Disclaimer: I do not own.
The Chantry was cool and quiet, illuminated only by the afternoon sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows. But most importantly from Jenna Hawke's point of view, apart from a few Sisters that were lighting candles, praying, and engaging in other activities of a holy nature, it was blessedly empty of people.
Jenna quietly made her way to the wooden doors that concealed the storage room behind the main Chantry's side wall and slipped inside, seating herself on the bottom steps of the dusty, roped off stairs. She pulled a crumpled letter from her pocket and re-read its contents for what seemed to be the fiftieth time. Then she buried her head in her hands and let out a heartfelt groan, safe in the knowledge that there was finally no one around to bother her.
"Hawke?" a man's voice said, proving her knowledge wrong not a second later. "What are you doing in here?"
She looked up, her panicked expression changing to one of wary relief when she saw who was peering through the storage room doors. "Oh. Hello Sebastian."
Jenna pulled aside one of the doors for him and Sebastian edged his way in. He was dressed, not in his customary armour, but in a loose white shirt, well-fitting black trousers and sturdy boots. He was also carrying a rather dusty crate, which he set carefully in the corner of the small storage room.
"Just helping the Sisters with a clean-up," he said in response to Jenna's quizzical look at the crate. "Well?"
She stared for a moment before remembering his question. "Ah. I was just looking for some peace and quiet."
"In the Chantry's storage room?"
She shrugged. "Yes. So?"
"Funny," Sebastian said thoughtfully as he seated himself next to her, "I recall Varric mentioning that you'd been invited by your neighbour to some sort of garden party today. Lady Ansburg, wasn't it?"
"Yes, well, I decided not to go," Jenna muttered. "Told her I was ill."
"And then you walked across Hightown in broad daylight, all the way up the Chantry steps, to hide in the storage room?"
Jenna stuck her jaw out defiantly. "I was a scout in the King's Army," she reminded him. "I know how to move unseen. And I'm not hiding in here, I'm looking for peace and quiet."
"Even so," he began, "if someone calls at your estate-"
"Bodhan is under orders to tell anyone who asks that I'm not feeling well enough to receive visitors," Jenna informed him. "They'll never know."
"Lying is a sin, Hawke," he chided her gently, a small amused smile on his face.
She scowled uncharacteristically at his good-natured teasing and Sebastian blinked at her in surprise. "Is there something the matter, Hawke?" he asked, quickly changing tack. "You seem a little out-of-sorts."
Jenna sighed and rubbed her eyes in frustration. "Sorry," she apologised. "I shouldn't be taking this out on you. It's not your fault."
"Hawke, what is it?" Sebastian asked, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. "What's wrong?"
Jenna scowled again. "They wouldn't have anything to do with me before," she snarled. "Barely even spoke to Mother when she tried to arrange something for me. Too afraid that any match might result in tainting their line with magic. But now that I'm the Champion, they're all coming out of the woodwork."
"Er- who are, Hawke?" he asked, hoping for clarification.
She let out a frustrated sigh. "The Kirkwall nobles. I've had three offers of marriage in the last week alone," she snapped. "The Arnims, the Launcets and the Delryns. Not to mention the daughters, who suddenly all want to be my best friend. And then yesterday, this arrived," she added, thrusting a folded letter towards him. "I was going to show it to you later, but since you're here now. . ."
Sebastian scanned the crumpled paper curiously. "Greetings Lady Jenna Hawke, Champion of Kirkwall . . . will soon be visiting the city . . . heard of your skill and beauty . . . should like very much to make your acquaintance . . . a meeting would be advantageous for both . . .yours. . . Prince Goran V- WHAT?"
"I'd keep my voice down if I were you. Those doors aren't very thick," Jenna reminded him.
"How darehe?" Sebastian growled, surging to his feet, his blue eyes bright with anger. "How dare he?"
Jenna raised an eyebrow. "Well, he can hardly refer to himself as Goran Vael, Usurper," she said. "It doesn't quite have the same ring to it as 'Prince'."
