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[Entanglement AU set a year or a bit more in the future, in no way shape or form canon, locked to [personal profile] birdhousesoul]

Hawke is chopping wood. The sleeves of the short-sleeved shirt she's wearing are rolled up as far as they can go, leaving her shoulders bare; it's cool out, breezy, but chopping wood is hard work even when you have her muscles.

She's still muscular, in a lean way. Thinner than she was, without regular access to brickstuff, which might have been unappetizing but was at least nutritious. Her hair is longer, shaggier, pulled back with a brown headscarf to keep it out of her face; her clothes are the usual shirt and trousers and tight-laced boots she's always favored, though much patched and darned. It's not an easy life up here, but she gets by. The villagers have accepted her by now. She's been here almost a year, working as a hunter and trapper; it was a small enough place that they didn't have one of their own, and while at first they might have been wary of the strange woman who'd walked into town, they were won over over time. Friendly gifts of meat and fur will do that. Taking down a rabid bear who'd attacked over the winter had helped rather more. They don't ask about her past and she doesn't cause trouble, and all in all it works.

Behind her is a house, more like a shack, only two rooms to it. When she'd arrived it'd been so long abandoned and run-down no one else had cared that she'd moved in. It'd taken months to fix it up, but those were months she looked back on with pride. Staring down at her hands, sawing and hammering wood, making things fit together, half-remembered lessons from her childhood spent watching Malcolm Hawke at work. You have to work with the grain, not against it. If you go against the grain you'll break the wood. Make it want what you want. She's fiercely proud of her tiny, still pretty pathetic looking shack. It keeps heat in and cold and rain out. Mostly. And it's hers.

The planet is Xestsemon, the feudal one she visited not long after arriving in the Void. She'd liked it at the time. Dirty and misogynistic and flawed, but familiar, the sort of place she knew, a society she could blend into and hide in. Rat-spit mountain villages are much the same no matter what world you're on.

Hiding had been important, for a while. It hadn't been hard. Wait until the station was just about to leave, slip down-planet with Teo, tell everyone you're coming back with someone else so they wouldn't look for her until it was too late. Plant a few false leads and move, as fast and far as possible, away from the few spaceports the planet had. Up into the mountains. One tiny speck of a person on one planet in one gigantic universe, multiverse. It went beyond a needle in a haystack, and that's just what she needed to accomplish.

It's not such a lonely life. She still has her dog, though he's beginning to show his age and then some; the rabid bear had gotten a good swipe at his side, and the scar is still there. Teo's slowed down a lot. But they manage. And she takes pride in that, too. She holds her pride close, because it's such a surprise to have it again.

And if there things she doesn't let herself think about, people she doesn't let herself think about, it's impossible to tell here, in this moment: Hawke, shirt-sleeves rolled up, woodcutter's axe in hand, chopping wood for the fire and then pausing to wipe sweat from her brow.


Date: 2012-01-21 10:01 pm (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
[have a soundtrack for the past year, with words]

A needle in a haystack doesn't begin to describe the difficulty of locating Hawke. In fact, it's only possible because Anders knows at least which haystack he's got to check. She left the station when they'd stopped at Xestsemon; that's where she's got to be. Unless she took ship from there, somehow. Unless she's found more resources than he has any idea how to lay hands on, and Hawke's always been notably resourceful.

It's a starting place, at any rate. The only place to start, so that's the place he starts, when the time's good and ripe, when the station comes back round to Xestsemon again.

How has he weathered her absence? A better question might be, why does Anders come after Hawke at all? Her leaving's always been a foregone conclusion, to Anders. What he didn't expect was that she'd make it such a severe break, removing herself entirely from the scene. When she's been gone long enough that he can think more rationally about it, he decides it makes perfect sense. The fight against the Fay'lia was never her fight, only a cause to which she lent her arms for a while, for lack of any better project to tackle, and because she's never been one to sit idle. It's been Anders' cause, though, ever since waking in a blighted pod. He needs a cause if he's going to keep on keeping on, and he needs to believe he's been brought into the Void for an important purpose, otherwise it would be just another abduction, unremarkable in a life marked by several forcible removals to places he didn't choose or want to go. Unacceptable. He took in Justice to ensure that would never happen again. No more conscriptions. No more imprisonment.

