Chapter 1: Married Life - Childhood's End
Caution: This Fan Fiction Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Magic, Rape, Reluctant, Romantic, Gay, BiSexual, Heterosexual, Fiction, Fan Fiction, High Fantasy, Interracial, Anal Sex, First, Masturbation, Oral Sex, Petting, Prostitution, .
Desc: Fan Fiction Sex Story: Chapter 1: Married Life - Childhood's End - Raviathan, a city elf with too many secrets and regrets, undergoes a long journey in order to find his way in the world. Part 1 is a Dragon Age Blight fic with many additions and twists to the original story.
The predawn light added a grey wash to the apartment, one of the highest in the alienage. Raviathan sat across from his father, Cyrion, over a breakfast of oats and a boiled egg each. The other two chairs tucked in at the table hadn’t been used for years, their presence a silent echo of loved ones lost. The memory of Adaia and Solyn lingered in the room like the last notes of music that continued to reverberate in the mind after the instrument had stopped playing.
Heat from the ancient iron stove took the worst of the chill from the air, but the bite of winter never truly disappeared. Reinforced beams secured their home to the looming wall that surrounded the alienage and allowed for enough stability to keep the precious stove without caving the wooden floor. Even so, the whole apartment structure trembled during the spring storms like a frail grandmother with a chill. After years of abuse from the harsh Fereldan winters, a network of cracks covered the old plaster walls.
“Son, I want to talk to you about something important.” With iron grey hair and a set of fine lines etched on his care worn face, Cyrion’s resigned air made the elf look even older than he was.
“Yes, Father?” Though still touched with sleep, Raviathan’s voice was resonant and clear, ranging from a dark tenor to a baritone depending on his mood. Though his voice could be heard throughout the alienage when he chose to, his normal tone tended towards soft spoken.
Rubbing the last remnants of sleep from his eyes, Cyrion said, “It is time you became an adult. As such, I have found a wife for you.”
For a moment, Raviathan couldn’t breathe. He had known this day would come, but he hadn’t expected it so soon after his eighteenth birthday. Though technically of age to become an adult among his kin, Raviathan thought he would still have a few more years as was common practice. The mere thought of a wife caused his chest to tighten with anxiety. “Father, I don’t want to be married.”
“I know it’s daunting,” Cyrion said with a gentle smile, “but it’s for the best. In any case, there’s no arguing with it. The dowry has been paid.”
“You already paid the dowry for her?” It was done then, Raviathan thought. Unless there was some grave reason for one of them to turn down the marriage, one that would ruin either of their reputations, he would be handfasted when she arrived and officially married on the Summerday Annum four months away. First Day Annum was in a few days, far too early for the Chantry permits to be processed. But if his father grew impatient, he might push them to marry on the Wintersend Annum in a month.
“I had some money I’ve been saving for this,” Cyrion said.
The money must have been saved when his aunt, Solyn, was alive. Since her death two years ago, finances had grown tighter. How long had his father been planning this? Raviathan hadn’t even known his father had employed a shaddain, the matchmakers who travelled between the various alienages to negotiate for a family. The rushed marriage meant Raviathan’s position in the alienage remained uncertain even after years of good behavior.
Cyrion continued, “I received word yesterday that she will be arriving early. I planned on telling you last night, but you didn’t return home until late.”
It was a small admonishment, but Raviathan was certain his father was unaware of his current activities. Years ago when rumors of his indiscretions had nearly cost him his standing in the alienage, Raviathan had taken steps to find more discreet partners. His father probably thought Raviathan had been working late at Alarith’s shop, helping at the orphanage, or celebrating with his cousins. Though the rumors had lessened, apparently it wasn’t enough. “Why is she coming early?”
“Oh, who knows,” Cyrion replied. “It could be her parents were worried about the weather, or there could be trouble in the Highever alienage. She should be here this afternoon.”
