Author's Note: So I established in a couple of my other stories that Aveline and Varric worried over Solara Hawke and it made me wonder exactly who Sebastian would confide in regarding his feelings for Hawke. In my world, Solara never taught Fenris to read, but she mentioned to Sebastian that Fenris would like to learn. I thought that with those lessons bringing them together and Sebastian's compassionate nature that Sebastian and Fenris would become better friends.
Oh, I took a horticulture class last spring which is where the information on gardening and planting comes from. There are some great articles on companion gardening and container gardening that I picture as appropriate kitchen (or vegetable/herb) gardens for Kirkwall.
So this starts out a little slow and any suggestions are welcome. This isn't too long but it was something I thought about and wrote up over the last few days. I hope you all enjoy.
How I See Her
Sebastian regarded Anders with no small amount of irritation. The mage had just finished monopolizing Hawke's conversation for the entire trip through Lowtown. Hawke had bid Sebastian, Anders and Fenris farewell at the Hanged Man and gone to talk with Varric.
"You can stop glaring at me anytime you like." Sebastian became aware of Anders' voice and resigned himself to a conversation.
"I wasn't aware I was glaring at you." Sebastian kept his voice even with an effort. "I'm sure your conversation with Hawke was of the utmost importance."
"It was." Anders retorted, his tone more than a bit annoyed. "I need her help."
"Of course you do." Sebastian couldn't stop himself from rolling his eyes. "When are you not asking something of her."
Anders scowled, his unshaven chin jutting out aggressively. "What business is it of yours? You're a pawn of the Chantry. You remember, the people that tried to hunt down and imprison half her family?"
Sebastian shook his head, crossing his arms in order to keep his hands from his bow or daggers. "If I am a pawn I am an honest one. And I do not continually importune her for help with a hopeless dangerous cause that could just get her killed."
"Hawke can take care of herself." Anders shook his head. "I don't ask anymore of her than anyone else."
"Right. You just get her involved in problems guaranteed to remind her of how terrible the plight of mages is and illegalities that might result in her demise or imprisonment." Sebastian wished he were not in a public place, he'd never felt the urge to shout so strongly. Anders only saw the warrior, a beautiful woman, didn't even seem to notice Hawke's vulnerability.
"She's perfectly capable. She doesn't need me to tell her what she should or shouldn't do." Anders sneered. "She's Hawke."
"And you have no ulterior motive for your requests." Sebastian retorted. "I've seen the way you look at her."
Fenris spoke for the first time in an hour, the elf had been lost in thought for much of the walk through Lowtown. "She's a beautiful deadly woman, misguided though I think her efforts might be, how could he not see that?"
Sebastian looked at Fenris and sighed before looking at Anders. "All you see is someone to be used." The archer frowned at the mage. "You see she's a lovely woman and a dangerous fighter but you don't look beyond that."
"As if you don't see her as a beddable woman." Anders snapped back.
"I'm a man." Dark blue eyes were hot with anger as they stared at the mage. "Of course I see she's a beautiful and dangerous woman. But I think that's all you see."
Fenris sighed. "Sebastian, I am done with listening to the two of you argue over Hawke. When you have time, I'll be home." The elf shook his head apparently resigned to walking alone while the mage and the archer fought over their leader.
"My apologies Fenris," Sebastian offered, shamefacedly, "I did not mean to ignore your needs." He took a step or two after the elven warrior, mindful of his promise to teach Fenris how to read.
"Go on then." Anders called after them, his voice mocking. "Go on and do as the Chantry says you must, ignore the needs of mages and their friends."
Sebastian turned and regarded the apostate. "Were Hawke not my friend you would be a Tranquil in the Gallows by now." He did his best to speak quietly and deliberately, praying to Andraste that his temper would not get the better of him. "You behave without honor, leering at Hawke when she walks with you, using her talents to aid your cause and without a care for what could befall her. You pretend to love her, but all you care for is yourself. You don't even truly see her."
The archer turned and in fury began to stride up the street away from the tavern. Fenris hurried along beside the exiled prince until they reached the stairs leading to Hightown. "Sebastian, might we slow down?" The elf asked quietly. "My legs have not the length of yours."
Sebastian took a deep breath and slowed his pace. "Once again, I owe you an apology." He told the elf. "I allowed my anger to overlook your company and I am sorry."
Fenris shrugged. "You do not care for Anders, in this you and I are agreed." He slanted a glance at Sebastian curiously. "But you get along well enough with Merrill."
"Merrill doesn't use emotional manipulation to force Hawke into quests that could get her killed." Sebastian nearly snarled out the words and once again was forced to try and calm his temper. "I'm sorry Fenris, I..."
"Let's talk when we get to my home." Fenris suggested. "The street is no place for such speech I think." Sebastian nodded in agreement and the two of them walked in companionable silence to the manor where Fenris was living.
Sebastian wondered exactly when Anders had begun to irritate him so greatly. When he'd first met the mage Sebastian hadn't exactly liked Anders, but lately... Sebastian sighed and looked at Fenris.
The elf was regarding him with a gaze altogether too knowing for Sebastian's comfort. "So your dislike of Ander's isn't because he's a mage, its because of how he acts around Hawke?"
