A/N: I was extremely hesitant to post this, because no matter how much I edit it just doesn't seem to get any more readable. I wrote this about half a year ago, and I find it more embarrassing than enjoyable to read. -.- Still, I've got two more AU snippets (more AU than this one, which isn't exactly AU anyway) which I'll finish and post in a few days or so. 1000 words of cringing, here we go:

.

Fleeting Dreams

In happier times, the Howes visit Amaranthine.

.

Nathaniel is bored and waiting for his father to stop talking business with the merchant so that they can go home. Visiting Amaranthine with his father and siblings is a pleasant distraction for a day or two, but if they wait any longer then it might be too late to start the journey back. He's only just managed to wrench Thomas from the bar and Delilah from the market stalls, and now he just needs Father to join them by the city gates and start walking home.

The merchant's son waves at Nathaniel and rolls his eyes. He looks about as interested in the debate as Nathaniel is. Nathaniel gives him a quick smile to show his agreement. From the sounds of it, their fathers' heated discussion won't be ending anytime soon, and Nathaniel would be a fool to try to intervene in Arl Rendon Howe's arguments. He's already given his father the message to meet them by the gates as soon as possible, anyway. The merchant's son slips out of his chair and exits by a side door, motioning to Nathaniel to follow.

"Maker, they'll probably be at it well into the next Age," says the boy. He looks around the same age as Nathaniel - perhaps a little younger, though it's hard to say with them both still in adolescence – but with his streetwise smirk, sharp features and pierced ear, he gives off the air of being indescribably superior, even to an Arl's son.

Nathaniel makes a sound of agreement and leans back against the side street's wall. "What's your name?" he asks, more for want of killing time than real interest. There are many merchants and many sons.

"Anders at your service," says the other boy in the slightly harsh, nasal accent of the north. "How about you, Ser Arl-in-Waiting?"

"Nathaniel Howe. Pleased to meet you, Anders."

"No need for all that fancy stuff," says Anders, laughing a little. "Just a commoner, here. So, uh... what do you do when you're completely bored out of your mind?"

"Er... practise archery, I suppose. There's not really much time to be completely bored at the Keep."

"Last time I picked up one of the shop's bows, I stabbed myself in the foot. I still don't know how I managed it. I guess weapons aren't really my thing."

"I'm hopeless with swords," says Nathaniel, shrugging.

"Just like me! Well, it's not like I've had any lessons, since my father seems to want me to continue the family business of being stroppy merchants than be a city guard. But I tried some stuff with a dagger once and... that didn't end well either."

Nathaniel glances through a window to see his father and the merchant in what seems to be an escalating argument. It didn't look like anything would be resolved in the near future. He sighed.

"Still, being an extremely stroppy merchant probably isn't going to bring my father much luck with Arl Howe," says Anders, looking as well. "I hope he gets out alive."

"My father would never do anything like that," says Nathaniel, a little stung.

"Sorry," Anders says, holding up his hands and not quite meaning it. "I was joking, alright?"

Nathaniel leans back against the wall again and does a good job of looking extremely bored. Anders soon joins him in that venture.

"You know, there's a distinct lack of pretty girls in this place," says Anders casually. "Is it the same in your castle?"

Nathaniel looks at him sharply and says, "I hadn't thought about it."

"Really? Interested in something else, then?" The boy's smirk has turned into a full-on suggestive grin, and Nathaniel is quite sure that this isn't an appropriate conversation to be having with him.

"The girls at the Keep are none of your business, anyway," he says, glaring. "Why are you asking?"

"Well, if you're really bored... I could help you pass the time?"

Nathaniel sets his face into rather an impressive frown and gets up off the wall. He's quite sure that having a random male stranger hit on him within five minutes isn't a display of proper behaviour and he should really set a few city guards on this Anders, but at the same time he can't help but be intrigued. He curses to himself in his head because this is really, really stupid (more stupid than that impromptu thing with Elissa Cousland last month, because at least that wasn't in a dirty back alley) and not something he should even be considering especially not while sober. It's not his fault that the only other guy who has any interest in him is that Dairren, and that Anders is definitely on the more attractive side as far as they go.

"Fine," he says, almost growling, and moves over to push the other boy against the wall. Anders grins cheerfully and kisses him, fumbling with the laces of his trousers.

It's quick and slightly clumsy but it certainly does make a few minutes pass by much faster. Nathaniel comes first, and hears Anders gasp into his ear as he climaxes a few moments later. There's a sudden light and Nathaniel looks down to see a very small spurt of flame burst out of Anders' hands.

"Heh, lucky timing, or you might have got it a bit hotter than you bargained for," says Anders, shaking his hands violently. His tone seems joking, but his face is fearful as he backs into the shadows.

"Wait," Nathaniel says, but the other boy has already vanished. He looks around for a while, shrugs and walks back down the alley to the shop.

The next time he visits the shop, the shopkeeper is packing up and ready to leave for the neighbouring arling. Rumours of a mage in the family are not good for business; the templars came for his son not even a week ago.

.

Anders's voice actor seems to have some kind of northern English accent which he tries to cover up with RP for Anders's big lines, but it slips sometimes (battle lines especially). I seem to remember some Amaranthine residents having a northern accent, so... yeah. Also, if anyone has an idea for an AU with or without Anders/Nathaniel that they want to see written, I'd love to hear it. :P