ashfae: (Anders - breathless)
ashfae ([personal profile] ashfae) wrote in [community profile] peopleofthedas2011-06-02 12:35 pm

On the Run: Chapter One

Title: On the Run
Chapter Rating: T
Spoilers: Everywhere
Summary: Post-game fic following Hawke and company after the events at the Gallows. First step: getting the hell out of Kirkwall...
Author's note: Mine was a mostly sarcastic rogue Hawke who friendmanced Anders. What she is now--and what they are, if anything--remains to be seen. Thanks as always to A for betareading. Mods, may I have a series tag, please? This is going to go on for a while, methinks...

They walk out of the Gallows, leaving destruction in their wake. No Templars follow. None will, Hawke knows. Whether it's respect, fear, or relief that holds the knights back doesn't matter, only that they're able to walk away.

For now. Which means they'd better walk fast, while they can. "Isabela, does that offer you made to me in the Hanged Man last week still stand?"

"Of course," the pirate answers immediately.

Hawke's eyes flicker to Anders. "All of it?"

"Of course. For everyone; I can always use more skilled hands on my ship. We can be ready to go in just a few hours, the tide should be high enough by dawn."

"Good." Hawke turns to face the others. "We'll need to leave Kirkwall," she tells them, watching the reactions cross their faces; flashes of chagrin, reluctance, denial, acceptance. "I don't imagine we'll be coming back to the Free Marches anytime soon, if ever. If you're going, be prepared for that. Sebastian's going to be hunting us, along with quite a lot of other people, I imagine. The whole Chantry, for all I know. So I can't ask you to come with us. But..."

Bethany smiles. "You don't have to ask, sister."

Varric scritches his chin. "I'll have to come back eventually, I have too much business here for anything else. But lying low for a while definitely has appeal."

"This is all the clan I have now, lethallan," Merrill says simply. "I will go."

Fenris is silent for a long time, glowering at Anders, who doesn't react. The elf's gaze moves to Hawke, Isabela and the others, back to Hawke. Finally, he lets out a sigh. "Very well."

Last, they all look to Aveline. The guard's face is somber as she slowly shakes her head.

Isabela is the first to protest. "You can bring Donnic," she invites. "I'll even drop you off at Ferelden if you want."

"That's not it. I have a duty here, and I cannot abandon it. Not so quickly, at any rate."

"Are you that anxious to be locked up in your own cells?" Varric asks. "I thought guards tried to avoid that kind of irony."

"I don't think it will come to that. According to Chantry law, the knight-commander doesn't have the right to invoke the Right of Annulment without approval from the Grand Cleric." Aveline grimaces. "Granted, thanks to Anders that's now difficult to get, but I can still make the case that Meredith was out of control and should have gotten approval from another Grand Cleric before calling for Anullment, particularly as the mage responsible for the Chantry's destruction was an apostate rather than a member of the Circle. The Right is a serious thing, and even the templars will back me up about Meredith's insanity after tonight. As she's now a lyrium-coated statue I suspect even the strictest magistrate would give it a fair hearing. I don't have to leave. And I can't, not like this."

Hawke nods slowly, accepting this. "I...figured as much, really. I know you too well to think you could abandon the men under your command."

Aveline smiles. "No more than you can, my friend. Hawke..." She steps closer and lowers her voice. "You could stay as well. You're respected in Kirkwall, everyone would listen to you. We can rebuild. You don't have to leave."

Hawke's face is impassive. "Yes, I do."

Aveline's face hardens. "Not with Anders. He needs to stay and face the law. He must answer for what he did."

Hawke stands firm, and doesn't so much as glance at where Anders is standing, listening to this. "He will."

There is tense silence for a long time as their gazes challenge each other, but finally Aveline backs down with a sigh. "Very well. I'll trust you one more time. Don't make me regret it."

"I'll make sure you don't." Hawke reaches forward and hugs the captain hard, which is difficult when both parties are wearing armor. "Thank you for your words to me, back before the battle," she says quietly. "Thank you for...everything."

Aveline smiles. "It's been an honor, Hawke. One I'll never regret." She steps back, looking at all of them, each in turn, memorizing their faces. When she looks at Isabela, she folds her arms over her chest. "I should have figured you'd find an excuse to get out of town before my dinner party next week."

