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It had been some time since Zevran had come to Odette’s tent, but he hadn’t been sure then. He hadn’t known what his feelings meant. He hadn’t known if she’d return them, or if their relationship was just sex to her. Now, he knew: whatever it was that he felt, whatever existed between them was real. It went way deeper than sex, and she felt it too.

He pressed down on top of her, and she bucked her hips into him and pulled at his shirt. He understood. It had been many nights, and he felt equally desperate for her.

He laughed. “You are certainly eager, Mi Amor.”

“Just shut up and fuck me!” she snarled.

Normally, that would have driven him wild, but so much had changed for him. He pulled back, pushing to his knees and crawling off of her.

Odette jumped up to a sitting position, her knees drawn in, a scowl on her face. “So I guess we’re not doing this, then?” she said.

Zevran was truly baffled. He hadn’t meant to end the night, just to shift, to talk a moment, to figure out what exactly was going on between them. In all his years as both an assassin and a lover, never once had he made a mistake that felt as fatal as pulling back just now had been. He shook his head. “Can we not talk?”

She didn’t meet his gaze. “What is there to talk about?”

“Odette-“. He paused. She was a woman who nursed pain with anger. He knew that well, and so he knew he had to choose his next words carefully. After what felt like ages, he settled on, “you know I love you, yes?” He said it with the lilt he normally carried in his voice - that sing-song tone that he had cultivated as a front so that the world would think he didn’t have a care.

Odette looked up at him and the scowl on her face relaxed. He had that effect on her. It was why she was in his tent now and not Alistair’s, even though he had promised his unyielding love through the symbol of a rose. Odette wasn’t looking for promises, because she didn’t believe that she had a future. It was only in the past few weeks, only after surviving a fight with Rendon Howe and bringing about his death that she had begun to question what the future might hold. But Zevran had no clear plans for the future either, and he never showed that it bothered him. He’d learned that Odette’s attraction to him was, in part, that she wanted to be like him. She wanted to look on the dark cruel world with a smile.

A smile or a scowl, both were just defense mechanisms. She would learn that in time. He would help if he could. But he was only just now working through his own trauma. He wasn’t what she needed, but he would have to do.

He looked into her face, the scowl gone, but replaced with cold stoicism. His Amor had many strong suits, but vulnerability was not one of them.

“If you know I love you, why would you assume that’d I’d leave now?”

She shrugged, and the scowl returned. “I don’t know. Maybe the fact that you haven’t come to my bed in a week has something to do with it.”

He scooted closer with a laugh. “Did I not tell you that I just wanted to be sure, first? Well, as I’ve said, I have never been more sure of anything in my life. I know exactly where I want to be, and, for the first time, I have the freedom to be there. And there is here - right here. With you.”

She huffed, and for just a brief second, he saw her cold exterior crack. It wasn’t much, but through it he glimpsed the pain, the grief of her loss, the insecurity, the fear, and that little spark of love and passion that he’d learned to coax out of her.

He continued his work, hoping to pry it open. He scooted closer, brushing his nose against hers. “I have quite a lot to say on the matter, and I have no intention of ‘shutting up,’ as you put it. Now, the fucking, that can be arranged.”

She giggled, but only a little. “Sorry,” she said, hanging her head, pulling back from him. “I just-“

“Say it, Amor.”

She gulped. “I want you so badly sometimes, I forget myself.”

She scooted back a hair and folded her arms around her knees, which she had pulled tightly to her chest. His brave Warden, their seemingly fearless leader, who always kept her cool, who was strong for each and every one of them when they couldn’t find the strength themselves, was gone. Before him sat the real Odette Cousland, a person that, to his knowledge, only he had ever met. She seemed smaller when the front was gone, and she looked older and so dreadfully tired. She was only nineteen, so incredibly young. He had a good eight years on her. Yet, in these moments, she looked older than him. He always thought that he’d been through so much, that he’d suffered so much, but he realized now that, despite the horror he’d seen, he was lucky to have very few memories of his life before the Crows. It was the knowledge of what she’d lost that left her so distraught. He hadn’t known her before, but he suspected that whoever she had been had died at Howe’s hands along with her father and mother.

“What else?”

Her lip trembled. “I’m scared.”

“Of what?”

“Of wasting time.”

“Wasting time?”

