Merry late Christmas, everybody! Here's a new Chapter of Of Assassins and Rangers!

I would have had this posted on Christmas Day, but for some reason, FanFiction wouldn't work for me :(

To all the people who are subscribed to me, this story, or have put this story in their favorites, I deeply apologize for the lack of updates. I began college at the beginning of the summer and have had very little down time to work on any of my stories. I hope that this chapter, as well as the other chapters that I will be posting today, will more than make up for that.

Also look forward to New Year's! Not only will we be entering a new year, I'll be posting a special Holiday story~~!


Vierna's eyes flitted open then snapped shut again, desperate to grasp at the remnants of her dream. When she couldn't remember anything, she sighed resignedly and simply laid there with Zevran spooning her, their legs entangled in a jumbled mess and his arms wrapped around her waist and torso with hers resting on his. She could feel his even breathing against the back of her head and surmised that he was still deep asleep. As gently and slowly as she could, she disentangled herself from him and slid out of his grasp, wincing at the pain that shot through her body when she put pressure on her knee.

She and Zevran had ridden each other raw yesterday; and seeing how, for the past few weeks, they had been too busy travelling to have time for intimacy, she felt that they were just making up for lost time. Even as she could see the bruises and cuts around her love's lips from her brutal kisses and the love-marks, welts and scratches that marred Zevran's shoulders, continuing down his chest until disappearing beneath the blanket they had slept under, she could feel the same markings around her own lips and body, as well as the tenderness of her breasts from having been suckled and toyed with a majority of the night. Most acute, however, was the pain she felt in the juncture between her legs and over the surrounding areas. It was so tender and sensitive that Vierna was certain that her entrance was swollen and enflamed to the point where if she grazed so much as her finger over her folds, it would hurt like hell. She looked down and also noticed the many welts and bruises on her hips as well as the hand shaped ones on her thighs from Zevran's rough grip and guessed that the skin around her womanhood was also bruised.

She stretched and plucked an elfroot potion out of one of the outer pockets of Zevran's pack, unstopping the vial and doing her best to down its contents in a single gulp. Despite her efforts, a few drops went down the wrong way and she started hacking and coughing. That only lasted a few seconds before her breath evened out and she placed the vial back into Zevran's pack in time to hear her lover moan and shift under the blanket.

Vierna cast a glance over her shoulder at him, noting, with no small amount of wicked glee, that Zevran was still dead to the world, except that he had rolled onto his back. She grabbed a tunic from the floor, not caring whether it was hers or Zevran's, and slid it over her head as she crawled over to the slumbering assassin's side. She gingerly lifted her leg enough so that it slid over his stomach and she wound up straddling him. She descended slowly, her hair falling in a curtain around her face, as she brought her lips down to his face and began peppering kisses along his forehead, across his high cheekbones, and down to his lips, slightly parted as he breathed the even and deep sighs of sleep. Ever so gently, she sucked on his lower lip, even giving it a light nip before she slid her tongue into his mouth.

She felt him stir beneath her and his hands were suddenly trailing a slow, heated path up her thighs even as he caressed her tongue with his, making her delighted that her wake-up call was being so readily and eagerly answered. After what seemed like hours, their languid kiss was broken by their bodies' need for oxygen, Zevran's eyes finally blinking open.

He grinned cheekily at her, commenting, "If that's the wake-up call I get after a half-day of ravishing you, I just might be inclined to do it more often."

Vierna winced, half-jokingly, half-seriously, murmuring, "Please, Zev. I might not survive for very long if you do that."

Zevran cocked a slender eyebrow at her. "You may not survive? Amore, need I show you the number you did on me?"

"The number I did on you?" Vierna returned semi-incredulously. She gave him a confident smirk as she dug another elfroot potion out of his pack, the fabric of the tunic she was wearing brushing lightly against his face. "You'll be lucky to get anything more than kisses for the next few days because of the number you did on me. Either way…" She swished the contents of the potion about in its container, "…you might want to drink this before you try to move."

