Author's Note: Justice was such a cool zombie paladin in DA:A. I miss him terribly, and I suppose this story is somehow a way to bridge the gap the two games; after all Justice and Anders distorted and warped each other, and if we get moments of DA:A Anders with his wit... well, where's my moments of DA:A Justice, too? It would certainly explain some of the weirder moments of dialogue Anders tosses out (really, Anders? Ser-Pounce-a-Lot was a 'noble beast'? You're in there Justice, I know it. I'm certain you're the reason Anders lost all his game, too. )
I don't know, really. Largely, this was a mess of philosophical musings on the natures of justice, vengeance, and everything in between - somehow wrapped up in a love story, but if I've made you think differently about Justice, well - that's probably the highest praise I could receive. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it.
She saves them again, fresh bodies of Vael's men littered about the cave-mouth, when the rage that had been absent since Kirkwall viciously returns. The personal threat to Hawke would not be ignored – the Starkhaven Prince wants her alive and Justice has seen too much evil in this world to not recognize the implications such a fate might carry, especially for a woman. Neither Anders nor Justice seeks to control the anger when it rises in their veins, and demands action, transfiguring them and setting Vengeance loose.
Raging fire burns in their lungs, and the ichor that splatters into their open mouth tastes like rich wine - and some part of them is screaming, flesh and sinew; weakness, limitations of a mortal body that cannot hold together under such pressure it will break they must stop - but it feels right to defend her, there is justice here, too, in saving protecting something beautiful, and they dare they dare they will die -
They whirl, ready for another attack, but it is Hawke's face that swims into view, cutting through as vision fills with blackness. She says things, logic that has no place in wrath, and entreats them to stop with a hand marred by self-infliction. Somewhere behind the rage, Vengeance feels rippled shock; despairing accusation of blood magic - fading and slipping thoughts of Anders, growing weak and hazy, tied more closely to the physical well-being of this body than the spirit.
Bruises blossom along her jaw; she wets her lips in that old anxious habit, smears and must taste her own blood from a torn lip. "It will never be over! Not 'til all that would oppose us can feel Justice's burn!" Vengeance howls - like the Beast, they will tear out Vael's beating heart, present it to him as the life leaves his eyes - but this body is dying, dying underneath them, and they cannot leave her alone.
She reaches out towards their chest and tempers vengeance with her touch.
When they wake in her relieved arms, pulled back from unconsciousness, it is to a body riddled with pain, and Anders has never been unhappier to be host to Justice.
All day the mage's thoughts rebuke him, pushing the spirit to a distance, and creating more of a distinction between the two of them in their mind. Blood magic, I saw her do blood magic. Too late, we have doomed her, she has made a deal with a demon –
For once, Justice doesn't deny the insult.
He is tainted by emotions and desires; he would not even remember his purpose without her. But it was a necessary deal, necessary distraction - together, they will find a way to lead this revolution. Together, they can temper each other.
Instead, the spirit tells Anders that his feelings toward her have changed, and refuses to elaborate when the mage presses why.
It is selfishness, he knows, that causes him to keep the knowledge hidden, but what Hawke had given had been for him and him alone. It was precious, more beautiful than anything else Justice has seen in this world, and envy of Anders and Hawke has made a miser of out him - holding those moments sacred; her smile, her touch, her grace.
In the end, it does not matter that he keeps her kiss a secret; that evening's explanations leads Hawke to fully disclose what passed between them in the Fade.
Justice feels a wave of mixed relief and confusion filter through Anders - freed of the burden that they might have lost Hawke to some other demon - then thoughts, fast and sharp, mingled with amusement and exasperation with understanding now coming crystal clear.
Not the kind to kiss and tell, huh? You sly old dog.
The answering silence from Justice says everything to Anders.
Well, I'm not going to tell her - and Justice swears he can feel a smirk there, as Anders cuts off Hawke's teasing about being jealous with a heated kiss - Took me long enough to confess my feelings. You're on your own.
The spirit makes his displeasure known, before retreating to the back to their mind, as per usual whenever Anders and Hawke engage in the more physical aspects of love.
She'll understand - The thoughts come back with a hint of a laugh - And you can thank me later, my friend.
