Varric set down his pen, flexing his well muscled hand and arm. He shook his head at the mountainous stack of papers on the desk. He had stacks of letters addressed to Carver Hawke, Aveline and Donnic, Merrill and maybe even one for Isabella. Sebastian didn't need to know, seeing as he was as big of a pain in the ass now as he had been then. In front of him laid the letter for Fenris and Anders.
At least he wasn't writing to say she was gone. Just.. delayed a little. Damn the Grey Wardens and their never ending strife.
He rubbed his hand over his eyes. He still had problems wrapping his head around it. Not because there were 3, but because one was a former slave to a mage and was now married to two mages. And one was a host to.. something stranger than the normal, and the third - well tragedy follows her around like a sick little puppy and that wench just keeps on going even if she's breaking all over again.
She wears pain like the finest of silks, and comes out looking like an avenging goddess. With deep black hair and stunning green eyes. She mesmerized everyone, with a laugh or a smile or a whispered spell.
Hell, half of Kirkwall either loved or hated her. But those who hated her also respected her. And those who loved her, did so knowing she was as kind as she was ruthless. Loving as she was vengeful. And brilliant all around.
Tenish Years Ago, at the docks of Kirkwall -
I stood there shaking on the docks, Carver and my mother to my left. Aveline to my right. And the City in Chains ahead of me.
We were alive. Most of us. My hand twitched.
Most of us.
Alesta. Alesta “Shameless” Hawke.
Yep, my nickname was Shameless. Why? Well my father said it's because I was most like him. My mother said it was because I was a little heathen.
I think it was because I've no sense in my head.
Hence.. an apostate standing on the docks of Kirkwall, where Templars abound.
Here goes nothing I thought as we approached the City.
Alesta and her family made it into Kirkwall by working for a smuggler named Athenril. None of them *liked* their situation, but the 4 of them made the best of it. After their year of labor was up, Aveline was a city guard, and Alesta and Carver were striking out on their own. They met a dwarf named Varric, another apostate named Anders and an elf named Fenris.
Little did Alesta know that she was soon going to be in the thick of some very .. trying circumstances.
I stood at the ladder leading up into the cellar of my mother's old house. Estate? Whatever.
I heaved a sigh. Anders, Varric and Carver were standing behind me, patiently waited as I mulled over the decision to enter. I looked back at them and bit my lip. Pretended to smile and shrugged, trying not to stare at Anders.
They didn't need to know how uncertain I really was. I turned back and began to climb the ladder.
I stared at her, still trying to discern if she was sincere or not. She had been nothing if not somewhat helpful. And her green eyes spoke of something far deeper than the neverending snark that exuded from her very.. distracting mouth. This was a human very familiar with pain. My kind of pain.
My hand tightened on my staff, my feet shifting on the dirty pathway. I didn't need her kind of trouble.
Feelings. And needs .
Justice stirred within, and I quashed any arguments that might ensue.
She turned and with a nip at her lower lip, gave me a slight smile with a shrug. She turned back and her long black hair swung around her hips.
The punch of heat in my belly was exceedingly unwelcome.
I was in trouble.
Hours later I stomped into the hovel that we called home, Carver on my heels. I confronted my uncle, vitriol pouring forth as I lambasted him. Then I slammed out of the house, Snarly on my heels. I walked. And walked. Surprised to find myself at the Hanged man. I sat in a dark corner, using what little coin I had to attempt to drink myself senseless.
Eventually, someone sat next to me. Snarly didn't even blink.
I squinted, then sighed. “Fenris. To what do I owe this broody pleasure?” I slurred, poking his armored wrist.
“Varric seems to be worried about you, Hawke.”
“And he can't come say so himself?”
“Ah. No. You.. keep sparking.”
His voice was low. It slithered inside my belly and made me want things mages aren't allowed to want.
“Do I have.. an electric personality?” I asked, snickering and nearly falling off my bench.
He held me up, “No. You’re a dangerous pain in the ass.” He mumbled it but I heard.
“But don't I smell nice?” I asked, laying my head on his shoulder.
“You always smell nice, Alesta,” he said softly.
I laid on the bed, Fenris laying next to me. His hand curled in mine, sleep making him almost look at peace. I reached out, trailing my finger over his cheek. Smokey green eyes opened, a lazy smile taking over his face.
“About time,” he said, scooting closer. He kissed me gently, “We've been waiting hours for you to wake.”
Lips pressed against my shoulder, and I turned to find Anders behind me. I stretched between them, not even vaguely surprised to find them there.
Next thing I knew, I was waking up in a very vaguely familiar room. It was dark, the fire nearly out. I sat up, the sheet over my body falling off, revealing a men's shirt? My brain dashed back to the dream, not the first I had enjoyed with both of them there. A blush hit my chest, and I jumped when someone spoke.
“Oh, now you wake up,” came that deep gravelly voice.
“... Where am I?” I asked, laying down and covering my eyes.
“Ah my dilapidated mansion.”
I processed that. A tongue swiped over my hand, and I was surprised to find Snarly sitting next to the bed, his head next to my hand.
“How did I get here from .. Lowtown?”
“I brought you here. At your insistence, I might add.” He sat in a chair next to the bed, an empty bottle at his feet, his armor gone and a rather comfy shirt in its place. I gave him a look out of the corner of my eye.
“Why did I insist?” I whispered.
“So you wouldn't kill your useless uncle.”
I snorted. Then I sighed. I had been ready to kill the idiot.
“And how did I come to be wearing…”
He coughed, “You stated emphatically that you sleep naked but since it was my house you needed something to sleep in. Proper like.”
I smothered a laugh.
“That doesn't sound like me,” I mused. He coughed again.
“I lied. But you were stripping and I was trying to be kind. You.. are persistent even when sloshed,” he muttered. I sat up, slower this time.
“I'm sorry,” I stated. He shrugged. I raised an eyebrow. He shrugged again.
“Better than you murdering someone.”
“Don't you need sleep too?” I asked softly. He tilted his head, white hair falling over his forehead.
I scooted over. “I'm not going home yet. But you need sleep. Come on then,” I said, hoping my blush would fade into the dark.
He silently stared at me. “Why…”
“I hate to have put you in this position. Don't get used to it.”
A hint of a smile.
He got up and took off his shirt. I looked skyward.
He climbed into the bed, his loose pants not leaving much to the imagination. He laid on his back next to me, his arm up under his head and his other hand laying on his belly. My own hand itched to join his. I closed my eyes and fell asleep listening to him breathe.
Several Weeks Later -
I was laying on a blanket, out by the cliffs, listening to Anders talk. I laid on my side, my head pillowed on my arm, watching him. He told me about his cat. And the Hero of Ferelden. He told me about pranks he used to pull on some surly old dwarf named Oghren.
He spoke with his hands, and his smile lit up his face. He wore a simple tunic with leather pants, his usual jacket discarded next to us on the ground. I wore a simple sundress, and we basked in each other and the rare sunlight.
He looked down at me and his expression changed. “I just keep talking. It's a novel thing, finding someone I can trust.” He gave me a wry smile. I shrugged my shoulder.
