This story has been published elsewhere under a different pen name. For anyone who has read it on a different site, yes, I am the original author. :-)
In this story, although Hawke is a mage, Carver died and Bethany survived.
Chapter 1 contains a bit of game dialogue, which I apologise for; I try not to over-use it. The story will generally follow the events of DA2 but will not strictly follow canon.
This story will contain scenes of non-consensual sexual acts and one instance of rape, but it will not be graphic. Please do not read if you will find this distressing.
"Waste of bloody time! Who put us up to this?"
"I don't care, so long as we get paid. Come on; let's see what that Anso has to say for himself."
Hawke exited the house, holding the door open for Varric, with Anders and Bethany following close behind. As soon as they'd stepped foot back into the alienage square, several well-armed thugs slowly bled out of the shadows and emerged from around corners and from behind crates, quickly surrounding the foursome.
"This is getting really boring," snapped a tired and irritated Hawke. "We were only supposed to retrieve a bit of stolen property, and instead we've been attacked by half of Lowtown!"
"That's not the elf," said a woman who appeared to be leading the thugs.
"It doesn't matter," replied a man stood next to her, as he drew his sword. "Captain says, kill all of them!"
"Idiots!" growled Hawke. "You just keep throwing yourselves at my staff, don't you?"
"Mine, too," said Bethany with an unwholesome smile as she readied her weapon.
Several of the thugs surged forward, only to immediately be thrown backwards as Hawke and his sister surrounded themselves in a protective field. Anders and Varric dropped back and started to pick off the thugs as they vainly attempted to engage the siblings, and any venturing too close to either Anders or Varric were punished with flame or frost.
Soon, the group of thugs was dispatched. Hawke, who was getting pretty tired of being attacked for no apparent reason, surveyed the bodies and spat on the ground. "Pitiful. Why do they even bother? Let's see what they've got and find that bloody dwarf: he's got a lot to answer for."
They split up and began to loot the corpses, all with the exception of Bethany, who had refused to take from the dead ever since she and her family had left Lothering. Anders wasn't keen, either, but didn't want to appear unhelpful, and Hawke had proved a good friend to him in the short time they'd known each other. He crouched down next to the nearest body and gingerly rifled through the man's pockets and backpack.
"Hawke," he called out, and beckoned his fellow mage over. Hawke stood up and walked over to Anders, squatting down next to him. "These were no ordinary street thugs, Hawke. Look at their armour, their swords: they bear the mark of the Imperium."
"Huh," snorted Hawke derisively. "You'd think they'd have been better prepared for mages, then. I really don't care where they're from, anyway; let's just grab anything useful and get our money from Anso."
"I think that's about it, Hawke," Varric announced as he walked over, turning a few coins over in his hands. "They weren't carrying much money, and their weapons are no good to any of us. I may be able to get a bit for their armour, though; I'll get a few boys down here from The Hanged Man to clean up."
"That's not much," said Hawke, looking down at the meagre amount of money in Varric's palm.
"It's enough for a couple of rounds," Anders answered with a shrug.
"True enough, Blondie; I think we could all do with a pint, couldn't we?"
"More than one," replied Hawke. "Come on, Beth," he called over to his sister, and the four of them approached the steps leading out of the alienage.
As they began to ascend, a lone man, wearing similar armour to the men that had just accosted them, rounded the corner at the top of the steps.
"Oh, what now?" groaned Varric. Hawke's expression hardened.
Upon spotting Hawke and his companions, the man stopped in his tracks and rested his hand on the pommel of his sword. "I don't know who you are, friend, but you've made a serious mistake coming here." He looked Hawke up and down, and his eyes wandered over to the numerous corpses scattered around the alienage. "Lieutenant! I want everyone in the clearing, now!"
Receiving no answer, the man glanced behind himself. "Lieutenant!" he barked.
An erratic shuffling could be heard from around the corner, and Hawke once again readied his staff as a second man appeared; it quickly became apparent, however, that he was gravely injured, and he fell to his knees in front of his captain, blood pouring through a hole in his cuirass. "C-Captain!"
"Your men are dead," sneered a deep, slightly nasal voice from behind the dying man.
A striking man stood before them: obviously an elf, but taller than most of his kin. He appeared to be in his late twenties, and yet his hair was whiter than Hawke's mother's, and it flopped over one of his large, moss-coloured eyes. Upon his back he carried a sword that was almost as tall as him, and yet he moved down the steps with a cat-like elegance, and he possessed a steady dignity. As he neared, Hawke and his group noticed strange markings upon his skin, and that his feet were unclad.
