Got my computer back safe and sound! It crashed earlier this week :(

Secrets are found out. There are exchanges everywhere: cold shoulders, harsh words, and…kisses? But first…get your tissues ready.

Chapter 15

Tornados were formed by a cold downdraft meeting with a warm updraft, so why not cool down the hot layer until it wasn't hot any longer? If the fire was ignored in this equation I was pretty sure it would work. Hopefully. The wind began to pick up and I was forced to shield my eyes as a poorly pitched tent was wrenched from the ground and was both burned and torn up simultaneously. When I blinked the dust that was blown into my eyes I again brought up my right hand with it centered directly on the fire whirl. Anders was protesting behind me, probably depreciating my mental state, but I honestly couldn't hear him over the blood pounding in my ears as I concentrated on my fire rune.

I definitely broke something earlier. I could feel it in my mana streams that connected directly from my mana source to the runes in my hands. The stream dedicated solely to my rune of fire was diverting into my wind and earth runes like offshoots from a river. They were small, but grew larger every time I pushed pure energy through them. I shook my hand out, picturing the extra mana flicking off my palm like water, and set it firmly in front of me again. This time I felt the right connection click into place.

Ever so slowly I drew my hand back and I saw a strand of fire peek out from the wrapping flames and follow my movement as a snake does with its charmer. Curiously, the lick of flame reached out as if to investigate its new master, but I turned my palm upwards and the flame curled into a ball floating over my palm. I clearly sensed my personal brand of magic blended in the forming fireball and went to work dissipating the extra mana giving the flames form.

The temperature drop was clearly noticeable as the fire was siphoned from the vortex and when the last bit winked out of existence over my palm I turned to Anders who stared dumbfounded at me with his mouth hung open.

I cocked an eyebrow. "What?" I asked while blowing absently on my fingers from the fire's residual heat.

"You-! I didn't-! I can't believe you-! How did you-? What do you mean what?" Anders' questions relatively became higher in volume until he nearly screeched the last word.

I jerked my head towards the now regular tornado instead of one on fire. Completely avoiding questions was one of my specialties outside of sarcasm and devastatingly good looks.

"You gonna do something about that or what?"

I couldn't help but smirk obnoxiously, another one of my numerous talents, at the Healer's dumbfounded expression.

"Just cool it down. It should dissipate and-," I stopped my explanation when I noticed out of the corner of my eye as a skeleton, that narrowly avoided incineration, wobble forwards. I had enough juice in me to launch a fireball, but before I could its mouth opened grotesquely wide, jaw bone almost completely unhinged, and screeched. Forced to lower my hand to cover my ears at the ear-shattering noise, I watched as bones at least half century old ooze a toxic violet substance from its pores.

Necromantic magic, I concluded when the florescent physical magic seeped into the ground as it dripped. Without the blood magic acting the part of muscle, ligaments, and motor control the decrepit bones began to rattle and rapidly fell apart.

Quentin must have finally succumbed to the flames if his spell wore off his summoned creatures.

Quentin was dead.

Oh no.

"Mother," I whispered underneath the roaring of the tornado.

I nearly tripped over my suddenly clumsy feet as I turned away from the rapidly swirling cyclone to sprint back to my mother, ignoring yells from Anders who demanded to know where I was going. Around me the cacophony of collapsing bones echoed my footsteps, but I barely heard it over the furious pounding of my heart. She was where I left her with Varric standing guard over her still body. I slid to my knees when I came close enough to gently lift her head with one hand and clench her deathly pale fingers in my other.

"I knew you would find me."

The assertion was soft, almost lost in the din of the Undercity, but my attention wasn't focused on anything but her. I heard her; I heard her complete faith in me. It nearly shattered my heart.

Carefully I slid her upper body to rest on my folded knees and held her as close to my body as I could; protecting her from anything that would do her harm.

"I'm so sorry, mother. I tried so hard to stop this from happening to you. I did, but I couldn't and-and I'm so, so sorry," I confessed with my breath hitching on the last apology as I felt tears pinch behind my eyes.

Leandra hushed me. "Shh, my dear. Don't be sorry. You saved me from that man. He would have kept me there, but you set me free." I didn't try to stop the tears; I just held her tighter. She was saying goodbye and I didn't want to let her go. "I get to see my darling Bethany again, and I've missed Malcolm so much over the years. Oh, but Carver will be all alone."

I sniffed and croaked out a denial. "No, he won't be, mother. I'll still be here. I'll look out for him. I promise."