“Listening to you is fascinating. You are just fascinating,” I teased, reaching out and running a finger over his cheek.
His eyes darkened. “Ally,” he mused. I shook my head. Crooked that same finger. He leaned down, his hair falling down to lay on mine as his lips hovered barely a breath away from my own.
“You look all delicious, laying here glowing in the sun,” he murmured. I gave him a lazy smile.
“I've looked better,” I mused. He cocked an eyebrow, before gently touching his lips to mine. I sighed.
“Anders,” I whispered against his mouth.
“Don't make me beg,” I whispered, my eyes catching his. His body settled on top of mine, before his lips claimed a real kiss. One that set me on fire. I could feel the pull, his magic to mine. I opened my mouth beneath his, an invitation of there ever was one.
He needed no further urging. His hand slid beneath my neck tilting my head, his tongue delving deeper. I ran my hands over his sides. His heart raced over mine. His pelvis pressed close, and with each passing second he grew harder against me.
He lifted his head and his eyes flashed blue for a moment. I pulled his mouth back down and …
Felt him . Not the dream Anders I frequently saw. But the Real one.
The fade was no longer lonely.
I pushed him off of me, pulling his shirt over his head. He pulled the straps of my dress down, before his mouth and hands claimed my breasts. His lips blazed a trail down my belly as he pulled my dress from me. Then his tongue was between my legs and I fell into him. Ah but even here, he was as attentive as out in the waking world. His tongue and lips and teeth. Fingers inside me, sucking and working me.
My hand found his hair, and my voice echoed around us as I yelled his name, my body claiming the orgasm he so willingly fed it.
Throbbing and pulsing, my body quivered on the blanket. He removed his pants and watched me watching him. He knelt, kissed his way back up my body, before his hips settled between my thighs. He looked down at me, a soft smile on his face. He kissed me once. Then twice.
He shifted, drawing my right leg around his side. And finally he slid inside me. His hands found mine, raising our hands above our heads as be began to move. Thrusting long and slow, he built that incredible pressure with tenacity.
I was writhing.
And his head fell to my shoulder as I arched beneath him, falling to pieces. My orgasm coaxed his own and we laid there trembling and gasping for air. He eventually rolled off of me, laying next to me with his eyes closed.
“Anders?” I said, turning on my side again.
He looked at me.
“Wake up,” I said with a smile.
I gasped, sitting up and falling off my bed. Snarly stuck his face in my hair and I gently shoved him away. He laid next to me, tongue lolling out of his happy head. My heart raced in my chest and I felt everything. My body still throbbed for his and I had a feeling he was feeling it too.
That afternoon, he found me in the market in Lowtown. He stood next to me, perusing the potion ingredients on the table.
“Are we really not going to talk about it?” I asked after several minutes of charged silence. He looked at me like he had no clue what I was referring to. I held out a crystal ball to him, and when he reached out to take it, I froze it in his hand.
“Really?!” he yelled after me as I just left him standing there.
Days Later -
Fenris was mad I wasn't taking him. My mother was mad that I was letting Carver join me. Anders seemed flummoxed about something and Varric was just giddy to go.
I sat at the bar in the Hanged Man, listening to my own thoughts. When a hand touched my shoulder, I nearly lit it on fire before I saw Fenris’ armored glove there.
I swallowed a sigh.
“I'm not changing my mind,” I said, grinding my teeth. He just nodded and sat next to me.
“I know. But.. I had something to say before you go. While I still can.”
I shot him a look. He had been dancing around something for days now. So had Anders but he wasn't here now.
Fenris was. With his white hair. His big green eyes and strong capable hands. I looked back down at the cup I had emptied an hour earlier.
“I don't know if..” I started to say but he just cleared his throat. He held out a hand and I didn't even stop to think. I put hand in his, he pulled me to my feet and led me out of the tavern. Through the warren of streets to his mansion. He took me inside and led me to the room he was using. He sat me on a bench and began to pace
“Are you leaving, Fenris?” I asked, quietly hoping not.
He looked at me, surprised. He shook his head slowly, stopping in front of me.
“Do you know why I was angry that you weren't taking me with you?” he asked me quietly. I raised an eyebrow. “Because the thought of losing you before I even get to have you is terrifying,” he muttered.
My breathing stopped.
“Ha.. have me?” I squeaked.
He laughed, low and sexy. His hand reached out and brushed a lock of hair from my face.
“Oh I think about it all the time. The other day, in the Chantry, that little storage room? That stack of crates was perfect,” he said, his tone lazy and his eyes watching mine. “I wanted to lift your robe and slide my tongue over you. Anywhere I could reach.”
I dropped my staff and he just laughed all low again.
“You intrigue me.”
I had to work at not hunching my shoulders. “How so?”
He sat next to me, taking my hand. “You are kind. But you are also very brash. You're dangerous, and beautiful. You help everyone around you with little thought for your own well-being. Even Anders. And that new elf, Merrill. You're just.. too good. But then you drink and try to climb on top of me naked. And you smell like exotic things and your voice reminds me of summer rains.”
Heat flooded my face and he tilted my head to look at me.
“I should be terrified of you,” he mused, his thumb swiping over my lips. I swallowed. He pulled us to our feet, standing so close yet not close enough. My heart was dying in my chest at the thought...
“But I can't be terrified. I just want you. More with every breath I take,” he whispered, and I watched as he lowered his head. My hand gripped his breastplate, my mouth meeting his half way. I was on my toes, and his arms anchored me to him as his lips gently explored mine.
I pulled mine away, “Kiss me,” I demanded, my heart racing in my chest. His eyes darkened, and when his mouth crushed mine I almost died on the spot.
His tongue thrust between my lips, sinuous and exacting. My fingers found the buckles on his chest, pulling his breastplate off. It fell to the floor with a heavy thud. All the while he kissed me senseless. Suddenly he was scooping me up, carrying me to his canopied bed. He set me at the foot of the bed. His hands moved to the hooks holding my robe closed, fingers defly opening them and parting the robe. He raised his eyes, after seeing me bare beneath. I took his hand and placed it over my heart.
“Scared?” I teased. He growled. I untied the belt at my waist and dropped the robe to the floor. His forehead fell to mine.
“You slay me,” he whispered. I pulled his shirt from his pants, and he allowed me to tug it over his head. My fingers found the waist of his pants as his caressed my breasts.
When his pants were unfastened, my hand found his arousal and he visibly shuddered. I stopped moving, “Does this hurt you?” I asked, my concern genuine. His lyrium markings could be painful. He shrugged, “Sometimes pain is worth it.”
I shook my head and closed my eyes, letting just a little magic through. I didn't want our first time marred by what had been done before. His eyes widened, then closed as I stroked him. “Ho.. how?” he asked.
“I'm a worker of miracles, Fenris. Didn't you hear?” I teased, marveling at all his face was telling me.
I gave him a moment, my hand loving his cock and taking his fears away. His own hands roved over me, leaving trails of goosebumps and fire in their wake.
My voice cracked, “Fenris?”
“Yes?” His eyes found mine.
