Title: The Way We Were

Rating: T

Summary: Hawke writes a few letters to Carver after he becomes a Templar. FemHawke/Anders

A/N: Thanks for reading. Review please.

Letter Three: Forgiveness

Dear Carver,

May I say you look so very cute sleeping in your Templar armor? Sitting on the ground with your chin resting on your chest? You remind me of the old days at Gamlen's house. We thought those were the hard times.

Look, I know I shouldn't be doing this. So you don't have to tell me that when we meet again, but I'm going to do it anyway. Varric will be here when you wake up to make sure that you read all of this. It's very important, what I have to tell you, so try not to lose your temper and ruin this sheet of paper. There are things even that wonderful little dwarf doesn't know. You can tell him I said that if you want.

We are getting ready to take ship. We're going home to Ferelden to petition the king for asylum and aid in this coming war. No, this isn't a plea for you to join my side. You wavered before, and I don't need that weakness on my side. I'm sorry, but that's the truth. Your conviction faltered. You were ready to slay your own sister for some self-righteous sending of a message from a madwoman. With the lines blurring, I can't ask you to join my cause. I won't even try.

Isabela's busy packing while I write this, and it's by dripping candlelight so ignore the splotches. Merrill, Aveline, Donnic, Fenris, and Sebastian are coming with me. Once we get the approval of King Alistair, we're heading to Starkhaven. I'm going to help Sebastian take back his throne and get his troops ready. It won't be long before all the Circles rebel, and the Templar yoke is thrown off for good. I've managed to convince Sebastian that slaughter is wrong, and he's going to let me turn Starkhaven into a mage safe-haven. Varric is going to stay here with you until I send word, then he'll join us.

It's not a very good plan nor a safe one, but it's the only one that I can manage to think of while I'm panicking and shaking so badly. I'm so sick of the taste and smell of blood, Carver, but I think it's only going to get worse in the coming years.

Damn Anders and his psychotic plan. Damn Elthina for not taking my warning. Damn Cullen for not apprehending him when I told him to. Damn my hands for killing him. Damn my heart for loving him.

Despite my fretting, everyone is prepared to back this plan up. Even Fenris is on my side, which I'm more grateful for than he can ever know. We have never exactly gotten along, but he's been there when it counted. Maker damn me, but I love him for it. I love them all for this. They've been the best of friends, the best of companions.

When I see them all like this, I want to protect them. Merrill is so frightened, shaking in the corner while Isabela packs. She's so small, frail limbs curled in on herself. Isabela hasn't stopped moving since I announced the plan. I think for the first time in her life, she's scared. With good reason. She's covered in blood but somehow still manages to be breathtaking. Aveline's silent in the corner, a scowl on her face while Donnic talks to her. Fenris is near me, arms crossed while he leans on the wall. Sebastian isn't doing much other than pacing. Varric's talking in a slow, steady stream. He might be telling a story. I can't hear him, even in this tiny shack. I'm surprised you're still asleep.

There's so much to do, I think I need to make a list. Sebastian is whispering in my ear to hurry. We have precious few minutes. He has made promises in the past to make me his queen, but I'm not sure I can do that just yet. To have his pretty jewelry glittering on my fingers? An apostate queen? Could you imagine?

I miss Anders, Carver. I can't hear his breathing or his footsteps, and my heart aches because of it. Did I do the right thing?

His life for mine, my freedom. I am free now, aren't I? We all are. The Templars cannot hold us back any longer. There won't be rape or imprisonment anymore. Young mages will know what it means to feel the rain and the sun on their faces. They can grow up and have children of their own. There will be no more worrying about Templars or estranged brothers who cannot excel because they must keep the family secret.

My children will be able to go to sleep at night and not worry about waking up in the Gallows.

No, I can't do this now. I can't let myself hope. It's too much to bear.

Once we establish ourselves in Starkhaven, we're going to contact the Divine and start peace talks. We want as little bloodshed as possible. I fear all Anders did was make the world hate mages even more. The only thing we may accomplish is keeping the mages in this rag-tag group safe from the hands of the Templars. We might not even make the ship. Maker keep us safe.

Listen to me now, and don't be stubborn about it. You protected me when it came down to the last of it, and I thank you for that. I'm not ungrateful for your help, but everyone caved when they saw what a crazy person Meredith had turned into. As long as your loyalties are with the Templars, you and I will be out of contact. I'm sorry for this. Mother would have scolded me to death for it, but it's the way it must be. I can't let my feelings for your interrupt in this mission. It's too important. It's not just about petty, sibling squabbles anymore. This is life and death.

I pray we do not meet again, at least not on opposite sides. If you wish to join our cause or seek asylum with us, you know where we will be. Just send word first. I'm not so sure that the Templars won't rebel themselves, and you might be left standing alone. There were enough of them on my side before. If they do, keep safe. Choose wisely. Use that brain in your head.

On another note, if we don't meet again, be happy. Find a nice girl and settle down if you can. Buy a house in Kirkwall or Ferelden. Move on. Don't let your big sister destroy your life with this. Maker, this was never supposed to happen. Try to have a life. Quit the Templars if you like. Just stay out of this war, Carver, if you can and if you're willing. Even if you hate me now, I can't bear to lose you. This is my fight, not yours. I won't drag you into it.

This is my last letter, and for good reason. We'll be disappearing, and I can't leave a paper trail. Have the kindness to burn this after you read it. And if your conviction has changed when you wake up, then you've chosen your side.

Be a man and fight for it then, even if it means hunting your own sister down.

Whatever your decision, know this: I love you. I have always loved you, Brother, ever since Mother placed you in my arms as a baby. I loved you as I blackened your eyes, kissed your cheeks, stole your food, pushed you down, and led you about. I loved you as we fought and argued. I love you now as we separate and go to fight for our destinies. I love you, and I never want you to forget that.

Know also that you have my forgiveness. Whatever you do in the future, know that the past is behind us. I forgive you for joining the enemy, for the bruises and the heartache you gave me. I forgive you for hurting Mother, and I forgive you for leaving me behind. I forgive you for being an ass all the time, and I forgive you for becoming a man. If we meet on different sides of the battlefield, Brother, know that I will forgive you for your choice.

It's almost light, and we need to be gone before you awake. Keep these words in your heart, Brother, when you falter again. I will always love you, and I will always forgive you. No matter what you do.

Wear our name proudly, Carver. Mother, Father, Bethany, and I gave nearly everything to give it the meaning it carries.

Goodbye, Carver Hawke.

Your sister,

Marian Hawke, free mage

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