I had no intentions on expanding Heavy in your Arms.
My betas and several delightful reviews suggested otherwise.
So I did. I am glad I did.
Thank you, thank you, thank you Isabella Monroe, Desert Willow, MacSauce, Medivi, Auradorina, Jonesy E., Twilen, StellaSmooth, Talis, Daggers0, and Sarah1281. Reviews like yours are lovely little jabs to keep writing. They mean a lot to me!
Thank you Matt Taylor, Snoogerbooger, Coral, and Finicky! Good friends who are wonderful betas. They have to sludge through a lot of heavy rhetoric and it can be a pain in the neck, I know. Thank you so much. :)
Here's Hawke's point of view.
HEAVY IN YOUR ARMS
See Myself Sing
The Anthem We Wrote Together
We Had A Dream
We Had Everything
We Rode To The End Of The World
- Sigur Ros
A batty old woman once told me that the we stood on the precipice of change. She warned to keep my eye open for that moment when the world would collapse so that I may leap before I tumble into the abyss. And before I could ask her 'Yes, old batty woman, but what direction should I leap? Should I jump right or left? Forward or back? Would you prefer I turn around and jump the opposite direction?' she turned into a dragon and flew away.
I wanted to forget that moment, but her words would haunt me for six years. Varric kindly recalled the story with embellishment, exaggerating the details. He enjoyed repeating her prophecy in a rasped tone that sobered even the dumbest drunks at his table. The dwarf always requested I step in at that point, but I would politely turn down his offer and leave before his enticed company had time to question me.
Over time, I shrugged off the witch's dire comment as the ramblings of a mad apostate. But we all know better that you should heed the wisdom of batty old women in legends and fables. These words will always come back to haunt you, in the form of parable or prophecy.
And here I am now... and I can't help but wonder. Is this the precipice of change? Is this where I leap?
My heart falls as the sky burns. I watch as my city is torn asunder by dark magic, a rain of fire and church stone breaking the night into a terrifying vision.
The shock settles and Anders demands a choice. What can I do but stare?
Anders. What have you become? What have you done? Did you really hate me so much?
What have I turned you into?
Everyone warned me about him early on. They told me to keep my distance, that associating with an abomination would only spell my doom. I listened, but I thought I could control the situation. His revolutionary tirades grated my ears, so I condemned his idealism as ignorance and folly. My instincts demanded I cut his heart and tip off the templars, but I was persuaded by my 'better' judgment to keep him close.
At first, Anders did not know I was an Apostate Hunter. I never announced the finer details of my job. Anders assumed I was an avid supporter of his beliefs, but I never made such claims. He frequently asked me how the templars did not notice that I was an Apostate considering my status as one of the last surviving Amell nobles. Surely, Hightown was all a buzz about me. How was it I managed to stay under Templar Commander Meredith's radar? I soon learned that it is impossible to keep secrets from Anders for too long. Information is cheap in Darktown and the name 'Marian Hawke' spread like a pestilence across networks untapped by Varric.
Shortly, Anders made the startling revelation of my occupation himself.
"... You turned him into the Circle."
"He had a family, Marian! He had a four year old son! He did nothing wrong. He was no Maleficar, no abomination! He only wanted to live with his family in peace! And you betrayed him!"
"I did what was necessary."
"You are a mage, Marian! How could you? How could you hunt down your own kind?"
"The best apostate hunters are typically apostates themselves."
We stopped speaking to one another for weeks after that confrontation. Justice very nearly had my head and I almost knocked Anders unconscious with a conjured stone fist. The silence between us did not last, however. I started to receive many personal letters. I remember the first letter vividly. The introduction was intensely personal and emotionally tumultuous, his writing barely legible - cramped and frantic on the cheap paper. The last eight pages were more logical, and I could tell that Anders had spent many hours editing and re-editing his statements, wording his plight into a concise and passionate essay that begged I be persuaded to his cause.
I spent a great deal of time crafting a strong response to these letters. While my origins maybe common, my education is still rooted in nobility and my father was a former Circle mage turned Lothering teacher. I was well learned in Thedas history, I memorized the Chantry hymns, and I was intimately familiar with the Tevinter Imperium. When I received Anders' letters, I traveled to Fenris's lodgings and would sit down with my friend - reading these tirades out loud and crafting precise counter arguments, carefully fact checking Tevinter's social and political institutions with the elf over a glass of Avalia Pamunalis.
"I do wonder..."
"Why do you choose to be an Apostate hunter, especially if you are a mage? If I may ask."
