Kirkwall Freed – 9:37 Dragon, One Step Then Another

Treva stood shakily before the antique mirror that had come from the manor, one of the few remnants of the Amell fortunes that had not been savaged by scavengers. Hesitantly she lifted her hands, fingers rolling nervously against each other as if seeking purchase on anything they could, and slowly pulled the loose shirt she wore to bed these days tight against her front.

In the weeks – or was it months now – since discovering she carried a child, she had almost forgotten it amongst the chaos of the Gallows. Her presence hadn’t been taken lightly by some of the templars and Cullen had been forced to stamp down furiously upon the naysayers rather than carefully as they’d intended. Already he’d stripped two of their commission, banishing them from the Order and from Kirkwall itself.

And now, of all times, her condition had started to become obvious.

She stared at the unrelenting swell of her belly for a moment then sucked in a breath, vainly trying to pull her stomach flat again. Her efforts did little and Treva released the shirt with tears stinging her eyes as the reality of her situation crashed over her. She was overwhelmingly alone in a place she didn’t know and one of the only handholds she’d had left had disappeared with the promise of one Hawke for another.

Belatedly she wished she’d told Sebastian where he could shove his request for aid in taking back a reportedly failing Starkhaven and kept Carver with her. She badly wanted his stubbornness now because her own was failing her in the wake of fear.

Suddenly the walls felt like they were closing in on her and Treva scrabbled for pants, tucked her feet into the soft sandals Orana had bought for her when she’d moved into the Gallows (citing cold stone and scolding her Mistress’ penchant for striding about with bare feet), then dove for the door of her room. Almost instinctively, she turned before she hit the door and dragged Anders’ coat from where it hung across a chair. Tucking it around her, she pulled the feathered shoulders up close to her face as she hurried through the Gallows, breathing in the familiar scent of herbs-lyrium-Fade that clung to it.

Several half-familiar faces nodded at her or seemed to speak but Treva ignored them, one goal in her mind.

She burst out into the open courtyard of the Gallows and broke into a run as soon as she saw the gateway that led to the docks, to the sea, and beyond. Down the halls and steps she went, coat billowing behind her, until she came to a stop at the edge of the stone walkway that was all too familiar. This had been her entry into Kirkwall, cold and hungry and full of rage at the fact that her home and sister had been taken away from her.

And now here she was again, standing on the stone pier in silence, having lost her home again and her mother as well as the man she’d loved.

Treva lost track of time as she stood there, staring out to the sea with the wind in her hair. Right up until there was the sound of hurried footsteps behind her and she whirled to face them, one hand lifting up in front of her and magic curling around her fingers. For a moment she started to mouth the words of a spell as she saw the skirts of templar armor, realizing she was out alone and unarmored, easy prey for any of her newest enemies. Then she relaxed as she recognized the more stylized armor, her hand falling to her side as Cullen stepped out from underneath the shadows of the archway that separated Gallows from docks.

“Hi,” she said lamely while curling back into the coat, turning just slightly back towards the sea.

He regarded her like some sort of strange creature for a moment then shook his head before moving forward. Treva blinked as he came to stand next to her and cocked her head slightly up at him.

“Keran came to me,” he said after a moment. “He said you blew past him at a run without so much as noticing him or anyone else who said anything to you.”

“Oh.” She then frowned and asked, “So you decided to come check on me? Or just to make sure that I wasn’t about to lose my mind and turn into a maleficarum on you?”

There was silence from beside her for a moment then Cullen quietly answered, “More the former than the latter.” He then turned to face her and held up his hands almost helplessly as he said, “I’m not only here to try and help the mages we have left, Hawke. I can help you too.”

Treva barked out a little mocking laugh at that and turned her head to look up at him with a sad smile. “Are you sure you want to help me?” she asked. “Everyone else who’s tried in the past hasn’t fared too well, just so you know.”

“Perhaps they just didn’t know how,” he uttered softly. For some reason the words struck a harsh cord inside Treva and she found herself whirling to be face-to-face with him, her hands releasing their tight grip on the coat to curl into fists.

“What do you know?” she snapped furiously. “You don’t even know what I’ve been through!”

Cullen seemed to simply take her anger in stride, his voice still calm as he stated, “I know you lost someone you cared about.”

“I LOST EVERYTHING!”

