Beth hugged her pillow, unable to sleep. The shout that pierced the silence of the night and took her out of the Fade was followed by a calming baritone attempting to soothe. The voices stopped and Beth stared at the door. They never come to find her, soothe her, rock her back to sleep.
She rolled onto her back and swallowed a sob that threatened to escape. That wasn’t fair, they may not even know that they wake her. When it’s Hawke, it’s a small panic attack that brings him out of sleep. When it’s Fenris, it’s sleepwalking through the estate until Hawke is able to steer him back to bed. She never leaves her room when it happens, never makes a sound. They have enough to worry about. She just wished there was a way she could help.
Fenris cracked the door to Beth’s room not long after the morning sun filled the estate. His gaze fell upon two golden eyes staring back at him. He smiled gently, walking over to lift her out of bed.
“Good Morning, my Little Bird, let us go see what your Papa has made for us today.”
He turned to face the door and she hopped on his back. His face fell as she leaned her face against his neck and simply nodded. Most days, she chattered in his ear all the way down the steps. The worry he felt was partially erased by the smell of fresh apple tarts lingering in the air. Beth shared his love of apples, hopefully this would bring a smile to her face.
When they turned the corner into the kitchen, Hawke was setting forks on the table next to three plates of warm apple tarts. Fenris crouched down beside Beth’s chair and her little arms loosened to slide down into it. He took the seat beside her while Hawke poured glasses of milk. Beth picked up her fork and poked at the tart. Fenris and Hawke exchanged glances.
“Beth, are you feeling well?” Fenris leaned over to brush her tangled brown hair behind small pointed ears.
She sighed and swung her legs under her chair. When Fenris started to pat her back, she rubbed her eyes with her fists.
“I think it’s a good idea for her to be with Anders today.”
Fenris turned his attention to Hawke, weighing the statement in his head.
“It would be good for her to visit the mage for her training, and if she’s ill he could help with that.”
“There was a letter left for you while you were upstairs as well Fenris, I think it’s best we take her right after breakfast.”
Fenris’ ears twitched, Hawke’s words implying much more than a simple correspondence. He placed a kiss on the crown of Beth’s head and squeezed her tightly with one arm.
Anders hung the last bundle of elfroot on the large drying rack in his new clinic. The old location in Darktown had been razed after the Kirkwall Rebellion. He wasn’t sure he would be able to return there even if it still stood.
The new clinic was located in the alienage. Merrill used the building to teach the young elven children about their Dalish roots and young mages how to wield their power. When Anders returned to Kirkwall, she helped him move the rooms around and sectioned off an area for a row of new cots. On the second floor of the building, one room was set aside for him to live in. He was sure Hawke purchased everything Merrill seemed to conjure out of thin air. It added to the debt he could never repay.
He moved along the cots, making sure each had a sheet covering them, when the door opened. The rush of elven children filed into the building, waving and smiling at Anders as they moved into the room where Merrill waited for them. He went to close the door behind them when a tattooed hand held the door open.
Fenris greeted Anders with his customary ‘Mage’, and nodded before continuing to enter. His little girl had her arms wrapped around his shoulders and legs around his waist. If you asked Anders ten years ago that Fenris would be giving a small child a piggyback ride, he would have laughed you out of Kirkwall.
“I didn’t expect you until this afternoon, it’s good to see you Fenris. You too, Beth.” Anders closed the door, giving a little wave to Beth.
“I have some matters to deal with today, I may not be back to get her until late. You’re more than welcome to bring her back to the estate yourself.” Fenris let Beth down on one of the cots and moved to Anders’ side. “I don’t believe she is feeling well, if you could look her over as well, it would be appreciated.”
“Absolutely Fenris, I’ll look after her.”
Fenris nodded once more and turned back to give Beth a hug, whispering in her ear, then slipped quietly out the door.
“Well Beth, it’s just you and me today.” Anders smiled brightly at the small elf. “Your Papa told me that you’d like to learn about healing. How about I look you over first, and then show you how?”
Beth yawned lightly, covering her mouth with the back of her hand. Her eyes drooped as she forced a smile.
“Or… how about a small nap first?” Anders motioned for Beth to lay down on the cot, and while she drifted off he let a healing aura wash over her.
Fenris settled into his chair in front of the fireplace upon returning home. He heard Hawke busying about and waited patiently for him to finish. What he didn’t expect were the two bottles of wine in Hawke’s hands with a letter peeking out of his belt.
“Hawke, did someone die?” He smirked as Hawke handed him an open bottle and took the other chair.
Hawke leaned back and took a long drink from the bottle. He plucked the letter from his belt and gave Fenris a meaningful look, as if he wasn’t sure he wanted to share its contents.
“Actually, yes. Someone did die.”
Fenris’ body tightened like a spring. Every member of their group of misfits lived in Kirkwall once more. Sebastian never left Starkhaven, but news of his death would not warrant a bottle of wine to numb the pain.
