Author's note. Is it bad that when I get reviews I feel like a little kid at Christmas? Here's the chapter!
I couldn't help the smug look that pulled at my face as I went to retrieve my siblings. Bethany's eyes followed my form and then flickered back to the prince.
"Who was that?" she asked, a brow raised.
"A new friend," I answered mysteriously. He had yet to come find me (and while he's sober), therefore, I would not count my chickens. (Even though I really want to.)
"Here," Bethany said as she handed me back several pieces of silver. I didn't bother taking it from her.
"Save it," I said as I spotted Carver trying to sweet talk Nora, the barmaid. I shot a look at Bethany and she shrugged, as if to say 'it's not like I can control him'.
I grabbed Carver by the scruff of the neck, dragging him away. "Let's go, lover boy."
I looked up at the position of the sun and cursed under my breath. The sun had already started setting, the sky stained with red.
Carver swayed and I dug into my compartment of potions.
"Shit, shit, shit..." I muttered to myself. When I first got to Kirkwall, the bandits had been relentless. The sun goes away and every gang thinks that they can lay claim to the streets. Carver couldn't afford to be tipsy, it could kill him.
Finding Isabela's special tonic (she had a special concoction, what with her always drinking), I pulled the cork out of the vial and got a whiff. My nose scrunched up at the odor. Carver might hate me for a little while.
"Bethany, hold Carver still. We need to sober him up."
"Why, sister?" she questioned. "What's wrong?" She did as she told, holding his arms as he struggled, his mind hazy.
"Bandits." I turned to Carver, sighing. "Honestly, I didn't mean for you to treat yourself so much. This is going to taste bad, but it'll make you alert."
I plugged his nose and shoved the vial's neck in his mouth, draining brown contents.
He coughed, wiping his chin. "Are you trying to kill me?"
Darkness descended and I unsheathed the twin daggers on my back. "Not really. But they do."
A group of mercenaries stood on the stairs, blocking our exit. I would bet all I had that they wouldn't let us pass with a simple 'please'. I discretely dropped a small pelt, a smoke bomb. It rolled a little, but didn't go off.
The man in the front, the leader I guessed, rested a giant ax on his shoulders. My eyes flashed. I wanted it. (Yeah, I couldn't actually use it, specializing in daggers, but wouldn't make a wonderful present for Fenris?)
"Well, what do we have here?" the ax-man asked.
I twitched. Why do they all say that? Had they no originality? I glanced at my sides, Bethany had our father's staff before her, the wood pulsing. Carver, now completely sober, had unsheathed his broadsword, looking excited for a battle.
I looked up at the men surrounding the ax-man, about five of them. "Do any of you have any families or wives?"
Ax-man furrowed his brows. "Why?"
I flashed my best smile. "Oh, you know. Just wondering if I have any widows to contact in the morning."
Carver snickered and Ax-man brought his weapon in front of him. "Why you-"
My grip tightened on my daggers and I stepped on a smoke bomb, the smoke released and hiding my figure from view. I reappeared behind Ax-man and slit his throat. The man dropped and I spun, parrying a sword from one of the dead Ax-man's lackeys. I whipped my other hand out and slashed at the man.
Between the three of us, it was an easy victory.
I grabbed the ax, admiring the craftsmanship that had gone into the weapon. "Loot them," I called softly. "What you find, you keep."
Carver sent a longing look at the ax before checking the pockets of the dead men. Bethany hesitated but did so as I wiped the blood off my daggers on the nearest dead man.
It was comforting, knowing that I still have my skills. But I didn't have time to dwell on that. I had one more errand. I took my siblings to The Manor, the only hotel in Hightown where Mother waited.
They talked over dinner (complimentary from the hotel), Mother mentioning how it didn't seem right, that her parents wouldn't leave her anything. Then she said that Gamlen had told her earlier that he'd left the will in the estate. Bethany commented that she wished we were able to see it. Mother agreed.
After dinner, my family watched as I secured the daggers on my back.
"Going out, Lara?" my mother asked, a look in her eyes. It wasn't suspicion... but I couldn't place it.
