Alatir looked out of the window, watching the children play in the garden, unseen guarded by spells woven into the walls, and by the caretakers who went after their daily tasks.
Just then a silvery chiming sound dragged him out of his musings and he went to take the cauldron from the stove, extinguishing the magical flame.
This was still a task he wanted to do on his own, maybe because it gave him peace and quietness.
Even after all this time with Dorian, getting much more social, he needed those moments for himself, brooding over his thoughts.
When the dark amber liquid had been filled evenly into the phioles, he no longer had any reason to stay up in his laboratory. During the hours he had barricaded himself up there, the yearning had grown to see the two loves of his life again.
Not that it curbed the same desire that grew again over time, to give himself some solitude.
It was like the tides of the sea, tied together, one following the other.
Sealing the door with magic was an extra precaution. Just turning and taking the key was not enough with the gaggle of noisy children around. The older ones, who had lived for some time on the streets before they went to the orphanage, had already developed enough street smarts to open an astonishing array of locks.
Something they had to learn the hard way when locks had been undone and the storage rooms plundered which had resulted in sick children and haggard caretakers who had to clean up after them.
He still was not sure how so much food had fit into such small persons, nor had he known that vomit could be projected over more than 5 feet.
Luckily there had not been any worse reactions to the children eating an entires week worth of preserves and bread in the matter of some hours.
After that they took care to seal certain doors with magic, not just locks.
Had they broken into his laboratory it might have been much worse.
So now they had done anything possible to avoid another such occurence.
Descending the stairs, the sounds from outside got louder as the front doors stood wide open for the coming and goings of childen and adults.
Playfull screaming, giggles but also the lowered voices of the adults who wandered the halls.
A sweeping glance, one of the maids leading a pregnant woman to the medical bay.
This one he had not seen before, but his eyes did not linger.
It was a common occurence for the women of the city to visit this safe haven to get proper care for their aliments.
Be it an illness or the wish to not concieve, or stop it in the making.
Only a few stayed longer, to hide, or birth their children in peace.
And even fewer decided to leave their children here to be cared for while the women went back to their lives for whatever reasons.
Most who had come with the desire to leave their 'shame', and get back to their families, did not leave. This was how most of the caretakers had come to be here. The women who either had no other choices or had choosen to not go back to their families who would have them seperated from their children.
„Ali!“ a high squealing voice took him back to the present, shaking his head lightly. His thoughts tended to drift off now and then.
What he saw when he stepped down at the floor, made him pause, blink and then chuckle before he swung the young boy around who had run up to him, to settle him on his hip.
„Now there Felix, what did you do? Rolling around in the mud?“ what the youth most likely had, getting sticky, brown matter all over his own clothes as he carried him off.
„We made mud cakes, and a castle“ Felix explained who had again succeeded in getting away from the grown ups that herded the other children to wash up.
„And you decided to bring me some mud cake?“ making the boy giggle who only now had realised that he had taken his fair share of the playground with him. „That is oh so very nice of you, what do you think, would your father like some also?“ nodding with am impish smile, the boy thought that to be a wonderfull idea.
Those plans had to be postponed as the stepped through the gates of the orphanage and went face to face with someone Alatir knew. „Dalish?“
He had not seen the woman for quite some time, not since they had last seen Bull months ago.
„Something's up“ it was not a question, more of a statement as the elven archer was rarely not in the company of the Chargers.
„Can we talk?“ a question she knew would not be answered with anything else than a „Yes“ and a nod to the direction of his house on the outskirts of the city.
The walk was silent on her part while Alatir had to explain to Felix that he would have to surprise his father at a later time with a fresh mudcake he would help him bake. Because fresh was better, wasn´t it?
„There, go off with Elisa. I will meet you later in the kitchen when you have washed up“ tousling the boys wavy black hair, crumbling dried mud onto the floor as it broke from the dark strands.
Waving back as the boy skipped with his Nanny to the bathroom, loudly exclaiming about backing cakes later and telling her about his day, Alatir turned to Dalish.
„Come, let us go up to my room. It is not about the Chargers I guess?“ for he was sure she would have told him so and not asked if they could talk.
„Not the Chargers“ being that sparingly with words was not her normal attitude. Sure, she was not very talkative,if not bragging with the Chargers about their adventures. Not that she had done much of that, mostly when tempted by the others, but with him, the people she knew she had eased up and now she was back to silent .
„Come on it, take a seat“ opening the door to his room wide and turning the key after she had entered „So what brings you here?“neither of them was really big on small talk, only the clinking of glassware, and the cristall sound of water filling those glasses, was heard for a time.
He waited, sitting down, checking her over. She did not look different than the last time he had seen her. Not sick, only worried, carrying something on her mind that dragged her down.
„I am pregnant“ three words that he had heard in one or the other variety quite often, just never from her. And he had never thought he would.
He locked eyes with her and nodded for her to go on.