The elf glanced at the captain as he reached the bottom of the steps, and then walked past him, fixing his eyes upon Hawke. "And your trap has failed," he said, addressing the captain with his back to him. "I suggest running back to your master while you can."
The captain's face twisted with rage and he reached out, roughly grabbing the elf's shoulder. "You're going nowhere, slave!"
Bethany gasped and covered her mouth with her hands as a murderous look fell across the elf's face, and the markings upon his skin were illuminated with a blue glow. He spun round and held a gauntlet-clad hand in front of the captain, before plunging it through his chest, surpassing flesh, bone and sinew.
"Bloody hell!" Hawke cried, and he, Anders and Varric took several steps back; Bethany had already run over to the far end of the alienage.
"I am not a slave," the elf said angrily, and let the captain fall to the ground, blood pouring from the gaping hole in his breastplate. He then turned to face the others, and held both of his hands up in appeasement.
"I apologise," he said with a sigh. "When I asked Anso to provide a distraction for the hunters, I had no idea they'd be so…numerous."
"Anso?" asked Hawke, taking another step back as the elf approached him. "What does he have to do with this? What do you mean by a 'distraction'?"
The elf stood still, suddenly aware that the others were afraid of him. Realising he still needed their help, he took a deep breath and lowered his voice, not wishing to alienate them. "My name is Fenris. These men…" he said, gesturing at the corpses, "…were Imperial bounty hunters seeking to recover a magister's lost property, namely myself. They were trying to lure me into the open. Crude as their methods were, I could not face them alone. Thankfully, Anso chose wisely."
"You're an escaped slave?" asked Anders, taking a few cautious steps forward. "This seems like a lot of trouble to go to over one slave; is it something to do with what you…just did to that man? Those markings?"
Fenris looked down at his arms and then back at Anders, noticing from the corner of his eye that Hawke had folded his arms and assumed a hostile posture. "Yes, I imagine I must look strange to you. I did not receive these markings by choice. Even so, they have served me well; without them, I would still be a slave."
Anders stepped closer to the elf, but not too close, and examined the markings. "So, you killed your master? Is that why they're after you?"
"Step back, Anders," warned Hawke. "We don't know what he's capable of." Anders did as advised, but continued his scrutiny of Fenris' markings, which he found fascinating.
Fenris' shoulders slumped and he sighed. "I can assure you I have no intention of harming you. I did not kill my former master; I escaped his custody and he has followed me here. I heard he was residing in a mansion in Hightown, and I needed help to distract his guards while I verified the claim."
"So, everything Anso said was a lie?" asked Hawke.
"Not everything. Your employer was simply not who you believed," answered Fenris. "Perhaps the deception was unnecessary. If so, I am sorry. I have become too accustomed to hiding."
"Fine," muttered Hawke, whose usual good nature and sense of humour had deserted him following several unexpected attacks. "Do we get paid, now?"
"I will repay you, but I will need your help one last time. I must confront my former master before he flees."
"You must be joking!" Hawke laughed mockingly. "We were supposed to be recovering a bit of stolen property for a dwarf; instead, we've been attacked by several groups of people, and now we find out we were being used as bait! I don't like being used."
"Careful, Brother," warned Bethany, who had ventured a little closer. "You've seen what he can do."
"As I said before, I have no intention of harming any of you," Fenris assured her.
"Good, then let's get out of here," said Hawke, walking past Fenris. "You know what? Keep your money. I've had just about enough for one night."
"Please," Fenris implored, his voice catching a little. "I…am not in the habit of asking for help, but I am doing so now."
"Hawke," said Varric, beckoning his friend over. Hawke groaned and walked over to Varric, casting Fenris a wary glance as he passed by. "Look, we need all the money we can get; the expedition, remember? He said he'll repay us."
"I know what you're saying, Varric, but I don't like myself, or my sister, being used as fodder."
"C'mon, Hawke! None of those jokers posed any real threat to us, did they?" argued Varric.
Hawke sighed and called Bethany and Anders over. "What do you two think?"
"I admire him," Anders replied, nodding enthusiastically. "Think of what he must have gone through to get here from Tevinter. He deserves his freedom, and I want to help him."
"Bethany?" asked Hawke.
She looked over at Fenris, who stood alone at the far end of the square, examining his feet, no longer appearing as fearsome as when he'd first arrived. "I must admit, I was scared when he…did that thing, but…he's all on his own, isn't he? Think how we felt when we first arrived here, Fletcher," she said to her brother, "and we had each other. He looks so…lonely. Life on the run can't be pleasant."
