A/N: To those that are following The Secrets We Keep, it's still being worked on, never fear! I have been writing it for so long now, that I decided I needed to work on something else at the same time.
The first time Ser Garrett Hawke saw the apostate known as Anders, he was being dragged in chains through the main hall of the circle tower in the middle of Lake Calenhad. Even though he bore manacles on his wrists, and it took two templars to half carry him, one under each arm, Anders still managed to look Garrett's way and give him a saucy wink.
"Tower, sweet tower," he cried out. "How I have missed you and your hospitality!" As he turned his head and wiggled his fingers to give a little wave to another templar, Garrett saw an earring glinting in his ear.
The man did look every inch a disreputable trouble maker. From that single earring, and his unshaven jaw, to the ponytail he sported, his blonde locks pulled back tightly. Even his robes were Tevinter make, and showed off far more skin than it should.
He rotated his head back around to Garret as he and the templars passed. "Hello! You're new aren't you? I'd say it was wonderful to meet you, but—" His words were cut off with a whoosh as a heavily gauntleted fist slammed into his belly. His knees gave out and he would have fallen if the templars weren't already partially holding him up. Anders coughed, and his breath wheezed out of his lungs. "Bastards…"
"What did he do?" Garrett muttered to the man next to him.
Ser Cullen sighed. "What hasn't he done?" He shook his head. "No, that's not true. He hasn't succumbed to blood magic—yet. He holds the record for the most escape attempts in the tower. I'm afraid this time he'll get solitary—if he's lucky."
Cullen had been a good friend to Garret since he had come to the tower a week ago. It had been a harrowing six months for the new templar. First, his sister Bethany had finally been discovered as a mage and been dragged off by the templars. Garrett and his younger brother Carver had both failed in their duty, the one that had been drilled into them since they were young by their now deceased father.
Don't let her be taken.
But neither Garrett nor Carver had been there when the templars had come. There had only been their poor mother, who alone had tried to defy them and hide her daughter. By the time Carver and Garrett had come back to the house, Bethany was gone.
Someone had told the templars where to find her. Someone they had trusted. Bethany thought it might have been a boy named Sam, angry that she had spurned his advances.
No one in Lothering had cared if Bethany was a mage. The Hawkes had kept to themselves and never caused trouble. They had grown complacent and stayed in one place for too long because of it. But Garrett and his siblings were older now, and tired of always being on the run, one step ahead of the templars and the chantry. Carver wanted to fall in love and have children one day, so had Bethany, as unlikely as that was. Garret had convinced their father that Lothering was safe, and it had been, until he had died. After that, Carver had become wild. He was constantly picking fights, and it had fallen on Garrett to take the place of their father. He had tried—Maker, how he had tried-to get Carver to speak to him, but his brother had become stubborn. When Bethany had been taken, they had been having an argument out in the woods. The things that Carver had said to him still hurt, even six months later.
It was that more than anything that had spurred his decision to follow Bethany into the circle.
His brother did not want his help. He was not their father, and never could be. But even if he couldn't help Carver, he could do something for Bethany and give their mother peace of mind.
It had been a long road from recruit to full templar, but Garrett had become single minded.
The day he took his vows and had his first taste of lyrium, something inside of him had broken. There was no going back. Even if he could foreswear the vows he had made before the Maker, he could not escape the lyrium addiction and all that it entailed.
But he had gotten what he wanted. He had been stationed at the tower were Bethany was. He could keep an eye on her now, and make sure that his father's stories of horror about circle life did not touch his sister.
So far, Bethany had actually acclimated well to circle living. She took to her lessons easily, and with a zeal that reminded him of their father when he would expound on magical theory. Garrett would make sure that she stayed happy, and as far away from the corrupting influences of mages like this Anders.
Garrett stroked his beard and winced when a seam in his gauntlet pulled at the hair. "I'm surprised they would give him so many chances," he mused.
"He's lucky. He shows great talent for healing, and those that can are rare enough. He won't learn his place, though."