Sebastian rolled his eyes, an unfortunate habit he'd overcome at one time but lately it had been creeping back. Being one of Hawke's companions seemed to bring out sarcasm in everyone, even in him. "Anders doesn't see her as anything but tool to be used." He muttered taking the seat Fenris offered him. The elf turned a chair around and straddled it, folding his arms over the back and regarding the archer thoughtfully.
"I'm sure he notices she's a beautiful woman." Fenris nearly smiled, "I notice and she and I argue half the time."
"I cannot say my friendship with Hawke is any less turbulent than yours," Sebastian smiled. "But she's not a... not an instrument to be played against our enemies without consideration as to what it will do to her."
Fenris frowned. "You believe we use her? Selfishly?" He looked at his hands. "I've asked for her help..."
"And when things go wrong you become angry with her." Sebastian reminded him. "Hawke helps you because you've become a friend. But you...and Anders...both of you seem to berate her when the situation doesn't turn out as you wish. You at least are honest in your anger, and I know you've apologized when its warranted."
"I never noticed Anders scold Hawke after one of his little missions." Fenris said quietly. "But Hawke knows I despise the man so she doesn't put me in his company often."
Sebastian smiled. "She likes you, and she knows that you do your best, so she doesn't try to push you." His frown faded. "Anders... whenever Hawke helps him, afterward he is always pressing her to agree with him further, to..." The archer shook his head in frustration, "it's hard to describe, but even if Hawke proves that the Templars didn't do something evil, Anders is always after her to despise them anyway. He always pushes her to say that the mages were right in their doings, regardless if they succumbed to blood magic or violence."
Fenris shook his head echoing Sebastian's gesture. "I already knew the man was completely unreasonable on the subject of the Circle and Chantry. I didn't know he was trying to make Hawke just as crazy."
"I can sympathize with her in a way." Sebastian's voice was quiet, contemplative, "Her father was a mage, so is her sister. Neither of them ever succumbed to blood magic or made deals with demons. So she knows its possible for a mage to live outside the Circle and not bring doom and death to everyone around them."
"That is a rare thing. Hawke's blood has the strength of dragons." Fenris murmured. "But I've seen her fight blood mages and abominations."
"Because Solara, I mean Hawke, knows that it isn't magic that does the damage, its people." Sebastian looked at Fenris. "Hawke thinks of magic like she does a sword or arrow. Whoever holds it is the one doing evil, not the blade itself."
"A notion I find difficult to grasp." Fenris admitted, "I am surprised that your reaction to such things isn't more..."
"Like yours?" Sebastian tilted his head, feeling a half smile quirking his lips. "It might have been once." He admitted. "But Hawke and I talk, perhaps more often than you and she, and my time in the Chantry and with the Grand Cleric taught me that I have no right to judge others unless I am prepared to be judged."
"But you don't like Anders." Fenris said shrewdly. "Regardless of your time in the Chantry."
"Perhaps I am guilty of judging Anders in some manner. I find I am...jealous of the time he spends with Sol-Hawke." Sebastian corrected himself hurriedly. "Time he has that I don't, and he doesn't even treat her-"
"As you would?" Fenris interrupted, his voice surprisingly mild. "You make me wonder Sebastian, exactly how you see Hawke that the rest of us don't."
"How I see her?" The archer blinked in surprise. "I see her as..." He shook his head.
"Of some things I may be ignorant," Fenris said quietly, "but ignorance does not make me a fool." Dark eyes stared implacably at the archer. "There has always been something between you and Hawke. Since her mother's death it seems strengthened."
Sebastian removed his gloves, rubbing one hand over his face as if scrubbing himself free of confusion. "You asked how I see her. And the answer is at once so simple and so complex." He spread his hands helplessly. "But you are right...I've always felt a connection to her, ever since I first saw her."
"Wasn't that three years ago?" Fenris frowned, trying to remember.
"Thereabouts." Sebastian agreed. "It was right after my family was murdered." He sighed. "I saw Solara Gráinne Hawke right after I posted the notice of reward for their killers."
"I've never even known her given name." Fenris mused. "Does that speak ill of me?"
"Have you wanted to ask?"
Fenris' lips tilted in a rare smile. "She's a desirable woman...I'll admit the curiosity, but whenever I thought I might be getting closer...something would happen, I'd become furious with her. And the moment would pass."
Sebastian grinned. "I'll admit, she can drive me mad, but I know part of my anger stems from simple frustration." He leaned back in his chair slightly and shrugged. "I don't know if she'll ever see me as more than her friend."
"This isn't my business but Sebastian..." Fenris began.
No, but you've been kind enough to listen to me when I'm to be teaching you to read." Sebastian chuckled. "Please, ask what you will."
"You see her as more than a friend?" The elf wondered. "Since when?"
The archer sighed. "Since I saw her Fenris." The elf stared at him and the exiled prince shook his head. "I saw Solara Hawke outside the Chantry and was captured...those eyes of hers...filled with compassion, and that sardonic amusement of hers. I couldn't stop thinking of her."