He lets Hawke go. She didn't give him a choice. If he'd had a choice, he would have let her go anyhow, which he supposes might be half of why she left. He throws his energies and efforts into the unsatisfiable Void that is a resistance movement against a multiversal empire, impossibly long odds, impossibly slow progress. The periodic missions onto various planets of differing allegiance are what keep Justice from chafing the way he did in Kirkwall. Between missions they float in a soothing cocoon of vacuum, like the Fade, a place where time doesn't seem to pass and nothing much changes.


Date: 2012-01-21 10:42 pm (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
What prompts Anders to seek after Hawke again? Ask him and he can't give a convincing answer. Resolve forms like a pearl, slowly, around an irritant grain; here, the grain is Xestsemon, the knowledge Senburu-Trati'salan is headed back that way, brought up in one of the station meetings (Anders never misses a meeting) and hardly a surprise when it comes, as the station moves among its allies cyclically.

It's been half a year since Hawke left, now. A year passed between the first visit to Geldeheim and the second; if anything, the station's a little hasty to take some sustenance from Xestsemon. Maker knows they've not collected enough allies to refrain from accepting (or, politely, trying to hide their desperation, requesting) any material support they can get, too needy to keep from tapping the same source twice.

But that name on the agenda is what starts him thinking. Subconsciously, first, Hawke laughing in dreams, sometimes fleeing (catch me if you can) other times in need of rescue, still other times simply appearing and smiling and refusing to speak. Then more consciously, and the breaking point's when Martin asks him, with the quiet serenity of a father confessor, Do you think Hawke's down there still? You could re-establish contact. It could be useful, he adds, cleverly, for the resistance, to have a contact gone native. The priest knows Anders far too well.

If Martin knows anything about the circumstances under which Hawke left, he isn't telling. Anders suspects he doesn't, which is the only reason Anders doesn't press him.

So, Xestsemon. Once Anders starts looking, the task gradually stops being about resistance. Rationalization wears away, forgotten. The search becomes an end in itself. The station has to leave, finally, and Anders tells them he's staying. Going native himself. It's a place not unlike Thedas in many ways, and he thinks he can make a good job of it. If anyone guesses why he's made this choice, they don't confront him with the guess.

If Hawke didn't want to be found, she shouldn't have started trading furs. Trappers and traders talk, the long silences between trading posts and villages make them hunger for conversation, and Anders is very good at forging shallow friendships with chance-met travelers. He's on the road himself, an itinerant healer, would be a snake-oil salesman if the stuff he makes didn't work. It does work, and he's welcome wherever he goes, especially since he charges hardly anything, and lives mostly off the hospitality of the people he helps.

It's months of time planetside before he finds her, even so. Over a year now since she left the station, by this time. He might have found her sooner if he'd gone into the mountains sooner; they're so much like the Anderfels, he's allowed himself an irrational avoidance of the region, preferring the easier lowlands. But because he isn't only here for Hawke, he does go to the mountains, so the resistance will gain familiarity with the terrain and people there; and because he isn't only here for the resistance, he has to go to the mountains, so he can make sure Hawke isn't there, as the lowlands offer no leads.

He's far too much at home in rat-spit villages. He knows how not to seem too friendly, how not to raise suspicions. The black coat is long gone, the feathers a luxury of the past; Anders looks like any mountain herdsman, which is like any Anders, crude undyed wool cloak lined with fur, tunic and trousers of coarse wadmal, leather boots held together by a system of elaborate ties meant as much to give the calves support as to hold the bootshape together.

