This is a companion piece to There and Back Again and won’t make much sense unless you’ve read to at least chapter 66. Written from Alistair’s point of view.
I stood against a wall, trying to avoid staring at the unconscious woman lying on the bed.
I’d carried her in here, after hearing her scream and finding her passed out, that man standing over her. That Wynne had also been there was beside the point; the bastard had hurt her. He’d called her ‘templar’, practically spewing venom, then turned around and flirted with her; the next thing I knew, he’d done something to her with his magic, and she had screamed. It pierced my heart. I’d do anything to protect her, and he had hurt her.
I wanted him dead.
I looked over at the man, the mage. He looked like a child wearing his father’s clothes; he had my second best shirt on, which rankled. Just because I was the same height didn’t give him the right to wear my clothes.
Didn’t give him the right to take my place at her side.
I kept that thought to myself. It wasn’t my place anymore, she’d made that clear. I’d been entirely unprepared for her anger, honestly; I knew I deserved it, but she’d never really shown that side of her temper before. I had tried to explain, but there was no excuse good enough for what I’d done. I thought back to that devastated expression the night I’d walked away from her...
I sighed. It was too late to take all that back. In one day, one moment, I’d ruined the best thing that had ever happened to me. And I had told her I would let her go, if she wanted me to. I meant it, too, I just ... wasn’t prepared for it to happen.
I put my hand in my pocket, feeling the strange machine hidden there. Her ‘phone’ was a heavy weight in my pocket; I’d chosen another song, before Leli had explained to me how I was hurting Sierra. I hadn’t thought of it that way. And maybe I was stopping her from moving on, when she probably, really, should.
I had never been much for prayer; the Maker was all fine and dandy, but I sort of preferred he keep himself out of my business. But now, uncharacteristically, I prayed.
Maker, if this is it, if she has chosen that ... that ... mage, if we are through for good ... I swore I would accept it if someone made her happy, so please, Maker, let him be good to her. She deserves more.
I glanced at her again, a lance of pain shooting through me. She was so beautiful, and I ... was just a bastard. Nobody. I had nothing to offer; perhaps pushing her away had been the best thing I could have done. For her, at least.
With a gasp, her eyes shot open. She tried to sit up; I twitched, but he got there first, holding her hand and supporting her back. I glared at him, wishing I could kill with my eyes.
Aedan was on the other side of her bed. He and the mage told her what had happened. She had to have known it was me who carried her; I was the only one of the three of us strong enough. And to be honest, it had been almost ... nice. It was the first time I’d been close to her, touched her, since her Joining. She smelled just like I remembered: mint, from that stuff she used on her teeth, and lavender from her shampoo. I’d wanted to kiss her, to take away her pain, to make her see ... but Aedan would have killed me, and I was quite certain the gesture wouldn’t have been welcome anyway. So I treasured the warmth of her little body pressed against my chest, and kept my thoughts to myself.
She avoided looking at me, talking animatedly with both of them. She smiled at the mage, and I stiffened involuntarily.
And then he asked me to leave. Said he needed her alone. I recognised the look on his face; I’d seen that expression on Zevran, and on Isabela the pirate in Denerim. There was no way I was leaving her there with him if she could end up unconscious.
Of course, she trusted him. Of course she did. She told me I could go. I growled, and she relented, though she didn’t look happy about it.
And then my day got worse. He leaned in and whispered something, and then the two were giggling together like they’d known each other for years. The mage stood up, splaying his fingers out in the air over her abdomen, and her eyes closed.
I expected an expression of pain, maybe a whine or cry.
And at first, it looked like she did, too. And then her expression changed. Her skin flushed, her breathing sped up, and she bit her lip, in that sexy way she unconsciously had when she was aroused. How many times had I kissed that lip away from her teeth, used my tongue and lips to soothe the irritated skin? The whimper that escaped her mouth after that was the furthest thing from an expression of pain, and I looked over at the healer, startled.
.... There is more of this story ...