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Oh Passions!

Fri Oct 10, 2014, 1:47 PM
I realized this week (again) that I am a very lucky woman. I have made a lot of bad choices in my life, and done some really (extremely) stupid things. Somehow, scarred though I am and all my baggage in tow (because some burdens just can't be set down, at least not yet), I have managed to find happiness. I married the brightest, sweetest person I have ever met, moved to one of the most beautiful places on earth (my opinion, don't judge xD), and have a job I enjoy. I do miss my son, but it brings a smile to my face to know he is happy where he is, even if it's not with me. And that even being miles and miles apart, we still have a great relationship. Funny how sometimes distance strengths bonds, hm?

If you are still reading my fanfic, thank you for the continued support. I know this latest chapter was late, but I think the delay was worth it. I had to rework a few text sections, and I still feel like they are less than perfect but that's how it usually goes. If you notice those parts, please don't tell me ^_^  The next one should be out in another two weeks, give or take. I'm going back and forth between it, and lore for my book. I am also supposed to be helping an old friend with a screenwriting project for a webseries.  If that actually happens, I'll be posting links of course.

So lots of stuffs happening, things being made and all that, but life is settling out. It's a bittersweet mix and I love it. Much thanks to all my dA friends and fellow artists for all that you do.
You inspire me to keep creating and you push me to improve. I hope in some measure I do the same for you.

"It's raining," Hawke sulked, her voice barely carrying over the steady drum of fat, wet drops. "Is it? I hadn't noticed," Fenris shot her a smirk from under his drooping hood. It was their fourth day out of West Hill, third day of unrelenting rain. It would be a third night spent cold and wet, huddled under a bush if they were lucky. Riese was holding up alright, though she looked pained as the rain soaked through her robes. She was wearing nearly every piece of clothing she owned, but it wasn't enough to stop the water or warm the skin. 

It would have been nice to have picked up better traveling supplies, but delaying could have been deadly. There was no telling how fast the news from Kirkwall would spread through the city, nor whether they would be able to leave once it did. Still, seeing the mage so miserable made him wonder if he had been hasty.  Just one hour or two to buy an oiled cloak and some heavy fleece would have made the trip less painful. Or it might have gotten them caught.

Fenris felt an itch between his shoulder blades and glanced back again, just to be sure no one was following.  They hadn't seen so much as a cart since turning off the main route to Amaranthine the first day. The closest they had come to people was the occasional, distant farm. The second night of rain, Hawke had determined to sneak into a barn for the night, to sleep dry if nothing else. The farmer set dogs on them; great, big, angry mabari snarling and howling as they chased the two out of the fields and back onto the wagon track. Riese was furious but all Fenris could think was that at least the man had not been close enough to get a good look at them. 

That had settled that - no farms, no barns, and on this road, no hope of an inn. Just muddy fields and streams, and the endless grey sky.  "How far do you think we are from Lake Calenhad?" Fenris asked. The elf had a hard time navigating with the cloudy sky and no landmarks. They had started east and then turned south, but he had no idea if they were still going that direction. "I can check," Riese replied, stopping. She shut her eyes, focused for a moment and then sighed. "Still a long ways to the west of us.  We shouldn't come anywhere near the lake or the mage's tower." "And there is really nothing else out here?" Hawke shrugged, "A few small towns for the banns to visit when they bother. Farms. I told you it would be empty." He nodded, waiting for her to move again. The mage sighed and started walking.

"There should be a village around here, someplace for the locals to meet and trade. Sheep and dogs and wheat, but not much else. We might be able to stop there though." Hawke looked so hopeful as she said it. "I don't know Riese. We aren't that far from West Hill, and bad news travels fast." She glared at him and motioned around them. "I don't think anything travels fast in this." The elf had to laugh, "Alright, you have a point." She grinned at him, water running down her face. "I have to be right every now and then.  Law of averages." "We'll make a monument to it." "From mud?" Riese wrinkled her nose. "At least it would be something to look at out here," Fenris scooped a handful of the muck and then dropped it back to the ground. It made a horrible squelching sound as it rejoined the mass on the path.

"One statue is enough for my ego.  It's a nice thought though." Hawke leaned over and gave him a kiss.  "Mmm," he grabbed her around the hips and pulled her close for a longer one. It made him feel warm and flush to have her pressed against him, reminding him of their last night in a proper bed. "Oh! And what are we thinking about," she asked. "I just had a sudden wish for a nice bed with a roof over it," he grinned. "Only just now?" "Only just now . . . again," he laughed. "You know, if it wasn't for the mud, I'd be up for some very improper suggestions," Riese nibbled at her lip, as if seriously considering. "Nothing you can magic up for us, hm?" Fenris meant it as a joke, but the idea seemed to fascinate Hawke.

"I've thought about it, but I don't think I can do things like that. I mean . . . I can summon cold and storm, but I've never tried to dismiss it. Seems like it should be just the reverse of the other though." The mage's voice dropped to a mumble. "What? You aren't planning on trying something, are you?" Hawke squeezed his hand, "No, no. Not right now anyway. Even if I would really love just one dry night." Fenris sighed with relief. You could never tell what Riese was planning and he didn't want to get taken by surprise. An untried spell in the middle of nowhere could be terrible for a number of reasons.

Just as that thought hit Fenris, he had a very bad feeling. Beside him, Hawke stopped, reaching for her staff. She must have noticed it too.  Whatever it was.  The staff was tangled in her cloak, and she cursed quietly as she tried to get it out of the strap that held it and out from under her hood. It seemed prudent went they left the city to hide it as much as possible, but something made him feel it would be better to make it easier to reach from now on. The elf looked at the surrounding wheat fields, realizing just how much that tall grass could hide. He didn't see a damned thing but he couldn't shake the feeling of danger.

Riese finally got the top of her staff tugged out from under the back of her hood, though now her head was exposed to the rain. She held the staff in front of her, gripped tightly. "Something feels very wrong here." Fenris nodded mutely, his own hand already sitting atop his sword pommel. "Maybe we're paranoid?" Hawke asked, straining for some indication of what they sensed.  "Maybe."

"We should keep moving anyway. This isn't a very good spot," the mage said softly. Fenris grunted in agreement, letting Riese take the lead. That way if something jumped out in front of them, she could cast without fear of catching him in the blast.

The sky began to darken as day edged toward night, the clouds losing their dull glow with each passing moment. The feeling of being watched did not wane. If anything, it felt stronger as the darkness grew. Still, Fenris could see nothing. No sign of a watcher, human or otherwise. Just the sound of rain and the squelching of boots, and an endless vista of rolling hills covered in wet, heavy wheat. Hawke muttered under her breath and the tip of her staff began to emit a dull, blue glow. "Is that safe?" he asked, worried someone would spot her for a mage.

"Safer than being out here in the dark," Riese answered grimly. The elf had to agree. As the last bit of sunlight slid beneath the horizon, the sense of danger intensified. The hairs on his neck stood, skin prickling with the feeling of hungry eyes. The primal part of his mind urged him to run, but Fenris kept his steps steady and even as his senses strained for some sign of what menaced them. Every patch of deep shadow took on a deadly cast, dark shapes twisted out of true. Every splash of water, each rustle in the grass wound Fenris tighter as he wondered what moment would bring the trip to a bloody halt.

"I would kill to see a farm right now," Hawke said softly. "Any place to put our backs to a wall," the elf agreed. "Should we stop?" The mage asked as she looked at the tiny patch of illuminated mud around them, and then off into the darkness. Fenris shook his head, "No . . . not yet anyway. We will try to find better ground. And some idea what is stalking us." Riese nodded, the light of her staff growing brighter for a moment. "I haven't felt like this since that first time in the deep roads." "It will be alright," he told her, loosening his sword from it's scabbard. It slid from under their packs easily, light for it's size, the edge a pale, glowing ribbon. "It will," she nodded, though he couldn't tell if she was trying to reassure him or just agreeing.

The rain turned into a fine mist as the evening wore on, the drops small and cold, clinging to skin and clothes alike. It turned the air thick and heavy and made it even harder to see.  It was much quieter without the steady patter of rainfall and the fog muted everything. In the dense silence around them, Fenris could hear something rustling the wheat to their right. It was stealthy and slow, unnatural. "Do you hear -" Hawke began to ask, but cut off at his tense glare. He motioned for her to stop, holding his sword out toward the direction of the sound.  When they stopped, it stopped too. The elf held there a moment, waiting to see if it would move again. After several anxiety ridden heartbeats, nothing.

"Should I . . . do something?" Riese asked, considering what would work best. She settled on a glyph, sketching an image in the air. On the ground, the shape appeared as if pressed into the mud, the odd angles unnatural and hard to look at. It was a good idea - something that wouldn't draw attention but might afford them a few moments to orient if the person attacked. She nodded in satisfaction, a grim smile turning the corners of her lips up.  "That will hold it."  "Him," Fenris said, voice almost silent. "Whoever it is, they're smart. And careful." Hawke nodded, staring out toward the direction of the sound, her brow furrowed.

It could be anyone out there, but Fenris felt it was likely some bandit. They were not followed from West Hill - he was certain of that much. He wished their stalker would either go away or attack them, but it didn't seem like they would oblige him. The bandit had been following them for hours and nothing had changed. Fenris was weary of being stalked. "Come out and face us!" It came out more growl than shout, the markings on his body catching fire as his temper got the better of him. The elf almost didn't hear the heavy breath behind him in time to turn. He caught a glimpse of something moving at the edge of their light, the slight waving of wheat as it passed out of sight.

"Damn you!" Fenris looked to Riese, "Did you see him?" "Not yet," she whispered. "He's afraid of us," the elf said tersely. It wasn't a complete truth. Likely the bandit was just waiting on a perfect moment when they were tired and distracted. "I wish he would just come out. I'm gripping my staff so hard it hurts," the mage sighed. Fenris agreed wholeheartedly, his own weapon held in a white-knuckled grip. He felt an itch to be moving, fighting, something! He started forward on the path, "Come on. It's no use to sit here."

