A/N: Eve Surana is up to her old tricks again. I would've loved to abuse the shapeshifting abilities in-game ;)
Finally, Eve seemed to have gotten the hang of her new shifted form! She had spent some time observing Ser Pounce-a-lot, trying to make her new form appear just as natural as the cat's.
Ser Pounce-a-lot looked at her in consternation – did cats feel that? – and darted from the room. Eve could sympathise. After all, if her doppelganger had just appeared before her, she would feel somewhat concerned too.
Instead of concerning herself with the traumatised cat, Eve leapt onto the dressing table in Anders' room and admired her agile new body in the mirror. She noticed the mirror was excessively shiny – though it shouldn't really surprise her that Anders would polish his mirror regularly, nor that he had a collection of perfumed soaps, jewellery and other accessories. The man was ridiculously vain.
Momentarily distracted by the cluttered table, she turned her attention back to admiring her reflection. The thick ginger fur looked so glossy that she would've run her fingers through it in human form. And her large green eyes looked friendly and beguiling. She was the perfect replica of Ser Pounce-a-lot. Purrrfect!
Eve's sharp ears flicked towards the bedroom door, and a moment later she saw it open quietly. A shifty figure crept inside, checking to see if there was anyone around. Eve watched with amusement, wondering if she could still quirk and eyebrow in cat form. She meowed.
Sigrun jumped in shock, before grinning at Eve. She shut the door quietly and moved over to the dressing table. The dwarf regarded Eve thoughtfully.
"You won't tell on me, will you Ser Pounce-a-lot? Not if I give you... this!"
The dwarf smiled mischievously and procured a small piece of chicken from a pouch on her belt, holding it out Eve. Although it was slightly odd to be eating out of Sigrun's palm, she couldn't deny that the chicken smelt appetising, and began munching immediately. Upon finishing, she wondered why her friend was carrying around a piece of meat with her anyway. Eve stared at Sigrun quizzically.
"Oh, don't look at me like that," Sigrun said quietly, scratching her beneath the chin. "I grew up in Dust Town and half the time I didn't know when I'd get a second meal, so I stored as much food as I could. I guess when I joined the Legion, my bad habits didn't die with me."
She laughed, before reaching into another pouch, and this time pulling out a small bottle of scented water. With a glance back at the undisturbed door, she popped the bottle onto the table alongside a few other items.
Eve meowed at her again.
"Don't tell Anders, but me and Velanna took some of his perfumes. Well, I took them. It was her idea. I don't know why he has so many anyway." Sigrun shook her head at the cluttered table. "No wonder the templars always track him down – they just have to get a whiff of this stuff and they'll be on his trail like a deepstalker on a nug."
Anders the nug. Eve purred happily at the thought. What did nugs taste like, anyway? Pork? Rabbit? A peculiar combination of the two?
She stared at Sigrun curiously, wondering if her cat face was expressive enough to get the other woman to talk more.
"You give me that look now, but you'll be glad the next time you run into Justice," Sigrun told her, unable to keep a grin from creasing her tattoos. "We've sprayed so much perfume in his armour, you wouldn't know if he was a dead guy or a noble-hunter! It'll be good for him, refreshing for us, and even funnier if Anders thinks Justice has been stealing his perfume! Too bad we couldn't get any onto Oghren's armour... but I don't think he even removes his armour to bathe. Assuming he does bathe." She frowned at that thought, before shaking it off. It was better not to consider Oghren's personal habits.
Sigrun tickled Eve's chin, giving her a conspiratorial giggle. "I'd better go before Anders catches me. Remember, it's a secret."
With that, the quick-fingered dwarf sprang off towards the exit, slipping out quietly and closing the door behind her. Eve ducked her head towards the newly placed perfume bottle and sniffed. She half-gagged as she inhaled the pungent scent of wildflowers and spice. At least the consolation for Justice was that he could barely smell anything anyway, so he wouldn't be forced to endure the overwhelming scent. She made a mental note not to bring him on any patrols for a while. The last thing they needed was darkspawn laughing at them.
Anders must apply this stuff sparingly, she decided.
Her little encounter with Sigrun had got her thinking though. It was fun to be involved – albeit in an unusual way – in mischief again. Nostalgia flooded over her as she remembered the days when she and Jowan would get into bother with Gregoir and the First Enchanter over the trouble they caused. Since becoming a Warden, and then the Commander, her involvement in such fun was severely diminished. That was perhaps why she had seized upon the Blight Orfans' requests with such enthusiasm, even though she knew they all came from the two drunks at the bar who were scamming her.
