Title: Crisis
Author: karebear
Rating: T
Characters: Sebastian, (female mage) Hawke
Standard Disclaimer (Dragon Age): I don't own these characters or the world they inhabit. Bioware built the sandbox. I just play in it.
Summary: Sebastian and Hawke at the end of the line, sequel-of-sorts to "Believing," though both can stand alone.

"I thought I knew you, Hawke. Yet you stand with this murderer."

It's appropriate that he would be the one to talk to her when all the rest of her friends stand in uncomfortable silence.

She glances at Anders, who sits alone and broken as the entire city damns him.

He looks small now, she can remember that he isn't all that much older than she is, and certainly not all-powerful.

She wants to turn her back on Sebastian and go to him, but she can't yet.

Not until she makes him understand.

"I never lied to you, Sebastian," she insists. "You just never listened to me unless you could fit what I was saying into the tiny little box that holds all the things you're allowed to believe in. I love him, and he loves me back, unconditionally. He doesn't try to convert me to his beliefs. He doesn't have to, because we understand each other. I don't have to tell him what it's like to be an apostate, because he already knows."

"He is an abomination."

"He's a mage, just like I am. And he is a good man. Yes, he traded the lives of some innocent people to save the lives of more. He is a murderer. But so am I. And so are you. The first time we met I had just killed at least a dozen people and collected coin from you for doing it."

"They were mercenaries, and they killed my family."

"The Templars are a trained army, and they killed mine."

Why are they even discussing this?

"He blew up the Chantry!" Sebastian screams. "And you helped him."

She won't meet his eyes. She'd love to be able to scream right back at him but she can't.

"He never told me what he was planning, I swear."

Not a lie.

But just because he never told her doesn't mean she didn't know.

What is she looking for here? Redemption?

She's an apostate, and she has never claimed to be anything else.

There will be no forgiveness for her.

Not from the Chantry and not from him.

"If you let him live, I swear to you, I will return with all the armies of Starkhaven and I will burn Kirkwall to the ground!"

Tears sting her eyes. The smoke and the heat is choking her.

The city is already burning without his help.

You can't fight fire with fire.

"You're declaring your own Exalted March? What happened to protecting this city?"

"This city is beyond saving."

The screams echo in her ears.

It's the Qunari invasion all over again.

He'd asked for her help, stood by her side against the Knight Commander's threats.

He'd promised that he'd fight with her to protect people.

He's so proud of his Chantry, that they take care of widows and orphans.

Because they have to? Because they're responsible, because they kill the husbands and fathers?

"This city is not beyond saving!"

She is beyond saving, but if she can do this one last thing as Kirkwall's Champion it will be worth it. "If you declare war on Kirkwall because of the actions of one man, you're worse than Anders ever could be. At least Meredith would stop at the Circle."

"Grand Cleric Elthina deserves justice."

This isn't justice. Justice hasn't existed in Kirkwall for a very long time.

"Death is never justice. Those are the first words I ever heard your Grand Cleric say to you. And you know what, Sebastian? ... I cannot believe I'm about to say this, but I think she was right. She chose to stay here, knowing that war was coming! She stayed because of the innocent people here that needed her protection and her guidance and her faith. How is killing them going to help anything?"

She hadn't spoken to Grand Cleric Elthina much, hadn't known her nearly as long or as well as Sebastian claims to, but she knows this much. "She wouldn't want you to avenge her, Sebastian, she'd hate the very idea! What Anders did, killing her, it wasn't justice, we can both agree on that. But what you're doing is not justice either."

The Templars are holy warriors.

Their faith is unshakable. They know that their actions are blessed by the Maker.

Sebastian's armor does look like theirs. He uses a bow instead of a sword.

But he is one of them.

"This cannot be undone, Hawke. The Chantry will bring its full might to bear against Kirkwall and against you. You cannot hope to win this fight."

His eyes flash and he stalks forward, toward the place where Anders is sitting.

She already knows he will not move to defend himself, and she knows that Sebastian means to kill him, here and now, if she refuses to do it.

He'll kill her too.

He'll have to.

Because she will not let him get to Anders unless he goes through her, but also because she's a mage too, and Meredith has condemned all of them to death.

And Sebastian agreed.

She puts her hand on his shiny white-armored chest and pushes him back.

"You do know that most of the mages you want me to help Meredith murder are just kids, right?" she snarls. "The Templars don't let all that many of us survive to adulthood, these days."

"Their cause is righteous! I cannot stand with you against them!"

Now, she walks away. Everyone else has agreed to stand with her, against Sebastian and his Chantry and his righteous cause.

She takes Anders' hand and places herself in front of him, just in case, as she meets Sebastian's eyes one last time.

"I can't believe in a Maker who condones the slaughter of children as a holy act. I used to believe you wouldn't, either. But I guess I knew you about as well as you knew me."