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

Chapter 20

Two more weeks of house arrest. Not that I needed the down time really. I just think the boys were afraid to let me out of their sight for more than five minutes at a time. If Anders was at the clinic, Garrett staid home. If Garrett had a job he couldn't put off, Anders spent the day writing in the study while I read or knit. The mage even convinced me to teach him, sighting an overpowering wish to send a scarf for Satinalia to the Knight-Commander. Remembering that line from Awakenings, I agreed. And he is a terrible student.

“So where does the needle go again?”

“Through the loop of yarn on your left hand needle, front to back.”

“And the yarn goes around the needle?”


“And then what?”

“Then use the right hand needle to pull the yarn through the loop and drop the needle on the left.”

There was a pause. “I dropped both of them.”

“Try again.” I tried to be patient. I really did, but I was going stir crazy and I snapped at him.

“She distracts us!” Oh shit! I spun to see the small amount of knitting mashed in blue glowing hands. Justice glared at me from Anders' countenance and I took a step back, which of course he took as a retreat and he followed. The wooden knitting needles in his hand began to smoke. “Alrik will never be stopped, the mages never freed if we sit here and...knit!”

“Wait! Alrik? Ser Alrik the Templar?” I asked, knowing the answer and cringing. I took a step forward and placed a hand upon Justice's arm. It was like touching a low current wire, an electrical buzz that could become painful if left too long. “Please, Justice, you know my past. You know that I know things, and you have to tell me if Alrik has begun making the mages Tranquil. It's important.”

He looked down at my hand upon him, then up into my arms. It was like looking into the heart of an electrical storm. Bright and flashing, blue and white, with hints of other colours like a rainbow. And like a storm of that magnitude, it was frightening and dangerous and oh so beautiful.

“Anders wishes the proof to bring before the Grand Cleric, to have him stopped. I wish...I would have him dead. He can not hurt the mages if he no longer breathes. It would be just.” the spirit rumbled.

“Okay, Justice. I'm going to need Anders for most of this little excursion. Could you let him come back while I put on my leathers? Please?” He nodded as I raced up the stairs. Alrik was important, dammit! I couldn't believe that Anders was just going to ignore him in favour of sitting with me, knitting of all things!

I dressed as hurriedly as I could, forsaking my usual leathers for a simple jerkin and leggings, anything to move faster. Bow and quiver at my back, Speed and Agility at my hips, extra blades in my boots and I ran back to the foyer to meet the mage.

He watched me descend in apprehension, plucking at his sleeves, tugging at the hem of his jacket. He knew he had fucked up and wasn't sure how I'd deal with it. I walked up to him, looked him square in the eye, and slapped him as hard as I could. He stumbled and brought a hand to his cheek, blue spirit fire flashing and disappearing again before he turned his face back to me.

“Don't you EVER put my perceived well being above the lives of the mages! We could have been out there, doing some good, but instead you and Garrett and the others have been coddling me and it needs to stop! Now!” I ranted. I was so damned angry at him. At all of them. I was so tired of being treated like a damned invalid.

I stormed to the cellar, knowing that the entrance to the gallows lay in Darktown and heard Anders scramble to catch up. “Wait! Shouldn't we at least find some back up to take with us? Hawke, or Varric? Fenris, for Maker's sake!”

“No time. The three of us. You, me and Justice. We go in now.”

He wasn't stopping. The girl was safe, the Templars were dead and he wasn't stopping. I watched, trying to force my body up off the ground, battered by and bruised by shields, as Justice approached the young mage, glowing blue fire and rage. No! I can't let him kill her! Anders will never recover!

Pressure, intense and searing, was building up between my eyes. Green tinged light was begining to seep from my pores. The Fade breach was reaching out to them, pulling at the essence that was Justice.

I don't really remember doing it. I reached out, gripping his ankle as he passed. The flash of light, green meeting blue, was bright enough to blind the world. I'm not sure who it was that screamed- whether it was me or Anders or even both- but it was deafening. I blacked out, at least for a few minutes, and when I came to, Ella was leaning over me in concern, Anders nowhere to be found.

"Serrah? Are you all right? There was that light and then the other man ran off," the girl said quickly, hands fluttering over my arms, trying to decide if she should try to help me up or not. I took the decision away from her, propping myself up on my elbows.

"Was he...okay?"

"He looked scared, Serrah. Terrified. Like he didn't really know who he was. Is he really an abomination?"

"No, Ella. He's just a deeply troubled soul. And I need to find him."

I stumbled to my feet and the two of us made our slow way back into Darktown. I left the mage to run to her mother's and made my way to Anders' clinic, praying to whatever deities inhabited this world that he would be there.

I didn't see him at first, and my heart sank. Where did he go? He always comes here! Tears started to fall before I even realized how upset the thought of Anders disappearing upset me. I needed Anders, and I was just realizing it now.