"Well... why do you choose to be a free man, if you were designed to be a slave?"
"Mm... I... think I see. But I still understand you very little, my friend."
I do it to survive. To stay alive. To keep my mother safe, protect my family name, protect myself. What is one free Apostate when she proves to be a useful templar weapon? Even if it wasn't to save my own skin, I still agreed with the Circle's function. An ignorant mage can tap into magics capable of ripping apart entire villages. A frightened apostate could cast his lot with a demon.
It isn't that mages are untrustworthy. No. Not at all. Its people I don't trust. All of Kirkwall is a historical testimony outlining the evils of people with too much power at their fingertips. What are mages but people with power? It is merely a question of choosing the lesser evil. I choose templars.
Anders and I continued to write long, tiring, exhausting letters to one another. He would find flaws and loopholes in my arguments, outline these issues and refine his essay - sharpen and whittle it until his words were pristine. I spent many sleepless nights in my estate's private library, diving into hardy philosophical, theological, and historical research, using these proofs to point out the inaccuracies of his agenda. There came a time when Anders finally requested use of my books. Even then, I mailed the heavy texts instead of inviting him to my estate, so he might underline and cite my own sources against me.
We had corresponded primarily through mail for two years before he extended a truce.
I fear we are fast becoming enemies, when a friendship is more beneficial. I only ask that you walk with me to Sundermount. We shall not speak of politics. I suspect you will not protest if Merrill and Fenris joined us? I could use Merrill's knowledge of the mountain's herbs, and Fenris would be an acceptable sword should we run into outlaws. -Anders.
"Be careful," Fenris warned, after I read this message out loud.
"How long have you two pushed your arguments? A year? Two years?"
"... You haven't changed his mind, have you?"
"You are only strengthening his resolve. Be careful, Mary."
We walked through the winding trails of Sundermount, gathering wild elfroots and pocketing sweet berries from the mountain's rich soil. Anders and I spoke little, the tension between us had overwhelmed the silence. Sensing the hostility between us, Fenris and Merrill chose to follow from a respectful distance. We shared brief farewells and walked opposite directions - Merrill at Anders' side, Fenris at mine.
"He's obsessed," my elvhen friend growled under his breath, as we entered Hightown
"I know. I do not believe I will be able to persuade him to see my point of vie-"
"No," Fenris snapped. "I mean, he's obsessed with you."
"I don't thi-"
"You are encouraging him, and you know it."
"... I know."
"Wait... You planned this."
"I don't understand... I can't tell if you hate one another or love one another..."
"He loves me, Fenris. This, I am certain. I feel nothing but contempt for him."
I played this game with Anders for a long time. Letters, hikes, and occasionally a pint at the Hanged Man. There came a point where we finally organized weekly visitations and feigned a normal friendship before our companions as if they could not smell the hatred between us. Still, we did not mention politics since Sundermount.
Our silent truce was broken when Anders caught word of templar abuse from the mage underground. I could sense that he wasn't just interested in an extra hand to clean up a determined mess when he approached me for help. Anders had ulterior motivations. I suspected he wanted me to witness templar abuse against Circle mages in person. He wanted to stoke my outrage and force my hand. He wanted me to turn against the templars and become a powerful ally in his plot to unshackle Kirkwall's mages.
Anders did not anticipate that his ruse would actually backfire - that this staged rescue would actually ignite Justice's fury and usurp any semblance of control he had over the demon. It merely hardened my opinions on the mage debate.
"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?"
Anders took the bait and remained in Kirkwall.
I quickly left after this revelation, my stomach sick and my head dizzy. A part of me was tempted to simply dump all of the Gallows' templars on him. I was in good sorts with Cullen, so a quick letter would seal the man's fate as a tranquil. However, my other half argued this. Protect Anders and you protect yourself from the wrath of organized apostates who allied themselves with the healer. Turning him in would almost certainly spell my demise by assassination. I wanted to kill him, but I had to keep him close if I were to save my own skin. Survival, at any cost.
That night, I was drained by nightmares. I had visions of the old crone reminding me to keep my eye on change, to leap when I see the world fall into abyss. Shortly, Justice fell on me and ripped my body limb for limb, drinking my blood and screaming blasphemies into my ears. When I awoke, I dressed quickly and followed the beaten streets to Darktown's clinic. As I approached the back of the slum building, I heard the familiar scratch of quill against paper. I observed Anders in silence, my heart in my throat as he drew his pen across the cheap scroll. For years, we spoke to one another through letters, though I never actually witnessed him write. It was shamefully voyeuristic, even exciting as I watched him work. When Anders noticed my entrance, he stood, and read the paper out loud to me. He had written a concise Manifesto in my 'honor'.
