I got this idea while listening to the song "White Houses" by Vanessa Carlton. I thought I might draw a picture music video to it of Hawke, Fenris, Anders, Merrill, and Isabela all as roommates going through the motions of one summer. Then I decided to write it (though I may draw it as well one day) Hawke is default in name and appearance. This is obviously AU but draws a lot from the video game. I tried to be as in character as possible, Anders was really hard…I don't really like him so writing his dialogue is going to be a challenge. And don't worry, though Mrs. Vallen (Or…whatever Donnic's last name is…) isn't in this chapter, she will be in this story!
Chapter One: Eyes on Me
"Do you really have to go Mari? The summer house won't be the same without you," my little sister Bethany asked me for the fifth time that morning. I didn't give her a fifth answer though; I believed the fourth one would suffice for now. No, I was too busy trying to fit all my socks into my suitcase and it wasn't working out as I wanted.
"Maybe Carver's big butt can get this stupid thing closed," I mumbled, glancing around to see if anything was missing. My room seemed a lot more open with a good chunk of my things packed away. It made me a little sad, uneasy, and suddenly the butterflies that had been swimming in my gut all last night had decided to reappear. But with a heavy sigh and a turn of my head I shrugged it off the best I could, grabbing the pillow off my bed and I hugged it to my chest.
"You're ignoring me now, aren't you?" Bethany wondered with a sigh, sitting down on my naked bed. My sheets had been stuffed into one of the four bags that scattered my floor. I glanced at her over my shoulder and sighed, trying for another go at my stubborn pack.
"I'll take a brief pause from my cold shoulder act to reply: Yes I am, or was…I'm no good at tenses," I laughed, causing my hands to slip on the case, falling into it. It only made me laugh harder, and made Bethany break her pout.
"It's going to be so boring with just Carver there," she crossed her arms over her chest, staring out my window. I felt a little guilty leaving my sister alone this summer but I needed to do this. I took a seat next to her and nudged her shoulder, trying my best to cheer her up.
"September will be here before you know it and I'll be right back, bugging you and bossing you around," after a moment of silence I stood up and stretched, facing the door. "Carver," I called loudly, "I need your help little brother!"
I listened as my brother made his way up the stairs, his footsteps heavy with aggravation, but moved quickly.
"What a pain," he groaned, leaning against my doorframe. My little brother had a good six inches on me, but I barely noticed, I could still kick his ass if need be and he knew it. "But I'll do anything to get you out of the house as quickly as possible," he grinned, moving inside, cracking his knuckles as if there was going to be a fight. I huffed and pointed towards my suitcase.
"Sit on it and make it shut," I ordered. Bethany had moved off the bed now, taking a seat at my desk to watch the scene unfold before her. She knew the only thing that kept us from killing one another was her, though sometimes she purposely watched the show from the sides, for a good laugh. I suppose I couldn't blame her.
"I don't have to sit on it," he told me boldly, walking to the pack and pushing the top down, the same as I had been doing the last ten minutes or so. I stood off to the side, my arms crossed with one eyebrow cocked, watching him trying to close it tight. He tried once, twice, and by the time he went for the fourth try I lost my cool, pushing him down over it. With his weight the pack finally shut tight and I locked it.
"There, I knew you could do it!" I cheered, pushing him off the pack onto the bed. I lifted the case onto the floor and sighed, feeling a little heartbroken that I wouldn't get to be with my siblings for a while.
"So," Carver started suddenly, slipping off my bed onto the floor, leaning back against my mattress. "What's the name of this town you're going to? I wanna know where to send my apologies." Carver snickered and that feeling like I was going to miss him faded away just a bit.
"Kirkwall," I told him briskly, handing a bag to Bethany to bring downstairs, slinging another over my shoulder. I fully intended to make Carver carry the one his fat arse helped close.
"You got a house near the beach right?" he wondered as if he didn't already know. I knew he was eavesdropping when father and I went over the details. He was the one who got me the house in the first place, well one fifth of the house. That was the plan; I was going to Kirkwall for the summer for experience, sharing the house with four other people around my age whom I've never met. It was a bit unnerving but thrilling at the same time.
"Right," I finally answered after a pause, taking a deep breath in of my room one last time before making my way down the steps. "Carver," I called behind me, "get the rest of my bags." He groaned again but I knew he was going to comply.
My mother was waiting at the bottom of the steps, her hands on her hips, looking nervous and sad all at once. She had a nice talent for that, giving me multiple emotions all at once.