"Yes, Mother. I have an errand to take care of. Don't wait up. Carver, Bethany, in the morning we'll go to the market."
I patted Sedas on the way out (he'd refused to go back with Gamlen) and paused, pulling out a coin purse. I tossed it, estimating it's worth. I tossed it to Mother.
"Use this on groceries and whatever else we need. Go ahead and buy yourself something as well. Let me know if you run out."
I closed the door behind me and paused when I heard my mother sigh from behind the door. "Where is she getting all this?"
(It was wrong, eavesdropping, but the curiosity to know what they thought of my 'transformation' was eating at me.)
"Mother, have you noticed anything... different about Lara?" I heard Bethany ask tenatively.
"Yes... she's becoming exactly like your father. He used to do this, too. He'd go out at night on 'errands' and hand me large amounts of money to take care of little expenses," Mother answered.
I looked down at my hands. My father, he did this as well?
"She knew bandits were going to attack us," Carver supplied.
"She knew exactly where Gamlen's house was. She knew about the estate. Perhaps this is why she wanted to come here?"
I clenched my fists. I need to become more aware of what I say and do. They were putting two and two together. But why didn't I want them to know? I knew the answer immediately.
I want to protect them from the cruel fate they'd been given in the past. (Er, future?)
More dead men at my feet. I sighed. I would always have blood on my hands. That was my lot.
I walked over a slaver and took the path I knew all too well to a little clinic in Darktown.
I had allowed myself to be cut by one of them as an excuse to see Anders, but hadn't counted on the poison. I had the antidote on me but refused to use it.
I pushed open the door, seeing Anders's strong back as he healed a little girl, memories flashing before my eyes.
Anders coming to my room, me teasing him about our threesome.
A kiss... and something more.
He'd been there from the beginning, there when Sebastian had proposed his stupid chaste marriage (did he really think I'd be happy with that? I wanted children, dammit!) and broke my heart. I'd come to honestly love him.
In the end, he gave me betrayal.
I hardened my heart, holding my injured left arm, the poison starting to take affect, paralyzing it and moving up.
The little girl healed, she jumped up and raced away, laughing all the way. Anders turned, watching the girl, a smile on his face. The smile disappeared when he saw me.
He looked less tortured. More human.
I fell forward as the poison spread at an alarming rate, forcing me to my knees. I looked up at him, knowing how much trust I was putting in his character. If he didn't heal me, I was most likely going to die.
All I could do was whisper a small (pathetic) 'help' before my vision blotted out.
After all this time, with all my guilt and pain, I still trusted the liar. I trusted the liar who blew up the Chantry.
I really needed better friends.
I woke with my armor stripped and wearing simple robes, laying in a small bed, the covers pulled up to my shoulders.
At least my trust was well rewarded.
"Awake, are you?"
Shock gripped my body. Anders always had an overwhelming presence, I'd always been sure it was from the man. But...
Well, at least he wasn't possessed. Yet.
I pulled myself up, a definite soreness in my left arm. I knew Anders could have healed that as well. He wanted me to feel how close I was to death. And that he was the one to save me.
The man was very much the same, but his eyes spoke volumes. He was angry. Well, he did say his anger tainted Justice. I'd never wondered just how mad at the world he was. Is.
He was glaring, a little vial in his hands. He'd found my bottle of antidote.
"You had this on you. Why didn't you use it like a smart person?"
I bit back the urge to retort, "Ever think that maybe I'm not a smart person?" I don't think he wanted an answer. He had that look he always got when he'd made his decision and couldn't be persuaded otherwise, no matter what you say.
The Chantry destruction was brought to the forefront of my mind.
"I wanted to make sure I could trust you."
His face screamed, "Wrong answer!"
"I think you wanted to lure me to use my powers. Templar scum, using a beautiful woman..."
I knew I should have brought Bethany.
"My sister is an apostate. Why would I help the templars?"
His eyes narrowed. "Why did you come alone, then?"
