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Title: What Lies Behind The Throne. Chapter 6/??? Part One
Author: blustersquall
Game: Dragon Age: Alternate Universe
Characters/pairing: Alistair x Cousland
Disclaimer: Dragon Age is the property of Bioware, as is Alistair and any other characters mentioned within this piece. Roselyn Cousland is my creation, under the Dragon Age: Origins player character, Cousland.

AO3 Link // FF.net Link // Tumblr Link

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Month: Bloomingtide, Summerday. Alistair and Roselyn's wedding day.

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On the day of her wedding, Roselyn woke before dawn. Tiny slivers of light seeped through her drapes and she could hear the sound of birds beginning to wake and sing their chorus. Roo slept at the foot of her bed; a huge, heavy lump snoring with her head on her paws.

Laying in silence, Roselyn attempted to will herself back to sleep knowing the day would be long and that she would need to keep up appearances. Getting enough sleep was necessary - after all she would not have an opportunity to slip away and doze. The eyes of the whole court, as well as the people of Denerim who were sure to be out in droves, would be on her and Alistair.

Despite her best efforts, she remained awake and grew more frustrated the longer sleep eluded her. She tossed and turned in the heavy goose down covers, kicked them off, pulled them back on, tossed one pillow to the floor only to retrieve it while turn it to the cool side. Eventually she gave in and climbed out of bed, finding pacing the floor preferable to getting angry.

She wrung her hands together as she walked the same path from the door to her bedroom to her presence chamber and back again. She swept her fingers back through her hair every minute or so and felt the knot of worry gnawing in her gut, working like poison up through her veins and her nerves. Her whole body felt cold and clammy. She felt her forehead and around her neck, growing concerned that maybe she had come down with something, but realised how foolish she was being.

Nerves. That was all she was experiencing. 'Nerves and cold feet,' something her mother assured her.  Every bride felt like this on their wedding day. But that did little to comfort Roselyn's racing mind and the storm turning her stomach. More than once she felt like she would be sick and raced to her wash basin, retching only for nothing to happen while she burned with the weight of her embarrassment.

It made no sense why she felt the way she did. She liked Alistair. He was not the man she expected and was not a spoiled brat like Cailan. He could not have been more different if he tried and she liked that about him. She liked his kindness, his compassion, how honest he was with her, and that he seemed to respect her as a person. He was willing to learn about each other and work at their marriage. She believed she could love him in time and that they could be happy. She wondered if he felt the same? Was he also pacing back and forth in his rooms with a dead weight in his belly and unable to decide if the feelings churning inside him were good or bad?

After what might have been hours, Eleanor came into Roselyn's room to make a start on getting her ready. Roselyn, settled in the window seat with a book, got to her feet and almost collapsed into her mother's embrace. She buried her face against clothes her like a small, frightened child.

For once, Eleanor did not chide her or make some sniping comment. She smoothed a hand across Roselyn's hair and kissed the crown of her head.

"To be nervous is normal, my sweet one," Eleanor shushed her gently. She leaned back a little and Roselyn lifted her head. Her chin quivered and Eleanor wiped away a few tears that had spilled down her cheeks. Roselyn told herself that they were caused by her tiredness and nothing else. "We're both up now," Eleanor tucked Roselyn's hair behind her ears. "I'll call for a bath to be drawn and we'll eat something while that's being done, alright? One thing at a time."

Roselyn shook her head, "I don't think I can."

"You must try to eat something, sweetheart," Eleanor told her kissing her brow. "It will be a long day and you'll need to keep your strength up."

"Were you like this when you were getting married?"

Her mother's lips twitched into a wistful smile. "I had my fears," she admitted, brushing her thumbs across Roselyn's cheeks. "I think I tried to sabotage my own wedding by feigning illness, I was so afraid."

Roselyn snorted softly, feeling the pressure on her shoulders lift a little. Eleanor treated her to a motherly smile and teased Roselyn's hair back over her shoulders. She took her hand, leading her through one chamber and into the one used for dining.

Eleanor sent for food to be brought to them and instructions for a bath to be drawn. Servants came and went, carrying buckets of steaming water while Roselyn nibbled on a few pieces of blackened toast and bacon. Her mother clucked and tried to get her to eat more, piling food onto Roselyn's plate. Whenever Eleanor turned away Roselyn snuck a few scraps to Roo to make it appear that she was eating.

By the time she was in her bath, Anora arrived along with the lead seamstress who would make any last minute alterations to Roselyn's dress. A handful of ladies-in-waiting who would be accompanying her, Anora, and Eleanor in the carriages to the Chantry arrived not long after.

The bathwater was scalding but Roselyn scrubbed herself raw, hidden away in her tub by a folding screen. Her mother washed her hair vigorously and dried it, brushing sweetly scented oils through it in order to make it easier to style.

Once she was bathed, Roselyn changed into her gown. Both Anora and Eleanor helped in fastening her stomacher and tying her corset to cinch in her waist just that much more. The seamstress tied off a few loose threads and made sure a few loose pearls and diamonds were securely sewn into place. Eleanor styled Roselyn's hair while she watched in the mirror on her vanity. She piled most of it up onto her hair, leaving a few tendrils and ringlets down to frame her face. After that, Anora fixed her veil into place with a hair comb and Roselyn fastened her necklace with trembling hands.

By the time she was ready, the whole palace was awake and Roselyn could hear the crow of people outside the palace grounds itching to catch a glimpse of her.

