The Other Hawke
By: Ryu Katanna
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
The tension between Harry and Fenris had improved a bit after they left the cave that day two weeks ago. Harry only hoped that he had finally gotten through to the elf a bit. Yet, he was also realistic. Fenris had a long-standing hatred for mages. He knew that it wouldn't be so easy for them to move past it completely.
Now, Harry stood with his brother and sister as the Deep Roads Expedition was preparing to get underway. Anders stood nearby trying to ignore that he would be heading into the Deep Roads. It was a place he hated, but he had offered his services all those weeks ago. Harry had already agreed to look after the clinic while he was away. When Harry could not be there than Pryce would step in to do what he could.
Isabela and Varric stood nearby as well as they all listened to Bartrand making his announcement. Harry couldn't help but dislike the dwarf. For all that he was Varric's brother, they were nothing alike as far as he could see. There was just something about him that struck on off chord in Harry. Yet, Harry chose to reserve judgment.
He had only heard stories from the Dalish about the Durgen'lin before coming to Kirkwall. Even then he had only really spoken with Worthy while in Ahenril's employ and Varric after he had chosen to involve himself with his family. He had little with which to compare Bartrand to when it came to his people. He wouldn't trust Bartrand with his siblings, but Varric had become a friend. Harry knew he could trust him to look out for Marian and Carver.
"We've chosen one of the hidden entrances. The Deep Roads there will be nice and virginal, ready for a good deflowering. Ha!" Bartrand announced as he paced back and forth before those gathered.
"Now there's an interesting image." Varric said with a bit of a chuckle from behind Marian and Harry gave a small laugh at his dwarven friend's humor.
"It will take us a week to get to the depth we need, and there are bound the be leftover darkspawn from the Blight. Big risks, big rewards." Bartrand continued with a dirty look at Harry for his laughter.
"Risks, rewards- what could be better?" Marian said as she tried to motivate those around them that had been hired.
"Exactly! Now, before we… wait. Who invited the old woman?" The dwarf said derisively, and Harry bit his tongue to keep from saying something to him when he turned to see it was their mother.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, ser dwarf, but I need to speak with my children." Leandra spoke formally as she stood straight-backed and tall.
"Mother, no. We talked about how important this is." Carver said as the three of them moved away from the group to stand in front of her.
"I just want to know one thing. Are you taking Harry and Carver with you?" Leandra asked Marian seriously with a look of worry.
"I can't leave Carver behind. I need him, and Harry has already said he will not go." Marian replied as Harry moved to stand closer to his mother; offering what comfort he could as he spoke.
"Yes, Mamae. I will be here. I have many responsibilities I can not abandon, and I will not be leaving you." Harry replied thinking about the pile of paperwork Pryce had returned with after running his message to Aveline.
There was no way he could just take off for what could be weeks. He had the work from the Viscount's Keep as the Elven Ambassador, taking care of Ander's Clinic while he was away, his three charges now living with him, and his responsibilities living in the alienage. He also refused to do that to their mother. She had already lost Bethany in their escape from the Blight. Now Carver and Marian were walking voluntarily into the Deep Roads. He would not leave her without at least one of them around to comfort her as she worried.
"I'm going. I'll be fine." Carver said firmly even as he tried to reassure her.
"It's not fine! You can't both go! What if something were to happen to you?" Leandra pleaded with Carver before turning to Marian.
"You, I understand wanting to do this, but leave your brother here. I beg you!" She pleaded with her eldest again.
"I said I'm going. Besides, if we're so bloody afraid of Templars, I should go and they should hide!" Carver replied gesturing at is older siblings.
"Well, you're not going to be able to take everyone, anyhow. You'll need to decide." Bartrand cut in before turning away again, and Harry grit his teeth knowing the dwarf had been listening in on his family's discussion.
"Give us a minute, Mamae. I'll try talking to them." Harry told her, and Leandra smiled gratefully as she walked a small distance away.
"You're not going to change my mind, Harry. We've talked about all this already." Carver said as he watched this interaction with their mother.
"I know we have. I just want to talk with you both before you leave. Carver, I don't have a good feeling about this. I never have, but… you're not a child anymore. As much as I want to be that protective big brother who tells you it's too dangerous, and I really do, you are your own man. Just please be careful. Both of you." Harry entreated as he pulled both Carver and Marian into a hug.
"You're always going to be my big brother, Harry. This is just something I feel I have to do. That, and I can't let Marian go it alone." Carver told him before the three of them pulled away.
"You take care of Mother while we're away, and be careful…" Marian said meaningfully, and Harry understood the message all too clearly.
"I will. You two come back safe. For mother, and for me. We need you, and we'll be waiting for you both." Harry said before stepping back.
