Someone once told me it would be impossible to justify a Pro-Templar Mage Hawke.
I took that challenge and defended her.
The same person told me that Hawke was a victim, exploited by Anders. How can you justify a relationship after that?
I also took that challenge and defended Anders.
Originally this was just a one-shot.
Anders's POV- First Chapter
Hawke's POV- Second Chapter
HEAVY IN YOUR ARMS
This will be my last confession
"I love you" never felt like any blessing
Whisper it like it's a secret
Uttered to condemn the one who hears it
With a heavy heart
- Florence + The Machine
Beware of deals or bargains, even from your most trusted friends. Never accept a kind hand if the offer seems too good to be true. If you are too happy, you are probably being played a fool.
For centuries these lessons were enforced by the Circle in Ferelden. Enchanters would warn me of the forbidden arts, convey the importance of limitation, and remind me that great power requires great responsibility. As if leading a life where I was expected to strip myself of feeling, attachment, and desire wasn't enough, they had to wall me off from the outside world with cold stone, a massive lake, and an army of templars. We were trained to distrust everyone and everything, especially our own sense of judgment.
While many of my fellows were content with the rules, and happily occupied themselves with juvenile drama, ridiculous escapades, and massive volumes of books, I always craved something more. I remember the cold, harsh air of the Anderfels where I came from, and I remember enjoying the mud between my toes, the ice storms that threatened to collapse our roof, and the dangers of daily living. For many years, I tried to escape the Circle, and I had become notorious for slipping out of Templar hands. And those few moments when I was out of their reach, I would imagine my life on the back of a galleon, living where I wanted however I wanted. I would burn old books, sleep in a tent shared by thirty cats, and go on long journeys outside of Ferelden's small border.
I would be self sufficient and free.
But I am no longer that person anymore. I am no longer that Anders. I no longer have those dreams or desires.
I am changed.
And I will die very shortly.
Do you ever wonder what your last thoughts will be, before you die? Do you think you will look back on your mother's embrace? Will you remember when you tasted your lover's lips, giggling and tumbling off the bed in tangle of limbs? Or the warmth of a cat's belly, running your fingers against the fur? Do you think you will wonder what went wrong? What you might have done to prevent this untimely death?
They say that your life flashes before your eyes at death's door. But what happens if you've resigned your life for three years? What happens when you've already prepared to die?
This thought has occurred to me many times.
Justice fears he will not return to the Fade once I have been executed.
I fear the unknown.
It's funny. I expected that I would meditate on the future of the Chantry before I die, or perhaps languish in shame as a murderer.
But that's not true.
Strange thoughts occur instead.
As I kneel here, facing the destruction I have created, I can't help but think how it could have played out differently. How all of this ruin could have been prevented if only people were only willing to listen with an open mind and an empathetic heart. I expose my back to my fate, with the voices of old friends debating my life. How fitting they should choose whether I live or die.
But really, it isn't their choice.
This is a day of judgment, and choices must be made. I can hear the fires swallow Kirkwall's hightown even at this distance, blood and tempered rock still raining over the city and painting it red. I imagined the destruction to be great, the pestilence of death boiling this evil city within the cauldron of its walls, but when the Chantry tore into the sky it was so quick, so certain, so... decisive. There could be no more middle ground in these debates, not anymore. I chose to plant the bomb. I chose to force my hand. And with every choice, there is always a sacrifice of another choice. I forfeit my life for the lives of millions. It is a small price to pay for a revolution drenched in blood.
Certainly, she will kill me. If she does not, another will.
I will die. That is no longer my choice to make.
But I will make her decide.
She deserves no less for what she has done to my people, for what she has done to me.
