Approx. 2300 words (5 to 26 minutes) | Rating: M | Dragon Age 2 Spoilers | Characters: Carver Hawke, Garrett Hawke, Varric Tethras, Fenris, Meredith Stannard
Waking up the morning following Merrill’s escape felt like any other, really. No one stormed his door, and the guards didn’t harass him any more than usual. Cullen was especially dour in the fleeting moment Hawke spotted him leaving the Gallows—that man could certainly move quickly in a full suit of armor—but he didn’t even look Hawke’s way, never mind lecture him.
It wasn’t until the end of breakfast that her escape came back to bite Garrett like he knew it would. Ser Alrik, the Templar with a frankly disturbing obsession for making mages Tranquil, came to personally collect him. Not a great way to start the day, but at least it wasn’t on an empty stomach. Alrik was rougher than he needed to be, and Hawke was snarkier back. Being on perfect good boy behavior now would just make him look more guilty anyway, from how the Templars saw it, and Garrett figured he was in hot water no matter what. Might as well have fun with it.
“Charming escort you’ve sent, Meredith,” Hawke teased the moment Alrik dragged him into Meredith’s office. “Threatened to make me Tranquil twice on the way over. Really, I can’t imagine why he doesn’t have any friends.”
Alrik answered that by smacking Hawke upside the head, sharp and harsh, but not enough to leave a mark. Got to be careful with the rich one, he guessed, but that was also way more sense than he thought Alrik was capable of.
“Leave us,” Meredith barked, not taking her stern glare off Hawke for even a second. “Close the door behind you.”
By Andraste’s holy knickers, not this again.
Meredith closed in on him like a rogue going into flanking formation, as natural and effortless as a dog barking. Hawke turned to her on instinct and she took that opportunity to press her hand on his throat. Nothing serious, but it could be, and the gauntleted hand with just a hair too much pressure on his neck got that message across just fine. Kind of rude, to be honest. Not very Blessed-be-the-Maker-like at all.
“I know you helped that elf mage escape,” she growled, searching him for even a glimpse of whatever it was power-crazed, paranoid Knight Commanders looked for in their captive victims. In her case, Garrett figured it was her sister and for a painful second, almost felt… bad. For her. While she held him in a chokehold and threatened him. Maker’s breath, Hawke really did have a soft spot for crazy.
“I will prove it, and you will pay for your crimes and hers.”
“Well, I probably should’ve guessed you’d be into punishment.” He could feel his windpipe against her palm, a bit uncomfortable, but nothing he couldn’t work through for the chance to shove his foot in his mouth. Probably, anyway. Hawke did have a talent for that. “I usually go on a date or something before it gets this far, but you don’t seem like a romantic type.”
She grunted, shoving him off as a way of letting go before skulking off behind her desk. Meredith scowled at the papers there like they were personally responsible for the existence of magic. Or of Hawke.
“But first, the Viscount has requested you. Demanded, actually, since he overpowers even the Chantry.” Well, she did not sound happy about that last part. The first part is what had Hawke.
“Yes, I just said that,” she snapped, ready to jump on any chance to yell at him, apparently. “The Arishok mentioned you by name, evidently in connection to a portion of Kirkwall that the city guard has sealed off, and he refuses to speak to any save you.”
“Of course he does,” Hawke answered in a sarcastically chipper tone, as if that was the best news he’d gotten all day. Actually, it was. That did not bode well for the day because he really didn’t get fuzzy warm feelings being so admired by the Arishok. He wasn’t even really sure admiration was the right word, since it was more like he hated Hawke the least out of everyone else in Kirkwall.
“Don’t sound put out. You find your way to the center of everything, just as I know you were key to that blood mage’s breakout.”
Accusing anything that moves of being a blood mage like she does, Meredith had to be right eventually.
Leaning over her desk, pinning him down with a look like he was prized game, Meredith was thoughtful enough to give him one last threat to his health and happiness for the road. Couldn’t have him missing the sense of oppression and objectivation for too long.
“And when this job is done, you will be back in my Circle and I will uncover your involvement in this mess. You are mine.”
If those words count leap over that desk and get to Hawke, he was sure he wouldn’t like what they might do. Lucky for Garrett, danger was more or less a constant presence in his life since running from Lothering, so this was just another day. The Arishok dragging him into some mess by order of the Viscount and when that was behind him, a mess at the Circle to mop up.
If Carver was still jealous, Garrett was open to trading places.
“Right, because that’s not unnerving at all.”
“It was not meant to comfort you, mage.” She pointed to the door, giving another order. “You are dismissed. The Templar posted outside will see you to the Viscount.”
“More quality time with Alrik?” Hawke stood, glad to leave but miserable at the thought of dealing with another tirade about how fun life as a husk would be. “I can hardly wait.”
Meredith smirked and sure, it wasn’t an awful look for her—but it definitely was for Hawke. Nothing good ever came from a happy Templar Knight Commander.
“Not quite. But you do know him.”
If Aveline wasn’t up to her eyes in damage control from the saar-qamek gas, she’d put her boot up their collective ass for dropping by The Hanged Man before going back to the Circle. But there was a deadly gas attack on Kirkwall, so the mice got a chance to play. Just a bit, since one mouse was as sourpuss: turned out, Carver was his Templar escort.
“So, she’s on to you already, Hawke?” Varric smiled over a dented tankard, fitting right in at the same time as standing out among drunk regulars and stained walls.
“What can I say? I am irresistibly charming.”
Fenris scoffed, taking a big drink to hide what might’ve been a smile.
“Brother, do you think you could be serious just once? I’m the one she suspects as your inside man.”