Anders' thoughts spur the spirit onward that night - the debauched enabler providing whispers of encouragement that become steadily more sleepy and distant the further they progress, until fading out into slumber entirely as Justice follows the red ribbon to the end where it leads - a rather humble looking farmhouse rising out of the Fade, with small purple flowers growing rampant around it. A young man practices relentlessly with a sword, and a garden is maintained at the back, tended by a young woman. Somewhere from inside the house, Justice can hear two, murmuring adults voices - simulacrums of Hawke's parents, he assumes.
Hawke herself sits on the back-porch, ghostly forms of kittens dancing and playing around her feet. Her clothing looks simple; chemise and skirt of rough, homespun fabrics, and her dark hair is longer than Justice has ever seen it, gathered over one shoulder in a braid. She doesn't look up at his approach, but a faint smile flits across her face. "Back again? Careful, spirit - I'll think you're in love with me."
Justices does not know how to respond to that; he evades, and scowls at the familial imposters. "Mortal - these creatures are - "
"Demons. Oh, I know. Nothing but smoke and mirrors. Lies." She turns her face slightly, watching the girl-shade hurry over to her twin, a soft blue glow from her hand as she heals a wrenched ankle, and the light of the Fade catches Hawke's unshed tears. "But it's a nice lie." She swipes briefly at her eyes, and gestures to the space beside her, an invitation to be seated. "You needn't worry about me. I remember the pansies."
"That is not why am I here." Justice sits, though guardedly.
"No?" She scoops a vaporous kitten up, and scratches its ears, "What's got you all grumpy, then?" The kitten bats playfully at one of black feathers on the pauldrons, and Justice glowers at the creature, this little sloth demon in disguise. "I was just teasing, you know, about not telling you if I used blood magic wrongly..."
Anders thinks she would understand; Justice is not so certain. How can love and justice both exist inside him? Love conflicts with purpose, she proved it when she spared their life. "I... would know why you refused to martyr us. Selfishness is not suitable justification. Justice would still demand recompense for the lives that were lost in the Chantry."
"Really, you demand?" Hawke says, with a hint of a humor, giving the kitten a final pat, and places it back down. "At the time, yes, I was selfish." Justice looks away with disappointment, but after a moment of consideration Hawke continues, "Back in Isabela's cabin, I kept rethinking that moment... and it would have been selfish if I killed you as well."
Justice turns back and stares at her, questioning. She boldly reaches out, turning one hand palm up in her own; Anders' heavily callused but long-fingered hand in her slender, smooth one. "These are healer's hands - life-bringing hands. I can't do that. Maker, how I wish I could... How many lives do you think you and Anders have saved, both in and out of that clinic, over the years?"
"I did not think to count them."
"No, I imagine not." She tilts her head, blue eyes needling the spirit. "But there was that little boy, got crushed by a mine cart, and Anders drained himself dry so he could walk again. Or the elf-woman whose baby had turned - had to call on your strength for that one, remember? Otherwise we might have lost mother and child... And when we were fighting Meredith, there was that blow that almost killed Aveline - "
"And the justice in this, mortal?" Justice interrupts, agitated slightly by how she still holds that hand, and the confusion such feelings from it instills.
"There are many lives that you can still save. How could I deprive the world of that?" Hawke chuckles weakly. "It would have been a grave injustice, even if I was initially motivated out of love."
"I... see." Justice responds, thoughts spinning. Facing and suffering the consequences of what they did, forever trying to making up for it - poetic justice, indeed. She understands, after all; moreover, she found a path for both love and justice. This knowledge swirls and surrounds the spirit, but unlike the rage, it soothes, leaving tenderness in its place.
Her thumb traces the lyrium-blue fissures in their palm, moving in small circles - it thrills, it terrifies. "That's not really the reason you came to find me tonight, is it?"
"...No, it is not."
"I was never your enemy," a statement, not a question, as Hawke begins to smile. "You do like me."
Justices hesitates, for he is not Valor to fearlessly soldier forth regardless of whether he fully understands the situation, but she is looking at him the way she looks at Anders, the way Aura looked at Kristoff. At him; for him. It overwhelms, and Justice doesn't wish to fight the feeling of being swept away in soft emotion. The spirit nods, at last, confessing, "With inordinate affection."
"Then why - ?"