Marian and Carver moved to turn away when Leandra rushed up next to Harry to stop Carver. She had been watching her children. She knew them all too well. If Carver would listen to anyone it would be Harry. However, this time, it looked like he wouldn't be holding Carver back from what he wanted.
"Carver, I beg you! Don't go! Don't do this!" Leandra begged him and he turned to her with a soft look in his eye.
"Don't worry about me so. I can take care of myself, you'll see." He tried to reassure her, but she didn't say any more.
Her expression was defeated as she looked from Carver to Harry and then finally to Marian. Looking back to Carver one last time, Leandra finally turned and moved away. Harry's heart broke for their mother. He knew she was just trying to protect the children she had left after the way Bethany died. She was trying to hold onto them the only way she knew how. Turning back to his brother and sister, Harry spoke firmly before going after their mother.
"I don't care about the money. You both just better come back to us."
The next few weeks were torturous. Even with as busy as he was with everything he had to do, Harry still worried for his sister and brother. He woke every morning still tired and went to bed so exhausted that he knew he was stretching himself thin.
Luckily, Aveline had taken notice and had eased off on how much work she was sending his way. Pryce, after time being taught by both Anders and Harry, had really stepped up in helping with the clinic. Arina and Ciel took turns keeping up with the chores and visiting Leandra to distract her from her worry when Harry couldn't. Merrill, Fenris, and Isabella tried to distract Harry by stopping by every few days for a game of Wicked Grace. It didn't help much.
It wasn't the same without Varric, Marian, Carver, and Anders. Instead of being a distraction from their absence it became a reminder. Oh, he didn't begrudge the others for it. He knew they really were just trying to pull him out of his mood that continued to darken by the day.
Things only got worse. The expected return date came and went. Still, there was no sign of his siblings or their friends. Days passed, a week, and then two. Soon nothing proved to be much of a distraction from his and his mother's worry.
It wasn't until three weeks after the expected return that Harry was visiting his mother and Uncle when Marian opened the door. Leandra, Gamlen, and Harry looked up at her in stunned relief at her safety. However, their hearts sank at her expression when no familiar heavy booted footfalls followed. Leandra crumbled to her knees and wept while Harry stared at the wall in shock as Marian explained.
"Bartrand left us all for dead. Even Varric. We had to find another way out, and we did after some searching. We were on the way back when Carver started to look sicker and sicker. He caught the Blight sickness." Marian's voice struggled through the words as she and Gamlen tried to comfort Leandra while looking at Harry.
Marian found no comfort in his expression. The air in the room was heavy, and his face like stone. He stood staring at the wall. He hadn't said a word as she started telling them what had happened. He was so still she could hardly tell that he was breathing.
"Oh, Maker!" Leandra let out another sob as she heard about Carver becoming ill.
"We were lucky we took Anders with us. It was because of him that we were able to find some Grey Wardens. They took Carver. I don't know what happened to him after that, but Warden Stroud said he is either a Grey Warden or…" Marian choked as she thought of the decision she'd had to make.
It hadn't been much of one.
"Funeral rites are held when one of a Dalish clan leaves to join the Grey Wardens. We may not see him again unless our paths coincide." Harry's voice was hollow as he said this with thoughts of what Keeper Marethari had told him about when Lyna left.
The Grey Wardens had taken his best friend after she had been infected by the Blight, and now his brother would share her calling. If he lived to become a Grey Warden. Keeper Marethari had said she had heard when Lyna had left that the initiation process could be just as deadly as the alternative. Thoughts of Lyna, Tamlen, Zathrian and his clan, Bethany, and now of Carver felt like a lead weight in Harry's heart. He had lost so much since the Blight had come to Ferelden, and now it had taken his little brother from him as well.
"Harry?" Leandra asked through her tears as she finally noticed her remaining son's posture.
"I'm sorry, Mamae. I need some time…" Harry said softly before stalking out and letting his feet take him to where he knew his family would be harmed if he lost control.
He could feel his magic pushing for a way out as he hurried toward the alienage. Ignoring greetings along his way, Harry hurried to Merrill's home. Already he could feel that he was losing some of his tightly held control over his magic as the breeze picked up. He entered without knocking and bolted the door shut behind him.
"Harry? Oh, Creators. What has happened?" Merrill asked when she looked over to find him panting by the door.
"Carver." Harry uttered, and horror took over Merrill's expression as Harry sank heavily to his knees on her floor.
A small whirlwind of air picked up around him as she came to sit beside him. Leaning into his side, Merrill offered silent comfort as his body shook. She knew he wasn't truly crying. The emotions were just too strong for him to hold onto.
"What has happened, lethallin?" Merrill asked as soothingly as she could.
That familiar tone was all Harry needed before he explained it all. How he hadn't really fought to keep Carver with them Knowing how his brother felt he had just let him walk off into that pit. How Marian had come back without Carver, and why. Silence followed for a while as Merrill helped steady Harry's control on his magic with her own.