„I do not want to be. Having children was never on my mind. Especially not as I would have to give up the Chargers. The Chargers are my life, I never wanted anything else“ she explains, the words falling clipped, a bit harsh.
„I do not want it“ her fingers curling around the armrest, Dalish searching for hold on her emotions.
„But I also can´t...you know. I do not want to get rid of it that way“ he stayed silent, just nodded and had to take a sip of water. Godess, how such a few words could make his throat this parched when he had not even been the one who uttered them.
„Maybe if I had realised it earlier, that something went wrong“ she sighs and takes a deep breath, licking her lips and shortly after baring her teeth „I should not have trusted...nothing had ever happened before and I was careless, I should have taken more caution from whom I bought that damned potion“ getting more angry, ranting and..whoops there went the armrest.
He really should invest in sturdier chairs, but neither of them were detered for long from the reason of them being here.
As the chair broke, that seemed to have also broken her restraints as she sprung up to hurl the rest of it across the room. When the books toppled he had to wince. Nothing was really damaged but..he really disliked seeing the books lying there, some of the pages obviously bent. For now Dalish was more important and he curbed the desire to straighten the books and put them back.
Between colourful words like 'nug shit eater' and 'dickless son of a broodmother' he got the cusp of how she normally used a trusted contraceptiva for her bedroom adventures, just that this one time something went wrong and she had only realised it when she had been kicked from the inside.
Then it had clicked together with the other small signs she had overlooked.
Her tender breasts, her feeble stomach who disliked certain foods and alcohol from one day to the other...and at last the kick had come that made her drop her spoon and stare ahead as if she had seen a ghost, or her worst nightmare.
And then Bull had taken her aside because they had been worried about her. The Chargers were told and understood, even had offered that she could turn to a domestic life and they would help her if she wanted, but that was not her life. It never would be according to her.
Not even all the help in the world could turn her from an adventurer into someone who wanted to raise a child. The Chargers were her family and she was unable to see herself with a child.
Only when her frustration was turned to dust, and thankfully not any more of the furniture, did she sit down in an other chair and huffed exhausted.
„I hate it how I feel, but I can not kill it. Not now, you understand, don`t you? If I had realised it earlier or had been paranoid enough after taking the potion..“ there was a pleading note in her voice.
And he could understand her. The Chargers did not kill innocents and to her the child was innocent. Or it might be because of the Breach, how many people had died and she did not want someone to die who had no way to defend themselves. Someone who didn´t do anything, when there was more than one choice she could make that would not mean ending it.
So she had made a choice, because she was able to make one, and had come to him.
„I understand...so you want to stay here and give it up after...it is over?“ he did not take certain words into his mouth as precaution. For others it might have sounded callous, to the women who did not want to be reminded about what was happening to their body, it often made it easier.
And he would not talk about 'child' or her 'pregnancy' if she so obviously did not want to think about it, for now.
„I want to stay here, in your home. Not with all the children and the other women“ her voice sounded hard now „Staying in a guestroom, having some peace of mind and..“ she hesitated for a second „I want you to adopt it“
Now he felt a bit like having connected with a brickwall when you went through a door and had estimated to encounter fresh air and not stone and mortar.
„I...have to talk about that with Dorian“ they had talked about more children, but not when. They also had speculated that sooner or later it might just click with one of the children from the orphanage, but that was something they had never taken into account. That one of their friends might come up with such a request.
„Yes, you have to, naturally.“ she tried to sound neutral, still one could hear that the whole ordeal took a toll on her. „I wanted to do that on my own. They wanted to come with me but I did not want..“ she sighed and rakes her fingers through her hair.
„I just want to know that it is cared for, I can not ..I do not want 'that'.
I know you would not tell it some stories about not wanting it or evil mothers or being unlovable. You would not make it feel unloved.
You two would make good parents if you adopt...Just, if you can not...I know it is at least safe“
„Yes, do not worry about that. I know it is not an easy decision and it is obvious that you care...so... I guess I will show you your room“ he smiles, feeling a bit weak and strangely floaty.
„And tonight I guess I will have to talk with Dorian“ he waits at her side until she stands up, leading the way to the guestroom they have at the ready if some of their friends decide to visit.
„If you require something else, just ask a servant or..come to me. Do you want to eat with us or in..“
„I want to eat in my room, not to sound ungratefull but I can not ..“ she just shakes her head as she steps into her room „I want to be alone for some time“
„Whatever you need...and just to...I feel honored with your trust in me, in us. So if I can do something to make it easier on you, just ask. We will make it work some way or the other“ she nods and turns in the same movement, closing the door into his face with a soft click.
That was certainly not how he had envisioned his day, but he also had to keep in mind that she might change her decision later on. Some mothers had, so he had to take care that neither of them felt pressured or decived in the end.
This would not be easy, but they could do it..and it would work out, one way or the other.
And no matter if she later on decided to keep her child, or if they would adopt it, he had the feeling that after that, their family would have a new member.