"The King and the Princes are already at the Chantry," Eleanor explained as she led the way through the palace towards the main doors and the carriage which waited for them. "Your father is there too, and your brother."

"What about Oriana? And Oren?" Roselyn inquired. She hoped to see her brother the day before but was kept in her rooms all night and denied visitors; an old tradition for the bride and groom to avoid seeing each other.

"They are there too," Eleanor assured her. "I'm sure you'll have a chance to see them all before the ceremony."

Roselyn climbed into the carriage feeling embarrassed as the servants and maids all curtsied to her and dropped their gazes. Eleanor climbed in to sit beside her, and Anora sat opposite them both. The other ladies accompanying them travelled in a carriage behind theirs. Roo remained at the palace until everyone returned for the wedding banquet and subsequent celebrations.

Having not been out into Denerim since the visit to the Alienage, Roselyn was not aware of the decorations and work going into making the city fit for a royal wedding. She was stunned as she peered out of the carriage windows, staring at the awning hanging from shop windows and the roofs of houses. The cobble streets were strewn with flowers and grasses, dulling the sound of the four horses that drew the carriages. People lined the streets, cheering and waving and Roselyn knew they would still be there when she and Alistair made the return journey together and their cheers would be louder.

Being summer, the trees were in full bloom, some of the flowering and beginning to bear fruit. Denerim even smelled different than how she remembered it. She could make out the aroma of fresh baked bread and all kinds of flowers filling the air. The tolling of the Chantry bells she heard from the palace grew louder and louder the closer they got. It was enough to make Roselyn feel giddy and forget the terror clutching and swiping at her stomach.

She was ushered into the Chantry through a side door and hidden away in a small room to wait until the ceremony began. While being moved from the carriage to the room, she was able to glimpse the people in the Chantry. Sisters were shuffling about, making sure people were seated and comfortable, and a choir was warming up to one side of the altar. No sign of Alistair, though Roselyn considered perhaps that was a good thing.

The room she was placed in came only with a desk with a mirror, a chair, and a few piles of books. Both Anora and her mother left to assist with organizing things in the belly of the Chantry, leaving Roselyn alone with her thoughts and the ever present curdling of nerves and fear in her stomach. The little food she consumed for breakfast tried to reappear several times, forcing Roselyn to sit and dangle her head as low as her constricting corset and stomacher would allow. She found it difficult to breathe and every time she examined her reflection in the old oval mirror on the desk, she noticed her skin looked grey.

She put serious consideration into fleeing the Chantry and racing through the streets of Denerim in her gown. The reality of the situation finally dawned on her: that she was getting married to someone she had only known a few months. She liked Alistair and in the little time they knew each other she found herself caring and growing fond of him  - but the fact still remained they were still as good as strangers  and this wedding, their match was not something either of them had come to on their own.

Feeling her chest constrict with a new flood of panic and nausea, Roselyn began to pace the small room from one wall to the other, dragging the train of her dress with her so she didn't step on it when she turned. She pressed her free hand to her stomach, trying to calm herself by breathing normally. She wished her mother or Anora had stayed with her; she wanted someone to talk her down from the dread and convince her everything would be fine.

When the door to the room opened, Roselyn managed not to fling herself into the arms of whomever was entering. She did not want to alarm some elderly Chantry sister or humiliate herself by throwing herself at the King or Cailan.

"Rosie!"

Hearing her brother's voice, Roselyn almost started weeping with relief. Fergus waited until his wife and son were both in the room before he swept Roselyn up in a tight hug.

"Fergus!!" she cried against his shoulder as he picked her up and swung her around. She clutched tight to him, inhaling deeply. He smelled of Highever:  the thick lavender bushes that littered the grounds, the limestone quarry, and the cool dampness she remembered. Hugging him was like being home. She dug her fingers into the shoulders of his jerkin, relinquishing her grip only when her feet touched the floor and Oren jostled between them.

"Look at you!" Fergus exclaimed watching as Roselyn embraced Oren.

"Look at you!" retorted Roselyn getting to her feet and grinning through her tears. "Oren, you're so tall!" When she left Highever Oren had come up to her hips and in the three months he now stood almost at her waist.

"I can ride a real horse now!" he boasted, puffing his chest out with pride. "He's almost as big as father's!"

"Really!" Roselyn widened her eyes. "You'll be running the castle soon." A small whimper grabbed her attention and her eyes fell to a small bundle cradled in Oriana's arms. "Oh!"

"It's good to see you, Rose," Oriana embraced her in a soft hug, the two of them careful not to crush the swaddled babe between them. "You're looking well."

"Ignore me!" Roselyn snorted her focus on the child. "No one told me you'd had the baby."

Oriana smiled, "This is Frances."

"She's beautiful," sniffled Roselyn, "Maker, I had no idea."

"I wrote to Father and Mother when she was born," Fergus informed her coming to his wife's side. Roselyn watched him as his dark eyes glazed with pure adoration down at his daughter. He pressed a kiss to Oriana's temple. "I thought you would want to know but... I imagine they didn't tell you because they didn't want to draw focus away from all... this." He gestured vaguely.

"It's a bit much, isn't it?"

"You are marrying a Prince," Fergus teased.

"Will you be Queen?" asked Oren. "Would that make me a Prince?"

Roselyn chuckled the fear and panic she had been feeling beginning to melt away. "I'll be Princess-Consort, not Queen."

"So... I won't be a Prince?"