Isabela shuffles, looking everywhere except at the guard-captain. "I don't do goodbyes. Just name the worst brat you have after me or something."

"No, I don't think I'll do that. Having a child called 'Shut up, whore' would incite too much comment."

Isabela laughs, though it's a more choked sound than a laugh should be. "Oh, hell, big girl. If you make me cry I'll have no reputation left."

Aveline grins. "You don't have any reputation to speak of. Slattern."

"Prig." Isabela reaches forward to give Aveline a quick hug, then moves quickly out of earshot without looking back, waiting for the rest to finish their goodbyes. Aveline clasps arms with Fenris and Varric, promises to pass on their farewells to Donnic, accepts another hug from Bethany. Ignores Anders, who makes no move to approach her. And, finally, walks away.

Only after Aveline is out of sight does Hawke take a breath and start speaking again; Isabela rejoins the group to listen. "I imagine we all have details to take care of, before we go. We should have a few hours to take care of things; we can't sail before that, anyway, and no templars will be looking for us tonight. No guards either, they'll be too busy. Still, be cautious. We'll meet at Isabela's ship in three hours. Don't take longer than that."

"How do we know which ship is the right one?" Merrill asks. "They all look alike to me."

"Look for the name on the side of the boat, Kitten. My beauty's The Siren's Call."

"I thought that was the ship you lost."

"Do you have any idea how long it took me to come up with that name the first time? Besides, why waste a perfectly good name? It's not as though someone else was using it."

Hawke breaks through this; there's too much to arrange and no time. "Isabela, take Anders with you. He needs to get out of sight as soon as possible. Bethany, too. I'll pick up anything they might need from the estate." She doesn't wait for an answer to this, doesn't give either of them a chance to protest, doesn't wait to see if either intends to protest. "Three hours," she reminds everyone, and turns and runs for Hightown.

Hightown is a wreck. Whatever Anders did destroyed not only the Chantry, but any houses near it, and the falling architecture has done more damage yet. All around is fire and screaming and destruction. Some people recognize the Champion and beg for help or information or comfort. She can't offer comfort, but does stop to help lift monstrous amounts of debris so others can pull out those trapped underneath, and the other assistance requiring physical strength; that much, she owes them. Information, she decides to keep to herself, aside from the vaguest of assurances that the worst is over. Which for Kirkwall, it probably is.

For everywhere else...

She wishes she could have brought Anders. He should have seen this. The thought hurts her, in a vague, dull way, and she pushes it aside.

Her own estate is not too near the Chantry, and miraculously more or less intact.

"Messere!" Bodahn's face crinkles into a relieved smile. "I couldn't imagine you were anything but well, even in this madness,'s good to see you."

Hawke's lips quirk at the idea that she's well after the day's events, but she lets it pass. "Bodahn, I'm glad you're all right. And the others? All the household?"

"Yes, messere, we've all been safe enough. We thought it wisest to lay low until the trouble passed, whatever the trouble is. We've taken in anyone who came to ask for help; I thought you would not object. Your uncle was here some time ago to look for you, but has gone in search of his daughter."

"Good. You might want to leave Kirkwall a little sooner than you'd planned."

Bodahn lets out a slow breath. "It's that bad?"

"That bad and worse. There's not time to explain, I'm afraid." Hawke walks across the room and quickly opens the hidden safe behind a portrait above her writing desk. A trite place for a hidden safe, but it's been there since her grandfather's day and has a good lock, so she's made use of it. "I need you to do a number of things for me, if you will, and after that you can consider your service to me well-concluded."

"Anything, messere. You know that."

Hawke's lips quirk again. If it were anyone else, or another day, she might joke about getting details before making such an offer. But it's not another day. She shuffles through the sets of papers until she finds the one she needs and hands it to him; the others she throws into the fire. Years ago, after her mother's death, she made preparations for the future. For several possible futures, actually, though only this one will now be relevant. "I'm leaving as well; I won't be returning. The documents in here officially cede the estate and most of my property to my uncle Gamlen, on the condition that my cousin always be permitted to live here as well, if she so wishes. There are financial provisions for you and all the other servants as well, and a few personal bequests. It's possible everything be confiscated once outside officials get wind of what's happened here, but as much as you can, will you see that my wishes are carried out?"