Hawke followed, glancing to the right and left nervously at each step. Fenris didn't blame her at all. He held his sword point forward, at the ready. Moon light sifted down from breaks between the clouds, turning patches of the mist bright white. It made them even blinder to whatever pursued them. They didn't see the stalker as the hours passed, but he was never far. Crackles and the soft squelch of footsteps hounded them. Sometimes the elf thought he heard a breath, a sigh or sharp intake. It was so faint that he could not say.

To make matters worse, he was beginning to tire. They had at least another six hours or so to dawn, but his arms were beginning to ache from holding his sword out constantly, and his legs, already tired from a long trek, trembled beneath him. Fenris worried that he wouldn't have the strength to protect Hawke if their stalker didn't show himself soon. Riese shuffled along ahead of him, stumbling every few steps, the light on her staff flickering. "Do we need to stop," he asked, concerned but reluctant. "No. It's not safe. I can manage." She gave him a small smile. "I am just tired. My feet hurt and I'm wet and cold and hungry . . . you can't be much better."

The elf stopped and patted her shoulder, leaning in for a quick kiss. "We will find some place to rest soon. There has to be a barn or a tree or something." Fenris kept his doubts hidden as he said it, thinking in this mess they could be a handspan from a homestead and never know it. As he straightened, a form shot out of the misty darkness beside them. It was huge and red eyed, covered in patchy, rough fur with some kind of hard carapace on its back and chest. It knocked him to the ground, claws gouging him as it bounded back in to the night. A wolf, Fenris thought. But had it had armor?

Riese let loose an arcane bolt, but it hit nothing, the creature too fast for her attack. She helped Fenris to his feet. "What kind of void cursed wolf was that?" "One tainted by the blight," the mage replied, eyes narrowing. "We shouldn't be anywhere near the blighted lands though. They didn't come so far north, I thought." The elf slid a hand over his chest, feeling warm blood trickle down his belly. "I'll be ready for it next time." Riese nodded, turning back to tend his wounds. She began to cast a basic healing when a snarl behind her interrupted. Fenris jerked the mage to the side just in time to miss a slavering, snapping, tooth filled maw. She was too surprised to react, caught mid-spell by the creature.

"Two tainted wolves," the elf sighed. "One is bad enough," Hawke frowned. She started to heal him again, but Fenris shook his head. "It's shallow. We can take care of it once we find shelter." The mage obviously disagreed but didn't try to cast again.  She turned to lead the way, light trembling with the slight shake in her hands. Fenris followed, shocked into alertness by the pain and suddenness of the attack. He wasn't afraid, though he supposed fear would be wiser. Mostly, he thought, I'm just angry. These bastards are herding us like rabbits. With some rest and better light, the wolves wouldn't even be a threat, and that just added insult to injury.

Above the clouds, the stars slid across the sky heading west in slow progress, their light too soft to pierce the darkness below or give succor to the travelers beset by beasts. They could only count the time by the rapid beating of their hearts, and the steady tromp of boot steps on a rain soaked trail.

Riese tried to pick her feet up higher as she walked, doing her best not to stumble. She was tired, exhausted even, but she refused to give in to the feeling. They just had to make it a little further, she thought. Just to the next farm or til sunrise, neither of which could be terribly far away. "Just til the sun comes up," she whispered. "Hmmm?" Fenris cocked his head, eyes scanning the fields. "Nothing," she shrugged. "Just talking to myself." The elf didn't reply, too tired to bother being witty.

She turned her gaze back to the path, glad she could still keep it lit. This night put her in mind of being trapped in the deep roads so many years ago, stuck in the dark, walking and walking . .  . Darkspawn at every turn, and no hope for an end other than death. If I can live through that, Riese thought, I can survive anything. This is just a small challenge. A kink in our path.

Behind her, Fenris shouted a warning, swinging his blade a second too late as the blasted creature ran at her. Its wide mouth caught her elbow when she turned, razor sharp teeth shredding cloth and skin as easily as a dagger sliced butter. Hawke screamed, unable to hold it in as pain lanced up her arm. She did manage to keep her staff, but the light went out. In the darkness around them a chorus of howls answered her cry, excited by the confirmation of wounded prey. More than two, Riese thought as the beast dashed away. The mage let loose a torrent of flame by instinct, the ritual phrases hissed between clenched teeth.

The sodden wheat refused to catch fire, though her spell did open a blackened tear in the field beside her. Of the wolf, there was no sign. She hoped heartily that it was scorched and burning as it fled. Fenris dashed a little way into the smouldering mud and then stopped. "I'm not fast enough to catch it." "We should stay together anyhow," Hawke replied, taking a moment to heal her arm. She didn't bother to fix it completely, not wanting to use her mana or risk focusing too much on the spell. Just enough to stop bleeding. Cold prickled her skin in the wake of the pain, sharp and unpleasant. At least I still have an arm to feel cold, she chided herself.

Fenris growled unhappily, his tattoos going dim as he returned to her. "Are you alright?" She showed the elf her arm, the wound now scabbed over, the skin too pale around it. He frowned, "I can't protect you from what I can't see, damn it. This is ridiculous." Riese gave a tired nod, "We need to get away, maybe come at them when we are rested and have light. Don't punish yourself over it." Fenris grunted in what might have been agreement before moving on, this time at the lead. Hawke didn't think it mattered which of them was up front. The wolves could come from any side at any time.  That in mind, she wearily cast her shield and relit her staff, hoping she could focus enough to maintain the spells as they walked.

The glimmering sphere was barely in place before they were attacked again, three wolves darting at them from the back and sides, snapping at their legs. Fenris took another blow, wolf tearing at the fabric of his trousers, his red blood mixing with mud beneath their feet. He managed not to fall, and held off the second beast that attacked him. The wolf that came after Hawke collided with her shield, yelping as she got off an arcane bolt. It wasn't much, but it was easily the fastest spell she had. The bolt hit solidly, crackling along the thing's bony spine, arcing between those odd plates that jutted out behind the wolf's shoulders. She began to cast again as it ran, but her spell was too slow. Wheat and mud squelched beneath the fist of the maker, but the blight wolves got out unscathed.

Riese cursed softly, giving up her attack to send healing into Fenris, though he didn't ask for it and didn't wait. The elf stumbled ahead, his steps lengthening as his leg healed. "Thank you," he said between clenched teeth. He had to be half frozen by now, she thought, following. It was hard to keep moving, but Hawke found refuge in memories of all the times she and Fenris had faced danger together. They were always fighting something, struggling to live. She wasn't sure what it would be like to live for years without someone trying to kill them. Fenris without a blood spattered scowl, no use for his armor, and those lyrium tattoos dim with disuse.

The mage didn't have long to drift off in thoughts of her lover as the blighted wolves attacked again. They rushed in, snarling, though this time Fenris held them off. All three went for the elf, and it was only luck that he managed to dodge in time, his foot sliding awkwardly on the path. His sweeping blade caught the flank of one wolf, laying it open before the creature could snap at him. The smell of its blood was horrible, rank and rotting. It oozed from the wound, spattering the ground around it before the beast fled. Fenris regained his balance, then lunged forward to stab at another wolf as the last of the trio went for his hamstring. It missed, and was rewarded for the attack with a boot to the face. Neither wolf was interested in a pitched fight, and they dashed away again.

Hawke tried to cast, this time pulling the wolves in, but they were too strong for the spell. "Maker's breath," she sighed, angry with herself for the waste. At this rate, she would barely be able to keep her light and shield going, nevermind attacking the beasts. Fenris gave a grim smile, happy to have hurt them finally, but he held his sword low, point wavering near the ground. Neither of them were used to this kind of extended struggle and it was wearing through the last of their reserves.

It went on and on like that, with the two travelers making little headway before the wolves darted in again, wounding and running. Fenris bled from torn skin, waving away Hawke's attempts to heal him unless it was vital. She could tell he was exhausted and numb from the cold. Losing blood didn't help, but there was little she could do even with her healing. Just close the wound and limit the damage. They both needed rest. Riese wondered what time it was, and whether they were really any closer to a farm or village.

It felt at times as if they had not moved, just walked in place as the tainted wolves circled and attacked. She knew it wasn't true, but the feeling drained her as much as using her magic did. If this kept up, they would die. You couldn't fight the cold, and if they stopped long enough to get a proper fire going, the wolves would take them. The only hope was morning.   

Hawke clung to thoughts of the dawn, as if by force of will she could bring the sun up over the eastern horizon. Stubbornly, the sun refused to rise and time passed like ice flowing down a frozen river. Her thoughts turned just as sluggish with each step, the effort to stay awake and moving required every ounce of focus. The shield around her flickered weakly and then her light went out.

Fuller Tillman was an old man. He knew it every morning when his bones creaked and his joints popped. He was reminded of the fact each time he got on his horse to ride the fences, or tried to haul a bale of hay to the stables. So he wasn't surprised at all that a week in the saddle left him feeling twenty years older and as sore as a sulky barmaid. It had been his intention on the ride out to stop once the blasted wolves he followed were clear of his land, but when he managed to kill one - lucky shot, and he didn't mind admitting it - he determined to off the rest of the pack one by one. The rain and wet had not helped him one bit in this task, mucking up the glue on his arrows, ruining his bow string. But he couldn't just let it go.

He told himself it was because the blasted critters would come back, kill more sheep, maybe go after another of his shepherds . . . truth was, he couldn't let the maker-be-damned things beat him. Fuller had lost several times in his life. Lost his wife to a plague, lost his son to the Orlesians, and a daughter to some Antivan trader; he lost games of chance on a regular basis, and crops and flocks aplenty. But Fuller did not lose a challenge. No sir-ree. Expecially not to blasted wolves, no matter how ugly and mean they might be.

