Title: A Bard's Love
Game: Dragon Age Origins
Characters/pairing- The Warden, Leliana
Disclaimer- DAO (c) BioWare
Dragon Age: A Bard's Love
The sound of crunching leaves led a path through the Brecillian forest. The natural maze that the group was now once again lost in. They had, in terms only Morrigan could only say "foolishly" decoded to enter because of a herb they were asked to find. Unfortunately it only grew in areas not even the Dalish clans have trekked for centuries. So they had to go by gut alone, along with finding they're way back out.
"Ughh what I wouldn't give for a wonderful bath!" Leliana moaned swiveling her head from side to side to try and fix her lengthening hair. "You and me both." Alistair said rubbed his scruffy chin with his hand. His beard beginning to annoy him whenever he even twitched his face. He was only making his problem worse though.
"There has to be some source of water nearby." Wynne said looking at their surroundings. She was right, how so much plant life could thrive without any form of water other then rainfall would be nearly impossible without magic interference. Wynne however seemed to be not afflicted by the increasing murkiness of the forest. Her red robes still pristine ever since they left the imperial highway.
Everyone's nerves seemed twisted. If they hadn't been ever since the arduous task the Deep Roads were. Who could blame them they hadn't seen the sky for over 4 months. One wonders how the dwarves could live underground. Oghren would probably say, "By getting so hammered that we think up is down and down is up HAHA!!" But it wasn't just that. They had witnessed how the darkspawn bred. The Broodmothers were the most disgusting abomination they'd had encountered even more then Zevran.
Cogdale was silent; he had been since leaving the Dalish camp several days ago. The one so many referred to as "The Warden" was always so cold, so calculated and silent when on missions. But Leliana knew him better then most. Cogdale always put on a façade of being unflinching, unwavering and impenetrable. But so many nights of talking to one another near a campfire looking up at the night sky had given her volumes on him. He was exhausted. It was hard to catch at first; he did have his helmet masking his face. But his eyes fought themselves to stay open.
He always worried that if he showed any signs of weakness of faltering the group he considered friends would doubt him. Doubting him would lead to some how failing on defeating the Blight. He took in everything into consideration. That every variable that he exuded was a game changer. He worried so much and his conflict with himself showed more and more each day.
"I swear you're more of a golem then Shale sometimes Cogdale." Alistair said brushing off some detritus that had found its place on his pauldrons. The jab at Cogdale was ignored however; no snotty comeback came from Cogdale. Focused on finding the herb was all that mattered. Leliana failed at trying to kick Alistair in the back of his knee for that unneeded remark. Cogdale held a piece of dirtied paper that had a drawing of what the herb looked like for reference. It came from the Dalish clan's keeper who used their large books to find a reference for them. Though the group only had to worry about their ability to find their way around the massive forest. Months before Cogdale helped cure the lycanthropy that plagued the forest that Zathrian had started thousands of years before.
So no constant threat of werewolves ambushing them or biting them. All they had to keep a vigil for was the rabid wild life and any lost darkspawn hordes.
The rays of light that had been dancing through the trees were beginning to turn crimson from the sunset that the trees were hiding from the 4 of them. Which gave off an almost surreal glint from Cogdale's pure silverlite made armor. It also showed the grime and muck that had built up on the surface of it. No doubt Leliana had the same muck on her pieces of dragonskin leather. She shook her head to stop her from getting sidetracked. Her legs were killing her from climbing over so many fallen trees and gigantic roots. Not even a heat salve could relieve her of the tension and pain from the nonstop trek.
She caught Alistair looking back at her as he expressed his exhaustion by gesturing putting a noose around his neck and hanging himself. Wynne hit him on the head with her stave and continued following right behind Cogdale. Alistair sped up his walk to meet Cogdale side by side in his stride.
"Hey, Cogdale? Mind if we rest for the night? My feet are kicking my poor butt a new one!" He said with pout to his lip. Cogdale was still for what seemed like a minute before removing his helmet and nodding in agreement. "Alright, we'll set camp here for tonight. I'll go out for look out." He said. Alistair gave off an over zealous sigh of relief and took his pack off his back and made his way over to where Wynne was sitting.
Leliana just sat there and watched Cogdale wander off in a different direction from the camp that was in the making, leaning his weight into a small ruined wall expressing his fatigue. Leliana understood and could relate to his pain. Her nights of escaping Orlais as she crossed over into Ferelden were the most horrible nights of her life from what she could remember. Rain, mud, the feeling of being watched and stalked by people she couldn't fend off while she was injured and the smell of wet dog just all stacked up on her during those times.
