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

Chapter 2

The boys had gone out into the hall to talk, leaving me to stew on my own, so I started to snoop. It was a fairly large room, familiar but almost empty. The bed was old but the linens were fairly new, like the bed was just a stop-gap while a new one was on it's way. An empty hearth had obviously been recently cleaned and a hand-knot rug was rolled in a corner, waiting to be unfurled.

I'm in Hawke's mansion, and he hasn't owned it long.

Okay, I can deal with this...Apparently I'm hallucinating, or dreaming or...dead. Think, stupid, think. What were you doing before...all this? What happened?

I sat cross-legged on the bed, blanket wrapped around my lap, fingers pressed to my temples. I couldn't think, every time I tried to remember past breakfast, all I saw was a bright green light and my mind slipped to waking up into Anders' eyes. Dammit!

I threw myself back against the mattress in a fit of pique, sighing melodramatically. Well, melodramatically for me anyway. This is ridiculous! So, I'm in Kirkwall, which is a complete impossibility, and yet here I am. And I wish I knew where my pants are.

The boys' voices were starting to carry through the door as they rose in volume- and were joined by a few more.

"-you find a strange woman in strange clothing washed up on the beach and you bring her into your home without finding out anything about her?" a no-nonsense female queried.Aveline. "Have you lost what little sense you were born with?"

"Av, it's fine. She's harmless. She would have died if we hadn't found her when we did. And where else am I supposed to take her? Gamlen's? Yeah, that would go over well, wouldn't it?" Deffinitely Hawke...and annoyed. Hmmmm.

"Ooooh," a little voice chirped in the cutest Welsh accent. That would be Merrill. "What's she like? Is she nice?"

"I haven't really had the chance to talk with her much, but she's...a little strange."

"Strange?" Aveline asked. "Like how?"

"Oh, leave it Man-Hands." Ah, Isabella. Loves to get under Aveline's skin. "Not everyone is some wanted criminal that you can throw in the brig." Ah, thanks Izzy!

"Rivaini, don't tempted her," a deep voice chuckled. Varric. I've always loved that voice. "You're the biggest wanted criminal in Kirkwall. Aside from Hawke."

"All, right, everyone. I have a patient in that room and I'm going to check on her. Aveline, if you want to talk to her, follow me. The rest of you, just stay out of my way, all right?"

Anders poked his head into the room with a bright smile. "Are you decent? Can we come in?"

I chuckled softly. "You can come in, but Mom says I've never been decent."

Anders froze for a moment, then burst into laughter, joined by Hawke, Isabela and Varric. Fenris and Aveline merely scowled while Merril just looked confused. "Was that dirty?" she whispered."I always miss out on the dirty things."

"Not really dirty, Merrill. I'll let you know when I say something dirty." I replied.

It didn't dawn on me that I had done it again, until I had Fenris' clawed gauntlet wrapped around my throat, his face the barest inch away from mine. Shit! Hawke and Aveline were pulling at his arms, barely holding him back from ripping out my throat. The others were screaming for him to stop, weapons pulled, magic pulsing.

I couldn't breathe, black spots were dancing in front of my eyes. I was slapping at his hands, ineffectually trying to pry at his hands. It was like trying to push a car with just your pinky- it wasn't happening. Christ on a crutch! When am I going to learn to keep my mouth shut?

Suddenly, he released, and the air that I drew into my lungs hurt almost as much as his hands. Anders was right there, healing magic swirling about my neck, soothing away the pain. It was cool and tingled, like peppermint on the tongue.

"Fenris, stop trying to kill the girl!" Hawke yelled, glaring at the elf. Fenris merely growled in response, body taut in anger.

"It's okay, Garrett," I coughed, leaning into Anders arms, trying to catch my breath. "I've got to start watching my mouth. I really do."

"Oh, Kitten, can I watch it? It's just so luscious?" Isabela winked.

"Very funny, Izzy. Nothing about me is luscious except the fatrolls."

