Tale of the Stranger (or How I Met Selena Hawke)

Chapter 11

A thunderstorm in Kirkwall was like nothing I had ever experienced at home. The rain was heavy, oppressive, rattling the windows with it's heavy beat. Lightning blinded while thunder cracks had, more than once, caused Hawke's mabari war hound, Spirit, to cower against me on the long sofa in the study. With a thick blanket wrapped about my legs and a hearty fire in the fireplace, the chill of the day was kept at bay. Barely.

It felt like the beginning of autumn, though I really had no clue. Game Kirkwall always seemed to be the same season, though I'm sure the temperatures couldn't stay that steady here. Why worry about programming changes in the weather, I guess. It's not like most gamers really cared.

In my lap rested a sheaf of papers, charcoal in my fingers. A list of quests that were still to come up. I was trying to figure out what things I could change, what were going to have to run their course, and maybe what consequences I would have to face in changing things. Upon saving Leandra, I had forgotten that we were also saving Alessa and Emeric. And what about Dupuis? No one had seen nor heard from him since the death of Quenten.

First, I was going to have to find Wall-eyed Sam. If I could get back the Qunari relic, maybe the Arishok would leave, saving who knows how many lives, not the least of which the Viscount's and Saemus. Would that also derail Petrice? Or was I going to be forced to deal with her anyway?

Then maybe I could find and destroy Alrik, before Anders had to. Then again, the only place I knew for a fact he would be was the Gallows, and I sure as shit wasn't about to kill him there.Same with Fenris and Hadrianna. I hadn't a clue where the holding caves were, or when she would be there. And would it be possible to find Bartrand before he sold the idol to Meredith? And if not, could I get it away from her before she completely lost it?

"Fuck!" I suddenly yelled, flinging the sheets away from me to the floor, startling the dog into another yelp. Too many variables. I'd never be able to figure it all out.

As I reached out to soothe the dog, scratching between his ears as he moved into the touch, there was a soft chuckle at the door. I turned to spot my boys, Anders and Garrett, leaning slightly into each other. Hawke had his arm resting across the mage's shoulders, while Anders was gripping the other's hip. With the light of the fire softly gilding their forms, they were absolutely beautiful.

In the week since Anders had his little...episode...they had become much closer, to the point where I was sure they were finally -FINALLY!- having sex. But they were being very circumspect about the whole thing, I think mostly out of respect for Leandra. I smiled and motioned them to join me on the couch.

Garrett told Spirit to get down, which he did with a roll of the eyes, then made me scoot to the middle so that they could sit to either side, draping arms across the back, hands to my shoulders. I leaned a shoulder to Anders, a hip against Garrett and sighed. It was nice, comfortable to be with these two men. Even more than with my husband when we had been together. Except for that kiss with Garrett, nothing had happened between the three of us, and yet I felt like I had come home some days.

"So," Anders began," what has you so aggravated that you would take it out on poor unsuspecting paper?"

"Ugh." I leaned closer, placing a hand upon Anders' thigh. "I'm trying to work out what, if anything, I can change to make Kirkwall...safer. And don't either of you look at those papers! No good can come of you knowing too much!"

"How do you know?" Garrett asked, brushing his finger pads softly across my shoulder, irreverant grin shining. "Maybe just knowing it's coming will make things change."

"First, if that were true, everything would have changed already, since I'm here and know what's going to happen," I said, wrapping my other hand up to scratch at his beard. "Second, if everything did change, would that necessarilly be to the better? What if I unleash something that's even worse? Something I don't know is there because it never came up in the game?"

I could feel them both tense slightly against me. "Well,shit,"Anders murmured, pulling me even closer to his side. Garrett grunted and pulled me back. The next thing I know, the two are playfully pulling me between them like a fought over toy. I laughed at their antics, which had, apparently been the point, distracting me from my ponderings.

"All right! We came in here for a reason!" Garrett declared, standing and pulling me up from the couch. "We're taking you out!"

