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Takes One To Know One

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“Ferelden’s not so bad, you know. You really do get used to the smell, I promise.”

Anders put on his most winning smile, hoping to cheer the girl up. She’d only just arrived the day before—a transfer from Ostwick, apparently—and was still staring sullenly out the window.

She looked up at him, her striking blue eyes flashing with anger—not enough to cover up the sadness in their depths.

“I like dogs, actually,” she said quietly.

“Really?” he said before he could stop himself, making a face he didn’t quite seem to have control of either. “I’ve always been a cat person, myself. There’s a great mouser here; I call him Mr. Wiggums. Well, if it isn’t the persistent smell of dog, what has you down?”

The girl glared at him like he’d just asked the stupidest question she’d ever heard.

“Oh, I don’t know, other than the fact that my family had me thrown into a fucking prison when I was ten years old, and then the moment I thought I was managing to make something good out of the whole shitfest, they transfer me to fucking Ferelden!” Her eyes flashed dangerously, and he could feel the slight crackle of static electricity in the air.

“Hey, shh,” he said softly, sitting down on the bed next to her. “You need to calm down,” he said, keeping his voice as even as possible even as his eyes darted side to side, “or the Templars are going to come.”

She closed her eyes, taking a couple of deep breaths while she clenched and unclenched her fists in her lap.

“I’m Anders, by the way,” he said.

“Alyx,” she offered. After a long pause she spoke again. “So, let me guess: Anders isn’t your real name.”

His eyes narrowed, and after a moment she gave a little laugh and smiled what could only be described as one of the most sarcastic smiles he had ever seen.

“Takes one to know one,” she said.

He laughed. “Touché,” he replied with a smirk. “Well, Alyx, I think we’re going to get along just fine,” he said with a grin.

A raised eyebrow was all he got in response, but he didn’t miss the slight twitch at the corner of her mouth as she tried not to smile.