Short of running off to find the Dalish, Raviathan saw no way out of this situation. Finding the Dalish was a fantasy for many young alienage elves and often the subject of games played out in back alleys. Legends had built the Dalish to mythological status among their city elf cousins, as fantastic as dragons or griffins. Two years ago, Raviathan had come close to sneaking out of the city to find them, but thoughts of his father had stopped him. It felt like a betrayal to a father lost in mourning. Still stunned by the news, Raviathan asked, “What’s she like?”
“That’s my boy.” Cyrion smiled. “Her name is Nesiara, and she’s very pretty. I knew you’d ask. According to the shaddain, she’s supposed to be a veritable genius with crafts.”
“Thank you, Father. I appreciate what you’ve done for me.” Raviathan responded automatically as he took in the news. His cousin Soris was five months older and wasn’t betrothed yet. Why the rush to wed me, Raviathan wondered. Only orphans were hurried out this soon after their coming of age. Valendrian was often hard pressed to find a match as soon as possible in order to relieve the cost of keeping up the orphanage.
Cyrion patted his son’s knee as he got up to leave, then hesitated and sat back down. The lines in his forehead grew more pronounced as he added, “One more thing. It’s best not to mention any of your training, the martial arts and sword play, and especially your ... other training.”
Though always nervous about Solyn’s arts, his father’s fear turned to intolerance after she had been killed. Now Cyrion wouldn’t even let Raviathan work as an herbalist, though the alienage needed those skills desperately. In the face of his father’s orders, Raviathan had become one of the alienage’s hidden secrets.
Once alone Raviathan washed the dishes, locked up, and left for Alarith’s store. He wound his way through the labyrinth of hallways and stairs that led from their apartment to the street. The corridors were narrow allowing only one elf to pass comfortably through at a time. Should two need to pass, they would have to press their backs up against the wall and step sideways past one another in a dance so familiar the steps became automatic.
Occasional small windows shed light on the uneven stairs, but the lack of glass made the building drafty. Raviathan knew immediately when he passed an outer wall as the air chilled and plaster became damp. Frost left white marks along the windowsills and wooden floor.
Having lived here his whole life, he didn’t see the mold stains in the plaster or cracks that exposed the wood underneath. It was as it had always been. His apartment building wasn’t the best in the alienage, but it was better than most and the high walls allowed for privacy.
As Raviathan walked, he felt the city beginning to wake. The crisp stillness in the air was broken by a few ragged dogs salvaging scraps and cats hunting for mice. An animal’s final shriek followed a metallic snap. His own family hadn’t been so desperate to feed on rats, but winters were hard and more than a number of elves took to eating alley vermin. An occasional light drifted out of apartment windows, a small yellow glow from a dirty, frost coated window marking waking life. Servants and workers were getting ready to leave now that the gates were creaking open. Raviathan shivered in the cold as he headed down the street.
There had been slushy half frozen rain three days ago. Mud puddles frozen in the morning chill pocketed the earthen streets. One large puddle was so persistent that all attempts to keep it filled with dirt had failed. Old boards were placed across it to allow passage, but still water bred disease. This winter had been unusually mild so far with no snow or sludge, just frost coating the morning.
Alarith’s store was located in one corner of the alienage square, the only place behind the high walls that had the luxury of paved stones. Worn and cracked, the stones were almost lost in the dirt. The winter solstice had just passed and the new year was about to begin. Raviathan thought it was odd the new year started six days after the solstice, but who knew why the days were marked as they were.
The vhenadahl, the great tree that was the reminder of their heritage, stood strong and graceful in the center of the square. The townspeople had decorated the tree in grand regalia for the coming annum. The vibrant red and green paint on the tree seemed even brighter amongst all the brown and grey, the one thing in the alienage everyone took pains to care for. Ornaments hung from the lowest branches along with little paper prayers that would dissolve in the rain.
Raviathan glanced toward the platform at the other end of the square. On the annum, Salia would stand there and marry Redden, a young man from Amaranthine. Over the last few years, he had watched many of his former lovers marry on that stage. He was glad Salia was staying in Denerim. Most women left the alienage for their matches. As with all of his relationships, their time together had been short, but they had remained friends when it was over. Redden’s exuberance paired well with her quiet confidence, and Raviathan had enjoyed spending time getting to know the new elf. The platform was a place for celebration, but when he examined it now all he felt was quiet trepidation.
