Moving On

A Dragon Age Fanfiction

By Lywinis

He saw her for the first time in the Chantry. Long black hair done up in a simple plait, the blue of her Warden tabard made it glow with a hidden luster as she walked across the nave toward the pulpit. It had been a long time since his wife passed; he hadn't felt her touch for nigh on six years now. He had felt stirrings before, and this was no different, he told himself. She's just another comely woman his sister sent to recruit. It's almost as if the Queen was taunting him; knowing Elaine, she probably was.

He stood with the Revered Mother as the new warden presented herself.

"Mother Cerise, I am Bethany Hawke, here to recruit for the Amaranthine Wardens."

"Welcome to the Chantry, child. Highever will endeavor to make your stay a pleasant one," said the Mother as Bethany knelt to receive her blessing.

Fergus smiled to himself. The Revered Mother didn't much approve of the Wardens, but the Chantry was encouraged by the banns and the Arl of Redcliffe to accept and shelter them when they sought it. This would just be another burden for Mother Cerise to bear until she could convince the Divine to allow her to make an Exalted March on Amaranthine. He kept his blasphemous thoughts to himself and turned toward the new Warden, his smile more amused than welcoming.

Bethany had large, dark eyes that sharpened with interest as she looked about her. She focused on him, and he resisted the urge to fidget, instead offering her a bow.

"The teyrnir is, of course, prepared to offer you accommodations should you find the chantry unsuitable."

"They should more than suffice, my lord. I've slept in worse places." She was blunt, her smile wry; he heard Mother Cerise beside him inhaling a sharp breath to give the Warden a piece of her mind. He chuckled, and he knew it wouldn't earn him any points with Mother Cerise, but he couldn't help but like this Warden.

Fergus felt his face curve into an unfamiliar smile, a genuine one as Bethany stared down the Revered Mother. Perhaps this Warden would be far more entertaining than the last one. While he liked Nathaniel and considered him a friend despite public opinion of the Howes, Bethany was far more pleasing to the eye.

"Perhaps it's best you stay at Highever Castle instead, Warden, if you are so selective of your surroundings," said Mother Cerise. Bethany didn't bristle or threaten; instead, she smiled at the Revered Mother.

"Not at all," she said. "I've camped in the Deep Roads, up to my elbows in Darkspawn guts. Expecting to burst into flame the second I walk into a chantry is nothing. My personal feelings on the matter aren't relevant, Revered Mother, and neither are yours. I'm here on Warden business, and that should be enough for you."

"Blasphemy in the Maker's house will not be tolerated, Warden or not! I'll not have you and yours spreading dissention amongst my flock!"

Fergus repressed the laughter that scrabbled at the back of his mind; he took Bethany's arm and dragged her from the chantry with apologies made to the Revered Mother with enough sincerity to save face. As the warm spring sunshine hit his face, the laughter bubbled up at last and he released her to lean against the pillar of the chantry in helpless merriment.

He looked up at last as he wiped tears from his eyes to find her watching him. He found his tongue with haste at the expression on her face.

"I'm not laughing at you, dear lady. My apologies. It's just that I haven't seen Mother Cerise so riled since she caught my sister scrawling naughty stories in the pulpit."

"The Warden-Commander seems like the type to have been a naughty child," she said, and the hard flint of her eyes cracked a tiny bit to let a sliver of humor show through.

"As a child? Oh, no, this was the last time she visited." He had dared, and his gamble paid off. A small smile appeared as he watched, and his grin made the smile grow until she laughed as well, the fa├žade gone. Her eyes met his.

"Is the offer to stay in the castle still good, my lord Teyrn?" The smile dimmed, and the serious woman showed through once more. Fergus took it as a personal challenge.

"Always, my lady Warden. In fact, I'd be honored if you would have dinner with me."

"I'd be delighted," she said. "Incidentally, your sister mentioned you a lot."

"She did?" Fergus tried to figure out where this was going.

"She did," said Bethany. "She said I was to carry a message to you, and I was to tell you to your face."

"And what was the message?"

"Don't even think about it."

He smiled at Bethany, more for his sister than anyone else. Very well, Elaine. Challenge accepted.

A/N: I swear I'm not on drugs.