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

Chapter 29

“Mistress? It's time to wake, Mistress. You are attending court today,” Orana called gently from the doorway before scuttling back into the kitchen where she preferred. I grumbled something about the sun and all chipper birds going straight to hell or something like that, and burrowed deeper into the covers. Only the deep chuckle coming from the bathing chamber made me deign to poke my head out into the world.

Fenris stood there, clad only in his linen sleep pants, sunlight from the window streaming across chest. And Oh, what a lovely chest it was. It saddened me that with the warming of the weather, he'd be leaving soon, returning to his stolen mansion. I would be left to sleep alone in my bed once again.

I had come to enjoy being held at night. Need it even, though I'm sure Fenris would be happy to be by himself once more. No clinging female, no angry mage picking fights. Just peace and quiet and wine.

Okay, cut that out. You're started to depress yourself here, I thought to myself, plastering on a smile for the elf. He just tilted his head with a smirk and that look that said 'don't try to bullshit a bullshitter'.

“I don't want to go to court today,” I whined, feeling like a petulant child but not really caring.

The elf just chuckled. “As the injured party you must attend, Selena. That..” and here Fenris seemed to almost seethe with anger,”vashedan bitch...has the right to face her accuser.”

“All right, all right, “I grumbled, finally extricating myself from the bed and wandering to the armoire. “Do you think I could get away with leathers, or do I need to dress up for the occasion?”

“Unfortunately, armour is not permitted except by the guard. But a simple skirt and blouse would be sufficient, I believe.” he answered, reaching past me into the wardrobe to find something to his liking.

He was standing so close, that I couldn't help but take a deep breath, inhaling that sharp scent that screamed Fenris. No matter how recently he had bathed or what he was wearing, Fenris always smelled of leather and sun baked skin, with a hint of tang that was the lyrium of his brands. I leaned closer to him, nose leading into the crook of his neck. At that moment I wanted nothing more than to turn completely and take his mouth in a soul searing kiss. To kick his legs out from under him and beat him to the floor. Fenris growled softly and leaned into me.

And that's when Orana came in with a breakfast tray.

Flushing and walking a little stiffly, Fenris dropped the clothing he had pulled out onto the bed and made his way into the bathing chamber, almost slamming the door behind him. I had to giggle just a little. It was nice to see that things were hard for him too- no pun intended.

“Thank you, Orana,” I said, looking over the clothing Fenris had chosen. Grey wool ankle length skirt with black embroidery, white blouse with similar stitching to the skirt and a simple charcoal grey waist cincher. Not bad, simple yet elegant. The man had an eye for what looked good, I'd give him that. I, dressed quickly, running an appreciative hand over the cincher and the flare of my hips. Damned thing made me look good.

Speak of the devil, Fenris emerged, still a bit flushed but fully dressed in breeches, lawn shirt and doublet of a similar grey to my own clothing. There would be no mistaking that he was with me. Today both he and Aveline would be giving depositions on the circumstances of my rescue, as well as Fenris acting as my personal guard, which apparently I'm entitled to in court. Who knew?

Hawke, Varric and Isabela- after a LOT of cajoling- would be giving depositions tomorrow. It was decided all around that we would be doing our best to keep Anders and Merrill's names out of things if at all possible. Wouldn't do to flaunt mages under a magistrates nose, now would it?

I was too keyed up to eat, but I grabbed myself some juice and sweetberries, my new Thedas addiction. To distract myself from the coming day and handsome elf not ten feet away, I began to wonder about the little fruit between my fingers. Similar in look to a cranberry, but so much sweeter, I wondered where they hailed from. I popped them in my mouth like bonbons and I suddenly had the appalling thought that maybe they came from someplace really far off, like Seheron or something, and that I was eating tens of sovereigns worth in a sitting. I flipped the round little berry into the air and pulled it into my mouth with my lips, biting down and feeling that rush of sweet juice hit the back of my throat. At that moment, I didn't really care as to the cost. Kind of like other people feel about really good chocolate.

A finger entered my field of vision and gently lifted my chin so that I would look up at impossibly green eyes. “Come along, carissimi. It is time to leave for court.”

And here I thought court was going to be boring, I stupidly thought to myself, trying to maneuver to the front of the throng of nobles, held at sword point by the Qunari.

It had begun as a normal, boring day at court, the crowd mostly made up of nobles with nothing better to do with their day, a few elves that I took as messengers between courtrooms, magistrates and guards. But it soon became apparent that this would be anything but an ordinary day at court.

Petrice was brought in, surrounded by members of the guard, but uncuffed, primped and dressed in full Chantry robes. I knew from Sebastian that the Grand Cleric had stripped her of her vows and standing within the clergy, and that the only person who could allow her wearing the regalia was the magistrate himself.

Well, fuck.

The depositions were a farce. The man on the bench was so far up Petrice's ass his eyes were brown. He actually began to lecture me about the 'dockside heathens'. It was all I could do to keep Fenris from rushing the bench and ripping his heart out.

And then the Qunari came.

They shot Petrice and the magistrate first. “To silence the bleating of sheep” as the Arishok would later put it, then herded the rest of us into the Viscount's throne room. We could hear the screams of people outside, and I prayed that Hawke and the others would be all right. I knew in the game he came running to the rescue, but this was so far different than the game that I really didn't know what was about to happen anymore. For now, though, I had to try and distract the Arishok before he killed any of the people here. Including the Viscount, who was half-heartedly arguing with the behemoth.

