Sometimes, when she was just waking up in the morning, Leandra Hawke thought she was Young Mistress Amell again, the apple of her father's eye and young enough to feel like a child again. Her room looked the same: the same crimson furnishings, the same bed, and even most of the same furniture. Then, she would look in the mirror and remember: Malcolm with his charming smile and laughter that hid great kindness and great sadness, leaving Kirkwall with him, the birth of Garrett, and then the birth of the twins, and their life together evading the Templars in Ferelden. She had never thought she would return home again, but the Maker had other plans for them.
She wished that, somehow, Malcolm, Carver, and Bethany were living here with her and Garret, but that wasn't to be. Malcolm and Carver were dead and Bethany imprisoned in the Gallows and she blamed herself. If they had not come here, Bethany wouldn't be in such a place. Even if they stayed in Ferelden and Bethany was caught, it would still have been better. Malcolm always said the Circle was a prison, but the Gallows was the one Circle that made no pretensions otherwise.
Shaking her head from such dark thoughts, she opened her wardrobe and dressed herself. It had been a long time since she had servants do it for her and now, after all these years, she much preferred it this way. As she finished, she heard the door open.
"Mistress, I brought you your morning tea," a subservient voice announced and Leandra turned to see a fearful-looking elf setting a tray of tea at a small table near the fireplace. She smiled kindly at the elf.
"Thank you Orana. That was very thoughtful of you," she said.
"You are too kind Mistress," she said with a blush, but Leandra could tell she was pleased.
She did not know much about the circumstances behind the elf taking up residence in their estate, nor did she think she really wanted to, but Garrett told her enough. She had been a slave of a Tevinter Mage from one of his friend's pasts and, after she had been slain, Garrett offered her a job. It was difficult helping the elf to understand she was free and could do whatever she wanted with her life, but it succeeded to some extent. Orana didn't fear being beaten or used as a sacrifice in blood magic, but she couldn't leave. Nor did she want to. Brother Sebastian, Bodahn, Sandal, and a couple of Hawke's elf friends helped, of course, but she had the feeling that Orana was a little frightened of the Tevinter elf, Fenris she believed his name was. Still, they along with her son's kind manner did her good, at least in Leandra's opinion.
"I think I will awaken my son," she said after pouring herself a cup of tea and drinking half of it, "It is almost 10 in the morning already."
"There is no need, Mistress. I will do it," Orana assured her.
"No, my son needs a firm hand to get him out of bed in the morning or he will lie in bed all day," Leandra replied, "Knowing him, he'll tell you he's getting up and sleep until dusks. You should go see if Bodahn needs help with anything."
"Right away, Mistress," she told her as she headed downstairs towards the main hall.
When she was gone, Leandra sighed slightly as she headed out her door and towards her son's room. She liked Orana and pitied her, but she was still a little uncomfortable being the master in a master-servant relationship. What she really wanted was for her son to find a woman he was serious in courting. It would be good to have an equal in her home that wasn't her son. Briskly, she opened the door to her son's bedroom and tugged at the drapes of his window to allow sunlight to shine into the dark bedroom.
"Garrett, it is almost time to start the day," she began only to fall silent when she saw that her son was not the only occupant in his bed. Laying her head on his chest was an elf, a naked elf, with tattoos winding all over her body. Leandra felt her face heat up. Too late, she remembered something Malcolm once told her. "There are some things about your children you should never have to see."
"Oh!" the elf exclaimed, holding the cover up to hide her nakedness with a flush on her heart-shaped face.
"Err, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this," Garrett began before Leandra cut him off.
"Just tell me straight: is this a fling or something serious?" she asked him with a straight face. Her son grinned sheepishly.
"Well, you always said this place seemed empty…"
"Well, that's something at least… But if this is a new scheme to upset the neighbors again…"
"Nah, that's just a bonus," Garret told her with a charming grin on his face. Merrill looked over at Hawke with a curious expression on her face.
"What does she mean by again?"
"You don't want to know," Leandra told her with a sigh before smiling slightly at the girl. It was a credit to her upbringing that she managed to maintain her composure as she said, "Perhaps you can join me for a cup of tea. I don't think we have talked much."
"Oh, that sounds nice! I just… Well, need to get dressed," Merrill stated awkwardly, blushing slightly. She wondered if all human women had tea with elves they found naked in their son's beds. She had a good feeling they didn't. It was yet another surprising thing about Hawke, but it was nice as all his surprises usually were, except if you were trying to kill him, of course.
As she thought this, Hawke glanced at his mother questioningly, but Leandra just smiled at him, "Meet us downstairs, darling. Go get something to eat I think Sandal is cooking breakfast this morning."
