A/N Here is the story of Hawke and Fenris' twins, Melody and Farrell.
The beautiful cover art was created especially for Mari's family by the talented and lovely Ekocentric. Thank you so much, my friend!
Everything but the twins are the property of Bioware
And so, we begin…
The story of the Champion of Kirkwall is well-known, but for those of you who've had your head in a bucket, or were off somewhere in the Korcari Wilds and have never heard of Mari Hawke, I've been asked to set down a few words of introduction.
My name is Varric Tethras - businessman, storyteller and surrogate uncle to the twins, which I suppose uniquely qualifies me for this task.
So here it is, short and sweet (well, maybe not sweet, hehe).
Marian (Mari) Hawke escaped the Blight in Ferelden with her mother, Leandra Amell, and her sister Bethany. From the first day I met them my life was forever changed. If you want the full story of our adventures, seek out a book called "The Misadventures of Mari Hawke," unless you're a lazy nug-humper, that is, hehe. An anonymous author wrote it with a little help from yours truly.
The most relevant part of Hawke's story is, of course, that she fell in love with Fenris: An elf and an ex-slave who'd been branded with lyrium tattoos by his former master, and who was the most broody son-of-a-bitch I'd ever met – never mind that he had good reason.
For over six long years Hawke stood by him as he struggled to put his life as a slave behind him. In the end, Hawke's true heart won out, and her fierce warrior elf has been by her side ever since.
After we escaped from the trouble in Kirkwall (you must have heard of that!) and came to Starkhaven to aid Prince Sebastian Vael in reclaiming his throne, Hawke and Fenris were married and a few months later (eh-em) the twins were born: Melody and Farrell Hawke. Yeah, I know kids usually take their father's name, but Fenris didn't have one to give. It would be funny except that it isn't.
Almost from the first those babies showed signs of being extraordinary. Melody (my sweet little Sparrow) with her beautiful voice and her mother's smile. Farrell, as serious and somber as his father ever was, but deft of hand and quick of mind. The boy could speak in full sentences and taught himself to play the lute before he was three! He is also the only other person in all of Thedas who is allowed to touch Bianca, hehe. Melody can not only sing to make the gods jealous (as our friend Zevran would say), but also had the uncanny ability of attracting all manner of creatures to her – birds, animals, butterflies – you name it and they all wanted to be near my little Sparrow. Who wouldn't?
For a few years the Hawke family traveled all over Thedas, always coming home to Starkhaven where her sister, Princess Sunshine, was married to Sebastian with a son of her own (and as this story begins, another on the way). Turns out Malcolm Sebastian Vael is a Mage, but so far the twin's only magic has been through their song. It was a song that I helped them write that was the game-changer – a song about Hawke and Fenris. That night, after they performed it, the twins dreamt of the Dread Wolfe. You should have seen Hawke and Fenris after that! Needless to say the next day word was sent out to all of our friends from our days in Kirkwall. The twins needed training and protecting, of course.
That's where this story begins. You want more details – there's that book I mentioned. Hehe.
One more thing. Anonymous author has asked if I'd help now and then to fill out the corners of the twin's story. Of course I will. It's what I do. Other than Hawke and her family, stories are my favorite thing.
"My arm hurts," Melody sang. Whenever she was upset or excited, she sang her words as if they were set to music. She bit her lip, a reminder to use her normal speaking voice, and added, "And I'm hungry."
Sebastian chuckled. "Your arm will only grow strong with practice," he said, "and practice you will until your aunt calls us to lunch."
Melody sighed and pulled the bowstring back the way Uncle Sebastian had shown her, sighting along her other arm as she aimed at the target. She released the arrow and this time she at least hit the hay bale, if not the bull's-eye affixed to it.
"You're improving already," said Sebastian as he handed her another arrow. "Yet the true skill of the archer is to be the arrow as it flies from the bow."
"Be the arrow?" asked Melody. Uncle Sebastian confused her sometimes.
"Yes," he said gently and came to stand behind her. He set his hands on both of hers as they held the bow and arrow. "Quiet your mind, Melody," he said. "Focus on the center of the target. The arrow wants to hit there, you only need get out of the way with your effort."
Even though her uncle made very little sense, she did as he asked. Together they carefully notched the arrow. "You are the arrow," he said, "flying through the air, free to find your mark."
Her uncle's soft words calmed her and she set her eyes on the black-ringed target. Together their hands pulled the bowstring taught and she imagined herself long and slim; flexible with her sharp tip guiding herself home. When at last they released the arrow, she felt a thrill run through her as she sometimes did when singing a particularly high note.