As the first one awake in the morning, Raviathan unlocked the store and began cleaning. Thankful for the time alone to think, Rav reflected on his father’s decision. Why rush his marriage? Compared to what little he knew of humans, elves had strict rules concerning children and romance. There was a fine line between the natural affection elves shared and what was considered too much for a child to engage in. A romantic kiss would result in lectures and adults glowering at the offenders for weeks. Two children who engaged in sex would shame the families. If exile wasn’t called for, it made finding a match for the offenders difficult. Exorbitant dowries had to be paid to marry those children off, and it hurt the chances of any siblings no matter how pure they were.
Those rumors were the main reason he had turned his attention to three widows two years ago. They had been more of a challenge to seduce as they were reluctant to have sex with a child, but after a month of casual flirting and then another month of serious flirting, he had found peaceful arrangements with each of them. He wasn’t certain whether they knew about one another or not, but he did know that they had no illusions about marriage or love. The relationships were purely physical, interspersed with the occasional interesting conversation. Over the years Raviathan had come to realize how unfair life was for them. They were beautiful women, but because of their age, late thirties and forties, they would never be able to remarry. He liked their competence and smart conversation. Compared to the insecurities and jealousies of the girls his age, these women possessed a refreshing confidence. If all that hadn’t been enough, the older women were discreet.
As elves had a low birth rate, his partners were generally safe, and he knew how to keep a pregnancy from continuing. He’d only had to do that once, thankfully, three years ago. It was in both of their interests as they would be sent away from the alienage in exile once the news got out, and it would be impossible for her to find a job with the complication of a child. Exile left an elf to the winds of fate, most of which ended at a brothel. Raviathan knew a few boys who had struggled only to realize that their only recourse was to be had by anyone who had the coin to buy their bodies. Single mothers were often forced into the same profession when a husband could not be secured or their combined income wasn’t enough. He and Fenella spoke little to each other for months after she had drunk the tea.
Having a baby was not practical, they both knew that, but the idea of a child held a second unrealized future for Raviathan. He had thought about it for weeks as he waited late into the night for sleep to claim him. He thought about the child often. A child to care for, to hold when she cried, to change diapers, it filled him with a longing he had never known. He felt it pull in his chest. How would it feel to touch his baby’s skin as he washed her? To lie on the floor playing and tickling the small body as she giggled? To see her laugh? Would his child have his mother’s eyes? How would it feel to gaze upon his baby’s face? In time, he and Fenella renewed their friendship but never became intimate again.
He thought about the relationships of his past as he dusted the shelves and checked that everything was stocked correctly. Many names and faces flashed through his memory, some stronger than others. Fenella. Sharra. Lorian. Poor Jaslyn. That was one of the few that he truly regretted, though Desha and Pauler were still painful. He hadn’t felt shame for most of his actions, but he did with those two. It was a shame that had gotten worse as time went on and the consequences continued to grow darker. It wiggled in his gut, eating him from the inside out. With a marriage, there was a loss of freedom, but as he reflected on his past, he thought perhaps it might not be so bad. Left to his own devises, he had been hurting people. Sometimes badly. It wasn’t fair to them. Still, he wished he could choose his own wife. And have a bit more warning.
She’s probably just as nervous as I am, he thought. She was leaving behind everything she knew. All of her support- her friends and family. She would be lonely for a while until she made new friends. Giving up your family though. That had to be the hardest part. The elves who came to the alienage sometimes talked about that, how odd it was to be in a new community. It was hard for Raviathan to imagine not seeing his cousins’ faces every day. That realization hit him as he swept the main floor. Giving up everything you knew must incredibly lonely. He let that thought settle into his mind.
