I pause outside the door to my wife's study. I came to see if I could steal her away from her Warden Commander duties for the afternoon, but am finding the conversation going on within too interesting to interrupt.
"Does Alistair know about this?" comes the anxious voice of Arl Eamon.
"Of course he knows. That's his signature on the letter you're waving in my face. In case you haven't noticed, Alistair has become quite the capable king. He no longer requires quite the same amount of, shall we say, supervision that you seem to force on him."
"A king whose throne would not have been won if not for me! Who are you to say such things?"
"I am Angel Theirin, Queen of Ferelden. Before that I was Angel Cousland, daughter of the Teyrn. In either role, I outrank you." I can hear the coldness in her voice and can imagine the look on her face. I almost feel bad for Eamon.
There's a pause before he speaks again. "I apologize, Your Majesty. But, please, can't you talk to him about this?"
"I could, but I won't. Let me tell you why. For Alistair, this is nothing personal. He just can't allow you to continue attempting to rule through him."
"I would never-"
"You would and you have. You hoped the Alistair you put on the throne would remain the youth disinterested in leading, and you would guide the kingdom to prosperity. When Alistair didn't follow your plans, you tried to push harder, which has put you in the situation you're in today."
I roll my eyes outside the door. I've told Eamon all this before. Bann Teagan will be taking his place on my council, as long as he stops staring at my wife's hips. I start to turn the doorknob but pause when Angel speaks again.
"But the reason I will not intervene on your behalf is personal." I take my hand off the doorknob. This is the first I'm hearing of this. "Tell me Eamon, when you traveled to your Denerim mansion, where did my husband sleep?"
"I, um, don't recall, Your Majesty." He's starting to sound nervous. I would too if she was using that tone with me.
"He mentioned it once in passing. I doubt he even remembers saying it. He slept in the kennels, with your hounds, Eamon. You see, Alistair has always been so grateful to you for taking him in. He still sees the whole situation through rose colored glasses. Would you like to know how I see it Eamon? I see a man who was simply fulfilling an order from his king to keep his 'spare heir' safe. I see a man who gave no extra kindness to the child with no parents. I see a man that banished a ten year old child to the Chantry when it seemed actually taking care of him would be too difficult."
"Isolde wanted him gone. What was I to tell my wife?"
"You should have told her to grow the hell up and stop tormenting a child. You should have told her that you wouldn't sentence him to a life he could never escape from simply because he was inconvenient. And while we're on the subject of Isolde, please inform that gossip mongering bitch of a wife of yours that she is no longer allowed in my court."
"But... she loves life at court."
"Well, she better learn to love life in Redcliffe. Maybe help to rebuild. It was her fault it was nearly razed to the ground, her fault so many were killed, and to be perfectly honest with you, if I have to spend one more minute in her presence I will either deport her to Orlais or challenge her to a duel."
"You must be joking," he says, flabbergasted.
Wrong answer, I think as I hear her slide her dagger out of the scabbard strapped to her thigh.
"Do you see this Eamon? Alistair had it crafted for me as a wedding gift. It doesn't get nearly as much use as I'd like." I open the door and walk in at this point. No sense in letting things get out of hand.
"Hello love," says Angel with a smile, as if it's a regular occurrence to find her brandishing a dagger. Come to think of it, it is. "What are you doing here?"
"Eavesdropping outside your door," I say, walking over and giving her a kiss.
"Your Majesty! The Queen-"
"Eamon, when I was very young you chose your wife over me. Please keep in mind that I will always choose mine over you. Over anyone, really," I say, kissing her behind her ear.
"Of course, Your Majesty. But if I may, then what's the difference between you and me?"
"The difference is I've never asked him to banish a child," Angel says forcefully. I honestly think my gentle hold around her waist is the only thing keeping her from lunging for him.
"She's got you on that one."
I can tell Eamon knows when he's been beat. "Yes, Your Majesty. We'll be back in Redcliffe within the week."
I shoot Angel the puppy eyes as he turns to leave.
"Ugh, fine! Eamon."
"Yes, Your Majesty?"
"Have Isolde work with the Chantry, prove her piety by helping rebuild the village. You can appeal my decision in a few years, provided she actually changes."
"Thank you, Your Majesty. And if you ever have need of me, you know where to find me." I smile at my wife as he leaves the room.
"You're such a softie," I tell her.
She rolls her eyes. "So, what were you doing before you stopped to eavesdrop?"
"Oh, that's right! I nearly forgot. I'm here to steal you away for the afternoon."
"Alistair, I can't. I have all these reports from the Seneschal-"
"Which will just have to wait until tomorrow," I say, swinging her up into my arms and walking out the door. "The cook has put together a lovely picnic basket for us and the ducklings have just hatched. We're spending the afternoon in the gazebo by the pond."
I can see her trying not to laugh. She does that a lot. "All right Alistair, but put me down. I don't want to be carried across the entire palace."
"No, too late. You should have come willingly the first time."
"So does this basket have cheese in it?"
I nearly drop her before remembering that's what she wanted in the first place. "Of course there's cheese! Who do you think you're talking to woman?"
She does laugh this time, and wraps her arms around my neck. "Well then, lead on my king."