Approx. 1900 words (4 to 16 minutes) | Rating: M | Dragon Age 2 Spoilers | Characters: Garrett Hawke, Varric Tethras, Aveline Vallen, Fenris
One of the city guardsmen caused enough of a fuss to get Aveline marching up to the Circle in person to demand Hawke’s assistance from Meredith herself, and to the surprise of absolutely no one in Kirkwall, she got what she wanted. Hawke would have to thank Emeric for embarrassing the City Guard later. Subtly, if he could manage it.
Then again, it also led to a mad chase with demons and blood magic and captured, helpless women. Plus a crazy Orlesian, and Garrett didn’t even like the sane ones.
It only made sense to have some wine at Fenris’ mansion after that, although he really had to wonder what the appeal was in keeping it derelict. As long as it made Fenris feel like he’d claimed it as his own, Hawke supposed it didn’t really matter. It definitely made it easier for him to live there unnoticed. They sat in the usual spot where Fenris entertained his few guests: huddled around the fireplace on benches and chairs with alcohol to spare (no matter how many bottles were thrown at the wall, strangely).
It was familiar, or it ought to be, but the lack of overall lighting and flickering shadows from the firelight were not doing Hawke any favors. Even during the fighting in the DuPuis mansion, he felt separated from his body somehow. The present company carried him through battles more than usual, and it seemed as though he missed every sneak attack and kept losing track of all the doors in that place. His wit was as sharp as ever, so that was something. Earned himself a laugh from Varric at least once!
Across from Hawke on the bench beside Fenris, the dashing author and entrepreneur himself reached out with his cup of Tevinter wine. “Before I forget, Daisy sends her regards.”
Hawke took a moment to process that, wondering who Daisy was, before it dawned on him. The nicknames were harder to keep track of when he wasn’t around so often. Holding onto that casual smile, Hawke still kept that appearance up. “And how is our darling Merrill?”
“She’s fine out in the wilderness. Doesn’t even need her ball of yarn to find her way around anymore,” Varric said, finishing on a high note with a satisfied smile—if unconvinced by Garrett. She was raised Dalish, so it made sense she’d get her bearings better where everything looked different in the way nature usually did. But that didn’t mean she’d be perfectly happy out there. Escaping the Circle was a definite improvement, of course, but she couldn’t go to her clan and she couldn’t stay in Kirkwall either. It had to be lonely for her.
“If anyone goes to visit, we can’t expect to see them back until nightfall,” Fenris mumbled, clearly familiar with the pseudo-plight himself. He wasn’t fond of mages, especially blood mages, but Merrill just wormed her way into your heart like that.
“It’s got to be lonesome, staying out there by herself.” Aveline, ever the maternal figure, made an excellent point. Not just because it was what Hawke was thinking, either. They rarely had the same thought besides. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything Hawke could do about Merrill now. Poor Carver could write her, but he definitely couldn’t visit. A Templar, off visiting an apostate? He’d be lucky to just be kicked from the Order.
“Whether it was her clan or the alienage, she’s never really been alone,” Hawke mumbled, staring down into his drink. There had to be a better way than all this. He could almost hear that in Anders’ voice, honestly. They got her out of the Circle, but now what? She’d spend her life on the run.
“Then she shouldn’t have gotten caught,” Fenris bit back, scowling at Hawke in all his outrage. “It’s thanks to her you’re trapped with that nightmare of a woman.”
Was it the alcohol, or did the dark spaces of Fenris’ stolen mansion grow darker? With eyes? Worse than that, Hawke knew the place was safe with all of them present. Andraste’s flaming knickers, even if there were some horrific creatures waiting to strike, they’d faced down worse. He had quite literally nothing to be afraid of.
Not here, anyway.
“I wonder who that could be, with a charming title like that.” Hawke tossed out in the stiff silence. The fierce animosity from Fenris already gave away the fact that Varric did more than just tell Carver about their last little quest together. So he didn’t really need the sympathetic ‘I did what I had to but I’m sorry’ stare from his friend across the way, but there it was. The most awkward second of eye contact they’d had yet, or at least in the top five. Maybe even three.
“Junior’s keeping us updated,” Varric explained, or perhaps he was seeking forgiveness. Did it matter? Garrett could never hope to stay cross with that lovable dwarf.
“She keeps you isolated and denies your meals,” Fenris offered his unsolicited details. It did answer the question of what exactly these updates contained. “I’m willing to bet she hounds your rest remorselessly. This Knight-Commander is little better than a slaver.”
“Anders did try to warn you,” Hawke pointed out, hiding a practiced smirk behind his drink. Hardly anything got him fired up like the mention of freedom-fighting Anders and his glowy plus one, and the feeling was mutual when the roles were reversed. Basically, it was an excellent distraction for Garrett.
