Characters: Nathaniel Howe/Victoria Cousland
Summary: He had the best intentions at heart, honest.
Note: This is an extremely belated birthday present for annikainen, based off her comic. Happy birthday, hon! Hope you had a good one!
“The both of you should be ashamed; she’s your Commander and your Queen!”
Oghren took a deep swig from his tankard. “The only thing I should be ashamed of is that a friend of mine can’t hold her drink,” he said, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.
“And that she’s lousy at cards,” Anders supplied, idly kicking at one of Victoria’s boots. Nathaniel’s mouth turned downward into a disapproving frown. He didn’t know if they had been drinking before or during the card game – and since when did Diamondback involve stripping? – but the mage seemed to be the most clothed and sober of the three. Ser Pounce-a-Lot was batting at the discarded earring on the table and it seemed as if he was missing a single boot, unlike Victoria, who was…
“Still, you shouldn’t be taking advantage of her when she’s in this condition.” Even slumped over the table as she was, Nathaniel could tell that Victoria had not fared well. Her head was pillowed on one of her arms, her fingers curled over her cards. The inky black hair she had taken to putting up in a high ponytail spilled over the scarred wooden surface, curling around her forearm. Nathaniel slipped his arms around her and lifted her from her chair. “The two of you can do what you wish, but she has some standards to live up to.”
“Ah, she won’t even remember this in the mornin’.”
“Hey!” Anders called out. “Does this mean that she’s not going to finish this?” Nathaniel heard the scrape of the ceramic mug slide across the table. “Can I have it?”
“Fools,” he muttered, letting out a near inaudible grunt as he shifted Victoria in his arms. Her arms hung loosely at her sides and her head was tilted backwards, which was probably not the best position to cart an unconscious and disheveled queen down her own hallways. “I can’t remember you being this heavy, my lady,” Nathaniel murmured, slowly letting Victoria’s legs down so he could reposition her. “Then again, the last time I gave you a piggyback ride was when you had been a little girl.” He bent to slide his arm underneath her knees again. Muscles gained from wielding heavy greatswords might have added bulk that normal women wouldn’t have, yet there was no mistaking Victoria for anything other than female. He looked down at her and felt his face grow hot. She had somehow managed to remove her breast binding without taking off her shirt – the way that she was lying in his arms made her blouse gape, the material slipping enough to show the swell of her breast and the barest hint of a rosy areola.
Nathaniel swallowed hard and decided that the safest way to survive the trek to her rooms would be to keep his eyes glued to the hallway in front of him. Victoria shifted in his arms, her face buried in the crook of his neck and he bit his lip, wondering if she would mind terribly if he merely slung her over his shoulder like a sack of grain if it meant that he could finish his task with his sanity intact.
He managed to open the door to her bedchamber with his elbow, winging it shut with his hip once they were inside. The last time that he had stepped foot in this room had been before he had left for the Free Marches. It had changed little since then, except that there was a distinct feminine feel to the room that added a bit of warmth to the utilitarian furniture. He made his way to the bed and was in the process of laying her down when Victoria’s eyelids fluttered open.
“Hey there,” she slurred, her mouth crooking up into a smile that made his heart jump up into his throat. The arm he had slung behind his neck tightened, making it impossible for Nathaniel to move away. He stood stock still as she happily sighed, her left hand sliding up over his chest until she cupped his face in her palm and tangled her fingers in his hair.
Nathaniel should have moved. He should have discouraged her when she tugged him down for a kiss. He should have made that kiss as brief as possible, brushing off the encounter due to amount of alcohol she had consumed, but then she moaned into his mouth and he was lost. He tightened his hold on her and slanted his head, his mind gone fuzzy at the edges at the realization that her lips were indeed as soft as he always imagined that they would be and that underneath the earthy tang of ale, she tasted sweeter than he’d ever allowed himself to fantasize.
You shouldn’t take advantage of her in this condition. She is your Queen and Commander. His words from earlier didn’t dissuade him from trailing his mouth down the column of her throat, from nosing aside the already loosened fabric of her shirt and nuzzling the warm hollow where her neck met her shoulder.
She giggled. “Alistair, that tickles!”
It was as if someone had dumped a bucket of ice over him. Jerking back, he looked guiltily at her, only to realize that she had passed out again. Briskly removing her arm from around his neck, he moved away as if burned.
Nathaniel Howe, you twice-cursed fool, he thought bitterly as he draped a blanket over her. He licked his lips, noting that he could still taste her on his tongue and ashamed that he wanted nothing more than to lean down and kiss her again. He raked his hands through his hair and backed out towards the door.
He gave her one last look before he left; she had curled up on her side, her mouth set in a soft smile. He closed the door and sighed, his forehead resting against the wood. Always wanting what you can never have is going to be your downfall.