So it was that he crested a hill in the middle of a dark and foggy night and caught sight of an odd pair besieged by his quarry. A woman and an elf in the middle of a wagon track headed south. The fog around them had thinned, and wisps of smoke curled in the air. The two were lit with a strange blue glow, nothin' natural about it. He was so surprised that he pulled Hasp up short. The horse tossed his head but kept quiet, one wide eye watching toward those snarling bastards as they dug into the travelers. Fuller patted the horse fondly and slid off the saddle, giving the bridle a little tug. "You hold here, Hasp. If you run off'n leave me again, I'll toss every bit o' sweet feed to the sheep." His mount snorted softly and ducked his head, so Fuller let go.

Below them, the strangers were doing their best to light the fields on fire, and Fuller just shook his head at the Maker-damned foolishness of it. They might scorch some fur and run the bastards off aways. Wolves bein' wolves, they'd come back to their weekend prey in a night or so and finish them then. Fuller turned back to Hasp with a sigh, realizing he would have to do something.

After fumbling in his saddlebag a few minutes, he found his waxed bow string and quiver of arrows, protected in an oiled pouch. Triple wrapped. Fuller cursed it roundly as he slid them out, hoping the string stayed dry enough to do some good. Once he'd gotten the bow set, string tight and twanging, he made his way a little down the hill. The farmer positioned himself carefully, pulling the bow taut and waited for his shot to come. Most people didn't realize a good shot was half luck, half training, and half timing. Good thing Fuller wasn't most people.

The blight wolves circled, baying and lunging at the pair. The elf looked worse for wear, all tore up and bloodied. The woman, the mage, Fuller corrected himself, seemed alright. Probably that weird glow around her. He wondered idly if it was something a shepherd could use. Outfit 'em with some glow and waaalaaa! Safe from wolves . . . didn't matter though. Probably had to be a mage to use it. And mages didn't make good shepherds. Too damn flighty. 

One of the wolves turned, body whipping around to lunge at the pair again. Fuller could see its eye, a spot of darkness sunken in to the matted fur. He loosed the shot just as the travelers went dark, the blue glow dying like a snuffed candle. In the night, the wolves howled, and though he wasn't sure, Fuller told himself it sounded like just two voices and not three. He nocked another arrow, holding still and listening.

Behind him, Hasp snorted and pawed at the ground, ears pinned back against his head. Blasted horse was a coward, but he had good sense. Actin' like that was a sign that one of them wolves was sneaking close. Real close. It was probably - he loosed again as the wolf jumped at him from a tight clump of weeds and wheat. Fuller's arrow took it in the throat, though the bastard kept snapping as it flew at him, body going limp just before it hit the ground.

"Two down, Hasp. Thanks for the warning." His horse paid him no mind, big eyes watching the darkness. Down below, he heard the two travelers speaking in harsh, worried tones. Couldn't make out a blasted word. He considered shouting to them, ease their minds, but there was still one damn wolf. Fuller started creeping down the hill. He didn't have time to wait for the wolf to attack. His string and arrows were getting wetter every second, and that meant he was very nearly disarmed.

"Where did they go?" The woman asked. She had a funny accent, Ferelden, but not. At least she didn't sound Orlesian. The elf grunted. Fuller wasn't sure from his last look at the man if he could even talk now. Once ya hit a certain amount ah torn up, you really couldn't make words. He got closer, held still. Somewhere nearby, the wheat shifted. Fuller turned at the movement and shot off another arrow. A yelp answered the shot; a hit then. It didn't matter much. The wolf lunged through the tall grass, mouth stretched wide. Damned thing smelled worse than the bottom side of a wild nug. Fuller didn't have time to fire off another arrow, and he'd left his work knife with Hasp. Much good it did him there.

Well, thought Fuller, staring into dark, fetid maw, there are worse ways to go. None he could think of just right then, but there were. The old man was pretty sure this would hurt, but he was determined to die smiling. He grinned at the beast, ready for the end. To his left, a blur of ragged blue light ruined the moment.

The elf slammed into the wolf, both crashing into Fuller's shoulder. All three fell to the ground. The impact pushed the breath right out of the old man along with a hearty curse. The elf was on top the wolf, arm sticking into the blasted thing's side. He wasn't real sure how the elf managed to put his hand into the wolf, but right then he didn't much care. The beast struggled, a growling moan rolling from peeled back lips. It didn't look ready to die yet.

Fuller was pretty sure suffocating under it was a worse way to go then having his head snapped off. He had half a mind to tell the Maker-be-damned travelers that, but he was a bit short on breath and opening his jaw would just give him a mouth full of fur and nastiness. So much for dying with a smile on my face, he thought. The blasted wolf bucked violently, hind legs shoving in to Fuller's belly, and on top of it the elf pushed down and in. How long did it take to crush a man? Shoulda been done with it by now, the farmer thought.

Finally, the wolf twitched and let out one last howl, the sound sharp and desperate, filled with pain. It sounded almost human, that cry. And then it cut off, collapsed. Atop him. Fuller tried to shove at it, arms pushing up as best her could, but it wouldn't budge. The elf was probably perched up top cleaning his ears instead jumping down to help. Blasted elf. Blasted wolf. Couldn't just let him die with a bit of dignity. At least I beat those bastards, Fuller thought. No one could say old Fuller Tillman got beat by a pack of mangy wolves. Assuming anyone at home found out what had happened to him. Maybe the travelers would tell them. Probably take all the credit too. Blast.

He closed his eyes, head swimming, heart pounding. And then the weight was gone. Fuller opened his eyes to see the elf standing over him and looking as tired as a field hand at harvest. "Are you ok?" Blasted elf had a funny accent too, though it might just be his ringing ears. "Is he dead?" The woman asked from somewhere out of sight. "Maybe." The elf leaned closer, poking at Fuller. "Get yer Maker-be-damned hands off me, blast it!" Fuller pushed himself off the ground with a groan. The elf obliging backed up. He looked warily at the old man, about as tame as the dead wolf had been. Fuller humphed.

"Don't be scared none, damn it. I'm just sore." Fuller held out a hand. "Name's Tillman. Fuller Tillman. From Sheeplick?" The elf looked lost. "It's an introduction. Now you say your name." The old man waited, rolling his shoulder slightly and wincing. It'd be a time before he got back to shearing and herding. The elf didn't say anything, but the woman - the mage - stepped over. "You can call me R- Rachel." R-rachel, thought Fuller. More like l-liar. Probably on the run from some templars. Didn't matter to him none. He shook her hand; well, gripped it more like. Too sore to shake anything. The elf finally spoke up, "And I am Fenrik. Uh . . . of Tevinter." The farmer gae a nod. "See? That wasn't hard. Now, walk a bit up that hill and tell Hasp it's safe to come on."

The elf raised an eyebrow but did as he was told. The woman watched Fuller carefully. What, did she think he was gonna jump on her? She wasn't that pretty. And anyway, Fuller wasn't that kind of man. "You two headed south?" R-rachel nodded, "We were. I had no idea the taint stretched so far in though. We might go west instead or . . . I don't know." She sounded so tired and so lost. Reminded him a bit of his daughter too, the way she said it. He decided right then he'd see these two blasted idjits to Sheeplick before they got themselves killed out here. Damn kids shouldn't be traveling on their own like this, mage or no.

Hasp whickered softly behind him. Fuller turned to see the elf following his horse and looking confused. "Thanks, Fenrik. Blasted horse woulda made me hike back up to him otherwise." The farmer's mount snorted, butting his chest with its nose. Nearly pushed him over. "Yeah, yeah, I'm alive. now quit pushing!" Hasp backed up a pace, and then set to eyeballing the girl. "That's R-rachel, and the one what got you was Fenrik. And this, this is Hasp."

The mage blinked, "Uh, nice to meet you?" His horse gave her a good sniff. The elf looked at her, "I'm supposed to introduce myself to a - an animal?" She nodded. Fenrik huffed then gave a real neat looking bow, like he was in a royal court. Fuller had never seen anything like it, but he knew a hint of sarcasm when it bit him. "Fenrik. Of Tevinter.  It's so good to meet you, Hasp." The horse wasn't as quick as Fuller and thought the boy meant it. He gave the elf a good sniff and mouthed a piece of his hair before Fenrik straightened out.

"Good 'nough. Now, you two follow me. There's a shanty this way, not much more'n a shack but we can sleep dry." He swung up into the saddle giving another groan. That was what he got for adding injury to age. The travelers gave him the hairy eye, suspicious. "Look, ya can come with or sleep in the blasted fog. Can't say I didn't offer." R-rachel smiled. It was, thought Fuller, a very nice smile. The elf grunted but when Hasp started moving, they both followed.
Heart and Home Chap. 13
Title: Heart and Home
Author: Zara-Arletis
Game: Dragon Age 2
characters/pairing: Fenris/f!Hawke
Disclaimer: all characters belong to Bioware and EA I just take liberties with their words and actions.

Preview art by my dangerous bear :heart:

Fenris and Hawke finally find peace in Kirkwall, but their happiness is shattered as vengeance takes its toll. Caught in the middle of a war neither wanted, they try to find a place to call home. Unfortunately, conflict finds them wherever they rest.

This story goes through the end of Act 3 and into post game original story content

Chap. 1 Chap. 2
Chap. 3 Chap. 4
Chap. 5 Chap. 6
Chap. 7 Chap. 8
Chap. 9 Chap. 10
Chap. 11  Chap. 12
Chap. 13
"She always thinks she's right," Carver muttered, kicking a loose rock. It skidded along the paving stones, scattering a flock of pidgeons. The birds struggled into the air awkwardly as if comfort forced them to forget how to fly. The templar watched with some satisfaction, wishing it were that easy to make his sister look silly. Hawke acted like she had all the answers. She always had. "Do this. Don't do that. Come here; go there!" Blah blah blah.  Carver found another pebble, sending it clattering a few paces down the lane. The birds were already gone but it still made him feel better. Not as good as yelling at Riese would, but she was just impossible.

