Chapter Four: Home
Justice does not approve of the child growing in Hawke's womb. Justice doesn't approve of a lot of things, like drinking or fun or sex, but this child has gotten the spirit (demon) completely confused.
Spirits don't reproduce, after all. The thought of creating a new being, one that is only partially yourself, is a wholly mortal concept.
What bothers Justice the most is Anders's reaction to the growing child. The mage is obsessed with it, and there is never a moment he goes without thinking about it.
It's worse than that Hawke girl, really, because at least then Justice could intervene if needed. This…obsession, this feeling, this…Justice did not know what to call it, only that it is all-consuming, and it put everything they had created these past few years at risk. Justice cannot stop it, because for the first time in years Justice cannot influence Anders's thoughts.
Kill it, Justice whispers, in the dark of the night against the soft rocking of the ship. Anders's tucks his hand tighter around Arielle's stomach. It's ruining everything we've worked for. You cannot hope to save the mages while this—thing—exists!
But Justice's (Vengeance's) thoughts fall upon deaf ears, and Anders worries about the child ever more, as if he knows it's the one thing keeping Justice out of his head, a bubble protecting his thoughts.
"I will never hurt you, my darling," he promises Arielle's stomach, once his lover is sound asleep, speaking directly to the child within. "I can't guarantee you anything else—I can't promise you stability, or that I'll make a good father, or even that I'll be there for you. But I love you, and there is nothing in this world I love more than you and your mother. I will do anything to protect you both."
Inside his head, Justice rages. It does him no good.
Hawke, while born of an Amell and therefore biologically noble in at least some sense, was raised a peasant and so was not raised to understand politics. Not really. She's good at pretending she does, though, and that's why the Viscount liked her so much-she thought differently than most of the nobles he had to deal with.
That doesn't mean she knows how to persuade a king, though, especially not about something as important as this.
She dresses nicely, though, wearing a beautiful green spring dress that shows off the slight baby bump that has appeared in the recent months. She does her hair up nicely, letting Bethany and Merrill curl her hair and make-up her face so that she looks respectable and not like she's been sleeping in a pirate ship for months.
She can at least look like a noblewoman, even if she really isn't.
It feels like she is waiting forever inside the palace before the servants usher her towards the gardens, where the king is waiting to speak with her.
The gardens are beautiful, but what really surprises her is to see the king of Ferelden sitting there, a full smile on his face and a small child on his lap.
"Rose," he kisses the girl, who can't be much older than three or four, right on the top of her head. "It's naptime, Princess."
The little girl shakes her head. "No! Wanna stay!"
"Say it right this time, Rosalind."
The little girl pouts, but then wraps her arms tightly around her father's neck. "I want to stay with you, Daddy."
Maker's breath, that's the princess.
The King kisses her again, this time on her forehead. "But aren't you sleepy? I know I am."
"Rose," the King scolds gently.
"I'm not tired," the princess repeats, enunciating her letters properly.
"But you will be later, won't you? Then you'll be too tired to play with Adaia and Claudio. Duncan and Ellie will have to go by themselves because you'll be too sleepy to go."
"No I won't!"
But the King grins, leans forward and whispers something Hawke can't hear into his daughter's ear. The girl's face lights up immediately. "You promise?"
He holds out his pinky for the little girl to take. "I promise."
The girl leaps from his lap, getting dirt and grass and who knows what else on her pretty little dress, grabbing the nanny's hand and rushing back towards the castle, seemingly eager to head towards her nap.
The King laughs, but stands up, brushing his clothes, and turns towards Hawke for the first time. "That's the thing you must understand about children, Champion. They always respond well to bribery."
Hawke curtsies. "Your Majesty. It's good to see you again."
The King nods. "You as well, Champion. I suspect the last time we spoke neither of us could have predicted we'd speak again so soon. Please, have a seat."
