…And I implore you, Grand Cleric Elthina, to choose a side. The mages are abused, constantly and relentlessly, by the Chantry and the templars. They are taken prisoner and held in a gilded cage, one not of their choosing, one that they will never be able to leave. It isn't right, to tear children from their mothers, from their fathers, from families that love them and adore them…
"Are you happy?"
The question had come out of nowhere. Anders, who had taken the time to stare out at the open air in front of him, jumped a little. He'd been rewriting his manifesto in his head for what seemed like the millionth time, and when Merrill, the Maleficar, had asked the question, the words had grown wings and flown far, far away. To some distant land or another.
"Beg your pardon?" He asked, there was an undertone of annoyance buried there. He did not like Merrill. It was people like her that kept the mages from being trusted. The people who consorted with demons, and slit their wrists so that they could be more powerful. Ahead of the two, Hawke and Aveline stood side-by-side, speaking of some important matter or another. The Captain was probably reminding Hawke once more of the laws.
Merrill's cheeks flushed a little, as if she thought she'd broken some sort of unwritten rule with humans, but she continued, "She seems happy. Hawke, I mean. Are you?"
To the Grand Cleric, and all who follow her. I represent the majority of mages who believe in freedom, and dissent, who wish for equality for all mages in using the gifts the Maker has given them. I represent those who have been hunted, abused, and tortured by our supposed 'guardians', the templars…
It was indeed a question that had come completely out of the blue. Anders let his gaze travel to their lovely leader, and it was still there, that swelling in his heart that would never die down. Guilt, for accepting Justice, followed close behind.
"Yes. I suppose I am." He mused, ignoring Merrill. There was nothing he would rather do than ignore the Dalish elf at the moment.
… a girl named Gytha, who was raped by the templars, and no one did a thing about it. What kind of people let an injustice like that stand? Who would sit and twiddle their thumbs while mages are beaten and abused for something beyond their control? Monsters. Monsters, who believe in not acting, who would sit by and believe that all events have a reason for occurring…
Merrill seemed to let out a sigh of relief, and she was smiling at him. No matter what Anders did to her, or said to her, she still liked him. It was strange. And a little comforting.
"Good! You've spent much too much time being grumpy. It's a nice change."
… and a boy named Dorian, who was murdered by templars in the Circle of Magi in Orlais. What of him? He was ten, and no one, not the First Enchanter, nor the Knight Commander, investigated his death. Templars killed him. His family never received his body. They were not allowed to mourn…
At night, when they are next to each other, panting and sweating and just living, is when he breathes out, "Merrill… hah… asked me a strange question today…"
Hawke curls up next to him, wraps a leg around his midsection, her arms around his neck, lips pressed to strands of ash-blond hair. Her eyes are bright, bright green in the darkness of her room, and a small smile twists her cheeks when she replies, "Merrill asks a lot of strange questions. You'll get used to it."
She never seems exhausted, not even after their exertions together. Hawke's a little tube of energy, a vial of lyrium. Just as addictive, too. Just as damning. Anders looks at her, seriously, and his brown eyes seem more like little coals in the dark. Hawke would have never thrown him in a fireplace, though.
"She asked me if I was happy." His breath tickles the underside of her chin. For a second, Hawke freezes, like she's worried.
"Are you?" She asks, and the second she says it, it seems like a stupid question. Instead, she breathes in the scent of his hair, which smells like herbs and death.
… Knight Commander Meredith employs intimidation, violence and outright insanity when hunting down apostates. She smells blood mages, Maleficar, in every corner of the world. The rumors they speak of her violent acts would spark revolutions and unrest if they were proven true, and they are true, and surely you can't stand to just…
"Yes." He replies, and presses a kiss to her forehead. Anders' lips are pleasantly warm. "She said you looked happy, and that's what I wanted to ask… are you happy?"
"Anders," Hawke grouses, pulling at his ear, playfully. "No, of course I'm not happy. I mean, I let you move in here, let you share my bed, and let you know secrets I'm not even comfortable sharing with Varric. Maker, I hate you."
Anders tsks, annoyed, "I'm being serious, here."
…The Champion of Kirkwall is an excellent example of how mages can be trusted. She's protected our city from Qunari, has done personal errands for the viscount, has helped countless people. She doesn't slit her wrists, or summon demons, or make life miserable for the people here…
She shifts restlessly in the bed, touches his jaw with the tips of her fingers, and frowns.
"I love you," Hawke tells him, and the words are full of determination, of commitment, of something just. "I don't know how many times I have to tell you this before it gets through your thick head: I love you. I love you for you, all of you, your being an apostate doesn't change things. Your being an abomination doesn't change things. Your being a fugitive, hunted by the templars, doesn't change things. So stop asking stupid questions and believe me, when I say that I'm happy.