"There you are Marian," I cringed, both at my name and at the tone of her voice. Of all the names they could have given me, why did it have it Marian? I sighed as I reached the bottom of the stairs, adjusting my bag. "The car waiting to take you to the ferry arrived at least five minutes ago," she motioned towards the door then came towards me, wrapping her arms around me tight, bringing me into a hug. It was so warm and it made my heart hurt a little bit. Even after all this it seemed I was still just a little girl.
"Now, now," she tried to scold, pulling away and tucking my dark hair behind my ear. "We'll have no second thoughts. You're father will call you tonight from the summer house," she instructed, a nervous fret in her voice she was trying to hide. "So, be careful and if you feel uncomfortable don't hesitate to call us, okay?"
"Please don't," Carver added, to which Bethany answered with an elbow to his stomach. He grunted then shrugged indifferently, moving towards the door. "Well, lets get the stuff in the car." It was right then when my mother handed me the dog leash.
"I don't need it he won't stray," I told her evenly, taking it from her hand.
"Humor me," she mumbled, rubbing her temple.
"Haseo!" I called, and my Mabari bolted from whatever room he was sleeping in to appear at my side.
My dog was a war hound, not nearly as used as they once were, he imprinted on me the first day he saw me at the pound just a few years ago. They thought he would be too excited, too powerful to place but once he found me there was no separating us. There would be no doubt he would take this little adventure with me.
I linked the leash to his collar and looked him in the eyes.
"Stay by my side, boy…I need you, okay?" And I knew he understood.
We made our way to the car and placed my bags in the trunk. I stood at the back door, teetering back and forth, placing weight on one foot then the other. I knew as soon as I got in the car that was it; there would be no turning back. I'd be leaving my family in our little town, leaving the tradition of heading towards the summer house with them, and making my own chapter…as scary as that was.
"Be safe," Bethany smiled, pulling me into a quick hug then pulled away. I grinned back then turned towards Carver who refused to meet my gaze. I sighed but couldn't leave without getting a proper goodbye.
"Please, Carver?" I asked, opening up my arms a bit. He sighed and came over to me, giving me a tight hug.
"Take care of yourself, okay?" he whispered, making sure only I heard him. I laughed and pulled way, ruffling his hair and taking a step towards the car again, I opened it wide and motioned for Haseo to jump in, and he did so.
There was nothing stopping me now and I wanted to show them I had found this new determination as I opened the door and got in, not looking back as the car drove up the street and turned to corner. I wondered if I looked cool to my little brother and sister, I certainly didn't feel that way. I brought my legs into my chest and watched the houses I knew so well pass by in the window, it would be a little while before I'd see this scene again.
"How long will it be until we reach the ferry?" I asked the driver in a slightly broken voice. I hoped he didn't notice it.
"About an hour and a half Miss Hawke," he told me over his shoulder, a smile in his voice. I knew once I got on that ship there really would be no turning back. I brought my knees into my chest and let my hand rest on top of my dog's head. It was soft, comforting.
"This will be fun, won't it?" I asked him, petting him behind his ear. He enjoyed the feeling as he moved into my touch and gave me a quiet bark in return.
The ferry ride to Kirkwall felt a lot longer than it was. It was cramped and a little lonely and everyone was giving me dirty looks because of Haseo, not that I cared, I gave them one right back. That, and I was too focused on the fact that in mere minutes, as soon as I stepped on to the dock, I was going to meet the people I was going to live with for the next three months, fifteen weeks to be exact. I took a deep breath before I grabbed my bags and adjusted them as comfortably as I could over my shoulders. I wondered how heavy they would be when I left, because you always come back with more than what you left with.
Coming onto the dock, the blast of heat was somewhat of a surprise, such a change from the cooler temperatures of my hometown of Lothering. The address of my house was written neatly in my father's handwriting on a tiny index card. I glanced at it as I overlooked the row of beach houses that lined the street near the dock. None of these were it. I didn't have a habit of getting lost, actually I was quite savvy when it came to exploring, but the heavy bags were going to be a bit of a bother.
"Excuse me," I heard a suave voice call from the street above the dock, I glanced up to see a dwarven man waving down at me. I strained a wave and a smile back as he made his way towards me.
"You wouldn't happen to be Malcolm Hawke's daughter, would you?" he asked kindly, his voice saccharine. It was strange though, I trusted him; he seemed honest, not too honest mind you, just close enough.