I gathered my courage and attacked his arguments face on. His desperation and obsession split him mentally, and I chose to manipulate these feelings. I faked my attraction, and was caught off guard when my enemy fell upon me, ravishing my mouth. I remember the taste of him, the bitterness of elfroot and a mouth dry from tension. He made love, and I complied. Am I wrong for faking interest in order to protect myself? Am I evil for pretending to love him, in order to keep him close so that the threat of an assassination would remain always at bay? I had to protect my family, and my mother was all I had left.
I had to survive. At any cost.
I can't be wrong for that.
"You are using him," Fenris muttered drunkenly, the floor littered with empty wine bottles and the air thick with the musk of expensive alcohol.
"No more than he is using me."
"I doubt he sees it as such."
"... Anders may not see through the act, but I imagine Justice is aware of my plot. Else, he would not allow Anders to live with me. Anders may not be using me, but Justice is."
"The abomination shares your house and your bed now, does he?"
"Fenris. He is the only person keeping the mage underground from poisoning my drink. And my home is the only way I can safeguard him from templars."
"... Do you love him?"
"But he loves you."
"... Perhaps it was wise that I stopped our relationship when I did."
"Fenris.. You know I still love you."
"But not as much as you hate him."
"A drink. To mutually beneficial relationships."
And he would drink himself into a stupor.
My relationship with Anders was tumultuous and unkind. I took no pleasure in sex, and I felt empty when I feigned passion. I was certain the healer misread his hate for me as love, and over time the lies and deception cracked the surface. I suspect, perhaps, that Isabela warned him. But what could he do? Leaving my estate would risk his neck. Anders was trapped, caged and unable to run. I imagine Justice was satisfied with the knowledge that his little host was being protected by my hand, regardless of the emotional turmoil between us. Sometimes I wondered if Justice and I were working in conjunction, manipulating the mage to meet both our needs. But how far can you push a man until he cracks?
"If he hurts you, I will kill him."
"Fenris, stay your hand. He can't hurt me."
"Mary, I know a slave when I see one. And right now, I am looking at one."
"Do not claim to be in control."
"And do not claim I am a passive child in this arrangement! I am the one who organized it! He is as much a slave to these circumstances as I!"
"How far can it go, Marian? Just how far can it go before your own restraints strangle you alive?"
I thought I knew it all. I thought I could carry the burden and play the game as long as I needed to. I have been playing hide and seek since I was a child, manipulating people in order to protect Bethany and I from Ferelden's Circle. Kirkwall was a more fragile game, and Anders proved to be an even greater opponent. My life depended on predictability, it is how I survived.
I never expected chaos to enter the foray and take my mother from me.
I never expected my world to spiral out of control.
In one swift moment, I felt helpless when I once had power. My certainty was stolen from me.
If I cannot save my own mother, how could I save myself?
"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."
I fell in love that night. For three years, I teased, used, and toyed him for my own selfish interests. Finally, with one tragic cast of the die, the hunter was captured by her own game.
We no longer mentioned the struggle between mages and templars. The civil war that plagued my house was stilled by this new connection between us. I thought perhaps I was fooling myself, but my feelings became clear when I no longer needed Anders to stay the hand of the Mage Underground after I drove the Qunari from Kirkwall. My new moniker, 'The Champion', was protection enough. The people of Kirkwall watched me with anticipation, and my house was rich with political support. I chose to stop hunting apostates, and Anders resigned his mission to concentrate exorcising Justice.
I never knew the real Anders after all those years of hating him. I had ignored the healer's charming qualities. His snide humor, quick wit, and sharp tongue. I finally opened my eyes and judged Anders as a man rather than an abomination, and I admired his energy and passion for life. He was vivacious, opinionated, and a fantastic prankster. I felt like a girl in his arms, giggling drunk as I rediscovered my relationship. His sense of humor balanced my snark, and we frequently engaged in verbal wars that left us both laughing at the absurdity of it all. I loved him. I could see him for who he was before Justice ruined him, and he finally met the real me - the me I left back in Lothering.
It was exciting and wonderful.
He had fast become my dearest friend.
"Where would we run to, Anders?"
"Who cares. Isabela has a ship, we could become apostate pirates!"
"Simply brilliant. I suppose I will need a peg leg then..."