I clutched the sheets. "I won't bring my siblings to a dangerous place if it's not necessary. I made a vow to protect my loved ones, even if I have to put myself into danger."
Anders looked like he wanted to believe me, but he hadn't stayed alive all these years by falling for every sob story.
I flexed my left arm, wincing a bit, and glared at the healer.
"You don't even know me," I growled, referring to the arm he'd not entirely healed. He had no right judging me. What he was capable of- I stopped myself. It hadn't happened yet. I couldn't blame him for something that hadn't happened.
He raised a brow. "And you don't know me."
I think I was extremely exhausted, because, suddenly, that was the funniest think I had ever heard. I burst out laughing, smacking the bed as tears streamed down my face. But that laughter soon turned to sobs that racked my body like violent waves. I bit my lip to keep silent, like I always did when I cried, pulling up my legs and trying to make myself smaller.
Although he was sitting before me, uncomfortable and unsure of what to do, all I could see was his lifeless body, on the cold ground, Meredith's pure tainted lyrium sword stabbed through his shoulder, his eyes devoid of life.
Despite the fact that (in a fit of rage) I destroyed Meredith and got my revenge, the nightmares still came, demons hounding me.
I'd done the unspeakable after, forcing Anders to come back.
Hesitant arms wrapped around me, forcing me from the past (future?). I threw my arms around his shoulders, trying to tell myself that he was real.
"Shh..." he muttered, rubbing soothing strokes down my back.
I calmed myself a bit, laying my head in the crook of his neck, taking in the scent of him. I laughed a little.
"Hmm?" he asked, running his fingers through my dark shoulder length hair.
"I'm not Ser Pounce-A-Lot."
His movements stilled and I realized my mistake as he released me. He eyed me suspiciously. "How do you know of him?"
I laughed nervously, rubbing the back of my neck.
I came to a decision immediately, looking up at Anders, a serious look on my face. "Yes, I suppose someone should know," I muttered, determination strengthening my resolve. "In all your years as a Grey Warden, have you ever come across a forbidden type of magic that is capable of time travel?"
His face went blank, then confusion filled his eyes. "You are not a mage..."
I forced myself to swallow and shook my head.
"And you think you're from the future."
The way he said it, so sarcastic, made me glare at him. He gulped.
"Must I prove it?" I went into the facts without waiting for a response. "Your name is Anders, you hate templars, volunteer your help to an underground organization of which you never gave me real information, just that you help get mages out of the city using the passages under Darktown, your favorite color is blue, the Grey Wardens made you get rid of your cat, and that cat, Ser Pounce-A-Lot, hated the Deep Roads, just like you do." I took a deep breath. "Is that enough for you?"
He took another visible gulp.
I smiled a little at his face, he'd have to believe me now.
He got his thoughts in order. "Was the future so bad that you came back to fix it?"
My eyes darkened, but I tried to keep the small smile in place. "I've already saved my little brother."
His eyebrows rose.
"One year from now, my home will be destroyed by the Blight. Last time, Carver died while we were escaping. I've relocated them to Kirkwall. Now I just have to make sure Bethany isn't taken to the Circle and Kirkwall's killer doesn't get my mother."
I looked down at my hands, letting the smile slip away as grief pulled at my heart.
Anders gently placed his hand on mine and I looked up at his face. He looked like he'd made an important decision.
"I offer my services to you then. If there is anything I can do-"
I clasped his hand and leaned toward him, a sense of urgency pushing me on.
"Don't allow Justice to enter your body!" I yelled, fear pushing the grief out of the way. Anders couldn't do that again. If he did... He'd be signing his own death warrant.
His eyes widened and I saw recognition, he'd already met the spirit.
"You have like goals, but your anger will taint him. He will take over your body and preform acts of destruction... You weren't you anymore..."
He put the hand not captured on my shoulder. "You really cared about me, eh?"
Tears swelled in my eyes again. "We were happy for a time. We were in love."
I saw the question in his eyes and squeezed his hand. "You, or rather, Justice, did something unforgivable. But I couldn't kill you. You left."
