A Day In The Life Of The Old Ball And Chain

Chapter 1

The woman looked at the piles of envelops and papers on her husband's desk, already feeling the slowly increasing throbbing on her temple. She raised up a hand and massaged her head, intending to feel the cold steel of a gauntlet… instead feeling the warmth of her own fingers.

From somewhere down her waist, she heard chuckling, and she turned to look down, spotting red hair and beard. A face turned up to her, grinning annoyingly, before saying, "Looks like you got your work cut out for you, Warden-Commander."

The woman sighed as she crossed her arms around her chest, "You'd think so, don't you, Oghren." She said, addressing the stocky dwarf beside her, "Honestly, I didn't ask for this you know. It was Fergus who handled things like these back in Highever when I was a child."

The dwarf chuckled again, "That's like saying you regret getting married to that King of yours. You know you wouldn't be here if you hadn't told the Landsmeet that he should rule with you beside him."

She grimaced, "I know. I just couldn't bear letting Anora being Queen again. Fine, it's my fault I'm here. I admit it." She looked down her chest, as the silk dress she wore shimmered around her body. "By the Maker, I miss my armor. Where in the blazes is that man anyway? Why hasn't he returned home?"

"He'll be back before you know it, Commander." Oghren said again, "Anyway, I'd better head back to Vigil's Keep. Felsi's been coming around more lately, bringing my little nug-slinger along. She might throw a fit if she doesn't see me there. Sorry to leave you to your 'queenly duties'. Hehehe…"

But the woman thumped him lightly on the head, "Fine, fine. Get going. Say hi to Felsi for me. And try and see if Sigrun can deliver that report that Nathaniel sent from the Deep Roads…"

"Your work is getting into your head." The dwarf shook his head and pointed at the desk littered with papers, "I already gave it to you. It's right there, you know. Besides, Sigrun just returned from the Deep Roads herself after seeing Nathaniel off. Give her some little rest first."

The dwarf patted her hand and headed off, leaving the woman to the momentous tasks of clearing the King's desk. She ran a hand through her black hair, her brown eyes scanning the mess her husband made in his absence. Finally, she huffed and dove into the work.

After a couple of hours of separating the papers from the letters, and cleaning up the wine stains and throwing the aging blocks of cheese and biscuit crumbs that her husband snacks on, she was finally happy with the desk's cleanliness. She was reading through the piles of tax reports from Denerim and Amaranthine when there was a knock on the door. She looked up and grinned, seeing the smiling face of her brother, the Arl of Highever, Fergus Cousland.

"Jenna! Busy being queen, I see." He said, going around the table to hug her and give her a light kiss on the head, "You're growing out your hair, too. I thought you always wanted it kept short."

She rolled her eyes as her brother held a strand of her hair, which reached her shoulders now. During the time she battled the Darkspawn during the Blight, her hair reached only up to her ears to prevent her hair from messing up her aim with a bow and arrow. "My Orlesian lady-in-waiting told me to grow it out. She said I'm not a Warden or a soldier anymore." She put on a haughty face and waved a hand around her hair, " 'Oohh! But thiz iz dreadful! Ze Queen of Ferelden has the 'air of a man! Grow it out, mezzere, or my poor 'eart would die if I cannot fix it properly!' "

Fergus laughed as he got another nearby chair and sat beside her, "Orlesians, eh? I don't even know why you hired her. Anyway, I've come bearing news, sister."

Jenna grinned and turned her chair around from the desk, "As Zevran used to say, I am all ears, brother."

The man grinned and looked up at her shyly, "I… ah… I met someone."

At this, Jenna Cousland's face softened. She remembered the grizzly scene several years ago, when Arl Rendon Howe had murdered their entire household… including Fergus' wife and son. It tore at her heart seeing them dead. But after so many years, it seems that Fergus finally got over his grief. She reached out and touched his cheek, "That… that is good news, brother."