I never should have followed her out of Kirkwall, he thought sullenly. But then he never would have met up with Merrill again. "I should have stayed with her in the alienage," Carver sighed, looking in that direction. He knew he could go back, but Dirthen had made his feelings on humans and elves pretty clear. Maybe Merrill felt the same. It would explain the way she always drew back when things got intimate. Her shyness with him, and her refusal to call their attraction anything other than friendship. He'd thought they were getting closer, getting past her reticence, but now he had doubts.

If I go back, will she even want me? Carver didn't know if he wanted that question answered. And even if she did, the templar was pretty sure she would choose her ambition over him. Merrill had given up everything, so what was one more, small, insignificant relationship? Maybe things would be different if he had told her how much he liked her ten years ago, in another lifetime. He wanted to believe he could have rescued her, though he knew that was foolish. You could never save someone from themselves. It stung to admit that.

Carver wondered what Hawke would do in his shoes. Probably some ridiculous gesture, something so grand and unforgettable that no one would deny her. Even Fenris, grumpy and brooding, hateful to everything magic, had given in. Granted, it took Riese years to get that far but she had done it. Unfortunately, there was no slave master to kill for Merrill, no hunters in pursuit. And her desires . . . to bring back the Dales, restore the elves their glory . . . it was nothing one templar, penniless and alone, could accomplish. He gave a derisive snort at the thought of single-handedly carving out a kingdom for the Dalish. Not even his sister could do that.

It began to get dark and cold, the night filled with distant sounds of merriment and the barking of dogs. Carver had to smile at the noise; it felt like home. He still remembered his late night walks in Lothering, sneaking into the back of Dane's Refuge for stolen sips of beer. The smell of hay and tilled dirt, candles flickering in the windows as he passed. Carver missed the simple things, life before the darkspawn destroyed his home.

His wandering feet took him to the chantry, past the fence around the grounds, sweet smelling flowers and grass filled his nose. He made his way slowly down the path where finally he stood outside, staring up the steps at the great wooden doors. Part of him wanted to walk in, be welcomed by his brothers and the revered mother, to sing the Chant again and feel that sense of belonging. He knew it could not be. Even if they accepted him today, what would happen when they learned he was from Kirkwall? That he had betrayed his order and his faith for family? And how could he still square that desire to rejoin the order with the other half of him that wanted nothing more than to run back to the alienage and pull Merrill close, kiss her?

There was no welcome for him here. Carver turned and walked away, his heart heavy and full of regret. When had he ever made the right choice? Was he making the right one now? He pushed his thoughts away, focusing on his feet. One step and then another, no destination, just movement.

Morning passed Fenris and Hawke by, sliding into windy afternoon. Leaves danced across the cobblestones outside and within the eaves of Creme the ladies of evening began to stir. It was their laughter and the smell of baking bread that finally woke the elf. Beside him, Riese lay curled on herself, blankets tugged against her chest and held tight. She always slept as if she expected the sheets to be ripped away, likely a remnant of childhood spent sharing a bed with her sister. Fenris allowed himself a small smile, gently tracing the curve of her jaw with a fingertip. He loved her so much it hurt.

It was funny how things worked out, Fenris thought. He had run from Tevinter hating all magic, all mages. Determined to set himself apart from them and everything they corrupted, but somehow he had ended up here. He didn't think Riese understood the irony of it; that the chains she bound him by were stronger than any enchantment laid on him by Danarius. I chose this, he thought, kissing an errant lock of her hair. And that choice made all the difference. There was nowhere he would rather be. The elf slid carefully out of bed and began to dress.

They would need to leave soon or pay for another night in this place. He wasn't sure they could afford it. Hawke had plenty of money stashed in Kirkwall, but there was no way to get it right now. And their purses were not light, but there was no guarantee they would have any income later. This was, for all purposes, every penny they owned. He didn't think Riese would want to sleep under hedges and grub for food in the forest, so it was best to be careful until things were certain. That in mind, he slipped downstairs.

Creme was much quieter today than it had been last night. Birk lounged near the door on a wide, round stool. It rocked unevenly as he nodded to the elf. Opal was nowhere to be seen, so Fenris walked to the bar and sat. The barkeep was a young woman, slender and dark skinned with wide, green eyes. She gave him a bright smile. "Whiskey to break your fast?" "Ehm, no . . . I was hoping to pay our tab, and maybe ask for a bath." The woman nodded, looking over at a slate board with some odd marks on it. "You've got the attic, right?"

Fenris squinted at the board, trying to figure out what she was reading. "Yes, that's right." "It's five silver. Bath is free if you fill the tub, or three coppers for service. Another silver if you want service to stay and scrub your back." The elf gave up on the board and nodded, fishing the coins from his pocket. "I can fill the tub, just tell me where to go." She pointed, "Round the bar, next to the kitchens. Pump for cold or ask cook for a bucket of hot." "Thanks. Can I grab breakfast there too? Or is it just -" he motioned to the bottles and jars on the shelf behind her. "Might be something left from last night. Cook only does dinners," the woman said, looking pointedly toward the kitchen. "There's a good bakery down the way though." "Great," the elf smiled, heading for the kitchen.

By the time Riese woke up, Fenris had the bath poured and sweet buns from the bakery waiting on her. "You sleep like a dead woman," he laughed as she sat up and looked around. "How - how long were you up?" she asked with a yawn. He shrugged, "A while. Bath is still warm though." Hawke stood, stretching. Fenris watched, breath caught in his throat. Even with the scars, she was so beautiful. From the top of her head to the tip of each pink nipple, and down to her toes. She caught him looking and grinned. "Don't drool on my sweet bun, dear." The elf returned her smile, reaching for her as she slipped past him to the bath. "I thought you liked it when I drool on your sweet buns . . ." He faked a disappointed look. Hawke shook her head, laughing at him. "At least I will know why breakfast is soggy." She stepped into the bath, splashing a bit as she rinsed off.

"So should we hunt for Carver today?" Riese looked at him hopefully as she asked. "If you think we should." Fenris didn't feel inclined to look for the younger Hawke, but he had expected the mage to ask. It didn't matter that the templar was a grown man who had chosen to storm off in the middle of a strange city, or that all of them were fugitives and really should be on their way. Hawke would want to find him, make sure he was alright, and give him one last chance to be insulting before they could leave. The elf held in a sigh. "Do you want to stay here while we look? It's five silver a night." Fenris grimaced as he said it.

Hawke looked conflicted for a moment, obviously not wanting to search the city for cheaper room and board. Finally, she sunk down a bit in the tub and said, "I guess we should look for someplace else." It came out sounding so defeated he had to smile. "It's ok, Riese. We can stay here. It's expensive, but I think we can count on Opal being discreet." He gestured around them, "It's just in the nature of the business." Fenris was rewarded with a grateful smile. "Oh good. I didn't want to sound whiny, but I love the soft bed and having a bath right here . . . most inns are just a straw pallet. And fleas!" It was hard not to laugh at the look of disgust on her face.

After she was dressed and the fresh sweet buns devoured, they went downstairs. Opal was sitting at a table with ledgers piled high in front of her. She gave them a broad smile. "Enjoy your stay?" "Very much," Hawke answered. "Good, good. Did you need anything before you leave? We have many services." "We were hoping to stay another night or two, if we could." The madame shrugged, "As you like. If you pay for a week, I will give you dinners free." Riese looked to Fenris and he gave a nod. A week in this city was not the best, but it would give them time to gather information and decide where to go next. And who knew how long the mage would want to stay and look for Carver? He hoped fervently this week did not stretch into two. That in mind, he handed over four gold to Opal, stashing the silvers she returned to him.

"Thank you," he told her. "If anyone comes asking for us, please let us know before you say anything." The madam gave a knowing smile, "I would do no less even if you didn't ask, fool boy. And you are welcome. Now if you don't mind -" She motioned to the ledgers, "The pages ache to be filled with ink. Good day to you." Fenris nodded and guided Hawke out.

They walked quietly toward the docks, Hawke tense at every tall, dark haired figure. "Where do you think Carver would go?" she asked, chewing her lip absently. "The chantry?" Fenris ventured, "Or perhaps the alienage?" "I don't want to go back there. I guess we can check the chantry. Where ever it is." She looked around, frowning. "Probably back toward the merchant district, or near those walled estates," Fenris replied. The chantry was never in the poor part of town, no matter their supposed goal of helping the poor and needy. "I hope word of Kirkwall has not spread," Riese told him quietly. The elf nodded, "That is my hope as well. Do you want to risk it?"

"It's worth it," she said quickly, guiding them around a corner and back toward the gates that led to the noble district. The guard there was happy to point them toward the chantry, his smiling face proof he must be new to the job. Guards were never that cheerful, at least, never after the first day or two.  

The chantry was set behind a high metal fence, the bronze bent and twisted into fanciful flames. To Fenris it seemed almost a mockery of the Andrastian faith, their founder burned to death in fires of betrayal reduced to decor. At least the garden behind it was nice. A few late blooming flowers peeked out of the greenery, and all of it was shaded by trees in their autumn colors. The two walked slowly up the chantry stairs. Riese hesitated at the door, nervous to go in. Fenris just held open the door until she moved forward.

Inside it looked like most other chantries, tall columns lining the chamber with a large statue of Andraste on a pedestal at the end.  The smell of incense stung his nose, sharp and sweet, and soft chanting filled his ears.  Affirmed and initiates walked about, sweeping the floors and tending to the needs of the faithful. One young man approached them, asking in a low voice if he could help. Hawke nodded. "I am looking for my friend. He's a little taller than me, dark hair, brown eyes . . ." She described Carver well but the man just looked at her blankly. "Haven't seen anyone like that, miss. Is he in some trouble?"

