“So what’s the surprise, Varric?”
Varric was seated at the table looking over a manuscript when Anders walked into his suite at the Hanged Man. He looked up from his work and smiled.
“Surprise? Whatever gave you that idea?”
“Oh I don’t know,” he began, “it could be that Hawke cannot keep a straight face to save her life?”
“I couldn’t go myself, and no one else was available.” That wasn’t completely true - Varric didn’t think that Anders would appreciate Fenris or Merrill playing messenger. At least Merrill would have been willing to go, if he had truly been in a tight spot. “And I can’t simply call on my favorite revolutionary for a drink? You wound me, Blondie.”
“Varric you know I don’t drink.”
He pushed the manuscript away from himself and leaned back in the chair. “That’s entirely besides the point.”
Anders still looked dubious, and leaned against the wall with his arms crossed.
“A package arrived for you today on the docks. I took the liberty of picking it up for you.”
“What? I wasn’t expecting anything.”
“Well, yes, that’s part of the surprise .”
“You didn’t need to do that.”
“‘Course I did.” Varric didn’t mention how he disliked the idea of Anders going to the docks by himself. Sure he made it to Kirkwall fine on his own, but there were more templars on the streets now than ever before. “Though I hope you don’t mind that I let it out of the crate for a little while before you got here.”
“Let it out of the crate - is this some kind of joke? Something you and Hawke planned?”
“Hawke doesn’t know anything about this part.” Yet.
And then there was the sound of scratching against wood and a loud meow . The timing couldn’t have been better if he wrote this story himself. And the look on Anders’ face - confusion, disbelief, even a glimmer of hope...
Immediately he made his way to the corner where several holes and been drilled into the wooden crate and opened up the top, which was still loose from when Varric opened it earlier. Anders then lifted an orange tabby up and cradled it in his arms.
“ Pounce! ”
“So his name really is Ser Pounce-a-lot? I wasn’t sure if you had been joking or not.”
“Of course that’s his name, I-” Anders’ words were cut off by the cat rubbing his head against the mage’s chin. Even from here, Varric could hear the cat purring. When he could find his voice again, it was quiet, almost a whisper. “But how?”
“More like ‘what’ Howe,” Varric said, unable to resist the pun.
“Nathaniel?” Varric didn’t miss the small smile that appeared in a flash, and just as fast was gone again. “He knows where I am?” Anders’ brow was creased with worry, and Varric held up his hands.
“I’ve been keeping up a correspondence with him ever since he discovered you were here a few months ago,” he explained. “Apparently he has some friends in the city who tipped him off. Don’t worry your pretty little head, Blondie. He said that only he and Sigrun know you’re here.”
“Sigrun helped too?”
“It isn’t exactly easy to ship a cat across the Waking Sea without someone to keep an eye on it,” Varric said. “We needed more than one person to organize this on the sly.” Sure there were plenty of cats on ships, but who was to say they’d be able to catch him again if they let him out? “And we wanted this to be a surprise.”
“It is. I don’t-” Anders paused, overcome by emotion. Pounce took his cue and rubbed his cheek against Anders’ hand. The cat had a flair for the dramatic that Varric approved of. “I don’t know what to say.”
“I do have something else you’ll want to see first before you sing my praises.” He then reached into his coat and pulled out two missives still sealed. One had the pattern of a bear in the wax, while the other looked vaguely like a qunari looking glass. “Letters from your friends.”
Anders was silent as he picked them up off of the table. Pounce squirmed, wanting to be put down, and was in short order. The cat remained close, however, walking back and forth and having his tail brush across his human’s wrists.
“If you want to write them back, give the letters to me. I’ll make sure it gets to them and not the other Wardens.” Or the templars, but Varric wouldn’t say that part out loud. He wasn’t about to ruin the moment.
“I don’t know how to thank you.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Varric said. “Though you should come by some time to talk. Tell me about these friends of yours. I want to hear about them from your point of view.”
“For another one of your stories?”
“Might be,” he said with a small smile, “you never know.”
A comfortable silence settled between them, only broken by the sound of Pounce’s purring. After a moment, Varric coughed and stood up.
“I’m going to go downstairs for another mug of ale. Do you want any tea?”
The smile on Anders’ face was one Varric had never seen before, and the man didn’t quite look back at him when he responded. “Sure.”
“Ok then.” With that, Varric walked out of the room and left Anders to get reacquainted with his feline friend.