A/N: This chapter does contain adult themes, but I think I've managed to handle them well enough to remain in the 'T' rating for now. It also contains endgame spoilers.
I got inspired to write this after listening to the Dragon Age 2 soundtrack. 'Love Scene' in particular was very influential. Also because I got a very odd DA2 ending…and it was interesting enough for me to want to explore this via fan fiction.
Sharp Little Pinpricks
Chapter 1: The Past that Haunts
The circle has failed us Orsino. Even you should be able to see that. The time has come to act. There can be no half measures. There can be no turning back.
The earth is quivering, a deep, guttural cry of anguish surfacing from its now cracking skin. There was no difference when compared to the aching tremble in my chest and the sound wanting so badly to escape my throat. The feeling and sounds were the same. Hallowed ground is breaking where this unholy energy howls and splits through, and I…am breaking with it.
There can be no peace.
A pillar bursts through and reaches for the heavens as if trying to send a message to the Maker himself, a message written in red. The color stains the sky and hangs over head like a deep-sea of blood. Blood…blood…blood…it's always blood. In as many battles as I've been in, I know now that this color will never wash off my pale skin. Not this time.
I watch as the Chantry is being taken apart systematically, each piece seemingly part of a puzzle as they expand and separate before bursting outwards in a shower of stone and dust and bone and flesh and tears. I look down to my hand. There's a soft sting in my palm. As I unravel my shaking fingers I notice that I've been grasping the hilt of my sword and grinding its leather bindings until my skin chafed, broke, and then bled. I cup my fingers and watch as a few drops of blood gather and pool in the palm of my hand.
Oh, Anders…what have you done? What have I helped you do?This was no solution. This…this is fear, formed and molded into a final act of desperation by the terrors that plagued you.
The world needs to see this. Then we can all stop pretending that the Circle is a solution. And if I pay for that with my life…then I pay. Whatever you do, just do it.
What else could I have done? My hand was forced. Though this choice solved nothing in the end, the lives of the many will always outweigh the lives of the one, and the many demanded justice for such an obscene act. With the mages and templars already at each other's throat, and with Sebastian threatening to bring a vast army onto Kirkwall…how many more need suffer? Aveline was right; belief was no excuse, sincerity did not justify…this.
I stood behind him, a shaky hand holding his shoulder while my fingers curled and clasped tightly onto the fabric of his robes, staining the material red. I pleaded with him through my touch, begging him to open his mouth and tell me not to do what I was about to. I wanted to hear something—anything that would possibly sway my decision and convince me that what he did had to be done, that it was the right thing to have done.
But it wasn't. And he didn't.
He exhaled and placed a warm hand over mine, ever silent as he looked down and simply nodded his head.
Pointed steel was put to flesh and I felt as it pressed into him, ripping through the layers of his skin, the thickness of his muscle, piercing the once gentleness of his soul until all that was left was a man crumbling and swaying forward. I moved to catch him, stepping around and holding him in my arms. He smiled up at me, the digits of his fingers reaching and pressing against my forehead, sliding down over my nose, lips, and chin, feeling my features one last time before the light in his eyes went dim. I lay him flat on the ground, constricting my throat so that my sob may not escape. Anders, my Anders, was dead, a bleeding heap laying in the remnants of the holy place that he had single handedly destroyed, one cheek pressed into the rubble leaving one hazel eye visible, open and unfocused, seemingly fixed upon me…
His smile never left him.
My eyes snapped open and I heard myself cry for him. It wasn't a rare occurrence, but this time everything just seemed so real, like I was there again, digging my dagger into the soft of his back. It's been a year and I still wake up drenched in sweat because I swear that I can still hear him calling my name. Marian. I know I still sometimes say his out loud when I'm alone. His name is all I have left. Anders. Anders. Anders. It's like a sharp little pin pricks me every time that I say it, drawing blood and making me wince because it reminds me that I'm still here without him.
I'm losing myself. I want my mother. I want my brother. I want my sister. I want you…to take it all back. I want all of this to be undone. I want you to heal this gaping wound in my chest with your beautiful hands, the hands that belonged to a healer…not a murderer.
"I…I want…I w-wan—" I loathe being this broken. I used to be so witty and vibrant, always ready to make someone roll their eyes or smile. I hate these boiling hot tears that stream down my now gaunt cheeks uncontrollably. These feelings that I have are...
…it's...it's as if blame, guilt, loneliness, shame, humiliation and heartbreak all merged into one essence and took residence at the core my very being. Some wounds are just too deep to mend.
I saw a flash of lightning from outside the captain's cabin's small, circular window. A few seconds later, thunder boomed and my body jerked. I tried to take a deep breathe, inhaling the slight humidity and the taste of salt in the air. It was unsuccessful in stopping my tears.
"Shh, it's okay. It's okay, I'm here…"
Her voice is soothing, my only source of relief since the day we left Kirkwall. She stole me away at my beckon, gathering a small crew and taking me far from that place on her newly acquired ship. Everyone else has had to leave my side due to one circumstance or another… but Isabela? She stayed with me, never wandering too far and always making sure to come back quickly. I used to tease her about having a heart of gold; that we needed to rip it out and sell it quickly before others ever found out her secret. She would laugh, blame me for her change in character, and then link our arms together as we strolled around Lowtown, chatting light heartedly with Varric, amusing Anders, piquing Merrill's curiosity, and irking the blight out of my best mate Aveline.
