Title: Taste of Freedom (Chpt. 2)
Game: Dragon Age 2
Author: Blissy-Kills, aka Sessils
Characters/pairing: Anders, Varric, Leandra, Merrill, Aveline, Isabela, Bodahn, Gamlen, Fenris and Cinnamon Hawke
Author's note: All characters belong to Bioware, except Cinnamon Hawke. Enjoy c:
Sunlight crawled quietly through the high windows of Hawke's mansion, and yet the home had never been more quiet itself. No one moved among the many rooms or even the courtyard of the estate. Silence echoed around the building- And yet, regardless of the feeling of absence, the mansion had never seen so many guests. None of them wishes to move or disturb the peace however, in case it stole the most precious thing from them
They were all for a single person, for an unnaturally pale girl lay in the middle of double bed, her body covered by the white sheets. Her chest rose and fell, and yet her eyes would not open. They had not for many days now, not since the fight outside Kirkwall. Some feared they would never open again.
There was only one person in that room beside the girl. He sat in the corner by a desk, his lanky back resting against the cool stone and his arms bent around his marked knees. He wore more causal clothes, his armour removed and material washed of blood stains- Now all he wore was a baggy white shirt and black pants. The elf never took his emerald eyes of the sleeping form of Cinnamon, and yet after all these hours of wishing and praying, she had yet to wake up. There was not much more Fenris could take.
He had carried her back, through a shortcut into Kirkwall's Darktown and then up, up so many stairs Fenris through it impossible to keep going. When they finally came out in Hightown, so close to the Chantry, Anders had led the way to Hawke's mansion, Varric and Fenris following. The elf had clutched the girl against him, refusing to let her go until they were in her room. Varric had left, meaning to inform all of Cinnamon's friends of her state, and he left Fenris with Anders, Leandra and Bodahn, all of which stood and stared at the young mage and her hideous scar.
Anders had tried and tried, but even with all the magic in Thedas he could not have woken Cinnamon up from her coma-like state. One by one her friends had flooded in, and even now Fenris knew they all waited outside, somewhere in her house.
What was this woman to him? A friend, or something more? He had known Cinnamon for four years now, give or take a few months, and yet despite the fact she was a mage he felt like he could relax around her. Like he could trust her. He had refused to leave when everyone else did, standing watch over the apostate, scared that he might miss something important. She had not moved for a few days now, and he knew many feared she never would again.
The thought was more then he could take.
Fenris brought himself to his feet and turned, no longer able to remain in this room. He had to leave, to get out. When she woke up someone would tell him, but until then Fenris knew he could not remain in this room. He did not deserve to be near her, after he failed her.
Warmth. Cinnamon felt it seep into her skin, felt it as she began to stir. Like someone who had been sleeping for a very long time, Cinnamon wanted to stretch- But as she moved her body, she realised something was different.
For one, she was no longer bleeding out. That was generally a good state of being for her, and she felt herself nod on the inside in disconnected agreement. And two... There was something she had to remember. A name, or a warning. A faded dream, one she had had before. A frown creeped onto her face, and Cinnamon couldn't stand the silence any longer. She had to work out what was going on.
Soft sheets brushed against her bare skin, and it took the girl a few moments to realise she only wore her small clothes. Waking up a little more Cinnamon blinked, opening her eyes slowly in an attempt to stop her world spinning. Instantly, the apostate realised where she was. Home. In her own bed. Not resting on bloodied grass, not amidst a battle or even the fade. Home. She was home. There was footsteps, and yet they seemed to be leaving.
Through the blur of her memory images floated by, one in particular stayed with her. An elf, holding her in his arms, and the misery of failure painting his face.
It was then Cinnamon realised the footsteps had stopped, and a sudden urge of importance pushed the young woman to pull herself up. Leaning back on weak arms Cinnamon let her blue eyed gaze wander, before resting on a certain shocked elf, one that stared back at her. Pulling the white sheets around her Cinnamon sat up a light more, blinking against the dizzy feeling.
"She meant to... Kill me. So why am I..."
Not even sure about her own words Cinnamon bent her head, her brown hair falling over her face as Hawke let her shoulders sag. Silence began to creep back, only to be broken by footsteps, hurried and coming closer. Before Cinnamon could look up arms enveloped her, and the smell of leather and wine smothered her. For a few moments Hawke couldn't move, frozen as Fenris buried his head in her shoulder and just held her. He spoke before she could, not moving an inch as he did.
"For a moment there I thought you were...."
