A/N: I'm not sure yet where I'm going with this. I know I want it to go somewhere but at this time I'm not willing to start another multi-chapter WIP until Restoration is finished. However, I couldn't get this out of my head. I hope you enjoy!
Laica fidgeted about the sacristy, afraid to touch anything shinier than the unlit candles that were neatly stacked on the table opposite the door. She picked up a small pair of scissors with fingers that felt swollen and clumsy and began trimming wicks, trying to pretend like she had a reason to be there.
"Hawke?" a voice said from behind her.
She was so startled she jumped and dropped the scissors. "Sebastian!" she laughed, hoping she did not sound as nervous and shrill to him as she did to her own ears. "Fancy meeting you here."
Sebastian paused at the door, and then left it open. "I think it is more surprising to find you here. Is this some penance you have assigned yourself? Trimming wicks?"
"Something like that," Laica muttered as she turned back to the candles. "What are you doing?"
He made his way to the cabinets on her her left. "Checking stores of lamp oil, replacing dirty robes with clean ones, collecting the money from the poor boxes." He sighed softly, and his shoulders slumped just the slightest bit. "I would much rather be more involved, but this is what the Grand Cleric asks of me."
"You're a capable sort," Laica said with forced jovially. "I'm sure she'll find some use for your talents." She pushed aside the enticing thoughts of what those "talents" could be, lest she distract herself so much she trim a finger instead of a wick.
"It's not my capability she doubts," he confessed. "It's my dedication. These are the tasks permitted the laity, so these are the tasks I perform."
"I see," she responded, feeling utterly lost.
"Laica," he turned to her. She didn't look, but could feel his eyes on her, the space between them closing as he walked toward her. "You shouldn't be here at this hour."
"You're right, I'm sorry. The impropriety..." she babbled as he placed an hand on her arm and slowly turned her.
"It's not..." he started, barely whispering. "Well, yes. I admit that is a concern. But there's also the issue of your safety. Sneaking into the chantry after-hours is an odd pastime for an apostate."
"But what if I had a good reason," she protested. He still had not let go of her arm, and she felt electric tingles along her skin.
"It would have to be," he said, rueful. "Whatever the reason is, I hope it is more compelling than trimming wicks."
She twisted the scissors around her finger. "Say, you were in a difficult situation. Where somebody... felt something for you. Feelings you didn't return. But you didn't want to hurt them. What would you do?"
He laughed and her heart plummeted. If he didn't before, he surely thought her a fool now.
"I owe you a great debt, one I may never fully repay." He said, returning to his work. "But I can't imagine I am the best person for you to ask for advice in these matters. One of your more worldly friends would be better counsel."
She clutched the scissors in frustration. "Yes, maybe. But... they'd also gossip. You know they would. And I," she took a deep breath. "I trust you."
"Then you do me a great honor," he said as he turned back to her. "Very well, I will try to be worthy of it." He frowned thoughtfully for a moment before speaking. "Since I joined the Chantry, it has happened from time to time that a friend or acquaintance has desired more than a platonic relationship." He shrugged. "Usually, if the situation gets out of hand, I just assure them how seriously I take my vows and do my best to limit interaction. But I doubt that is very helpful to you. Why do you ask?"
She tried to find the words to explain the depths of her confusion at what happened. The stunned helplessness at Anders' tortured declarations and burning looks. How frightened she had felt when he grabbed her hand, insisting that she listen as he pleaded for her attention, her love.
When she finally escaped it was as if she couldn't make sense of anything, so she did the most irrational thing she could think of: sneak into the Chantry and hope she could find Sebastian. And now that she had, she was at a loss of what exactly she expected him to do about any of it.
"And in these occasions, did you ever," she began twisting the scissors around her finger again. "Did you ever wonder if maybe you had done something or said something that made them think that maybe you had feelings that you didn't."
He shook his head. "I know myself. Sometimes people see things that aren't there because they want them so badly. I cannot be held responsible for anything but my own words and deeds."
She nodded. "You're right. It's not my fault he-" she caught herself. "It's not my fault."
"It's nobody's fault. It's just a misunderstanding." He took the scissors from her and patted her hand reassuringly.
"Yes, of course." She felt as if a great weight had lifted from her heart. "Surely he will understand."
There was a moment where Sebastian's expression darkened, but it was gone just as quickly as it appeared. "Of course. Though, it might be a good idea to not spend so much time with him, anyway, for his own sake. It would be cruel to allow him to believe that there are possibilities that don't exist."
"That is wise. Thank you," and she turned to go. If she hadn't she wasn't sure she could be with him, so close and speaking so quietly in the dark, without doing something even more foolish and forcing him to limit his interaction with her.
"Laica," he said, "Wait."
She turned, unsure of what to expect. He handed her an acolyte robe. "I can't risk giving you one of the clean ones, I'm sorry. But you should wear this until you're off the Chantry grounds. It will help you escape notice."
"That is a good idea," she said as she pulled it over her head. "Well, how do I look? Pious? Stodgy?"
"A little of one, enough of the other," he smiled. "Until we meet again" he said, bowing with ridiculous formality.
Laica clapped a hand over her mouth to stop from laughing too loudly. "Until then, messere," she drawled, curtseying so low she almost toppled over, before turning and stealing into the shadows.