Fenris tilted his head. "So...you've been, what? Pining for Hawke for three and a half years?" The elf sounded incredulous. "Because she has pretty eyes and a foolishly kind nature?" The warrior saw Sebastian's eyes darken, the cobalt blue turning to midnight.
"I've not been pining Fenris...though I can see how you would perceive it as such." Sebastian retorted. "There's a difference between having a crush, or an attraction and seeing the person before you as extraordinary and wonderful and the best friend you've had in your life and..." he took a breath and met Fenris' gaze. "And falling in love so completely you can't imagine life without her."
Fenris shook his head. "You obviously see her differently than I do, she seems foolish to me at times, too aggressive at others..." White hair fell in his eyes and he pushed it back. "I can't see her as perfect the way you seem to."
Sebastian was startled by the chuckle that burst from his lips, as was Fenris. The elf stared at him inquiringly and the exiled prince took a deep breath. "Fenris, you mistake obsession for love." He said with a grin that was wickedly mischievous spreading his lips. "I know she's not perfect. She's flawed and annoying and," He shrugged, "beautiful and wicked. I see everything about her...and I love everything, even her foolishness and flaws."
"What do you see that you love so much?" Fenris wondered. "How do you see her that the rest of us don't? I asked you that earlier and you bypassed the question. I'd like to understand Sebastian, if I could help you I would."
Sebastian shrugged again. "I see her...fears, her flaws, all the things she tries to hide from everyone." He murmured thoughtfully. "I know she's terrified Bethany will never stop blaming her for what happened in the Deep Roads. That she's the loneliest woman I've ever met and one of the most loyal."
Fenris watched Sebastian sigh. "Why is she lonely?" The elf wondered. "She has friends, those dwarves and Orana to live with her..."
The human male looked at the elf and spread his hands. "Maybe I see it because I know how she feels. She's the last Hawke, almost the last Amell. She's lost her entire family. Of course she's lonely."
"But she has all of us." Fenris protested. "Aren't we any help at all?"
"Exactly which of her friends can she count on for support without something being asked in return?" Sebastian stared at the elf, his gaze still dark as midnight. "Everyone needs her...but do any of you want her when she's not of use to you? Even Aveline has tasks she sets for Hawke. I think Varric and I are the only ones who haven't demanded her aid with some task. I needed help but I didn't ask for it, at first I hired someone unknown and then Hawke volunteered to help me with the Harimanns."
"So you see she's...flawed and that's why you're in love with her?" Fenris was still trying to understand.
"No," Sebastian's voice was amused and exasperated. "I can't explain the reason for love...love has no reason, but I can tell you that she's loyal and brave and kind and a good woman. She's beautiful and elegant and dangerous and so self sufficient that she'd stitch her own wounds before she'd ask for help. She's stubborn and irritating and a bloody thief but she gives coin to children and refugees." Sebastian looked at Fenris. "And when you got angry with her after she gave you that book, she came to me and suggested I help you learn to read because she wasn't given the chance to offer."
"It was Hawke who...told you I needed help?" Fenris frowned in confusion. "But I shouted at her."
"And she forgave you." The archer shrugged. "She's sweet and wicked and sarcastic and kind." He sighed. "And sometimes I feel if I can't have her I'll lose my mind."
"But you belong to the Chantry." Now the elf looked really mystified. "Isn't chastity one of your vows?"
"It is. But I left the Chantry when my family was murdered. I have not retaken my vows." Sebastian explained. "I have endeavored to behave in a manner that befits a man sheltered by the Chantry. So long as I live under the Maker's roof I will abide by his teachings."
"So if Hawke gave you some indication..." Fenris began.
"If Solara even hinted that she found me attractive..." Sebastian's dark blue eyes twinkled wickedly. "I'd follow her around like that Mabari of hers."
"No doubt enjoying the view the entire time." The elf chuckled. "For a man who lives in the Chantry you're very... blunt."
"You're my friend Fenris. If I cannot talk to you then who could I talk to?" Sebastian reached into the crate beneath the table and began to pull out the books he was using to teach Fenris. "Solara is my...dearest friend, but she is a woman and the object of my affection. I cannot speak of this to her. It would be unkind to do so until I can speak with Elthina. And of late...speaking with Elthina has become problematic."
"So you're...stuck." Fenris observed. "What will you do if Anders does...what you accuse him of doing?" Sebastian blinked in surprise and Fenris continued. "I mean, if Anders is attracted to her and he makes advances...what if she responds?"
Sebastian groaned and pushed a hand through his hair. "I honestly fear that Fenris." He admitted. "Anders is a mage like Solara's father and sister, he's a handsome man and has that element of danger about him." The archer shook his head. "If Solara...falls in love with him..."
Fenris frowned, Sebastian sounded as if he were being tormented by the thought. "Surely if she found him at all attractive she would um...well be more receptive to his advances?" He offered hopefully. "I mean if she liked him...she would have already..." Fenris shook his head. "My apologies...I am terrible at offering reassurances."
Sebastian shook his head. "No, you offer well reasoned thoughts which are far more reassuring than any false assurance." His smile wasn't wide but it was genuine. "You're the only person I've told."