The arrow flew through the air and pierced the center of the bull's-eye with a sharp thunk.
"We did it!" she exclaimed and dropped the bow to hug her uncle.
He chuckled and lifted her into the air. "A fine show of marksmanship," he said as he spun her around.
"Well, well, well," came a saucy voice from the entrance to the garden where they practiced. "Little Sparrow learns to fly."
"Auntie Bela!" Melody sang and wriggled from Sebastian arms to race across the grassy lawn. Within moments she was in a tight hug, as she rained kisses over Isabela's cheek.
"Auntie Bela," she said again. "You're here!"
"Of course I am, sweet thing," Isabela purred in her ear. "My favorite little rogue needs me, where else would I be?"
Melody colored and whispered in Bela's ear, "Shhh, they don't know."
Isabela's laughter filled the garden. "What? That you can pick locks?" she said and laughed again. "I think they'll be glad for it, kitten."
"Where's Pardus?" asked Melody, searching behind Bela for a sight of him.
"He's with the others in the kitchen," she replied. "I've been sent to bring you both to lunch."
Sebastian had gathered their equipment and approached them now. "Good to see you, Isabela," he said and gave her a little bow.
"Why Prince Vael," she replied in mock formality and managed to curtsy while still holding onto Melody, "the pleasure is mine."
Melody giggled as together they headed into the palace.
Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ ~ Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ ~ Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ
It had been nearly a month since the night the twins had dreamt of the Dread Wolf, and their training had begun in earnest. With the arrival of Isabela and Pardus earlier in the week, the only person she'd not yet heard from was Merrill. Hawke was hoping for word soon, but the traveling life of her Dalish clan made correspondence difficult. They had also received a letter from Fenris' sister Varania, now an Enchanter at the Circle of Magi in Hossberg. She's written with promises of as much support as she could give from so far away. She also planned to research the Circle's records on the Dalish gods and what she could find about the fall of Arlathan and the wars with Tevinter and the Chantry. All of that was supposedly because Fen'Harel had tricked the Elvhen gods back into heaven, away from their wars with the Forgotten Ones, also tricked back into the Abyss. Since that time, the Elvhen people had been reduced to meager lives of hopelessness and despair.
Hawke sighed. She never thought she'd need to become an authority on Elvhen legends. She twirled the ring on her finger, the Dalish ring passed down to Fenris from his long-dead father. Together we are stronger than one, she thought. Do not waiver. Bend, but never break. Powerful words whether you were an elf or not.
There was one more person on her mind this night as she waited for Fenris to put the children to bed and join her.
It had been over a decade since they'd had any word from him. Ten long years, and she doubted he yet lived. It filled her heart with sadness, because even though she'd never had an easy relationship with the possessed Mage, he had saved all their lives times beyond counting. He'd been a good man with a troubled heart. She often wondered what he would have been like if he'd not joined with the Spirit of Justice. From what he'd told her he'd been an irresponsible, carefree youth before taking the spirit into him and setting his path to free every Mage in Thedas from the tyranny of the Chantry and its Circle. If only he could have seen what Bethany had accomplished in Starkhaven. He would be proud of her, Hawke was sure.
The bedroom door opened and Fenris slipped inside. She banished thoughts of Anders from her mind and opened her arms to her husband.
"How are they?" she asked him.
"Tired," he replied as he wrapped his arms around her. "They were both asleep before I left the room."
"I worry that we work them too hard," she said, laying her head on his shoulder. "They are so young."
"And yet needs must," he replied. "You would not have them defenseless in the face of such a threat."
She lifted her head and held his gaze. "We don't even know what the threat really is," she said. "What if it were just a random dream? It has not been repeated."
Fenris lifted a hand to her cheek. "Would you risk their lives on a 'what if?'" he asked.
Hawke sighed. "No. No, I wouldn't," she said. "And they are doing well."
"Yes, they are," he replied and smiled at her. "I have discovered what Farrell and Varric are doing locked away in the weapon's shop at the barracks."
Hawke smiled back at him. "I've been wondering, but they only smirk when I've asked them."
Fenris chuckled. "Apparently they are designing a crossbow for Farrell."
Hawke's brow lifted. "What? Bianca number two?" she asked with a laugh.
"They are both very serious about it," replied Fenris.
"Varric serious?" Hawke said, laughing still. "I never thought I'd see the day."