Leandra's brow was pinched as if she was thinking hard about something. "But Garrett is waiting for me. He's with Bethany right now."


"What?" My confusion was echoed by Varric who still stood vigil over my mother and me.

"Varric, go find Anders," I ordered hoarsely.

The crossbowman didn't argue and raced off to fetch the Healer no matter if he was full of questions like I was.

"Mother, I'm right here," I tried to tell her and squeezed her hand when I knew Varric was out of earshot.

"I may be an old woman, dear, but a mother knows her child. You're close, but you're still not Garrett."

"I…I don't," I stuttered and finally heaved a giant sigh. "No. No, I'm not Garrett." The confession tore itself out of my chest and left me disoriented for a bit. A secret that big was a hell of a thing to finally let go of if even for a second.

A self-satisfied smile painted her blue flushed lips. "I know, my dear. What is your name?"

"Isaac," I whispered. "Isaac Amell."


"I'm your –I guess—grandson many, many years in the future."

I tried to crack a smile, but it came out more as a grimace as I waited for the woman I had come to care for more than my real mother to respond. I just hoped beyond hope that she wouldn't reject me. I wanted—I wanted…I just wanted her to still love me.

"I've always wanted grandchildren."

I chuckled wetly. "So you've mentioned to me before. I knew all those parties we attended were your doing." I took a deep breath. "How long have you known?"

She smiled. "Almost immediately."

"Why didn't you say anything?"

"Because, my dear, even though I wasn't your mother I knew that you needed one. Your heart was broken, for a long time I suspect. I made my peace with Garrett being gone and I grew to love a new son."

"Mother," I nearly sobbed as I felt her breathing slow. Please! Please, whoever could hear me, please don't let her leave me!

"I am glad…to have met you, Isaac," Leandra gasped out. Her chest shuddered and I gripped her as hard as I could as if I could stop her dying somehow if I only held on long enough. "I'm proud to…have you as a son no matter…how far away you're from."

Her eyes closed and the hand I clutched so tightly loosened.

I wanted to scream, cry, and yell to the heavens that it wasn't fair. I wanted someone to blame, someone to hit, something to take this overwhelming pain away from me. She didn't have to die! Why couldn't I save the one person who mattered more to me than anyone else in this world? What was the point? Why was I here?

"Why?" I sobbed and watched dispassionately as teardrops fell onto the yellowing wedding dress my mother wore.

It wasn't fair. Damn it, it wasn't fair!

A strong hand gripped my shoulder and squeezed in a modicum of comfort. With my magic in the open air I could easily feel the warm current of Anders' magic flowing underneath his skin. My own mana stirred a bit at the familiar feeling and rose slightly as if it was a cat searching for attention. I tried to beat it back, but was heftily ignored. Anders gasped.

"I-I can feel your power. It's…I can't even describe it. How have I never felt this before?" The Healer asked in amazement while not taking his hand off my shoulder.

"Maybe now isn't the best of times for Hawke to join your mage club. Get him out of here; make sure he gets home safe, Blondie. I'll take care of things here." Varric was a good friend.

Anders was hesitant for a moment before I felt a gentle pulling. I resisted and kept holding onto my mother. His touch never left as he knelt down next to me.

"Hawke…nothing I can say will change what's happened. I'm just…I'm sorry. You were lucky to have her as long as you did," Anders told me softly.

I let out a shaky breath, tears drying in tracks down my sooty, blood-streaked face. "It wasn't long enough."

"It never is."

"I loved her, Anders," I whispered.

He squeezed my shoulder again. "I know. When the pain fades that's what will matter."

"I didn't try hard enough!" I yelled out hoarsely. "I thought I could save her, but I couldn't!"

A tendril of his magic seeped into my skin and I took a deep breath as his mana tried to soothe me. It helped, if only a little.

"She wouldn't want you to blame yourself."

I knew that. I'd known her for less than a year, but I knew she wouldn't want that. It was still so hard though.

Anders pulled a bit to try and get me to stand up. Slowly, I complied. With one last silent goodbye, I laid my mother down and grabbed onto Anders' offered hand. That simple action seemed to have taken all the energy I had left and I stumbled. Strong arms wrapped around me and I felt another rush of mana to help stop my knees from shaking.

"Is he all right?"

"He'll be fine," the Healer diagnosed. "He used too much mana. A good night's rest is all he needs," he assured the worried dwarf. "Hawke, can you make it back to your house?"