“How many times have we faced death in the last week?” she asked, “how many more times will we be able to do this before-“

“No, mi Amor,” he said, brushing her blonde hair behind her ear, revealing his earring. “A month ago, I could not have told you what tomorrow will hold, but now I know that it holds a future for you and me, yes?”

“Where will we go?”

“Why, anywhere we want!”

“What will we do?”

“Anything we want. And,” he said with a wiggle of his brows, “I suspect each other. A lot.”

She looked down at her hands, still healing from the number she’d done on that tree. Her face contorted, and her eyes grew wide in horror. “And when I hear it? My calling?”

He pulled her close and held her. “Then you and I will face the Deep together, my love.”

She broke his embrace only to reach his lips, to drink him in. He lowered her down to her furs once again, and she scooted into position beneath him. He rutted into her, but this time was met with the slow grind of her hips.

He pulled away from her lips and shifted down until his lips met her neck. “We have time,” he said, between planting kisses. “We will make time.”

She panted under him, and her fingers knotted into his hair.

He bore down harder, letting his kisses linger at first, then sucking and nibbling, having every intention to leave a mark. She moaned beneath him.

“Tell me,” she cried, “ tell me what we’ll do when this is over.”

He licked a stripe up her neck, then nibbled the lobe of her ear. She yelped as he pulled away, her lobe trapped between his teeth before it snapped out of his grasp. “I’ll take you to Antiva.”

“Yes,” she sighed.

He popped open the buttons of her tunic one by one, slowly, teasingly, as he returned to her neck. He bit down harder, and she gasped, pulling his hair so hard it brought tears to his eyes. He loved it.

“More,” she said, “tell me more.”

“We‘ll eat Oysters by the docks,” he said, “they do wonders for the sex drive.”

Her tunic now open, he wrapped his arm around her and lifted her just long enough for her to shrug it off. Then she pulled at the string of her brassiere until it came loose. She ripped it off and chucked it away. He laid her back down, trailing his love bites down her neck, over her collar bone, finally coming to rest at her left breast.

“Maker!” she cried, “oh fuck! What else?”

He reached a hand down to her trousers and began to untie them. “I will get you drunk on Antivan wine. We will stay in the finest inns with silk sheets and balconies that overlook the sea.” He slipped his hand into her untied trousers and searched until he found his prize. He slipped his fingers over her clit with ease and pulled free again -ever the tease- to find that they were coated in her slick wetness.

“Maker, don’t stop!”

His patience was waning, to his shame. He tugged her pants free and shed his own clothes as quickly as he could, then wasted no time in sliding into her. She arched at his entry and opened easily for him.

“Keep talking!” she said.

“I will take you like this again and again and again under the Antivan stars!”

“Yes!” She moaned.

He pulled her closer, and returned to his spot on her neck, breaking free only to tell her his plans. “We will rid the world of the Crows, together. We will cut them down one by one.”

Her nails scraped down his back.

“We will return once more to your family home and restore it to its former glory.”

She sobbed, with pleasure or grief, he couldn’t tell, but he kept going. “We’ll travel to Orlais and revel in their finery. I'll take you to the Grand Tourney in the Marches. We’ll see the Necropolis in Nevarra. We’ll see the world.”

He was nearing his climax. He could feel the heat building in his loins. Based on the way Odette’s eyes were squeezed shut and the way her mouth hung open, so was she.

“And?” she screamed.

He came hard. He saw white, and his whole body tensed till his muscles shook. He didn’t think about what he said, he just let the words pour forth without reservation, stammered in the heat of his ecstacy. “I’ll marry you,” he said. As the wave of his orgasm subsided, he felt her clench around him and knew she, too, had reached her peak. He continued thrusting into her, over and over as she came, her face contorted into a silent scream. “I’ll marry you. In a Chantry. Before our friends. Before the Maker.”

Something stirred in him like the holy flames of Andrate’s pyre in his chest. His future was illuminated by its flames. He would wed her, an act that he never could have dreamed possible before, but now was the only path he could envision himself walking. He clung to her and began to laugh, a true laugh. He had nothing to conceal, no pain to ease. Just pure joy.

Odette smiled beneath him, and the tiredness and age and pain melted from her face. “Marriage, huh? I didn’t think you were the type.”

“Is that a no?” He laughed.

“Not at all,” she said. She nipped at his ear this time with a grin. “And Antiva sounds perfect.”