"But..." Fenris nearly stuttered he was so shocked. "I would have thought someone in the Chantry... a friend from Starkhaven?"
Sebastian shook his head again and shrugged. "I'm closest to Elthina, and as I've said, speaking with her is difficult of late. Our companions are not people who would be overly concerned with my...heart. I know I can speak to Solara of anything and everything, except for this." He busied himself with the books for a moment. "Its good to finally speak of it. Thank you Fenris."
"I'm happy to help." The elf offered dryly. "I have large ears, at least I am able to listen."
"Then let's talk about the way words are formed again. You remember your alphabet and how the letters sound. If you see the word and say the letters you'll learn to sound the word out." Sebastian began to explain the basics of reading.
Sebastian entered Fenris' decrepit mansion and called out for the elf, aware that his voice contained more than a little panic.
"I'm up here Sebastian," the elf's voice called. "In the study."
Sebastian took the stairs two at a time in his concern. Fenris was sitting in his usual chair, his armor in a pile beside him. The elf was slowly but surely cleansing his skin and armor of blood and from the looks of things was halfway through the job. "Maker!" Sebastian almost cursed and barely held his tongue. Four long strides took him to the elf's side. "I brought poultices and healing potions as well as more bandages." He began unloading his satchel, setting vials on the table with hurried clinks. "What happened? Are you all right? Is Solara well?"
Fenris watched his friend in bemusement as Sebastian took up another cloth and began to scrub at the armor. "I'm fine. Just needed to clean off the blood." The elf stood and grabbed a spare tunic, pulling it on. "We ran into more trouble than we could easily handle."
It was obvious to Sebastian that the elf was choosing his words carefully. "Fenris." The archer kept his voice low with an effort. "Please tell me that Solara is well."
Fenris regarded the archer with a dark gaze and finally nodded. "She is well now." He told Sebastian. "But she took some grievous wounds during battle. I saw her drinking several healing potions." He watched his friend take a couple of deep breaths, Sebastian's dismay obvious, and equally obvious to the elf was how the archer was trying to control his emotions.
"But she...is well?" Sebastian's question was ground out from between his teeth. He rose from his chair and strode around the room, hands flexing as if he wanted an arrow in his hands and a target to attack. "Maker help me!" He looked at Fenris. "Have I thanked you lately? For going along with her, and telling me what occurs?"
Fenris chuckled. "I would be amply repaid were you to join us again." He took up a piece of his armor and began to clean it. After a moment more of pacing Sebastian joined him. "I would take it as a kindness Sebastian," Fenris murmured after a moment, "if you could tell me when you will give in and tie Hawke to your bed?"
Sebastian stared at his friend and convulsed in a fit of coughing laughter. Several long moments later, with Fenris staring at him, the man controlled himself. "I would say approximately the twelve day of never." Sebastian told the elf. "You really see Solara as a woman who would tolerate being thrown over my shoulder and tied down until I am able to confess my feelings?"
Fenris grinned. "I would pay to see the sight." He watched Sebastian pick up another piece of armor and begin cleaning it. "I merely begin to think Hawke is so determined to avoid you that tying her to your bed will be the only way you will be able to speak with her." His grin tilted a bit wickedly. "Were you not a wicked man once?"
Sebastian rolled his eyes at Fenris and wondered how it had come to be that the elf Varric called Moody was teasing him about his lack of a love life. "Aye Fenris," the archer deliberately thickened his accent. "That I was, but 'twas in my long past misspent youth."
Fenris chuckled at him. "I've word from Orana today." He offered. "While I was waiting on Hawke, Orana mentioned that her mistress still wakes in the night but not near so often."
"That's good to hear." Sebastian murmured. "Orana doesn't know where Solara will be in the next few days?"
Fenris looked at the archer. "I heard that Isabella is back at the Hanged Man. I haven't seen her yet but I've been out with Hawke. Once Hawke hears she's back, could be you'll be able to corner her there."
"Fenris you make it sound like I'm hunting the woman." Sebastian objected mildly.
"Aren't you?" The warrior chuckled. "Don't tell me there aren't similarities."
Sebastian sighed. "Painful ones I'm afraid." He tilted his head at Fenris. "And you? How does your courting progress?"
"Orana is still...shy." Fenris said quietly. "I think I frighten her still, though she at least speaks to me now, she'll even greet me without my speaking first to her."
"That's promising." The archer nodded. "If she'd like, mention to her that I'd be happy to help her learn to read and write and cipher as I have you. You're actually progressed in your studies that you'd be able to teach her the alphabet to get her started."
"A good notion." Fenris' smile was gentle at the thought of the pretty elf girl. "I'll mention it to Hawke so she makes certain Orana knows it isn't forbidden."
"I'll find some materials for the two of you to use. And the books we started with." Sebastian smiled.
"So while you're smiling...I should ask you...what went wrong?" Fenris asked. "With Hawke I mean? Two years ago you were just waiting to talk with the Grand Cleric before you told Hawke how you felt. Then I get stuck fighting Qunari in Hightown and Hawke kills the Arishok." The elf began to clean the breastplate to occupy his hands. "I see you at dinner that night and I could tell Elthina had...well blessed the union as it were. But Hawke..."