Fergus sighed, "I just… figured it was time to move on." He looked at her a little sadly, "I would never get Oriana and Oren back… but I think they'll be utterly disappointed at me if I do not move on. I'll always love them, and I'll never, ever forget them. But I need to move on."

Jenna smiled as she leaned forward and wrapped her arms around her brother, feeling his own arms wrap around her. "Yes, you do. I am happy for you, brother." She let go of him and grinned, "So… when will I meet this enticing minx that captured my brother's heart?"

The man laughed as they let each other go, "Well, maybe if you arranged a party celebrating the King's return from Kirkwall, maybe I could…"

"What?"

Fergus looked up to see the amusing sight of his sister looking at surprise at him, "The King. His return. From Kirkwall. I met him on the road. He just got off from the docks and is making his way to the castle as we speak."

"He's on his way home?!"

"Yes, he had to stop by Arl Eamon's mansion in the Markets. I thought you knew…"

But the queen was already gathering up her skirts and smacked his arm as she stood up. He laughed and followed her as she half ran through the halls of the castle, "Oh, confound you all, why didn't you tell me he's arriving?!"

Fergus laughed as he followed her, the servant's of the castle looking in shock at the sight of their queen's petticoats as she carried her skirt in her arms in her rush to greet her husband. At the sight of their running queen, the guards by the door were smart enough to open the doors to the courtyards, just as a group of horses entered the gate.

The King stopped his horse by the stairs of the courtyard, and jumped down, looking up at the sight of his queen rushing down the stairs in a hurry. His broad, handsome face broke into a grin as she ran down the stairs, before opening his arms to her. She let go of her skirts as they collided, and she wrapped her arms around him in delight, "Alistair!"

"Hmm… if this is how you're going to greet me every time, I just might go away much more often." King Alistair Theirin said, as she raised her face up to him. He smiled as he bent down and kissed her lips as she remained clinging to him. "I like this kind of welcome. How are you, my dear?"

She remained clinging to him as she buried her face to his armored chest, "I miss my armor." She whined childishly, "Why can't you let me wear my armor?"

From beside Alistair, another voice spoke, "Because you're the queen now, and proper decorum must be observed." Alistair's uncle, Teagan, said, smiling down at her, "Although, I believe her decorum has just been thrown out the window. You have wonderful petticoats, my Queen."

But Jenna merely poked her tongue at him from under Alistair's arms, "Decorum be damned! I am the Warden-Commander of Amaranthine! I am the Hero of Ferelden! And I demand to wear my armor!"

But the three men merely laughed, "We'll see what we can do, my dear. But for now, we have much to do." Alistair said, trying to separate from his wife, but she remained clinging to him.

"I miss my armor!" Jenna whined again, making Teagan and Fergus chuckle, before bowing down.

"We will be at my mansion, your Magesty." Teagan said, "Fergus and I have much to discuss on the improvements of Highever. We will see you tonight at the banquet."

"But… but… get her off me first!" Alistair said in alarm at the two men, as Jenna continued to hold on tight to him, but Fergus merely laughed.

"You're the one married to her, your Majesty. I put up with her for years, now it's your turn." And the two men went away, laughing as Alistair tried to gently pry his wife away from him.

Finally, seeing that his wife would not let go, Alistair bent down and lifted her up, thankful that she was still a little light and that he had kept up his physical fitness to carry her. He had his arms around her knees and on her back as he carried her up the stairs, the guards smiling at them. He huffed out a breath as his legs cried a little in pain at his wife's weight and the force of gravity.

"Honestly, woman… I've been gone for almost two weeks, and this is how you repay me?" He said, joking at his wife, who still clung to the metal hardness of his armor.

"I miss my armor." She whined again, and he chuckled as the doors of the castle opened. His servants greeted and bowed at him, smiling at the loving way he held his wife in his arms. But as he neared the stair leading up to his office, he chuckled.

"If I have to get up these stairs carrying you, I swear to the Maker, I am going to drop you."

