tagCelebrities & Fan FictionThere and Back Again Ch. 037-038

There and Back Again Ch. 037-038

byElyssaCousland©

Chapter Thirty-Seven: Sleeping Arrangements

When I woke, we had shifted positions; Alistair was spooned behind me, and his arms were around me tightly. It was extremely comfortable. And then it occurred to me that one massive hand had settled, unknowingly I was sure, on my left breast. I was wearing armour – I had gotten used to sleeping in it, sadly – so it wasn't like he was feeling much of my actual boob, but it made me blush anyway. And if nothing else, I could feel the heat of his hand through my leathers, and knew my nipple was probably hard as a rock just from the principle of the thing.

I had only a moment to reflect on that, however, before the whole tent shook and I heard angry shouting.

"Sierra!" Aedan sounded pissed. Or freaked. I wasn't sure which. "You better be decent, because I'm coming in." My brother's head popped in through the tent flap. "Andraste's sodding ass, Sierra, what do you think you're sodding doing in this sodding tent?"

Alistair woke with a start and a muffled oath. I laughed, and Aedan narrowed his eyes at me.

"Aedan, as you can see, we're both dressed. We're even under separate blankets, okay? Get it under control."

My lack of remorse seemed to be aggravating the situation. Aedan's face was purple, and I couldn't tell for the life of me what that expression meant but it clearly wasn't good. I could vaguely hear Zevran whispering, behind Aedan, and Leliana was saying something too, but I ignored them and stared Aedan down. I may have been thrilled to suddenly have a family, but I wasn't about to let him humiliate me into feeling bad about this situation. And I was suddenly sure – Alistair hadn't moved his hand, and he must have realised where it was by now – that the level of intimacy was going to be increasing, and soon, and I wasn't going to let Aedan ruin it for me. Fortunately Alistair's hand was hidden by blankets, otherwise I thought I might see what human spontaneous combustion looked like.

Finally, with another oath, Aedan looked away. He backed out of the tent and stormed off, and I assumed Zevran would follow him and prevent him from doing anything stupid. I squirmed around until I was lying on my back, Alistair's arms still around me, hand still cupping my breast through my leathers. I sighed.

"Sorry, Sierra. Knew he'd be angry but I didn't think..."

"Don't worry about it. He needs to learn to cope. I'm not a child, and he may be my brother but that doesn't mean he gets to judge my decisions." I couldn't believe we were just going to talk about Aedan, and not discuss the hand. His face was sort of flushed, but not a word? Not one to point out the elephant in the room, I waited to see what would happen.

"Sorry I didn't speak up. I'm not the brightest first thing in the morning, so at first I was just confused, and then after, I didn't even know where to start."

"Nah, it's good. He'd have lost it if you'd piped up, I think. And it isn't about you, it's about how he sees me. We need to figure that out between us. So actually, thank you for letting me fight my own battles." I smiled, and his hesitant face broke out into a sunny grin that melted my heart.

"I like waking up with you in my arms. Even if it involves Aedan shouting."

His smile faded and changed to something more intense, his eyes darkening as he leaned in for a kiss. I closed my eyes and surrendered to it, opening my mouth and moaning as his tongue immediately took advantage. It occurred to me to wonder who taught him to kiss – I really should send whoever it was a thank-you note – but decided I'd just enjoy it rather than worry about it. Especially since I knew jealous-Sierra was never far from the surface when it came to Alistair.

And then the hand on my breast flexed slightly – I suspected it was involuntary – and suddenly I couldn't think about anything except his lips, his hands, and how to get closer to that gorgeous body I knew was under there somewhere. My passion seemed to have rubbed off on him and he rolled forward, trapping me half under him, pressing my hip into the bedroll and kissing me savagely.

I lifted my one leg that had mobility, curling it around his hip, my free hand running down his sculpted chest, feeling the curve of hard muscle. He gasped and clutched me harder, setting up a feedback loop of pleasure and accidental boldness until he broke away with a low growl, rolling to his own back beside me and releasing my right side. I couldn't quite stop a disappointed whine from escaping as his weight left me and his hand extracted itself from my breast.

"I am such an ass." He lifted his arm up to lay across his eyes, as if shading them from the sun, but given that we were in a tent, it was sort of obvious he was just avoiding eye contact.