"She was perfectly courteous, perfectly kind and amiable..." Sebastian agreed. "And she might as well have been in Ferelden she was so distant." He gave Fenris a half smile. "You weren't the only one who was confused."
Fenris nodded. "I could tell. You went and worked in the kitchen each time she was so polite." He frowned, considering something. "What I found the most confusing...was each time you left...she looked after you. She looked...sad."
Sebastian shook his head. "I...wasn't exactly gentle with her earlier in the day, after the Arishok, I pretty much bullied her into resting. Do you think I offended or hurt her feelings?" Troubled cobalt eyes looked at his friend. "I shouted at her Fenris, grabbed her and almost shook her."
Fenris laughed, a short burst of humor that lit his entire face with genuine mirth for a moment or two. "Sebastian, you couldn't hurt that woman if you wanted to." He smiled. "Since when has Hawke grown upset when someone shouts at her? If she was angry with you...wouldn't she shout right back?"
"You're right about that." Sebastian nodded with a wry smile. "She's shouted at me a time or two over the years. I just...Fenris what if I've lost her?"
"To who? Or what? Or..." The elf rolled his eyes. "Sebastian, I have no idea how she feels about you but I can tell you what I see when I'm around her." Fenris studied the breastplate in his hands for a moment, words still didn't come easily to him. Speaking of softer, gentler things like feelings was still difficult, which could be why he and Orana still didn't speak much. "Hawke is still sarcastic, still dangerous as ever." He began, "but she's quieter...doesn't talk about much of anything except what we're killing or working on."
"Does she seem...I worry the loss of the last of her family had a depressing effect on her spirit." Sebastian explained. "Melancholia can be insidious."
"I'm afraid I have not the knowledge to recognize such things." Fenris admitted, frowning in concern. "She does not treat any of us differently. Though I notice a marked difference when she does speak to you, the rare times I have seen the two of you together."
Sebastian nodded. "She won't speak of anything of consequence...its as if she regrets even our friendship. If she...Fenris if she doesn't even wish to share friendship with me, how in Andraste's name can I ever ask her to marry me?"
Fenris shrugged, clearly uncomfortable with the conversation but battling through it, "If she had no concern or care for you...I don't think she'd ask me about you." He offered. "When you didn't accompany us for a while I mentioned that you were not so busy teaching me that you could not offer your arrows in aid." He paused in his scrubbing of the breastplate, "it was the first time I'd really seen her lively outside of battle. She wanted to hear all about my lessons, how I was doing, how you were. She asked how you were several times."
"She's a kind hearted woman, showing interest in a...companion isn't unusual." Sebastian was beginning to hate the word companion, wishing he felt he qualified as a friend as he once had.
"Showing overmuch interest is." Fenris told him. "She spoke with me about you for the better part of an hour. She wished to hear of your work in the Chantry, how Elthina was...the woman asked me if I thought you were taking care of yourself." He set down the breastplate and stared at Sebastian. "She listened, in detail, as I described how you'd taught me the alphabet and how you were also teaching Orana. Sebastian, I find the topic interesting because I'm still learning but to a woman with a library like Hawke's hearing about me reading 'Nugs and Mush' isn't scintillating conversation."
"So you're telling me I shouldn't give up hope." Sebastian sighed. "It isn't easy Fenris." He rose from his seat. "Keep those potions would you? I'd rather you have them and not need them."
"Be well Sebastian." Fenris called after his friend.
Fenris always found himself walking very cautiously in the Chantry. It was a very impressive place and there was always someone inside it. Being startled always got his heart pumping double time and the last thing he wanted was to nearly kill a Mother or Sister in a mistaken adrenaline rush. He couldn't bring himself to disarm entirely so walking slowly and carefully was his best compromise.
Finding Sebastian in the Chantry wasn't exactly difficult, but it was a big place. Inevitably his friend was in the last place he'd look, and many times somewhere unlikely. But Sebastian hadn't come by the manor in more than a week, not since before he'd gone out with Varric, Isabella and Hawke on a jaunt up the coast.
The elf finally found Sebastian in the Chantry's kitchen garden, pulling weeds. "Sebastian?" Fenris hoped it was his friend, he rarely saw the archer in anything but his armor. This man was wearing an old pair of breeches and a sleeveless tunic. At the sound of Fenris' voice though, the man turned and it was Sebastian.
"Fenris." The archer grinned at him. "You look surprised. Did you think the Chantry didn't assign me my share of menial tasks?"
Fenris chuckled and began to remove his own armor, "I've never done any gardening but if you'll show me what to do I'll give you a hand." Sebastian nodded watching in amusement as Fenris discarded his armament in a pile and eagerly came to crouch beside him.
"I'm simply pulling out the weeds and setting them aside. They'll be added to the compost pile if they're not noxious." Sebastian explained. "Some plants are fine for the wild but left to a kitchen garden they'll strangle all the virtue out of the vegetables."