She hands out the paperwork. Solemnly, Bodahn takes them, nodding. Hawke nods back. "You already have a place waiting for you in Orlais, I know. Can you take Orana with you, if you can convince her to go outside? She's comfortable with you, she knows you. If she prefers to stay, let her, though I can't imagine that Gamlen's...abrasive attitude is going to be tolerable to her. She's too timid to stand up to him. Even so, she may prefer to stay with the house and Amell family. Will you make sure she's looked after?"

"Easily done, messere."

"You'll have to make my goodbyes to my uncle as well. I'm sorry, I don't envy you that."

Bodahn grops for words. "Have you any...personal message you wish me to give him, messere?"

"Tell him..." she hesitates, thinking of all the possible things she could say, then smiles helplessly. "Tell him I said not to lose it, this time."

Bodahn, who is well-acquainted with Gamlen and their previous history, smiles at this as well. His eyes are filling with tears, however. "Messere...can you tell me where you're going?"

"I don't know myself. And even if I did, it wouldn't be safe for you to know. I expect that sooner or later there will be a lot of people looking for me."

Bodahn nods, accepting this. "Well, I imagine at least Master Anders will be keeping you company, correct?"

Hawke feels her body turn briefly to iron. The sensation is becoming familliar, and she suspects it will stay a constant companion for some time. Without thinking closely on her answer, she says "Yes, he'll be coming."

"Of course. I can't imagine he'd be anywhere else, and it's a comfort to know you won't be traveling alone, at least."

Hawke closes her eyes briefly. No. Not yet. "Yes," she says, noncommittal. "I have to pack in a hurry. Can you find..." She thinks fast. "A large pack and small chest, I think. I can't take more than I can carry, and I'll have to prioritize gold and small valuables I can sell easily. I imagine money is going to be tight for a while..."

All too soon, she's on the way again. Bodahn, being a miracle-worker, has managed to hire a mule and young boy for a few hours, so she's able to take more than she expected: a spare set of arms and armor, travelling supplies, even a few personal odds and ends. Going through Anders' belongings had been a wrench, as he'd clearly already organized them himself. The lack of mess in his few possessions had said more clearly than any note could have that he'd not expected to survive the day's events and had been putting his life quietly in order beforehand. Though there had been a note, or at least an envelope addressed to her, hidden amongst them. She'd stared at it for what seemed like hours, then burned it, contents unread.

But mixed in with her belongings were some of his, things she knew he would find useful. And a few things for Bethany: the small portrait of their mother as a young girl, a handful of memories from Lothering, what spare clothes might fit.

She guides the mule quickly through the streets, hoping that her clothing and hat and the soot she smeared on her face will be enough of a disguise; if word spreads that the Champion is fleeing the city, there'll be even more chaos. She walks as swiftly as she can get away with without attracting notice. It isn't hard. Between rescue attempts, looters, hysterical townspeople, struggling guards...there's distraction in abundance.

Hawke tries to keep her gaze on the road ahead. This isn't how she wants to remember the city she's lived and worked and fought in for ten years.

Finally, just as the sky is lightening to pale, pre-dawn blue, she reaches the docks. It's busy; her group isn't the only one who was leaving the city, it seems more than one Kirkwaller has had enough. She makes her way through the crowds of cargo and dockworkers to The Siren's Call, where Isabela waits at the top of the gangplank, waving. Merrill's head bobs into view for a moment as well, then disappears again. "Is everyone back?" Hawke calls, unhooking her belongings from the mule's back and passing them on to a crewmember, handing a coin to the boy, who takes the mule back to its owner. "Are we ready to sail?"

"Ready and waiting, Hawke." Isabela, alone of all of them, looks joyous. "I forgot to ask, did you have a particular destination in mind?"

Hawke runs up the gangplank, and they are all aboard. "I was thinking away."

"Away sounds good, for a start." She cups a hand around her mouth and calls out. "Cast off!"

Hawke steps out of the way and lets the feeling--unfamilliar, it will take some getting used to--of not being the one in charge settle over her. Right now there is nothing for her to do except stand still as the shore begins to recede.

A shadow approaches, reaches out a hand to her shoulder. Hawke tenses and doesn't turn, and Anders, after a pause, walks away.