My anger, frustration, and vengeance has been building these last six years. For so long, I've overheard horrific rumors of corrupt Templars taking advantage of my people. Pointlessly, they erased our dreams, our hopes, and even our faith in life. As if it wasn't enough that the Circle cut away our freedom and manipulated our desires, we had to endure further punishment for the way we are born. The chantry has rendered us docile and pathetic, to be played with and abused as they see fit in order to protect the interests of their status quo. I used to walk through the gallows in secret, and I could smell the desperation of the mages plight. Would no one hear us? Where are our fathers? Our mothers? Our sisters? Our brothers? Where are they to defend us in this mess, this atrocity of political, social, and emotional torture? And why do they do this? Because they fear us? Are they jealous of our talents? Or is there power to be had when you step on the necks of innocent men?
Try as I might, I could never answer these questions. With Justice as my guidance, I was only able to outline the holes in Chantry logic; a theology that had chained my brothers and sisters for too long. It wasn't until I met Marian Hawke, an underdog Ferelden refugee apostate, that my thoughts and ideas began to formulate into a concisely written manifesto. She never helped me, never supported me, never even agreed with my ideas. Hawke hardly inspired my cause.
Not at all.
For a long time, she was my greatest opponent concerning the Circle and its relationship with Mages.
For a long time, Marian Hawke would be my intellectual and personal enemy.
She was no inspiration, but the catalyst behind my need to start this revolution.
Originally, the Manifesto of the Mage Plight was intended as a private letter I wrote Hawke, hoping beyond hope that I would change her attitudes and gain an ally to my cause. I outlined the flaws and contradictions celebrated by the Chantry, connected how Templar power had expanded beyond Andraste's intentions, and the original purpose of the Circle. I included solutions to the problems, demands for equality, and compared an annulment to outright genocide. My letters to Marian went on for years. Her responses were equally eloquent, outlining the necessities of the Circle, the danger of temptation and blood magic, stressing horrific crimes by abominations, and using Fenris as a suffered example of a Magistrate state without the balance of non-mage politicians. Her argument was that people were inherintely selfish and power hungry, and what were mages but people themselves who had great power at their fingertips? The Circle was justified in its existence, protecting the greater good from evil intentions. My argument was that the individual should not be judged by generalizations, and more evil is generated by abuse and fear.
Over the years, I would rewrite, correct, edit, and challenge her ideas.
And why? Why would she do this? Why would she defend the Templars, and condemn mages? Especially since she was an Apostate herself.
Her hypocrisy drove me mad.
Six years ago, I watched in horror as Marian turned innocent people to meet the Templar sword. With a cold face and dark eyes, she spelled out the fates and tore apart good families, many of which I knew. I wanted to stop her, but she had certain connections I did not, and as bitter as our friendship was, it was one formed out of necessity. She was in debt to my help, and I relied on her to stay alive.
"How could you do this? You are a Mage who turns on her own kind!"
"Survival? You would turn on your own kind for your own skin?"
"Do not speak to me of righteousness, Anders. The Circle is necessary and right."
"The Circle is broken!"
"Not yet, it isn't."
"But you are a Mage!"
"And who better to hunt down Apostates than a fellow apostate? Do not speak to me of politics. Templars cannot become abominations. Ten templars are nothing against a single demon."
"Abominations are the result of mages who are cornered. Who desire life over death. To survive. Much like yourself, Marian."
"I did not become an abomination, Anders."
"No. Far worse."
And she would pull them in, slaughter apostates, cut the hearts of abominations, and watch me with a cold calculation that nettled my heart.
I could no longer stand by and witness this abuse. Justice boiled in my veins, and I wisely chose to isolate myself from her presence. Justice demanded her head, but I stilled his bloodlust by writing. For three years, I corresponded with Marian using only letters. We never saw one another face to face, not even in passing. Our friends were kind enough to keep our engagements at The Hanged Man separate. Hawke never entered Darktown, and I never had reason to pass through Hightown. I had to protect her from my rage, and she was disgusted by my beliefs.