He didn't finish, but he didn't need to- Cinnamon understood. Very gently she unhooked her arm from it's hiding place against her sheet-covered skin, and touched the elf's white head.
"I never break my promises."
It was, however, at that point that the door burst open, and Fenris pulled away from Cinnamon just as Anders, Varric and co entered the doorway, shocked at seeing both Cinnamon awake, sitting up, and talking with Fenris.
Anders rushed forwards, the blue light of his magic flaring up in dirty hands. Following after was Varric then her mother, then Merrill, Aveline, and all the rest. Very quickly her room was fill of her friends, all worrying, and yet all extremely happy.
After the initial rush had calmed down, and Cinnamon had been thoroughly told off for scaring everyone, the mage just chuckling and promising to try not to die in the future, people began to leave. Aveline disappeared with a promise to return, followed shortly by Isabela and Merrill. Bodahn left to tend to the house, and after making sure her only child still left around was fine, Leandra went too, explaining she had to go see Gamlen.
Soon, only those who had been there when it happened remained- Varric, Fenris and Anders. Fenris stood to the left of her, watching Hawke like a... Hawk. Varric sat at the foot of her bed, a pipe in his hand and his gaze resting on Anders, who stood to Cinnamon's right. He was checking her condition for the last time, and from the look on his face...
"Well, though I can't explain it, you are fully healed. I would suggest you remain in your bed for a few days however- Whatever fixed you didn't return all your life blood to you, and you'll be... Weak for a few days still. But..."
Anders paused, extinguishing the light and looking away. Only when Cinnamon reached out, her fingers finding the edges of his robes, did the ex-Warden look back down at her.
"But your scar will never heal, never fade. I'm sorry."
Without another word Anders stood and began to leave, glancing back at a frozen Cinnamon with a sorrowful gilt in his eyes.
"I'll come back in a few days to check up on you."
Then he disappeared, the door clicking shut behind him, and Cinnamon raised her hand to touch the scar absentmindly as she watched the shut door. With a small sigh Cinnamon shook her head and glanced at first Varric then Fenris, seeing only caution and concern on their faces. It was Varric who spoke first, watching the mage as she curled her legs up and leant her chin on them.
"Don't worry Hawke- You're still sure to turn heads as you walk through Hightown." Varric got his rewards for that remark- A chuckle and a smile that painted Cinnamon's concerning pale face.
"But with any luck, it'll halt my mother in trying to marry me off. Not sure who would want to marry an illegal mage anyway." Regardless of her words, of how they could be harmful to herself, Hawke still smiled and shook her head. Looking at both of her companions she made a small motion with her hand, flapping at the door.
"If you'd rather be in your places then go- Don't worry Varric, I'm not going anywhere fast. I should probably try and sleep."
It took a little more persuading, but Varric eventually agreed to leave her alone after promising to visit her again the next day. As the door closed behind him Cinnamon turned to Fenris, only to lose her voice at the way the elf was staring at her. It was a mixture between worry, kindness, protectiveness and... Fear. Pulling her eyes away Cinnamon looked right ahead, unable to meet his eyes anymore. Because she knew what he was thinking.
"Do not... Blame yourself Fenris. And if you need space... Go. Spirit will watch over me, won't you boy?"
As if knowing he was going to be mentioned, the white Mabari wandered into the room and leapt up onto the bed. Giving a muffled woof the huge dog curled up beside the mage, on the opposite side of the elf. Smiling faintly Cinnamon scratched his head, feeling the familiar bald spot right below his ear. However any communication between mistress and dog was lost as Cinnamon was... Distracted.
The sudden warm presence right beside her would have caused the apostate to jump, had she been not so scared to scare away the elf. A lyrium stained hand touched her right cheek, and without any effort pulled her face toward it's owner, who sat only inches away from her.
Breathing calmly Cinnamon paused, trying to work out what exactly had occurred to make Fenris to react this way- But then the moment of thinking was gone, as the elf broke the silence with four words.
"Promise me something Hawke."
Her reply was automatic and unintentional, and instantly Cinnamon wished she could take it back. Because the last time she had made that said that and made a promise on those conditions... Someone had died. All because she promised not to help, not to intervene. She could not promise Fenris anything, because somethings... Somethings could not be held.
"Don't ever die again."
Meeting his eyes, Cinnamon couldn't help but smile faintly. Gently she reached up, returning the touch he had on her face.
"That is not something I can promise to you Fenris. Not as a mage, not as a Hawke, not as your... friend. One day I will die, and stay dead. But... I promise I'll try my best not to die soon, just for you."
