BioWareownsallbutwhatImadeup. : )
So, my muse decided to bite me in the bum and give me goose to start the back story of two people who will show up in FirstCut and Soulmates very briefly, before appearing in an Anders from Soulmates spin-off I have planned. This will be the back stories of their lives growing up and their eventual meeting and friendship. They are Ferelden's "Odd Couple," hence the name "Leather & Lace" for the story. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
Shout outs to those who have put my other stories and me on favs and alerts, and reviewed. I hope you all enjoy this story as well.
Special shout out and love to my betas: Piceron, Ladyamesindy, mackillian, and VioletTheirin (special shout out for the title for this story, thanks sweet girl!). I couldn't do as good a job without them. Thanks ladies! I love you guys!
And my love and blessings to all my fans. You all make my day, my week, my year. I can't thank you all enough. You are the best. *HUGS*
They found her, a wide-eyed and soot smudged little girl, amidst the bodies of her parents and the burning corpses of the bandits who had killed them—the burning mounds of what were once human beings, melting the thinning snow in the month of Guardian.
First to make the discovery were a group of peasants taking their winter vegetables and canned goods to the town market. No one had been willing to go to her, not with her tiny hands still glowing with flames that did not burn her.
Instead, one of their group elected to run to the village and fetch the soldiers there. Or so she thought, given that the older boy returned with two soldiers in tow.
One soldier, the younger one, stared at her, wide-eyed, and refused to go near her, not even with a sharp reprimand by the other. Instead, he stared at her as if she were a poisonous snake about to strike.
She guessed the older one was in charge, but since she spoke only a few words of Fereldan, it was just a guess. Papa—fluent in the language—had been teaching her and Maman, but their lessons had only just begun. The older man reminded her of Papa's friend, Uncle Leodegardis, the head of the Chevalier in Val Royeaux, and the man from whom she had her middle name.
The soldier came towards her, causing her heart to beat faster. Despite his resemblance to a well-loved figure in her life, he also reminded her of the soldier back home, and the reason why Papa and Maman fled Orlais and came to Ferelden.
She still remembered the sneering young nobleman's brat—made a chevalier due to his family name rather than any talent as a warrior—who put his hands on Maman, trying to kiss her, tearing at her mother's clothes. Papa had pulled the man off her mother and they scuffled. The man had drawn his sword. Papa shoved the man back forcefully and the chevalier fell, cracking his head open on the paving stones of the street and never to rise again. Uncle Leo told them to flee, to leave Val Royeaux and Orlais, and never come back or the nobleman's father would make sure that Papa would hang from the gallows. Uncle Leo then smuggled them out of the city in the middle of the night.
So, she had lost her home and come to this foreign, cold place. And now her world was rocked on its foundation once more.
She backed up until she bumped into the wagon wheel of their cart. She trembled with exhaustion and fear, and tears for her Maman and Papa, coursing down dirty cheeks, were joined by soft little mewling cries.
She wanted to be brave. The heat of anger that had swelled up when the bandits first cut her father down, and then her mother, when Maman wouldn't stop screaming, left not even a flicker. All she felt was empty, afraid, and alone.
That anger, the heat of it had risen up and overwhelmed her. She remembered hearing someone screaming in Orlesian, "burn!" All the fury seemed to flare out of her fingertips, causing each bandit burn like a torch as her tiny fingers pointed their way.
She shook her head at the man who still made his way towards her. "Non, sil' vous plaît, non. Jeveux que ma mère et mon père! S'il vous plaît, jeveux rentrer chez moi!" She began to cry in earnest now. Couldn't he understand she just wanted her parents to get up and for them all to go home?
She watched the man's steel grey eyebrows rise in shock, as did her own, when he spoke perfect Orlesian to her—albeit with a heavy Fereldan accent. "Ma petite, habitez-vousen Orlais? Are you from Orlais?"
She felt such relief hearing something so familiar in a land so foreign, dangerous, and frightening that she swayed as she nodded. The man caught her up and cuddled her close like her Papa did, while his metal armored hand gently stroked her red curls. She relaxed and rested a damp cheek against the cool metal covering his chest.
"Vous êtes en sécurité, ma petite, vous ête sensécurité. Vous n'as rien à craindre. You are safe, little one, you are safe. You have nothing to fear." He gently picked her up, grasping her small body to his as he turned and gave orders to those standing there in Fereldan. She guessed it had to do with Maman and Papa's bodies, and disposing of the bandits.
She must have fallen asleep as he carried her down the road back to the town the soldier came from, as she awoke to find herself in a big, four poster bed abutting a wall with a window that had frost crystals drawing lacy patterns across the thick glass.
Maman told her the fairies danced across the glass in the night, leaving their footprints behind. The thought of her mother and father made tears well up and the glass to waver as if it was underwater.