Still, we wrote to one another. The letters came in daily, spilled over with ink. My fingers cramped and I went through several quills a week. It became an obsession. When I wasn't writing, I would heal. When I did not heal, I would guide apostates through the Mage Underground. When I wasn't seeing to my duties, I would lie awake in bed, twisting and turning, waiting for the hours to go by before I would receive Marian's reply - posted always in the early morning by a private courier. Her private secretary and messenger Bodahn would smile thoughtfully at me, and present the gift in exchange for a few silvers.
"She's been up all night for this one, good Ser! All night indeed. Are you interested in more quills and ink? I need to stop by the market in Lowtown myself, and I'd be willing to pick up a few extra supplies for my favorite healer!"
"That would be fine Bodahn."
"Why don't you come walk with me, Ser Anders? The sunshine could do you a lot of a good, and if I know you, you have been up all night writing yourself!"
"Perhaps I should..."
"Not to pry, but... It has been nearly three years. I don't know why you both choose to spend so much time writing back and forth. I am sure my mistress's title would protect you from Templar eyes. Have you not considered seeing her again?"
"Not yet, Bodahn."
"Ah. I see. You know, the citizens of Hightown are all a twitter! They ask just who has the eye of lovely Messer Hawke, who the secret lover is she has been keeping in long correspondence with."
"... Perhaps I shall stay here instead. But here are a few silvers for the supplies. Thank you, Bodahn."
"... Ah... Certainly! Well... mmm.. Good day to you, Ser Anders."
She challenged me. Countered me. Strengthened my resolve.
I spent every waking day thinking about her.
Love. Hatred. Obsession. Madness. I cannot say.
I tried to stop my feelings before they could consume me. After three years, I called a truce, and we did not speak of our opinions.
But still she haunted me.
It was insanity. I would carefully re-read three years of letters, sift through them gingerly, close my eyes and sleep with them under my pillow. I plotted and tried to conceive of any way that I might change Hawke's mind, that I might bring her to my side.
She drove me mad.
When I begged for her help with a post by the Mage Underground, to save a girl from the plot of a corrupt Templar, Hawke complied. I assumed that if Marian witnessed Templar corruption first hand, I would finally have her support, I could finally prove her wrong and my obsession would wane. Unfortunately, this set up went horribly, horribly wrong. I lost control over Justice. I lost control and very nearly slaughtered every single person in the vicinity. I could smell their blood, I was tempted to eviscerate the innocent, my friends, anything that moved.
I ran instead.
"You nearly killed that poor girl! How can you beg for the freedom of mages when you are exactly what people fear?"
"I am a single man-"
"You are a demon!"
"-a single man! I do not claim to represent all mages. And I do not, for all mages are unique and varied. They should not be judged, labeled, and feared for the actions of a few men!"
"A few men like yourself! You almost KILLED an innocent girl!"
"I know... I... I know I am a danger... I should leave. Would you have me leave?"
"No. You must stay and fight this. I know you can fight this."
"Why is it that everything you say makes me want to choke you?"
"I need you, Anders. I need you to stay."
"I... I don't understand. You hate me."
"But I need you."
I wanted to stay, if only to convince Hawke of my plight. I had desired nothing else for three years, and this goal had become an obsession. Looking back, I never understood the real reasons why Hawke wanted me there. Perhaps I fooled myself, I thought that she was just as obsessed as I was, but unable to admit her feelings for fear it would ruin us both.
I should have known she was not nearly that selfless.
The following night I couldn't sleep. My mind was possessed by her. I wrote The Manifesto of the Mage Plight in order to occupy my madness. For hours, I thumbed through her old letters, found the flaws in her arguments, and penned draft after draft. I was still undertaking the final paragraph when Hawke arrived at my clinic unexpectedly.
Caught off guard, I was unable to collect myself during this particular visitation. For hours, passion, obsession, desire, want, and anger sustained me. My feelings were raw and visceral. Three years of letters, challenges, arguments, debates, and infatuation finally overwhelmed me and I could not contain myself. I fell upon her without her permission, drank her in, and felt my mind cave into the tempest of my feelings. My skin was burning, and my head was hot. I wanted so badly to take her there and then, but I stilled myself and held the reigns.