"It's not," Anders agreed. "We're all apostates, expect Varric, of course. We know what it's like to be in fear of having our liberty taken from us. If you don't want to help him, Hawke, I'm going to."
"And we're not going into the deep roads with this," said Varric, once again showing Hawke the few silvers he'd collected from the bodies.
"Oh, very well," Hawke conceded reluctantly. "I don't trust him, though; Beth, you're taking the rear. I don't want you anywhere near him."
"All right, Brother," she agreed.
They slowly walked over to Fenris and Hawke stood in front of him, his arms folded. "We'll help you, but you'd better make it worth our while."
Fenris hung his head and exhaled, clearly relieved. "I will give you all the money I have, I swear it."
"Surely not all of it?" asked Bethany, cocking her head to one side. "Keep a coin or two for yourself."
Fenris' features softened a little, and he looked up at Hawke, fixing him with his huge green eyes. Hawke looked away briefly, feeling a flutter in his belly that was neither expected nor welcome. "I am grateful," said Fenris. "Please meet me in Hightown as soon as you are able; Danarius may already be making ready his escape, now that his guards have been vanquished."
"We'll go now," replied Hawke. "After you," he said in a suspicious tone.
"Of course," Fenris said with a nod, and he turned and began to ascend the steps, with the others following a short distance behind.
"So, who's Danarius? Is he your master?" Anders asked as they proceeded through Lowtown.
"My former master," corrected Fenris, his voice hardening. "He has chased me from Minrathous to Kirkwall; he is relentless in his pursuit and will never leave me be, not as long as he draws breath."
"You intend to kill him, then?" asked Anders.
"I intend to make him suffer," Fenris growled, his posture stiffening and his voice taking on a rasping quality; Hawke held his arm out in front of Bethany and pushed her further back. "I intend to make him beg for his life, on his hands and knees, like a dog. And, yes, I intend to kill him, but slowly, and not before I have paid him back double for everything he has done to me."
Anders glanced at Hawke and Varric before turning back to Fenris. "Wow. He must have been a real bastard. I must admit, sometimes I felt like shanking the knight-commander at the Circle Tower, but the blasted templars always got in my way," he joked.
Fenris stopped dead and looked up at Anders as he caught up. "You are…a mage?"
Anders chuckled. "Well, yes…I don't carry this staff for my health, you know." His smile faded. "Is there a problem with that?"
"That remains to be seen," Fenris answered with obvious distaste, and continued walking, distancing himself slightly from Anders.
"We're not all as bad as we're made out to be, you know, Fenris," Bethany said softly.
Fenris stopped again and turned to face her. "You, as well?"
"Yes, my sister is a mage," Hawke cut in, standing in front of her, "as am I. If you have a problem with that, you'd better speak up now."
"I'm not a mage, if that's any help," Varric offered in an attempt to diffuse the tension.
"We're from Ferelden," said Anders. "We're nothing like the magisters."
"And how would you know what the magisters are like?" Fenris snapped. "Have you ever visited the Imperium? Have you ever witnessed a magister sacrificing a child in a blood ritual for sport? Have you seen their slaves dragged around on leashes like pets? No? Then do not presume to know what life in the Imperium is like!"
"Don't you talk to Anders like that!" retorted Hawke. "If we mages are not good enough for you, then I'd be quite happy to stick to our original plan of getting oiled at The Hanged Man, and you can make your master bark like a dog all on your own! You either want our help, or you don't! From where I'm standing, your options are pretty limited."
"Forgive me; I-I meant no offence," said Fenris, shaking his head. "It is difficult for me, after being kept in bondage for so long by a mage."
"Let's get this done quickly, Hawke," Anders said angrily, no longer fascinated by Fenris' markings or his story. "I have a shithole in Darktown to get back to."
"We all have shitholes to get back to," replied Hawke, casting Fenris a filthy look. "Get a move on, Fenris; we don't have all night."
Fenris nodded wearily and quickened his pace, staying well ahead of Hawke and his group, and they made their way to Hightown in silence.
As Hawke, Anders, Varric and Bethany left Danarius' mansion, Hawke shared out the money they'd found within between the four of them, keeping back Fenris' share.
They found him leaning against a wall with his eyes closed, seemingly unaware of their presence.
"We were wondering where you'd run off to," said Varric as he approached the elf.
Fenris opened his eyes and briefly glanced over at the group before looking away. "It never ends," he said heavily. "I escaped a land of dark magic, only to have it hunt me at every turn. It is a plague burned into my flesh and my soul. And now I find myself in the company of yet more mages."
Varric groaned softly as his three companions tensed and shifted, Hawke and Anders in particular.