Fenris just scoffed, leaving behind a much larger expanse of quiet than Hawke was hoping for. Did a man have to avoid prying questions all on his own these days? Leave Kirkwall alone for a while, and the etiquette of emotional evasion just goes to pieces.
“She’s using her standing against you, Hawke.” Well, Fenris went in a very different direction than he’d hoped. He took a gulp of wine and kept on anyway. “We are powerless to stop her, and she knows it. I’ve said we should just kill her and let that Knight Captain replace her, but the others don’t agree.”
A fact he was not convinced of and quite apparently not happy about at all. That was flattering, really! Fenris wasn’t the kind to advocate killing corrupt Templars and liberating mages, but exceptions did exist. One or two.
“You would only be killed,” Aveline insisted, driving home that this was a conversation had so often as to challenge even her patience. Looking out for Fenris when he had a vengeance campaign in mind was just as tiring as it sounded.
“Maybe you figured this out, Broody,” Varric broke it up before the fight really got started, “but we’d like to have you around for a good long while.”
“It would be a waste of a perfectly handsome elf,” Hawke teased Fenris, trying again for that upward turn in the conversation.
“How long has it been since we last spoke?” Aveline interrupted with a hard-set stare and frown you didn’t say no to. That just about dashed his dreams of not talking about the Circle or Meredith or anything related to either.
But no one ever got anywhere in life giving up when good sense said to. Or however that saying actually went. Hawke frowned pensively and patted himself down with his wine-free hand. “How embarrassing! Would you believe I left my calendar in my other Circle robes?”
“Told you again,” Varric talked to Aveline like no one else could hear them, a lightless smirk darkening his features. Strangely, she was the only one who didn’t seem to notice that at all in favor of focusing in on Hawke.
“Take a guess.”
“Say, Aveline, have you done something with your hair?”
“You truly have no idea?” Fenris brought the subject back this time, his usually sexy, stoic scowl traded out for something that looked almost like he was worried. Now that was really something to be worried about. They struggled to get Fenris to smile as it stood, and then this? Isabela could only convince him to loosen up and allow himself to have fun so many times.
“I don’t know what you’ve heard, but we don’t have schedules to keep in the Circle.” Hawke said through a chuckle that no one was believing. The three faces in front of him ranged from sympathetic to skeptical, nothing he really wanted to see all directed at him. “If you’ve got your hearts set on talking about this, I’ll need more of this.” He held up his cup with a little wiggle to show its sorry, empty state.
Fenris passed a bottle over, his silent vote in favor of having the ugly truth spelled out for him. You’d think that someone who had his dark, weighty history would know better, but then again… That same past was probably why he was so ready with the wine. Aveline expressed her clear disapproval of that choice with a tsk, but there was always the last bit of Varric’s smile still hanging on that Hawke could cling to for some stability.
He started to pour the wine and force out details.
“There are no windows where I usually sleep.” Generously put, to say the least. “There’s not even really a mattress, and I don’t always make it to every meal of the day. I hate to disappoint, but there’s just no way for me to keep track of time.” With a shrug and a swig of wine, Garrett put that nail in the coffin and hoped to the Maker it stayed shut. He only brushed the surface of what he was up against, true. That was how Garrett planned it all to be from the start. As it was, the wine tasted like mud in his mouth after that. Grape-y mud, though, and enough of it would get the job done.
“I’ll talk to Anders.” Aveline pushed ahead, showing him some mercy at last. She even squeezed his shoulder gently for morale. “Whatever it takes, we’ll get you out in two weeks’ time.”
“There’s no need to rush. I’m not going anywhere,” Hawke said to absolutely no response whatsoever. He took a drink while he waited and still, not one chuckle or roll of the eyes. “Alright, that joke was in bad taste.”
“You think so, Chuckles?” When Varric sounded a little exasperated, you knew it was looking grim. The last time he was this no-nonsense was the Deep Roads, and they could still joke around down there.
“I already said it was bad,” Hawke agreed, chuckling since no one else would. He tossed back another drink of wine that was large enough to get him halfway down the cup. Nothing yet but that warm feeling of alcohol in his stomach. Maybe they didn’t know how to make wine in Tevinter, just widespread misery. Resting his elbows on his knees, Hawke could only hope they’d actually listen to this request. “Just don’t tell Mother. I don’t know that her heart can take it.”
It was bad enough Carver saw. Even worse that Mother was so stressed about him being in the Circle after a lifetime spent on the run and mostly in poverty trying to keep him and Bethany out of that death trap. Now one of them was dead and the other was in what was probably the worst Circle in Thedas. “Maker knows I’ve disappointed her enough already.”