He has a staff, its arcane finial long ago removed, so it's nothing more than a walking stick to anyone's scrutiny. He has a bag of medicines, and another bag of his own belongings, and a bedroll, all of which he carries slung over his shoulders or strapped to his back variously as efficiency dictates. He's been walking what seems like forever. He doesn't mind the walking, or the solitude, and he's thrilled when he comes across a traveler or an inn or a little village too small to have an inn. He tells stories that are clearly tall tales, meant for entertainment, legends of the Black Fox. He bandages and cleans wounds — there's never a shortage of those, and infection's always a serious danger for these people, living in remote places without much more skill than the occasional herbalist's lore might have preserved in part — he uses his healing magic surreptitiously when he feels he's got to use it, relies on mundane means whenever possible.

He asks the kinds of nosy questions that anyone in a little village asks, or any traveler might want to know. Anyone new in these parts? Anything interesting?

That's how he hears about a certain trapper. Eventually, that's how he finds out where she's based, more or less. Whereabouts he ought to look.

He circles in. He lets word percolate ahead of him, if it's going to, if she's got an ear out. Rather suspects she won't. Why would she think he'd ever come to a place like this? He hates the Anderfels. Too many unfortunate associations, too many memories. He whistles to the goats as he passes, to see if he's still got the knack.

In the end it comes down to this: a thin and wiry woman chopping wood, and a ragged man striding up the narrow track into the little clearing where she's chopping.

"Keeping busy, I see," Anders calls, over the sound of splitting wood.

Date: 2012-01-22 07:23 am (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
Hawke has the home advantage: they're on her turf. Anders has the advantage of surprise: she didn't know he'd be coming, whereas he's had nothing to think about for miles except this moment. Neither has the upper hand. They've always done better as collaborators than opponents. At once, Anders falls back into the old conversational pattern. Work with what she says, expand upon the theme. Complementary.

"So I've heard. Everyone's amazed at the local hero, she who laid low the fearsome bear. Your false leads had me baffled for a while — you did plant those, didn't you? — but then you had to go and give yourself away by saving people. Always your weakness, saving people." He's continuing to approach as he speaks. She doesn't seem inclined toward violence, a good sign. When he reaches the stump where she's standing, Anders gives the axe a long, hard look. "That's for wood only, yes? Wood, and rabid bears. Not people who've come a very long way for the chance to see your lovely face again." If she wanted to run off trespassers, of course, they wouldn't get close enough for her to use an axe. She had Teo for that.

"... Where's Teo?"
Edited Date: 2012-01-22 07:34 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-01-22 06:33 pm (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
There's something about the way Teo moves that Anders doesn't like. The mabari should be running out to leap on him. No, the mabari shouldn't have been in the house in the first place, with Hawke out of doors. The mabari should have been here all along, well clear of any flying wood chips, yet present nonetheless, perhaps sniffing about for things that might interest a mabari between bouts of watchfulness and devoted doggy-eyed gazing upon his human.

Instinctively he goes to meet Teo, noting that the mabari doesn't cross any of the distance between them, only slips outside the door and stays there. Nothing too awry in the four-footed stance, but now Anders can see just how much fur is missing, the bulky silhouette somewhat altered even on such a short-haired dog, and along the mabari's side he sights the suggestion of raised keloid tissue. Can't get a good look, since Teo's facing him. Facing him down, almost. It's odd: the mabari's not showing any signs of aggression at all, nor any threat, nor warning; and at the same time, it's clear he's not welcoming Anders.

Past Teo's broad frame, the door's hanging only half-open, and Anders catches an unremarkable glimpse of a typical mountain cottage: clutter of quotidian work, a shelf with some unfinished carvings or whittlings, could be trade goods in the making or simply a hobby. Maker knows you need a hobby or two, in the mountains. Anders remembers it well. Whittling, yes, and carving pieces of bone. Riddling contests and storytelling were favorites too, in the Anderfels, to while away long hours of darkness.

"I'd lay money on you to win a riddling contest any day, mabari," he tells Teo as he crouches by the mabari's side to have a better look at that scarring. It doesn't escape Anders' notice that while Teo does turn to allow better access, he turns such that the side in question is facing away from the door, and keeps his huge body between the house and whoever might attempt to go inside.