Fenris walked over to Hawke and stopped a few feet in front of him. "Tell me, then: what manner of mage are you? What is it you seek?"
"I'm the manner of mage who seeks getting paid, and getting shot of an ungrateful elf that uses me and my friends as a lure, and then insults us every opportunity he gets, that's what!"
"Yes, a 'thank you' wouldn't go amiss, you know!" added Anders, standing at Hawke's side.
"I imagine I appear ungrateful. If so, I apologise, for nothing could be further from the truth." Fenris reached into a small pocket in his breeches and produced some coins. "I did not find Danarius, but I still owe you a debt. Here is all the coin I have, as Anso promised." He dropped the coins into Hawke's palm, taking care not to touch his hand.
Hawke's mouth fell open as he stared into his palm. "Twenty silver? Are you having us on, or something?"
"I…that is all I have," Fenris explained. "I am still not familiar with the currency here; is that not a sufficient reward?"
"Hey," whispered Varric. "He's an escaped slave. I don't imagine his pockets are groaning with coin."
"And tonight hasn't been a complete waste of time," Bethany added. "The money we found in there will feed us for a week, plus we can save some for the expedition!"
Hawke shook his head, more eager than ever to get to The Hanged Man. "Here's your share," he said to Fenris, producing two sovereigns and some change.
"No!" Fenris exclaimed, taking a step back. "I want nothing of his!"
"Well, at least have your twenty silver back," said Bethany. "You need to eat, as well."
"I…" Fenris began, not wishing to accept charity from a mage of all people, but he was forced to admit that he had no idea where his next meal was coming from.
"Here, then," Hawke said, placing the silvers back into the elf's palm. His hand briefly touched Fenris', who gasped, quickly snatching his hand away.
Hawke shot a contemptuous glance at the elf and shook his head, his mouth set in a hard line. "Come on, Anders. We may be able to get a few rounds in before kicking-out time. Beth? You coming?"
"I feel tired, Brother, and should go home to check on Mother," she answered.
"All right. You get the drinks lined up, Anders, while I walk Beth home. I don't need to ask if you're coming, Varric?"
"I'll be along shortly," Varric replied, taking a step closer to Fenris.
Hawke glanced at Varric curiously, and then shrugged. "We're done here, then," he said to Fenris, and stepped closer to him. "You'd better go and wash that hand. A mage has just touched it," he growled, and he, Anders and Bethany walked off, leaving Varric and Fenris behind.
"I don't understand people like that elf," grumbled Hawke as he finished his fourth pint. Varric was sat opposite him; Anders wandered over and placed Hawke's fifth in front of him before taking his own seat. "First he's an arsehole," continued Hawke, slurring slightly, "then he's all apologies. Then he's an arsehole again, and then he apologises again. You're either an arsehole, or you're not; make your bloody mind up!" he said to no one in particular.
Anders and Varric chuckled and nodded in agreement.
"Reminds me a bit of Carver," Hawke went on, his face dropping a little. "Except Carver never apologised. He was always an arsehole. At least he was consistent, though; I'll give him that."
"You didn't get on with your brother, then?" Anders asked.
"We hated each other," Hawke replied, taking a deep swig of his ale, staring at his mug for a moment, and then taking another.
"You…miss him though, don't you?" Anders guessed.
Hawke glanced up, his eyes half-closed as he tried in vain to focus on Anders. "Miss him? I feel as though I have a gaping hole in my belly, just like that elf did to that bloke earlier."
"Oh, yes, the bigot," Anders said irritably, folding his arms.
"Don't be so hard on him, Blondie; sounds like his master was a real prick. He's bound to be wary of mages. I'm sure if he got to know you all, he'd be fine."
"Why are you sticking up for him, Varric?" Anders demanded. "I wonder if you'd feel the same if you were a mage."
"Everyone needs an arsehole in their life," slurred Hawke, having completely missed the discussion between Varric and Anders. "Everyone needs a nemesis to keep them on their toes. Who's your arsehole, Anders? Or is there more than one? Is there a list?"
Anders laughed and nodded his head. "A list, eh? Now there's an idea!"
"How about you, Vazzers?" asked Hawke.
"I told you not to call me that," scolded Varric. "You don't call Blondie some dumb name, do you?"
"Oh, and 'Blondie' isn't dumb?" Anders retorted. "My hair isn't even blond! It's red!"
"I don't need to call Anders anything else," Hawke proclaimed, prodding the table with his finger for emphasis. "His name is perfect. If his name was Andrew, then I'd call him Anders. It's a sign of affection, Vazzers."