"So that's why you're having teatime instead. I swear the dwarf puts lyrium in everything he makes," Hawke commented, but Leandra was already out the door, leaving the two to get dressed. As Merrill pulled on her clothes from yesterday, she smiled weakly at Hawke.
"Well… Your mother's nice."
"That she is," he told her. He put on his robe and, glancing at the mirror, smiled ruefully, "The burn's barely noticeable."
"Oh. Sorry. I just… Got a little excited," Merrill flushed in embarrassment. Hawke laughed.
"Don't worry about it. I think I heard Isabela talking to Anders about mages using their powers in bed," he told her with a shrug.
"Well, sometimes I use a spell to help me goto sleep… Oh!" she flushed. Merrill hated being slow when it came to dirty things. She had hoped that sleeping with Hawke would help, but that didn't seem to be a case. Maybe if she did it more… She blushed more.
"Should I know anything about your Mother?" she asked. She was a little nervous about having tea with her. Isabela had told them some stories about her lovers' relations and it didn't sound pleasant.
"Don't worry. I think she likes you. Besides, there's a big difference between her finding someone like you in my room and someone like Isabela." Hawke told her. That made her feel a little better. Perhaps there were some benefits to living a boring life in comparison to her friend.
She smiled and gave him a quick kiss in thanks as she exited his room and she was pleased with the surprised look on his face afterwards when she left the room, though it was a little ruined when she poked her head back in and asked him where his mother's room was.
When Merrill at last entered her room, Leandra smiled warmly at her. To be honest, she looked about ready to bolt, almost like a deer, but managed to sit still in front of her nonetheless.
"Would you like sugar or honey with your tea?" she asked.
"Oh, honey," she stated immediately and Leandra poured a second cup of tea for her and mixed in a teaspoon of honey. Awkwardly, Merrill took it.
"Garrett speaks highly of you," Leandra said, trying to break the ice. Merill blinked.
"Really? What does he say?" she asked curiously. Then, realizing she might be rude, added, "Milady."
"None of that. You're a guest! And we're a little past formalities considering," Leandra told her and Merrill flushed nervously. Leandra continued despite this, saying, "He says that you're sweet and that it's amazing how Isabela hasn't corrupted you yet."
"Isabela isn't that bad. She's… worldly," Merrill told her. Leandra smiled.
"That she is. When she and Varric visit Garrett, it's like there is three of my husband," Leandra told her and Merrill cocked an eyebrow.
"Was Hawke's father a lot like him? Garrett, I mean," she said, cursing herself for falling back to calling him Hawke.
"Oh, yes. He had a way of saying just the last thing you'd expect and keep laughing, even at the most inappropriate times," Leandra told her and Merrill giggled. Hawke was like that.
"How do you like Kirkwall? It must be different from what you're used to," Leandra commented and Merrill shrugged awkwardly.
"It has its good parts. I don't know what I'd do without Hawke, Garrett, I mean. Isabela and Varric are wonderful too as well as the others, even if Fenris and Anders can get a little cranky. I can tell that Aveline likes Hawke and the others. She keeps coming back even if we sometimes make things harder for her. And Sebastian, well, he is shiny," Merrill commented.
"He is a fine young man. Other than Garrett, he is the most talked-about-young man among all the ladies. Even some old enough to be his mother."
Merrill frowned slightly. She bit her lip, "Are there many women who like Hawke?"
"Oh, yes. He never seemed too interested in them, though," Leandra assured her, "He is a change-of-pace to some of the stuffier nobles in Hightown. He's like his father that way. I wasn't the only one that had eyes on him."
Merrill looked interested and listened as she described some of the escapades Malcolm Hawke drew her into. She was right. Leandra, for her part, was glad to have an audience that wasn't uncomfortable about her and her husband's romantic life. Soon enough, though, the subject switched back to Garrett.
"It seems he can talk his way through anything. It's almost like magic," Merrill told her.
"Not everything. And, of course, Garrett wasn't always the charmer. I remember when he first liked a girl. He was five summers old and the girl next door was sixteen and looked after him…." Leandra began.
When Hawke had finished his breakfast and made his way upstairs, he found her and Merrill, to his horror, giggling.
"Alright. I hear giggling. That is never a good sign," Hawke stated and Merrill smiled at him.
"You were so cute as a Da'len, Ma Vhenan."
"Maker, I knew this was a bad idea!"
A/N. I hope you enjoyed this latest chapter. I'm sorry for not having it up sooner. I was busy with finals and Christmas. Suggestions on who to do next is welcome.