Fenris' hand began to wander down the length of her back, sending shivers of delight across her skin. "That dwarf is very dedicated to our children," he said.
"They all are, everyone of of them," Hawke replied softly. "Melody and Farrell are going to be okay, aren't they?"
"We shall make sure of it," he told her with conviction.
"What is that you're doing with your hands?" she asked.
Fenris smiled crookedly. "Don't you like it?" he asked.
"Mmm," she murmured. "Just a little bit lower…"
"Like this?" he asked playfully.
Hawke's answer was lost as he captured her mouth with his.
Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ ~ Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ ~ Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ
Fenris looked at everyone gathered around the long table – gathered in support of his children – his family. No matter how much time passed, he was continually surprised by these things. Surprised that he had a family to love and care for. Surprised that he had friends that he could trust. His gaze rested on his wife, who sat next to him chatting with Isabela as the pirate-turned-merchant admitted that she'd taught Melody the beginnings of lock-picking on their visit to Ostwick last summer. Hawke's laughter filled the room and he did not attempt to hide the wide grin that formed on his face. Despite the seriousness of this meeting, Hawke's laughter lifted his heart and he felt a new surge of confidence that they would meet this new challenge – together.
As if his thoughts called to her, and he often believed that they did, she turned to him, the laughter still on her lips. Her dark eyes softened as her gaze swept his face, then she turned to the others and lifted a sheet of parchment from the table.
"I've received word from Merrill," she announced to the room, and all eyes turned to her.
There was Varric, of course, as well as Bethany and Sebastian, Isabela and Pardus, and at the end of the table, Aveline and Donnic.
"Read it out loud, sweet thing," said Isabela with a wink.
I write in haste, as we are too close to Orlais where much trouble is brewing. I am afraid I can come no nearer to you than just east of Cumberland on the edge of the Planasene Forest, where we will winter the halla this year. We will arrive before the end of Harvestmere.
I do suggest that you come if you can. There is much that the clan can teach the twins, and much that I would discuss with you about their dream.
I miss you so, Lethallan. Once you make your plans, send word to Ash'arell at the Cumberland alienage. I will do what I can for Melody and Farrell, in whatever way possible.
Hawke had barely finished the last word when Varric chimed in. "So what? Now we all traipse off to the forest in search of Daisy? I heard that place is filled with demon trees."
"Demon trees?" asked Isabela.
"Yeah, trees with demons inside them," Varric replied. "I was hoping to live my whole life and not see one of those."
"They're called Sylvans," said Bethany. "And not all of them are evil."
"Why am I not surprised that demons would inhabit trees, as well," said Fenris rhetorically.
"I don't get it," said Hawke. "I thought the host had to agree to a demon's deal before they could be possessed."
"Poor trees," said Bethany, "they don't truly have a mind to resist the demons."
"You mean these demons rape the trees?" asked Isabela in a horrified tone.
"I believe we are getting off track," offered Fenris.
"Agreed," said Aveline. "Do you intend to make the journey, Hawke?"
"Let's say we are entertaining the possibility," she replied. "We'd like some input."
Even in gatherings like this, where everyone still looked to Hawke as the person in charge, she never referred to herself as such. Fenris continued to believe this is exactly what made her such a capable leader.
"Sister…" Bethany began, but Hawke interrupted her.
"There's no question, Bethany. You are not coming," said Hawke.
Bethany ducked her head and smiled. "I know," she said. "But I wish you could have a healer with you, even if it's not me."
"Perhaps it would be best if we first decide if we are going at all, before choosing who will make the journey," said Fenris.
Hawke said, "I believe Merrill may be able to help the twins more than anyone." She paused and her gaze fell on Fenris.
"And yet there is her past filled with blood magic and demons," Fenris said, and could not help some of the bitterness that crept into his voice.
Hawke sighed. "Yes. The last we saw her she'd given it all up, but…"
"It is Melody and Farrell we put at risk if she did not," he finished for her.
"Why would Daisy lie, Hawke?" asked Varric.
Fenris bit down the sarcastic words that formed in his mind out of deference to Bethany, but he thought them nonetheless: Yes, why would a Mage lie?
Hawke said, "That's what it all comes down to, isn't it? Can we trust Merrill?"
"Hawke," said Isabela, and her voice was so serious, so devoid of any of its usual saucy bravado, that Fenris' eyes flew to her in surprise.
Hawke seemed to notice, too. "What is it, Isabela?" she asked, and Fenris could hear the trepidation in her voice.
"Merrill deserves another chance," replied Isabela. "Doesn't she?" she added softly.