I shook my head, my eyes already starting to close.

"Okay, you can stay at the clinic. Varric do you need-," Anders began asking Varric, but I didn't remember if the dwarf responded or not or what the actual question was.

I fell asleep. More like passed out completely, but either way I didn't wake up for a long time.

It seemed that my own personal heater was back, I noticed as I carefully opened my eyes to the familiar awning ceiling of the clinic. Purri acknowledged my existence with a yawn and burrowed herself deeper into my side, reverently purring. Her favorite spot seemed to be the crook of my arm which I was sure didn't smell like roses. When was the last time I bathed? Or shaved? I rubbed my scratchy jaw and made a face at the harsh scrape. It had been too long since I last shaved and it was really beginning to bother me. Ugh, it itched!

Another minute of scratching revealed the lack of soreness on my cheek where Fenris decked me pretty hard the other day. Anders must have healed that like he wanted to when he asked for my help with Feynriel. I trailed my fingers over my forehead to feel for the slice that nearly took my eye out when…when I was running with mother.

My teeth clenched tightly to fight off the uncomfortable tingling behind my eyes. She…she was gone. Leandra, my mother, was dead and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it!

"Fuck!" I spat.

Purri yowled indignantly when I heaved myself up off the bed and dislodged her from her comfortable nest she made for herself. I dragged out my boots that Anders must have placed underneath the bed, and angrily shoved my feet into them.

"Sorry, Purri, I've got some things to take care of," I told her. "Or someone," I added underneath my breath. I was a man of my word and I clearly remembered making a promise to a certain someone.

The cat hissed in irritation at my lack of attention to her and I rolled my eyes to take the time to give her a few strokes along her back. Instantly, she forgave me for interrupting probably her third nap of the day. She deemed herself done with my affection and padded to the open doorway that led to the front part of the clinic where I finally noticed people talking. In fact a lot of people were talking or moaning as if in pain. In habit, I patted my chest and pockets to look for my gloves that I always wore in public, but remembered that I left them in the mansion.

Again, I cursed out loud. I decided though that if any Templar was crazy enough to stop an obviously and extremely pissed off mage then they deserved what they got. When I crossed the threshold I was immediately buffeted by the smell of burnt flesh that had me almost gagging. I smothered my mouth and nose with my hand to stave off the fetid odor, but it didn't help much. If at all.

"Here," a voice next to me said and a pinch of…something was shoved under my nose.

This time I did gag. I swatted the hand away and coughed and sniffed until I could feel my nose again after the pungent odor cleared away my sinuses. Instantly, I noticed the smell around me was more of mint than charred human skin. Well…that was much better.

"Thanks," I muttered and turned to see Anders nod in acknowledgment before sitting down next to the patient he must have been working on.

I couldn't help but flinch at the nasty looking burns on the young man's body. Patches of red, inflamed skin were bordered by clear blisters caused by intense heat. It was at least a second-degree burn and looked incredibly painful. Thankfully, the patient was unconscious while Anders gently scraped the dead skin off the wounds. It…did I cause that? I knew my fire whorl got a little out of control, but I didn't know there was collateral damage. I looked around and noticed a couple of other people with burn marks, but none as bad as Anders' current patient. Some merely had cuts and bruises and waited patiently for the Healer to look at them.

Taking a quick peek at my mana, and deeming it replenished and under control, I walked over to where Anders was going out of his way to ignore my very existence and held my hands steadily over the unconscious man's body.

"What are you doing?"

I ignored the Healer's question and triggered my mage-sight rune. Little spots of orange, like city lights viewed from orbit, lit up in concentrated areas pertaining to the burn marks. Sadly, I sighed. I did cause his injuries. There were bits of mana in his wounds, most likely caused by mage fire. My fire, I corrected when I felt my unique signature in those damning marks. I flicked my rune off and lifted haunted eyes. Anders looked at me expectantly.

"I didn't mean to," I told him sincerely.

Anders nodded, bangs falling into his eyes from his poorly, tied-back hair. "I know. You're still an idiot though."

That startled a laugh out of me. "Yeah," I agreed. "Let me help?"

His raised eyebrow considered me for a moment. "I can feel your magic quite clearly now. It's very…potent," he finally said after hesitating a few seconds as if searching for the right word to describe it. I knew that eyebrow was silently asking me why he never felt it before and that was a conversation I didn't want to get into right now.

