"You never told me you met my sister."
"I didn't know who she was until today. You never speak much of her."
Ella shuffled her feet, her hands clasped behind her back. She reminded Bethany too much of a small child caught doing something naughty. One of these days, that sweet, timid girl was going to have to step up and own her power.
"No, I guess I don't. She doesn't speak much of me either, I'll wager."
"I didn't know she was the Champion when she saved me. She looked so sad, Bethany, like someone had smashed her heart under his boot."
"Are you sure it was her? I can't imagine her doing anything but laughing."
Ella stared down at her feet.
"I want you to tell me everything about your rescue, how she looked, what she said…"
The girl shifted back and forth and then settled, her head down. "I… It was a long time ago and I…"
"I just…" Bethany sighed. "I just want to know how she's changed. I saw her during the fighting, but she was no different than I remembered. She always laughed and made the worst, but the funniest comments about the most awful things. The Maker would have done well to make her mouth Tranquil."
"Will you sit down, already?" Bethany patted the small, empty spot on her plain bed. At least it was clean, unlike the stench-ridden mess she'd called a bed back in Gamlen's hovel. "You're making me twitchy."
"Maker, did you have to use that word? Dear Andraste, that memory…" But sit she did, finally.
"I'm sorry. I forgot about that nasty Ser Alrik."
"I… Well, it was your sister who rescued me twice that day."
"Who was with her?"
"Oh, Maker! I've wanted to forget that face, cracked and glowing. That booming voice. He was going to kill me!"
"A mage? Hair in a ponytail? Never applied a razor to his face, even if those stubbly hairs screamed for it?"
"A demon! An abomination!" Ella's trembling shook the bed. "Thank Andraste your sister was there! She calmed him long enough for me to run off."
"Oh, poor Anders! I used to think he was lucky, embracing a Fade spirit as he had. He was a good man, Ella, not a demon. He ran a clinic in Darktown for the poor. Something horrible must have happened to make him lose himself like that."
"You knew him?"
"What happened next?"
"I ran, hid behind a trash pile, but I thought I was dead when he rushed past me. I stayed hidden until your sister and the others followed."
"Who else, Ella?"
"Oh… An elf. A white-haired elf. And a lady, a guard."
"Fenris. I'm surprised he didn't rip your heart out. And Aveline, I should have guessed. Lyssie's best friends, though I can't imagine what she ever saw in that elf."
"Bethany, he would have killed me?" Her voice trembled as much as the bed.
"Oh, don't mind me. We just never got on. The elf has a thing about mages. All of us. Lyssie always claimed he had real reasons, but she was always a little strange in the head. Not all of us are Tevinter magisters. Did she say anything else to you?"
"Just told me I'd be safe at the Circle now that Ser Alrik was dead. She was so kind, even when she defended that abomination. She looked so sad when she mentioned the Circle, and when I told her you thought it wasn't so bad, her face just dropped."
"It was probably nothing."
"You said you haven't seen her since the Qunari left. Do you miss her?"
Far better the darkness than the sight of her too-small room. Bethany opened her eyes when her heart quieted. "Constantly. She was always my guardian and my refuge when Carver became too much to bear. But she's moved on now and has better things to do than visit the chain that held her back."
"I can't believe the woman who rescued me would think such a thing."
"Ella, sometimes you're too naïve for your own good."
"Tell me more about your sister. Tell me about the battle when she struck down that horrible Qunari."
"I want to say it was grand, a splendid story full of flashing blades and daring taunts, but… The Qunari hurt her. Badly. I wanted to scream, to heal her, to distract the beast. It moved like a demon, fast, like it didn't have to worry about things like legs. Maker's breath, I still get the shivers thinking of him and that awful Qunari murderer in Lothering! The First Enchanter kept me from barging into the throneroom. The moment Lyssie struck him down, I was glued to the crack in the door. She took a wind up, and crunched his parts with the toe of her boot."
"She kicked him there?" Ella giggled and flushed bright red.
"That's the Lyssie I remember. She's changed, though, and maybe that elf had something to do with it. He goaded her into that fight with the Qunari."
"Didn't you agreed to visit with him?"
"Would Lyssie come any other way? Flames, now you've really made me twitch!"
Not that the Templar's arrival stopped the twitching any. Ser Thrask was a decent enough man for a Templar, possessed of the same sort of rationality that Wesley had once called his own. But a Templar was never good news, no matter how "kind" he might be.
"Serah Hawke is here to see you. She waits for you in the courtyard, and I am to accompany you there."
"Wish me luck," she muttered to a quaking Ella.