Anders doesn’t hate Merrill.
No, he doesn’t hate her at all. He just disagrees with her about the fundamental moralities of magic and what it means to be a mage.
Anders thinks blood magic is the path to demonic possession and Merrill is a blood mage who makes deals with demons.
He’s sure if it weren’t for that small measly little fact, Merrill and he would be fast friends. It really is just a friendly disagreement.
It’s why Anders is confused when she appears in the library of the Amell Estate, insisting she’s come to see him and not, in fact, Hawke, which seemed a more likely story.
Maybe she needed a healer? Merrill, like Hawke, is absolute shit at it and sometimes comes to find him when someone at the Alienage is grievously injured. It seems plausible that she would come find him if that were so.
But no, she insists, no one is hurt.
It's puzzling, really, and Anders is even more confused when he notices her scarf that usually is bundled around her neck is tied around her waist like a pouch.
And that something in it is wiggling.
“…Merrill…” he starts, hesitant. “Do you have something in your scarf or are you just very happy to see me?”
Merrill’s eyes widen in excitement. “Of course I’m happy to see you, Anders!”
This is when Anders starts to laugh. He can’t help it. He laughs so hard, he can feel his ribs. He clutches his side, trying to calm enough to take a breath.
Merrill cocks her head to the side, confusion settling for a moment before it hits her.
"Think about it for a moment, Merrill."
“Oh!” And there it is. She starts to giggle as well, her hand shooting up to cover her mouth. “That was dirty, Anders!”
He takes a breath and nods. There are tears in his eyes. The pouch is still wiggling. “Merrill, seriously, what is in your pocket?”
“A kitten!” She chirps.
“Tell me that’s not a euphemism…” he asks suspiciously before a pair of furry ears pop up from her pouch.
He can’t believe it. It’s a kitten. It mews from Merrill’s pocket.
He coos. He can’t help it, the sound just erupts from his mouth and before his brain can comprehend what he is doing, he points at the small kitten that is trying to climb its way up Merrill’s shirt.
“Merrill, that is a kitten.”
“A live kitten.”
“Of course it’s alive, Anders. I made sure of it! I found her abandoned in the alienage and brought her home and got her healthy again!”
Merrill plucks the cat from her shirt and rests her back in the pouch for a moment. “Unfortunately, she’s begun to hunt all the little mice that live in my home and I thought, how terrible! I can’t have that!”
“Of course you can’t,” he coos in his most obnoxious kitten talking voice as he reaches out to scratch the kitten behind her ears.
The kitten takes a moment to assess the hand in question before shoving her face into Anders palm. His eyes glitter. The kitten mews and nudges his hand again.
He is so happy.
“Anders, my love?” Hawke's voice from the doorway booms. They stand confused at the library's entrance. Amused too, but mostly confused. “While I know Merrill’s crotch is amazing in its own unique and magical way, I have to wonder why you of all the mages in the world, are pointing at it with such amazement.”
Anders doesn’t even care about Hawke’s poorly made joke. He looks up and squeaks. “Kitten!”
Hawke tilts their head. “Is that a euphemism?”
Merrill turns to the side to reveal the kitten that is now squirming in Anders outstretched hands.
“Oh. An actual feline. Got it.”
Anders holds the cat to his chest. She bats at his nose and he smiles.
“We’re keeping her, Hawke.”
“Of course we are!” they say, stepping into the room next to Merrill to further inspect the cat. “The Hawke-Amell estate is the perfect place for a cat such as Ser Fluff-Diddly-Umptious!”
“You’re not going to really name her that, are you, Hawke?” Merrill asks, concerned, slipping besides Anders to scratch Ser Fluff-Diddly-Umptious behind the ear.
“Merrill,” Hawke starts matter-of-factly. “It would be a travesty to deny a knight as noble as Fluff-Diddly-Umptious the birthright of her own name!”
Merrill and Hawke continue to bicker about the name of the cat, which turns into a “well I’ve already given her a name”-“well my name is better” argument, but Anders can’t find it in his heart to care.
Anders brings Fluff-Diddly-Umptious up to his face and rests a cheek in her fur. She purrs, nuzzling Anders’ own scruff. Even with her fur getting into his mouth, he can’t help but smile.
He closes his eyes. She’ll do. She’ll do just fine.