Alarith walked in, bringing with him a gust of cold morning air. “Morning,” he called in a light tenor with a hint of husk. The shopkeeper was from Tevinter, an escaped slave just as his mother and aunt had been. They all shared the same dusky skin tone, though Alarith’s hair was carrot red and his eyes a pale blue.
Raviathan sat on a stool behind the counter and examined the supply ledger while Alarith checked the inventory in the back pantry. “Huh. We still haven’t gotten that order for eggs in yet. The supplier hasn’t come by, has he?”
“I haven’t seen him,” Raviathan answered.
“Then I might have an errand for you this afternoon if he doesn’t show.”
Raviathan flipped through Alarith’s stock records, searching for the last delivery. Not only was the farmer becoming inconsistent, eggs had been getting steadily more expensive than usual. “I’ll see what I can do, but I might be busy later.”
Alarith leaned his head back out of the small stock room. “Oh yeah? What sort of mischief are you getting into this time?”
Raviathan smiled at the light teasing. He’d used Alarith as a cover story more than once, but it had been some time since he and his cousins had gotten into mischief. “My wife is supposed to be coming today.”
The rest of Alarith’s body appeared as he gave the younger elf his full attention. “Oh yeah?” He tousled Raviathan’s shoulder length black hair. “So you’re going to be an adult after all. I’m surprised it came this quickly.”
Raviathan batted the hand away. “You and me both. Any idea why?”
Alarith leaned against the door sill of the stockroom and folded his arms across his chest. Under Alarith’s steady gaze, Raviathan’s eyes dropped, and he fidgeted with a quill. Alarith sighed. “You know you’ve been making people nervous for years.”
“I know,” Raviathan admitted. “But I thought things were getting better. I’ve been trying.”
“You have, but I’ve also had to defend you a number of times. Those parents who had every right to be upset. If one girl had come forward- just one-I don’t know that Valendrian would have been able to save you. Come to think of it, I’m not surprised Cyrion found a bride for you so quickly,” Alarith said starting to gain momentum.
Raviathan suppressed a sigh and put his head down while the lecture continued. Alarith was right. As was his father. Raviathan only hoped he’d be able to talk to Miram and Bethany before his bride arrived. He had said goodbye to Irianna a week ago. After her daughter died from complications of pneumonia, her son in law had asked if she would be willing to move to South Reach to take care of her two grandchildren. The youngest was only a few months old. Raviathan couldn’t imagine the pain his lover had gone through. It had been painful enough for him to listen to her recount memories, her daughter’s favorite stories and songs, embarrassing and sweet moments. The child she raised with love and care had died far from the home she’d grown up in and the family she had loved. He had held his lover for hours while she cried wishing he could share the burden with her; anything to lighten her sorrow. He held her and rocked her, listened patiently, and gave all the tenderness he had. It was terribly insufficient, but he hadn’t known what else to do.
“ ... and you should be grateful,” Alarith finished.
The older elf snorted. “Can’t remember the last time you called me ser.” Raviathan gave him a halfhearted smile and Alarith sighed. “I think your father knows that you’ve been practicing medicine.”
“I’m not sure,” Raviathan said and chewed his lip. “He doesn’t want me to tell my betrothed.”
Alarith ran a hand through his hair. “You have to tell her. She’ll find out eventually, and it’ll be better if it comes from you. And,” he added hesitantly, “she needs to know what that might entail.” Raviathan stayed very still. It was dangerous to bring Solyn up. As far as he knew, Alarith hadn’t even spoken Solyn’s name since the two years following her death. Raviathan’s father had been the same after his mother had died. “I think Cyrion turned a blind eye because he knew you needed some support. It would have killed him if you were exiled.”
“Alarith,” Raviathan asked quietly, “how close was I? To exile.”