"I am," I replied, pulling up the strap of one of my bags that began slipping down my arm and off my shoulder. One wrong move and everything I was carrying was going to spill off the dock and into the sea, and I couldn't have that.
"I'm Varric, Varric Tethras," he pointed towards himself then took one of the lighter bags off my shoulder to drape it over his own, how nice. "Your father told me to come pick you up," he explained, leading me up the stairs towards the road. Haseo followed faithfully at my heels, sans leash.
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. That didn't sound like my father, but it did sound like mother and I should have expected it.
"Are you picking up any of the other tenants?" I had to ask. I left home for the summer to try and grow up, having my mother watch me from afar was somewhat defeating the purpose.
"Actually you're the only one who hasn't seen the house," he explained, walking over to his town car. I tried not to not to make my breath of relief to loud. He knocked on the tinted driver's window and the trunk popped open. I walked over towards the rear of the car and placed my bags in, the heat really starting to creep in.
When I had set my bags up, I opened one of the rear doors and let Haseo jump in before me, following in after. Varric was all ready seated and as soon as I closed the door the car took off.
"How long is the drive there?" I wondered, looking out the window towards the sea. It seemed so vast, like it never ended though of course I knew just on the other side was my home. I wanted to press my hand against the window, but I fought the urge. I remembered this wasn't my car.
"Just a few more minutes," he laughed, then glanced in my direction. "You seem eager…" then he stopped and his expression was almost quizzical. "You know, your father never told me your name."
"Hawke is fine," I told him forcefully. "I don't like my first name very much," I nodded my head and took Haseo's face in my hands, like he would confirm this for me.
"That's fine with me, Hawke it is," he crossed his arms over his chest as the car began to slow, coming to a turn. "Well, here's the White Houses district," with his arms stilled folded he motioned only his thumb out the window. And he wasn't lying. All the houses were white, clean and pure as if they were brand new and untouched.
"You see, about ten years ago no well-to-do would ever send their kid to Lowtown in Kirkwall, used to be pretty terrible…well, to some. I always enjoyed the underside of society but that's not my point," he gave me a dark laugh and somehow I was enthralled with his story though it had only just begun. "When Kirkwall came under new management, you know higher up in the political chain, well the town couldn't have a whole area completely filled with the desolate, as they were so called." Varric sat up a bit straighter in his seat, glancing out the window at all the pretty houses. "They knocked most of the bars and apartments down and started building the beach houses and that seemed to work out well," he smirked, "not all the bars mind you…the Hanged Man still stands near the pier," and that had him grinning as the car came to a stop.
"I've had this house for about six years now," he told me as he opened the car door and stepped out. I did the same on the opposite side and looked over it. Like all the other houses on the road it was white, but slightly larger then its neighbors. I didn't need to guess why; the more people who needed to stay there the more room there would have to be. As soon as I stepped towards the back of the car it popped open and I waved thanks towards the side mirror, hoping the driver saw me. I gathered my bags and followed Varric up the walk as he opened the front door and stepped aside to let me in.
"Looks like you're the first," Varric said more to himself than to me as he walked into the house, turning right towards what I assumed was the living room. Pulling something that jingled out of his pocket he littered the coffee table with keys. I followed after him and glanced down, my eye catching the key with the light blue tie; it kind of matched my eyes. I picked it up and admired it.
"I put the colors on there so they'd be easier to find," he told me coolly, and I placed the key in my pocket, hoping I'd remember to put it on a chain later in the day.
"Now," Varric pointed up, "all the bedrooms are on the second floor and each has a door that leads to stairs that goes to the wrap around deck outside, the deck leads to the beach," he tried to explain and it seemed simple enough. I glanced over his shoulder and caught sight of what looked like a dining room connected to a kitchen, and the steps upstairs were right next to the living room.
"Bathroom?" I asked, simply.
"Both on the second floor, each at the end of the hall next to the stairs," he motioned up again. "Now I think I can take my leave," he turned towards the door and waved me goodbye. "I'll be back to check on you Hawke," and though I couldn't see his face I knew he was smiling at me.
"You better," I told him sarcastically, and that had him laughing before he closed the door behind him and left me alone, well, I glanced at Haseo, not completely alone.
I tapped my foot and looked up at the stairs, wondering if I should go pick a room for myself or wait for the others to draw straws or however we were going to work this mess out. With another few taps of my foot I decided the best option would be to wait and sat down on the couch. I looked over the table in front of me and aside from the colorful keys all that was there was a television remote. But as soon as I reached for it I heard the door click open.