She didn't want to intrude on Cogdale so she decided she would help get the camp all set up. Wynne had found an opening in the trees that shined in the moonlight of the night sky and brought in some fresh, cold and reviving air. Alistair was pushing and pulling logs out of the way for the campfire. Leliana looked at Wynne with doubt across her brow. "What is it Leliana?" Wynne asked stopping what she was doing and sitting down on the nearest log.
I feel like I need to say or do something." Leliana explained frustrated with herself on why she hesitated to do so in the first place. Wynne only gave her motherly look towards Leliana. "Do you? Do you need to do something?" Wynne asked. Leliana frowned at her pointless question. "Why do you feel the need to do something dear?" Wynne added. Leliana felt that she knew the answer but she was afraid of it. "I
" Leliana could only say. Wynne smiled and nodded almost in a mystic way letting her know that she knew.
"Go child, there are some wounds magic cannot heal." Wynne smiled and pointed her towards the path Cogdale limped through. Leliana nodded and at a fast pace went the way Cogdale had gone. She still fought herself though on whether it was right to bring it up with him. He was already troubled as is with single handedly trying to defeat The 5th Blight of Thedas.
The ancient and collapsed wall that traced Cogdale's path was longer then she expected. Leading another 40 meters down hill to another small opening in the treetops. The sunset was no longer around and the violet night sky was settling in. Giving home to the constellations in the sky she and Cogdale conversed so much about. She tried her best to spot the wearied warden in the decaying rubble. But he must be on the other side. She thought still making her way down the small hill. Her steps were slow and weak to not give off any sounds. She held so much doubt if he felt the same way about her she'd rather not say it to him in fear of jeopardizing the fight against the archdemon. Or was it rejection?
Leliana finally spotted Cogdale sitting down on thick ledge of stone, huddled over and wincing. Her anxiety was becoming palpable getting closer and closer to him. "Cogdale!" She blurted out surprised that was launched from her lips. Cogdale turned see her walking towards him, twiddling her fingers in her nervousness.
Leliana?" quietly said. She didn't say anything until she finally sat right next to him, her stomach becoming upset when she knew his eyes were upon her. "Are you okay?" She asked. He smiled while still grimacing from what truly seemed of pain. "Yeah I'm fine." He chuckled taking his palm off from his side and looking at it. She caught a glimpse and saw blood. She shot her stare at where he had been holding. More of his blood was slowly oozing out of his chainmail.
"You're hurt! Maker's Breath!!" Leliana gasped holding her mouth in shock. Without any of the hesitation that she had, had she ripped open one of her bags and grabbed some of her torn chantry robes out. "Here take these bandages!" She said wrapping the cloth around his sternum. He held his breath whenever she pressed against the wounded area. "Thank you, Leliana." He said taking a deep breath as she continued to apply her bandages on him. "I was beginning to think nobody would notice and I could drift away into the fade while you all slept." He joked with an untruthful grin of pain.
Leliana frowned. "Why would you say that?" She growled, "After what we've gone through? You'd just up and leave?"
"That isn't the Cogdale I know!" She said finishing her amateur bandaging. "We all think of you as our leader
and as our friend." Leliana said patting the bandage a few times to see it would hold. Cogdale's face showed signs of grief after her words. Cogdale carefully leaned himself against the wall and stared up into the branches of the trees.
"Because, ever since I escaped Castle Cousland where my entire family died, ever since I joined the Grey Wardens I've been having these dreams." He said. Leliana tried to imagine what it must've been like to actually know her parents. Such a thought seemed
impossible for her to understand. She joined him on leaning against the wall. Looking into his mesmerizing hypnotic glowing eyes. He said they were once hazel and that they became that after the joining with the Grey Wardens but Alistair was a Warden himself but didn't have them.
"Not the ones that all Grey Wardens have mind you." He stated. "But of my own life, like I needed a history lesson of what I went through." He said annoyed with himself. "Sometimes though I have dreams of events that seem to be implied in the future." Shifting himself to fix and unpleasant strain on his wounds.
"One that has been repeating is of a grand hall, something gargantuan in size." He said. "Weisshaupt?" Leliana asked. "I don't know." He shrugged. "But there are hundreds of people, accompanied by what I suspect is the person they love at their side." He continued to explain. "But I'm left alone, then my brother opens a door in front of me. But it leads me no where but a white abyss." Cogdale finished his head hanging in shame.
