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

Chapter 6

It wasn't that long ago that I used to love soaking in a bathtub. Now all I want is a shower! A quick fucking shower, not a production to get fucking clean!

I knew I was being bitchy in my own head, but I didn't care. I'd been in Thedas for nearly a month and I was really starting to miss some of the comforts of home. Like a lamp that I could read by at night and not worry about setting the house on fire. Or the ability to get on a bus and drive where I needed to go. Or escalators! There were just too damned many stairs in Kirkwall!

Or just picking up the phone and calling my kids.

That was the one that was really getting to me. I was getting short with the guys, even snapped at Merrill for no real reason a couple of days ago, and in the back of my head I knew it was because I was missing my family. I didn't even have a picture of them here to look at when things got really bad. It was agony not to be able to reach out to them and laugh about the significant other, or about a book they read or a cool sale going on at the mall.

No, I was stuck here, bathing in an admittedly nice marble tub, in a body not my own, with no idea what I was supposed to be doing with my new life. I slammed my hands down on the water in frustration, doing nothing more than splashing myself in the face. "FUCK!"

"Selena? You okay?" the door began swinging inward, a familiar bearded face peeking beyond the jamb.

"Jesus Fucking Christ, Garrett!" I screamed, arms covering the body parts not immersed in water. "Do you ever knock?"

"Not when I can help it," he chuckled. "Otherwise I miss all the good bits."

I screamed incoherently and threw the first thing that came to hand, which turned out to be a bar of soap. Thankfully, soap is not very aerodynamic and missed his head completely.

Hawke meerly laughed at my frustration. "Well, when you're ready to be civil, I want to introduce you to Brother Vael."

Sebastian. Of the gorgeous eyes and the preachy demeanor. Great, that's all I needed.

Once Hawke had vacated to bathing chamber, I buffed myself dry with a large flannel and wrapped it about myself to wander back to my room. My beautiful elvehn furniture had arrived in short time and made my private quarters look like a fairy garden. The headboard appeared as an arch of twisting branches, adorned with live ivy and morning glories. To either side of the bed were small end tables were covered with carvings of prancing halla and a matching armoire stood in a far corner. I had opted for linens in greens and browns, with splashes of white, pale pink and lilac on pillows and the rug. It was a sanctuary when this world just got to be too much for me.

Anders had a slightly larger room next to mine, decorated with similar furniture, though it exuded a sense of more...male...than my own. He'd opted to shades of blue, from deepest navy to palest sky, and had shied from plants, except those he was cultivating for potions. In addition, I had found for him a large writing desk and armchair, so that he could spend his feverish writing hours in the relative warmth of Hawke's mansion.

For now, though, it was time to dress. One thing about living in Kirkwall was how much I loved the clothing. no pinching zippers or scratchy synthetics. Just soft silks and breathable linens and comfortable cottons for me! Today I'd be lavish, what with a visitor downstairs. A white silk sheath dress with a low slung belt of silver links. A pair of soft white house slippers and a quick brush through of my wet hair and I was ready to go.

I stopped at the top of the staircase to listen briefly to the conversation going on in the study. Leandra was in fine form, chatting away about the Grand Celric as though the woman were her matronly grandmother. I was ready to dislike Leandra a month ago, based on my exposure to her in the game. But I had found her to be quite gregarious and witty, with a twisted humour that was so much like her son's. The soft brogue that answered her had to be Sebastian's, and I could see how many women ended up throwing themselves at his feet. I was forced to suppress a bit of a shudder of my own.

A soft gasp caused me to look down. Hawke was there, standing at the base of the staircase, staring up at me. His eyes were big as saucers, mouth a surprised 'O' before splitting into a large grin. He reached a hand to me and I couldn't help but walk down to take it.

"Sorry I've been such a bitch lately." I said softly. "Forgive me?"

"You keep looking as gorgeous as you do, and all is forgiven," he chuckled, turning and tucking my hand under his arm. "Shall we go meet the infamous Brother Vael before my mother has him running for the hills? Or I drag you back upstairs?"