"Ugh," Varric grunted with a wave of his hand. "Keep your affection!"
"So, who's your arsehole, Vazzers?" Hawke asked again, oblivious to Varric's irritation.
"I like my own just fine," he answered. "Although, my own brother can be a bit of an ass, but…nah. I don't hate anyone. Hating takes up too much time and energy, and I've seen it consume people. It's much easier to like, than to hate."
"You're too good to be true," said Hawke, pointing an accusing finger at Varric. "You can't be my arsehole; you're too bloody nice."
"Glad I am to hear it," Varric muttered, and he turned to Anders, lowering his voice. "I think it's about time he went home."
"Let's finish this round, and then we'll see him back," suggested Anders.
Hawke suddenly burst out laughing, startling the other two. "Ha! I could be my own arsehole! What do you think of that, then, Mr. Answer-For-Everything?" he asked Varric.
"You can't be your own arsehole!" Anders exclaimed, also laughing. "You'd be forever arguing with yourself! What about that elf? He's certainly made it onto my list."
"No!" Hawke said impatiently. "Haven't you been listening to the rules? Your own personal arsehole needs to be someone who is always around to disagree with everything you do! Just like my brother was…I'm lost without him; lost, I tell you." He rubbed his eye with the heel of his hand and fell silent, resting his head on his hand and closing his eyes.
"Well, you may get your wish, if you're in the market for an asshole," announced Varric. "The elf's meeting us here, tomorrow morning."
"He's what?" Anders asked sharply.
One of Hawke's eyes slowly opened. "Uh?" he mumbled.
"Well, think about it, Hawke: he's pretty handy with a sword, and that hand thing he does could be useful to us. We're planning on going up Sundermount tomorrow, aren't we? There are tons of bandits holed up there. We're gonna need as much help as we can get. Besides, I kind of feel sorry for the guy; so does Sunshine."
Hawke removed his head from his hand and sat up as straight as he could manage. "Well, Sunshine is obviously a much nicer person than I am," he remarked, gesticulating with floppy arms. "Did you see the way he reacted when I touched his hand? He obviously hates mages. It'll never work."
"Look, I talked to him," said Varric. "I told him you were a good bunch of people. He actually seems like a pretty decent guy; sure, he has issues, but don't we all?"
"You don't," Hawke replied snarkily.
"I'm not sure this is a good idea, Hawke," Anders opined with a doubtful shake of his head.
"Just give the guy a chance!" Varric urged. "Let's call it a trial run. If he turns out to be too much of an asshole, then we turn him loose. We do need someone like him, though, Hawke; you said as much yourself. Someone who can take the heat off of us while you wave your arms around and cast spells and stuff. The only other choice we have at the moment is Aveline," he said pointedly.
"That harpy? Forget it!" Hawke exclaimed, his hand slicing through the air. "Ugh, she's so bloody moral all the time!"
"Then it's settled," Varric said simply. Anders and Hawke both sank back in their chairs and groaned, too tired to argue.
"So, we're going up the mountain to take that necklace thing back to the elves," Varric said, confirming their pre-arranged plans. "Anything else, Hawke?"
"Wait," Hawke replied. "We still need to get our reward from that bloke at the chantry who calls himself a prince."
"Oh, yes! That should be good for a laugh!" chuckled Anders.
"I bet you fifty silvers he's a nutter, as well," Hawke said to Varric.
"I'm not taking that bet, Hawke; I have a feeling I'd lose. Who haven't we met so far who isn't a little touched in the head?"
"Right," Hawke agreed, nodding blearily. "So, here's the plan: Anders, you'll probably want to give the chantry a miss, so Varric and I will go there first thing, then we'll meet up here. I'm not bringing Beth along, though, just in case that elf tries anything."
"Aw, so I don't get to see my little ray of sunshine tomorrow, then?" moaned Varric.
"No you don't," Hawke answered with mock severity. "Just you keep those lumpen dwarven hands away from my sister."
"You wound me," Varric said, feigning hurt, placing one hand over his heart. "My intentions towards your sister are nothing but honourable."
Hawke rose unsteadily to his feet. "Hmm. I suppose you could pop in for a cup of tea when we're done, if only to stop her moaning that she hasn't seen you."
"She moans when she doesn't see me?" Varric asked brightly, rising to his feet, followed by Anders.
"Oh, now you're putting ideas into his head," said Anders, grabbing Hawke's arm as he swayed a little. "Come on; I'll see you home."
"I'll see you both home," offered Varric. "The two of you need your beauty sleep; we've a long day ahead of us tomorrow."