Disclaimer: Dragon Age is not mine and I make no profit out of this.
WARNINGS: AU, mpreg, child abuse-torture-death
A/N: I don't know what I was thinking, but it wouldn't leave me alone. This is an alternate universe of sorts. So here goes nothing! Like or hate it, tell me what you think and any mistakes that need correcting.
Ser Bryant eyed the family and wondered how no one knew. He was sure at least three of them were apostates, perhaps one of them maleficarum. How the other templars could not know it, feel it, like he did frustrated him to no end. Or perhaps this was the reason he'd been promoted to Knight-Lieutenant and sent to Lothering; he certainly wasn't the most experienced or their elder.
He watched the oldest of the apostates as he greeted the templars at the Chantry's doors with a terse nod. At least he knew the dangerous game they were playing. His children, and they looked so much like him to not be, were less cautious. The eldest child, a young man close to his age, greeted them warmly, with a solid handshake and a few exchanged words that told him the apostate considered them good friends. The two youngest, twins, approached them with such familiarity that it would be correct to say those templars were verygood friends of the family even when the father didn't seem to like it.
He frowned, watching as the villagers greeted the family with the warmth reserved to the closest of friends. Men, women, templar and Revered Mother alike. It was maddening!
"Those are the Hawkes," Ser Thomas piped up as he walked to stand beside Bryant.
"They live here? Can't say Lothering is abysmally small, but I'd think I would've seen them around by now," he needed to know the location of the apostates. If only to watch them while he cleaned Lothering from the corrupted, unwatchful, templars it harbored.
"They have a small farm a day from here, Ser," the man answered, "They're good people."
"Everyone is good in someone else's eyes," Bryant replied tersely.
There was silence and Bryant thought the conversation over. He was about to head out to his study and pen a concerned letter to the Knight-Commander, when Thomas spoke again.
"Lothering would've disappeared from the plague at least two times had Malcom not swooped in and save us all. Garrett comes sometimes to answer the desperate pleads on the Chanter's Board. Leandra and her youngest volunteer at the Chantry. They are not rich people, but they always give something to aid the orphans and the widows. They do more good here than anywhere else. "
It was the last words that made him pause and stare at the older templar with incredulity.
"One thing you'll learn soon enough, Ser, is that there are no secrets in Lothering."
"Has everyone here gone mad? What about your oath?"
The old templar seemed amused. It angered him. He was their superior and he was staring at him as if he was a child. Just because he was the youngest templar in this blighted town, didn't give them the right to mock him. Especially when he knew he was in the right.
His displeasure must have shown more than he thought it did, because Thomas' smile faded and he shrugged.
"This isn't Denerim or Redcliff, Knight-Lieutenant. This place is a small village in the middle of nowhere. Arl Eamon only bothers with us for our farms. Sure, it's true that the Arl keeps some of his men around, but it's also true that they'll be the first to be called back to protect the Arling if something were to happen. I fear we will be the only defense this poor people will have if that day ever comes."
"They are the reason we are here, Thomas. We are not city guards or Lothering soldiers to fight for this village. We are holy warriors that have vowed to keep the entire world safe from the dangers of magic."
Thomas huffed; clearly annoyed with his superior, but Bryant didn't care. He'd traveled from Denerim to this miserable place daydreaming about how he'll finally put this place in the map. How proud the Order would be of him and his men. Only to find himself in the middle of nowhere, the youngest of all templars and smacked in the face by the blatant disregard of everything he'd been taught… THEY'd been taught.
"The Order is here because needs to keep an eye on the Wilds with its heathen Chasind and its famous witches. You'll see soon enough how much the world cares for this little village, Ser."
Ser Bryant wanted to deny the man. Tell him that he was wrong, but the certainty in which he spoke held his tongue. After all, Thomas had come from Denerim too some twelve years ago and he'd be a fool to ignore the years of experience speaking back at him. The sudden thought that he'd probably see his death in this place came and went so quickly he didn't have time to dwell on it, though there was a dread in his heart that had not been there before.
"The Hawkes have been here for seven years. In all that time, they've only used their magic to help the people that live here when help was too far away to do us any good. Give them two months to prove themselves, Ser. Get to know them in that time. Afterwards, you may do what your conscience tells you, but give them that. Magic is to serve man not rule over him. We've all heard the words, Ser, but I never saw them truly practiced until they came here."
Bryant found himself staring at the family again. He could feel the magic around them, though they tried to hide it. The youngest boy was asking Ser Erik about his sword. His twin was listening in rapture to a story one of the sisters was telling the orphans. The mother was chatting away with the other women while keeping a watchful eye on her children. The eldest was setting a small stall to sell what little they brought from their farm. And the father…
The father was speaking with Tobias. The old man had a sickly daughter whose husband died of a bear attack, or at least that's what he'd been told. Said daughter had been pregnant and Bryant had been witness of the old man's prayers for her well being during delivery. Said daughter approached the two men slowly, dark circles under her eyes and way too thin for what he thought a pregnant woman should look. The apostate looked at her, analyzed her, and took her hand in his. The magic around him flared, but there was no real show of any magic being used. The change in the woman was almost instantaneous. She moved faster, the circles around her eyes disappeared and if she hadn't been so thin he would've thought her a healthy woman. The woman thanked him, the old man tried to give him a coin purse, but the apostate refused.
