Title: Tabula Rasa
Fandom: Dragon Age Origins.
Pairing; Warden/Alistair, Warden/Zevran, Warden/Nathaniel
Warnings: Angst, smut, violence… big girl hat.
AN: I named the Warden Hashim (Destroyer) Surana to avoid confusion, and for the sake of background story, which Mages don’t really have, I will make Hashim Soris’ brother, which would make him the City Elf’s cousin, and so he originated from the same Alienage. Because I thought, why come up with something when you can bend canon. – Also I should mention that I am messing with timelines.
Part 3 – HASHIM
It had been ages since Hashim had taken the time to just soak in a tub, just to lie there, lazy, full and slightly drunk. Actually he couldn’t remember it ever happening outside of his fantasy. It had all worked out, the Archdemon was dead, the Blight was over, all by his hand. He should be proud, he was a hero! A role model for other mages who struggled not just with themselves, but with the public and the templars. He had showed them that a mage mattered, that a mage could stay true and righteous. In the matter of the Grey Wardens, he had done nothing but what was expected of him. He was sure that they were glad that the Blight was over, but what now? Was he supposed to withdraw back to the deep roads and fight the remainder of the Dark Spawn there? Or was he free to choose? He suspected that he was, and since Riordan was dead, there was no one here to guide him. It was quite clear what would happen for Alistair now, what wasn’t so clear was where he was supposed to go.
Hashim closed his eyes, feeling his limbs float slightly in the warm water. He wished that someone could explain to him why he was still dead. Had he done something wrong? The Archdemon was dead, there was no question about that, but where did its spirit go? His dog had died that day, his brave hound that had stayed true and loyal all through; it had made the ultimate sacrifice. And he recalled seeing the dog and Morrigan lying in the same place, but since he woke, no one had been able to find her or her remains. Morrigan had vanished into thin air. Hashim suspected there was something slightly off, but he didn’t know what. Oh how he wished that Riordan were still amongst them. He would know what to make of this.
There was a knock on the door and without waiting for permission, they came inside. “Surana?” Zevran asked, peeking inside.
“I’m here, I haven’t drowned or anything so fanciful,” Hashim mumbled.
Zevran stepped inside and closed the door behind him. “You should be getting ready,” he said. “We are expected downstairs soon.”
“I know,” Hashim sighed. “Do you think they’ll notice if I’m not there?”
“Yes,” Zevran laughed. “I think more people came to see you, than their new king and queen.” Zevran took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t haven said that.”
“Yes you should.” Hashim groaned as he sat up straight in the bath, before standing up on wine-wobbly legs, stepping out of the bath. “It’s the truth. The king and queen of sodding Ferelden.” He grabbed the pants that had been laid out for him. Hashim angrily pulled them on and sat down, slamming his fist down into the bench. “Why is he making me watch this blighted charade?”
Zevran sighed. “I don’t know. Maybe to get back at you? Maybe because he really -is- that stupid?” He held out the undertunic to Hashim. “Surana.. Where will you go now? Have you given that any thought?”
Hashim looked up at Zevran, taking the shirt from the other elf’s hand. “I have a first name you know,” he just said.
“I’m sure your mother provided you with such. But that does not answer my question,” Zevran said kneeling at Hashim’s feet, slowly pulling a boot on the surprised mage’s foot.
“I don’t know, Zevran, I just don’t know.” Hashim pulled the undertunic over his head. “Wynne is going back to the tower to see what she can rebuild, and I think that is a wise choice. The circle of Ferelden shouldn’t be without her guidance.” He experimentally lifted his other foot and Zevran put on his other boot. “Everyone is – is going home, or has found their calling, even you, I suspect.”
“Would you want me to stay?” Zevran asked from his seat on the floor.
Hashim shook his head sadly. “That would be like caging a bird. Desperately selfish of the captor.”
Zevran placed a warm hand on Hashim’s knee, trying to level his eyesight so it met Hashim’s, but no matter what he did, the mage wouldn’t look him in the eyes. “I will stay if you ask me to.”
Hashim smiled a little and then shook his head again. “I will miss you, make no mistake.”
“And I you,” Zevran admitted. “But you never answered me on what you will do.”
Hashim sighed and finally met Zevran’s eyes. “Maybe I should stick around for Soris? The Alienage could do with a helping hand, and some coin to get some trade going.”