I nodded and the two of us walked into the study. In the month since my arrival, the room had been beautifully decorated in rich reds and browns, with a long sofa and paired wing chairs near the fire. The tall bookshelves were now filled to bursting with all manner of tomes and fiction. It was a room that made me feel at home. Leandra was seated in one of the chairs, the queen upon her throne. Seated in the other, with his back to us, the Chantry brother was completely hidden, save for a hand peeking over an armrest. He had long fingers, sun darkened and calloused.

Upon seeing us, Leandra smiled and rose in greeting, Sebastian not far behind. Oh, and isn't he yummy. Deep red hair perfectly quaffed, turquoise eyes shining as brightly as his polished white armor in the light of the fire. Smile a practiced art, warm but barely reaching his eyes. He definitely had something else on his mind than Leandra's conversation.

"Ah, Garrett," Leandra exclaimed. "So glad you were able to convince Selena to join us." Leandra reached out to take my hand, as she was wont to do. Mother Hawke enjoyed touching, grounding herself in the warmth of others. "Selena, my dear, this is Brother Sebastian Vael."

I reached out to take his hand. Strong grip, calloused finger tips, wrapped his other hand across the top of my own as we shook. Archer's hands, strong ones, hands like the ones I was cultivating myself. "A pleasure to meet you , Misstress Selena. And it's just Sebastian, please."

"Just Selena then, Sebastian." I pulled away and settled on the sofa, facing slightly towards his seat, watching as The brother and Garrett got comfortable. I noticed that Hawke had curled onto the sofa next to me a little closer than was really necessary and it made my toes tingle. Leandra must have noticed as well, smiling knowingly as she made her platitudes and exited the room.

"What brings you by, Vael?" Garrett asked, sliding an arm around behind me to rest on the back of the couch. Is Garrett being...possessive? How interesting.

"Do you remember the...job you did for me not too long ago?" Sebastian asked, looking down at the tops of his hands as they wrung briefly in his lap. He seemed unsure on how to proceed, as though conflicted about what he wanted to talk to us about.

"Of course I remember, Sebastian," Hawke replied. "We avenged your family."

Vael's head rose quickly, surprised at Garrett's answer. "Avenged. Yes, I guess they were, in a way. But I've learned who hired the Flint Company Mercenaries."

Shit.

"It was an old family friend of my mother's. It was the Harriman's, here in Kirkwall."

Oh, fuck shit crap on a cracker.

"I need your help once again, Hawke. Please. I must speak with them. Find out why. But I am the last of my line. I cannot go in alone."

Act Two is starting! Shitfuckshitfuckshitfuck!

"Selena?" I heard Garrett ask, turning my face in his hands to look him in the eye. I guess I had begun to hyperventilate, my breathing fast and panicked. Garrett looked deep into my eyes, question abvious in his eyes. "Selena, what is it? What's wrong?"

"It's starting," I said softly, heart in my throat. Fuck! How long until the Arishok attacked Kirkwall? The game is so damned nonspecific about this! I need a solid time frame people!

"Selena, honey, you're starting to scare me and Sebastian is about ready to fetch a healer."

I blinked, focusing on Garrett's eyes, looking on me in concern. Okay, stupid, breathe. Don't panic. Panic won't help anything. "Sorry, Garrett. Sorry, just you know, future stuff. I'll tell you about it later."

"You sure?"

"Yeah, I'm sure. Let's not scare the brother any more than necessary." I smiled and patted the hands holding my face. Garrett held for a few seconds longer, still concerned, but I peeled his fingers away. No need to frighten Sebastian more than needed.

"Is all well, my lady?" he queried, leaning forward to gently touch the back of my hand.Hmmm, nice.

I was about to placate the man when Hawke moved my hand away from him. "She's fine, Vael," he growled. Oh my. I think I like jealous Hawke. A lot.

Sebastian grinned faintly and stood, brushing imaginary dust from his breeches. "Well then, I should be off for Afternoon Mass. Please, think on what I've said. I need your help."

"Of course, Sebastian," Hawke raplied, standing and taking the Brother's hand in a quick shake. "I'll come to you in the next day or so and we'll go speak with the Harriman's"

"Lady Selena, a pleasure to meet you," he smiled, nodding to me before heading out the door.

Garrett spun back to me as the door snicked closed. "All right, now tell me what's going on."

I sighed, moving out to the entryway to fetch my bow from the weapons rack. "We need to go see Aveline. Otherwise, a serial killer will eventually take your mother."


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