Well here it is the last chapter of Bound By Compassion. I want to thank all my readers for sticking with me all this time. Ending this fic is kinda bittersweet for me. I love these characters and hate to ..I don't want to say leave them behind, but to not have them in my head as much anymore. I do want to add this little bit though so you know this story has had my heart since I started. The name I gave Anders as his real name is actually my husband's name. He is very much like Anders in many ways, both in Awakenings and in DA2 personality wise. I think that is why I love the character so much. Again I thank you all and hope you will enjoy this little epilogue.
Varric looked up from his book and closed it in dramatic fashion. The children that had been sitting at his feet stared up at him with wonder. Out of all the audiences he has ever had, this one was his favorite. The raptured attention he still had made him chuckle softly. One of the older children stood up. The boy looked bothered for some reason.
"Something on your mind kid?"
"That can't be the end of it. What happened to them all?" Varric scratched his chin, amused by the young man's outburst. The woman that had been sitting in the corner stood up and placed a hand on the boy's shoulder.
"James it is getting late and Serah Tethras has been reading to you for most of the day. The questions can keep til morning. Now off to bed with all of you. I will be in soon to check on you." The group rose to their feet and went to their rooms. James gave one last questioning look, but soon moved when his mentor gave him a challenging glare. Varric rose from his chair and groaned.
"Maker I am not as young as I use to be." A flash of magic lit the room making the dwarf sigh in relief. "Thanks Rosie."
"You are very welcome Uncle Varric. I am glad that you could come and read to the children. They so love your stories."
"I remember you use to love them too. I know I don't compare to Arden, but..."
"I miss her, but she is at peace."
"How is Anders taking it?"
"You know Da, he keeps busy. Reading tomes, training young mages. I swear he does not act like a man his age."
"Have you been back to Starkhaven?" Meghan smiled and patted the seat next to her. Varric sat back down and waited for her to speak.
"I have, since my little brother is soon to be crowned prince and marry Ellie Theirin in a few months time I have been traveling a lot. Talisen has stated he needs to learn his Gran's trick of turning into a dragon so we don't have to be traveling as long all the time."
"For the life of me I never thought you would end up with him. If he breaks your heart..."
"You can take a number behind both my fathers, my mother, Uncle Carver, Aunt Beth, my brother, my sister, and well you get the idea. I am far from the innocent little girl you remember Varric. I am a woman now, not a child."
I know Rosie. It's just hard for us old folks to see you as anything other than that sweet little girl." Meghan let out a bell like laugh and stood up to finish putting the cushions from the children away.
"Tally has always been a complete gentleman so no worries, okay?"
"Still all the same we will be watching him."
"You are all as bad as my Da. Go get some sleep Varric. The children will be banging down your door come daybreak."
"Alright Rosie, I get it. See you in the morning."
Meghan made her way down to the dorm rooms and check in on all her charges. Most of the children here were orphans. All of them born with magic in their blood, but no one to help them understand it. The academy had been Anders' pet project after the war had ended. He found the most talented enchanters from all over Thedas to come and teach. The mages were taught not only to control their power, but how to use it to help their fellow man. It wasn't perfect and from time to time some mages would take up darker arts, but there was progress. Meghan made sure all her charges were in bed and once she was done she headed to her father's office. She found him reading like she always did. His once blonde hair was now streaked with white, but his amber eyes still held a twinkle of mischief. Though not her father by blood Anders would always be her favorite father. He raised her, taught her how to use her healing magic and he had never treated her differently from her siblings.
"What are you reading this time Da?" Anders smiled and turned from his book.
"Just a tome from the Dalish. It has some very askew views on the Fade and spirits."
"Let's just say the author did not see the difference between a spirit and a demon. The logic almost reminds me of Merrill when I first met her." Meghan took the book from his hands and flipped through it. An amused smile came to her lips and she snapped the book shut. "Did the children enjoy Varric's story?"
"I think so. James wanted to know what happened to everyone after the Divine was stopped. Varric will be continuing the tale tomorrow. He likes his audience. Those ween ones held on to every word he spoke."
"Varric will always be a tale spinner. Your mother and I owe him a great deal. If not for him we might not have found each other again."
"When is Mum due back?" Anders stood and let out a small sigh of relief. Sitting was not as easy as it use to be and his body stiffened if he stayed seated too long. A flash of white magic touched him and he chuckled.
"I can do that on my own sweetheart."