She did as asked, sitting down in one of the garden chairs comfortably as the King of Ferelden poured her a cup of tea. "One scoop of sugar or two?"
He smiles, adding in the second scoop. "That's how my wife takes her tea, too." He hands her the cup gently. "Be careful, it's hot."
She nods, but takes a sip anyway. The warm liquid feels good on her throat, even on a warm day like today.
"So what can I do for you today, Champion? I must admit, I'm…interested in hearing your side of the story. Zevran's letter was rather sparse with the details, and the Prince of Starkhaven seems to believe that you are harboring murderers."
"I—you've spoke to Sebastian?"
That causes his eyebrow to rise slightly. "Through letter, mostly. He believed you would return to Ferelden after leaving Kirkwall."
Damn that man. "What—what else did he say, if I may ask?"
"Oh, the usual. That you're a harlot and a maleficar and if I cared anything at all about my immortal soul I would execute you on sight." The King smirks, taking a long sip of his own cup of tea. "Now, this may just be my opinion on the matter, but you don't seem like a harlot, and last I checked, you don't really seem mage-y enough to be a maleficar."
The smile on Hawke's face softens. "He's—he's not entirely wrong, your Majesty."
The King of Ferelden frowns. "Ah. Perhaps you should start at the beginning, then?"
It's remarkably easy to talk to the King—he's a good man, and an excellent listener. Moreover, he's friendly and acts genuinely interested in her plight, even the parts of it that don't exactly relate to Templars and Mages, religion and order.
"I can't protect you," the King tells her softly, once her story is done. "I wish I could. While I don't think what your—friend—did was right, I know that the Circle is an injustice, and that often times the Chantry can be more wrong than right.
"What I can do for you, however, is offer your friends a home. The people on your ship—"
"Not my ship," Hawke corrects him gently. "Isabela's ship"
"—Are welcome to stay in Ferelden, and I will let them become Ferelden citizens, should they wish it. Your child, too, is an innocent in all of this—I will make sure the Chantry never gets a hold of 'em. But as for you and that Anders fellow, I just—I can't protect you. Ferelden is on shaky enough ground as it is with Oralis—if the Divine knew I willingly harbored the two of you…." He shakes his head, sadly. "Well, let's just say that I don't think Ferelden would be able survive, to be honest with you."
She nods slowly. Honestly, it's more than what she reasonably expected at this point. "Will you send the Templars after us?"
He shakes his head. "No. I won't tell anyone you're here, either. In fact…" He stops, looking over towards the evening sun (how long have they been out here, exactly?) "I may know of someone who can help you."
Zevran already warned her about this. "Iza Amell."
"The Hero of Ferelden, yes." he nods, smiling at her fondly. "If there is anyone in this world who could help you, Iza would be your best bet."
"How can I get ahold of her?"
"She's at the Circle Tower—here, I'll write to her, let her know you are coming. I wouldn't recommend bringing quite a large group with you, however. Keep it simple. Back in my day, we traveled in fours."
She nods. "I understand. I—I, thank you, Your Majesty."
He shakes her hand as if she were his equal and not just a fugitive. "I wish you all the luck in the world, Champion. I think you're going to need it. May the Maker watch over you."
"Maker watch over you as well, Your Majesty." She bows to him, and then escapes unseen from the gardens, as if she were never there.
Isabela has been acting strange lately, and it's driving Fenris crazy.
One moment she wants nothing to do with him, acting cold and distant. The next minute she's all over him, like a sex-starved kitten eager for her next meal. Then at other times, she's oddly clingy and insecure, acting like she wants something more than sex out of him, like she wants a relationship or something.
It's confusing and quite honestly, he's not sure what he should do about it.
"Women are confusing." Donnic assures him, but it doesn't make him feel any better.
It's especially troubling since she's wandered off alone. Normally, he wouldn't think twice about that—Isabela is a big girl, she can handle herself—but she's been so distracted lately and he's…concerned.
That thought alone is troubling enough as it is.