“Take me,” I whispered. He nodded, hair falling over his face. He bent and told me to hang on, lifting me against his chest. His muscles bunched under my hands, and he turned to sit on the edge of the bed. His hand delved between us, finding my arousal and caressing me gently.
“Shit, I can't, I can't stop,” he started to say but I shook my head, pressing my lips to his. I grabbed his hands, fingers entwined as I lifted my hips. I rubbed my core over his cock, my lips taking his gasp as I finally slid down onto him. He throbbed there, deep inside me. I pulled my mouth from his, shifting my hips, watching his head fall back, his pulse racing.
His arms wrapped around my back, taking my hands with them. I kept moving, my chest against his and my hands trapped behind me. He began to meet me, thrust for thrust, hips slapping against my thighs as his body took over. I moaned as he thrust, deeper and deeper still.
His mouth found my neck, teeth scraping my skin, before his lips found my ear.
“Come with me, Alesta,” he crooned, his voice diving inside me. I shook my head and he chuckled, before anchoring my body to his. He grabbed both my wrists with one hand, his other going between us to touch me as he throbbed deep inside me.
It honestly didn't take much , a few gentle flicks of his hard finger over my clit and I was falling into the abyss. I cried out, my body coming apart on top of his. He let go of my hands, his moving to my hips as he began to move through my orgasm, taking his a few moments later.
His hips dug into me as he followed my release, his own strong. Eventually, we settled, sweaty and sated. He fell back onto the bed, pulling me onto his chest.
His hands rubbed over my back as I listened to his heart calm. Long minutes passed. I was in a daze.
“You had better come back,” he surprised me by saying. I lifted my head, “Really now?”
He nodded, tucking my hair behind my ear. “I have a vested interest in you coming back alive and in one delectable piece.”
I raised my eyebrows. “I have every intention of coming back. With money and everything I left with.”
He snorted. “If you lost Anders…” I scowled.
“That was nice.”
I raised myself up, my hair falling in a curtain around his head. “He's seen things you haven't. As you've seen things he hasn't. Neither one of you are without your pain or grievances. Please. Be kind.”
He made a face but something in mine stopped him.
“Fenris, you were hurt as much as he. And you didn't see.. see his face when his friend asked us to kill him. He broke. He has as much darkness as you.”
Fenris sighed and cupped my face. “You are too kind. To us both. But I will not be unkind.. that's as much as I can offer him. And only... Because seeing that pain in you is more than I can take now.”
I snorted. He gave me a sardonic smile. I kissed his nose.
Ah but if I wasn't careful, I could fall for him. And beyond. He shocked a squeal out of me as he rolled me onto the bed under him.
“I hope you didn't have any plans tonight. Because I'm not done with you,” he mused. Heat punched through me. He settled his hips on mine, his fingers tangling in my hair.
“I've thought about this a lot, Alesta. The various ways in which I could take you.”
“I.. can't even complain. Because maybe I've done the same.”
He smiled, before he dropped his mouth to mine.
He proceeded to take me three more times over the course of the night, us sleeping between all tangled around each other. When I left the next morning, he tied a red ribbon around my wrist.
“Bring it back when you get home.”
I nodded. He kissed me once more, before turning and slamming his door. I pressed my forehead to the door.
I was in deep now.
I walked home, only to find Anders waiting for me outside on the steps.
He stood, brushing off his coat. “Are you alright?” he asked. I nodded, tilting my head and really looking at him.
“Have you been here all night?” I asked.
He squinted. “No. I delivered twins last night. And haven't slept yet.”
I looked skyward. “Want some food?” I asked as his stomach rumbled loudly.
“I.. guess so,” he said with a wry smile. I led him inside, pleased to only find Snarly sleeping on my bed. I fixed some biscuits and eggs, and listened as Anders told me about his patient the night before.
He.. looked so alive. His hands moving about as he told his tale. His eyes bright and his smile willing. I rubbed at a sudden ache in my chest.
He stopped talking, eyeing me.
“Something is different,” he stated.
“Are.. you..” he stopped speaking. I laughed.
“You've pointedly avoided me for months, especially being alone with me. You don't get to ask about my personal life if you can't even bear to be near me.” I stuffed a bite into my mouth. He chewed his own and watched me. He seemed to be thinking very hard.
“You scare me.”
“You walk around like a ticking time bomb at times, with an extra personality roaming around inside your head. And I'm the scary one…”
He shrugged. “Doesn't have to make sense,” he muttered. I laughed softly.
“Come to me when you can.”
He looked down.
“Are you happy?”
“I don't know. It was one night. And we leave this afternoon. I have no idea. I feel amazing. But I'm going underground for who knows how long. Maybe I'll come back and he'll be gone. Or I die below. Any number of things can happen.”
He nodded slowly. “I can understand that.”
And that was that.
That afternoon, their expedition set off. Fenris was there, hiding in the shadows as they left, watching her with guarded eyes.
They ventured into the deep roads, nearly immediately finding their passage impossible. After finding an alternate route, and a decent place to set up camp a week or so in, Anders and Alesta went off looking for another route to go deeper.
They found a cave, full of oddly colored lyrium. It made them both feel… off. Slightly dizzy and slow to move. As they were leaving to report their findings, a low rumbling in the ground was their only warning before the cave entrance collapsed.
I stood there, my jaw nearly against my chest as the dust settled.
Anders was trying to shove boulders, and I couldn't even summon a flicker of magic.
“Anders stop,” I said, my hand on my head. He looked at me, shock apparent on his face.
“We have..” he started to say, before rushing to my side as I began to slide to the floor.
“Something's wrong with the lyrium in here,” I said as he lowered me to the floor. He nodded, an odd look on his face.
“Why does it affect you more?” he asked. I shook my head, “You have a piece of the fade inside you,” I said, raising my hand and poking his nose. He wrinkled it at me.
“You're daft,” he said. I snorted.
“I'm fabulous,” I replied. He laughed. I closed my eyes. He poked my face. “Stop that Ally.”
I opened an eye, “Ally?”
He shrugged. “It's better than Hawke.”
“You could call me Alesta,” I suggest.
“Or I could call you Ally.”
I smiled. “You like meeee,” I crooned.
He grimaced. My eyes closed again.
“Don't you do it,” he ordered as I started to slip from consciousness.
“But I'm so tired,” I whined.
“Hey,” he said loudly, pulling me into his lap. I looked up at him, tugging at his soft hair. “Hey yourself, mister I'm complicated,” I muttered.
“You're loopy,” he said. I rolled my eyes. My head felt like it was full of funny mist.
I grabbed his chin, “Your eyes look like shiny moonlight shining through a cup of whisky,” I said.
He slapped my hand away. “Stop that,” he said again. I pouted and felt myself fading again.
“Ally I need you to fight it,” he said, desperation in his voice. I sighed loudly.
“I don't want to.”
“Do it anyways!”
“You can't make me,” I muttered.
“You are so exasperating!” he growled.
“I know. It's why people's heads explode around me,” I declared.
“That might be because you set them on fire,” he said.
