A/N: written for the dragon_age community Prompt Tuesday with the prompt "the end of the world as we know it"


By the time Hawke feels they are far enough to stop and catch their breath, it is full night. They don't so much stop as slump, Hawke bracing his hand on a nearby rock in order to keep upright. He can't remember the last time he ran like that.

"By the Maker."

Hawke turns at Sebastian's whispered exclamation. The city is wreathed in flames, bleeding smoke into the night sky. No stars are visible, just churning darkness and the faint sound of screams. It's impossible to look away from the devastation and Hawke's gut churns, acid crawling up the back of his throat.

It's a terrible thought, but he thinks he is grateful his mother did not have to endure this.

"So what's the plan, Hawke?" Varric sounds quiet, subdued in a way that is almost as appalling as the burning city in the distance.

"We go to ground. They are going to want my head on a pike for this. And yours as well for helping me."

There's a growl just behind him, a brief flare of blue out of the corner of his eye before Fenris gets control of himself. It's Merrill who speaks, soft and confused. "But you saved them. Surely they won't punish you for that." A scuff of boots and Isabela's low murmur follow, too low for him to hear. He doesn't try since he doubts the words are for him.

He finally tears his gaze from the destruction he hadn't been able to prevent and turns back to his companions, those that remain.

Aveline parted ways before leaving the city, determined to find Donnic. She'd promised to leave the city afterwards, but there had been no promises to find one another again, just a strong hand clasp and the hope for one day lodged in his throat. Anders it hurts to think about, the ache of betrayal and the sound of his gasp, eyes wide as Hawke's dagger was thrust home.

It occurs to him that he wasn't the only one to feel betrayal. He was just the only one to walk away from it. Regret will come in time, he is sure, but for now there is only fury and numb confusion.

"I don't expect you all to stay with me." He smiles, the motion a caricature of its former self. "There's no telling the kind of havoc we'd all create if we all ended up in the same city again." He swallows hard, the attempt at humor scraping him raw in a way he hadn't expected. "In fact, we stand a better chance of survival if we all go our separate ways."

"I will not leave you," Fenris states, arms crossed over his chest, defiant.

Real emotion fills out the edges of Hawke's smile. "I didn't think you would, my friend."

"For now I say we stick together. Beyond the city we're safer in numbers. Once we reach the nearest city," Varric shrugs, "then we can have this conversation again." He looks around. "Agreed?"

The others murmur their assent and start to collect themselves, straightening up and stretching tight muscles, having all caught their breath. Hawke lingers as they start to walk away, eyes on the city that had been his for a few short years. Eventually a touch on his shoulder draws him away. He follows after the others with Fenris close behind.