The words were out, raw and ragged, before Treva quite knew she’d shouted them. Her throat ached with the force that had expelled them into the quiet air of the docks and she reached out suddenly to brace against something, anything. The only thing nearby, of course, was Cullen and she found her hands once again framing the Sword of Mercy that was emblazoned on templar armor. Gauntleted hands curled around her forearms with far more gentleness than she’d expected and she half though she’d look up and see pity in his eyes.

There wasn’t. Only something like a deep understanding that she couldn’t put words to and she had the sudden half-terrifying feeling that she shared more with this man than she had with the one who’d shared her bed for years.

“I lost everything once too,” he said softly. “It was…”

“Agony,” Treva finished. When he nodded, she closed her eyes and admitted cautiously, “I’m terrified.”

“Of what?”

“Tomorrow and the next day.”

“Take it one step at a time.”

Treva let out a half-hysterical giggle at that and exclaimed, “And step by step I get flung into deeper waters!” She opened her eyes then and pulled one her arms out of his grip, jerking open the coat so she could press a hand against her belly. Belatedly she realized that she had left her room without putting even a breastband on but there was little for it now. “I’m having a child, Cullen!”

“Yes,” he said calmly, as if she’d stated that the sky was blue.

Alone,” she hissed pointedly, trying to ignore the ache in her heart at the word. Then she blinked as the man started laughing and exclaimed, “What the hell!”

Cullen shook his head, still chuckling, and released her arm that he still held. His hands moved to her shoulders, gauntleted fingers closing over the feathery pauldrons, and he shook her gently as he leaned down so they were eye-to-eye.

That is what I’ve been trying to get across to you, Hawke. You aren’t alone.”

“I…”

Treva then recalled the second time they’d sat down together to talk about her plans, days after she’d found out she was with child and had managed to get enough rest to not look constantly half bedraggled. They had agreed to be partners in this mess they’d found themselves in, working to bring life back into something that was almost ashes. Better to be partners than constantly butting heads like Meredith and Orsino, he’d commented. This needs both of us to work.

“Partners,” she breathed.

“Yes.”

Closing her eyes, Treva shook her head before reaching up to steady herself by grabbing his armored arms. After a moment she reopened her eyes and met his, searching for something in them, though what exactly it was she didn’t know. “What do I do?” she asked.

Cullen relaxed then, making her realize that he’d been tense through the whole of their conversation, and answered, “First off, I’d say go back to your room and change. Then come have lunch with me. I was intending to ask you anyway as I have an idea to discuss about what we’ll do with mages in the future.”

The prospect of talking about what was work and not life made Treva relax a little and she smiled. “And then what?”

“Then you go and have a long conversation with Siegfried. He’s the foremost healer the Circle has left and I’m sure he’s forgotten more about childbirth than a lot of midwives in this city ever learn.” Sounding exasperated, he tacked on, “The man has been delivering children and helping mother’s since years before we both arrived in this city, Hawke.”

Then, gentler, Cullen added, “I know he’s probably not the ideal for you in that kind of talk but he’s probably the most trustworthy.”

Treva just stared at him for a moment, feeling her spine stiffen just slightly at the topic shift, before saying, “I’ll talk to him. Thank you.”

He just nodded and finally released her, straightening up to his full height once more. As he leaned back, though, Cullen carefully tugged her coat a little closer together and Treva took the hint to wrap it around herself again. She was then surprised to see his cheeks reddening as he commented, “A lady shouldn’t be walking around so immodestly.”

“Lady?” she repeated, the very idea summoning the ghost of an honest laugh that felt all too foreign in her throat. “I’m hardly a lady. My own mother gave up on me being anything of the sort by the time I was seven.”

“Irrelevant,” was his simple comment, made with a smile. Cullen then bowed slightly and said, “I will see you in my office momentarily then, Champion.”

As he turned to leave, Treva gnawed on her lip then called out, “Cullen!” When he looked back, she smiled. “If we’re to be partners, make me one simple deal.”

He arched an eyebrow then nodded slowly.

“Call me by my name. I’m…I’m so tired of just being Hawke or the Champion.”

“Of course,” he said almost immediately, inclining his head deeply as he smiled. “Treva.”

With that he was gone, heading back into the depths of the Gallows and she looked back to out at the sea again. Slowly a smile worked at the corner of her mouth and she turned to slowly walk back into what was now her home. As she went, the familiar faces nodded to her again and some called out greetings that she answered with a smile or a nod. It was reassuring and warmed her heart even amongst the few sneers and glares she also earned on her way.

She was not alone.

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