He laughed. I watched in wonder.
“You laughed,” I said in amazement.
“I do that sometimes,” he said.
“I don't think I've ever seen it,” I said. He raised a blonde eyebrow.
I shook my head. “Never. You have a lovely laugh,” I told him, reaching out and touching his cheek. He grabbed my hand.
I struggled to sit up.
“Why do you do that?” I asked him, turning to look in his face. The face that was swimming in front of my eyes. Beautiful even if woozy.
“Refuse to feel?”
He stared at me. Darkness swam in front of my eyes, and I shook my head to clear it.
“You shine,” I told him. “It's more than Justice and glowing. You feel so much for others. You empathize with them, and you help them. You give so much of you,and inside you're crying out for more. Because you need . You need and you want. So much.”
He covered my mouth. “You see too much,” he glared at me. I licked his hand.
He yelled and the rocks shook around us. He grabbed me when small rocks began to rain down on us, shielding me with his back. When the dust settled again, he pushed me onto the floor.
I laid down and closed my eyes again. He shook me, “Stay with me,” he growled at me. I smacked his hands away, “Lemme sleep, meanie,” I said, my voice slurring. “You don't even like me. Let me sleep,” I whined.
“I.. damnit woman.”
His hands lifted my head. My eyes barely opened, “You look all surly,” I said, poking his nose.
“Ally please,” he begged me. I felt myself fading again, my body relaxing in his grip. Blackness covered his beautiful face, calm blanketing my mind.
Then I felt it, like lightning under my skin. His lips on mine and a glow surrounding us both. I gasped, feeling the fade in a whole new way. He pulled back, his glow fading. Wary, he watched me.
I sat up, before I grabbed his face, kissing him again. “Why did you wait so long?” I muttered against his lips. He shook his head.
“I only did it to wake you.”
I shoved him back onto the floor, moving to stand. I felt like I had a storm in my veins and maybe it was enough.
“You, ser, kissed me because you've been wanting to for weeks.”
I growled the words as I walked away from him. I pulled on my magic, anger and fear and something uglier fueling my need. He muttered something behind me, but the rumble of the cavern drowned out whatever he was trying to say. I raised my hands, moving the enormous rocks that had tumbled into our pathway. Once there was an opening, I released them and they all hit the ground with a huge thunk. I turned and glared at Anders.
“I'm not stupid. I feel you watching me all the time. I've seen you in my dreams. I felt everything. You, have been inside me, and you pretend I'm nothing.”
I hated that my voice cracked. That panic fluttered in my chest. I huffed at him, sniffing and turning to leave. His hands caught me as I reached the now clear entrance.
“I'm sorry. You've never ever been nothing. You're.. far more than anything I've ever encountered. Give me time,” he pleaded. “Besides. You have Fenris now.”
I turned and gave him an icy glare. “You and I both know it's more than that. You've been in my dreams. You've seen yourself and him there. With me. Stop lying to yourself. And to me,” I growled. His jaw fell.
“Tho..those were your dreams?!” he sputtered. I lifted my chin, a furious blush eating at my face.
“So what if they were?!” I hissed.
“I .. shit. I thought they were mine.”
I processed that.
“You dream about Fenris?” I asked softly.
“Don't you dare tell him,” he warned me. I shook my head.
“Never. But you should. Eventually. Stop being a surly ass though. He might like you more if you stop whizzing fireballs past his glorious hair, and made an effort to smile sometimes.”
“Ally. It's not just him I want.”
“I'm aware. Again, I'm not stupid. Maker, this is ridiculous.” I turned and left him there.
They went back to their expedition, each lost in their own thoughts. Everyone fell into a rhythm, clearing tunnels, fighting darkspawn when encountered. At one point, a dwarf named Sandal went missing, so Hawke and company went to rescue him. Only to find he didn't really need rescuing. As they ventured deeper, they found an ancient dwarven Thaig. It excited Varric and his brother, to the point that caution was no longer the most important thing.
However, when they started to explore it, things took a dramatic turn.
The next day we finally found our way into the main part of the Thaig. A good portion of the rooms were caved in or picked clean.
Then we found the one.
The one that would change our world forever.
Inside sat a platform. Regal like, laying there. Glowing s soft red, emanating… something. Anders and I could feel it. A sickly wrong thing. Lyrium but not?
Varric declared us rich. Tossing it to his brother.
Who held it like a precious baby.
Then proceeded to pull the massive door shut at the entrance of the room. Amongst yelling and cursing, Anders stopped me from blasting at the door to open it.
He grabbed me, shaking me. “You'll bring the entire cavern down on us!” he yelled at me.
I shoved him away, informed Varric I was going to kill his useless brother when we got out. Then we set to finding an alternate route out.
Through a new warren of tunnels and caverns, rooms and more of the thaig. We were set upon by more darkspawn, and even a demon that had fed off of lesser demons for eons.
And in the process of escaping, Carver was injured. Anders healed him, and we continued on our way. Until Carver collapsed.
“He's been infected, Ally.”
I stared down at him. He knelt next to Carver, checking his healed shoulder wound.
“But you healed him!”
“It doesn't matter. This isn't a healing-fixes-all thing. Darkspawn blood is potent and has a magic of its own. And some got into his wound, so it got directly into his blood.”
Carver looked pale. His hand shook, before he called it into a fist on his thigh. “How long do I have?”
“Not long, I can already feel the taint.”
I bit my lip.
Shit shit shit.
My mother was going to kill me.
“We have two options. There is no permanent cure. But.. there is a way to live with it.”
“How?” I asked.
“He can undergo the Grey Warden ritual. I can't tell you what that entails, but if he survives it, he'll get better and the while the taint will be permanent, he'll be alive.”
I swallowed the frustrated scream I wanted to let loose.
“There are some other Grey Wardens nearby. I can find them and see if they'll take him. If he wants.”
I turned away and hit the side of my fist on a broken wall.
“Give us a minute,” Carver said, surprising me. Anders nodded and walked away.
“I should try,” he said, grimacing as he stumbled to his feet. I nodded, staring up at him.
“Are you sure?” I asked. He nodded this time.
“It's not ideal. Obviously. Who wants to be tied to a dying organization?”
I rubbed a hand over my face. He poked me.
“This is my decision. I'm going to die either way. Let me at least go out fighting. Or trying to fight.”
My shoulders fell.
“It's my job to kill you. Not some stupid darkspawn blood,” I muttered. He laughed, pained but genuine.
“Oh this isn't the end of me. You know it. I'm too stubborn to die of anything except my own stupidity.”
He actually hugged me. “Tell mother I'll write when I can. And keep her safe. Get her back into her home and give her everything I can't.” He squeezed me with his enormous arms. I grunted and tried not to cry.
A throat cleared behind me.
“They found us,” Anders said, sardonic as ever. Three men stood behind him, stoic in their startling blue and silver armor. Carver let me go, gently punched my shoulder.
“Be good. Kick some ass. Go get rich. I'll be back eventually.”