The silence was deafening. I looked around the room, noting that the group were exchanging very confused looks. "What? Did I grow a third arm or something? Why are you staring at me like that?"

Isabela settled herself on the edge of the bed. "Unless your tits count as fatrolls, Kitten, you are seriously deluded."

I looked at her, studying her face. She wasn't lying. It was then that I realized that my body didn't feel quite right. I looked down and realized that I no longer had a stomach- I mean, no extra pounds...anywhere! My arms and legs seemed longer, leaner, with sinewy muscle I've deffinitely never seen. And- Hey!- my tits haven't been this perky in years! "I...I need a mirror...please."

"I think Mother has a looking glass around in her room somewhere," Garrett said before rushing off, returning moments later with a beautifully gilded handmirror. Suddenly I didn't want to look. What was I going to see? Did I want to know? Could I go without knowing? Of course, that deciscion was taken away from me, just like pretty much everything else since I'd woken up, when Hawke held the mirror up to my face.

I screamed. Not a gasp or a girly squeal. I screamed in absolute terror. I don't remember doing it, but apparently I scuttled back against the headboard, curled up in a fetal ball. I couldn't stop shaking. I think I blacked out a little because the next thing I knew, Anders was on one side of me, Merrill on the other, holding me, keeping me from flying apart.

"Lethalin, what's wrong?" she asked softly, lightly rubbing up and down my arm. Anders just held me tight, looking at me in concern. They all were, even Fenris. In fact, he looked like he wanted to reach out and hold me himself.

"This...isn't my face," I managed to whisper.

"What do you mean, Kitten?"Isabela asked softly.

"I'm a forty year old mother of five! With mousy brown hair and sagging tits. This isn't me!" I shuddered, wrapping my arms around myself. Anders pulled me in tighter to his side in comfort.

The face that looked back at me from Hawke's mirror was...well, it was beautiful. Heart shaped with porcelain skin, large violet eyes with long dark lashes. Long dark hair so black it's almost blue. It's the kind of face I wished I could have had. The face I would create for my female Hawke characters when I played.

I shook and cried for some time, apparently, while Anders rocked and soothed me. I passed out after a while because when I came to myself I was lying in the bed, wrapped up tightly in the soft knit blanket. A small fire had been laid in the hearth and I was alone...no, wait, there was a slumped shape in a highbacked chair next to the bed, draped in shadow.

When I shifted to sit up, the figure moved forward, white hair glinting in the moonlight from the window. Fenris. His eyes flashed, as did his markings. He was obviously aggitated, but I really didn't want to have to deal with this right now. I didn't want to have to deal with anything to tell the truth.

"Who are you?" Fenris growled. Oh, how that voice just did something to me. "Who are you working for?"

I sighed. This was going to be like talking to my ex. Always suspicious, always assuming that I was lying. Damned insecure. "My name is Selena. I'm not working for anybody."

"I don't believe you."

"Yeah, I got that. What do you want from me, Fenris?"

"I want the truth. Tel me how you know who we are. Tell me why you were all but drowned on that beach on the Wounded Coast.Tell me why you reacted to the mirror the way you did."

I sat myself up straight and leaned against the headboard. Fenris didn't really want to hear the truth, he wanted to hear that I was here from Danarius. If I was from Danarius then he could kill me and the uncertainty would be over. But, of course, I wasn't from Danarius.

"I don't know how I got here," I sighed, rubbing at my temple. I had a wicked headache starting up. "I- I'm not from this world. I know who you are because you're all in a game, a video game. I've been playing it for years. I know so many things about all of you, you're more real to me than a lot of the people I know and love."

"Don't lie to me, woman! You sound...I was going to say Fereldan but that's not right. Are you Fereldan?" Fenris looked as though it was taking all of his self-control not to finish the job he had done on my throat earlier.

"Ask me a question, Fenris. Something only you know, and I'll try and answer it." The headache was getting worse, like a vise tightening around my skull. The world was taking on a slight green tinge.

Fenris sat back in his chair, clutching tightly at the armrests. He paused, obviously thinking before posing his question. "What is my name?"