Fenris listened carefully, his interest growing as Sebastian explained what was planted in the garden, the soil it required and what bad plants, or weeds, tended to grow nearby. A garden was more than a place where flowers or food grew, it was very complicated, with some plants deliberately growing with others for mutual benefit, while others were placed near a food crop in the hopes of distracting preying insects. "I wonder if I could do something like this in the courtyard of the manor?" The elf asked curiously. "There was a garden there but it all died years before I came."
Sebastian nodded. "Next time I'm there remind me and we'll look it over. I could even bring one of the Brothers to help us plant."
Fenris pointed at what he thought was a weed and when the archer nodded pulled the noxious growth out of the ground with a grin. "You'd have to actually come to the manor again though," he reminded his friend quietly. "You haven't for a week. I was growing concerned that I had offended somehow."
"I am sorry Fenris." Sebastian shook his head, moving to the other side of the row so he could look directly at the elf while they worked. "Much has happened since I saw you last and I've...had difficulty taking it all in."
"This is to do with Hawke I would guess?" Fenris asked, his dry tone indicating he considered it an obvious question. "I knew she took all you mad rogues with her up the coast but I'd hoped..."
"As did I." Sebastian sighed. "Solara is...one of the most...complicated women I've ever met." He shook his head. "Which is probably another reason I love her. She's...well she's never easy, though mind you I could do with easy after this long."
"Did you just make a joke?" Fenris wondered, "about that? In the Chantry?" Dark eyes looked at Sebastian teasingly from beneath the shock of white hair.
Sebastian chuckled shaking his head. "And I thought I was a bad man, you're worse than I am." He taunted the elf in return. "It was entirely unintentional I assure you. Though... Maker help me, Fenris your wicked mind isn't entirely wrong in that assumption."
Fenris laughed and shook his head. "You're a better man than I am Vael." He pulled another weed adding it to the growing pile. "I would not have your patience."
"I have no choice in that." The archer smiled slightly. "Do not mistake a lack of options for virtue."
"It seems that were you truly the wicked man you claim you were that you would have taken Isabella up on one of her many offers. Or gone to the Rose and seen to your needs." Fenris shot back. "A bad man would not remain..." the elf searched his mind for the word and shook his head. "Frustrated, that's it, a bad man wouldn't remain frustrated while he was waiting for his woman to pay him her attention."
Sebastian smiled. "I like to think the Chantry helped me become a better man, and Solara completed the process. At least I feel like I'm a better person when I'm with her, or helping you." He shrugged. "Of course the opposite of that is feeling like a fool when I run into her, she's weeping and I can't do anything to help."
"You saw Hawke...the Hawke, the Champion, crying?" Fenris almost grabbed for the wrong plant in his surprise. "You don't mean after her mother was killed do you?"
"No Fenris." Blue eyes were dark with concern. "She'd been in confession... She was leaving the Chantry as I was entering... and she was in tears." He shook his head in regret. "She wouldn't let me comfort her Fenris, wouldn't even let me speak with her overmuch."
Fenris stopped his work and stared at his friend. The elf knew he wasn't stupid but he had enough self awareness to know that Sebastian was far more intelligent than he was. But the man was chivalrous to a fault if he couldn't see that whatever was wrong with Hawke required his help, not his courtesy. "Sebastian, you know I consider you a friend?" The elf began.
"Yes, as I consider you to be my friend, we would not talk like this otherwise." The archer smiled at him. "I hope I am as good a friend to you as you are to me."
"You are, very much so." Fenris gave a sharp nod, refusing to let himself be distracted by the simple joy the man's statement gave him. "So when I tell you something and mean it sincerely you would listen to me?"
"Absolutely." Sebastian nodded.
"Good." Fenris took a deep breath. "So know I say this in sincere and honest friendship."
"I will take whatever you have to say with that intent." Sebastian agreed.
"Are you a complete fool?" Fenris looked at the archer and shook his head. "When a woman is weeping on the Chantry steps, and you're in love with her, you don't let her send you away." Sebastian blinked at him and opened his mouth to object and Fenris shook his head again. "You are so polite and kind and chivalrous to the woman you are forgetting that you're also a man!"
"I assure you, I never forget my manhood." Sebastian muttered.
Fenris almost grinned at the remark, Sebastian's sarcasm was something he truly enjoyed about the man. "Don't try to distract me." The elf warned the human male. "If your woman is weeping and trying to hide it from you, you don't let her! You take her in your arms and you kiss her. And you keep kissing her until she's breathless and then you tell her you love her!" Fenris rolled his eyes. "Vael you are a hundred times smarter than I am, with how long spent in pursuit of rakedom and you forget this basic thing?"
"Rakedom?" Sebastian muttered again, but still, to his credit, listening. Fenris restrained a sigh.
"If you love her, make her hear you, make her listen, kiss her, hold her, do something so she can't avoid you." Fenris nearly cursed and then remembered that kitchen garden or not, he was in the Chantry. "I mean what's the worst that could happen? Really? Because even if she screams in revulsion, hits you or just doesn't find you attractive, at least you'll know. And she'd be talking to you then."
"Bravo." The voice that spoke was one Fenris had only heard once or twice before and never with such dry inflection.