He turned and walked with what dignity he could to the waiting Grey Wardens. He started to collapse and I had to stop myself from jumping to his aid. One of the men caught him, and he gave me a wobbly wave as he walked off with them. I slid to the floor as he left.
I couldn't even begin to describe what it felt like, seeing him go like that.
True, he was a surly jackass. But who wouldn't be after everything we had gone through in the last few years? Also true, he was jealous. But rightfully so. Even though I tried my hardest to not put him in a corner.
But.. He was my surly jackass.
I started to cry again, and then arms were wrapping around me. I pressed my face to Anders’ chest, gripping his jacket and not even trying to fight the fear eating me alive.
How could I have possibly lost them all?!
I have no idea how long we sat there, me curled up on Anders lap. Eventually I ran out of tears. And he helped me stand. Brushed the dirt from our clothes and we went back to the Varric. Things were far more solemn that night. And I didn't sleep at all, staring up at the cavern ceiling.
It took us days to find the surface, and more to find our way back to Kirkwall.
Alesta left Varric and Anders by the gates, going home with her head high to inform her mother of what had happened with Carver. There was crying and accusations. Then quiet acceptance as she realized that they would eventually know if he succumbed to the taint or had joined the Grey Warden ranks.
Varric had managed to turn their ancient finds into gold, and the Hawkes moved up in the world.
They managed to get back the Amell mansion, and left Gamlen in his hovel.
Things were looking up, except they weren't. Sandal and Bodhan moved into the mansion out of immense gratitude.
Fenris pulled away, angsty about her becoming higher in status. Not that he was ashamed, more that he didn't want folks looking down on her because of him.
Anders pulled away as well, and she spent most of her time solving other people's problems, and shoving her own into corners.
Isabella was becoming a pain as well, trying to seduce all the men in Alesta's life.
Sebastian, well he was a surprising addition to their somewhat dwindling team, and he took an immediate dislike to Anders.
Merrill was also surprising. Her relationship with her clan was strained at best and she kept asking Alesta to venture into their midst for this and that, none of which was helping Alesta's mood.
Weeks bled into months. And months gave way to years.
Eventually, she just stopped trying. Turned everyone away and holed up in the mansion.
I sighed. My mother. Yelling up the stairs.
I set my bottle down and went to my door. “Yes?” I called back.
“You.. have visitors.”
She sounded hesitant. I swallowed a growl and pulled on a robe. Ridiculous and indulgent, it was really a waste. But it was green like my eyes, and soft. And it at least comforted me when everyone else went their own ways.
I walked downstairs, pulling my hair out of the back if the robe and stomping into the foyer barefoot.
Anders and Fenris stood there, Anders gaping at my lack of normal attire and Fenris looking grumpy as usual.
“Well? What?” I demanded.
“You're being silly.” Fenris spoke first. I raised an eyebrow and crossed my arms under my chest.
“I'm what?” I said through gritted teeth.
“You can't just become a hermit.”
I shrugged. “Sure I can. No one actually 'needs’ me. I'm only useful when things get shitty and I'm tired. I'm tired because I can't dream without repercussions. I can't go to the tavern without seeing Isabella draped all over everything with a penis. I can't do anything without being reminded constantly that I am not wanted. Only convenient. So if you'll kindly take yourself and the staring one with you, I can get back to not being wanted.”
I surprised myself having said all of that. I covered my mouth and spun on my heel, leaving them there.
I ran back upstairs, past a drooling Snarly and slammed my bedroom door. I shook my hands as I paced the floor, trying to not let power ooze out of every angry part of me.
Problem is, I wasn't wrong.
Merrill needed me to talk to her clan.
Isabella needed me to find shit.
Sebastian was too pious to know what he actually wanted, let alone actually needed. He did however, enjoy telling me I was going to the void if I supported Anders in any fashion.
Aveline was busy being the captain of the guard.
And Carver. He was alive and well. And enjoying himself apparently.
Varric, he would find jobs for me but had stopped coming to visit a while back.
And all I had wanted, was those two morons downstairs. I didn't want a big house.
Or money. I needed them for my mother but for me? I'd have been content in a hovel with those two.
I jumped when a fist hit my door. I walked over, pressed my forehead to the cool wood.
“No. Open the door Ally.”
“Nope. You make sleeping unfun. And you act like...I don't even know. Go away.”
My voice wavered.
“You know a locked door isn't much against me right?”
“Don't even think about it.”
“I'm counting to five. Be out of the way by the time I'm done.”
I slapped the door, cursing the sting in my hand as he loudly counted like I was a child in need of scolding.
I opened the door and blocked the entry with my.. not so impressive frame. Anders leaned against the wall outside the door. Like he belonged there. I rubbed that familiar ache in my chest.
“Why?” I asked quietly.
“I miss you.”
I snorted. Completely unladylike but at that point…
“Ah don't be rude.”
“You walked away. Fen walked away. Why?”
He looked at me and sighed.
“We'll talk about that later. Aveline has asked us for help tracking something on the coast and we're going to do it.”
I rolled my eyes. “Why?” Seemed to be my favorite question of the night.
“Because she's your friend. And she's worried about you. So are we.”
I clenched my fist and walked back into my room. He caught the door as I tried to slam it again, and I ignored him as I went to the wardrobe and searched for some real clothes.
I gave him a glare and he turned around while I pulled on a pair of leather pants, a long satin enchanted split robe and my boots. I pulled my long hair back and quickly braided it. I shot him a glare as I left him standing in my bedroom.
He followed me downstairs and I whistled for Snarly as I walked into the foyer to find Fenris sitting there. Snarly came running and we all left.
We made our way out onto the coast and while we didn't find the shipment of stolen goods we had been tasked with finding, we did find something more surprising.
Specifically, Tevinter ones that worked for Fenris's former master, Danarius.
“Give us back the slave,, and you all can all go home safe and sound,” the pompous windbag called out from above us.
Before Fenris could even react, I yelled back that Fenris was no slave.
To which they answered by throwing fireballs at me.
We fought, long and dirty, before we had killed all but one. Fenris took an arrow in his shoulder, but he just ignored it, and grabbed the leader of the men sent to take him.
Then he beat an answer of the useless fop, before killing him very unceremoniously. I couldn't even feel bad, to be honest. Fenris was livid, and bleeding. Yelling about hunting that witch down. Hadriana? I had to actually hit him to get his attention.
“We'll go after her. After you let me heal your shoulder!”
He yanked out the arrow and threw it past my head. “I'm FINE!” he declared loudly. I glared at him.
“Fine. Fucking bleed to death before you get your revenge. WHO AM I TO SAY OTHERWISE?!” I yelled back. I threw my hands up in the air and walked away.
I kept walking until Varric spoke up behind me.
“You all have an interesting way of showing affection,” he huffed. I stopped and turned, my jaw dropping when I saw Fenris and Anders arguing heatedly back amongst the dead bodies. Anders flashed blue for a moment and Fenris looked ready to hit him, but instead he unbuckled his chest plate and let Anders heal him.
“Well. That was unexpected,” Varric muttered. I shot him a look.
“What do I care?” I sneered.
He chuckled, low and dry.