I let go of his hand and pulled back the covers and stood on without any problems. Anders rose quickly. "I'll finish healing you." I stood still as his hands glowed over my arm, relishing the feeling of his warm magic penetrating my skin. It had always been like this. I'd never gone anywhere without Anders or Fenris. He would always be there to heal the wounds and Fenris would always be there, ready to step up and protect me (never mind the face that I didn't need it).
My arm felt better quickly and I gathered my armor. I looked at Anders pointedly, hoping he'd get the hint.
He blushed and stammered out, "O-oh, ri-right. I'll leave you to it."
The smile came before I could push it down and I sighed when he closed the door behind him. I pulled on my armor and tucked the few things he managed to find back into their hiding spots.
Everything in its place, I left without a goodbye. I would not encourage him to go down that road. After so many years (both in the future and going back) I'd moved on. Hopefully.
Sedas howled the next morning, far too early in my opinion. He bounded onto my bed and gave me a single slobbery lick, efficiently getting me up before he could land another assault.
"I'm up, I'm up!" I yelled at the dog who then rolled on my bed, taking my warm spot. I pouted. "You just want to sleep, is that it? You greedy dog."
I ran my fingers through my messy hair and looked around the room. I didn't get a good look around the room last night, being that I came in late and it was dark. It was a fine room, a king sized bed taking up most of the space, a writing desk with all of the needed supplies, a simple chair, a dresser and a large fireplace, the embers barely alive.
I looked over at the dog when he growled. Sedas had started sniffing the bed and then hopped off and sniffed me. He growled and I could only guess that he could smell Anders. I crouched down to his level. "Oh, don't worry. You're the only one for me." I patted his head and dropped a kiss to his nose.
I stood and stretched. Another night spent thinking. I hated how I could never sleep without someone there. And if I did sleep, I was tormented my nightmares, seeing my family and all my friends die, over and over.
I pushed away the thought and pulled out a health potion and downed it. I'd been warned before by Anders that if I didn't sleep, I had better at least drink a potion. My insomnia would make me weaker if I wasn't careful.
I still had four and a half companions left to find and gather. Pulling out the seat at the writing desk, I got to work on a letter.
How are you, dear cousin? Well, I hope. I have a job for you. Perhaps you are up to an adventure with your fellows? As you know, I am in Kirkwall with family, therefore unable to find my friends. Enclosed are the names of my friends and where I suspect them to be. No need to contact them. I simply wish to know where they are so I can visit. Also enclosed is payment for the trip. I will pay you forty sovereigns for each friend found.
Their names and approximate locations:
Aveline: Lothering. Guard to Calian.
Isabela: Unknown. She's a pirate, simply ask about her in every port you enter.
Fenris: Minrathous, Tevinter. He's a slave/ bodyguard to Magister Danarius.
Be careful in how you inquire about Fenris and Isabela. They're a bit dangerous. Don't confront them. They most likely don't remember me. We met briefly and it has been a long time.
Thank you so much, dear cousin.
My letter written, I left the house (thank goodness Sedas's baying did not wake my family) to send off the post, opening the door to see Sebastian, his hand raised to knock.
"Ah!" He stepped back, startled. "Serrah Hawke? I have thought about what you said..."
"Hmm..." I reached out my hand, about to touch his chest plate.
Sebastian stumbled back a step, out of my reach. "Serrah Hawke?"
I brushed pasted him, smirking over my shoulder. "Just checking to see if you were sober." I kept walking, hearing my mabari trotting behind me to catch up, excited for a walk. I paused and looked over my shoulder again when I didn't hear Sebastian following.
"You coming, Vael?"
I saw his eyes narrow at the use of his last name but he moved forward to my side quickly. It was simple to translate the look he gave me.
He didn't trust me.
We went to the docks, a silence descending around us. It was starting to annoy me, the way he watched my every move. Like I was a timebomb.
I paid a captain to deliver my letter to Ferelden and turned on my heel, going back the way I came. The hair on the back of my neck rose, sending vibrations through my body, telling me that I was being watched. He was probably curious about the letter.