"What?" I asked incredulously, looking out one of the tall windows. "It's pissing rain out there!"

"So? We'll wear our oiled cloaks. And we're not going far. The Viscount's annual dinner is tonight and you're both coming with me."

"Both? Why not just take Anders?" I leaned in, speaking a little more softly. "Wouldn't you prefer to just spend your time with him?"

"Of course I would." Garrett sighed, reaching around me to take a hold of Anders' hand and pull him up as well. "But Mother says she can't go this year- haven't a clue why- and Anders won't come without you. And much as I might love to bring just you, I would be pining for my favourite mage all night, and that wouldn't be fair to you."

"Fine," I sighed, heading for the stairs. Maybe I had something that wouldn't be too uncomfortable to dance in swirling around my armoire.

"And look girly!" Hawke called from the study.


I have to admit, I didn't look half bad. Dove gray silk with a fitted bodice and full skirt, complimented by a dark silver corset, embroidered to within an inch of it's life. Charcoal slippers and wool cloak, paired with some simple silver earrings finished everything off. Instead of leaving my hair down as I prefered, I had swept it up into a loose chignon, with wispy tendrils to either side of my face. A soft touch of corral lip colour- not really lipstick as I knew it, but a tinted cream that was pretty none the less- and I was about ready to face the throngs of nobles.

Ah, crap! I gotta deal with nobles!

I'd have turned back to hide in my room behind a locked door, and possibly a blocking armoire, if Anders hadn't come out of his room just then. I was taken aback at just how beautiful he looked. Hawke had obviously been buying clothes for him, since his usual linen trousers and shirt were missing, in favour of soft tan leather breeches and vest over a cream silk shirt. Darker brown leather boots encased his leanly muscled legs with matching gloves tucked into a pocket. He'd even shaved, his face smooth and a touch reddened from the scrape of the razor.

He was beautiful. And standing there, mouth agape, eyes wide, and staring at me.

"What? Something between my teeth?" I joked nervously, using my tongue to probe at a molar.

"You. You look..."

"Yeah, I know, all girly-fied and ridiculous."

"No. You look beautiful."

His voice was, if I didn't know better, awe-filled. Taking a good look I realized that he really meant it. I blushed under his gaze as he moved towards me and offered his arm. "M'Lady? Care to allow me to escort you down the stairs?"

I grinned up at him. God, is he ever tall."But of course, messer. I would be honoured." I slid my hand to the crook of his elbow and we descended to the main foyer.

Hawke exited the study as we reached the ground and I was struck by how lucky I was to have been accepted by these two beautiful men. Garrett's hair was still damp from a recent bath, dark and shining. He, too, sported simple breeches, vest and shirt, in shades of navy and maring blue that brought out the deep colour of his eyes. Without a word, he took my cloak, draping it around my shoulders before leaning in to place a chaste kiss on my forehead. Damn! I must really look good to have rendered Garrett speechless.

Anders, on the other hand, received a full kiss on the lips that had me aroused within moments. Damn, but that ws hot! I had become so distracted I didn't notice when the boys parted and donned their cloaks for the trip to the Keep.

"Selena? You okay?" Anders asked, moving into my field of vision, breaking me from my quite erotic little daydream.

"Hmm? Wha- oh! Yes. Yes, let's go." I stammered.

Garrett chuckled. "Bet you were thinking some very dirty thoughts there, weren't you? Maybe something along the lines of the three of us-"

"Stop it."

"-all hot and sweaty-"

"Stop it!"

"-and naked-"

"Damn it, Garrett, stop it!" I yelled, flushing horribly from embarassment, and not a little arrousal. Great! Now I'm all horny and my smalls are damp.

Hawke continued to chuckle to himself while Anders shot him a dirty look before reoffering his arm. "Come on. We'll just leave the idiot here and go to the Hanged Man. Show Lowtown that we can clean up all right."

