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An Indecently Decent Proposal [Complete]

Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
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#1
((16 Cloudreach, 35 Dragon, Evening; @Constance Theirin ))

Dinner had been superb, as usual. Claude had worked his usual magic, offering a choice of beef merlot or roasted capon tender enough to fall off the bone, along with a salad of the season's earliest greens and making good use of the contents of the root cellar: herbed potatoes and acorn squash simmered in maple syrup with just a touch of something spicy to offset the sweetness. And his trademark chocolate cake bread pudding with a blackberry reduction, served with whisky-laced cream. And since Alistair had taken the precaution of consuming a hefty late afternoon snack, he was able to eat with decorum, rather than bolting down the food like a starving mabari.

Dinner had been served in the small dining room, saving him from having to bellow to the end of a table meant to seat forty (don't laugh; he'd seen some do it, protocol apparently trumping common sense), and allowing the chef to choose the wines had been another wise move on his part, though he was careful not to imbibe too deeply.

Conversation flowed smoothly; there was no end of real matters of state, after all (he was quite sure he'd be asked to sign treaties, trade agreements and proclamations on his deathbed...they certainly had no compunction about disturbing him in the loo). The Teyrna offered her opinions, and he was pleased to discover that a growing number of them mirrored his own thoughts; perhaps he was learning this king thing, after all. Even when their opinions did not coincide, her suggestions were worthy of consideration. She tended to favor hard-line stances that would reinforce his authority, and even when he thought her proposed measures a bit too extreme, there was no denying that his natural tendency to want to please everyone was not one that could – and had – led to problems in the past that had required even more of his time to correct.

The last of dinner finished (and the urge to lick the bowl the bread pudding had been served in successfully resisted – barely), he stood. “Would you care to get a bit of air?” he invited her as casually as possible.

The balcony off the small dining room overlooked the formal gardens, the night pleasantly cool without requiring a cloak, a waxing moon shining overhead, surrounded by stars. “I did have one more matter to discuss with you, if you don't mind,” he began as butterflies the size of sparrows began looping in his stomach, the little box in his hip pouch weighing a ton.
 
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Constance Theirin

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#2
Dinner at the palace was always exquisite. Constance had only just found a cook to replace the one she was forced to discharge upon returning to Denerim on this latest trip. The new cook, a portly woman with an overly jubilant nature, was not one Constance was sure would stick. Desperation called for desperate measures. To have such a fine meal at the palace was truly a treat for Constance. She had almost forgotten what good and well prepared food could taste like.

The meal had been an intimate but professional one, no other guests present beyond Constance and Alistair. There would be whispers of such a dinner. The Teyrna and King dining alone? There always were. Some Constance might even encourage herself through the lips of Maura Trestlebridge. She had no intentions toward the King, not in that way, however. Upon Roderick’s death, she swore she would never marry again. Peter was to be the only man in her life. All others were mere distractions to scratch an itch now and again.

When they completed the last course, Constance expected a close to the evening. She would retrieve Peter and return home. That was not to be, not yet. Alistair rose from his seat and asked, “Would you care to get a bit of air?”

“Of course,” Constance replied, rising from her seat with Alistair’s aid.

A balcony off the dining room awaited the pair. Overlooking the formal gardens, the balcony had one of the better views in the palace. She dared an Orlesian to question the beauty of the gardens below. They would, of course. Being contrary was simply part of their nature.

They would be wrong.

Her fingers rested lightly upon the balcony railing, eyes glancing upward at the moon. The weather had begun to turn, cool evenings giving way to more temperate ones.

“I did have one more matter to discuss with you, if you don't mind.”

When the king spoke, she drew her gaze away from the evening’s sky and to him. That had been the reason for the delay in the evening’s close. He had another matter he wished to discuss. She smiled easily, her mood quite elevated after such a meal. “I do hope the kittens have not destroyed another drape.” There was no way that was what he wished to discuss, but she kidded all the same. Joking with the King had become habit. He responded well to the playful jibes.

Constance allowed the moment to pass. Though no longer jovial, she remained pleasant, "I do not mind. What is it, Your Majesty?"
 

Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
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Noble
Grey Warden
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97
#3
He chuckled at the question about the curtains. “Actually, Elena is getting them pretty well in hand.” His prediction that offering a selection would result in more than one palace feline had been ensured by the presence of Arwen and Bran at the presentation of the candidates. Lena had selected a dainty creature with green eyes and creamy fur except for points as orange as flame on its face, paws and tail. Wenni had laid claim to one with a squashed-flat face and long hair that was currently decorated with every ribbon she could lay hands on. Bran had picked one that he swore looked like a drawing he had seen of something called a leopard, and then Arwen had declared that they needed one to be Peter's when he visited and selected a black and white with large ears and a stub of a tail. Which left one lone kitten, and with three sets of eyes beseeching him (and still floating on air a bit from the shy smile he'd gotten from Elena), he'd agreed to take that one too, playing the Antivan merchant a sum that he was fairly certain could have purchased a trained warhorse ... for five kittens! At least the fellow had offered up the tip about keeping boxes of sand set about for them to make their toilet in. Maker only knew how much mess that had saved him.

But he hadn't brought her out here to talk about kittens, and she knew that well enough. "I do not mind. What is it, Your Majesty?"

He'd rehearsed a hundred different speeches, all of which sounded utterly ridiculous. “Since Eamon's death, there's been a bit of a lull in the efforts to get me married off.” He wasn't sure if they were giving him time to grieve or simply devising a new strategy following the loss of their general. Even abed and able to communicate only by gestures, the Chancellor had controlled every aspect of that campaign, Alistair had been certain. For a time, he'd simply enjoyed the respite, but - “I've been thinking,” he went on, choosing his words with care, “and I don't believe that the type of match that they wanted to make for me is the type that I want, or the type that would be best for Ferelden.”
 

Constance Theirin

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#4
“Since Eamon's death, there's been a bit of a lull in the efforts to get me married off. I've been thinking and I don't believe that the type of match that they wanted to make for me is the type that I want, or the type that would be best for Ferelden.”

Constance listened to Alistair intently as he spoke. Her plans had come to fruition. He would most certainly ask her to help him.

"Arranging a marriage outside of love feels barbaric in a way, does it not," Constance began. She looked down to the garden below. Ensconced in shadow, bodies pressed against stone pillar, she could just make out the outline of two people. A stolen romantic moment or something else all together? Her point would get across regardless. Constance inclined toward the couple so that Alistair might notice them as well.

"You were not born in nobility."
There was no insult in her delivery. "Romance and love... That is the one privilege most nobility ever to experience. I did not with my first marriage." She turned from the couple and looked back to Alistair. "And my second, well.." A small smile took hold of her mouth, "...there was no love there, not at first." In the end, Constance believed she loved Roderick, or loved him enough to miss his passing. Their marriage was not an entirely unpleasant one and did come with certain perks.

She shook her head lightly, an apologetic tilt to her smile. "This is not about me, however. This is about you, Your Majesty. What is that you want? What do you think is best for Ferelden?"
 

Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
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#5
The couple in the garden held his attention, his body tensed with readiness, until he identified the gardener's assistant and one of the maids. With no likelihood that flying crossbow bolts would be interrupting the conversation, he relaxed back into his former state of tightly controlled anxiety, considering her questions.

“I think that my advisors meant well enough,” he began, “but they wanted for me what they had for themselves: a pretty young wife to look good on my arm, have babies, ensure her family's political support and think or speak as seldom as possible. More than one of the girls I've been introduced to has been quite intelligent, but you could see they'd been warned against showing it. And then, there were the others who weren't ... quite so intelligent.” It was the most delicate way to describe hours spent with women who did nothing but sip tea, smile vacuously and agree with everything he'd said.

“But I've read Fereldan history, especially since the Orlesian occupation and the rebellion,” he went on. “Rowan was not arm candy, and for all her faults, neither was Anora. If Cailan had been more interested in actually acting like a king instead of a general, events during the Blight might have turned out very differently.” It was rare for him to criticize his half-brother openly, but the conclusions drawn from his studies had been inescapable; if he had actually worked with his queen, instead of simply leaving everything but military matters in her hands, if he had bothered to learn to rule, as opposed to just wearing his father's crown, the slaughter at Ostagar and the civil war might never have happened. And Alistair might not be here now, still trying to clean up the mess.