Riese hesitated, then shook her head, "No, but we are new to this place and he's gotten lost. I thought he might come here to pray." The affirmed shrugged and then smiled, "If you tell me where you are staying, maybe we can send word should he stop by?" "No, that's alright. We haven't found long term lodging ourselves. Thank you though." Riese turned to leave, looking tense and uncomfortable in this place. It made Fenris sad to see. Riese was never overly religious but until now she had at least found some comfort in the chantry. Anders had ruined that for her. A small thing perhaps, but it was another debt that mage owed.

They walked out to the garden, where Hawke pulled him off the path, settling down under a large tree. The autumn leaves crunched under their boots, letting off a faint spicy odor. Late blooming flowers peeked out from under the fall colors, adding to the scents in the air. It was odd, thought Fenris, but pleasant. "What do you think?" Riese asked, looking up at him. "You mean was he telling the truth?" "Mhmmm." She tilted her head, patting the ground beside her. Fenris sat. "I think he was. He looked more confused than anything." "I guess I am getting paranoid. Just the way he smiled when he asked where we are staying - I don't know." The elf put an arm around her. "Paranoid is probably good, but I don't think it was anything to worry about." "Yeah . . ."

Riese leaned her head back against the tree, closing her eyes. "I half expected to see Elthina." Fenris studied her face, the way her brows drew together in the center, the edge of her lips turned down. "She is dead," Fenris said quietly, pulling Hawke closer. "I know. I just feel like she shouldn't be." "Because she shouldn't be." The mage drew a ragged breath, resting against him. He hoped she wasn't crying. "I don't know what else to say," Fenris added. She patted his arm, "You don't need to say anything." "Good," the elf replied, stroking her shoulder lightly.

The afternoon was warm by Ferelden standards, Riese thought. The breeze beneath the tree was barely enough to bring a shiver. She had not realized until today how much the destruction of the Kirkwall chantry shook her. Grief and regret still swam beneath her determined exterior, haunting every smile. Why had everything turned out so badly? What could she have done to fix it? There were no answers and Hawke knew it. Still, she turned the questions over and over in her mind. Fenris seemed to understand what she needed at least. No false words of comfort, just his solid presence beside her. She knew logically this was not the best time to stop and deal with her feelings, but seeing the chantry brought loss to her mind. Old memories of Elthina, her mother's funeral, of Sebastian . . . all the things wiped out by Anders' misguided quest for freedom.

The worst part was that Riese understood him, even sympathized with what her friend had done. But understanding was not forgiveness. Her father taught her that you could only judge people on their actions, their motives. And that killing was a last resort. The people Anders had taken vengeance on were good hearted, trying to work in a corrupt system to change things slowly, safely. Their actions made them good people. Riese truly believed in time things would have gotten better, especially once Meredith was removed, but it wasn't the revolution Anders wanted. The deaths he caused were needless sacrifice, and those killings - that act - made him evil. She sighed heavily, knowing this reflection was not helping. I should get up and go look for Carver, she thought.

Hawke lifted her head, giving Fenris a light kiss on the lips. "Ready?" he asked, standing. She nodded, letting him help her to her feet. "Do I have dirt on my butt?" she turned to let the elf see. He shrugged, patting it. "Just some leaves. Decoration, right?" The mage brushed at them, distracted as a few people began to gather at the fence. "What do you suppose that's about?" Fenris shrugged. "Doesn't matter unless they stop us, right?" He lifted an eyebrow. "Right," Hawke agreed. She had promised not to get involved in other people's problems as they had in Kirkwall.  No more adventuring, she told herself firmly.

The gathering moved into the garden, a templar pushing past the people, dragging along a young girl in chantry robes. The girl looked frightened, disheveled, her only possession a tightly held messenger satchel. The bag wasn't very valuable looking, a dusty brown leather with faded stitching.  It looked a bit . . . "The Viscount?" Riese whispered, tracing the familiar lines of the Kirkwall sigil with her eyes. "I see it," Fenris said flatly. "We need to get out of here." "But Carver-" Hawke began. "Isn't here," the elf interrupted. They edged along the side of the garden, where the trees grew close to the fence, away from the gate.

Fenris boosted her up without a word. Riese scrambled over as silently as she could, then waited for the elf. He hauled himself after her with no trouble. "Move," he said sounding strained. Hawke let him lead, worry clouding her mind. If word from Kirkwall reached here, how long could they stay in the city without being recognized? "Back to Creme?" she asked as they hurried along the street. The elf nodded, "To get our things and go. We can't stay." Behind them, bells began to toll and then ragged shouts erupted. From this distance it wasn't clear what they were saying, but the voices were full of anger and grief. "I guess that means it wasn't some other message. Damn." The mage bit her lip. She had hoped they would have more time before news from Kirkwall caught up.

People ran toward the chantry as they walked away, expressions of surprise on many faces. Fenris grabbed one old man as he hobbled past, feigning confusion. "What do the bells mean? Is there danger?" The old man pushed the elf away. "Last time they rang, it was a fire. Took out a few estates up the hill. If you're so curious come on then." "I don't want the trouble," Fenris replied, managing to sound worried. The old man spat and then continued on his way, obviously annoyed. "Why did you do that," Riese asked. "To make sure we can still get out the gates. If it's a general alarm, we should be alright, at least until they send word to the guards . . ."

"They might not," Hawke said. "It could still be something else - or - or even if it is word from Kirkwall, they can't know we came here. They might just be ringing the bells to announce what happened." Fenris shrugged, "I don't want to take the chance. This place has too many walls and gates to get out of easily." The mage nodded, though she didn't entirely agree. It was too early to panic, and while she was glad to be away from the chantry, there was still Carver to find. Though it would do her brother no good if they did end up caught.

A thought struck her and she stopped. "Wait, how will Carver know to leave? He didn't see the messenger!" "You're joking," Fenris answered, pressing his to a thin line. "If he sits here waiting after this alarm, he deserves to end up in the city dungeon." "That's not very fair to him." The elf sighed, looking at her sharply. "Riese. Your brother is a grown man. He isn't a child and he isn't helpless. You are not his mother. He will escape or he won't - either way, we are not waiting here and risking our skins in case he needs a hand." The words were said quietly, but firmly. A quick outpouring of determination tinged in frustration.

Hawke wanted to argue with him, but he was right. She just hoped her brother had learned over the last few years. She nodded and let Fenris take her arm again. It didn't take long to get to Creme. The streets here were nearly deserted and eerily quiet. A few worried shopkeepers peered from their empty storefronts. The elf ducked into Creme with a disgusted look. "Well they are going to remember us. The only two people walking away from the chantry."  "That old man might too," the mage added. "I doubt it," Fenris answered, glancing behind them nervously.

Birk raised an eyebrow at them but said nothing as they slunk into the tavern. He was the only one there, Opal and barkeep gone. Hawke was glad of it. Birk didn't seem like he would ask questions as they left with their packs, though he didn't seem smart enough to lie about it either. Fenris nodded to him and then led Riese upstairs quickly. It took only a moment to shove their unpacked belongings into bags. Hawke pulled a hooded cloak on, though the day was not cold enough to need it, and the elf pulled a knit cap over his hair and ears.

"You look like a fisherman," Riese grinned. "Maybe I am a fisherman," Fenris replied, strapping his sword onto his back. It was too big to hide properly, but the coat he draped over it helped. "Must be some big fish you are after," the mage laughed. She knew there was nothing funny in their situation, but it helped to make light of it. Fenris grinned, "The biggest." He grabbed their bags and settled one on his shoulders, the other two hanging from his arms. His armor was still packed, but he didn't seem concerned. Hawke supposed they wouldn't need it just yet. She hoped.

Riese dropped two gold on the small table by the bed as they left, hoping Opal would say nothing of their stay or departure. There was no way to guarantee silence, at least, no way she was willing to take.  They would have to bet on greed and stupidity to keep their stay a secret. It wasn't much to rely on. With one last, longing look at the big soft bed and porcelain tub, Hawke left the room, bouncing down the stairs after Fenris. She wondered if this was what being on the run was always like. The feeling of being hunted, of leaving comfort behind every time you found it. It made her miss Kirkwall all the more. She wondered if Fenris felt that way too, even if he never considered that city a home.

If Birk noticed them leave, he didn't give any indication. He just sat staring into a tin mug as they walked out, oblivious. "You lead," Fenris told her, nudging Riese forward. "Where to? I'm not sure which road goes out." The elf shrugged, burdens shifting awkwardly. "South I think. Along the Merchant Road. It seems a likely way toward the Bannern." "Bannorn," Hawke corrected him, heading the direction he indicated.

The Bannorn. Maybe the last place Riese had expected to find herself again. It was just grass, fields, and scrubby trees. If you were lucky, maybe a few deer. If not, just hungry wolves and giant hunting spiders. She had a lot of memories out there, times when her father was alive, and Bethany. Though she had not known it as a child, her whole life with her family was spent on the run. At the time, she had considered it normal to move each season, to give more than one name depending on the village, to stay far out from the chantry and town center . . . it was funny to be on the run with another family again in this same place. History repeating itself, or perhaps just the present making mockery of the past.

"Why did you slow?" Fenris asked, walking a few paces behind her, head ducked and shoulders lowered subserviently. "What?" "You slowed down. Why?" Hawke shrugged, not wanting to share her feelings just yet. She quickened her pace, earning a grunt from Fenris. "Sorry," she muttered. Despite her happy memories of her father, she realized she didn't want to live that on the run. Had her parents fled here with the same plans she now shared with Fenris? To settle and find peace in the simple life? It made her stomach twist to think about it. Being forced to run again and again, never finding a home or safety . . . that seemed more a nightmare than a dream. Was it the truth that lay before them?
Heart and Home Chap. 12
Title: Heart and Home
Author: Zara-Arletis
Game: Dragon Age 2
characters/pairing: Fenris/f!Hawke
Disclaimer: all characters belong to Bioware and EA I just take liberties with their words and actions.