"I don't know Cogdale." Leliana said. Hating herself that she couldn't ease his thoughts this time around with a story or a small song. "If you don't mind I'd like to share something personal with you." He said. The words brought a strange mix of hope and dread into her thoughts. "Sure Cogdale, please do."
"Out of all the fears in this dark world Leliana, the only fear I truly have is to be alone." He sighed. Before she could say anything he continued. "To never experience the one thing that brings life and good into this world." He finished turning his head to Leliana. "What is that? May I ask?" Leliana said knowing in the back of her mind what he already meant but she couldn't believe it.
The area of his armor that had been covered by his blood had washed away the grime of the forest. A small stream had found its way from his wound to the small plants below their feet. He took a moment to take in his surroundings his eyes to her seemed so passionate at everything he gazed at. Almost as if he saw more then the average person when staring at even a pebble on the side of a road, he saw more then just a pebble.
" He said turning to the stars. The little place they had resided in was almost too conveniently lit by the forest and moonlight. It was so bright if she hadn't paid attention to her surrounding she could've swore it was still daylight out.
Love? Cogdale?" When she finally heard him say it out loud she thought her hopes had played tricks with her. "I always had thought
you had a girl back at Highever you worried over, that kept you up at night." She asked for him to repeat himself just so she was sure she heard right.
"No, I was too much of a bookworm in my youth." He said with a long sigh of disappointment. "I can only wonder if reading story after story of romance that I began to perceive it the wrong way." He said contemplating his life. "None of the noble daughters liked me. I mean I was meant to be a vassal after all but I never lived up to those expectations I suppose." Leliana had just noticed that she had shifted her body entirely towards him with her arms cradled around her knees while listening to him.
"My brother, Vincent, had told me what love felt like but he was more of a promiscuous youth then anything else. Even with his reputation though. His explanation of it; made me want it that much more." He said reaching up in the air to nothing clenching his hand in disappointment.
Leliana's upset stomach turned into butterflies after he was done explaining his secret to her. She had grown to really care for Cogdale over their adventure together. He was a kindred spirit. One who she could belt out her worries and troubles and he would understand entirely and try his best to help her. But her fears of feeling such things again were getting the whole of her. She was afraid to be betrayed again. Left to die in a prison without a care in the world.
Cogdale wasn't like any other man she had met, seduced or down right killed when she lived the life of a bard for the Orlesian nobility. He was just a boy in some sense who willingly gave up his entire future and life to save Ferelden. Every man or woman she had begun to feel for before were greedy, selfish and only thought of themselves. Of course where were the occasional nice guy or girl who she would trick into buying new shoes for her but still they did it to possess her. To own her like a slave to use.
While he only saw her as a friend, someone to talk to when things were down and someone to tell her feelings to without getting a single negative thing back from. Their conversations were some of the most interesting ones she has had in her life. Her heart ached whenever she saw Cogdale enter a room or when he just gave her a smile. She couldn't breath until he asked her a question, his eyes staring into hers. Wynne had definitely noticed the feelings she gave Cogdale and hinted that it was the same with Cogdale towards Leliana.
He had kept his burning ice eyes on her the whole time she was in her own world. When she snapped out of it she caught him admiring her. She only blushed and looked away for a few brief moments. "What was it that you came to see me for Leliana before my blood ruined the conversation?" Cogdale laughed wincing from the sharp pain of his laughter. Leliana laughed in return. But her heart truly felt like it could almost burst from her throat because of her anxiety of telling she had feelings for him. She needed to try and tell him covertly.
"I just wanted to tell you, I feel safe at night, the darkspawn never really sleep but I feel so much safer when I awake to see you still watchful." She stuttered gracelessly trying to mend her words. "What I'm trying to say is I trust you
" Leliana tried her best to swallow her heart back down. "I trust you, I'm comfortable around you, and I know you're there when I need you." Cogdale's distant gaze he had in her eyes transformed into a confused almost frustrated look. She felt her heart go from her throat down to her stomach in a heartbeat.
"What are you saying Leliana?" Cogdale asked confused. "I'm
I'm trying to say is you
you are m
my friend" her face bursted into a flush of red nearly the same color of her hair trying to finish her sentence. "And
" She gave one last look up at the sky wondering if The Maker was there to help her. "Sometimes I think m
maybe we could be more then that."
