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

Chapter 27

I stood on the cliff, staring out at the green roiling expanse that was Thedas. The cloaked figure stood beside me, pensive and silent. Another figure stood to my other side, a warrior, ghostly and shining in blue light. None of us spoke, just watched as the storm below us began to ebb. Not completely, not even close, but the difference was palatable.

*I'm sorry *

I turned to the spirit. He was looking to me now, face hidden beneath a heavy helm, eyes indiscernible.

*Why, Justice? *

*I hurt him. I did not mean to. I was woefully unprepared for what it meant to be within a living host. He even less so. It is good that you separated us, sent me home. I would not see the world destroyed. *

*I feared you had died, Justice. You have no idea how happy I am that that didn't happen. *

*Please...tell him that I am sorry. And that I am well. And...happy. *

“Maybe the woman is right to fear blood mages!”

“But she sees nothing BUT blood mages!”

“Would you rather she saw none at all? Have them run rampant?”

“She's killing, or making Tranquil, innocents!”

“There ARE no innocent mages!”

Ugh! This is not how I wanted to wake up this morning. They were out in the hall, judging by the noise. Fenris and Anders, at it again. I stretched with a groan, enjoying the patch of warmth on the bed next to me. So I wasn't too far behind him. With great reluctance I untangled myself from the blankets, fetched a robe and slipped out into the hall. They were at the head of the stairs, wagging fingers at each other, flushed and angry. I didn't know what had started the argument, I just knew I wanted it to stop. I had the beginnings of a doozy of a headache starting just behind my eyes and the added noise was definitely not helping.

“All right, time out,” I said, approaching them. “It is way too early in the morning for mage debate and I have a headache brewing, so either put a lid on it or move it outside.”

“It is cold outside,” Fenris grumbled.

“There you go then.” I rubbed lightly at my temple, trying to will the ache away.

“Here,” Anders began, pulling my fingers away to be replaced with his own. I could feel the cool wash of his magic over my skin, causing goosebumps and...other things. He chuckled low in his throat. “Not too early for certain things, though, I see.”

At first I thought the growl I heard was coming from Spirit. When I realized it was coming from Fenris, that deep shiver reached further. If looks could kill, Anders would have been an eviscerated mass on the tile.

I sighed, pulling my robe together tighter to try and cover my obvious signs of arousal. “If you two can't get along I'm going to have to ground you.”

“We are not children, woman,”Fenris said angrily.

“Then stop acting like it!” Dammit! Even with Anders magic, the headache's still here. Brushing Anders hands away, I stalked down the stairs and into the kitchen, hoping some elfroot powder in a cup of light tea would help.

Hawke was seated at the kitchen table, a bowl of thick oatmeal covered in some kind of syrup before him, cup of what was probably coffee clutched tightly in his hands, while Orana was busily preparing tarts for the oven and whistling. As much as I normally enjoyed the elvehn woman's tunes, today it just seemed to go straight through to the back of my skull.

“Our boyfriends are fighting again,” I sighed, sliding into a seat and placing my head in my hands, elbows on the table. “And I have the irresistible urge to pour coffee over both their heads.”

Garrett pulled his mug closer to his face in mock fear. “No wasting the coffee on the idiots,” he admonished.

I giggled, then groaned at the sharp pain that flared between my eyes. My fingers moved to rub at the spot.

“Headache? Did you ask Anders to look at it?”

“Didn't help,” I grumbled. “It's a stubborn one today.”

“Well, maybe some fresh air will help. Merrill asked us to go over to her place today. To see how things are going with her mirror.”

I groaned but nodded. Maybe the air would do me good, you never know. Raising my hands from my face, I saw that a cup of tea and a small flask of elfroot powder had been placed in front of me. I thanked Orana, praising her as the goddess I knew her to be, causing her to blush profusely. Tea, powder and two raspberry tarts fresh from the over later and I was as ready as I'd ever be to brave the chill of winter in Kirkwall.

I decided to forgo my usual leathers today, opting for wide-legged grey trousers and blouse with a thick oxblood corset, gloves and boots, topped off with a pale green wool coat with a deep hood. The hood was a necessity today, the light of the sun shining off the snow causing sharp pain to reverberate through my skull. I didn't understand why the elfroot- let alone Anders healing hands- couldn't make the pain abate.