"Afraid not," Roselyn shook her head and smoothed her hand over her nephew's neatly styled light brown hair. "You'll have to settle for being Teyrn of Highever eventually." Oren pouted at that and crossed his arms across his chest. "Speaking of Highever, how is it?"

"It's fine. All the walls are still standing, just as you left it. Ser Gilmore asks after you most days. Nan misses you, though she would swear to Andraste she didn't." Fergus laughed, patting Roselyn on the shoulder. "Arl Howe came to visit from Amaranthine with his wife; I don't think he knew father was away so I imagine we'll be entertaining him again soon." Fergus rolled his eyes. "You don't miss it that much, do you? I would think the palace here would be more exciting."

"Highever is home," Roselyn remarked, growing melancholy at the thought of the people she knew and the place she grew up. "It will always be my home. Of course I miss it. I'd trade a thousand Denerim palaces for Highever."

Fergus cocked an eyebrow, "Strong words." Both he and Roselyn looked at each other. Since their childhood they were able to read each other when they were upset or angry. Roselyn watched him examining her face for any sign of pain or fear, any upset. She couldn't mask her emotions from him, so didn't try. His mouth quirked to one side and he stepped towards her to hug her again. "You're always going to be welcome at Highever, you know that."

"I know," Roselyn nodded against the material of his jerkin, fighting back the tears stinging behind her eyes and the uncomfortable tingle in her nose. "And the palace isn't so bad."

"Even when you're married. You can make an excuse and just come home. You can write to me," Fergus pressed his forehead to hers. "If you don't like it here I will storm the palace and get you. If he's unkind to you or--"

"He won't be," Roselyn protested, coming to Alistair's defence swiftly. "The Prince... Alistair is..." She nibbled her bottom lip, "he's not what I expected. He wouldn't harm me or be callous. I don't think he has a cruel bone in his body."

"Rosie..."

"It's just the prospect of being here alone. Mother and Father return to Highever in a few weeks. I don't know when I'll see any of you again," explained Roselyn, trying to smile in order to comfort and convince her brother and herself. "And I'm nervous... scared, about today. I'm a knot of worry. Don't mind me."

"The Prince seems very nice," Oriana spoke up. Roselyn moved away from Fergus to look at her. "We met at breakfast this morning. He's... very taken with you."

"You spoke to him?" asked Fergus arching a brow. "You didn't tell me."

"You didn't ask," Oriana replied with the sweet disarming smile Roselyn had seen her use on Fergus many times before. Turning her attention back to Roselyn, Oriana continued. "Honestly, he talked about you endlessly. Could not flatter you enough."

"Oh."

A knock on the door alerted them all to another presence. As it opened, Bryce Cousland popped his head around the door. "Everything is about ready," he informed Fergus. "You need to go and sit down."

"Alright," Fergus nodded and lay a hand on Oren's shoulder. "Come on, you." He guided his son towards the door as Bryce held it open.

Oriana quickly embraced Roselyn again. "We'll talk more later," she told her, grasping her hand. Something rough crinkled in Roselyn's palm. She curled her fingers around it as Oriana followed Fergus out of the room and Bryce came in.

He stood in silence for a few seconds his gaze wandering over Roselyn's face and dress. She noticed his eyes beginning to mist and shook her head.

"No, don't you dare," she prodded his chest with her finger. "If you start crying, I'm going to cry."

Bryce scoffed, "I'll try not to then!" He pinched the bridge of his nose and gave a short bark of laughter "You look so beautiful, Roselyn." Roselyn mimicked him as he took a long, deep breath to steady his emotions. "Are you almost ready?"

"I think so," Roselyn nodded, "let me just..." She turned to the mirror to examine her reflection. She tidied a few stray strands of hair out of her face and pinched her cheeks to bring colour to them. She mopped underneath her eyes which were a little bloodshot from her crying.

She unfolded the small piece of parchment Oriana sneaked into her hand as she had left. The words written were in Alistair's now familiar handwriting, but a little more rushed and scrawled than she was used to.

'I couldn't sleep. I've been trying and just can't get back to sleep. My hands are shaking, sorry if my writing is bad. I can't talk to you until after the wedding, I wish we could at least see each other. I think I would feel less terrified if I saw your face. And I am terrified. I thought I was all ready for today but... Maybe you're feeling the same too? I want to promise you that I will do everything I can to make you happy. I wanted to make sure you knew that. See you at the altar.
-Alistair'

Reading the words once and then again, Roselyn stifled a soft chuckle and folded the paper. She slid it up her sleeve where the lace and gems obscured it against her arm. She found it funny that he felt the need to assure her that his intention was to make her happy. They both wanted to make each other happy and make this arranged marriage work. It would take more time for them to get to know each other and grow completely comfortable, but it could be done.

Smoothing her hands down her bodice, Roselyn steadied herself with a long breath to calm the raging butterflies in her stomach. Her fear and panic were almost gone, tiny voices which she could hardly hear now, when that morning they had been violent yells. She felt lighter having seen Fergus and read Alistair's note however brief helped in settling her worries.

Bryce came up behind her and place a hand on her shoulder. He looked at her in the mirror and Roselyn smiled back. "You don't have to do this, you know," he told her. Roselyn's eyes widened a little and she turned to face him. "If you don't want to. We can call it all off, if that's what you want."

"Where was this three months ago?" She asked, lifting a brow. "Why the change of heart? Have you and the King had a falling out?"