Preview art by my dangerous bear :heart:

Fenris and Hawke finally find peace in Kirkwall, but their happiness is shattered as vengeance takes its toll. Caught in the middle of a war neither wanted, they try to find a place to call home. Unfortunately, conflict finds them wherever they rest.

This story goes through the end of Act 3 and into post game original story content

Chap. 1 Chap. 2
Chap. 3 Chap. 4
Chap. 5 Chap. 6
Chap. 7 Chap. 8
Chap. 9 Chap. 10
Chap. 11  Chap. 12
Chap. 13
Fenris woke up in a soft bed, wrapped in smooth, white linen sheets.  Hawke slept beside him, mouth open, blankets twisted around her legs. The elf sat up, rubbing his head.  It ached fiercely, and for the life of him, he could not remember where they were or how they got here.  He had been drinking tea and listening to Merrill whine . . . and then . . . nothing?  Fenris stood, unsteady as if he had spent a long night drinking heavily.  Even his mouth had that flavor, like vinegar and spoiled meat.  Riese made a small, unhappy noise and tugged the blankets tighter around her as he padded across the room to the wooden door opposite the bed.  He opened it carefully, wondering if they had been drugged by the keeper and that strange old elf Dirthen.  It sure as hell felt like it.  The tension in his neck and shoulders sent spikes of pain through his skull as the door swung open slowly. A dark hall lay on the other side, with another door at the far end. A few potted plants lined the walls, odd fungi and ferns, things that loved the dark. Fenris frowned; so that was it then.  The bitch had drugged their tea and then . . . imprisoned them?  He was tempted to try the other door, but didn't want to leave Hawke alone in here.  He turned back and closed the door behind him.  Riese blinked at the sound of it shutting. "Andraste's ass, that hurts," she moaned, sitting up. "Did we go drinking?  My mouth tastes like-" "I know," Fenris interrupted, grinning at her discomfort. "You tasted my mouth?" Riese shot back, raising an eyebrow. The elf laughed and then immediately regretted it. "Ah - gods no - but my mouth . . . I think that keeper drugged us."

Hawke thought about it a moment and then nodded, "I guess she did.  But why? I'm still dressed, and so are you. Did you check our stuff?" The elf looked around, spotting the bags they had carried, and went to rifle through them, checking gold and potions first, then the rest. It was all there.  "Nothing missing," he told her. She nodded almost as if she expected it. "My jaw is sore," Riese told him, massaging her cheeks with one hand.  "Mine isn't," the elf frowned. "Maybe I fell?" Fenris shrugged, coming over to check her for bruises.  "It doesn't look like it."  He kissed the mage along her jawline just because, which coaxed a smile from her.  "Did you try to get out," Riese asked him, leaning down to check her boots. "No, I wanted to wake you first." She stood, wobbling a bit. "I would kill for a glass of water right now." The mage looked around in annoyance and then heaved a sigh.  "Ok . . . well, I guess let's go then.  Or try to anyway." The elf grabbed their bags, and opened the door for her. She spent a moment or two looking over the plants and frowning. "Not much difference between poisons and medicines . . ." she muttered darkly.

The door at the end of the hall was unlocked, and Riese walked through it like an angry queen, head held high, hands balled into little, angry fists. Fenris hoped it wouldn't get ugly. He just wanted to be away from this strange place and these people.  No more adventures, no more rescues, no more favors for ungrateful asses. The elf followed her out, blinking for a moment at the bright light streaming through the windows. Merrill and the Keeper sat at the table, breakfasts half eaten in front of them. The Dalish looked a thousand times better than she had on their way in and she was smiling brightly. Riese stopped between them and the kitchen entrance.  Fenris could see the way out just past her shoulder, the door that would take them into the alienage and beyond it the street.  He sighed, and leaned against the doorframe, waiting for Riese to have her say.  "Oh! Good morning, Hawke!  We were just talking about you!"  Merrill turned to beam at them as if life couldn't be better.  The mage raised an eyebrow, putting one clenched fist to her hip.  "What did you do to us?"  The question was pointed at the keeper.  The red head smiled, shrugged. "I am so sorry. I should have asked permission, but it seemed best to make sure you all slept until I could work out Merrill's little problem." Fenris didn't like her answer but there was nothing to be done for it now.  Hawke's face was a stormcloud; obviously she wasn't happy either.  He really didn't want to end up in a fight, not when they were so close to finally having a life of their own.

Fenris coughed, getting Riese to look at him.  She did and then let out a little sigh as if to say, "Ok, ok, I won't let her have it."  Merrill seemed oblivious as usual and burbled on. "Oh the Keeper is just wonderful, Hawke. I feel so much better today!  And we talked about - about my clan."  At that, the Dalish bit her lip. "She says, oh Hawke . . ." Merrill stood up and practically threw herself at Riese, eyes tearing up.  "The Keeper says it wasn't our fault!  She says - she says that Marethari should have been more careful!  And- and that I - that I - that there is nothing wrong with pursuing the old knowledge." Apparently all Merrill needed was this keeper's reassurance to have an excuse to forgive herself.  Hawke pushed her out to arms length, expression serious.  "Even when it means dealing with demons, Merrill?"  The Dalish nodded, but could not meet her friend's eyes.  Fenris looked from them to the Keeper with a frown.  This did not bode well.  Everything Marethari said indicated that the Dalish forbade any dealings with demons and would hunt down and kill the mages that bargained with them.  Whatever the woman in front of them was, she couldn't be a real Keeper of the Dalish.  Sarael laughed, a deep, rich, amused sound.  "Please, let's not argue.  At least eat first; lectures can wait."  Riese fixed her with an angry glare, "We are leaving. Where is my brother?"  Merill touched her arm lightly. "We can't go yet, Hawke.  This place - these people - they are fascinating!  You don't really want to leave do you?" Riese didn't look at her. "Stay if you like, Merrill.  I can't make you come with us."  The Dalish dropped her arm, sagging. "But Hawke-" She was interrupted as Riese took a step forward, pointing a finger at Sarael. "I don't know what you are up to, but I don't like it. I don't trust you." The keeper shrugged, "You don't have to. I understand you are angry, though why is lost tome. Perhaps some . . . human trait? I have only offered help and hospitality." She turned back to her breakfast, losing interest in them. "You are, of course, welcome to leave when you wish.  I can have Dirthen escort you to the gate to avoid any ugliness."  She made a motion toward the door.

"And my brother?  Where is he?" the mage asked tersely. Fenris sighed, wishing she would be calm.  He didn't trust this woman either, but antagonizing her seemed like a bad idea. She had handled them like kittens the day before, but Hawke rarely considered consequences until after the flames died down.  Sarael refused to take offense; she shrugged again and pointed toward a door in the back. "He went to the garden to relax until you woke." The mage walked past her without another word, leaving Merrill and Sarael standing there. Fenris felt a need to watch the Keeper, but didn't want Riese running around alone, so he followed. As the door closed behind them, he heard Merrill offer an apology. "Oh, Hawke's always a bit on edge . . ." He supposed it didn't matter.  If the Keeper was offended, he would stand with Hawke and if she wasn't, then she wasn't.  Merrill's chatter wasn't important, though he had to wonder where she would stand in a fight between Riese and Sarael.  Fenris thought it sad that even after going through so much with the odd little Dalish, he still could not trust her.  He wondered if the fault was in her or in him. Thankfully, the door did lead out to a terraced garden, carved into the wall.  Beneath the rows of plants climbing and dangling in wild abandon across the alienage wall was a comfortable patio nearly hidden beneath more potted plants.  Hawke's brother sat in a chair that was far too small for him, wedged between a bush covered in white fluffy blossoms and a blooming iris, the flowers stained a dark purple.  He was staring off into space with a glazed expression.

"Carver?" The templar turned his head, smiled at Riese and then winced. "I feel like I've been in a bar fight," he grumbled. "That happens when someone poisons you," Hawke replied.  Carver raised an eyebrow, "Merrill says it was just -" "Merrill says a lot of bullshit," Hawke cut him off. Carver mumbled something in reply as he reached for a tin cup on the ground. "We are leaving," she told him firmly. "And Merrill?  She sounded like she wanted to stay a bit," the templar replied. Riese made an annoyed sound, "She will come if we leave. I think." The mage motioned for him to stand, impatience coming off her in waves. "So get off your ass and come on!" Carver stood reluctantly. "Why are you so pissed off? I mean . . . that Keeper said she did it for Merrill.  What's a headache matter if she healed Daisy?" Fenris crossed his arms, "You're telling me you don't care that a mage you don't know put something in your drink, knocked you out cold, and then did things to your friend?"  The templar made a face, "Well . . . you put it that way . . . I mean . . . Merrill made it sound so . . ." "Innocent?" Riese rolled her eyes. "She also acts like blood magic is just another part of the daily routine, so what do you expect?" "You aren't exactly innocent, either, sister, so don't try to act all high and mighty.  Merrill doesn't always make the right choices, but at least she has a good heart," Carver grumbled. This was not helping, Fenris thought, coming between them. "Whatever," he hissed, "None of us has clean hands.  Can we yell at each other about it after we leave?"

Riese stared at her brother, waiting for him to cave first.  Surprisingly, he did, giving Fenris a curt nod.  "Fine."  The three of them went inside to find Merrill and Sarael talking as if nothing had happened. The Keeper watched them over the rim of her cup. "Shall I summon Dirthen then?" Sarael stood and walked past them, unruffled by their obvious displeasure. "Yes, the sooner the better," Hawke said.  Sarael stood and walked past them, unruffled by their obvious displeasure.  "I am not going," Merrill said quietly as the door closed.  Her chair squeaked a bit as she stood, hands clasped in front of her. "I always did what you asked, Hawke.  Well . . . almost always.  But I don't want to go, not yet."

