starting to form under her boots.

“We’re looking for rooms,” Nathaniel said, going over to the bar. He pulled out his money pouch and fished out five sovereigns. “Anything private with a fireplace.”

The innkeeper pocketed the money and slid a room key. “Last room on the right. I can have a spot of dinner brought up, if you’d like.”

“It would be appreciated.”

Moira arched her eyebrow at Nathaniel once they were alone in their rented room. “How much money did you bribe him with to get this one?” she asked, huddling in front of the fireplace once she managed to get a fire going. She shivered again and sneezed.

“Enough that we’re not going to be bothered for the rest of the evening,” he replied, thanking the maid who came in with a platter of roast beef and potatoes. She’d also included a kettle of tea and two mugs. “You’re going to have to get out of those clothes if you don’t want to catch cold.”

“I would, but there’s nothing to wear while they dry.” She rolled her eyes when Nathaniel held up one of the blankets from the bed. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were using this as a chance to see me half naked.” The past few weeks had been full of kisses and embraces that reminded her of eight years ago, and while she wasn’t against the idea of throwing off all her clothes and tackling Nathaniel, it seemed as if he wanted to take things at a slower pace.

It was driving her practically insane, which was probably what he intended in the first place.

“I’ll turn my back,” he said, his tone teasing. “I promise I won’t catch a glimpse of your frilly pink smallclothes.”

Moira laughed, unbuckling the straps to her armor. “And what makes you think that they’re pink?” she quipped back, setting the leather near the hearth. Hopefully the rain hadn’t ruined the set – it was one of her favorites so far that she’d commissioned Wade to make for her. She’d found out that if the metalsmith wasn’t given a regular challenge every once and a while, he grew bored, which made production of the armor he’d promised her troops slower than usual. A change of pace did him good and his productivity went up, much to her and Herrin’s delight.

She took a breath before peeling the thin undershirt over her head. The white material had already been rendered transparent, which didn’t leave anything to the imagination, but it was still an article of clothing to take off. She could practically feel Nathaniel’s eyes on her back as she wrapped herself up in one of the blankets.

“Black,” he murmured in approval, handing her a mug of steaming tea. “I wouldn’t have guessed.” He brushed past her and went about undoing the buckles to his own armor. He stretched his shirt and trousers on the hearth next to her clothing, his boots joining hers as well. He slung another blanket around his hips, grinning at the way Moira’s eyes quickly darted away when she saw that he was aware of her watching him. “It suits you.”

Brushing her still wet hair out of her eyes, Moira got up and lit the candles sitting on the bedside table. Her eyes went around the room and she couldn’t help but notice that the bed was the only option they had for sleeping arrangements. She didn’t have a problem with it, but she wondered what Nathaniel would think. “It seems as if I’m going to be taking you up on your offer,” she said, pulling her blanket higher on her shoulders.


“You offered to show me the scars you had. I do believe you said they were in interesting places.”

He shrugged. “Ah, yes. Those. I’m afraid to say that I probably exaggerated a bit when I said they were interesting.” He turned and raised his arm, showing a thin white line that went from his left shoulder blade and curved down to his rib.

“Where did you get that one?” she asked, moving closer to him, her fingers tracing the mark.

“Sparing match. I was too slow.” It had also been one of the first times he’d attempted to fight with two blades instead of one. He’d been uncoordinated and his opponent had easily bested him. They sat down next to the hearth. “Where did this one come from?” he inquired, his index finger brushing underneath her right collarbone. A small puckered scar peeked out from under her blanket, looking all the world like an arrow wound.

“In Ostagar. Alistair and I were sent to light the beacon to signal the cavalry to arrive, but the tower was overrun by darkspawn. The two of us would have died there if it hadn’t been for Flemeth’s rescue.” She didn’t remember much about the events that followed, mainly because she had cracked her head when she had fallen. “And this?”

Nathaniel smiled, looking down at his knee. It was old and hardly visible, but he felt the raised bit of skin with his fingers. “I’m surprised you don’t remember. I believe that you caused that one, dear lady.”

She gaped at him. “When did I…” she took a breath. “In the woods, when we were children.”

“I seem to recall that we had been playing a rather frenzied version of ‘Dragons and Knights’ that day. I had the misfortune of being the dragon that turn.”