“Here, just… just read it Fen.”
Hawke held out the letter for Fenris and he couldn’t help the shiver that ran down his spine as he opened it.
I know you couldn’t care less about me now, but if this letter is in your hands, I will not be around much longer.
I never returned to Tevinter, and it wasn’t long before Templars found me. I’m still in the Circle in Cumberland, even though it now belongs to the Mages. My dear friend is writing this for me, as I can no longer fend off this wasting disease, and there’s so much I haven’t said.
The most important thing, is that I need you to find my daughter. During the rebellion, we had no protection. Slavers took many of our children. They took my Tarasllen, my baby, your niece. She just turned four, and that was six years ago.
I know there’s nothing left in your heart for me, but please find her. She’s now all the family you have left, and I cannot bear to know she lives in chains in Tevinter.
I am forever sorry for what happened between us. If only the Maker had been kinder to us all.
Anders found nothing wrong with Beth as she slept. She just needed rest, and he had not intention of waking her for at least another half hour. He pulled up a chair next to the cot and looked her over. Fenris had dressed her in a set of red robes and braided her hair into twin tails that circled her face. She was a little Fenris in miniature, her small nose crinkled as she slept.
“Anders? Do you have a moment? Oh! I’m sorry!”
Merrill moved into the clinic with a hand over her mouth and dropped her voice.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize she was sleeping.”
Anders stood up and motioned Merrill to join him upstairs. Once the reached the top of the stairs, they both slid down the wall to sit on the steps.
“Are your students alright by themselves?” Anders asked.
“Oh, they’ll be fine, they’re reading a book about Dalish gods,” she smiled reaching out for Anders hair. “Carver told me you were giving Beth a healing lesson today, I wanted to know if you’d be able to take on a second student alongside her.”
Anders leaned into Merrill to make it easier for her to play. Lithe fingers ran through his long golden hair as she sectioned off a piece to start braiding.
“I’d love to, Merrill. Talented healers are rare, and if they are showing talent at a young age I’d be doing a disservice turning you down.”
Anders dug into the pouch at his side to find a leather to tie the braids behind his head. He handed it back to Merrill without looking and heard her sigh. He peeked back and saw the red leather in her hand.
“Oh Lethallin, you still have it?”
Anders cleared his throat, waving it off. “It’s only a keepsake now Merrill, just another thing from a past that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s fine.”
Merrill tied the braids that pulled half his hair back while the remainder cascaded past his shoulders. He really should cut it, now that he would be seeing patients again.
“I’m going to wake her up here soon, bring your student over in about a half hour.”
Merrill nodded in assent and walked back downstairs.
After he finished the letter, he didn’t move, didn’t speak for several minutes. Then the tears came. A well of emotion he didn’t realize he carried overflowed. His hands gripped the chair, sobs wracking his body. Hawke jumped from his chair to lift Fenris and carried him into library to sit in the large oversized chair they used to read with Beth.
Hawke relinquished the second bottle of wine to the elf in his lap, knowing that he needed it far more.
Fenris twisted his hand into Hawke’s shirt, dug his head into his chest.
“Hawke, I.. I cannot make it stop. I thought I felt nothing for her, that part of my life was over... forgotten.” He wiped the tears off into Hawke’s shirt.
Hawke stroked Fenris’ hair, whispering ‘shhh’s into his ear.
“Fenris, she’s your sister. You both had your reasons, made your own choices. She was the only link to your past. You still call out her name when you sleepwalk…”
Fenris’ head snapped up to meet Hawke’s golden eyes. “You never told me I spoke.”
“I didn’t think it would help, you never talk about her otherwise.”
Fenris’ nostrils flared in an attempt to hold back a new outburst when the real message in the letter clicked in his head. His eyes widened and he jumped off Hawke.
Both men came to the conclusion at the same time.
“Beth, love, it’s time to wake up.”
Beth opened her eyes slowly, trying to place where she was. The clinic, she was there to learn from Anders today. She quickly sat up and came face to face with older mage.
“Thank you for letting me nap, Uncle Anders.” She gave him a timid smile of appreciation.
“It’s no worry, you needed it. I can recognize when someone is having a hard time sleeping.”
Beth’s ears flushed, her secret found out. She started to tell him differently when pair of pale gray, eyes appeared over his shoulders. Beth blinked twice, sure she was imagining it.
“Oh, this is Miashalle, one of Merrill’s students.”
Beth watched as a taller elven girl bounded out from behind Anders’ back. She had long black hair that ended in ringlets around her waist, skin darker than Anders but not quite as dark as her own. What Beth came back to was her eyes, so light they were almost white.
“Merrill calls me Moony, if that’s easier for you to say!”
Anders laughed at the girl’s excitement. “Well Moony, this is Beth. She’s Merrill’s niece and you’ll both be learning about healing with me.”