Which would have to be Anders, presumably. "Don't worry, I can do my own whittling," he murmurs to the mabari. "You're a fine piece of stitchery, you are."

Date: 2012-01-22 08:21 pm (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
Absently, his attention on the mabari's old wounds, Anders replies without conviction: "I might do. Can't promise anything, I'm afraid; his body's done too much on its own. Imagine a bone healing after a break, without having ever been reset. Tissue's a little like that too, in its way. A mage can mend it far more cleanly than it mends itself, and that's got a lot to do with how the wound's initially managed ..." He looks up, then, from Teo's side to Hawke's sweat-smeared face. "Not that you should blame yourself one bit," he says firmly. "You did everything you could. He shouldn't even be alive today, from what I'm seeing."

Funny how there's always work to be done, and how Anders falls right into step. "If I'm going to try anything at all, we need to boil some water. Lots of it. Now, I can speed that along with fire, but I'd rather reserve my mana for Teo, you understand. Better to do it the old-fashioned way, draw lots of water and dump it in a nice big cauldron and put it on the hearth for a bit. We need linens or any old cloths, for steaming poultices. Whatever you've got will do."

Patting the mabari's broad skull, he stands and looks at Hawke expectantly. "Show me the buckets. I can carry water with the best of them." He hopes her source of fresh water isn't far.

Date: 2012-01-22 09:36 pm (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"Medium will do, if you've got a washtub or something to hold the water in whilst more is on the boil. As I recall, you always had a fondness for baths." The whittling. Perhaps she's making herself a replacement for the lost Ser Quackers, who's presumably still in Hightown unless the Amell estate's been looted of absolutely everything portable.

With that, he's headed for the buckets, approving of her good sense in procuring or perhaps making a decent shoulder yoke for the carrying of same. She'll have some time to herself while he retrieves the first two buckets full. Already he's thinking about what's under Teo's skin, how the fibers of muscle will have been torn, what damage he'll need to do first before he improves on the mending. It won't be fun for anyone. He's never been an Entropy mage, he can't use Sleep, and anesthesia is a doubtful proposition. As Karl used to complain, no doubt quoting some ancient authority: When soporifics are weak, they are useless, and when strong, they kill. The Xestsemon-indigenous equivalent of elfroot can only numb so much.

Teo's a brave boy. It will all work out. Whatever Anders damages, he can heal again. The worst that can happen is Anders will have done no one any lasting good, and then he'll be on Hawke's bad side, but he's already been that, so what does he have to lose?

The first two buckets he brings back, he calls: "Now would be a good time for whatever kettle we're using to materialize. I haven't got one hidden up my —" It's not out of a sense of propriety that he stops, it's more a sense of Maker, that's a horrible thought, ouch, and he finishes, "— sleeve."

Date: 2012-01-23 12:00 am (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"We might scorch the bottom of your washtub that way. Best take that right back down and heat the water in the smaller cauldron, then pour that into the tub and put more water on to —" Typical Anders, focused on the task at hand, far from indulging curiosity. What grabs his attention is that he looks about for Teo, and sees the mabari next to something that doesn't belong in a hermitage.

Suddenly, he understands, and that's when he goes silent.

In his years serving as healer to a slum teeming with refugees, Anders has learned a fair amount about babies. How to help them into the world, what kinds of illnesses they're prone to catching, what makes them fuss, what makes them less likely to keep fussing. How they look when they're newly born, and when they're a few months old, and when they're a year old, and when they stop being babies.

He doesn't need to ask. He knows how to count. He winds his way around the few pieces of furniture she has, treading as quietly as he can, and kneels beside the roughly fashioned cradle.

The baby looks like Bethany, he thinks, because it has a softness and roundness he's never associated with Hawke. (Later he'll rethink that. Of course she wasn't born sharp as a blade.) Swaddled and covered as it is, he can't discern the gender. Its nose, he's well aware, is attributable to himself, though it's a soft and diminutive version; he knows what he looked like as a small child, they had a mirror, wavery and not fancily framed but they'd got one, his family. A month or so away from cutting its first tooth, this child, Anders thinks; not any older than that, and can't be much younger either.