That brought the face of the Warden up, looking at him in shock, "You wouldn't dare!"

Alistair grinned down at her, "I am the King of Ferelden. Believe me, I dare."

Jenna's mouth opened in appalled shock as she jumped of his arms, and smacked him uselessly on an armored shoulder, making him laugh as he put his arm around her as they headed up the staircase.

"Anyway, what news, my dear? I've heard that you received a lot of letters in my absence." Alistair said as they entered the office, with him sitting in front of the desk and her sitting at the chair that Fergus occupied just moments ago.

"I was just about to read them, if Fergus hadn't mentioned you were on your way home." The queen said as she took the pile of letters in her hand, and a servant came in bearing a tray of biscuits, cheese and tea, before shutting the door of the room. Alistair frowned down at the tray, before looking around at the table. "Where was that block of cheese that was here?"

She rolled her eyes, "I threw it away. The mice were starting to nibble on it at night. Honestly, Alistair, you're the king. Cleanliness is needed for proper decorum."

At this, the king laughed, "I think you pretty much said it. 'Decorum be damned'… isn't it? So what letters have arrived?"

The queen rifled through the papers, "Well… there's a report from my Warden, Nathaniel. And another from Wynne. But I shall see to that later. What news from Kirkwall, husband?"

"Terrible news, I'm afraid." Alistair said, digging into his snack as Jenna poured him tea, "I thought Knight Commander Greagoir was bad… wanting to invoke the Right of Annulment at Kinloch Hold. Turns out, Kirkwall has it worst. The Knight Commander Meredith is rooting out mages outside the Circle. She scared me. I would not be surprised if the mages of Kirkwall would rebel against her. But with her in command, I fear it's going to be a massacre." He shivered in exaggerated fear as he drank a little of his tea before turning to her, "Did you know I met one of your old Wardens there? Alex.. Andres…"

"Anders?!" Jenna cried out in shock, remembering the amusing mage, one that she herself recruited after he ran from the Circle back in Vigil's Keep, "Why that little… he ran away from Vigil's Keep! After all that I did for him! Why, I ought to kick his backside… What is he doing there?!"

Alistair shrugged, "I don't know. He's with the Champion of Kirkwall now… her lover, I believe. You shouldn't be furious, my dear. From what I've heard, he saved a lot of our refugees that had come to Kirkwall since he was offering his healing services for free. The Champion had quite the group with her, you know. A soldier from Lothering was with her too… she said she fought at Ostagar. And…" The king blushed a deep shade of red as he muttered out, "Isabela."

The queen let out a loud laugh as she watched her husband blush, her fury against the runaway Warden gone, "Really? She's there? No wonder I haven't seen her at the Docks." She grinned at him, "Is she still borrowing you for the summer?"

Alistair coughed, "Ahem! Ah… uh… yes… yes, she was." The queen chuckled again, "Well, now that the Blight is over, I could consider that offer now." She raised her eyebrow at him, "I could even go with you."

He grinned at her, "Once is enough, I think. I do not want to put that 'Grey Warden' stamina to the test again." He looked at her, "I also heard that Zevran was in the area while I was there, too."

"Ah yes… Oghren told me about that. It seems our little elven assassin is on the run from the Crows still." Jenna said, opening the envelop that held Nathaniel's report. "I find it most strange that he would write to Oghren and not to me."

"Maybe he likes him." Alistair said nonchalantly, before meeting the gaze of his wife. They stared at each other for a few seconds, before both their faces crumbled into expressions of disgust.

"Eewww… that's just wrong, husband." Jenna said as she laughed, before continuing to read the letter from Nathaniel.

Alistair chuckled, "Yes. Horrible." He took a bite of the cheese, chewing noisily as she continued to read the letter, "Leliana was in Kirkwall too, but I guess I must've missed her."