Moira shook her head, remembering how she had swung at him with her sword, which in reality had been a tree branch. “We ran back to the castle as fast as we could. I remember crying the entire time, I felt so horrible.” She reached out and gently stroked the mark. “You told Nan that you had fallen instead of telling her what had really happened. It seems that even then, you were looking out for me.”

Nathaniel shivered. “Your fingers are freezing,” he said as a way to disguise the fact that a mere brush of skin on skin contact had affected him so. He held her hand in both of his hand rubbed their fingers together.

Moira swallowed hard, staring at their joined hands. Both of them had little nicks and old cuts on their knuckles. She should have been embarrassed by the calluses caused by fighting with swords that made her palm and fingers rough, but she wasn’t. She was more interested in the same calluses that littered Nathaniel’s hands. They were in different places than hers, especially around his right index and middle fingers from years of archery.

Nathaniel glanced up from her hands, noting that her blanket had slid off her shoulders to puddle at her waist. The firelight illuminated her skin, showing him various old injuries from battling darkspawn. “What is this one from?” he asked, letting go of her hand to trace a scar on her side. It was larger than the rest and went in a neat line across her ribs. The center mass of it was thicker than the edges, as if whatever weapon had caused it had nearly struck something vital.

She drew in a sharp breath. “It’s nothing,” she said, standing up and moving away from him. “Just something that I should have avoided.” She pulled the edges of the blanket together and bit her lip.

“It’s not ‘nothing’,” Nathaniel argued, standing up behind her. Gently, he turned her towards him and tilted her head up so that she was staring at him. “Where did you get it?”

She looked away from him for a brief moment before looking him in the eye again. “Denerim.”

He let out a breath. “My father did this to you.” It wasn’t a question.

“Yes.” Rendon had baited her by describing just how he had stabbed her father and how cowardly Bryce had run away. It was stupid; she shouldn’t have let her emotions control her, but it had been enough of a distraction for him to swing the hatchet he wielded, the blade piercing her armor. Wynne’s magic had stopped the bleeding and knitted the majority of the skin back together, but Moira had been thrown into Fort Drakon before it could be completely healed, hence the scar.

“Moira…” She jumped when she felt Nathaniel’s hands against bare skin, and she let out a strangled moan when he knelt, his lips tracing the worst of the scar, the silent apology making her knees buckle. She tangled her hands into his hair, hardly daring to breathe when his arms went around her hips and pulled her into his embrace. Stepping away from him, she cupped his face in her palms. Before he could question what she was doing, she bent at the waist and kissed him.

He rose from his knees, his mouth still against hers. Their blankets fell away and Nathaniel clutched her to him, closing his eyes tightly at the feel of her body against his. “Are you certain?” he asked, trailing his lips down to her throat.

Moira nodded, not trusting her voice. Reaching behind her, she found the fastening to the binding covering her breasts and began to unwind the fabric.

“Wait,” he told her, his hands covering hers. “Let me.” His mouth was hot on the curve of her shoulder, his tongue tracing the raised edges of yet another scar. Moira shivered, never thinking that the marks left over from a wolf bite would have made her feel as if she were burning from the inside out. The last of the binding slackened and Nathaniel tugged it aside, letting the fabric fall to the floor. “Beautiful,” he murmured, his hands cupping her bared breasts, his thumbs brushing the stiffened peaks.

Moira cried out, her fingers tightening on his shoulders as she arched her back, silently begging him to continue. She all but sobbed out his name when she felt the faint rasp of his tongue against a nipple, his groan vibrating across her ribs. She threaded her fingers in his hair again, tugging his mouth up for a searing kiss, her tongue dancing with his as she slowly walked backwards toward the bed. Almost as one, they fell across the mattress, the bulk of his body covering hers. Moira twined one of her legs over his waist, moaning when he shifted his hips at the same time. “Do that again,” she gasped, running her hands down his back.

“What?” he asked playfully, bracing his weight on his left forearm. “This?” He slowly thrust against her and stars danced behind her closed eyelids at the feel of him against her even through the thin barrier of their undergarments.

“Oh, yes, just like that.” Her hands roved his waist, her fingers plucking at his smallclothes. “We’re both wearing far too many clothes.”