It was a close thing, but Garrett managed to make his face appear neutral, instead of scowling at Cullen's words. Would he be like that one day too? Would he just casually speak about a mage's place in this world with no more emotion than what one felt for a useful dog?
The templars might own his body, but Garrett's mind and heart was his own. Would his father have approved of the decision he had made to protect Bethany? Or would he have turned his back on him as a traitor to everything the man had taught him?
His mother had cried the morning he left home. She had already lost a daughter, and she had not wanted to lose a son to the templars as well.
It had broken his heart.
There was no turning back now.
The second time Ser Garrett Hawke saw the apostate known as Anders, the mage did not see him.
It was late at night, and he had been off duty for an hour. The loose tunic and leggings he wore were a blessing after the heat of the day in full amour. He cradled a cat in his arms, and the feline rumbled quietly against his chest.
Bethany was supposed to have her Harrowing tomorrow. Garrett had begged to be given the chance to be allowed in the room, but he had been denied his request. He had been in the tower for three months, and had been witness to four Harrowings. It was as horrifying as his father had said it was. The wait while the mage was in the Fade was excruciating. Would he have to take part in their murder, or would the mage be deemed uncorrupted and allowed to go back to their rooms and worried friends?
The second Harrowing he'd watched Cullen take the mage's head.
She had spent too long in the Fade, and her assertions that she had not been tempted and succumbed, had fallen on deaf ears.
As the severed head had rolled to stop at Garrett's feet, he had not seen the face of woman whose name he had not known, but Bethany's instead, staring lifeless at him.
He did not sleep for a week from the nightmares that had engendered.
As Garrett approached the cells deep in the bowels of the tower, he could hear muffled sobbing echoing through the stones. Anders was not the only mage that was being punished, but he was the only one that had been in solitary for so long.
There was little light where the cells were, but Garrett knew the way by rote. At first, he had come down out of curiosity, but that excuse had waned when it had become something of a habit. Every night for the past three months, Garrett slipped down the corridors and stairs. He never came close enough for Anders to see him, but he didn't need to. The mage liked to talk, and it seemed that was how he passed the time. He told jokes and stories to himself, his voice bouncing down the corridor. Garrett would sit at one end near the stairs, his back resting against the hard stones that the tower was built from.
He would listen to Anders talk about his escapes and the things he saw when he was out in the world. He would smile at the outlandish tales he told, and cover his mouth to stifle his laughter at the mage's jokes.
He would listen in silence, because he was already skirting the line as it was. He wasn't a templar to help all mages-just one mage. Bethany knew what he was doing. He had peppered her with questions about Anders. She had been in the tower for months before Garrett could get to her, and she told him all she knew of the infamous Anders.
Garrett couldn't explain why he was so drawn to the mage. Bethany said she thought it was because he was a little bit like their father, and maybe that was it. That rebellious streak that had colored Malcolm Hawke's life was alive and well in the circle, and Garrett wanted to be closer to it.
It was a bright light amongst the Tranquil, templars, and frightened mages.
As he approached Anders' cell door, his heart began thudding in his ears, a counterpoint to the cat's purring. A year was a long time to be alone, and Garrett had listened well to Anders' words. He knelt down and set the cat on the floor. With a small push on its butt, he urged it towards the bars. The cat looked back at him, indignation in its eyes at the treatment. Garrett waved his hands franticly at the cat in an attempt to shoo it away. He forgot himself and whispered at it. "Go."
"Hello? Is someone there?"
Garrett scrambled backwards for the shadows and pressed his back against the wall. Hands gripped the bars and Anders peeked out, his eyes searching the dimly lit corridor. "Hello? I hope someone is there and I'm not going insane. Although, if I was going insane, would I know? I—" He looked down. "A kitty. Hello, kitty. Was it you I heard? What are you doing down here, poor thing?" The shadows in front of his cell shifted as Anders got to his knees and thrust a hand between the bars towards the cat. "Come here, kitty. Oh, you are lovely aren't you? What is your name?" The cat meowed at him, lured by his voice and outstretched fingers. "You don't have one? Well, I didn't have one for a while either. I know! I will call you Mister Wiggums. It's a very dignified name. What do you think?"