As she opened the vial and used one of her hands to raise his head slightly from the bedroll, Zevran chuckled and asked, "That bad, huh?"

She gently tilted the potion once the mouth of it was at Zevran's lips and couldn't help but giggle impishly as she answered, "You look like Kadat had you for a snack."

The last of the concoction trailed down his throat before Zevran had the chance to chuckle ruefully at the memory of her wolf summoning. "Don't remind me. He tried to have me for a snack when we first met, remember?"

"That was when you tried to kill me."

"He still looks like at me like I'm a snack."

Vierna put the empty vial away and slid off of Zevran's stomach, allowing him to sit up and stretch his sore muscles while she admired how quickly the elfroot potion was clearing up his scrapes. "Maybe he thinks Crows taste like chicken."

Zevran opened his mouth to retort when Vierna held a hand up to silence him, cocking her head to the side as if listening for something. After a few seconds, she asked, her tone hushed and urgent, "Do you hear that?"

Suddenly alert, Zevran strained to hear what Vierna was hearing. Nothing. There was no wind rustling the leaves; there were no chirping, clicking, or any other sounds coming from the wildlife; and even the gurgle of the brook seemed quieter.

Then he heard the rustling of leaves from the bushes to the left of their tent.

Zevran hastily pulled his breeches over to him and slid them on from his seated position as Vierna grabbed his daggers and her bow and arrows. As soon as he had fastened his breeches, she tossed the daggers to him and notched an arrow, ready to face whatever threat was awaiting them outside. They both crouched just inside the tent flaps, tensed and ready to spring at the slightest noise.

That was when a twig snapped just outside the flaps.

Zevran was the first to react, lunging out of the tent to tackle the person outside and bringing a dagger to his throat. Vierna followed immediately afterwards, her bow drawn and her piercing eyes scanning the edges of the little clearing that they had made camp in.

"Mercy, ser! Mercy!" cried the man that Zevran had pinned beneath him. Flinty emerald and seething amber both fell on him, as did Vierna's aim, when they recognized his accent as being Antivan. He held his hands out to show that he was unarmed before he continued, "I was told to come forward and request a polite conversation between you two and Maestro Lanos!"

A slow, almost mocking clap was heard from the edge of the clearing furthest from them. Their eyes trained on the Crow that was stepping into the clearing, and Vierna's first thoughts upon seeing him were 'royal asshole' and 'cocksure moron'. Indeed, there was a measure of confidence in his steps, but absolutely no caution, as he came to a point several steps inside the clearing. Vierna actually counted the number of deathblows she could have rained on him during his little traipse; she stopped after fifteen, though.

As her aim fell upon the newcomer, Vierna heard Zevran, from his position on the first Crow, remark, and "Still using your pupils to do your dirty work, I see. Right, Francesco?"

Francesco paid Zevran no mind, but instead eyed Vierna up and down like a piece of meat before a starving mabari. "Still leading beautiful women to untimely deaths, eh, Zevran?"

Vierna was very sorely tempted to let her arrow fly straight home into Francesco's left eye, for both the comment and the lurid staring, but thought better of it the instant before she released the arrow. She didn't hide her contemptuous glare, however.

Zevran withdrew his dagger from the pinned man's neck and stood up, allowing the man to stand up and scurry off into the forest. He held his daggers loosely in his hands, even flipping one end over end in the air to catch it by the hilt, before demanding, "What do you want?"

"To deliver a message," was the reply as Francesco took a step towards the couple. Before he could take another step, however, an arrow was embedded in the ground a hair's width from his toes and Vierna was cocking another arrow.

"In my experience, the only time you Crows deliver a message to anyone is when there's a contract out for the recipient," she spat heatedly, her burning emerald eyes promising death if he so much as twitched another finger in their direction.

Francesco's cocky smile was back as he took a step back and replied, "How very knowledgeable of you, paloma. However, as with all messages given to the Crows, this message must be delivered."