"That's not what I'm- oh, yes, good point," Sebastian said awkwardly, his anger seeming to dim momentarily. He glanced at the letter again. Jenna guessed that it was not something he'd expected from the cousin he'd described as a bit simple.
"Since Lady Harriman and that demon are dead now . . ." she started.
". . . someone else is no doubt pulling the puppet's strings," he concluded, finishing the thought for her.
"And that someone decided it would be a good idea for him to- to start making overtures towards me," Jenna said.
Jenna glanced up at him. "Is it just me," she asked, "or are you not as surprised about this as I thought you'd be? I mean, why on Thedas would whoever's controlling your cousin think that this" –she gestured to the letter- "is a good idea."
"Hawke," Sebastian said slowly, "I think perhaps you're unaware of exactly how much influence you now have."
"What, the Champion thing?" she started to scoff. "Okay, so it's got prospective mothers-in-law excited, but-"
"Hawke," he said again, and this time when she looked up, Jenna found herself pinned by a regal blue-eyed stare. "I know you have less . . . regard for titles than is usual, but you need to understand, that since Kirkwall doesn't have a viscount right now, people will be looking to the next best person as the representative of this city. As Champion, that's you."
"I get that," Jenna admitted, even as her stomach dropped from hearing it said out loud, "but your cousin- that is, his handler- must have people in Kirkwall. Every ruler has a few in neighbouring cities, not counting ambassadors. He must know that you and I are friends. What could they possibly be hoping I'll do?"
"From the tone of this letter," Sebastian replied, his expression darkening, "I'd say he's hoping to negotiate a match."
Jenna stared at him. "What? Why would they think I'd even consider that?"
"A powerful woman like you as a wife would help solidify Goran's claim to the throne," Sebastian said quietly, an odd note in his voice. "And you'd be royalty then. Princess of Starkhaven. It would be a step up for you. "
"Who gives a damn about that?" Jenna snapped at him. "I don't want to get married to anyone, Sebastian. They can all go jump off the Gallows pier for all I care."
"Even the Delryn's oldest son?" he asked innocently, smiling at her now, the oddness gone from his voice. "I hear he's quite smitten with you."
"Andras-," Jenna paused, stopping herself before she cursed in the Chantry. "Don't even suggest such a thing," she shuddered. "Have you met him?"
"Yes," Sebastian admitted. "I was just teasing you Hawke. I wouldn't wish that pompous idiot on any woman."
"Glad to hear it," she said. Then she turned her attention back to the letter. "I'm going to have to meet your cousin, aren't I?" she said glumly
"I'm afraid so. Usurper or not, he's still the man currently occupying the throne. Fifty sovereigns says that his handler has made sure that everyone of consequence attending this gathering he'll be at knows that he wants to meet you. If you don't, it won't be just you refusing to speak with him, it will be the Champion of Kirkwall publically snubbing the- the Prince of Starkhaven," Sebastian said, his mouth twisting with distaste as he finished the sentence.
Jenna nodded resignedly. "Politically inconvenient. Especially given our current lack of a viscount. All right then. I guess we'd better find something suitable to wear to a party then."
Sebastian blinked. "We?"
She smiled beatifically at him. "He can't very well propose anything to me if I show up on the actual Prince of Starkhaven's arm, right?"
"No, I suppose he can't," he agreed, a smile tugging at his lips. He took Jenna's hand, pulling her to her feet. They exited the storage room-
-and ran straight into Grand Cleric Elthina.
She cast a sharp look at both of them. "Do I want to know what the two of you were doing in there?" she enquired, her eyes narrowing disapprovingly.
Jenna had let go of Sebastian's hand like a hot rock. Now she smiled brightly. "Discussing inter-city politics," she answered. "If you'll excuse me?" she added and darted towards the main door before either Elthina or Sebastian could say anything.
The Grand Cleric turned her full attention to the prince, raising a sceptical eyebrow at him. "Sebastian?"
"Ah, what she said, Your Grace," he stammered, and fled.