"No, I promise, I'll be good." Garrett laughed, tucking my other hand into his arm so that I was between them. Fluttering his lashes in a horrible mimicry of Isabela, he whispered. "Give me a couple hours, I can be really good."

I laughed, punching his arm as we went out into the rainy streets of Hightown.

"So this is the lovely Selena of which you told me so much," a voice spoke from behind.

We were in the Viscount's ballroom, sipping at sparkling wine as we watched others twirl across the dance floor. I learned early on that I sucked at the chorographed dances that were apparently the norm at this sort of affair, and so Garrett and Anders were keeping me entertained on the sidelines, watching the nobles mince amongst each other.

I was first struck by just how huge the Viscount's Keep really was. In the game, you basically had the entry hall, where we had been greeted, our cloaks taken and drinks served, then the Guard baracks were to the right, Viscount's offices to the left, and throne room straight ahead. In fact , there were doors leading off to the Viscount's living quarters, something akin to a boardroom and the ballroom, as well as several other areas that I had yet to explore.

The ballroom, itself, was massive, a glittering mass of white marble and gilded columns that blinded with the light of a multitude of chandeliers. I shuddered to think of the number of candles that were needed to light the room in this way.

I turned to the voice and found myself face to face with Marlowe Dumar, Kirkwall's illustrious Viscount. Even dressed for the fetivities and flush from the wine, Marlowe looked tired. I immediately felt for the man. It couldn't be easy to rule this city, especially since he had basically been placed in the seat at Knight-Commander Meredith's choosing. Trying to make the best of the situation, knowing that you didn't really earn your seat.

"Ah, Dumar!" Hawke cried, reaching out to shake the man's hand. "Nice party you've got going! Could do without all the stuck ups and a bit more ale, but not bad."

The Viscount stared at Hawke a moment before bursting out with laughter. "Yes, definitely could do without the stuck ups but there'd be even more bitching to listen to if I didn't invite them."

"True, true. Well, Marlowe Dumar, I would like to officially introduce you to Sellena of Lothering. Soon to be my wife."

We'd agreed on Lothering as being my home some time ago, if anyone should inquire. It was easest to pretend I was a refugee from Hawke's home village to explain why I was living at the- wait, WHAT?

I stared up at Garrett in shock, nearly spilling my glass until Anders reached out and took it from me. He, too, look a bit surprised at this announcement. Garrett just beemed down at me as though he had told the best joke.

"Congratulations, my dear," Marlowe said, taking my hand and kissing the back of it. "I hope to be invited to the wedding."

"Oh, you will be, Marlowe. Don't you fret." Garrett was evidently loving my shock, placing a hand to the small of my back as the Viscount moved away and placing a brief kiss to the top of my head.

I pulled back quickly. "What the hell, Hawke?" I hissed. "Why would you lie like that to the Viscount? Now he's expecting a wedding, for Christ's sake!"

"Who sayd I'm lying," he replied, suddenly serious, taking my hand and looking my straight in the eye. "You need a closer tie to me than just living in the house. You're all alone in this world, and if something were to happen to me- Maker forbid- I want to be sure you're taken care of."

I just looked up at him, shocked at this confession. The lack of shock from Anders told me that they had discussed this amongst themselves already. They just hadn't bothered to talk to me. Anders reached out to take my elbow and I jerked away from the both of them.

"I- I just need to -" I couldn't finish my sentence, just rushed from the room, as quickly as these damned slippered feet could take me. I rushed heedless of where I was going, eventually making my way into a small library, dark but for a couple of candles. What the fuck? What did he just...What the fuck just happened in there?

I threw myself down in a nearby chair, thick leather sighing as it settled. Beautiful but stupid. That's the kind of men I've somehow been saddled with. Dammit to hell! that is NOT how you go about proposing to a girl!