"No, nothing like that," Bryce gave a heavy sigh, his shoulders dropping as if under an invisible weight. Roselyn cocked her head to one side waiting for her father to explain. "It's just... seeing you in a wedding dress, about to get married. It's... harder than I expected."

Roselyn squinted, treating her father to a sceptical gaze.

"Don't look at me like that." He half-smiled. "You're my only daughter. My pup. My only Rose to bloom in Highever... Giving you to someone to marry, to see you become a wife and a mother one day... Allow an old man a moment of sentimental weakness."

"You aren't losing me," Roselyn told him, "I'm still your daughter."

"But you'll be someone's wife."

"I can't be both?"

Bryce chuckled. "You always were sharp." He tapped the end of her nose with the tip of his finger.

"In all seriousness... I want to do this." Roselyn explained, briefly shrugging her shoulders and looking at her father squarely. "Not for you, not for Mother. For me. For Alistair. I like him. I know he'll be a good husband. I'll be a good wife. We'll be happy."

Bryce examined her face for a few moments, his gaze flicking between her eyes and down as if memorizing her features. He took a deep, steadying breath, cleared his throat and nodded once. "Come along then my beautiful, clever girl." He lifted her veil over her face and made sure it hung straight. "We shouldn't keep the Prince waiting, pup."

Bryce offered his arm and Roselyn tucked her hand into the crook of his elbow following him out of the small room. As they stood at the main doors of the Chantry, Roselyn counted the beats of her heart in an effort to keep herself calm. She could just hear the sound of the Chantry bells and the choir over her heart racing in her chest. She was almost certain those congregated could hear the sound as she walked in tandem with her father down the aisle towards the altar.

Alistair stood with his back to her and Roselyn noticed him rocking on the balls of his feet; a behaviour of his that she was accustomed to seeing. Glancing around the guests, she saw Anora and her mother, Oriana, Oren, and Fergus all standing watching her. The eyes of courtiers followed her every movement. She knew that this day would be gossiped about and not one thing should go wrong. In front of the altar was the Revered Mother, an elderly woman in rich Chantry robes embellished with the familiar sunburst.

The choir came to a stop as Roselyn and Bryce reached the front of the Chantry. In a silent gesture meant to symbolise the willingness of Bryce to hand Roselyn over to her new husband, he took Alistair's hand and held it out to Roselyn, and then guided her to take Alistair's hand. She noticed as she squeezed his fingers that he was shaking and that he squeezed back just as tightly, clinging to her as if needing to be grounded.

The Revered Mother addressed Bryce, her voice resonating around the Chantry for all in attendance to heard. "Do you, Bryce Cousland, willingly give this woman, your daughter, to this man as his wife, in the eyes of the Maker and Andraste, His bride?"

"I give her to him with my blessing. In the eyes on the Maker and Andraste, His bride," Bryce recited his words and stepped away to join Maric and Eleanor.

As the congregation took their seats, Alistair and Roselyn turned towards each other. Roselyn stared at their joined hands through her veil for a few moments, gulping hard as Alistair smoothed his thumb across her knuckles in an effort to be comforting.

Slowly, she lifted her gaze following the line of his arm in his smart off-white doublet. He wore a baldric and sash of dark crimson diagonally across his chest and around his waist, fastened at the shoulder with a pin in the shape of the Theirin lion sigil. She noticed his high collar was open one button too many, probably so he could breathe and swallow his own fears. His beard was trimmed and his hair cut, making it neater. She noticed a slight bruising around his eye and a healing cut over one eyebrow. What caught and held her attention the most was how he looked at her and smiled. He was beaming, almost glowing with pride. His eyes were soft as he tried to examine her through the lace of her long veil. If he was nervous, he did not show it and Roselyn found the longer she saw him smiling, the more at ease she felt.

The ceremony passed with several verses being sung from the Chant of Light. The Revered Mother leading the ceremony guided them through the parts they needed to know with kindly gestures and gentle calmness, clearly aware of how nervous they both were. Those congregated repeated what they had to repeat, they sang what they were instructed to sing and when it came to the vows and exchanging rings, Cailan was on hand to give them to Alistair.

The vows were the only spoken part of the ceremony that Roselyn needed to memorise. They were the part she was dreading the most, afraid she would stumble over her words or rush through them. As she slipped a simple band of gold onto Alistair's finger and he slid a matching band onto hers, he gave her hand a gentle press in the centre of her palm as a hint for them to begin.

As he lifted her veil to reveal her face to him, they spoke their vows in unison;

"You cannot possess me for I belong to myself
But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give.
You cannot command me, for I am a free person
But I shall serve you in those ways you require
and the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand."

They moved closer together, clasping their left hands together as the Revered Mother began to bind them with the woven length of reed. Alistair's smile grew; Roselyn could practically feel his excitement flowing off him in waves and fought the urge to giggle.

"I pledge to you that yours will be the name I cry aloud in the night,"

Roselyn managed not to laugh at the implications behind the vow, though a few chuckles tumbled out of her mouth. Alistair practically shook, fighting the same urge to laugh.

"And the eyes into which I smile in the morning.
I pledge to you the first bite from my meat,
And the first drink from my cup.
I pledge to you my living and dying, equally in your care,
And tell no strangers our grievances."

The Revered Mother tightened the knot around their hands. Roselyn's cheeks felt warm from depth and intimacy of the words they were speaking. Alistair's fingers slipped between hers, an innocent gesture which made the butterflies in her stomach resume.