“Eleanor Cousland fought in the rebellion alongside the man who would become her husband,” he continued, “and in the battle of Denerim, I saw women of all classes fighting beside the men, and every bit as fiercely. Ferelden needs a strong queen,” he said decisively, “and I want a wife who is capable of doing more than warming my bed and hosting teas. I want a partner who can rule beside me."
 

Constance Theirin

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#6
“I think that my advisors meant well enough but they wanted for me what they had for themselves: a pretty young wife to look good on my arm, have babies, ensure her family's political support and think or speak as seldom as possible. More than one of the girls I've been introduced to has been quite intelligent, but you could see they'd been warned against showing it. And then, there were the others who weren't...quite so intelligent.”

Alistair’s advisors wanted much the same as Constance; they only differed on who should profit from such a match. Quietly, she regarded the King and waited on to him continue.

“But I've read Fereldan history, especially since the Orlesian occupation and the rebellion. Rowan was not arm candy, and for all her faults, neither was Anora. If Cailan had been more interested in actually acting like a king instead of a general, events during the Blight might have turned out very differently.”

Rowan was a queen of legend. Beautiful, a skilled warrior, she helped Maric recapture Ferelden from the Orlesians. Such women were a rare breed. And Anora? Anora and Constance had been friends. They played together as little girls. Constance watched, from the docks with many of the residents of Gwaren, as Anora’s ship left Gwaren bound Denerim and Cailan. What a foolish King Cailan had been.

Rendon easily manipulated the King going so far as to brag about his accomplishments during a family dinner one evening. For the briefest of moments, Constance contemplated writing her friend, warning Anora. Constance was not nearly as brave in those days as she was now and she said nothing.

“Eleanor Cousland fought in the rebellion alongside the man who would become her husband and in the battle of Denerim, I saw women of all classes fighting beside the men, and every bit as fiercely. Ferelden needs a strong queen.” Alistair’s tone implied an end to his story neared. “And I want a wife who is capable of doing more than warming my bed and hosting teas. I want a partner who can rule beside me.”

Alistair wished Constance do more than help him find a kitten; he wished a unicorn.

She could not disagree that Ferelden would benefit from a strong queen in theory. The benefit would, however, greatly depend upon the who. There were not many in Ferelden that could measure up to his requirements.

Anora could, but she was banished and disgraced.

She could, of course, but that had never been her plan. Constance kept her relationship with the King a friendly but professional one quite on purpose.

Surely he did not mean to…

There was one way to find out. Constance stuck tested the waters to see what ripples she might cause. “And you would seek my assistance in finding such a woman, Your Majesty?”
 

Alistair Theirin

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#7
Constance was no fool; he could see the faint gleam of comprehension in her eyes as he spoke, but when he finished, her expression was a study in pleasant neutrality as she said, “And you would seek my assistance in finding such a woman, Your Majesty?”

Did she truly not know, was she waiting for him to come right out and say it, or was she feigning ignorance in the hope that he really was just asking her help in finding a wife?

Only one way to find out. “Actually, I believe that I have already found such a woman,” he said, withdrawing the small box and managing to open it without dropping it over the railing. He'd known better than to try to outdo the enormous sapphire necklace that Roderick Yorath had gifted her with, and it wasn't his style anyway. The blue opal in the ring caught the moonlight and held it, seeming to glow from within, surrounded by alternating diamonds and sapphires in a gold setting.

He held it out to her, having decided early on that it would look foolish to go down on one knee for what was after all a political proposal. “Constance Carringstone Yorath, would you do me the honor of becoming my wife, and Ferelden's Queen?” he asked, keeping his voice steady with no small effort.
 

Constance Theirin

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#8
“Actually, I believe that I have already found such a woman.”

To leave Constance with little doubt he meant her and no other, Alistair withdrew a small box from a pocket. Beneath the box's lid rested an opal, diamond and sapphire ring. Alistair offered the ring to her, “Constance Carringstone Yorath, would you do me the honor of becoming my wife, and Ferelden's Queen?”

