A/N: This is a tie-in ficlet for Cartography that I wrote mostly because I had mentioned how Loghain gives Anora a special sword as a girl, in that fic verse. Here's the backstory for that sword.
Anora dreams of clouds.
In her dreams, if she stands on a table with a longsword in her hand she can almost reach the sky. Her arms crumble under the weight but she uses them both and for a few seconds, perhaps a minute, she can do it.
The one time she attempts it - dragging a sword from the armoury even if it's much heavier than she thought, not as nice as the wooden swords she practised with, and her hands are all hurt - her mother screams like she has seen a ghost and everybody comes running. That startles her and so Anora falls off the stupid table, scraping bloody gashes all over her legs. Then her father is towering over her, scooping her up in his arms and carrying her inside. His tunic gets bloody as they walk, she watches her legs rub against his stomach and they stain the fabric, a little more for each step. Anora supposes mother won't scold him for it, like she does when Anora's dresses have tears or dirt-blotches or disappear behind the stables. She will probably just shake her head at father and perhaps say he ought to mind the poor maids.
It is terribly unjust.
"Where did you get the sword?" her father asks. His voice feels like dry wood against her skin, rasping at it.
"It's mine." She stares defiantly at him.
"No, it is most certainly not yours." He does not smile, but she thinks he might, if mother wasn't standing nearby. It is difficult to tell with father. "I would remember giving my only daughter a longsword."
He lifts the skirt from her legs and servants swarm around them with bandages and soap and water and it stings so badly she has tears in her eyes before they are finished. But she does not cry. She's a big girl and she doesn't cry.
"Anora?" her father has many words that can sound both soft and very hard at the same time. Her name, for instance. It can be spoken as a curse or a very sweet thing, even if it's usually not the latter. Father doesn't often speak to her like mother does, with a soft voice full of fairy tales and funny stories. Father speaks to her of important things because she is a big girl and awfully clever, too – she can already count and write and everything, unlike the silly children down in the village who just tease her - and he teaches her how to read maps in his office.
"Do not lie to me. Did you steal the sword from one of the knights?" She tries not to blink as he stares back at her, just as defiantly but with many times her patience. "Or perhaps from me?"
"No." The stains on her dress are very large and funnily shaped, blood and grass smeared out into the pattern of the fabric she remembers her mother bought in Denerim. Anora has never been to Denerim. They say it is a long journey and she would tire of it before they were half-way there. She knows she wouldn't but it is no matter because there are horses here, and swords. "I found it. In a bush. I did, father, I did!"
He is much worse than mother, she thinks, grimacing as he kneels in front of her so his face is just inches away from her own and she can do nothing but look into his eyes. Much worse because mother says oh, Anora, and forgets about it but father always wants her to explain everything even when she truly cannot and he does not relent. He takes her hands and covers them with his own and waits for her to speak.
They remain like that for a long time, such a long time that her mouth hurts from keeping it shut but she will not give in, because he doesn't.
"Stubborn as sin, both of you," mother says from the doorway and Anora looks up to see her smiling and then father shakes his head and it confuses her because she can't tell if she is still in trouble or not, but when she tries to jump down from the chair and run out, father reigns her in again.
"Stealing is what cut-purses do, Anora," he says. Shivers run along her spine at the tone, dark and low, like a dangerous fever. "Not the Teyrn's daughter. Do you understand?"
Anora nods. "I'm sorry."
She isn't sorry because it was a good plan and it would have worked, but she can't say that.
"You could have been badly wounded," her mother points out, sounding much more worried than father. She always is. Worried and warm and loving but her father is her freedom and her world and nobody knows as much as he does. Now he holds her as she squirms, but his face is kinder, as though the cold in it has melted. The girl has you wrapped around her finger, Loghain, mother says sometimes when Anora shouldn't be listening. She doesn't know what that means, only that father doesn't agree.
"If I had my own sword," Anora says when she's free again and her stinging legs has taken her far away from stern-eyes and confessions. "I would not have to steal them."
Father lets out a laugh. He sounds strange when he laughs, he doesn't very often.
"There is truth in that, I suppose."
"Oh, Loghain," mother sighs but she has the kind face she sometimes has when looking at her father and Anora can run off, slamming the door behind her.