"This is my wedding vow to you.
This is a marriage of equals.
And beyond this, I will cherish and honour you through this life, and into the next."

As their words drew to a close Roselyn realised they had moved towards each other without noticing. There was barely a gap between them. The two of them so close Roselyn could rise onto her toes and press a kiss to Alistair's mouth unobstructed. She clenched her free hand at her side, digging her fingernails into her palm. She willed the Revered Mother to finish her closing blessing. The memory of Alistair's lips against hers from the day before suddenly flooded into Roselyn's mind, making her impatient. She wanted to kiss him again, to be free to kiss him when she desired and for him to be free to kiss her.

"In the eyes of the Maker, Andraste, and all those gathered here, I pronounce you married."

Roselyn had only a moment to register the Revered Mother's words before Alistair cupped her face in his free hand and pressed an eager kiss to her lips. She giggled, her heart fluttering in her chest and wound her loose hand up over his cheek, curling her fingers around his ear. Applause rippled through the congregated crowd and Alistair pulled away to press his forehead to Roselyn's.

"You look beautiful, by the way," he told her meeting her gaze. "Absolutely breath taking."

"Thank you." Roselyn blushed and gently touched the bruise around his eye. "What happened? You didn't have this yesterday."

"It's a long story," Alistair admitted with a quick smile and another brief brush of his lips on hers. "I'll tell you later."

There was no time for them to say anything more as both Cailan and Maric started to usher them down the aisle towards the open doors of the Chantry. They almost ran to the exit, any words of congratulations drowned out by the shouts and applause of their guests. Outside the atmosphere was much the same. Alistair stopped them at the top of the steps of the Chantry, pausing the wave to those who had been waiting to catch a glimpse of them both on the way back to the palace. They were quickly joined by Cailan, Anora, Maric, and Roselyn's parents and the cheering of Maric's people grew thunderous.

Holding tight to Alistair's hand, Roselyn allowed him to lead her to the waiting carriage. He helped her up the up into it and sat beside her, then resumed his waving with her. When the horses started to move off, the carriage jolted a little and Alistair positioned his hand at the small of Roselyn's back to keep her steady. It was an unconscious move that made her flush.

The carriage wound through the streets of Denerim, taking the longest route back to the palace so everyone who turned out to celebrate got a chance to see the newlywed couple and offer their congratulations. Bouquets and wreathes of wild flowers were strewn in the path of the carriage, while reeds and grasses were spread out to soften the ground. Urchins ran alongside the carriage a few feet at a time, cheering, whooping, and applauding along with everyone else who had come out to see them. A small contingent of guards trailed behind the carriage on horseback, a measure of security in case anything went awry.

Teagan was waiting on the steps of the palace with Roo when Roselyn and Alistair's carriage arrived. The King, Roselyn's family and all the guests went straight to the palace from the Chantry. They were already within, waiting for the bride and groom to arrive so the festivities could continue long into the evening.

Alistair lifted Roselyn down from the carriage the same way he lifted her down from her horse when they rode together. She braced her hands on his shoulders until her feet where steady on the ground and laced her fingers through his as they climbed the steps towards Teagan who waited for them.

"Your Highnesses," he bowed low to them both. "Take a moment to catch your breath before we go to the hall, if you need to." He offered a kind smile and turned to walk inside leaving the two of them for a brief moment. Alistair led Roselyn inside and to one of the corners of the entrance hall, away from prying eyes and ears - a moment of privacy for the two of them.

They had not spoken more than a few words to each other throughout the whole carriage ride to the palace; just the occasional comment here and there about the crowds and how Denerim had been decorated for the celebration. Roselyn grasped Alistair's hands in hers and smiled, feeling a little gawkish and silly. She was unable to think of anything to say now they had the opportunity.

"So..." Alistair stroked his thumbs over her knuckles, his touch lingering for a moment on the gold band around her finger. "That was relatively painless."

"No huge disasters," agreed Roselyn, "I think we came away unscathed."

"Phew," he breathed out in a rush, grinning. "How are you feeling?"

"Nervous," Roselyn told him with a small smile. "I think the next bit is the real challenge."

Alistair nodded. "Definitely. Now we have to make small talk. I'm not very good at small talk."

"We'll manage."

"Did you get my note?"

"Yes." Roselyn wriggled one hand free to point at it tucked safe in her sleeve. "You didn't have to write me a note, though I appreciate the gesture."

"I needed to do something to keep my hands busy this morning," Alistair explained, "I was going insane. I think I was up before the birds."

A short laugh tumbled from between Roselyn's lips. She felt a small sense of relief to know she was not the only one who had been awake before it was light. "I'm glad to know I wasn't alone being awake so early."

Alistair inched towards her, dropping his head enough to press their foreheads together. Heat flooded Roselyn's cheeks, her eyes focusing on his lips for a moment before flickering up to his warm eyes on hers. "Would you... I mean--" Alistair cleared his throat, "it's just... we-- we're alone. And... we... won't be alone again for a few hours. I don't want to be assuming, but... wo-would it be... could I... uhm, that is--"

Unable to stand the closeness of him and not being kissed, Roselyn removed the space between them, tilting her head and pressing her lips to his. For a brief moment Alistair was tense, then he relaxed into her kiss, his lips moulding against hers in a new, unfamiliar but exciting way. A steady warmth simmered in Roselyn's belly and she pressed herself against him, blocking any space. Alistair lay one hand at the small of her back, the other rising. Fingers trailed up over her bare shoulder and neck making her skin prickle. He curled tendrils of her hair around her ear, sliding his thumb across her jaw tempting her to arc her head back.