It's his, of course. He'd always thought this impossible — not literally impossible, Wardens aren't totally sterile; perhaps unthinkable would be a better term. He'd told Hawke as much: he'd be no good to her or a child, the way he is. Then there's the likelihood of magic, inherited through both their family lines, which could be trouble on a space station. Perhaps that's why Hawke left. (He knows it's not why.)

"Hello," he says quietly to the sleeping child, hardly more than a whisper. For all the baby talk he lavishes on cats, he addresses this tiny human as though it were older and capable of understanding, a new acquaintance of some kind.

Then he just gazes at it for a long while, sitting back on his heels. The buckets and water are quite forgotten.

Date: 2012-01-23 12:38 am (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"A good name." A mage's name, for that matter, though that's obviously not why she chose it. To Anders, Malcolm Hawke will always be the apostate who lived the dream, succeeded against all odds. To Hawke, Malcolm will always be her father. And now, also, her son.

He's grateful, and immensely unsurprised, that she didn't name the child after him. Anders isn't even a name, it's a nationality or something close to it; everyone from the Anderfels is an Anders. He's made it his name, over the years, fiercely disinclined to keep the name his parents gave him. Thinks of himself as Anders. The name and the baggage that goes with it aren't suited to a wanted child. As this child clearly is wanted, so much that Marian would go through this much hardship just to keep the child safe from him.

"I'm sorry," says Anders. "I didn't know. I could have helped." To think of her in labor, in this forsaken place, or even in the lowlands, in some city of this backward planet, without a well-trained healer — he hates it, and hates himself for making it necessary, as he must have done. "I wish I'd known," he says, almost angrily.

Date: 2012-01-23 11:40 pm (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
Of course Anders wants to hold his son. He would've done sooner, only the baby's been sleeping, and he hasn't wanted to disturb that sleep.

To his surprise, the baby's not wet. It's Anders' experience that babies almost always are, and if they're not, they're about to be, prodigiously. Gently, he cradles little Malcolm against his chest and shoulder, one hand supporting the baby's rump, the other flat and high on the baby's back. "You're a clever little thing, aren't you?" he inquires softly of the baby, who's drowsy and mercifully disinclined to fuss as yet. "With eyes and a nose and everything, and hands. Already I'm impressed."

Date: 2012-01-23 11:56 pm (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"All your curiosity, and more than likely all my magic." The speculation is not happy, nor is it despondent; it comes out mainly resigned, and more than a little concerned. Anders' sharp nose parts the baby's wispy hair, as he breathes the soapy-milky scent of a well-tended infant, nothing else like it, unmistakable and always a little heartwrenching. A newborn's hardly ever cause for rejoicing in Darktown, and yet. And yet. He's rarely seen anyone not fall in love with their child immediately. He finds he's no exception.

"Is that why you're out here? In the middle of nowhere, worse than the blighted Anderfels?"


Date: 2012-01-24 06:08 am (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
At this age, swaddling is helpful for sleep. It reassures a baby, Anders thinks; makes it feel secure, when it's not being held. This is a simple cloth, not the tight-wound swaddling bands he lectures people against, and it's easy enough to help Malcolm out of it. The tiny hand's a fist, uncurling moistly into a star that lunges at Anders' face and paws a moment at his cheek before the still-unsteady fingers curl again and flail elsewhere. He tries for an ear. Anders chuckles.

"That's right, I have a face. That's my ear, my right ear. You have ears as well, you know." He shifts Malcolm a little in the crook of his arm so that the support of his other hand won't be needed, and touches the baby's left ear, mirroring. "See? That's your ear. I expect you've known this stuff for ages, and you're thinking, what a dull person this is, just learning about ears and practicing on me. I'll bet he's no good at card games either. You and the mabari, masters of diamondback."

All this is fascinating to the baby, but it isn't food. Instinctively Malcolm twists toward his mother, both arms free now with the swaddling cloth bunched about his waist, and flails, not yet distressed, only purposeful.