"Clever, Fenris. If I tell you your real name, you'll say I'm lying and if I don't you'll say that I don't know and am lying. Try again." I chuckled softly, rubbing at my temples.

"But you do know it?"

"Yes, but it's not something you should know right now."

"Then how did I escape Tevinter?"

My lips quirked up in a slight smile. "First or second time?"

Fenris gasped and flew from the chair, toppling it as he backed away to the hearth. Guess he believed me now, huh? "How could you possibly-?"

"I told you, Fenris. And don't worry, I won't tell anyone else. Your secret is safe until you decide to reveal it. Just as everyone else's are safe as well, so don't go asking about them either."

He fled the room, slamming the door against the wall in his haste, sending Hawke scurrying in moments later. "You okay? He didn't hurt you or anything did he?"

"No Garrett," I sighed. "I just told him something he didn't really want to hear and it scared him. And-no- I'm not telling you what it is."

Hawke chuckled softly to himself, leaning against the doorframe. "Is there anything you need then, Selena?"

"No, Hawke. No, but thanks." I said, sliding back under the blanket. "Go to be with your friends."

"Rest well, or Anders will kick my ass."

I snickered as I drifted back into sleep.

Green light, so bright, blinding, pulsing. Water, salty and heavy. Pain, fire, screaming, sharp, unending. Can't move, can't scream, can't can't can't can't-

I didn't realize I'd woken until I felt arms wrapped tight around me. I fought, hard, fists and elbows hitting flesh. It took me a few moments to finally come back to myself to find Hawke's arms holding me, blood dripping from a freshly broken nose.

"Oh my God, Hawke! Are you all right?" I cried, twisting to see the damage I had caused. He pushed away my flailing hands, looking back at me with concern of his own.

"Selena, I'm fine, I'm good. What about you?" he asked. "You were screaming and thrashing. Having one doozy of a nightmare."

Green light, bright, flashing-


I could feel his hands on my arms, holding me tight, but I couldn't move. I could feel the light, pulsing in my veins, see it shining all around me. I could hear myself screaming from the pain, but it was disconnected, like it was happening to someone else.

There were others yelling from different parts of the house. Hawke's friends were here and coming. Anders! Anders was coming!

I must have passed out again, because the next thing I knew, they were all there. Anders was sitting on the edge of the bed, cool healing magic spreading from the hands pressed to my temples. Hawke stood to one side of the bed, holding tightly to my hand. Strangely enough, Fenris was doing the same on the other side. The others were arrayed about the room in varrying degrees of concern.

"Hey," Anders whispered softly, noting my opened eyes, pulling back his hands and magic. "How are you doing?"

"What-" my voice rasped. I guess I'd been screaming alot. "What happened?"

"We were hoping you could tell us," Anders replied as Hawke and Fenris helped me to sit up. "You were screaming and glowing green. Which, to put it mildly, is a little odd."

I closed my eyes, breathing deeply, trying to stay calm. What happened? I thought about it, but the harder I tried to reach for it, the more my head hurt and the light behind my eyes tinged green.

"Hey!" I heard Hawke cry. When I opened my eyes, everyone was staring at me in alarm. "You were starting to glow again. Are you okay?"

I looked around the room, gauging the reactions of Hawke's friends. Most looked at me as though I were a threat- Aveline had actually pulled her sword and shield as though I were about to attack. Hawke, Anders, Merrill and -strangely- Fenris, were looking more concerned for me than about me. And it felt comforting.

"It seems that when I try to remember what happened to me, how I got here, the green...thingy...happens. So, if it's okay with you guys, I'm just going to not think about that for a while," I said softly, looking into the eyes of each of Hawke's companions in turn. Slowly, they all backed down, for which I smiled.

Hawke patted my hand, placing it down gently before moving over to a nearby armoire. "Okay, then. Isabela found you some clothes," he started pulling things out and tossing them to the end of the bed, "but we couldn't find a replacement for your...breastband...thingy, so you'll have to go without for a bit. Yours was a total mess, as were your trousers. We'll leave you to dress unless you think you need a hand, and meet you downstairs in the study for breakfast."

