As soon as Hawke saw him, she started to run.
"Farrell!" she called as her feet ran swiftly down the hill to where her son stood on the stone bridge. "Farrell!" she called again. Her heart was pumping hard in her chest, and already she could feel the tears welling up in her eyes.
He turned to her - her beautiful golden-haired son - and even with the distance between them, she could see the wide smile that blossomed on his face as he lifted a hand and waved vigorously in her direction.
"Mama!" he called.
It was a collision between mother and son, and both of them staggered as they threw their arms around each other in a tight embrace. At first, Hawke didn't even attempt to speak; it was enough to be holding her own dear child again. No matter that he was as tall as she now. No matter that he had been accepted among the gods. She ran her hands over his hair and down his arms. He was real - so very real.
"It's so good to see you, Mama," said Farrell, and Hawke thought it might have been the most effusive thing she'd ever heard him say.
He studied her intently, as if searching for some clue, some hint to her state of being. "Are you well? How is Papa? "
Caught between laughter and tears, Hawke barely got out the words, "We miss you." She pulled him back against her and clung to him tightly. "We miss you so much."
"I miss you, too," he said softly as he returned her hug. "But at least I know you have each other."
For some reason, his words broke through her last reserves and her tears began to fall in earnest. "Your father..." she began, but could not go on.
"My father," said Farrell with a soft chuckle, "will move the heavens and all of Thedas to keep you well and happy."
Hawke nearly choked on the sob that arose in her throat. "It's true," she said, and took several deep breaths trying to compose herself. There was no way to know how much time they would have together, and she didn't want to waste it in emotional wreckage. Instead, there were things she must say to him while she had the chance. "Your father misses you terribly, but he respects your choice."
"But you don't," Farrell said, and it wasn't a question.
"I... I want to," replied Hawke. "But Farrell, my darling, it's felt much too soon to part with you. You were just a child when you first left me, and now..." Emotion clogged her throat again, and she could not continue.
"And now we are separated until death," Farrell said simply. "But we all will be together again someday, Mama. This I promise you."
"Why..." Hawke began, and swallowed hard to settle herself. "Why have you not asked about your sister?"
Farrell's smile was beatific. "Because I know she is well, I hear her thoughts."
"Do you?" Hawke asked, and a new hope rose in her breast. "She said she hears you whispering. It's true, then?"
Farrell nodded. "So far it's only been a one-way sort of communication, but who knows? Perhaps she will hear me in time."
That thought brought the first true smile to Hawke's lips. To think that at least Melody and Farrell might not be completely separated, made her heart feel glad. "I hope so," she finally said.
"Mama," said Farrell, "You should know that, well, this won't happen very often." His eyes were sad, and looked so much like Fenris' puppy eyes in that moment, the tears threatened again.
"Why?" she asked, nearly pleading. "It's the Fade, isn't it? I dream here..."
"It's not like you think," Farrell said. "It was Mythal who sent me here. Only her or Elgar'nan have the power to do so, and only to this bridge. The gods are in the Fade, but not truly of the Fade." He shook his head in frustration. "It's difficult to explain."
"Why did Mythal send you now?" Hawke asked, not really understanding what he meant.
Farrell smiled again. "Mythal convinced Elgar'nan that keeping us apart would only slow my progress." He laughed. "I think Mythal could convince him of almost anything."
"But you said I would not see you..." Hawke began.
"Rarely, is more like it. It disrupts the whole when one of us leaves, and there is so much to do..."
"Let's not waste time, then," Hawke said. She led Farrell to the edge of the bridge where they sat together with their feet dangling over the water, and their hands clasped tightly. For the rest of the night, as Hawke dreamed, they stayed deep in conversation. There was nothing withheld, everything was shared, from the smallest concerns of their family and friends, to the fate of all the peoples of Thedas.
Finally, when Hawke began to feel the Fade's hold on her begin to slip, she pulled Farrell back into her embrace. "Thank Mythal for me," she told him, then pressed a soft kiss to his cheek. "Do well, Farrell. We are so proud of you."
"Give my love to Papa and the others," said Farrell. "I will tell my sister, myself."
"I have no doubt that you will," Hawke agreed with a soft smile. She was also crying again, but she didn't care. Farrell knew the deepest places of her heart. "Dareth shiral, ma len." Safe journey, my son.
"Dareth shiral, Mama," he replied. "I love you."
"As I love you..." Hawke said, yet even as she did, she felt the tug in the center of herself that let her know she would soon awaken.
The last thing she saw was her son's face, filled with love and sadness, yet also wise and filled with purpose.
It was enough. It would have to be.
Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ ~ Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ ~ Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ
When Melody entered the Golden City, she felt as if she'd truly woken up, instead of falling asleep. The city was alive - filled with vibrant color and sound. Hundreds of voices filled the air with ethereal music as azure and emerald hues danced in patterns along the golden surfaces of the restored city. Everyone was smiling at her, bowing as she passed them by, gesturing with their hands as she proceeded onward through the streets. It was as if she'd been expected, and perhaps that was true. She certainly felt welcomed, to say the least.
Up and up she went, ascending long, curving stairways that wound deeper into the heart of the city. As she passed the turret where they'd destroyed the Source of the Taint, she shivered in remembrance. That moment when she'd thought she'd lost Papa, and then the image of Anders' smoking staff, both combined to create a heavy weight within her chest. As if in response, the music of the city increased in volume, in a seeming attempt to lighten her heart.