"Alistair?" His tone frightened me, and I tried to prepare myself for what I thought would come next – the apology followed by 'I made a mistake'.

"I offer you a place to sleep and promise to be a gentleman, and then I jump on you the first chance I get. Do you think...you could forgive me? I swear if you give me another chance I won't take advantage. I-"

I cut him off, almost laughing in relief. I rolled to my side and pushed up to kneel beside him. I stretched out across him, self-conscious about the weight I was laying on him, but needing the intimacy and wanting to be nose-to-nose before I spoke.

"Nothing to forgive, love." I reached up and moved the arm he'd flung over his eyes, putting his hand back on my now-chilly breast, then leaned down and kissed him lightly, teasingly flicking my tongue across his lower lip. He opened his eyes in surprise, and I smiled down at him.

"Besides. Even if something had really happened..." I leaned closer to whisper directly into his ear, "...it most definitely would not have been one-sided."

I gave him a moment to process what I'd said, then sucked his vulnerable, perfect earlobe into my mouth, teasing the sensitive skin with the tip of my tongue. His reaction was electric, and he clutched me to his chest, hand again involuntarily squeezing my breast, gasping my name as he sort of convulsed. His voice was low and husky, and made me shiver. Before I could do anything else I promised myself I wouldn't do, I pushed up and off him and rolled away, straightening my hair and adjusting my armour.

"Sierra?" His tone was still husky and I had to steel myself against pulling off my armour and attacking him on the spot.

I turned my head to face him, and gave as lascivious a grin as I could. "Rise and shine, sweetheart; time to face the music." I winked. "I'm going to go deal with Aedan. Do you mind packing up the tent? I promise to help tomorrow."

His face was thoughtful as I scooted out of the tent.

Out by the campfire, Leliana was making breakfast. "Good morning, Sierra! Breakfast?" Her eyes were twinkling, and I knew the teasing later would be intense. Wynne had her nose in a book, as usual, and didn't even notice me. I wondered if avoidance was her way of not being judgemental about us. Or maybe it was just a good book.

"Hey, Leli. Um, I'll eat in a minute. Seen Aedan?"

Her grin widened and she gestured off towards the hot spring. I sighed and headed that way. I found Aedan, sitting on the bank, his feet soaking in the warm water. Zevran sat silently a few feet away on a rock, and I wondered if Aedan had even noticed he was there. The assassin smiled at me and squeezed my hand as he headed back to camp, leaving me alone with my brother. I sat down next to Aedan, legs curled beside me, and after a silent minute, leaned my head on his shoulder.

"So. Do you truly object, or are you just being a protective big brother?"

He sighed. "I don't know."

"Okay, then, let's start with something easier. Do you think Alistair is a bad choice for me?"

"No. Not at all."

His immediate response to that made me smile. "And do you doubt that I love him?"

"Any idiot can see that you love him. Except him, I suppose."

"Do you believe he loves me?"

"Any idiot except you can see that one." He grinned slightly, and shifted to put his arm around my waist.

"So let's see. He loves me, I love him, and you approve of the match. You didn't know any of those three things the first time you snuck off into the bushes with Zevran, did you?"

His cheeks coloured. "No."

"So it's just a double-standard then? Cousland men are allowed to sleep with anyone, anytime, but Cousland women are expected to remain celibate even after they've found the person they love?"

"Sierra..."

"Don't 'Sierra' me. It's going to happen, if I'm incredibly lucky, and I'm not going to turn him down because you're being an over-protective freak, but I really would like your blessing. Not to mention that if you don't give it, things are going to get awkward at dinners in camp..."

He sighed. "Oh, you have my blessing. You knew you would. But you could have, I don't know, warned me or something."

"It wasn't like it was a plan! You fell asleep on me, and Zevran heard me struggling and helped me get you to bed, and you stopped thrashing and having nightmares when he held you, so it just made sense for him to stay. So I went out, and realised I didn't have anywhere to sleep except alone in Zev's tent, but you know I don't sleep well alone, and so Alistair was awake and he offered..."

"Okay, okay. Fine. Does that mean it goes back to normal tonight?"

I looked at him, simultaneously amused and irritated at his stubbornness. "...No. I think it's way past time that you and Zev had a tent of your own. And frankly, it turns out Alistair makes a comfortable pillow, which is hard to find on the road. Nothing is happening between us – yet – but I'm not giving up waking up in his arms to assuage your weird feelings."