I nodded, but asked Merrill to stay, just in case. The others filed out, Garrett and Anders with parting smiles, Fenris with a scowl. I didn't know if it was directed at me personally or if it was just because the blood mage was being allowed to stay. Either way, it sent a thrill up my spine that I certainly wasn't expecting.

I shifted to a sitting position at the side of the bed and realized that I REALLY needed to pee. "Uh, Merrill? You don't suppose there's a place around here that I can...uh...urinate, is there?"

"Oh!" she exclaimed. "Of course, How silly! I should have realized-" she rushed from the room to a door across the hall, peered in, then returned to wrap her arm around my waist. It was a good thing too, otherwise I would have fallen over on my wobbly legs. We shuffled to the other room, a beautifully large, marble lined bathroom. The tub was linked directly to a water pump system and I could see someone's- probably the dwarf Sandal's- runic handywork adorning the pipes. Merrill brought me to a nother large closet, inside of which was basically a seat with a hole in it.

"Just don't fall in," she tittered. "It goes all the way into the sewers, and gets sluiced out by the water drained from the tub. Aren't the dwarves just brilliant? They thought all this up ages ago when the Tevinters owned Kirkwall. All the big muckity-mucks used to have a set like this. Although they used to heat they're own water and Hawke had to have runes put in-"

"Thanks, Merril," I interupted, otherwise I'd never get to pee. "I can take it from here."

"Oh! Of course! I'm babbling again aren't I? I'll try to stop, really I will. It's just that you're so new and-"


"Right. Shutting up now."

By the time I was able to wash quickly, brush out my hair- black, Oh My God, I've never had black hair in my life- and gotten dressed- buttery soft black leather breeches and a simple lavender cotton tunic top with short sleeves and a slit just past my hips for easy movement- I was ready to walk around on my own again. There were no socks or shoes in the armoire, so barefoot I went, down the stairs, following Merrill into what I presumed was the study.

It was very much what I had come to expect from the game, though the book shelves were still mostly empty and there were no chairs by the fireplace. Instead, it looked as though some kitchen chairs had been dragged in, as well as a couple of stools, and the bench from the front entryway. Everyone was seated, except for Fenris who seemed to prefer pacing, and space had been left for Merrill and I. She skipped over to Isabella and draped herself across the buxom pirate's hip while I was situated myself between Hawke and Anders on the bench. Both men smiled at me, making me want to reach out and hug them.

"All right," Aveline began, no nonsense as always."Fenris has told us some of what you two discussed last night. But I want to hear it from you. You say that you are from another world and that you know what's going to happen."

I froze, kind of blinking rapidly at that. Wow! That was...succinct. I glanced briefly at Fenris, who seemed a bit embarassed to have been caught telling tales, then back at Aveline. "I guess that's about right."


Jeez, what a grouch! "Okay, here it goes. Where I'm from, we have something called video games, in which we play a character and interact with other characters to bring about certain events. You guys are from a game called Dragon Age- and I'm pretty sure this is all just some crazy dream I'm having and I'll wake up any minute now. I've played this game so many times that...well, I know parts of you better than you do."

Everyone was looking at me with varrying degrees of crazy. Should have expected that one, I guess. "I know how it sounds, okay, but you're just going to have to trust me. I told Fenris something last night that makes me think that he won't be able to just brush this off-" the group turned to him and he nodded silently, unhappy with the attention "- so why don't the rest of you think up a question and I'll try and answer it for you."

"Oooh! Ive got one!" Isabela squealed. "What's my favourite sexual position?"

""You on top, watching your partner watching you. Try a hard one." I laughed. Isabela was shocked for a moment, because apparently I'd gotten it right, then tried again. "How did I get my first ship The Siren's Call?"