When I heard his muffled voice from the back of the clinic, I sobbed and rushed towards it. He was crouched next to his cot at the back of the clinic, sorting through his possessions, packing his things to run. I could NOT let him run!

I know, in the game, Hawke convinces Anders to stay, but I just couldn't seem to form more than two words together. I just threw myself at him, wrapping my arms around his neck, burying my face in his shoulder and crying as though my heart were breaking. Because it was.

We clung to each other for some time, releasing all the tension and fear and pain of the last few days upon each others' shoulders. He came to himself first, stroking my hair. "It's all right, love. I'm here. Sweetheart, I'm here."

"Thank God!" I laughed, a watery bark. "I was so scared I'd lost you! That you'd leave me."

"I was going to, right up until you touched me," he said, pushing me away, casting his eyes down at the dirt floor. "I had every intention of running as fast and as far as my legs would carry me. I panicked and I'm so very sorry about that."

I placed my fingertips beneath his chin and lifted his face to look me in the eyes. "Why, Anders? Why would you run away from me? From your friends?"

"He's gone," Anders replied softly. "Whatever it was that you did, it pulled Justice out of my head. I'm alone for the first time in...years. And I'm scared. I'm terrified!" He laughed, high, manic. "And when I'm this scared, I run away!"

"It's true, you used to run away, Anders. But you're not that man anymore, even without Justice," I reassured him, placing both hands to his cheeks. "Now you have friends, people that love you and would miss you if you were gone. I would miss you."

I kissed him, a soft brushing of lips, sweet and chaste. I'm not really sure what prompted me to do it, but once it was begun I knew it was the right thing. The only thing. A heated spark ran straight from my stomach to my core as he pulled me in, deepening the kiss into an all out consumption.

I breathed him in, that heady scent of elfroot and peppermint and Anders. I fell into him like you would a warm bath, burrying myself in his essence. He pulled me into his lap, there on the clinic floor, and I could feel he was enjoying this as much as I was. He was hard and thick, pressed against my core with only a few layers of cloth in the way.

Suddenly he pulled back, pushing me from him to land heavily on my ass in the dirt. "No! I- I can't do this!" he cried. "You're with Hawke, I can't do this to him!"

I blinked blearily up at him for a moment before it dawned on my sex addled brain what exactly he was saying and I had to laugh. “So are you, you ninny!”

He grinned sheepishly. “Yeah, I guess I am at that, aren't I? I can't believe I just did that.”

“Well, to be truthful, I did start it.”

“Hmmm, you did at that. So now what?” he asked. “Do we pretend that didn't happen? Go on like before?”

I slapped his shoulder, hard enough that he actually cried out and rubbed the injured spot. “Don't be stupid! Of course we don't just 'go back'! I love you! As much as I love Garrett, as much as...well, you know.” Even now, the thought of the elf made me tingle. “And I'm not going to wait months or years for you to finally get with the program and love me back.”

He stood, reaching down to help me stand as well. Pulling me close, he wrapped an arm around my back, the other twining into my hair. My own fingers could go nowhere but to his chest, splayed amongst the feathers. “I've loved you from the first moment I saw you, sprawled on a beach on the Wounded Coast, drenched in salt water and barely breathing. I knew I had to keep you alive. Something deep in my soul screamed it. That if I didn't, I would be lost. I love you, Selena.”

I looked up into his eyes and could see the truth of it shining back at me. Brighter than the love I knew my husband had once felt for me. Even brighter than the love I knew was there from Garrett, Anders loved me with a depth I had never experienced. It was the love in his eyes I had seen him show Garrett himself. My breath caught in my throat, overwhelmed by the prospect of being cared for that deeply. “I love you, Anders. I think I may have actually fallen for you back on Earth, playing my game, directing Hawke's life. Knowing what would become of you and Justice broke my heart. When the option came up to kill you for all that transgressed, I could never do it, even though you expected it. I would cry everytime the game was over, not knowing how your life turned out, how you continued living. Even if Justice were still with us, I would want to be a part of your life. Even if that was all it was, just a part.”

“Oh, Sweetheart,” he whispered, moving closer to take my lips. The kiss began as a soft, searching thing, but quickly grew into a passion, a need. I needed to feel every piece of him, touch, lick, suck every inch. I pushed at his jacket, trying to pull it off, but it stuck at his elbows and he chuckled.

“Wait, love. Let us go back upstairs. I'm feeling rather...raw at the moment and need some time to process this change.” He kissed the top of my head before righting his jacket and brushing the dirt from his breeches. “And we should talk to Garrett.”

I sighed, drawing away and straightening myself as well. “I understand, Anders. But don't expect to be able to put me off for long, got it.” I brandished a finger at him as I would a recalcitrant child.

He smiled and leaned in to kiss the digit. “Wouldn't dream of it, my love.”

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