The older elf bit his lips and fixed his eyes on the floor. “It ... well it doesn’t matter now,” Alarith said. His tone had brightened to Raviathan’s relief. Talking about the rumors that had almost exiled him was shaming enough. It was embarrassing that so many here had guessed what he was up to. He had been the one in the wrong, but the their judgment still felt invasive. How disappointed where the people who loved him? In a way, Alarith felt like a dirty little secret, an adult forced to lie for him out of love for his aunt. He knew and had acted as his cover, but his father, Valendrian- how much had he failed them? Thinking back on the conversation with his father that morning, he realized he had acted like a spoiled shem. Raviathan had to consider his betrothed, and his father, whose name he’d been bringing down with his actions all these years, had remained patient and supportive. “You’re getting married, and all of that’s in the past. So. Tell me what you know about her.”
This was a chance to be someone better. “Father didn’t say much. She’s from Highever. Good at crafts.” At Alarith’s questioning half smirk, Raviathan added with a suppressed smile of his own, “She’s supposed to be pretty.”
“Sounds like things could be worse.”Alarith said, and Raviathan had to agree. “Have you figured out what you’re going to do for a living? I’d love to hire you here, but there isn’t enough work to support a family.”
Raviathan shrugged. He knew that. After Soris was orphaned, Raviathan’s family had helped support the orphanage. Raviathan’s job at the store gave them a discount on food- and held the added benefit of letting Raviathan read anything Alarith stocked- but there was little need for him other than the occasional errand, daily cleaning, and bookkeeping. Even though Alarith had the only general store in the alienage, the store was small and the bookkeeping was light. Alarith detested dealing with numbers however and was more than happy to train Raviathan. “I’m not sure. I think my father wants me to apprentice as a carpenter.”
A rage flashed in Raviathan’s eyes and his mouth became stern. “That shem he works for is an ass.” He had only been to Bann Rodolf’s estate once, but once was enough. He hated the way the lazy chamberlain had talked to his father. His father was wise and patient and that idiot shem was constantly berating him. The insults had rung in Raviathan’s ears for days. More than anything, it had shamed him to watch the human yank his father’s ear just because one of the servants hadn’t bleached the sheets properly. He’d turned away from the sight, as a dull sympathy ache panged his own ear. He shook with rage as he stalked away from the estate. He’d never spoken about that day to anyone.
Alarith said with a laugh, “You say that about all the shems.”
Raviathan glowered down at the ledger. “Show me a shem who isn’t a complete bastard, and I’ll show you one who’s just better at hiding behind a pedigree. Worthless is a step up for them.”
“They’re not all that bad,” countered Alarith. “That Bann he works for ... what was his name?”
“Yeah. He’s a good sort.” Raviathan rolled his eyes with a snort. Alarith let the younger elf’s insolence go as he continued. “You could always become an herbalist.”
“No. I told you. Father barely allows that now. After I’m wed, he’ll forbid it entirely.”
The comment fell on a silent room. They both knew why. What had happened to Solyn could easily happen to him though only Cyrion understand the full danger as Raviathan did.
Alarith had cared for Solyn deeply, enough that he was considering asking Valendrian’s permission to marry her. It was very unusual to take a woman in her late thirties, but he had loved her. Still loved her. Raviathan remembered their subtle flirtations. As soon as he was old enough to understand, Raviathan had given his aunt a meaningful glance when she and Alarith returned home after an evening together. They claimed they were out purchasing her equipment, but Raviathan new better. Solyn had ignored the glance, which had only amused Raviathan further. After that, he had begun teasing her mercilessly, enough that she slapped his shoulder once when they were working together, the only time she had ever hit him. They had both laughed, and Raviathan settled on amused looks whenever the two flirted after that. Raviathan had assured her that he was getting to an age when he wouldn’t need her anymore; that she could soon have the life that she had sacrificed for him. Tough as she was, she had hugged him, and told him that making sure he was safe had never been a sacrifice.
As he emerged from his brief reverie, Raviathan noted the sorrow that still affected Alarith at any mention of her. Her death nearly two years ago had hurt them both to the core. He chuckled to lighten the conversation. “I could always become a servant for some Bann.”
“Yes, and the halls would run red by the end of the day,” Alarith laughed trying to put the memories of Solyn behind him.
