Let's Take a Walk
"Mahariel?" Fenris called as he stepped onto the street. His own heart was in his throat. He hadn't known anything about her other than she was the one who had stopped the Blight - he didn't know the sacrifices she had made, didn't know what she had lost. The things he had heard from her lips that day alone made him ache. Varric's accident of speech was poignant: though Fenris had been brash with Anders when the mage had asked if the elf had ever considered suicide as a means of freedom, he sympathized with Mahariel. The amount of mental fortitude the woman possessed must be huge, he figured, or after all she had seen and done she had become numb. But the face he had seen in Varric's quarters was not one of unfeeling. It was the face of a strong woman whose hard enamel was chipped, cracked, broken in places but whose core remained supple, strong. It was the face of loss, and in the face of that, his own tribulations felt meager. Could he survive what she had seen? Could he give all that she had given?
A small sigh preceded, "I'm here," the hesitant words coming from a shadowed corner. She stepped out from the darkness, her arms crossed over her chest, long hair unable to hide the red rims of her eyes. "I'm sorry," she said again. "I made an absolute fool of myself."
Fenris had nothing to offer her, so instead he suggested, "Come. Let's take a walk." Mahariel complied, following his every stride as they walked silently past rundown warehouses and homes. When they neared the alienage, he noticed the Warden-Commander quicken her pace.
"I don't like it either," he said, assuming she as an elf was disturbed by the district.
"It's not that," she answered, but didn't elaborate, and allowed her her silence.
When they neared The Hanged Man again, she suddenly spoke up, "You know, I didn't even know him a whole year."
She nodded. "When I look at it all as facts, it seems so... ridiculous. So fast. I don't know," she dismissed herself.
Fenris shook his head. "The shortest amounts of time sometimes mean the most to us by their very fleeting nature. They are... small. Fragile. Too packed with importance to sustain themselves."
"The candles with the brightest flame burn down too fast. That was him, alright," she laughed, and the smile returned to her face. "You're probably right, Fenris. In fact, I know you are."
"But it doesn't make it easier."
"Of course it doesn't." Her head swayed back and forth, milling over her words. "Maybe it does."
Unconsciously, he grasped her shoulder. "If I had half your bravery -"
"You would be that much less brave than you are now," she cast off his compliment. "I'm tired of being a hero, Fenris, because the truth is, I'm not. I was a scared little girl, and I didn't have a choice."
"But you chose who you were," he offered her own words back to her.
Her lips parted, eyebrows raised, and she laughed silently. "Fair play," she granted him.
"There you are," Anders voice came from the set of stairs just about the inn. "I've been look -" he stopped cold when he saw Fenris, who promptly dropped his hand from Mahariel's shoulder.
"Fenris," Anders said the name as civilly as he could muster.
"Mage," was all Fenris had in return.
Mahariel glanced from one man to the other, before taking the higher ground. "It was good to speak with you, Fenris," and she offered him a bow of her head which the elf returned before he silently dismissed himself.
Exhaling roughly, Anders asked, "What could it possibly be good to speak to him about?"
"Choice," was all Mahariel said, which brought daggers from Anders' stare.
She offered him consolation, taking his hand and pressing her body to his. "You know I've got your back, Anders. Don't doubt that."
"I trust you. But Fenris -"
Mahariel raised her eyebrow. "Alistair was a templar. You know that."
"And I don't agree with him," he said respectfully.
"Neither did I," Mahariel retorted.
Defeated, Anders moaned, "Alright. Point taken."
Eager to change the subject from both lost love and the mage's plight, Mahariel submitted, "The clinic seems lonely. I'll bet you could use some company."
A suggestive growl crept into Anders' voice when he accepted, "Like you wouldn't believe."