This new cat form would give her the opportunity to involve herself in more fun. And, if everyone else was as oblivious to her real identity as Sigrun had been, then she could quite effectively spy on people. She could watch Oghren hunt for schleets – which he did every night before bed, even if he denied it. She could find out what Velanna was writing in the journal she'd given her. Or perhaps wander into the room whilst Nathaniel was bathing – by accident, of course.
As Eve descended into a pleasant little daydream, she didn't notice a second visitor open the door.
"Ser Pounce-a-lot!" Anders exclaimed. "I thought that evil mabari had eaten you. But you're too clever for him, aren't you? Aren't you? Yes!"
He wandered over, lifting Eve off the dressing table and cradling her in his arms like she was some kind of baby. She couldn't help but wonder if the real Ser Pounce-a-lot had anticipated this and ran off so that she could be the stand-in. Smart cat, if that was true. After a bit more baby-talk, Anders lifted her onto his shoulder and reached over to pick up one of his bottles of scented water.
The mage held it up to her nose. "What do you think?"
Eve gave a low, pained meow.
Anders frowned. "You don't like it? Well, you are a cat, I suppose. Maybe the Commander will like it though." He leaned forward to admire himself in the mirror. "I noticed her taking a good look at my hair the other day. And my robes. It must be hard for her to look after herself when there's so much work to be done. I mean – does she even have time for a long, relaxing bath? Maybe I should draw one for her. And then give her a soothing massage... hmm."
The mage was staring into the mirror vacantly now, so he was oblivious to Eve as she shook her head in a slow, patronising manner. This shapeshifting thing grew more amusing by the second. She wondered why Morrigan had never taken full advantage of it – another downside of being raised by Flemeth, perhaps. No imagination. She wondered how abashed Anders would be to learn that she had been masquerading as Ser Pounce-a-lot. Although, she wouldn't say no to him pouring her a hot bath. Perhaps she should wait until some more embarrassing revelations fell into her lap.
Anders moved over to a wardrobe and began pulling mage robes from it. She wondered why he didn't possess any normal clothes. No wonder the templars always caught him – they'd have to be rather dense not to wonder if the man wearing mage robes and carrying a staff was a mage. Although, considering the sense of some of the templars she'd met, such a situation wasn't unlikely. There was also the question of where Anders was getting all these clothes from and just why he needed so many. She still used the same robes she'd been wearing when she slew the Archdemon. They had been washed since then, of course. Dragon blood was rather smelly.
He shifted Eve to the bed, where she curled up to observe him comfortably.
Anders sifted through the robes, tossing some on the floor until he found a set that pleased him. He glanced up at her. "I think the Commander's going to have us traipsing around Amaranthine again this afternoon. What I wouldn't give for a day in the pub instead." He grinned. "I bet I could drink her under the table."
Eve meowed her scepticism.
"Just you wait and see, I'll have her flat on her back in no time!" He gave a weird little shiver and smiled at her, before pulling off his shoes. Eve had a sneaking idea about where this was going.
"I hear the king will be visiting in a few days," Anders continued, as he unbuckled the belt of his mage robes. Eve buried her face in the blankets, slightly ashamed of herself. "That ought to make things more interesting, and it might stop those templars from sniffing around. Can you believe that they asked for me to give a speech to the Circle? Me? Hah! Maybe I should go back, just to see the look on Greagoir's face. I could zap him with a nasty case of boils, and then get Irving too. I can do that, you know. An apostate near the Waking Sea taught me this handy spell..."
Eve phased out the sound of Anders' ceaseless chatter and peeked from where she was hiding her face as a thought occurred to her. If he never found out that she was Ser Pounce-a-lot, it wouldn't matter about her watching him undress... right?
He was now strolling around the room in his underpants. She couldn't help but notice he was quite nicely built for a man who had never touched a sword in his life. Well, not the kind you kill darkspawn with. He pulled the golden band out of his hair, ruffling it a bit and admiring himself in the mirror. Eve began to wonder if she was the one who would end up embarrassed, instead of Anders. Although, another part of her was also wondering if she could get him to remove those underpants. She considered how he liked to carry Ser Pounce-a-lot tucked safely into the folds of his mage robes. That could be interesting. Or sweaty. Either way, she was intrigued.
The door burst open.
Anders looked momentarily startled, and then just annoyed. Nathaniel was stood in the doorway with a face like thunder, brandishing his bow in one hand and a ginger cat in the other.