"He knows what he wants," says Anders, amused, and hands the baby over the cradle to Hawke. "Hungry as a Warden, or thirsty as." Thinking of Oghren, there, and comparing his own son to Oghren is practically blasphemy even if he hasn't made the comparison aloud, so it has to stop there.

A tiny person, yet, but he'll grow quickly. Anders envisions this, as Hawke goes about the business of feeding the baby, a process which occasions no comment from Anders. (Breastfeeding isn't a matter for joking, it's just a thing that has to be done, sometimes a thing you have to talk someone through at first if there's trouble latching; one of Lirene's friends used to help consult on that; it wasn't anything Karl ever taught, for certain. At Malcolm's age, the feeding has to be old hat, and still no bitey teeth to make things unpleasant.) He'll be growing teeth soon, and then being weaned, and then walking. He'll start to talk, and have thoughts, and make plans, and ask questions. Some questions are going to be difficult.

Anders thinks about this, and his brows draw together, his lips compress. He considers.

"I'm going to tell you something, so you can tell him, when he's old enough to ask. Where I grew up, it was important to know who your father was, and to have his name. I don't think it can be too much different here. I'm glad you named Malcolm as you did, but there might come a time he wants to know why he's got his grandfather's name, and not his father's, and you'll have to tell him: it's because his father hadn't got a name to give. And that's just the kind of cryptic thing a child hates. So he should know the truth of it."

Not I'm going to tell you a story. Unceremonious, dry, I'm going to tell you something, with the air of someone doing a chore he doesn't enjoy and wants to get it over with.


Date: 2012-01-24 07:06 am (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"In the Anderfels, families have family names like anywhere else. If you haven't got one, it means no one bothered to acknowledge you. You weren't worth it, or your birth was an embarrassment, that sort of thing. That wasn't a problem I had; I'm just explaining it now because it's important. I had a family. In fact, my parents were married by a cleric and everything, not always the case in our village, as it was too small to have its own Chantry; my father was devout, so he went to the trouble of having the Maker smile upon his union."

Anders' voice is flat.

"All very aboveboard and above reproach. When I came along, the firstborn son, they named me after my father, as people tend to do. So I had the same name as he had, given and family names both. It's common in the Anderfels to be so-and-so, son of same-name, the family name doesn't actually get used much in day-to-day conversation, and if there are too many people all with one name, then they get nicknames, so-and-so the Smith, so-and-so the Fair, so-and-so the Inhospitable." A thin and sallow smile. "My father wasn't popular enough to need a nickname. We mostly kept to ourselves. Anyhow, as you know, I got dragged off to the Circle when I was twelve," no sense in reciting how that came to pass, as it's not the point. Hawke should know without being told what a late age that is for a mage child to be given to the Circle. The remoteness of the Anderfels accounts for it, but then, if his home was so inconspicuous and so far out of their way, how did the Templars ever find him at all? Not relevant to naming, won't be covered.

"And my mother wasn't thrilled. She cried. She couldn't do anything about it, too late for that, but now it had come, she was angry. They didn't ask my name until they'd gotten me safely secured," he means in chains, "and when they did, my father wouldn't answer. It was his name too, you see, the whole of it, and that wouldn't do. He was more than happy to let me go, he just didn't want his name going with him, I suppose. Mother said, what do you blighters care what he's called? He's an Anders, that's all you care. Because the Templars weren't from the Anderfels, you know, that's what she meant. There's a Circle in Hossberg but these Templars said I was going to Ferelden."

An oddity he can't elaborate upon, even if he wanted. "So that's how it was. The first time we stopped on the journey, they asked me, what was my name? There had to be something I would answer to. I was furious, of course, the whole way." Never stopped being furious, really, not to this day. "I said, are you hard of hearing? My mother told you I'm Anders. So that got to be my name. If my father's alive, he ought to be grateful: his name could've gone down in the chronicles, attached to the man who started the war between mages and Templars. He's been spared that indignity."