"Two months, Thomas. After that, I'll personally escort them to the Circle."
Two months later, Ser Bryant stared at the empty parchment. He couldn't do it. Everything he'd been taught told him that he had to do it. Everything he'd seen told him that he shouldn't. True to his word, he used his two months to know more about the Hawkes. He learned of Leandra's noble past and her fabulous cooking. He learned of Bethany's love of children and her dream of building an orphanage so she could care for those that had no one to love them. He learned of Carver's love of weapons and even promised to teach him about swords. A promise the youngest Hawke was soon to remind him of when he appeared with a rusty greatsword the very next day. He learned of Malcom's strict teachings and love of life and family. And he learned of Garrett's dream of one day giving his mother the life she ran away from when she left her family for a Fereldan.
Bryant wasn't stupid. He knew the mother ran away because her husband was an apostate not because of where he was born. He knew Malcom was powerful, but Garrett had more untapped power in him. He knew Bethany loved and hated her gift. And he knew Carver wished he wasn't the odd child out. But he'd seen them use their hands to do things magic would do much easier. He'd seen them toil with the other men and women who were not mages. And he'd seen with his own two eyes how the sick and the injured recovered after one of them visited the person. How they wouldn't accept payment for their service and, if forced to take the gold, how they donated it.
Ser Thomas had this big shit eating grin that made him want to smack the man. The other templars looked amused, but they wisely kept their grins and comments to themselves. But he couldn't take them to the Circle. Malcom would surely become tranquil, if he wasn't executed. He was too old to be given any sort of chance. Bethany would be taken, she was young enough to be given a chance, but the quarantine would be too hard on her who has spent all her life with someone at her side. Plus he could see she was beautiful and he dreaded to think what could happen to her by either a mage's or a templar's hands. Carver would surely be taken and placed in quarantine too until they were sure he had no magic in him. That is, if the young man allowed them to take him and not tried to fight. Otherwise, he'll be dead. Leandra will be left alone to fend for herself, like the widows and orphans that she helped before. And Garrett…
Garrett could be locked away or turned tranquil, if he didn't die trying to keep his family from being separated. And Bryant knew, he knew, the man would blame him for it and hate him and something inside him didn't like that idea. He liked Garrett. The mage was one of the few friends he'd made in this piss hole of a village.
With a loud curse, the templar put away the parchment and headed to the tavern. Drinking was frowned upon, but not in Lothering. Lothering was too far away from anyone that could reprimand him.
A year later, neither Bryant nor Garret noticed when they began to spend almost every day together. Malcom worried, Leandra fretted, Bethany tried to be friendly and not show her fear and Carver was ecstatic to have his sword teacher nearby to practice.
Their first kiss was accidental. One fateful slip that had one falling over the other, their bodies colliding in a heap of arms and legs that they ignored because their mouths had crashed together in a slightly painful version of a kiss. Their second wasn't accidental and, though chaste, left them both panting and trembling with their hearts beating like a dwarven drum and running away from each other.
Two weeks apart afterwards. With the Knight-Lieutenant struggling to make sense of the teachings he'd tried to leave behind, the reality of what each of them were and the feelings he didn't know he had cultivated. It left him drunk and angry and wishing for something he had not given a name to.
Two weeks with a confused apostate who'd been consoled by his mother and lectured by his father. Of crying every night because what he wanted could not be and the bad example he must be setting his siblings by falling for their enemy.
Two weeks that crashed down into nothing when they saw each other again before the mass began and Ser Bryant pulled him into his quarters, kissed him and promised him he would never betray his trust. The cold reality that everyone knew their secret washed away with the reality that they knew and they still saw them as human and not monsters.
A kiss turned into something more. Soon, it was known all over that Garrett and Bryant were courting each other. In even more hushed tones, it was told how the templar had built the apostate a small house nearby so they could move in together. A complete scandal the moment the Revered Mother, in the middle of a mass, turned to the templar and gave her blessing. But somehow the news never reached outside of Lothering. Bryant was sure Arl Eamon's knights had to know something, but they seemed blind to the needs of the village. Occasionally they would stop a group of raiders or thugs, but most of the time it was Garrett, Bryant and his templars that protected the city from those threats.
When Garrett began to feel sick, Bryant worried. Malcom had become ill too and the only healer was Bethany, who wouldn't leave her father's side. Risking making the man sicker, Bryant took them to the Hawke farm. Malcom Hawke did not look good. Bryant wondered how long until the healing magic became useless. The older Hawke seemed to be thinking the same as they both shared a look. A dying man asking a man he'd been forced to trust to take care of them. To not betray them. And getting that promise.