"I will be at your home tonight. I will wait, and if you do not receive me, I will know your answer."
"Anders. I will receive you."
"... Please... I... I don't understand. Why? Why will you do this if you hate me so much?"
"You ask too many questions."
"I don't hate you. I love you with every fiber of my being. I have done nothing but crave you, and I can't think of anything more. I lay awake aching for you. My hands, Hawke.. My fingers are blistered from writing, and I can't sleep. It is too much."
"Please. Do not toy with me. I'm begging you. I need you."
If I could not change her mind, than perhaps I could change her heart.
I really truly did love her.
And for a long time, I was certain Marian loved me.
Isabela warned me once that Hawke's relationship with me was a fabrication. The pirate woman was keen on reading between the lines, and could highlight deception quicker than Varric could pull together an outlandish lie.
"She's using you..."
"Careful who you accuse, Isabela."
"That little Justice in your head makes you an abomination and you know it. We are both aware what Hawke does to abominations. You are everything Hawke hates. She is using you."
"Isabela, don't say such things now. My heart can't take it."
"She is using your feelings in order to keep an eye on you and to protect herself from your damned Underground Mage Rebellion. Call it... a Circle of Deception."
"... But I love her"
"But she hates you. And if it were up to her, she would turn you into the Templars without a second thought."
"So why doesn't she?"
"... Because you keep assassins at bay."
My relationship with Hawke was a tricky dance, where we both feigned passion fueled by anger and hate for one another. She loathed what I was, and I wanted to choke her hypocrisy. I was everything a mage should not be, and she was everything a mage should never be - an Apostate hunter.
"You remind me of my father," Hawke admitted once, scrutinizing yet another updated Manifesto leaflet I left on her desk. "Always went on about the greater good. Equality. Chances..."
"He sounds like a great man," I countered.
"He is dead because of his beliefs," She answered coldly. "I will not die, and so help me, I will kill you first before you kill yourself with this ridiculous cause."
We never mentioned her father again.
I often wondered if her twisted relationship with me cited a secret one with the former slave elf. Many times, I was left alone in her estate as my lover and Fenris disappeared for varying quests, typically without the help of our other companions. She stood up for his corrupt beliefs, protected his interests, and always attacked my oppositions when arguments erupted between the Elf and I. Always, when I spoke of a government ruled by the checks and balances of equal part mage and non-mage, she would remind me of the Tevinter Imperium and use Fenris as an example of Magistrate corruption. How easy it is for politicians to fall corrupt, and how easy it is for mages to access blood magic in order to control these institutions. She was deeply prejudiced.
"If you hate mages so much, then why don't you do Kirkwall a favor and hang yourself?" I asked, when I was at my wits end.
"Because I serve a better purpose as an apostate hunter. Otherwise, I would happily trot myself into a Circle. In the meantime, I will protect myself and I will protect you for as long as I can. And if you want to accuse me of being a fool, the door is right there. I am doing what you don't have the courage to do - survive, at any cost."
I never left.
The lasting blow occurred when a blood mage sadistically rendered her mother into an experiment built upon the dead bodies of other women. That night, I found Marian at her bed, staring into the wall. It was as if her spark was drained, replaced by defeat. The pillar of strength that had sustained this passion and madness had crumbled, ruined by the consequences of evil men. I never comforted her before. Her weaknesses were alien to me. She had dropped her walls and revealed herself, some frightened child lost in the cold.
"This is what mages do. This is what we can become. Without protection, we wallow in ruin, Anders."
"You are not ruined."
"You don't think I haven't toyed with the idea of Blood Magic, Anders? That I haven't considered..."
"Perhaps we are better off tranquil and harmless."
"That's not true, and I won't sit here passively and watch you condemn yourself."
"Why? Why do you still love me?"