There it was, she had dropped it in front of him. Now all she could do was watch in horror as he did with it what he will. Trying to find some semblance of control she instantly tried changing the subject.
"Maker look at me stumbling over my words like an ill educated peasant girl, some bard I am." She joked about herself an untruthful smile across her lips. Cogdale's confused stare returned to his softened gaze who sobered her dread an ounce. Her thoughts were racing so fast; her heart couldn't keep up with it. She felt as though she might pass out from it all. Cogdale slowly glided himself off from his throne he had made himself during their talk.
"Come with me Leliana I want to tell you something too." He whispered to her, his hand outstretched to help her off the stones. She took his hand and leaped off the seat she had. He guided her up the steep hill they had taken down several minutes ago. She followed him like a duckling follows its parent overwhelmed by her emotions. The night had taken over the sky, as the surroundings were pitch black. Their only means of light was the campfire that Wynne and Alistair must have started while they were away.
His eyes too were glowing though ominous they seemed at the moment she was still caught up in her own thoughts. The incline finally straightened out and the light from the fire tickled their faces with warmth. She only took a moment's glance to see the poorly made beds that Wynne and Alistair had for themselves. Both were fast asleep in their blankets most likely dreaming something pleasant in the fade.
Cogdale turned around and took both of Leliana's hands and kept them in his grasp. A surge of life and ecstasy began at their touch. She looked up at him to see his eyes at peace with what seemed like everything. She was still so confused by what was to happen however as she held her breath. He took a full breath in anxiety of the moment. Leliana tried to do the same but found herself pausing her breath again.
"The thing is Leliana, I've always wanted us to be more then just friends." His voice more peaceful than any tranquil and his smile as soft as the most elegant blankets of Orlais. Leliana was exhilarated hearing him say that but was too afraid to show it.
Really?" She murmured. "N
No one told me, you've felt the same way and didn't do me the courtesy of informing me?" She got tangled up in her emotions. Beginning to believe her own lie while blurting out her feelings. "You made me say those things! Oh
you! How very awkward!" She was stunned at the entire moment that played out, feeling rushed through her. All that culmination of her feelings growing for him over an entire year had just been released within just a sentence. Nothing she'd ever expected.
She had never confessed her affection towards another person in her entire life. Let alone to a person she first called her friend. "I can't say how.." before she cold finish her shout Cogdale took a step forward, placing his hands around her soft face and kissed her. Her gasp seemed loud enough that any darkspawn could hear it.
Her lips felt like they were melting under the heat of his. She had kissed men before, but this kiss
was life-changing, mind altering. Every memory of her previous kisses instantly vanished from her mind. She would proudly state this kiss was her first and she wanted it to be. To her, The Maker was applauding and Andraste was singing to them. She didn't know how long their lips stayed caressing each other, but she didn't care. Wishing for the moment to last forever. She wanted to just stay with him in his arms and forget her troubles and worries. Forget her vision that the Maker gave her, Forget the Blight, and forget her past life. When he finally pulled away from her, she loathed the moment. Her lips going cold from the wind of the forest after his kept her warm.
Feeling his breath shape her face was oddly satisfying as well. Both of them stood quiet for a few seconds taking in what had just happened. She opened her eyes to him looking at her with the warmest smile she'd ever seen him have. He embraced her, his body; warm while still hidden under cold armor gave off more heat then the camp's fire. "That settles it then
" Leliana said nuzzling her head into his neck. Even though they'd been travelling nonstop for almost a week he still smelled of warm spices. Cogdale stroked her hair and whispered "Thank you, I thought I would never feel this, that I would never meet a woman like you."
She kissed him on the cheek and said good night. They stretched their arms to the limit, trying to hold each other as long as possible before turning for their beds. Before Leliana laid in her layers of blankets that resided next to Wynne, she looked over to Cogdale one last time to see him gleefully skipping over to his own bed. She giggled seeing this side of him.
She lay down, throwing the thin blankets over her as she tried to rest with the excitement still keeping her awake. Slowly closing her eyes she was startled to see Wynne wide-awake looking at her with a long smile. "You heard everything didn't you Wynne?" Leliana asked with a smirk. "No, no dear my poor old ears aren't what they used to be I thought I heard you kissing our dear Warden which can't be true." Wynne snickered.
Leliana didn't care she sighed at the mage and got lost in her ocean of thoughts until she drifted off to sleep.