Roselyn tightened her hands into fists on his clothes, gripping them to keep upright. She opened her mouth slightly, sweeping one hand up into Alistair's hair bringing him closer still. A pleasant ache began to throb between her thighs only increasing when Alistair nudged his leg between hers. She curled her fingers through his hair at the base of his skull and pulled away, breathing deep to quell the intoxicating thrill which settled over them for the moment.

She noticed Alistair was panting, his eyes squeezed shut and his brow furrowed as he fought to regain his senses. Teasing her fingers around his hair, Roselyn pressed a more chaste kiss to his mouth and then a second, brief kiss to the end of his nose.

"Maker's breath," he exclaimed, his voice hoarse with wanting. He opened his eyes, his lips curling into a smile. His pupils were dilated and his irises appeared darker. Alistair licked his bottom lip. "That was..."

Roselyn nibbled her bottom lip for a moment, worried she overstepped her bounds by being so amorous so soon. She felt a sense of bravado - a desire to be flirtatious with her new husband. She knew what they were expected to do that night, to sleep together and consummate their marriage. She wanted to tease him, despite being only too aware of her own uneasiness. She hoped that if she teased him it might make things easier later on when they were alone with the duty they had to complete.

"I just... wanted to give you something to uhm... think about." She mumbled.

Alistair cocked his head, "To think about?"

She nodded, failing to fight the flush staining her face and neck. "Before tonight." She looked directly at him so he could not mistake her meaning. A glimmer of shock flickered across Alistair's face. Roselyn's stomach dropped to her feet and her courage began to fail, replaced by a cold, creeping shame. She was being brazen, too bold. It was unbecoming. She kissed his cheek, clasped his hand, and led him inside.

When they entered the main hall, all the dancing and talking came to a stop and was replaced by loud, steady applause. Situated at the high table was Maric with Cailan and Anora on one side and Bryce and Eleanor on the other. Roselyn saw Fergus in the crowd with Oriana and Oren with some other children nearby. Alistair pressed his lips to Roselyn's cheek, and led her to the elevated canopy where they would be sitting for the feasting and entertainment. Music and conversation resumed smoothly, as if their entrance never happened. Roo climbed the steps of the canopy and sat on her haunches by Roselyn's skirts, her tongue lolling out of her mouth.

Food was served to all the guests, laid out at the top table and on the tables lining the walls of the hall. Rich foods were served, venison and boar freshly hunted and slaughtered the day before. A roast peacock was revealed as the main dish to thunderous applause, its feathers still intact and ornately designed over the succulent bird.

Guests danced and made merry, many of them approaching the wedding canopy to talk to Alistair and Roselyn. Roselyn only knew most of the courtiers by their face and not their name, but Alistair was on hand to be as smooth and conversational as possible with each of them. She lost count of the amount of times they were congratulated and how many people complimented them on the ceremony and the vows they recited to each other. Blessings were offered, and several men and women of nobility were bold enough to ask Alistair if he could arrange a meeting with Maric for them after the celebrations concluded.

Roselyn was amazed at how well Alistair dealt with each request. He was polite but firm; he made it clear he was not going to be a push over and that those asking for favours were better off approaching Cailan or Maric directly. She noticed through the course of the banquet that he would reach for her hand at regular intervals and she would reach for his to hold, squeeze, and caress, a comforting gesture in amongst the sea of faces and voices and words.

The few times Roselyn managed to speak to her parents, she was quickly distracted by someone else vying for her attention. She managed a dance with her father and with Fergus, and to get through uncomfortable dances with both Maric and Cailan. She was at least grateful that Alistair had to dance with her mother who, it seemed could not stop crying.

Several hours into the celebration after the sun had set and the moon was slowly rising, Roo disappeared from the elevated wedding canopy, bored by it all. Roselyn, who was sitting speaking to Oren and Oriana excused herself quickly and went to seek out her dog, glad to get away from the noise and bustle of the hall for a few minutes.

Roo disappeared through a door which Roselyn knew led towards the kitchens and the servants quarters - her dog undoubtedly drawn by the smell of food still being prepared for more feasting. It was a part of the palace Roselyn only ventured into once or twice with Anora and Alistair. The hallway was dark, illuminated by a few candles sitting tall on iron candelabra. Roo had not ventured far and Roselyn found her scratching and sniffing at the door which led down to the kitchens.

"Come on you." She wrapped a hand around Roo's collar to guide her away. "If I can get through today, you can."

Roo whined and stood fast, staring up at her mistress with baleful eyes.

"I'll make sure the kitchen save some bones for your to gnaw on." She bargained dropping to Roo's level and ruffling her ears. "Deal?"

Roo barked, her whole back end shaking as she wagged her stub of a tail.

"Good. Now let's go before we're both missed." As she got to her feet, Roselyn became aware that she and Roo were no longer alone in the hallway. She wasn't sure what caused it, but an uncomfortable sense of disquiet rippled up her spine, making the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. Roo's tail stopped wagging and her body became still. She dropped into a more aggressive stance, a low growl of warning rumbling in her chest.

Turning, Roselyn suddenly knew why she felt so unnerved and uneasy. Cailan followed her from the main hall and stood leaning against the wall, goblet in hand. Every time she had seen him since the wedding he was drinking and it showed in the way he swayed on his feet when he pushed off from the wall to stand and approach her. He swaggered towards her, gaze roaming up and down her body in a way which made Roselyn feel sick and her skin feel too tight on her body, even clammy. She lay the flat of her hand against Roo's head to keep her steady and held her breath.

