A/N: This fic is from my "Choices" universe. It is not necessary to read "Choices" or "Interesting Places," although much of this fic takes place concurrently with the events in "Interesting Places." I hope you enjoy it!

As always, I do not own the characters, settings or histories of the Dragon Age universe. Alas, would that it would be so.

A/N 2: If you are following between stories, or want to see how Elissa's story lines up with this one and get her perspective, then this chapter occurs immediately after a confrontation between Fergus and Elissa in chapter 4 of my story "Interesting Places."


She hit me.

Blood was pouring out of his nose and onto his clothing. Still dazed, he watched her stop in front of her men. She must have said something to them, because her mage suddenly started walking toward him as the others turned and followed her out. Except for Howe. The Howe walked with her, hand in hand, and they left the room just as the mage knelt down by his side.

She hit me, and she's just leaving. As if nothing happened. He didn't know whether to laugh incredulously or shout furiously at the situation.

Intellectually, he knew that he had pushed her too far and said the one thing that was guaranteed to cause a strong reaction from her. After all, he had spent a lifetime learning how far to go to torment his little sister in order to provoke reactions. But she had never, ever hit him before now.

You never called her a whore before, either.

"She really hit you hard." The mage, Anders was it? was looking at his face, gently poking. Fergus became aware of the extent of the damage done to his face when Anders prodded a particular spot and Fergus hissed in pain. Anders nodded. "Uh-huh. Broken. I'm going to straighten it before I heal it. Ready?"

Fergus nodded, and Anders put his hands on either side of Fergus' nose. A quick move of his hands caused Fergus to involuntarily grunt. It hurt more than Fergus expected. Anders ignored the sound and lifted his now-bloody hands just above Fergus' face and a moment later a gentle light emerged. The throbbing in Fergus' face gently eased and Anders filled the time with talking. Fergus only paid attention to the tail end of it.

"...and now I know what not to say to her. Thanks." Fergus raised an eyebrow and gingerly touched his nose. It felt much better – so much so, in fact, that if it wasn't for the blood covering his front he would have thought he'd imagined the whole thing. Anders unceremoniously wiped his hands on his robes and looked over his work. Nodding in satisfaction at what he saw, he stood and offered Fergus a hand to help stand. "You might still have a little swelling for the rest of the day, but it should be fine now. The break was clean and since we tended to it immediately ..." he shrugged. "I need to catch up with the others." Fergus briefly caught a look of sympathy in the mage's eyes before Anders turned and walked swiftly from the room. Once the mage had gone he turned and walked to his quarters to change his clothing.

When he reached the master suite, he sat heavily on the bed as the shock of being punched finally wore off. His thoughts and feelings returned all at once, jumbled up all together in a massive tangle, and he felt suddenly overwhelmed by the onslaught. It took some time for him to unravel the web and organize everything so that he could figure out what, exactly, had happened in the main hall.

She's sleeping with Howe? Maker's breath! I can't believe she would betray our family like that. I just … I can't … She recruited the son of the man who destroyed our family and our home, the man who killed Oriana and … and Oren. The man who violated my wife and child, and who killed everyone else mercilessly, down to the servants. Rendon Howe let Father bleed out on the floor, made him watch while he did unspeakable things to Mother. And Elissa didn't tell me; she didn't TRUST me with the knowledge. Why would she do that to me? Why would she hide the truth, no matter how terrible it is?

Was she protecting me like she said?

Was she protecting HIM? How long have they been … no, I don't really want to know. It doesn't matter anyway.

Elissa is sleeping with a Howe.

She refused to come back to Highever, and I gave her time, thinking that she needed to heal on her own. I didn't push her because I believed her when she said she wasn't ready to move on, because I thought it would break her. She was so close to being destroyed after the blight that I feared for her sanity.

Was she sleeping with him then?

Was she sleeping with him while I rebuilt Highever alone? Had she taken him to bed already when I brought my men to Amaranthine to help rebuild? Was she betraying me even as I trained her men, put my people on her patrols? Have I been a Maker-forsaken fool all this time?

What does he get from all this? What does he WANT from her? Is he trying to finish the job his father started – does he want to destroy what's left of the Couslands? What is he after?

I can't be a part of this. I can't put myself in the path of destruction and hope that everything turns out all right. Maker, I hope she doesn't have his child. I refuse, after everything that's happened, to see a Howe in charge of the teyrnir.

What will happen to the Couslands?

Fergus was roused from his musings much later when a servant knocked on the door to inform him that dinner would be served. He lifted his head from his hands and realized he was covered in dried blood and that his shirt had stuck to his chest. He hurriedly changed his shirt and washed his face and hands before going downstairs to eat alone, as he always did.

My own sister, my flesh and blood, has betrayed me.

He didn't touch his food or sleep that night.