Melody had no idea where she was going, but merely followed the gestures of the many joyful people that lined the streets. At last, at the top of a broad set of stone steps, she came to a great domed building, which sat on the highest point of ground, and offered a spectacular view, of the sprawling streets below her. Huge marble columns flanked the entrance of the structure, and along their lengths, effervescent colors in all the shades of a rainbow, sparkled and danced, as if the stone itself were alive. As she passed beneath them, the last of the gloom left her heart, and she was filled with a spirit of such all-encompassing hope, she nearly laughed aloud.
Inside the building, the air itself also seemed alive, as if each breath she took filled her with health and vitality, like she'd never felt before. All of that would have been wonderful enough, but what she saw when she moved through the cavernous room and came to the foot of an immense platform – a set of short steps led up to a grand throne at the top, and her spirits soared to new, unimaginable heights.
"Anders!" she sang at the top of her lungs, and ran as fast as she could to reach him.
He stood from his chair and reached his arms open wide, and the smile on his face was brighter than the Summerday sun. His laughter was like music, and he called her name in a booming voice filled with both mirth and reverence.
As her feet hit the last step, she threw herself into the air as Mama had taught her, and Anders caught her. They spun round and round together in a dizzying fashion, and their combined laughter blended with the music that filled the air. There was no room for tears when such joy pervaded her entire being; no room for sadness, when she was once again joined with her dear friend.
"I can't believe you're here!" Melody sang to him. They stopped their circling dance and he set her down gently, though he did not release her.
"Where else would I be?" Anders asked, and he laughed again. "I am Steward of the Golden City, at the right hand of the Maker!"
"Oh Anders, I was afraid I'd never see you again," she said softly, and lifted a hand to his cheek.
"Yet from my most amazing vantage, I see you, always." He wriggled his eyebrows and added, "Nice kiss with the grumpy elf."
Melody felt her cheeks heat at the mention of Erynon, but she really didn't mind. A delighted giggle escaped her throat and she said, "It's not nice to spy on people."
"Me? Spy? Never!" he said. "In truth, I can't help it. My position here lends me a portion of the Maker's sight, it seems."
"Is the Maker here?" she asked, and looked around the opulent room.
Anders pursed his lips and his brow lowered.
"There's no real answer to that question." His smile returned, and so did the twinkle in his amber eyes. "Yes and no, how's that?"
"Not satisfying at all," she said and laughed again. "I don't have to ask if you're happy. You practically glow with it."
For the first time since their reunion, his face grew serious. "I never knew true peace until I came here," he told her. "And I never knew that peace was also a joy that cannot be contained."
Melody found her cheeks were starting to hurt from smiling so much. "Just what is it you do here?"
"Oh, this and that," he replied. "Mostly I help the recently deceased acclimate into the afterlife." He seemed thoughtful for a moment. "And there's all the joy making and singing to attend to," he added with a wink.
"What of the Dalish gods?" she asked, thinking of Farrell. "Are there two different heavens?"
"Ah, my dearest Melody," he said. "It would take me years to explain all the nuances of the Fade to you. Think of it this way, there are overlaps, places where the realm of the gods and the realm of the Maker's Golden City exist, all at once."
"So, you've seen Farrell?" she asked, holding her breath.
"Seen him? It's not quite like that." He scratched the top of his head, a gesture so familiar to her, she giggled from the delight of it. "I am aware of him, but in some ways, he exists at a higher plane than me." He laughed once more. "You're making my non-corporeal head hurt with your questions."
"I only have one more, if you don't mind," she said to him with a mischievous smile.
"You better hurry then, because you'll be waking up soon," he replied.
"I'm half-elvhen" she explained. "When I die, will I come here to the Golden City, or go to be with Farrell?"
"My darling Melody," replied Anders. "Why would you ever limit yourself that way?"
Before she could ask him to clarify, she felt the familiar tug of wakefulness in the center of herself. She knew she would wake up soon, and there was only one more thing she knew she must tell him.
"I love you Anders!" she said, even as she felt her form dissolving from the Fade.
"And I, you, Melody!" she heard Anders call to her in a merry voice, which held no trace of sadness.
The transition was swift, and she opened her eyes to see her own cozy bedroom in the palace. Across the room, was Farrell's empty bed, and without thinking, she got up and walked across to sit on its edge.
As Melody smoothed her hand over the cold covers, the whispering in her mind began again. It grew louder and louder, and she closed her eyes, doing her best to concentrate, to make out the words she knew her brother was trying to say to her.
And then, it happened. It finally happened.
"Do not worry dear sister," came Farrell's voice clear in her mind. "I'll look after the mage for you."
The tears came then. Joyful tears, because now Melody knew, in the deepest core of her being, that she would never truly be alone.
Draw your last breath, my friends,
Cross the Veil and the Fade and all the stars in the sky.
Rest at the Maker's right hand,
And be Forgiven.
Canticles of Trial 1:16
A/N: My first thanks go to my creative partner in crime, Fenzev. I've waxed poetic about my amazingly talented friend here many times, so multiply that by ten, and you'll get the idea of just how grateful I am to her :)
Liso66, I cannot thank you enough for the hours you've put in helping me to make this this story sparkle. You've been amazing to work with in every way, my friend!
I have read, responded to (I hope!) and appreciated every single review. I have delighted in each new person who has followed or put this story in their favorites. I thank every single one of you from the bottom of my heart.
At the very least, I know I will be writing future one-shots based on Mari Hawke, Fenris and the twins. In fact, one is already percolating! For now, I'm really excited to dive into my Varric fic, True Story, and to continue working on the collaborative story Basalit-an, with Fenzev and Lucien Grey.
This may be an ending of sorts, but like all endings, it's also a beginning, with lots of new adventures to explore! Yay! Thank you, thank you, thank you, I tell you three times! I heart you all!