His hand flew to the back of his belt; but before Vierna could let her arrow sink into his heart, she felt cold metal press against her neck, a sharp tip prick the skin between her third and fourth ribs through the fabric of the tunic, and callused hands encompass hers, effectively disabling her ability to release her arrow at either end. She tilted her head just enough that the dagger at her throat didn't break the skin, but enough so that she could see the two Crows that had come out of stealth and now held her at dagger-point. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Zevran in a similar predicament with two Crows restraining his weapons and holding their daggers to his tan neck and his well-toned and bare chest.

They both looked over at Francesco when he let out a laugh, his hand still behind his back. "I must admit, I admire how hard it is for you to trust me, paloma. I can only imagine how hard it was for Zevran to gain it."

Zevran actually chuckled a bit at that. "It was actually a lot easier than you think."

The other man produced a scroll from behind his back and placed it on the ground before him. "But I was honest when I said I was here to simply deliver a message." He turned on his heel, ready to return to the shadows of the forest. "You will be able to find us in the Guardsman's Hideaway tavern in the town about a half-day's journey down the nearby brook."

He jerked his head towards the forest, and the Crows holding Vierna and Zevran abruptly released them and fell into step behind him as he walked into the thick tangle of bushes and trees. The couple stood where they had been during the whole exchange, muscles tensed in anticipation of a surprise attack. When no such attack came, Vierna secured her longbow over her shoulder and crossed over to where her warning-shot arrow was still imbedded in the ground.

She gave the arrow an experimental tug to see if it would budge. When it began to slide out of the ground with ease, she pulled it out the rest of the way. She cleaned the arrow on the hem of the tunic she was wearing as she muttered, "I thought that bastardo would never leave. He was very close to having…"

Vierna almost didn't register the sound of Zevran's daggers dropping to the silky grass of the forest's floor before his strong arms wrapped around her torso and pulled her against his chest. She felt his head rest against the back of her own head, and his velvety voice, usually so bright and full of humor, now laced with anxiety and worry, drafted to her ear as she felt his breath against her neck.

"Please, Vierna, don't scare me like that again. I had sensed those other Crows the instant Francesco began talking and had thought for certain that they would have killed you when you shot at him." His volume was barely a whisper, so low that Vierna had a hard time hearing him clearly. He turned her around and that's when she noticed the expression on his face. It was the same look that he had had after her fight with the Archdemon in Denerim, a look of relief and belied happiness that only followed after a time that had been particularly stressful to him.

Vierna sighed and slid her arms around his chest. "I'm sorry, amor. I let my prejudices take over my actions."

Zevran returned her embrace, quietly reveling in the fact that they could still embrace like this after their encounter with the Crows. "And what prejudices would that be?"

"That Crows are not to be trusted and should be shot on sight."

Zevran let out a hearty laugh and teasingly inquired, "And why doesn't that apply to yours truly?"

Vierna leaned back in his arms so that she could stare into his eyes with a sly grin on her lips and a mischievous twinkle in her eye. "Well, I need someone to keep my bed warm. I could always return to Denerim and see if Alistair would take me as a wife or mistress…"

If there was more to that sentence, the elvhen ranger didn't have the chance to finish before her lover began devouring her mouth with his own. The kiss didn't last for more than a few seconds before Zevran pulled out of the kiss and cupped her chin in one of his calloused hands, his voice a low rumble as he quietly declared, "I won't have you talking of another man having you. Especially not while you are wearing any clothes of mine."

Vierna leaned in to his ear and breathed, "¿Qué pasa si yo no llevaba nada?"

It was a miracle that Zevran had enough presence of mind to drag her back into the tent before he ripped his clothes off of her and remind her why she had no reason to consider leaving him.


Translations:

1) Maestro - Master

2) paloma - dove

3) bastardo - bastard

4) ¿Qué pasa si yo no llevaba nada? - [You should look this one up on Google Translate yourself. You'll love it.]

It might have been just a tad bit cruel to not have them fully remember their dreams, but then that would completely spoil the future for these two. Besides, the fun is in the journey! Don't worry, though; Zev and Vierna will remember the names and whatnot when the time comes~!

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas! See you on New Year's~~!