Like something out of a romance novel, Constance's hand lifted to her mouth in disbelief. Blue eyes widened and she stared down shocked at the beautiful piece of jewelry she knew he'd taken great care to select for her. Alistair was not the type to send another to complete such a task for him. But no words of love flowed from her lips. No tears fell upon her cheeks. Laughter erupted. True laughter born deep in the gut and free from any malice.

Alistair had done something no other man had done in quite sometime. He surprised her. She did not laugh at the King, but at herself and the situation she found herself in. Without making any effort to capture Alistair's hand in marriage, she had done just that. Eamon Guerrin was surely screaming in the Fade.

She shook her head and silenced her chuckles. Her hand dropped to touch his and the box he held . "I am sorry I laughed. I imagine that is not how you pictured this would go, did you?" Her smile was genuine and touched with warmth. "You simply surprised me. That is not something someone has managed to do in sometime. I had thought..." Her lips pressed together in glimmer of a grin. "... it does not matter what I thought." And it did not, because Constance had been terribly terribly wrong.

Constance regained her composure. The moment had passed, though she was sure later in the evening she might start giggling once more. Now, however, she needed more details.

Aligning Gwaren with the crown was a strong political move for her. Alistair would wish an heir and she would give him one if they were to marry. But what would that mean for Peter? "Before I give you my answer, I need to know what would become of Peter and his inheritance."
 

Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
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#9
He had been told by many that the ability to make a woman laugh was a prized trait to have as a suitor. He was, however, quite certain that inspiring such a response with a proposal of marriage was not what they had been speaking of.

Before he could come up with some way to tell her that it had just been a silly joke, that his real intent had been to ask her how the ring would suit as a gift for some other prospective bride, she stopped laughing and reached out to touch his hand. "I am sorry I laughed. I imagine that is not how you pictured this would go, did you?"

Actually, it had been included among his worst-case scenarios, but he just said, “Not exactly,” trying for a sheepish smile, but still feeling like several different kinds of a fool.

The smile she gave him was apologetic and warm, soothing away some of the burn of embarrassment. "You simply surprised me. That is not something someone has managed to do in sometime. I had thought..." She paused, and for a moment, he thought she might start laughing again. "... it does not matter what I thought."

Surprising Constance Yorath was no mean accomplishment, but his nerves were still jangling too much for him to savor the achievement. The last of her mirth faded, and she regarded him seriously.

"Before I give you my answer, I need to know what would become of Peter and his inheritance."

Before she gave him an answer? So ... she hadn't said no? Of course, she hadn't said yes, either, but -

“Peter's inheritance will remain his,” he replied, regaining his composure with what he considered to be admirable speed. “I trust that you know individuals suitable to serve as regents for his holdings until he comes of age. I would be more than willing to adopt him, if you think it would be appropriate and -” He hesitated, but it was something she should know. “Should we fail to have a child of our own, I would see Peter designated as my heir, next in line to the throne of Ferelden, if you are willing.”

There were those who would always see the boy as a Howe; he'd be putting the lad in no small amount of danger. His mother should have the final say as to whether he should be put at that risk.
 

Constance Theirin

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#10

“Peter's inheritance will remain his I trust that you know individuals suitable to serve as regents for his holdings until he comes of age. I would be more than willing to adopt him, if you think it would be appropriate and -”
There was a moment's hesitation. “Should we fail to have a child of our own, I would see Peter designated as my heir, next in line to the throne of Ferelden, if you are willing.”

Constance felt the laughter tickle her throat once more. She swallowed down the sound and maintained her composure. Another giggle fit was hardly appropriate. "I could find someone to serve as regent, yes." Who? One name in particular came to mind, but she would have time to vet candidates. Constance would not just place anyone in the regency.

The other parts of Alistair's statement, however...

Constance had sworn at Roderick's funeral she would never marry again. She was sure he, of all people, would understand why she would need to make an exception to never now. Alistair was no simple man and made no simple offer. He did not only offer Constance a rise in position but Peter as well.

She fell quiet. Her eyes trailed the path of her thumb as it brushed against Alistair's hand and the spine of the box. Was this a man she could see as father to Peter? There was no denying the boy needed a father in his life. For some time, she believed an uncle would need to suffice. Nathaniel could not be an ever-present man within Peter's life, but some presence was better than none. To have someone there at all times much as Roderick had been, if the right man, would serve her son far better.