It's not a story, so it doesn't have an ending. Anders just falls silent. The assumption is that Hawke will need to tell this to Malcolm when he's older, because Anders won't be around to tell it.

Re: 2/2

Date: 2012-01-24 01:11 pm (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
For his part, Anders thinks there'll be no reason for Malcolm to imagine his father rejected him, because he assumes Hawke's fundamental honesty will preclude that, and she'll tell him the reason his father isn't with them is that she went to great lengths to ensure he wouldn't be with them. He also thinks what he's been doing should be self-evident. "Looking for you," he says. "The station left months ago. I've got a communicator, which sends to the only ansible in the capital city, and when the ansible operator gets around to it, they'll transmit whatever I'm sending to the station." Anders accepts the entire concept of the ansible as magic. His chief fear where this is concerned: that the communicator will get wet, or that one of his own spells will fry it. Even so, if something terribly important happened, he could make his way to the capital and prevail upon the ansible operator directly, unless there's such a state of unrest as to make this impossible, and in that case there's not much good a message to the station can do. It's not for his own sake he wants the connection, it's for the revolution. If anything happens that affects the resistance, he needs to be able to tell them.

If anything happens, on this backwater feudal planet, important as a source of food and raw materials for the station, hardly a hotbed of multiversal intrigue. A big if.

"I've no idea when they might be back. If you're staying on this planet with him, I'm not going anywhere, anyhow. Not to plague you; I'm aware my sudden appearance can't have been a pleasant surprise, given the trouble you took to make sure you'd never need to have anything to do with me again. I'll be elsewhere, keeping myself busy. I'm good at that. But if he shows signs of magic, anything, I need to know. You'll need to send for me then. For his sake, if not for yours, so I can teach him how not to kill anything unless he means it. An untrained hedge wizard is a hazard to everyone, most of all himself. Please, believe me when I say this is important. You can't learn this stuff unguided from books alone, though I'll write ... something ... if there's no other recourse. A book's better than nothing."

And that thought makes him angry all over again. This time he's really angry with her and not just with himself. She's an apostate's daughter and an apostate's sister. She knows the risks. How could she be so selfish? "I knew I wasn't your favorite person in the universe," he says tautly, "but do you really despise me so much you'd risk our child's life to be free of me? With the lineage he has, with the likelihood he'll be a seriously powerful mage? Why did you do this, Hawke? How could you?"
Edited Date: 2012-01-24 01:15 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-01-25 01:17 pm (UTC)
birdhousesoul: Anders is hurt and/or sad. (black coat default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"That's a far stretch, Hawke." He doesn't raise his voice. No need. Each word is soft and sharp. "I may be an unscrupulous man. I may plan badly. But even I am hardly likely to pack our son's nappies full of gaatlok. If your intent was to make him resent me as much as you do, so that if I ever did find him he'd deplore any cause I stood for, then I suppose your choices could make a twisted sort of sense. It doesn't seem your style, and yet I can't think of a logical reason you'd have found it more expedient, more practical, to take all the steps it must have taken, flee into this forsaken wilderness, start over with nothing, than to face me and tell me what in the Void we'd managed to do. I would have been afraid, yes. You're right that a station at war is no place for an infant. It's why I knew I never could have a family. I'd always be at war. You should have told me anyhow, because it would be right. And who do you think I was fighting for, in the first place? Mages who couldn't have children for fear of the fate they'd be consigning them to. Mages who did have children, only for the Templars to tear them away. Mage children born outside the Circle, stolen from their families and put in a bloody prison. I was fighting for him." He stares at their son, as though he's seeing a mirage, something he wants desperately and knows he'll never reach. "I wouldn't have been happy, if you told me, no. But I would have been glad."
Edited Date: 2012-01-25 01:17 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-01-26 06:46 am (UTC)
birdhousesoul: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
Anders listens. That's all he can do. He's tired. He's spent months looking for her, and he's found her, and the quest is over, taking all its momentum and force and nervous energy. What to do when the quest ends? He's got what he came for: he knows why she left, and knows she's not unwell or in danger. To all appearances she's thriving.