"I don't know anything about healing spells, but I can make him more comfortable," I explained while completely ignoring the subtext of Anders' speech.

Anders dropped the washcloth he was using on the young man's injuries into a bucket at his side. He braced his elbows on his knees and waved for me to continue before folding his hands and leaning forward in concentration. I nodded in thanks and turned my attention back to the injured man. It was my fire-manipulated mana embedded in his skin, so if I just drew it out…I smiled slightly as I felt the particles shiver in excitement. Heat transferred from high to low energy, I recalled, and my fire rune blazed as well as my ice rune.

With ice I formed a thin layer on top of the patient's body to cool him down. His skin was so hot from the burns the ice quickly melted and steam rose in thin rivulets that rose up towards my hovering hand.

"Did you create those runes on your own?" Anders asked in the sudden quiet of the clinic.

I opened my eyes in surprise and jerked my eyes to the audience that gathered around me and then to Anders who watched just as curiously.

"Um, yeah. I did," I answered and dissipated the steam with a flick of my hand that had gathered once I drew out all the mana-tainted heat. I motioned to Anders' side with my fingers. "Hand me that rag."

I caught the washcloth Anders tossed to me and I used it to dry the patient's skin. I smiled in satisfaction when I saw the swelling of the blisters drastically reduced and the inflammation a little quieter. Healing magic wasn't my forte, but I sure as hell could pretend to know what I was doing.

"Thank you," Anders murmured. "He should recover easier now."

There was a tension in the air I didn't know how to get rid of, so I committed myself to ignore it and instead turned to the spectators with various injuries of their own. Dirty faces, wide eyes, and gaunt stomachs were common themes in the crowd and I felt the anger that bubbled deep in my gut and threatened to erupt just minutes ago settle down. These people needed help first before I charged off in a mad fit of revenge that had a high probability of me ending up skewered at the end of a Templar's sword.

I handed the rag back to Anders who took it along with my right hand which he gazed at contemplatively.

"They're very complicated," he commented and idly traced along my dull fire manipulation rune with a fingertip.

I shivered at the casual touch. "They're layered," I told the curious mage. "There's ice to cool my palm, wind to control the direction, and fire for the dominant element. My lightning rune is similar."

Anders' complete attention was on my hand and I couldn't help but blush a bit at his fascination. His finger moved to lightning.

"There's lightning obviously, also wind here, and…ice as well?" He peered up at me through blonde eyelashes in question.

I swallowed thickly. "Electric fields are enhanced around water. It allows me to control the bolt's strength as well as its direction. Wind is there to account for different atmospheric pressures."

At the end of my explanation, both of the Healer's eyebrows were in his hairline.

"What?" I asked defensively, but couldn't cross my arms due to Anders still having a hold on my hand.

Anders smirked. "So there is a brain beneath that scruffy exterior."

I scowled at his jab towards my unkempt appearance and ripped my hand –it tingled warmly from his touch— away from his grasp. Well, if he was going to make fun of me then I wasn't going to tell him about my earth rune which was the most complicated: it contained all four elements.

"Look," I sighed. "Can I stay and help? I feel like…I feel like I owe it to these people." And I wanted something to do to keep my mind off…other things.

Anders considered me for a bit and hummed in thought.

"Like I said," I hurriedly continued in explanation. "I don't know any healing spells, but I think I'm more than capable of basic first aid. I mean, I did survive without your help for quite a few years."

Finally after a few more moments of his blank staring, Anders nodded and jabbed his thumb behind him.

"There's sterilized bandages hanging over the pot over there. Also, grab a container of elfroot for the cuts and bruises."

I nodded in understanding and almost knocked heads with the person right behind me who just stared at me in astonishment at my feat of magic earlier. I ducked my head in embarrassment and hurriedly scrambled over to where Anders pointed to. Fear I was used to when I revealed my magic or disgust. Shock and awe were too different to process right now. And Anders? No questions about blood magic, my keeping secrets from him, or anger at my relatively little involvement with the "mage's plight"? I smiled a little as I gathered up strips of white linen that had been boiled in a pot and then set out to dry.

Well, two out of three ain't bad; it was better than all three accusations thrown at me at once.

"I would think the answer obvious, Anders," I ground out between tightly clenched teeth as I steadily concentrated on the task before me.

The little girl, whose arm I was carefully wrapping, looked up at me with wide blue eyes at my angry tone. I smiled brightly to calm her down and she answered with a cute grin of her own. I chuckled at her two missing front teeth and she laughed back even though I knew the cut on her arm –from a box that careened into her by the tornado- hurt her.