Everyone was silent for long moments, perhaps thinking as he was – remembering just how many chances Hawke had give Isabela herself.
Fenris felt Hawke's hand grip his under the table, and he shifted his gaze to hers. The question in her eyes was obvious, as was the fact that she was handing this decision to him. Without words she told him that she knew and understood exactly why he would not trust a mage, especially a former blood mage, despite her apparent change of ways. He was increasingly frustrated by his own lack of knowledge when it came to the potential threat posed by the Dread Wolf. He knew they needed the help of true Dalish elves, but wished that help could come from someone, anyone else.
Needs must, he thought to himself. What choice did they have, really? And it was not as if he was sending his children off alone, no. He would be with them, protecting them every step of the way. Including their dealings with Merrill – every last dealing with the Dalish Mage, in fact. He knew Hawke saw the assent in his eyes before he even nodded his head by the way the smile blossomed on her lips.
"We will leave in six weeks, then," Hawke said. "Who's coming with us?"
In the end, Varric agreed, as well as Isabela and Pardus, but they needed another sword and Aveline's position as head of the Starkhaven's City Guard made her hesitant to join them.
"I will go," said Donnic, surprising everyone, "If Prince Vael will give me leave."
Aveline's eyebrows shot up her forehead. "Donnic?" she asked.
"I will go in your stead," he told her. "It is the least we can do for our friends."
Sebastian said, "Of course I give you leave, Donnic. I only wish that I could go myself."
Fenris noted the sour look on Aveline's face for the rest of the evening. He assumed Donnic would receive an earful once they were alone. He was, however, extremely pleased Donnic would join them. The man was not only an excellent fighter, but also a good friend. It eased his mind to not be the lone sword.
He checked on the twins before joining Hawke. They were both sleeping peacefully, and he felt himself truly begin to relax for the first time that night. Eagerly, he quickened his pace to join Hawke in their room, and the sight that greeted him when he opened the door made his heart leap. There was his wife, leaning against the bedpost wearing only a sultry smile.
Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ ~ Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ ~ Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ
How long had he been wandering the paths of the Fade? There was no answer to be found in this place where time had no meaning. Only his emotions held sway, and chief among those emotions was regret.
Regret that he'd been so impulsive in life. Regret that he'd joined with Justice. Regret that he'd blown up the Chantry and killed so many innocent people. Regret that he'd not trusted Hawke to help him. Regret that he'd died alone and friendless.
It was a hard ball of fire in his chest that never left him. And so he moved between the fiefs of this dream world, searching for he knew not what. For where would he find his answers? Where was the possibility of redemption in a place where nothing was fixed, nothing was real?
There were only two things that never changed in this shifting realm of lost souls, demons, spirits and dreams. The first was the Black City, hovering always out of reach in the vast, otherwise empty sky - a sky without sun or moon or stars - only mist and vapor that swirled endlessly in meaningless patterns.
The other constant was the whispering voices, just beyond the edge of his hearing - voices speaking unknown words into his mind. Voices that rose in excited agitation and then fell into bleak despair. Always and forever filling his head with their need, their sadness, their longing. Sometimes he would succumb to them, following the threads of emotion they carried, but it never led him anywhere. Never brought him succor. Like the Black City above him, their source was unreachable.
He crested a hill and Anders saw a small stone bridge in the distance. It traversed a rushing, babbling brook and something about it pulled him forward, compelled by he knew not what.
As he came closer, he noticed a small figure sitting on the edge of the bridge, its legs dangling over the water, swinging with a child's restlessness. When at last his feet stepped upon the smooth stones, the figure turned to look at him, and when she smiled he almost felt alive again – such was the shock that it would have stopped his breath and stilled his beating heart.
This child, this little girl… "Hawke?" he croaked.
Her smile grew wider. "That's my Mama's name," she said in a voice filled with song. "How did you know?"
That smile - one he had missed so much, for so very long. "Y-your m-mother?" he stammered.
"That's what Papa calls her, but her name is Mari," the little girl responded.
Anders walked the rest of the way to her. "What are you doing here?" he asked, still in shock. Hawke's daughter? She must be eight or nine years old. Had so much time passed in the mortal world? His thoughts were a confused jumble and it seemed as if the incessant whispering all around him was louder than before.
"I'm waiting for my brother," she simply said.
"Your brother?" he asked inanely. Maker help him he sounded like an idiot.
The little girl laughed, and it was filled with the sound of tinkling bells. "He stayed up late with Uncle Varric," she said as if that explained everything.