"Hello?" a man's voice called out into the house. I immediately got to my feet and Haseo bounded up, barking quite loudly. "What, a dog?" I heard him shout over the woofing, sounding a little repulsed. I tried to ignore it.
"Um, yes," I answered, placing my hand on the dog's collar than glancing up to look at the man who had entered the house. He was rather handsome, blonde hair with a rugged face covered in stubble, another thing I noticed was his warm, brown eyes. I smiled and held out my hand.
"My name is Hawke," I told him cordially and waited for him to take my hand. He smiled back and let his bags slip from his shoulders before taking it.
"Anders," he shook it once than let it go, picking up his belongings in his hands and stepping into the house. "So are we the first two here?" he wondered, glancing around. I nodded my head and walked in front of him, showing him the pile of keys. He needed no explanation and picked the one with the dark blue tie, placing it in his pocket just as I did.
"I'm looking forward to the summer," he gave me a charismatic smile and I got the feeling he was good at that, being charming. I didn't dislike it, but suddenly having his attention all one me was a bit startling. I felt a giggle escape my throat and he smiled wider, happy to get a reaction, and as soon as I sat on the couch he followed after.
"So Hawke, huh?" he felt the weight of my name on his tongue than continued, "that's interesting…"
"It's my last name," I told him with a cool shrug, trying to get back some of my composure. I leaned in a bit closer and put a finger to my lips and whispered: "My first name is a secret."
"No fair," he pouted a bit but as he opened his mouth to continue the door clicked open again. We both looked over our shoulders towards the entrance when a woman bounded in. She was dark skinned, sexy without a doubt, but also a bit intimidating. With a flip of her black hair she smirked.
"Well hello there," she threw her backpack against the wall and walked over towards us. With her hoop earrings, blue bandana, and bellbottom jeans she looked like she just stepped out of seventies movie, yet it all worked so easily for her. "Isabela," she held out her hand for Anders, and then for myself. I took it, gave a quick shake and than turned towards the table.
"Ah, so Varric made them all pretty this year," she leaned over the couch and reached for the table, grabbing the key with the yellow tie than stood straight, a dropped it into her cleavage. I tried not to roll my eyes at the obvious trait of a woman with those assets and placed my hands in my lap, waiting for her to say something or do something else. Anders was still glancing at me and that had me feeling rather good about myself.
"Where is he anyway?" Isabela looked around as if he was hiding from her, "that sexy beast is usually always here to greet me." My eyes widened a bit with that last comment but I turned toward her and tried to be polite.
"He said he'll be back but he didn't say when," I than motioned towards myself, "I'm Hawke, by the way."
"Anders," he greeted, before turning towards the television, grabbing the remote and turning it on.
"Right, well that's three," I said more to myself than the others as Haseo came up to me and rested his head in my lap. Isabela turned back to grab her backpack and threw it in the collective pile of suitcases before crashing into the loveseat under the front window.
"It's good to be back in Kirkwall," she sighed, tucking a piece of dark hair in her bandana and closing her eyes.
"Have you stayed here before?" I wondered, playing with one of the dog's ears as I talked.
"Hmm," she nodded, "I'm here every summer. I always take a job as a waitress and bartender at the Hanged Man," for some reason that had her smirking. "Varric is always down there so of course we met and he told me to rent from him, so I do," she sat back up and turned, getting on her knees to look out the window. "I swear you'd think this place would get less white as the years go by but it just seems to get brighter." She was quiet for a moment and as I got up to see if there was something she was looking at, she jumped, and made her way towards the door.
"Look, it's number four," she called, and the young girl moved in quickly, her one suitcase looking heavier than she was. Though the first thing I noticed was her slightly frame, the next thing I noticed were her ears, knife like and pointed. She was an elf.
"Oh," she pointed towards herself, "I am number four, how exciting!" She was quiet for a moment as if she was thinking and then asked, "four what?"
"You're the fourth person to arrive Kitten," she put an arm over the girl's shoulders and brought her closer. Now I noticed the tattoos that marked her face. I wanted to ask about them immediately but thought that might have been rude.
"Oh, I see," she grinned and than laughed, "I'm Merrill by the way."
"Lovely," Isabela answered for the rest of us, "I'm Isabela, that's Hawke with the pretty blue eyes, and the only man so far here is Anders." I gave the girl a smile and a wave as Isabela walked over towards him, dragging Merrill along and poked the back of his head to turn him around.