Without speaking, Cailan closed the space between them, moved his goblet from one hand to the other and lifted his free hand. He traced his fingers up Roselyn's arm and across her bare shoulder towards her clavicle and the swell of her breasts. His skin was cooler than Alistair's and felt almost sticky on her flesh. Roselyn kept her eyes forward and breathed deeply in an attempt to focus her mind. A shudder ripped across her body when Cailan blew a long, cool breath out from between his lips and onto her skin, sending loose strands of her hair wafting. The stench of the strong Antivan wine on his breath almost made Roselyn gag.

"A shudder of anticipation?" Cailan leered at her, droplets of wine cling to his lips which strayed uncomfortably close. He drew the tips of his fingers further along the smooth flesh of her shoulder and brushed the sharp angle of her collarbone with the flat of his thumb.

"Revulsion would be more accurate, Your Highness," Roselyn remarked with an ice cold stillness to her voice.

"Cailan." He spoke softly, his mouth purposely close to her ear, hot breath puffing onto her skin. Roselyn's skin crawled. His fingers gliding down over her skin barely dipping below the lace across her chest. "We're family now, after all."

Roselyn grabbed his hand stilling it and dug her nails into his skin as hard as she could. "Your Highness," she bit out. Cailan stood to his full height, his mouth drawing into a tight line of anger. Roselyn was willing to bet being rejected was not something Cailan experienced often. It was an experience she was happy to be introducing him to. "Remove your hand."

"No."

"Remove it. Or I will remove it for you."

Cailan's lips quirked. "I like your spirit." He leaned close, his lips brushed Roselyn's ear. She fought the rising sense of sickness in her belly. "You should come to me when my brother proves his inexperience and how unworthy of you he is."

"An offer I gladly decline," Roselyn kept her tone sweet and laced with veiled warnings. She embedded her nails into his flesh harder, hoping she was drawing blood. "I intend to be faithful to my husband. A word and concept as foreign to you as the Tevinter Imperium, I am certain." She was pleased when Cailan moved away from her, a frown in place of his lecherous grin. He removed his hand and Roselyn released him. She skin felt unclean where he had touched. "And if you touch me again, I will ensure I am the last thing you ever touch."

"Are you threatening me?" he growled at her.

"Threatening?" she repeated, feigning ignorance. "I would never threaten you, Your Highness. I'm just a woman, after all." She curtsied low and looked up at him from beneath her brows. "What harm could I ever do to you that anyone would suspect me of?"

Without another word Cailan departed, the sound of his boots echoing off the stone floor. Once she was certain he was gone Roselyn reached for the wall to support herself. Her body felt weak and unsteady, her insides trembling and her heart racing like a herd of horses at full gallop. Pressing her fingers to her temple, she closed her eyes for a moment trying to centre and calm herself before having to go back out to the celebration and to all the smiling faces and well wishers. At her side, Roo gave a concerned whine and licked her hand.

She just wanted the day to be over; for it to be tomorrow so life could continue as normal. She desired peace and quiet above all things, time away from all the bustle and talking. Away from the noise and the power grabbing, from the fake pleasantries and the transparent lies. She wanted the softness of a chair or a bed and a moment alone with her thoughts.

Fingers brushed her arm and she yelped, startled. Whirling around she sucked in a breath to silence herself, managing to catch herself before becoming caught on the hem of her wedding dress.

Alistair took her hands. The smile he was wearing was gone in an instant, replaced by a tight crease of worry forming between his brows. He stepped close to Roselyn, smoothing his hands up her arms.

"What's wrong?" he asked, not bothering to mask his concern. "Maker's breath, Roselyn, you're shaking."

She forced a smile. "I'm fine," she insisted staring at his chest. She did not wish to divulge Cailan's offer or ruin Alistair's day with how his brother propositioned her. "I'm just a little worn out. It's all very..." She almost wanted to cry. The sharp sting of tears tickled behind her eyes and nose and she struggled to stop her chin from quaking.

"Overwhelming?" Alistair offered helpfully. He didn't believe her, at least not entirely, but he was also too polite and kind to push for more information. Instead, he did the one thing she didn't know she needed; he hugged her. He pulled her into his arms, crushing her against his chest and enveloped her with his whole body.

"Yes," Roselyn agreed, turning her head to hide her face in his doublet. She squeezed a few tears from the corners of her eyes, furling her fingers into the material of Alistair's clothing. "Yes. It's overwhelming." Her voice shuddered when she spoke. Alistair placed his cheek against the top of her head. He stroked her back with unassuming gentleness and waited patiently for her to compose herself.

She reasoned it was likely Alistair did believe, at least a little, that her behaviour was down to the day and how much had been happening and all the focus on the two of them. She did not have the heart to tell him the truth and did not want their first hours married to be tarnished with accusations and slander against his brother.

Breathing deep through her nose, concentrating on the sensation of her chest expanding, Roselyn felt more relaxed and ready to go back out into the hall to their guests. She leaned away from Alistair and smiled feeling foolish. In an instant the worry on his face disappeared.

"Feeling a little better?" he asked with genuine warmth and concern.

"Yes," she told him truthfully. "Thank you. I don't know what came over me."