True, Hawke didn’t enjoy Carver being under suspicion like that. He had a way of saying just the wrong thing at the right time to make a complete disaster of a minor problem. Like agreeing to visit The Hanged Man only to talk about the reason Garrett needed a stiff drink in the first place.
His little brother was one of the Templars, but that only meant he was surrounded by enemies all the time. Hawke could always chat with a mage in the library or at mealtimes, or even the Circle Chantry if he got desperate, but it was all ‘magic is made to serve man, never to rule over him’ for Carver. With him actually being a mole, that had to get pretty dicey. Maybe it would’ve been better if Hawke had just taken Carver along to the Deep Roads… No going back on it now, though.
“You’re the one who suggested The Hanged Man, Carver,” he teased, nudging him to get the perfect eyeroll from Carver. “Should I look more dour while you shirk off your duties?”
He gave his best forlorn-mage-in-captivity pout, and that dragged a snort from Carver.
“Cut it out,” Carver chastised, scooting away from Garrett in a mock show of irritability. Or maybe it was a show for any Templars that might come through and remember anything after getting blackout drunk? That’d be the day, Carver thinking ahead. Not really a Hawke family trait.
“Come on, one drink before you go,” Varric interrupted, toasting to the untouched cup in front of Carver. “That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?”
There was just enough of a pause from Carver to suggest he was thinking about it, and not a second longer, before he pulled the tankard close. “Just one,” he insisted.
“You’re the best little brother,” Hawke praised, clanking his cup to Carver’s and grinning.
“Thank me by not drawing attention to yourself for once.”
“I can try, but I don’t think I’m very good at it.”
“How is it?” Fenris interrupted, watchful pale hazel eyes peeking out at him through messy white bangs. If Garrett didn’t know better, he’d think he was worried! Especially with him guarding his tankard by holding it close. Body language was a huge tell for Fenris, which was why the poor bastard barely ever won anything during Wicked Grace.
Hawke raised his cup and turned the conversation to a safe, reliable subject: alcohol. “As piss poor as ever, just how I remember it.”
“No. The Circle,” Fenris corrected. A bit impatiently, Garrett noticed.
Well, shit. Even when he wasn’t stored in his cell at the Gallows, there was no escaping the damn place. Hawke set his tankard down and shrugged.
“When did I give you the idea I have the run of the place? Carver sees more of it than I do, ask him.”
“Keeping secrets, Hawke?” Varric made light, but Garrett knew when he was being double-teamed. “Now I want to know the story more.”
“Sorry, Varric, you’ll have to get your next bestseller somewhere else. My life’s early curfews and rotating guards at my door for weeks.”
“Meredith is determined to prove you were behind this last stunt,” Carver added for their benefit more than Garrett’s, or that’d better be what he was thinking. Hawke knew exactly how determined she was to trap him in this scheme. Kind of hard to ignore the Knight Commander’s seething hatred when she half-choked him in her off time. “It will only get worse from here, Brother.”
“Should we break you out sooner?”
“Fenris, I’m honored!”
Fenris scowled, shaking his head. “You are not like other mages, Hawke. This is different.”
“Oh, it’s definitely different.” Varric leapt at the chance to joke with their beloved slayer of slavers, giving his best sage-like nod and sarcastic delivery. He didn’t lose sight of his intended target for long, though. “But I mean it, Hawke—the first sign of trouble, you tell us, and we’ll get you out of there. Whatever it takes.”
That was half-advice and half-warning, and the rare serious edge to his words made it clear that ‘whatever it takes’ really meant they’d actually do anything. Honestly, that made Hawke want to tell them less. Reckless acts of heroism with unpredictable chances for success were his specialty, and they’d just have to get their own.
He leaned on the table and smiled over his tankard at Varric.
“And what should I do if I’m the troublemaker?”
Fenris sighed as a fight broke out at the bar by the entrance in classic Hanged Man style.
“Watch him,” he ordered Carver and downed the rest of his drink rather than going through the trouble of acknowledging Hawke directly.
“When I’m not being watched,” Carver agreed with a grimace, not happy about that particular limitation. Being a double agent in the Templar force was hard, especially when the Maker was always watching. And by the Maker, Hawke meant the particularly unstable Templar leadership spearheaded by a crazy woman.
The bottom of his tankard came too soon, and the farewells went by too quickly. The worst part? Hawke wasn’t even close to drunk enough for his little reunion with Meredith.
He expected Meredith to make good on her threats as soon as her schedule for tormenting mages had an opening, but not the same-night treatment he got. Before he was sent to his cell for an even earlier curfew than before Merrill’s disappearance, she had him report in at her office. As anyone could’ve guessed, she cared less about the dealings of the Arishok than every last scrap of what Hawke himself did that day.
Meredith pressed him for details and tested them time and again for any holes in his story, but that trap was nothing new to Hawke. Any apostate still living had to know how to lie to Templars. Like Varric would’ve said: always tell them a story. It’s more believable than the truth most of the time anyway.
Laying on his slab of a bed, Hawke went over one particularly menacing message she threw at him.
“This is not over, Hawke.” She’d glowered at him like she might choke him for real this time, but barely decided against it. Another not-good sign, like he needed more of those for his life in Kirkwall. “I will organize an extensive interrogation for you in the coming days, weeks, or however long it takes for you to crack and reveal her avenue of escape.”
He’d promised to leave his schedule open, just for her, but she didn’t appreciate his humor. Almost as much as he didn’t appreciate how awful these next weeks or months would turn out to be. With no word from Anders or Isabela yet on when his escape would be, Hawke would just have to figure something out with whatever he had on-hand. And isn’t that what he did best?