Fenris pulled back so fast that Cinnamon flinched, the hand on Spirit tightening just slightly in fear. She had not known the elf for very long- only four years now- but she knew he did not show emotions well, or even accept them. She also knew he disliked mages. So why... Why did he remain near her? And why did he appear to care?
Cinnamon found her head tilting once more, watching as the elf walked away from the bedside and to the foot of it inside, stopping to stare back at her in... Anger. But not anger pointed at her, but himself.
"Hawke... You make it very hard to hate you."
Much to his surprise, and hers, Cinnamon laughed- Softly, humourlessly, but still kindly.
"Who is it you are trying to hate Fenris? Me, or what I am?"
Cinnamon caught the look in his eyes right before the elf turned, his longs legs taking him from the room and out. And as the door clicked shut behind him, Cinnamon herself tried to find the right answer for him.
A few days later
"And then the pirate turned to me, and gets this Varric, and promptly said 'because they arrrr.'"
Isabela burst into laughter, followed shortly by Varric. Both fell back onto Hawke's bed, trying their hardest not to fall off it in their merriment. Merrill, who was curled in the crook of Cinnamon's arm giggled understanding the joke mainly because it wasn't one of Isabela's more... Mature ones. For her part, Hawke chuckled and shook her head, causing bits of brown hair to come loose from her ponytail and fall in front of her face.
However Merrill quickly replaced them, the young Dalish simply happy to be near her only friend. After what had been inflicted on Cinnamon, Merrill had been afraid that she would hate all blood mages- But as the apostate had put it 'it's the person that makes the magic, not the magic that makes the person.' For that, Merrill was ever grateful.
"I swear Rivaini, you're attempts at 'pure' jokes are worse then your attempts to try not seduce the Chanter whenever we pass the Chantry."
The two collapsed into giggles, and Cinnamon simply sighed, rolling her eyes.
"You two are insane. Why you stick around with me is beyond me."
Varric sat up, wiping moist from his eyes, patting Isabela on the head as she laughed herself to tears beside him over her own joke.
"Because you give us good stories Lady Spice. And I hope you know, I am going to change the story behind the scar so much."
Cinnamon flapped her hand at him, accepting the fact what really happened would probably never be heard. It didn't bother her really- In fact, it would be better this way. At least no one would ask her how she lived, and if she could teach them the trick.
"You are so strong Cinny. I wish I was like you. I'm sure you'll be up and out of Kirkwall again soon."
Merrill spoke quietly, and Cinnamon looked at her in surprise. It was not the first time someone had told her they wished to be her- But if Merrill wanted to be her, even after everything that had happened to her, then... She didn't know her.
"I don't know kitten- I'm glad I'm not Hawke. It's more fun being around her. Plus then all my dreams would be for nothing- I assume it would be hard to screw yourse-"
"Rivaini! Not in front of the children, please."
The bright blush on the apostate mage's cheeks caused the two rogues to crack up into the laughter, and the mage quickly pushed them off her bed, trying her hardest to hide her embarrassment. It was then Varric declared he, and Isabela, had to leave now for the Hanged Man. 'It's story evening' was all Varric said, winking at Cinnamon. As Merrill was towed with them, explaining that if she didn't she would get lost, Cinnamon waved them goodbye from her bed. She wished she could leave with them but... Anders had come by early that day, and told her by tomorrow she should be able to move without fear of fainting. Or tripping over her own feet.
But now that her friends had left, the loneliness crept up on Cinnamon, and no matter what she did the mage could not shake the memories that followed after the silence.
That was it. It was more then she could take. Pulling herself out of bed, Cinnamon let her feet hit the ground and stood up fast.
The idea was not a good one- For the mage wobbled on her feet, stumbling slightly and causing Spirit to whine in fear for his mistress. After the world stopped spinning and Cinnamon stopped stumbling she smiled, patted Spirit on the head, and went to find a coat. It would not be suitable to go outside in the cold wearing a white gown, the under-gown her mother insisted she always wore beneath her clothes.
Opening her dresser, Cinnamon grabbed the only remotely warm coat she owned- A completely black, reaching-down-to-knees coat with white fur along the top. Smiling faintly Cinnamon pulled it on, and slid her hands deep into the warm pockets. Her fingers brushed against something soft however, and Hawke grasped whatever it was tight, pulling it out slowly.
Red. A red scarf, small but... Beautiful. With a faint smile, Cinnamon wrapped it around her throat, letting the extra fall down the front of her coat. It covered her scar, and made the truth more... Bearable.