Zevran nodded. “You could do that.” He slowly rose to his feet. “But do you think that would make you happy, Surana?”
“I don’t know,” Hashim shrugged.
Hashim stood and watched the coronation and the announcement of Alistair and Anora’s wedding. He had to admit he had had a hard time not getting emotional, something that would just not be fitting of his stature. He felt a warm hand in his, as he focused on breathing through his nose and not crying. He looked to his left and saw Leiliana smile back. “It is a grand moment, is it not?”
“It is,” Hashim admitted, squeezing her hand gently, letting go as they all kneeled before their new king.
“Don’t be sad,” Leiliana whispered. “There is always a war to be fought somewhere.”
Hashim stood to his feet as the rest of the room did, what Leiliana had said it sounded mostly like something Sten would say, but it did make sense, after all it was what he signed up for. He just stared at Alistair standing there with his crown, and Anora at his side. That ought to be -him- up there, not that wench! He wasn’t even aware that he had ever dreamed of this ending for them, but now that he stood here and watched the scene unfolding he could feel his stomach knot up in a great big lump of bitterness and sorrow. He watched as his friends all went to congratulate Alistair, and with hestitant steps Hashim made his way there too. He smiled at Anora and bowed slightly, and then he smiled at Alistair and bowed. “Your Majesty,” Hashim said, not looking his old lover in the eye.
“Warden,” Alistair said, his voice sounding just as tense as Hashim felt. “The Blight is over; there are no other Wardens around. Will you be leaving as well?”
Hashim would have punched Alistair if he could, how dared he ask him this in front of all these people? “I do not know, Your Majesty,” he said with a firm tone, squaring his shoulders and feigning confidence.
“Could I pursuade you to stay?” Alistair said, “Denerim needs a hero, and I need a friend.”
Hashim took a deep breath, managing his anger. That was low, even for Alistair! “If you wish it, I will stay for as long as you shall need me.” He smiled, registering Anora’s smile faltering a little from the corner of his eye.
“Thank you, Warden.” Alistair said, risking a little smile.
The wedding was within days, the Chantry pushing for a ceremonial binding so there would be no accidents. Can’t have the queen trying to hide a pregnant tummy in a wedding dress. And to Hashim the wedding was perhaps a more refined type of torture than the coronation. He had to sit though an hour long quoting of the Chant of Light from the Revered Mother. He didn’t listen, he sat there and looked at Alistair, who sat on the front bench of the most obnoxious assembly that Hashim had ever seen, save maybe of some Orlesian merchants. – That night he had gotten ridicolously drunk and cried himself to sleep.
Hashim was sad to see his friends go. Slowly, over the course of a week, they were all gone. Zevran had stolen a kiss on the lips, much to the servants’ amusement, and Hashim had just stood there like an idiot, rooted to the floor for a moment. And then Zevran too had left. Now Hashim was left with no one but Alistair, the king to whom he had pledged his temporary allegiance, but had yet to see. For someone who needed a friend, he sure didn’t cash in on it very much. Hashim spent his time sparring with guards for the fun of it, visiting Soris and using his spoils of war to buy him a couple of stalls from the merchants of the Alienage, at the main market of Denerim. And when he had given the papers to Soris, he was sure he had seen a tear in the corner of his brother’s eye.
He went to the Chantry just for the peace and silence, and would spend hours there pretending to pray. But all this time he kept trying to figure out why he still stayed by Alistair’s side. He knew why, because Alastair had asked him to, and he would never be able to deny Alistair anything. And every time he thought of just getting up and leaving, and going to Orlais to find his fellow wardens, he would get a flash of a memory: he and Alistair had made love in the forest, and Alistair had whispered, ‘Hashim, I love you,’ and lifted off his necklace and solemnly placed it around Hashim’s neck. And every time he reached for the necklace around his neck, he almost crushed it in his hand. Hashim rested his forehead on the bench infront of him, taking a deep breath. He felt like crying. He felt like just letting go of his misery and admitting that he couldn’t live as Alistair’s ghost. He couldn’t stay to honor a promise made before he knew what it really meant. And what was the point of honoring a promise that he was the only one honoring?
“Warden Surana?” a soft voice said, which made Hashim look up. In front of him stood a young man; he seemed too young to be wearing the uniform of a Grey Warden. “I am he,” Hashim said.