Raviathan rubbed his forehead. “I don’t know. There isn’t enough work in the alienage to support me.” He scoffed, “I could always take in laundry. Otherwise it’s the docks, or serving pompous shems, or working for them.” He put his heel up on the stool and hugged his leg. “I guess the docks feel most honest. At least I don’t expect civility there.”
“You can’t work at the docks,” Alarith said. “You’re too smart for that.”
Raviathan frowned. “So all the elves that work there are worthless?”
Alarith gave an exasperated sigh. “You know that’s not how I feel. Don’t put words in my mouth.”
“You’re the one who said I’m too smart for that,” Raviathan accused.
“The docks are for unskilled workers when nothing else is available. You are well spoken and can learn any trade you set your mind to. Why not take up an apprenticeship?”
“I can’t be a servant,” Raviathan said. “I can’t let some shem scream insults at me all day long. I know I need to provide for my family, but it would kill me to put my head down and let them treat me like trash.”
Alarith returned from the pantry and set a bag of oats on the center display. “Say that when your family is hungry.”
“You’re the one saying no to the docks. If that’s what it takes, I’ll be willing to do it.”
Alarith spread one arm wide in indignation, and placed the other on his hip. “You think they’re going to be nicer at the docks?”
“Of course not!” Raviathan shot back. “But a lord should know how to treat people. They’re supposed to be educated. They have all the advantages in life but look how they treat us. We’re scum to them. Yeah, I know the docks are rough, but they treat everyone like scum, not just the elves.” And I don’t expect anything more, he added to himself.
Alarith sighed. “It doesn’t have to be so final. There really are humans out there that aren’t so bad. If you earned enough, you could open up a shop here.”
Bitterness laced Raviathan’s voice. “How many elves have been able to get the capital to own their own shops?”
Before Alarith could answer, Nola walked in. She was a fair elf with dark hair and was rather pretty in her own shy way. Though she was the same age as Raviathan, the two never spent much time together. She was too passive for him to bother tolerating her overly pious attitude. Alarith called out, “Morning Nola. Anything you need today?”
“Oh. I am supposed to get more soap for my mother,” she mumbled.
Alarith pulled a box down from a top shelf. “Seems like she’s getting a lot of orders for laundry lately.”
“Oh. Yes. One of the Market women has been sick lately.” She glanced at Raviathan and then quickly away. “Um, how are things with the store?”
“The usual,” Alarith replied. “Although I’m going to need a new assistant soon.”
“Oh?” Nola flicked another glance at Raviathan.
“That’ll be fifty bits. Yep. My old one is getting married. If your brother is interested in the job, send him my way.”
Nola bobbed her head and hurried out. Alarith chuckled as he put the coins away, and Raviathan scratched the transaction in the ledger. “There’s going to be a lot of that the next few weeks.”
“What, looking for my replacement? I’m surprised you want one.”
“Hey,” he replied, “I’ve gotten used to sleeping in a little. But that’s not what I mean. I can almost hear all those hearts breaking.”
Raviathan gave him a skeptical smile. “What are you on about?”
Alarith replied in a falsetto, “Oh. He’s getting married? Oh. Maker, make his wife be lost at sea. Oh. Maker, make me his bride to be.”
Raviathan ducked his head to hide a smile. Alarith had captured Nola’s constant habit of praying all too well. “Don’t be ridiculous. Nola and I never even talk.”
“Why do you think that is?” Alarith laughed. “She gets all flustered around you.” He turned serious as he fixed Raviathan with a look. “If you’ve done half of what I suspect, I’m surprised half the parents in the alienage haven’t added something to your dowry.”
Raviathan busied himself with reviewing Alarith’s books. “I’m getting married, so no one needs to worry anymore.”
Letting the subject go, Alarith pulled a wooden box full of vegetables and a small sack of flour from the stockroom. “This goes to the orphanage today.”
“I’ll be back for that soon. I have a few errands to run first.” Alarith glared at him, and Raviathan raised a hand in placation. “Nothing bad.”
Alarith harrumphed but said no more.
Taking that as acquiescence, Raviathan left the store.