He laughed against her mouth. “Any time other than this and I would have to disagree, but I believe in this instance that you’re right.” He slid down her body, his lips trailing past her ribs and tracing the muscles at her abdomen. Moira sucked in a breath when he nipped at her hipbone, his teeth dragging the waistband of her undergarments down. She arched her hips off the bed to help him out, and soon she was naked.

“What are you doing?” she asked, breathless.

“Just admiring the view.” She was beautiful. His mind flashed back to eight years ago. His bedchamber had been too dark then to take in the sight of Moira, flushed and nude underneath him, and he was determined to commit this moment to memory.

“Well, do less looking and more…” she gasped. “Oh!”

He grinned, his lips brushing against the back of her knee. “Interesting,” he mused, pressing a kiss to the skin there and getting the same reaction a second time. “I never would have guessed you were sensitive there. I wonder where else…”

She clutched at the pillows behind her head as Nathaniel proceeded to drive her completely out of her mind. The back of her other knee yielded the same results, and she had to bite her hand to keep from shouting out his name when she felt his breath against the apex of her thighs. She couldn’t keep quiet when he placed her legs over his shoulders, his mouth wringing out whimpers from her, his name spilling from her lips like a chanted litany. His hands held her hips in place, and she looked down the line of her body to see him settled between her thighs. He looked up at that same moment, and the intense stare he gave her coupled with a slow, deliberate lick was enough to send her over the edge, her back bowing off the bed and her hands clutching madly at the sheets.

He stayed there through the aftershocks, his mouth pressing little kisses over the skin of her inner thighs the entire time. “Hmmm,” she hummed, weakly tugging at his shoulders to drag him up to eye level.

“I’ve thought of doing that for years,” he confessed, his mouth brushing against hers. His hands stroked down her sides before impatiently pulling his smallclothes down until he could kick them off. His breath hissed out between clenched teeth at the feel of finally, finally being with Moira without anything between them.

“Is there anything that I can do?” she asked, her legs tangling with his. “Perhaps return the favor?”

He let his head drop to her shoulder and he groaned at the thought of her lips wrapped around his length. “Not this time,” he said, his voice husky as he shifted against her, the move making both of them cry out at the sensation. His hands gripped the pillows at the feel of himself moving slickly against her entrance, almost, but not quite where they both wanted him to be. Nathaniel rested his weight on both his elbows and stared down at her. “Look at me, Moira,” he rasped. Staring in each other’s eyes, he moved down just as she tilted her hips up, and with the ease of an indrawn breath, he slid home. He looked away first, his eyes closing at the feel of her surrounding him, not only with her arms and legs, but with her inner muscles as well. Moira tilted her head back, panting as she felt herself stretch to accommodate his girth. This was better than the last time, when they had fumbled about in the dark, both of them unsure as to how to move. Sure, both of them had been aware of the mechanics necessary, but they had gone about the act as only those unfamiliar with anything could. Now, it was vastly different. Months of fighting together side by side had the other knowing just how and when the other would move, and Moira was thrilled to discover that the habit translated well to the act of lovemaking. They rolled across the sheets, clutching at the other until she wasn’t sure where she ended and he began. She hitched her legs higher against his sides, crying out in pleasure when the angle let him drive that much deeper into her.

Somehow they had ended with Nathaniel on his back. His fingers dug into her thighs, his eyes transfixed at the sight of her above him, her breasts softly swaying with each movement of their hips. She had found a rhythm that pleased her, and he groaned aloud as she rotated her hips in a tight circle. He moved in the opposite direction, which caused her to pant out his name. She braced her hands on his biceps, but lost their pace unexpectedly. Falling across his chest, she cried out in frustration.

“Look at me,” he whispered against her ear, rolling them over until she was underneath him again. He threaded their hands together, stretching their arms up past her head. Without looking away, he slowly withdrew and thrust forward. This couldn’t have been what the men in the Free Marches had vulgarly talked of. The act was far too personal, too intimate to be so coarsely mentioned. He dragged his tongue against the line of her jaw, catching beads of perspiration that dewed up from her skin.