"Your Grace." Sebastian rose to bow before the Grand Cleric. Awkwardly Fenris imitated his friend.
"You have a good and brave friend Sebastian." The Grand Cleric said as she moved to the edge of the garden. "I believe I offered similar advice did I not? Though perhaps less...blatantly worded."
Sebastian smiled and nodded. "Indeed you did your Grace." He glanced at Fenris. "And you are both correct."
"What will you do then?" Fenris asked curiously.
"He will accompany the Champion when she speaks to a representative of the Divine." Elthina told them both. "Tomorrow night." Fenris watched as Sebastian's face split into a wide grin.
"And after tomorrow night," Fenris told his friend, "if you have not told her how you feel..." A sly smile curved the elf's lips. "I'll have to get Varric or Aveline to help me, but by the Maker I will get the two of you in one place if I have to tie you both up to do it."
"Did the Guard Captain not offer to do the same Sebastian?" Elthina asked with a gentle laugh. "You and the Champion have loyal friends. The Maker smiles on you."
"He does indeed." Sebastian's grin had not abated once even during Fenris' not so veiled threat.
The elf chuckled. "Well then its settled. In two days, one way or the other, Hawke will know how you feel about her."
Elthina laughed again and shook her head at them both as she left the garden, clearly amused by them both.
Fenris looked after her and then at Sebastian. "So you've got the Grand Cleric matchmaking for you? And conspiring with you to blindside Hawke?"
Sebastian grinned. "Fenris, you see before you a truly desperate man. It's going on three years since she's said more than three words to me. I'm nearly twenty eight years old. I've been celibate since I entered the Chantry. And quite honestly, if I can't have Solara I won't ever marry."
"Not even for your throne?" Fenris asked as Sebastian crouched down to keep weeding. "You'll have to marry for heirs."
"I have an idiot cousin. I find him an intelligent woman and make their children my heirs." Sebastian shrugged. "Fenris, until I met Solara, I couldn't think, couldn't see past the murder of my family. I couldn't see the Maker's plan for me."
"How does Hawke fit in with the Maker's plan for you?" Fenris asked. "Forgive me if I'm not seeing it." He crouched down across from the archer and pointed at a plant. "Weed?"
Sebastian nodded at the plant and sent him a grin. "It sounds mad, are you sure you really want to know?"
"You are my friend, and I just offered to kidnap the woman you love so she's in a place you can talk to her. I think we're beyond madness here don't you?" Fenris retorted.
"Perhaps." The human male chuckled. "Very well. I was looking for a sign from the Maker as to what I should do, retake Starkhaven, stay with the Chantry...I needed something to point me in the right direction." He tossed a weed at the pile and shrugged. "I was so torn, I'd fallen in love with this amazing woman and that made me even more confused because all I wanted was her. How could I be so selfish? Wouldn't the Maker want me to do what was right?"
Fenris blinked. "I had no idea you were... even considering all of that. You always seemed so calm and ready to do what was right."
"Easy enough to be calm and do what is right when you have someone like Solara offering her opinion." Sebastian told him. "That woman can make me think about problems like no one else. Even when I disagree with her, arguing makes me support my point more clearly, makes me really consider my side of it."
"So is that how she fits in the Maker's plan?" Fenris wondered.
"I just was so amazed by her... Even after her mother was killed, Solara did her best for the city." Sebastian took a deep breath. "Here comes the crazy," he warned the elf, "she was hurting so badly, and I loved her even more, and it made me realize that all the time I'd been looking for a sign from the Maker she'd been right before me. Every time I prayed asking for guidance, Solara would come to the Chantry and ask me to help her with something. And when I was wrought with worry over what I should do about Starkhaven and if I was tempted by power... Solara..." The archer looked at Fenris. "Solara laughed at the thought."
"So you think that Hawke is..." Fenris couldn't finish the thought, the idea was too odd.
"Solara is the Maker's sign for me." Sebastian said simply. "I love her, how could I love her so much, love a woman who is the perfect mate to a prince, the best woman to rule at my side, if the Maker had no plan for me to return to my city? How could I fall in love with so passionate a woman if the Maker wished me to remain chaste and in solitude."
"What if she is a test? A temptation?" Fenris asked quietly, spreading two hands full of weeds in the traditional sign of surrender. "Not that I disbelieve you."
Sebastian grinned. "You ask no question I did not ask myself." He replied as he pulled more weeds. "I even approached Elthina with that question."
"What was her response?" The elf asked curiously. "Obviously she didn't discourage you."
"Elthina said that all love came from the Maker." Sebastian said promptly. "She told me that a simple attraction, desire or lust, those were temptations, but love...love was a blessing."
"So how do you know its love?" Fenris wondered.
"Elthina started asking me questions about Solara." Sebastian's face had never lost his smile and now it brightened with humor. "It was actually a little funny, she recruited one of the younger Mothers and a Brother to help her. And they...interrogated me about Solara." He chuckled. "At the end of it I was certain I loved Solara and so were they. Elthina was laughing because she'd known for years how I felt. She'd just wanted me to be certain."
"The Brother and Mother weren't scandalized by your feelings?" Fenris smiled a bit at how obtuse his friend had been.
