So I have more than enough stories on the go already, but went and woke up with an idea for a post-game AU that just would not leave me alone. Checked the k!meme on the off-chance someone had prompted it and, what would you know, an unfilled request for pretty much exactly the scenario I had in mind existed. Prompt reads as follows:

"After the chantry explodes, Hawke allows Anders to live and tells him to leave. Sebastian is furious and, as we all know, swears to bring his army to hunt the mage down and take his revenge.

This, however, turns out to be unnecessary. A few weeks after leaving, Anders shows up in Starkhaven and gives himself up to Sebastian, much to Sebastian's surprise.

How does Sebastian react to this?"

Not sure at this point if there's just going to be a lot of UST between our boys or eventual smutty bits, so I'm tagging it "T" for now and will upgrade to M if it becomes necessary.

Blessed are they who stand before
The corrupt and the wicked and do not falter.
Blessed are the peacekeepers, the champions of the just.

Blessed are the righteous, the lights in the shadow.
In their blood the Maker's will is written.

- Benedictions 4:10-11

Sebastian found two things waiting for him when he reached Starkhaven, both surprising. The first was a letter from Grand Cleric Elthina, apparently sent some days before her death. Had the second arrived before the first, things would doubtless have turned out rather differently than they did.

Sebastian closed his eyes as he leaned against the mantelpiece, running the words of the letter past his mind's eye again. He'd read and re-read it several times since arriving in Starkhaven several days before and finding it waiting for him; the words were memorized now, etched on his heart. Elthina's final words to him, not the casual words of greeting she'd called out as he passed her on his way out of the chantry on that final, dreadful day in Kirkwall, but heartfelt words of comfort and guidance.

My Dear Sebastian – for you are dear to me, more than many of my flock are, though I know I should not say it – I write this letter to you because I fear there are dark days ahead for us all. I do not know what has so clouded our horizons, but I am certain that the growing tensions within Kirkwall are symptoms of larger forces at work in Thedas. I fear, too, that I will not survive the coming storm. I pray that I am wrong, but as always try to make plans for if I'm right.

If I am right, then you will find this letter waiting for you when you return to Starkhaven to take up the mantle of ruler of your people. I have never doubted that you would, in time, become ruler of Starkhaven; I have merely been waiting for your heart to guide you to the correct path. There was a time when you needed the shelter, comfort and structure that life in the chantry gave you, but I believe you have grown strong enough to stand on your own now; strong enough to be a stout protector for your people, a kind and just ruler to them. It remains only for you to recognize your own strength and the hand of the Maker's will in shaping you for this role, and to step forward and pick up the burden of your blood-right. Do not doubt that it is a burden, a heavy one; leadership is rarely an easy role, as I know all too well.

My one fear is how easily you still give in to anger. You must learn to control it, or it will control you, and lead you down dark paths. Seek not vengeance, give not in to spite, for they are demons that seek to prey on men's hearts. Be strong, Sebastian; make of Starkhaven a beacon of hope in the dark times ahead, a place of peace and refuge for those driven before the winds of war. For I do fear war is in our future, though whether from the external threat of the Qun and its adherents, or internal dissent between mage-born and the chantry, or the growing numbers of desperate poor versus the indulgent rich, between the dispossessed elves and humanity, I cannot foresee. Perhaps all will have their part to play in the chaos ahead.

Make of your state the calm in the eye of the storm, if you can. Be strong, be just, and most of all, be kind and merciful, for I fear kindness and mercy will both be in short supply in the dark times ahead.

Know that I care deeply for you, and wish you well in your future, whatever it may prove to be. Be at peace, my son.

Elthina, Grand Cleric of Kirkwall

It was in some ways the closing phrase that hurt the most. He knew she'd likely only meant the word within its religious sense; as Grand Cleric of Kirkwall she was Mother to all the brothers and sisters of the chantry there. Yet he hoped that in some part she'd also felt him to be her son in spirit, for that he most surely was, raised and shaped by her far more than by the woman who'd given birth to him, who'd died here in Starkhaven so many years before at the hands of the traitorous, demon-possessed Harriman family.

He was still contemplating her words when there was a knock at the door.

"Come!" he called out. His Guard-Captain entered, a man he vaguely remembered as a younger man from years before, one of many among those dragging him back to the castle after yet another night of debauchery in the stews of the city. "Yes, Captain, what is it?" he asked, wondering what the man thought to have the once-dissipated youngest son now preparing to become the ruler of Starkhaven.

"Beg your pardon, m'Lord, but there's been a, err... disturbance at the gate. A man, demanding entry, claiming he has to speak to you. A mage."

"An apostate?" Sebastian asked sharply, straightening up. "What would a mage want here?"

"To surrender," an all-too-familiar voice said tiredly from behind him. Sebastian whirled, mouth gaping open at the sight of Anders standing just inside the door to the room, a guard holding tightly to each arm, a third behind him, carrying his bladed staff, two more standing some distance back, loaded crossbows pointed at him.

"Anders!" Sebastian exclaimed in shock, hand already going to the dagger at his belt. "What are you doing here?" he asked, voice hard with dislike and suspicion.