“Woman, you have it so bad. For both of them. I'm short. Not blind.”
I poked him with my staff.
“No one's hearing a thing from me.”
We waited while the other two caught up, Fenris fixing his armor as he walked. He muttered a nearly illegible apology to me as he walked past. Anders just shrugged and followed. I walked behind them all, mulling it all over.
We found the cave system this Hadriana was holed up in, and after defeating her traps and finding a nest of spiders, we came across an elf cornered by undead things.
She fell to her knees in thanks and I immediately felt exceptionally wrong seeing her like that. She explained that Hadriana had done some really awful things there in Kirkwall and when Fenris told her she was free, she looked completely lost.
“Go to my mansion in Hightown. A dwarf named Bohdan can give you a room. You… can work for me,” I said hesitantly. Fenris immediately turned on me, more yelling about being no better than Danarius. I waited until he stopped. Then I stepped forward, pressed a single finger to his healed shoulder.
“Don't. Ever. Say. That. To. Me. Again. Fenris. I have every intention to pay her. You ass.” I spoke quietly. And the color drained from his face. I turned and walked away, shaking.
We found Hadriana, and after another long arduous fight, Fenris cornered her. And let her plead for her life. She dangled a sister in front of him… and he willing took her information before dispatching with her.
He turned to talk to me and I just held up my hand.
“Right now, I don't care. Search for her or don't. But I'm leaving. Both of you, leave me alone. I'm done being an abused puppet.” Varric left with me and I went straight home. He sat with me in my dining room and watched me drink myself silly. Then he poured me into bed and I slept the night away.
Anders and Fenris -
They both sat at a corner table, each nursing a pint and neither talking much. Alesta had been right to be so furious with them.
Anders looked at the clenched fist holding the other man's glass. “She's right.”
Fenris sighed. Took a long swallow, completely aware of the tawny eyes watching him drink. He set the glass down, and cleared his throat.
“I know. Alright? I know. I have no idea what to do about it. Or about you. Stop it,” he growled. Anders looked away from his mouth with a smile.
“You came to me,” he reminded the surly elf. Who just grunted.
“I couldn't sleep,” Fenris muttered. Anders shrugged.
“Neither can I. She's everywhere.”
Fenris closed his eyes.
“Tell me what to do.”
Anders stopped lifting his cup, staring at the elf
“I've never been with someone like this. And she's.. she's more than I deserve.”
“You realize you're not the only one who wants her. And that she told you what she does want.”
“It was just a dream, mage,” Fenris sneered. Anders laughed bitterly.
“No. It wasn't. Your lyrium veins connect you to the fade in a way non mages usually aren't. I was there, man. I saw her. On her knees between is on that bed. In her dream.”
Fenris closed his eyes.
Fenris laid naked to her right. Anders to her left. She had a hand wrapped around each of their cocks. Stroking as they watched her. Each other.
She knew they were both with her.
Not just dream men, but their actual consciousness.
“Why did you leave?” she asked, tilting her head. Still stroking.
They knew what she meant. How could they not? It had been months. Months of them traipsing about the fade, in and out of each other's beds and dreams.
Fenris looked confused. Anders covered his face with his arm. She started stroking faster, drawing moans and thrusting hips. She leaned down, taking Fenris into her mouth. Sucking him deep, his cock hot and mesmerizing. A few bobs of her head and he was gripping black hair. She pulled her mouth free with a responding pop.
Alesta turned to Anders, who was chewing his lip, watching as she had worshipped Fenris. She did the same to him, her lips wrapping around his cock, his body trembling under her mouth. Fenris wrapped his hand around here, which still stroked his own cock. Anders watched her.. then watched them.. and he quickly unraveled under her attentions. Fenris moved then, sliding down the bed to add his mouth to hers. It surprised her as much as it did Anders, hot full lips wrapping around his cock the way hers had. And when he tumbled into his orgasm, Fenris and Alesta helped it along with their tongues stroking his length, and Fenris's hand cupping his sac. Anders had bucked on the bed, spilling onto his stomach and their hands.
Fenris allowed Anders to push him back onto the bed, and Alesta climbed between his thighs. Her and Anders proceeded to give him the same treatment, fingers and hands, tongues and lips driving him to the brink and further.
And when he spent, he laid there trembling, elated and unsure.
Anders looked at him.
“You know exactly what I'm talking about,” he said quietly.
Fenris nodded softly.
They sat there another hour or so, trying to figure out how to fix what they had broken.
The next evening, I got a message about some Chantry sister seeking help. I had helped settle the new elf maid in her quarters last night - after a lengthy explanation as to how she would be paid and was no longer a slave.
The girl had a hard time wrapping her head around it, and Bodhan promised to help teach her how to manage her money and get her to stop calling my mother and I Mistress.
I reluctantly sent a messenger for Aveline, Anders and Fenris. Figured if something was amiss in the Chantry, the Captain should hear. I went upstairs and dressed.
Black leather pants, a black and dark green brocade and leather coat. My boots that buckle at my knees.
I went to the mirror and heaved a sigh. I even looked exhausted. I brushed my waist length hair, before pulling it back in a strong leather tie. Then I fixed five braids into it and wrapped them all around each other, tucking various runed sticks into the mass to hold them together.
I went downstairs, Snarly on my heels. I went to the kitchen and pilfered a glass of water.
Sighed when I heard the door open, and the smattering of my favorite voices. Aveline admonishing Fenris about the state of his home, Anders helping her along and Fenris doggedly trying to get them to leave him be.
Felt like home. I felt a pang in my chest and ruthlessly quashed it. I walked out and after various greetings - we left.
It was dark by the time we reached the area the note had indicated, and once there we found a Chantry sister cornered in an alley by thugs. We quickly fought them off and she thanked us.
But something felt.. off?
She acted like she was blessing me with her presence. And commanded that I meet her at some specific address in the alienage of all places.
“This doesn't feel right,” Aveline told me as we stomped through Lowtown. I shrugged.
“When has anything felt right recently?” I muttered. She pulled me aside.
“What's going on?”
“I couldn't even begin to explain it all. You didn't do anything, and I'll still help you with Donnic. I promise. Just.. come by for dinner one night and we can talk. I don't want to talk about it with them here.”
She tossed the men a look.
“Fine. But you owe me. I'll be at your house for dinner tomorrow and you had better tell me everything.”
I nodded and we walked back to the guys. The closer we got to the alienage door the sister had directed us to, the odder it felt. The air was charged, and even Anders looked uncomfortable. I knocked and an ugly Templar opened the door.
He looked down at me, obvious disdain on his scarred face. “Your.. help.. is here,” he said, sounding like he gargled hate for a living.
The sister stepped out of a back room, looking like she would rather eat dirt than be there. “My name is Sister Petrice. I apologize for the run around, I needed to be sure you could handle this .. particular problem.”
I crossed my arms over my chest, raising a single eyebrow.
“Problem? You mean whatever mage you're holding here?” I asked. She twitched.
Score one for Shameless.
“I have a friend I need escorted out of the city. Due to .. reasons.. you'll have to hide him.”