"You don't make it easy, do you? It's hard enough watching my best friend and my sister together, but now I can't even tell you to 'be careful' the way I should, because I know damn well he won't hurt you. It's just...awkward."

"I love you too. And I'll be fine, you know I will. And I know that you and Sten will beat Alistair into next week if he hurts me, so I think I'm safe."

Aedan grinned. "Who knew the big guy would turn out to be such a softy, hey?"

We both laughed, and Aedan shook the water off his feet before stuffing them into socks and then boots. We walked back to camp, laughing and teasing each other, and both cracked up when Alistair's face, abnormally pale and sweaty, came in to view. Aedan let me go and walked up to Alistair. He held out his hand, and they shook. Alistair's look of relief was comical, and I plopped down beside Leliana to giggle as we watched them. Breakfast was a rowdy affair, even Morrigan joining in the general revelry, before we packed up and headed out again.

As we walked, Alistair took my hand and then proceeded to drag his feet until we were well back from the rest of the group. When he thought no one was looking, he dragged me off the path, pressed me up against a tree, growling, and kissed me. It was sudden and unexpected and intense, and left me panting.

"So what exactly did you mean when you said you'd help me pack up tomorrow?"

I blinked, confused. "Uh, I thought that was sort of self-explanatory. After we wake up, I'll help you pack our tent and stuff."

His voice cracked slightly. "Our tent?"

My cheeks coloured and my heart dropped. "Oh, I, uh, didn't think. And I wasn't planning on having sex or anything. I just sort of assumed you'd..." I trailed off, embarrassed and mortified. "...but if you'd rather not, then I can find somewhere else to sleep. I understand. I'm sorry, Alistair-"

He silenced whatever I was planning to say next with another intense kiss. He pressed me against the tree, pulling my arms up around his neck, grinding his hips against mine. His tongue ruthlessly invaded my mouth, and I moaned, tangling my hands in his blond hair. His armour was hard and uncomfortable squashed between us, and his hands roamed down my sides, one of them dipping down to stroke the curve of my hip.

He finally pulled away, resting his forehead against my own. We were both breathless, and I could feel the puffs of air leaving his mouth blowing across my lips. I moaned again, confused, and at the same time, completely aroused. When he spoke, his voice was that low, husky tone that I couldn't resist, and it sent waves of heat washing through me.

"I can't wait until tonight, then. This is going to be a long day." He rubbed the tip of his nose against mine and I giggled. "Maker's Breath, what did I ever do to deserve you? I am a lucky man." He kissed me again, soft and sweet this time, and then broke away, catching my hand and pulling me back out onto the road.

We were less than two days from Denerim, Aedan informed us as we caught up to the rest of the group. Two days to figure out what the hell we were going to do once there. We needed to confront Marjolaine, see if we could sneak into the Alienage and check on things, talk to Wade and get some armour made, and then hide out while he worked on it. I imagined we'd do some good deeds, some chanter's board stuff to make money, that sort of thing. I'd also had a thought about having a chat with a particular dwarf in the market district.

The problem was, we had absolutely no idea what to expect heading into Denerim. The world had changed from what I knew, and it was possible they were barring the gates, or searching those who entered, or had lookouts trying to spot Aedan and Alistair. We batted around ideas – trying to sneak multiple small groups in, or having everyone try to dress as servants with me as a noblewoman, but none of the ideas were fool-proof. We decided to wait and see what the situation at the gates was before entering. There was no one else on the road to ask for an update, which in itself was a bit of a bad sign – there should have been at least some traffic this close to Denerim.

We had decided long before that Sten, Shale, and Morrigan would remain outside the city. There was just no way to hide a golem or a Qunari in a human city, and I had always been amazed in game that no one commented if you were strolling through the Denerim market as, say, an elf, with only a Qunari, a golem, and a mabari for company. And between Morrigan's clothes and her temper, it was probably best that she stay away from heavily inhabited areas. None of the three seemed upset at the idea, though I figured we should buy Morrigan something shiny, and get Sten some cookies, just in case. I had no idea what to get Shale, really.