Alistair was not a man without his faults, though. He was raised a commoner and learned many unfortunate habits during those years. Slowly, he was beginning to shed some of that baggage, but Constance was no fool to think Alistair would ever completely abandon his origins. He did not seem to wish to. He bucked against many of the conventions placed upon him. None of those blots against him effected his ability to parent, however. He did seem quite fond of Peter and Peter was mad about the King. It was hard for her to say what the boy looked forward to more on their latest trip to Denerim: seeing Nathaniel or the adventures he knew that waited him at the palace along with his Alistair and the other children.

She tallied the reasons to accept against those to respectfully decline. There was very little downside to this arrangement, at least for her or for Peter. Her eyes sought out Alistair's. "I am willing. Yes, I will marry you..." She let the words float within the air a moment before adding, "Alistair," allowing the first time she addressed him informally be within the moment of his proposal's acceptance.
 

Alistair Theirin

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#11
That Constance took her time answering might have made another suitor nervous, but Alistair's proposal did not arise from any romantic ideals. He held no foolish hope that he might be the love of her life, and for all that he had come to like and respect the Teyrna, she was not his. Love, she had reminded him on their first tea together a few years back, was one of the few luxuries that nobles could not afford.

That she thought about it meant that she was taking his proposal for what it was: a practical political match, and while he harbored a hope that some level of affection might grow between them with time, if it remained no more than respect and liking, he could live with that.

He just really hoped they didn't wind up hating each other's guts, so he was more than willing to give her whatever time she might require to consider whether she really thought she could live with him as a husband, because he had no doubt at all that some of his less-than-noble habits would make her blue blood curdle in horror.

“I am willing,” she said at last, her thumb brushing along his hand holding the ring box before blue eyes lifted to his. “Yes, I will marry you...Alistair.” His name was added after the slightest pause: the first time she had used it, and the final seal to her acceptance.

Politically expedient the proposal might have been, but he still felt a definite tightness in his chest. “You honor me, my lady,” he said softly, removing the ring from the box and slipping it onto her finger. I must freely admit my ignorance as to how matters are carried out from this point,” he admitted with a small smile, knowing she would likely be aware of that. He certainly hadn't been invited to offer his input on Cailan and Anora's nuptials. “How long of an engagement would suit you?” Donal had been quite specific on this part of the advice: the engagement was apparently as important a part of the process as the marriage, and a wise man let the woman take the lead on most of the decisions, at least until the vows had been taken.
 

Constance Theirin

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#12
“You honor me, my lady.” Alistair spoke softly and placed the finger upon Constance's hand.

He did not love her and Constance most certainly did not love him. A mutual respect had developed over the time they had spent together. That would suffice as good of a foundation as any for a successful marriage. Respect had been the cornerstone of her marriage with Roderick, after all. They came together not out of love, but because of what the advantages they each individually gained by wedding the other. There was no reason things needed to be any different with Alistair and she.

“I must freely admit my ignorance as to how matters are carried out from this point,” he confessed. “How long of an engagement would suit you?”

Her engagement to both Thomas and Roderick had been short ones. Rendon was in a hurry to move along his plans for southern Ferelden and Roderick and she were hurried by the impending Landsmeet and the united front they wished to display there. No such pressures existed this time.
Of course, she did not wish to make the engagement overly long and give Alistair time to change his mind or have it changed for him by his other advisors. Many of the men he surrounded himself with would not look to this news with quite as much elation as Constance. They would be talking in his ears about the engagement within hours of its announcement. Of that, she was certain.

There was an upcoming social event where most of the nobles of Ferelden would be in attendance. An announcement there perhaps? The invitation had arrived for her the prior month inviting her to celebrate Teagan Guerrin's ascension to Arl of Redcliffe and his bastard daughter's rise to Bann of Rainesfere. Were there no noblemen anymore without bastards they were eager to place within the nobility?

