Show Me One Person
She let Anders speak without interruption, and once he started, he couldn't stop. Everything came out in a rush, right up to the point that he'd almost slaughtered the poor mage girl that Ulrik meant to abuse. When he was finished, he felt like someone had rung him like a sponge; he was weak, he felt sick, and yet, he felt relieved. He sat on Mahariel's bed, slumped over with his face in his hands, heart pounding, cheeks damp though he couldn't remember crying. His shoulders were sore and his head felt clear for the first time in a long time.
Mahariel sat at the small round table, a single candle flicking away, resting her forehead on her fingers. She'd let her eyes close. She wanted to be angry. She wanted to be angry with every fiber of her being. But she didn't have it in her. Anders had had a reason for everything he'd done, and surely she did not want to see Justice 'die,' whatever that meant, but...
"There were other ways, Anders. You could have come to us."
He let out a choked sob that sounded something like, "I'm sorry," but his throat had closed up. He knew what he had done. He wasn't sure if he regretted it, but he was aware of anything Mahariel could have to say. He thought he was doing the right thing at the time. Now he wasn't so sure. Anders had admitted that much to Hawke.
Mahariel rose from her chair and stood, letting out a long, shaky breath. She paced the floor once, twice, before walking cautiously to the grieving mage. She went down on her knee in front of him, and took his chin in her hand. His eyes flicked up her hers, eyes rimmed with red.
She licked her lips and hesitantly spoke. "It's alright."
He was frozen, trying to find words, trying to find air, but she touched his cheek, smoothed his hair, and repeated her verdict.
"How?" he gasped.
"You did what you thought you had to do." She closed her eyes. "Show me one person who is innocent of that." Mahariel stood and offered him her hand. Anders took it held it tightly, before using her strength to help him rise to his trembling feet.
"Lyna, I -"
She kissed him, to stop the words that would come from his lips and to show him she already understood.