{Harrowed But Not Bloodied} Gunslinger (DA:O fanfic drabble)

He'd had a long thirty years. She had made sure of it. Of course, when her plan was fully realized, he had hated her for it. Point of fact, he had wanted to hate her for it. For making him King, for marrying him off to his half-brother's widow. Mostly, for sacrificing herself and saving the whole sodding country, the whole of Thedas, leaving him with nothing but fading memories, a dried rose, and a single, hastily written letter. He had wanted that ache in his chest to be a hate because that was something he knew he could deal with and use as a fuel to survive. The loss of that great love the two of them shared was a pain he didn't think he could survive, nor one he initially thought he wanted to. 

The hits were coming harder. There were more of them then there had been a few moments ago. Raising his shield almost on instinct alone, he prevented a number of arrows from finding their mark. He stood up, slid his sword down the front of his shield quickly to get rid of the arrows, and quickly spun around to connect a hurlock head with the jagged bits of wood still attached to the shield by the arrowheads. He let out a disgusted sound as he kicked the hurlock's body to disengage. One of its eyeballs remained skewered onto the shield, and he had to let out a bit of a laugh. She always had that gallows humour. She would have, even in the middle of a battle down here in the Deep Roads, made some kind of crack about that as she decimated whatever was in their way.

He'd had a fruitful thirty years. There was never a love, but he and Anora grew fond of one another over the years. It had taken some time, but eventually it had happened. Together, they ruled Ferelden well, had raised four bright and caring children who would carry on the Theirin and Mac Tir bloodlines and rule with compassion and political savvy. They were the best qualities of both their parents, and he couldn't be more proud or love them more if he tried. Still, when his Calling came, there was almost a relief in it. He wasn't sure his children understood (even though he and their mother had been transparent with them about their arrangement and his being a Grey Warden), but he knew that Anora understood. It was nothing against her; they both had had a duty to do and they did it despite the feelings they both held onto for flames that had been snuffed out long before they should have. She'd helped him suit up in his dragon scale armour that he insisted on being the set he'd die in. She'd been the one to tuck his most treasured possession under the breastplate with an understanding smile. 

It only took that slight moment of his mind being distracted by the past to create an opening for an emissary to paralyze him where he stood. A genlock archer took that opportunity to send one arrow into each of his calves, which brought him to his knees once the emissary's spell wore off. Letting go of his shield as he fell forward, his sight went slightly blurry and his breath came in ragged gasps. The Calling was drowning out the sound of the darkspawn rushing him from behind. He gritted his teeth and shut his eyes tightly as he worked his fingers under his breastplate to touch the parchment of that thirty-year old hastily written letter she had left for him to find in his pack after the fall of the Archdemon. He carried it with him, always, right over his heart. They were very close to him now. 

He'd had a full thirty years. Some of their party members remained in Denerim, some even stayed on to be his advisors, generals, friends through the dark moments where he thought he'd head for the Deep Roads well before it was time. Those who hadn't stayed wrote to him often enough, the mutual mourning enough to keep them somewhat connected. He got as many of them as he could to met up for small gatherings at least once a year, to catch up and reminisce. They all had ended up with better lives than they could have hoped for on those long nights on the road, running from Redcliff to Orzammr and back gathering an army. He had seen one or two before he had headed off to the Deep Roads. That damn assassin still had it when it came to stealth. The bard was as emotional as she had been on the top of Fort Drakon all those years ago. 

The first blow hit him square in the back of the head. He fell further forward, his face making contact with his discarded shield. For the briefest of moments, the entire world went white. The thought that this was finally it, he was finally coming home, swam through his mind before his vision slowly came back to him. Again, moving without thinking, he swung his sword and body around like he had so many times before in training, in battle, pushing the swarming monsters back just a bit. But he was running out of energy, and he was running out of will to keep the fight going. He fell back to his knees, his sword falling to his side, and his head lolling back heavily as keeping his eyelids open became too much effort. The world went white one last time as he brought his head down to look straight ahead. To his surprise and delight, she was standing over him, giving him that crooked grin full of mischievous adoration. 

"I've waited so long for this moment, to be able to hold you again." His voice cracked as he struggled to form the right words. Her smile widened and her eyes softened as she knelt down to be eye level with him. 

"I know. But you're here now. You didn't think you'd live forever, did you?" 

"Oh," he laughed out, "it felt like it some days." He reached out for her face when the second blow came swiftly. The cold steel blade made it's way through the flesh where his neck and shoulder met, that delicate area left open by the way the armour held up his slack body. 

With his breath abandoning his body, he hoarsely whispered out, "I'm coming home to you." 

"I'll be waiting." 

And the world went black.


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