"... Not if you are on Isabela's ship. The only requirement would be 'no clothes on deck.'"
Those were the happiest years of my life.
Justice would have no part in it.
Anders frequently blacked out, and I watched with a heavy heart as the demon emerged, screaming curses at me and promising a swift death should I interfere with their mission.
"NO. NOT UNTIL THE WORK IS DONE. I DEMAND YOU GO LEST YOU TRY MY HAND. HE SHALL NOT BE SWAYED BY YOUR PETTY DESIRES"
"You treat him as if he is a slave. He is a man. Leave him! You are no longer wanted!"
"ANDERS SERVES A GREATER PURPOSE. DO NOT POISON HIM."
It was torture watching Anders struggle against this downhill war with Justice. He slept less, ate less, and his health rapidly deteriorated. Justice was killing him.
When the healer finally approached me with good news, that he had found a formula to exorcise Justice, I admit I was partially fooled. I wanted to believe him, but I knew the potion was likely a ruse to still my fears. When he requested my help to distract the Chantry, I complied. Foolish as I was, I worked under the pretense of false hope.
Believe me when I say that I really did love him. But love is blinding.
And now my blindness has turned my city into fire. Anders has torn my heart asunder.
I stand there, staring at the guilty party as the sky cracks in mortar and flame. Meredith, Orsino, Templars, Mages... ignored as all eyes fix on this terrorist who kneels before me.
"Why didn't you tell me?" I shout, glaring at the ruins of Kirkwall's Chantry as my heart breaks.
Anders refuses to face me. Instead, he stares at the ground, his voice cracks with tire. "You would have stopped me."
I turn away from my friends, biting my tongue to stop myself from screaming.
"There is no median ground to hide, Marian. You must choose," Anders pleads.
How could I let my guard down? I should have known this man would betray my trust. I should have listened to the warnings of my friends. I should have seen and expected it. But the question he poses is greater than my emotional conflict. How can he expect me to make a decision that would ruin so many lives? Arguably, Anders expects me to side with the Templars. And I should. I want to. I an inclined to. My better judgment demands I fight for the Circle. If Anders is an example of what desperate mages are capable of, than perhaps the only way to protect innocent lives is to remove the immediate threat. That is the obvious choice. That is the trite and true one.
But it would only be a short-term resolution. Even if I were to annul all of Kirkwall, slaughter every single mage inside the Gallows, more will always be born. Outside of this city, the Circles, templars, chantry, and apostates were watching. My decision would not only effect Kirkwall, but all of Thedas. Was the world ready to lead by my example and fear mages even more? And isn't fear just another form of power? Does it not make mages even more threatening? My eyes open with this revelation. By siding with the templars, I would have to kill Anders. His death could very well cast him in history as a martyr, the catalyst to a revolution. Would I be known as an enemy, when my hand has been forced? Would I be an icon of what mages must fight against? Could I carry this burden? Could I really fight against a thousand Anders in my years to come?
Is this the precipice of change you warned me about, you damned batty old woman? Where do I leap? What side do I fall? The predictable or the chaotic?
I turn to face the First Enchanter, and the words drop like heavy stone.
"Orsino, I shall stand with the mages."
Anders may have betrayed me, ruined me, broken me, tore my heart in two but he has also fundamentally changed me.
In the chaos surrounding us, I saw the reality of my circumstances. Meredith's madness and Orsino's cowardice. Their sins are what try the fate of innocent lives, and they stand there blaming one another for extremes. I cannot side with either of them, murderers and cowards that they are. Even the Grand Cleric Elthina, Maker rest her soul, stood by and watched people kill one another, people drunk with power - be they mage or templar. One word from her mouth would have saved lives, but her silence condemned many men to their deaths.
The only man who had the courage to admit his crimes is in front of me.
I do not side with Orsino or Meredith or even Elthina
I side with Anders.
Though my reasons are not so simple.
"Hawke... I cannot say I agree... But you have my sword," Fenris offers gently.
My beliefs have been shaken to their core, and I can't breath.
"My hand is yours," Aveline agrees, bowing her head.
I see change in the horizon. I have feared it for so long. But I must leap.
"Oh dear, the shit's really going to hit the hull now..." Isabela mutters.
I fall to my knee and grab Anders' hair, pulling his head back and searching his eyes. I draw my dagger to his throat, watching his reaction as I shake my head.
"I will never understand you, Anders," I press my forehead to his and close my eyes as I memorize this moment. "And you will never understand me."
"You know what must be done," he responds calmly.