"I know, but I beat you to it."
"So like your mother, stubborn and wonderful. I am hoping she will be back in a few days. She and your brother went to meet with the king about getting a deed for some land."
"That would be telling. All I will say is it is needed." Meghan huffed and rolled her eyes. She hated when she was kept in the dark. She changed her expression to one she use to use as a child. It always let her get her way, at least where Anders was concerned "That look no longer works on me my dear and your mother would kill me if I ruined it. I fear her far more than I fear you." Meghan giggled and gave up the doe eyes.
"I guess I will just have to wait then." Anders placed his hands on her shoulder and leaned forward to kiss her forehead.
"Yes you will. Patience is a virtue my dear."
"I thought I already was a virtue?" Anders barked a laugh and shook his head.
"You are. It was the main reason we fought so hard to change the world and why now we teach the way we do."
"Surely, it wasn't all for me."
"Not all of it, but in you we saw the hope of the future and still do. We also see it in your siblings."
"Karl is like a bear, strong, proud and honorable. Drea is more like Mum. She is sleek, crafty and deadly. I am just a mage Da, nothing more."
"Oh little one if you only knew. I think that is the reason we all have ribbed Talisen so much. We had to make sure he was worthy of you."
"I know, I know, you are a woman now and can handle your own affairs, but I am your father and I can be protective if I want to be."
"Maker help him then, because he has you and Papa to contend with."
"One of us can shoot lightning at him, the other arrows. The boy is doomed."
"Andraste's knicker weasels!" Anders threw back his head and laughed loud and hard.
"That's my girl." Meghan sat down next to him on the desk and laughed til her sides hurt. It was moments like this that made everything they had all gone through worth it.
"Alright were was I?"
"Hawke and Anders had just defeated Strife." Varric smirked and opened his book back up.
"Okay well let's see. I think before we get back to them let me tell you what happened to the rest of their group during this little war." Varric's words poured over the children and they all sat listening with great earnest. "The battle for the River Dane was won like the spirits had told them. Carver Hawke was named captain of the king's army. A title that he still holds today. His wife Ori is now one of the top mages that advise the rulers of Ferelden and splits her time between that and raising her children."
"What about Bethany and Ser Cullen?"
"Bethany and Knight Commander Cullen married and now live in Amaranthine. Bethany serves as court mage to Arl Nathaniel Howe and Cullen had put aside his sword and shield for a simple life of a farmer. They have a boy that they named Malcolm after Hawke's father." Varric waited to see if there would be anymore questions, but the children stayed silent. "Hawke's other companions did not stray far from Ferelden after the war had ended. Captain Aveline and Ser Donnic still guard Kirkwall and it's people. A new viscount was named and the city is thriving again. The dark past it once held is being washed away. Isabela and Fenris surprisingly are still together and still sail the open waters between here and The Free Marches. The pirate queen has mellow at least a bit and no longer plunders ships. Now she runs supplies and people to places hit hard by the war. She never forgot the debt she owed Hawke and has paid it back more than a hundred fold as far as I am concerned."
"What happened to Merrill?"
"Ah, Daisy is with her people in the New Dales. She has become Keeper of her clan and guides them well. She visits from time to time, but does not leave her people for long. After her first clan died at Sundermount she feared she would never be able to return to any clan. The lesson she learned and the price she paid gave her wisdom. Hawke's friendship gave her strength to try again. I miss the girl, but I am glad she has found her place in life." Meghan had silently moved into the room followed by Anders and Talisen. They sat quietly behind the children and listened. "Whose left?"
"King Alistair and Queen Ashlyn!"
"I will start with the king and queen. When the group returned from Haven without Hawke and Anders they had returned the remains of Morrigan to her son. Queen Ashlyn mourned the death of her friend and invited her son to live with her and the king. The family soon grew with the birth of a baby girl Eleanor. Duncan Theirin will take the throne in a few years, but for now his parents rule the land. Much of the land was untouched by the war because the queen closed the borders before the worst of it took hold. Ferelden was once the poorest nation in Thedas, now it's wealth rivals Tevinter's. Starkhaven also thrives under the rule of it's prince. Sebastian returned home and found his new bride was with child. They had married right before he had left to help Hawke fight the Divine. With Kirkwall's army and help from Antiva and Rivain, Starkhaven was able to drive back the small army the Divine had sent to punish the Vaels for their refusal to fight for the Chantry. Kali Vael kept her people safe in her husband's absence. Months after his return Kali gave birth to a son, who while younger than his sister is slated to become ruler of Starkhaven. Meghan Hawke as far as I know wants nothing to do with ruling a country."
