Beta Read:A huge thank you to the awesome Cariel for beta reading this for me! Also huge thank you to Thessi for ensuring the characters are accurate to canon. You both freaking rock my socks!
Author's Notes: This was written for Kyuubifred whose picture titled 'Aftermath' inspired this ficlet. This tale contains spoilers so for those of you who are still getting through DA2 you might want to hold out on reading this tale. Just for the record this has no connection with my other tale pertaining to Anders/Hawke titled 'Drought' or any other DA tales I might spew out. This was a one shot based on a lovely drawing I saw here...
Warnings: DA2 ending *SPOILERS!* Het!relationship, mild dark themes
The world as everyone once knew it was exploding, quite literally; yet, a stray cat perched proud as nobility on a fish-oil stained crate, licking its paws as though it were responsible for it all. The sight of the stray reminded Anders of his own courageous kitten, Sir-Pounce-A-Lot. He briefly wondered if his kitten would have been so complacent at the violence erupting all around them. The mage was certain his former companion, not so different from the orange tabby before him, would have revelled in the chaos. The thought was so absurd that Anders would have laughed, if only he could only remember how. Instead, all he felt was a strange emptiness, a longing for simpler times if there had ever one in his complicated life.
Behind him, the Chantry burned, coughing up billows of black smoke while the flames of the inferno he had created licked at the night sky. It was his greatest victory – an achievement matched by no other mage uprising. There were no regrets, but neither was there any joy. He certainly felt none of the peace he saw in the golden eyes of the stray cat that intently watched him. Deep within, Anders could feel Justice's own satisfaction to the events, just as he could feel the spirit's dismay which mirrored his own. This was what he wanted so why did he feel so lost?
He could hear the muffled explosions of the firestorm in the distance. Anders could almost hear the horrified, pained screams of the victims burning within and it sent chills down his spine. His heart clenched at the thought of the innocent caught in the crossfire, the orphans and the unfortunate who had nowhere else left to turn to but the Chantry. In spite of his sorrow, Anders knew the vicious cycle of fear and violence had to end. Meredith's tyranny and the Chantry's indifference had left him no room for any other options, so he sacrificed the lives of a few in order to save many more.
The orange tabby jumped down then from its perch with a huffed trill and silently approached. The mage's dark thoughts were abated as the tabby nuzzled its head against the leather of his boots. Briefly, Anders imagined the skinny stray was none other than his beloved Pounce-A-Lot. He knew it was impossible, Amaranthine was far too long a journey for any feline, no matter how brave, to endure. It did not stop him from leaning down to scratch at its shoulder blades, a gesture his kitten used to enjoy. All the years he had lived in Kirkwall and only now did he have an encounter with the local stray cats. At one time, he might have taken it as a sign that he was the tabby's new keeper, but now he only wondered if it would survive the night.
To his left, Anders could hear Hawke speaking to the different members of her misfit group of friends. The sound of Hawke's voice was both comforting and familiar. Such familiarity was dangerous for any mage, as it meant attachment, something that would be uprooted or destroyed. With Hawke, it had become something else entirely, something sacred, powerful and more importantly: safe. By rights, she should have killed him for what he did to the Chantry. Everyone except Justice was surprised when Hawke chose to spare his life. The spirit understood what Anders could not; his lover was in no position to judge or pass judgment on him.
At the sound of heavy footsteps approaching, Anders instinctively stiffened as he rose to his feet. Immediately, the orange tabby slipped between the oily crates and disappeared into the night, leaving him to face his companion alone. From behind, the armoured hand of his lover gently touched his shoulder as she spoke his name. His eyes briefly met her own mismatched white and amber orbs before she drew him into a tight embrace.
'We cannot undo the past, Anders, but we can redefine the future by the decisions we make now,' she whispered as the weight of the world was, for the briefest of moments, lifted from his shoulders.