Moony held out her hand to help Beth off the cot. Anders motioned for both of them to follow, and Beth didn’t drop her hand.
Late in the afternoon, Merrill released her students from their lessons and joined Anders and the two girls in the clinic. Anders had both girls sitting in front of a line of herbs, going over their healing properties. He pointed out which herbs were beneficial and the ones that needed to be handled with care.
“Did they get to practice healing at all?” Merrill asked.
“No, still no patients in the clinic. I helped them cast a few healing auras and practice scanning over each other.”
Merrill tapped a finger to her chin as the girls looked up from the array of herbs. She lifted her finger skyward and reached for the knife on the edge of Anders’ desk. She pulled a thin, shallow line along one forearm. She heard the girl’s sharp inhale as she switched hands and duplicated it on the other side.
Anders looked as if he was going to pass out, a blue light shining from his eyes.
“It’s fine Anders, calm down. I don’t do that anymore. I just figured I’m used to it, and it would give them a chance to heal something.”
She pulled up a chair and sat opposite the girls at the table. She draped both arms over the table, winked at the girls, and tapped her fingers anxiously.
Anders cleared his throat and took a set beside Merrill.
“Well, I guess that will have to do.” He motioned for both girls to pick up one arm each. “This isn’t too deep, so just feel for the skin. It’s broken, and you have to mend it back together. Healing requires you to pull a different kind of energy from the Fade, and true Spirit Healers will amplify their spells with energy from the spirits themselves.”
The hand Anders presented the girls took on a blueish aura, scanning over the arms but not healing them.
“For now, just concentrate on pulling your mana across the cut.”
Moony pushed a hand out over the cut and closed her eyes while Beth scrunched her nose in concentration. Both cuts slowly repaired themselves as a pale green aura washed over them. When they were completely closed, Merrill clapped her hands together excitedly.
“That was almost too easy, I think next week we’ll focus on some more advanced spells.” Anders looked to Merrill and back to Beth. “I think it’s time you start coming to school with Merrill daily, that way you’re both here when patients are. For now, you’re both done for the day.”
Moony hopped off her chair and hugged all three before bounding out the door. Merrill, delighted at the display, followed her out.
Anders and Beth were left alone in the clinic.
“Let me put these herbs back Beth, and we’ll get you back home.”
As he starting picking the herbs off of the table, Beth opened her mouth twice to speak and stopped.
“Is there something else you needed, love?”
He watched as she wrung her fingers together, choosing her next words carefully.
“Uncle Anders, can you heal bad dreams?”
Anders felt his face fall before he could stop it. He knew about nightmares, probably more than anyone. Nightmares of the Circle, of Vigil’s Keep, of the Darkspawn, of Kirkwall and the Chantry, of hiding out while the sky fell apart, of Hawke; all of them amplified in the Fade. Hawke told him that she was rescued from slavers, and didn’t want to think of what she already went through at such a young age.
“Is that why you’re not sleeping, are you having nightmares Beth?”
“No, not me. They don’t sleep. Papa cries in his sleep… and Da, he walks through the house.”
“And they wake you up?”
She nodded. It made sense. Hawke suffered from the same nightmares at his side in Kirkwall. Fenris would walk around camp anytime they’d sleep outside the city. He always hated not being able to fix things, if anyone would have found out how to stop nightmares, he would be first in line for the cure.
Anders took Beth’s hand and led her out of the clinic and in the direction of Hightown. As they walked he continued their conversation, finding the words he needed to say.
“You can’t heal bad dreams, sweetheart. There’s only one way to stop them, and if the Maker has any mercy no one will ever be subjected to it again.”
His squeezed Beth’s hand as they came up in front of the Amell ancestral home.
“What you can do, is calm them and help them sleep. Come here.” He crouched down and placed a hand on either side of Beth’s face. “It’s almost like a healing aura. Just pull your mana and project it out, transferring a sense of calm.”
Beth’s face relaxed as the magic flowed through her. When he pulled his hands away, she lunged forward to hug him.
“Thank you, Uncle Anders.”
Both of her parents acted strangely throughout the night. Hawke’s eyes watching Fenris, while Fenris couldn’t keep his eyes off her. At first she thought she was in trouble for something, desperately trying to remember anything she did. After dinner, Fenris picked her up from the table and spent the remainder of the evening in the reading chair with her.
He read to her, unplaited her hair and ran his fingers through it. When they got to the part of the story where the hero reunited with his family, he hugged her close and she felt a tear drop onto her cheek.
She looked up at him and placed a hand on either side of his face. Pulling her mana, she pushed out the aura Anders showed her, Fenris’ markings dimly glowing in response. His face relaxed as the wave of calm rushed over him. “Don’t cry, Da. They’re happy. It’s a happy ending.”
“Yes, my Little Bird. It is a happy ending,” he sniffed, and hugged her close once more. “Let’s get you to bed.”