"The Brother told me I must love the woman if I was willing to tolerate someone who was so argumentative and unladylike and actually found those qualities attractive." The exiled prince said dryly.
Fenris laughed. "Well she does argue and she isn't the typical lady, but they've obviously never met Hawke if they thought those were deterrents."
"Exactly." Sebastian chuckled. "But they did prove to my and Elthina's satisfaction that I was truly love and am in love with Solara." His laughter died. "Fenris what if she doesn't love me?"
The elf paused in his work and looked at the man, considering Sebastian objectively. The archer had tanned skin, corded muscles that rippled with each movement, and a face that made women sigh as he passed. "You're handsome enough," Fenris tried to reassure the man. "You're loyal and you're a good man."
Sebastian laughed and shook his head. "Handsome, loyal and good," he repeated, "So is Solara's Mabari Eli."
"She must like you," Fenris told him. "Everyone else she gets upset with she forgives, or mocks and then forgives. You're the only one who makes her act this way. So there must be something special about you."
"That's encouraging." Sebastian sighed. "Oh well, for better or worse I'll know tomorrow night."
"Exactly." Fenris grinned. "But if I don't hear from you in two days, I'm going to find out from Orana what's been going on."
"I'll agree to that bargain." Sebastian offered a hand to seal the deal.
Fenris sat in the kitchen of Hawke's villa. Orana was making tea and he was setting out the writing materials. "So how goes it with your duties?" He asked trying to gentle his voice.
"Well," Orana smiled shyly. "The mistress came home very upset. One of her friends was hurt badly in battle. She insisted he be put in her bed and she's been with him the whole night."
Fenris felt his blood run cold. Sebastian hadn't sent word regarding the outcome of his talk with Hawke, which was why Fenris had come to the villa, perhaps it had been for reasons other than Hawke ignoring his words. "Do you know which friend it is? Varric or Sebastian or Anders?" He asked, feeling as if his throat were closing.
"The Mistress was near tears, and cursing." Orana murmured, her soft voice near a whisper. "I brought her healing potions and quilts. The man's armor was white; it and his bow are still in the Mistress' room."
"Sebastian Vael." Fenris said dully. "The man is called Sebastian Vael, he is Prince of Starkhaven." He did his best to keep his voice calm, Orana frightened easily, "Did she say...if he'd be all right?"
"She was crying..." Orana whispered, "After the mage left, the blond one with strange eyes, she cried." The servant shook her head. "I asked Bodahn and he said that Anders told him the man would be fine, but the Mistress was crying so, I can't see how the man will be all right."
"But that's what Bodahn told you Anders said." Fenris wondered if he was shaking with relief or if he was in shock over the news still. "That Sebastian will be well."
"Yes Fenris." Orana looked at him carefully. "I'm just making the morning tea and then I'll take it and muffins up to the Mistress. Shall I tell her you're here?"
Fenris shook his head and gave her a slight smile. "Don't worry her with it; I came to see you after all. Once your morning duties are done we'll have your lesson."
"It won't take long." Orana set the teapot, a small basket of muffins and cups on a tray, covering the hot muffins with a napkin before she carefully backed out of the kitchen.
In an attempt to distract himself from his concerns for Sebastian, Fenris occupied himself with sharpening the pen nibs and checking over the books while he waited for Orana. She'd been doing well with her letters and was about ready to begin reading a book rather than the simple words he wrote out for her. A quiet giggle alerted him to Orana's return and he turned in his chair to watch her come through the door without the tray.
"I take it Hawke is not crying this morning." Fenris asked hope coloring his voice.
Orana smiled, her eyes twinkling happily. "The man is awake and well." She nodded. "Mistress is laughing and happy this morning. I knocked and brought the tray in like always and Mistress didn't even scold me for interrupting her loveplay with the man." Orana giggled. "Mistress giggled and thanked me, said they'd need to keep their strength up."
Fenris chuckled as she began to clean up. "That's good to hear. Sebastian is my friend." He rose to give the girl a hand. "If you don't mind, when he comes down later, would you give him a note from me?"
"Certainly I will." Orana smiled happily. "The mistress seems happy. She hasn't been in a long time. I hope your friend stays with her."
Fenris smiled as he wrote his note in careful letters. "I think he will." The elf looked up at the girl for a moment. "He loves her very much."
Sebastian clutched the folded parchment Orana had handed him as he left and ran for the Chantry. He'd spent so much time with Solara, delaying his departure again and again, and now had no choice but to run in order to be prompt. One did not make the Grand Cleric wait after all, no matter how fond of you she was.
Finally he was at the top of the steps and paused to catch his breath. Unfolding the parchment Sebastian blinked at the sight of Fenris' careful letters.
From Orana I have heard you are well, but that you were hurt last night. I am glad you are healed. Orana told me also that Hawke was laughing and happy this morning.
I hope that means you spoke with Hawke and that she loves you. If she doesn't, perhaps you should have her looked at for a head wound.
I know you hate gossip so I will keep my mouth shut until you and Hawke are ready. I hope you are happy. I am glad if you are.
Sebastian smiled, he was very lucky in his friends.