Broken Hallelujah

You've Been Asking Questions

Try though she might, Mahariel could not help but look into Anders' activities in Kirkwall since he'd left the Wardens, and she found she still had a knack for asking questions - or more, for getting answers. Avoiding the dwarf Varric at The Hanged Man - she knew better than to ask someone that close to Anders - she prodded gently the people of Lowtown, and eventually found out that Anders was running a clinic in Darktown, healing the impoverished sick of Kirkwall, and Maker, it seemed like there was an endless supply of them. She visited a woman called Lirene, from whom Mahariel bought several things she didn't need and would never use. When Lirene pointed Mahariel toward the donation box, the Warden, with a sly smile, emptied more than fifty sovereigns into the box, but not before she covered her long ears and tried to make sure all eyes were focused elsewhere. Anders might take her charity as pity, and she didn't want to upset him, but it wasn't hard to see that he and his clinic probably didn't have two coppers to rub together.

She returned to The Hanged Man and had a meal brought to her room while she reviewed several treaties in the dim candlelight. She wanted to leave all her work behind, but there were some things that couldn't be ignored. Once she looked these over and returned them by post, they would probably send more, depending on how long Mahariel was able stay away from Amaranthine. She didn't know if she planned on spending the whole time in Kirkwall, but she did know that she was making her sabbatical last as long as she could without the arling falling into chaos. The paperwork was the price she paid for that.

The day whiled away and before she realized the time, there was a forceful pounding on the door. The sudden interruption in the quiet startled Mahariel, and she nearly lit one of the treaties on fire with a jostled candle. It escaped destruction, but was covered in milky candle wax, a thing she hoped didn't invalidate anything contained within. Sighing, the Warden Commander rose from her chair and opened the door to her quarters. Anders stood, glaring down at her, one eyebrow cocked, arms crossed firmly.

Ah, well, so much for not upsetting him.

Wordlessly, she let him enter the room, and closed the door behind him.

"I have a feeling I know -"

"If I wanted your money, Lyna, I would have written a formal request to the Wardens."

"No, you wouldn't have, Anders."

He frowned. She called his bluff, and perhaps it was an obvious one. "I'm doing fine. I'm doing more for the mages in this blasted city than anyone's done in years, and without your sympathy gold."

"You're upset when I don't help, and more upset when I do," she muttered, turning to face away from him, toward her table, but she wasn't angry with him.

"I need your support, not your charity!" His thin face was twisted.

"First of all, Anders, you do need my charity, given that you run one. Second of all, take the gold, buy yourself a hot meal and some clean clothes, and maybe you'll be able to get some support of your own," she taunted.

He narrowed his eyes at her. She'd lost none of her sharp wit nor any of her ability to somehow always know what to say.

But Mahariel put up her hands. "You don't want the money, fine. Give it back. I'll hand it out to those poor Fereldan refugees myself. I'll personally give it to the mages who've somehow managed to get free of the templars, I'll slip it inside their robes and tell them to get the hell out of Kirkwall. I'll take the money and do exactly what you would have done with it if you had had the gold."

Anders opened his mouth to snap back at her but her words penetrated him before he could respond.

"You wanted help and I gave it to you. I even tried to do it anonymously, but that's hard to do when you're Dalish and moneyed. People notice you. Don't think this is some brush-off. I'm not buying you so I don't have to give you what you really need. I was just trying... to be nice." Searching for something to do with her hands, she rolled up the treaties and slipped them back into her pack, moving the candles aside as she sat on the small, round table.

Approaching her, he took her hands in his and held them up. "Forgive me. I think I forgot the person you were. I'm no longer used to generosity."

"The Champion seems to favor you," she challenged.

"You've been asking questions."

"Of course I have. Have you forgotten that much?" She grinned.

He dropped her hands, letting out a long breath. "Hawke is an excellent man, and he has a good heart. But I question some of his choices," Anders confessed.

"There are many who would question yours, my sweet mage. Don't forget that."

The Warden Commander did always have a nasty habit of putting things into perspective.

"Another time, Lyna. Will you accept my offer?"

"Drinks?" She stood.

"Drinks," he jingled his purse, full of coin for the first time in years, full of coin he had intended to throw back at her feet. "First round's on me."

She nudged him gently with her shoulder as she walked past. "You bet your enchanted ass it is."

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