A/N: Another "what-iffy" one-shot fic about mage James Hawke. Kinda graphic, but sometimes it's good to get something startling out so you can go back to the slower pace of chapter writing. Thanks for reading!


Chaos, pain, indignation, Kirkwall burning just outside his estate. The Arishock had finally done it, declaring war on the Free Marches and basically destroying the city in a matter of minutes. Aveline and James had made it to Hightown and parted ways, and now James sat in his room, at the end of the large bed where he'd first admitted to loving Anders, the bed that Oranna remade each morning no matter how hard James worked to perfect it beforehand. It was the bed where his lover had come to give condolence after Leandra was murdered. James wanted nothing more than to see his mother now, to hear her say that he hasn't been at fault for Bethany's death, for Carver's near death, for her own death, but none of that was true.

Martin's poison was in the locked desk drawer not ten feet away. Hawke had put a vial away, saving it just in case. In case of what? He'd never had an answer until today. He stood and walked to the desk, staring past and out the window to Hightown below. His neighbor, the man who never wore clothes, was dead, a naked statue in a dark, drying pool of his own blood and insides. The angle at which his head was held made him state almost directly into the bedroom window, perhaps trying to encourage Hawke. Don't worry, Ferelden; living is the hard part. Now lie down and die like a good dog.

James tried to imagine what he would look like when his own body was found. Would it be Bodahn or Oranna? Creeping in to make his bed as she always had only to see it had not been unmade from the night before, finding her dead Master draped across it as gracefully as he could manage in the throes of death, what would she do? Perhaps she would dust him and keep on going as if he was a lamp. James wasn't sure he wanted that attention anyway. And what if it was Anders who came upon him, what then? Would Justice rejoice for a distraction defeated? Who would sit on the bed beside Anders and comfort him? Would Fenris find a way to blame him? Would Aveline?

The time of Fantasy was gone, however, and perhaps it always had been. Even after Bethany's death, Hawke told himself that life could be more, could be better in another place. Leandra's blame and Carver's rage, however, had made that dream wane each day until Quentin and the damned Deep Roads had stomped its choking corpse into pretty dust. As thought consumed him, he barely noticed that his body was moving, opening the drawer and taking out the vial of freedom, staring into it as if its secrets could be known of the living. His hand lifted, the vial tipped, lips parted, throat open; Hawke drank deep from his parting glass.

The taste was acrid, strong and deep, and it turned his lips, his tongue, his throat numb. The numbness spread into his chest and he exhaled against it, his chest struggling as his heart, in its own panic, pumped the toxin through him that much faster. James returned to the bed, laying down and pulling close the pillow that Anders slept on. Breathing shallow and ragged, each breath pulled in the scent of love, of comfort and safety. His body tensed and shook, wracked with both numbness and faraway pain as it struggled violently against death. His mind, however, and his soul, welcomed it eagerly; opening his eyes at the end, he saw the faces of family, and then nothing at all.