Scars Not Glorified

Standard disclaimers.

A brief scene which wouldn't leave me alone.


"And when I hearken to the Earth she saith,

'My fiery heart sinks aching. It is death.

Mine ancient scars shall not be glorified

Nor my titanic tears, the seas, be dried.'"

-Wilfred Owen, "The End"


Vigil's Keep, five days after the Warden Commander's arrival:

"You flinched when I touched you," Anders says. For once there is no humour in his tone. "I didn't want to ask in front of the others - is there something wrong, Commander?"

He has found her in a window embrasure, staring down at the keep's courtyard, the hammer and clang and ware, you idiot! of repairs and armourers noisy in the air. Her arm - both arms, but it's the right he's worried about, that a hurlock had broken during the skirmish under the keep, the arm he'd had to get Nathaniel to hold down so he could set and heal it because she'd jumped back from his touch faster than a templar from a demon when he went to her side - is clasped at the small of her spine, where her heavy swordbelt snugs against her mail.

The Caron is an Orlesian in a chevalier's armour, which is enough to make him nervous. And pointy ears. Don't forget the pointy ears. And, you know, the whole killing-joblots-of-darkspawn thing.

"Forgive me, Anders." Without turning her head, she shrugs her shoulders, stiffly. "I should not have reacted so, yes? It is merely..."

"Merely what?" he says, when a long moment passes and she doesn't move. "I'm your healer, O Fearless Leader. If you're going to try and take my head off every time I have to heal one of your bones, don't you think I ought to know?"

"'Brisez les os de la garce,'" she murmurs, as though quoting, and turns a considering glance on him. "Is your Orlesian sufficient for that, ser mage?"

He scrabbles for half-remembered lessons. Os, that means bone, and garce - well, if there's ever been anything he's good at, besides healing and escaping, it's insults...

Break the bitch's bones.

"Oh," he says, and swallows. And before his mind has caught up enough to govern his tongue: "What happened to you?"

"You can see I am an elf, yes?" Another stiff shrug. She turns aside, gazing once more out into the courtyard, and her tone is very calm. "In Mont-de-glace, where I trained, it was of small issue. Do you know, in Ghislain and Val Foret, they hardly consider Mont-de-glace to be Orlais proper? Scarcely civilised at all. Bon créateur, we even deal with Dalish!" Her knuckles whiten, though the timbre of her voice never changes. "In Val Royeaux, to be an elf and of the Grey is a much, much larger issue. And when my brother Wardens were not there to guard my back... well, accidents, they happen, do they not? To elves, especially."

Anders finds himself at a loss for words. An unusual state of affairs, for him. "I'm sorry," he offers, tentatively.

She huffs a quiet laugh. "It is not your fault, no?" Ruefully: "But you look very like him, Anders. The man who wished de m'estropier - to... cripple, that is the word, yes? - to cripple me. So I cannot promise not to - how did you say it? Try and take your head off - if I am in pain and you startle me. But," a cheerful smile, if somewhat forced, "I will endeavour to restrain myself."

"I never thought," Anders says lightly, "it'd be my face that got me into trouble."

Caron chuckles. "But your tongue, on the other hand?"

"Commander!" He pretends offence and hides his secret relief. "I'll have you know, most women have no complaints whatsoever of my tongue."

"That would be their husbands, yes?" She slaps him gently on the shoulder. "Come, ser mage. We have work to do."

"To hear, O Fearless, Peerless Leader, is to obey. Even if you do make me get my lovely robes all muddy."

Her laughter follows him down the stairs.


So, yeah. I don't actually have a clue what I was doing writing this, but hey.