Justice withdraws their hand in self-reprove, looking away. "I have envied what you and Anders share. This... happiness. I have taken too much already. I could not take this as well. It is wrong to intrude, to impose - "
Hawke makes a slight 'tsk'ing sound, and effectively cuts off the spirit by swiftly reclaiming that hand, squeezing it lightly. "You have been, and always will be, a part of Anders." She whispers, with tremulous insistence. "And I didn't fall in love with individual pieces. There is nothing for you to envy. I give to you both."
And the kiss she gives him now is not like the first she granted him, a beautiful but brief affair, barely more than a brush against lips. Nor is it akin to the ones first given to Anders, hard and hungry things, speaking clearly what their owners long held secret inside them.
Unhurried and gentle, it lingers, her teeth tugging lightly on their lower lip, and punctuating that with another lighter press forward. She could not have been expecting response, yet she coaxes it regardless; memories - from Anders and Kristoff - proffer their suggestions, glimpses of other lives, but these are not him, and the only gesture that feels right to the spirit is to carefully hold her cheek.
It appears to have been appropriate; Hawke's eyes shine with delight as she draw back. "No more leaving me out of any further rebellions, all right? I haven't run away screaming yet - I'm still here."
"Yes. Together, mortal."
Her mouth twists with bemusement. "Are you really going to keep calling me that? I have a name, you know."
"It would not feel... right." The spirit flounders, out of his depth and completely in waters unknown. "It would be improper. Anders uses it - it should be his."
"Justice - You've seen me naked more times than I can count," Hawke replies, voice laced with humor. "If you're worried about propriety or boundaries - well, we're already there."
"I will think on it." Justice rumbles, promising nothing. He tentatively wraps an arm around her back, and wonders slightly how it happened. This love tempers the flames of vengeance like cool water, that is clear enough, but the spirit had always been certain that love and justice could not occupy the same space, for love is soft and justice is hard.
And as Hawke snuggles into his stern embrace, crumbling him, the contradiction becomes clear - Water might be fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will slowly wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. Thus, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. Justice smiles slightly, at another delightful paradox of this mortal plane: what is soft can be strong - love can be stronger than justice.
"Of all the denizens of the Fade I've met," She says, in tones that Justice recognizes as teasing, "You're officially now my favorite."
"Considering the amount of unwanted attention you appear to attract, I doubt that it would be a very long list to judge from." Hawke unexpectedly laughs at this frankness, and Justice finds focus drawn back to the curve of her smile. He hesitates, but curiosity compels. "That token before - it... was not satisfactory, given the standards to which you are accustomed."
She quirks a brow, trying to decode his meaning. "You - want to kiss me again?"
"I do not think it was agreeable for you."
Hawke's radiant smile blooms. "Well, then, let's work on that."
She reaches up to their face, but Justice can feel their delicate link to the Fade fraying, the silver cords that connect body with spirit pulling back. It feels too soon, too quickly does time slip away; he has grown too habituated with the mortal realm and its measured, temporal patterns, he forgets time has always been irrelevant in the Fade, and selfishly wishes it did not have to end. The farmhouse, the flowers, her family fragments and dissolves into mist, evaporating around them, and -
They are back in the hayloft, on hard wooden floor and hay that prickles, irritates flesh; a body that groans lingering complaints of fatigue and hurt with rhythmic, unconscious draw of breath. Disoriented by abruptly leaving the Fade, Justice realizes that he still maintains control over this body; Anders roams, alert and amused in their mind, but does not attempt to re-acquire dominance as Hawke, smirking, shifts herself fully over them, resting pleasantly on top of them to finish what she started.
And it is not like the Fade where the mortal body reactions are removed, where emotion rules all. Nor is it akin to the impressions Justice has felt as passenger in the back of Anders' mind, always muffled and slightly veiled. In full possession, sensation heightens, magnified exponentially and wounds with knife-sharp sweetness.
Their body reflexively inhales, leaving Justice enthralled in the warm smell of her; copper-tangy blood, heady earth, and cool night air, as her slim hands leave soothing trails along their face, across unkempt blond hair. Muscle memory rises to the occasion, prompting Justice to inexpertly hold her at the small of her back as she leans down, surrendering her mouth to theirs, and tastes addictively like lyrium - like shadows and starlight. It is a unique magic all its own, singing out with siren's tongue to Justice, eliciting desires and responses the spirit did not think himself individually capable.