“I was told I would find you in the Chantry,” the young man said. “I hope I do not impose on your time in the presence of the Maker.”
“No… You didn’t impose on anything,” Surana said with a smile, and stood up. “Pray tell then, who are you and what can I do for you?” He started to walk out of the Chantry. The young warden followed.
“Forgive me,” the young warden said. “My name is Thorne, and I was sent with a letter for your eyes only. Ser.”
“Oh?” Hashim was impressed, that was unusual, to use a warden as messenger. He took the closed parcel that Thorne gave him. He studied the stamp. It looked awfully important; he could tell that it was from the Wardens, but he didn’t knew that specific design.
“It’s from Weisshaupt,” Thorned said, with awe in his voice. “It’s from the First Warden himself.”
Hashim looked worried up at Thorne, “Do you think it might be orders?”
“I don’t know, Ser.” Thorne shrugged.
Thorne followed to the Arl’s house and was seated with some food and wine, several female and male servants doting on him. Hashim shook his head, amused, and walked off with his letter. He sat down in the library, which felt terribly empty without Wynne. He broke the seal and read, -Warden Commander Surana- He looked up, since when was he Commander of anything? As he read on it became clear that Queen Anora had written Weisshaput and asked if it was wise for Hashim to dally, and then suggested that since there had been a power vaccum since the Arl of Denerim’s demise and the new King, that Hashim would be used best for everyone’s interest as the Arl of Amaranthine, retstoring Vigil’s keep to its former glory. And this was just what the First Warden wanted to hear. Hashim read the letter over and over again, he was being sent to Vigil’s keep with Thorne to meet up with a handful of other Wardens. There he was to overlook the restoration of the keep, and secure some power for the Wardens in the role of Arl. “That flearidden sodding bitch!” Hashim growled, standing up kicking a bookshelf.
Anger boiling, he stomped straight up to where Alistair would most likely be found. Hashim tore up the door and found Alistair eating supper with his queen. Hashim stopped. “My King,” he said through gritted teeth, “may I have a word with you, once you are done dining?”
Alistair looked up slightly confused. “Speak your mind Warden.”
Hashim straightened his back. “I fear it is for your ears only.”
Anora reached for her wineglass. “Do you think me a blushing maiden, Warden?”
“My Queen.” Hashim bowed again, knowing it was a trick question, because of course she was a sodding slut, he had no doubt in his mind. But if he said so, not even the First Warden could save his neck. “It is a matter between men.” He tried to hide his smile, noticing her annoyed glare.
“I will be right back,” Alistair said, leaning over and kissing Anora’s cheek, and left with Hashim. They walked in silence to the King’s study, where as Alistair closed the door, he was presented with the Warden’s papers in his face. “Tell me what the sodding shit is this? It is bollocks, that is what it is!” Hashim raged, “Did you know that she petitioned the First Warden?” Hashim started pacing the floor as Alistair read the letter.
Alastair looked up, bewildered. “They are sending you to Vigil’s Keep? But that is a ruin.”
“Are you really that daft?” Hashim growled. He stared at Alistair, and without thought he reached over and held his old lover’s face cupped in his hands, forcing Alistair to look into his eyes. “The Alistair I knew would never allow this! Is there anything left of the man I loved? Anora made sure that I would be sent away.” He wet his lips. “I can’t say that I have not thought of it; it pains me to see you with her. I miss you so much that my heart hurts.” Hashim let go of Alistair and looked away from the other man’s stricken expression. “I only stayed because you asked me to. You are what keeps me here, haunting the shadows of this place with nothing but a memory of why you were so dear to me. Tell me, Alistair, and tell me the truth. Did you know of this plan? If you wanted me to leave, you could just have asked me to.”
Alistair sat heavily down in a chair. “I didn’t know,” he mumbled. “I am not blind, I have seen the hateful glares she sends you. I suppose I have underestimated her determination.”
”Alistair – I…” Hashim choked on his words, he simply didn’t know what to say. After a moment of silence, Hashim sighed. ”I would suppose that the First Warden sent a letter for Anora as well. Have you not seen that?”
”You asked me once if we were still friends, and I told you yes, but was not able to be true to my word, because what you asked of me was just too much,” Hashim said, lowering himself on his knees at Alistair’s feet, looking up at his king. ”I am asking you this once as a friend. Please, Alistair, I need to know why you asked me to stay when the others travelled on.”