The thought sobered her expression as she regarded Alistair evenly. Were there bastards in his closet she was not aware of? She had a conversation about such children with Roderick before agreeing to his terms. Everything she had heard about Alistair implied he was not a philanderer, quite the opposite. Many a whisper and giggle she'd heard about this apparent chastity.

If suddenly a gaggle of bastard's bastards appeared, Constance would deal with it then. Now, she had a question to answer. She banished her sour thoughts and looked to Alistair with congenial smile. "I do not require a long engagement. A royal wedding will take time to plan, of course. The wedding is as much a celebration for the bride and groom as it is for the people of Ferelden. Solace then. Three months from today?"

Her mind drifted back to Teagan's gathering. "We should announce before Arl Teagan's ball. I would not wish to overshadow his celebration." Constance could not have cared if she did or not, but she knew Alistair would care. He was quite fond of Teagan Guerrin.
 

Alistair Theirin

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#13
The sudden seriousness in her expression very nearly made him panic. Was the length of the betrothal something that the man was supposed to decide? The look was replaced by a smile just as he was about to blurt out a random date, and she assured him that a lengthy engagement was not needed.

“Three months from today?"

“That should do nicely,” he agreed, feeling marginally more confident. That had been fairly easy.

"We should announce before Arl Teagan's ball,” Constance suggested. “I would not wish to overshadow his celebration."

He nodded. “The last few months have been difficult for him,” he murmured. “I hope this marks a turn in his fortunes.”

“When would you like to make the announcement?” he asked. “You'll want to speak with Peter first, I assume?” And he would need to talk to his own brood.
 

Constance Theirin

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#14
“The last few months have been difficult for him,” Alistair commented. “I hope this marks a turn in his fortunes.”

Constance could barely imagine a world where the news that she would soon be the Queen of Ferelden would mark a turn in Teagan's fortunes, at least in the positive. They were civil to one another, but Constance would hardly call them friends. He was a Guerrin, after all.

She kept her thoughts on the subject to herself, much like many of the musings that entered her head when she was with Alistair, and nodded in agreement.

“When would you like to make the announcement? You'll want to speak with Peter first, I assume?”


Peter would be thrilled at the news and not because he might become King. All the boy would care about was that he would get to live in the palace. Someday he would come to appreciate the true perks arising from the union. "Yes. I would also like to inform Nathaniel. He is rather fond of Peter. I would not wish the news to be heard secondhand." And there was the joy she'd glean from seeing the look on his face as she told him the news. It was the small things, really.

She did ask; she stated, "I assume you would wish to tell your nephew and nieces, as well." All the family, even the common ones would need to be informed.

Her hand idly rubbed against the ring on her finger. Usually she did not wear many rings, especially ones with this kind of weight unless at formal events or a Landsmeet. Blue eyes lifted, meeting Alistair's, "Tomorrow afternoon we send out the pigeons then?"
 

Alistair Theirin

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#15
"I would also like to inform Nathaniel. He is rather fond of Peter. I would not wish the news to be heard secondhand."

“Of course.”
He suspected that Nathaniel was one (of many) who would be questioning his sanity, if not his competence. The Warden-Commander's relationship with his brother's widow seemed an uneasy alliance, at best.

"I assume you would wish to tell your nephew and nieces, as well."

“Definitely,” he agreed. “Arwen and Bran will be delighted, but Elena ...” He trailed off, looking pensive. “She does like you, but I suspect that she will see it as something that will end with them being returned to the orphanage.” Even after two years, her trust was such a fragile thing, and life had taught her that hope inevitably led to disappointment.

"Tomorrow afternoon we send out the pigeons then?"

He nodded. “That should give me plenty of time to talk with them,” he said, trying not to think too hard about the fact that there was nobody else that he felt the need to inform ahead of time. His companions from the Blight had all gone their separate ways, and he had no idea how to even contact most of them. Constance had taken the task of informing Nathaniel, and neither Fergus Cousland nor Teagan Guerrin were likely to welcome the news.

“You and Peter are welcome to take up residence in the palace,” he offered. “I'll arrange for appropriate quarters for you until after the wedding. If you would prefer to remain in your own estate, I would ask that you permit me to supplement your guards with some from the palace.” He had no intention of joining the growing ranks of noble widowers ... particularly before he was even wed.
 