A soft cough from farther in the room caught my attention and I peered into the gloom trying to find the source. A shadowed figure was sitting closer to the book shelves, face hidden but a large tome evident in his lap. The figure reached out to a candle, pulling it closer that we both could see. He was young, younger than I anyway, with thick, unkempt black hair and piercing turquoise eyes. His wrinkled doublet, in an unfortunate shade of teal, may have made his skin look sallow, but made the colour of his eyes pop.

"I apologize," I said, standing to move to the door. "I didn't realize there was anyone here. I'll...I'll just go."

"No, please," the boy replied, waving a hand to a chair closer to his own. "Join me, please. It's not often that I meet anyone worth speaking with at these damned parties."

I smiled at that and settled in the chair he had indicated. "I'm Selena, a guest of Garrett Hawke's"

"Ah, yes. Hawke. Quite the interesting man. I'm Saemus."

"Nice to meet you, Saemus," I answered, reaching out to chake his hand. He looked surprised for a moment, then smiled and returned the gesture. "So what are you reading this evening?"

It was nice spending time with the Viscount's boy. He was open and curious about my life and his own, making no pretense over being heir to the throne. When I explained to him aobut Garrett's ham fisted proposal, he declared that the next time he saw the man, Hawke would be sporting new bruises for abusing my honour as he did. I laughed, knowing that Hawke would certainly not be harmed by the boy, but loving that Saemus felt the need to protect me so soon after our meeting.

We chatted about the Qunari and his admiration of them. I was taken by the vehemence of his responses to my queries and knew that this was no passing fancy for him. This was something that he was seriously thinking of following, knowing that it would be for the rest of his life. He truly believed in the philosophioes of the Qun.

Neither of us realized just how much time had passed until we heard a sharp exclamation behind us at the door. "There you are!" said the Viscount. "Have you any idea how frantic your boys are just now, unable to find you?"

I stood and turned with a sheepish smile. "My apologies, your Grace. I was simply distractingly entertained by your son." I turned to give the boy my hand in a firm handshake. "Do you think they've suffered enough, Saemus."

He turned my wrist to softly kiss my knuckles with a flourishing bow. "I believe that I have monopolized enough of your time in either case."

"Oh, you're good. Very smooth," I giggled, before turning to brush past Dumar. "Watch out for him, serrah, or he'll be having horde's of young ladies filling the halls of the Keep in no time."

Father and son were left laughing as I made my way back intot he main part of the Viscount's Keep. Unknowingly, I had found myself in the Viscount's private library in my wanderings. It was no wonder that Garrett and Anders had been unable to find me.

When I found myself on the landing overlooking the main foyer, I stopped. There were Anders and Garrett, the latter pacing frantically while the former tried to soothe him. My breath caught as I realized that this was a scene akin to when we had gone in search of Anders. Garrett was scared. Scared that he had done something that would be unforgivable to someone he cared about. And that meant that he cared about me. Really cared. As much as Anders, cared about me.

When the healer looked up and spotted me, he smiled. He knew, and it was okay. I began the walk down the stairs, watching the boys as I went. Anders touched Garrett's shoulder and nodded towards me. Hawke spun, wild eyed and flushed to see me coming down to them. Without thought he ran forwards, up the stairs until he could fling his arms around me, burying his head into my stomach from the stairs below me.

"I'm sorry," he mumbled into the silk. "I thought it would be a great surprise! But I suck at surprises, don't I? Please forgive me. We don't have to marry if you don't want. I don't want to push."

I sighed with a smile and gently touched his back, making him look up at me. "You are such a ninny, you know that? You most certainly suck at surprises, I'll give you that. Now, straighten up! The three of us are going to go home, lounge around in our finery, and drink a shit load of wine. In a few days, we'll talk aobut this whole marriage thing, okay?"

Garrett nodded, wide eyed like a chastised child, standing straighter and trying unsuccessfully to flatten his now unruly hair.

"The engagement's not official anyway," I giggled. "You never gave me a ring."

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