"Why did you not stay with your family, Harry?" Merrill asked already having an idea.
"I can't. I… I do not want to say something I would regret. I failed Mamae. I trusted Marion to bring him back. I… I can't face them right now, lethallan." Harry stumbled over the words as he mumbled them as he started to regain his control.
"Alright. Then just tell me what to do, Harry? What do you need right now?" Merrill asked as she seen her old friend pull himself back together.
"I need… I need a drink, and to talk to Varric. Come with me?" Harry asked before she nodded and offered him a hand up.
She knew what he really meant. He had come to her because he felt he needed someone to stop him from saying the wrong thing to Varric. She knew that out of all the members of his family, Harry was the closest to Carver. Now, he may never see Carver again, and Bartrand was to blame for that. Varric may not be his brother, but he was the one who helped Marian and Carver with their plans to partner with him for the expedition.
It didn't take the two of them very long to make it to the Hanged Man. Harry and Merrill came in and headed right for Varric's rooms only to be stopped by Norah.
"Harry! It's been a while since you've stopped by. Work been keeping you busy?" The serving girl asked as she smiled at one of her favorite patrons.
"Hello, Norah. I'm sorry, but I'm not really in the mood to talk today. Could you please just keep the drinks coming?" Harry asked gently, and Norah nodded with a small smile as she seen something was weighing on him.
"Of course, love. I'll get that right too you." The woman replied before sauntering away toward the bar.
Harry gave a small sigh as he and Merrill reached the top of the stairs and knocked on the door frame. Varric looked up from his conversation with Fenris at the noise. Seeing Harry he gave his friend a strained smile as Harry entered and took a seat next to him with Merrill next to him and Fenris across from him. No words were spoken as Norah delivered their drinks. She shut the door behind her on her way out in a small gesture to afford them some privacy.
"I'm sorry, Dreamer." Varric choked after a few minutes of the tense silence.
"He left you for dead too, my friend. You hold no blame for his actions." Harry said before taking a deep drink from his mug.
"If anything, I hold far more blame than you." Harry continued as his nails cut into his palm.
"Harry!" Merrill said in alarm as she seen blood seep from the cuts.
She wasted no time in forcing Harry's hand open and cleaning away the blood. Muttering a silent healing spell she only released him after the flesh nit back together. Merrill watched her old friend closely to make sure he didn't do it again but said nothing more about it. She was there to offer support where she could. Yet, Merrill also knew that there was not much she could do on her own.
"I never should have let him go with you, Varric. Having him join the Templars would have been better. At least I would know that he still lives. I failed my family. Again!" Harry's fist slammed into the table with his exclamation.
"None of us knew what would happen down there, Harry." Merrill muttered as she looked over to Fenris who was watching Harry closely.
"It wasn't your fault, Dreamer. If it's anyone's fault, what happened to the kid, it's my bastard brother's. I'll find him. I promise you." Varric's voice was heavy as he watched his friend.
Varric had known that Harry would be in bad sorts with the news. He had gotten to know the other man rather well. Harry was often mischievous with moods that could be up or down depending on what they encountered. The one thing that Varric had seen never changed though, was the weight he carried without a word. Harry had never spoken of his troubles to him even over drinks, but Varric knew it was there. He hadn't made it as far as he had in Kirkwall without being observant.
Harry nodded at Varrics words but said no more that night. He left the Hanged Man only with the assistance of Fenris and Merrill after as many drinks as he'd had. Pryce answered the door with a grave face at the news his sisters had returned from Harry's family with. He had known it would be bad, but he had not thought to ever see his benefactor in such a drunken state.
"Thank you for bringing him back. My sister's and I will do what we can." Pryce said to Merrill and Fenris after they had led Harry to his bedroll.
"Come and get me if you need any help. Things may be a bit hard for a while." Merrill said softly to the teen she had gotten to know in his time under Harry's care.
Pryce only nodded as they left. He closed and bolted the door before looking toward the door to the room where Harry rested. He was prepared to do what he could for the man who really didn't look that much older than himself. Pryce felt he and his sisters owed Harry, though they knew Harry didn't feel that way.
Harry had been easy to live with and to work for. Pryce was doing honest work now, and his sisters were safe with food in their stomachs. He had been getting to know Harry since that night. The man could be a little erratic in his moods but had had his heart in the right place so far as Pryce could tell. He and his sisters had been seeing the world a little differently since coming into his care and Pryce was coming to believe he was starting to see what Harry asked them about that first day.
Pryce didn't know what the future held, but he was starting to feel that he didn't want to work for anyone else.
The next few weeks passed in a mind-numbing haze for Harry as he worked himself to exhaustion during the day and drank himself into a stupor at night. His friends and family didn't know what to do. Any time one of them would say something he wouldn't reply. He just walked off and would disappear without a word.