Damed good thing I played Origins, too. "You were sold to your husband at the age of sixteen, a ship captain. He was assassinated by the Antivan Crow, Zevran Arainai, and you inherited it." That got her- and everyone's- attention. I'd never seen anyone so dark skinned go so pale in my life. Luckily she had Merrill there to keep her sitting upright, otherwise I think she might have fainted.

"All right," Aveline started cuatiously. "Tell me something about me that no one else in this room knows about."

I twitched my finger, beckoning her closer. She moved to me and I leaned as close to her ear as I could, so that the boys to either side of me couldn't hear. "Donnic," I whispered.

She pulled back in a jerk, eyes wide in surprise. Oh, that got her all right! She carefully made her way back to her stool, sitting slowly with her eyes trained on mine. She didn't know what to make of me, that's for sure.

I sighed and leaned against Anders' arm for a moment. I didn't want these people to be afraid of me or hate me. I loved these people, had been living their lives with them when my own got too complicated. Anders looked down at me in concern and I quirked my lips in a smile. Well, at least one person isn't afraid of me. Hawke squeezed my fingers lightly and I looked over at him. He was grinning encouragingly. Make that two.

"Okay!" Hawke said suddenly, pulling away to clap his hands together before standing up. "I think we can all agree that Selena, here, knows some things that the rest of us are not privy to. We'll chock it up to magic and move on. Now, I suggest that she move in here with Mother and I until she decides that she wants to live on her own," he peered down at me,"Is that all right?"

He's aksing my opinion? In the game he ususally just kind of drags people along behind him.

He continued in a rushed manner that sort of suggested that he was nervous. Why is he nervous? "I mean, Izzy and Varric live at the Hanged Man and that's no place to wake up in the morning-"

"I resent that, Hawke!" Varric laughed, looking up from the book he was writing all this down in.

"- Merrill's in the Alienage and even if she had the extra room, the elves probably wouldn't take too kindly to a human living there. Aveline is in the Barracks and there's absolutely no privacy there. Fenris has the space, but his place is so dilapitated that it might just fall around your ears while you sleep-"

Fenris grunted, either in annoyance or agreement, I couldn't tell.

"- and I'm trying to get Anders to move into the mansion too, because it's just way too cold and dangerous to live in Darktown."

I laughed, which was apparently the international symbol for she's okay because the others joined in as well. Even Fenris quirked up his lips. Hawke blushed slightly and scratched at his beard sheepishly. It was cute to see the mighty warrior like this, to tell the truth. "Yes, fine, I'll stay here. For now. But what about you? I mean, it's obvious you don't have this place fully furnished yet. If that's the only bed upstairs, where will I sleep?"

"I'm staying with Mother at Uncle Gamlen's right now, until the rest of the furniture is delivered, so you can sleep in the bed. I can send Spirit here to keep you company, if you like."

I had to think for a moment. then remembered. "A rare white Mabari, right? Always wanted to meet a real Mabari. Kind of like one of our pit bulls and mastiffs rolled into a smart car."

And there were those funny looks again. It was really starting to bother me. Guess I was going to have to grow a thicker skin...

Suddenly my stomach rumbled, loud and ominous, breaking the tension and causing everyone to laugh. "I'm thinking it's time to feed the girl, there, Hawke," Varric chuckled, stowing his journal in his belt and standing to brush off his coat. "Your kitchen up and running yet?"

"Um..." Garrett pulled at his chin hairs sheepishly, "sort of. The ovens are ready to go, but I think there's only about half a loaf of bread in the pantry...maybe..."

"Well, then," Varric declared, reaching his hand out to me, "I think it's about time our new friend here gets out of the house and over to the Hanged Man."

I think I just stared at him, surprised at how easily he was taking all of...this. But he was smiling, laughing with his eyes and I knew that he had accepted me. I didn't realize that I had started tearing up until the dwarf reached out and patted my shoulder, just as Anders and Hawke lightly squeezed me on either side. I laughed self-consciously and quickly wiped at my eyes. "Yes! Yes, food would be good right about now! And shoes. I think I'm going to need some shoes."

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