"Well, I would not be surprised." Jenna said, "She is with the Chantry. And if there is unrest within the Kirkwall Circle, of course the Chantry would step in to mediate things." She sighed, "I guess I'm the only one who is not travelling. You are all going around the world, and here I am, stuck being the Warden-Commander and Queen."

"Well, I could take you to Orlais, if you want to." Alistair said, and she smiled, "If that's the case, then I'd rather not. I've had enough of Orlesians. That lady-in-waiting of mine is enough of a headache for me."

The king chuckled, nodding at the letter, "What did your Warden report?"

"That he's on his way back to Amarathine and that the Wardens in Kirkwall received a new recruit. The brother of the Champion, no less." She looked for the name in the letter, "Carver Hawke, it says. They said that they entered to Deep Roads and the boy was tainted and was on the brink of corruption. Stroud had to do the Joining to him, after Anders led them to the Grey Warden camp in the Deep Roads."

"Yes, I've heard of that. If that's the case, then I hope he'd be a good Warden. Being the brother of the Champion of Kirkwall would mean he'd be great at it. By the way, have you heard? The reason why Hawke became the Champion was because she defeated the Arishok… with magic no less."

Jenna looked thoughtful, "It is good that Sten returned to Seheron, then. He left during your coronation, remember? Maybe he could help should there be any unrest among the Qunari." She folded up Nathaniel's letter and returned it to its envelop, "Personally, I think Sten would make a great Arishok. He has learned much during our travels about our people. I wanted to travel to Seheron with him, but I just can't leave my beloved husband to his fate of being King, can I?"

Alistair laughed and winked at her, "I am that irresistible, am I?"

But the queen merely rolled her eyes, "No. I just had to make sure that the King's desk would not be so full of cheese that mice would live in it."

The King had the gall to look offended, but his curving smile made her grin, "Ow! Look at me! Bleeding all over the place! You're just not very nice, are you?" But he laughed as pointed at the other letter, "Anyway, what of Wynne's letter?"

Jenna took the envelope and tore open the letter, reading it out loud for Alistair as he chewed on his biscuits and cheese.

"Your Majesties, King Alistair Theirin and Queen Jenna Cousland:

It is good to hear that you have settled nicely into the life of monarchy. As much as I wanted to visit, I am afraid that I cannot stay long in Ferelden. As I write this letter, I am packing to head to Cumberland in Nevarra. With the unrest in the Circle of Magi in Kirkwall and what happened in Kinoch Hold, I am afraid there is much to discuss between the College of Magis. I am not at liberty to discuss anything else, but there is trouble brewing, my friends. It was good to see you at Amaranthine, my Queen, and I am thankful to see that you are still as kind and helpful as you were during our travels. But I fear your strength and compassion would be put to the test in the days to come.

I do not wish to cause you distraught with my words, but we must be vigilant. I am afraid that days as dark as Blight is ahead of us. Remain strong and steadfast, and I believe your love will see it through, as it did during our battle in Denerim.

I will be doing my best to write to you. I fear the affairs of the Circle of Magi will be of valuable use to your rule. And perhaps in time, I may be able to visit you. For the meantime, stay strong and faithful to the Maker, and that I remember that I value you both as my dearest friends.

Wynne"

Jenna and Alistair looked at each other in alarm at Wynne's letter, "Well, that sounds ominous." Alistair remarked jokingly, but at the look on his wife's face, he sighed and stood up. He kneeled down in front of his wife and cupped her chin, for her to look at him with her chocolate brown eyes.

"Hey…" He said, looking at her tenderly, "Wynne will be fine. We will all be fine. If we could stop the Blight, we can stop whatever this doom and gloom she is telling us. You are the Hero of Ferelden. Your strength and your compassion will protect us."

The queen blinked, and a fat tear rolled down her eye. Alistair sighed as he wiped it away with his thumb before pulling her close and hugging her. She buried her head on his armored chest as he ran a hand comfortingly down her back, "But… back then, when we were helping Arl Eamon… I was ready to give up. I didn't want to kill Connor, and I didn't want to sacrifice Isolde. I just… wanted to give up."