Constance Theirin

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#16
The eldest of Goldanna's brood had the most difficult time adjusting to her new circumstance, Constance observed. She said softly, "We will simply have to find a way to ease Elena's worry. Perhaps if I was to spend more time with her?" The children would be a part of Constance's life now. There would be no avoiding it. Better to make the best of the situation and try to glean advantage than to buck against the inevitable.

The news would need to be shared with those outside their families. Constance suggested pigeons the next afternoon.

Alistair agreed. “That should give me plenty of time to talk with them. You and Peter are welcome to take up residence in the palace. I'll arrange for appropriate quarters for you until after the wedding. If you would prefer to remain in your own estate, I would ask that you permit me to supplement your guards with some from the palace.”

The Palace. Constance living in the Palace. Never in all her life had Constance needed to contain her laughter on such a level. "I will require a few days to shutter the estate but yes, I believe moving here would be most prudent." With her new title, much change would rock her life. New guards. New etiquettes. New sycophants. All the better to be at the palace so that she might properly endure the difficulties associated with that particular type of change.

Her hand rose, gently pressing against Alistair's cheek. "I know this is not the marriage of your dreams, Alistair." It was certainly nothing Constance ever imagined for herself. "I promise I will do my part to make it a pleasant one." Not all political marriages were happy ones. Many were quite the opposite. Hers to Thomas had been miserable during those times even bothered to come home and leave the tavern. Roderick and hers, however... She learned a great deal during that marriage and things not always been entirely disagreeable. Alistair was not the type of man she preferred, but he was not without his appealing qualities.
 

Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
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#17
Constance's offer to spend time with Elena heartened him. She needed a woman's presence in her life, and perhaps her ambitions to follow in Leliana's footsteps might shift if she were shown that there were other ways for a woman to have control over her life.

“I think that will work well, so long as she doesn't think you're trying to replace her mother,” he replied. He had settled that particular issue with her early on; Bran would have happily accepted him as a father, and Arwen had nearly melted his heart when she had sleepily murmured “Good-night, Papa,” one night a few weeks back. Lena's fierce devotion to the memory of her parents was one that he would not contest, however, so to the younger two, he had become 'Uncle Ali'. To Elena, he was simply 'Uncle'.

Constance's agreement to move to the palace as soon as her Denerim estate could be closed up was a relief on the security front, but the gentle press of her hand to his cheek took him completely by surprise. He'd had no shortage of hugs since Goldanna's children had entered his life, and the camaraderie that had grown between he and his regular guards, Donal in particular, answered a large part of his need for companionship, but he'd not been touched by a woman in – Maker, he really didn't want to think back that many months since Eamon's death had put a halt to the parade of prospective brides and their attempts to entice him with smiles and touches: some shy and uncertain, others seductive and bold to the very edge of impropriety.

Some had affected him more than others, but he had allowed none of it to show, lest he raise hopes or inadvertently bind himself to something beyond afternoon tea. He let his eyes slip closed briefly now, feeling the softness of her skin, the warmth of her touch.

"I know this is not the marriage of your dreams, Alistair,” she told him quietly. "I promise I will do my part to make it a pleasant one."

He opened his eyes, studying her face. “The first time we had tea together, you told me that kings could do whatever they wished,” he reminded her. “I have learned since then that it's not really true, not if one wishes to be a good king.” If he were truly to do what he wished, he'd be off with Aedan, throwing duty to the winds. “I seek to be a good king, but I also intend to be a good husband.”

He lifted her hand from his cheek, brought it to his lips for a gentle kiss. “I know of the rumors about my brother's infidelities,” he said frankly, his mouth quirking to a wry angle as he added, “and I am ample proof that what was said of my father was more than rumor.” The smile faded and he regarded her seriously. “I promise that I will never give cause for you to hear such rumors of me. I will give you the honor and respect that you are due as my wife and Ferelden's Queen. Such things can, I think, provide a good foundation for a marriage. Perhaps affection may grow in time, but even if nothing more than friendship and respect develops between us, I will be content, and Ferelden will be well-served.”
 