She shook head and pounded small fists on the cold, wooden windowsill. She must be brave; Papa and Maman would not wish her to be anything else!
She snuck a look at the hands in question, uncurling small fingers and laying them flat. They looked like fingers, not like magic weapons. How she had done what she did, she didn't know.
She put her forehead against the cool glass, enjoying the sensation as the room was very warm. The fire in the large fireplace crackled and snapped. She noticed that it must have snowed more in the night, as there were large drifts in the street below, which the people seemed to ignore as they traipsed through the mounds of snow as if it were a sunny day.
The scene below began to waver and shimmer. She realized that she was crying again, and her lower lip trembled with suppressed wails.
That was how the soldier who carried her, found her, a little girl with a cascade of curls the color of autumn leaves and smoky, grey eyes filled with tears she was trying not to shed.
"Ma petite, je suis trés désolé pour vôtre parents. Little one, I am so sorry about your parents." He came into the room, carefully shutting the door behind him while balancing a small, and familiar, chest under his arm. It was the chest she kept her clothes in after Maman washed and carefully folded them.
She watched him set the chest on the floor and come and sit beside her. His hand gently stroked her hair until she couldn't stand holding it in any longer and she let the wails and tears come. Then he wrapped her in big, strong arms, gently rocking her while murmuring softly, letting her get it out.
When the sobs subsided to little hiccups, he gently leaned her upright and handed her a large, clean, white handkerchief. She used it to scrub her face dry, only looking at it for a moment before deciding it might be rude to blow her nose into it.
He seemed to read her mind and smiled while gently holding it up for her to do just that. The gesture made the tears want to start again as her Papa or Maman would have done that very same thing. He gently folded it over and and put it aside before holding out a large, ungloved hand to her. In fact, he was not wearing any armor at all. Rather, he was dressed in a simple homespun shirt and leather leggings, not a soldier today, it seemed. "Jem'appelle Kedric, et jesuis un soldat du château Highever. Vous êtes à LeCorbeauet L'Abeille Highever."
She put her small hand in his and he gently shook it. So, she was at an inn called 'The Raven and The Bee,' in a town called Highever that had a castle that this nice man was a soldier of.
She told him her name was Brannan. And when he asked her full name—Brannan Leogdeagardis du Vash—he made her giggle when he told her it was longer than she was tall. "C'est un nom trop grand pour une petite jeune fille. C'est un nom trés fort, pour un personne trés forte. It is a name too big for a little girl. It is a very strong name for a very strong person."
He patted her shoulder and she looked down, biting her lower lip before pleading with him. "Puis-je rentrer àla maison d'Orlais? Puis-je rentrer àla maison d'oncle Léo maintenant?" She wanted to go home and back to Uncle Leo.
He looked sadly at her and her heart began to beat faster. "Non, ma petite, tu ne peux pas retourner vivre avec votre oncle Léo. Qu'est-ce que vous avez fait à ces bandits signifieque vous devez aller àla Tour et apprendre à contol votre magie. No, little one. I am afraid you cannot go back to your Uncle Leo. After what you did to those bandits, you will need to go to the Tower and learn to control your magic."
He wanted her to go to a tower and learn magic? But she was not magical! What happened with those bandits was an accident! She didn't know how to do it, it just happened! She had to make him see that.
Brannan leapt off the bed, yelling all of this, trying to explain. He must be made to understand! She promised never to do it again.
He continued to shake his head while looking at her with sympathy. "Non, ma petite, non. Je suis désolé, mais il doit être de cette façon. No, little one, no. I am so sorry, but it must be this way."
She begged, pleaded, and cried. What was this tower? Was it a prison? Would they really send a little girl to prison? The only tower she knew of in Val Royeaux was the Bastille du Sainte Didiane, a prison for criminals and those judged to be criminals of the state for religious or political reasons. It was the name used to scare little children into behaving. 'Stop picking on your brother or you will get sent to the Bastille.'
Brannan found herself shaking, a cold having seeped into her bones, despite the sweat that dampened her hair. "Non, s'il vous plaît! Je promets d'être une bonne fille! Il ne se reproduira pas. Je veux rentrer chez moi! S'il vous plaît, laissez-moi rentrer à la maison! No, please! I promise to be a good girl! It won't happen again. I just want to go home! Please, let me go home!"
Kedric looked alarmed as she stood in the middle of the room, practically screaming in hysterics. As he made a move towards her, the door opened and Brannan vaguely heard a woman's sweet voice, speaking Fereldan to Kedric, before soft hands like her Maman's gently grasped her shoulders from behind, spinning her around.
She barely registered a pretty face, framed by dark brown curls, set with dark, grey-green eyes full of concern. A cool hand was placed on her forehead before she found herself bundled into the soft, feather-filled duvet cover from her bed, and the world went black.