Night had fallen over the camp and the moon hung high in the sky. The fire was still crackling as it worked its way through the last of the fading embers. The only other sound was the occasional roaring belch or ripping flatulence from Oghren. The feisty dwarf had drunk himself into a coma and was curled up next to the fire, the location of his pants unknown.
The Warden carefully stepped over his snoozing companion to tend to the dying fire, chucking a few more logs on. The rest of the camp had long turned in for the night but he found he himself could not sleep. His mind was too worried, too stressed; what had happened today still didn't sit well with him.
The Warden closed his eyes, sighing haggardly.
The fire started to rumble back to life and he stepped back over Oghren and away from the camp. At the edge of the fire's light, he found a tree to lean against and here he paused, still trying to make sense of it all. He looked back over his shoulder to the camp; his gaze paused on the empty spot where Zevran's tent should have been.
In an aching wave, the day's events came crashing back over him.
Taliesen had come to finish what Zevran had not been able to. Taliesen followed in his former partner's footsteps; that is to say, he failed just as Zevran had to kill to Warden. Taliesen fought until his last breath and in his death, the elf finally found a chance for true freedom.
And then Zevran left.
The Warden sighed again at himself. It hadn't been that simple. Zevran hadn't just left, the Warden had told him to leave and now he regretted it more than anything else in his entire life. He was surprised at himself, how much he already missed him and hated himself all the more for how he had acted.
Zevran had taken him aside to talk and the Warden said everything wrong. His lover had told him this was a great opportunity, he could go see the world, free of the Crows and safe from worry that they would ever come after him. They would all assume he had died with Taliesen at the hands of the fierce Grey Warden.
The Warden had been hurt, angry, and terribly confused with how he felt about it. He was happy for Zevran to finally be free, but he cared about him; cared too much, he decided. It would be better for both of them to end it now, let them both be free. After all, Zevran hadn't said anything about wanting to stay and as much as it hurt him, the Warden told him to leave.
And had hated himself every minute since, left only wishing he had done something differently.
There was a sound, a rustle of the foliage a few yards away. The Warden snapped to attention, his hand going to the hilt of his sword, demanding of the darkness, "Who goes there! Identify yourself or meet my steel!"
"It is… only I," a familiar voice said.
The Warden squinted at the shadows, his eyes widening in surprise as he saw the slim figure of Zevran himself coming towards him. He let his guard down, a mix of emotions tackling him to see his lover again so soon; especially after how much he had been thinking about him.
Zevran couldn't help but offer a tiny smile, even if it was tinged with sadness. He didn't know what he was doing here, not exactly. He hadn't made it very far before realizing he had left the Dalish gloves behind that the Warden had given to him a week earlier. He had been wracked with indecision about whether to go back and get them, such a fine gift could never be replaced or the sentiment they carried.
Zevran had finally decided to come back to the camp but it was not only for the gloves; it was hoping to catch a glimpse of the man who had given them to him, the man whose bed he had shared for several moons, the man he thought he might actually…
"I thought you were leaving," the Warden said sharply, interrupting Zev ran's thoughts. The Warden was trying to remain stoic but he could barely contain his happiness at seeing Zev again.
"I am," Zevran snapped back haughtily, his smile vanishing at the Warden's harsh tone, "I just came back to get a few of my things." The elf was scowling and his hands set firmly on his hips in a defiant stance, adding, "Unless, of course, you wish me to leave so quickly?"
"No," the Warden said, his voice softening. He moved aside to let Zevran pass, watching him head back into the camp. He watched the elf rummage around the empty space where his tent had been and retrieve a small sack. His eyes remained locked on his lover as he walked back towards him.
Zevran held the sack close, tucking it into his belt as he approached. He tried to give another weak smile but couldn't bring himself to do it. He wanted to say a hundred things, tell the Warden he wasn't sure what he felt but that he wanted to keep feeling it even as much as it terrified him.
Instead, he said nothing. It would be easier to leave if he kept all of his rampaging thoughts to himself. He only gave a small nod, starting to exit the camp back into the forest the way he came.
"Why won't you stay?" the Warden suddenly demanded.
"Why didn't you tell me to stay?" Zevran countered, stopping short.
"You need my permission?" the Warden scoffed.
"I don't know; do I need it now?"
"This is ridiculous! It's a simple question!" the Warden growled, shoving his face into his hands.
"Is it so?" Zevran sneered, his tone sickeningly sweet with venom. "As I recall, you're the one who told me to go!"
"No," the Warden said slowly, trying to be patient. "I told you that you could if you wanted to. I relieved you of your oath. You said this was, this was a new freedom for you! With Taliesen dead, you were finally free from the Crows! What kind of man would I be to keep you chained to some stupid oath!"
"It was not a stupid oath!" Zevran cried, gritting his teeth in his frustration. "It was an oath I meant to see through until the end!"
"Then why in the Maker's name did you leave!" the Warden snarled.
"Because you did not ask me to stay!" Zevran snapped, advancing on the other man quickly. "If you had wanted me to remain at your side, all you had to do was ask it of me. If you had wanted me to walk on hills of broken glass or drink poison or march with you into the very depths of the Fade, to be at your side as we laid siege to the fiends of the Black City, any of it, all of it, was yours for the asking!"
The Warden reached out for Zevran, struck deeply by the tenderness of his words.
Zevran jerked away from his hand, hissing, "But no! You did nothing of the sort. You told me to go when all you had to do was ask me to remain here with you! Your pride getting in the way? Worried about appearances in front of the others? Ha! Whatever the reason, what is done is done. I have always told you that whatever future we have together is yours to decide. Today, you decided."
"No, today, I tried to give you something you never had before!" the Warden said, again reaching for Zevran and made his mark, grabbing his arm roughly. "I gave you a choice! A chance for you to decide what you wanted! No contracts, no obligations, no oaths to fulfill, I want you to do whatever it was Zevran wanted to do!"
Zevran looked down at the Warden's iron grip on his arm. He was trying not to think about how those hands once felt running all over his body, how rough they could be when they would seize his hips but then how surprisingly gentle as they would be as they would race through his hair.
Zevran cleared his throat as he fought off an involuntary shudder, saying quietly, "What I want is not so simple…"