read part 1 here
For picchar | 2000w | SFW | Rythlen x Alistair
He was so warm. She could
feel his hands like brands against her skin, holding hers gently with callused
fingers in one, the other resting in the small of her back. Even where her hand
rested on his shoulder, she could feel the heat of his skin radiating through
his light wool jacket.
There was something about this man, Prince Alistair, which made her trust him… as much as she trusted anyone these days. He watched her earnestly as she told him about the
man wearing Howe’s insignia on his shield the night her family had been
massacred. The foolish and charming smile faded as she told him how Howe had
shown up just a little too quickly after the massacre, and turned into a frown
as she recounted how surprised he’d been when she crawled out of the fields a
couple days later.“The only thing that saved me then was that a grey
warden was visiting,” she said quietly, unwilling to draw any attention from
beyond the curtain. “I wanted to go with him, but I was too young.” She grit
her teeth at the memory of Howe pulling her into a tight hug, ‘happy’ that she
survived. She’d wanted to stab him right there.
“What was his name?” Alistair asked, slowing to stand
still. As she’d talked, he’d gradually lost momentum in the dance, and now he
just stood there, holding her close. Anyone else, and she’d have shoved them
away, unable to handle the proximity of someone she didn’t know. But there was
something… he was so earnest, she realised. He cared, even though he didn’t
Rythlen blinked in surprise, wondering how a Prince of Ferelden
had grown up to care so much about people, and she
couldn’t help but wonder sadly how much longer he’d have that much compassion.
Sooner or later someone would abuse it, wouldn’t they?
“Do you not remember?” He asked, mistaking her
surprise. His frown lifted slightly. “I could start listing them off, at least
the ones in Ferelden. There’s not that many. There’s Rolfe, Duncan, Joss-” he
Rythlen felt her lips twitch towards an unbelieving
smile, but the expression was fleeting as he said the name she remembered.
“Duncan!” she whispered urgently, leaning in. “His name was
Duncan. Do you know him?” Alistair smiled, although Rythlen noticed that his
eyes were still concerned, their edges crinkled in a way that reminded her of
her mabari pup when she had been growing up. Howe had taken everything from her. Rythlen felt
her throat tighten as she remembered the yelping as Howe dragged Fyr away.
‘Untrainable’, he’d said.
Rythlen swallowed hard, focusing back on what the
Prince was saying so she didn’t lose her only opportunity at justice. Only,
he’d stopped talking, and was watching her with those caring eyes. How long had
it been since someone cared what she felt? What she said?
“Yes?” she asked,
voice too tight for her liking. She cleared her throat to try again. The words
stuck in her throat as he let go of her hand and gently touched her cheek, his
fingertips skimming over the skin under her eyes. Even with callused fingers,
he was so gentle. Was he afraid she would break?