"What was that for?" Anders wondered as he turned away from the television.
"You're being rather rude," Isabela chided, but something about the tone of her voice gave away that she didn't actually care.
"Oh no, I don't mind." Merrill tried to wave the attention off, "continue whatever you were doing."
"Thank you, I think I will," Anders shrugged as he turned back around. I frowned as I reached for the remote and clicked it off. He turned towards me with surprised eyes and I cocked an eyebrow as if he wanted to test me. I might have been a bit giggly before but that didn't mean I was a pushover.
"We should at least try to get to know one another before we ignore each other all together," I teased with a smirk and Anders frowned, getting up from the couch to sit in the armchair and sulk. Handsome as he was, I knew I was right. I was always right.
"So where does everyone come from?" Merrill wondered with a grin, as she began to play with one of the small ties in her hair. Before answering I reached for the last two keys on the table and held them out to her. Without thinking on it she took the one in green.
"Lothering, in Ferelden," I explained.
"Oh!" Merrill started excitedly, clasping her hands together. "My reservation is in Ferelden." Now her tattoos made sense. In this modern world, elves rarely were as one with nature as they used to be, a sad truth. But those that were usually stayed on reservations, places made just for them, to live as they wanted. I had seen an Elven reservation once, and all the adults had tattoos on their faces. I didn't and still don't know what it means, but she made a little more sense to me now.
"I'm a wanderer," Isabela told us with all seriousness, "and I rather like it that way."
"Hmm," Anders sighed, "I'm from Ferelden as well." He smiled again, as he rejoined the conversation. He got up and took Merrill's bag, placing it in the pile with the others. She moved over towards the couch and asked quietly if she could sit next to me and I nodded.
"Why'd you leave, Kitten?" Isabela asked, and I too was wondering as well.
"For a little adventure," she grinned again, than rested back into the couch, glancing at the blank television screen. She only sat for a moment before getting back up and heading towards the kitchen. I was going to ask how she knew when I remembered I was the only one who hadn't seen the house until today.
As soon as she passed the front door she stopped and turned towards it.
"Are you from a reservation too?" she asked, hopefully to someone that was standing there, though I didn't hear the door click.
"No," he answered bluntly. I could clearly tell this was a man, his voice, even with just one word, was deep and rough. We all turned towards the foyer and waited for the last tenant to enter fully. When he didn't Isabela walked over and loudly purred as if she was a cat.
"My, my, aren't you something to look at," and that did nothing to aid my curiosity. Finally as Anders and I got up to see who this person was, he met me half way.
He was an elf, but I knew that from the question Merrill had asked him before. Yet he looked nothing like the ones I had seen. His eyes were deep, wide but not innocent; they were an intense, sharp green. His skin was a warm tan color; his arms, neck, and chin were covered in tattoos as well, and I wondered if they marked him in entirety. The last and maybe most bizarre and alluring trait was his stark, white hair.
"I apologize if that seemed rude," he was talking about his tone with Merrill earlier, "I am Fenris." He didn't hold his hand out, then again neither did Merrill so I didn't think much on it.
"My name is Hawke," I replied to his introduction, trying so very hard not to get lost in his eyes. I felt a connection almost instantly, everything else kind of faded away until Anders' hand on my shoulder pulled me back out.
"I'm Anders," he greeted holding out his free hand. Fenris looked down at it, not like it was foreign; he just simply didn't want to be touched. Like he was giving hints to the rest of the room he slammed his hands into the pockets of his dark jeans.
"Well, all right then," Anders mumbled beneath his breath before he released my shoulder from his grasp. As I introduced Fenris to Merrill and Isabela, he gave a short and curt hello to the both of them before turning back to me. That same blurry feeling came over me and I looked away, going to the table, grabbing the last key.
Fenris' key was the one with the red tie. I held it out for him and he took it, his fingertips brushing against my own as he did so.
Isabela looked back and forth between the two of us before waving over Merrill and Anders, all five of us now in a circle.
"Well here we are," she motioned wide, draping an arm over Merrill and myself, the two of us laughed though we weren't sure why. Anders crossed his arms over his chest, but I saw a small smile play on his lips. Fenris, the newest one here, put one hand back in his pocket, the other still held on to the red key I handed him before.
"Let the summer fun begin," Isabela cheered. Merrill and I joined her despite ourselves and even Haseo barked along with us.
I wondered what this summer would bring for me…friendship, adventure…
My eyes met Fenris' again, my heart raced…It would certainly be something.