Hawke gasps softly, surprised but not displeased, to find Justice kissing her back, giving and taking in equal measure, with want and need and myriad other desires that the spirit knows to be wrong, and yet feels unspeakably good and right.
"You're a quick study," She breathes, worrying at their lower lip again, and shifts her weight. Feeling the full effect she can inspire on this body regardless of who currently fully possesses it, she chuckles with private humor, and at this Justice falters, inexperienced in how to proceed.
"Lady - "
"That's much better than mortal," She murmurs hotly against their jaw, leaving skin shivering in her wake.
"Lady," The spirit persists, Anders pressing heavily, impatiently, in their mind, all too ready to pleasure and plunder this numinous woman who gives herself, has always given herself, recklessly to them and their cause.
Hawke sits up, and her fingers flutter, as if disconnected from her, along the crackles of light up and down their arms, until Justice captures one hand, and brings it to their lips to kiss. She searches their eyes, nods, and understands. "All right, love."
And they have broken her, this beautiful creature - Justices knows this, to his sorrow, the spirit withdrawing whilst Anders dashes forward. She is not the same as she once was; a fragility to her mind, desperation in action, and radiance to her smile reminds the spirit of a shattered mirror... brilliant in all its facets, but still, ultimately, broken.
But while broken things can never be truly fixed properly, not like they once were, perhaps it is enough that they can be mended.
He is more than just his purpose, irrevocably altered by this love as much as the rage, and they will do whatever is necessary to preserve her happiness.
The hands that hold Hawke become practiced and demanding, pulling her down, and reaching between them to sink inside her. Completely accepted by her, Justice no longer seeks to hide in the far darkness of their mind; he hangs in the forefront, marveling and reveling each breathless moan she grants them, and each tender kiss she bestows upon them both. The harmony of emotion that spirit and man share for her intensifies all sensation, until they can bear it no longer, Anders riding out release as she collapses against them.
She stirs first, faced flushed and blood-caked hair damp as she tries to reign in her breathing, and presses her forehead to theirs. "Good morning," She says cheerfully, fingers gently roaming the scratchy, stubble along their jaw.
Anders rumbles a chuckle in return; this body still grumbling with weariness and pain, but these discordant impressions seem softened, soothed and relieved by the flawless contentment that has flooded throughout them. "I'll say, Minx," the mage says, hands skimming over her shoulders, down her back, worshiping her curves.
"Oh no, none of that, Serah. We've no time to indulge in Grey Warden stamina right now," She chides lovingly, pecking a final kiss on their lips, and gingerly climbing off of them. Anders mock-sighs with disappointment, but watches appreciatively as she begins to search for her haphazardly thrown clothing, making a small noise of victory when she manages to recover her smallclothes from a pile of hay near the corner.
"We should find out where we are, figure out where we're going, and - Maker willing - I want to bathe. Two blood-splattered apostates might be a touch conspicuous." She looks back at them, standing with her weight on one hip, body barred in the shuttered grey dawn, smiling slowly. "That sound like a reasonable plan?"
"Marian, your standard idea of a plan is 'Get them.'"
"Always worked thus far." She points out, with only the slightest hint of a pout. Memory seems to strike her, and she winces, ruefully. "Okay, maybe not perfectly but I'm not at fault for Fenris setting up that fight with the Arishok as one-on-one..."
She trails off, scouring for other articles of clothing, and trips slightly over one of her pieces of armor, uttering swears she could only have picked up in the company of the Rivaini. Shaking their head, they rise to their feet, and catch her in their arms as she crosses path. A quick glow of magic heals a stubbed toe, and the following kiss eases her ruffled demeanor. "Love you," Anders breathes against her lips, the spirit echoing the sentiment in their mind.
Hawke watches the blue and brown flickers that shift and dance in the limpid pools of their eyes, and grins impishly with her own humor. "Love you too."
Justice recognizes the homophone of 'too' and 'two,' how appropriate it is for their situation, and Anders smiles for the both of them.
The rising sun lights their path as they make their way westward; with any luck, they'll stumble across the next hamlet, get their bearings, and go from there. And it might not be perfect plan, a perfect path to justice, but Justice decides it does not need to be - it's enough.
They have their life, her love, and their cause for liberty. What more does a man, or spirit need?
Hawke slips her hand in theirs, nuzzling into the soft feathers of their coat, and yes, yes, they are happy.