I glare at him, throwing the knife into the ground. "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?"
Haven't we played this game long enough? Haven't we used one another for long enough? I was so happy when I thought Anders loved me unconditionally. I was so happy before all this madness. Was it all a lie? Was it all fabricated? Did we ever truly love one another?
"You may have fooled me once, but I know better. I... I can't kill you."
Anders sighs, his gaze searching my face, "But you will."
"Stop!" I beg. "I am tired of these games. Just... Stop..."
"Marian. Listen to me."
Anders raises his hand, gently holding my chin as he locks a firm gaze with mine. "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."
He gently caresses my jawline, a weak smile splitting dry lips. "You must... you must condemn what I have done in the name of justice. You must use me as an example of what a mage should not be, and you must become an example of what a mage must strive to become. I.. am a failure. You are not."
I fall silent and my mind stirs into a fever, "Why..? Why do you set me up for this?"
"Because I love you."
"I do not want this."
"No one ever does."
I allow the silence to frame this moment and I lean into him.
I am not a passive victim to his plight. He did not do this alone. It is difficult to swallow, but really.. I am to blame. I drove him to write his damned manifesto. I taught him the art of deception and manipulation. I became an obsession in his eyes and manipulated his feelings for my own needs. A six year tumultuous relationship based on treachery, love, hate, and obsession. With a switch, he had shaken my core beliefs and turned me into something I never anticipated.
I wasn't the only one who changed. I wasn't the only one whose beliefs were shaken.
Anders was just as changed as I was.
I finally understand the plight of the mages, and Anders finally realizes the importance of limiting their access to power.
He knows he must be punished.
If I was living proof of his Manifesto in action, Anders was living proof of my caution and the responsibility of magic.
I need to live to see his goals come to light. He needs to die so that these ideals would not be abused.
"Please, Marian. You must..."
I drive my dagger into his heart. He fell heavy in my arms, and I hold him gingerly. My fingers trace the knots of his hair, pressed over his lips as he fades slowly into unconsciousness. I am silent in my thoughts. I will not regret. I will look forward. I shall not waste time in memories. The future is grand in scale and requires my attention.
... 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.
You cannot do this alone.
No, Spirit. But I can do this without you. You have already provoked me but Anders has changed me. I do not need to deal with you. I am already an amalgamation of all of you. I am no longer Hawke. I am not you. Nor am I Anders. I have become something more. I do not loathe templars nor do I fear mages. Not anymore.
I am the spirit of revolution, and I do not need you.
Understand, Justice. If I am to be a role model, a leader, and an icon, I must do this on my own. I cannot rely on outside help from the spirit world. It would condemn our purpose.
Do what is right, Hawke. Do what is just.
I will do what is necessary.
And I stay there, cradling the dead body of my former love, enemy, obsession. He falls cold and I stand, turning to my friends as I walk with heavy feet towards the Circle.
The world stands on the precipice of change. I saw my world collapse around me and I leaped. Where that jump will take me, I cannot say. I am no prophet, no dragon, no Flemeth, no Ashe'Bellenar, no Justice, no spirit or demon. I am only a common refugee from Ferelden who refuses to crumble. Should people follow me, then I will lead. Should they fight me, then I will retaliate. I do not claim to know more than I do, but when I see the abyss, I will dive into it.
Anders would expect no less of me.
I would expect no more.
Everyone has their own legends, but this is how I saw Marian Hawke.
I'll admit. It was not easy to recall what happened. I lie not because the truth is less interesting, but because it can be more complicating.
Legends are like rumors. They tell the truth, but only a glimpse. They are misinterpretations and second hand information of real events.
Word spread that Hawke was an outstanding woman, who stood before the Templars and shouted No. Courage and bravery would be her stead.
That would be her legend.
But in reality, she was just an anti-hero thrown into circumstance. She and Anders started the damn revolution, from the beginning. They both worked together and they had no idea they were one another's allies until the very last page.
Anders would be remembered as a terrorist, a vile creature that tore the Chantry from its roots. An abomination.
Hawke would be remembered as a hero who cut his throat and steadied the war, a living example of righteousness with a pure heart whom the Maker changed. His prodigal daughter, so long drifting in the darkness only to answer his call as Kirkwall's shepherd. She would be Andraste returned.
That is the legend.
But we all know the real story.
-From The Champion of Kirkwall, spoken by Varric Tethras, Merchant Prince of Kirkwall, 9:40 Dragon
Dear lord I love anti-heros! Anyways, that's that. The end. Thank you very much.