There's nothing between the two of them, after all. They're friends, sort of. They like to have sex together. She likes to guess what color his smallclothes are and he appreciates how free she is, both sexually and spiritually.
He does not love her.
(At least, that is what he keeps trying to tell himself.)
If he follows her around Denerim like a lost puppy, it's because he doesn't want her to get hurt. He doesn't want a group of thugs to take notice of a charming young woman and decide to take advantage of her.
This is not done out of affection. Hawke would kill him if something happened to Isabela.
(At least, that is what he keeps trying to tell himself.)
It turns out his gut instinct is right, however, because soon enough Isabela finds herself surrounded by thugs, one of whom pulls out his sword and points it straight at Isabela's chest.
"Pirate whore," he calls her, backing her up into the corner. "I remember you from the last time you was here, witch. You humiliated my men."
Isabela simply rolls her eyes. "You'll have to be more specific. I humiliate a lot of men."
"You bitch. I will kill you—"
"There is a shortage of perfect breasts in this world," Fenris calls out, distracting the man whose sword is far-too-close to Isabela for Fenris to be comfortable. "It would be a shame to ruin hers."
It's just enough to give Isabela the advantage she needs, allowing her pull out her daggers and kill the man who would have killed her. They make short work of the thugs in quick succession.
Isabela wipes the blood off of her face before she smiles at him. "Perfect breasts, huh?"
He doesn't blush. "In my opinion. I could be wrong, though."
He leans in closer to her, feeling her breath on his face. "I could be." His eyes never leave her. "I doubt it, though."
She kisses him, and he wonders how he got so lucky that killing thugs and kissing pirate queens and falling in love became normal.
Varric cannot stand the smell of wet dog.
It's everywhere in Ferelden—engrained into the very air itself-and he can't escape it. He tries the seedier of Denerim's taverns, thinking that the smell of sex and alcohol will override the smell of dog, but it's even worse than it is out in the open. The Gnawled Noble smells suspiciously like dead ogre, which makes it even harder to stand.
"Well, shave my back and call me an elf! Here I thought I knew every surface dwarf in Denerim!" A loud, walking dwarven stereotype pats Varric on the shoulder roughly, and the smell of stale alcohol and body odor hits Varric harder than most Templars. It's all he can do not to gag once the flame-headed dwarf takes a seat next to him. "Barkeep! An ale for my friend, here."
That's nice of him, even though, really, Varric could live without. "I—thank you."
"You looked queasy, so I thought ale might help yeah get your nerve up. You been on the surface long? Don't worry, you'll get used to it soon enough."
"I was born on the surface." Varric explains, shaking his head in disgust. Hawke was born here? In this savage country? Really?
"Eh? You looked kinda fancy, I just assumed you was visiting from Orzammar. Where you from, boy?"
"Kirkwall." And I'm not a boy.
The dwarf took a deep swig of his ale. "That would be why you talk funny."
"I don't talk funny. You talk like your drunk, constantly."
The other dwarf laughed. "It's part of my charm. Name's Oghren. You might've heard of me?"
Oh. Oh, this was…? "Can't say that I have." Varric lies, smoothly.
"Really? You never heard of ol' Oghren? Grey Warden extraordinaire, companion of the Hero of Ferelden, helped defeat the Blight and all?"
"Nope," Varric lies, brushing off his fingernails. "Not a word. Must not be that important if I haven't heard about it."
He knows the story, of course. He's Varric—he knows the story and at least twelve different variants, all invented by yours truly. But hearing the story of the Blight from someone who was there, a companion who followed the Hero, is worth standing the smell of wet dog and drunkenness.
Oghren glows. "Sit down, boy. Prepare to be educated."
Varric takes a sip of his ale and tries not to show how excited he really is.
A/N: One line comes from the Princess Bride. Try and find it if you can. ;)
Next chapter we will be returning to the Circle I do believe, so stay tuned.