"Little Red Rose"
'I saw this rose and I thought ‘how could something so beautiful grow in such dark time?’ - Alistair, Dragon Age I  

-1-

Alistair walks idly in the village of Lothering; his head still a mess, trying to come to term with the fact that, in one blink of eyes, he had lost everything he held close to his heart just like that. Duncan, his father figure, had died while he weren’t looking. Killed brutally, perhaps, by the darkspawns. His king – his half-brother, Cailan – fell, too. His sort of dysfunctional family had gone away to the Golden City while he was so busy sleeping in that coma.

Along with all that, his purpose is missing, as well.

He has always figured he would be with the Grey Wardens; he would do whatever they wanted him to do. He would support whatever the cause his senior wardens are expected to carry with all his might. Be a great Grey Warden’s brother, he wished to do that and that alone. He would live as one of the Grey Wardens he knew, until the taint leads him to die in the Ozammar, just like any previous Grey Warden there was.

But now, there is only him and her left. What should he do now?

He supposes they could try to unite the forces from all over Fereldan. But they are just two – or three, if he counts Morrigan – small people. Who would take notice of their plea?

Still, he has to try.

Alistair looks around the village and grimaces. There are more refugees that he has ever seen in his entire life, cooping all over the place, chatting tiredly among themselves. Not many seem open for a conversation with strangers. Some looks like they had seen more horror than they had ever wanted to see, and regrettably, they probably had.

They are trying to flee from the darkspawns, the Grey Warden’s responsibility.

Suddenly, the man feels so much guilt that he has to look away from the scene. As much as he wanted to help, they couldn’t spare any coins. Especially when it could be them, starving and with nothing to eat.

They still need their energy for the Blight, after all.

‘We can’t save everyone.’

He is about to turn his back and away from the scene when he hears an unmistakable voice which belongs to the certain female warden. With mild curiosity, he glances at the place and sees her talking quietly with an elderly woman who dresses like a healer.

He watches, fascinated, as his fellow comrades takes something out of her pocket pouch and gives it to the old woman.

The healer beams, pleased with the charity.

Inside his rational head, Alistair starts to wonder if giving away something, anything at all to others right now would be a practical decision. If Morrigan, that witch, is here then she would have scoff incredulously at the female warden’s action for sure, and Alistair can’t even blame her this time.

It is not like he condemns her of little thinking, the opposite actually, he thinks the woman, being a noble, a Cousland, would know for sure what politic moves and practical choices are. She must have known how important it is right now during a war with giant, mindless monsters looming over their heads, to have a rational mind instead of a compassionate one.

But then again –

“Alistair!” He breaks out of his pondering as the woman in his mind shouts his name rather excitedly, she waves him over. He slowly walks towards her, wary of what she would say.

“Ohh, what is it, sister-warden? Find anything nice? Like, cheese?”

She smirks.

“I gave the woman 5 Elfroots!”

Alistair blinks, trying hard not to groan out loud. The Elfroot is necessary for healing, and with their history of getting into mindless fights every corner, darkspawns or humans, he thinks the herb is very useful. And important. If they want to live, that is.

“You know that we need that, Ayisha.” He chides gently.

“Yeah.” She nods, “but look.”

He looks.

Oh.

Oh.

“The grandma gives me 2 gold for that five Elfroot, can you believe that? We have like, 30, so why can’t we give away those five?”

Indeed.

“Th – this is wonderful, Ayisha!” He stutters. “We could get warm beds in the next city for weeks if we want! We can even rent a house – not that we need one but, yeah, you get the point.”

“Yeah, I heard that your armor starts to crack as well, so we can get you a new one now, no problem. And now we are happy, she is happy. A win-win.”

“How did you do that?”

“I am persuasive and charming.” She said plainly, like it is the most obvious thing in the world.

To say he is amazed is an understatement.

Not a simple woman, indeed.

“You, woman, are the best. Like, ever.”

“I know.” Her self-satisfied face prompts a grin to appear on his face, his dark thoughts from before fled away as fast as it came. Looking at her now, he doesn’t know why he was even worried before.

He can do this. Everything, if he still has her beside him.

But first..

“So, yay. We have enough money now so...pleasesisterwardencanyoubuymecheese?”

She cocked her head, amused.

“We’ll see. Not that there would be any in this place, though.”

“Aww! Damn it!”



-2-

The elder is not the first one she saves, it seems.

It is amazing how someone could charm so many people in such short period of time when everything seems so dark and dire. He thought people here, the refugees and the villagers, won’t be keen about another new face in their territory. But no, watching her interacts with the people here so cheerily makes him feel like a total idiot for being so pessimistic before.

The fact that she is really, truly charming like she said makes him smile so wide it begins to hurt. Or maybe it is because he hasn’t smiled this much since, well, Ostagar.

Right now, Morrigan has finished whatever witchy stroll around the village and comes back to stand beside him, watching the appointed leader of the group chat solemnly with a family of robbed refugees in silent contempt.

A sneer is apparent on her face.

Alistair wasn’t wrong when he thought that Morrigan would disapprove of the help the Cousland is giving to the people here, at least.

“’Tis not worth our time.” She scoffs.

“It’s not like we waste that much time, the sun hasn’t even set yet and we still have to rest here first, you know?” He is annoyed with the reproaching tone she uses, unnerved even. The fact that the woman is here still doesn’t sit right with him. A sense is tingling, very wildly, that the witch of the wilds won’t simply send her precious daughter here with them without getting anything in return.

There must be something they don’t know.

“And she got us money, and hey, resting place for tonight. Isn’t that good for all the help she wasted today? It’s not like you got us the finest room in the most expensive inn here for us, too. Right?”

Surprisingly, the witch snorts. “True that.”



-3-

While Morrigan and Ayisha are somewhat playfully - yes, playfully arguing, the male Grey Warden sees something in the corner of his eyes. Something red, and fragile, yet strong.

A rose.

Alistair watches, fascinated, as the rose moves softly and gracefully to the left, and right, and then left again, because of the soft whispering wind.

Something in his heart squeezes and warms.

‘So beautiful,’ he thought, his eyes softened. Forgetting all about his two female companions, he watches the rose trying to survive in the world with all the grace it has. He watches as it, with its thorny sides, tries its hardest to protect its softness from all the harsh everything, and wonders.

The rose, the red rose, with its beauty and thorns.

It reminds him of something – someone.

His eyes unconsciously travels to the form of his sister-warden, Alistair thought helplessly, ‘I..can’t left it here.’

Not when something could destroy its innocence, its beauty. Not when those dreadful creatures are about in the world, wilting everything with its presence.  
This rose would have died, lonely and pained.

He should have felt guilty when he plucks the rose from the ground and pocket it in his armor, but he didn’t.

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