i might not be a hero and i might not be able to save even one city and i don’t know how to protect my family and i might not be the most punctual or intelligent gift giver and i forget where i was going with this actually
Fenris lifted their joined wrists and looked over the chain. Not too thick, but it couldn’t be cut with a sword. “Or…” He grabbed the chain in his free hand. It began glowing and he squeezed hard. Nothing. He tried again, grunting with the effort. Still nothing. The elf sighed, giving up for now. “Nevermind. Saw it is. Where do you suggest looking?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Hawke shaded her brow with her free hand. Overhead, the sky was bright blue, the mid-afternoon sunlight glittering down on the snow dappled landscape; a wide open world. “Vyrantium isn’t far from here, though I’d rather head south." Away from Minrathous, she tacked on internally. “Maybe we can find a good-natured old hermit like they do in the storybooks. So long as he doesn’t try to chop us into bite-size pieces and feed us to his squirrels after he’s done with the chain…”
"Not that I’m speaking from experience.”
Despite his exhaustion, Fenris chuckled at the image that conjured up. He couldn’t quite imagine Hawke being as exuberant as the dwarf. Still, he appreciated her concern, though it was unwarranted. As he sat there, staring into the fire, a memory stirred within him. “I remember… My mother used to sing to me to put me to sleep. An elvish song, but I can’t recall the words. Then she used to… Run her fingers through my hair,” he recalled distantly. Despite those memories, he still couldn’t remember her face.
“It must have been longer then,” Hawke remarked softly, flexing her hands at her sides as she willfully smothered the idea of running her own fingers through the moon-pale strands.
She came further into the room, until she could feel the warmth of the hearth on her cheeks and the tip of her nose. "My elvish is hardly up to scratch,“ she said with a faint smile. "Do you think you can hum it for me?”
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Isabela could tell from the way Marian’s shoulders and neck stiffened that she was… upset? No, that wasn’t the word. Relieved? No. There wasn’t a word in Thedas that could properly express how Marian felt about Anders and the chaos he threw her life into. Would telling her he was dead have been worse? Or better? Isabela couldn’t tell, it was beyond her experience. She had only loved once, and that was a vacation in comparison to Marian’s tempest.
She kept working instead of speaking, switching from water to salve and applying gently. It felt as though she had done this a thousand times now, usually running her mouth at one of her crewmen for being a complete and utter idiot. It was different from this. This was quiet, contemplative, and a mixture of quiet comfort and intense unease. She wasn’t sure how to process it.
“Sorry,” Isabela whispered automatically, though she knew full well that Marian wouldn’t be tearing up from a little sting. The woman had been run through before, from one of Isabela’s many mistakes. She’d made less since then, or so she liked to think.
“In the..?” she echoed, gaze flicking over to one of the many bottles on in her cabin. A small ship with three masts sat within it, balanced on blue glass meant to be the sea. “In quite the underwhelming fashion,” Isabela answered, lips twitching. “They fold up the boat and slip it inside, then use string to pull up the masts and sails.”
“Funny how often what we deem impossible is actually simple.”
“You mean it’s not a real ship? Shrunken by some dark magic with the slowly suffocating crew still inside?” Marian’s chuckle was a husk of its former self, but she was trying. Maker, was she trying.
There was another question in her, but this one she was afraid to ask so instead she swallowed it like a bitter pill. Her heart had lifted to hear Anders was alive, and sank to realize that the hearing of it was the extent of the impact made on the here and now. Sank, but hadn’t stopped beating as she listened to the plip-plip of Isabela wringing out the rag. She closed her eyes and filled her lungs anew, taking in the smell of the salve that carried her back to past injuries; past conversations and arguments. Mostly arguments, really, and mutinous ones at that. Of all the tales Varric had turned into miracles over the years, perhaps the most miraculous of all was how the Champion’s companions had managed to stay together for so long.
“Thanks,” Marian said in a different voice entirely. She reached up and touched the tacky layer of ointment on her neck and thought about dipping her fingers in Chantry candle wax with Carver when they couldn’t sit still during prayers. "Maybe I can borrow a scarf when this dries.“ She tried on a smirk. "If it ever dries."
Glancing at the bowl she saw the water was ruddied now, Isabela’s bracelets in a glittering pile beside it. She withdrew her hand and wicked it clean on her thigh, feeling more than hearing the faintest crinkle of her paper keepsake as she grazed the pocket that had become its reliquary. I’ll throw it away tomorr– Marian started to think, then stopped, and began to gradually rewrite the story she’d been telling herself for three years.