"... Because you are the only person left who reminds me that I am a man and not a curse."
Hawke finally opened her heart to me and we made love that night. It lacked the heated, intense passion of past sexual encounters. That night, our love making was sentimental, sweet, and gentle. After three years, we finally sealed our affections in a night rendered by loss. Still, I would try to convince her that mages are good and to relinquish her self loathing. I felt I would have accomplished everything I worked towards if I could only sway her to my side.
My attempts to understand her only made her more difficult to discern in the years following her mother's death. Marian's role as an Apostate Hunter secured Meredith's loyalty, and protected her from the eyes of the Templars. Her outstanding record also saved my life from the Circle's scrutiny. What are two apostates compared to the countless runaways that Hawke had dragged back or slain? In many ways, this bubble of protection is what allowed me to work, to outline my final plans, gather my resources, and prepare for the final blow against this damned city.
I had not intended to destroy the Chantry, but after her mother's death and after witnessing Hawke's hatred towards apostates harden, I lost hope that I'd ever be able to make her my ally. I knew I could not fully love or respect someone who did not fully love and respect me for how I was born.
Just as Marian used me to keep her enemies at bay, I felt I was justified using her title and privilege to disguise my plans.
They say the line between love and hate is a thin one, and I agree. Over time, we argued less and we loved more. Her visits with Fenris were more infrequent, and countless nights were spent laughing instead of screaming. I did not mention the plight of Mages as often, and after she drove the Qunari out of Kirkwall, her legendary status as The Champion was protection enough that she did not have to rely on mage hunting to cater Templar favor. Marian had a new weapon - the people's favor. Hawke was an exception to the rule involving mages in Kirkwall. The Circle trusted her after she proved to be an effective Apostate Hunter, the Underground Mages would not counter her since they allied with me, and the common people were more interested in Hawke's confrontation with the Qunari than they were her stance on the debate between mages and templars. In many odd ways, we protected one another from an entire city bent on killing us both for different reasons. We survived our enemies only because our relationship was based on a truce, despite the civil war of our opinions.
When asked which side she was on, Hawke would shake her head and say nothing. Marian understood that condemning the mages subjugated herself as a hypocrite now that all eyes were watching her, and to condemn the Templars would cause Hawke to lose a powerful alliance with Meredith and the templar order. She could say nothing, lest she ruin her good place. In many ways, Marian was a prisoner of her own circumstances, no better than a mage trapped in the Circle. She could say nothing to the public at large.
Behind closed doors, however, we knew where our loyalties lied. Hawke believed in the Circle, at any cost. I believed in the Mages.
That is why I did what I had to do. I knew Hawke would remain publicly neutral and see this struggle slowly rot Kirkwall from the inside out. I had to broadcast our beliefs for the world to see. I had anticipated that Marian would side with the Templars, and I would die as a martyr in this war of magic. I would play the Andraste, and she would be Maferath. The parallels were too clear, too perfect. The Mages would rise by my martyrdom and the chantry would follow Marian's example. So I sparked the flame, and destroyed the last sanctuary in this damned city.
I hesitated at first, I admit. In the last few years after the Qunari were driven out of Kirkwall, I remembered what it was like to be human again and not a possessed mage. I remembered who I was before Justice, and Marian always teased out qualities I thought I lost seven years ago. Life seemed more delightful and ironic. My craving for freedom, selfish and pure, returned again. I remembered the adventure of roaming Ferelden and the dangers of daily living.
"We would roam Thedas, burn books and live in a tent with thirty cats!"
"Dear Maker, Anders. Thirty cats? Where would we collect them?"
"Oh, they would follow us on our journeys. You would be surprised how easy it is to herd cats with enough oily fish in your bag."
"As long as my Mabari would not protest."
"Of course. He would sleep outside."
"My dear, I doubt our tent will be large enough for the both of us let alone thirty cats. The dog would be too much."
"And your cats wouldn't?"