Constance Theirin

Queen of Ferelden
Noble
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53
#18
Constance's touch had not been expected but not was entirely unwelcome either. Alistair closed his eyes, absorbing the sensation. When he spoke, his eyes opened anew and looked to Constance, “The first time we had tea together, you told me that kings could do whatever they wished.”

She still believed that to be the case. Kings answered to no one beyond themselves.

“I have learned since then that it's not really true, not if one wishes to be a good king. I seek to be a good king, but I also intend to be a good husband.”

His hand cupped hers and drew it to his mouth. Lips brushed against the knuckles in a light kiss. “I know of the rumors about my brother's infidelities,” he hooked a dry grin, “and I am ample proof that what was said of my father was more than rumor.” Humor gave way to a more serious mien. “I promise that I will never give cause for you to hear such rumors of me. I will give you the honor and respect that you are due as my wife and Ferelden's Queen. Such things can, I think, provide a good foundation for a marriage. Perhaps affection may grow in time, but even if nothing more than friendship and respect develops between us, I will be content, and Ferelden will be well-served.”

No, she did not think Alistair the type to stray. Like Nathaniel, Alistair was a man of honor and such honor would never allow them to do anything of the sort. Alistair was a good man, one of his greater weaknesses.

Her lips pressed together thoughtfully, regard for Alistair unwavering. Would he ever merit more than friendship? Constance was not one to exist in a world of absolute nevers. There were exceptions to every rule, an ever to each never. Affection might grow, but love? That she did not foresee. Of course, she had not predicted the proposal either.

"You have my friendship and have for some time."
A small smile graced her mouth, "You are not Cailan and I say that as a compliment. He was..." A man-child with the powers of a King easily came to mind. "...not your father," was a more diplomatic response and spoken instead.

"I met your father once when I was a young girl. He had come to Gwaren to visit..."
Alistair's disdain for Loghain was a known one. She let the comment go unfinished and continued, "Good King Maric, they called him. I suspect you will have a similar name in time." There would be no Good Queen Constance, she made no false assumptions in that regard. She would be a good queen but on her terms and not in way most would realize.

She drew her eyes away from Alistair and to the gardens below. The shadow of the couple had shifted, but was still present. Hand withdrawn from his, she curled her arm around his instead. Her tone light, playful even, she asked, "Now, perhaps you would wish to escort me to the gardens so that we might have a little fun with our guests below?"
 

Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
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Posts
97
#19
"You have my friendship and have for some time." The words were accompanied with a gentle smile. "You are not Cailan and I say that as a compliment. He was..." She paused, plainly seeking a diplomatic descriptive "...not your father.”

“He might have been a better king, given time,” Alistair replied with a slight shrug. He felt no remembered affection for his half brother, no sense of loss; he had barely known him. But had he survived Ostagar, surely the battle against the Blight would have changed him as profoundly as it had two novice Grey Wardens. He might never have been a great king, but he might have at least been a good one.

"I met your father once when I was a young girl. He had come to Gwaren to visit..." She left the obvious unspoken. Alistair did not begin to froth at the mouth whenever Loghain's name was mentioned, but he was perfectly content not to hear it. "Good King Maric, they called him. I suspect you will have a similar name in time."

“Good King Maric” who had freed a nation and left a woman to die in childbirth, a bastard son to be raised unacknowledged and unwanted. If Alistair's feelings for Cailan were relatively detached, thoughts of his father triggered a much more complex response, but his political achievements were undeniable, and that is what Constance spoke of.

“I hope to earn it,” he said simply, with a silent, minus the bastard siring part, added in his mind.

She glanced briefly down into the garden before slipping her arm easily through his, a hint of mischief in her eyes as she said, "Now, perhaps you would wish to escort me to the gardens so that we might have a little fun with our guests below?"

Panic very nearly seized him, as for a moment, he thought she meant – No, no...this was Constance Yorath who was talking, so she certainly wasn't suggesting canoodling in the shrubbery, so she must mean giving the amorous pair below the dubious honor of being interrupted by the King of Ferelden and the Teyrna of Gwaren. Which was a pleasant surprise all on it own, and much less panic-inducing.

“As you wish, my lady,” he replied, matching her playful tone with his own as they walked together to the gardens and feeling rather pleased with the way the evening had turned out.
 
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