"Well, it's not obvious to me," Anders shot back from his spot behind me where he worked on his own patient.

Damn it, this was really getting on my nerves. He was being such a child about this!

"The reason I didn't tell you about me being a mage might have been because of the giant tower where they like to lock people up in and is surrounded by Templars with those pointy, sharp swords," I explained to him as calmly as I could so I wouldn't alarm the little girl in front of me.

"I wouldn't have told anyone!"

"I know, Anders!" I practically shouted. The mindless chattering around us stopped for a moment at our outbursts and I let out a deep breath to calm myself down. "Sorry, sweetheart," I murmured to the girl. The bow was wrapped with a flourish on her bandage. "There you go, all done."

She smiled brilliantly at me and nearly leapt onto me to wrap her small arms around my neck in a hug. I chuckled and patted her back and gently pushed her towards her waiting mother who nodded her thanks. Carefully, I stood up from the stool I was parked on for the last few hours and cracked my back which popped obscenely. I sighed in appreciation at the lessened tension in my back. Scrubbing my hands clean of blood in the wash-bucket, I angrily thought about the argument between Anders and me for the last hour that consisted of him accusing me of not trusting him. The basis was pretty much he told me his secret so why shouldn't I have told him mine? I swear it was like we were fucking, five years old arguing in the sandbox.

"You told Varric."

I threw down the rag I used to dry my hands and faced Anders with an unbelieving look.

"Are you kidding me? Are you serious? Varric found out the same way you did: a complete accident. I've told no one, so there's no need for this hissy fit you're throwing."

Anders bristled at the comment, but still professionally sewed up a deep cut. I rolled my eyes at his childishness, snatched up a cup of elfroot salve, and motioned for the older man who was waiting by the door –probably out of fear at all the arguing- to come sit down so I could treat the purple bruising around his ankle. It was silent in the clinic for a few minutes, and I foolishly believed our argument done.

"You're an inspiration, Hawke." Okay, I liked where this was going. "You came to Kirkwall as a refugee, but now you own a mansion in Hightown. You worked your hardest to make a place in this world, and if other mages knew you were one of their own maybe they would do the same." And there was the catch.

"So you want me to make flyers and pass them out? Yeah, good idea, Anders. Let's tell the Knight Commander and maybe my money will stop her from chopping off my head."

"It will, Hawke!" Anders insisted. "I don't think you understand how much your word is respected in Kirkwall. You have a lot of influence whether you know it or not."

"So what do you want me to do?" I asked as I placed the lid on the elfroot and motioned for another patient to sit down so I could I could treat their wounds.

"Lead by example," the Healer insisted. "As long as mages are treated like children we will never take responsibility for our actions. We must be empowered to police ourselves."

"And yet they still turn to blood magic," I pointed out spitefully.

"That is because they're frightened, and the First Enchanter-."

I angrily interrupted. "Let's not talk about Orsino," I growled.

"The First Enchanter?" The young woman asked me as I delicately felt around her wrist to check for broken bones. "I 'eard he got attacked last night."

Anders looked up curiously from his stitching and I mentally begged for the woman to shut up. I was already in trouble with the testy mage.

"Attacked? By the Templars?" Anders asked.

The woman shook her head. "No, they say it was by another mage. An apostate. One who can transform into a bird. That's how they escaped the Gallows without the Templars catching them."

I steadily kept my focus on the dirt-smeared wrist in front of me and refused to look up at Anders' accusing glare.

"Tell me…was it a hawk?"

"It could have been. Actually, I think that's right."

Now I could definitely feel waves of criticism radiating off the ex-Grey Warden. I tried to raise my shoulders to block that heady stare.

"How…interesting. Hawke," he put emphasis on my name, "did you hear about this?"

I mumbled something that might have been an affirmative or mimicry of my stomach growling. There wasn't anything broken in the gossiping woman's wrist, so I determined it a bad sprain and slathered it in elfroot. I heard Anders stand up and finish with his patient. He walked over to me to check on the woman's wrist.

"That should be fine," he said after a small examination of the wounded area.

"Thank you, Healer," the woman tittered and hurriedly exited the clinic. No doubt she could feel the murderous tension in the air. I was envious of her quick departure.

Standing up, I noticed that she was the last visitor…which left me alone with Anders. Not good.

"Well, if we're done for the day-," I began, but stopped when a firm hand pushed me back down onto the stool.