"Your Mabari is three times my weight. Cats are a bit more lighter, Marian."
Hawke presented the possibility of running away on Isabela's ship, robbing riches and never dabbling in politics again. She would be free. I would be free. I admit, I was tempted, but Justice would not allow it. There were times when Marian would convince me to leave, to run away from the city and just live with her. Just leave politics, mages, templars, or any of that nonsense. Become pirates and enjoy life for what it is, instead of safeguarding millions of lives that weren't our own. She would convince me, then Justice would stay my feet.
My blackouts were growing more frequent, and I'd awaken to see Marian screaming at my face, demanding that I leave and then falling quiet when she'd realize her audience had disappeared back into the recesses of my mind.
The Anders I once had been would have gladly ran away. The Anders I am now is also Justice, for we are one. We have purpose and cause in our mission. I cannot leave.
And so I chose not to go.
And Marian stayed with me.
And here I am now, bound by my own circumstances, on my knees, watching the fate of Kirkwall play before my eyes. I will die.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Marian asks.
Her voice does not deceive me. It may sound aggressive, bold, and strong to those who think they know her, but I can hear her heart breaking.
I am a healer.
Her heart is only one one I cannot mend.
I sigh, refusing to meet her eyes. "You would have stopped me."
The tension plays a taut note in this audience of friends and enemies. I fear they have all become my enemy now.
"There is no median ground to hide, Marian. You must choose," I plead.
For years, I anticipated how this would end. Marian would side with the Templars, cut my throat, and try to save her own skin as Kirkwall lay ravaged. She would annul the city of mages, and run, hiding in Isabela's ship before Meredith could kill her. In years to come, the mages would raise a banner in my honor, using my actions as a symbol and icon of the sacrifice of freedom. And Marian would go down in history as an enemy, the Maferath to my Andraste.
That is the Marian I know.
"Orsino, I shall stand with the Mages," Hawke answers simply.
But, I never really knew Marian.
I am in a stunned, staring at the sky and tasting the roof of my mouth with a dry tongue.
"Hawke... I cannot say I agree... but you have my sword," Fenris offers gently.
Justice disagrees and is outraged by the flaw of our predictions. It makes no sense! For years, she attacked our cause, she attacked our standing, she put down innocent lives to save her own. History should cast her as an enemy, but what now? What is her place now?
"My hand is yours," Aveline agrees, bowing her head.
What now? What is to become? Justice asks.
"Oh dear, the shit's really going to hit the hull now..." Isabela mutters.
And while Justice rages, I... Anders... a wash of happiness overwhelms me.
This is what I wanted.
This is all I ever wanted.
To change her mind... I only ever wanted to just change her mind alone, out of millions of minds.
For years, I obsessed over this day. For years, I dreamed of the moment Hawke would finally open her eyes.
Martyrdom be damned. Marian had become living proof of my manifesto and revolution in action.
She was its catalyst.
Now she embodied it.
But it is strange. It is odd. I am still not entirely at peace. I should be overwhelmed with happiness. I should be ecstatic, but I am not. There is something amiss.
Slowly, it dawns upon me.
I still must die.
The rest is a blur. I hear Meredith ranting, then sweeping away with her Templars. I recall Orsino requesting my head. I memorize the voices of my friends as they debate my life. The Templars rose against us briefly, the majority of their ranks already cutting down the Circle before us. Soon, the only ones here are my old friends, Marian, and myself. Cold at the Gallows, the sky lit in fire and death.
Hawke bends down to my level, crouching as she grabs my hair and pulls my head back, searching my face. Andraste knows I love her as she draws her family dagger to my neck, searching my eyes with an icy gaze.
"I will never understand you, Anders," She whispers, pressing her forehead against mine for a moment. "And you will never understand me."
I sigh, watching the woman as I speak calmly and quietly.
I am resigned to this.
"You know what must be done."