The pads of her thumbs caress my cheeks and I can feel her wipe my tears away...again. The sudden contact of her warm skin makes me remember that we are both without our clothes under these sheets, and she presses into me firmly as if willing the heat of her body to seep into the coldness of mine. I should have moved away from her. But the feel of her against me was maddening. In these past six months of sharing a bed (no sex, just sleep) I've spent so much time gazing down at her and trying to bury any spark of feelings away, that I didn't realize what she was doing to make that so hard for me. Every time I would cry, she would hold me. And when she held me she would always move her hand to the small of my back and bring me closer to her, forcing our eyes to meet.
Now, if I didn't like her this way, I should have pulled away. But I couldn't. I couldn't do anything except try to calm the hiccups that had taken the place of my sobbing.
She wasn't grinning. She wasn't sneering. She was difficult to read. Her expression was hard and vacant at the same time...just like I knew mine was. I hated being pitied and she knew this, but when Isabela decided to go against the norm and rub her hand on my back consolingly, I felt tears anew threaten to weld up in my eyes. Normally I'd never cry in front of her. No one had ever seen me cry...not in years. I didn't show anyone my tears when Carver died, when Bethany was taken by the Gray Wardens, or when Mother had be stitched together by a psychotic blood mage serial killer. But since leaving…it just kind of all poured out at once. The weight that Anders's actions had placed on my shoulders had finally taken a toll on me and tipped my balance.
She knew this, and most importantly…she understood. There were never any snarky remarks on my seemingly constant tears, nor any judgment. But there was something different about the way she was looking at me now…
I had no idea what Isabela's motives were as she tried to kiss me for the first time in six years. I pulled away as I did with my feelings for her earlier. I removed her hands from behind me, not too fast or too slow. She gently scratched her fingernails up, and around, and up again as I finished relinquishing her hold on me and sat up. Her expression softened and I swallowed the prickles in my throat. I could never let her have me. Not in this tear stained state, still consumed by the heartbreak and anger of my former love.
I refused to blink in an effort to dry my eyes, but it seemed that the harder I tried, the more I remembered the pangs I felt every time I uttered the name Anders in my mind and it would all flare up again: guilt and shame and a thousand pinpricks. There was guilt for letting Isabela console me when I should be doing it by myself as I've always done, and shame for wanting to rid my heart of this burden. I didn't want to remember the Chantry, or the innocent people in it. I didn't want to think about all the friends and family I've had to say goodbye to. I didn't want to think about Anders.
It's too much. It's too much.
She wrapped her arms around my waist as I struggled to keep from crying. I couldn't do anything other than that as she pulled me back down to lay next to her. My emotions were running wild, hence her hesitation with me as she straddled my hips...
She kissed my neck softly as a way to wait to see what I would do. I still couldn't do anything; I just wanted to cry and maybe depart this existence. Her lips did all but burn me as she kissed down to my shoulders. There was an old spark, a faint kindling of what life still lingered in me and my insides warmed up at her caress. Why did the feel of her skin against mine make my resolve dissolve? Now she was holding my face gently as she moved to brush her lips against my eyelids...
"It's okay," she whispered again. "Everything will be okay."
Her hands whispered down my hips as she explored the area for a brief moment before coming back up. My body wanted to arch into her touch. My lips ached to be kissed as she rubbed her hands down my shoulders and arms, but she didn't dare move in to kiss them again. They were not hers to claim. Instead, she smiled at me as she gently spread my legs open and moved her head down. My hormones had blocked off all sense of reality, and all I could feel was every little sensation she was giving me. Every flick of her tongue, every bit of pressure from her lips...it broke the lies that she tried so hard to convince me of. And the only way to mend them was to just let her do this to me.
No matter where I go, life will never be the same. It will never be okay.
I didn't know what was happening to me...my mind was swaying for her just like this ship at sea, the sound of the storm's rain drops pelting away at our wooden lodgings and drowning out my voice of defiance. She was eating away at my refusal. Her mouth was giving me a form of release as I moaned softly. My world was spinning and I didn't know what to believe. In a way it felt like she was taking advantage of me, but any strength to wrestle the truth out of her feelings or reasons evaporated like my shallow breaths in the night air. In my heart I knew she meant well, Isabela was consoling me the only way she knew how.
She had told Merrill once that she didn't make love, that what she did was only skin deep. Maybe this was only that for her, but it didn't feel like it. Either way, I tried to remember some form of resistance. But I couldn't pull away, resistance wasn't coming. Nothing was…except for...
And as my body arched and head flew back, it was his image that flooded my mind and I accepted it like the masochist that I must be. I would torture myself with his name, allowing the sharp little pinpricks to stab at my already tingling skin.
I deserved no less.
A/N: That's right! Even though I romanced Anders and killed him, Isabela stayed with me at the end. I have no idea how I accomplished this, but it was interesting none the less to ponder over how this would work out. I think I'd like to explore this a little more.
And I felt absolutely terrible at the end of the game. =( I can only imagine what it must feel like watching something like that unfold and knowing you had a hand in helping. As usual, your reviews and comments are loved and welcomed. Thanks for taking the time to read!