"It's for my cousin," I stated, hoping he would now have no reason to stare so intently. He wasn't walking beside me any longer. He was behind me, following me like everyone used to. Now if we had two more people here, it would feel like old times.
"Your cousin?" he repeated.
I didn't feel like responding, I'd told him who it was for but other than that, it wasn't his business.
"Are you homesick then?" his thick brogue asked.
I stopped before the steps leading up to Lowtown, and looked at the unused compound to my right.
The place that would hold the Qunari in three years. The war that would follow. And then the duel between the Arishok and I.
Sedas pushed his wet nuzzle against my hand and I was released from the flash back. I glanced at Sebastian, seeing him still watching me. I remembered that he asked a question.
"No. I've not thought Ferelden as my home from a long time." I patted Sedas's large head and continued walking towards Lowtown. "So you've decided on something?"
"I'd like to take you up on your offer of revenge."
"But, as a Brother of the Faith, you wish for me to take care of it," I said finishing his thought. I had a feeling things would happen this way.
I heard the sharp intake of breath. He was definitely the same.
"It will take a little while. I'm trying to gather a team."
I paused on the steps and turned facing him, now a head taller. "I'm sending my cousin in search of three would-be-companions. Once they are located and my mother taken care of, I leave in search of them." I gave him a shrug and continued, near the top of the steps. "Boring things must be done beforehand. You are welcome to come along, though. I could use an archer as good as yourself."
"You are inviting me on a journey?"
"Yes. I know you hardly know me. I understand if you don't wish to travel with a strange woman and her siblings. Besides, these people are dangerous. They don't know me yet but I know that we'll all become friends." I looked over my shoulder as we started up the steps to Hightown. "Just like I know that we will become friends."
When we reached The Manor, I turned to him and Sedas, intending to tell him to stay put. He caught me by surprise, taking my hand in his and bowing over it. "It seems you have everything figured out." He pressed a light kiss to my knuckles and blood seemed to pump itself into my face. "I would be honored to join you on your travels, My lady."
His crystal eyes seemed to stab my very soul and I yanked my hand from his to break the spell he seemed to be casting over me. I stalked away from him to the door, throwing a simple order over my shoulder.
Sebastian looked at the mabari sitting at his feet. "Was she talking to you or me, I wonder?"
I was trying to stay annoyed, but found myself giggling as I entered the hotel in search of my siblings.
The Manor was actually a simple manor, large enough for three noble visiting families. Meaning, it could have fit about twenty common families. It was made up of three floors, everything you'd possibly need in one of the individual floors. I had booked my family the top floor, meaning I had several stairs to climb.
Inside, Bethany and Carver were up, dressed and eating breakfast. I could see their weapons propped up against the wall, ready to go out and explore. During the stair climbing, I'd finally decided that I was annoyed.
I stomped into the kitchen, muttering to myself. "Stupid git. Thinks he's so smooth."
Bethany laughed. "Found a suitor already, sister? Mother will have a fit."
I rolled my eyes. "Yes, Mother will be most delighted. Now, hurry, eat your food. We'll leave a note for her."
"What's on your agenda, Sister?" Carver asked after shoveling the rest of his bread into his mouth.
"Yes, I've seen that look, Lara," Bethany pointed out. "What's going on?"
I grinned. "It's a surprise. Just let me grab something from my room."
I dashed to my room, feeling the twins' eyes following me. Where I left it the night before was a simple key. The night before, after I'd left Anders' clinic, I broke into Gamlen's house and found the key from Darktown into the basement of the family's estate.
I'm such a bad person.
I went back to the kitchen, calling out to the cleaning twins. "I'll be outside."
On the way out, I let Sedas in, knowing that he'd be smart enough to know where to go.
"Right," I said, sitting on the steps, watching Sebastian who had waited patiently. "They'll be out as soon as they finish cleaning their breakfast."
His eyes seemed to flash. "Did you have the chance to eat this morning?"
I shot him a disarming smile. "Nope."
As the twins exited, Sebastian threw her an apple he pulled out of his pack. His eyes darkened a shade. He could have screamed, 'eat it!', the intent was he same.