"No I don't." The heads of all the children turned and they stared at their teacher in awe. "And it is Meghan Vael, Varric. I took my Papa's surname."
"Sorry Rosie, I forgot. So as you can see kids Meghan is now a teacher of magic."
"Does that mean...?" James eyes were trained on Anders. The older mage just winked at the boy and grinned. "Holy Maker!"
"I think they figured it out Blondie."
"Seems that way. It was bound to happen sooner or later." Both men began to laugh hearing the children talk over one another to get their questions answered. It took over an hour to calm them down enough for Meghan and Talisen to get them out of the room and off to their lessons. Once they were gone Anders clapped his hand on Varric's back and sighed. "I never thought I would see that kind of admiration in anyone's eyes like I saw in those children today."
"You more than earned it Blondie. You started something back in Kirkwall that shook the world..." Anders' eyes turned a little sad and he frowned. "It was worth it. All you and Hawke fought for...you both changed the world."
"The cost of it though...Many good people died to get us here."
"Yes, but many more good people live because of it." Both men stayed silent for a few moments, lost in their own thoughts. "Well, I'd better get back to Sigrun before she comes to find me. I will see you at the wedding."
"All of them. You and Hawke will be empty nesters soon, well at least where your own brood is concerned."
"The children here will keep us both very busy for years to come. Tell Sigrun I said hello." Varric handed the large book back to Anders and began walking out of the room. "And Varric?"
"Thank you, for everything."
"Ah, Blondie you're making me blush."
Anders blew out the candle and stood up from his desk. He had been catching up on much needed missives and letters while Meghan had been teaching. If it had not been for the persistence of his cat he would have worked straight though the night. Anders had found when Leigh was not there to tell him it was time for bed, he would fall back into old habits that he had thought had died after Justice left him. He hated sleeping alone pure and simple.
"Sovereign for your thoughts?"
"Leigh!" With the speed of a man much younger than his age Anders crossed the room and picked his wife up in his arms. Leigh laughed and gave him a quick kiss before he put her back on her feet.
"Hello love. Missed me I take it?"
"You have not idea. How was Denerim?"
"The same, noisy as ever. Ashlyn told me to say hello and that she can't wait for the weddings."
"I bet. We will all be busy between them all." Leigh nodded and began taking off her travel clothes. She sighed as the leather slipped from her body and she put on her nightgown.
"Karl is heading for Kirkwall and will meet us in Starkhaven for Sean's wedding."
"Why Kirkwall? I thought he hated it there."
"My dear husband are you truly that blind?" Anders quirked and eyebrow and waited. Leigh let out a sigh and sat down next to her beloved. "He is going there to see the girl he loves."
"Wait what? When did this happen?" Leigh giggled and leaned into his side.
"He met her at one of the many parties in Starkhaven. She is a guard recruit."
"Maker, where in the Void was I that I missed that?"
"He has been keeping it quiet for now, but we will see them together at the wedding. I think you will like her."
"You've met her?"
"Yes, and so have you, but it has been years. She is ever bit as tough as her mother and twice as stubborn."
"Karl fell in love with Aveline's daughter. I guess our children did not look outside of our circle of friends did they?"
"No, but I like it that way. It makes it feel like we are all still family. With Meghan soon to be marrying Talisen Theirin and Drea engaged to Thomas Howe, I think it was inevitable for Karl to find someone in our group of friends to become attached to."
"So did you get the deed?"
"Yes, we can break ground in spring." Anders wrapped his arm around Leigh and led her to their bed. "I'm sorry I missed Varric."
"He will be at the wedding so you two can catch up then. For now though my love I think we both need to get some sleep. We are not as young as we use to be."
"No we aren't."
"Any regrets?" Leigh turned her silver eyes up to meet his amber ones and she shook her head.
"Only one really."
"Oh, what is that?"
"That it took me so bloody long to give into you all those years ago. I love you just as much now as I did when we first met Mo Aman Cara."
"I never get tired of hearing you call me that."
"Good, because you will be hearing it for eternity." Leigh slipped herself under the soft sheets of her bed and curled up next to Anders.
"I think I can live with that." Leigh kissed him softly and melted into his arms. "Good night Anders.