Varric? He thought. He couldn't wrap his mind around this at all.
Hawke's daughter seemed to sense his confusion and said, "We always dream together now, ever since…" For the first time her smile faltered and she was silent for long moments before she asked, "Who are you?"
Anders knelt down beside her and replied, "My name is Anders. I once knew your mother."
"Anders?" questioned Melody with wide eyes. "The Mage?"
He couldn't help himself, he chuckled – this child was so delightful. "Yes," he said. "And what's your name?"
She looked at him suspiciously for a moment before she asked, "What's Uncle Varric's crossbow's name?"
"What?" he asked in turn, startled by the question.
"Do you know or not?" was her only reply.
"Bianca," Anders told her. "His one true love."
The little girl's face cleared. "Only the real Anders would know that," she said with a satisfied smile. "My name is Melody."
"Melody," he tasted her name on his tongue. "A beautiful name. It suits you."
She smiled again, and there was Hawke. "Are you dead?" she asked. "Because I'm not. I'm only dreaming."
What a precocious child! He thought, but he was still delighted by her. How could he not be? Before he could answer another voice called from the other side of the bridge.
Anders stood and turned to see a boy of about the same age approaching them. Twins? The boy was running, the mop of his golden hair flopping over his brow. When he finally approached them, Anders saw the somber green eyes of Fenris peering back at him suspiciously. Of course, he thought. He rubbed at his forehead as the whisperings peaked in an excited rush. He could almost make out the words that seemed to swirl in the air all around him.
"Who is this Melody?" the boy asked. "You know Aunty Bethy said not to talk to spirits in the Fade."
"He's not a spirit, Farrell," said Melody petulantly. "It's Anders."
"Anders?" questioned Farrell. "The Mage?"
Melody nodded. "Mama's friend from Kirkwall."
"Her friend that blew up the Chantry," said Farrell with a frown.
Definitely Fenris' son then, and apparently they both knew what had happened that fateful day.
"I thought you'd be taller," said Farrell gazing up at him in a not so friendly manner.
"I'm tall enough," said Anders rising to his full height.
Melody interrupted them. "You never told me if you were dead or dreaming," she complained.
Anders nearly laughed. He could barely keep up with their questions and chatter and was distracted by the voices in the air, in his mind. "I am dead," he said hanging his head, and the laughter inside him was gone as quickly as it came. "Stuck in the Fade until… until I don't know when."
The tug on his hand surprised him, and he looked down to see Melody sliding her fingers through his. "Don't be sad," she said. "You can visit with us when we're dreaming."
"Melody…" said Farrell in a warning voice.
The little girl looked at her brother impatiently. "We'll check with Mama and Aunt Bethy," she said. "But I'm sure it will be okay."
Suddenly Anders felt something he had not felt since coming to the Fade. He was interested, curious and was overcome with a desire to know everything about these two remarkable children. So he said, "Perhaps for now we can just talk. I'd like to know all about you, and what happened to my other friends."
"Like Uncle Varric and Auntie Bela?" asked Melody.
"How do we know you're not trying to trick us?" interrupted Farrell.
"Trick you into what?" asked Anders.
Melody and Farrell shared a look that he could not decipher. Finally Farrell said, "Not yet." But Anders had no idea what he meant.
It was Melody who turned back to him, her hand gripping his tightly, and said, "I think I like you, but I have to make sure before we tell you anything."
"Tell me? I don't understand," he replied. "What's wrong?" He was getting a sense there was more going on here than these two children simply having a dream. And why wouldn't those infernal voices stop chattering?
Farrell said, "Melody's right. You should go."
His interested and curiosity were replaced by frustration. They were children, but suddenly he felt they were the ones in charge of this situation. "Go where? I don't understand…"
Melody released his hand and moved to stand by her brother. "I'm sorry, Anders," she said. "It's important. Maybe we'll see you again."
He started to argue, but the look on both of their faces stopped him. It was almost like seeing miniature versions of Hawke and Fenris staring him down with their judgment. He sighed. Just like when he was alive.
"Fine," he said. Where moments ago he had felt uplifted, now his mood was blacker than before. And the whispering was nearly too loud to bear - it was beginning to made his noncorporal head hurt. He turned away and walked down the slope of the small bridge, wondering if he'd ever see them again.
It wasn't until they were lost to his sight that he realized the whispering had quieted to its usual volume. He shook his head, puzzled, but too weary to figure it out. With heavy heart, he continued to walk the paths of the Fade.