Alistair blinked and let her go a little, looking at her face in surprise, "You… wanted to give up?"

She nodded solemnly, "I was… so ready to die… the night Arl Eamon killed my parents. I was ready to die fighting his soldiers. We were trapped, and I didn't know where my brother was. When Duncan offered to turn me into a Warden, I figured I could die fighting darkspawn… a glorious death, so to speak. And then I… I met you."

And then she smiled, so beautifully, raising a hand and touching Alistair's face, and for a moment, he fell in love with her all over again, "You wanted to save Eamon. You already lost Duncan… and I couldn't bear seeing you get hurt over Eamon's death as well. I didn't want you to hurt… like I did. Alistair…" She bent over her head so that their foreheads touched, "I loved you the moment we met at Ostagar. And I wouldn't have gotten this far… I wouldn't have defeated the Blight… if I didn't have you with me."

The feeling of love rushed up from Alistair's face, and he rushed forward, kissing her ardently as her arms wrapped around his neck. It has been almost seven years since they had met at Ostagar, and yet, she continues to surprise him. She tasted as sweet and as loving as she always had, and for the hundredth time in his life, he was glad that she decided to marry him, instead of marrying him off to Anora.

She moaned in his kiss, and the sound made him growl in wanting as he bent over her, carrying her up in his arms. Their kissing became more aggressive and passionate, and at the heat of the moment, Alistair lost all of his thought, sweeping an arm across his desk, scattering papers to the floor as he lowered her unto his desk. Jenna stopped kissing him to look horrified.

"I spent two hours cleaning up this desk!" She cried out as she smacked his chest.

The King had the gall to look apologetic, before grinning and bending over her neck to kiss her there, "And you'll spend another two hours cleaning it up later. I have other plans right now…"

Jenna rolled her eyes… at first, in annoyance, before being replaced with lust, as Alistair's hand hitched up her skirt to her waist, "You will be the death of me, husband."

"Uh huhmmm… then I wouldn't have to worry about the Taint overtaking you then." Alistair replied as her fingers started to unhitch the various buckles that held his armor together, while he reached back, untying the various laces that crisscrossed her dress… a skill he had learned through their years together. "I have a month before I head towards Orlais. And I have been neglecting my 'kingly' duties, as it were. Perhaps I shall spend that month, trying to produce that heir to the throne now."

The Queen laughed as his chest armor fell to the floor, "Well, we won't be lacking in trying then. I know I said I missed my armor, but I think I miss seeing YOU out of your armor more."

"Your risqué talk is making my ears blush." Alistair said, looking up to her face again, and kissing the tip of her nose lovingly. "I love you… I just… wanted to tell you that."

Jenna smiled as she kissed him back, "And I love you. Even though you call me your 'old ball and chain'."

Alistair blinked hard at her, looking guilty, "Did I call you that? When did I call you that? I didn't call you that!"

She laughed as she reached back at him, pulling at his shirt and throwing it off from him, revealing his glorious chest and abdominals, "Bann Teagan wrote to me while you were at Kirkwall. He said that you called me your 'old ball and chain' and that I don't scare you even though I killed an Archdemon."

She grinned wickedly at him, making him blink in fear, "Oh Maker… I'm going to have to pay for that remark, aren't I?"

The Queen laughed as she reached at her waist, pulling her dress off of her, before throwing it down the floor. She pulled hard at the waistband of his pants, pulling him towards her, as she put her mouth close to his ear and whispered seductively, "Oh no… you're not going to pay for it."

She pushed him hard, causing him to sit at the chair he had abandoned painfully, and she walked forward, taking stalking steps before stopping in front of him and kneeling as her fingers started to unbuckled his belt, grinning wickedly. "I am going to make you regret it."

"Oh Maker. I'm dead."

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