Solona could feel the storm approaching before the first cool drops of rain pelted her skin. The night air was oppressive, and from her perch atop the battlement she could see no farther than the gates of the Keep. The guards always protested when she came here, entreating her to seek shelter from the elements, but she would wave them away with a laugh. She herself was a storm, after all; with a gesture of her hand, she could bring forth snow, forge rains of fire, and command lightning. She came here when the weather turned dangerous; to feel the power of nature, to tempt fate, to be alone with her memories. Always, her thoughts would return to one tempestuous night in Denerim, when the skies had opened to wash away the blood of darkspawn, and men had danced in the streets, heedless of the cold. That was the night she became the Hero of Ferelden.

That was the night she fell in love with the assassin.

xxxxx

When she lifted the borrowed sword and charged at the archdemon, aware that these might be her final moments in the waking world, it was his face she held in her mind. When she opened her eyes to discover that Morrigan's ritual had worked and she still lived, it was his face bent close to hers, whispering words she didn't understand as unshed tears glittered in his pale eyes. Everything she had longed to hear and been too afraid to demand was written across his face in that brief moment, before he realized she was awake and his mask slipped back into place. Then Wynne was knocking him aside to tend to her injuries, and she hadn't seen him again for many hours.

That day, as the darkspawn fled back underground and men chased the stragglers from the streets, there was mourning. Many had given their lives in defense of the city, and everywhere, pyres burned in grim reminder. There were also bodies of darkspawn to dispose of, and the carcass of the great dragon itself. Solona personally oversaw the collection of the archdemon's blood, and its transport to a heavily-guarded warehouse. Though the damage was great - the alienage in particular was in dire condition, and throughout the city fires raged and stone crumbled – talk had already begun of repair. Denerim was battered, but it would stand.

Then, as the city began to return to some semblance of normalcy, the celebrations began. When the taverns were filled to capacity, men overflowed into the streets, where minstrels played joyous melodies and merchants arrived by the dozens to offer their wares. The rain began just as dusk turned to true night, and children laughed, splashing in puddles and darting about to catch raindrops on their tongues. Then it started to fall in earnest, and a streak of lightning lit the sky over the palace, followed by a barrage of thunder that sent many of the revelers dashing for shelter. Solona stood, eyes closed and arms outstretched, enjoying the cleansing feel of the rain and the sounds and smells of the night. For so long, her life had been fighting and death, and now….Instead of screams of horror, there were shrieks of delight. Instead of the clashing of swords, there was the ringing of laughter. Instead of the smell of death and blood, there was fresh rain and the bitter tang of ale. When at last she opened her eyes, he was there, his blonde hair darker from the rain and his expression one of peculiar intensity, standing just out of reach.

She held a hand out to him, uncertain if he would come. He reminded her very much in that moment of a rabbit, poised to run at the first sign of danger. He stared at her with that unreadable expression for several long moments, and then closed the distance between them, his lips finding hers as he threaded his fingers through her hair. It was the first time they had kissed, and she savored it; the exotic taste and smell, the way she had to bend forward slightly to meet him. As the kiss ended, his hands came to rest on her waist, and when, in a tavern nearby, a minstrel struck up a slow, sweet tune, they began to dance. He was as graceful and sure then as he was in battle, and as he was later when she went to his bed. He proved to be a surprisingly generous lover, and when they both were spent he held her in his arms with a tenderness she hadn't known he possessed. As she drifted off to sleep, she whispered the words that she'd kept hidden in her heart for months, and if he'd replied that he loved her in return, she was not awake to hear it. Then the morning came, and he was gone.


Zevran stood at his small window, watching as the storm clouds cast Antiva City into shadow. Even now, such weather brought with it a tide of melancholy and regret. He had thought, at first, that he would simply forget and move on, but time had not dulled the ache. So, he embraced it, instead. He would open a bottle of fine Antivan wine, and allow himself to wallow in the past. He would welcome the pain, deserved as it was, and let it be a reminder of the many ways he had failed. He had once claimed to understand nothing of love, but in a single night he had both found and forsaken more happiness than he had known in a lifetime of careless pleasures.

xxxxx

He watched in horror as she sprinted toward the archdemon, arms shaking with the effort of lifting the two-handed sword. The weapon was much too heavy for her, and a part of him thought – hoped – that she would drop it, and Alistair would be forced to make the killing blow. But momentum carried her forward, bringing her to her knees even as the sword bit into the beast's neck. Then there was nothing but a searing light, and when his vision returned someone began to shout that the archdemon was dead. Men picked up the cheer in the streets below, but on top of Fort Drakon there was only silence, as Solona Amell lay unmoving in a spreading pool of blood. Zevran reached her first, and when Alistair arrived moments later, Zevran fought the urge to sink his dagger into the king's heart. Alistair had had his chance, and if she was to die now, her final moments would be with him, as it should have been all along, and not with the bastard prince who had tossed her aside. But then her eyes opened, and Zevran felt a wave of relief so strong it ached.

While the survivors sought loved ones and tended to their dead, Zevran wandered the streets of Denerim, awash in feelings he had no desire to examine. He had pursued the mage for the better part of a year, drawn to her power and thinking to add another name to his list of conquests. But she had already fallen for Alistair, and Zevran told himself that he was no one's second choice. Then Alistair had become king and cast her aside, and though she spoke of duty and the good of Ferelden, Zevran could see it had left her broken. It would have been the perfect time to step in and offer her refuge in his bed, but he found that the thought of taking advantage of her left a bitter taste in his mouth. So he offered his shoulder instead, and clumsy words of comfort that had never had a place in his world. She called him friend, gave him her trust, and as her heart healed, the walls around his own began to crumble.

When he finally saw her again after the battle, standing in the rain with her robes trailing in the mud and her long hair plastered to her cheeks, he'd meant for it to be his last image of her, one he could take with him and treasure in the moments when his life turned dark. But he had watched too long, and she'd noticed him. When he'd taken her to bed, it had been her suggestion, and though he knew he would only cause her pain, he was too selfish to resist. He had tried to put into his lovemaking everything that he was unable to say, and when she'd whispered that she loved him, he allowed himself one moment of hope that it could all be right. But he was an assassin, the son of a whore, a hunted man, and she was the Hero of Ferelden. She had shown him a thousand small acts of kindness, most of which he had not earned, and now he would give her this one: he would go, and leave her to a life with someone who could offer what she deserved.


A/N: I really need to learn to finish one story before I start another, but this was bouncing around in my head and wouldn't let go. I thought I should point out that I plan to keep going with it, since at the moment it feels a little like a one-shot.