As Garrett watched, the cat padded softly to Anders and rubbed its face on his fingers. He felt something inside him loosen at the sight, and a smile broke out on his face.
The third time Ser Garrett Hawke saw the apostate known as Anders, two years had gone by.
The tower had fallen, and Garrett and Bethany had only barely made it out alive. The experience had changed Garrett, made him harder and more cynical. He still believed that mages weren't dangerous, but some of them… Some of them could unleash the Void on earth. He still had nightmares about his time as a prisoner of the blood mages. He would wake up with a scream dying on his lips, and sweat dotting his skin.
Anders had been released from solitary and escaped the same day. Garrett hadn't blamed him at the time. He would have run for the wide open world as well if he'd had to be alone for so long. Even so, Garrett had gone to the one person he knew of that Anders might have confided in before he left.
Karl had not been forthcoming, his eyes distrustful. He had questioned Garrett's motive for coming to him of all people to ask about Anders. He couldn't tell the mage how he knew that he and Anders had once been lovers. Anders' tale of the love of an older and younger mage had struck a chord with Garrett. Karl was one of the few people that actually meant something to Anders.
In the end, it hadn't mattered. The blight broke out, and the tower had fallen.
Bethany had been taken from him.
With the tower in Ferelden gone, most of the mages were shipped off to various parts of Thedas. Garrett's only comfort was that she was in Kirkwall, where his mother and brother had fled to. They had family there, on his mother's side.
Garrett… Garrett was needed in Ferelden. When the tower had exploded into chaos, some mages had used the opportunity to escape. Some of them were blood mages, while others had just ran for their lives. The templars had lost a lot of good men that day, and needed every knight they had to search out the land and bring mages in.
Privately, Garrett was glad. He had changed and no longer knew how he could face his family. He'd done horrible things in the name of survival, and he felt tainted by them. There were times when he thought others could see the change in him, as if it was written in the lines on his face and the scars on his body. He felt hardened now, and empty. Without Bethany, he had lost his original purpose for becoming a templar. Now he only knew duty, duty and the siren's call of lyrium.
So when he saw Anders of all people, standing next to the Hero of Ferelden, he didn't feel so empty anymore. Seeing Anders and that cocky grin, reminded Garrett of his promises to himself when he had first become a Templar. He would not let them change him. They would own his body, but not his heart or mind.
"I'll see you hanged murderer!"
Ser Rylock's angry words penetrated his astonishment at seeing Anders again. They had come because Rylock had received a missive that a wanted apostate had been captured, and the templars responsible were waiting for further instructions at Vigil's Keep. When they had arrived, it was to find the templars dead, and the keep overrun.
As Rylock, King Alistair, and the Warden-Commander spoke rapidly between them, Garrett's mind quickly worked. Rylock was known for her cruelty towards mages. If she said she would see Anders hang, then there was nothing that would stop it from happening.
Except for one thing.
"Me? A Grey Warden? That'll work," Anders grinned. But even the Right of Conscription and the king's blessing wasn't enough to pacify Rylock. Her submissive air to the king as she bowed her head, when it was announced that Anders was to become a Grey Warden and was no longer within the templar's reach, was unlike her.
Garrett was proven right when she pulled him to the side after their group had left the keep. "You are to stay here."
"What?" Garrett didn't like the look in her eyes. They had turned cunning and malicious.
"That's an order, Ser Hawke. You are to stay here and watch the apostate. Report to me his every move."
"But I'm not a warden," he insisted. "They won't let me that close to him." She couldn't be serious. She was risking the wrath of the king and the wardens.
"Figure out something. The crown is not above the chantry. He is a wanted apostate that has murdered the templars—your brothers-in-arms—that were charged with bringing him in."
Garrett glanced over her shoulder to see the king watching their furtive whispers with a speculative look. He quickly darted his gaze back to her. If he didn't do this, she would send someone else, someone less willing to thwart her. He took a step back and gave her a small bow of assentation with his head. "As you command."
It seemed his fate to help Anders, whether the mage knew it or not.