He shrugged. "It's been a long day for all of us." He rocked on the balls of his feet for a moment, eyes down and hesitant. "We... We can..." Roselyn watched him bite the inside of his cheek, fumbling over the words he wanted to say and waited. "We could uh... that is-- My father suggested we... uhm-- we don't have to stay with the guests." He moved his gaze to Roselyn's. "If... if you don't want to."

For several long beats of silence, Roselyn missed his meaning. She squinted at him and arched a brow. To break the unease, Alistair cleared his throat. His gaze darted up to the ceiling for a moment and then back to Roselyn.

"Oh-- OH!" She gasped, catching on. "You... you mean go..." The knot in her stomach from the morning returned without warning curled tighter than ever. "Go to your-- I mean our room. Now. Together."

"O-only if you want to!" Alistair reiterated. "It's up to you. I-- We can stay with the guests if you like."

"No." Roselyn shook her head. Her trepidation was back, her fear and unease chewing through her making her turn cold. She knew if they left they would go to their room. They would consummate their marriage, making everything official with their bodies as well as their words. She could feel the food she consumed being tossed and thrown about in her stomach like a ranging storm. Her knees were weak and her feet felt more like blocks of ice in her shoes. Still, she preferred the idea of being alone with Alistair in private, than being thrust into the sea of faces and voices and noise once more.

"No, let's... Let's go upstairs."

Alistair's eyes widened a fraction. "Are you sure?" he asked, "I mean-- we don't have t--" Roselyn quickly covered his mouth with her hand silencing him. She leaned up on her toes, removed her hand and replaced it with her lips against his, kissing him shyly but still feeling a tremor of giddy pleasure roll over her body. He kissed her back, mouth opening on a soft sigh and his hands spreading over her back to pull her close. Roselyn wound her arms around his neck and shoulders, yielding to his grip. Kissing him was intoxicating, it made her mind grow hazy and her skin tingled pleasantly. She liked how it felt, how his lips felt, and the way his kiss was curious but cautious, waiting for her to grant permission for it to deepen. She could - would -  enjoy this part of their marriage.

When she pulled away, Alistair brushed his nose against hers affectionately. His lips were slightly reddened and his eyes were shining, cheeks a little darker than the moments before. Roselyn felt giddy and excited, a deep ache beginning to pulse between her legs.

"I'm sure, Alistair," she assured him with a firm nod of her head. "Let's go upstairs."
Title: What Lies Behind The Throne. Chapter 6/??? Part One
Author: blustersquall
Game: Dragon Age: Alternate Universe
Characters/pairing: Alistair x Cousland
Disclaimer: Dragon Age is the property of Bioware, as is Alistair and any other characters mentioned within this piece. Roselyn Cousland is my creation, under the Dragon Age: Origins player character, Cousland.

AO3 Link // FF.net Link // Tumblr Link

:bulletred: First Chapter
:bulletred: Previous Chapter

- Massive credit to my beta readers, razerathane and bluvixen Who are magnificent birds of paradise.

- Chapter Rating: T

- Summary: It's the day of the wedding! And Roselyn is terrified of what's to come. And she's not the only one.

- Cover credit to Pri0r


Third chapter! I hope you guys enjoyed it! Let me know what you think. <3
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:icondreamdrifter91:
DreamDrifter91 Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Is there anymore to this lovely story?
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:iconbluster-squall:
bluster-squall Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2016  Hobbyist Artist
Oh yes, I suppose I stopped using dA. Your best bet is to follow it on AO3: archiveofourown.org/works/4173…
It gets updated fairly regularly. : D
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:iconstaplesey3:
staplesey3 Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2016
So much love for this!! Next chapter!! Please!!!
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:iconsangosweetz:
SangoSweetz Featured By Owner Edited Jan 11, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
This is wonderful. Read it all in the last few hours. Can't wait for another chapter!!
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:iconzhenya98:
Zhenya98 Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2016
Next chapter! Next chapter, plz
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:iconqueen-scribbles:
queen-scribbles Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2015
*squeals incoherently and falls over* THESE TWO ARE GOING TO KILL ME.

...also, bad Cailan. *whacks him on the nose with a rolled up newspaper* BAD.
Reply
:iconbluster-squall:
bluster-squall Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2016  Hobbyist Artist
Haha, I'm glad you're enjoying the fic. This reminds me I need to upload part two to chapter 6. Gah. I've been so bad at updating deviantart. X.x;;;
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:icondreamdrifter91:
DreamDrifter91 Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh boy for a second I thought she was going to be attacked or raped so had to cautiously pick my way through the end of the chapter.
Horray for Alistair being awkward it's so cute :3
Can't wait for the next part!
Reply
:iconbluster-squall:
bluster-squall Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2016  Hobbyist Artist
Ah, sorry you had to pick your way through carefully. If there was ANYTHING like that, I would put a massive warning in the title and before the main part of the writing, so you don't have to worry about that. I am sorry you were a bit uneasy though. 
Reply
:icondreamdrifter91:
DreamDrifter91 Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
That's good that you would put a warning :)

That's okay, it ended up Alistair saving the day so no issue :)
Reply
:iconhirukafox:
Hirukafox Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2015
As always your incredible writing left me wanting to read further! Cailan is an ass!
Reply
:iconbluster-squall:
bluster-squall Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
Cailan is a giant ass! He is.
And thank you! Next part will be up soon!
Reply
:iconmoflame34:
MoFlame34 Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2015  Student Writer
GAH. NEXT ONE PLEASE.
Reply
:iconbluster-squall:
bluster-squall Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
Up soon! I promise!
Reply
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