Hawke narrows her eyes, glaring at me, "And make you another Andraste? You would have me cut your throat, turn you into a martyr, and have millions of people march to their deaths for a righteous cause after you painted this city in the blood of innocent people?" She shakes her head, biting back the tears. "You may have fooled me once, but I know better. I... I can't kill you."
"But you will," I answer solemnly.
"I am responsible for this tragedy. I'm a terrorist, not a martyr. You... you have chosen to side with the mages. You must condemn what I am. What I have become. What I have done. I am what templars fear, and I have caused great catastrophe," I admit, a calm smile responding to her outrage. My hand raises, holding her chin between my thumb and forefinger. "You walk the path of a Mage... and you will be a better leader. You will condemn what I have done in the name of Justice, and you will become an example of what is good and right. I am a pathetic terrorist in the scope of things. You are the true hero."
It has come to this. Its ironic. Her mind is not the only one changed on this night of judgment. I realize now, Marian is right all along. Although my actions served as a catalyst for the greater good, I must still be punished for abusing my talents and killing so many innocent people. I am a dangerous mage. I had to be executed.
Not by a templar, but by the hand of a better mage than myself.
Marian had to lead by example, if both our beliefs were to serve a common, greater good. She has to be the model of goodness, and I had to be an example of what no mage should ever do despite the circumstances.
She pauses. I can read the revelation dawning over her face. How her skin pales, eyes widen, and red mouth narrows. She understands. "Why...? Why do you set me up for this?"
"Because I love you," I whisper.
"I do not want this."
"No one ever does."
A silence swallows us, and she stills herself against me. I want to hold her, but I can't, for fear it would sway her judgment. Instead, I plead. "Please, Marian. You must..."
I can feel the cold knife split my chest, biting into my heart. I fell heavy in her arms, my blood staining the rich fabrics of her robes and ruining my tired threads.
And as I die, with her arms embracing me, my thoughts go elsewhere. I imagine sailing Orlesian seas, free and wild with Isabela cracking a rude joke, Merrill debating elvish politics with Fenris, Varric writing letters of our tales in uneven correspondence with Aveline and Sebastian back in Kirkwall. Hawke presents a litter of kittens as a late anniversary gift, laughing as the small creatures mew, protesting their clumsy attempt to chase the ship mice. I always wanted to see how the sun sets against the water, how her dark hair smells with the spray of sea salt, and the taste of her skin miles into the ocean.
My life is full of regrets. I don't wish those memories to be my final thoughts.
Instead, I meditate on my fantasies and smile.
That is my freedom.
... What? What is this voice in my head...
Allow me to make this deal with you.
Listen. Do not shut me away without listening.
I do not deal with demons.
I am no demon. I am a spirit.
Begone. You have torn asunder my heart with your death of him.
You suggest Anders is dead. He is not. We are one.
Let me help you.
And you need me as a vessel.
Yes. We would be one.
... He would not want this.
No. But we know you do, Marian.
- to be continued.
Went through quite a bit of editing. I just didn't feel satisfied, everytime I published it. I went through multiple Beta readers who gave it the go, but something was always missing. Some sympathy to the characters, I suppose.
Jennifer Hepler did such a beautiful job with Anders. No one has captured such a uniquely complex character as well as she, and she deserves kudos for all her work in Dragon Age.
My first playthrough in DA2 was a hypocritical apostate-hunting circle-hugging Mage who Rival!Manced Anders and switched to Orsino's side last minute. I fully intended siding with the Templars, but Hepler's writing... Gaider's writing... Damn, I have never done a 180 degree turn on my decisions. I intended for twenty hours to go for one choice, and in the course of five minutes, I went the other direction and threw my controller in the air. I guess I like playing characters that don't make sense, and so this fic was my attempt to make SENSE of a character like that. Maybe even make her remotely likable. Considering the amount of times I've edited the damn story, I can safely say it isn't easy. Still isn't.
Anyways, go Rival!Mance Anders. I dare you. It enlightened me.
Anyways, onto the next chapter.