Alistair and I spent the rest of the day watching each other. Whether we walked together or apart, every couple of minutes I'd glance over to ogle the handsome man I was going to be sharing a tent with that night, only to catch him staring at me with dark eyes. We'd both blush when our eyes met, and look away, only to have it happen again five minutes later. Before long, even Leliana wouldn't walk with me anymore, and Alistair and I were banished to the back of the group to walk together. I barely noticed, all my attention trained on the mouth-watering Warden at my side.

The day passed quickly, and we soon found ourselves putting up a tent together, using the extra material from Zevran's to enlarge it, laying our two bedrolls side by side with blushing smiles. There was a small stream – barely deep enough to get wet, and ice cold – that would be the last chance we had to clean up before arriving in Denerim. After sparring with Aedan as usual, I took the opportunity to bathe as well as I could, hurrying back to the fire in a simple linen dress as fast as possible to warm up. Alistair, who'd also cleaned up, was in trousers and a shirt instead of armour, and for the first time, when I sat in his lap and he wrapped his arms around me to help me warm up, I couldn't help but feel the heat of him burning through both layers of thin clothing. I could feel the hardness of his impressive muscles when I curled into him, trying to leech heat, and I was sure he could feel the curve of my hip under his hand, my ass against his lap.

"Maker's Balls, Sierra! Your hands are cold!"

For fun I stuck them down the back of Alistair's neck, thoroughly enjoying his wriggling attempt at escaping. He finally managed to grip my hands in his own, rubbing them and blowing warm air on them, which was strangely erotic. Right now everything he does is erotic, if I'm honest. I smiled appreciatively and tried not to let my mind climb down into the gutter. Leliana served the ever-popular stew for supper, and I laughed as I watched Aedan and Alistair wolf theirs down like mabari pups and then ask for more. We skipped templar practice – I was a hot mess, all edgy in anticipation, and I doubted Alistair was in much better shape. As soon as it was practical, we retired to our tent, faces crimson with embarrassment and desire. I heard laughter coming from the campfire after we left it, and couldn't even bring myself to care.

I discovered a problem once we were in the tent – changing into sleep clothes. Neither of us planned to wear armour, but I didn't intend to sleep in my linen dress, and I wasn't about to get naked in front of Alistair just yet. I sat on my bedroll, legs tucked under me in a most lady-like fashion, and looked up to find Alistair staring at me. Awkward!

I cleared my throat and tried to think of something to say, failing miserably. Alistair just kept looking at me, and my mind went completely blank. We stayed like that, both blushing, me fidgeting with the shift I planned to sleep in, until I'd finally had enough.

"Oh, for the love of God. Forget this!"

I uncurled from my bedroll and flung myself into Alistair's arms. He caught me without hesitation, and the awkwardness faded to nothing as our lips met. He pulled me into his lap again, my arms around his neck, hands fisting in his short, golden hair, and I felt his hands, one splayed against my back, the other on my thigh just above my knee. I immediately opened my mouth, and he took the invitation, stroking my tongue with his own, making me groan softly. I was dizzy with the intensity of the kiss, and some part of me realised I wasn't breathing, and I pulled away. Alistair grunted, disappointed, until I used my grip on his hair to pull his head back and attacked his jawline with my lips and tongue. He tasted like soap, of course, but also camp smoke and sweat and something that was just all him. It was intoxicating, and I kept going until I reached his ear, relishing the sounds I was dragging out of his mouth.

I could feel his hands, fisted in the material of my dress, the one stubbornly, frustratingly staying on my knee, the other behind my back. I wanted those hands elsewhere; I wanted to rip off my clothes and have my way with him. I wanted to break the iron control that was allowing him to hold position. I squirmed in his lap, aroused and unsatisfied, and he gasped and clenched his hands. I grabbed his earlobe between my lips, nibbling it gently, before running my tongue up the outside of the sensitive skin. He was shivering, now, but I wanted more. I stroked my tongue back down his ear, only to continue down his strong neck. I lapped at his skin, enjoying every hiss and moan, and then gently bit him in the crease where his neck met his shoulder.

I finally got the response I was looking for. With a feral moan, the hand behind me slid up to tangle in my thick brown hair, pulling me back from his neck so he could ravage my mouth with a kiss. The hand on my knee crept to my waist, settling just below my heaving breast, tantalising me with its proximity. Impatient and unable to wait any longer, I grabbed the hand in one of mine and dragged it, unresisting, to cover my breast.

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