Totally nicking one of Crisium's tricks with this one, but I couldn't resist. I also wept like a baby writing this prompt, because I would be heartbroken if I had to give up my kitty.


I don't understand.

"Of course you don't -" says his human; he has what Pounce thinks of as his Brave Face on, but were he a cat like Pounce, his ears would be pressed flat to his skull. The pupils of Anders' eyes are a little too big, and though Pounce keeps scaling the mage to scrabble up onto his shoulders (he can feel the tension there, and he keeps trying to knead it out with his little ginger paws) Anders keeps picking up up and putting him down, and the cycle begins again. But his human stops and presses a palm to his cheek, eyes shut, and his voice is quiet and trembles ever so slightly when he once again can speak. "You could make this easier on me, you know."

There is no this; there should never be a this. It seems so reasonable, when Pounce says it, purring like a jackhammer as he tangles himself in Anders' ankles, the fluffy banner of his tail held high. His human is his human and will always be his human, because Pounce chose him. That is a simple truth of the universe, known to all cats, and nothing Anders can do will change that -

"Pounce, I can't. You won't be safe with me." But Anders hits his knees and sweeps the little ball of fluff into his arms, and suddenly Pounce's fur is wet from the salty streams on his human's face. It's a little annoying, but Pounce loves his human, and still purring he turns in Anders' arms and begins to meticulously clean the salt-tracks from his human's face.

Anders is his human, after all; it cannot be left to stand, for the human of Ser Pounce-A-Lot to allow himself to fall to disarray.

But even as Pounce is saying this, Anders is weeping, his face pressed into Pounce's fur, and nothing the kitten can do - purrs, or plaintive mews, or playful batting at the mage's nose and ears and the stray bits of blonde hair pulled free of their bindings - can seem to make it stop.

"I love you," mumbles Anders into Pounce's side, his throat closing on the words, his voice choked with a pain that Pounce cannot foresee and does not understand. "I'm so sorry."

And then Pounce is lifted up, and they are walking, into the angled-stone keep that smells of clean rushes and armor polish (and under that, flames and darkspawn blood, but Pounce is not afraid of either) and when Anders stops it is to shove Pounce into the startled arms of the Warden, who also smells like darkspawn blood -

But Anders is walking away, and Pounce is meowing and scrambling to get free, his claws slipping and finding no purchase on the gauntlets of the Warden. It has finally processed in Pounce's mind what is happening, and in desperation he is calling Anders, come back, I love you, don't go, please, what did I do wrong -

But he has done nothing wrong, and there is nothing Pounce can do, and his human does not look back as he flees the keep.

xxxx

The Warden is a good human, but she is not his human.

Pounce stays at Amaranthine because he has nowhere else left to go. The Warden does not let him out of the keep, and the others will not take him away, to find his human where he has fled across the sea - Pounce knows this because the Warden knows this, because occasionally an 'anonymous' letter from Kirkwall will trickle back home to the keep, and the paper still carries Anders' scent even across all the long miles. And Pounces grows up and grows strong, a lean and ferocious hunter, and Amaranthine becomes a place for the rats and mine of Ferelden to fear, a place where green-eyed death stalks on ginger feet.

But every afternoon, Pounce sits in the sunshine of the glazed windows, and he watches for a blonde he-mage with feathers mantled over his shoulders, waiting for his human to come home, and during those hours no treat, no toy, no offer of affection can tempt him down from the sill.

His human will come back. He must come back.

Even when the letters cease to arrive, even when Pounce has grown old and frail and frayed thin with hope and wanting, he sits, and waits, watching the road to the keep with old, old eyes.

He will wait forever, if need be.