I wasn't even sure why I was still going to Merrill's. Leandra had come into the kitchen and begged him to accompany her to some brunch or other and Anders had been called away to some emergency at the clinic. If Varric and Isabela hadn't come up to get us, I might have begged off, but I figured if Isabela could finally succumb to the weather and deign to wear a pair of pants- admittedly sexy pants that laced up the sides...barely- then I could visit Merrill with a headache.

The fact that Fenris looked drop dead gorgeous in his winter finery had nothing to do with it. I swear!

He did look good though. Layers of black wool and leather with accents of white linen and silver buckles. He even wore a pair of soft black leather boots that reached up to his knees. His only concession to his warrior nature was the addition of his gauntlets. And of course, that giant assed sword strapped to his back.

Merrill did her best to be the perfect hostess, offering us tea and biscuits to nibble and making sure that our chairs were near enough to the hearth that we were quickly warmed from the cold. She gushed over Izzy's pants and pretended to ignore the pirate adding liberal dashes of whiskey to her beverage. Varric listened raptly as Daisy told some fabulous tale about muggers, using so many arm gestures that I thought for sure someone was going to get hit.

When she noticed me rubbing my temples and Fenris' look of concern, she offered to fetch me some feverfew leaves to chew, but I declined. “Oh no! Last time I used that stuff I was picking leaves out of my teeth for a week.”

“Then would you care to come see the mirror? It's almost done. I think.” she asked hesitantly.

“Sure, Merrill. It is why I came after all.”

I stood, leaving my coat in the chair, and followed her farther into the hovel. Fenris followed like a shadow.

“Isn't it beautiful?” she gushed.

It was large, like a full length dressing mirror, but held together with a twisting of gnarled branches and dark metal. It seemed to almost bleed evil, so dark and foreboding.

The moment I saw that blighted mirror, it was as though the pain in my head exploded. My vision was caught in it's depths and everything turned a horrible green. I could feel my feet dragging across Merrill's floor, unable to tear my eyes away. I no longer had any real control over my body. Green light was reflecting across the mirror's surface and I knew it was coming from me. I could hear the others calling my name, asking me what was going on, but I couldn't answer them, no matter how I tried.

Fenris jumped in front of me, placing his hands to my shoulders to hold me still, but I continued forward, his feet actually sliding in the dirt. I could see the fear in his eyes, a reflection of the fear in my own, but I couldn't stop. My arm lifted, reaching out to the mirror, a ball of green light pooling in my palm. I tried to scream for them, Stop me! Please!, but all I could force out was a loan moan.

Too late. It was as though the mirror was leaching the power from me. I could feel it, pulling, drinking the very essence from my soul. I think I screamed, I know the others screamed for me, but I just couldn't seem to stop. The mirror pulled, drinking from me, and as it did I could feel the evil trapped within...disappate. The last of the cracks in the glass slowly began to repair themselves as the darkness receded within it's depths. This is why I'm here! To save these people that I love!To fix the things that went wrong.

As darkness began to replace the green in the edges of my vision, I began to see something in the glass of the Eluvian. Black, shadowy buildings streaked with gold, as with a beautiful marble. But the dark was receding slowly as the power was pulled from my soul, the gold spreading, shining in the light of the Fade. And if I was right about what I was seeing, it was worth the agony.

Suddenly a clawed gauntlet was draped over my eyes and I could consciously feel the indescribable burning. I was screaming, and apparetnly had been for some time as it sounded hoarse and dry. The gauntlet shifted to my cheek, joined by the other on the other side and Fenris' eyes filled my field of vision. His jade orbs demanded all of my attention, distracting me from the pain.

"Selena, look at me. Think only of me. There is nothing else," he said softly. "Pull it back, get control. You can do this."

Fenris. Fenris, I'm trying. But it hurts. It hurts so much. The darkness was growing in my field of vision and I knew I was about to blackout. I tried to concentrate, focus on deep green eyes floating before me. As I lost my fight with consciousness I could think only one thing, I love you, Fenris.

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