Riese looked at Merrill with disbelief that faded to resignation quickly. "I don't think it's safe for you here, Merrill."  "It's not safe anywhere, Hawke.  I'm not asking to be safe. I want a chance to start over and to do something good."  Carver nodded agreement, watching the two women.  Fenris was glad the templar kept his mouth shut at least.  It was never wise to come between two mages, especially when you couldn't kill either of them.  "The Keeper says the Dalish are -" Merrill stopped herself and took a deep breath before plunging on. "There is a purpose for me here. There could be for you too, if you wanted.  B-but even if you don't, I'm staying." Riese shook her head and turned away. "As you like. I suppose it's my lot to lose friends at every step." "Hawke . . . I . . . I am sorry. We can write and - and maybe visit each other!" Merrill tried to sound excited, but it fell flat. 

"It's not so bad," Merrill prompted but Riese said nothing. "Really, it isn't," the Dalish repeated, voice quavering. "We'll write you everyday," Carver told her, looking miserable. Fenris said nothing, feeling sad and annoyed with himself for it.  There was nothing bad about getting rid of the damned bloodmage.  The woman was a menace to herself and everyone around her.  It just bothered him to see Hawke sad again.  She was still in mourning for Anders and all the friends they left behind.  Isabela's desertion was still fresh and now this. Fenris wished she could see the truth of it, that they were better off without people like Merrill and Anders, and even the pirate, but she had a gentle heart.

Hawke finally spoke. "I don't understand what it is you want here, Merrill.  This Sarael can't be trusted.  Even if she healed you, which I am not sure of, she drugged us!  And her people - they seem violent . . ." The mage's voice trembled with hurt and simmering anger. Merrill stepped closer, her reply soft and low. "Hawke, you don't understand.  The Keeper - she is fighting for us! For the Dalish and all elves.  She told me not to tell you, that no shemlen could understand, but I know you! You, of all people understand fighting for what is right."  "What is right? I am not sure I know what that means anymore."  The mage shook her head, "It doesn't matter anyway.  I don't trust her or her motives, whatever nonsense she feeds you." "It is a chance for the Dalish to be great again.  To recover what we have lost, Hawke.  What can be bad about that?" Merrill leaned closer, gaze intense. She wanted Riese to agree with her so badly.  Even Carver looked strained as he watched them.

Fenris wasn't sure what he felt about it. He had never much liked the Dalish, finding them arrogant and self-righteous. They judged 'flat-ears' for an accident of location and birth and were often as full of viperish hate as the humans they went on and on about.  The idea of fighting for elven freedom sounded good, but his notion of it was far different that these Dalish. Despite their sad tales of oppression, they never served as slaves in Tevinter, never watched their families bartered away.  Never sat silent, listening to loved ones weeping in the dark as masters took what they wanted. These Dalish saw only ancient grudges, a lost kingdom, lost power.  They wanted it back and cared little for their cousins still trapped in slavery and poverty. 

Riese stared at Merrill, silent and disapproving. The Dalish blinked, wiping at her eyes as if to rub away tears. "Please, Hawke. It's what I've always wanted. When I found that mirror, I dreamed of what secrets we could recover.  Power for my people to share in again.  When - when I made that deal with the demon, it was for this. For the Dalish, even when my own clan could not accept the sacrifice . . . and now . . . finally . . . this Keeper understands." 

"Marethari understood too," Riese replied softly. Merrill recoiled as if slapped. "She paid your price, begged you to find another path, but you come back again and again to the same thing."  Hawke seemed to sag under the weight of her words. "She died to give you another chance, and you want to throw it away.  Fine. I have done what I could."  The Dalish drew back, struggling to regain control of her emotions. "You're my friend, Hawke.  Why won't you understand?" Riese turned away from her.  Carver sighed heavily and patted his sister's shoulder. He did not look happy.

The Keeper returned with Dirthen in tow and took in Merrill's tortured expression, and the general unhappiness of the Hawke siblings. She lost her smile. "Well, that's done then." Sarael put a hand on Merrill's shoulder, turning her away from her friends. "It will be well, little one." Dirthen spread his arms wide and shrugged. "If you have said your goodbyes, then come along.  The sooner you are out of the alienage, the better, yes?" Fenris nodded, opening the door for the older elf. There was nothing else to do for it. Riese followed Dirthen out, and Carver came along looking reluctant, his gaze cast back at Merrill.  He wore a lost expression as the door closed, blocking his view. Surely he could see Merrill had no need for him here, amongst these mad elves who seemed to hate humans. If she felt at all for him as he did her, she would not have stayed.

They made an odd parade on their way through the alienage. Mid morning was a busy time of day for this place, and many elves bustled about on various errands. They stared at Fenris and his friends the way a housewife would look at a dead rat in her pantry, with a mix of loathing and a hint of fear. Dirthen waved and nodded, called hello to people he knew. A few asked him about the shemlen and their flat ear, but he shushed them instead of offering a straight answer. Fenris wondered what exactly Sarael told him about their leaving. Hopefully it was neutral.  It be just their luck to end up in a backalley fight with this man and his friends over some perceived offense. Anxiety crept up his spine, and he sped up to walk closer to Riese.  She was lost in thought, gaze unfocused. At least one of them was immune to the glares.  Carver was more than happy to make up for her, frowning at any elf that looked at them too long.  It left a trail of grumbling behind them. 

Dirthen didn't seem to care, though Fenris was certain he noticed. Perhaps it was enough that he was leading them out. Or to an ambush. Or whatever the old elf had planned. He didn't speak to his charges as they walked, though Carver broke the silence as the gates came into view. "Can she have ah- that is, can we visit her?" "Of course. With a proper escort though. We can't have you walking about on your own here," Dirthen replied cordially. "If she wants to see you, it will be arranged." The old elf stopped and looked at them. "I know she told you a little of what we are about.  I am not sure if it was enough for too much."  Carver shrugged uncomfortably.  "You are fighting for the Dalish.  That's what she told us."  Dirthen nodded, "And when we have our lands back, there will be a place for shem.  Just not on top, not anymore."  "I don't think the Dalish would make better masters to humans than humans made for elves," Riese answered as her brother looked thoughtful.  The old elf gave her a half smile, condescending.  "I understand why you might feel that way."

Then Dirthen looked to Fenris, ignoring the two humans.  "We could always use another warrior, you know.  You could stay with us."  "Without my wife?" The elf almost smiled as he said it, despite the situation.  His wife.  He reached for Hawke's hand and squeezed it gently.  At that, Dirthen's smile faded.  "She could come, but not as your mate.  Elves and humans . . . we should not cannot allow them to mix with us."  He looked at the tattoed elf as he said it, the passion behind his words unmistakeable. Fenris understood him perfectly well.  Any child he and Riese had would be human, as it was for any elf and human; it was a slow path to annihilation for his race.  Maybe he should care, but it seemed unimportant.  They probably couldn't have children, and if they did, he would love them no matter the shape of their ears.

"Sorry, not interested," Fenris answered dryly.  If Hawke was worried, she gave no sign of it but she did return his gentle squeeze.  Dirthen frowned, "It is on your head then. I hope you remember this day when you are old and wrinkled.  The day you gave up a chance for freedom."  He motioned to the gates and then turned on his heel, leaving them in a huff.  Riese sighed and laid her head on his arm a moment, eyes closing. "I wonder sometimes if I am not the worse choice for you."  Fenris kissed the top of her hair, enjoying the way it tickled his nose  and pricked lightly at his cheeks.  "You are never the worse choice for me. Now let's go before something starts." She smiled at him but said nothing more as they left. 

Carver trailed behind them, looking over his shoulder as they left the alienage behind.  "Do you think she'll be alright there?" His sister gave him an annoyed look. "It doesn't matter. She wanted to stay.  What would you have us do? Drag her out?" The templar glared, cheeks turning red. "We could have at least stayed a bit, heard them out." Hawke put her fists on her hips and turned to face him. "Then go back, Carver. If you are so worried, turn around and walk right back into the lion's den. I won't come after you this time." He gaped, eyes wide, too angry to do more than sputter. "I don't - you should - how can you just-just!" He raised his hand as if to slap her and then stepped back with a shuddering breath. "I think, sister, that you have changed. The Riese I knew would never leave a friend like this." 

The words hit Hawke hard, though she refused to bend in front of her brother. She cocked her head, "If that is what you think." And then left him standing in the street as she rapidly walked away. Fenris gave Carver a dirty look and then ran after her, sure she would find some more private place to cry. The templar couldn't understand, couldn't see, how much it hurt Hawke to leave Merrill. He was too eaten up with his own feelings to reach past them for a moment of understanding. It was funny, reflected Fenris, that he could see these things so easily in others but not in himself. He did his share of self-righteous moping, and if he could admit it now, that only meant some of it was in retrospect. Certainly there would be more. He gave a grimace of pained amusement as he caught up to the mage and took her arm in his.     

Riese did not cry.  She refused to. After years of being hated by her brother, reviled by a good half of Kirkwall, and in general on the bad side of a lot of people, you would think she would be used to things like this. People assuming she didn't care, that she was a heartless mage, egotistical . . . still. Even Fenris acted that way sometimes, as if he still suspected that somewhere in her lurked a magister. Hawke sighed, relaxing some small amount when the elf took her arm. She guided them into a flower stall along the road, pretending to be taken by the colorful bouquets. Fenris said nothing, just stayed with her as she looked from one to another and exchanged some empty pleasantries with the shopkeeper.

Finally she calmed enough to speak. "Was I wrong?" It was the first question that came to her mind. The elf shifted uncomfortably, and then shrugged. "To leave Merrill there? No - she is a grown woman. It was her choice." "But about Carver . . ." she asked, picking at some feathery yellow flower thrusting into the pathway.  "I don't know, Riese. My family - I have no experience to judge," Fenris answered. The mage nodded. She wanted Fenris to tell her everything was fine, that she did the right thing, but he had never been the sort to offer bland reassurance.  Even when her mother died, the elf had little to say in comfort. Hawke sighed and walked away from the plant seller, letting Fenris scowl at the shopkeeper as they left. Poor man had no idea who he was shouting at.