Eventually Bethany comes to stand beside her and reaches out to squeeze her hand; that, Hawke accepts. "Refugees again," her sister says quietly, wearing a grave smile.

Hawke snorts. "More like fugitives."

"Refugees of a sort. But just us and Calen, this time." She looks down at the mabari, who is, as always, at Hawke's feet.

Not just us, Hawke thinks, but she can't bring herself to look around for the rest of her motley crew. She'll trust Isabela that they're all here and aboard and safe for now. Kirkwall is still on fire, setting the sky aglow. "I'm actually glad Mother isn't able to see this."

Bethany grimaces. "Yes," she agrees. "Although..." She sighs. "We did our best here, but I don't think I'm going to miss Kirkwall very much."

Hawke's other hand tightens on the ship's railing, and she doesn't respond. They both watch in silence as the city grows smaller in the distance.

After an hour or so they're far enough out on the water that Isabela turns things over to her first mate and gathers the group together to show them their quarters. Most of them are double-berths, small cabins with one bed built into each wall and a small chest leaning against the wall between them. Merrill is clearly relieved and delighted to share space with Bethany, and Varric and Fenris are at least reconciled to being stuck with each other for a time.

"Here, this one'll be yours. Not what you're used to, but one of the best onboard." Isabela opens the door on another small cabin. It is larger than the others they've seen, though not by much; there's a small table and chair as well as the chest and berths, and a small window in the wall.

Hawke walks in, places the rucksack she's been holding on the ground. "Last time I was on a ship I was in the hold. This'll do fine." Without a pause, she continues. "Do you have another for Anders?"

There is a brief moment of hesitation as the words sink in, as Anders grasps the implications of this statement. Hawke doesn't turn, though she can sense his mix of resignation and pain. She can almost hear Isabela shrug. "Not a problem."

"Good. I'm going to sleep for a week."

"Hawke, please--" Anders begins, voice low and anguished.

"Good night," Hawke says, cutting him off and shutting the door behind her without looking up. She stands still for a minute, alone in the room. She hears Isabela's low voice, and the shuffling feet as the pirate pulls the apostate away. Only when the sounds fade does she relax at all.

Hawke unbuckles the sheaths that hold her daggers, undoes her armor and lets it fall too, ignoring the clatter it all makes as it hits the floor. Normally she takes better care of her equipment, but right now she's just too damn tired. She's never been so tired. Divested of the weight of her belongings, she rubs the back of her neck absently with a hand and sits down on the berth, finally able to stop moving and think about the day's events.

She can't. They're too big, too overwhelming. There's too much. Instead she finds herself remembering four years ago, after her mother's death, standing in Aveline's office as she and the guard captain talked about grief.

Don't let anyone tell you when to move on. Take their hand, and say, 'My choice.'

She's going to miss Aveline like hell, she knows. Funny how out of all the things that have happened today, that's the one that stings. That's the only one she can process.

I never wanted to mess up your life like this.

I think it's just something that happens to friends of yours. Hawke? It's worth it.

Hawke pinches the bridge of her nose, then lies down to wait for sleep.

zute: (Default)

[personal profile] zute 2011-06-02 07:39 pm (UTC)(link)
I likes it! Your writing style is really good and I'm left wanting more.
darkrose: (da2: goddamnit kirkwall)

[personal profile] darkrose 2011-06-02 08:19 pm (UTC)(link)
Very nice. I like the aftermath stuff, and noting that Anders didn't just kill Elthina--there would have been a hell of a lot of collateral damage.

Looking forward to chapter 2.
darkrose: (da2: goddamnit kirkwall)

[personal profile] darkrose 2011-06-02 08:29 pm (UTC)(link)
Your descriptions were so vivid, and they immediately sent me back almost 10 years, driving from Boston to New Jersey the weekend after 9/11, when you could still see the dust in the air over Manhattan.
darkrose: (da2: goddamnit kirkwall)

[personal profile] darkrose 2011-06-02 08:41 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm always reluctant to make that comparison, because it feels like buying into a narrative I'd rather avoid. But the idea that the actual event was only the beginning, and that the aftereffects would go on for days, is something that the game can't get into, so it's great to see it addressed well in fic.
miri1984: (Default)

[personal profile] miri1984 2011-06-02 09:14 pm (UTC)(link)
Very much looking forward to more of this!