I sighed. “Reasons? Is he an Elephant?”
She squinted. “No. Ketojan?”
A giant Qunari male stepped out of the back room. He.. was collared. His horns had been sawed off, his lips sewn shut. I swallowed the instant rage that boiled up inside me. Anders growled.
Aveline was astonished.
“What have you done?!” she demanded to know. Petrice shrugged. “His group was set up on by bandits and he was the only survivor. We offered him safe passage out of the city, and he never said no. I'd like him taken out of the city to find freedom from the Qun.”
I stared at her. How stupid could she possibly be? The Qun wasn't.. a simple thing. It wasn't a switch to be flipped.
“Are you insane?! You are literally endangering his life just by being in the same room with him?! Do you even know how they actually treat their mages? This is risking far more than just him, Sister!”
She snorted, went on to patronizingly explain that he wouldn't have come with them if he didn't understand that she was just trying to help him. And so on.
I was furious. I turned to Aveline. “You have to leave. You cannot have any part of this. I won't let this be what brings you down,” I stated. She looked like she wanted to protest but I held up my hand.
“You matter, please Aveline. Go home. Pretend I never saw you tonight.”
She sighed, “Fine. I'm going to send Varric. Be careful. Or I know who to blame,” she pointedly looked at Petrice, then her Templar henchman. Then she turned and left.
The Sister handed me a brass colored rod, full of magic that felt.. wrong. Then she instructed me to head under the city to take him out of Kirkwall. I opted to wait for Varric. Who showed a couple of minutes later, out of breath.
Ketojan just.. wordlessly followed us into the bowels of Darktown. Fenris didn't say much, oddly enough. Anders started to quietly harp on about mages and collars and cages and rights. We met a group of bandits, fighting them until Ketojan stepped into their midst to release a wave of fire - killing a good portion of them instantly.
“You're strong. Stronger than I gave you credit for. Please… just let's get you out. If you want to.”
He just silently nodded, following as we started walking again. When we finally exited the tunnels out on the coast, we were met by a group of Qunari soldiers.
Before we approached them, I warned Anders to stay quiet. He glared at me but nodded. We walked down the hill and the obvious leader stepped forward, holding out his hand.
“You will hold, basra vashedan. I am Arvaarad, and I claim possession of Saarebas at your heel.”
I looked at Ketojan, who just stoically stood there. I sighed.
“The members of his karataam were killed by Tal-Vashoth, but their disposal leads only here, to Saarebas and you.”
“How did I know this job would only end in more Qunari?” I asked, shrugging.
The helmeted Arvaarad growled at me, “You speak as if ignorance is your natural condition. The bodies of his slain karataam could only lead here! I do not know how you hold his leash, but you have no claim in the Qun. He will be returned, and this crime cleansed.”
I raised an eyebrow, “And if he doesn’t want to go back?”
The Arvaarad advanced on me, but I just stood there. “Saarebas! Show that your will remains bound to the Qun,” he demanded, voice raised.
Ketojan knelt immediately, growling.
Arvaarad looked at me. “He has only followed you because he wants to be led. He is allowed no other purpose.”
I felt my blood boiling. ALLOWED…
I said something snide about the Arishok, not wanting a potential ally challenged. I was literally blowing smoke, but there it was.
He gave an uncharacteristic snort.
“Claiming to know the will of the Arishok with Saarebas in your care is maraas imekari, a child bleating without meaning. The Arishok knows what is to be done with Saarebas who lose their Arvaarad. There is no greater threat to their control.”
“He is bound and abused, and you want him caged. Why?” I asked, crossing my arms.
“The power that he has, that all Saarebas have, draws from chaos and demons. They can never be in control.”
I spoke quietly. “So you fear them.”
“We leash Saarebas because they are dangerous and contagious. Not even your templars fully grasp that threat.”
I asked about “Ketojan” and “Saarebas” as the kneeling man’s titles.
“Saarebas is his role, and his name, as you understand it. It is the accusation and acknowledgement of being a mage.”
I could feel Anders and his rage behind me. And to be honest, I wasn’t close behind.
I stepped forward, my tiny frame nothing compared to the Arvaarad’s. I looked up. “I wield the same power, and I am no more a threat than you unless I choose to be. As is my friend.”
Instantly, he backed away from me.
Panic fluttered through his nearly dead eyes, “You are Saarebas? Bas Saarebas?!”
He turned and faced his karataam, yelling, “Vashedan! Nehraa sataa karasaam!”
Then he turned on me, “You spewed your words on me, like a demon trying to poison my control! Like this mage, the Qun requires your DEATH!”
“What, I am no threat to you!” I countered, grabbing for my staff.
He growled, “Bas Saarebas! You will be no threat to anyone ever again!” and he wielded one of the control rods, bringing Ketojan to the ground.
I raised my hands, summoning fire before he could attack me first, blasting him and his men back to the ground.
The fight was quick, and bloody. Rains of arrows, fire and lightning. The glow of Fenris and his lyrium marks, and my own anger at how the Qun truly saw their mages.
When the last Qunari fell, I ran and snatched the discarded control rod. I pointed it at Ketojan, and a flash of light made the field containing him dissipate. He stood, rubbing his head.
“I.. am unbound. Odd.. Wrong… but you deserve honor.”
His voice sounded rough from lack of use, though the words were mildly smothered by the threads still sewn into his lips. I felt my heart ache.
“You are now Basvaarad, worthy of following. I thank your intent, even if it was wrong.” he began to walk, unaided, to the edge of one of the cliffs. “I know the will of the Arvaarad. I must return as demanded. It is the wisdom.. Of the Qun.”
“Really!? After all of this, you go back so you can die anyways?!” I looked around at the dead bodies littering the path.
“I commit to the most difficult choice: The truth of the Qun.”
“What if it’s WRONG?!” I exclaimed.
“Many say that, before they know certainty.”
I looked down at my feet.
“Arvaarad couldn’t kill me. Perhaps he was wrong about your death too.”
“Losing to you does not make him wrong. He spoke the Qun.”
He looked out at the water. “I have chosen. It is bred in the bone.”
I growled, “Existing is NOT a choice.”
He sighed. “It is the only choice. Asit tal-eb. It is to be.”
I tried one last tactic… “Petrice might take you back if she knows death is your only option,” I said.
“The sister was not honest.”
“What?” I said quietly.
“I cannot say what she wanted. But it was certainty not of the Qun. And her guard smelled of death.”
I rubbed my forehead. I had felt that too.
“Would you have lived had I let these Qunari live?” I asked. He shook his head, “No.”
“So you were doomed from the start, no matter what I did?!”
“I was outside my karataam. I may be corrupted. I cannot know. How I return, is my choice. It must be.” He turned and looked at me, “But that does not mean there is no meaning.”
I was furious. And sad. “My job ended when we exited the city. The rest.. The rest is up to you.”
He turned and looked down at me. “You know of certainty and borders. You are closer to the Qunari than you admit. Your role would change little if you accepted the Qun.”
“Except for the collar. Sewn lips. Lack of freedom to choose. To love,” I looked back at Fenris and Anders.