"Sit, Hawke," Anders ordered menacingly. I obeyed.

Anders stepped over to the washing bucket and drew out the rag I used naught but a few minutes ago. He wrung out the cloth and handed it to me to wipe my hands of the pungent elfroot salve and I just waited for the inevitable explosion.

Thankfully, I didn't have to sit around for too long.

"You tried to murder the First Enchanter?"

I winced at his loud yell and nervously wound the rag around my fingers, absently pulling on the coarse fabric.

"Well, how do you know it was me?" I asked, trying to defend myself.

Anders pinched his brow as if my playing innocent physically pained him. His light brown eyes narrowed at my pouting face, and he slightly shook his head. He crossed his arms over his chest and glared at me.

"Can you shapeshift into a hawk form?"


"Were you around the Gallows last night?"


"Did you attack Orsino?"

"…Yes," I admitted hesitantly.

The mage threw his hands into the air. "Have you gone completely mad?"

"No!" I crowed triumphantly at having a different answer for him and threw the rag on the ground as I stood up with my finger pointed at him. "And I had a good reason for it!"

Anders ignored my accusing finger and stepped closer until it poked against the feathery pauldrons on his shoulders. "Like your perfectly sane reason to goad the Arishok into a fight?"

I waved that accusation off. "Different reason, same goal."

The livid Healer smacked my hand away and used his own to push angrily at my shoulders. His brown eyes flashed blue for a moment, but Anders quickly put Justice aside to deal with me himself. I honestly didn't know which personality was worse. "Your penchant for playing dangerous games is going to get you killed, Hawke!"

"I'm not playing games, Anders!" I yelled into his face. "Oh, and get me killed? What about yours? You spend all day helping these refugees, exhausting your magic! You don't sleep, you don't eat! You're obsessed with this cause! I know about the Mage Underground, Anders! I know you risk your life at least three times a month to help escaping mages!"

"If you knew then why didn't you help?"

"Because I'm trying to save this whole blasted city!"

It was silent in the clinic except for our loud panting. The hands that were pushing against my shoulders now held them tightly, fingers digging in hard enough to leave bruises.

"You are the most frustrating man I have ever met," Anders admitted with a harsh breath. "I don't know whether to kiss you or kill you."

I answered his quandary by grabbing a fistful of his outer robe and pulling him closer to me. I breathed against his mouth in warning before I angrily took the taller man's lips with mine. Anders quickly responded and gripped the sides of my head, kissing me with such passion that I gasped at the intensity of it. His mouth was wet, and hot like a brand that set me on fire until I felt it in my spine. Anders groaned and took hold of the loose, black strands of my hair to pull me closer. My own hand loosened from his chest and slowly wandered down to wrap it securely around the man's waist.

We parted for air, but Anders didn't let me go. Lithe fingers trailed over my swollen, panting lips. With focus on me so completely, he said slowly, "I can't stop thinking about you." He sighed and tilted his head closer, his breath warm on my mouth, and I was overwhelmed in a single heartbeat. "For three years you've haunted my sleep. I wake aching for you."

How the hell was I supposed to respond to that? I groaned deeply as Anders kissed me again, so soft and warm, and clever, clever fingers stroked my jaw. God, I was so stupidly in love with this passionate mage, and I knew, I fucking knew that this could only end in ruin. As we stopped again to breathe, I gazed into those lust-blown pupils surrounded by a ring of amber and I fell. I fell completely.

I pulled back, but still gripped onto his waist with my thumb brushing soothingly on Anders' lower back. He shivered. I would have to remember that to be a sensitive spot. Because I wanted to see him again. Never before had I felt so strongly about another person, so maybe that was why even if my plans fell through and history wrote out its same story I would have at least a few years with him.

"Anders?" I asked him softly.

"Hmm?" He hummed in question, his fingers exploring my neck.

I sighed. "I have to go," I said reluctantly. "I have to make…arrangements for my mother."

Anders nodded and wide eyes came back into focus. "Justice does not approve of my obsession with you, but I want -need- to see you again."

Tenderly, I brushed my lips against the Healer's forehead. "Give me a few days, Anders. I need…I need time to sort through all of this."

Anders pulled my head forward until it touched his brow and whispered to me, "I'm here for you, whatever you need."

That was a hard chapter to write. I swear Isaac has all the mood swings of a pregnant woman. He's hard to keep up with! So there you go their first official kiss. What'd ya think?