“Arishok!” I called. Wait! Did I just...Fuck!

“Panahedan, Woman of Hawke. Do you come to speak for the bas? If so, it is too late. We will cleanse this cesspool of a city as our final act. You would do well to submit now and save yourself pain at a later time.”

“I'm sorry, sir, but you know I can't do that,” I answered, taking a step toward the dais. An Ashaad took a step towards me but the Arishok waved him back. “You know me, Arishok. I brought you back your reason for being. Please don't make me fight you.”

The horned giant scoffed. “You are unarmed and unarmoured. What makes you think you could possibly defeat me?”

“I didn't say defeat, I said fight. I doubt very much that I could possibly defeat you. You're ten times my size and armed with two massive greatweapons. If I'm lucky, I might be able to find a couple of letter openers to use as tiny daggers but that's about it. But in the end, Arishok, I can't let you kill or indoctrinate all these people if I can do something to stop it.”

I could feel Fenris fidget somewhere behind me and to the left. He was soooo not happy with me right now, I could just tell. Aveline to my right was in an even worse state, but at least they weren't arguing with me in front of the giant horned menace.

“So what do you say, Arishok? Ready to take on little old me?”

All it took was a short nod of his head and the nobles were being shuffled off to the sides of the room, opening a large arena like space. Aveline surreptitiously handed me her belt dagger and someone slid another along the floor toward me. They were horribly balanced but they would have to do. Then, to the cheers of many assembled there, I stripped out of my skirt, standing in only my blouse, cincher and smalls. I wasn't going to end up in heaven and tell St. Peter 'Well, I get all caught up in my skirts and kind of fell on my own knife...'


Suddenly no time for contemplation. The Arishok was on me, not giving me more than a second to dive out of the way. Bastard was damned quick for someone that big! But it also took him time to recover from the charge, and while his back was turned I was there, slicing at his hamstrings, his biceps, wrists, whatever I could reach.

When I wasn't stabbing and slicing, I was running. Couldn't let him corner me, couldn't let him get my back to the wall. That way led death. So I used the pillars that adorned the room to my advantage, ducking behind them at the last second so that he would rush in headlong and get his horns stuck for those precious seconds. Back and forth we did this, until I tripped.

It was a stupid mistake, my boots slipping on the tile, and the Arishok was able to use it to his advantage to pin me against one of those pillars. Hands filled with weapons, he used his forearm to slam me into the marble and the loud crack of broken ribs filled the air. Fuck! That really hurt!

“Let me kill you quickly, Woman of Hawke,” the Qunari rumbled. “It would be no dishonour to die by one such as me. You would be revered by the KaraSten for having blooded an Arishok.”

“Selena,” I managed to hiss.


“My name. It's Selena.” I drew up the last of my will and two small dagger blades flashed across his throat. “I'm sorry Arishok. You should have just gone home.”

He staggered back, weapons clattering to the ground and hands flying to his ruined throat. The cuts had been deep enough, life blood seeping through his fingers. When his heels hit the stairs leading to the dais, he fell backward, clutching and scrabbling, pain and shock in his eyes.

“We...will be back..” he whispered hoarsely before the last of the light seeped from his eyes.

I stood, looking down at his body, and tears began to form. He hadn't been a bad man, just sick and tired of the hypocrisy that his philosophy demanded be fixed. But in the end, the death toll would have been just too high, and I couldn't let that happen to these people I had come to love.

“Selena?” I turned, blinking as though just coming back to myself. Fenris stood next to me, eyes wide in fear and concern. I tried to smile, though I think it just came out as a grimace.

“Carissimi, you can drop the blades now.” he said softly, slowly, as though dealing with a wounded animal.

I looked down at my hands and saw that I was still clutching the two little blades, dripping with blood in white knuckled fists. “Oh,” I said, trying to peel back my fingers. “I...I don't think I can.”

Fenris slowly reached out and pried away my fingers, moving to the other hand when the blade dropped to the floor. My now free hand reached out and clutched at his doublet, as though if I wasn't touching something I would fall apart. There would be horrible bloody hand prints on his clothing at the end of the day, but neither of us seemed to care.

Once the other hand had released it's bloody burden, Fenris pulled me into his arms, burying his face into my neck. His grip caused my ribs to flare with pain but I didn't give a shit. We stood there, taking solace in each other, until a commotion at the doors drew our attention.

Hawke and the others, followed by the Knight-Commander and First Enchanter Orsino, barged into the space. Thankfully, the Viscount moved to greet them because I really don't think I could have dealt with Meredith's bullshit right then. Our friends ignored the Viscount and moved forward to reach us. I slipped from Fenris' arms to hug Garrett and Anders.

“Are you hurt, love?” Anders asked, pulling me back and searching me with his eyes, while Fenris and Garrett moved away to speak quietly

“Ribs. I think the Arishok broke a couple.” I replied breathily, not really realizing just how much the damned things hurt until just now.

“Okay, those are going to really hurt when I set them, so we'll wait til we get back to the estate.” he replied, smiling gently and cupping my cheek. “Til then, try and stand straight and not breathe too deeply, okay?”

“Gotcha, doc. When can we leave?”

There was a sudden cheer rising up among the nobles and I peered around Anders' shoulder to look. The Viscount was pointing at our group- at me- and Meredith was looking particularly prickly. Oh shit! He didn't!

“It appears Kirkwall has a new Champion.”

Oh Fuck!

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