Leandra started to worry that by losing one son, she may well lose the other. It was Harry's behavior that pulled her out of her grief for Carver. After talking with Aveline and Hahren Reeba of the alienage Leandra had sent Marian to speak with Harry's friends. She knew that her son was hurting but Leandra also knew that neither she or Marian would be able to help him.
Marian may have been the oldest, but after Malcolm's death, Harry had become the man of the house. He may have only been home with them half of the year but in those years spent between home and the Dalish, it had been Harry's crafting that had largely supported them. Leandra couldn't help but feel guilty. She'd known that Bethany had blamed Harry for Malcolm's death. At the time she hadn't known what to do about it. By the time she had really spoken to Bethany, it had been too late. The damage had been done.
Marian followed her mother's request as she made her way to the Hanged Man. It was later in the day and so she wasn't surprised to see Harry sitting with Varric, Merrill, Anders, and Fenris in the tavern. To her relief, however, he was still sober with only his first drink in front of him. Looking at Merrill she could see that his friend was at a loss as to what to do.
"Harry. I think we should talk." Marian said gently as she could as she took a seat at the table in Varric's room.
"Fenhedas lasa, Marian. Not again." Harry said with a growl of exasperation as he took note of the tone she had in her voice.
This was not the first time since her return from the Deep Roads that Marian had said as much to him. Harry knew that Marian was worried about him, but all he wanted was to forget. He knew he had been acting immaturely by going out every night and drinking himself into a stupor. He also knew that he didn't want to think. Thought led him right back to remembering why he wanted to drink in the first place.
"You can be as angry as you want to be with me, Harry. I honestly would prefer to see you yelling at me than what you've been doing. You can't go on like this, little brother." Marian said as she seen the embers of a familiar fir smoldering in Harry's eyes.
"I think this is a conversation best left between the two of you..." Anders started to stand from his chair only to take his seat when Marian motioned for him to stay.
"No, it's alright Anders." Marian told him before looking back to her brother.
"Mother has lost two children already. Will you really let yourself continue with this?" She asked him seriously.
"Lay off, Marian. I'm still here." Harry scowled as he drained his drink.
"The person I see in front of me is not the brother I know. The brother I know never drank until he needed others to take him home. My brother has his moments of grief, but he is strong. Strong enough to keep going. That is not the person sitting in front of me now." Marian's words had the power to cut and cut they did.
"What do you want from me, Marian? I'm still working. Still handling my responsibilities. I still make time to see Mamae. She hasn't lost me. I'm right here!" Harry's voice was heated as he threw back his chair and paced like a caged animal.
"Mother and I think it's best that you get out of Kirkwall." Marian said to everyone's shock, and Harry gave her a wounded look before she continued.
"Go visit the Dalish. I will never understand it but mother and I agree that somehow the Dalish can help you. You shut us out where you do not with them. Keeper Zathrian and his clan helped you when our father died. If it's what is best for you then mother and I agree that you should go." Marian explained only to see Merrill's face brighten a bit at this suggestion.
"The Keeper would welcome you, lethallin. You know this. If it is the People you need then you would not be turned away." Merrill encouraged earnestly.
For weeks she'd had to watch as her old friend buried his grief. He had left himself no time to mourn his loss. She could not return to her clan for her own reasons but the People cherished Harry. If it was the support of the People he needed to let go of his grief then she had no doubt that he would be welcomed back among them with open arms.
"I can't simply leave. I have my responsibilities here. Things are not as they were before coming to Kirkwall." Harry denied to suggestion as his shoulders slouched.
"Mother has already spoken to Aveline. She had agreed to allow you some time away. Hahren Reeba has also agreed, and mother will be standing in for you while you are away." Marian said before looking at their friends for some help to convince Harry it was alright for him to go.
"Pryce can help me with the clinic. He's still learning but he's picking up on things quickly." Anders said as he picked up on what Marian was trying to do.
"I can't go with you to the clan, but I can look after the young ones you have at home until you return." Merrill pitched in as well.
Harry looked at his sister and friends a little at a loss to come up with any reason not to go. He slid back into his chair quietly before looking from one of them to the other. He knew he hadn't been himself. Maybe Marian was right.
"Alright. Will you come with me, Fenris? Marian's right. I haven't been myself, and I don't trust myself at the moment." Harry told him knowing that he would need someone to come with him.
Fenris, while not trusted, would be more tolerated among the Dalish then a human or dwarf.
"We'll leave in the morning." Fenris said with a nod.
durgen'lin- dwarf, child of the stone
Well that's it for this chapter. I really don't know when the next one will be up. Things are still crazy busy. I'll get it done as I have some time. Let me know what you thought. Next one will be the last chapter. I've decided to break this up as my attention span isn't the greatest.