That was probably a good thing, Riese reflected. If the chantry learned their whereabouts, it wouldn't be long before templars and tamed circle mages showed up. It was hard to keep in mind that she was now a notorious felon. Fenris guided them up the street and past another set of gates into what was clearly a nicer part of town. Fountains graced each square, and sculpted bushes and colorful flowerbeds decorated fenced lawns to each side of the lane. The street finally opened into a marketplace, with upscale shops selling fine wines and spices, a tea shop with a wide, covered patio where guests sat, being served confections and aromatic drinks on silver platters, and two tailors with silks and velvets hanging in their windows.  Most interesting of all, an old but well maintained inn stood on one corner, red lamps hung by the door.  The large sign, bearing a painted white puff, proclaimed the name Creme. 

"Is that a bordello?" Fenris asked with a smirk. "In this part of town?" Hawke shook her head, uncertain. "It could be an inn," she added. The elf smiled at her and winked. "One way to find out, no?" Despite her general malaise, Riese returned his grin. "Too true. Lead on, my love." They went in quickly, stopping just inside to let their eyes adjust. The common room was smoky and full of laughing people. There were definitely more women than men in attendance, and most were dressed in clothes not fit for Ferelden weather, shoulders bare, pale white midriffs flashing in the lamplight, skirts pinned up to show colorful petticoats.

A very large man stood to one side, glancing and them and then to an older woman who stood near the bar. She gave a barely perceptible nod and then approached them, face breaking into a wide smile. "Welcome to Creme! We are the finest inn and tavern in West Hill." "Inn?" Hawke took in the scene again with a raised eyebrow. "Inn.  My girls are here to serve drinks and entertain, of course, but we are an inn," the woman replied a bit tersely. "No offense meant, miss. We are new here and need a room for at least the night," Fenris said, taking over. He could be so polite when he wanted to be.

"You can call me Opal," she told the elf, her tone welcoming again. "I haven't got may rooms left. A small one in the attic, but it does have a private bath, and one garden side with two beds. It's very expensive though." The woman looked them over, obviously expecting they would want the cheaper room. Hawke nodded, thinking Opal was exactly right. "We will take the attic room, then," the mage told her. "Perfect," the woman nodded, gesturing to the big man. "Birk, take their things upstairs." "Shouldn't we pay first," Fenris asked, watching the big man walk over to them. "No, no," Opal reassured him, "We trust our guests. And if you do try to leave without paying . . ." she looked to Birk and smiled. "Of course," the elf answered.

Riese doubted the big man intimidated Fenris in any way. He certainly didn't seem much of a threat to her, but that was the advantage of magic. Size mattered little. She handed Birk her bag as did Fenris.  He took them easily and then stumped to the stairs. "Is this way. Birk show." He nodded to himself and then started up. Hawke wondered if he was slow witted, but she supposed it didn't matter. Opal didn't employ him for his intelligence, but for those tree-trunk arms and legs. Birk didn't carry a sword, but she had little doubt he could use the studded iron rod slung on his belt. It clinked with each step as they made their way up the three flights of stairs. Laughter and the odd moan floated to them through the walls on each floor, reminding Riese of the Blooming Rose in Kirkwall.  Did that place still stand? Hightown should look much as she had left it, though there was rioting in the streets the day Anders - the day the chantry was destroyed.

Birk stopped abruptly and fumbled a brass key from his belt. He turned, ducking, at the top of the stairway and opened a door on the left, disappearing into the room. Hawke and Fenris followed him in without needing to duck beneath the low beams. The room was small, and a bit cramped with the large bouncer there, but it seemed nice enough. A bed sat near the window, white sheets and a red coverlet. Across from it was a low, painted screen with images of birds and flowers decorating each panel between the wood frame. The promised bath was behind it, an actual porcelain tub. The bouncer set their bags beside the bed and bowed, then held out his hand for a tip, humming softly as Fenris dug a few coppers from his belt. "Our thanks," he told the big man, letting out a relieved sigh as the bouncer left.

"I wonder what this will cost us," the elf said wryly as he checked under the bed and behind the screen. "I don't care," Hawke replied, falling onto the bed. It was soft, and she sank into the feather down mattress. "At least we won't get fleas," Fenris smiled, watching her. "Not from the bed anyway," the mage grinned back, then sobered. "Do you think Carver found someplace for the night?" "I'm sure he did, Riese. Stop worrying - he's a grown man and he made his way for a long time without you." She nodded agreement and sat up. The elf was right. Her brother had made it almost ten years on his own, so what was one night. Besides, she had bigger things to worry about at the moment.

"Sleep now, bath in the morning?" she asked, changing the subject. Fenris sat beside her, leaning in close as he took a dramatic sniff. "Are you sure?" he teased. Hawke pouted, "Do I smell? Really?" The elf nuzzled her neck, kissing lightly. The touch sent shivers down her spine. "You do." "Then . . . then why . . . so close . . ." It was hard to think, much less speak when he did that. "You smell delicious." Riese could feel his smile as he pulled her against him, both sinking down into the bed and darkness.


Heart and Home Chap. 11
Title: Heart and Home
Author: Zara-Arletis
Game: Dragon Age 2
characters/pairing: Fenris/f!Hawke
Disclaimer: all characters belong to Bioware and EA I just take liberties with their words and actions.

Preview art by my dangerous bear :heart:

Fenris and Hawke finally find peace in Kirkwall, but their happiness is shattered as vengeance takes its toll. Caught in the middle of a war neither wanted, they try to find a place to call home. Unfortunately, conflict finds them wherever they rest. 

This story goes through the end of Act 3 and into post game original story content 

Chap. 1 Chap. 2
Chap. 3 Chap. 4 
Chap. 5 Chap. 6
Chap. 7 Chap. 8
Chap. 9 Chap. 10
Chap. 11 Chap. 12
Chap. 13

A Proper Update

Wed Aug 13, 2014, 5:08 PM
I am finally settled in a new apartment with Darn :heart: and we finally have internets again!  I am sorry for my long absence.  Everything kind of happened all at once.  First, I lost my job and then I had a job offer out in California.  I moved out here and then they changed their mind!  So no job, no home, just me and hubby chilling at the motel 6 and hoping money would fall from the sky.  Thankfully, another job I applied for wanted to interview me (good thing to!  I had to write a goddamned essay just to get a foot in the door). Fast forward 3 interviews and a proficiency exam later, and here I sit.  I have to say, I love my new job though.  The campus is beautiful, the people are awesome, and as always, I love my students. 

It took another week after the job offer to find an apartment.  Apartments in the Bay area are a bitch to find unless you have lots of money to throw at it. (I don't). Then getting services turned on was like pulling teeth. I know other places are worse, but seriously . . . 2 phone calls and about a 3 hour wait for electric, then over a week and I don't know how many calls, and 3 missed appointments to get one dude out to the complex to flip a switch for out internet. 

At least everything came together.  For awhile Darn and I were seriously eyeballing loose grocery carts and sturdy boxes but it didn't come to that.  So. All that drama and fun times. But I'm back and as long as nothing else explodes, I aim to have a story update every 2 weeks.  My goal was to finish Heart and Home before DA:I comes out but I don't think I will manage.  We shall see :D 

So if you're still waiting and reading, thank you! 
~Hugs to all my watchers and dA friends~

Oh Passions!

Fri Oct 10, 2014, 1:47 PM
I realized this week (again) that I am a very lucky woman. I have made a lot of bad choices in my life, and done some really (extremely) stupid things. Somehow, scarred though I am and all my baggage in tow (because some burdens just can't be set down, at least not yet), I have managed to find happiness. I married the brightest, sweetest person I have ever met, moved to one of the most beautiful places on earth (my opinion, don't judge xD), and have a job I enjoy. I do miss my son, but it brings a smile to my face to know he is happy where he is, even if it's not with me. And that even being miles and miles apart, we still have a great relationship. Funny how sometimes distance strengths bonds, hm?

If you are still reading my fanfic, thank you for the continued support. I know this latest chapter was late, but I think the delay was worth it. I had to rework a few text sections, and I still feel like they are less than perfect but that's how it usually goes. If you notice those parts, please don't tell me ^_^  The next one should be out in another two weeks, give or take. I'm going back and forth between it, and lore for my book. I am also supposed to be helping an old friend with a screenwriting project for a webseries.  If that actually happens, I'll be posting links of course.

So lots of stuffs happening, things being made and all that, but life is settling out. It's a bittersweet mix and I love it. Much thanks to all my dA friends and fellow artists for all that you do.
You inspire me to keep creating and you push me to improve. I hope in some measure I do the same for you.


Zara-Arletis's Profile Picture
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
Current Residence: texas
Favourite genre of music: anything but country
Favourite photographer: Kara
Favourite style of art: have to think about that one
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MP3 player of choice: sony
Favourite cartoon character: I have to pick one?


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anderssoth Featured By Owner May 20, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the Fave.
graychi Featured By Owner May 16, 2014
THank you for joining my Group. we have active members. thou I have not been as School is pain in my neck.
BATTLEFAIRIES Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2014
As per tradition, you now get to ask the one and only Djinn ONE question --> 'Ask The Djinn' stamp by BATTLEFAIRIES

Have fun and come again!
BATTLEFAIRIES Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014
Hello there. Since you won First Prize at :iconforgotten-realms-fc:, you get a free full-body character portrait commission from *moi*.
If you're feeling inspired, feel free to note me so we can go over the details and cook up something really enjoyable for you.
Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Yes!  I have been looking at your gallery and thinking about it.  I will note you so we can talk.
BATTLEFAIRIES Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2014
Looking forward to it!
DarnArletis Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2013
Dear writer...I love you
Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Mmm my dear editor and illustrator, I love you too :heart:
DarnArletis Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2013
Uh I dont deserve such title, but thank you, princess.
Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I think you do ^_^  But then I think you are pretty remarkable in general.  Your critiques are always spot on and I love the pictures you have done for our stories.
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