“Take this secret thing, Basvaarad. Remember this day.” I took the amulet he handed me, and he turned to look at the ocean again, before he burst into flames. I flinched at the sudden blast of heat, but I waited there as he burned.
“Ally,” came the voice behind me. I shrugged off the hand that grasped at my arm.
“This is part of why we fled Ferelden. Did you know?” I said quietly.
“The blight..” he started to say but I shook my head.
“My father. He was a mage. He actually used to live in a circle, in Ferelden. Until he met a Templar named Carver. Who allowed him to run away with my mother. They were in love, and this Templar allowed them the choice of a life. I was born a year or so later. I never knew any of this until after we got here.”
I shook my head again, still refusing to look at him. “I came into my magic when I was barely nine summers old, Anders. He was elated. My mother terrified. And so we lived outside Lothering, and kept to ourselves mostly. The twins were normal until.. Until Bethany showed signs around twelve summers. Carver was naturally jealous. Why wasn’t
I laughed, low and bitter. “My mother was constantly afraid of Templars coming to drag me away. Bethany. And we lived a life kind of suspended in fear, until my father died unexpectedly. And then.. Things just kind of hung midair until the Blight happened. Carver joined the militia and fought at Ostagar. Then we had to flee. And here we are.”
I turned to look at him. Fenris walked up, confusion warring with something darker on his face.
“Did you know that the Qun did this?” I asked Fenris. He looked startled. “I know their mages weren’t free. I did.. Not know that they collared and abused them.”
I nodded. “That could have been me. Had we fled to Tevinter or the Seheron like my mother had asked about when we first decided to flee Ferelden.”
His eyes widened.
“That could STILL be me, if the Qunari have their way in Kirkwall. That could be Anders. Or Merrill.”
My power pressed at me, anger and pain feeding it. “Magic is no gift. It is demanding and exhausting. You spend countless hours learning how to contain it. To control it. And some fall. Some fall prey to the whispers in the fade. Some are weak and see a need that isn’t there, and make a bid for more power because their lives were forfeit the moment they showed magic to begin with.”
“Mages are dangerous..” Fenris said, uncertain.
I looked away from him. “So are you. So is Varric. And Aveline. Isabella and Sebastian. Power does not define danger. A man with a needle and poison is just as dangerous as a tired scared mage. The only difference is a matter of choice.”
“Do you see me as a threat?” I asked quietly. His eyes narrowed.
“You know I don’t.”
“I do know. What I need to know, is my being a mage what sent you away?”
Varric whistled. “Should I leave?” he asked. I shook my head.
“It doesn’t matter. What’s done is done. I need to go talk to the Sister. And inform the Arishok what happened. Hopefully he doesn’t kill me for other people’s mistakes.”
I turned and left them all standing there, the smoldering remains of Ketojan a bitter reminder that .. yes. There is always a choice.
A choice to live.
To use your power for great harm, or great good.
To help when you have nothing left to give.
Back in Kirkwall, I went first to the Arishok, telling him briefly what happened. The fact that he let me leave was a testimony to the honor he clung to.
Then I went to the Chantry. The sun was setting, and the Sister was there with a few of her fellow clerics. I stood there, covered in blood and seething, until she walked over to speak to me.
“You, Sister, are a piece of work. You knew what you were doing, when you handed Ketojan to me. Did you have his karataam killed so that you could fuel the issued between Kirkwall and the Qunari!?”
She laughed disdainfully, “You have no proof I did anything, except ask you to help a mage who couldn’t speak for himself, find safe passage out of the city.”
I stepped forward, barely leashing my own power. “I will never forget what you did here today. You cost many people their lives, and you put my own in danger, as well as people I hold very dear. You, Sister Petrice, are no decent human.”
I turned, pulling the amulet I had held in my hand since I had left, over my head. I went home, and asked Bodhan to turn any visitors away, and I went upstairs, I stripped, tossing my clothes into the fireplace. Then I pulled on a robe and made my way to the bathing chamber. I climbed into the massive tub, heating the water to nearly scalding, and I sat there. Staring at the wall.
Then… I cried.
I cried for Bethany, living a life of fear. I cried for my father, who had to flee and become something akin to a criminal to live a life with the one woman he had ever deigned to love.
I cried for Anders and what he had endured while in the Circle in Kirkwall.
I cried for Fenris, and what he had endured at the hands of mages in Tevinter.
And I cried for myself. Because no matter how hard I tried, things just continued to fall apart around me. And I patched things up, used snark and bravado to make everyone believe I was really some sort of heroic wench, when really I was just… broken.
Time passed, and eventually I ran out of emotions. I climbed from the tub, clean and exhausted. I was sitting on the edge of my bed, wrapped in a long black robe, combing my wet hair when Bodhan knocked on my door.
I sighed. “Come in,” I said.
The door creaked open, he poked his head in. “So I know you told me to turn visitors away. But.. they insist. Masters Anders and Fenris are downstairs in the foyer. They said they won’t leave until you see them. I believe Anders threatened to start singing.”
I dropped my hair. “Alright. Maker forbid that man sing.”
Bodhan laughed. “Shall I send them up?” he asked. I shook my head. “Go to bed. All of you. Thank you,” I said quietly. He nodded his head and left me there. I moved to the mirror, and hoped I didn’t look as awful as I felt. I shook my head at my own pale reflection.
I quietly walked downstairs and found myself in the foyer again, wearing another robe and looking at them. I closed the door and warded the room.
“What do you want that was so important that you threatened poor Bodhan with the worst singing on the planet?”
Anders laughed softly.
“Maybe we’re as tired as you. Tired of running from something that seems as inevitable as a sunrise.”
I raised my eyebrows. “Such as?” I asked, my heart slowing in my chest.
“Do you really need to ask?” Fenris asked, walking forward. I backed up, until I hit the door. Anders followed, and they both stood close enough to touch.
“We’ve been talking.”
I lifted my chin. “And?”
“You are the most stubborn..” Anders said, before Fenris put a hand on his shoulder.
“I have my issues. With mages who have no scruples or conscience.”
“I have issues with people who have unlimited power over mages or those beneath them.”
I snorted. “I know all of this.”
“But the one thing we absolutely,” Fenris started to say, but Anders interrupted, “agree on, is that you.. You are ours.”
“Our.. Ours?!” I breathed. Blood rushed to my ears.
Fenris brushed my hair away from my forehead. “Tell us you don’t want this.”
Anders ran his thumb over my lips. “And we’ll go away.”
My eyes dashed back and forth between them.
“Is this real?” I whispered. Anders nodded, leaning forward and brushing his lips against mine. Fenris did the same a moment later. And I nearly died.
“Three years. Three years you have held me at arms length,” I muttered.
“I’m sorry,” Fenris said, real sorrow in his gray green eyes. “So am I,” Anders said, his forehead falling to my temple.
I held out my hands. Anders took my left. Fenris my right.
And I knew nothing was ever going to be the same again.
None of us were perfect.
Thank the Maker for that.
I wanted these imperfect, beautiful people, with every fiber of my being.
And they were mine.