Bethany's check up showing him a miracle. He was going to be a father. Magic. Garrett's magic had made it possible. It was horrifyingly scary, but Garrett confessed to have wanted it so much that his magic had reacted without him knowing it.
Leaving Garrett in the Hawke farm with the excuse that he wanted to care for his father. Going back into the empty house and wondering how he'd make it ready for their child without anyone knowing. Watching Garrett grow big from their child. The worry every time he saw how the continued use of magic to keep the pregnancy going taxed him and how fragile and worn out he grew each day. The fear that he would lose them both to the limitations a male body had on pregnancy and delivery. The wonder and amazement every time he felt it kick.
Somehow managing the deception. Visiting him at the farm and leaving with more worries as something dark loomed in the horizon. Witnessing the death of Malcom Hawke and how loved he was in Lothering was heartbreaking. Knowing Garrett could not come because if his pregnancy made it even more so. Everyone else but him worried thinking he has the same sickness as Malcom.
Then, news of darkspawn near the Wilds. King Cailan's soldiers marching through Lothering and taking all able men with him. Hiding Garrett until they went away. Giving Carver a new sword. The boy promised his mother he'll come back. The dread that never really left increasing slowly with every day.
And watching as the quiet little town slowly filled with strangers seeking refuge. Men, women and children that had nothing save the clothes on their backs. How reality had finally come to Lothering and what had almost ceased to be secret was kept sealed tight again.
The waiting. The waiting that killed him until not one, but two babies' cries brought him back to life. Holding not one, but two little gifts of the Maker while Garrett slept. Telling everyone how he found a woman giving birth and helped her before she died of exhaustion after promising to keep them. Knowing the Revered Mother did not believe him, but did not push the matter further.
He had one month to enjoy being a father. One month of worrying over the fate of Lothering as he watched the Arl's men being sent back to Redcliff and Eamon's Knights passing through only to ask about the blasted ashes of Andraste. Watching as people came looking for aid that they could no longer offer.
When the two wardens came, telling him to prepare because the horde was coming, he knew his time had come. He prayed, he cried, he raged and he accepted. He would die, but not his family. He would fall, but not Lothering. He made preparations, not as many as he liked but there wasn't much time. He pleaded for the Hawkes to leave, for Garrett to take their children. They cried, one begged the other kissed and together they prepared. When Carver appeared, half dead and speaking of betrayal at Ostagar Bryant knew it was time.
They said goodbye. He kissed his children. Little Malcom Hawke who had those precious blue eyes all Hawkes had. Beautiful little Cecily who inherited his mother's eyes as well as name. He watched them leave with a heavy heart.
"You should've gone with them, Ser."
Thomas. The templar whose challenge gave him the best three years of his life.
"Staying here gives the people more time to run to safety."
Because as much as he wanted to say he stayed to protect his family, the truth was that he stayed to give all the people in Lothering, the villagers and the refugees, time to run. Time that otherwise they would not have.
"No one would've thought less of you for leaving with your family."
"I'm staying for my family, Thomas. For your family and for all of Lothering. He'll be fine. All of them will be fine. The Maker would not allow our sacrifice to be in vain."
Bryant stared at the horizon. His templars were older than him, but not that old. Erik, the oldest, should be around forty, and still lucid. At least with twenty years of marriage to the innkeeper's sister. He was still the youngest at twenty two. Regret for all the life he should've had with Garrett filled him. All the plans he'd made and the dreams they shared were torn to shreds and burnt.
"Let's get to the Chantry. The Revered Mother wants to have one final mass for us, the sisters and the people that could not leave."
When the darkspawn arrived the templars met them sword in hand. The sisters were slain protecting the sick and the old. The unluckiest were dragged screaming under the earth. The Revered Mother was torn to shreds in the altar where she prayed for those that ran away to make it to safety.
And Ser Bryant died heroically in the battlefield. It wasn't the death of a templar, at the hand of some maleficar or by lyrium madness. It wasn't the death he wanted, at the side of his lover and surrounded by family. It was the death of a man that found a home in the unlikeliest of places and saw everything turn to ashes. And as he tired, the spawn finally overcame him. And as the roar of battle faded, came the roar of a dragon. As the stench of blood, taint and darkspawn faded, came the smell of dragon's fire. As the beating of his heart ceased to be, came the sound of flapping wings and snapping jaws.
When the world turns black there is a second before the Maker gathers you in his arms. His last thought a wish. A wish to have one more day with his family. A wish to hold them one more time. And a woman's voice, old and wise as time, hard and unforgiving as a templar's blade…
"Fate brought you together. Chance separated you. Your time together has ended, but his life is just beginning. Your sacrifice will make the world tremble. A shame that you won't be able to witness it."
AN2: I promised I wouldn't start something without it already been finished, but there are enough chapters already written and my husband promised I could use his internet at night to my heart's content.