Boots pulled on Cinnamon turned, about to grab her staff. However, instead she found her hands clasping a shorter walking stick- Inscribed with runes, the stick held enough spirit magic to serve as a staff and yet, as it was handmade for her by her father, Cinnamon had never used it. But with the end of her real staff being pointy, and Hawke actually requiring some help to walk... Ordering Spirit to stay Cinnamon turned and left, her footsteps making little noise on the stone ground.
The evening was as beautiful as the day before had been, and as Cinnamon shut her door behind her, she was grateful for the coat. Lucky for her she'd avoided every other inhabitance in the house, and now she was free. To do what exactly what however, was beyond the young noble apostate, even as she took off at random, heading for no where in particular.
In the end, after half a dozen left turns and the occasional right, Cinnamon ended up in front of the Chantry board, right below the stairs. Her head titled up, the wind played with the twenty seven year old's hair, flicking it around her face. She must have been a sight, because even in the limited light of the darkening evening, people were whispering as they past her.
Chuckling Cinnamon refused to look around, knowing what they were seeing. A young lady, leaning to the left on a odd walking stick, her brown hair being flung sideways. The bottom of her black coat too became the play thing of the wind, and the scarf around her neck contrasted the colourlessness of her appearance. She stood just in the light of the eternal flame, looking up at it, unmoving. To them, she probably seemed peaceful. If that was so, then she was glad that was what they saw, because nothing was further from the truth.
In her head and her heart turmoil was running free, and it eventually forced the mage to find a place to sit. She found it right in front of the board, on the tiny wall around it. There she collapsed, leaning her face into her hands and letting the tears fall, hidden. Why wasn't nothing simple? She could have asked herself why was nothing as simply as before, but for her... Life had never been simple. Maybe it would have been better if she hadn't been born a mage. Or born at all.
Her head snapped up, and Hawke spotted the one person she did not expected to see- Fenris, a bottle of wine in his hands, walking slowly towards her. She could see he was meaning to head towards Lowtown from the bottle in his hands, and yet she had stopped him with her mere presence. Hawke knew she'd probably ruined the evening for him, and somehow that fact only made the tears that streaked her cheeks fall faster. Turning her face from him she tried to hid them, and yet she knew Fenris saw the droplets. As he got closer she felt her face go red, aware of how pathetic she must look.
His voice was right beside her now, and Cinnamon felt his presence even as he stood awkwardly in front of her. Before she could stop herself her head shook side to side and tears fell more violent, a sob falling with them from her pale pink lips.
"That's not my name. That... Is the name forced on me."
Her hands pressed against the stone of the wall she sat on, her fingers digging in so tight she caused herself pain, the mage did not raise her head as the tears began to fall off her pale chin, hitting the ground by her feet. Realising she was not alright Fenris lowered himself to his knees, staring at her shaking face with sadness on his. The scarf around her throat made him both sorrowful and worried- Was she ashamed of her scars? Did she think herself less beautiful for it? Aware he should say something Fenris reached a gauntlet-encased hand out, placing it on Hawke's knee.
"What... What is your real name Hawke?"
Another sob left the magelet's lips, and Fenris felt something he hadn't felt beofre- Anger for someone. Not at someone, but for them, for the pain they suffered alone. Hawke kept her head down, not meeting his strong gaze as she struggled to breath past the tears.
"Cannella. My name is Cannella. My father... Changed it, when I was four years old. They never called me by my real name, and soon they forgot. Only father remembered, and he died- He made mother forget. He forced my mother to forget my name."
It was then she lifted her head, puffy eyes meeting his as she gently wiped her face of tears. Fenris couldn't help himself- Careful not to scratch her he brushed away the ones she missed, smiling gently as she chuckled at his touch.
"Look at me, crying like a child in front of the Chantry. I hope the Maker has a sense of humour for us mages."
Fenris frowned, and without another thought put the bottle on the ground and grasp the noble apostate's face in both hands, forcing her to look at him. Her face burned bright red beneath his hands and yet Fenris didn't remove them, looking into her still wet eyes.
"No, not for you mages. For you, Cannella."
Cinnamon blinked at Fenris in surprise, before her face fell into such a look that it caused Fenris's heart to flip. Never had he seen her look so happy, so content before... And something warned him he might never again. A yearning in his heart made the elf reach out and grasp her hand, leading the mage back to her home slowly.
And when they got there he hugged her swiftly, before striding towards Lowtown, the Hanged Man and many mugs of alcohol fixed firmly in his mind.
He did not see Cannella as she smiled faintly, holding a hand over her heart before turning slowly, and disappearing inside.