I bit into it, avoiding the twins' eyes as I hurried through the introductions.
"Sebastian, Bethany and Carver. Brats, this is Sebastian. He's a rogue. He specializes in archery."
Sebastian observed Bethany a bit too closely, his eyes honing in on her staff. I stepped up slightly in front of Bethany in a protective manner, a snarl starting to curl my lips, flashing white teeth. I glared at him, daring him to even try to take Bethany away from me.
He held up his hands to show he meant no harm. "You'll no have to worry about me betraying you, Hawke. You've taken on a selfish request. I will not stand in the way of it being completed."
I relaxed a bit, bringing the apple to my mouth. "Alright," I said after swallowing. "I will trust you. Do not betray that trust." I turned and walked towards the market place. "It's not easy to get back."
I had to admit, every time I saw him felt like a punch in the gut. I felt a hand on my shoulder, and looked up at Bethany, her grip on her new staff tight. "Are you alright, Sister?"
Earlier, they'd all been laughing as Carver and Bethany picked out new equipment, both of them making digs at me. Even Sebastian jumped in.
I laughed when he asked me if I offered my information to every drunk I came across. I had given him a wide eyed look, saying that I only did so to those who had the innocent, choirboy look about them.
It had been then that Varric appeared, sizing Sebastian up and then winking at me. "Definitely a Choirboy, Hawke."
I offered Varric the chance to rough up some.. people, (to which Bethany, Carver, and Sebastian all perked up about) but he turned me down. "Business," he explained.
Yes, because business consists of going to the Hanged Man, getting drunk, telling farfetched stories, and playing cards with some hapless victims.
"Anything wrong, Sister?"
I came out of my thoughts, realizing that everyone was waiting on me. They now knew what we were doing in Darktown (and Bethany couldn't be more excited). I made on of my impulsive decisions. "No, but there is one last friend I've made that I've yet to introduce all of you to."
Carver perked up. "Your errand last night?"
I nodded, going to the doors of Anders' clinic and letting myself in.
He was at his desk, sorting mail, his back to us. He rose quickly, his staff in his hand, trying to look threatening. He lowered it upon spotting me.
"Hawke! You left last night without a goodbye- I didn't know if-" He stopped, looking at the people behind me. "I would assume those two are the siblings you spoke of?" he asked, looking at Bethany and Carver.
I nodded. "Yes. This is Bethany, Carver, and Sebastian. Everyone this is Anders."
Bethany looked between us, and I know she saw what I did. Anders had a lovestruck aura around him, something that reminded me of a puppy. I could feel some kind of menace and glance over my shoulder, seeing the scowl on Sebastian's face. Something told me that he didn't like Anders. Huh.
"You were positive, Anders, that you wanted to offer your services.?"
"Of course, Hawke. Anything."
I heard Carver groan and I took a deep breath to calm myself. Not going there.
I gave him my best smile. "Okay, then. Care to join us if you aren't busy?"
Anders took a moment to glance about his empty clinic. "Not at all. Lead on."
Author's note. Woah. That was a close one. Almost wrote myself into a corner. So I figured there might be a few questions about the clinic scene, what with Hawke seeing Anders's dead body on the ground. I don't feel like I've explained it properly.
Anders does live (during the whole evil Meredith thing). It's simply something that Hawke did that healed him. I figure I'll let the secret out of the bag soon. (Though I'd be willing to bet that a lot of you figured it out. That was a pretty big clue.)
Oh and BloodyOrchid said something in her review that hit me hard. From here onward, it's Hawke/Multi. Gonna be awesome!
BloodyOrchid: Thank you for your praise! And, yes, wonderful idea! I'll try not to get attached to a specific pair:)
Those who call me T.I.M.: That's what I had thought! I'm throwing the rules out the window (Whose to tell me that she can only have three companions at a time?) It'll get more interesting next chapter when the hunt for her friends starts. Look forward to it!
And hey, I got this nice chapter up only one day after the last one (although it's like seven-eightish) because I got two very nice reviews. So... please?