"Come in!" Anders called sarcastically as he pulled on the fresh set of robes. "I don't mind! And thank you for knocking!"
"Anders, your cat has been using my bow as a scratching post again. My antique bow, passed down through my family for –"
"Ser Pounce-a-lot?" the mage asked, frowning. "But he's on my bed."
As Anders and Nathaniel turned to stare at her questioningly, the fascinated gaze dropped from Eve's face and she realised she had been rumbled. Time to make a break for it!
She leapt off the bed towards the door, but Nathaniel knocked it shut with his foot, still holding the bow and the real Ser Pounce-a-lot. Anders leapt onto her, and lifted up her struggling cat form so that he could survey her more closely.
"This is obviously your cat," Nathaniel said, plonking Ser Pounce-a-lot down on the bed. "It's wearing that irritating bell collar you put on it."
"It's not irritating, it's charming."
Nathaniel suppressed the surge to roll his eyes. "The point is, if that cat isn't yours, then whose is it? It looks exactly like yours and it seemed to know when we realised it was an impostor."
A look of realisation appeared across Anders' face. "Commander?"
Eve winced as she was further rumbled. There was no way of getting out of this one. If she refused to return to her real form, they could just lock her up until it was proven that she wasn't elsewhere, or she became dreadfully bored and changed back on her own. Placing an expression on her face that she hoped look sufficiently endearing that he would forego revenge, Eve released her cat form. Her body unfurled into its natural state and Anders released her.
"Maker's beard!" Nathaniel exclaimed, both shocked and disapproving.
Anders looked mildly amused, but hid it under a look of mock-horror. "You were in here the whole time? Outraging my modesty with your wanton eyes?" He clutched his arms around himself. "I feel so dirty. Hold me, Nathaniel!"
Nathaniel raised an eyebrow at him, before returning his gaze to Eve in disbelief. "You were spying on Anders? Anders?"
"Hey!" the mage exclaimed. "Why do you say it like that? Any woman would love to see me naked! I think you're just jealous that no one's sneaking in to take a peek at you."
The archer rolled his eyes heavenward, as though sending up a silent prayer.
Eve held up her hands in a placating gesture. "I didn't come in here to spy on Anders. I was just practicing my shapeshifting, and Ser Pounce-a-lot was a perfect model to copy."
"Then why didn't you change back before now?" Nathaniel asked, eyes narrowed.
"Oh, leave her alone!" Anders exclaimed, grinning. It was rather odd that Nathaniel was more uncomfortable about this situation than the man she had actually been spying on. It occurred to her that there wouldn't be an opportunity to spy on Nathaniel now that he knew her trick. Pity. Well, there was always Velanna, so long as no one told her. Maybe even Sigrun too. Oghren she would just give a miss. If she wanted to see him naked, she could just wait until he got drunk and streaked across the courtyard. The horror.
Anders wrapped an arm around her shoulders, steering her towards the bedroom door. "You know," he murmured, breath tickling her ear, "now that you've seen me in my smallclothes, I think it's only fair if you return the favour."
"Don't hold your breath," she replied as she entered the hallway. "You can't use the shapeshifting trick on me either, I already know it. And I'll be keeping my door locked. Magically."
He gave her a slightly disconcerting grin. "Don't worry, I'm not just talented at breaking out of places – I'm also rather good at getting in."
With that, he winked at her and shut the door, Nathaniel slipping out into the hall to join her. Eve stared at the blank door for a moment, realising that she was now going to be constantly watching her back – to make sure she was the only one watching it. With that delightful knowledge in mind, she began walking down the corridor towards her room, suddenly feeling the need to research magical forms of detection. Perhaps Justice could sense mages because of their link to the Fade and lyrium. If so, she could station him outside her room whenever she was likely to be targeted. Or maybe she could make a deal with Ser Pounce-a-lot to monitor Anders for her.
"I can't believe you spied on Anders," Nathaniel said, giving her a sidelong glance as she reached her room. "Were you going to wait until he was completely...? Ugh. Were you even going to tell him that you were watching?"
Eve gave him an innocent smile. "I was waiting until the time was right."
He looked at her dubiously.
"If it's any consolation, I was thinking of spying on you first."
She beamed at him and slipped into her room, closing the door on his staring face. Eve sighed thoughtfully. If only she had discovered this talent back when she travelled with Alistair, Zevran and Leliana. Well, the king was coming to visit soon...
Maybe she shouldn't give up shapeshifting just yet.