"All this because you wanted freedom. Well, you certainly have it. I didn't come here to talk you into going anywhere or doing anything, and I'm aware that if I'd harbored any such intentions, I'd have been a worse fool than I am. I'll do what I can for Teo, and I'll be on my way. When I'm someplace I expect to stay longer than it would take for a message to reach me, I'll send word. Only promise you'll contact me at once if there's need. Don't be too proud. A mage child can't control his magic. You don't want him striking down the neighbors with lightning, or setting fire to someone's roof. He'll be the most distressed of all, because he won't have meant to do it, may not even understand how it happened. If you love him, you'll send for me when it's time."

Date: 2012-01-26 11:15 pm (UTC)
birdhousesoul: Anders is like "o.O" (o.O)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
He'd like to believe it, and at the same time, he's almost insulted by the notion he should be expected to believe it. "Right," he says flatly. "You didn't want freedom from me. And you went to such lengths to conceal your whereabouts why, then, exactly? I know: it's because the Resistance takes such care to force its former members into co-operation. Moonshine would've come after you with bloodhounds, I'm sure, on the orders of the Acting Temporary Commander with Immediately Recallable Authority Given Provisional Trust." He pronounces each word of the title with crisp precision. The anger's draining out of him, and there's only weariness left. "I'm sorry. I can't do what you want. I can't live with you and raise a child with you and be your old friend whom you fled but now you're quite happy to have around the place."

Date: 2012-01-27 06:01 am (UTC)
birdhousesoul: Anders is hurt and/or sad. (black coat default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
"Actually, by running, you made yourself more thoroughly something I couldn't have than you'd ever been on the station," Anders points out. "You did a fine job of that, but then, you've always had a way of getting things done. I'll say this much: you've set us on level ground, you've evened it out nicely. You couldn't trust me then, and now I can't trust you."

He stands, more slowly than he'd like, muscles sore and knees protesting. Too long in one place and now he's stiff. "I can't leave my own child. That has nothing to do with what I want or don't want, or what you think I should want. When you decide you want to be rid of me again, you'll have all that work to do over, laying false trails to follow. Until then, I need to be where Malcolm is. But not in your house, Hawke. Don't ask that of me. I'm done with penance now."
Edited Date: 2012-01-27 08:41 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-01-29 07:58 am (UTC)
birdhousesoul: Anders is hurt and/or sad. (black coat default)
From: [personal profile] birdhousesoul
He could point out the inconsistency — interesting that she'll trust him alone with their child now, when she's declared she had to flee in order to prevent him from somehow involving their child in his war: what I won't allow, ever, is for him to be used unwittingly as a tool for war himself, the way you used me — but it wouldn't give Anders any satisfaction. She's holding out the baby to him, and he's not going to refuse.

He takes Malcolm in his arms and turns him to rest the baby's head on his shoulder, half-expecting protest. If the child takes after Anders at all, he ought to be yowling, unhappy to be taken from his mother. That doesn't happen. Anders instinctively sways a little, a soothing motion.

"It's not usual for Wardens to have children, you know. I always thought it highly improbable. I knew it couldn't be impossible, otherwise there wouldn't be much point in letting a Warden be king of Ferelden when he's expected to provide an heir and all." Fereldan politics are the most irrelevant thing in the world just now, and he has to chuckle at himself, a tired and anemic sort of chuckle, not much joy in it but no bitterness at least. "This ... I'm not sure I've conveyed just how much of a shock this is, for me. I didn't expect anything remotely like this. I wasn't sure what to expect, looking for you, but it wasn't this. It will take some time to get used to this. And to get used to the idea of staying on this planet more permanently, which I'll admit I hadn't planned to do."

She would have to choose the closest equivalent of the blighted Anderfels, wouldn't she?

"Just ... give me time. He's young enough yet, he won't remember anything of this first year or so. By the time he's old enough to understand people much, things ought to be friendlier between us, you and I. More civil, anyhow. I don't intend to make him suffer for his parents' mistakes."


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