…did you know, Grand Cleric, that there are theories that Andraste Herself was a mage? What sort of uprising would that cause, I wonder, if it turned out that the Chantry was oppressing the very people its leader was a part of…
It's snowing outside. Anders dares to pull the curtain away for once, looking out as the snow blanketed everything in sight. It was strange, really, the way the stone walls of Kirkwall seemed to blend with the weather. The way it fell, the way it covered… it almost reminds him of a funeral pall, to cover up the death and destruction within the city.
"Enjoying the view?" Said Hawke. Anders jumps slightly as she strode to stand beside him, green eyes glittering at his frightened response, as if in amusement. He glares at her, slightly. She always did that. And her footsteps were so quiet.
"It used to snow all the time in Amaranthine," He says. "Vigil's Keep would get so cold at night. It's warm in here, and I was just thinking about those memories."
"Do you miss Amaranthine?" She asks, and there's a questioning look in her eyes. Like she's trying to ask something else but doesn't want to come out and say it.
…the Gallows are, essentially, a prison. Mages are not allowed out of their rooms, and those who breathe a word of disgust towards their living accommodations are struck down, or made Tranquil without a second thought…
"Sometimes." He thinks of Ser Pounce-A-Lot, and the Warden Commander, Tabris. He wonders often what things would be like if she were around to see him like this. The Hero of Ferelden would have tried to do something, tried to separate him and Justice even if it meant she'd be traveling all over Thedas to find out how to do just that. "I'm happy, here. With you, just in case I haven't said that in awhile."
Anders hasn't forgotten Merrill's question. Hawke, apparently, hasn't either, because she chuckles, a presses a hand to his cheek, rubbing his stubble.
"No, you haven't said that in awhile. You've been quiet, for the past few weeks. Is something the matter?"
He looks away from her, back out at the snow, at his funeral pall. She doesn't need to know. She's a mage, she'd want to help, or…
"Just… tired, lately."
"Varric told me people have been trying to get you to pay protection money, are you—"
He turns back to her, cups her face in his hands, and leans forward and shuts her up. Hawke doesn't resist, doesn't try to squeeze the truth out of them or push him away. She melts into him, lets him do the leading for once, and when they pull apart and there is that wet sound that usually comes with whatever they do together, he smiles at her and lies,
"Really. There's nothing wrong. I'm… content."
…Andraste preached freedom, and she ended slavery. But the Chantry's response to this was to lock up the mages in the Circles. If She preached emancipation, then why do her disciples turn and oppress those born with something special?...
He scribbles away at his manifesto. Looks at it, and with an irritated sigh, he crumples the paper and tosses it into Hawke's fireplace. Something empty has filled his heart. A void has taken place in his life. Behind him, in the study, Hawke has fallen asleep with one of Isabela's books on her lap. ("Harder Than Hightown") And he looks at her, observes her.
She has long eyelashes, clumped with mascara. How many times had he seen those eyelashes flutter for him, how long had her green eyes stared into his, how many years had he spent loving her, hoping she would be his bane against the ever-growing influence of Vengeance?
…Mages should have families. They should have lives outside the Circle. Why deprive someone of living a life they are entitled to live, just like everyone else in Thedas? They should be happy, just like everyone else. They should have justice, just like everyone else. And most of all, they should have freedom, just like everyone else…
Anders knows he's used her. Betrayed her. Lied to her. But he loves her. He needs to die. He has to die. She needs to kill him.
The mages needed a martyr.
The revolution needed a catalyst.
He needed an end.
Watching the slow rise and fall of her chest as she slept, Anders smiles to himself. It's a weak smile, a smile pulled together only by the love he felt and the knowledge of what he would be doing for the mages.
…and this is why we need your help, Grand Cleric Elthina. To set things right. To ensure that everyone born in Thedas will have the same degree of equality, of freedom, and of justice…
Around them, the world's turned upside down. The precipice of change has come. He sits, hands folded in front of him, and behind him, she stands.
Her voice cracks; there is no sarcasm, no happiness, and there is… regret,
"You have to pay for what you've done."
"I know." He tells her, and it's final. The words ring clear and true and just. There is the scraping of metal, a hand on his shoulder. Beside them, their companions look away. Merrill seems on the verge of crying.
"For what it's worth," He says, standing. She's looking at him with a high degree of pain in her eyes. There's regret, guilt, betrayal buried deep within those green orbs of hers. "I'm glad it's you."
The tears fall down her eyes. There was nothing in the world that could justify what he's done to her. She loves him. And he, her. But this was how it had to end. For the mages. For the revolt. For them.
His last words are a whisper upon the wind, "It was nice… to be happy for a while."
And then her blade sinks into his heart.
...justice is not an ideal. Let it become a reality.
I got the idea for this while I was listening to the 'A Fine Frenzy' song, "Happier". Which reminds me a lot of the dynamic between Anders and Hawke. And the basis inside of it came from Merrill's party banter. (I seriously need to stop looking up party banter.)
Feedback is appreciated.