Moira cried out, her legs tightening over his ribs as her fingers clenched almost painfully tight against his. Pleasure radiated from her in waves and she felt Nathaniel quickly follow her, his mouth descending over hers in a messy approximation of a kiss. There was no finesse now; the carefully controlled movements turned into short, sharp thrusts of his hips, which felt so good that Moira thought she had reached yet another climax in such a small amount of time. With a final grunt, Nathaniel sprawled over her, his hands letting go of hers in favor of gathering her in his arms.

“Too heavy?” he asked, his voice slurring as he moved down her body, his head resting against her chest, listening as the frantic beat of her heart underneath his ear slowed down to a normal rhythm.

“Never,” she replied, her fingers lazily sifting through his hair.

He let out a contented sounding noise and nuzzled the side of her breast, his lips pressing over her heart. “You’re thinking,” he mumbled, looking up. “You aren’t regretting this, are you?” He rolled to his side, bringing her with him. The wax from the candle at the bedside table had lowered considerably, but there was still enough light to see her expression.

“Of course not,” she told him, propping herself up on an elbow. She shivered when his hand moved over her side before curling around her bottom, tugging her closer to him than she already was. She leaned against his chest, her nose brushing his. “I was just thinking that despite how I originally felt about it, I’m so glad that we got caught in the rain.”


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 2nd, 2010 01:06 am (UTC)
I'm glad I went for the full version!

I don't know what it is, but I never get tired of reading different people's interpretations of the 'show me yours, I'll show you mine' scar-touching scenes. But this is the first Nathaniel/Cousland one I've read - I love the little addition of the hatchet scar and the kissed apology. I also really enjoyed the little references to their previous time together.
Jul. 4th, 2010 03:04 am (UTC)
Thank you! The full version is about 1500 or so words shorter than the ff.net-friendly version. The hatchet scar idea started when I was doing that music meme earlier. My plot bunnies like to see my characters beaten up, it seems. :)

All the references I've been putting in have made me want to to a prequel to this story, especially now that I'm getting close to the end of my thirty themes. I'm still kicking ideas around, but I don't know.
Jul. 4th, 2010 03:06 am (UTC)
I would be totally into a prequel story if you could ever be convinced to write it!
Jul. 4th, 2010 03:14 am (UTC)
Actually, I was thinking the other day (and this is 3 AM "what in the world are you getting yourself into?" type thinking) about doing a prequel-to-a-prequel for this story. The first one is starting to sound like a childhood all the way to the in-game Cousland origin (this one probably won't be very long) and then the second one that follows picks up in Ostagar and ends right as Moira is about to enter the dungeons for the first time so that it ties in with the beginning of this story.

It's weird, but I think my plot bunnies like to work backwards.
Jul. 4th, 2010 05:32 pm (UTC)
A childhood-Cousland prequel could be so bittersweet! Which I love (obviously?) haha. So many youthful misadventures to be had! The second one sounds like it could be quite the epic, depending on how in-depth you follow through the game. But I like the idea of going into the dungeons as a finale that ties into this story.

Jul. 2nd, 2010 07:20 am (UTC)
Phew! I've come over all unnecessary ;)
Jul. 4th, 2010 03:01 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it. :)
Jul. 2nd, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC)
FINALLY! Totally worth the wait, says I :D
Jul. 4th, 2010 03:01 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Jul. 2nd, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
Dammit woman, what is it with your writing that always makes me cry? Or then I'm just being over-emotional for some reason. I actually had to stop for a moment before I was able to continue. All I can say -


And it was so beautiful too. <3
Jul. 4th, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)
Thanks! Hopefully the next few chapters won't be tear-inducing. I have 25 partially written and 26 all the way done, and after that, I'm going to have to fire up the game for a little so I can play through where I need chapters 27-30 to go.

And I think I broke my giggle habit! It wasn't until after I posted that I did the "Gawd, I just wrote what?!" moment. :D
Jul. 3rd, 2010 02:01 am (UTC)
Very well done, love them together.
Jul. 4th, 2010 02:57 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Aug. 1st, 2010 04:53 am (UTC)
Man, I can't believe I'm powering through all of these tonight.

Sexy time is sexy. ;-)
Aug. 1st, 2010 06:47 am (UTC)
Wow, you're really doing a marathon reading, aren't you? This makes me incredibly happy. :)
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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