Alistair looked down at Hashim, and to the elf’s surprise the man hooked a finger around the chain that Hashim wore around his neck, examining it. ”My mothers locket,” Alistair mumbled absentmindedly.
Hashim reached behind his neck and pulled the chain over his head, gingerly placing it in Alistair’s hand. ”Thank you for letting me borrow this,” Hashim said. He wanted to smile to seal his lie, but he couldn’t meet Alistair’s eyes.
”I gave it to you,” Alistair protested with a whisper, running his thumb over the silver locket. ”It belongs to you.”
Hashim shook his head. ”It is yours. And it is time I gave it back.” He dared a look up at Alistair, who looked as if he were trying to will his face to not give away any of the emotions that were just under the surface.
”It was a gift, you can’t just give it back,” Alistair argued in an oddly childish tone.
”Same was true about my heart,” Hashim said softly, resting his arms on Alistair’s knees for a moment before rising to his feet. ”Besides, why would I have need for your mothers locket where I am going?”
”To remind you of me,” Alistair said looking absolutely miserable.
”I don’t need some locket to remember you.” Hashim said truthfully, ”And I spoke the truth back then; you will be a magnificent ruler, the sort of king that goes down in history.” He smiled, ”For your achievements, not your secrets.”
”If you knew what I would give for fighting at your side instead of this… then…” Alistair said following Hashim’s flight to the window with his eyes.
Hashim looked out at the sunset over Denerim. ”I’ll inform Warden Thorn that we will leave tomorrow.” He turned a little and looked over his shoulder at Alistair in the chair. ”It’s not like we won’t ever meet again. As the Arl of Amaranthine I am sure I’d find an invitation to the celebration of your firstborn.”
”Must you be so cruel?” Alistair asked as he rose to his feet, handing the papers back to Hashim.
”Yes,” Hashim admitted. ”I have mourned for too long; I can’t cry anymore. I have no tears left.”
”You cried?” Alistair asked dumbstruck.
”I did,” Hashim admitted. ”I loved you. I would have laid down my life for you.” He took a deep breath. ”But I suppose Leiliana is right. There will always be a war to fight, and I will always have something else to kill, even if the only one I want to kill is you.”
Alistair took a step back, ”You want to kill me? Surely you can’t mean that, Hashim.”
”Oh, you remembered my name. Impressive,” Hashim spat, and turned around, his back against the window, facing Alistair. ”I don’t want to kill you. I want to hold you and love you, I want to hear you promise me forever. But I know that I will never have that, so I have to bury my love for you, and kill it over and over again. I wish… I wish I had never let you know that I found you handsome, and I wish that I had listened when you told me it would only end in heartbreak.” Hashim closed his eyes for a long moment. ”Because you -did- warn me, I just never in my wildest dreams thought that anything could come between us.”
Alistair looked away with a sigh. ”I did what I had to, for Ferelden. You know I didn’t want it.”
”I do,” Hashim said softly. ”But none of that matters now.”
”No,” Alistair admitted and cleared his throat. ”Is there anything you need for your travels?”
”A horse would be wonderful.”
”A horse you shall have,” Alistair said stepping closer to Hashim, placing a hand on the elf’s shoulder. ”What about your brother?”
”I set him up, you need not worry about him.” Hashim said squirming a little under Alistair’s touch. Hashim turned his head and looked directly into Alistair’s eyes. ”I guess this is goodbye then.”
”I guess it is.”
”We had a good run, didn’t we?” Alistair asked softly.
Hashim didn’t answer, he just grabbed Alistair and pulled him down for a kiss, it was a sad kiss, but a kiss that neither of them wanted to end, and yet it ended too fast, leaving them both flushed and breathing heavily. Just standing there, staring at eachother for a long silent moment, as were they both trying to process what happened. That too ended as Hashim raised to his toes and kissed Alistair once more, but this time it was a chaste brotherly kiss. ”Goodbye, Alistair,” he said, and then swiftly exited the room.
That night Hashim tossed and turned, but his sleep was troubled and nightmares woke him every hour. He grabbed his chest, only to be reminded that he had given the locket back, so he couldn’t use that to soothe himself anymore.
There had been a horse as promised, and both wardens had gotten on it. It was a far cry from the mighty Griffons of the past, but it was better than walking to Amaranthine. Hashim didn’t look over his shoulder as they left. He knew no one would be there.